Tag Archives: custom classic truck
Recently I began to tackle suspension on the truck. Even though I'm using a vehicle that is pretty common to install air bags on, it still requires some extra thought to make everything work correctly when there is a classic truck body on top of the S10 chassis. I couldn't mount the bags or any brackets for them higher than the frame work in the bed that I already built, so I decided to buy some universal bag mounts and use some bar stock to make my own bag-on-bar air ride kit in the rear end of the truck.
I started by test fitting the bags and brackets and setting them at a height that I utilized the full travel of the bags. Once I set the height of the brackets on top of the rear, I tack welded them in place and began work on the cross member bar that the bags will lift on. I mounted the bar snugly between the frame rails giving some additional lateral strength to the chassis, while also giving a firm location for the bags to lift on. This also allowed me to set the bar just below the level of the bed floor. Once I test fit everything together, I welded it all using the Eastwood MIG 175. This is where the extra power of the 175 was needed over the MIG 135 that I like to use on lighter fabrication and sheet metal jobs.
After everything was welded in place I put a quick test line together with a schrader valve to test the movement of the truck by just adding air from the shop compresser to fill the bags. I will be deciding on an air ride management system later on in the build once some other parts of the project are completed first.
Next up we will be refreshing the front suspension with our fancy new performance suspension parts from ProForged. They make some great severe-duty suspension parts that will handle most anything you could throw at them. At the same time we'll be installing the front air ride parts and be gearing up to build some new running boards from scratch to replace the rusty old ones. Lots of cool custom work to come, so check back often!
We have been lucky enough on the east coast to have a pretty mild winter. This meant that we could really get work done AND enjoy our customs/classics throughout the winter (now I know what you west coast folks enjoy!). This meant that there was a month where I didn't get much done on Project Pile House. As the weather gets warmer and talk our our 2012 Eastwood Summer Classic stirs, I have really gotten the motivation to make some progress on the truck. Since we've already tackled getting the cab and front sheet metal mounted and stretched the bed sides, I decided to to build a new bed frame.
The bed didn't fair nearly as well as the rest of the truck, and there wasn't much left of the bed floor. In the end I pretty much ended up cutting it all out to build new. I decided to firm the bed up by using a mix of angle iron and square box tubing. This allows me to have a nice base for the floor when it comes time to finish the bed. Since I was welding together fairly thick steel, I decided to pull out our MIG 175 and weld up the bracing on 220V. I first ground off the surface rust where I was welding the angle iron to the bedsides. I then hit up the entire perimeter of the bed where the new metal would overlap with Self Etching Weld Thru Primer to assure that the work I'm doing wouldn't rust out. Even though the truck is currently a Patina-Queen, I still want any work I do to last the life of the truck!
With any custom vehicle, you will run into unexpected snags throughout the build. One thing I wanted to avoid was the "shallow bed effect" that you see on many lowered or classic trucks (especially ones with modern chassis). I want to actually be able to put more than a lawn chair in the bed! In order to do that I needed to move the OE chassis cross member forward a few inches to get it sitting below the bed floor. By doing this it also made the driveshaft uncomfortably close to the bottom of the cross member. I decided to notch and box the cross member before welding it back into the chassis. I may also need to cut down the top of the frame a small amount over the rear axle to keep the bed floor level, but we will tackle that later.
From there I made mounts that tied the new floor frame into the S10 chassis and now it is a "bolt-on affair" to install the bed. With all of that done I began working on getting the rear of the truck sitting where I wanted when "aired out". Due to time constraints and to keep the 'budget-build" theme, I decided to ditch some of the leafs, install drop blocks, and build a cheap bag-on-bar air suspension setup in the rear. I don't plan to race the truck or build a high horsepower engine (yet!), so I went this route. Stay tuned as I continue working on the rear suspension and begin to get this old truck rolling again!
Now that we have the cab and front end sheet metal mounted and they are a "bolt-on" affair, it's time to start tackling the job of making bed mounts, as well as stretching the bed to fit the chassis. I initially was going to shorten the chassis to match the original Dodge wheelbase, but after some time of staring at the truck, and pictures of other trucks, I decided that I think I dislike how "unproportioned" these old short bed trucks look. After some measuring of the truck, and looking at pictures of other trucks, I think the overall appearance of the truck will look more "balanced" with the front of the bed lengthened to meet the cab.
So today we chopped out the metal that was fouling the chassis from the original bed floor first, then once we dropped the bed down we found that the S10 gas tank was hitting the bed and not allowing us to move it around freely. After removing the tank we got the bed sitting about how we wanted it height-wise, and tacked up some metal rods to hold the front part of the bed at that ideal height. We also added some cross bracing inside the bed to keep it from twisting while we are chopping it up and locking it into place. This should be a great exercise to hone my metal brake and bead rolling skills that I need some freshening up on! Check out the pictures below, and keep an eye here on the blog for a lot more updates to come.
Today is a big day for Pile House. It has probably been 20 years or more since this truck has had a solid floor. Since I decided to choose a less-than-common truck, there isn't much for replacement panels, and since it is a bit of a "mutt" anyways, I opted to just fabricate my own floors with some sheet metal from our friendly local metal shop.
The floor from first glance didn't look that bad, I mean most of it was still there, which is pretty commendable for how this truck sat for 20+ years. But what you can't see well in a picture, is how thin the metal left was. So thin it would start to tear if you put any weight on the floor. Because the cab mounts are tied into the front floors, I choose to weld some new pans in. I made sure to tie it into the parts of the truck that are solid, like the firewall and B-pillar.
After cutting out the metal to fit around the transmission and the back of the engine, I got it all welded in place with help from the Eastwood MIG 175. Now that it is tied into the cab mount plates I made, and the firewall, the floor is much, much stronger than before. Once the final drivetrain is in place I'll be making covers for the openings in the floor and firewall.
Next I will be burning out the holes in the cab mount plates in the floor and in the cab mount towers so that I can bolt the cab on and off of the chassis, then make bolt-on mounts for the front end. Stay tuned!
Items 1 to 5 of 6 total