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Old 01-29-2006, 09:51 PM   #1
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77 Cheyenne meets Ramjet 350 by N2TRUX

I have put off documenting the story behind the install of my new motor for a long time. There are a lot of reasons why I waited till now, but I feel like it's finally time to start this thread. Some of you know the background on my truck so you can skip the next few paragraphs. For those of you that don't know the details on my 77 Cheyenne, let my bring you up to date.

I stumbled across a post on this website that said "check out this truck on Ebay". I did and found a very nicely restored 77 Cheyenne. I didn't buy it right away, but I did buy it and took it straight to a buddies shop in Rockwall, Texas (near Dallas) to be bagged.

Roger at Stoked Out Specialties did the suspension work, bolted on a set of 20's along with a few other details and I took it out for a season of fun in the sun. It wasn't long before the stock motor looked boring to me. I decided to add some chrome and details. This is what the truck and stock motor looked like before started.
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Old 01-29-2006, 09:59 PM   #2
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Re: 77 Cheyenne meets Ramjet 350 by N2TRUX

The shop that did the full restoration had done a decent job of detailing the truck during the frame off build up. Being a stickler for details (my wife calls it anal) I couldn't leave things alone. I had to clean, paint and change a couple of things to my satisfaction.

When I got through, it looked something like this.
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Old 01-29-2006, 10:07 PM   #3
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Re: 77 Cheyenne meets Ramjet 350 by N2TRUX

That look satisfied me for a while, and since everything worked I decided to leave it alone. Ok, I left it alone for a few weeks, but I thought it really needed a little more dress up. The truck got a lot of attention, and plenty of very nice compliments. Still I could tell that the look of the motor was not what it needed to be.

I decided it needed a couple more pieces of chrome. Then I decided I may as well give it a retro look. I added a set of Corvette LT1 valve covers, and a ribbed breather to match. I contiued to to paint and detail the rest of the motor as well.
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Old 01-29-2006, 10:15 PM   #4
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Re: 77 Cheyenne meets Ramjet 350 by N2TRUX

That look lasted for a while and really made a difference at the shows and cruise nights. I won a few awards, and got lots of thumbs up so everything was fine for a while.

Everything was good from a visual standpoint, so life was good. At least for a while. Then I started to notice the motor was puffing blue smoke on start up. Of course we all know that's just valve guides seeping oil and nothing to worry about. The truck started and ran just fine beyond the initial puff of smoke, so I didn't think nothing of it.

Then one day I started realizing how bad my gas mileage was getting. After reading a few posts on mileage I thought something must be wrong so I pulled the plugs. They were gas fouled really bad, and I noticed that the paint kept burning off the intake in the middle.
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Old 01-29-2006, 10:27 PM   #5
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Re: 77 Cheyenne meets Ramjet 350 by N2TRUX

I did a compression check and every thing was to specs. Then we ran a leak down test. It indicated that the top end was loosing some compression but still not a real problem.

After some consulting with friends and mechanics it was decided that the top end of the motor needed to come off to see what it looked like. I felt it was time to make a decision. If the motor really needed a rebuild, I may as well put a new motor in. That sounds like a quick and simple thing to most people. You buy a 1500.00 crate motor and a weekend later your back on the road.

If your with me so far, you already know "we ain't most people, are we". Custom truck owners do not understand the concept of K.I.S.S. As one of our fellow forum members sig so aptly states, "If it ain't broke, fix it till it is"

Yeah, I considered a simple base 350 for about....ummm...2 seconds. Then the hot rodder in my blood got the best of me. If 250 hp is good, then 350 hp is better, right. Why not go with a HO 350! Yeah, well if a HO 350 is cool, then why not go with a Ramjet 350! Hey, now we are on to something.

It actually took me a month or two to decide, but I finally ordered a Ramjet 350.
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Old 01-29-2006, 10:39 PM   #6
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Re: 77 Cheyenne meets Ramjet 350 by N2TRUX

Since I don't have the time, patience, equipment or desire to do the install these days, I sent the truck back to Stoked Out Specialties. They had done everything to my satisfaction so far, so I may as well let them do this job too. I knew I would get premium quality results, and it would get done much faster if they did it.

