We have the clean Jeep truck body. We have a workable Suburban that happens to be an oil burner. Now we just need to figure out how to make the two into one. That is still in progress, I will not get into all of the details about everything going on, but I will give you the bare essentials and highlight the important things you need to know.
First off, obviously you need both a Full Size Jeep truck and (hopefully) a running Suburban.
Here you can see that Hyde got new doors. The old ones were giving me window problems and seeing as we are going with a totally new paint scheme, I decided it did not matter what color the new ones were.
Pay no attention to the fact this particular truck is only 2WD. That will be addressed soon enough, and I realize I told you this would be a twin turbo setup, but pay no attention to the single turbo on there. In good time… You can see this 1988 Suburban is a good candidate for the body swap, and we have everything coming along here.
You can also see that I had the luxury of not one, but two lifts. That really makes the difference; I would not try and do this in my driveway.
The HOA would just LOVE that!!
We stripped down the two vehicles to get them ready for transplant. The idea is to put the J20 body onto the Suburban frame and see what it takes to bolt it up.
In these photos, the truck is on the Suburban frame and you can see that the J20 frame widens in the rear. We will definitely need to do something about this, but no worries; this is actually one of the easier things to fix. We had already chiseled the Suburban body mounts off and we were prepared to bolt up mounts to the J20 and see where they sat before tack welding them into place.
In true build fashion, we found that somebody had broken the welder gun on the MIG machine the night before. Classic! Needless to say, I was again without a welder. Still, we carried on!
This photo shows the clearance between the 6BT and the J20 firewall, tight quarters there! The last valve cover is removed, but I have it on hand.
Unfortunately, I had taken the grinder to my stock fenders when I figured I was going to need them to work on the FrankenJeep bed. Bad idea, as I now needed a set of fenders. I had one of my custom fenders on hand to see how the front clip lines up, but it did not give me a good enough representation of how this was really going to work. The reason I could not get a full looksee is the fact that one fender will not support the weight of the front clip and I needed to know where the core support and the grille were going to fit.
It did look like the tire was fairly centered to the wheel well, but again, this was a custom fender that had been stretched, so I was not 100% sure on how this was going to work with stock fenders. We did some brainstorming and figured out that we could build a brace to act as the aft part of the fender and that would make for a stock positioning of the core support and whatnot.
You can see here that the front tire lines up very nicely with the wheel well. From this point, we were able to complete the front clip and get the measurements for where things needed to be.
This is going to be an EXCELLENT fit! Tony and I installed the hood to see what the height clearance was.
A little too tight for my comfort. We have figured out how to fix this too; I cut out metal body mounts and we decided that the best thing to do would be to set the mounts up higher at about 1-1.5” so when we put on the OEM rubber or poly mounts, I would end up with a 2-2.5” body lift. A lift like that would be more than enough to clear everything there.
These are the body mounts I fabricated to work for this. This set is for the rear of the truck, we realized that the rear Suburban mounts work perfectly for the front mounts of the J20.
That takes care of most of that!
There is still a very tight up front. I have a lot of fabrication figuring on what to do with this part.
You can see that the fan has all but taken over the radiator placement. We decided that we could use the radiator mounts to house the fan shroud, and we will be doing some custom mounting of the radiator, the intercooler, the A/C condenser, plus the oil and transmission coolers. 20 pounds of crap in a five pound bag! We are pretty certain we can get this all to work out, planning and preparation is all that is needed.
I also came across a killer deal on axles, plus another sweet deal on wheels and tires. Chris had traded the Suburban body metal plus some of his own parts to a neighbor of his for a set of HD Dodge one ton axles – a Dana 44 front with kingpins and a single wheel Dana 60 rear. All he wanted was the money for his parts he used. It was such a great deal, I doubled it; after all, Chris has been there to help me out on so many different levels, I always like to help out when I can.
I was a little bit disappointed when I saw the rear had drum brakes, but I quickly got over that when I found out the axles were positive traction. We put wheels and tires onto the axles and lifted them high enough to spin; both tires went the same direction! Score!
I also found out that I will need spacers for the HMMWV (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle [Humvee]) wheels to fit these axles.
These H1 two-piece wheels are going to look bitchin’ on Hyde, I cannot wait!! Cal totally hooked me up here!
You can see where the wheel will rub on the end of the tie rod. No need to worry; I am on it, and am on the prowl for 2.5” and 3” spacers as I need those for the front and rear.
After we got the front clip all worked out, we found that the core support needs to go about five inches back and four inches higher, but we got this! Custom mounts are being made to fit the core support right where it needs to be.
I still have a lot of work to do here, but you can see that it is coming along very well! I will keep you up to date on how this build goes.
Until next time…
Last time I was here, I mentioned that I drove down to Tucson to get a lift kit from Tad, and that I may be getting power doors. That was all true, I still have the lift kit (uninstalled, but I will explain that a bit later) and I did get power doors. I bought two power doors and a dashboard while I was in Amarillo. I managed to stuff all of that into the parts runner and drove it to Ft. Hood, TX and then home.
I was going to install the lift and the doors when I had an overheating issue sneak up on me. Now that I was done making it photo ready, I was driving it more, and I found out that the truck has no issues idling, but when I put it in gear and drove it, the radiator would heat the engine to temperatures I did not approve of.
I checked the oil/water mixes, and they remained separate, so that pretty much ruled out a blown head gasket. Phew! I know Chris would not let me live that down if I blew another head gasket.
