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GRM Challenge Truck
542 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
the origonal build thread on this car can be found at

the reason I'm doing a new thread is because I'm changing the direction of the car a little bit.

When i did the car last time, i was trying to go for resto/high school recreated. i succeeded.
the problem is, I've never really enjoyed the car all that much. its been "done" for a few years, and i have about 1500 miles on it. most of those miles were put on out of feeling guilty for owning a car that i don't drive.
since I've built the duster, i built a truck.

i actually drive the truck. i put about 10k on it in the last year and a half. i enjoy it. it handles good, runs out good, and stops good. looks good, gets attention.

i built the duster for the pleasure car, but get no pleasure. yeah, its fast. yeah, it looks good. but it doesn't handle or stop worth a crap, its cranky, it rattles, its hot, and its loud. oh, and uncomfortable.

I've contemplated selling it a lot of times, mostly because i don't drive it.

anyway, there's reasons I'm updating it a bit.
1. I'm bored with it.
2. the above mentioned deficiencies.
(and the coolest)
3. my family and i are starting to take weekend trips around the southeast to historic sites, festivals, etc. just spending time together as a family, going places and seeing stuff. My wife and i were talking about this, and i got the idea to build an impala wagon to do it in. went looking at a couple. after the last rust bucket, my wife started to question me about why i wanted "another old car you wont drive". i explained to her my vision of a daily drivable, comfortable family cruiser. her only question was "why not the duster?"
i tried to explain to her. she gave me "the look". i tried to explain some more. she continued to give me "the look".

after w while, i stopped talking. she looked at me and said: spend the time and money doing it to the red car. its paid for, and rust free.


why the hell didn't i think of that a whole lot sooner????

so to that end, Ive been planning, looking, and starting to work.

when i went down to the shop to start the car so i could get it cleaned up last month after this conversation, it wouldn't start. the last time i drove it, it was cutting out on me at random times, wouldn't idle worth a crap, etc. so i figured my old MSD box was taking a dump. pulled a plug and checked for fire. have fire. so it had to be fuel. a little bit of ether to get things started and the mechanical fuel pump primed. fired right up on ether, died right back out. stabbing the gas pedal and repeating this procedure got me nothing.

figured out it was a bad fuel pump. no volume, no pressure. occasional spurts of gas, but nothing consistent.

went down to the parts store, and bought a Holley blue pump and regulator combo. also grabbed some fuel injection hose, and some fittings from Lowe's and tractor supply.

a couple of hours later, here's what i was looking at:

when i had wired the car, i had left a lead for an electric fuel pump, just in case i ever wanted to run nitrous. so i didn't even have to wire anything!! i placed it on the rear subframe, inside the torque box bu the front spring hangar. i think I'm going to paint it black, as you can see the shiny of it from some angles walking around the car.
i was warned that they were loud, but unfortunately i did not listen. they are. thankfully, i cant hear it over my 3 inch exhaust or rattles.

i then quickly realized that the regulator in the box is required, not suggested. that left me a dilemma about where to put it that would be clean and neat, as well as adjustable and accessible.

i finally wound up putting the regulator where the mechanical fuel pump lived. as i had to make a block off plate anyway, i got creative. i used 3/8 thick plate, cut to match my fuel pump gasket. drilled and tapped the three regulator bracket mounting holes, used the piece of 5/16 fuel line i cut out as spacers, and some stainless machine screws to hold it all together. i had about 10 foot of 3/8 line left over from pluming a big block new yorker, so i used if for my new metal lines.

here's the finished product.

looked pretty good.
fired right up, and after playing with the Holley yet again, and again....

i ripped the damn thing off. it was a highly modified 850 double pumper. got it instead of some money owed to me. put it on craigslist with a FOR TRADE heading.

i wound up with a brand new, in the box, 750 manual choke edelbrock.



installed a fuel pressure gauge and spectre fuel line.
it runs and drives a lot better now. I'm down a BUNCH of power, but then again i haven't tuned this carb in yet. its also a manual choke, and i will be converting it to electric.

so now the car runs and drives again. i had previously swapped in a 3.55 gear instead of the old 3.91. so far, all these changes have been positive, and i can actually drive the car now for more than 20minutes without getting a migraine and having to work on it.

about 45 in though, the front intake seal started leaking. now i can change that out. I'm debating getting rid of the single plane for a dual plane while I'm at it. I've already de-tuned it this much, why not more??

