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Customs 1959 Chevy Apache 283 V8

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Justin Hill, May 6, 2019.

  1. Justin Hill
    Joined: May 6, 2019
    Posts: 7

    Justin Hill
    Member

    Good Morning all, New to the site but have some deep inquiries that need attending. To start I'm overly new at hot rods and all vehicle aspects. HAHA but i have general mechanic knowledge. I can work on cars and i love it. Sooo, i am looking at slightly upgrading the internals of the current 283 v8 that sits inside the Apache now.. I'm ripping it apart and replacing all internals with better upgraded versions. Again nothing crazy but a bigger cam, new heads, new pistons, new manifold, the works really. My confusion begins with the pistons and crankshaft. The pistons, I have no idea what to get and how upgraded they need to be. The crankshaft, does it truly need to be upgraded and if so what is a good place to start. no knowledge of compression rates or anything of that nature. Just FYI.

    Next the transmission all the way back to the rear axle. New gears will be added and I need to know where to begin. If its possible to keep the same transmission and replace just the gears awesome! If not whats the best upgrade to get me going down the highway at decent speeds (keep with traffic) as well as get off the line for some fun. (not really looking to race on a track but maybe one day) Next the driveshaft, Whats needed to hold up to some good horsepower one day? Is it better to just replace the rear axle or switch out internal parts? If new axle is needed where do I go about retrieving one? I want to do my best at buying new parts not pulling from older vehicles. So a few good sites are greatly appreciated. Thank you for reading and I look forward to the amazing advice i receive.
     
  2. catdad49
    Joined: Sep 25, 2005
    Posts: 3,012

    catdad49
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Justin, Welcome to the HAMB. Please fill out your profile (general area of the country/state) so that others may be of more help to you. Although this a Great place for info on a lot of subjects, you may also want to check the various Chevy truck sites for more specific advice. Welcome from VA., Carp.
     
  3. Justin Hill
    Joined: May 6, 2019
    Posts: 7

    Justin Hill
    Member

    catdad49 Thanks for the advice. That info has been updated. What are some of those sites?
     
    catdad49 likes this.
  4. rustydusty
    Joined: Apr 19, 2010
    Posts: 874

    rustydusty
    Member

    What is the problem with the engine and drive train now? If it's a running and driving truck, you'll probably be better off building another engine etc... on a stand and avoid the "stalled project conundrum " that happens to so many. When, and if you finish it, it will be easier to swap the drivetrain out and not be without a driver the whole time.
     
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  5. Justin Hill
    Joined: May 6, 2019
    Posts: 7

    Justin Hill
    Member

    rustydusty Oh this is totally a project car. I have a daily driver lol so no worries there. it is a running truck and nothing is wrong with the drivetrain as I know of. I purchased the truck off of a gentleman who said the last time it ran was 5 years ago and he was told that by the person he bought it from. It was exposed to the element and had dirt and other things in the engine in several spots. So I began the tear down and plan on taking it to a machine shop to have it completely checked and resurfaced. But the internals are the area I need assistance with. I want to hot rod it on a small level because again I'm new and don't know exactly where to go. So over time I'll re-upgrade things and adjust areas. but right now the first post says it all as far as what i need assistance with.
     
  6. Justin,make some shows-swap meets-cruise ins make friends with knowledgeable car folks.
    They can help a lot.You are young and welcome here.
     
  7. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 41,955

    squirrel
    Member

    Hi, welcome to the HAMB.

    It sounds like you want to change stuff, for the sake of changing stuff? Or maybe you know that folks always change things in engines, but you don't really understand why?

    If you are looking to increase the performance of the engine you have, then installing a different cam and possibly different heads is a good way to do it. But an additional way is to increase the engine's displacement, and the most common method of doing so if you're starting with a 283, is to not use the 283, instead get a 350, or an even larger engine. When I started out doing this at age 17, I decided my 59 Chevy truck needed a bigger engine, it had the 235 six in it. I started by buying a worn out 396 at the junkyard, and then rebuilding it mostly stock, but with a little bit more cam. It was a dramatic improvement. It took a week to get around to replacing the transmission with a 4 speed, then about a year later it got steeper rear end gears (I was drag racing it frequently, and not going on highway trips, so that worked well for me).

