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Thread: 1986 GMC S-15

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Location
    Kelowna BC
    Posts
    53

    Default 1986 GMC S-15

    I suppose first an introduction is appropriate.
    My name is Andrew, Ontario boy, currently living in Kelowna BC.
    I recently came to a different direction in life and decided to downsize from our previous set-up.

    The previous truck was a 2013 sierra, which I bought stock and did some minor stuff too. Typical colour match, level and bigger tires.



    after



    picked up a contractor canopy and built a rack for it,



    and that was our set-up for the first 3 years in BC



    I then decided to go back to school and downsize my expenses a fair bit, so the truck was sold. I bought it for 30k in 2013 with 3,100km's on it and sold it for 29k in 2015 with 75,000km's on it.




    After selling my truck I quickly picked up a commuter car and we used it for camping for all of 2016.
    The booger



    We racked up about 8,000km's on it in one summer exploring a lot of the interior.




    In the meantime I was tirelessly looking for a small pick up. The dream vehicle was a 4wd, ext cab, manual first gen Chev S10.
    I looked at well over a thousand craigslist/kijiji/facebook for sale ads. Everything was either super over priced, sh*t, or just to far away. After physically going to look at well over 30 different trucks and not finding what I wanted I began looking at toyotas, nissans, fullsize trucks even, all with no luck at all.


    Then one day I found my unicorn. After over 6 months of searching I brought up my bookmarked tab of recent for sale ads and this popped up.




    and the ad pictures,














    Previous to this I had gone to calgary twice and looked at vehicles there, almost went to vancouver a couple times and contemplated visiting washington for a few trucks. Then this one turned up not even a 2 min drive from my place.

    I called the guy up right away and within minutes I was over at his place looking at it, trying to hide my excitement. I gave it a thorough once over and he was very honest about it.
    There was a noticeable oil leak, the rear bumper was rusted through, the tail pipe was about to fall off, rear pinion seal, front diff, power steering pump were all leaking and the last full service it had was back in 2012. Took it for a quick test drive with the owner and made sure the 4wd system was working. I offered him $1600 during the drive and it was a done deal.

    It wasn't exactly what I was looking for being an auto and standard cab but I was still stoked to find an original paint, accident free truck with only 35,000 miles on it.

    The next day I went and picked it up. Before I went home I took it on a little shakedown run to see what else it needed, and just to see what I had actually purchased.





    It came with one of those old 200+ lb rubber mats in the back. By the look of the bed it was always in there.





    The interior was mint,



    After about an hour or so of dinking around I headed home.



    The truck came with the brochure, some receipts, and even the original bill of sale.


    So the story behind the truck is this; A gentlemen in his 60's bought it new and kept it at his cabin at loon lake just north of Cache Creek. All he used it for, for 20ish years was moving his boat from his cabin, to the lake, and back. Hence the low mileage. Then he passed away a few years ago in his late 80's and a buddy of his bought it from his family. Now this guy is the one I purchased it from. He said all he used it for was a doing a run to the dump once or twice a year for the last 5 or so years. This truck has never even left the southern interior and was garaged for almost all of it's life.




    Now began the work.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    Vancouver, BC
    Posts
    133
    Subscribed! Always loved these little GM's... this is a mighty clean example and I'm excited to see what you have in store for it!
    -1998.5 24V 5spd QCSB Dodge Ram 2500, full Thuren + custom everything else
    -1972 Nova, forged 6L LQ4, PTE7675, coilovers, Wilwoods, 4link

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    West Virginia
    Posts
    302
    I love seeing "average joe" vehicle builds. I am sick and tired of 50k+ vehicles with another 20K bolted on them. Great purchase. Thanks for living in reality.
    2010 Chevrolet Colorado V8 - Lots of mods. Nobody cares......it's a Colorado.

    I built and owned a Colorado ZR2 before it was cool.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    North of Philly
    Posts
    239
    Sweet, you may want to check out my build.

    If you keep suspension, tire , etc mods conservatve they can be fairly capable little rigs.

    First order is to find out what gears are in it. Next get rid of the Gov-Loks before they explode (only a mild exaggeration).

    If you got any questions, fire away and welcome aboard.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    313
    Love these trucks so much, really wanted one back in the day. You got a cherry. Looking forward to your build.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Location
    Kelowna BC
    Posts
    53
    Thanks for the good words.
    I was and still am (over a year later) stoked on the S15.
    The whole thing with this truck is keep it simple, practical and most importantly cheap, well at least for now.

    The biggest hurdle I encountered so far with working on this project is I'm doing all of my work on the road in front of the place I rent. So every time I start a job I need to complete it the same day. Which is not always how it goes...


    So first and foremost, basic tune-up.



    air filter was not terrible



    Theromstat was looking pretty gross


    Spark plugs were definitely crustified. Curious why 2 were changed out previously.




    over flow tank had a nice red hue,


    So I cleaned it out and flushed the coolant system



    after what felt like ten individual flushes the water started coming out nice and clear so I drained the system and topped it up with some coolant.



    I am a massive fan of pick'n'pull junkyards. This truck falls right into the sweet spot. By that I mean there are very few of them left on the road so not many people are looking for parts and enough of them left that junkyard always seems to have 6-12 at a time.

    The truck needed a hitch so this was the first of many trips to the yard.



    Also needed a hood release cable as the current one was down to the last two strands and about to break. Myself pictured by the wife.




    It's so nice to get parts at a tiny fraction of the cost of buying new.



    Plug wires were up next.



    Wire wheeled and cleaned up the hitch and brackets






    The biggest struggle with this truck has just been finding the time to work on it. I purchased it May 1st 2016, and we did a ton of camping and fishing that summer.

