Work continues on the truck, now known as Six Shooter. I might have already mentioned that in a previous post but going forward it will be the standard reference. Six Shooter also has its own web site, sixshooter.info. The plan there is to put a bluetooth beacon in the truck, especially at car shows, so that people can go to the web site to learn more about the vehicle.

freshly powder coated K-Member from a 1963 Chevy C10

The most recent progress is the installation of Performance Online (POL) suspension upgrade parts. A few months ago a friend came over and we stripped off the original front suspension, all the way down to the k-member. The k-member went to Powder Coat It Santa Cruz where it got dipped in a degreasing hot tub, media blasted and powder coated semi-gloss black. I order new parts from Performance Online, everything from the k-member out; tubular upper and lower control arms, tie rods, springs, spindles, and disc brakes. Also replacing all of the steering parts; manual steering box (yes, sticking with manual steering for now), pitman arm, and idler arm. Brandon at Performance Online was extremely helpful. Made sure I got exactly what I needed for the build. The only item not replaced in the steering is the center link. It is in good shape so it will go to Powder Coat It to get blasted and powder coated.

Installation of the new parts was relatively easy and went fairly quickly. Performance Online is pretty skimpy on the documentation but I cannot say that it really caused any problems. We bolted the k-member to the frame using new grade 8 bolts and nuts. Next the upper tubular control arms went on. I reused the original spacers when installing the upper control arms but I wish I had purchased POL’s Camber Correction Kit with the rest of the parts. I will probably purchase it and make the switch. The upper control arm ball joints bolted into place without issue.

Tubular lower control arm on a 1963 Chevy C10

The lower tubular control arms went on next. I purchased new U bolts from POL. Once the U bolts were tight enough to hold the cross shaft securely, we noticed that one side moved up and down fairly freely while the other side was pretty hard to move. It could still be moved by hand but the harder one took a fair amount of effort. A big plus, POL had already pressed the ball joints into place on the lower control arms. No need to find a press. Nice. We attached the spindle to the upper control arm ball joint threading the nut on to where the ball joint stud was just shy of flush with the top of the nut to give us as much room as possible to get the spring in.

1963 Chevy C10 driver side front suspension no tire

We borrowed a spring compressor from Auto Zone, the type that goes inside the spring with two hooks, a plate and a fine threaded rod. The hole in the lower control arm is rather small so it took a few minutes to figure out how to get the compressor out once it had served its purpose. It was necessary to fully disassemble the spring compressor in order to get it out. Yes, those hooks come off, too. The spring needs to be compressed pretty significantly in order to fit it in. Once the spring was in place, we lifted the lower control arm fitted the stud into the spindle, and threaded the nut. Then we tighten both upper and lower ball joint studs. It was necessary to completely unthread the rod from the compressor. Then pull the pins holding the hooks and remove all of the pieces individually through the hold in the lower control arm. Once we figured out the process — which we did before attempting to install the springs — it was pretty simple and straightforward.

Front suspension on 1963 Chevy C10, no front clip or engine

Lastly, I hung the anti-sway bar in place to see where the holes would need to be drilled. On my frame, there is one hole already in a perfect location. I only need to make a second hole for the mounting bracket. That second hole would best be right where a rivet is located which holds the radiator support in place. The current thought is to remove the rivet and use the existing hole to mount the anti-sway bar bracket. We shall see how that works out.

I still have steering parts to install. Before I can do that the center link needs to be blasted and powder coated. Six Shooter still needs a lot of work before he will be ready for first start. I would like to get to first start by the end of summer. We will see how much work gets done over the next 12 to 13 weeks.

Back in November of last year I introduced my latest project vehicle, a 1963 Chevrolet C10. At that time I had redone the gaskets, rebuilt the carburetor and pulled the gas tank to fix the filler neck. As is so often the case with project cars, a lot has happened since my last article but not much has changed.

1963 Chevrolet C10 Pickup Truck

While the gas tank was out I decided it was a good opportunity to address the condition of the floor pan and try to quiet the ride a little. This was supposed to be a quick weekend project after which I would get the truck back on the road and continue build the truck one weekend project at a time (stop laughing).

