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1983 Chevy C20 Pickup Restomod.

Turning a trusty, rusty old pickup into a reliable and interesting daily driver and work truck.

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UPDATE: Project Scrapped, see log.
I loved this truck from the time I drove it, and vouched to keep and restore it the way I want. I don't care about stock appearance as I will be the only owner of this truck. I do not plan to sell it. It runs and drives, but I had to replace the engine after a month of daily driving.
This one was made in Canada, and was treated with Ziebart Rustproof when new. It currently has a Chevy 250 cubic inch inline 6 cylinder engine in it. It's old, loud, annoying, and breaks down a lot. I have put a lot of myself into this truck and have huge plans for it, so it's ok. This is just one of my very big, long term projects.

I actually abandoned this truck, and thought it was lost forever. I was daydreaming about it for a few days, and wishing I hadn't lost it. It was one of the few huge regrets I have. On 9/18/2018, an old neighbor told me that someone rescued it.

The following is a list of all things that I plan on doing to my truck.

  1. Replace stock horn with This.
  2. Replace glass pack mufflers with Thrush Turbo mufflers. (Done, you can hear your self think now.)
  3. Grease window crank mechanisms.(Done, no more broken wrists.)
  4. New rear tires.(Done. Replaced with Mickey Thompson Baja STZ as the rear tires were dry rotted.)
  5. Properly mount mufflers and run full length exhaust pipes with hangers.
  6. Tune air to fuel ratio of Edelbrock 1406 carburetor.
  7. Adjust carb float level.
  8. Buy fuel pressure gauge.
  9. Install fuel pressure gauge.
  10. Buy fuel pressure sending unit.
  11. Install fuel pressure sending unit.
  12. Add fuel pressure regulator or replace fuel pump with adjustable model.
  13. Set fuel pressure to 5.25PSI for the Edelbrock 1406 carb.
  14. Replace coolant temperature gauge/sending unit.
  15. Add transmission temperature gauge/sending unit.
  16. Add transmission fluid pressure gauge/sending unit.
  17. Change transmission fluid, gasket, and filter.
  18. Mount gauge cluster that is currently laying on the floor.
  19. Install coolant heater for winter use.
  20. Replace ignition coil with this beast.
  21. Replace rear u-joint. Already have the part, just need to do it.
  22. Grease both new u-joints.
  23. Wire, adjust electric choke.
  24. Seal giant round holes in firewall.
  25. Seal rust holes in floor until pans are replaced.
  26. Re-wire the 12 volt outlet for use with AC transformer.
  27. Check and replace any blown fuses.
  28. Buy spare fuse set.
  29. Replace turn signal relay before it fails, keep old as spare.
  30. Replace rusted floor pans: This
  31. Add insulation to floor pans.
  32. Install carpet.
  33. Add floor mats to stop early death of new carpet.
  34. Clean and paint interior door panels.
  35. Buy interior door panel mounting hardware:
  36. Install interior door panels.
  37. Cover stripped dash panel.
  38. Replace fuel pickups in both tanks.
  39. Replace all original fuel lines before they fail.
  40. Relocate fuel pump.
  41. Buy spare fuel pump to keep in cab.
  42. Take many pictures of truck, upload on here.
  43. Replace both window seals.
  44. Replace old door seals.
  45. Replace vent window hardware: Right Side and Left Side.
  46. Buy new spark plugs.
  47. Install new spark plugs.
  48. Adjust valves.
  49. Buy pressurized coolant overflow tank Here.
  50. Buy proper coolant overflow tank hoses.
  51. Install coolant overflow tank.
  52. Clean steering wheel.
  53. Fix headlight adjustment screw mechanism.
  54. Adjust headlight angle.
  55. Find, buy replacement trim for entire truck.
  56. Replace vent window seals.
  57. Replace front brakes: Right Rotor, Left Rotor, and pads.
  58. Buy new brake booster and master cylinder: This.
  59. Replace parking brake cable:
  60. Install smaller belt to fix electrical problems caused by loose belt on alternator.
  61. Replace alternator bracket with correct version.
  62. Get proper length carb stud and flip the air cleaner cap over the right way.
  63. Bolt the dipstick tube to the engine block like it should be.
  64. Buy new wiper motor assembly.
  65. Install new wiper motor assembly.
  66. Replace intake manifold gasket and seal properly.
  67. Replace head gaskets, as the old stuff was not scraped from the heads when the motor was put together.
  68. Replace air filter with lifetime filter, such as one from Summit Racing or Spectre.
  69. Put a proper breather on the valve cover.
  70. Reroute all wires under the hood.
  71. Remove unused aftermarket radio wiring from behind dash.
  72. Re-wire the ignition coil.
  73. Re-wire the fuel pump.
  74. Buy power steering bracket.
  75. Buy power steering belt.
  76. Install power steering bracket.
  77. Install power steering pump.
  78. Buy spare belts to keep in cab.
  79. Replace water in radiator with coolant for winter.
  80. Re-attach window washer fluid bottle to engine bay.
  81. Determine distance fan needs to move towards the radiator.
  82. Buy appropriate fan spacer kit, and new studs, if needed.
  83. Install new fan spacer stuff.
  84. Determine proper mechanical advance springs for the distributor.
  85. Install proper mechanical advance springs in distributor.
  86. Have timing set.
  87. Buy new carburetor: This one.
  88. Dig out old Quadrajet carbs, determine models, determine if worth rebuilding.
  89. Clean...
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  • 1 × Stainless Steel Hose Clamps Summit Racing Equipment Part#: IDC-5006
  • 1 × Brake Booster Check Valve and Grommet. Summit Racing Equipment Part#: RNB-80189
  • 1 × Throttle Cable Bracket for Summit Racing EquipmentCarburetors. Summit Racing Equipment Part#: SUM-G1414.
  • 1 × Chrome 3/8in NPT Plug. Used for fuel pressure regulator. Summit Racing Equipment Part#: SUM-G1482-1
  • 1 × Summit Racing Air Cleaner Wingnut. Summit Racing Equipment Part#: SUM-G2999

