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#1425971 Tue Oct 05 2021 10:18 PM
Joined: Oct 2021
Posts: 2
crictor Offline OP
Hello everyone,
By seeing this first post you are witnessing a giant leap towards a wish that has been stewing for years. I want to build a street rod, something fun to cruise around in and smoke the tires when I want; I have no tools, no prior experience, no family or friends with knowledge.... just a wife that told me she's tired of hearing me talk about it, so go do it. So I did, I took a loan for $10,000 and bought a truck.

*Disclaimer* I will be shooting out money spent for reference to fuel discussion that could possible help me further along. I know $10,000 is a drop in the bucket big picture and my estimates so far only get me through Stage 1 (see below). I'm very loose on my budget, I have assets and the kids still get to go to college. What I am interested in is avoiding purchasing things that are completely over specced and expensive for my intended use, given my prior knowledge of this being zero please feel free to give inputs as you see fit. Any ? means I have no idea.*Disclaimer*

Here outlines my plan and current status up for full review and scrutiny by this wonderful community, please feel free to offer your advices or comments because everything about this project is new to me and I'm having a blast learning everything I need to know.

Main Goal: Build a fun street rod to cruise around in and smoke the tires when I feel it needs to be done, look cool doing it, and learn all the interesting things about building cars that I have always wanted to learn (engine swapping, front/rear suspension upgrading, sheet metal welding).

Stage 1: Strip truck to the frame and upgrade everything bottom-up, stage 1 goal is to be drivable on the road with any money/time spent on the cab being strictly for that goal like glass replacement, seat belts and dash functionality. Intended upgrades: Drivetrain, suspension, disc brakes all around.
Stage 2: Structure and rust fixes all around, stage 2 goal is to have all panels fixed for a solid ride. The exterior petina is going to be preserved as much as possible
Stage 3: Cab interior restoration; paint, carpet, sound deadening, nice seats the works..... timeline will probably be when my son inherits this beast but I'm fine with that.

Stage 1:

- Current status: Truck is on jack stands with the front clip and bumper removed.
- Immediate Future goals: Remove hood, rear fenders, bed. Bed will be placed outside on pallets with rear fenders inside, pieces of plywood will be put on top of the bed with the front clip placed on top of the wood. This will be wrapped tightly to prepare for winter. The cab will be pulled off and put on flat dollies and wheeled to the corner of the garage. Stock power train will be pulled and sold on marketplace for $300?. Frame will be repositioned to the back of the garage perpendicular to our cars so I can park my daily driver in the garage for winter. Frame will be cleaned with a wire cup and treated with POR15.

Breakdown of Stage 1 purchases and intended upgrades:
Truck: 1954 3100 - $5000
Bought beginner assortment of tools (Harbor Freight): 3/8 SAE/Metric wrenches & sockets, extensions, breaker bars, 1/2 drive Dewalt impact wrench, SAE/Metric impact sockets, floor jack, jack stands, engine hoist - $1000
Engine/transmission: Any junkyard LS with Transmission that I can find. Will probably be a 5.3 - Estimate $500 ?
Driveline: Junkyard driveline that's longer than I need, have it shortened using a local shop - $?
IFS/Rear suspension: Suspension [] Suspension kit #1 w/ power rack $2600
Rear end: This is where I need help; I need a rear end that will fit the space, have disk brakes and be good for my intentions. I have read a S10 4X4 rear axle fits perfectly but it's lmited slip which doesn't work for the whole smoking the tires thing.
Buy welder: welder [] $600

Ok that's it for now. Expectation vs reality is fully acknowledged and scope creep is expected. Please give me your advices, concerns and recommendations, I have a lot to learn.

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54 3100
Joined: Jan 2019
Posts: 333
Step 1: find a local friend to work with you.

Seriously, there is nothing more valuable than someone with a different perspective and some basic skills.

I would also strongly recommend going to an LS swap forum and reading about the ins and outs of that swap. You will need to either build or buy a standalone harness for that engine and get a tune to remove the VATS.

As far as your axle question, the 4x4 S10 axle will fit. Some had LSD, some don't. When you are at the junkyard, check the RPO codes and if it has a G80 then it is the limited slip.

As light as the truck is, a used 5.3L will easily spin the tires even with an LSD unless you put pretty wide meats on the back.

As a note of encoragement, I did my first LS swap with just the internet for help. It took me about a year and I spent about $2000 on it. That car is still on the road with that engine 15 years later.

Good luck!

58 Apache, long bed fleetside, V8 w/SM420
Drivable but the rear axle needs work.
Joined: Jan 2019
Posts: 333
One other suggestion that I might make is to go with a one piece IFS if you really want to go that direction. Something like the T232-2202-00 from Ziggs.

The alignment of all of the pieces in the front suspension is absolutely critical to safe operation and proper function. A one piece unit like that will be much easier to assemble and install.

Make sure you spend plenty of time with your welder practicing before you do any frame welding. Or better yet, get someone with experience/training to weld the IFS in. It is really easy to have a weld that looks fine, but does not penetrate and will fail at the most inopportune time.

If a weld on your bumper mount fails, it looks ugly and maybe you do some body damage. If a weld on your IFS fails, somebody could easily die. Don't take that risk.

