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Old 11-05-2015, 11:15 AM   #1
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Refining "Sierra"

Its been a long time since I have had a new project. My 77 Cheyenne has been the focus of my attention for a decade or more. My daughter recently got married, so my wife and I decided to fill the empty space in our garage with a new project.

My intentions were to locate a original paint 73-87 and do a mild freshen up. After a few months of searching, and realized I am much more anal about paint than many of the sellers I encountered. Their definition of a "hard #7" in quality, was more like hardly a #4 with more blemishes than all the boys at the Junior Prom.

I finally found a 1984 GMC Sierra SWB that was local to me. It belonged to a friend of a friend, and he was downsizing his collection of toys. In my research on the history of the build I discovered I knew the truck and its builder from my Instagram feed.

To give credit where its due and document the changes I will be making, I decided a build thread was in order. Since much of the work was already done by the builder along with updates along the way, I will focus on the refinements I have planned. Hence the title of "Refining Sierra".

I am still working on pics and paper trail, so join me in my adventure.
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Old 11-05-2015, 12:26 PM   #2
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Re: Refining "Sierra"

This 1983 GMC Sierra was purchased new in Malvern, AR in October of 83 from Rob Wilson Motors.It was a fully loaded Sierra Classic with all the options. Purchased by the Odell Webb builders it lead a pampered life with very few miles driven by the Executive owner.
In 1988 it was traded in at Jordan OLDS-PONTIAC-GMC in Hot Springs AR with 6000 miles on it. Later it was sold to a gentlemen liviing in Hot Springs that kept it well maintained and stored indoors.
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Old 11-06-2015, 01:00 PM   #3
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Re: Refining "Sierra"

USome time last year, Juan Carlos of Jaunky Built in Florida came across this clean squarebody GMC and brought to his shop. He has a history of buying solid trucks to build and sell. He worked is magic on "Sierra" and a star was born.
In order to give credit where its due, read the details from his listing below.


This 1984 GMC Sierra Classic Up for your consideration today is this pristine 1984 GMC Sierra Classic. This Truck just under went a complete restoration by me (Juanky Built) It Was in great conditions to begin with but I just put it over The top with a few touches. Truck was completely taken apart just leaving cab and drive train on. I Lowered the truck 5/7 using spindles and springs up front and doing a flip kit in the rear with Bell Tech Shocks on all 4 corners giving the truck a good stance and great ride and handling.

I also installed a set of Wilwood Calipers with slotted rotors to help with the stopping… Under the hood its all original The stock 305 V8 sounds and looks amazing… In fact the entire engine bay looks incredible still sporting the factory tire jack still in its original location. The Truck has a TH350 that shifts and operates as it should…. no slips no hard hits… The Truck has only 73k miles and who ever owned it prior really took great care of it… On the outside. I repainted the truck with its factory white paint code. and it is straight as an arrow…. Originally the truck was two tone white and beige. I thought all white with the white rims was a cleaner look…. All trim is new…front and rear bumpers are new (Blazer rear bumper) Cargo lamp is new and works. Dual fuel tanks that you can select from a switch on the dash…

The end result of his updates are shown with pics from his original ad.
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Old 11-06-2015, 01:14 PM   #4
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Re: Refining "Sierra"

Once the professional transformation from daily driver to debutant was completed by #juankybuilt "Sierra" was ready for the next chapter in life. She headed to a new home back in Arkansas. She made the local show circuit and picked up some top awards.



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Old 11-09-2015, 11:35 AM   #5
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Re: Refining "Sierra"

After owning Sierra for a short period, the last Arkansas owner decided to move on. He sold it to a gentleman from Tomball, Texas named Mike. Mike has owned several very nice cars and trucks, and liked the fresh look of Sierra. Well, everything but the white wheels. Even though the white spokes accented the fresh paint nicely, he wanted to change the look.

Mike contacted a friend that worked for Discount Tire, and ordered a set of Raceline wheels. He rolled out on Static Five Raceline 22" wheels with Yokohama tires
255/35/22 & 285/35/22.

This new look was more what he had in mind for the truck, but it wasnt going to be his for long. After a lengthy list of maintenance that included a new radiator, hoses, and thermostat. He also updated the A/C to run on 134, to ensure proper cooling in the Texas heat. The Trans and rear end were serviced along with new master cylinder, booster, and rear wheel cylinders. He had the windows tinted and a full Kenwood system to enhance the interior too.