    But as to the 283 you have...I'd suggest limiting your modifications to the cam and intake/carb, and focus instead on getting the truck put back together and driving. Once you are using it, you can get a feel for what other modifications you think you might want. Since it sounds like you don't really know what you want, you could be changing your mind continuously, and never actually get the truck running again (see previous comment about "stalled project")

    The 283 has a good crankshaft and connecting rods, and even the stock pistons will take quite a bit. The heads don't flow a lot of air, but enough to keep the engine happy, as it is a relatively small engine. The compression ratio on the truck engines is relatively low, but that's because it's a truck engine. The truck's gear ratios, as far as the transmission and rear end, are a compromise based on the road conditions and intended use of the truck, so it's geared for decent acceleration, but limited top speed.

    Anyways, long story short, before you start buying parts, figure out what you want to do with the truck. And if you can't predict it, then leave it as is until you have had a chance to drive it and see what it really needs, or what you really want. It's not a modern car, it will never be a modern car, so see what you like about it, maybe it's actually not too bad as is.
     
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  8. Justin Hill
    Joined: May 6, 2019
    Posts: 7

    Justin Hill
    Member

    SQUIRREL Thank you so much for the great input. i will definitely take a step back and decide what I want this truck to be. I love the advice about just starting out with the Cam and Intake/carb. i will most likely do that. If all in all I may just get it cleaned and checked for cracks and slap everything back together and get her running again. I just hate to put it back just to take it back off but i guess that the fun in it all right?

    I see many builds with modern engines thrown in them and I'm never a fan. I would rather keep the old look but have it sustainable if i want to drive it to work one day. But mainly on the weekend. lol\

    The whole 350 sounds like a great idea but my confusion with the 350 is what transmission would work with that along with fit the truck. If i were to go with a 350, would I need to replace the driveshaft and rear axle?

    I have searched endlessly for answer to many questions and haven't really got anywhere. I really appreciate the advice and guidance.
     
  9. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 41,955

    squirrel
    Member

    Many folks who get these old trucks swap in a later engine, transmission, and rear end. And they change the front suspension, as well. If you are going to do all that stuff, you would want a plan...as well as a vision, on which to base the plan.

    Again, beware of the stalled project thing. Even with a plan, it took me 15 years to get around to finishing my 57 Suburban. My 59 truck really had no plan, but I generally kept it on the road since 1977, with only one long stretch after a crash in 2005, where it was off the road for several years.
     
  10. Justin Hill
    Joined: May 6, 2019
    Posts: 7

    Justin Hill
    Member

    Dang that sucks. Sorry to hear about the crash. So if i get a 350 is there any body modifications i would need to make? you know to fit the transmission and so forth?

    A plan usually would start with the engine seeing how everything else is pretty much based off of that. Other than the suspension, brakes and body. But the whole drive train is based off of that single piece. So i should probably decide the engine and everything else will fall into place.
     
  11. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 41,955

    squirrel
    Member

    Not really, you can swap Chevy engines real easily....that's one nice thing about them.
     
  12. Justin Hill
    Joined: May 6, 2019
    Posts: 7

    Justin Hill
    Member

    I looked up 350 engines and they are numerous amounts all ranging in years. Where do i begin with that? They obviously are not made equal lol
     
  13. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 41,955

    squirrel
    Member

    Start by figuring out what you want the truck to be, when it's done.

    Then look at your budget, both time and money, and your skills, and what you want to learn.
     
    tractorguy likes this.
  14. belair
    Joined: Jul 10, 2006
    Posts: 7,875

    belair
    Member

    I think I am quoting squirrel (and someone else I'm sure,) BUT "BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND." You have a lot of options. Examine them and then choose what you want or can do. A little research on small block Chevys and Task Force trucks (1955-1959) will provide a lot of clarity and eliminate a lot dead ends and false starts.
     
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  15. catdad49
    Joined: Sep 25, 2005
    Posts: 3,012

    catdad49
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Justin, like I said lots of great advice on here. Just search for Chevy truck forum, you should find more than a few, but most have a break down by the years/ styles of trucks. Your adventure is about to begin, keep it simple and don't be afraid to ask questions!
     
