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High Hopes, Low Standards
Aug 6, 2020
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Hey all. Love the new forum so far. I cant wait to see where this place goes.

I like the idea of using a "build thread" to organize a time line of a build. I use quotes because I doubt this will look as proper as a real build thread. I have a small group of photos i managed to save over the last three years of building this truck. I want to try and log my progress from this point but I will do my best to record all of the work thus far.

For the record-I do not own this truck, I just molest it when the owner ain't lookin. The owner is my buddy of old.
This began as an entry for a Cheap Truck Challenge of sorts. He lost pretty quickly, my entry total cost, is less than his wheels and tires.

The truck as he bought it-6/30/16

1990 GMC Jimmty SLT 350 TBI, 700r4, NP241c
P/O installed- 4" Rough Country leaves, no name shocks, 14 bolt FF (Gov lock i think) and an 8-lug 44(blown open diff), 37" Military tires on 16x10s, 4.88's, annoyingly large rear bumper of a Kodiak we think, cheap blue lights and a heavy dose of conservative propaganda.
Decent shape for the price, very little rust has been found so far. The front fenders and doors made some good contact at some point.
It came with a spare 700 and 241 in the back, the trans was rebuilt and swapped in almost right away. We swapped in another HD 44 out of a suburban that had fresh bearings. Installed an ORD push/pull steering arm riser to help with angles.

The owner is Super Swamper for life, he chose the TSL SX in 38x12.5r16.5. At the time, Rocker Offroad was doing a buy 3 get 1 free on re-centered H1's.
Ultimately proved a bad idea. The wheels turned out fine, a few gripes about valve access and powdercoat finish, both because of the owners choices, rock ring design and crazy colors.
The owner is a proud patriot so stars were the choice for the rock rings. Neat looking but a pain to air back up.
The problem with Rocker came when the wheels arrived minus the PVC inserts. After more than 6 months waiting and exchanging pointless emails, the owner called Trail Ready and some slick PVC inserts appeared less than a week later. Never heard about or received the OG inserts. I suppose you get what you pay for. I think Rocker is no more now, bummer.

Unfortunately I don't have a lot pics of the early days. I will try to get some from the ether, I know they exist. For now I'll throw up the latest outside shots. I am going to try and continue posting with the odd grouping of early pictures. I have a lot more pics of the recent work and hope to do a couple lengthier write-ups on some of the more unique things we have done so far. Thanks for reading
The D44 up front was never going to last, the owner intends to go to 42s in the end, So a D60 was in order. Found one from a 93 Dodge W350. We cleaned up the housing, stripped, sprayed it and took the Jimmy and the new axle down to 4WheelParts to have the rear switched to 5.38s and Detroit, and the 60 got a Detroit and gears to match. My favorite line from the owner after I asked why he didn't want a selectable up front, he quoted some old wise man and said "One thing you'll never hear on the trail-aw my Detroit broke" OK, you win.

We sourced most of the parts for this build through ORD. Awesome service, great shipping too. Nothing too fancy for the rest of the axle, it did get ORD's outer seals and the REID bronze kingpin bushings tho. Lost those pics. New bearings, seals, TRE's, rotors...

and i lied, the ORD lift for the push/pull was on the 60, not the 44... its been a while. The truck will also ultimately be seeing some sort of 35 spline upgrade before the 42's. For now, it should last, i hope.
The owner is an avid 2A supporter. I fully support any excuse he can come up with to use gunpowder instead my measly biceps. I'm 6'1" 150lb soaking wet, why do you think I had 4WP do the gear setups.... excuses, excuses


It should also be noted that, when your arms turn to jello from swinging a hammer at a seized turnover gooseneck, this tool will help if not make you feel better.
It pains me so bad to see these beautiful old trucks get smashed up on this site.

Then I came to Colorado and they’re everywhere. You guys don’t know what kind of gems you’re smashing to us out east.

