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Making a 55 GMC more streetable

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by harleycontracter, Sep 1, 2013.

  1. harleycontracter
    Joined: Aug 25, 2007
    Posts: 1,881


    What has anyone done to make a 55 Checy/GMC more drive able. It is pretty much stock now. I'd like to drive it a lot more. Steering seem to be the main issue. It steers pretty good but........Sold my subframe I built don't want to go through all of that. Rather leave as is than go through all that right now. Any suggestions?
  2. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 24,931

    Jalopy Joker

    checked for fluid in box? tried adjusting box? tie rod ends, etc good?
  3. bblue34
    Joined: Feb 20, 2009
    Posts: 251


    Ive had serveral of those trucks,take out a spring or two up front ,get some good front shocks.Cange over front hubs to 54 chevrolet automobile hubs( small 5 pattern) and put a 80s firebird rear end .
  4. harleycontracter
    Joined: Aug 25, 2007
    Posts: 1,881


    Anyone ever use a Heidts front end . Is it worth the money? Don't really want to spend 3k
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  5. drptop70ss
    Joined: May 31, 2010
    Posts: 1,148

    from NY

    what about a jag front suspension install? I am going to use one on my 51 F1.
  6. harleycontracter
    Joined: Aug 25, 2007
    Posts: 1,881


    Anyone ever use a FatMan front end kit on a series 2?
  7. swe64
    Joined: Nov 22, 2010
    Posts: 415


    i have 2 gmc stock suspension and the -57 is 4 speed and 16 inch 80 profile wheels i can drive 70 mph . try to get a axle with lower gear .or 31 inch tires
    my -58 is pontiac engine th 700 and 3.07 axle spicer 45 only hydramatic have this. engine rpm is 1400 70mph i have 15 inch tires on the 58

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  8. Flat Six Fix
    Joined: Feb 6, 2010
    Posts: 1,043

    Flat Six Fix

    I know this ain't a Chevy/GMC, have a 55Fargo, 251 flattie, 4 spd and 3.23 gears, 2400 rpm at 60 mph,maybe less with the L78 15 tires.
    I need to change outer tie rod ends, and make sure front end is aligned, as well my tires are not balanced yet.
    Just installed these bias ply WW tires, love the look but it is scary on gravel road, and speed over 45 mph right now.
    I agree with posters, make sure front end, king pins, shocks, tie rod ends, steering box are all in good condition. Get more highway friendly rear gears, and/or use taller tires. Those 235/261 are bullet proof, and lots can be done to create that ole skool hoit rod out of them.....hope it works truck

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  9. InstantT
    Joined: Aug 15, 2012
    Posts: 677

    from SoCal

    Get a rebuilt stock steering box. Its a truck, its going to ride like a truck. My 51 international rode like a tractor on pavement and I loved it. It was totally "street able". You just need to learn to drive it. It did fine in the fifties.
  10. el Scotto
    Joined: Mar 3, 2004
    Posts: 4,325

    el Scotto
    from Tracy, CA

    There's two schools of thought on old trucks.

    #1 - those who enjoy driving an old truck like an old truck.

    #2 - those who want a passenger car like ride in an old truck.

    You need to decide what you want from the beginning. The old truck shit is always going to ride like a truck but when rebuilt and properly functioning its rock solid and dependable. Camaro and aftermarket clips will get you the passenger car ride.

    I had a '57 Chevy shortbed beater I drove daily for years, the last two years were a half hour freeway commute each way. The steering and suspension were overhauled, I reversed the eyes in the springs in the garage, pulled a couple leafs. With a 350 4 barrel, S-10 T-5 tranny, and 3.08 gear 12bolt out of '69 pickup I was knocking out 18 mpg which I though was pretty decent. The body was a beat up shitbox. Wish I still had it! :(
  11. stuart in mn
    Joined: Nov 22, 2007
    Posts: 1,754

    stuart in mn

    Can you elaborate on what this means? Is it hard to turn the wheel, does it wander around on the road, or what? If everything is in good condition, steering effort will be higher than a modern car at slow speeds but there shouldn't be any particular problems.
  12. harleycontracter
    Joined: Aug 25, 2007
    Posts: 1,881


