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Mighty Morphin Suburban! #1336833 Sat Dec 07 2019 10:03 PM
Joined: Aug 2019
Posts: 94
O
Ott3r Offline OP
Shop Shark
Hey Guys,
Here is a picture/journal I've collected over the last year of driving & working on my Grandma's '59 NAPCO suburban.

As mentioned in my initial intro: The burb was originally owned by a match stick factory in her town, Mancos C. They used it as a logging crew transport, and then sold it in the early '70s when Grammy picked it up at the used car lot. The family used it for hunting trips or other excursions to the mountains before retiring it to snow plow duty, and then eventually leaving it alone in the shed ~mid 90s. It's well dented, but has very little rust.
Enjoy the pictures!

First problem was that front left wheel hub was bubba welded to 4x4 axle spline coupling. So i cut that off
[img]https://i.imgur.com/SPL2Kip.jpg[/img]

Now with my ultra rare NAPCO wheel hub destroyed, I had to use toyota truck wheel hubs making some wheel bearing adapter sleeves
[img]https://i.imgur.com/KC85wUt.jpg[/img]

Toyota hubs are set up for disc brakes so I had to make some caliper mounts-
First a plywood prototype
[img]https://i.imgur.com/Upb19hR.jpg?1[/img]

and then some plasma cut caliper brackets done by the guys at the steel yard
[img]https://i.imgur.com/eh2ERBJ.jpg?1[/img]
[img]https://i.imgur.com/VC2Smbe.jpg?1[/img]

also added a power brake booster (mounted under the cab) and a brake fluid reservoir on the firewall, fashioned from a brake fluid bottle with a hose barb on the bottom, retained by a bean can. Perfect fit!
[img]https://i.imgur.com/hs2gMNu.jpg?1[/img]

and some refurbished T100 calipers. This shot also highlights the original NAPCO, two piece closed knuckle design. Very nice for a non-power steering truck, since the knuckle turns on tapered roller bearings instead of ball joints. Less friction that way.
[img]https://i.imgur.com/3f98PgL.jpg?1[/img]

Though the knuckle bearings get hammered pretty bad over time, wearing unevenly since they only roll slightly back and forth for steering:
[img]https://i.imgur.com/7XLaUIC.jpg?1[/img]

Then I needed to adapt the toyota (AISIN) locking hubs to engage with original NAPCO 4X4 drive axles. Fortunately the original spline coupler was still intact inside the bubba weld pictured earlier, and after some excavation with the grinder & lathe. I was able to weld old spline coupler inside the AISIN locking hub gear in order to create this adapter (pictured before welding):
[img]https://i.imgur.com/puAzQMF.jpg?1[/img]

Then rebuilt the differentials replacing the original 3.9 gears with 3.38 gears for modern speed limits
[img]https://i.imgur.com/FBNPoQT.jpg?1[/img]

Then re-constructed the rear brake backing plate that had partially ground off when the wheel fell off sometime back in the day
[img]https://i.imgur.com/plNQoQE.jpg?1[/img]

Then cleaned 40 years worth of mouse poop / nests out of the doors. A couple trash bags worth + a trip to the carwash.
[img]https://i.imgur.com/ia5Xoi3.jpg?1[/img]

Wire brushed and painted the floor. Followed by carpet
[img]https://i.imgur.com/e6VjVgJ.jpg[/img]

Bought a new radiator, and made a new radiator mounting bracket
[img]https://i.imgur.com/GIuu2qU.jpg?1[/img]

Re-packed the CV joints with grease. CV joints were a big deal back in 59, when most other 4x4s used U joints to drive the front wheels
[img]https://i.imgur.com/7D4GOvP.jpg?1[/img]

Cleaned rust from underneath valve cover
[img]https://i.imgur.com/sKIvmlS.jpg?2[/img]

stitched some new seat covers
[img]https://i.imgur.com/pvfHxwU.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i.imgur.com/ccnrQAV.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i.imgur.com/FBrC9uX.jpg[/img]

Also re-built the gauge cluster, replaced wiring harness, & converted generator to alternator.

