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Rusty: Resurrected

AugustDiesel

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AugustDiesel submitted a new Build:

Saving Rusty the Mud Truck

This is a story about a rusted out, beat up and abused mud truck, that gets a second chance at life.


My name is Andy and I have always been a square body suburban diesel fan. I have been around them my entire life and the truck dubbed ‘Rusty’ is my third diesel suburban.


I’ll admit, I have been somewhat intimidated and embarrassed to start this build thread 1) because of the quality of craftsmanship that’s represented on this site (to which I cannot hold a candle) and 2) because this story starts off with a slew of mistakes. But, thanks to the inspiration of AgDieseler’s build and his personal encouragement, here I am. And so the story begins:


Mistake #1: Selling my dad’s truck.

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My dad bought a brand new C10 6.2L Diesel Suburban in 1985 when I was just 6 months old. I loved that truck. My dad taught me and all of my siblings to drive in it (of which there are 6). He did not do too many modifications to it: vinyl flooring, manual bypass switch or the GP, and a fire engine red paint job. He gave it to me when I was in my early twenties but, not knowing the gem that I had, foolishly sold it shortly thereafter. I swear, if I ever find that truck, I will buy it back.



Mistake #2: Selling my truck and my jeep.


Shortly after selling my dad’s truck, I also sold my jeep. It was a 2001 TJ with the 2.5, Dana 30 and 35, 4.88 gears, Ox Locker in the front, Detroit out back, 5 speed manual, 4” of lift, and 33” BFG MTs. It was probably the most fun vehicle I had ever owned. Long story short, I sold it too.

View attachment 280561

As I am sure most people do, I realized I made a big mistake by selling my dad’s truck and my jeep. So I bought another one. This time, a 1989 K10 Suburban with a CUCV 6.2 diesel. This thing was in fantastic shape and I made a lot of memories in it. But, like its predecessors, after I moved to Jacksonville, I convinced myself I needed the money more than I needed the truck, and I sold it too.

View attachment 280563

Mistake #3 (or is it?): Buying Rusty the Mud Truck


Fast forward a few years. Now I am married and once again ever-longing for another truck. It took some discussion, but I convinced my wife we needed a “work truck” to support my budding wood-working hobby. I started out by searching for any of my 3 past trucks, hoping to buy them back, with no luck. I never did find my dad’s truck, though I believe it is still in the Tallahassee area...

Read more about this build here...
 

AugustDiesel

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Let’s start with everything that was wrong with Rusty the Mud Truck, paired with what’s been done to address it so far and future plans for permanent correction, along with some pictures of each project.

What’s wrong: First of all, the rust. Good grief is it extensive. Rusty spent nearly all of its life in Kansas, so the rust has nearly destroyed the body. If I had to guess at how much of the body would have to be replaced to get it rust free, I’d say 60%.

What’s been done:don’t judge me, THIS IS JUST A BANDAID, but all I’ve done so far is cover, cut out, grind out, sand out what I can and rattle canned the truck to slow the process. I took this initial approach because it was more important to me to get the truck mechanically sound first, then address the body. You may not like the color scheme but it works for me. We live in Florida, and my wife has put up with a lot from me and this truck so I let her pick the primary color: the Harbor Blue. She wanted something beachy. Again, it’s Florida, so the roof got white, and I did black around the windows because that was the easiest for me. I hate taping off and covering windows so by going with flat black I was able to just paint and then come back and scrape off the windows (which looked new after the scraping).

Future plans:Ultimately, I am going to have to scrap the body. The long-term plan is to find a rust free donor, strip it down to the frame, prep/POR15/etc, swap my drivetrain over, then drop a clean body on it. I have a line on a potential donor for the body, but only time will tell there. Until then, I will cut out and patch what I can to keep it together.

Pictures:
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AugustDiesel

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What’s wrong: The transmission. It’s far too obvious this truck was a sorely abused mud truck. I’ve even come to believe Rusty has seen some air time in the past. Clue #1? The hole in the transmission case, which dumped out transmission fluid when in reverse. I never saw the JB Weld patch when I bought the truck. I *did* notice the wet transmission pan and the PO told me it was because the gasket was “weeping”.

