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Old 10-05-2018, 10:09 PM   #1
skyphix
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1980 Chevy C10 - Ugly but Functional

This is project Ugly.

After a 10 year absence from old American cars and a foray into motorcycles (ok, so I still like bikes...) it was time to get back into it. I found this on Craigslist 1300 miles from home and had a fun adventure driving it home.

See my original thread here:
http://67-72chevytrucks.com/vboard/s...d.php?t=772054



Long story short, I ended up with too-small tires for my taste and leaks... pretty much everywhere. The tires I'll deal with by keeping my eyes open for an inexpensive (or used) set of 31x10.5's for the back until I can swing the wheel combo I actually want.

Here's the story of the truck:

Stock, built in Baltimore, originally with a 250 i6, now sporting a 1979 truck 350 that runs GREAT. 150psi in each cylinder, starts on the second crank even in 40 degree weather, and got 14mpg hammering pretty hard on the highway keeping up with traffic on 87 octane fuel with no pings, knocks, or any burned or lost oil. Its starting to stumble a bit now after the drive but I suspect either a bad ground for the HEI, or the fuel filter(s) are clogged. I'll get there, but for now its good enough. It also hard starts when its hot, so I suspect it needs a new starter since the positive battery cable is brand new.


It lost a power steering pump somewhere in Connecticut. That kind of sucked, but not that big of a deal, and it lost the seal/bushing near the firewall of the steering shaft, so I'm planning on doing the XJ swap on that.


Stock:
White
250 i6/th350
Non-Posi rear diff, highway gear (I haven't counted the teeth and don't have a tach, but my guess is 3.08 based on estimated engine rpm on the highway after daily driving a couple of 1970 buicks with varying rear gear ratios but both with th350's)

Now:
Primer, after being orange for what I presume was most of its life, and then red for a period of time. Could really use some body love but I'm just going to fix the biggest issue which is the hood, pass front fender, and pass bedside, and spray it Implement red. Remember, ugly but functional so I am actually OK with it when it fades.

1979 350 that is in great shape

TH350 built by a race shop in western South Carolina, shifts hard but leaks like a sieve right now

Rear diff is still stock, but was leaking badly thanks to stacked cover gaskets and a plugged breather.

DIY Axle flip (not my doing) with Belltech drop shocks (the shocks were my doing)

2.5" drop spindles in the front with stock springs


Here's a couple more photos of the truck:













Plans
2 Inches lower in the front with DJM springs

L59/5.3 swap (May 2019) - I am getting a complete 2006 Z-code yukon after its winter duty. Truck has 300,000 miles but the engine has 40,000 babied and ultra-maintained miles. Practically new.

3.73 rear gears with a limited slip/posi - haven't decided what type yet

4 Link rear (probably TCI bolt-in kit that I'll weld up later)

17x9's with 275/60/17 rear and 255/60/17 front, big and littles for the drag strip

Add-A-Leaf to the existing rear leaf packs to bump up the rear an inch or so and add some stiffness. Don't want to do new rear leaf packs if I can avoid it because of the 4-link plan

Paint (Case/IH Red probably) and some body work, but it will have dents and ripples in the metal. I want it to be very "work truck" but quick - paint is really just to keep it from rusting here in Maine

Gearvendors overdrive or 4l80E - whichever works out first. This is pretty low on my priority list unless the TH350 gives up the ghost.

Healthy cam for the 5.3 - 550/550ish lift and 230ish at 050

Nitrous? Probably definitely nitrous in 2019.


As you can see, I want a burnout machine that I can daily drive and run low 8's (on nitrous) in the 1/8 mile. Nothing fancy or showy, nothing super crazy fast or that handles awesome... just a fun muscle truck.
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Old 10-05-2018, 10:20 PM   #2
skyphix
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Re: 1980 Chevy C10 - Ugly but Functional

First project: Repairs


I decided I'd tackle the leaking rear diff. It started spewing fluid in Maine, so luckily didn't chew anything up... but it fluid-filmed the underside and back of the truck pretty nicely.

It didn't take much to get the cover off... half the bolts were hand tight and they were all well lubricated. Hardest part was fitting under the back of the truck even on jackstands.



Then I noticed something...



Yes. It had two gaskets, stacked, and RTV smeared around the edge of the cover. I am guessing this has leaked a few times on a few different people... the breather is completely plugged (sorry no photos of that yet.)