[img]https://i.imgur.com/NT5jLdd.jpg[/img]

Attached Files
93toyota-vs-napco-hub.png (636.45 KB, 187 downloads)
spacers-toyota-hub-on-napco-spindle.png (1.12 MB, 186 downloads)
caliper-bracket.png (745.79 KB, 187 downloads)
4runner-caliper-on-napco.png (907 KB, 185 downloads)
Last edited by Ott3r; Sat Dec 07 2019 10:53 PM.

'59 Chevy Suburban, NAPCO
Re: Mighty Morphin Suburban! [Re: Ott3r] #1336834 Sat Dec 07 2019 10:17 PM
Joined: Aug 2019
Posts: 94
O
Ott3r Offline OP
Shop Shark
That all happened last winter, and I was fortunate to drive it around quite a bit this summer. Put ~2000 miles on it, mostly highway, but with a healthy amount of 4wd too!
Despite it's 235 engine being very crusty, it had no problems maintaining 60-70 mph on the interstate with 3.38 gears and 32" tires, except for long steep hills where it slows down to 35mph. Big tires and NAPCO running gear are great offroad, putting my freinds new tacoma to shame on big rocks/tank traps. That 7:1 1st gear of the SM420 is sooo nice!

I don't feel so bad about not having AC since the wind noise is about the same with windows up or down!
Average fuel economy ~14mpg on the highway, and somewhere below 10 offroad.

More pictures!
Installed shoulder belts for passenger & myself prior to departure... had to cut & weld mounting spot for shoulder harnesses:
[img]https://i.imgur.com/vEb5dZ0.jpg?1[/img]
[img]https://i.imgur.com/WpWlVK5.jpg?1[/img]
[img]https://i.imgur.com/Tb7sycK.jpg?1[/img]
[img]https://i.imgur.com/hcgO9nu.jpg?1[/img]

4wd up old mining road:
[img]https://i.imgur.com/ZqdmNHV.jpg?1[/img]
[img]https://i.imgur.com/cFwYT2h.jpg?1[/img]
[img]https://i.imgur.com/DxhZGee.jpg?1[/img]

Bonus shots of re-painting rear leaf springs & re-welding broken leaf pack retainers before the trip:
[img]https://i.imgur.com/UN5JNMD.jpg?1[/img]
[img]https://i.imgur.com/JpHezfu.jpg?1[/img]

4" lift blocks installed over rear axle by dealer back in the day
[img]https://i.imgur.com/r8yExOc.jpg?1[/img]

Attached Files
shoulder.png (1.33 MB, 187 downloads)
4x4.png (1.24 MB, 190 downloads)
Last edited by Ott3r; Sat Dec 07 2019 10:45 PM.

'59 Chevy Suburban, NAPCO
Re: Mighty Morphin Suburban! [Re: Ott3r] #1336837 Sat Dec 07 2019 10:34 PM
Joined: Aug 2019
Posts: 94
O
Ott3r Offline OP
Shop Shark
The last time big yellow did any driving was in late july for a town parade with Grammy.
At this point I was fed up with constantly re-filling the radiator, and discovered that it was slowly leaking through cracks in two of the combustion chambers.

Deciding to rebuild ye ol 235 stovebolt was just the start of my fools errand... Since i couldn't bring myself to to buy stock 7:1 compression pistons with ultra fat rings, CP is now building some custom pop up pistons to bring the ratio up to ~9.5 and incorporate modern design features like narrower rings and piston skirt.

Since that's taking so long, I got distracted with more ridiculous things like, spare tire mount, rebuilding transmission, transfer-case, and frame notching the front to accommodate more suspension travel.

