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January 2007 4x4 Tech Questions - Techline

Posted January 1, 2007

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Four Wheeler
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Question: I have a '96 Chevy Silverado pickup that I want to make the hood tilt forward like I have seen on show trucks. Does anyone make a kit for this type of a conversion, or does it have to be custom built?
Ray Patterson
Little Rock, AR

Answer: There's a company called Stylin' Concepts (800/434-4975, that offers a front tilt hood for '88-'98 GM fullsize trucks. The company also offers some other pretty weird stuff like suicide-door conversions, where the doors are hinged from the rear instead of from the front. (The "suicide" comes from what would happen if the door should open while traveling and you try to grab it and hold it closed; the wind movement will catch it and pull you out the door.)

Question: I recently converted my '98 Dodge 1/2-ton to '03 AAM 1-ton differentials, and all is good except the brakes. I can't get pressure when the vehicle is running. Do I need a conversion part or to fabricate something? Nobody seems to know. Can you help me?
P. Belanager

Answer: Do I understand right that the brakes work fine when the engine is not running, and will stop the truck when it is coasting downhill with the engine off? When you say you can't get pressure, does that mean that there is no line pressure to the calipers at all? Have you checked this with a pressure gauge at each wheel?

Did your '98 1/2-ton have disc brakes on the rear? My guess is that the master cylinder you're using does not produce enough volume and pressure to make the much larger disc brakes from the 1-ton axles work properly. The simple solution seems to be swap out the master cylinder from the donor truck that supplied the axles.

Question: I am not sure that the timing marks on my engine are correct due to the fact that it was assembled from various parts from different engines. There must be a way to check to see if the mark on the pulley is lined up correctly with the timing mark on the block when the engine is at top dead center. Can you help me out on this?
Phil Hanson
Boulder, CO

Answer: Here is how I find a true top dead center to make sure the crank pulley is lining up with timing mark.

First, I pull the plug and bring the motor up on the compression stroke and then screw in a positive stop for the piston to hit up against (you can make one from knocking out the center of a spark plug and brazing in a bolt that is a bit longer than the tip of the plug was), though the one I have is adjustable. Turn the engine over by hand until the piston hits the stop.

It's a lot easier if you pull out all the spark plugs to eliminate compression. Make a thin mark on the pulley in line with the timing tab. Turn the engine over the opposite way by hand and again mark the pulley. Now, the center distance between the two marks will be top dead center when you pull the stop out, and hopefully will line up with the factory mark and timing tab. There is always the chance of some piston rock, depending on how off center the stop hits the piston top with this method, so don't push the piston up too hard. While it's not as accurate as if you had the head off and a depth mike across the top of the block, it will be pretty close.

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