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Old 12-10-2009, 08:57 PM
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1949 Chevy 3/4T Pickup and Chasis build.

Please bear with me and my question, I doing this for the first time. I have read 100's of forums and replies and have gotten so many answers to my questions, (6 to 1 & 1/2 dozen to another) point of view, I cant possibly keep track of them all or organize them to make sense. I need to start this thread to keep track of your reply's and the project.
I have a 1949 3/4 ton 3 window pickup that is pretty sound metal wise. Some small rust areas but I intend to keep the grunge look and I want air ride and a short/low stance. I want to replace/update or swap out the frame to start with. I will wind up with a type of LS engine and possibly a 700R4 tranny. Some of the questions are:
Do I use and box the existing frame with bolt on suspension equipment from suppliers vs. using a S10 frame and the modifications or use an entire new manufactured frame? (very expensive) What rear end and gear ratio for cruising? Does the existing frame need to be notched? I am on a budget but also understand everything has costs either with labor or materials where a donor S10 truck may be cheap but by the time you modify the chassis it may be cost effective to use existing frame and bolt on suspension parts. Any comments and ideas are appreciated. As I mentioned I would like to use thie thread/ my thread for gathering information and asking questions. I look forward to your input.

Can anyone tell me the dimensions of the 1/2 ton chassis vs the 3/4 ton chassis?

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Last edited by genr8rs; 12-11-2009 at 06:49 PM.
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Old 12-11-2009, 10:45 PM
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Hey Genr8rs,

I had a 1949 (5) window, like what you're describing and it had a sectioned front suspension from a late GM car and the rear axle to boot. Worked pretty well and didn't involve near the work required to do a complete frame swap out. Hopefully the pictures will load so you can see what was done on my truck. I haven't tried to post pictures before, and normally, I take them in much higher resolution than what this site will accept, so I guess we'll see!

Talk L8R - Tim
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Old 12-12-2009, 05:01 AM
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You could find an S 10 frame on Cragslist or at junk yard. If you go with an LS engine I wouldn't use a 700r4. I would use 4L80E or at least a 4L60E. Sound like you got your work cut out for you. Have you ever watched Trucks on Spike they did a truck similar to what you want to do with the frame and year of truck. If you watch it. It would answer a lot of your questions. They keep the frame that was with the truck.
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Old 12-12-2009, 09:55 AM
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I'm finding that some of the bolt on equipment is meant for the 1/2 ton truck. I am considering using the existing frame because everything (cab, fenders etc) currently fits. Now finding front suspension that will be air ride or update to air ride. With the original 3/4 Ton frame I am told it is taller than the 1/2 Ton frame and that is why bolt on equipment wont fit. Weld on equipment could be adapted. Do I need to box in the original 3/4 Ton frame then?
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Old 12-12-2009, 11:04 AM
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You can post this a hundred times on a hundred sites and you are going to get some people saying change the whole frame out others will say update the original frame.

I wonder how many say swap the frames who have ever done one, or done complete updates with bolt on suspension systems, I really wonder.

Put it on a hundred forums with a vote, then the one with the most votes wins I guess?

Or jump in and go one way or the other.

Personally I have owned one of these trucks for 35 years and have had three different original frames under it, a few different motors and rears and think that swaping the complete frame is a joke. It makes no sense at all to me when the original is SOOOOOOOO easy to modify. And modifying the original frame at the front and the back with bolt on suspension is WAY easier than modifying a late model frame to mount the cab bed and running boards on, WAY, WAY easier. Mounting running boards and rad support and stuff like that cleanly and proper is WAY more work than the well engineered suspension kits that are out there.

And I have done a Camaro front clip, I won't go there again. I will use a bolt on or weld on Mustang II kit if I ever go the independant route again.

I am on a new frame now, no mods at all other than a dropped axle. But that is where this "theme" is, an early fifties style car.

I have to say I have a co-worker with the same set up and I was so amazed at how well it drove, I wouldn't change a thing.