I wire brushed out all of the surface rust on the floor pan and bulkheads. Treated the areas that had rust with a product called SEM Rust-Seal and primered the entire floor and rear bulkhead. After some research I decided to use Second Skin Audio’s Spectrum spray on sound abatement product. Math is hard and I ended up buying too much. A gallon is plenty to shoot three coats on the floor pan of a single cab pickup truck. Email me if you need some, I have a lot left.

Prepping the floorboard for paint

At some point the driver side door finally stopped latching closed altogether. If the door will not stay closed, the vehicle is not really drivable. I am not red neck enough to tie the door shut with a rope, so I tore the door apart to replace the latch assembly. As long as I had the door apart and had to buy a lot of replacement parts anyway, might as well rebuild the door. This involves replacing all the weather strip, seals and gaskets. On these old vehicles that had wind wing vents, that ends up being a lot of work. And of course, you cannot just do one door, right?

During all this I was investigating the rebuild of the engine. I was originally planning to rebuild the engine myself. By that I mean, tear it down, send everything to the machine shop, buy a rebuild kit and put it all back together. For quality parts (ie, not purchased on eBay) and using the better machine shop in the area, rebuilding the engine would cost about $1800. So, what does a remanufactured engine cost. I came across the hiperformer.com web site which claimed to have 250 CID 6 cylinder long blocks for $1191. Holy smokes! That is way cheaper than doing it myself and it comes with a 7 year, 100,000 mile warranty. Well, the starting price is $1191. There is a $250 core charge. Shipping is $150. So, the remanufactured engine will actually cost me $1500. Plus the extras I ended up putting on it.

When I started this project my intent was to build a bone stock ’60s era truck to use as a daily driver. But I decided that I also wanted to get good gas mileage, so I started looking at modifications that would improve mpg. At the end of the day, it turns out that most of the modifications that improve power and torque are the same improvements that improve mpg. At least to a certain extent.

Long story short, I have ordered Clifford’s dual carb intake manifold, 2 Weber 38 DGAS carburetors, and Clifford headers. Clifford claims this will increase horse power and torque by 100% and the dual carbs will improve gas mileage by 10 to 15 mpg. When I talked to the engine remanufacturer about what I was planning they suggested porting and polishing the head and putting in a mild Elgin cam. In summary, I will now be putting in a remanufactured engine with a mild Elgin cam, dual carbs and headers. I do plan to try to get it on a dyno and see what it makes at the rubber.

As I write this, the truck sits interior completely gutted, front clip sitting in a piece in the garage, the engine and transmission removed. The engine is on order and scheduled to arrive this week. The Clifford parts have been order and should arrive in a week or two. The transmission is out and going into the shop this week. I will be ordering a new clutch and putting the flywheel into the machine shop for resurfacing.

My son and I are currently in the middle of rewiring the truck using a Painless Rewiring Kit. We have the old wiring harness out and are starting to put in the new one. I hoping we have it finished by the end of Labor Day weekend. Once the rewire is finished, we will start putting the drive train back together. With luck and hard work, the Six Shooter will be back on the road before Thanksgiving.

Roadkill is a YouTube podcast by two guys who take sketchy, clapped out vehicles, do crazy modifications to them and then take ridiculous road trips to God knows where. They are the definition of the saying, “it is not the destination, it is the journey.” My son and I love this show.

Some time back my son bought a 1973 Chevy C10 pickup from a gentleman at my work. The truck ran but only just. I figured it would be a good learning experience for my son. Little did I know it would end up being our own Roadkill episode.

When we bought the truck it did not start well because the carburetor was in bad shape. It had a pretty bad exhaust leak and, although we did not know it at the time, it very likely had almost no compression on at least 2 cylinders.

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My son had helped me rebuild the carburetor on my 1963 Chevy C10, which had the same engine with a carburetor from the same manufacturer. So, he bought a rebuild kit and rebuilt the carburetor. Not to brag too much but my son is one of the few guys his age that even knows what a carburetor, let alone how to rebuild and properly adjust one.