View all 28 components

  • Project Scrapped: Sold Truck

    Dustin05/22/2021 at 15:18 0 comments

    I sold the old truck to the first friend I ever had. It has a good home now, but I just couldn't justify the expense of keeping this and moving it to Calirfornia with me. Especially since it might never be road legal. It's an old gas guzzler. Time to move on. We had a good run over a few years. Had some fun, but it ultimately was just one big frustration after the other with that truck, as I needed it as a daily driver and it wasn't quite ready. Goodbye old friend.

  • Project Scrapped: Sold Truck

    Dustin05/22/2021 at 15:18 0 comments

    I sold the old truck to the first friend I ever had. It has a good home now, but I just couldn't justify the expense of keeping this and moving it to Calirfornia with me. Especially since it might never be road legal. It's an old gas guzzler. Time to move on. We had a good run over a few years. Had some fun, but it ultimately was just one big frustration after the other with that truck, as I needed it as a daily driver and it wasn't quite ready. Goodbye old friend.

  • Major Fuel Problems Identified

    Dustin10/08/2020 at 22:42 0 comments

    I got this old truck towed to my new house a few weeks ago, and have been slowly working on it since. I got the engine running well enough to drive the truck to the next street over where it promptly stalled and would not run. Ran great with some gas poured down the carb, but died after about a second. That tells me there were fuel supply issues. Turns out the carb was full of rusty gas and water. Both fuel tanks are rusting on the inside and clogging the entire fuel system. They're only about $100 each, so I'll start by replacing the driver side tank as soon as I get caught up on bills. I think I'll get new fuel level sending units and such if they're crusty too. This truck has a new purpose that I haven't mentioned either: lumberjack truck. I started working as a tree climber and need to haul gear to the job sites. I can also haul wood home if I want. I'll have a near endless supply of wood. That's great as I'll eventually be building a wood gasifier to power the truck with firewood. Free fuel. 

    I did a bunch of little stuff on the truck today. Fixed the snapped off turn signal lever. Blew another bulb immediately, so I get to deal with that. Took the burnt out cab lights out to find replacements. Bypassed the fuel tanks and did a complete carb tear down, which brought the engine back to life. Replaced the connector on the temperature sending unit, as it failed and I couldn't tell how hot the engine was. Replaced the old fuel lines with longer ones that route fuel farther away from various heat sources. I washed the truck and scrubbed the windows and adjusted mirrors so I can see where the heck I'm headed. For the time being, there's a 2 gallon gas can under the hood feeding the fuel pump directly. It's the sketchiest thing I think I've ever done but it works. More updates to come.

  • Automating Engine Heating

    Dustin09/21/2018 at 15:03 1 comment

    I moved to South Dakota recently, and I hear that the winters are far more brutal here than I am used to in Ohio. I had already planned to add an engine heater to my truck before, but now I think it should be a priority. The town here is so small that the engine wouldn't even get a chance to heat up driving across town and back. My new apartment has an outlet with a light switch on it that sits in front of my parking spot. I could just plug the engine heater into that and flip the switch whenever I want, but that's too simple. I might not wake up early enough to turn it on. I plan on getting Google home set up in my apartment already, so I want to tie the engine heater into that system. The easiest method I found is to use a smart outlet. They actually make outdoor ones that would work great. The one I am looking at now is the iHome ISP100. This one is rated at 1800 watts, so it may not be enough. I will research that more later. If it comes down to it, I will just install a smart light switch to control the outdoor outlet. That might be better so people can't steal my smart plug.

