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Old 04-09-2014, 10:30 PM   #1
MTCK
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1991 V3500 Project Heavy Hauler

Last fall I was wrestling what to do with my '77 short bed. Our family was growing (just dogs right now) and my wife and puppy and I could not comfortably take long drives to go camping or fishing. I also wanted to be able to haul some heavy trailers with it and some good loads in the bed. Previously I procured a set of one ton axles and prepared to install them. They were both 4.10 geared, but the rear had a gov-lock in it. The dana 60 had some rust on the ring and pinion as well.

After reviewing my needs, I decided my little short bed had to go. It was fun, and did a great job of serving as my daily driver while my wife was in graduate school, but it just wasn't practical any longer for what I wanted it to do. I started keeping my eye out on the classifieds for crew cab long beds and responded to a very basic ad with no pictures. 91 Chevy one ton. Good start.

One test drive and a little haggling later, I was driving home in my new truck. Odometer shows 99k miles and the truck is rust free. I ran the codes in the glove box and was very happy with what I found:

TBI 350
4L80E trans
NP205 t-case
4.56 gears
open rear diff
4 headlight front end
Truck was originally sold to the Air Force
heavy duty cooling and brakes (hydroboost)
No A/C, Crank windows, bare interior

The 350 is pretty tired and doesn't run well at all. Maintenance has not been high on the PO's list of things to do, but the trans and drivetrain seems solid. I'll continue later with what I have done to date, and my plans for the truck. Here is the short bed leaving the bank with its new owner, and shots of the new truck as I bought it.
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1991 V3500 L29 454 4L80E NP205 D60/14 Bolt 4.56's
1984 K30 292 TH400 NP205 D60/14 Bolt 4.56's flat bed 7'6" Meyer Plow
Project Daily Driver
Project Heavy Hauler
Project Plow Truck
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Old 04-10-2014, 02:52 AM   #2
MTCK
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Re: 1991 V3500 Project Heavy Hauler

After getting the truck home I went to work and replaced about 30 burned out interior and exterior lights, replaced a bad resistor in the blower fan circuit. The truck also got put to work and hauled several loads of topsoil to tune up the back yard where I fell some trees and ground some stumps.

The maypop specials on sweet aluminum rims had to go, so I got a set of 255/85r16's mounted up on the factory steel wheels from the 74 K20 I parted out. I still need to get a set of rear hub caps that match and clean them up a bit, as the rears are from the 74 and fronts came from a newer truck with locking hubs.

Tires are an honest 33"+ and quite a bit taller than the 32x11.50's that were on my K10. Side by side both tires have 0 miles on them.
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1991 V3500 L29 454 4L80E NP205 D60/14 Bolt 4.56's
1984 K30 292 TH400 NP205 D60/14 Bolt 4.56's flat bed 7'6" Meyer Plow
Project Daily Driver
Project Heavy Hauler
Project Plow Truck
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Old 04-10-2014, 03:04 AM   #3
MTCK
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Re: 1991 V3500 Project Heavy Hauler

I drove the truck around a bit, getting the feel for what it needs and working it when I needed to. It hauled my father in law's rookie snow plow operator out of his ditch when our K5 plow blazer was down getting work done on it. I also ran it across the scale, and to my surprise it was barely over 6k lbs with one full tank and no driver.

On another mission I drug my buddies Ferd diesel home when the temp plunged and his fuel gelled at -30. There is something to be said for gas in a northern climate... Trying to pull the 10k lbs Ferd up the hill exposed just how tired and out of tune the 350 was so I vowed to at least give it a tune up when the temps started to rise (it's about 8 feet too long to fit in my garage).

This last weekend I changed the cap, rotor, plugs, plug wires and fuel filter. Wow. I have never seen such a trashed cap and rotor in my life. It runs 100% better than it did now, but it is still a pig. Also fixed a large vacuum leak and coolant leak. Up next, the plans...
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1991 V3500 L29 454 4L80E NP205 D60/14 Bolt 4.56's
1984 K30 292 TH400 NP205 D60/14 Bolt 4.56's flat bed 7'6" Meyer Plow
Project Daily Driver
Project Heavy Hauler
Project Plow Truck

Last edited by MTCK; 04-10-2014 at 03:10 AM.
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Old 04-10-2014, 04:55 AM   #4
Greenlee
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Re: 1991 V3500 Project Heavy Hauler

Wow, you have the holy grail transmission / transfer case combo! It was only available in 1991 I believe.