That left the exhaust leak. We decided to pull the head and the manifolds effectively doing a top end rebuild. At the time I really thought the truck was just going to get my son around town so we decided not to do a full engine rebuild. #RoadkillMoment

My son pulled the head, the manifolds, disassembled the valve train and got everything stripped down to parts and ready for the machine shop. We tried a couple of different shops before finding a decent place that would do a good job. Head and manifolds went in without incident and came back ready for reassembly.

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We cleaned everything up and began reassembling the engine. It went back together well. My son learned a lot about engines in the process. After we got it back together we set timing and dwell and adjusted the carburetor. It was not running as well as I thought it should so I took it in to my auto mechanic and asked him to dial it in for me. I failed to close up all the vacuum leaks which was the primary reason it was not tuning up right. Once all the vacuum leaks were closed up and engine was tuned, it really ran pretty good.

About this time, my son landed an internship at a ranch in Montana. This would be a great opportunity to take his newly rebuilt truck on a road trip. A father and son adventure of a life time. I talked to my mechanic about it, he thought taking the truck on such a long trip with almost no break in after the rebuild was a bad idea. He does not watch Roadkill. We packed the truck and took off.

From Salinas, California to Big Sandy, Montana is 1350 miles, over Donner Pass in the Sierras and then over the continental divide. It is a long trip for any vehicle. The Rusty Bullet started out doing pretty well. It ran pretty smooth and held 65 to 70 without trouble. And got about 9 miles to the gallon. We climbed to the top of Donner Pass without much slow down for the grade, after a carburetor adjustment for altitude. At this point, I was really impressed with the old truck and my son’s work. I was pretty sure it was going to be a fun trip.

Roadkill trip to MT

As we descended through the Sierras the oil light came on. At first I figured it was probably a faulty wire or light but better safe than sorry. I pulled over to check the oil. The dip stick was bone dry. Nothing. Not a drop of oil anywhere on the stick. Well, that is a little worrisome. We drove to the next exit where, fortunately, there was a gas station that did indeed carry oil. I bought five quarts (because it appeared to be empty). The engine took three quarts to get to the appropriate point on the dip stick. We drove into Reno where I figured it might be a wise idea to buy a case of oil, just in case. I also checked the spark plugs to see if they were getting fouled by the oil that was leaking into the cylinder due to the dilapidated rings. Based on the condition of the plugs it appeared that cylinders 1 and 4 were the worst, 2 and 3 were better but still pretty bad and 5 and 6 were in pretty good shape.

Remember that RoadkillMoment tag at the end of paragraph five? Yeah, I should have had my son rebuild the bottom half, too.

About half way through the first day of driving the truck began to hesitate under acceleration at the top end. Adjustments seemed to help but the hesitations never went away completely. Day one ended with our fairly late arrival at what was scheduled to be our only night in a hotel. The next day we were planning to drive all the way through to Big Sandy.

We woke up early the next morning and got on the road. Most of the second day was relatively uneventful. We carried lots of oil and kept the acceleration easy at speeds over 50 and things seemed to go OK. Until mid afternoon, my son was driving and we were starting up the hill out of Helena when the truck could not get above 30 miles per hour. Frustrated and worried that we were not going to make Big Sandy that night, we pulled to the side to see what we could do. We had towing available thanks to the preparations made by my wife. I called a knowledgeable buddy and we talked through carburetor adjustment. I did as advised and the truck fired up and seemed to run well enough again.

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By the time we got to Great Falls it was acting up again. I decided that it would be better to stop for the night in Great Falls, either get someone to look at it or get more serious about fixing the problem ourselves, and then drive through to Big Sandy the next day. Fortunately we had no problem finding a hotel. We drove to the hotel and spend a good couple of hours talking,laughing and relaxing. It had been a stressful couple of days. At this point I realized that the problem we were experiencing with the truck was the same behavior I had experienced with a 1973 VW Bus I had. The problem that time was clogged fuel filters. Then I realized that there were no filters on the fuel line. Anywhere. OK. So, now I have a plan. I called O’Reilly Auto Parts in Great Falls. They had a fuel pump and a fuel filters in stock. And, they would let us work on the truck in their parking lot just like on Roadkill.