  • Unscrapping This Project

    Dustin09/21/2018 at 14:50 0 comments

    Sometime around January, I decided to get rid of everything I owned and start a new life somewhere else. I found the area I'd grown up in to be toxic and full of painful memories. It's rather ironic that I made a ton of great new friends and memories as I was preparing to leave. During the process of leaving, I left this truck behind and abandoned it. I was overwhelmed and didn't have the resources to do anything with it. I recently found out that my old neighbor actually made some repairs to it, and has been safely storing it for me this entire time. I'm very excited as that truck was one of my favorite things and my favorite project. I hated it for a while because it was my daily driver and kept breaking. Where I live now, both jobs are within easy waling distance and I am starting a business from home. I won't even need the truck at all. It will be nice to have it and not need it. I'll be able to rebuild it like I was dreaming of and get my DIY truck camper project rolling as well. I previously scraped this and the camper project when I thought I lost the truck forever. I'll likely be taking the 1,000 mile train journey from South Dakota, to Ohio to get it after Christmas. Or I will just have it shipped here, depending on what kind of condition it is in when I am ready to get it. I would love to drive it home. It's actually cheaper for me to buy 2 one way train tickets, stay in hotels, fuel the truck, and spend a few days in my home town tan it is to ship the truck. I'd also get a Christmas vacation and can take my assistant with me on her first big adventure. I am worried that the truck won't make the drive, so I am going to ask my neighbor to tune it up for me and I will pay him and send him money for any parts and supplies needed. I'm not sure what will happen at this point, but I do know that I will be getting my dream truck back soon.

  • Tailgate Hinge

    Dustin04/15/2017 at 08:06 0 comments

    WEll, after 34 years, the tailgate hinge finally failed. The driver side hinge, mounted to the tailgate rusted through and fell off. I can still put the tailgate down and such, but I avoid it if possible until I install the replacement. Summit Racing didn't have the kit I wanted in stock, so I am just waiting until next friday to pick it up. This is a very minor problem, but an easy fix that needs done.

  • Ignition System Upgrade

    Dustin04/15/2017 at 08:03 0 comments

    After having nightmarish problems with a faulty distributor on the previous engine in this truck, I decided to do this one right.

    Today saw the purchase and installation of a new Summit Racing blueprinted HEI distributor on the old straight six. With the new distributor came a new vacuum advance line made from steel brake line. I have to run rigid lines under the hood as there is a weird exhaust gas re-circulation line that gets extremely hot and seems to melt anything that has to cross over it. Which is everything...I also ran a solid line to the transmission for the vacuum modulator while I was at it.

    Last weekend saw the installation of 6 new AC Delco spark plugs.

    Next week will be the installation of new spark plug wires. I very well may buy the bulk wire, all the connectors, and a crimper to make the cables myself. All 6 spark plug wires reside on the same side fo the engine, which simplifies things, but causes weird placement problems. I'm hoping to get the wires to the perfect length, use a wire separator kit to keep the neat, then add boot protectors to the spark plug side to keep things safe from the engine heat. When this is all done, the truck will have an all new ignition system, including ignition fuses.

    Once all the wiring has been sorted out and the engine bay cleaned up, the truck is off to a buddy for a really good tune up and inspection. Once that is done, it's simply a matter of saving some money, then pulling the engine to install a new water pump, oil pump, oil pan gasket, head gasket, and any other various sensors and seals that need done. At that point, I will probably just clean the engine up really nice, paint it real pretty, and take my good old time to get it looking the way I really want it to look.

  • New Fan Day

    Dustin04/15/2017 at 07:54 0 comments

    With the temperatures rising pretty rapidly here in Ohio, I decided it was time to up the cooling capacity with a few minor upgrades.

    I added a new Derale 19 inch stainless steel flex fan to help cool better. It is slightly smaller than the stock 20 inch steel fan that came with the engine, but has 6 blades instead of the stock 4 blades. The blade angles are much steeper as well, so it pulls a bit more air, even with a smaller diameter. It works just fine.

    I also added some Summit Racing coolant additive to help drop the temperature. Neither of these things have made a significant change in temperature, but it is noticeable.

    I also picked up a new coolant temperature sending unit. Planning to install this when I wake up. I'm fairly certain the orignal is just fine, but it seems to be at least 30 years old. Can't risk overheating this engine.