also, I'm starting on the rest of the drivability issues.
first thing was safety and handling. the dunlops that were on it were purchased in 2000. they're a little old.

on craigslist, a set of mustang bullitt wheels came available for 175. so i bought them. 17X8, with two usable 255/40/17 tires. i traded the worn out 275/40/17 from the rear for a pair of equally worn out 255/50/17/

these sizes equate to a 1 inch diameter reduction in both ends. for fitment, i had to use 1 inch hub-centric spacers on the rear, longer wheel studs and 3/8 spacers front, and new lug nuts. for a total of 275, i have wheels and tires on my car. and yes, i need new tires for my new wheels and tires. these are for checking for rubbing, handling, etc.

the next step is to lower the car 1 inch all the way around.
ill currently be doing this via blocks and t-bar cranking, but in the near future i will be getting the hotchkis rear leaves to do it properly.

also, near future plans:
power brakes: already have all the parts, just need to rebuild the, clean them up, and install them.
3 point seat belts
new seats for the front
alignment (tube uppers)
that's the short list right now.

overall goals are a good handling, good looking, great stopping, comfortable, family friendly cruiser.

thanks for looking, and i welcome feedback and suggestions. also, you're welcome to tell me I'm screwing up a perfectly good, fast street car. that's what a couple of my buddies say....

42,003 Posts
nahhhh it's yours, it's paid for so do with it what you want. it's a bad ass car any way you look at it IMO. i'm a huge A body fan and i think the direction you're going with it is cool.
you got the standard later A body discs for the front or the oddball 4 piston fixed calipers?

i want this wheel
642 Posts
Looks great with those wheels. Keep ON!

GRM Challenge Truck
542 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
actually, on the brakes:

11.75 cordoba rotors, 84 diplomat police calipers, rears are 68 b-body police drums, 11X3

thanks guys. ill keep you posted.

GRM Challenge Truck
542 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
thats what it already has.
im going power booster, and debating dual piston C5 vette calipers, 13 inch cobra rotors, and grand cherokee rear disc. all in the name of better braking. my wife and daughter are riding in this,for gods sake.....

GRM Challenge Truck
542 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
stock 70 duster disc/drum manual brake master.

its just manual brakes and crappy pad compunds. also a high moment of inertia dur to the heavy wheels and tires. add all that together, and it stops like poo.

and other site? google? do tell. i wanna know just how far, and just how many people my dementedness has touched.

GRM Challenge Truck
542 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
progress update, and i figure ill start a running tally of expenses. that way, i can shake my head in disgust at how much Ive spent. or, go "cool!! i didn't spend as much as i thought i would!"
wheels and tires, total installed. (need new tires): 275
fuel pump, line, gauge, etc.: 134
intake gaskets: 18
total for this round so far: 427

took the car out for its maiden voyage tonight with the bullitts, etc. runs good with the new fuel system. runs really good. was able to get it sideways in second at 35 by just standing on it. that was after the really, really nasty bog though. gotta get the carb tuned in here soon.
there was no rubbing or anything with the new wheel and tire package. the car did not settle as much as i hoped it would, so i am definitely going to work on the stance. also, the new package made the previous ill handling nature even worse. part of that is tire pressure (didn't check until after my test drive. no two tires are the same.), part of that is the bad alignment, part of that is worn out tires. all needs rectified before putting it through its paces to see how the handling is different.
the intake still leaks. badly. so i drained the oil when i got home, pulled the air cleaner, started disconnecting stuff. tomorrow after my little girl and i get home, I'm going to get the cooling system drained and change the gaskets. I'm thinking about removing the carb spacer while its all apart, as the angle of the carb to throttle linkage bracket, and carb to return spring bracket, are severe. i don't know if i would lose torque and drivability, though. easy enough to see, right?
the family's first planned outing with the car is next weekend to the transportation museum in Spencer, NC. were going to take Mary on the old fashioned steam locomotive, and also enjoy the Plymouth clubs car show. I'm hoping to get the thing cleaned up this week, and some more work done. if i don't make it with this car, well just drive the Subaru.
look for pics Sunday. or not. depends if i get anything picture worthy done.

