I own a '65 Chevy 1/2-ton shortbed, and it's getting really close to brake job time. I use the truck almost daily (both in town and on the freeway), and I'm considering a front-disc brake conversion. What do you think? Should I invest the time and cash needed to make the change, or stick with my original drums? If you think I should, where can I get some info and/or the parts needed for the job?
In my humble opinion, a disc brake upgrade on any classic truck is the only way to go. Unfortunately, I think a lot of us put more effort into making our trucks look good and go fast, than we do making them stop quickly and safely. And when you think about it, it's not a very smart thing for us to do (believe me-I've learned my lesson the hard way). These days we've got access to some of the best, most well-engineered components classic truckers have ever wished for. And thankfully, a large number of them are safety related!
As you surely have surmised, I'm all for spending the relatively modest amount of time and cash it'd take to ensure your Chevy has as much "whoa" as it does "go." As far as sources of info and components go, you've got a pretty good selection at your disposal right here. There's not enough room here to list all of the CLASSIC TRUCKS advertisers who offer exactly what you need. But, I'll bet you dollars to donuts that if you sit down and start flipping through the pages of this very issue, you'll more than likely find at least a half-dozen reputable companies that'll have everything you need!
I have a '65 C-10 that I am working on. This is my first classic truck; I have owned a bunch of muscle cars though.
My truck has a stock rear with 3.73 gears, coil springs, and drum brakes. I would like to get Posi or limited slip. I have read articles on other people swapping rearends from donor vehicles. Since I am on a very tight budget (who isn't?) would it be less expensive for me to get a Posi unit installed or would I be better off swapping rearends from another vehicle? As far as the swapping goes, are there certain vehicles that will or won't work? Are the widths the same (measuring from wheel to wheel)? If I were to swap a rearend, what should I be looking for?
I have a late-model 350 (one-piece rear seal, roller cam, and Vortec heads). The cam is a little hotter than stock, and I am using a Carter carb with an electric fuel pump. I have a stock HEI distributor but was wondering if a Mallory Unilite would be a better choice. I have read different articles, including multiple spark setups, about this and am a little confused. Before I spend any money on this area I want to be sure of what I am doing. Can you recommend a system for mild street setup. The engine is a turnkey crate engine rated at 345 hp with 390 lb-ft of torque. I have a 700-R4 trans, which is a rebuild from a local tranny shop. The trans guy told me he set it up to run with a carb, and the torque converter is a new one used on Corvettes. I am mechanically inclined and have done a lot of work on my previous cars and truck. I am not afraid to do anything with it myself, but like to be a little educated on something before I start. I have used stock HEI in the past and wonder if there is something better for the money or if I should stick with HEI. If you could point me in the right direction it would be great. I love the magazine by the way, and look forward to each new issue.
There are lots of things to think about when it comes to an upgrade of this sort, and obviously, cost is an issue. As you mentioned, one option is finding a suitable replacement. Another is having your original rear redone. The price comparison can be made by calling a few local rearend shops and wrecking yards in your area for quotes on both. But in order to get accurate pricing on used rearend assemblies, you'll need to know what you're going to swap in. This is where things get a bit dicey. In order to decide what's going to fit (widthwise), you've got to figure out what you're going to run for tire size and width, rim widths and backspacing, and if you're going to slam the truck or leave it stock height. These factors will determine the rearend width you'll need. You'll also want to think about whether or not you want to retain six-lugs or swap over to a five-lug setup. Any '65-72 Chevy truck housing is a bolt-in ('65-69 are all the same width), but widths changed with the '70 model year, and after '65, the lug pattern changed to a five-bolt pattern. Once you've taken a couple of measurements and have decided on the width you'll need (and if you want to change the lug pattern or not) you can then get some price comparisons between having your original "one-legger" converted to a Posi unit or swapping one in from a later-model Chevy truck.
As far as the ignition system for your small-block is concerned I personally think that for a "street" engine the factory HEI would be more than adequate. If you think you'd like a bit more muscle in the system (perhaps for an occasional blast down the strip) then by all means check out what the aftermarket has to offer.