What’s been done: You can’t really save a transmission with a hole in the case, so I had to toss it. Was able to pick up a freshly rebuilt 700R4 with the following specs:

o 5 pinion front and rear planetary gears (factory GM parts)

o Beast Sun shell (thick billet steel)

o Corvette Servo

o New band clutches, bushes, seals, washers, and gaskets

o 10 vein pump rotor

o Drilled out plate

o New sprag

o Thicker K-case

I also added a TCI deep dish aluminum finned oil pan with drain plug. Added a diesel Torque Converter. Added a diesel governor. The truck already came with a set of Glowshift trans, water, and EGT gauges. The trans temp sending unit was installed in the incorrect location by the PO (and subsequently broken) so I replaced and relocated the sending unit to the outbound oil line just after exiting the tranny. Knowing how much 700R4s hate heat and getting more enjoyment from watching gauges than I do TV, I added another GS trans temp gauge to monitor the fluid returning to the transmission. As for the trans cooling system, that whole thing had to be redone. The oil lines done by PO were pretty poor, hung low, begging to be caught by trail debris, so I completely replaced all the lines with new copper lines (built by me). I wanted to route the lines so they would be up high and out of the way, so I have braided steel lines coming out of the trans directly into the frame rail (Pass.) where the sending units are, then the copper lines run up the frame rail, across the front cross member, and to the trans cooler in the radiator. The line then comes out and around to the front of the radiator support and into a secondary cooler. Even after this, the trans temps still seemed to be too hot so I added another cooler with a fan to the system (which is wired to a toggle switch and controlled manually).

Last but not least, I installed a foot switch to engage the TC manually. My TPS had gone bad, and I figured out all it does is control the TC (non EGT intake). Since a new TPS was over $100, and I was more interested in manual control, I just pulled the TPS and installed this foot switch. To lock and unlock, I just press the switch with my foot. I also added an indicator light to remind me of which position I am in. Has worked flawlessly.

Future plans: I have to say I’m pretty satisfied with how the trans system is doing. I’ve probably put 5,000-7,000 miles on it with no issues whatsoever. I have thought about installing a full manual reverse shift valve body along with a floor shifter, so that I have better control over the shifting points. But at this point funds are pushing that down the list. I *do* have a Transgo shift kit sitting on the shelf waiting to be installed, so I will probably get that done at some point and see how it goes.

Pictures:

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AugustDiesel

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What’s wrong: The front axle. The pumpkin on the 10 bolt is grenaded. The PO had welded the gears and subsequently blew the diff apart. The R&P gears are all chewed up and the open carrier is split in half.Not to mention, one of the hub assemblies is a dud. There is no hub. Just a cover with no internals (I thought it was strange that the PO *helped* me lock the hubs when I tested the 4wd). This 10 bolt is only good for steering.

What’s been done:I have thought about rebuilding the 10 bolt. I could get it done for $500. But there’s this old adage that “if it’s broken, upgrade it”, or something like that. So I found a Dana 60 Kingpin out of a 92 Dodge for a fair price. It’s got a lot of surface rust, missing the hubs brakes and steering, and the gear ratio doesn’t match, but hey, it’s a kingpin Dana 60, nuff said. I have yet to build it, but it is sitting on the garage floor waiting its turn.

Future plans:Bust the surface rust off the 60 and paint with caliper paint or POR15, turn to ORD to complete it with hubs and 4.88 gears and crossover steering, and add a Detroit or Ox Locker (I’d prefer the Ox, it was beyond awesome in my jeep).

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AugustDiesel

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What’s wrong: The rear axle. Actually, there hasn’t really been anything wrong with my 14bolt FF, which is a 1972 model I believe. It, along with the 6.5, have been the two pieces that have given me the least trouble. The hubs, brakes, and driveshaft however needed some attention.

