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  1. #1

    Default New member, new project

    Hi all ~

    Iím a new member, with a new project. Hopefully Iím not in over my headÖ ok, Iím definitely in over my head, but hopefully I can learn to swim quickly!

    I just inherited (sorta) my grandparentís 1984 Chevy Suburban. I grew up in this truck and have a ton of great memories. I was not ready to let it go to the junk yard (my grandparents both passed away 5 years ago, and my aunt has had the burban since).

    So hereís the dealÖ I know next to nothing about car repair. Also, I have no money, as my husband and I just bought our first home. So, the burban will be fixed up as time and money allow. I say time because I have a husband, three daughters, two jobs, and Iím a full time accounting student.

    Keeping in mind that I am a car repair newbieÖ I want to repair the burban to its former glory. There is no doubt in my mind that itís going to need a new engine (aunt said something about anti-freeze in the engine?) It also needs new tires. The body is straight and beautiful, but the door handles should probably be replaced and it wouldnít hurt to replace all the door seals and such. I havenít looked at the carpet to determine whether I should replace it or not, but the benches are probably going to need to be replaced or recovered.

    My brother-in-law is a fairly accomplished back yard mechanic, and replaced the engine in his old Ford a few years ago (just donít sneeze when youíre driving it, youíll spin the tires!) so Iíll have help installing the engine. Problem is, I donít trust his judgment as far as what engine to get, he has no experience with suburbans and heís the type that THINKS he knows everything. So I want to figure out for myself what engine I should put in, and I want to make an educated decision.

    SoÖ how about a little advice for a newbie?? As soon as I decide what engine I want I can start saving for it!

    Thanks in advance!

    Kandi

  2. #2

    Default

    you are at the fun part of a project. "The Plan" get a note book or make a folder on your PC and put what you need the vehicle to do (......hold 10 people, drive off road, drive in snow, better gas millage) then make a list of what you would like it to do. (... bark tires when shifting past everything in town, tow a house...)

    then look at your time frame, 1-5-10 years, and money.

    then make the plan. did the last motor and trans do the job? did you want more power? what are local laws involving changes to emissions (If any)? the 350 is a great motor and there is alot to do for it. www.gmpartsclub.com has alot of the stock replacement parts and there is Year one but if you want to hop her up some there is Summit or speedway motors. just from my back round---build the plan and stay as close to it or you might dump the project 1/2 thru or almost at the end of it. i seen alot of great project fail just when the last $100-500 dollars would complete it. (i got alot of toys this way. finish the plan and ride and sell....lol)

    so when you know what you want and what you have to spend or will have post back and we can help guide you thru the steps. it is not too hard. i done many different things and have plans for many more. I got 5 different things going now.
    this is the newest addition. and the Bronco in back is getting a new EFI motor in her.

    Mike
    Last edited by GMPartsClub; 09-22-2009 at 10:10 PM.
    Michael Collins
    1993 4X4 Suburban
    many other toys as well

  3. #3
    Former Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Huntsville, Alabama
    Posts
    372

    Default

    Yep! You are definitely in the fun stages. Not only do you get to plan the project from the ground up, but you'll learn a lot of extremely useful knowledge.

    Don't give up on that ol' engine yet. If she said something about anti freeze, you can have the whole system pressure tested to see if there are any weak points/if there are leaks anywhere. That may just be a simple fix and you wont have to go to the expense of a new engine (unless you want one)

  4. #4

    Default

    Great advice from both of you, thanks!

    I hadn’t even thought about keeping a notebook for the project. I guess I just figured I’d keep it all in my head… I should know better! I’m a list-maker, in fact, usually my lists have lists… yet I didn’t think of a master book for this. I suppose that in addition to listing my wants and needs I should also list the order of importance for them.

    Those are some great questions, Mike, now you’ve got my gears spinning in thought.

