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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all:

I have a 1952 Chevy pickup body on a 1986 S-10 4x4 chassis, powered by a straight 6 from the late 70s. I restored the thing myself as an interesting project, but I'm not all that knowledgeable about cars and did a pretty mediocre job. The idea was that I'd sell it after a few years and buy a modern pickup. That was almost 20 years ago, though, and it's become pretty clear that this is going to be my daily driver until I drop dead (about 25 years/25k miles if I'm lucky.)

Unfortunately, the truck's come to hate the cold, hesitates really badly, and stalls often. I've kind of learned to drive it, but my wife won't touch it anymore and no one seems to be able to fix the problems. So, I've decided to get it upgraded. I've talked to three shops and gotten three different answers. I don't really have the expertise to evaluate them properly and thought someone on this forum might.

The goal is just to have a reliable, smooth running engine. I don't really even need more power.

Shop 1: They seemed okay with my initial idea: Rebuilding and fuel injecting the engine. With a disk brake upgrade, potentially a few suspension upgrades, and general mechanical clean up, they're guessing $15-20K.

Shop 2: They think rebuilding the motor is workable, but consider aftermarket fuel injection unreliable and would prefer to install dual carbs. They didn't give me an estimate.

Shop 3: They say forget the rebuild. Do an LS replacement with a matching modern tranny and adapt it to my existing transfer case. They haven't seen the truck and gave a range of $15-25K for an LS swap.

Any advice would be welcome...

Kyle

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Wow, 15-25K. I'll LS swap it for $12.5 lol. That's alot of do re mi for that. But I guess supply and demand dictates the price.

You ought make a decision based on the intended application. If you're happy with the straight 6 power, then I see no need to upgrade the HP and engine. It doesn't need modern fuel injection, but rather someone that can tune a Rchester or Holley. FWIW a 2 barrel Rochester 2GC is an easy carb to make work on that application.

Lastly, if you have good compression and oil pressure then I don't see why you would want to rebuild it. There is an excellent chance that you have a tune issue. On the other hand, if the compression is all over the place , then perhaps a rebuild of inline 6. Keep in mind, those engines are darn near bullet proof if maintained correctly, but not big power houses.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Right? Unfortunately, I'm out of town and can't find a single picture of that engine. Won't be back for a few months. I need to lay some groundwork, though, because all the shops are backed up for months.
 

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Electronics have come a long way. Factory or aftermarket fuel injection provides much better driveability. If you are happy with the 6 then just do the upgrade. Above all do your homework! Know the options, cost and results for the upgrade. Posting here was a good start.
 

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If you drive it over Togwotee I'll take a look at it. I have a friend with a '54 Chevy PU and his problems were similar to yours. In the end his problems were all timing and carb related.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
If you drive it over Togwotee I'll take a look at it. I have a friend with a '54 Chevy PU and his problems were similar to yours. In the end his problems were all timing and carb related.
Might take you up on that when I get back in August. Neither me, Auto Diesel or Rabbit row has ever been able to sort this thing out--despite two rebuilds of the carb. Maybe going to a dual would improve it. Or TBI...
 

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Shop 3: They say forget the rebuild. Do an LS replacement with a matching modern tranny and adapt it to my existing transfer case. They haven't seen the truck and gave a range of $15-25K for an LS swap.
That's just crazy. Unless those guys really know what they're doing, you'll have more problems than you have now. Especially if you don't understand the computer controls.

I think Shop 2 was right. Fix the six and its carb!
 

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You can buy a running, low mileage 4.8L for under $500 which will produce about 300hp. You can literally plug that in for about $1,000-1,500. You'll need a capable EFI fuel pump with a return.

The EFI system I'm thinking of is the Holley Terminator X. Which uses the same software as most of their EFI/ TBI carb setups you might be thinking of

A dual carb I6 will not have any carb heat. Your going to amplify your cold blooded symptoms if you go that route.
 

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How often is it started and fully warmed during the winter?

Where is is stored in a garage? Is it heated or not?

How cold is cold in your neighborhood?

Not that I have a love for inline 6’s but it is unique and something similar to how the body was powered originally.