I wish I had that transmission in my truck. I blew up my 700r4 and switched to a th400.

Sweet truck!
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Old 04-10-2014, 08:17 AM   #5
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Re: 1991 V3500 Project Heavy Hauler

Great foundation to start with.
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Old 04-10-2014, 01:26 PM   #6
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Re: 1991 V3500 Project Heavy Hauler

Awesome
I was wondering when you were gonna start a thread.
I'm suprised how light your truck is...
My crew (1991, 6.2L diesel, 4L80E, NP205) is a little over 7000 pound with only 1/2 a tank of fuel in one tank and the other tank empty.
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Old 04-10-2014, 08:57 PM   #7
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Re: 1991 V3500 Project Heavy Hauler

Love it! You found a hell of a drivetrain combo. Its amazing how well the front springs hold up with a 350. My springs on my 88' CC with a 454 were tired and sagging when I bought it. I replaced those real quick, lol. She sits a little prouder now like yours.

Congrats
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Old 04-10-2014, 10:14 PM   #8
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Re: 1991 V3500 Project Heavy Hauler

Thanks guys. I was pretty happy. It took finding the right crew to convince me to get rid of my '77. This will be a fairly budget build. I'm going to use as much junk yard loot as possible and spend money where I have to. I did pretty well selling my old truck and got this one for a very fair price, so I saved a little change.

I plan on using this truck for everything from hauling fire wood, to hopefully sliding a camper into some day. We like to do a lot of exploring and camping, and hope to do even more of that once we have kids. It will need to be very reliable, comfortable and safe, as it will have some long hauls. I'd like to increase the fuel capacity, as it's not going to use any less once I repower it.

Short term plans are to replace the shot flexible brake lines with a set from ORD that I have lying around. The brakes are mushy and warning light is perpetually on, so hopefully new lines and a flush and bleed will fix it up. I also have a stereo that I'll put in so I can listen to more than just the radio. The graphics on the side should come off with a heat gun and some elbow grease. Hopefully the paint will buff out well enough to be palatable until I can get the whole thing shot.

Longer term, and in no particular order...

Interior out of a suburban - front buckets and recover the rear bench. I'd like to find a headliner, but imagine those are pretty hard to find. The red has to go and I'm thinking grey on grey would be fine. It needs to be as quiet as possible but will not have carpet - vinyl all the way.

A/C - probably some combo of vintage air parts and as many factory pieces as possible.

L18 swap, drive by wire, medium duty truck accessory drive, manifolds

Suburban 40 gallon tank, factory fuel filler (will take some body work). Not sure how I'll do the transfer yet.

Spray in bed liner and paint eventually

Cruise control, tilt column, hopefully from the same burb as the interior and gas tank

Rebuild the 4L80E / 205 as needed to survive with the high GCVW and torque of the big motor

4" ish lift. Would like to clear 35's, just enough to get off the highway a little bit without getting crazy. That's kind of a minimum with this school bus like wheelbase. I haven't decided how to deal with the rear suspension, as I don't want air bags and do need to maintain high load carrying capacity. A shackle flip will make the overload springs unusable.

Trailer brake controller and new trailer wiring harness

Two full size spare tires, probably on rear bumper swing outs. We go a long ways between tire shops sometimes and two spares are a minimum. I've seen three lost in one trip to Deadhorse in the summer time.

A winch and traction aiding device or two would be nice. I'd like ARB's but a detroit is pretty economical since I already have an open carrier in the rear.

Four Wheel Camper Grandby or equivalent (this is last). They are light enough that I'll still be able to tow a boat, some quads or sleds, and all aluminum framed so they can take some beating and twisting on and off our crappy roads.