But, it sure looks sweet! :smokin:
Here I thought it didn't have enough dents yet.
The leaves are ORD's custom order, ~6" lift when combined with the 4" flip kit.
I swear these are made of fettuccine, they move so well and ride so nice. I had a hunch I would be impressed but, Damn.
10 leaves a piece, they look so thin. They sat pretty high at first but settled quickly.
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Ended up making some 1.25" thick offset lift blocks for the rear, The front springs are spec'd for a winch bumper and they sat quite high. The offset moved the axle 1.25" rearward. We used ORD's D60 swap kit. The offset bushings are brilliant. Greasable bolts and HD shackles front and rear. The rear also received ORD's flip kit.
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14" Bilstein 5125's, Ford upper mounts for the fronts, 4WP 10* front lowers. The rears are in the stock location for now. The upper mounts are hamburger, they're on the list.
Stainless brake lines that need better placement. Took way too much from the fenderwells messing with shock placement. Patches in a later update.
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So we got a little excited and wanted to test out the new springs. Didn't bother with all four shocks, it was getting dark and blah, blah, blah... test drive.


So damn squishy. It is such a difference from the old springs. My truck is IFS and I thought I was going to have an edge comfort-wise, nah I'm relegated to eating dust and bouncing out of my truck...
Drugs? No, hes kinda boring... Glad to be informed tho, I don't claim to know everything, just enough to hurt myself.

So we talked to Raven Power Steering in Englewood about the gearbox. They swapped out the sector shaft for a 2wd and resealed the unit. Tapped it for future intentions and sprayed it blue for us. Quick turnaround and great prices. Crappy picture, but it counts.

The owner ordered some Ruffstuff 3/8 Diff covers front and rear, as well as their 14b pinion guard. More on this gem later...
Said owner also kinda gets a little bored with the domestic duties and decided to paint up the covers whilst stuck indoors. Hazmat in the rear for the owners namesake, Umbrella corp because...zombies.
The front is a little different. I was in school for machining when we started this f*ckery. I had a classmate that had an addiction to 4chan and a fellow 2A enthusiast, with a homework assignment requiring a complex image to be engraved in a aluminum coaster. These are his creations and I couldn't let them die in the scrap bin after school was over. The owner spent waaaaay too long hand etching the images based off the original images and painted them to suit. I want to make fun of him for the spending so long painting diff covers.... but I like them, so I shut up. I have to find the coasters, they're still around somewhere.

The owner digs foundations for a living and hauls his own equipment with Big Red here, we got lucky our machines fit nicely. The work truck don't quite like the load sometimes. Solutions are in the works.

The trailer is a bit overkill. He's street legal, I'm not. But its there, so whatever. This trailer has rescued me more times than I want to admit.

So we loaded up and went down to Ram Off Road Park outside CO springs. Its a salvage yard with a couple dirtbike tracks and a big open middle area used for all kinds of motorsports. I first saw XRRA here back in '12 and always wanted to play. Shakedown within a mile of the trailer, I'm overcautious, it came in handy.



So I learned some good lessons. Like I said, I don't know everything. And I might get a little excited and ahead of myself.
I learned that -leaf springs are directional, traction bars are absolutely necessary when your leaves are made by Barilla, ORD said they haven't seen this kinda failure yet(we like to be first), if you don't have a traction bar but you do have a pinion guard, the wild flopping of the pinion angle will try to cut your driveshaft off, and loading a truck that doglegs that bad is no problem for someone that runs tracked machines all day. I'm 33 and try to learn something everyday. This was a dose. some common sense, some just dumb.... live and learn.

On that note, more praise for ORD. These guys are so cool.After I sent them a boat load of pictures(probably all too dark, looking back) and they quit laughing, they sent out a new main leaf with the quickness and for a fair price. No gov't assistance for that education.
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This is what leaves installed backwards looks like. I was around the corner and heard it pop, very odd sound I hope to never hear again.
You can see where the pinion guard tried to cut the shaft. That guard is stout.
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Maybe im not seeing it, but what determines the direction of the spring?
Trim U-bolts. Yes. One of many things I find myself constantly forgetting. Usually remember when I look at a picture.
So with that embarrassing behind us, we knew a traction bar was going to have to happen. Called ORD again.

Unwelded Traction Bar kit. Nice kit for the price. Grabbed a stick of DOM and started shaping. Fun little project.
I love watching the rear end lift up now. Looks deceivingly like it has some power.

I have a habit of coming up with either weird ideas or strange craigslist finds. Not often are they very good ideas. I was scrolling through craigs and came across a cooling system from an S-10 drag truck. Nice looking 3 row aluminum core, dimensions were close enough. A pair of fans on a shroud and a nice controller. I can't remember the brands, I'll edit this in the morning when I look. I remember looking up the retail price for everything and learned we payed around 25-30% of new. Sometimes you score on CL.