GRM Challenge Truck
542 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
so, its been a really good day.
this morning, my little girl and i ran some errands and did some yard work. by about 11, i was able to get in the shop. started draining the radiator, disconnecting hoses, electrical, etc. the worst part about the job was the 12 point ARP manifold bolts i used. what was i thinking? had to use all sorts of odd wrenches to get the manifold bolts off and on.

a fresh set of 1213 gaskets, tube of RTV, two rolls of paper towels, and a can of carb cleaner later....

pic of the polished lifter valley, indybrock heads, and solid roller

pic of the gasket matching on the victor jr.

pic of it all back together.

cleaned it all up the best i could, but this POR 15 is really stained. when i painted the block this time, it went badly. last one i did, back in high school, never stained, chipped, discolored, etc. i think that i didint mix it properly this time, or stir it enough, or something.
one of these days i will re-do it. probably go hydraulic roller at the same time.

also, i removed the carb spacer. it actually runs much better without it. crisper throttle response, and more power.

treated it to fresh antifreeze, and 7 quarts of 15-50 synthetic mobil1.

after it was back together, my best friend came over to help and hang out. we decided to do the lowering of the car, see where the stance and wheel/tire fitment was.

to lower the rear, i purchased 1 inch aluminum blocks from autozone. 30 bucks, included u-bolts that i didnt need. we had to drill the register for the leaf spring pin a bit deeper, and file down the top locating pin some. about 1 mins worth of modifying the universal blocks. they went in with my old u-bolts, no problem. also, as a benifit, they made my rear sway bar line up better than ever before. my links are actually perpendicular to the arm now.

we turned the front t-bar adjusters 4 full turns each. this resulted at a 1 inch drop at all 4 corners.

it sits right now. also, the is a VERY small scrub over major dips in the road, but only from the right rear corner. plenty fo ground clearance for steep parking lots and speed bumps.

the lowering also had a benifit that i was not expecting. somehow, by some miracle of geometry that should not have happened, it made the car drive better. there is still no stering wheel return, but the turn in is much crisper, the cornering is much more precise, and the car is more stable and less twitchy at hihway speeds and above.

on our test drive, we pulled into the closed dodge dealer here in town to take a picture. its the best o can do right now.

next purchase will be new tires for these wheels. im looking at the federal 595's. i can get a set for 420 out the door. supposedly a pretty good tire. its actually the spec tire for the legends racers at CMS. my theory is that i dont need a super grippy tire for this car. it just doesnt need it. it needs a quiet, dependable, decent wet weather tire. the federal supposedly will do all that. if anyone has experience with the, please let me know.

thats all for now. grand total at the moment is 457.

42,003 Posts
looks good! and i know what you mean about the steering not returning to center, i've had 3 A-bodys and one C body and they all had the same super soft crap steering.

bolt on rack and pinion time? jk man, i know it's a budget build lol

GRM Challenge Truck
542 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
ive already got a firm feel stage 3 box in it. great steering. just a lack of positive caster, and no easy way to get there without a bunch of money in tube uppers. i will do it oine fo these days...

and its nice to find another mopar guy on an s10 forum.

42,003 Posts
yeah the money they want for aftermarket front suspension components for mopars is ridiculous, then again everything mopar is expensive so i guess they're just keeping with the theme. lol

and same here man, i hope to get another a body one of these days. most recently i had a 71 dart, it was a cali car that was in storage since 84 but when i moved i had no place for it because i had 3 other cars at the time so i ended up giving it to a good buddy of mine. i've been trying to light a fire under his ass to get it going, it's got a fried slant 6 in it right now but i got a 400 and a 727 that i'm talking him into throwing in it.
i guess we'll see what happens, maybe i can talk him into giving it back. lol

GRM Challenge Truck
542 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
well, my daughter brought home a stomach virus that she gave to me, so I've been kind of hit and miss all week.

got my new tires, federal super steel 595. 260 tread wear, ultra-high performance summer. so far, they seem quiet and grippy. ride good (except for the front right wheel, as the rim is somewhat egg shaped). i like the tread pattern and sidewall, and at 408.12, the price was really reasonable.

pics of tires:

my boss threw me out for coming in sick today. she doesn't want her daughter to get it either, and i cant blame her. so I've been piddling in between bouts of nastiness.

cleaned up the interior for the first time in ages. no armor all, as i hate the way it makes everything greasy. just a good old fashioned damp rag.

and washed it. its funny, but i started out to wash this car a couple of months ago, and wound up starting to redo it. finally got it washed. no wax, and ill say why later.

looks pretty good so far. really cleaned up well. (haven't washed it in close to a year and a half. haven't waxed it in two or three....)

i have started on my next two steps of upgrades. brakes, and interior.