Settle in, this is going to take some time.
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1991 V3500 L29 454 4L80E NP205 D60/14 Bolt 4.56's
1984 K30 292 TH400 NP205 D60/14 Bolt 4.56's flat bed 7'6" Meyer Plow
Project Daily Driver
Project Heavy Hauler
Project Plow Truck
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Old 04-11-2014, 12:12 AM   #9
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Re: 1991 V3500 Project Heavy Hauler

Sweet ride. I have a '89 GMC Cummins Conversion CC SRW V3500 in the Diesel Conversion section. The PO told me that mine came from Alaska and was used down on the pipeline.
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Old 05-06-2014, 10:10 PM   #10
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Re: 1991 V3500 Project Heavy Hauler

I like your plans for it. Those Grandby campers are cool!
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Old 05-31-2014, 02:01 AM   #11
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Re: 1991 V3500 Project Heavy Hauler

I haven't done much work on the 3+3 lately, but have used it a bit and gathered up some parts. ACC vinyl floor mat showed up today, and front speaker pods arrived earlier this week. Grey mat seems to match the interior paint ok. I also scored a set of rear 6x9 speaker brackets. Next step is to procure a suburban with grey interior so I can get going on the inside renovation. Been keeping my eyes open at the local junkyard for some more cubic inches.
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-Marcus

1991 V3500 L29 454 4L80E NP205 D60/14 Bolt 4.56's
1984 K30 292 TH400 NP205 D60/14 Bolt 4.56's flat bed 7'6" Meyer Plow
Project Daily Driver
Project Heavy Hauler
Project Plow Truck
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Old 07-11-2014, 03:19 AM   #12
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Re: 1991 V3500 Project Heavy Hauler

Sooooo....

Anything new?
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Old 07-11-2014, 01:35 PM   #13
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Re: 1991 V3500 Project Heavy Hauler

x2 ^^
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Old 07-12-2014, 03:22 PM   #14
MTCK
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Re: 1991 V3500 Project Heavy Hauler

Sadly not much to report. Summer is my busy time for work, and we have been getting out of town for some camping and fishing etc the past few weekends. BUT, I am in town this weekend and hoping to get some work done on it, so stand by.
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1991 V3500 L29 454 4L80E NP205 D60/14 Bolt 4.56's
1984 K30 292 TH400 NP205 D60/14 Bolt 4.56's flat bed 7'6" Meyer Plow
Project Daily Driver
Project Heavy Hauler
Project Plow Truck
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Old 07-13-2014, 04:11 AM   #15
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Re: 1991 V3500 Project Heavy Hauler

Did a little work today and got a lot of the interior removed. Happily there was no rust under the floor mat. I'm thinking about swapping the brackets and tilt between the front and rear seats until I can get some buckets. Has anybody done this. My rear seat looks like the day it rolled off the showroom floor and the front seat is hammered. I'm 6'2" and can barely see over the hood. Cleanup continues tomorrow.
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1991 V3500 L29 454 4L80E NP205 D60/14 Bolt 4.56's
1984 K30 292 TH400 NP205 D60/14 Bolt 4.56's flat bed 7'6" Meyer Plow
Project Daily Driver
Project Heavy Hauler
Project Plow Truck
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Old 07-13-2014, 09:45 AM   #16
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Re: 1991 V3500 Project Heavy Hauler

I don't see any reason why you cant swap the front seat with the back.
I am running the back seat of a crew cab on my '87 single cab-just utilized my original seat track.
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Old 07-13-2014, 10:15 AM   #17
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Re: 1991 V3500 Project Heavy Hauler

No rust under the carpet... Sweet, even my Vegas truck had some rust! I'm diggin the truck man!
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Old 07-13-2014, 05:52 PM   #18
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Re: 1991 V3500 Project Heavy Hauler

Thanks for the info Zane.

Thanks Dave I hope my motor swap turns out as clean as yours.