I witnessed the radiator flow, and it drained as fast as the garden hose could fill it. I checked the water pump, which looked new and flowed through just as well. I replaced the thermostat, then removed it. I bought a new lower radiator hose and then stole an old Chevy hose spring and shoved it inside, hoping that would help out. Nothing. All of this brought me to the conclusion that… I have no idea why my radiator is pressurizing and spitting out the coolant!
It was nearing my time to get back to work, so I turned it over to the professionals. I took it to Craig, at KNI Automotive and let him have a looksee at it while I was at work. I bought a head gasket set and a new radiator for it. You never know, and it is better to be over prepared than to be underprepared. Off went the truck to the doctor, and off I went to work.
[SKIP AHEAD THREE WEEKS]
I got home and called Craig.
“How is the truck?” I asked.
“It does not overheat, but it runs like shit.” he said.
I’ll take it! I test drove it before taking it home and sure enough, it no longer overheats. Craig was right, it did not run very well at all. Do not twist it; the truck went from A to B and back, it was just extremely cold blooded – Arctic cold blooded. And due to the lack of weight in the rear it was very squirrely. It definitely needed a proper tune up, and something had to be done about the weight distribution.
The overheating issue was a bad radiator. Evidently, there was enough flow for it to work at idle, but once the truck was in gear and on the move, the radiator could not keep up. Craig replaced the radiator and the thermostat housing, putting in a new thermostat. Seeing as he did not need the gasket kit, I took it back to the parts store and returned it for the parts needed for a tune up and an oil change.
I tuned it up, changed the oil, and also installed a proper set of eyes for a Jeep. That is correct, while I was in Texas, I caught up with Cherokee Jim and he had a razor grille for me. Round headlights at last!
After the tune up was complete and the oil was changed, I took the truck on another test drive. It drove much better this time. It still needs a proper carburetor tune up, and it is leaking oil pretty severely, but it drives much better now.
What was to be done about the lack of weight in the rear, you ask?
When you are a gearhead for long enough, you start to know people. Good people. Sometimes these good people have bad situations that fall to your advantage. Take Ziggy for example, Christian’s dad. Ziggy likes to go to the government auctions and get military trucks and trailers. One of his trailers did not pan out as a trailer, so I offered to take it off his hands and, well just look for yourself…
– The Truck –
– The Trailer –
Getting the truck ready for its new bed –
I even got the teenager to help out!
Placing the bed onto the truck –
Spotting potential problem areas –
After cutting off the lip and hooks of the trailer and relocating the breather hose, we got a direct fit –
I did some simple, yet highly effective fabbing and relocating –
This went from reflector to gas filler –
End result –
. . .
Your truck looks bad ass, but did you address the carburetor problem? No.
Did you fix the oil leaks? No.
As I mentioned, those were problems that I could temporarily deal with, as this truck does not yet see a lot of drive time and it is still under construction. I am still getting it there, and seeing as I have work coming up, I will again drop off the truck to Craig to have him address those issues.
I am sure you are aware of my other Jeep build, FrankenJeep
If you follow it, or have even read it, you understand the things of that nature seem to take a bit longer for me. Not to say that I never get them done, but I do have a bit of an ADHD quality about me when some things are concerned. Good news is that Craig also is a fabricator. I have already spoken with him, and he has agreed to check out my front axle project for the hot rod. That means the little Jeep might see some attention here very soon, as I need the axle made before I can set the suspension. And now that I have a functioning truck, I can bring home the engine and the rear axle, making the hot rod closer to ready for more fab work. But all of this is for the other page.
This page is about a Jekyll and Hyde build of a truck.
What is in store for this truck next time around?
Oh boy, are we in for a treat here! You see, my buddy Cherokee Jim has a few tricks up his sleeve. Let us put it this way – the lift kit, that dash pad and my fenders are going to him.
Why, you ask? For trade.
First of all, I still owe him for the razor grille, but secondly, I am making partial trade on a set of stretch fenders, and these things are bad to the bone!
Now, this is not his fender. I believe this one is fiberglass and I know that his are metal, but it still gives you an idea of what he does.
For reference, this is where a normal FSJ fender sits.
This is one of his fenders. It is just a production picture, and not a finished product, but it also kind of shows you how he does it. These metal fender flares are removable and he takes them off, stretches them and welds them back into place, per customer’s specifications.
And if you need to see where my fenders sit, as a reference to my particular circumstances…
Haha! Remember, they are in the parts runner and will be going to Cherokee Jim as trade.
Why would anyone want those?
They are bad ass, of course! Plus, I can put bigger tires on the truck without lifting it, and that is a big thing for me right now, as I do not want to spend obscene amounts of money on this driving chassis.
But you already spent money on a lift kit, why not just install that and be normal?
You see, my plans are to get a Cummins Ram and do a body swap with it. The aftermarket support is better for the Ram, and not to mention that I will get better suspension out of it. Also, the diesel is already in the frame, and it will have matched components. This, opposed to trying to figure out how to put a bunch of diesel parts into a Jeep frame that was never built to handle that sort of torque.
I know it has been done before. There are plenty of Full Size Jeeps that have been converted, and with good results. But for my application, I see this as being the best and most effective route to convert my J20 to diesel.
All of this is still down the road, as I have yet to acquire a diesel Ram, so we will just have to stay tuned and wait to see how that all plays out later.
For now, we can keep watch for the next body mods that are to come shortly. To start off with, those include the stretch fenders and bigger tires. If I come across a rhino grille, I will be installing that and running a quad light set up too. I am also in the process of converting all lighting to LED. These are all quick modifications that show instant results, and these days, that is what we all want, right?
I will let you know how it all pans out next time.