    I picked up 4 new rubber radiator pads as the originals are worn out and one is missing. The plate that holds the radiator down also got bent up, so the radiator moves around a lot. Hopefully bending the plate back and putting new bumpers will solve that little annoyance.

    The final step in the cooling system overhaul is to mount the two electric fans to the outside of the radiator, pushing air into the engine bay. They each have their own adjustable controller as well. This will allow for much greater cooling at lower speeds and long term idling, so I can leave my truck idle like any other vehicle would. The temperature likes to creep up at red lights and threaten to cause fuel feed problems.

  • Hideous Knocking Silenced

    Dustin04/15/2017 at 07:44 0 comments

    When first started, the truck made a very loud and disturbing knocking sound. Turns out to have been loose torque converter bolts. Tightened them up real good, and silence followed.

    The next step is to pull the bolts out, one at a time, clean the holes out real well, and instill new ARP bolts with thread locking compound to make sure this never happens again. The engine likes to vibrate things loose, as I have found...

  • Straight Six Down: Carb and Fuel Issues

    Dustin03/19/2017 at 03:52 0 comments

    I finally got the coolant system flushed and tested, then properly filled with coolant on Friday. I have this Prestone flush and fill kit installed from last year and finally put it to use. Hooked a hose to it and flushed the whole thing out and filled it with coolant. I ran it quite a while and thought it was safe to take out. Went to take it out for a significantly longer test drive, but ended up stranded again. Overheated again. After being stuck at a stop sign when it stalled before pulling away, I finally limped it home. The truck made it EXACTLY to its parking spot before the engine died again... I let it cool back down and found a few more problems(yay). To start with, it was incredibly difficult to start and barely ran on its own. Previously, it would idle extremely fast, now it stalled at idle. A couple of buddies were looking at the engine when I had it running and started yelling as I could hear the engine dying, so I shut it down. I got out and found that gas was pouring out of the carb as it ran. Not dripping, but pouring. I gave up on it and went to sleep.

    Today, I took the carb off and ripped the whole thing apart. This was extremely easy on the Rochester Monojet single barrel carb, and thankfully so. I was able to understand this carb without any documentation at this point, a huge improvement in my automotive knowledge over this time last year. Fuel leakage on these carbs was a common problem I found when the fuel float level was set wrong or the plastic float had filled with fuel and caused it to raise the fuel levels. As I had neither of these problems, and the gasket was good, I knew something was up. With the carb apart, I found that a piece of crud had gotten under the needle valve, which allowed too much fuel into the carb, which caused it to pour out of the hole for the accelerator pump linkage. After corecting this and cleaning out my fuel filter, I decided to bench test the entire carb the best I could. I'm glad I did, because I found that the linkage that opens the flap on top would bind at random. After testing the vacuum actuator that opens this flap, I was able to verify everything was ok. It still bound up, so I loosened an overtightened screw to free up the linkage. I must have sat there for 20 minutes actuating this flap with a Mightyvac before I was satisfied with it. It opens fairly quickly when the vacuum pressure hits 5 inches. It worked quite well for something from 1985 or so.

    I did notice that the fans seemed to be running fairly ineffectively. This may be due to improper placement, as I have the 2 12" electric fans mounted side by side, in the center of the radiator. They should, ideally, be mounted offset, with one by the upper radiator hose, and the other by the lower radiator hose. I will have to double check to find the best mounting practice., and mount them properly.

    Another MAJOR problem I found, one common to these engines, was a very loose carb mounting nut. These Chevy Straight Six motors are known for vibrating things loose, especially the intake manifold bolts and the carb bolts. Of the two nuts that mount the carb to the intake manifold, one of them was so loose that I removed it with only my fingers. I later guessed that this was the cause of the poor performance, fast idling, and possible overheating, as it caused a massive vacuum leak, which would have interrupted fuel vaporization and possibly caused the engine to run very lean. I re-ran new fuel lines and clamps all the way around while I was under the hood to clear up a questionable fuel feed. I got that sorted out, re-ran all the vacuum lines, and did another inspection before starting it up. Everything looked pretty darn good.

    I finally got in and tried to start this thing up. It fired up almost instantly, even with no gas in the carb. It was kind of shocking, really. It made some hideous knocking sounds at first, then it worked out some air bubbles in the fuel feed, and idled nice and smooth. Up until the oil pressure...