Here are pictures!

spare tire mount project:
[img]https://i.imgur.com/k8VEcxz.jpg?1[/img]
[img]https://i.imgur.com/O0WEide.jpg?1[/img]
[img]https://i.imgur.com/qqA9xY3.jpg?1[/img]

engine remove:
[img]https://i.imgur.com/KKokBiK.jpg?1[/img]
[img]https://i.imgur.com/vpRzmzC.jpg?1[/img]

Frame notching, increases suspension up-travel from ~1" to 2.5". Hoping to take those washboard roads at a speed >15mph now.
Also had the steel yard plasma cut some better leaf spring top-plates. Now with rubber bumpers instead of steel as original.
[img]https://i.imgur.com/8eOX1dJ.jpg?1[/img]
https://i.imgur.com/8uVkMw4.jpg?1

I also decided to rust-proof everything with SPI epoxy primer and have removed frame from body.
Body is supported by telephone pole stumps and a steel tube screwed onto door hinge mounts.
[img]https://i.imgur.com/ru29o2z.jpg?1[/img]
[img]https://i.imgur.com/SIlvnPv.jpg?1[/img]
[img]https://i.imgur.com/v5kwZAM.jpg?1[/img]


Attached Files
frame+body.png (839.81 KB, 188 downloads)
notch1.png (899.73 KB, 185 downloads)
notch2.png (923.57 KB, 184 downloads)
tire1.png (869.06 KB, 181 downloads)
Last edited by Ott3r; Sat Dec 07 2019 11:02 PM.

'59 Chevy Suburban, NAPCO
Re: Mighty Morphin Suburban! [Re: Ott3r] #1336899 Sun Dec 08 2019 02:05 PM
Joined: Dec 2018
Posts: 511
A
Apache1 Offline
Shop Shark
Good looking project! Notches look road ready.


1959 Apache 3100 Fleetside SWB (Shop Truck) (modified)




Re: Mighty Morphin Suburban! [Re: Ott3r] #1336932 Sun Dec 08 2019 05:53 PM
Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 1,585
J
J Lucas Offline
Shop Shark
That's a very nice Suburban, and to have it in the family for so long is amazing. I remember that there was a red one in my neighborhood when I was a teenager (back in the 70's). It always looked mean as heck.

The work your doing is really impressive. So, what is your ultimate goal, or is it just an ongoing hobby?

John


J Lucas





1941 Chevy 1/2-Ton
1942 Chevy 1.5-Ton SWB
1959 Chevy Apache 31 Fleetside
1959 Chevy Apache 32 Fleetside
1959 Chevy Viking 40

My Flicker Photos!

Re: Mighty Morphin Suburban! [Re: Ott3r] #1336969 Sun Dec 08 2019 09:32 PM
Joined: Aug 2019
Posts: 94
O
Ott3r Offline OP
Shop Shark
grin
At this point I would consider the hobby ongoing!
However, I am looking forward to finishing the the truck. With my goal to have a cross country adventure wagon.
I'm considering various options for the interior... maybe replace rear seat with a folding one and have a mattress platform with some storage underneath.

Originally Posted by J Lucas
That's a very nice Suburban, and to have it in the family for so long is amazing. I remember that there was a red one in my neighborhood when I was a teenager (back in the 70's). It always looked mean as heck.

The work your doing is really impressive. So, what is your ultimate goal, or is it just an ongoing hobby?

John


I checked out your flickr and can see why you went for the red '59! Fierce looking truck!

Last edited by Ott3r; Sun Dec 08 2019 09:38 PM.

'59 Chevy Suburban, NAPCO
Re: Mighty Morphin Suburban! [Re: Ott3r] #1336970 Sun Dec 08 2019 09:41 PM
Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 2,736
MNSmith Offline
"Hey! I sound like Darth Vader!!
Wow! Great project!!

Re: Mighty Morphin Suburban! [Re: Ott3r] #1337060 Mon Dec 09 2019 04:54 PM
Joined: Dec 2015
Posts: 2,063
69Cuda Offline
Big Bolt Forum Moderator
way col! Looking at your pictures makes me miss mine a bunch! Dropping your tire pressure to ~15-20 psi sure helps smooth out the washboard on roads! I would drop my 33" swampers down to 8psi on my Willys wagon when off road and it made all the difference in the world! Just try to get them pumped up soon after getting back on the road!