The down side of American inline 6’s is they are thought of by the factory as work-a-day engines so they don’t get the design thought of the more fun V8’s. One of tge big problems they have is little engineering money spent in manifold design so one carburetor feeding greatly different lengths of runners is an invitation to mixture ratio and distribution problems under the best of conditions, sitting in a cold barn or garage just adds to these issues. If t you can’t heat where it’s stored the next best is block heaters. A northern mid continent or mountain west type cold really requires the starter to pull a lot of amps out of the battery which is also cold but nowhere cold enough for super conduction, so bleeding power to feed the starter doesn’t leave much for the ignition. Between this and trying to get a mixture that will burn into the cylinders makes it pretty tricky to set a fire in the cylinders. As components age like points, modules and to some extent even coils, then add a touch of condensation in the distributor, plug boots and in the cylinders one can see where getting the machine to breath a flammable breath and strike a fire in the cylinders can be rather difficult.

Strikes me all this sweetly needs is some TLC, Bogie
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Bogie:

It lives in the garage, but I start the thing a fair amount in the cold. 0F would be pretty common. But I wouldn't say that's a huge problem. It always starts despite the fact that I don't put synthetic oil in it (because I'm afraid it would make the oil leaks even worse.) The problem is the hesitation (and stalling) when I step on the pedal and occasional stalling when I'm just driving along.

So, based on the posts so far, what I'm hearing is that my path should be:

1: Get the engine compression tested to see if it even needs a rebuild.

2: Put a dual carb on it to see if that lessens my hesitation/stalling problem.

3: If the carb doesn't help, try TBI

4: If that the TBI doesn't work, write a big check for a fuel injected LS1 and probably a matching tranny. Though, honestly, it seems like there would be rebuilt V8s out there that would play nicely with my 700R4 and save me $$.

Kyle
 

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You just want to drop this off to someone and pick it back up in 3 months?

Or would you be willing to do the mounts, firewall trimming, and install yourself?

Gm inline 6's can have a single distributior shaft bushing that can wear and cause all kinds of fun.

The balancers can also spin and have you setting the timing wrong.

Fuel pumps can over supply fuel.

I would start checking things with a vacume gauge, checking my spark plug wires, and compression. Those three things can give you a good indication of the engines health.
 

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Kyle, I agree with Boogie and statement 1 and 2 in your post.

I will add a few thoughts and questions, based on a good compression test.
1: Is this a 6 volt system?
2: Have you inspected the distributor for wear and tear. Such as the weights and moving parts or worn wires. This would be good to do
3: Have you inspected the wiring harness and all connections, This would also be good to do as well, it wouldn’t hurt to clean all connections, grounds as

Like Boogie said I think it just needs some TLC.

After running good, I would think about the following if you want to daily drive It.

Overtime:
Convert to 12 volts system, if 6 volt.
Convert to alternator vs generator.
Rebuild distributor and convert to electronic vs points, heck maybe go full GM HEI distributor.
These items would just make it a more robust system and are not must do’s.

Keep in mind once you start driving the truck other things will act up, like water pumps, fuel pumps, hoses and belts, so be ready to do routine maintenance.
Once running and driving you will be able to make a better decision on what you want to do and need to do.

Also don’t believe that putting aftermarket EFI on will solve your problem or problems, it will make more. This truck currently is not engineered to support a sniper unit, to install sniper will require the following.
Fuel system:
New electric fuel pump, along with supply and return fuel lines to handle 60 psi. Plus a 12 gage wire or larger to power it.
You will have to add a return fitting to the tank, so now your removing or replacing the tank,

Electrical system
You will need to build a fuse box or relay terminal to wire sniper unit into, to supply clean power to sniper unit, these units are very sensitive to RFI/EMI noise. Wire Routing is very important on this system.
You will need to install a alternator, something from the 90s, with all the added electrical load your generator will not support the clean power you need at idle. It will have to be something from 90s made for computer controlled cars.
Also need to install a temp sensor.

Exhaust system:
You will need to install a O2 sensor, doing so you might find your exhaust system is shot and needs to be replaced.

Tuning:
Once up and running you will need to tune it, they say it self learns, that's BS.