58 Apache, long bed fleetside, V8 w/SM420
Drivable but the rear axle needs work.
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 10,777
Grease Monkey, Moderator General Truck Talk & Greasy Spoon
Welcome, I admire your tenacity. Starting with no truck and no tools and mechanical skills. All can be learned along the way. Take your time and study what project you are about to tackle that day. ALWAYS measure 3-4 times before making anything permanent. It is critical that you do something on your truck every day, even if it’s only 15-20 minutes. Losing interest is the death of many projects. Please get a professional to weld any structural changes you make, it could save your life. Stovebolt has a Forum titled Project Journals, so as you get started, begin a running thread there to share your progress. Mechanical/Electrical questions can be addressed in the garage forums or back here in the HiPo Forum. I see you figured out how to post pictures so your already on your way to navigation of the site.
Please take the time to read the Sticky post in General Truck Talk Forum by Cletis, titled “Why posts are.......”, to familiarize yourself with the site guidelines. I see you have already crossed the line with a minor infraction, you mentioned selling parts on Marketplace for $300. Selling outside the Swap Meet Forum is prohibited.
Hope to see many more posts and photos as you progress in your build.

'62 Chevy C-10 Stepside Shortbed (Restomod in progress)
'47 Chevy 3100 5 Window (long term project)
‘65 Chevy Biscayne 4dr 230 I-6 one owner (I’m #2) “Emily”
‘39 Dodge Businessmans Coupe “Clarence”

"I fought the law and the law won" now I are a retired one!
Support those brave men/women who stand the "Thin Blue Line"! Hug a cop!
USAF 1965-1969 Weather Observation Tech (I got paid to look at the clouds)

Joined: Oct 2021
Posts: 2
crictor Offline OP
@Fibonachu - Thank you for the feedback, the welding advice I think is the most important which I will take and use. 20 years ago before career and family I took a course that ran me through all the processes from acetylene to TIG and I passed all the bending/inspections but I haven't used any of that since so I have zero confidence, I'll strongly consider hiring someone to make the final chassis welds.

@Justhorseround - Thank you for the encouragement I'll look into the project journals section as time goes on, there's going to be lots of questions as milestones get reached. Also thanks for pointing out the infraction, won't happen again, it was just a thought but totally does cross that line. My intent wasn't to advertise.

54 3100
Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 1,679
Crusty Old Sarge
"How do you Eat an Elephant" on bite at a time. Take your projects in steps and finish what you start, take pictures.. lot's of pictures. Just so you know I didn't do any of this and I'm still paying for it.

You no doubt have seen these programs where they make a list on a piece of cardboard, that's really not a bad idea, it will help keep you on task. I have learned to stay on project over time but small things will always come up. Phak 1 (Phil) has a good habit of cleaning and painting all the parts and pieces as he goes, I have been trying to do that as well.

Last edited by TUTS 59; Wed Oct 06 2021 03:55 PM.


Come, Bleed or Blister something has got to give!!!
59' Apache 31, 327 V8 (0.030 over), Muncie M20 4 Speed, GM 10 Bolt Rear... long term project (30 years and counting)
Joined: Nov 2018
Posts: 130
As previously mentioned, take lots of pictures during disassembly and "bag and tag" everything, especially fasteners. Your project will take longer than you anticipated, your memory will fade, and the photos will come in very handy during reassembly and the saved fasteners will prevent trying to figure out what size and type go where. Good luck and enjoy your new found project!


'51 3100 5-Window (Restomod in progress)
Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 1,190
The number 1 and 2 on any project (my opinion) is good brakes and good steering.
Don't compromise on safety. Think of a SUV full of wife and kids that you may wipe-out.
Also consider that what you modify, from original, may not be covered by your insurance company if there is an accident.
You can purchase pre-engineered kits to do brakes and steering on most any plan you wish to take.

The following is a typical heads-up warning stuff for your consideration:
You have to be mad-dog determined to do the project from beginning to end. Life happens and times can be tough. Don't become discouraged.
If you are on a budget, consider keeping your truck original. The same truck 20 years later may be worth more in an original state.
There are incomplete projects for sale out there and are at a substantial savings.

That's enough preaching. Have fun with your project and good luck.

"Adding CFM to a truck will only help at engine speeds you don't want to use."
"I found there was nothing to gain beyond 400 CFM."
Joined: Dec 2014
Posts: 831
About 30 years ago I did what you're doing: no tools, no prior experience, just a desire to build a hot rod. It took four times as long as I expected and five times as much money. I learned a lot, and screwed up a lot. But I think you'll agree that for a first attempt it came out pretty nice.

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1951 Chevy Panel Truck
Joined: Sep 2018
Posts: 47
Good luck with your challenge. Don’t give up. Select a area of work and complete it. Assemble the whole car before paint. To select a rear end measure the rear end in the truck from backing plate to backing plate. That is the width you need. You may may have to move the spring plates but they can be moved easily. Most rear ends have disc brake conversion kits. I’m doing a 51. I found an I Roc rear ended for $100 at a junk yard. I think limited slip and posi are the same thing and you do want one. You want to smoke both tires not one. I would you move the pedals from under the floor to under the dash. You have to use residual valves if they are under the floor. A tug welder I would do on suspension, IFS, frame, rear end… Some use rig on the body but mig does not get as hot so I would use mig on the body. My first car was a 32 Ford five window coupe. I have completed 4 cars and am working on my 46 Chevy truck and my grandson’s 51. Good luck You can do it.

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