What’s been done:Swapped the brakes to discs from RuffStuff (which I’ll cover in a different post). Replaced the hubs. Had the rear driveshaft retubed, lengthened, balanced, and both ujoints replaced. Used to have tremendous vibrations at 60mph and over. Now shes smooth as can be until about 75-80mph when some front driveline vibrations kick in. I imagine those will be solved when the 60 gets done.

Future plans:Regear the 14bolt to 4.88 and add a Detroit. That’s about it. Oh and an anti-wrap bar.

Pictures:
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AugustDiesel

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What’s wrong: The tires and wheels. Rusty came with a set of old Goodyear military take offs (37s) on a pair of rusty 16.5x10 steelies. The wheels were bent and rusted. The tires were dry rotted, unbalanced, and one had a huge chunk missing from the sidewall. Shook the truck like crazy at any speed over 35mph.

What’s been done:Sold off the wheels and tires and replaced with a set of Procomp AT Sports on Procomp black steelies (305/75R16).

Future plans:When I bought the 305/75R16s (essentially 33s), I thought I was taking a more “practical” approach. I have sense learned that the most practical approach you can take is to do things the way you want, the right way, the first time. So future plans after the Dana 60 goes in and 14bolt gets regeared is to swap the 305s with a set of 37” Procomp AT Sports on some black 17” aluminum wheels. The Procomp AT Sports are fantastic all terrain tires. This truck, though intended to be capable offroad, will see most of its time on pavement. So I want the clearance of 37s, but mud terrains don’t make any sense for this scenario. Plus, Procomps have a 60,000 mile treadlife guaranty and warranty, and are the most affordable.

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AugustDiesel

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What’s wrong: The suspension. Sometimes when I think back on everything that was wrong with this truck … I digress. So the suspension. Quite unsafe. The shocks were toast. Completely worn out. The front was a set of 6” Superlift springs sitting on top of 2” lift blocks. The rear is what I’m guessing is the original spring pack with 2” add-a-leaves and 6” blocks. Way too high. Way too unstable.

What’s been done:The shocks were tossed for a set of Bilstein 5100s. The front set up was tossed for an affordable set of Procomp 4” lift springs and the rear 6” blocks were tossed for a set of 2” blocks (33s on an 8” lift look awkward).

Future plans:For the interim, I’d like to do something about the rear. In total it’s a 9 (yes NINE) leaf pack which is extremely stiff. I will probably pick up a matching set of Procomp 4” springs for the rear for the time being to soften it up. When time comes for the new frame, I hope to swap to a set of ORD’s custom leaf spring packs front and rear.

Pictures:

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AugustDiesel

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What’s wrong: I started losing braking ability due to rusted brake lines so that needed to be addressed.

What’s been done:Not trusting anythingthat any PO has done, I scrapped the entire brake system and replaced with new. I replaced the MC. Replaced and relocated the PV to right below the MC using a simple bracket I made. Built all new hard brake lines using copper (the transmission project gave me good experience with this). Steel braided and sleeved flex lines from ORD. I had already installed new rotors on the 10bolt. New rotors for the 10 bolt to match the new brake lines. Disc conversion for the 14bolt from RuffStuff.

Future Plans:Like my trans system, I am very satisfied with how the braking system turned out. Very solid and responsive. Gives me confidence that the 30 year old rust bucket will stop when needed to. I don’t really have future plans other than needed brake parts to complete the Dana 60 and I would like to somehow figure out a way to get an e-brake reinstalled.

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AugustDiesel

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What’s wrong: The batteries. My battery setup was pretty much toast. I’m surprised I was even able to start the truck reliably. The pass. battery only had 3 cranking amps left, so it was dead. The driver battery was fine, but the structure underneath was completely rusted away so the battery was falling out. The only thing keeping it in was the radiator, which it was leaning against.