  16. Crawl under the truck and get familiar with it first. Does it have the 4-speed or the 3 on the tree? Look where the emergency brake is, see how it works. To put a later automatic in it, you will need a cross member. It is likely a 2-piece driveshaft, you may get away with a 1-piece on a shorter bed truck.

    Squirrel would know where the brake master is located, I forget what year they were put on the firewall. Is it a 6 or 8 lug rear? Later 6-lug rears swap in fairly easily, but you need fabrication skills. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
     
  17. Justin Hill
    Joined: May 6, 2019
    Posts: 7

    Justin Hill
    Member

    Thank you catdad49! I look for the forums.

    Bobss396 thank you for the direction. Much appreciated.
     
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  18. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 41,955

    squirrel
    Member

    Good point about whether it's half or 3/4 ton...we don't know yet. Half tons used 6 lug wheels, 3/4 and one tons used 8 lug wheels. There were short bed and long bed half tons, the 31 is the short bed, 32 is the long bed (that's what mine is).

    The brake master cylinder is under the floor. The transmission was supported by the crossmember under the bellhousing, the transmission hangs off the back of the bellhousing. Replacing the manual transmission with an automatic usually involves removing the existing crossmember, which is riveted in place, and adding a rear crossmember under the transmission. Also, the 59 used front engine mounts, and when changing the rear crossmember, it's common to add a new crossmember under the engine, and use side mounts. The 59 283 block should have the bolt holes for these mounts, and also the holes drilled to mount a starter to the block, rather than to the bellhousing as original.

    It's getting harder to find these old trucks with all the original drivetrain stuff still in them...
     
  19. finn
    Joined: Jan 25, 2006
    Posts: 551

    finn
    Member

    Start by getting the current 283 up and running. Do this before you tear it down. You have a lot to learn, and an engine swap probably isn’t the place to start building your automotive skill set.

    If the engine doesn’t start with fresh fuel and a new battery, start learning about ignition systems, fuel pumps, carburetors, wiring, starter motors, compression tests, etc.

    Once you do get it running, even if it runs poorly or doesn’t have the power you think you need, move to brakes and steering, as well as lights, wiring, exhaust, and tires.

    In short, make it a safe, driveable truck before you even consider modifications.

    You don’t want this to become an incomplete, abandoned project, which, frankly sounds like where you are headed.

    Your first priority is to enhance your skill level and mechanical capabilities, which are best done by getting the truck running, not re-engineering something you don’t have basic knowledge about.

    Good luck, however you decide to proceed.
     
    Rex_A_Lott likes this.
  20. Black_Sheep
    Joined: May 22, 2010
    Posts: 773

    Black_Sheep
    Member

    As others have suggested, try to get it up and running first. Getting it running and driving will buy some time to figure out what direction you’d like to go with it. A stock type rebuild with a mild cam, intake, carb and ignition upgrades would make it a decent cruiser even with the stock drivetrain. If the engine turns out to be toast, you can probably find a SBC crate motor cheaper than you can build one. Keep your options open...
     
  21. The old saying of no replacement for displacement, it'll cost you the same, sometimes even cheaper, to build a 350 as it will the 283 if you decide to go the rebuild route. If not the rebuild then a crate motor is an excellent choice, several to choose from to suit your needs and even comes with a warranty.
    Like has been mentioned you need to figure out what you want to know what you need. As far as truck forums go stovebolt.com is a good one with a 55-59 task force section, Facebook has several 55-59 groups that offer lots of knowledgeable hands on people too.
    Use the search function here using 55-59, task force or individual years to read up with what has been discussed and it might help you figure out what you want the truck to become.
     
  22. fastcar1953
    Joined: Oct 23, 2009
    Posts: 1,488

    fastcar1953
    Member

    how about pictures? we like to see what we are helping you build. we can answer questions better and give better advice. welcome to the hamb.
     
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  23. The 3/4 ton version is a lot of truck. Full floating rear, bigger brakes and so on. Big leaf spring pack. I had a '65 C30 that I did a pile of work on. I was able to cut the rear drums on an Ammco brake lathe with a little ingenuity.
     

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