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Author Topic: Mighty Morphin Suburban  (Read 1688 times)

Offline RedCar

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Mighty Morphin Suburban
« on: Oct 08, 2018, 03:05:37 pm »
The last thing I need is another car project; but when I found out that Grammy's '58 suburban was about to get donated to the radio station, action had to be taken. So my buddy and I road tripped 4 hours up to colorado to trailer it down here yesterday!
We formed the most American Rig in America by placing his '88 diesel suburban in the lead, thereby forming a 'double suburban 'dinozord! The worst hills we had to climb at 15mph but at least it gave the other traffic a chance to admire our glorious rig!

Engine is a 235 cubic inch straight 6 and makes a 2jz look like a tiny kids toy! It actually starts, but the clutch is completely toast, and cannot propel the vehicle.
So now, I've got my work cut out for me to drop that big ol cast iron transmission and inspect all this old crap... hopefully i'll still find time for the celica!
83 GT Sport

Offline twotone_ra64

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Re: Mighty Morphin Suburban
« Reply #1 on: Oct 08, 2018, 06:26:45 pm »
Nice!! Should be one interesting project. Taking a look back in the day of how ol' MURICAN STEEL was put together.
Celica the '84 Two-tone RA64 - Phase 2 In Progress! (159k); 1UZ-FE V8 Swap, W58 5-speed swap, Koni x Swift x T3 suspension, 6G Celica seat belts, TRD 2-way LSD, Konig Rewind 15x7" +0, zenki taillights, Cobra Imola Pro-fit seat, T3 seat rails
Mia the '91 Miata - Revived Twice! (264k); BP-5A 1.8L swap, an NB in NA clothes
Lilith the '94 Legend GS - The New Smooth Daily™ :shades: (144k)

Offline sirdan

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Re: Mighty Morphin Suburban
« Reply #2 on: Oct 09, 2018, 01:10:12 am »
Very cool, could go so many ways with it. I guess if it really only needed the clutch to be functional maybe do that and drive it with the stock stuff for the moment. If you plan to 4 wheel you really don't need a ton of motor to have fun offroad. Then you can focus on the celica a bit and work on the burb in the future.
1988 4runner

Offline corax

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Re: Mighty Morphin Suburban
« Reply #3 on: Oct 09, 2018, 12:38:31 pm »
Nice score!  It's hard to tell, but it looks like the paint is still in good condition too
at first glance, I was wondering why you were towing a school bus  :heh:
'85 RA64 Celica GT notchback

Offline RedCar

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Re: Mighty Morphin Suburban
« Reply #4 on: Oct 11, 2018, 02:15:17 am »
Thanks guys  :)
My plan is aligned with what Sirdan said... fix it up as is, and see how well it works.
I had monday off from work, and was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to take out the transmission/clutch. Engine is actually supported by the bellhousing, so the gearbox just unbolted from that with 4 bolts (that weren't even very tight!). Transmission is a common model called the SM420 used in a lot of 50s and 60s GM vehicles, and as a 4 speed it's actually not too heavy, still needed a jack to lower it though.

Anyways, a new clutch is on order now and the next challenge will be figuring out the front hubs... grandpa evidently welded one of them after he lost or broke the original hub mechanism. I'm hoping that some careful excavation with a cutoff wheel will get me down to the original bolt holes so that I can clean them up to bolt on a new hub locking mechanism.
83 GT Sport

Offline RedCar

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Re: Mighty Morphin Suburban
« Reply #5 on: Apr 03, 2019, 03:29:40 am »
Ok, so the 1950s is the cheesiest decade ever... at least concerning car companies.
Reading through various service bulletins they often have trouble calling stuff what it really is... it's not an auto transmission, but rather a power-matic transmission with "power-matic fluid".... an it's not an engine, but rather a thrift-master engine & the shock absorbers are pleasurizers.

The service manual website also had some old marketing stuff, including tips for dealers selling cars to women. It's a riot :rofl:
http://chevy.oldcarmanualproject.com/booklets/55top23/index.html

and if that's not corny enough, here's a short film introducing my 4wd system... they were quite proud, and had no restrain with flowery prose.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5LYTkRjdno
83 GT Sport

Offline Sigma Projects

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Re: Mighty Morphin Suburban
« Reply #6 on: Apr 10, 2019, 03:35:17 pm »
Ok, so the 1950s is the cheesiest decade ever... at least concerning car companies.
Reading through various service bulletins they often have trouble calling stuff what it really is... it's not an auto transmission, but rather a power-matic transmission with "power-matic fluid".... an it's not an engine, but rather a thrift-master engine & the shock absorbers are pleasurizers.