What’s been done:I had to decide whether or not to completely replace the front clip and batteries, or relocate the batteries. I chose the more fun route. I replaced and relocated the batteries. The spare tire wasn’t fitting in the original location anymore, so that seemed like a logical place to relocate the batteries. The spare tire well was cut out and a ¼” thick plate of steel was welded in for the base, sealed, and painted with spray on bedliner. Two Optima blue top deep cycle group D31M batteries where chosen and mounted into an Artec battery box. I built all new battery cables using 0 gauge CCA cables (crimped, soldered, and heat shrinked). Batteries were wired in parallel and grounded to the body (via the original spare tire securing nut), the frame just underneath the batteries, and the engine. The engine is then grounded twice to the frame as well as the body. With the D31M batteries wired in parallel I estimate I’m getting around 2300 cranking amps. A battery tender is hardwired to the batteries and access is granted via a NOCO ac port plug mounted in the rear driver barn door. This gives me easy simple access to charge the batteries if ever needed. A 1500W (3000W peak) pure sine wave power inverter was also added to provide power when camping, for power tools, or power outages (was able to power my refrigerator, two box fans, and brew coffee during Hurricane Irma). I put my wood working skills to work and started on a battery box to protect from cargo and little hands, it’s functional, but not finished.

Future plans:I need to finish the battery box. I have a power port extension and remote start button for the inverter that I want to mount onto the box. At some point I will probably redo my CCA battery cables with pure copper welding cable. But for now, the battery system performs flawlessly.

Pictures:

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AugustDiesel

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What’s wrong: The glowplugs. The glowplugs were already giving out early on, as well as the starter, and the GP controller was giving me fits to.

What’s been done:The starter was replaced and a starter nose bracket was added and new starter bolts. The old glowplugs were replaced with a set of self regulating AC Delco 60G glowplugs. The controller was completely scrapped for a manual starter solenoid. The PO’s hackjob of a bypass switch was scrapped (switch, wiring, and all). The solenoid was mounted on the driver fender where the battery used to be for ease of access/maintenance. The glowplug harness was mounted to two junction posts mounted on the fire wall. I then built pure copper cables (crimped, soldered, and heat shrinked) that run from the junction posts to the solenoid. A smaller gauge wire with an inline 15amp fuse then runs from the solenoid into the cab to a manual push button switch mounted on the dash. The switch gets its power from a 15amp add-a-fuse tapped into the fuse block.

Future plans:At some point I’d like to build a switch panel to collect my various switches I have mounted around. Other than that, I have no future plans for system. I hold the push button for 8 seconds and crank up the truck. It works flawlessly every time.

Pictures:

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AugustDiesel

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What’s wrong: The steering column is falling apart. This is more than your standard 4 bolts inside the column coming loose. The bearings and everything else are shot. The column’s basic function, steering, is still intact, as well as the transmission shifter and ignition switch, but the column has to be replaced.

What’s been done:The broken column has subsequently broken all of the switches in the column. For interim functionality, I relocated the switches off the column. The high-beam switch was rewired to a foot switch (like my TC switch). The wiper switch was relocated/rewired to a universal switch from summit. I attempted to rewire/relocate the turn signal switch but couldn’t figure out the wiring so it’s going back to the column for now.

Future plans:I did all of this relocating/rewiring of the switches because my initial plan was to swap to an ididit bare column and have all my switches mounted to a switch panel on the dash, but that’s a lofty goal that’s going to have to be put to the side for now and this Saturday I’ll be picking up a junkyard column that’s in good shape and swapping it out. I’ll probably still leave my high beam and wiper switches where they are though, because I like those.

Pictures:

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AugustDiesel

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Smaller Projects:

o Relocated/rewired the GS gauges from the crappy pillar pod to a self-made pod mounted on the trans tunnel in front of the tcase shifter. PO wiring for these gauges was a rat’s nest so that was all redone.

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o Swapped out the headlights for LEDs and upgraded the harness to a heavy duty harness from LMC. Added some rear backup lights as well.

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o Added a MBRP Quiet Tone Muffler to help reduce interior noise levels.

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o Replaced the PS reservoir. Surprisingly this unit was cheaper than the factory replacement.