During this time he and his wife decided they needed to dowsize his fleet of hotrods and Sierra was on the short list. She was once again put up for sale. Thats where I became involved in the story.
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Old 11-13-2015, 09:45 AM   #6
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Re: Refining "Sierra"

So now that Sierra has become cozy in her spot of prominence in my garage, I decided to evaluate what she needed. The last owner had done a round of maintenance that included a transmission service. Now the trans pan is leaking, so I am suspecting the pan bolts need to be snugged up. He had the rear axle serviced, and it appears to be seeping too. Again, I will assume it needs the bolts checked for tightness.

The valve cover gaskets were replaced as well, but I still see some wet spots on the motor. I'm not sure if they are seeping, or its leaking somewhere else. I plan to pressure wash the motor, transmission, and rear end and do a snug check on all the bolts related. This will let me know whats next. I cant stand a leaking drive-train, so that will be attended to promptly.

In the interim, I took notes of what the interior needed. It had been recently restored with new upholstery and carpet, but the foam in the seat was collapsing on the drivers side. I found a local mobile upholstery repair service (Cypress Upholstery) to resolve that issue. He removed the bench seat, installed new foam where needed, and stretched the seat tight again. Now my left cheek doesn't feel like its hanging off the edge any more.

The stereo has been upgraded with a full Kenwood system and speakers. Unfortunately the shop that installed it wasnt concerned with how well the new 4x10s fit in the stock brackets behind the seat. That combined with a stock package tray that had seen better days once it was exposed to the light of day while the seat was out required some attention.

After removing everything and cleaning the accumulation of dead seat foam and dust, I discovered a cab floor that was pristine. It was evident that this truck had spent its life in a dry environment.
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Old 11-16-2015, 11:54 AM   #7
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Re: Refining "Sierra"

This weekend was spent working on several sections of the interior. I diligently try to break things down in to small jobs, with parts ordered in advance. My objective is to have it fully functional by the end of the day on Sunday. As we all know to well, even the best laid plains hit a few bumps in the road.

This weekend I had planned to update the gauge cluster, finish repainting the seat hardware, and continue on the package tray/speaker box build. I ordered LED lights, and an new light switch from Amazon. I bought a fresh brake pedal pad, and under hood insulation from Ecklers. I also picked up a sheet of 1/2" MDF, a small can Testors neon orange paint and a roll of 3/4 inch foam weather seal.

My Nephew Christian has been my loyal assistant the past few years, and he is along for the adventure on this build as well. We pulled the bench seat out again, and disassembled it. The stock brackets and hardware needed a fresh coat of paint. After a battle with trying three of the new Krylon formulas, he got one that had a nice sheen and didnt fish eye.
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Old 11-16-2015, 12:07 PM   #8
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Re: Refining "Sierra"

We pulled the dash pad, and removed the gauge cluster. The cluster was fully functional, but the lens a bit foggy and had minor scratches. The needles were faded, and a couple of the bulbs were out or intermittent. It still had the original #168 bulbs, so you had to strike a match to see the dash at night.

The light switch was a bit twitchy at best. It did work, but the dash lights would go off if you tried to adjust them. I bought a new AC Delco switch from Amazon, and slipped it in place. It now works smoothly as intended.

We dissambled the gauge cluster to inspect its condition. Besides the usual degrading of the housing, it was in decent shape. The printed circuit had some minor damage to a couple of runs, but a few dabs of super glue and it was good as new.

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Old 11-16-2015, 12:21 PM   #9
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Re: Refining "Sierra"

We completely dissembled the cluster and separated the gauges for inspection. All the gauge faces were dusty, but no signs of surface rust. The housing was dried out as expected, and a few of the alignment pins were cracked. We cleaned the housing thoroughly with Windex and masked off all of the gauge connectors.

The pins were super glued in place, and the inside was painted a chrome silver color to create a reflective surface. While it was drying, we used a soft brush to clean the gauge faces. I cut manila folders in half, then cut slits in them to slide under the needles. We used the Testors florescent paint to paint the needles.

Thats when the first tragedy of the day happened. As gentle as I tried to be, I managed to snap off the needle for the gas gauge. I attempted to super glue it back together but that didnt fly. Rather than end up with super glue on the gauge face trying to repair the needle, I decided to look for a replacement.


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Old 11-18-2015, 11:49 AM   #10
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Re: Refining "Sierra"

EAfter the needle broke on the last gauge I was masking, I was truly frustrated. I had planned to have the interior back together by Sunday evening. This was not factored in my plan.

I got resourceful and made a post on my Instagram and Facebook feeds asking for help. I was inundated with gracious offers from all over the world. Fortunately a local Squarebody Brother stepped in to save my day. Early Sunday morning I made an hour drive to get a new needle.

