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Author Topic: The Chevy pick-up in Star Trek IV  (Read 2722 times)
RobertB
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« on: January 26, 2016, 08:25:34 AM »

     The other night the SyFy Channel was showing 1986's Star Trek IV: the Voyage Home.  It is the story of Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, et al saving a couple of 20th century whales to bring them back to the 23rd century.  At various times during the movie, Kirk, Spock, and heroine Gillian ride around in a baby blue, 1976 Chevrolet pick-up truck... a plain, beat-up truck.
     I made the connection!  My father is driving a beat-up 1979 Chevy pick-up -- virtually the same style as that in STIV!  His is darker blue and doesn't have the fan belt squeal of the truck in the movie.  Otherwise, his would be a good stand-in for that movie truck.
     Maybe what I'm trying to do is justify the expenditure of $960 last week on my father's truck.  The brakes were pretty bad.  Soft, mushy brake pedal and the rears would lock up under normal pressure.  I brought the truck to Pep Boys, and they gave it their diagnosis.  Master cylinder was flaky, both rear wheel cylinders to the rear drum brakes were leaking, brake shoes were worn down to the rivets, and the wheel drums themselves were scored.  Fortunately, the front disc brakes were good.  I was expecting a $200 brake job.  Nope.  We're talking about a 1979 Chevy pick-up but not an ordinary one.  This truck had an extra heavy-duty, leaf spring rear suspension and extra heavy-duty rear drum brakes.  This meant finding a master cylinder for the extra heavy-duty brakes and dealing with huge rear drums which had the wheel bearing built into them and not into the axle.  The special master cylinder was not in stock.  The huge rear drums were too big to fit the brake lathe at Pep Boys and had to be farmed out to a machine shop.  (Fortunately, the drums did not need to be replaced.  If they were to be changed, it would be impossible to find such drums.)  All this took extra time and extra cost.  The master cylinder was finally cross-referenced to a 1982 Chevy truck and shipped in.  The drums were finally turned at the machine shop.  The brake shoes, springs, wheel cylinders, and bearings were installed (removal and replacement of those bearings in the drum was especially troublesome, due to the snap rings breaking).
     With all that work done to the brakes, now you can confidently stop the beast.  With all that work done, now the truck can be used a bit longer.  However, it still needs $1,200+ in suspension work.  At least, it has a strong, 350 cu. in. (5.7L) V8 with 4-barrel carburetor and 155 horsepower.

          It needs to be baby blue like the movie truck,
          Robert Bernardo
          Fresno Commodore User Group
          http://www.dickestel.com/fcug.htm
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RobertB
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« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2016, 04:30:49 AM »

     Back in February, I bought some new aftermarket seat belts for the pick-up.  They didn't fit!  My father came up with a different solution; he bought some good, used belts from a junkyard, cleaned them up, and installed them.

          Now with working 3-point seatbelts,
          Robert Bernardo
          Fresno Commodore User Group
          http://www.dickestel.com/fcug.htm
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RobertB
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« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2016, 08:39:11 AM »

...it still needs $1,200+ in suspension work.
     For about $980 I had the all the upper A-arm bushings, left lower ball joint, and sway bar bushings replaced, and a sway bar bracket straightened, all fittings lubed, and power brake booster check valve replaced.  The steering is still too light, due to a problem with the steering gearbox; a replacement plus installation would have an estimated cost of $425 to $475.  That will have to wait for another day.
     Is the truck ready for the freeway!  Not yet.  The truck came with rotting, almost obsolete 9.50 x 16.5 tires.  Replacing them with radial tires in a more common size would require 16-inch. 8-lug rims, not 16.5-inch, 8-lug rims.  So, I have a choice - get the harder-to-find, more expensive, original size tires or get more common wheels from a junkyard in order to buy more common, less expensive tires.

