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Monster Truck - 1972 Chevy Suburban

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Mark did incredible work saving this truck!




Well, it was lighter...  I guess you can say that.




They don't make replacement quarters for the suburban so he had to cut up a few truck parts to make the repair.












I don't know how you guys do this...  I'd love to learn.







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So, in October 2007, we had our Monster Truck back home safe and properly de-rusted.








It came out really nice and actually, didn't look too bad in it's new tri-color paint job either.  But it was time to start thinking about the next step:  Suspension.  Time to get this beast closer to the ground.  I had a friend with photoshop skills give me a quick lowering job so I could see what it looked like.  He threw in the BRE stripes at no additional charge!  :thumbup:



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Now that the outside was taken care of, it was apparently time to work on the insides.  Sometime in late 2008/early 2009, I had packed up the truck full of 510 parts and started off to a friends house.  When I got to the top of the street, the motor just stopped.  It wouldn't re-start so I backed down the hill (not the funnest thing to do when the power brakes aren't working with the motor off) and into my driveway.  Turns out the timing chain gave up the ghost.  Time for some engine work...


I spent a bunch of time looking at crate motors, new heads, etc. and finally decided I would just pull the stock motor and have it rebuilt.  I had the tranny done too as it was starting to get pretty lazy shifting into reverse.






My rebuilder said some of the cam lobes were 1/2 gone and the timing chain just fell to pieces in his fingers!


I can't believe some people put these things in their 510's!  It was all my engine hoist to could do to lift the big lug up and over the core support.

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When I got everything back, I put the tranny in first.




Here is the new 350->383 bottom end.






and the new heads and manifolds (one of my manifolds was cracked so we had to replace it with new)





In ya go!




It was a real struggle getting the motor and tranny mounts all to line up. 


Heads on...




And the intake and carb




I had considered an aluminum intake, new carb, even EFI conversion but really just wanted to get back on the road.  Also, I wanted to get a feel for the truck with the bottom end and headwork complete before making any other upgrades so I could see the incremental improvements rather than doing it all at once.

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Rocker covers in place




And finally, wiring and plumbing complete and I'm ready to fire it up!




Everything went pretty straight forward.  The rev it to 3,000 for 10 minutes or whatever the cam break-in process was as soon as you start it up was a bit unsettling but it has worked great ever since!


I did have an issue with the tranny though.  A couple years later, Brenda was driving it around one day and it suddently wouldn't move anymore.  It was like the tranny was slipping.  We had to have it towed home.  I really didn't have time to mess around with it so we towed it to the shop that rebuilt the tranny.  Turns out the new *rebuilt*  torque converter disintegrated and filled all the screens with debris.  The shop replaced the torque converter adn flushed the tranny at no cost but I did have to pay them to remove and replace the tranny since I brought it in separated from the truck the first time-round. No problems since...

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Well, okay - we did have ONE problem.

We took the truck to Eastern Washington to go camping with our Church.  It started to make a clicking sound on the way over but I didn't think too much of it.  The next day we drove to Lake Chelan to the water sides and half way there, the fan belt started to make a nasty noise, then nothing...  The temp started to climb on the way into town but we were so close I was able to get to the parking lot before I had to shut it off and find out what happened. 

Turns out the clicking was an exhaust leak.  I hadn't re-torqued the exhaust headers and the front left side was leaking at the head.  The hot exhaust was going right onto the alternator which eventually seized.  This made the fan belt rub over the no longer rotating pulley until it finally melted and snapped. 

The auto parts store in downtown Chelan had a spare alternator so I replaced it and the fan belt in the Slide Waters parking lot.  I refilled the coolant and re-torqued the exhaust manifold bolts and it's been gravy ever since.


Then I bought all the suspension components so I could lower it!



Drop spindles, springs, shocks, and larger anti-sway bar up front.

Springs, shocks, shock re-locators, adjustable pan-hard rod and anti-sway bar in the rear.

I did all the ball joints and such at the same time.  It's all most a new truck now mechanically!


It looked and rode so much better!


For some weird reason though I have no photos of the truck in this stage...

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  • 2 months later...

Well, after three years of driving around in primer, it was time to take the big leap and get the monster truck painted.  I would love to have done it myself but it had already been three years and I wasn't any closer to starting than I was three years ago so it was time to turn to the professionals.  This was difficult though.  The way I saw it, I had three options.  I could pay Maaco $500 for a scuff and shoot and fall way short of what I wanted.  I could find some guy working out of his garage at home for $5,000 and take my chances.  Or I could pay a hot rod shop $30,000 and surely be happy with the work but sad about the gaping hole in my wallet.

I didn't give Maaco a passing consideration.  I just knew I wanted better than that.

I have heard WAY too many horror stories about guys painting cars out of their garages.  Just too risky.

So, I drove to a local hot rod shop to discuss what I wanted done and get a quote.

I was really hoping I might get what I wanted for $10-20K.  Sure seams reasonable to me, regardless of how big this thing is...  But alas, after making a very long list of things that they wouldn't do, we finally got it down to $20K which was basically nothing more than a mask and tape paint job, like Maaco except maybe better paint.  : (

I called Mark back (the guy that did all the rust repair) and explained my dilema.  He replied that I was in luck as he just struck a deal with a local shop whereby he could bring in trucks in primer and they would do the final spray and bake in their booth.  Plus he could do everything I wanted, windows out, all new seals, new grill, reconditioned dash with tach, new bumpers, etc within my $10-20K budget.  And so a deal was struck...


Of course, this meant that the first thing Mark got to do was sand off all the primer he had previously so carefully applied.











And for the first time, he got to sand on that HUGE roof!



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I am now paying Mark to do much of this work twice but that's the penalty I paid for not doing all this the first time.  The price was just more than I could bite off though so, there wasn't much to do about it.








We finally replaced the rusty third door this time around



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The first thing to get fancy new pait was the firewall:




Then the inside of the front fenders




Sanding the tailgate




I bought a new (to me) upper hatch from a JY in Montanna to replace my rusty one.  This would be prepped and installed during the paintjob as well




The sheetmetal just never seems to end!




And neither do the acres of parts!



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