While surfing the web for any information about restoring a 1978 Chevrolet Silverado, I stumbled across an awesome website, EpicChevy.com
After spending about an hour reading ever post written on the site, I was hooked and had to contact the site owner. We had a great conversation and determined that we might have been twins separated at birth as we are both web designers who love working on our 1978 Silverado’s. Very strange combination.
Regardless, his efforts on EpicChevy.com have spurred me to start tracking the restoration work I do on my 1978 Silverado.
Following in Epic Chevy’s footsteps, my first post about the truck will be what I want to do to it. The end goal is to have a complete frame-off restoration completed. While I do have some fancy body ideas for the truck, the snazziest bits are my plans for the Silverado’s cockpit.
I understand this list is long, and might take years to accomplish, but I’m okay with that. My biggest struggle is determining what order to do all the work in.
(Note: shave [shaving] means to remove something and fill the sheet metal hole where it was)
Remove the crappy body molding (weld up the holes left behind)
Remove the front bumper
Remove the lower grill panel (part behind the bumper & beneath the grill)
Fabricate a front roll pan
Strip & paint the old bumper and create a removable mounting bracket (so the bumper can be taken on and off to protect the front roll pan & grill)
Clean up the firewall. Remove all unnecessary components and move the necessary ones to make it as pretty as possible.
Fabricate custom front fenders.
Shave the fender marker lights
Shave the mirrors & replace with something (I’m not sure yet)
Shave the door handles (the doors will have a remote key-fob and solenoid to open them)
Shave the rain drip rail over both doors
Shave the bed light
Convert the windows & window wings into a solid pane of glass (there is a kit for this)
Fix the tailgate (some dents & dings)
Shave the tailgate handle (the handle will be inside the bed)
Shave the taillights
Remove the rear bumper & attached receiver hitch assembly
Add a sheet metal roll pan with LED lighting (no license plate holder)
Build a custom tube bumper and removable mounting bracket (so the bumper can be taken on and off to protect the rear roll pan)
Build a flip-down license plate holder (it flips up behind the front and rear bumper to hide the license plates)
Remove the bed, sandblast, and fix all rust spots
Line-X the bed and put on an undercoating (POR-15)
Remove everything from the frame, clean (possibly sandblast but there is little rust, so little need to) and put on a bullet proof & permanent frame protector. (POR-15) This has been an ongoing battle with me. I originally wanted to put Line-X on the entire frame, the underside of the bed and cab, and inside the cab and bed; however, this would add 500 POUNDS to my truck! Also, I have been told by several people that bed liner material is more of a saran wrap on metal, so when it cracks moisture is trapped between it and the metal causing worse rust than if it was bare metal. I have found several other materials, but I have not settled on one yet. POR-15 seems to be the best.
While the front clip, cab and bed are off the frame, replace ALL the bushings & cab mounts. The 30+ year old rubber ones are obviously shot and the new polyurethane ones are awesome.
The engine has now been rebuilt twice, and the automatic TH 350 transmission has been rebuilt once. I think it will be fine for the life of the truck but after I’ve completed everything, I think a new fuel injected (crate) engine and a modern transmission with higher gears might be in order for better gas mileage, power and all the electrical craziness I have in mind.
Interior Work: (My Pièce de résistance)
The interior of this truck is where I really want to spend the majority of my time.
Unfortunately, this is the part that I know the least about.
My goal is to have a 30+ year old truck with an ultra modern, electronic interior.
The bench seat is staying (per the wife’s request), but everything else is going to change.
Remove the carpet
Reupholster the bench seat
Replace the old worn out seat belts
Replace the steering column
Line-X the floorboard after putting down sound deadening (emboss bowties on each floorboard)
Now, for the craziness:
Completely remove the dashboard and gauge cluster.
This truck will not have a single gauge, switch or button when it’s completed.
The only thing inside the cab will be the two door handles.
All the inputs for the truck, speedometer, fuel level, oil pressure, volt meter, temperature, odometer, etc… will be ported to a computer which will in turn display everything on a 21” touch-screen monitor which will sit atop the transmission hump in the cab.
The dashboard will be one solid, uninterrupted piece of sheet metal (minus the holes for the defroster) fabricated by me. As clean and sleek as is humanly possible.
Every piece of this truck will be controlled by the on-board computer system through the touch screen monitor, including:
Starting it (which I want to be fingerprint authenticated)
Unlocking the doors (with a manual override by pulling the door handle inside the cab)
Rolling the windows up and down (including the rear window)
and Controlling the in-flight entertainment system
Holy crap, putting all that down, and I’m sure that’s not everything, is really intimidating. That’s probably why I’ve avoided it for so long. Next I need to attach prices and times to each of these items to see if I can finish this before the truck and I both die of old age. The problem is, the more I work on the truck the younger it gets, but I don’t stop aging!
Well, there it is. Almost everything I want to do.
This has been my dream now for almost 10 years.
I’ve got the truck, it’s in good shape, and now I just need to start.
I have pictures of many things I want to accomplish which I’ve seen on other trucks and in Truckin’ magazine, so I will post those soon.
Also, I’ll post some pictures of both my 1978 Silverado’s.
I forgot to mention that earlier.
I actually own two 1978 Silverado trucks, one is my half-ton daily driver (blue & silver) that is in great condition. The second is a 3/4 ton retired farm truck that’s in rough shape. Solid engine and four speed manual (crazy low gears!).
Since I’m no crack welder or sheet metal worker, I am going to use the 3/4 ton truck to practice on, including stripping it apart to see how everything goes together, and using the sheet metal components to practice welding, sanding, and painting.
Alright, pictures to follow soon!