The core was close enough in dimension. It was around 3" shorter, but the stock rad hung down below the grille and behind the bumper about that much anyway. The new one fills the opening in the rad support completely. A simple crossbar was attached to the core with new lower mounts. Moved one upper mount over about 2". New rad hoses and a t-stat.

I have been trying to improve the electrical in a lot of projects lately. This was one of the projects that got me so interested in wiring. The owner thinks I'm a little odd for enjoying wiring.
The owner found some LED light bars that filled the opening under the headlights around this point. I found a simple fuse/relay box online and a couple large 2-post terminal blocks. The relay box handles the front lights and I set it up to for rear lights, when we get to the rear bumper. Used some scrap carbon fiber to hold everything. Superleggera... The fan controller came with the giant fuse holder. The whole setup runs awesome.

Bill Moore Lake outside Empire, CO August 2019. We dragged my cousin and his camera up the hill, he takes some damn fine pictures. I use a cell phone. I don't have his pics yet. I have to hit him up, hopefully the next post will be his nice shots.
While I agree, that boy is my 23 yr old nephew, he listens when he wants. My Dad has a word for folks like him - Terminal
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After Bill Moore we had to make a few changes. The new traction bar did its thing and the truck did great all day. The front driveshaft was grinding on the crossmember in some of the stretchy sections, seemed to have self clearanced. Steering turned out to be the major issue of the day. There was a nice big rock off to the side of the trail near the top, broad flat one. As we approached the Lexus humped it's way up, KimmyJimmy was next. After getting the front wheels up on the rock it seemed to lose power steering assist. My best guess was the fluid started boiling or something, we had been on the trail for about an hour and a half at this point. Backed it off the rock and let it cool down. It made the rest of the trail fine, but that power steering loss had the owner a bit peeved. Managed to bend the tie rod also, not terribly, but enough to want a high steer kit.
Sooooo we called ORD again.
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The gear box was already drilled and tapped, thanks Raven, ORD's fittings went right in. I used the crossover assist kit they offer. Comes with a 6" tall bracket for the axle tube. I'll post a shot of the axle in the next post. Turned out a quick bracket for the reservoir, ended up too close to the master. Augmented later with a positive stop to keep it off the master. I want to come up with something better. New driver side high steer arm and HD tie rod.
Love the new setup, almost moves everything too easily. I fear not feeling a problem. I have an issue with the way the tie rod rocks over from stop to stop when the steering is cycled back and forth. I almost want to put one of the Jeep death wobble stopper bushing thingy's on the TRE's. Ill put up pics in the next post focusing on this issue.

Shortly after buying the truck, the owner was driving on the highway(had a sway bar then....) and managed to grenade the trans. The truck had a spare 700 in the rear when he bought it, when this one went, there wasn't much surprise. Owner really likes breaking things. He received a box of internal bits trying to be external bits. Anyway, when the shop put the trans back in, they managed to bend the shift linkage pretty well. In order for the truck to stay in 1st, you had to hang off the shifter the whole time, holding it there. That was getting old. Ordered a Winters shifter from Poly Performance. Rock crawler gate that we then modified to have a positive stop in 1st gear, just added a notch at the bottom of the throw. Routed the cable through the console and mounted it to the floor, next to the T-case shifter.
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The shifter is probably my favorite part of the truck so far. It is so gratifying to hear it slamming around. Its a bit of a stretch but, I am waiting until we do the Magnum with triple stick to come up with complete shifter layout. I will likely try and mount it farther back or higher, at that point.
The next thing on the list was a bumper. The rear has been gone since Rampart, so we built a Front Bumper. Logic. The owner grabbed a Smittybilt XRC 9500 while he was at 4WP getting the tires, it's been in the garage for the last 2 years. Ordered a winch plate, from someone, and busted out the plasma for some half inch frame brackets. Extended the framerails to grab 4 more bolts out front, 10 total. We swapped the factory tow hooks side to side and they ended up right in front of the leaf mount. Quarter inch plate for the center section, then 1"x2" .125" wall rectangle tube made up some triangular wingy thingies. Quarter inch plate on the outside of the half inch brackets, where the clevis mounts protrude, gets the one inch thickness.

It feels beefy, I want to hit something now. I like how high up it turned out. I hate when bumpers take up the whole front end, this one seems high and tight.
It slides on and off well enough, now at least.
The new bumper up front had the owner itching for some kind of rock sliders. Most of you are probably familiar with the snowball effect. Its a bastard.

