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Project "Old Man Strength"

Dad's 1984 Chevy K20 - Rebuild started 15 years ago and put on hold to invest more time in the family business - family business taking off - time to resume building.

TC4x4

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Hello everyone.
Its been a while since I have been around these parts. Let me catch you all up and bring some context to how we got to the "Old Man Strength" build.

My dad purchased his 1984 Chevy K20 brand new and worked it hard from day one. Years and years of wood splitting, firewood sales, and daily driving is pretty much all he has used his truck for. The truck was worked hard, as it should have been and he loved it. The engine was originally a 350 cu in. He replaced it with a 395 cu in and ran that until the body rusted away and literally fell off. I watched this progression during the first 20 years of my life. My dad and I had great years and memories in this truck. He still has the dash with the cracked hole in it from when he taught to the value of wearing seatbelts and obedience the first time being asked to do something by a parent.

Fast forward 15 years. He's a grandpa 9 times over. He and I own a successful tree care company specializing in Urban Forest Management. He taught me the meaning of putting your nose to the grindstone and cranking work out. Now after building a business for 10 years (and not slowing down now), we have decided to resume the build he tried to start so long ago.

We have a 6000 sq ft shop with tools but decided to start this build again at my house since my garage is heated and pretty much cleaned out. We both thought it would be a great opportunity to spend time with the family. We're at our shop and office 5-7 days a week so we wanted to separate from work (and all the projects waiting to be finished there) by having this project at our home.

This build was named "Old Man Strength" because the name is a good representation of my dad. He is the most kind, giving, patient, and gentle person you could meet but there is nothing that defines "Old Man Strength" like my dad. He is 56 now (so not really old) but he is someone I would never want to mess with or get in his sites back when he was a state champ linebacker. Everyone knows there is always that secret old man strength still in him and he lets it show from time to time.

This truck is my Dad's favorite vehicle he has owned and the place where a lot of great memories were made. I want to take up the torch you could say, WITH YOUR HELP, and help my dad complete this build. I want this truck to be a representation of my dad and his "Old Man Strength"!

So here is where we are at. He took a lot of pieces off of the frame, had it all blasted and painted with POR 15 fifteen years ago. We're not sure if it was the best idea to cut the original rivets but that is where we are at now and must move forward. The first thing we need help with is identifying parts and their placement. He had them labeled but the labels were covered with paint and cannot be made out anymore. I'll post some pictures of how the truck sits currently, and as soon as I get them in hand I will post some original pictures fo the truck. Enjoy, and over the next (however long this is going to take) we look forward to your help, guidance, and input into building this truck up nice.

What is the best way to reattach the parts? Grade 8 bolts?

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Justin V

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Grade 8 bolts are good. The factory rivets are just a tick smaller than 7/16". Grab a good drill bit and open up the existing holes where the rivets were and use 7/16" hardware and the locking nuts that are all metal. It'll be stronger than the rivets ever were.
 

TC4x4

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Any idea on bracket placement? Maybe there is a decent source to see frame layouts. After we get these parts attached properly we can proceed with getting a rolling chassis.

We have purchased a Dana 60 front and 14 bolt rear end. We also have the 396 cu in big block (not sure if we/re going to use it or not), a new Np205 and Turbo 400 trans.
 

TC4x4

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Grade 8 bolts are good. The factory rivets are just a tick smaller than 7/16". Grab a good drill bit and open up the existing holes where the rivets were and use 7/16" hardware and the locking nuts that are all metal. It'll be stronger than the rivets ever were.
Thanks, Justin V.
 

Justin V

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Most of what I see I can identify. There's a couple small brackets that I am not sure about.
 

Justin V

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This pic has rear shackle hangers and support brackets, also rear bump mounts.

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Justin V

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From left to right

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Bed cross member stuff
Body mount
Not sure on the next two but I think they tie into the big crossmember the goes under the front half of the bed
 

Justin V

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You are definitely short a bunch of stuff
 

Justin V

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You might not be short too much...

Looks like there are a couple sections missing from the front crossmember under the engine. Couple of angle plate deals that the motor mounts bolt to.

You can see that the second crossmember from the rear needs to be attached to the upper flange on the frame rail and the other braces and front spring hangers for the rear suspension all need to be tied together like in my pic.

The bracket shown in between the rear bump brackets in your pic looks like some sort of exhaust support bracket. I can't be sure because what looks like that bracket on my truck was killed with fire by a previous owner.

One of the brackets under the front of the frame is the support for the rear brake line, sits slightly behind the bump bracket on the passenger rear frame rail.

Two cast squares are front shackle hangers.
 

TC4x4

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I will have to get back over to my dad's house and go through the pile again. Made sure to keep all the parts. Maybe just upgrade over to the ORD engine cross member. Thoughts?

This truck will be driven on nice days on the roads. Never going to see off road much or much dirt at all. I was looking for suspension upgrade ideas if there was something better to handle 35" tires and a lot more power?

What would be better than leaf springs all the way around? This build has to end date or rushed date to finish. We want to build it our selves as much as possible, learn as much as possible, and really budget isn't an issue (in reason) of course. We're going to do it once for him and want it to be something really special.
 

TC4x4

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Got a little more done with the wifey and kids today! 2 more cross members back on. (after a long Sunday to find stores open with the fasteners I needed) I have one more cross member to put on. I believe it is the one that belongs under the tranny. Can someone how my a picture of how it mounts? (under the frame if memory serves me right) Also, there is a large hole and a small hole in the cross member, does anyone know which goes to drive and passenger side of the truck?

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TC4x4

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What would you all recommend for the suspension? I am leaning towards leaf springs. We are shooting for 6" lift and 35-37" tires. Should we shackle flip and go with shorter springs, or just go right to 6" lift springs. I am wondering your thoughts, as I may be missing an angle.
 

sweetk30

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i my self would do a good 4" kit + 1" zero rate and axle forward 1.5" . then rear flip or spring what ever you want . maybe a 2" spring + 2.5" flip + zero rate to level out and possible center rear axle back a tad bit .

then a basic crossover steering kit to bolt on the dana 60 axle . last a new set of energy suspension body bushings for the year frame your using and a 1" body lift kit to help clear stuff under the hood and work with tools better and get that last 1" lift to get your 6" total .

that all gets you in the 6" range with min to none tire rub in the front turning . tuff country or bds for off the shelf best ride or custom springs from ord .

but thats just me .
 

sweetk30

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yep . that would get you a good ride / flex / most tire room turning . good bang for the buck . i have done a few this way for guys .

if going big block figure on hd springs front for the extra weight unless aluminum heads .

the one guy i did this for has it on a k30 truck tad taller frame and he clears 38x12.50 tires .
 

Justin V

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Big hole is driver's side. They bolt in on the bottom and use extra long bolts with a spacer. The spacer does not go between the crossmember and the frame. It goes between the frame and the bolt head.

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TC4x4

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Big hole is the driver's side. They bolt in on the bottom and use extra long bolts with a spacer. The spacer does not go between the cross member and the frame. It goes between the frame and the bolt head.

View attachment 279041
Any idea the specs on that cross members' bolts and spacers? And a trusted location to purchase from?
 
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