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15 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I purchased my truck in January of 2015. My goal was to have a nice/very nice driver quality truck - not so nice that I would be afraid to drive it, but one that ran well and was shiny in all the right places.

I found a good candidate, a 1970 CST/10 long fleet in Reno, Nevada. Not too far from home as I live in San Jose, California. After a couple of email exchanges and a phone conversation with the owner, I sent my mechanic nephew who lived in Reno to check it out. He gave it a thumbs-up for overall condition and drivability. I negotiated a deal and turned the truck over to my nephew for safekeeping until the weather cleared sufficiently to make the trip out to Reno and drive the truck back.

There were a few details on the truck that weren’t to my liking, notably the billet dash, aftermarket gauges and blue/tan motif.

Those weren’t deal breakers as I anticipated making interior changes anyway. There was a laundry list of upgrades with receipts to back them up, over $10K worth. The list goes like this:
- Newer paint job (nicely done)
- Front disk conversion
- Lowered suspension
- CPP trailing arms
- New(er) crate 350, Edelbrock intake and carb
- Hooker headers
- 700R4 trans
- Rebuilt 12-bolt rear
- Upgraded rear axles
- Driver’s side auxiliary tank, wheel well filler

So that’s the good. The plan was to just drive the truck and do the cosmetic upgrades a little at a time. Yeah, right – the universe had other plans for me.

A buddy and I made the run from Reno to San Jose on a bright Saturday afternoon, cold but no snow or rain in the forecast. The Donner Pass was clear which is good since I didn't think I was going to find tire chains for the 10” rears.

The truck ran like a top, and we stopped to top up the tank in Roseville, about 115 miles down the road. I had no idea if the auxiliary tank was even functional, so we relied on the in-cab tank to get us home. After a quick pit stop and some road food we hit the blacktop again.

It’s dark by the time we get to Stockton, about 65 miles or so from our gas stop. We’re cruising comfortably at around 70 mph, 1800 rpm or so. A quick scan of the gauges, everything is looking good but the fuel gauge is still on Full. I’m not driving a Prius, so this seems out of the ordinary. What’s the first thing you do to a gauge when you think it may not be working? Tap it a couple of times, right? That’s what I did, but on my second tap the Autometer fuel gauge came loose and fell back into the dash. I was rewarded with a bright flash as something shorted, and the gauge cluster lights and headlights died. Good times, driving down the interstate in the dark at 70 mph with no lights. We made a quick but safe lane change to the shoulder and aired out the cab which was full of smoke. Miraculously, the headlights came back on – to this day I don’t know why, but I wasn’t complaining. Once my heart rate went down and we confirmed that nothing else bad was going on we hit the road, minus any gauges except for the mechanical speedo.

There was no more drama for the remainder of the trip and we arrived at my shop in San Jose where the truck was going to take up residence.

First order of business: Find out what caused the short. That wasn’t too hard, when the gauge fell out of the dash one of the posts made contact with the metal frame. The resulting short fried about 10” of wire.

As I looked closer at the wiring I realized that I had some work ahead of me. The poor truck had a tangled mess of splices, some so poorly done that they could be pulled apart with a light tug.

I thought at first that I could just repair the obvious issues but as I got deeper into the wiring I realized a new harness was the only way to reliably solve the problem and prevent my new truck from going up in flames.

While I was waiting for the new American Autowire Classic Upgrade harness to arrive I went about the task of removing the billet dash and glove box panels. My plan was to return the dash back to original. When I removed the billet dash, my heart sank: The stock sheetmetal had been so badly hacked and mangled, there was literally nothing to attach a stock gauge cluster to.

I was determined to return to a stock panel, so it was time to go shopping for a new dash. I was fortunate to find a guy not too far away who was parting out a ’69 cab and was willing to cut the dash out for me. He also sold me a stock steering column, bench seat and gauge cluster.

At this point my wife, who isn’t in to cars or trucks but supports me in my addiction, starting referring to my C10 as the ‘not a project’ truck. I just tell her, ‘you wouldn’t understand, honey’.

Coming up: The removal and replacement of a C10 Chevy dash.

3,966 Posts
Wow...the things that the previous owners don`t tell you, losing lights at 65 and wire fire had to be heart pumping to say the least...glad your safe...keep us posted. laughing at your wife`s comment not a project truck....anim_63

15 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The 'Not a Project Truck' thread - dash replacement

Before I could start re-wiring my truck I needed to replace the dash. I found a lot of information on how to remove a dash, but didn't find a real project thread. I decided to document the process in hopes that someone will find it useful.

First of all: The dash is held on by three bolts on each side, below the A-pillar. Remove these bolts first. This view is looking through the dash cluster opening towards the driver's side A-pillar.

That's the easy part. There are also 28 or so (mine had 29) spot welds along the bottom edge of the windshield lip. The windshield has to come out in order to get at the spot welds.