The service manual website also had some old marketing stuff, including tips for dealers selling cars to women. It's a riot :rofl:
http://chevy.oldcarmanualproject.com/booklets/55top23/index.html

and if that's not corny enough, here's a short film introducing my 4wd system... they were quite proud, and had no restrain with flowery prose.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5LYTkRjdno

Yea, there were some crazy ads back then. After WWII there was this huge push for the perfect life through consumerism, buzz words became powerful.
1984 Celica GT Coupe    sold and missed it
1983 Celica GT Coupe    attacked... will miss it (RIP) JY
1982 Celica GT Liftback  sold and won't miss it, lol
1985 Celica GT Coupe    new love =P

2000 Honda Insight Daily Beater
1987 MR2 now mine because brother in law got shit from the father in law :heh:
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Offline RedCar

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Re: Mighty Morphin Suburban
« Reply #7 on: Apr 11, 2019, 05:26:43 am »
I'll have to take some more carryall pics, especially 4wheeling... but i keep forgetting the camera.
Anyhow, it has been drive-able for a month or so now, but is far from ever being done.

The old 235 engine will push it up to 60-70mph on pancake flat or downhill, but otherwise it cruises ~50, and 30mph on steep hills. Being what it is though, you don't mind going slow at all.

Unfortunately it leaks coolant into the oil (slowly), hopefully just the head gasket. But might be cracked block/head as the original radiator wouldn't hold water. Extrapolating knowledge of my Dad and family back in the 70s, it's safe to say they abused the piss out of that thing.

However, before I rip the head off (initiating a 2 month long case of while-im-in-here) it needs to do more adventures! Planning a road trip/camping trip in it next weekend!


Here are some pictures of the restoration activity:
First problem was that front left wheel hub was bubba welded to 4x4 axle spline coupling. So i cut that off


Then had to figure out how to get my wheel back, ended up using toyota truck wheel hubs and making some wheel bearing adapter sleeves


Toyota hubs are set up for disc brakes so I had to make some caliper mounts-
First a plywood prototype


and then some plasma cut brackets done by the guys at the steel yard



also added a power brake booster (mounted under the cab) and a brake fluid reservoir on the firewall, fashioned from a brake fluid bottle with a hose barb on the bottom, retained by a bean can. Perfect fit!


and some refurbished T100 calipers. This shot also highlights the original NAPCO, two piece closed knuckle design. Very nice for a non-power steering truck, since the knuckle turns on tapered roller bearings instead of ball joints. Less friction that way.


Though the knuckle bearings get hammered pretty bad over time, wearing unevenly since they only roll slightly back and forth for steering:


Then I needed to adapt the toyota (AISIN) locking hubs to engage with original NAPCO 4X4 drive axles. Fortunately the original spline coupler was still intact inside the bubba weld pictured earlier, and after some excavation with the grinder & lathe. I was able to weld old spline coupler inside the AISIN locking hub gear in order to create this adapter (pictured before welding):


Then rebuilt the differentials replacing the original 3.9 gears with 3.38 gears for modern speed limits


Then re-constructed the rear brake backing plate that had partially ground off when the wheel fell off sometime back in the day


Then cleaned 40 years worth of mouse poop / nests out of the doors. A couple trash bags worth + a trip to the carwash.


Wire brushed and painted the floor. Followed by carpet


Bought a new radiator, and made a new radiator mounting bracket


Re-packed the CV joints with grease. CV joints were a big deal back in 59, when most other 4x4s used U joints to drive the front wheels


Cleaned rust from underneath valve cover


stitched some new seat covers




Also re-built the gauge cluster, replaced wiring harness, & converted generator to alternator...
And am sooo done with this thing for a few more weeks until that engine starts bugging me again  :heh:

83 GT Sport

Offline Sigma Projects

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Re: Mighty Morphin Suburban
« Reply #8 on: Apr 11, 2019, 09:08:50 am »
wow, lots of work getting done.
1984 Celica GT Coupe    sold and missed it
1983 Celica GT Coupe    attacked... will miss it (RIP) JY
1982 Celica GT Liftback  sold and won't miss it, lol
1985 Celica GT Coupe    new love =P

2000 Honda Insight Daily Beater
1987 MR2 now mine because brother in law got shit from the father in law :heh:
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Offline sirdan

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Re: Mighty Morphin Suburban
« Reply #9 on: Apr 11, 2019, 12:11:18 pm »
Yay Toyota parts. Might as well put a 350 in it if you have to touch that motor.
1988 4runner

