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project super chev

Discussion in 'Chevy Trucks' started by fulltiltwill, Feb 19, 2006.

  1. fulltiltwill

    fulltiltwill Senior Member
    Messages: 204

    For a while now I have been thinking of what would make a great plow truck for both residential and commercial. My thoughts were a 87 chevy silverado short box with a EFI350 and a 700R4 and swaping out the axles for a 14bolt 10.5 for the rear. Still researching my options for the front axle though. I plan on running an 810 or 8611LP up front and a flat bed and pull plow out back. I was thinking being a solid front axle that adding a leaf or two would handle the weight. My goal is to have a short wheel base truck for tight places but have the capacity to handle the big plow for my big lots. Anybody who might run this combo or have any thoughts about what front axle to run would be great.
  2. karl klein

    karl klein Senior Member
    Messages: 557

    i must say that i own two older chevy trucks but i would never consider them my ideal plow truck they are great for backups and for something like salting were i feel you are only going to trash them up. i feel the ideal plow truck would have a full warranty. something like a new 2500hd basic work truck 6.0ltr. 4l85e short bed and a warranty is what i would recommend all older vehicles will break and require constant care and up keep and they will break on you. no matter how much money you dump in it the tranny won't be as reliable the engine wont last as long and they will give you much more driver fatigue on a long shift. this is only my opinion and experience i love my old 81 c30 mason dump but i would rather be in my 04hd in a heart beat. 100 times more comfortable.
  3. derekbroerse

    derekbroerse 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,377

    There is no reason a 350 Chevy cannot last for many. many years plowing. Personally, I've found my biggest opponents with the older trucks have been u-joints (same as the newer trucks under heavy use), and corroded/brittle wiring.

    I'm assuming you are capable of doing all the work yourself?? Otherwise this project will put you in the poor house and keep you there. You need to be prepared to repair small things regularly. Warrenty is great if you have the time to wait for them to get around to you, personally, I'd rather drag it into the shop and fix it myself ASAP rather than wait a day or two, sometimes more.

    Anyways, on to your specific project.

    The EFI 350 is a good choice, relatively simple (takes some learning to understand what everything does in the EFI circuit though) and durable. Starts great in cold weather.

    The 700R4 is a great tranny for all purpose driveability, but if this is specifically for heavy duty use be prepared to sink some coin into it, or consider swapping a non-overdrive tranny. I have had very good luck with the SM465 manual fourspeed. For an automatic, it would be hard to beat a TH400 with a shift kit and external cooler.

    The 205 transfer case is about as strong as they come (gear-to-gear, no chain) but you won't find one behind a 700R4 in factory equipment. They use an aluminum 208, or the later ones use a 241. The 203 is a full time unit(in stock form, aftermarket part-time conversions are trouble prone), chain drive, cast iron, very suitable for plow use but not so desireable for regular daily use.

    The 14 bolt FF axle is pretty near bulletproof. I have heard extremely differing opinions on the factory Gov-Loc unit, either very good or very bad. The local driveline shop refuses to use them for anything anymore. He said they get pitched straight into the dumpster.

    The front axle is another story. Both the half-ton and three-quarter-ton use the regular 8.5" Chevy 10 bolt, and while it is a sturdy enough axle for regular use, you may well be overloading it with either of the Blizzard plows you want to use. Older trucks used a Dana 44, but they are basically the same axle. The only real solution is a Dana 60 (either Dodge or Chevy/GMC of the same vintage should work) but this will require some fab work and they are comparitively rare and expensive. I have also broken the Dana 60 in my own truck, so don't think they are a total cure-all but they are substantially beefier than the 10 bolt.

    Also note that a 1/2 ton or 3/4 ton frame is the same, and they are considerably smaller than a 1 ton's frame.

    This project is very doable with readily available parts.... most of which are cheap too. Try doing a brake job on a 2500HD and you will really appreciate doing them on the '87. But do the project because it is what you love to do, because it WILL be an endless source of work for you, trust me.