    The engine is my first priority… the rest can come after its running (though the tires will need to be a close second.) So, how much engine do I need? At bare minimum, I need to be able to pull a trailer. We have a tent trailer right now, but would eventually like to trade up for a bigger trailer, perhaps a toy hauler. Certainly a ĺ ton suburban won’t have any trouble with that. I don’t need to be able to chirp the tires, because I know that if I can, I will. I’d get myself in trouble! But on the other hand, who doesn’t want to be able to stomp on some idiot that thinks they own the road?

    No local emission laws to worry about, we don’t have DEQ testing here, at least not yet. I know I’m not going to get great gas mileage in this beast, but would like to do the best I can.

    As far as the history of the engine and tranny, I have no idea. It seems that it was “enough” for grandma and grandpa, but nothing special. I’d really like to just drop a new motor in it and start fresh. However, in consideration of cash constraints, I should probably try to save the engine it has, if it can be saved. My biggest worry, though, is dumping a bunch of money into it trying to save the engine and THEN deciding that it needs a new one anyway. Or putting more money into fixing it then it would cost to replace it in the first place. Since my aunt already had it in a shop I’ll ask what the damage was exactly and what the mechanic’s estimate was for repairs. If I do decide to go new, where is the best place to research prices and specs?

    The best part about this project is that we don’t “need” this rig. I have a car, hubby has a truck, so there is no immediacy to it, which means we can wait until we have the money to do it RIGHT. My step-dad owned a transmission shop and had a sign that said “Do you want it done now, or done RIGHT?” He’s been gone 9 years now, but that saying has stayed in my mind. If I just do enough to get it running now and we start to depend on it (i.e. sell one of the other vehicles and use the suburban instead) then it’ll be a completely different story and I won’t have the time to wait to do it right.

    . Any other sites I should be sure to check out? If I’m going to make a wish list, I’m going to do it right…

    Oh, one more question (for now at least), it has a 60/40 split second row seat, but has never had a third row seat… can I put a third row in without much work (I guess I’m asking if the brackets are already there…)?

    Thanks!

    Kandi
    Last edited by GMPartsClub; 09-22-2009 at 10:12 PM.

  5. #5

    Default

    ok--lets see if i can assist with this.
    what motor is in it now? will it start and run now? and if you have the mechanics report that will help factor which way to go.
    you might find a local machine shop that can do a rebuild cheap with a few upgrades or most aut pats stores or online stores will sell a short or long block for $300-$799 or higher or you can goto a dealer and get a crate motor. i got a custom 502 for the motorhome $4500 but 5 year 50,000 mile warenty. it will bark the tires and pull a 24' boat up any grade without know it was back there.
    I use www.gmpartsclub.com and a few Ford only online sites for stock replacement parts. there are alot of them out there.
    feel free to ask away and we will direct as we know or have done. we all do different things and different skil sets but we all like to help...mike
    Last edited by GMPartsClub; 09-22-2009 at 10:13 PM.
    Michael Collins
    1993 4X4 Suburban
    many other toys as well

  6. #6
    Legend unplugged's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    High Deserts of SoCal
    Posts
    2,554

    Default

    Decide on a budget, and design a plan around that budget. Then shop like its your last dollar. Great deals can be had at local swap meets and online at places like craigslist. You can get a lot of good parts off someone's wreck. This example: A low mileage 350 engine for way less than the $1100 he wants for the whole truck.