Al Harvey had two clusters and offered them to me. One had the correct gauge and I plucked the needle from it. I thanked him and his wife, then headed home again. Along the way home I thought I should have just taken the gauge. Later I would regret that decision.

Chris and I double teamed the cluster and got the components ready to install. The LEDS instructions said they were directional in polarity, so I tested each one before installing. Once that was done it was time to reassemble the cluster.

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Old 11-19-2015, 09:56 AM   #11
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Re: Refining "Sierra"

/After testing all the LED bulbs and installing them,I wanted to ensure that all the gauges were working before I closed the cluster up. Everything seemed to be functioning properly except the gas gauge. I knew that one tank was full, and the other was almost full. I couldnt get a proper reading, so I decided to remove the needle and make an adjustment.

Since I wasnt sure exactly which tank was full, and which was not I decided to top them both off and adjust from there. A quick trip to fill the tanks, and we could close the dash up. Thats when disaster #2 struck.

I managed to get a consistent reading from both tanks, but neither showed full. I tried to gently remove the new needle, but it broke too. At this point I was pretty much defeated. Not only am i not sure why my readings are off, I have yet another broken needle. Grrr!

Disappointed and frustrated, I was determined to see as much progress as possible. We removed the stock speakers and cleaned the top of the dash thoroughly. We stripped the surface rust from the speaker brackets and gave them a coat of satin black. Yes, I know they wont be seen, but it made me feel better.


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Old 11-25-2015, 11:22 AM   #12
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Re: Refining "Sierra"

Unfortunately progress was slow last weekend. I was on call and ran all weekend long. I did manage to pick up two spare clusters from my buddy Al to use what I need. I also got an extra needle from forum member Kaysen. That was such an awesome gesture for him to send me a spare needle from his collection of parts.

Thanks to Hack Shack Al, and Kaysen for sharing.
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Old 11-29-2015, 12:43 PM   #13
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Re: Refining "Sierra"

This weekend I managed to get some garage time in after Thanksgiving. I spent some time removing all of the dried out foam insulation around the A/C ducts, and vents. I stripped the old foam off and cleaned the surface with lacquer thinner. We installed new foam weather strips and added some in places where the factory didnt. I should have a good flow of air from my vents now.

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Old 11-29-2015, 08:36 PM   #14
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Re: Refining "Sierra"

The cigarette lighter wasnt working, so I pulled the ashtray. I cleaned and painted each part, then replaced the lighter assembly with a new one. I dont smoke, but I may need to use a car charger. Besides, it just bugged me that it didnt work.

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Old 11-29-2015, 08:36 PM   #15
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Re: Refining "Sierra"

As I assembled the dash, I pulled the components around it and detailed them as well. Heres the gas pedal assembly before and after.

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Old 11-30-2015, 05:08 PM   #16
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Re: Refining "Sierra"

Love the White. Can't wait to see the fine tuning of this one.
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Old 12-06-2015, 07:14 PM   #17
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Re: Refining "Sierra"

The progress was limited this weekend. We determined that the front speakers weren't working, and we had no radio signal. I decided to update the speakers to match the quality of the rest of the system. I ordered a set of Kenwood KFC-835C 3.5" to drop in the factory mounts. This should improve front fill greatly.

The windshield antenna was not properly connected. Once we tightened up the connections, we had HD radio siignal. It was time to install the dashboard once again.

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Old 12-16-2015, 01:56 PM   #18
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Re: Refining "Sierra"

With Christmas right around the corner, I have had limited shop time. I have been somewhat perplexed on exactly how I wanted the design of my storage box for behind the seat. The pressed board unit that was there from the factory was not in great shape. I found a replacement unit is available, but I just couldn't make myself spend 100.00 for a fancy piece of cardboard. There had to be a better solution.

Its been a lot of years since I spent time designing speaker boxes or installing stereo equipment. I had to dust off the cobwebs in my head to see if I still had what it takes. The main body of the storage box is simple enough. Where I ran in to design issues was the corner speakers.

The Sierra came with a nice set of Kenwood 5x10s installed. Unfortunately whoever installed them in the factory 6x9 corner mounts used rather crude techniques. I tried to improve what was there, and realized quickly that wasnt going to please me. I decided to emulate the corner brackets with 1/2" MDF, but was not pleased with the results of that version either.

I'm no audio expert, but I do have a decent amount of installation and design knowledge. No matter how I tried to adjust the mounting angle, the 5x10 was firing at the back of the seat. That is just not conducive to sound quality. I scrapped that plan, and started from scratch.