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o Snagged a spare tire carrier (with jerry can mount) off a K5 and mounted it. Snagged a 1969 USMC jerry can, buffed off the paint and repainted with red caliper paint (that stuff smells like cherrys!). Added another jerry can holder to the rear driver barn door. Found out the K5 carrier wasn’t strong enough to hold the oversized spare so pieced together a drop-down hitch-mount spare tire carrier. Ultimately decided that was too much work to access the rear on a regular basis so the spare sits on the floor behind the 3rdrow and the hitch mount will be used when that floor space is needed. Plan on finding a way to get the 2ndfuel can off the door and onto the swingarm with the vintage can. Just want to clean up that backend some.

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o Added another NOCO ac port on the front driver fender so I have easy access to plug in my engine block heater. Yes, in north Florida it gets cold enough to need to plug it in. The PO had some retractable cord dangerously spliced into the heater with electrical tape so that was all scrapped for a new cord.

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o Have been slowly ripping out all the crappy carpet. The original tan was trashed and the PO had started swapping the interior with blue from a donor but never finished. Hence the blue and tan middle row.
 

AugustDiesel

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Future Projects:

o The valve covers need to be resealed as I have a pretty significant leak in both of them. Have been intimidated by that project but it needs to get done. Already have the Permatex Right Stuff gasket maker sitting on the shelf waiting.

o My 180 degree tstat seems to not be functioning right so it’s time to swap it out for the 195 ACDelco which I hear is better. The coolant crossover pipe is damaged also and needs to be replaced. Both the replacement crossover pipe and 195 tstat are sitting on the shelf waiting.

o The steering column is pretty high on my list of priorities and coming up soon as stated.

o The Dana 60 will get built next year and the 37s will follow that.

o Also have hopes of building some simple bumpers to help with clearance.



Like I said earlier, I have learned a lot from this truck and am thankful for it. There have been numerous times along the way where I probably should have scrapped it and started over with a better base. But the more I put into it, the more it becomes worth keeping. I have told my wife I want this to be the last truck I ever own. This isn’t being built to be a mud truck or a rock crawling buggy. It is being built to be an all-purpose, go anywhere, take my family everywhere truck that will last my lifetime. Hence the need to replace the body. That will come, but in the interim I need short term utility so I am making the best of what I have. Somewhere along the way, my wife and I adopted two little boys and my sons absolutely love this truck. In fact I regularly get into arguments with my 2 year old son over whether it is his truck or my truck (it’s his). I doubt this truck is going anywhere. People regularly ask me how many miles are on it or what year is it, and I always respond with “which part? The frame and body are an 88, the trans and tcase are 80s, the rear axle is a 72, the front axle-to-be is a 92, and the engine is a 96”. It’s a pretty interesting story actually of how an ensemble of parts can work together to make something cool. I hope someday to be able to attend Blazer Bash with my family and create a lifetime of memories in this truck. Looking forward to the future.

Andy

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AgDieseler

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Welcome! Without a doubt, this is one of the most comprehensive kickoffs to a build thread, and I’m glad you did it. Good and detailed, no doubt similar to how you’ll build the truck.

There are a lot of good ingredients, and I’m confident you’ll assemble them well. We’re all here to encourage and build each other up, regardless of the starting point of one’s skill level progression.

Glad you’re here.

David
 
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obijuank5

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Damn. I can confidently say I'd have abandoned that truck lol. I like the approach you took to write it all down.
What's wrong, what's been done, and future plans are all something everyone has to think of. Pretty cool to see how you fixed it.
 

AugustDiesel

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Thank you for the encouraging words! I really had to spend some time thinking about how I was going to detail the work I did over the last two years and doing it this way seemed to make the most sense. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done and we have reached a slow down phase now that we are a one income family, but work will continue as am able. A buddy of mine has loaned me his welder and is also bringing over his tube bender so now I get to learn how to weld and bend things, which I’m pretty excited about. Some sheet metal patches and some simple bumpers are on the list once I get my skill set up to par.

Andy
 

campfire

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I’ll admit, I have been somewhat intimidated and embarrassed to start this build thread 1) because of the quality of craftsmanship that’s represented on this site (to which I cannot hold a candle) and 2) because this story starts off with a slew of mistakes. But, thanks to the inspiration of AgDieseler’s build and his personal encouragement, here I am. And so the story begins:

Welcome. Do not feel embarrassed. Learning and refining new skills is a large part of why we enjoy old iron. Your burb is turning out very much like mine (link).