Offline twotone_ra64

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Re: Mighty Morphin Suburban
« Reply #10 on: Apr 11, 2019, 03:38:33 pm »
Wow, amazing work! I like your brake fluid reservoir solution. :laugh: I'm with sirdan on this one, the 350 should be nice for modern day cruising now that you've also put the lower FD in.
Celica the '84 Two-tone RA64 - Phase 2 In Progress! (159k); 1UZ-FE V8 Swap, W58 5-speed swap, Koni x Swift x T3 suspension, 6G Celica seat belts, TRD 2-way LSD, Konig Rewind 15x7" +0, zenki taillights, Cobra Imola Pro-fit seat, T3 seat rails
Mia the '91 Miata - Revived Twice! (264k); BP-5A 1.8L swap, an NB in NA clothes
Lilith the '94 Legend GS - The New Smooth Daily™ :shades: (144k)

Offline RedCar

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Re: Mighty Morphin Suburban
« Reply #11 on: Apr 12, 2019, 12:16:07 am »
Yay Toyota parts. Might as well put a 350 in it if you have to touch that motor.

Comparing toyota trucks with the old Chevy, it's apparent that they share a common ancestor. I think toyota copied a lot of GM stuff from the 40s and 50s and some of those design elements survived well into the 80s

Wheel bearing diameter & spacing is surprisingly similar. The knuckle design, and differential setup also is very similar to a solid axle toyota truck (except bigger). Not to mention the land cruiser 2F engines are metric copies of the GMC 6.

Not that everyone didn't copy back then... my NAPCO front axle has a lot of parts interchangeable with Dodge power wagons.

Something like a 350 or an LS is definitely the most logical swap... call me a wierdo, but I'm really tempted by Jeep 4.0 engines. They're a dime a dozen on ebay and are practically clones of my old 235 except with extra goodies like more than 4 crankshaft main bearings, engine oil filtration, lighter weight, more displacement, PCV, valve covers that actually seal, & fuel injection
83 GT Sport

Offline 2jra65

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Re: Mighty Morphin Suburban
« Reply #12 on: Apr 12, 2019, 01:03:01 am »
extra goodies like more than 4 crankshaft main bearings, engine oil filtration, lighter weight, more displacement, PCV, valve covers that actually seal, & fuel injection

 :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

For real though, the 4.0s are damn near bulletproof.

Offline RedCar

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Re: Mighty Morphin Suburban
« Reply #13 on: Apr 24, 2019, 03:35:28 am »
Old Yellow and I took a few days off around easter, and went on an adventure!
~150 interstate highway miles down to Bandera lava field & Cibola national forest near Grants + a bunch of offroad rock crawling!... Acceleration doesn't happen fast with the old 235, but it had no problems maintaining 60-70 mph, not too much slower than the rest of traffic (except for long steep hills where it slows down to 35mph) , my friend in a new tacoma only beat me by 1/2 hour! And with 32" tires old yellow definitely had an advantage in ground clearance to make it over some big rocks/tank traps impassable for the taco! That 7:1 1st gear was sooo nice!

I don't feel so bad about not having AC anymore since the wind noise is about the same with windows up or down!
Average fuel economy ~14mpg on the highway, and somewhere below 10 offroad.

Here are some pictures!
Installed shoulder belts for passenger & myself prior to departure... had to cut & weld mounting spot for shoulder harnesses:





Grabbing some crystals from an old fluorite mine:





Cool shots from crawling around in the lavatubes/ice caves under the malpais:




with headlamp illumination on some of the ice-stalagmites!



A few bonus shots of re-painting my leaf springs & re-welding broken leaf pack retainers before the trip:



4" lift blocks installed over rear axle by dealer back in the day
83 GT Sport

Offline twotone_ra64

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Re: Mighty Morphin Suburban
« Reply #14 on: Apr 24, 2019, 04:11:37 pm »
Awesome! Those caves are really interesting.

Question, on adding those shoulder belts - is it legal to add a 3-pt belt to a car that has no belts or a 2-pt lap belt?
Celica the '84 Two-tone RA64 - Phase 2 In Progress! (159k); 1UZ-FE V8 Swap, W58 5-speed swap, Koni x Swift x T3 suspension, 6G Celica seat belts, TRD 2-way LSD, Konig Rewind 15x7" +0, zenki taillights, Cobra Imola Pro-fit seat, T3 seat rails
Mia the '91 Miata - Revived Twice! (264k); BP-5A 1.8L swap, an NB in NA clothes
Lilith the '94 Legend GS - The New Smooth Daily™ :shades: (144k)

 

cognitive