Project trucks are never truly done. However, they need to stretch their legs at some point. It’s that time for our reborn Ultimate K10.
Regular readers know that this truck was originally built as a street-legal hardcore crawler for the 2005 Ultimate Adventure. It had 39-inch BFGs, Dynatrac axles, a Ram Jet 350 crate motor, a TCI Turbo 350, an Offroad Design Doubler, and other premium parts that allowed it to conquer treacherous trails in the Midwest and Southeast. The truck returned from that trip battered and bruised. It appeared at a few shows and then went into storage. Registration and insurance lapsed, and parts were cannibalized for other projects. Ultimately, Editor-in-Chief Rick Péwé took the reins on the Chevy and took the truck as-is (engine, transmission, frame, crumpled body, and not much else) to revive the fabled beast.
Reader interest had remained high, even when the Stepside was rotting outdoors. We decided to bring the K10 back to life, although with more of a daily-driver personality. GM Truck Center (GMTC) graciously took on the rebuild; the shop had done the bulk of the original work in 2005. GMTC owner Henrik Hairapetian said from the get-go that we’d be better off finding another truck—preferably a K20—and swapping the Ram Jet 350 into it. But just as you can’t bulldoze a registered historic landmark, we wanted to retain the K10’s frame and custom-reinforced cab for nostalgic reasons. GMTC’s bodymen are still cussing us.
This article addresses loose ends, the five percent of the job that takes more than 25 percent of the total time.
Affordable replacement parts from LMC Truck were a main reason for taking on this rebirth. In addition to new sheetmetal, we also added basic black LMC door panels and a carpet kit with an insulation pad to replace to former rubber mat. LMC also has replacement dash pads; GMTC recovered the existing, cracked pad since it was already contoured around the cage’s windshield hoop.
To improve daily drivability, GMTC created a custom bench seat. The shop test-fit several stock Chevy benches, then modified one’s frame to clear the triple-stick shifters for the swapped-in Offroad Design Doubler. GMTC covered it in black “pleather,” keeping with our underlying simple-is-better approach. Three sets of DJ Safety 3-inch lap belts help accommodate a third passenger when necessary.
Before the creature comforts were installed, powertrain details were sorted out so that the Chevy could get into the paint booth under its own power. These included getting the proper Painless Performance pigtail for the Ram Jet 350 crate motor’s three-wire alternator (PN 70920) and installing an Auto Meter hall-effect speedo sender to convert the mechanical signal to an electric pulse. (Our Auto Meter Ultra II electric speedo can be calibrated, so we don’t have to mess with changing transfer case gears to compensate for the new First gear ratio and tire-size change from 39s to 37s.)
Different driveshafts were also necessary. This is one area where we’ve learned that using a 4x4 specialist is usually better than being a guinea pig for a local “expert.”
Based on the Chevy’s wheelbase, engine, lift, and tire size, Tom Wood (of Tom Wood’s Custom Drive Shafts) recommended a proven-effective setup. U-joints are the usual weak link, so Wood began with 1350s, which he rates 37.5 percent stronger than 1310 joints. Then he added upgrades to keep the front shaft from binding or failing at full suspension droop. The transfer-case end was built with a 1350 CV since the shaft operates at greater than 15 degrees. Wood machines the CV castings to get 30-plus degrees of nonbinding performance. The fore end was hot-rodded with a 32-spline long-travel slip joint. This gives about 4 inches of usable stroke. Wood included the necessary NP205 flange and front Dana 60 1350 yoke to make the job bolt-on.
The rear driveshaft was more straightforward: beefy 31⁄2-inch tubing with 1350 yokes. In-depth information on the various driveshaft options is available on the Tom Wood’s website, www.4xshaft.com.
Once the K10 was painted, GMTC added the finishing details. First were the 37x12.50-17 Mickey Thompson Baja MTZs on M/T Classic II aluminum wheels. McGard lug nuts and wheel locks secure the rolling stock.
Aftermarket bumper options for old Chevys are somewhat sparse. We wanted simple, strong, and affordable ways to mount a winch on the front and receiver on the rear. GMTC used this opportunity to create a line of retro flat-plate bumpers. Features include 1⁄2-inch-thick vertical plates that bolt to the frame, surrounded by water-jetted 3⁄8-inch steel pieces. We didn’t opt for the available upgrades, such as recessed light cutouts or tabs.
The GMTC front bumper serves as a stout winch mount for a Warn 9.5xp, rated at 9,500 pounds. The previous Warn winches on this vehicle proved their worth on the Ultimate Adventure, and the 9.5xp is well suited for this hybrid 1⁄2-3⁄4-ton truck thanks to its 125 feet of cable and 6hp motor.
One of our other goals was maximizing bed space in this standard cab Stepside. We previously had the fuel tank and a rear winch bracket in the bed, compromising gear space. Because most organized events require a fullsize spare, we wanted it bumper-mounted. GMTC added a swing-away carrier for the 37-inch Mickey Thompson using an EMS Offroad Tire Carrier Kit. Designed with do-it-yourselfers in mind, this kit includes a latch/catch rated at 2,000 pounds, a hinge assembly complete with spindle and tapered roller bearings, a polyurethane stop, and a mounting plate that’s drilled for popular five-, six-, and eight-lug patterns. GMTC also mounted a Hi-Lift 60-inch X-Treme jack to the swing-out carrier.
A couple minor details kept the Ultimate Revival K10 from making its maiden voyage prior to deadline. The exhaust needs to be patched back to the trail-rashed Flowmasters, and we’ll protect the bed with Line-X. Then it will hit the trail. We’ll likely give readers a heads-up on our website (www.4wheeloffroad.com) and on Facebook (www.facebook.com/4wheeloffroad).
May ’11 Making Lemonade
June ’11 Shifting Gears
July ’11 Exterior Siding
Aug. ’11 A Ton of Axle Fun
Oct. ’11 Ramming the Steering System
Dec. ’11 Saddlebag Fueling
Feb. ’12 DC Juicing
June ’12 Fuel, Fire & Monitoring
Dec. ’12 Loose Ends