'89 Stepside "Way Cool Jr."

Erik the Awful

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Messages
4,658
Reaction score
8,663
Location
Choctaw, OK
I finally decided I probably ought to start a build thread on this truck. I've been in the market for a decent driver and light-weight tow pig for a while.

I've been interested in building a '68-72 GMC C10 stepside for a couple years now, but the prices have climbed out of sight. Around here, any mostly rust-free non-runner runs $2000, which is out of my price range.

In lieu of that, I was considering any more modern truck, F150, Titan, maybe even a Dodge. Being budget minded and a decent wrench-turner, I was shopping for trucks with some minor body damage or running issues. In July I spotted this '89 Chevy Stepside on an insurance auction website.

View media item 31981
This truck just screams "1980s!" at me, and I dubbed it "Way Cool Jr".

After some consideration and discussion with my wife, I checked the truck out at the lot and made a $700 bid on it, considering the auction fees are an additional 50%. The truck went to $850, but didn't make it over the reserve, and the next week I bid $700 again. Not over the reserve again, but I was the highest bid. The seller asked if I was willing to come up to $2500. For a truck that's not guaranteed to run nor drive? I gave back a hard no, $700 or nothing.

Sold! $1050 out the door.
 

98chevy2500SS

Specializes in Accessories 101
Joined
Feb 10, 2017
Messages
3,489
Reaction score
4,044
Location
Iowa
The seller asked you if you'd be willing to increase your bid by $1800?! It's an auction, seller should've went on marketplace or craigslist if they wanted a certain amount for it. That is a good looking truck for $1050. I like the name Way Cool Jr. lol.
 

Erik the Awful

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Messages
4,658
Reaction score
8,663
Location
Choctaw, OK
A few months on, I'm pretty sure I got ripped off. Every small nickel-and-dime piece is broken. I've hunted down most everything from Pull-A-Part and RockAuto. No keys, busted locks, broken door handles, clouded front turn signals, cloudy/busted rear taillights, missing panels for the dashboard, broken glove box lid - all fixed for under $100. I bought two cans of vinyl paint and got to work on the interior. I've got my eye on a pair of leather Cadillac seats the next time Pull-A-Part has seats on sale.

View media item 32059
Two good tires on four wheels. Tom's Used Tires supplied some rubber that will work until I get the truck reliable. $80, but the left rear tire keeps going flat. Tom's will patch it for free, but I still need to take the tire back in for patching.

View media item 32060
Why do I think I got gypped? The truck was not advertised as being a flood recovery, but there was plenty of hidden flood damage. Even though I'd looked the truck over, the silt looked like normal dusty Oklahoma road use. Tearing down the engine I found mineral crystals in the lifter valley.

View media item 32061
Fortunately, I bid knowing the auction yard wasn't able to get the engine started. I had an engine waiting to install.

View media item 32062
 

Erik the Awful

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Messages
4,658
Reaction score
8,663
Location
Choctaw, OK
I spent a couple of afternoons working on it and got the engine in. It cranked, but no start. With help from my teenage kids and wife we got the bed tilted up so I could access the tank. The fuel sending unit and pump had a melted mess of a hose connecting them, the fuel smelled like varnish, and the pickup sock was ripped. I'd twisted a line, so I ordered a new sending unit and a Vortec fuel pump. If I run the factory TBI, I'll need more fuel pressure than the stock pump can provide, and I'd eventually like to step up to a Holley Sniper.

View media item 32063
When I tried firing the engine I got a blast of mud from the left exhaust and no airflow from the right side. It's full of mud. I dropped it loose from the manifold and tried again.

350 4-bolt main TBI block, honed, but no overbore
Factory Vortec heads, 062 castings, no porting, no machining
Factory crankshaft
Speed Pro H345DCP flat-top hypereutectic pistons - 9.5:1 compression ratio
Speedway Motors 5140 steel I-beam rods, 5.7", bushed pin
Lunati 20080720, advertised duration 262/270, lift .507/.515
Factory roller lifters, dog bones, and spider assembly
Chevrolet Performance 12499224 LS2/LS6 valvesprings
Comp Cams 787-16 steel valve spring retainers
Comp Cams 648-16 race valve locks
Proform Parts 66914C extruded aluminum roller rocker arms
Summit 226018 Stage 1 dual-plane square-bore intake manifold
Factory TBI (for now)
Factory exhaust manifolds

The Proform rocker arms don't have the best reputation, but the LS2/LS6 valvesprings are only about 10% stiffer than the factory valvesprings. If a valvespring breaks, so does your motor. If your rocker arm breaks it's usually far less catastrophic. With the LS2/LS6 valvesprings, the Comp Cams retainers, and old-school umbrella valve seals, .530" lift is possible. When I specified .500" lift the tech advice guy at Lunati recommended the 20080720. It sounds nasty.

xc_hide_links_from_guests_guests_error_hide_media

I talked with my wife, and I'm going to wait until after Christmas to order my exhaust parts.
 

Erik the Awful

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Messages
4,658
Reaction score
8,663
Location
Choctaw, OK
While swapping the engine I noticed my steering shaft was sloppy - as in I grabbed ahold of it while doing something else and the top of the shaft wiggled. The 145k miles and the rag joint was fine, but the upper knuckle was dorked. I hit up Pull-A-Part and bought an XJ shaft.