          In California for awhile,
          Robert Bernardo
          Fresno Commodore User Group
          http://www.dickestel.com/fcug.htm
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RobertB
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« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2016, 08:54:24 AM »

...I have a choice - get the harder-to-find, more expensive, original size tires or get more common wheels from a junkyard in order to buy more common, less expensive tires.
     I did some checking.  Only one radial tire is made in the 9.50 x 16.5 size - the Firestone Transforce HT.  Internet price is $160, and it weighs in at 40 pounds.  There are many choices for the equivalent 245R75 x 16 size tire.  Not the cheapest but certainly one of the lightest is from Hankook.  It comes in at 32 pounds.  Though its load rating is not E (which the Firestone has), that significantly lighter weight makes for less unsprung weight for the truck to lug around.  Less unsprung weight makes for better handling, braking, and acceleration.

          Back from filming an event for 8 hours almost non-stop,
          Robert Bernardo
          Fresno Commodore User Group
          http://www.dickestel.com/fcug.htm
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RobertB
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« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2016, 10:04:37 AM »

     O.K., that's it.  No more spending on the Chevy truck for awhile.  Other than ordering the original ashtray/cigarette lighter compartment from eBay (the one in the truck had pieces missing and wires hanging loose), I spent money and bought a Spectre reusable air filter to replace the old, paper filter.  The Spectre engine air filter was a K & N look-alike at less than half the cost of the name brand.  Yes!  More airflow to the 4-barrel carburetor...

          How custom,
          Robert Bernardo
          Fresno Commodore User Group
          http://www.dickestel.com/fcug.htm
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RobertB
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« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2016, 10:10:33 AM »

...I have a choice - get the harder-to-find, more expensive, original size tires or get more common wheels from a junkyard in order to buy more common, less expensive tires.
    I went to Kennedy Auto Dismantlers on Wednesday and picked up four, used, white-painted, 16-inch steel wheels that they had scrounged from the autoyard.  Price - $80.
     Besides the dirt, there was some rust on the rims.  The outer face of the wheels needs repainting.  My decision - keep the paint white as were the wheels on the Chevy truck in Star Trek IV or paint them a more trendy silver.  Well, the wheel style is not the same as what was on STIV, and so, keeping them white-painted is less necessary.  Also the original hubcaps will not fit the replacement wheels; I'll have to buy hub center caps (chrome or black) and chrome-plated lug nuts (maybe acorn style?).  Four wheels times eight lugs = 32 lug nuts (but the lug nuts are only sold in packages of 5, which means I will some left over).  Also I'll have to buy four metal valve stems.
     The weather is getting colder, and painting the wheels outdoors will be problematic.  I must pry off the old wheel weights and rubber valve stems, wash/degrease the wheels, sand/wirebrush the rust, scuff up the rest of the old paint with sandpaper, wipe down the wheels, apply self-etching primer, and apply the finish coats of paint and clear gloss.  Yeah, painting in cold weather is no good.  Perhaps we'll have a spell of California warmth in the next weeks.
     The replacement wheels are have plenty of width to accommodate wider tires.  I've nixed the idea of buying a set of new 245/75-16 tires and will go with the set of 265/70-16 (about 3/4 inch wider in tread than 245/75's) take-offs that my brother gave to my father some time ago.  The nearly-new tires were stored indoors, and so, they have not deteriorated from tire rot.  However, there are only 2 of them, and I'll have to buy another 2 new or used.  I'm leaning toward new tires.  Discount Tire Center (not in my parents' town but in my town) is advertising a no-name, new tire of that size for $93 each.

          Truly,
          Robert Bernardo
          Fresno Commodore User Group
          http://www.dickestel.com/fcug.htm
« Last Edit: December 05, 2016, 09:05:10 AM by RobertB » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2016, 10:00:51 AM »