The difference is you're doing good quality work on your first build, where I went through several practice builds before I finally started being happy with the quality of the end product. Kudos to you for that. :waytogo:
 

campfire

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Side note...a healthy 6.2 shouldn't *need* a block heater until it gets down to single-digit temperatures. If it won't start at 15* without a heater, I'd start looking at cranking speed & glow plug effectiveness. Your N/A 6.5 might be a slightly lower compression ratio.

Of course, if you never see subzero weather it might be easier to just keep plugging it in 3 times a year. And I'll admit to plugging in on 20 degree days sometimes just to get it started faster. ;)

:popcorn:
 

AugustDiesel

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Side note...a healthy 6.2 shouldn't *need* a block heater until it gets down to single-digit temperatures. If it won't start at 15* without a heater, I'd start looking at cranking speed & glow plug effectiveness. Your N/A 6.5 might be a slightly lower compression ratio.

Of course, if you never see subzero weather it might be easier to just keep plugging it in 3 times a year. And I'll admit to plugging in on 20 degree days sometimes just to get it started faster. ;)

:popcorn:

Thank you for the encouragement! I suppose my experience with “needing” a heater is somewhat skewed as compared to colder parts of the country. I grew up in the west part of the Florida panhandle, and believe it or not it would get down to single digits in that area quite regularly. The heater has just always been something that we have used religiously, whether out of necessity or preference, I’m not sure, lol. With the 60G plugs, I imagine Rusty will start just fine though will admit to the preference of easy starting by plugging in. I’ll have to give it a try without plugging in this winter when it gets cold enough.

Going to try to document some road trips this morning, including the initial purchase. The truck has yet to see true off-road use due to the 10 bolt but has had some good road trips under its belt. It’s always a good feeling to experience the success of your work via a breakdown-free road trip.

Andy
 

AugustDiesel

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Location
Jacksonville, FL
In similar fashion to the projects, I'm going to document each road trip in an individual post. There are a handful of road trips I've been on that have marked significant success in the restoration. But lets start with the purchase weekend. September 2016 sometime, my dad and I drove his dodge from the Tallahassee area to South Florida, some 400 miles one way, to get the truck. Here it is after the deal was made (my dad in the background):

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The original plan was that we would haul Rusty back on a uhaul with his dodge, but, after riding in it for the test drive, my dad decided he would drive his own truck and I could drive the suburban. I wonder why lol :rotfl:

I asked him what he would do before I bought it and he refused to tell me. So, I made the deal, then at the DMW getting the tag, I asked him again after the fact, that's when he told me he would not have bought it if it was him! He further explained, that he doesn't have the DIY skill that I have and he would have to pay someone to do it. I however, he continued, have the ability to "weave gold out of hay" (his words!) so I'll be able to make something of it. I certainly appreciated the encouragement, however over the top it may have been lol :D.

Nonetheless, the suburban made the trip back to my parents' place in Tallahassee with no issues whatsoever. Here it is in front of my parents' place, along with my goofy mug shot:

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Here I am in front of my brother-in-law's house, where I discovered the horrendous trans leak while in reverse gear:

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That's my dog, August, with me. I had to have her put her down earlier this year due to her cancer. She was the best dog I could have ever asked for and lived a good 10 years all by my side. You might have noticed, but she is the inspiration for my username on this site: AugustDiesel.

She seemed a little nervous getting in the truck. Perhaps she could sense it would be an interesting ride?

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Nonetheless, onward we went. My parents' place is only about 200 miles from mine, and we made it not halfway there before things went south.

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Turns out one of the v-belts had snapped, took another one with it, and everything shut down. I lost power steering, lost some braking power, and lost cooling. According to my water temp gauge the temp shot up to somewhere over 240 so I immediately pulled over and shut the truck down. V Belts are not hard to replace but I just didn't have the tools necessary to do the job on the side of the road. So Rusty made the rest of the trip home on the back of a tow rig:

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Andy
 
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