    The booger made an excellent vehicle for what we were doing. It definitely lacked in clearance but made up for it in fuel efficiency. Straight hwy I was getting 700km's out of a $35 tank of fuel.



    This is my wife Nicole, which you will see pictured countless times in the front of our canoe during this build.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Your rearview mirror.
    Posts
    5,129
    That's basically my first truck. My 2.8 was bulletproof. Good luck!!
    Well, a hooker would get the joke.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Location
    Kelowna BC
    Posts
    53
    The reason for needing the hitch was not for a trailer, the little 2.8 would have a pretty hard time pulling anything.
    It was because a couple nights after purchasing the truck I also picked up a warn 9.5 w/hitch mount.


    Which conveniently came with some gear as well. The winch was previously on a guys 3/4 ton work truck. He was driving a really great looking toyota with rock sliders and custom bumpers and was genuinely honest about it which was nice. He said it shows a lot of wear from being stored in his bed and having gear thrown on it but he actually only used it a handful of times to recover a couple friends.


    Next on the list was to tackle some of the leaks. Dropped the skid plate to find this nice mix of oil and diff fluid.



    Nice thing about aluminium is it cleans up with no effort at all.




    previous owners front diff, fix* lol.



    have to say it was working pretty well, after I pulled the gob of silicone off the leak definitely got much worse.




    Pulled the passenger side axle tube off the front diff and found some pleasant and unpleasant surprises

    This gear usually gets chowdered to sh*t but it looked like it had only been engaged a handful of times.


    The thrust washers had seen some better days though,





    New ones from GM the next day, slightly different design.


    Have to yank the front end apart and remove the cv to remove the axle tube. Bolt on Cv's are a bit of a pain in comparison to slide in's.



    This was one of those jobs that now that I know how it works it would probably only take me an hour or two to do again but holy crap it sure took a lot longer than that this time. All sealed back up.


    Some more parts showed up, bilsteins and some ceramic pads.



    The old shocks were toast


    not even a glimmer of rebound,




    yanked the rears as well as the tail pipe, or what was left it. Also pulled the rear diff cover to inspect.



    happy to see this,



    Next up was the rear pinion seal.



    The e-brake was not enough to hold back the torque it took to remove the pinion nut so this was my creative solution. Worked nicely in a pinch. Friggin thing was seized on there real good. Broke my breaker bar trying to get it off.





    cleaned up and resealed with some new hardware.



    The S15 has the Gm posi rear end that's known for blowing up. I highly doubt this little 2.8 is going to achieve that though (knocks on wood).

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Location
    Kelowna BC
    Posts
    53
    Quote Originally Posted by plainjaneFJC View Post
    That's basically my first truck. My 2.8 was bulletproof. Good luck!!
    Thanks I'll take any luck I can get. I have to admit I have a bit of an affliction with these trucks. This is my 5th s-series truck.

    My other truck is an '84 that my dad bought new and I grew up driving around in. It's got a built 3.2 with a roots blower and a bunch of other autocross goodness.








    Anyhow back on topic, Next up was the front brakes.



    The pads still had tons of material left,


    After 30 years they were starting to crumble though,





    Some more stuff showed up,




    old rotors didn't look too bad, but figured I may as well.



    I spent quite a few days laying on the ground in my "workshop" definitely plenty of space to work in...



    Also installed new slides and caliper pin bolts and o-rings.



    At this point I still didn't trust the truck for out of town trips so we were still using the booger quite a bit.








    I took me a while to realize but the canopy was covered in black mould spots. So I gave it a good cleaning in the wash bay at work.



    Then I gave the truck a clay bar and good cleaning to try and bring some life back into the old laquer paint.




    I picked up clamps and a tailpipe to repair to the exhaust but I was into it for like $70 just in parts and it wouldn't have been done the way I wanted. So I took it to a shop and they welded on the pipe nicely and the whole deal only cost about $85.




    I wasn't done with the tune-up/maintenance at this point but wanted to get working towards the end goal.
    Which was a mild lift, slightly bigger tires and a rack for the canoe.

    Another trip to the yard and I pulled some leafs off this sonoma to build my bastard pack for the rear.




    The take. Ended up returning the driveshaft as the spline count didn't match up with the transfer case in my truck.




    Glad I kept the u-bolts off the sonoma because mine weren't budging.




  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Location
    Kelowna BC
    Posts
    53
    If you've ever tried to remove leafs on an s-series truck you know this can be a serious pain in the butt. All but one bolt came out and it was right seized. Glad I kept the hangers off the sonoma because I ended up needing them as well.



    This one bolt caused me an extra 3ish hours of grief during this job.





    Now to remove the bushing as well because it was toast



    Replacement






    I pulled apart the sonomas leafs as well as the S15's.






    I ended up pulling the second longest leaf from the S15 pack and adding it to the Sonomas as they were in nicer shape.



    All back together with an extra leaf.



    I debated between doing a bastard pack and just a longer hanger and am very happy I went this way. The rear of the truck is a lot more firm and takes a fairly decent load without sagging at all now. I gained roughly 2" in the rear with the new leafs.



    Kind of neat thing about the canopy is it's original to the truck and it's never been removed in 30ish years. It was made in summerland bc as well which is kind of cool as that's only about a 30 min drive away.



    When I installed the rear shocks they were super tight on the lower studs, to a point where they were like a press fit which I wasn't a fond of.

    So I came up with this and honed out the shock sleeve.



    They fit perfect after a couple of mins,





    We did a couple more trips during this time.









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