I have more time than I care to admit, and I am still not through with tweaking the cosmetics. As far as function, I have improved the corner design dramatically. In return the aesthetics aren't exactly what I had in mind, but its a compromise that I feel I can live with. Once its covered it wont stand out as much.

Please note that the cardboard top is just a template for a cover. Also note that the OEM grill will be painted to match.

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Old 12-20-2015, 08:07 PM   #19
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Re: Refining "Sierra"

Another hectic weekend, but I managed to get a step closer on the speaker/storage box. I found a vinyl material that will be used to cover everything. I hadnt planned to use vinyl, but I found some that will help tie all the factory colors together. You just never know what you might find in the discount section of the local fabric store.
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Old 12-20-2015, 08:21 PM   #20
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Re: Refining "Sierra"

I had roughed in the final version of the speaker boxes last weekend. Now its time to fine tune the fit and secure everything. Something to remember when building interior components is make sure to adjust your final tolerances to accomodate the material you plan to cover with. I had to adjust for the thickness of the vinyl to ensure a nice fit after its covered.
Although they may look a little rough, the boxes are square to the cab contours, and ready for final fill and sand. I mocked them up one last time then used wood glue to seal the boxes. All the screws are slighly countersunk and will be flushed before the box is covered.
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Old 12-23-2015, 12:47 PM   #21
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Re: Refining "Sierra"

I have been waiting for the Christmas specials to make the final purchase to complete the Kenwood system. I wanted to add some bass without eliminating the limited amount of storage space behind the seat. In researching the dash speakers on the Kenwood site, I ran across the KSC-SW11 which is a compact powered subwoofer. Bestbuy dropped their price for Christmas, so I pulled the trigger.

Specs are as follows
aluminum enclosure with 8-1/4" x 5-1/8" sub
built-in amplifier: 75 watts RMS power (150 watts maximum)
wired remote for control over:
volume level
variable low-pass crossover (50-125 Hz)
selectable phase control (0°, 180°)

frequency response: 35-125 Hz
dimensions: 11"W x 2-3/4"H x 7-1/2"D

This should give a nice bass fill with out having a huge enclosure.
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Old 12-23-2015, 08:27 PM   #22
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Re: Refining "Sierra"

Upgrades are looking good. Are you planning to take her to LST in February?
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Old 12-24-2015, 07:07 PM   #23
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Re: Refining "Sierra"

Quote:
Originally Posted by aggie91 View Post
Upgrades are looking good. Are you planning to take her to LST in February?
Yes sir. I "hope" to take Sierra and my 77 too. Right now my focus is on having Sierra done for LST.
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Old 12-28-2015, 10:19 AM   #24
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Re: Refining "Sierra"

Sometimes you have to go backward several steps to move forward. Thats been the case in the design of this storage box. Again I battled with function versus aesthetics. If I kept the original design, the sub speaker enclosure was against the back of the seat unless I angled it dramatically.

The trade off was to disassemble the box and modify the shape once more. This gives more storage space, and eliminates the clearance issue. I do feel the balance of aesthetics and function blend well. Now I am wood filling, sanding, and blocking the boxes now for final fitment. We will cover them once the system has been tested and tuned.

While the filler is drying, we started on final routing of wiring. I knew it would require some cleaning up, but it was a bigger mess than expected. The stereo installers work was not to my standards as I prefer to solder and shrink tube wires when possible. The install location also requires removing the carpet as we had a pretty large bundle that wouldn't hide well along the door threshold. Once everything is routed and tested we can start the reassembly process.
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Last edited by N2TRUX; 12-28-2015 at 10:58 AM.
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Old 12-28-2015, 11:20 AM   #25
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Re: Refining "Sierra"







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Originally Posted by N2TRUX View Post
Sometimes you have to go backward several steps to move forward. Thats been the case in the design of this storage box. Again I battled with function versus aesthetics. If I kept the original design, the sub speaker enclosure was against the back of the seat unless I angled it dramatically.

The trade off was to disassemble the box and modify the shape once more. This gives more storage space, and eliminates the clearance issue. I do feel the balance of aesthetics and function blend well. Now I am wood filling, sanding, and blocking the boxes now for final fitment. We will cover them once the system has been tested and tuned.

While the filler is drying, we started on final routing of wiring. I knew it would require some cleaning up, but it was a bigger mess than expected. The stereo installers work was not to my standards as I prefer to solder and shrink tube wires when possible. The install location also requires removing the carpet as we had a pretty large bundle that wouldn't hide well along the door threshold. Once everything is routed and tested we can start the reassembly process.
I closed the discussion thread now that this one is fully updated. Please post any comments in this thread.
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"Refining Sierra"
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