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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys, I have a 1965 C10 short wide bed. I belonged to my father, and I received it when he passed away. Currently, it is used to haul my slide in camper. I have beefed up the rear end area with overload coils, air shocks and all new wheel studs. The only thing I haven’t added to the back yet is a rear sway bar. Even without it, the pickup doesn’t squat and handles fairly well.

I am planning on parting with the slide in and going to a medium sized travel trailer (starcraft autumn ridge 245DS). I know engine-wise, the truck has the guts to pull it (Dad put a 350 out of a 78 Chevy in it, the original motor had been blown up). I have 3 questions concerning upgrades to the truck to improve the hauling and handling capabilities.

All the following work I am able to perform (I was a mechanic years ago before I joined and retired from the Air Force), but the biggest problem will be time to do it (Weekends) and location (my driveway) for the more involved operations.

Question #1 – Transmission – The truck has the 3-on-the-tree, 3 speed manual transmission with overdrive. I don’t know if it is the original transmission or not, but it appears to be. Currently, the overdrive portion is not working. I believe the planetary gears in the overdrive section have bound up – My Fault – as I didn’t know that there were TWO oil ports to check (trans and overdrive). I will have to have the transmission rebuilt most likely, if it is even possible, as my search online for overdrive planetary gears is like trying to find Sasquatch, Nessie, Elvis, and the Area 51 aliens playing poker together.

IF it can be rebuilt, is that transmission strong enough to pull a trailer? I am not planning on setting any world speed records for hauling, nor using it for racing, or off-roading, or any other stuff. Just driving it around and hauling a trailer. I know they pulled trailers back in the day, so I am assuming it is strong enough, but there are those here with more experience than I in this matter.

I have also looked at the option of pulling the manual out and putting in an automatic. But that presents a new set of issues. I have considered either the Th350 or 700R4, but with that comes all the additional stuff that goes with a swap of that type. I would need EVERYTHING (transmission, torque converter, flex plate, transmission cross member, transmission mount, drive shaft change, etc, etc) that a change would entail. This would be a much bigger expense to do, as well as a bigger project. As I don’t have a garage to work in, I will either have to do it in my driveway, or have it done professionally (then you add in Labor costs). A simple manual transmission R&R is no problem to do in a day, but to replace everything would require a bit more.

Question #2 – Steering – Currently, the truck still has the manual steering in it. The steering gearbox has some play in it, which translates into road wandering…not something I want with a trailer behind me. Also, trying to finesse a trailer into a parking spot with manual steering is NOT what I consider a great way to start off a camping trip.

I am looking at the Rack and Pinion (R&P) units that bolt in to replace the manual gear box and linkage. This is another job that can be done with jackstands in the driveway, versus needing a lift. I have looked at the option of going to a wrecking yard and pulling the steering stuff off a new model chevy and putting it in, but while it may be cheaper, I will still need to get new tie rod ends, pulleys for the power steering belts, adapter plates to match up the gear boxes bolt holes, and all the other stuff. This way is cheaper, but a lot more hassle. My question, are the R&P units worth the money? Do they hold up well over time?

Question #3 – Braking – This one is the most important. All the other stuff is pretty useless if you can’t stop. I have seen the Front Drum to Disc conversion kits in the Classic Industries catalog. They all seem to come with the same accessory parts (power booster, master cylinder, hoses, pulleys, spindles or adapter brackets, calipers, etc). So, which is better? Changing out everything (spindles included) or using the kit with the mounting plates on the old Drum Spindles? Price-wise there is a pretty good difference in price between the two, so if the bracket type kits are just as good as the total change out kits, I would go with the brackets. I am not looking to lower the truck, so that is not a consideration. I just want to put some braking power on this truck so I feel safe hauling a trailer up, and DOWN a hill…not to mention just Stopping it.

Sorry for the long ass book…my friends say I can never give the Reader’s Digest version of anything. I just don’t want to leave out possible important information.

(Note: the pic shows my truck before the first camping trip to Prescott, AZ. It is currently being used by eTrailers on the bed stake tie down page...Hey, my truck is famous!)

Thanks and Take Care!
McGyver
Phoenix, AZ
 

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I also have a 65 C10 that I pull our 3000 # camping trailer with. It is only a 292 inline 6 but I used a 5 spd trans with it out of a Camaro or S10 has the better shifter location. Easy way to do yours is to put a complete front crossmember from a 73 and newer truck in yours. This gives you the disc brakes, front sway bar and usually a P/S box and pump from the donor. You can buy a bracket to mount the power box onto your truck. Not a bad job. Do a search on here and you will find some info.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks GMDad...up through what year will the stuff interchange with the 65? I thought I had seen a post on some website that had a generic list, but I can't find it now. Should I go with a Powerbooster/master cyl combo out of a newer (than the 65) Chevy, or go with the ones they show in the Classic Industries catalog?

