Sure, a diesel truck would be nice. But it wouldn't be free, and towing with a gas engine makes fuel stops simple and means that whatever spare fuel we carry will work for the tow rig and for the project on the trailer. We are going to figure out a comfortable way to sleep in this truck for those long hauls, modify the drivetrain so it pulls as well as it can, and make the cabin quieter and more comfortable so we can pull 20-hour days with less fatigue. We want to make sure it can service itself on the side of the highway (and thus, service the towed vehicle), because there is nothing worse than being broken down with a dead rig on the trailer on the side of the road in the middle of Kansas with a hailstorm coming (ask us how we know). Once we get it to that point, we figure it will also make a decent long-haul desert truck for runs like El Camino Del Diablo and the Mojave Road. A week in the bush should be no problem with this truck, whether we are towing our Jeep to Easter Jeep Safari, or camping in the middle of Death Valley. So follow along with our multi-part build as we take our solid-axle, fuel-injected, late-model truck, snatch it from the jaws of the Clunker program, and give it a new lease on life. The shocks that were on the truck were shot, and we knew we needed something that would work for a variety of conditions; from unloaded street driving, to canyon-carving, to towing, to desert running, we wanted it to be the best it could everywhere. We have always liked the adjustable Rancho shocks for just those reasons, but the new My Ride system makes it so much easier. With an FM remote control and an underhood compressor and control box, we can change the ride profile from the cab with a remote we keep in the center console.The shocks that were on the truck were shot, and we knew we needed something that would wo If you've never worked on one of these trucks, let us tell you it is a bear to get back to the distributor. Thanks to the set-back nature of the engine, the tall barrel-shaped intake, and the pseudo cab-forward design, the distributor is entirely under the cowl and buried in vacuum and electrical lines. While we had the plenum off, we looked at the cap, and like many other things, it needed attention and we wondered if it was the original cap. We replaced the cap, rotor, wires, and coil with a Summit Racing Tune-up Kit (p/n SUM-867815CR with p/n HYP-4066) and a set of eight E3 spark plugs (p/n ETP-E3-48) in an attempt to maximize mileage and performance out of our big V-8.If you've never worked on one of these trucks, let us tell you it is a bear to get back to While we had the plenum off, we noticed that the water pump housing was leaking oil at the oil pan, so we pulled the harmonic balancer and four extra bolts to fix that leak, too. We found more than a leak. The timing chain had just over 5/8 inch of slack in it and we had to replace it. So back to Summit Racing we went for a new Cloyes double-roller timing chain set (p/n CLO-9-1103) that we installed straight-up. We toyed with the idea of retarding or advancing it, but in the end, the minimal potential gains didn't outweigh the potential problems that the fuel injection system might see from doing so.While we had the plenum off, we noticed that the water pump housing was leaking oil at the As we went to put the harmonic balancer back on, we found that the stock balancer had lost half of its rubber and was on the verge of becoming a two-piece unit. Once again, Summit Racing came to the rescue with a budget-minded replacement from Dorman (p/n 594-133). Before we got into this project, we didn't think of Summit Racing as a replacement-parts house, just performance parts. We now go online to Summit Racing first to look for any part we need, whether it is performance or just a factory replacement.As we went to put the harmonic balancer back on, we found that the stock balancer had lost The old tires were last replaced in '04 (by the date code on the tire) and were not only dry-rotted, but worn poorly and half-bald. We wanted a tire that would handle off-road high-speed abuse and perform great on-road when towing. We settled on the Goodyear Wrangler SilentArmor, which gives us a layer of Kevlar belting to take the abuse, plenty of sipes for wet and winter traction, and two fairly large circumferential grooves for better off-road traction. The truck had up-sized 285/75R16 tires on it when we got it, so that's the tire size we put back on. It might be too tall for decent towing with the factory 3.55:1 gears, but we just couldn't bring ourselves to return to a smaller tire.The old tires were last replaced in '04 (by the date code on the tire) and were not only d Once we got the truck up on jackstands, we noticed deep grooves in the front rotors, and almost no brake pad left through the side window. We wanted to upgrade the braking to better bring the trailer to a stop, but didn't want to live with any squealing day-to-day. So we went with Hawk Performance High Performance Street pads for a 20-to 40-percent increase in stopping and increased resistance to brake fade. The rotors were way under-spec, so we went with higher-end Centric brake rotors from Napa with a lifetime warranty.Once we got the truck up on jackstands, we noticed deep grooves in the front rotors, and a After we had the tires on the truck, but before we took it off of jackstands, we decided to run it a bit to get the new fluids well circulated and to check for leaks. Upon stopping, we went to put it in Park, and were met with a horrible grinding noise. Apparently, the rear brakes weren't working. After some head-scratching and re-inspecting the rear shoes and drums, we noticed a leak from the master cylinder between the plastic reservoir and metal base. After shopping around a bit at local parts stores, we found a better deal with no core charge at Summit, and we had the new master cylinder (p/n DHB-M39646) in hand two days later; the mystery of why the front brakes were gone but the rear brakes were great was solved.After we had the tires on the truck, but before we took it off of jackstands, we decided t After seven days of wrenching and parts-swapping, we ended up with a pile of junk parts and a truck that ran and drove 100 times better than it was when we got it. Now that we've got the truck safe to drive, stay tuned for the next installment, where we make it into something that won't bring down property values wherever we go.After seven days of wrenching and parts-swapping, we ended up with a pile of junk parts an SOURCES Be Cool 310 Woodside Avenue Essexville MI 48732 800-691-2667 www.becool.com Hawk Performance 6180 Cochran Rd. Solon OH 44139 800-542-0972 www.hawkperformance.com Rancho Suspension 1 International Drive Monroe MI 48161 734-384-7804 www.gorancho.com Hughes Engines 23334 Wiegand Lane Washington IL 61571 309-745-9558 www.hughesengines.com Summit Racing 800-230-3030 http://www.summitracing.com West Coast Batteries 410 Le Roy Drive Corona CA 92879 888-379-2555 www.westcoastbatteriesinc.com Royal Purple One Royal Purple Lane Porter TX 77365 888-382-6300 www.royalpurple.com « | 1 | 2 | View Full Article By Pete Trasborg Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!