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Old 01-15-2017, 05:47 PM
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CarterKraft CarterKraft is offline
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'66 Suburban 5.3 Re-power and other fun.

As some of you already know I am a terrible thread artist.
My pictures will be somewhat blurry, likely out of focus, and the lighting will certainly be bad.

My posts will lack detail, no part numbers or useful information for others to use, pretty much the opposite of the things I like.

But here it is... another disaster in the making.

My dad bought this '66 Suburban at the legendary Pate swap meet at Texas Motor Speedway. He bought it on a bit of a whim, it's rustier than ideal and has really only been cosmetically upgraded.

Big wheels and lo pro tires, disc brakes all around but not really implemented well. No rear e-brake cables but the forward cabling and rods is still zip tied to the frame. Coil over helper shocks in the rear and too long of front shocks.

All that aside it has a really cool vibe. There is no AC, heat only. That's a death sentence for a North Texas ride. The 283 and glide work well but with no OD it really limits the distance I would want to trip in it. My mom and dad go to Robbers Cave every year, a 214 mile one way trip. That trip for my uncle and others that are running old school power-trains has been hell.

So it became clear we needed a couple key items if we were to keep the truck long term.
  • A/C
  • Overdrive
  • Performance/Reliability

My dads buddy had new Mr. GoodWrench long block that he could have. So my dad wanted to buy a new carb, intake and headers. I priced those items and we quickly saw it was going to be allot more expensive to go old school than he thought given we still needed to get a overdrive transmission and we were getting quotes for a 700R4 were in the thousands.

I jumped on Craigslist to look for some donor engines and found several 5.3/4L60E combos in the $1000-1500 range. That was allot more inline with our planned budget and solved all of the powertrain concerns. We started looking for suitable engine and my uncle found a failed '65 project that had a 5.3/4L60E already in it. He wanted the truck but doesn't like new fangled technology so we bought the engine with "tuned" PCM, shorty headers and modified harness for $1800.

With that solved we ordered a Vintage Air Gen IV surefit system.
Lets start the pictures!






Last edited by CarterKraft; 01-15-2017 at 08:36 PM.
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Old 01-15-2017, 07:58 PM
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CarterKraft CarterKraft is offline
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As I said the pictures are going to be garbage, it's totally my fault and I do a bad job of taking pictures of everything. My kids are about the only thing I ever capture successfully.

With the engine bought and parts arriving daily at my dads house we made the move to swap the Elcamino for the Burban. I have a two bay shop one bay has the lift but I have enough dirt bikes to fill the other bay so one has to go, the Elcamino was it since the engine is not even installed.

We began by pulling the 283/glide and washing the heck out of the frame, fenders, etc.
In order to hopefully not kill all my grass with the de-greaser runoff we put down a tarp and bermed it up. We ended up using over 55 gallons of wash water, a interesting fact I thought.


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Old 01-15-2017, 08:33 PM
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Here's the engine bay after washing. You can see the power assist steering in this photo and the suburban specific core support mounts that were a pain in the ass.

My 12 year old son wanted something to do, he loves cleaning (a weird hobby IMO) so with a wire brush in hand he did some epic cleaning on the core support, especially the area around the battery box. Later that week I came home and he had cleaned the other side to bare metal and masked off and primer'd this triangular area in the bottom pic. We try to let him do any painting on the project, it seems to be his happy place.


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Old 01-15-2017, 09:05 PM
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With that all picked up we started working on getting the 5.3 installed. We argued and talked about several different scenarios on engine mounts. The guy we bought the engine from had modified the engine mount pedestals for the LSx engine mounting location difference. He had also used some metal plate adapter plates that were not very clean or accurate. The pedestals were cut and modified for some reason and none of the fab work met my expectations.
I found some ICT billet aluminum adapter plates on Amazon that were adjustable and would give us the ability to at least get a grasp on what would be needed. These adapter plates use the existing single bolt mounts and the stock 283 pedestals so I liked the idea of getting the engine in the truck and modifying it as needed instead of using the abortions the previous owner had come up. The plates are four position, stock bell housing position, .625", 1.625", and 2.250" engine moved frontward. I was hoping to set the engine as far back as possible to keep the dimensions the same as the stock engine but the truck low mount a/c compressor did not like that idea. I didn't want to mess with any of the truck engines accessories so decided to trim the bracket and mount the engine in the 2.25" forward position, the only position available with the a/c compressor in the way.

It fit fine at this position and only required moving the trans cross member about 1.5" to the rear. The headers fit fine and the only real issue is the a/c compressor fitment to the RH frame rail. I am not going to mod the frame rail at this time. I ordered a adapter from Nostalgic a/c parts. I think this adapter will solve the problem but if the rail flange has to be trimmed so be it. The other slight interference is the power steering return line. I was able to bend it enough to clear the frame but I will likely do something different when the engine is pulled to paint the fire wall.


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Old 01-16-2017, 12:34 PM
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CarterKraft CarterKraft is offline
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With the engine decidedly in the correct position I moved to the fuel tank and fuel plumbing. I originally was going to use the corvette regulator/filter for a single dead head line to the engine but the engine we bought had the stock fuel regulator on the rail and had the return already installed. It didn't really make any sense to modify that setup so I changed gears to utilize the stock '01 fuel filter mounted on the frame rail and a two line setup from the fuel rail to the tank.

