Saturday, July 9, 2016

Still On the Back Roads - For Now

I've said it before and I'll say it again: If there's one thing you can absolutely count on with projects like this, it's that things will never go as you plan them. We started out this year with plans for a total drivetrain upgrade, to make the truck more highway friendly and finally give us five lugs all the way around (the front disc brake kit has been in place since before we took the first drive last year). Unfortunately, it turned out that the centerpiece, the transmission we had an amazing deal on, was not the T-5 we needed and wouldn't work. I searched extensively online and made many calls to junkyards and used parts dealers, but nobody could even locate the T-5 we needed. You can find them on eBay, but not within my tight budget, with which we also have to consider the rear end, new driveshaft, additional parts to complete the swap and labor. This old amateur can help, but I wouldn't be able to do it myself.

A new 3.55 ring and pinion kit for the existing rear end would have gotten us up to a good highway cruising speed, but I think that $400 to $450 would be much better spent on a decent transmission, especially when we already have a complete Firebird rear end available with 3.55 gears that measures up perfectly for my truck. And as it turns out, that decent transmission might still be within reach. As I continued my research and sought advice from other '47 to '54 GM truck owners online, I learned that almost any GM 4 speed transmission from the mid 50's to 1987 will also bolt right up to the existing bell housing on our 235 straight 6 motor. Those would certainly be more plentiful and less expensive than the '82 to '87 5 speed S10 tranny I had been looking for. I don't mind giving up the overdrive if it means I'll be able to hop on the highway when I need to without feeling like I'm in the way.

It might take a little longer than anticipated to put all the planned drivetrain pieces together, but the wait will ultimately be nothing compared to the 34 years I waited to drive this truck. And until it happens, I'll still have a blast taking the back way to cruise night and enjoying the scenery on my Sunday drives...

Thanks for stopping. See y'all down the road!

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