Just like everything else I do, this simple motor swap snowballed in to a major project. I really, really tried not to let things get out of hand, really. Of course it doesn't help much when you have a bunch of cheer leading friends like I do. My good buddies Keith and Scot better known as n2billet and Scoti along with Roger at Stoked Out knew how to push the right buttons.

If we are going to do this properly, we need to get everything out of the way so it doesn't get scratched up.
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Old 01-29-2006, 10:44 PM   #7
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Re: 77 Cheyenne meets Ramjet 350 by N2TRUX

My good friend Scoti isn't one to let anything go to waste. He saw a fresh kill laying beside the road, and asked "hey, whatcha gonna do with that old thing?" After a little wheeling and dealing Scoti had a new (to him) motor to freshen up for a project of his. Hmmm? Do you think he had a plan all along...
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Old 01-29-2006, 10:53 PM   #8
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Re: 77 Cheyenne meets Ramjet 350 by N2TRUX

Now that everything was out of the way, it was time to decide what to do. Again, I really, really wanted to keep things simple. My buddies convinced me that the firewall needed some fresh paint, and I had to agree. It made perfectly good sense to go ahead and get all that factory junk out of the way, and freshen up the paint.

We'll probably just hit it with some satin black and drop the motor in right? Ya that's the ticket. Ya know, we may as well strip all that old sealer off and sand this down, and fill this seam, and smooth these bumps and..... Uh guuuys, weren't we supposed to keep this simple. Yeah, yeah, simple that's what we are doing.
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Old 01-29-2006, 11:11 PM   #9
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Re: 77 Cheyenne meets Ramjet 350 by N2TRUX

It was about this time that things get a little fuzzy. I'm not sure if it was my buddies coaxing me, or holding me back. All I know is somewhere along the way, I threw the simple satin black look out the window. I have a real good excuse though.

Having spent many a weekend under the hood of a car/truck at a show cleaning and detailing the motor I have discovered something. Shiny paint cleans up much easier than satin paint. Since smooth and shiny equates to less work, and less work makes life simple, then effectively I was keeping it simple by making it shiny. At least thats the story I settled on. It sounds much better than the other one I made up.
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Old 01-29-2006, 11:28 PM   #10
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Re: 77 Cheyenne meets Ramjet 350 by N2TRUX

Guys, I think we are on to something here. Adding that shiny paint to that cleaned up firewall is a good idea. If it gets dirty from driving in the rain, all you need is a few coins at the car wash and it will shine like a new penny.


Keith says " Wow Ken, that firewall looks good, but what about those fender liners?" Darn Keith, you have a good point. Those things are going to look pretty plain up against the glossy black paint. Ok, we will paint them gloss black too, but that's all, nothing else.

Roger pointed out that all those holes in the liners were going to allow water to come through. This would get them dirty and require them to be cleaned. Good point Roger, we probably should weld them up. While I'm welding the holes, you want to knock the lumps out of them too? Sure Roger, why not.
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Old 01-31-2006, 09:53 PM   #11
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Re: 77 Cheyenne meets Ramjet 350 by N2TRUX

I guess you can see a trend starting to form by now. The next item up for bid was one of my pet peeves. I really hate it when I see someone has taken the time and expense to detail and paint everything under the hood, and leave the top of the core support filled with all this little holes. Some people don't notice these things, but I have been accused of being anal and they must be right because itreally bothers me.

I asked Roger if he could please fill up a few of the 15+ holes that GM put there for no appearent reason but to bug me. He obliged me by tigging up most of them.
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Old 01-31-2006, 10:01 PM   #12
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Re: 77 Cheyenne meets Ramjet 350 by N2TRUX

Since Roger and his crew were already welding, sanding and smoothing the top of the core support they just kept going all the way to the bottom. Not as much time was spent filling holes, but they did get it smooth and shiny. To bad the grill will cover it up in front, but at least you can appreciate what they did on the back side.
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Old 01-31-2006, 10:10 PM   #13
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Re: 77 Cheyenne meets Ramjet 350 by N2TRUX

You already know the holes in the top of the core support bother me, so you can just imagine how much I like the filler panel that attaches to it. Maybe GM was trying to make it lighter. Maybe it's part of an evil plan to make me crazy. All I know is that things got more holes in it than 5 pounds of swiss cheese. Without making a new one, there wasn't any easy way to get rid of all the lumps and bumps, but they did a good job of eliminating most of them.
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Old 02-02-2006, 09:23 AM   #14
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Re: 77 Cheyenne meets Ramjet 350 by N2TRUX

While all this was going on I had the tough task of making a decision on what color to paint the motor. That sounds simple enough, right? It's a GM small block, so you pick your favorite shade of small block Chevrolet orange, or small block Chevrolet black and move on. If you are normal.