We talked about the fuel tank and what the requirements were. We wanted a decent size tank and I wanted a internal fuel pump for noise reduction and increased pump life. There are a bunch of suggestions for fuel tanks for the trucks and they all seemed ok at the time. The Blazer tank, impala and custom were all options I considered. I really wanted to just buy the tray setup from Tanks Inc. to weld in to the top of the tank but my dad wasn't really keen on welding on the used tank. That didn't concern me any but I yielded to him as he wanted a new tank anyway.

We went with a '50 model sedan fuel tank that looked like a perfect fit. When it was all said and done it was a really rough install and required custom fitting of every mount strap etc. If I had to do this part over (and I might if the tank is too small) I will buy the Tanks Inc. pump recess and the in tank retrofit pump assy. Then just have the tank stripped and re-coated.

I also had planned on running Ni-Cop fuel line but we got rushed on this part and I made a concession for rubber line instead. Upon ordering the braided fuel line I started getting scared of the ethanol permeation complaints with the rubber braided hose. Gates sells a vapor barrier hose that is fuel injection rated so I bought that.Barricade® Fuel Injection Hose There is some concern about using this hose with push-lock fittings but at the moment I haven't decided what to do about it. The 150 psi rating of the push lock is well with in my self appointed safety factor and the 225 psi rating of the hose is as well. Earls is using a similar setup with a non sharp barb and a fuel injection clamp. Fragola sells a crimp clamp for push lock fittings. At any rate I would sleeve the hose with the polyethylene fabric sleeve for abrasion resistance.

The fuel tank was a real bitch and it required major frame modifications to get it to fit. A hole was drilled through the frame and a doubleer plate had to be installed to support the web in that area. The rear cross member behind the fuel tank had to be flipped and moved rearward. A new filler tube had to be made and the very small 1/4" vent adapted to the 1/2" OEM vent.
I don't have allot of pictures of this as I spent the majority of the time cussing and throwing tools.


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Old 01-17-2017, 04:21 PM
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Captainfab Captainfab is offline
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With that fuel tank, typically guys trim the bottom flange of the frame so that the flange of the tank is up against the bottom of the frame. Then the filler neck is that much higher up. If you want to get away from that power assist steering let me know. The steering box adapter plates are one of the many products that I fabricate and sell worldwide.
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Old 01-18-2017, 02:34 PM
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Sweet project. The pictures aren't as bad as you make them out to be!

Quote:
Originally Posted by CarterKraft View Post
My 12 year old son wanted something to do, he loves cleaning (a weird hobby IMO) so with a wire brush in hand he did some epic cleaning on the core support, especially the area around the battery box. Later that week I came home and he had cleaned the other side to bare metal and masked off and primer'd this triangular area in the bottom pic. We try to let him do any painting on the project, it seems to be his happy place.
Your son is not weird! He's the man! I was similar at his age - ultra focused on cleaning, stripping, and painting everything. I tored down and refinished a couple '60s vintage bicycles at around 11yrs old. I found it very gratifying to take something from rusty grimy junk to looking and working like new. Great way to engage him on this project!

That is a really good looking ride. I am digging it. Should be great w/ the 5.3/4L60 in there. Thanks for taking the time to dig up and post photos. Keep us posted!
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Old 01-18-2017, 11:11 PM
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deaner deaner is offline
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Great project!
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Old Yesterday, 03:48 PM
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CarterKraft CarterKraft is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captainfab View Post
With that fuel tank, typically guys trim the bottom flange of the frame so that the flange of the tank is up against the bottom of the frame. Then the filler neck is that much higher up. If you want to get away from that power assist steering let me know. The steering box adapter plates are one of the many products that I fabricate and sell worldwide.
The fuel tank fitment might be me, or it might be the Suburban vs. the pickup. There are allot of things that seem the same but aren't. In the end it's a pretty good setup, doesn't hang as low as the stock tank and meets all the requirements.
Adding the Tanks Inc. pickup to the stock tank would have been simpler for me, live and learn.

My dad had already bought the POL steering kit. It turned out to be a POS and required new hardware and other issues I am sure you are aware of. I tell everyone who will listen about your brackets. A co-worker has bought some from you already, John Blackstock, power boost adapter plate and said it fit like a glove. He is going to order the disc brake plates next.
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Old Yesterday, 04:25 PM
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CarterKraft CarterKraft is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBandit View Post
Sweet project. The pictures aren't as bad as you make them out to be!



Your son is not weird! He's the man! I was similar at his age - ultra focused on cleaning, stripping, and painting everything. I tored down and refinished a couple '60s vintage bicycles at around 11yrs old. I found it very gratifying to take something from rusty grimy junk to looking and working like new. Great way to engage him on this project!

That is a really good looking ride. I am digging it. Should be great w/ the 5.3/4L60 in there. Thanks for taking the time to dig up and post photos. Keep us posted!
The thing about the pictures is I never have the one I want when writing the story.

My son is motivated differently than I am for sure. He loves to clean his dirt bike, polishes the pipe and shines up the tires. We pay him to clean the cars during the summer. I am showing him how to rebuild his sisters dirt bike engine at the moment, he is a little lost on the amount of detail it takes but I think it will be good confidence boost when he starts it up for the first time after replacing the crank bearings, piston, etc.
The bicycle thing is funny because my dad found him a vintage Diamondback Viper to rebuild. It came out pretty sweet for a quick job.

We are close to be doing done with this, we pulled the engine Saturday to get paint on everything. I just need to update the thread...
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