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Old 09-20-2017, 01:49 PM   #1
Kevin_C
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55 in NH build

Hey guys, I'm looking for some guidance. I bought this truck sight unseen and I'm really impressed with the amount of work the PO put into it so far. It currently has a built 305 with a 4 speed. My original plan for a truck was IFS,LS3 but as I start to build a budget I realize there has to be some compromises. I'm currently looking at a 406sbc as it will drop right in.

Some area's I'm looking for options on are the following:

Front suspension: The PO spent a lot of time and effort fabbing a lowered Ibeam with a power rack and disc brakes. steering seems good but the truck has settled and the tires rub. is there a way to raise the truck up slightly, stiffer spings etc.. anyone have any experience with a lowered ibeam. Do they ride like a rock? If I can make this suspension work it would save me a lot of time and money if I don't need to go IFS

Rear suspension: truck has original rear end with 390's and 5 lug adapters. Between the gear ratio,non posi and the 6 lug I was thinking of swapping it for either a 9" or 8.5" with a 4bar setup. Not sure what width rear end I should be looking for.

Doors: so I kinda have doors but I don't think they can be used. PO was going ultra light weight and although he repaired the exterior the inside has been gutted. basically just a 2-3" lip around the perimeter. Been looking for used but also wanted to know if one place is better than the other for new doors or are they all made in the same place.

Fenders: swapping the fiberglass out for steel

Bed: plan on cutting the frame and turning into a SB.
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Old 09-20-2017, 02:30 PM   #2
Dan in Pasadena
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Re: 55 in NH build

Kevin, It's traditional here to introduce yourself and describe what your project intentions are - or will be when you buy a truck.

Others will chime in and our advice will vary but you can rely on 99% of the guys here trying to give you good advice based on their experience.

Front Suspension
You can make the I beam axle ride dramatically better than when it came from the factory but that said, it will never ride as good as modern IFS. Many here - myself included - originally intended to update their trucks using the stock I beam with disc brakes, power steering and lowering only to find out they would spend as much doing that as putting in budget-conscious IFS system.

From your photo is looks like it has only two leafs in the spring pack up front but they still have a decent arch. Thats good! Any chance they are Posie's Super Sliders with the formed pocket for a Teflon button? If so, those are some of the best if you're going to stay with the leaf spring setup. If not, you can have the springs re-arched by a good spring company to change the height to any you want. At least yours is lowered without the springs bending the wrong way! We've all seem that many time and those truck ride like crap.

Last piece of advice and it's strictly my $.02. Many use Mustang II derived kits with success but in the end I opted to use a Flat Out Engineering cross member for C3 era Corvette components. I still have an in-the-box new Fatman Fabrication MII kit I bought 2nd hand because I felt the Vette suspension would be a better choice for my purposes. Others will disagree.

Rear Suspensiopn
I'd agree on a rear end swap. You don't want adapters if you can avoid them. What do you plan on doing with this truck? Daily driver? Drag race? Canyon carving? You don't need a four bar setup though they are in vogue right now. You haven't mentioned wanting it lower or using air bags - many do use bags, I opted not to because I don't want to deal with crawling over driveway openings or speed bumps and the advice I was given is bags ALWAYS leak eventually.

Doors
Too bad your doors were hogged out. Many will make the same suggestion: Find the best used original doors you can. The reproductions don't fit very well nad will require work. Some much worse than others. Most originally are getting costly and the bottoms will be Swiss cheese or will require you to remove and replace with new metal in and out. Do you weld? It'll save you a lot of money doing all the rust repair yourself.

Fenders
Same advice: Find useable originals and make required repairs yourself.

Bed
Use the search button here. There are a number of good threads on the subject of making a long bed into a short bed.

Anyway, good luck with your project. I'll be interested to read what others advise.
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Old 09-20-2017, 03:42 PM   #3
Kevin_C
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Re: 55 in NH build

Thanks for your response Dan, I posted in the introduction page a couple of weeks ago but Im not sure if many check that page. Probably should have introduced myself in the 47-59 group.

for the truck im looking at improved handling and braking. Although im not looking for an auto cross truck I do like a bit of a pro touring look. This truck will most likely be used for carving up the back roads and maybe drag strip a couple of times a year for kicks as im just down the road from New England Dragway.

I think the truck has a good stance now or could even be raised a little. It currently has lowering springs in the back and the PO said they are way too soft and arching the wrong way. He gave me two sets of stock springs with the truck. I figured the 4 bar with panhard looks as an easy add if im swapping the rear and allow me to set the height.

Im bummed about the doors. they close nice but severely gutted (which I knew prior to buying) if it was just the center I would have fabbed something up but they are cut all the way into the door handle hole so I think they are a total loss. Ive been looking for a while. not much here in New England. Im not the best welder but im not too scared of it.