Let me say that I did not intend to re-use the rubber since it was a little old looking, so the method I used to remove the glass involved cutting the old window rubber out. I have seen threads on other forums where the rubber can be removed intact from the inside of the cab.

To remove the windshield, I cut around the inside edge of the rubber, deep enough so that my knife hit the rib of the stainless trim. If you don't have the stainless in the window rubber, this part doesn't apply. Just take your time and try not to scratch your windshield, okay?

Once I cut all the way around the windshield I was able to gently pull the rubber away from the trim.

Once I got the rubber out I was able to remove the corner pieces. It took a little wiggling around, but they eventually slid off.

The windshield was pretty well stuck in there so I worked from inside the cab to pull the rest of the rubber out.

Get someone to help you take the glass out - it's not heavy, but kind of awkward.

So far, so good.

The windshield lip and the upper lip of the dash are spot welded together. In this picture you can see the indentations where the welds are.

It only takes a few simple tools to remove the spot welds:

My Dremel bought the farm about half way through, so I switched to a pneumatic die grinder with a ball-nose rotary file. It was a little more aggressive than I liked, but it worked.

I decided to work from the dashboard side so as not to put a bunch of holes in the flange that is part of the body. I wanted that piece to stay nice as I planned to pre-paint the new dash and install it with automotive epoxy. More about that in a bit.

Carefully grind at the spot weld until you're just through the first layer of metal. Work the flat bar into the gap between the two pieces and whack it with the hammer a few times. Most of the time the weld popped apart pretty easily. Repeat 28 times.

Voila! About 2 1/2 hours from start to removal of dash.

With the old dash out it was time to prepare the new one. I was lucky enough to find one from a guy who was parting out a '69 (mine's a '70). Sneak peek with about half the paint removed:

Some sanding and a little filler to smooth out a few pits on the top and it's time for epoxy primer. I am using Southern Polyurethane products which spray and sand beautifully.

After removing the dash I decided it would be a good idea to clean up the area where the ends of the dash met the cab. I was pleasantly surprised at the relatively good condition of these areas, just a little surface rust.

A little sanding and some epoxy primer to protect the metal:

When I bought the truck I found a quart of the paint that was used to repaint the truck a few years ago. Good thing: it's close to the original color but not exact. I'll need to be very selective on where I use it. The dashboard got a couple of coats of the metallic gold, followed by three coats of clear.

I took a few minutes to clean up the flange on the body so that there was a nice surface for the epoxy to bond to.

Since I pre-painted the dash I decided to use an automotive epoxy to stick the two flanges back together, rather than spot welding. Epoxy is at least as strong as a weld for this application since it is non-structural. A lot of modern car door skins and panels are done this way. An added advantage is that it seals the seam very nicely, kind of like seam sealer. I used a general purpose epoxy from SEM with a long open time - 45 minutes. Full cure in 4 hours.

The epoxy cartridge requires a special application gun, kind of like the mother of all caulking guns. Between the adhesive and the gun I spent about $95.00, including shipping from TP Tools. A similar 3M setup from my local body and paint jobber was over $150.00. The system comes with a nifty mixing nozzle that automatically mixes the two parts of the epoxy. When you're finished, throw the nozzle away and cap the cartridge for use some other time. Always keep a couple of nozzles on hand since I don't think your local home improvement store is going to have 'em.....

The flange on the dash was a little wavy after being removed from the donor cab, but it only took a couple of minutes with a crescent wrench, hammer and dolly to straighten it out. The metal is pretty soft, so it's easy to work it back into shape. I basically opened the crescent wrench the thickness of the flange and gently bent the piece until it joined nicely with the flange on the body. I went for little to no gap that could be easily pressed together with finger pressure.

Here's the dash ready for the epoxy adhesive. I bolted it in with only one bolt on each side so that I could pivot the dash a little.

A bead of epoxy on each surface does the trick. Don't get too crazy putting it on or you'll have that black goo all over everything.

I smoothed it a little with my finger to reduce the amount of squeeze out. Glove up or you'll be wearing black on your hands for a week.

Simple spring clamps to hold the two pieces together until the epoxy cures. About a buck each if you have to go buy some. Get the Harbor Freight ones - cheap and pretty good spring tension. I used the small ones.

All clamped up. I added the remaining bolts to the sides of the cab and did a little cleanup. While the epoxy is still wet you can clean up the squeeze out with acetone. After it cures maybe dynamite would work.

Okay, I made that sound reality-TV easy. In fact, getting the remaining bolts to line up was a little bit of a chore but with some pushing, prying, shoving and some colorful adjectives it all went together.

I let everything sit overnight, even though the advertised cure time is 4 hours. The joint is rock solid. I guess the windshield can go back in now.

Now I can get back to my wiring project......

3,966 Posts
Wow, nice write up with pics...thanks for the nice work....nice looking truck even thou you had to rebuild the dash...!

15 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks, Rich! Every day I like it a little more.
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