I knew that was not going to happen here because I am not normal. Maybe when I was young my oxygen supply got cut off, or my Momma dropped me on my pointy head one too many times. I don't know why, but I am not normal. Just ask my friends, they will be glad to testify.

I just couldn't bring myself to going with a the standard GM colors. I consulted Roger and Keith. They had some ideas, but they were different from mine. (Remember I'm not normal).

I wanted a retro theme, and they thought a modern version would look much better. We decided that a color sample was needed. They put one together and shipped it to me.There are three different silvers in the middle with black on one side and maroon on the other.

It's really hard to get all the colors to show up well. Here's three different views.
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Old 02-03-2006, 10:35 PM   #15
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Re: 77 Cheyenne meets Ramjet 350 by N2TRUX

The color decision was not an easy one, but we finally decided to use the bright silver. I had decided that I wanted chrome brackets and accessories because I did not want anything that required polishing. The color we are using goes very well with the chrome parts.

I don't have any pics to document the prep and paint of the motor so I'll prolong the suspense just a bit longer. I decided I wanted an OD transmission installed along with the new motor. My brother-in-law has been building transmissions for 30+ years so he got elected to do the job. We found a leter version of the 700r4 and he built it to his specs. Besides the fact that he is very good at what he does, I let him do it because he gave me a brother-in-law deal. It should be smooth as silk under normal acceleration, and have a nice firm shift when pushed hard.

This will give you a clear look at the color we used.
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Old 02-05-2006, 07:36 PM   #16
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Re: 77 Cheyenne meets Ramjet 350 by N2TRUX

Now that we have the color decision made it was time to prep and paint the motor. Everything was stripped off that could be and the block was cleaned up. I didn't have them get crazy with grinding and smoothing the block since this is going to be a driver. They did deburr the black a little and give it a good cleaning before primer and paint.

Since I don't have pics of the block in primer I will have to give you the painted version. This was right after it was painted and a few of the new chrome parts were bolted on.
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Old 02-05-2006, 07:46 PM   #17
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Re: 77 Cheyenne meets Ramjet 350 by N2TRUX

What you see on the motor in the pic above is a Street & Performance chrome throttle body. The chrome brackets are from Bills Hotrod Company. I wanted something clean and simple, and I did not want billet.

Before you start on me about being a billet hater, let me explain. I "do not" hate billet, I "do" hate polishing billet. I found thes Bill's brackets to be very well designed and come assembled and ready to bolt on. Everything you need is included.

This is not the exact bracket I used, it's just the best pics I can find of the brackets.

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Old 02-08-2006, 10:50 PM   #18
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Re: 77 Cheyenne meets Ramjet 350 by N2TRUX

You know the saying "Two steps forward, and one step back" don't you? That was brought fresh to my mind by the next step along the way to a new motor. Even though the "retro" look had been abandoned, I still wanted to use a set of 2.5" Corvette Ram Horn exhaust manifolds I had.

I bought them off of Ebay with the intentions of using them when I needed a new motor. They sat on a shelf in my garage for a few months before they were needed. I shipped them to Stoked Out, and they discovered both of the manifolds were cracked at the flange and had been epoxied back together.

Of course they had been sitting on my shelf just long enough for the information of the auction to go away. That meant I had no way to contact the guy that sold them to me. So much for trusting someone with 97% positive feedback.

At least we were able to use them to mock up the exhaust. This was a test fit to see if they would clear the motor mount cover. The passenger side clears with room to spare.
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Old 02-12-2006, 12:37 PM   #19
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Re: 77 Cheyenne meets Ramjet 350 by N2TRUX

There was some concern that there might be clearence issues on the drivers side. The 2.5" Ram Horns have a large exit opening that comes out right at the motor mount. To get the exhaust to clear the motor mount cover, it has to be notched in some cases.