     For $240, today the Chevy got a new dual-exhaust system, complete with standard mufflers, H-pipe crossover, and chrome tips.  (A bit of bling on the old truck!)  Everything is so nice and shiny and new!
     It took the shop 3 hours to cut away the old, single-exhaust, damaged-muffler system and put in the new one.  The mufflers are aluminized, but the rest of the pipes are straight steel.  It would take a lot of exhaust paint and crawling on my back to paint that steel (do I want the look of rusty pipes?).  I'm away from the parents' home for a couple of weeks, but if the weather is warmer, perhaps I can paint the pipes one section at a time every time I get to their house.
     I had to be very specific with the shop.  A few days ago when I was getting his estimate, the owner would try to lead me to more expensive mufflers and outrageously sized pipes.  Then when I brought the truck in to confirm their estimate, the owner backed down somewhat but suggested a Flowmaster pair of mufflers.  Sounded good until I went to the Flowmaster Muffler website and discovered he was trying to steer me into the wrong set of mufflers that wouldn't have matched the truck (he didn't have the correct model of Flowmasters in stock).  So, that's when I returned and just asked for the standard, 2-year guaranteed mufflers, no Flowmasters.  It's a good thing I watched the installation for the 3 hours the truck was on the rack.  The owner (who did all the primary work himself) would ask my opinion on what angle behind the rear tire the exhaust pipes would be bent, how far the chrome tips would stick out, and how level would the pipes were when viewing the rear of the truck.  More importantly, I had to remind him to put in that H-pipe, which he had forgotten.
     Even with the bit of hassle the owner had given me, he installed the system excellently.  He checked and rechecked his measurements, his pipe cuts, and his welds.  After he had finished, then one of his workers went back and rechecked everything with a few touch-up welds as the truck's engine was running.  Now that is being very thorough!
     The truck was much quieter now that it didn't have to breathe through a damaged, restrictive, single muffler.  As I drove it through downtown, I couldn't test out the new system.  Finally, I got to the outskirts of town and stepped on the gas.  Whoa!  Instead of noisily crawling up to highway speed, the truck now smoothly accelerated briskly to speed.  Still not sports car acceleration but it really showed its new energy from about 15 mph to 55.  I didn't try flooring it; perhaps I should have, because then the 4-barrel carb would have really opened up (2 barrels for normal cruising and acceleration, the extra 2 barrels for power acceleration).  Of course, with the iffy tires on the truck right now, I think it's a good thing I didn't floor it.  In fact, with the iffy tires, I shouldn't be running the truck at 55 at all.  Smiley
     With the new dual exhaust, the truck now has an extra 10 or more horsepower.

          A significant increase in power,
          Robert Bernardo
          Fresno Commodore User Group
          http://www.dickestel.com/fcug.htm
« Last Edit: December 14, 2016, 07:15:08 AM by RobertB » Logged
RobertB
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« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2017, 08:58:36 AM »

...will go with the set of 265/70-16 (about 3/4 inch wider in tread than 245/75's) take-offs that my brother gave to my father some time ago.  The nearly-new tires were stored indoors, and so, they have not deteriorated from tire rot.  However, there are only 2 of them, and I'll have to buy another 2 new or used.  I'm leaning toward new tires.
     I had accumulated plenty of points with my Sears/K-Mart rewards card, and so, I ordered two Sears Guardsman 265/70-16LT tires.  Total price with my points applied - about $12!  I picked them up the other day and confirmed that they were white-lettered (sporty!).  I then put them into storage along with the other two tires that were already there.

          Still waiting for warmer weather so I can paint the wheels,
          Robert Bernardo
          Fresno Commodore User Group
          http://www.dickestel.com/fcug.htm
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RobertB
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« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2017, 11:11:54 AM »