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Dustin wrote 08/13/2016 at 15:51 point

The coil was mounted by a friend using what we had. I spent every last can't I had to get that truck running so I could get to work so I had to cut corners. Got a new coil with mounting bracket yesterday, installing it in a few hours. The coil has had me worried for a while... Hahahaha. At one point, when it bogged down really bad, I noticed the voltage was low and the belt squeaking. Thought it might be a problem with a loose belt causing the alternator not to spin fast enough, and dropping voltage to the coil. I'm going to eliminate spark problems by using a 60,000 volt coil, a tighter belt, and heavier gauge wire to feed the coil. Hopefully that will help.

  Are you sure? yes | no

frolickingdirtchild2000 wrote 08/16/2016 at 13:50 point

i didnt  mean to set you on defense.  i was trying to figure out what was causing you to think spark. if by changing the coil you fix the mounting you wont hear me complaining. What size alternator do you have in it?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Dustin wrote 08/16/2016 at 14:48 point

I accept my ignorance and short comings and am almost impossible to offend. Just a simple guy trying to learn. Hahaha! I put in a 60,000 volt coil with a ballast resistor, properly mounted as well. Replaced the belt with one that isn't too big. Haven't had a single problem with it bogging down since. Only been a few days. No idea what alternator. I plan on running a huge inverter off the battery, so will put in a giant deep cycle marine battery and alternator when I can. Also put new jets and metering rods in the carb to eliminate known problems with the 1406 carb. Adding a 2 inch carb spacer and a fuel pressure gauge and regulator today or tomorrow. Running good so far. Tha ks for the input. :)

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frolickingdirtchild2000 wrote 08/16/2016 at 14:57 point

if i may ask what are you planning on running with your inverter? And if its going to be a large amount may i suggest  a dual battery setup so you arent left stranded.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Dustin wrote 08/18/2016 at 17:39 point

I plan on running power tools, a projector with audio equipment for drive in movies, as well as whatever I feel like. I would like the option of being able to live out of my truck if needed. That's one of the main reasons I am adding so many features to it. I'd love a bed cap with insulation, LED lighting, padding and carpet, and a small TV. I have so much spare room under the hood that I may run a few gigantic deep cycle marine batteries for powering random things, as well as a regular battery for starting the truck. It will all depend on what I actually end up using the truck for though. I originally had a dual battery set up in mind. Watched too many people stranded at the drive in movies. lol. It's nice to see friendly feedback, instead of the jack wagons that just like to troll. hahaha! Thanks.

  Are you sure? yes | no

frolickingdirtchild2000 wrote 08/18/2016 at 21:04 point

not a problem i happen to prefer helping over trolling. Just an idea about sleeping in the truck an enclosed trailer makes a decent mobile apartment especially after insulation and its less likely people will just look inside, and aquire your hard earned equipment. Also you can add a ladder rack with solar.  It would also make a decent emergency jump box if your starting battery happened to die. It would also give you space for what you were talking about. It also doesnt look out of place in most areas as their usually attached to contractors trucks.

  Are you sure? yes | no

frolickingdirtchild2000 wrote 08/12/2016 at 16:03 point

your fuel sending units are also your pickup tubes. So your left tank will definitely need the sending unit replaced. If you do both youll have new in tank filters which should stop your bogging problem.  if you dont have brass punches you should get some for removing the locking rings. Should also replace fuel filters if you do this.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Dustin wrote 08/13/2016 at 03:22 point

Awesome. Thanks man. It was really bad today. Actually had to pull over for a bit to let things clear out. Will probably work on it tomorrow. I'm thinking it may be a spark problem as well. Installing a new 60,000 volt coil in the morning and double checking all ignition stuff.

  Are you sure? yes | no

frolickingdirtchild2000 wrote 08/13/2016 at 05:39 point

i just went back and looked at your pic showing how you mounted your coil.... you should look into something that will prevent it from vibrating on the firewall. Cause that coil is an oil filled coil and get enough vibration to crack the shell and youve got a fire on your hands.

What is making you think spark problems?

  Are you sure? yes | no

frolickingdirtchild2000 wrote 08/12/2016 at 15:10 point

Hi there a quick recommendation for your fuel tank problem, remove the truck bed. Pulling it will give you access to the top of the tank, you wont take the dirt shower associated with dropping a tank, you can also inspect other rear end components without having to crawl under and you can pressure wash your frame clean. Also dropping a tank full or empty is a huge pain

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Dustin wrote 08/12/2016 at 15:47 point

I have definitely considered it. I hate the dirt shower, and have yet to thoroughly inspect the frame and such. Would be nice to get to both tanks at once and clean the frame as well. :) Any experience cleaning out tanks? Worth replacing the fuel level sending units if they still both work? Maybe just clean them up and inspect? Thanks for the suggestion. Still fairly new to this automotive stuff, so will need a lot of help, I'm sure.

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