It is going to be a drawn out process...so rushing isn't a problem...I just don't want to mess the truck up. Everything that comes off of it is going to be stored just in case it is needed later. I just don't want to screw it up so that If I have to go back, I can't.

Dad put a lot of work into it when he got it, and it has a lot of sentimental value to me. I have two other brothers, and Dad gave one a 66' fleetside longbed that was Dad's dad's, and the other got a 67 El Camino that Dad got from Mom's dad...so it is kind of a family thing.
 

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My '65 C10 has the stock type power steering setup, as far as I know and it works great. However, my steering column is a later year, 1971... dunno if that changes the setup or not.

For a disc brake swap kit, if you really want it, check out Early Classic Enterprises. I've read that they include everything... and from various posts on many forums they are known for excellent customer service and tech support. As always tho', do your own research. :D

-W
 

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Pretty sure from 73 to 87 will work. Find a donor truck and you can use all the stuff off the same truck. It's already matched up and will be a lot easier when you go for parts a couple years from now and have to remember what year everything came off. I think the rearend will fit as well with a little work as the 73 and newer are 5 bolt wheels or I bought new 6 bolt rotors to fit my spindles and left the original rearend in my truck.
 

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Pretty sure from 73 to 87 will work. Find a donor truck and you can use all the stuff off the same truck. It's already matched up and will be a lot easier when you go for parts a couple years from now and have to remember what year everything came off. I think the rearend will fit as well with a little work as the 73 and newer are 5 bolt wheels or I bought new 6 bolt rotors to fit my spindles and left the original rearend in my truck.
I put a complete front end from a 1985 C-10 in my 65 along with disc brakes, only had to redrill two holes. Junk yards care your friend
 

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As they said much cheaper to buy a crossmember swap from any `73 to `87 c10 or up to`91 suburban or buy the whole truck as a donor, use all of the existing brake and steering parts, buy the CPP steering box mount and bolt then stitch weld the plate to the frame. Trans is going to be personal choice, the three speed overdrive is nice but pulling a trailer with lend to its early demise, they just were not that tough, a TH350 will bolt right up to what you have now including crossmember ( I think ) The th 350 has three different lengths on the tail housing, the shortest being the 6 inch will match any three speed, but not sure on the overdrive model, but the next length th350 might, which would be the 9 inch tail housing, you would have to measure. TH 700 is a whole different animal, drive shaft and crossmember swap but measure it against your three speed anyway..
My thought on rack and pinion is nada, too twitchy for pulling a load...but thats personal, I have power steering in mine and its a breeze, one finger to steer...
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the response...I do have a question though. I thought the frame was tempered and welding to it can weaken the frame and cause cracks.

I ask this because years ago I had bought a 79 chevy pickup, and the previous owner had done some work to the front end. I guess he had problems with the bolts on the steering gear box backing out, so he tack welded the bolts to the frame. One day I am driving home from work and notice the steering is really getting wonky. I make it to my friends house (barely) and discover that the bolts that had been welded to the frame had ripped through the frame. Only one bolt was still in place, and it was starting to rip out. I had to get flat steel and plate the inside of the frame, re-drill the holes, and then using longer bolts, re-bolt the gear box back on.

That fix lasted me for as long as I owned the truck, but it reminded me of something my dad had said about car frames being specially heat treated and welding them incorrectly can lead to a failure. Not saying you can't do it, but is there something special to the process?
 

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I'm on my phone so this kinda ify spelling, steering boxes that work
Loose will always crack the frame especially if is power steering due to the fact that it puts a lot more stress on the frame, but buying the CPP steering plate kit eliminates that issue once you drill the new holes you stitch weld that plate in and use the bolts as well. Mine has been in for 25 years no issues as of now there is no reason not to weld on these frames, now if it were the newer trucks maybe so.
 

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Thanks for the response...I do have a question though. I thought the frame was tempered and welding to it can weaken the frame and cause cracks.

I ask this because years ago I had bought a 79 chevy pickup, and the previous owner had done some work to the front end. I guess he had problems with the bolts on the steering gear box backing out, so he tack welded the bolts to the frame. One day I am driving home from work and notice the steering is really getting wonky. I make it to my friends house (barely) and discover that the bolts that had been welded to the frame had ripped through the frame. Only one bolt was still in place, and it was starting to rip out. I had to get flat steel and plate the inside of the frame, re-drill the holes, and then using longer bolts, re-bolt the gear box back on.

That fix lasted me for as long as I owned the truck, but it reminded me of something my dad had said about car frames being specially heat treated and welding them incorrectly can lead to a failure. Not saying you can't do it, but is there something special to the process?
Always weld the frame horizontal or at 45 degrees, never weld vertical or across the top or bottom of a load bearing member. The frame is some sort of high carbon material, a pre-heat to about 350-400 degrees will help not to shock it. use 70XX or 80XX low hydrogen or 70RS tig wire and it will weld fine. Wrap it and allow it to cool slowly and it will be plenty strong.
 
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