We got to looking at the rockers and were pleasantly surprised how nice they were, no dents and little rust. We mocked up some metal in the general area and it was just too low. In order to grab the frame, the supports would have been pointing up. The whole truck just looked too thick.

I'll just toss this wee snow ball of this hill now.

I talked the owner into chopping up his perfectly good rockers. We took them all the way up to the doors. Probably 4 inches removed, I regret no pictures. In the midst of cutting we noticed some pretty big, gaping holes in the interior wall of the cab, at the bottom of the B pillar, right under the seatbelts. Big holes that I didn't get enough pictures of. This is the point I started taking more pictures.

The next day by, the time the owner got home from work, I had the carpet out and the floor exposed. The rear compartment was near perfect. The front had a few bad spots but not like we expected, based on the side holes. We did notice the floor tearing at the seat mounts. Someone had previously tried to repair it. I'm NOT a professional welder. But damn, I used a chisel to remove the old boogers, no penetration anywhere. It looked like solder. The really bad tears got a patch panel, the others got stitched better this time.

I had an idea to use 1x3 .125 wall rectangle tube to support the rockers, since we took most of it away, it attaches under the a pillar and b pillar. It is welded directly to the rocker on the top outside corner. The body mounts were cut and plated, the plate extends over the new rocker support. There is a long structure spot welded to the body along the frame, on the outside, that blocks about half the frame. With the intentions of gaining all the clearance possible, the spot welds were drilled, structure removed and holes filled. This left the floor floppy. To fix this and prevent the seat mounts from tearing again. I put a 1x2 .125 wall rectangle tube between the body mounts, it grabs the two outer seat bolts. I sleeved the rear seat hole, where the floor steps up slightly, the sleeve meets the floor flat. I then laddered it to the rocker support.

So the old carpet wasn't great but it was in one piece and it looked nice enough. Remember that trans and tcase in the back when we bought it? Turns out the entire rear underlay had soaked up every ounce of ATF that once lived in them gearboxes. The owner wouldn't let me try to salvage it, looking back i dont blame him. We decided to go with Lizard Skin.

I patched up everything I could find and filled all the screw holes from the carpet trim. Scuffed up all the old good paint. Ran a tube of seam sealer around and primed the floor, sides,b pillars and roof. Layed down 2 coats of sound and 2 coats of thermal. I can't say enough how nice this stuff was to work with. Messy-yes, but the clean up was what surprised me. I've used a lot of paint sprayers. This cleans up so easily. Made the whole process that much nicer.

So with the rockers clearanced, the rust holes patched and the carpet replaced with lizard skin-now we can start making some rock sliders. The sliders are 2x6 .1875 wall rectangle tube. Nothing fancy, angle cuts front and rear. When the leaf broke it reshaped the wheel well on the driver side rear and we kinda liked it. We replicated it on the other side. This made the opening in front of the tire huge. In order to keep rocks out of the wheel well, we ran the rockers up to the tire, past the body line. It worked out that the missing body works for toe clearance when standing to grab something from the roof(when we put something up there one day)

Started with just the front two legs per side, as I was undecided how to do the rear yet. Got them welded and primed and welded to the frame. The rear leg is all that's left.

That brings us to the current project. I'll leave a teaser shot last. I'll get the sliders done after. I swear.

I'm going to just post a few posts in a row of pictures. I need to figure out how to put more than 5 pics in a post. I don't want to upload to a hosting site like hotobucket. I don't want the pics to disappear or go blurry later.'
So the carb stud on the TBI is offset and the PO had a cobbled together angled stud thing to use a regular air cleaner. You can see me flipping it off in the image above, you might also notice that there is no threads coming out of the stupid brass adapter.
The owner was picking up his daughter from school when it happened. He limped it home and it made into the driveway. We dropped the pan that night and found a chunk of something and noticed that piston No.7 was cracked. Pulled it out and apart and this is what we found. A couple pieces of the top ring were in there and two nice cracks in the cylinder wall.

Bittersweet I'd say. The 190hp motor died. The owner called Blueprint the next day. Originally the plan was a stock style Vortec build. 300ish horse. The owner ordered this instead.

383 Aluminum Head 10:1 with the Holley Sniper EFI

ORD crossmember with comp mounts made it in there while we had the motor out. Did a quick clean and spray around the firewall with some rattlecan.

Headers fit pretty well...


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