That’s the short list of installing EFI system (sniper). It’s a decision we regret , this is on a 80 Camaro, we are about $3500 into it in parts, not including time.
They say it’s plug and play system, yeah right, in my view, it is not a system to be used for a retro fit or weekend upgrade. If you are doing a ground up rebuild and are completely replacing everything. I think the sniper unit would be fine, because you can engineer it into the car.
 

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Straight 6 from the late '70S, it must be a 250 or 292 ci engine, it is a good engine, strong, torquey, very pleasant, in daily use just as nice to drive as many a factory stock 350. It is also interesting because it is different. So, when you say you do not even need more power, to me the answer is clear: keep it! It may just need a tune, or a rebuild, but keep it. I do love the LS engines, but in your case, the 6 seems to be the best choice. A shop wants to sell you an LS swap, does not make it a good idea!
The only problem not mentioned above is whether you have an integrated intake manifold (= the intake manifold and the cylinder heads are one cast piece) or not; the integrated intake really limits your choice of intake (carb, EFI), and you may have to swap to a non-integrated (older) cylinder head with an aftermarket intake manifold.
The first thing to do is assess the real condition of your engine (is it at the end of its life, or does it just need maintenance?).
I would really go for EFI: easier to start in any weather, much smoother than a carb, very reliable, and really, who knows how to tune an old carb? Sure, a rebuilt, original carb can run well, but where do you go for a tune-up?... You can use the very good GM HEI distributor.
#HC250 Chevrolet 250 CID TBI Conversion Kit is an excellent example of EFI available for your engine. Do a google search for "fuel injection for 250 chevy", and you will find forum discussions, kits...
Your life would really love the EFI, turn-the-key-and-go any time! You can even find kits to install A/C on these engines!, What else does your wife need?...
Sure it takes a bit of work, but nothing really scary, just different. A kit like the Howell kit I show (I have not used that company, it is just an example) is easy to install yourself. You will need a new fuel system (great, opportunity to clean your tank, new fuel pump... a whole new, reliable system), a bit of electrical work (a kit can be just a few wires to connect), and not much more! For someone (like me!) who does not know how to tune a carb anyway, EFI is not difficult!
You probably already have power disc brakes, power steering, what else do you need for a great truck?
 

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Any kind of swap will take time,and money.Period
Dealing with a shop is OK, but you know how it goes. Always behind schedule and always overbudget.$$$$
My input is simple.
Get the tune sorted out.
Between the carb and the worn distributor, I am sure you can get it running just fine to enjoy
Aftermarket EFI like FiTech are just problematic. Period. I have tuned about 15 of them and maybe 3 -4 actually ran good when setup.
Holley sniper is supposed to be much better.I have no experience with that .
A carb is so much easier simpler and a LOT less expensive
A lot less time consuming as well.
Have a compression test done on the 6. Read the spark plugs.Look for oil usage.Leaks too.
Maybe a freshen up is warranted.I am sure the cam is worn so power will be down due to that.
Dont overcomplicate things or you may get sick of the whole thing before it is "done" and end up bailing out
 

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Though, honestly, it seems like there would be rebuilt V8s out there that would play nicely with my 700R4 and save me $$.
IMO, that would be a good way to go if you can't get the six to run right. Rebuilt and even brand new Gen I 350s are about the least expensive engines out there, with a staggering amount of parts available. And even a semi-competent shop can work on them, when required.

Have a compression test done on the 6. Read the spark plugs. Look for oil usage. Leaks too.
Maybe a freshen up is warranted. I am sure the cam is worn so power will be down due to that.
Don't overcomplicate things or you may get sick of the whole thing before it is "done" and end up bailing out
That's also a good plan. (y)
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks for all the input--I've learned a lot and have a clearer direction. Oddly, there's a shop not to far from me that's main business is building $400,000 classic Power Wagons, but also does a basic restorations for about $20k. They aren't sure how interested they are in working on a Frankentruck like mine, but said I could bring it by and they'd look it over.

If they wants nothing to do with it, I figure I can take what they say and this thread to a shop. It's a good truck---amazing in the snow, power steering, good heat, comfortable interior, decent stereo, tons of cargo space for it's overall size.

After 70 years of abuse, it deserves a little love.
 

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