Truck History

The Truck’s History

This is a 1965 Chevrolet C10 pickup. In the year 2000, it was donated to Redmond High School’s Automotive Program. I was told that the pickup had been an old farm truck. But, it had a stock 454 with headers, TH400 transmission and custom built driveline. The rear end was the original 12-bolt with limited-slip.

During my high school years I became very interested in mechanics and took numerous classes in automotive technology. During this time I became friends with my instructor. After I graduated school I stopped by and visited with my friend and former teacher. While talking about hot rods, he mentioned that the high school had the 65 pickup for sale and even though the truck looked rough, it would get with it. He let me test drive it – I opened it up and both tires started smoking. I was in love and bought it as soon as I could!

For the next couple of years I took the truck out hot rodding. I terrorized neighborhoods with mufflers that were rusted out, setting off car alarms as I drove by. It seemed like just about every time I took the truck out I got pulled over, yet I still found time to do burnouts and doughnuts. One night I went out with some friends and did a little showing off. The next day I saw that the truck was leaking oil and realized the oil filter was a loose. While driving to college, I noticed the truck was making a ticking sound. I thought I had bent a pushrod. By the time I got to the college, the ticking had become a knock. I realized I had blown up the engine. I pulled it out and discovered I spun the number 4 rod bearing, which ruined the crankshaft.

Stock 454 (Blown up)
Stock 454 (Blown up)


I pulled the engine and transmission out of the truck and slowly started on rebuilding the engine. I had the engine bored .060” over with forged pistons. I purchased a used forged crankshaft and had the engine’s rotating assembly balanced by Prehn’s Machine Shop. I ported the oval port heads and John Prehn installed new hardened seats to replace the old 60’s or 70’s soft seats. After years of saving money and purchasing parts I put the engine together in 2004. A B&M Holeshot 2000 torque converter coupled the engine and transmission together. The engine never quite ran right though. After finally discovering that the rocker arm adjusting nuts were backing off, new roller rocker arms were installed.The truck came back to life. While installing a new shifter in the pickup, I discovered this in the seat cushion (between the springs and seatfoam).
The original spec sheet that was sent with the pickup.
The original spec sheet that was sent with the pickup.


Even though the engine came back to life, the transmission started to die in the year 2006. It started slipping until finally it lost reverse and had to be revved up to 3000 rpm to move forward.

Before the transmission started to fail, I acquired a complete new front-end for the truck. The front-end came out of an 84 Suburban. This was a major upgrade to the old drum brakes with single master cylinder. The upgrade gave the truck disk brakes, a dual master cylinder, proportioning valve and replaced the hydraulic steering with a new gear box. However, the truck had to wait a few more years because shortly thereafter I was laid off.

Finally in 2010 I decided I either needed to fix the truck or get rid of it. I pulled the transmission and front end. Upon pulling the transmission I discovered that the frame was cracked. I plated the crack and then began piecing together the miscellaneous brake and steering components. The front end was lowered by cutting a coil out of the springs. After the front end was done I started rebuilding the transmission with a rebuild kit which included a new pump and bushing kit.
Part of the way through the rebuild I discovered that the reaction carrier was out-of-round and it had to be replaced.

1st TH400 Rebuild
1st TH400 Rebuild


After the transmission was rebuilt, the truck was back on the road. My wife (girlfriend at the time) thought she’d never see it move under its own power. I’d say she was surprised when I took her for a ride in it. Johnny Cash’s song “One Piece at a Time” comes to mind. After a tune up and recurving the distributor the truck became a 1st, 2nd and 3rd gear tire smoking machine. I took it to Madras Dragstrip and the tires went “wee wee all the way” down the track.

In 2013, on my way back from my wedding, I noticed that the transmission was losing the nice feeling of the neck snapping shifts that I enjoy so much. It also started making the dreadful whine that is distinctive to a cavitating pump. I pulled that pan and was unpleasantly surprised with chunks of aluminum. After research from the Crankshaft Coalition and Jake’s Performance Transmissions, I highly suspected the forward drum forcefully pressed on the case’s snap-ring, causing the case lugs to break off. After a complete tear down my suspicions were confirmed. My best guess to why this occurred was due to a shift while spinning the tires, or my accidental downshift. I think the latter is much more likely. So, it was back to the garage. This time I decided to add a little more strength.

In the winter of 2014 I pulled the transmission and started ordering parts. A TH400 transmission case, new pump gears,  rebuild kit, heavier duty 4L80 direct drum and Ross-Lock snap-ring stabilizer now make up the transmission. I also added a stacked plate transmission cooler with and electric fan and braided stainless steel lines. After the transmission was assembled and installed, the gasoline gods breathed life back into the truck and fire into the engine. Although the transmission gets the truck down the road, second gear engine braking and 2nd to 1st automatic shifts do not work. Oh well, those things are not that important.

2nd rebuilt TH400 transmission
2nd rebuilt TH400 transmission


In the spring of 2015, it was time to get ready for the dragstrip. A whole list of parts trickled in. –Turbo Action Cheetah Shifter, LPW differential cover, Mickey Thompson ET Street Radial Pro tires, Moser Engineering C-Clip Eliminators, RCI 5-point harnesses, Summit coolant overflow bottle and probably some other parts that I forgot. The first thing on my list was to replace the shifter that I gave to my brother. After using a broom to get a rock chuck off the engine and out of the garage, the work began. The new shifter was the awesome Turbo-Action Cheetah Shifter. Next was to add C-Clip eliminators to prevent a tire from coming off in case of an axle or differential failure. This proved more difficult than I thought it would be. Because the Chevy 12-bolt rear end is a pickup model, the axles are a bigger diameter. I tried numerous machine shops in Central Oregon, but none were able to grind them down.

Pulling the stock axles out of the 12 bolt rear end
Pulling the stock axles out of the 12 bolt rear end

Axle before it was turned down
Axle before it was turned down

I ended up sending the axles to Moser Engineering who not only turned them down at a very reasonable price, but cut off the axle buttons and pressed on Moser’s C-Clip eliminators.

I worked feverishly to get the truck ready for June’s street legal drags. I cut down the axle tubes, tapped the differential cover bolt holes (broke the tap in one-thanks Carley for running to NAPA for a new one!), installed LPW’s differential cover, wrapped the passenger side headers in exhaust wrap, fixed a power steering and transmission line leak,  changed the engine oil, bled the brakes (with the help of my wife). The truck was as ready as it was going to be.

Assembled rear end with the slicks, C-clip eliminators, and new diff cover
Assembled rear end with the slicks, C-clip eliminators, and new diff cover


This brings us to the start of the website and blog…

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