If I do end up going IFS I will probably go with one of the higher end kits and wont open the "which one is best" can of worms but given the current stance what do most chose for height on the kit?
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Old 09-20-2017, 10:26 PM   #4
Dan in Pasadena
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Re: 55 in NH build

I like the stance as it is, but if it doesn't ride to your satisfaction then by all means make whatever changes you see fit.

Too bad about the doors but the exteriors may be of value for someone looking to repair their doors. I traded for a rusted out door when I needed the interior skin to repair where someone had cut two giant speaker holes in my doors. Even though the door I got was of no value to anyone else, it worked good for my purposes.

Best of luck with your build. Make sure to keep posting photos.

PS: Here's a couple of completed long beds. I think they both look GREAT. I'd be proud to drive either one - just a couple ideas in case you decide to go the easier route of leaving it a long bed.
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Old 09-20-2017, 11:45 PM   #5
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Re: 55 in NH build

Hello Kevin_C. Looks like you have a good start with that truck. As for the old doors don't look at them as scrape just yet. They are a good source of material when it comes time for patch panels or fabbing some part for your truck. Ditto what Dan said. Good luck with your new project.

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Old 09-28-2017, 08:48 PM   #6
Kevin_C
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Re: 55 in NH build

So lately ive been searching the internet for doors and fenders. Missed out on several but hope to hear about a pair of doors soon. I do like the stance of my truck but need to ask a newbie question... based on the pics of my truck do you think the rubbing issue is due to the offset more than the ride height? The PO put a lot of time an effort into doing a power lowered ibeam and it steers well but rubs with glass fenders. I need to figure out is this is an offset issue or height issue. If offset I can decide later on IFS. if ride height than I got figure out what height I need for IFS. It currently has 225/55/18s up front and I can fit my fingers between the tire and fender but my hand comes in contact with both.
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Old 10-05-2017, 10:28 PM   #7
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Re: 55 in NH build

The PO did some serious quality work on the chassis but I'm going to shorten the frame, probably mild C notch and 4 bar so i will need to undo a lot of his work. Right now leaning towards No Limits but open to suggestions. removed some of the rotten bed wood and saw that the fuel sell cap is dead center of a cross support and middle of two planks. Still waiting to hear back about doors and fenders but managed to score a 8.5" posi rear end with 3.08's today.
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Old 10-06-2017, 08:22 AM   #8
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Re: 55 in NH build

Kevin, I went with the No Limit Fatbar 4 link set up and c-notch on my 57 and like the setup. I also narrowed my 10 bolt and upgraded diff, axles, and gears. However, I cannot report on the ride characteristics as I haven't gotten it on the road yet. Hopefully, by spring, early summer.

Cheers, Jim
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Old 10-09-2017, 08:34 PM   #9
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Re: 55 in NH build

looks good bowt1ed. I'm going to start disassembling the bed shortly. Figured I will start with shortening the frame and bed. after that I think the 4bar and notch would be the logical step with the bed off. PO never drove it with the bed on so there will be some things ill need to address. the fuel cell is sitting high and the cap is both under the support and dead center off one of the wood brace. Also I believe when I shorten the frame the side exhaust may come in contact with the rear suspension.
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Old 10-15-2017, 08:38 PM   #10
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Re: 55 in NH build

Made some progress this weekend. had to drill out all the fender bolts. Fenders are in decent shape. got some work to do on the front bottom lips.
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Old 10-22-2017, 07:23 AM   #11
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Re: 55 in NH build

Cool truck, love them big back windows!!!
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Old 10-22-2017, 09:50 AM   #12
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Re: 55 in NH build

Well, I'd like to add my .02 worth but Dan know's his stuff, just look at his build and truck. So I'll just throw this out, rarely, is everything done right and complete the 1st time, you may find this out so be patient. The stance of your truck is spot on. I went with a 10 bolt rear end, just because and a BBC. Any thoughts of keeping all the suspension inside your frame to run a larger rear tire? Not much else I can add so good luck.
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Old 10-25-2017, 04:14 PM   #13
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Re: 55 in NH build

I know everyone loves a short bed , BUT your long bed looks so cool with that stance .

Lets see what was the term back in the day ? " Longer , Lower , Wider "

I think you nailed it ! I say don't short yourself , Stay Long my friend .
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Old 10-26-2017, 02:07 AM   #14
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Re: 55 in NH build

I don't usually like long beds but I think the stance of your truck with the long bed look great
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Old 11-01-2017, 02:42 PM   #15
Kevin_C
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Re: 55 in NH build