    Good Luck!
  4. PowersTree

    PowersTree Senior Member
    Messages: 586

    Dana 60 is your axle of choice......but they arent cheap......look for a Dodge Dana 60 they are a lil cheaper.......and run the same drop.
  5. fulltiltwill

    fulltiltwill Senior Member
    Messages: 204

    hey Derek, thanks for the info. Since it won't be my daily driver I think a TH400 and a 205 would best. As far as the brakes go check out shakerbiult.com, they have a disk/drum swap over. Brackets were 80 and the rest of the parts 172 from my local parts store. I have yet to find any good info on a dana 60 for the front. Needed to know if it is a full floating axle like the 14bolt. Hopfully it is so I won't be snapping any axle shafts. And yes I plan on doing most everything that I can on the truck. A warrenty is only good when it aint snowing. By the way I love your trucks.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2006
  6. derekbroerse

    derekbroerse 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,377

    Aren't all front axles considered full floaters? I would think so. Can't say I'd ever really thought about it... but the spindles are all attached to the housing and the bearings ride on them, and the axleshaft is basically free inside (think manual locks), so I would think that yes they fit the description of a full floater.

    The Dana 60 is, like I said, about as beefy as it gets. I broke the drivers side joint in mine, taking out both shafts in the process. Supposed to be pretty unusual. The local drivetrain shop told me it was from heavy plowing with the steering turned too much, which I do have a property that requires a fairly tight 90 but it was already broken before I got to that point that night. (which made me late, which put me in position to get my cab corner caved in by an errant motorist, etc. bad night) Anyways, it was probably more that the joint was just physically worn out and I didn't see it in time. Keep them greased and feel them occasionally, that should be the ticket.

    Look on ebay for 'dana 60 front', that will give you an idea of cost. You will also need driveshaft work done for the larger u-joints and short length. If you can get the original stuff for whatever donor vehicle you find, they can be cut down and rebuilt to your specs.

    The rear disk conversion kit is also available on ebay, the brackets are even cheaper. Everything else is available like you said from the local parts store. Most people are using the regular front caliper on it, but that eliminates the parking brake (req'd for safety inspections). If you can find them, the rear calipers for a late-70's Cadillac (like Eldorado, probably other stuff too) should fit. I need to look at some of the rear disk stuff I found at the local wreckers a few years ago, they were on the back of FWD Olds Toronados/Buick Rivieras.... they looked the same just different hubs and backing plates. If they are then they should be a lot more common then these people let on.... as there were millions of these cars equipped with it... heck there were a dozen or more sets in the yard when I was there.
  7. fulltiltwill

    fulltiltwill Senior Member
    Messages: 204

    Yeh that makes sence, my brain wasn't working to well last night. Thanks for the tip about ebay.
  8. GripTruk

    GripTruk Senior Member
    Messages: 374

    Yeah, and then you can find items like "Dana 30 cover - Not Dana 44, Dana 60, 9 inch"

    I can't stand when people do that, it's such a scummy thing to do. It's the same thing you always see things like "Meyer plow, NOT western, boss, fisher" yeah... it's not those things, so don'y put them in your title so I find your Meyer when I'm looking for a WEstern mount.


  9. derekbroerse

    derekbroerse 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,377

    I know what you mean, but hopefully it will net all the dana front axles if nothing else, shouldn't be too bad.
  10. ratlover

    ratlover PlowSite.com Addict
    from IL
    Messages: 1,325

    A short wheel base and a really wide blade and big lots will still tend thr throw you around. Longer the wheel base the easier it is to keep straight. But not bad all around truck. Look at the turning radius of a new IFS long bed truck compared to a short bed. If your just concerend about manuverability.

    Should be a pretty stout truck though and a good old relaible motor....tbi is a good choice too.

    I really dont think a 60 is all that needed......dont really see you breaking axel tubes with a plow or tearing up the front end if you dont plow like a loon. Definatly ditch the auto locking hubs though if you run a factory SFA.

    A 203 aint a bad case......full time 4x4 or lock her in if it gets nasty.

    If I were to start to build "the ultimate" plow truck I dont think I would start with that. But if thats what you have to work with or a budget(I mean we all do but.....) it may make a very versitle peice of equipment.

    Oh......frame area arounf the steering box sucks on the older trucks.....check that area and brace it. ORD makes a kit for cheap too.