This upgrade literally takes half an hour. I unbolted the old shaft, put the newer shaft in the vice, heated it with a propane torch, hit the slip with the air hammer, used a pick to remove the plastic remnants, wire wheeled the paint off it until I could collapse it to the same length as the stock piece, greased it lightly, checked the length and used a cutoff wheel to gently groove the column shaft for the upper bolt, loc-tited both bolts and installed them, and painted the bare metal that was exposed at the bottom. Awesome, easy upgrade. Sorry, no pics on this one yet.
 

Erik the Awful

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Messages
4,658
Reaction score
8,663
Location
Choctaw, OK
Emissions isn't a concern where I live, and the truck currently has duals with no cats and crappy glasspacks on stock manifolds with tubing that wishes it was 2".

My plan is a 2.5" exhaust:
Hedman full-length headers 69440
Flowmaster Catalytic Converters 2250225 x2
Jones X-pipe SXP4
Cherry Bomb Salute Mufflers SA1226 x2
Walker exhaust pipe 49008 x2

I'm putting on catalytic converters because I want to be a good neighbor. Instead of running the exhaust straight back from each side I'm going to try and route the pipes down the right side, like stock, with the x-pipe between the converters and mufflers. I also have some flanges, hangers, and mandrel bends in my Summit shopping cart so I can drop it down in sections. I had to use a sawzall to drop the current exhaust.

Tonight's project is mounting the class 3 receiver in the pic above. I've been trying to work on it the last few days, but one of my kids hit a deer, so I've been helping reassemble a Mustang front clip.
 

Erik the Awful

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Messages
4,658
Reaction score
8,663
Location
Choctaw, OK
We spotted a straight hood for a Mustang earlier this week at Pull-A-Part, but the truck's not running yet, so we coordinated with my parents to borrow a minivan on Saturday.

Friday night my kid tells me, "I'm spending the night at a friend's, but I'll be home around 9 to go to Pull-A-Part. Saturday morning came and went, and I went out into the shop and made progress on the truck.

The factory bumper had a 2" ball mounted, and it's bent and dented up. Only three bolts attached it to the frame. There was a 6-pin connector, with only four wires attached. Somebody used this truck to haul a trailer that was too big for it. Fortunately I don't care what the bumper looks like. I scored a class 3 receiver hitch from Pull-A-Part for cheap, and with another $12 in grade 8 hardware, I installed it. I discovered a 3/4 ton long bed receiver only lines up with three holes in a 1/2 stepside frame, so I had to drill two more holes in the frame and one hole in the hitch. I also had to grind off two of the rivets holding the x-brace in place and replace them with bolts. The receiver hit the front side of the bumper, so I used a cutoff wheel and removed some metal. The bumper's not going to be supporting a trailer any more, so I'm comfortable with that.


You must be registered for see images attach



The jack and tools are missing, so I flattened and bent a piece of rebar to hoist the spare into place. Tomorrow I'm going to enlist the wife and kids to help set the bed back down. Then I can get to work sorting the rat's nest of twisted-together wires.


You must be registered for see images attach



I also scored a 4 and 7 pin trailer connector combo from a Dodge (resting on the bumper in the first pic), but I busted one of the mounting tabs, so I may just order one from Amazon. I had to order the door spring compressor tool for both WCJr and my kid's Mustang, and Summit had it cheaper than most anywhere else. Since I already have a list of exhaust parts, I added stuff until I hit the $100 required for free shipping. After New Year's I'll order the rest. I'll be sure and post pics of the exhaust build.
 

Erik the Awful

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Messages
4,658
Reaction score
8,663
Location
Choctaw, OK
Ice Cube's "It Was a Good Day" needs a verse where he goes to Pull-A-Part and finds everything he needs.

I'd been yesterday and scored a pristine hood for my son's Mustang, and scoped out a pair of Cadillac seats for WCJr. I couldn't get them because the seats were slid all the way back, the rear bolts were hidden, and I didn't have a battery. I also looked under the beds of a dozen trucks before I found an uncut taillight harness. Every stinkin' one had been hacked up with wire taps to add in a trailer hitch. The one I found has the extra factory wires to add in a 7-pin connector! Quick tip - most Suburbans aren't cut up and have the extra wires. I also found a plug-in tap for trailer wires and threw that on. No sense in cutting the harness if I don't have to.


View media item 32065
This morning my son and I hit up Pull-A-Part as soon as they opened. He went straight to the Mustangs and scored an unbroken headlamp mantle - his has epoxy holding it together. He also got a pair of intact headlamps and a door hinge. He's going back in the next few days to get the other door hinge. We had to leave early to make it to church on time.

I took my jump box and powered up the 1994 Cadillac Seville. 84,000 miles, no body damage, and everything looked beautiful... except... the HUGE rats' nest under the hood. What I could see of the engine harness was bare wire. The interior of the car was all Hanta virus and black mold. I got the seats, the heated seat switches, and as much of the harness as I could cut out. Cadillac ran the seat harnesses into the center console harness, so it's not as much plug and play as I'd hoped it would be. I'm guessing I'll be back at Pull-A-Part on Christmas Eve, looking for a Power Seat Memory Module. I'm still googling for a wiring diagram.


View media item 32066
I spent an hour or so this afternoon with leather cleaner, and got the mouse turds and mold off the seats. The leather is very nice, the seats are comfortable, and best of all, when I was cleaning them I found a change purse with a $10, two $1s, and another five-plus dollars in change. Seats were on sale today, so after taxes I made about two bucks buying the seats.

The bed is back down on the truck, the rear harness is installed, and if I can get the right rear tailgate latch to work correctly, I'll have the rear of the truck finished up enough for driving.
 
Top