Rust belt members avert your eyes. Got some cleaning done today.
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1991 V3500 L29 454 4L80E NP205 D60/14 Bolt 4.56's
1984 K30 292 TH400 NP205 D60/14 Bolt 4.56's flat bed 7'6" Meyer Plow
Project Daily Driver
Project Heavy Hauler
Project Plow Truck
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Old 07-13-2014, 05:54 PM   #19
MTCK
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Re: 1991 V3500 Project Heavy Hauler

Jamb
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1991 V3500 L29 454 4L80E NP205 D60/14 Bolt 4.56's
1984 K30 292 TH400 NP205 D60/14 Bolt 4.56's flat bed 7'6" Meyer Plow
Project Daily Driver
Project Heavy Hauler
Project Plow Truck
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Old 07-13-2014, 09:37 PM   #20
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Re: 1991 V3500 Project Heavy Hauler

The front was not as pristine as the rear. A little bit of paint missing up in the foot well on both sides, and need to touch up some seam sealer along both seams in the door jambs.

I'm going to clean this all up and repaint before I put down some sound deadening material. The factory color is really growing on me when it's not all faded and peeling. It is a nice metallic grey.

I also spent a few minutes and mocked up the 6x9 speaker brackets in the rear. Good quality and fit. I'm going to have to trim the cardboard shelf a bit in the corners.
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-Marcus

1991 V3500 L29 454 4L80E NP205 D60/14 Bolt 4.56's
1984 K30 292 TH400 NP205 D60/14 Bolt 4.56's flat bed 7'6" Meyer Plow
Project Daily Driver
Project Heavy Hauler
Project Plow Truck
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Old 07-14-2014, 09:55 PM   #21
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Re: 1991 V3500 Project Heavy Hauler

Looks nice and clean!
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Old 07-17-2014, 12:41 AM   #22
y5mgisi
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Re: 1991 V3500 Project Heavy Hauler

Subscribed! Already a cool truck, and going to be even cooler!
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Old 07-19-2014, 04:41 PM   #23
MTCK
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Re: 1991 V3500 Project Heavy Hauler

In other news I have my '83 sold, so I should be making more progress on the crew shortly. I'll start looking in earnest for a suburban now...
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-Marcus

1991 V3500 L29 454 4L80E NP205 D60/14 Bolt 4.56's
1984 K30 292 TH400 NP205 D60/14 Bolt 4.56's flat bed 7'6" Meyer Plow
Project Daily Driver
Project Heavy Hauler
Project Plow Truck
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Old 07-20-2014, 05:05 AM   #24
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Re: 1991 V3500 Project Heavy Hauler

You can swap the seats front to rear but you will also need to swap the fold mechanism to retain access behind the rear seat. The front seat doesn't fold. It is simple though. I used a front seat from a burb in the rear of my CCSB by just swapping the folding mechanism. The seat tracks and rear brackets interchange no problem.
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Old 07-23-2014, 02:25 AM   #25
MTCK
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Re: 1991 V3500 Project Heavy Hauler

Thanks for the info, Joe!

I had a productive trip to the pull-a-part. Found a couple of hub caps for the rear of the truck, but will have to go back with some tools and get the real treasure later this week. You guys will have to wait until then to see what it is!

After I installed the caps I took a few minutes and cleaned off the wheels. Then I hit my spare rim with a wire wheel and sprayed it with primer. I picked up 6 fairly warn 255/85r16 tires for $50 on CL a few weeks ago so I can have a spare. Guy didn't want to sell just one... I soaked and scrubbed the door sill trim. They are about 80% clean and will need a little more attention.

I'm going to focus on the interior for the time being and get it knocked out before moving on to other items. I ordered my stereo mounting kit, wiring harness and antenna adapter from amazon so I can put in the deck I've had sitting here for the truck and get some tunes. 100 sf of fat mat and some SEM dye are also on the way. Still searching for a nice gray suburban to donate some trim pieces and seatbelts.

Stay tuned...
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-Marcus

1991 V3500 L29 454 4L80E NP205 D60/14 Bolt 4.56's
1984 K30 292 TH400 NP205 D60/14 Bolt 4.56's flat bed 7'6" Meyer Plow
Project Daily Driver
Project Heavy Hauler
Project Plow Truck
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