    No big issues with the steering. Considering at regular speeds goes down the road good. Think I'll check all the steering components . Adjust or replace as necessary and leave as is. It's an old truck and that's what I like about it. If I wanted a Camaro ride I guess I would of bought one.
  13. bryan houston
    Joined: Jan 23, 2011
    Posts: 0

    bryan houston

    kingpins are usually one problem with old stuff
  14. haychrishay
    Joined: Jul 23, 2008
    Posts: 944


    Had one in my 56 GMC, the thing I didn't like was the urathane bushings. To much transfer of the noise from bumps. Had a friend that did a 56 chev and did a subframe and the ride and drive was better in my opinion. The factory rubber bushings absorb the road noise and vibration better. And it always felt as if the truck was to heavy for that front end. If you do a Heidst or a mustang ll copy make sure and put powersteering on.I don't care what they say they rive way better with powersteering.
  15. cal1320
    Joined: Oct 29, 2008
    Posts: 56

    from Florida

    1. Get the front end in order. king pins, tie rod ends, steering box, etc.
    2. Brakes. Speedway sells a front disc kit for less than $300. Lose the stocker and get a dual master cyl. Maybe even power if you like.
    3. Rear axle & brakes. 2nd and 3rd gen Camaro axles are the same width.
    4. Trans. stock or S10 T5 for OD. Depends on rear dif gears. (S10 T5 wont live if you are rough with it. Great trans for a daily driver though)
    5. Rewire it. Lots of wiring sins are committed over 50 years. Fuses are a good thing.
    6. Drive it every day.
  16. harleycontracter
    Joined: Aug 25, 2007
    Posts: 1,881


    Cal1320 I think yoiu have the way to go Thanks
  17. junkyardjeff
    Joined: Jul 23, 2005
    Posts: 7,399


    I went through the front suspension including a dropped axle on my 37 Chevy p/u and it still is somewhat like a old truck,its alot better now and can live with it.
  18. Curly5759
    Joined: Jan 23, 2012
    Posts: 66

    from Aridzona

    I did just about everything on this list to my 59 1/2 ton. It rides better but it is still a rough ride.

    Best thing I did was polyliner on the springs and new spring shackle bushings. Made a HUGE difference. After beating the heck out of it on a 60 mile washboard desert road I broke a front spring. I replaced the fronts with Eaton Rod ride springs (teflon buttons on spring ends). I think the poly liner had a better ride.

    F body rear axle, 3.08 ratio. Fit well, but 5 lug rear pattern vs 6 lug front.

    American Auto wire kit. Get the one for 55-59 Gm trucks.

    Power Steering conversion using GM box with modern tilt wheel column. Wouldn't do that again, I'd use the toyota conversion that is available. My tires rub the box on tight turns and the fit isn't as clean as the Toyota conversion.

    Vintage Air Sure fit series. Fits ok, cools great as long as you don't live in the desert.
  19. Clevername
    Joined: Feb 18, 2011
    Posts: 315


    Ok, all the above advice is probably good, but have a look at your tires first.

    I rebuilt my steering column twice on a 65 Ford truck I had, then I bought new tires -heavy duty truck tires. Man what a difference! The truck was much better at low speed turns, no more cranking on the wheel in parking lots. Never had to rebuild the column after that. If you get slightly larger tires, you increase your highway speed as well:)

  20. Gator
    Joined: Dec 29, 2005
    Posts: 4,016


    Yup. Had a guy stop me in a parking lot last week asking me about how my '55 Chevy truck was set up. Mine still has the straight axle, but with composite mono leaf lowering springs up front and a couple of leaves removed from the back. New kingpin bushings, etc.

    He asked how it rode and I told him. "Like an old truck."

    Mine also has disc brakes and a CPP power steering conversion. Already had the mono leafs and disc brakes on it when I bought it. I put the power steering on it.

    I'm putting a Camaro clip in right after the Redneck Rumble. I put a lot of miles on my truck, the roads around here are shitty, and I have a bad back. I wished I'd have just clipped it when I installed the power steering.

    I'll have all my old stuff in the classifieds shortly :D
  21. King pins, tie rod ends, drag link, and good shocks. Perhaps spring bushings if they are shot. Brakes up to par and you can drive it every day just like they did when it was new.

    The raven has an AD truck (you didn't mention early or late five five) that has been his dailey driver as long as I can remember (10 years this month) it has a basically stock suspension with a drop axle and disc conversion, but he ran it with drums all around for several years no problems.

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