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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have a 1997 GMC Sierra k1500 with 5.7L 4L60E
I'm interested in doing a 1 ton swap. I currently have a 6 inch RC Lift on it with 20 inch rims on it.
I don't know if it's cheaper to just buy a k3500 or make mine a 1 ton.
What do I do, and how? I know a lil about truck but not enough so I'm asking those who know.
166047
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There is nothing on your truck that you can use.
The frame needs to be bigger and stronger and a bigger frame means a bigger cab.
The transmission and year-end are too light.

It won't work!
 

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If you can find a '96-'2000 k-3500 extended cab that is a rollover, you can use everything "above the frame" that would come from your truck. Sheet metal - cab, front clip, bumpers, & bed are all the same no matter whether it's a 1500, 2500, or 3500. The reason I say '96 - '2000, the '88-'95 would work but you run into wiring differences that you may not want to deal with. If you have time on your hands and want to learn how things work, go for it. Just hope you have a backup to drive in the meantime and plenty of bandages! Good Luck!
 

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Thanks very much. Is a k3500 frame bigger than a k1500 and will the k1500 frame handle the 1 ton swap?
The physical dimensions should be the same but the 1ton frame thickness may differ and there are some reinforcement and possible attachment differences. Also, the rear width between spring perches may differ. GM used at least 2 different frames in the 1ton series [believe it was a difference in the rear frame width] -measure everything before you start! If you are planning on caring more weight I would definitely go with a 1ton chassis.
 

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As I said in my earlier post, the 1500 frame is not a one ton frame, it will bend and it will break.
The one ton frame is bigger, the sheet metal appears bigger

However, that's not to say you can't make your sheetmetal fit, time and money can make anything fit.
 

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As I said in my earlier post, the 1500 frame is not a one ton frame, it will bend and it will break.
The one ton frame is bigger, the sheet metal appears bigger

However, that's not to say you can't make your sheetmetal fit, time and money can make anything fit.
"Sheet metal appears bigger" but it is not. You have to go up to the GMT530 architecture, GM medium-duty trucks, before the sheet metal changes. As to the frames, from the lightest to the heaviest, there may be as much as 600#+ difference, but that depends on the GVW of said vehicle with the weight being added in thickness, frame height, and reinforcement in critical areas. If the frame is taller, the attachment points are simply changed, no need in changing sheet metal sizing.
I tow a lot of weight with my lawn care trailer it's a 7x14 enclosed trailer with everything in it it weighs about 5k. I'm also planning to put a 7x7 flatbed on it to haul mulch and debris.
 

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"Sheet metal appears bigger" but it is not. You have to go up to the GMT530 architecture, GM medium-duty trucks, before the sheet metal changes. As to the frames, from the lightest to the heaviest, there may be as much as 600#+ difference, but that depends on the GVW of said vehicle with the weight being added in thickness, frame height, and reinforcement in critical areas. If the frame is taller, the attachment points are simply changed, no need in changing sheet metal sizing.
From your use, I'd be looking for a stake body dump dually. Why a dually? If you have a rear tire blow with the trailer and truck loaded, you may not have to clean your pants! That and the fact you may find one of these more reasonable in price and probably less miles because the demand for these is not high like a 3500 pickup If you need the 4X4 though, that just may change the picture. A good place to find these trucks are at municipal auctions.
 

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You can put a 14 bolt 9.5" sf rear axle to make it a little tougher, but you cab is still gonna a a gvw plaque. If you get popped overloaded, thats what they go by.
 

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If you need or want a 1 ton, then sale the 1/2 ton, and go buy a 1 ton. Everything on a 1 ton is heaver and much more heavy duty than on a 1/2. The only thing that is the same, is the body, and interior panels.
 

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"Sheet metal appears bigger" but it is not. You have to go up to the GMT530 architecture, GM medium-duty trucks, before the sheet metal changes. As to the frames, from the lightest to the heaviest, there may be as much as 600#+ difference, but that depends on the GVW of said vehicle with the weight being added in thickness, frame height, and reinforcement in critical areas. If the frame is taller, the attachment points are simply changed, no need in changing sheet metal sizing.
Whenever I visit a dealer lot, it is very easy to pick the 2500 trucks from the 1500 trucks, they are always higher and "appear" larger.

So, to debate with you, I went to a GM parts site!

And, I apologize, you are correct! The doors for the 1500, the 2500 and the 3500 are the same part number.
I didn't check any other parts, the doors were enough to convince me that the truck bodies are the same, thank you for setting the thread, and me, straight.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I didn't know that either I though the frames were the same just different front and rear ends and engines.... That's why I wanted to ask others who knew. I know a lot of other parts are swappable
 

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Most parts are not interchangable with a 1/2 ton. The dealers make it sound like its just an upgrade, but in truth there is a lot more to it than that. Its a total different truck except for like I said, the body and interior panels. Even if the 1 ton has a 5.7 L ( most have 7.4L) the 5.7L is a 4 bolt main block, where the 1/2 ton has a 2 bolt main. Even the 3/4 ton, has a 4 bolt main block. They are all different from each other. I wasnt tring to be mean a while ago when I said sale the 1/2 ton, just being realistic. You can beef up a 1/2 ton all you want to, but at the end of it all, you will just have a HD 1/2 ton truck. It will never be a tough as a 1 ton or even a 3/4 ton truck is. Most used 1 ton trucks are not that expensive, as they are work trucks.
 

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Whenever I visit a dealer lot, it is very easy to pick the 2500 trucks from the 1500 trucks, they are always higher and "appear" larger.

So, to debate with you, I went to a GM parts site!

And, I apologize, you are correct! The doors for the 1500, the 2500 and the 3500 are the same part number.
I didn't check any other parts, the doors were enough to convince me that the truck bodies are the same, thank you for setting the thread, and me, straight.
“No harm, No foul, No need to apologize!” I've been in the “business” almost 60 years and I still run into things that I do not have the answer to. The internet is a great place to search for solutions to problems you hope others have run into and been able to cure or at least work around. But Heaven forbid, about 90% of what you find is totally disastrous, having nothing to do with what is going on. (Example: It won't start and run cause your spare must be flat or more than 6 years old!) One thing is for certain, Comedy Central has nothing on these people!
 
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