I started cleaning everything up but the cover is pretty bashed up around the bottom edge of the lip. I am guessing this saw hard life as a DOT truck based on the bright-orange road-cone orange under all the various paint colors. But, besides some minor rust and a wrinkly body, its really solid compared to what I am used to in New England, so I'm good with it.

So now I'm going to try to find a cover locally tomorrow so I can install it one night this weekend.

While I waited, I made a list of stuff that has to happen to pass inspection; horn, license plate light, and I need to fix the drivers seat belt. Oh, and it had this absolutely atrocious (in my eyes) shift knob on the lever, so I picked up one from TCI for cheap.




I also got a package with a trans pan gasket, filter, and a new trans fill tube that uses the top-hat style seal rather than the crappy chrome one thats on there now. Hoping thats the source of the trans leak, but I suspect the vent is plugged on that too despite being freshly rebuilt.

Once I'm done UNDER the truck, I'll tackle the power steering pump and put a few miles on it to find any new leaks. Once I know there aren't any new leaks, I'll get under it and get some paint on the frame where the bump stops were removed and make an attempt to swap the front springs for the lowering springs. I want to have tie rod ends and ball joints on hand to swap in while I have them popped apart in the event they look in bad shape. Hopefully there will be more updates this weekend...
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Old 10-05-2018, 10:28 PM   #3
Dads79GMC
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Re: 1980 Chevy C10 - Ugly but Functional

It aint ugly!!! Character!!!
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Old 10-05-2018, 10:31 PM   #4
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Re: 1980 Chevy C10 - Ugly but Functional

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Originally Posted by Dads79GMC View Post
It aint ugly!!! Character!!!

Thanks! I agree! I'm not pulling or skimming any dents at all, besides the passenger bed side that has some really, really awful body work done to it. I'll fix that to some degree, and the tops of the bedrails. I'll order a new pass front fender, hood and hinges, and tailgate as well, but just the cheapest pieces I can find knowing they wont be perfect. Then I don't imagine the tractor supply implement paint for 40 a gallon will hide much. That's mostly what I mean by ugly.
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Old 10-05-2018, 10:32 PM   #5
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Re: 1980 Chevy C10 - Ugly but Functional

Best of luck!
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Old 10-07-2018, 08:47 PM   #6
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Re: 1980 Chevy C10 - Ugly but Functional

I’m watching
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Old 10-07-2018, 08:54 PM   #7
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Re: 1980 Chevy C10 - Ugly but Functional

Thanks guys!

Having trouble finding a rear diff cover locally so itís tome to order one. Probably just a dorman stock replacement that Iíll prime and paint black.

Also ordered a headlight conversion kit from HELLA - not HIDs but to turn it into an h4 bulb with a hard cutoff. Also ordered up some HELLA stock look horns, a horn relay, and a momentary switched marked with a horn. All the factory horn wiring has been cut out and horns arenít really needed very often here anyway. The plan is to mount it to a metal plate Iíll fabricate to fit where the factory radio would have been before someone cut a huge hole there. Eventually, other switches/buttons will live in that panel as well.

I ended up having to work and then getting sick this weekend but hopefully tomorrow I can knock out the new trans dipstick tune and a gasket and filter change.

I also need to fabricate a rear license plate light and probably order new seatbelts and hardware to pass inspection. Trying hard not to register this as an antique so I can legally use it as my daily driver.

This was the last weekend of the drag strip, so unfortunately I wonít get a pre-swap run in, but I think ďreally slowĒ is sufficient. Hoping for 9.6-10 in the 1/8 with the swap and stock rear diff.

Also need to tear apart the dash pad. Another member here just tore the foam and stuff off, painted the metal, and replaced it. I kind of like that look for a temporary solution so that might be a rainy day project.
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Old 10-08-2018, 02:07 PM   #8
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Re: 1980 Chevy C10 - Ugly but Functional

Got some done today. Stupid me I never counted the bolts on the rear diff or honesty looked all that closely at it. It's a 12 bolt, not a 10, so that's pretty awesome. Ordered a new rear cover for it.

Painted some of the bare metal parts of the frame just to keep them from rusting, and scraped a lot of crud off the rear diff. Checked out the Trans leak as well - appears to be either the speedometer gear housing which I know is common on th350s or the rear seal where the driveshaft goes in. Also verified my pinion angle is good and there is plenty of room so the driveshaft isn't slamming into the back of the Trans.