Mike

1955 Chevy 6400 ex-flatbed (no bed now!)
In the Stovebolt Gallery


1958 Chevy 6400 flatbed W/dump
In the Stovebolt Gallery

1959 Chevy Suburban Owned for almost 20 years, Daily Driver -- sold May 2016
In the Stovebolt Gallery

Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof
Re: Mighty Morphin Suburban! [Re: 69Cuda] #1337162 Tue Dec 10 2019 03:00 AM
Joined: Aug 2019
Posts: 94
O
Ott3r Offline OP
Shop Shark
Originally Posted by 69Cuda
way col! Looking at your pictures makes me miss mine a bunch! Dropping your tire pressure to ~15-20 psi sure helps smooth out the washboard on roads! I would drop my 33" swampers down to 8psi on my Willys wagon when off road and it made all the difference in the world! Just try to get them pumped up soon after getting back on the road!


I'll be very happy if big yellow puts on the miles like yours did! Not sure if i can tow stuff with the 235 though (maybe in 3rd gear with my 3.38 rear).
And I'm with you on the tire pressure and am hoping to set up an onboard air pump for that!

It's also equipped with some vintage 'pleasurizer' shock absorbers... can't look so I'm expecting maximum ride smoothness.
Seriously though, someone needs to reproduce those stickers to put on new shocks!

[img]https://i.imgur.com/xXZQYyr.jpg?1[/img]

Attached Files
pleasurizer-hd.png (1.3 MB, 96 downloads)

'59 Chevy Suburban, NAPCO
Re: Mighty Morphin Suburban! [Re: Ott3r] #1340665 Mon Jan 06 2020 04:02 AM
Joined: Aug 2019
Posts: 94
O
Ott3r Offline OP
Shop Shark
Here's some progress pictures from xmas & new years.

Frame after pressure washing, but before sandblasting:
It's in really good shape, quite a bit of original paint on it still. Little rust, but a few fatigue cracks near the bumpers & transfer case mounts.
[img]https://imgur.com/e0l0RS2[/img]

Under-body prep & epoxy crack filler for the plywood:
I used some 'clear penetrating epoxy sealer' CPES before the filler, and then topped it all off with SPI epoxy primer.
The CPES and filler supposedly works great for wood boats... but it's really nasty, a rash showed up on my arms a few days after all this. I'm more suspicious of the smiths filler since it started where some of it was stuck to my skin. It took a full week for it to get better.
[img]https://imgur.com/2dkUpE2[/img]
[img]https://imgur.com/tAcksCk[/img]

Frame after applying SPI epoxy primer:
All the prep & paint application was A LOT of work for me... hoping never to do this again... maybe if i got one of those vacuum sand blasters.
A 220v space heater and a propane bottle burner was enough to keep the garage ~75F for a couple days while it cured.
[img]https://imgur.com/aLi1Ar3[/img]
[img]https://imgur.com/czoMXhS[/img]
[img]https://imgur.com/1EgL1wo[/img]

Custom trailer hitch that I made this weekend!
[img]https://imgur.com/FFIdlzq[/img]
[img]https://imgur.com/chFM0JF[/img]
[img]https://imgur.com/Ct5XXUj[/img]
[img]https://imgur.com/GVcLMXA[/img]
[img]https://imgur.com/KaBJI3Q[/img]
This one is a 3 x 3/16 square tube with a 2" receiver and 3/16 end plates. I think it could take 7500lbf before starting to bend... not sure if that makes it a class III or IV hitch? Either way, it's probably overkill for a truck this old. Here's how I estimated the yield strength: https://www.amesweb.info/StructuralBeamDeflection/SimpleBeamConcentratedLoadAtAnyPoint.aspx
[img]https://imgur.com/wL7yI7G[/img]

I would be interested to hear how other people have set up suburban hitches as I have not found any pictures yet.


It will cost me about 1.5 degrees of departure angle... but that seems acceptable, with the napco kit and 32" tires, Burb should have 21.5* departure and 35* approach angle.
I'm really excited now that I have a solid recovery point and something to mount a bike rack on!
.

Attached Files
DSC_0056 (2).JPG (133.64 KB, 64 downloads)
DSC_0049.JPG (178.8 KB, 62 downloads)
DSC_0071.JPG (173.56 KB, 60 downloads)
DSC_0066 (2).JPG (137.71 KB, 57 downloads)
DSC_0012.JPG (237.86 KB, 57 downloads)

'59 Chevy Suburban, NAPCO
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