The next morning we had a lovely breakfast before driving over to O’Reilly. We bought a fuel pump, an inline fuel filter, a replacement filter to go in the carb and the necessary extra parts to put it all together. We also bought new plugs to replace the oil fouled ones that now had about 700 miles on them. We had everything replaced and the carb adjusted in about 90 minutes. Then the moment of truth. We climbed in and started down the road toward Big Sandy. We got to the first stretch of highway and opened it up. No hesitations, just good strong acceleration. We pulled into Big Sandy and the ranch in time for lunch. My son got very little time to celebrate the victory of his first Roadkill road trip (we didn’t fail). He was put to work right after lunch.

Rusty Bullet in Big Sandy, MT

Epilogue
At the end of his time in Big Sandy, my son jumped in the truck to head home. The truck made it about 250 miles before the rings finally gave out completely. In true Roadkill fashion, the Rusty Bullet now sits at a friend’s ranch. My son rode the Greyhound bus home. He is now rebuilding an engine that we will haul out to Dillon, Montana. We will do an engine swap in the pasture and drive the Rusty Bullet home next summer. Because that, is the Roadkill way.

And no, the truck was not able to do burn outs. We plan to fix that with the new engine.

About a month ago I finally began in earnest on one of my dreams. After a lot of searching, I bought a 1963 Chevrolet C10 truck. I have wanted an old truck to work on and drive for years. For many years, it simply wasn’t practical. I’m finally reaching a point in my life where I can afford to be less practical and realize a few more dreams.

The Chevy C10 is a long bed, still wearing what is left of its original cameo white over turquoise crystal. The paint is tired and has seen better days but it also qualifies as a ‘patina’ that seems to be in vogue of late. The truck has the original wood bed with the wood still in excellent condition. There does not appear to have ever been any significant body damage. There is a repairable dent to the front left fender. The rear suspension is trailing arm with coil springs which makes it ride like a car. Not great for hauling heavy loads or towing things but excellent for a vehicle whose primary purpose is daily driver.

The truck originally had a 230 CID inline 6 engine connected to a column shifted, 3 speed transmission. At some point the 230 was replaced with a 1976 250 CID 6 cylinder. The truck ran well enough to drive it the 125 miles home but there was plenty of work to be done. It leaked a lot of oil. The carburetor badly needed to be rebuilt. The shocks are probably the factory originals from 1963. The truck rides like my first ship. I had the opportunity to buy a very similar Ford F-100 that was pretty much done for about the same price. I am not sure how I will feel in a couple of months but right now I prefer this diamond in the rough that needs work. When it is ‘done’ (we all know project vehicles like this are never done) it will be my work of art. I will have the satisfaction of knowing that I am responsible for how it looks and runs.

The first thing I tackled was the seals and gaskets. Valve cover gasket, push rod cover gaskets and we tried to replace the oil pan gasket but discovered that requires at least lifting the engine off its mounts. We were not quite ready to do that. The drips from the truck when it is parked are less but not gone. No drips ever is important to me so, I need to find the other leaks.

Next on the list we tackled the carburetor. The truck has a Rochester B manual choke carburetor. I purchased a carburetor rebuild kit from Mike’s Carburetor Parts. We bought a can of Berryman Chem-Dip carburetor cleaner. We removed the carb from the truck and began to tear it down. There are a lot of little parts in a carburetor. The Rochester B is a pretty simple carb, definitely one of the easier ones to rebuild. We were pretty happy for that. It will be a while before I am really to take on the challenge of rebuilding a Holley four barrel.

The truck now gets 12 and half miles to the gallon. The filler neck on the gas tank leaks so about a half gallon to a gallon of gas goes on the floor every time I fill up. The gas tank is currently out so that I can replace the filler neck. While the gas tank is out I am also dealing with the rust on the floorboard. Nothing cancerous but some pretty severe pitting. I wirebrushed in all out. I will treat the areas that were rusty and then put a couple of coats of paint down. Over that I plan to put sound deadening material over the painted surfaces. My goal is to make the truck quieter than my wife’s new Nissan. I have a cool stereo system designed for it but first I have to make sure I will be able to hear it.