Quote
I had accumulated plenty of points with my Sears/K-Mart rewards card, and so, I ordered two Sears Guardsman 265/70-16LT tires.  Total price with my points applied - about $12!
    A couple of months ago, I had accumulated more points and ordered another Sears Guardsman tire.  Total was about $8!  Now all it needs is one more Sears tire, but right now I only have 38 cents in points.
Quote
Still not sports car acceleration but it really showed its new energy from about 15 mph to 55.
    I was troubled by the truck not idling very smoothly.  A few weeks ago, my father brought it in for a recent smog check where they found ignition problems and fuel delivery problems.  He bought parts I requested in order to cure the problem.  I haven't gotten around to putting in the new distributor cap, rotor, and coil, because they are buried deep in the back of the engine compartment.  And the in-line fuel filter is a bear to replace.  I did the relatively easy fix for now... replace the spark plug cables.  One at a time, I removed each old one and replaced each with a new one.  The old cables looked as if they had been there forever.  When I got to the cylinder 7 cable, I found that the boot around that plug had been wrapped with electrical tape!  I asked my father about that crummy fix.  He said that the smog guys had done it to make it pass smog!  Well, that wasn't right.
     With the new cables in, the idle was smoother, but still I wanted more.  I had seen the Youtube video from ChrisFixIt on the best cylinder cleaners.  After he tested several, the best one for removing carbon deposits on the valves and upper parts of the cylinders was SeaFoam Spray.  I decided to use it on the Chevy (before trying it out on my Ranchero.  See the 72 Ford Ranchero thread).  I followed the instructions exactly, wondering whether it was too harsh for the engine (as reported in some car forums).  I sprayed it in, which took 5 or more minutes.  Then I let the SeaFoam "cook" for 15 minutes with the engine off.  I restarted the truck and drove the truck up to 55 mph for a few miles (though it said in the instructions to drive aggressively.  In an old truck?  With its still iffy tires?  Nah!)
     The results -- the idle is now silky smooth!!!  The 0 to 15 mph range is no longer as rough, and acceleration is smooth throughout the truck's acceleration range!  I was very impressed.
     I drove the truck again today.  The engine is still smooth.  It's hard to believe that I'm running on an old engine from 1979.  Now what is the mileage on that motor?!  Smiley

          Truly,
          Robert Bernardo
          June 10-11 Pacific Commodore Expo NW -
          http://www.portcommodore.com/pacommex
          July 29-30 Commodore Vegas Expo v13 -
          http://www.portcommodore.com/commvex

P.S. More troubling is the puddle of oil I found under the rear axle of the truck.  It had been sitting for several days since my father last used it.  I looked at the center of the rear axle.  Oil was splashed over the axle bottom.  I will take it to Valley Differentials, hopefully tomorrow.  (They were the ones who rebuilt the Ford Crown Vic's rear end.)  If it's a bell housing cover leak, that is relatively easy to replace the gasket.  If it's a leak at the front pinion gear seal, that is more involved and more expensive.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2017, 09:01:32 AM by RobertB » Logged
RobertB
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« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2017, 09:14:31 AM »

More troubling is the puddle of oil I found under the rear axle of the truck.  It had been sitting for several days since my father last used it.  I looked at the center of the rear axle.  Oil was splashed over the axle bottom.  I will take it to Valley Differentials...
     I brought it to Valley Differentials, and Miles, the shop owner/mechanic, verified that the oil was coming from the front seal of the diff.  I also asked for a complete fluid change.  After finishing work on a early 60's Rambler station wagon (!), he got to the truck.  As he worked on the front and rear of the diff, I noticed how meticulous he was.  He really knew his stuff!  He drained the fluid, and with the front and back of the differential open, he even sprayed the interior with carburetor spray in order to clean out any remaining old gunk and varnish.  My mechanics in Visalia who do an ordinary diff fluid change don't do that.  If it weren't for two phone calls and a visit from another customer who wanted to gab, he would have been finished earlier, but at just over an hour he was finished.  Total cost - about $180.

          A reasonable price in my opinion,
          Robert Bernardo
          June 10-11 Pacific Commodore Expo NW -
          http://www.portcommodore.com/pacommex
          July 29-30 Commodore Vegas Expo v13 -
          http://www.portcommodore.com/commvex
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RobertB
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« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2017, 11:48:24 AM »

The steering is still too light, due to a problem with the steering gearbox; a replacement plus installation would have an estimated cost of $425 to $475.
     I took the truck to Hewitt Alignment today, and they removed the old steering gearbox, flushed the steering system, installed a rebuilt gearbox (adequate but not perfect... the other rebuilts they tested were no good), aligned the front wheels, and lubed all the fittings.  Total cost - $451.  Now the truck has steering feel!

          Truly,
          Robert Bernardo
          Fresno Commodore User Group
          http://www.dickestel.com/fcug.htm

P.S. I got an estimate on installing a modern CD/radio in the truck from Autosound Warehouse.  New Pioneer 6900 with two 6 x 9 speaker boxes (for placement in the rear corners of the cab... I don't want to cut into the doors), and a couple of 6 x 9 speakers - estimated $400. (Ouch!)  Right now it's cheaper to get some new taillight lenses and a emergency brake pedal pad from LMCTruck.com  Smiley
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