Waiting on my pulley puller so I can swap the power steering pump and ran out of time to do the Trans dipstick, which I'm replacing purely because I trust the TCI one over the cheap chrome one. I ran out of time to do the fluid and filter change as well.

Started to measure up the hole in the dash for my switch panel as well. Going to need to do some dremel surgery. Also considering making my own sheet steel gauge panel down the road.

Dug into some of the body work too - doing minimal smoothing before paint
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Old 10-10-2018, 05:41 PM   #9
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Re: 1980 Chevy C10 - Ugly but Functional

I’m interested in the headlight deal. Sounds interesting.
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Old 10-10-2018, 09:59 PM   #10
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Iím interested in the headlight deal. Sounds interesting.
LMCTruck makes a kit to do it too (called "custom headlights" in their catalog.) I'm using the Hella kit which, depending on your state, may or may not be street legal. They'll pass inspection here. I got them installed tonight and the light spread is way way less. Nice cut off line and approx 2x the output with similar wattage. These aren't like some of the cheap HID kits where light sprays and blinds oncoming drivers from what I can tell. Once I can drive the truck I'll do a night time comparison with the old vs the new. I have one photo of my truck on the highway at night. I'll do one in a similarly lit parking lot in a week or two. Install was th e same as changing out your sealed bulbs. No wiring changes needed. I'll probably do the HD wiring kit from LMC at some point as well.
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Old 10-11-2018, 09:03 AM   #11
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Re: 1980 Chevy C10 - Ugly but Functional

Nice truck! I've got the Hella's in mine and love them. Got them on relays. Our truck projects and plans are very similar, need to start a build thread on mine.
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Old 10-11-2018, 09:55 AM   #12
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Re: 1980 Chevy C10 - Ugly but Functional

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Nice truck! I've got the Hella's in mine and love them. Got them on relays. Our truck projects and plans are very similar, need to start a build thread on mine.

Great looking truck! Really loving the red even though I'm not normally a fan of red cars/trucks. I'm going with Case IH Implement paint as a short term solution until I get it mechanically where I want it, ideally it will fade and dull out to be about where the photo makes yours appear.

I don't have mine on relays yet, but I'll order the LMC Truck HD wiring kit eventually to do direct power and add the relays.

Truck update: I planned on working on the truck today but its pouring rain all day here and I am working outside. I got some metal stock so I can cut out a plate to hold my license plate light. I'll probably get the gigantic ugly horn button mounted to the dash and at least start the wiring for that if the rain stops. Horns are mounted in the engine bay but near the original mounting location using an existing bolt so no need to drill a new hole anywhere. My horn wiring has been cut completely, I suspect because of a poor installation of an aftermarket steering wheel. Decided to do a stand alone horn circuit - I've done it in a few cars and it does make steering wheel swaps even easier.

This is work I need to do so that I can pass inspection, just knocking it out while I wait for the rear diff cover and speedometer housing and gear.
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Old 10-12-2018, 11:46 AM   #13
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Re: 1980 Chevy C10 - Ugly but Functional

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Nice truck! I've got the Hella's in mine and love them. Got them on relays. Our truck projects and plans are very similar, need to start a build thread on mine.
I have the relays with Sylvania's..Big Improvement.

And YES you do need to start a build thread. LOL
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Old 10-17-2018, 01:28 PM   #14
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Re: 1980 Chevy C10 - Ugly but Functional

Quick update:
Finally got the new rear diff cover.
Picked up a used hood in great condition for dirt cheap (well, I actually pick it up tomorrow night... I'll post photos as I do the minor body work on it)
Still looking for a passenger fender locally before I order one online
Started to look at the body work I'll be doing prior to paint
Have mocked up a new rear license plate light, just need to cut the sheet metal and mount it
Haven't done anything with the trans yet - its been pouring rain so I'm limited to what I can do... need to pick up one of those cheap pop canopies and rig up my own portable garage for the time being.
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Old 10-19-2018, 01:28 PM   #15
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Re: 1980 Chevy C10 - Ugly but Functional

Got a little done during lunch today

License Plate mount and light done and wired in - definitely did not need to use 16 gauge sheet metal... but its what I had.


Grabbed my new hood last night - feel like I stole this. Have a little but of body work to do on the front edge but mostly just getting rid of some minor bubbling and smoothing any pitting out. Way WAY better shape than my factory hood.