I'm not sure why I got lucky, but in this case I did. There was no clearence issues at all. Maybe God was cutting me some slack for getting screwed on the manifolds I bought off of Ebay.

Here's a test fit of the driver side manifold. It is tight, but it does clear. It will eventually have a custom built exhaust attached to it. We were testing out different valve cover options here too.
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Old 02-16-2006, 08:32 AM   #20
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Re: 77 Cheyenne meets Ramjet 350 by N2TRUX

I did a lot of research on brackets for the motor. I looked at all the cool billet brackets, but decided against. None of them had the look I wanted I didn't want to deal trying to keep them polished. I know there are some that have a protective coating but they didn't appeal to me either.

I ran across the brackets offered by Bills Hot Rod Garage. As you can tell in the pics above they are a piece of art. They have a clean simple style with really nice chrome and they come with everything you need to install them. If you find yourself in need of aftermarket brackets give Bill a call. He will be more than happy to take care of your needs, and he doesn't mind chatting about your project.

Since clean, simple and chrome is my theme, I chose to use stock style metal pullies. Again I considered all the options but in the end I felt it was going to be hard to beat the looks and function of stock pullies smoothed out and chromed. Here's a better look at the pullies and brackets mounted and ready for the new a/c compressor.
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Old 02-21-2006, 09:15 AM   #21
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Re: 77 Cheyenne meets Ramjet 350 by N2TRUX

Since we can't have the motor just hanging there, lets take a look at the transmission that I discussed earlier. I wanted an OD transmission so I might have a chance at getting decent gas mileage. I used a 700r4 because it has a low first gear and overdrive. Combined with 3.08 rear gears I'm hoping I can have my cake and eat it too. Or would that be have my horsepower and fuel mileage too.

As I mentioned, my brother-in-law has been building transmissions for 30+ years so he got elected to do the job. It should be smooth as silk under normal acceleration, and have a nice firm shift when pushed hard.

Roger considered modifying the stock crossmember but decided it would look much cleaner if he built one. He used channel in the frames and round tubing as the crossmember. This allowed him to get everything above the frame.

You can see where the high volume fuel pump was mounted on the frame. This picture was taken before the wiring was detailed.
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Old 02-23-2006, 08:01 AM   #22
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Re: 77 Cheyenne meets Ramjet 350 by N2TRUX

Looking from the bottom you can see that the 2.5" Ram Horn manifolds do tuck tight to the block. It will take a little creative work to make the xhaust clear everything. I have seen Roger and Keith build some pretty wild headers and exhaust systems. I don't have any worries that this will be a problem for them.
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Old 02-23-2006, 08:07 AM   #23
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Re: 77 Cheyenne meets Ramjet 350 by N2TRUX

This side is even tighter since it has the starter to deal with. Unfortunately this starter had to be replaced. It was discovered after it was painted and installed that it was not the correct tooth count for the flexplate. We could either pull the transmission and change the flexplate, or replace the starter of unknown origin with a new high torque ministarter. The ministarter got the vote.
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Old 02-26-2006, 06:01 PM   #24
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Re: 77 Cheyenne meets Ramjet 350 by N2TRUX

Things were starting to take shape now. The motor and transmission were in and everything seemed to fit like it should. The brackets and accessories were mocked up and appeared they would work fine too. It was time to start considering the appearence of the final package.

Roger had suggested before we started that he wanted to do something with the area around the injectors. No matter what you did to clean that part of the motor up, the injectors, fuel rail, and harness were hard to make pretty. He recommended we cover it up since everything we had seen done to make this area look better made you think of lipstick on a pig.

He wanted to fabricate some covers similiar to whats used on an LT-1. This would hide all the ugly stuff and give the motor a different look. I never liked how tall and thin the RamJet plenum looks. This would help disguise some of the height of the plenum and make it look a bit wider.

He used thin template material to cut out patterns-
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Old 02-26-2006, 06:08 PM   #25
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Re: 77 Cheyenne meets Ramjet 350 by N2TRUX

This gave us an idea of what the finished product would look like. It took a few tries of trimmimg and fitting to get the shape and fit like we wanted it. Even this wouldn't be as exact as we would like since it's hard to get the template material to hold a shape.

Good old masking tape worked to hold things in place while we looked at it from every angle. I think we need to trim a little more off the front, and raise it up some more.
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