on the brakes, I'm going in stages. first is a power brake upgrade. the booster, master, and all the brackets cost me 35. pulled off a 75 valiant 4 door that i could not open any of the doors on due to being fender to fender with other cars at the yard. i ordered new stainless lines from classic tube for 40, and a new check valve for 6 from autozone. so, 81 in the power brake conversion. still have to make sure the booster is good, clean and paint the assembly. I'm thinking black for the booster and brackets, cast iron for the master body, and cast aluminum for the bolt on lid.

stage 2 is going to be 2 piston C5 vette calipers and 13 inch cobra rotors. i see no need to upgrade the rear at this time, as the 11X3 finned drums with semi-metallic shoes do wonderfully.

then comes the interior. looking first at my unfinished trunk. hoping to start sound deadening this weekend, and then starting to develop my closeout panels.

after that ill move into the interior for seats, seat belts, console, etc.

the total for this stage (not including brakes. ill add that when i get them done)

I'm looking at some exterior mods now, which is why i didn't wax it. I'm thinking the full 71 340 package. stripes, scoops, rear spoiler, blackout hood, and a chin spoiler. ill have to get a photochop done for that before i decide, though.


i want this wheel
642 Posts
It's coming along nicely! Love the stance with those wheels. Maybe sometime in the future you could look for a pair of the deep dished bullet wheels for the rear.

I'm really curious to see how you'll get Cobra rotors and Vette calipers to work.

And there's a few Mopar guys around here. My second car was a 4 door 76 Plymouth Valiant with a slant 6. One of my co-workers has a 75 that's beat up, but in tact. Makes me think bad things.

GRM Challenge Truck
542 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
so, a little bit has happened since the last update.

ive put about 400 miles on the car.

weve done a family trip

my wife gave her input.

the family trip went great. we went to the NC transportation museum in Spencer, NC. spent the day looking at the exhibits, riding the train, and enjoying our time as a family. as luck would hav it, the plymouth club was having a car show there that weekend, so we put the duster in it. didnt win anything, but that wasnt the point. we had a blast.

we also learned a few things about the car, and traveling as a family in it.

1. mary has no leg room in the back seat. with her car seat, her legs are firm up against the seat back on the pass side.
2. theres a lot of noise from the trunk.
3. the turn signals dont work
4. the heater never gets completely closed off.
5. my wife feels uncomfortable with only a lapbelt, and cant wear the fixed shoulder belt because it hits her in the ear.
6. with a full tank of gas, stroller and assorted stuff, and the family, the right rear tire comes into contct with the fender lip

we also had the shifter come apart. the bolts that hold the stick to the box loosened, and one fell out. when i put it back together at home, i cleaned, adjusted, greased, and locktited everything.

all in all, a great outing. i wouldnt trade it for the world.

so ive started working on that list some. as well as my other priorities.

the first one to start on was the trunk, mostly because it annoyed me and i had most of the stuff to do what i wanted to do.

i pulled everything out, cleaned all the metal, and started to sound deaden it. my wife came down to the shop for something, and made the comment about the battery being in a very inconvienient spot for fitting luggage in the trunk. that was all the encouragement i needed. i had been debating moving it over the axle centerline for a little better weight distribution, but couldnt justify it. well, we all know what comes next. the snowball effect.
thankfully, i have plenty of supplies stashed away. like battery cable, wiring, etc. moving the battery to the center of the package tray area allowed me to upgrade my amp wiring, upgrade my MSD power and ground wiring, and free up a lot of trunk space. unfortunately, it also made my current subwoofer enclosure unusable. so im thinking about that, and have something to try before i make a decision.

to lay down the sound deadening, i had a few sheets of the mcmaster carr adhesice backed elastomeric left over from when i did my mazda. so i used it.

heres what the current product looks like:

used a heat gun and a j-roller to get it to fit well.

i also decided while i was in there to finally get a spare tire and jack for the first time since 1998. while i was at beavers honda salvage up in moorseville picking up an engine, i spotted a jack, wrench, and carrier assembly from an 07 civic coupe. had the right measurements according to the tape measure, so i bought it for 35. fits right in, but my spare doesnt. the 235/60/15 i have doesnt fit the wheelwell, and the 255/40/17 sticks up a rediculous amount. so im going to find a donut spare from a 1998 mustang cobra.

heres what im talking about:

theres only about 6 inches from the top of the assmbly to the trunk lid.

also, ive been working on my power brake cnversion. ive got my stainless lines (40)

and verified that my junkyard booster was good. (35)
im in the process of cleaning up the booster. the master was a 4 wheel drum master, so im going to toss it on the shelf and keep it for if i ever go 4 wheel disc. for the conversion, im going to retain my 1 inch bore manual master. according to my FSM from 1970, manual and power used the same bore master cyl, so i see no reason to change it. an its already paid for!

also, i ordered my new UCA bushings, moog K7103. got them for 52.74 from amazon.com. cheapest o could find them.
after i get the brakes sorted out, ill get those put in.

so budget total is 1027.86

next stop is going to be getting the booster in, and finish my trunk.


