markbt73

'80s "vintage" truck project, slightly larger than the others

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Americans and their pickup trucks. It's a cliche, but it's a true one. We love 'em. And if you do as much DIY stuff as I do, it doesn't make any sense to keep renting or borrowing one when you need it. And because I've had trucks in the past that were sometimes not quite up to the task, I decided to go bigger this time.

And after a month of searching, this old beast turned up:

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And yes, some of us do still know how to drive a manual:

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For those in other countries who may not know: this is a 1989 Chevrolet K1500 4WD pickup, in the basic Cheyenne trim level. It has a 4.3 liter V6 making only 160hp but a ton of torque, a manual dual-range transfer case with automatic locking hubs, and a 4 speed Saginaw-Muncie "granny low" gearbox. (The shift pattern is a normal "H" by the way; the knob is just turned 90 degrees.)

The pale green color gives away this particular truck's history: it was originally a USDA Forest Service ranger's truck. This color is unique to the Forest Service, and not in use anymore. I think their trucks are white now. I had always heard that they were good buys for used trucks: well-maintained, usually basic trim (this truck has air conditioning but no other options), and always manual transmissions. This one has had two owners between me and Smokey the Bear, but it has been take care of, mechanically at least. At just under 200,000 miles, it still runs and drives very well, has no rust, and feels strong.

The interior was filthy when I got (a former owner smoked in it) but it cleaned up pretty well. The bench seat needs new upholstery; that's today's project.

I'm pleased to have found this truck, and I plan to take care of it. A little bit of sympathetic restoration work, a coat of wax on that famous green paint, and then just keep racking up the miles...

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Looking forward to updates, keep us posted! 

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Nice score. I'm a bit jealous, lol. I'm not really a truck guy, to be honest, but they are so darn useful. GMT400s are good cheap trucks now. Sure, they have IFS, so they're harder to lift vs the older generations but I'd probably take one over a newer GM truck though. The mechanicals are simple and pretty reliable. I truly believe they rust less than newer trucks too. I've seen plenty of GMT400s with nothing more than cab-corner rot while newer trucks get completely eaten up. 2005 Chevies with NO rocker panels left. Fords with bedsides gone around the wheel opening and Dodges, well, where don't Dodges rust?

I had and '89 2500 2WD with a 305, 5 speed manual and 14 bolt rear. It was a tank. I gradually moved everything we owned with it when we bought our current house 6 years back. I wish I could have kept it, but my wife has a strict 5-car limit (which is probably for my own good).

p.s. my shift knob was turned sideways too.

 

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Nice find!

As I am quite uninformed on the world of trucks: is the K1500 larger than the North American Ford Ranger/Mazda B-Series? I remember being disappointed when I saw the 2019 Ford Ranger; for a "small truck," it looked like the only thing small about it was its pickup bed...

I look forward to seeing this project progress!

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2 hours ago, Saito2 said:

Nice score. I'm a bit jealous, lol. I'm not really a truck guy, to be honest, but they are so darn useful. GMT400s are good cheap trucks now. Sure, they have IFS, so they're harder to lift vs the older generations but I'd probably take one over a newer GM truck though. The mechanicals are simple and pretty reliable. I truly believe they rust less than newer trucks too. I've seen plenty of GMT400s with nothing more than cab-corner rot while newer trucks get completely eaten up. 2005 Chevies with NO rocker panels left. Fords with bedsides gone around the wheel opening and Dodges, well, where don't Dodges rust?

I had and '89 2500 2WD with a 305, 5 speed manual and 14 bolt rear. It was a tank. I gradually moved everything we owned with it when we bought our current house 6 years back. I wish I could have kept it, but my wife has a strict 5-car limit (which is probably for my own good).

p.s. my shift knob was turned sideways too.

 

She only allows 5?! I should count myself lucky my missus only went mental when number 8 appeared! :lol: 

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2 hours ago, Grastens said:

Nice find!

As I am quite uninformed on the world of trucks: is the K1500 larger than the North American Ford Ranger/Mazda B-Series? I remember being disappointed when I saw the 2019 Ford Ranger; for a "small truck," it looked like the only thing small about it was its pickup bed...

I look forward to seeing this project progress!

Yes, this is the GM equivalent of the Ford F-series. About a foot wider and two feet longer than a Ranger. An S-10 would be a Ranger's equal in size (though not in any other measurable way; S-10s are kinda junk...). I was actually looking for an F150, but I couldn't pass this up for the condition and price ($1200!).

Standard GM truck nomenclature: C or R = 2WD, K or V = 4WD. 10/15/1500 = half ton payload capacity, 20/2500 = 3/4 ton, 30/3500 = 1 ton.

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So yesterday I spent 4 hours pulling out the seat, re-upholstering it, cleaning the rest of the floor under it, and putting everything back together.

The seat, as removed:

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With the new upholstery (vinyl instead of cloth, thought it would be easier to keep clean with the dogs)

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And installed:

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It's not a perfect fit, but then, this isn't exactly a show car. It's comfy, there's no more exposed foam, and it doesn't stink of cigarettes. So I'm happy.

You can also see the aftermarket tachometer I installed. Can't stand not having a tach with a manual.