    Too bad you don't have a Trail Blazer. I hear Steve may have parts available.
    There is no way to happiness....happiness is the way.:yipi:
    http://kx6ijq.blu.livefilestore.com/y1pcOFVNH4ix1hjyGUVyXK5LRfef7qSeWzlZDorpQhIEfkZ2ZA  _vXMYypuKMJFw671uF2ZPhjez_j-atRmcjM2zQKpQi1JSsB75/burb1.JPG
    High Desert SoCal
    93 K1500 burb (personal) 350 AT 3" Lift 250K+
    02 Honda Civic LX
    Looking for a 1990's Miata for an engine swap

  7. #7
    Sr. Apprentice
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    31

    Default

    It would be helpful to know the engine that you have in there now. Also, it would be worthwhile to have a good independent mechanic evaluate your engine, check compression, etc., before you decide to dump it. Our 1990 Suburban has a 350 5.7L: engine, with 329,000 miles on it, and it doesn't leak nor drip a drop of oil, and I can highly recommend this engine. I have, however, replaced both the transmission and rear end twice (so now it is on its third transmission and rear end), so it might be best to take the vehicle to a competent mechanic and ask them to check it out thoroughly, pulling the transmission pan, replacing the filter, servicing the transmission, and pulling the rear end cover off, to check out the condition of the rear end before investing a bunch of money into it. Best wishes, and please let us know how things check out!
    Last edited by rfdillon; 11-14-2007 at 10:31 AM. Reason: Added more information
    1990 GMC Suburban 329,000 miles

  8. #8

    Default

    Wow, good times with the suburban.

    I've gone down the path of major work on a Suburban, although it's big ... in my opinion it's a good vehicle for a project becuase there is SOOO much space to work with, you're not crowded like working on a Camaro or even a smaller SUV. I did a 454 Engine/tranny rebuild on my old burban and it was a lot of fun ... but be careful and always ask for assistance when doing something like that.

    I start with making a list of the current state of the vehcile (this is somewhat implied in Collins' plan, but it's important). Get the engine type and miles, tranny type and miles, overall configuration (2WD or 4WD?, Extra Accessories?, paint? tires? brakes?, etc) Then work the rest out with budget and priorities.

    If the engine has anti-freeze leaking out ... that's a priority and it's a big-ticket item. If the brakes are shot, that's also a priority ... but it's a quicker fix and less costly.

    Steve
    10 Chevy Traverse LT AWD
    02 Chevy Trailblazer LS (110K+ miles - loaded except for 4WD - WRECKED!)
    99 Chevy Cavalier LS (105K+ miles - commuter car)
    78 Chevy Suburban Silverado (454, 3/4 ton)
    62 GMC 3/4 ton Pickup (350 police interceptor)

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  9. #9

    Default

    Wow, good times with the suburban.

    I've gone down the path of major work on a Suburban, although it's big ... in my opinion it's a good vehicle for a project becuase there is SOOO much space to work with, you're not crowded like working on a Camaro or even a smaller SUV. I did a 454 Engine/tranny rebuild on my old burban and it was a lot of fun ... but be careful and always ask for assistance when doing something like that.

    I start with making a list of the current state of the vehcile (this is somewhat implied in Collins' plan, but it's important). Get the engine type and miles, tranny type and miles, overall configuration (2WD or 4WD?, Extra Accessories?, paint? tires? brakes?, etc) Then work the rest out with budget and priorities.

    If the engine has anti-freeze leaking out ... that's a priority and it's a big-ticket item. If the brakes are shot, that's also a priority ... but it's a quicker fix and less costly.

    Steve
    10 Chevy Traverse LT AWD
    02 Chevy Trailblazer LS (110K+ miles - loaded except for 4WD - WRECKED!)
    99 Chevy Cavalier LS (105K+ miles - commuter car)
    78 Chevy Suburban Silverado (454, 3/4 ton)
    62 GMC 3/4 ton Pickup (350 police interceptor)

    Remember: Search Before Posting | Fill out Your Profile & Signature
    Follow Us Please: facebook.com/gmtruckclub | twitter.com/gmtruckclub
    Support GMTC: Help the site, contribute today

  10. #10
    Former Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Huntsville, Alabama
    Posts
    372

    Default

    If you're handy with microsoft excel, you can make a nice list of everything you want, quantity, price per item, total cost, and you can also link to the location of it online. That is what I have done with mine. It also helps to keep track of how much you have spent and how much you have left to spend to finish your project.

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