Also did the door striker fix with PEX - worked awesome for pennies. I have about 4.75ft of PEX left if anyone wants me to cut the strikers for them, I'll do it and send them. Just PM me your address.





On tap for tonight: Finish up the rear diff, replace the trans dipstick
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Old 10-20-2018, 03:18 PM   #16
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Re: 1980 Chevy C10 - Ugly but Functional

All back together. Couldn't find a gasket for the rear diff locally so I just used gray rtv/gasket maker. Pb blaster and then wd40 made my hood hinges work like new so that's good news.


Oh, and found my Trans leak




Left for this fall:
Wire in horns
Lowering springs in the front
Fix my gas gauge. Just showing empty so looks like I lost a ground somewhere.
Put new hood on and fix the surface rust
Paint my wheels. Probably black, but debated gold since the truck will be red. They'll eventually be 17s so this is just to figure out what color I want my D windows to be.

Last edited by skyphix; 10-21-2018 at 08:25 AM.
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Old 10-20-2018, 06:59 PM   #17
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Re: 1980 Chevy C10 - Ugly but Functional

Put about 50 miles on it test driving and tuning today. Trans still drips but a lot less and it's all getting yanked in a month so I'm not going to bother fixing it as long as it doesn't get worse. I'll go through and reseal the whole Trans when it's out of the truck.

Rear diff doesn't leak though, so win there.

Had a bunch of rear suspension noise... Turns out 1300 miles loosens up some stuff. Torque everything to spec back there.

Some gratuitous victory photos. I didn't get a headlight photo because I didn't adjust them until I got home but I will tomorrow night.




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Old 10-22-2018, 10:06 AM   #18
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Re: 1980 Chevy C10 - Ugly but Functional

Starting some body work... here you can see the variety of colors my truck has been during the last 38 years.

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Old 10-22-2018, 08:46 PM   #19
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Re: 1980 Chevy C10 - Ugly but Functional

1a) Old headlights. Had my phone mounted to the dash as a speedometer and snapped this.



1b) New headlights


2) Love my new (straight) hood. Hoping to knock out filling the rust holes along the front edge this week. Also love this dark red color...


3) impromptu classic truck meet at the grocery store.
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Old 10-27-2018, 01:57 AM   #20
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Re: 1980 Chevy C10 - Ugly but Functional

Good work! I'm enjoying following your progress. Glad you found a factory hood. Do you think that it might be possible to sand down to the red or the orange on the original truck? You have mentioned a few times that you are good with it showing some evidence of its life as a truck. It'd be pretty cool if you could sand down to an original color and have a matching mix made for your new body panels. One thing to remember on the Implement Red, that if it fades... you might end up with pink. Not that there's anything wrong with that...
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Old 10-27-2018, 10:12 AM   #21
skyphix
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Re: 1980 Chevy C10 - Ugly but Functional

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Good work! I'm enjoying following your progress. Glad you found a factory hood. Do you think that it might be possible to sand down to the red or the orange on the original truck? You have mentioned a few times that you are good with it showing some evidence of its life as a truck. It'd be pretty cool if you could sand down to an original color and have a matching mix made for your new body panels. One thing to remember on the Implement Red, that if it fades... you might end up with pink. Not that there's anything wrong with that...
That would be cool! I'd love to sand it down to expose all the colors but the outer parts of the body panels have been stripped down to bare metal by the previous owner. I'm not fully settled on imement red, but it's still the strong leader. It's mostly the temporary paint until I figure out what color I want it. There is still debate between implement red, implement antique white, and matte black. Fading to pink would be a conversation starter for sure!
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Old 10-28-2018, 12:14 PM   #22
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Re: 1980 Chevy C10 - Ugly but Functional

Did a Charity convoy/cruise to help out a little boy that's been through some bad stuff lately. I stuck out like a sore thumb... And this photo really shows that I need to do my front springs.

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Old 10-31-2018, 12:33 PM   #23
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Re: 1980 Chevy C10 - Ugly but Functional

Just been driving the snot out of the truck. Power steering box with no pump hooked up takes getting used to but its not bad anymore. I wont be sad, though, with the LS in and power steering again.




This month is crazy with work travel so not sure how much progress will be made but I'll keep at it. Have to repair my two modern vehicles too (alternator on a v8 4runner is time consuming, have to make a splash shield for it for the winter too to keep the entire engine bay from rusting away, and general maintenance on the Honda daily driver.)
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