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I owned quite a few 4.3 powered trucks and vans, and I still have a '93 Chevy Caprice with a factory LB4 4.3 V6. (Yes, they made those, in 92-93 only, and only available to fleet account buyers). While the 4.3 V6 works well in light trucks in my opinion, the version that came in the passenger cars was a mid-80's, 130 hp econo version reactivated in '92, mostly for taxi fleet buyers that didn't want the 305... but backed by the same 4L60 transmission and 3.08 rear end... yeah... one of the less exciting GM powertrain options of the time, to put it politely. 

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This one definitely has gearing working for it. It has 3.73 axles, and "1st" gear (actually 2nd) is a 3.5something. So it gets going just fine. The downside is that without overdrive, it's pretty raucous at anything over about 60 mph. But then, it's a truck, not a Coupe deVille...

I've driven an '80s Monte Carlo with the old 229 V6, which probably had 3.08 or maybe 2.73 gears, and yeah, it was less than thrilling.

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Nice RCLB. I like the W/T grilles, much better looking than the GMC grille IMO. Looks like a well looked after truck! Does the A/C still blow cold? You could always convert it to the r134 setup out of a later 4.3 (96 up) when it runs out of freon.

I have a 93 ECSB C1500 silverado with the 5.7/4L60e and 3.73 with the gov lock. 

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The AC won't stay running, so I think it's pretty low on freon. It has screw-on R134 fittings, but I'll have to go through it and make sure they replaced all the O-rings and stuff before I recharge it. But fixing an existing system beats trying to add it to a truck that didn't come with it...

I like the W/T front end as well, not only because of the grille, but the old glass sealed-beam headlights. They'll never turn all foggy and yellow.

Next thing to tackle in this beast: fuel economy. The fuel gauge is dropping at an alarming rate. New ignition parts are on the way, and as soon as I sell my old car I'll be able to afford to replace the tires. These are 3" bigger diameter and 1" wider than stock. Can't be helping the mileage any.

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Yes I meant the newer one uses r134 so you can go to a junkyard and rob parts to convert it if need be. 

I think stock is 235/75/15?

Now you have a tach, what rpm is it doing at 60mph?

I have 275/60/15 and our petrol is nearly 4x what it costs in the States :lol: so thats why I have a little Honda Fit for a daily.

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I actually haven't had it on the highway since I put the tach in... my daily commute is all 45mph or below. But with no overdrive, Im sure it's around 2500-3000 rpm at 60.

Stock tires according to the jamb sticker are LT225/75/16 (4WD trucks use 16" wheels). It has LT235/85/16s on it, and they're all-terrain tread, which adds another half-inch of tread width, and a lot of road noise. I want to go back to stock size, and highway tread. I'll never use the all-terrain tires anyway; I need 4WD for slippery hills in the wintertime, not off-roading. The closest I come to off-roading is gravel roads out in wine country. :)

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One reason for high fuel consumption in the TBIs, at least in my expeerience, are bad O2 sensors. If you can get the old one out without stripping the threads in the manifold, it almost never hurts to replace the sensor. 

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8 minutes ago, S-PCS said:

One reason for high fuel consumption in the TBIs, at least in my expeerience, are bad O2 sensors. If you can get the old one out without stripping the threads in the manifold, it almost never hurts to replace the sensor. 

Thanks, I'll add it to the list. 

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So the first tank of fuel is done, and I filled up yesterday. 12.5 miles per gallon (US gallon, 3.8 liters). Not good,  but not as terrible as I feared. It should do better now; I replaced the air filter and the ignition coil (cap, rotor, wires, plugs, and HEI module are all new, they just skipped the coil) and aired up the tires to 50 psi from 35. Rides a little rougher, but just noticeable. I'm shooting for the actual EPA-estimated 15 mpg. If I can manage that, I'll be happy.

I also replaced the nearly completely blown-out factory speakers with some fancy new Pioneers. It still has just the stock AM/FM radio, but at least now I can actually listen to something besides speaker crackle.

Small improvements, a little at a time...

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That's a really cool truck.  Nice and solid, basic, interesting color.  I was excited to see you went for the regular cab with a long bed; that's exactly what I have as well.  Mine's the WT (work truck) trim level with rubber floor and vinyl seats, which makes it so easy to vacuum and wipe down; I can appreciate your choice in vinyl!  Good luck with your repairs and updates!

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1 hour ago, speedy_w_beans said:

That's a really cool truck.  Nice and solid, basic, interesting color.  I was excited to see you went for the regular cab with a long bed; that's exactly what I have as well.  Mine's the WT (work truck) trim level with rubber floor and vinyl seats, which makes it so easy to vacuum and wipe down; I can appreciate your choice in vinyl!  Good luck with your repairs and updates!

Yeah, I'm not sure why this one is badged as a Cheyenne rather than a WT, but it's basically the same thing: black rubber floors, basic radio, no soundproofing. I'm a big fan of nice basic vehicles like this. My wife, not so much. But she has her own car with power everything and leather seats and all that; this one is for ME.

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compnine.com will most likely be able to provide an answer to the trim level question. 

And make that rubber floor, vinyl seats, radio delete for me! But I'll take power windows over manual any day. 

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