Brian
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Old 12-12-2009, 11:19 AM
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well it all depends on how much hp you want to push. if you want to go with like 300 hp then you could prolly get away with a bolt on ladder bar kit or some thing. but if you want over 450 hp then thats when you start getting technical. if you want that then you will need to start thinking about building a ladder bar or 41 link set up. then you will need materials and expensive heavy duty rod ends. then you might have to put some support cross members in the frame and possible doing some boxing of the frame.

and it also depends on how good your original frame is. if it is rusted badly then you might have to get a donner frame.
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Old 12-12-2009, 04:10 PM
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i have to agree with matrinsr (post whore he is ) on the frame swap. the best frame for your truck is the stock frame. these are very basic frames that are easily modified. the biggest problem you have is: most bolt on mods are based on the 1/2 ton truck frames.

frame swaps for the beginner usualy end up as unfinished projects. you realy need to be comfortable with fabricating and plan on doing a lot of it with a frame swap.

box your existing frame front to rear. you don't say how low you want to go, but c-notching is easy, just do it. find a vendor that has a must II kit for a 3/4 ton, that will be the hardest part.

you'll loose most x-members and will need to fab new ones to support the cab mounts and the trans.

got to chevytrucks.org and pick out a rear end that will fit your truck (scroll down). figure on tubbing the box to get wider tires under there. removing a couple of springs and flipping your new axle on top of the springs will halve the stock ride heigth.

ls motors are computer controlled, you might want to start with a carburated motor. or pick out the gm ramjet crate motor w/ 350 hp, 350 ftlb torque, efi and comes with a stand alone computer and a full wire harness.

you'll need a newer steering column for the mustII frontend, you can make any shorter column work, i used an 89 astro column. figure on a new wiring harness from painless or ez wire.

even a rat rod has a lot of new parts under it. rust repair will be need too, you can't have dragging running boards or bad hinge pockets.

don't get over whelmed by the big picture, every big project is a series of little projects and the little projects are a series of smaller projects. plan a budget and also plan on going way over that.
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Old 12-12-2009, 06:04 PM
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I have two project vehicles. A 41' Ford sedan that I did an s10 frame swap on and a 54' Chevy with the original frame and a Mustang II front suspension. The s10 frame fit great under the Ford sedan, but it involved a lot of extra work to go along with it like fabricating body mounts and redoing the entire floor. Not to mention the problem with finding a radiator that would cool the 350 engine and fit inside the frame rails of the s10 frame. It works great and looks like it was made for the car but was a whole lot more work than installing a Mustang II suspension is. It also seems more inexpensive at the beginning, but if you have to buy a frame out of a salvage yard and then rebuild the suspension, then the cost can be up there with a Mustang II, or even more in some cases.
On the 54' pickup I fabricated my own crossmember using the measurements from a factory crossmember and saved some expense there. I could just as well have used the original crossmember from the Mustang II suspension and saved myself a lot of labor there. I was lucky enough to find a complete suspension and used the A arms and strut rods along with the rack and pinion. I rebuilt the suspension with a kit from Speedway motors and have less in it than it would have cost me to rebuild an s10 suspension.
I used a rearend from a 77' Firebird and kept the original 54' rear springs. It is probably the closest to the correct width for these trucks without having to tub the bed or widen the rear fenders.
I have some pics of the 54' in my project journal if it will help, you can view them. I built the 41' Ford before I learned to use a computer or digital camera, so there aren't any pics of the frame swap.
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Old 12-19-2009, 08:09 PM
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At this point in my planning I am planning to use a MII front suspension, still sorting suppliers. I am looking harder at No Limit Mfg. Their suspension is said to be built for trucks, not for all rods in general. Using the original 3/4 ton frame, a 4 ling rear suspension, again sorting suppliers. The reason for the 4 link is I want airbags to acheive the sit on the ground and low drive stance. If some one has other ways to acheive this please comment.
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