Monday, May 4, 2009

I'm still working hard on this thing

If you will remember from my earlier entry, I mentioned that GM used the same basic suspension from 1963 through 1987 on their pickups. Although the basic setup remained the same, throughout the years, GM made several significant changes to the design for safety and ride improvements.

This 63, being the first year for this suspension design didn't have any of these improvements.

What we have here is the original 63 model front end. It has manual (non power) steering, steel control arm bushings, no anti sway bar and awful drum brakes.

Since this is truly my dream truck, I have no plans to part with it, so I don't mind putting a good bit of time and effort into the truck to make it the best it can be. In light of this, I decided to update the front suspension and steering on this truck to later model spec parts to get all the advantages of 20 years of GMs improvements.

So, I put a wanted ad on Craigslist for a late model suspension. A fellow contacted me that had the whole front end off of an early 80's Suburban. All for 100 dollars.

This is the good stuff. This suspension has power steering, rubber control arm bushings, a nice big anti sway bar and large disc brakes.

The beauty of Chevrolet trucks, and one of the reasons I continue to come back to them time after time, is their sensible engineering. This phase of the project illustrates that. The complete front suspension can be removed from the 63 model frame by removing 14 bolts. After that, it rolls out from under the truck and you have bare frame rails. Then, this nice late model suspension with all of it's advancements simply rolls underneath the 63 and bolts back in with the same 14 bolts.

But, me being the OCD freak I am, I could not leave well enough alone. Before I install the later model parts, I wanted to completely refurbish them to better than new condition. So, I tore the suspension all apart and began the awful task of scraping the grease and grime off so I could rebuild and detail properly. I ordered every single new part available to refresh this suspension to absolutely 100 percent new quality. Any part that could be worn was thrown away and new ones ordered.

I got the upper control arms done today. I degreased, bead blasted and powdercoated them in semi gloss black. Then, I cleaned and powdercoated all of the smaller detail parts in a neutral silver. I replaced the rubber control arm bushings with new ones, but I did go ahead and upgrade even further to urethane bushings. These bushings will last infinitely longer than the rubber ones would.

I even ordered new coil springs for the front of the truck

To the layperson, this may seem insignifiant, but those two arms pictured above consumed about 6-8 hours of my hard work. This stuff is tedious and can only be done as a labor of love.
I figure I will have somehwhere around 50 hours of my labor in refurbishing the front suspension alone.
That's it for today, next time I should have more pictures of the suspension as I continue to grind along cleaning and refurbishing this thing.


  1. Incredible work. This is my next step on my 1963 restoration project. I admire how you go to great detail even on parts that won't be visible. Truly dedicated to your dream truck.

  2. well done. I just scored a complete 81 chev half ton to do just what you did with yours to obtain the power disc brakes and steering for my lowering your front part of the program? if so how? your page just went in my favorites. keep it up