Thanks guys I like the stance that the PO setup as well but there are a few drawbacks. the current lowering springs are too weak and arching the wrong way and is sitting on the snubbers. I have the stock springs so a spring flip is an option but didn't know how people liked the drive/handling long term. Seeing that a C notch is required and I'm shortening the frame I thought a installing a 4 bar would make sense but I'm open to options and haven't decided on a vendor yet. Hoping I can work on it in phases. This winter the goal is shorten the bed/frame, sort the rear suspension and install the new rear end. Been researching IFS. Really like the looks of the REVO and they are going to send me some installation instructions so I can get an idea of difficulty. also looking scotts and No Limits. my truck came with some wide wheels but they wouldn't fit with the bed on and the hub adapters. I'll take some measurements once the rear end is in. would love to squeeze these in if I can.
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Old 11-10-2017, 10:08 AM   #16
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Re: 55 in NH build

Cool project, those project can take years to complete , since lots of work was already done to the frame I would keep the long frame and just upgrade the suspension , you will save some time and will be driving it sooner.
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Old 04-09-2018, 11:49 AM   #17
Kevin_C
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Re: 55 in NH build

Well its been a while. Been cold in NH.... got the truck jacked up and leveled preparing to shorten the frame. I plan on pulling the rear end and suspension after I shorten it to make it easier to move around. Started repairs on the rear fenders. other than a couple areas near the floor boards they seem to be pretty decent.
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Old 04-12-2018, 04:26 PM   #18
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Re: 55 in NH build

well there are set backs in all projects . This past week has been pretty grueling. My truck had all the cab sheetmetal sandblasted, repaired and epoxy primed when I bought it with over 1600 photo's documenting the work. The down side is that the front fenders were swapped to fiberglass and the doors, although sandblasted, repaired and body worked the PO cut out the center of both doors including the regulator section leaving a 2" lip all the way around. I believe he was setting the truck up for racing. For the past 8 months I've been searching the country for fenders and doors. Not a whole lot up north and most that I found would not ship. After months of searching I was able to locate a pair that were describe to be in great condition. With the fast one that the shipping company pulled im into these doors for more than I wanted to be and arround the same cost as repo doors. Doors arrived yesterday and both were damaged during shipping. After looking at the damage it appears that the lower skin may have been replaced at some point but the box connecting to the skin was all rotted out and bondo. The drivers side is the worst, I can pull the lower skin away from the door on the bottom as where the surface that the skin folds over it rotted away. it appears the base of the door is cracked on the 90 halfway up the door side and not on the skin mounting area. The lower hinge mount is a mess with some sort of plate welded in. the passenger side is bondo all along the lower lip forming a 45 instead of 90. I don't think the owner was trying to mislead and I don't want to bash but they require far more work than I had expected. Not sure what i'll find under the paint but I believe both doors will need skins and lower boxes. Question for you guys. My existing doors on the truck seem to fit and latch well and just about ready for paint. Lower sheet metal has already been repaired. Anyone see a down side to cutting out the centers of my new doors and welding them into my existing? I know its not the flattest surface to be welding on but its less critical area than replacing the boxes and skins and if I can't make it perfect, custom door panels would cover. If I try to repair the new doors i'll need to buy at a minimum $200 in replacement parts. Like I said i'm not trying to bash, made my peace with it but looking for opinions on going forward.

Thanks Guys.
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Old 04-12-2018, 04:28 PM   #19
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Re: 55 in NH build

A couple more
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Old 04-16-2018, 01:13 AM   #20
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Re: 55 in NH build

Sorry to hear about your red doors being so bad. I think I would do as you are planning, cannibalize the red doors and make the black doors nice. Warping would be my only concern
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Old 05-17-2018, 03:09 PM   #21
Kevin_C
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Re: 55 in NH build

Well I figure if I'm gonna cut up two doors I should get some sheet metal experience so I started working on the fenders. I learned a lot but definitely got room for improvement. These days I don't have my pro mig anymore just a $89 harbor freight deal. Picked up some Anti spatter spray which helps a lot with the flux core.
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Old 05-22-2018, 06:00 AM   #22
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Re: 55 in NH build

Nice work...one square inch at a time!! Amazing how much paint gets stacked on these old trucks. Keep it up.
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Old 09-15-2018, 11:26 AM   #23
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Re: 55 in NH build

If you shorten the frame you might as well do a step notch.

That moment just before you start to cut....don't think about it just do it.


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Old 05-30-2019, 02:18 PM   #24
Kevin_C
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Re: 55 in NH build

Decided to finally pull the trigger and Purchased front and rear suspension from a 93 vette. Its a Dana 44 with 345 gears. Time to call Don at flat out
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Old 06-13-2019, 07:41 PM   #25
Kevin_C
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Re: 55 in NH build

Managed to get a couple days on the truck. Got everything removed to shorten the frame. the PO had a battery mount/boxing plate that I think I will weld back in and do a matching plate on the other side. Today was my first experience removing the factory rivets. OMG... I knew they were going to suck but sometimes even after grinding off the head, drilling and hitting with a punch some fought to stay put. My flat out rear kit arrived so I'll spend next week getting the rest removed. Plan is to z cut the frame tomorrow with radius corners. wish me luck
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