GRM Challenge Truck
542 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
last budget total was 1027.86

Ive done a little more work since the last update. some on the list, some not.

on the list, I've continued to work on my trunk. got my bent wheel replaced with one a buddy gave me, and am using the bent as a spare. i really don't like how much room i lose with it.
the mustang spares that i was looking at are going for stupid money. like around 100 bucks in my area. I'm not about to pay that for a donut spare.
i did, however, find that the dodge charger uses a 17X4 spare with the correct bolt pattern. they go for about 35 around here. lot better price. ill find one on a free Saturday morning and see if it will fit.
Ive worked on the audio system some. i tried repositioning the origonal 10 that was in there. i tried two 10's in custom boxes, wired for a 2 ohm stable load. still was not what i was looking for. so i got to thinking about the old JL audio 12 in my truck. it was really too much bass for the little s10, and i had it dialed WAY back for sound quality. so i wired it to my old MOSFET power acoustik amp (may be older than dirt, but its always sounded good, and never let me down) and stuck it in the trunk. had to play with my amp and crossover settings some, but the system is much cleaner and has better sound quality than ever before.

here's what i wound up with. still a work in progress. i thing I'm going to modify my enclosure some so it will clear my battery cables on the passengers side and move it over there. also, I'm starting to mock up for my closeout panels for the trunk.

next, I've got my booster completely redone. came out pretty nice for what i started with. not concourse correct, but neither is the car.
spent 7 on paint and tape, 8 in stainless nylock nuts.

the next project i the tackled was installing the center rear seat belt for Mary's car seat. that was a PITA. i bought a universal lap belt at Pep Boys over in Charlotte for 23. nice webbing and stitching, decent hardware, and i liked the latching operation. i had to enlarge the holes a bunch for using the TTI supplied seat belt anchoring bolts. and their directions for threading the webbing suck. i still have to pull the seat back out, remove the belts, and adjust them a bit before its usable. i run out of adjustment before Mary's seat is fully tight. they blend in though, and i tuck them back into the gap between the seat back and seat bottom when not in use.

while i was installing the belt, i figured i would check out the noisy rear end. i found a couple of things that worry me.
1. a LOT of play in the rear u-joint (think 1/8 inch rotational)
2. debris build up on the fill plug in the hogshead

i haven't drained the hogshead yet, but am planning on doing the drain plug mod found here. http://www.moparmusclemagazine.com/techarticles/drivetrain/mopp_0912_installing_a_drain_plug_in_the_differential_housing/index.html
any opinions on this?

for the u-joint, i originally thought i could get away with just putting a new one in. last time i put joints in this car was the late 90's. 2 motors ago, 2 rears ago, and a lot of abuse ago.
the new ten dollar joint rotated in the yoke. a lot. so i called my drive shaft guy, who told me that its a common problem. he also informed me that i would need to bring the shaft down to have him re-balance it and weld on a new yoke. so 140 later, i have this:

i also spent 7 on new straps, figuring that its cheap insurance as they were done the last time i put a u-joint in the thing.

on the debris end, I'm going to change the fluid and keep an eye on it. hopefully my noise will go away. if it doesn't, I'm researching doing a ford explorer 8.8 with 3.55 trak lok, rear disc, etc. ill go that route before dumping a bunch of money in my 8.75

lastly, i got center caps. a guy at the mopar show on our last family trip said that chain link fence post caps would slide right in and look cool. he was only partly right. i had to cut about 3/8 inch off every one, and put seven wraps of vinyl tape on the flange for a good friction fit. but they do fit, and they do look good. at 1.37 ea, i was willing to try.

so all this work totals up to:

man this adds up quick.....

next trip is in a couple of weeks to banner elk, NC, for the woolly worm festival and driving part of the blue ridge parkway during leaf season.
the weekend after that is out 10 year high school reunion. were taking the car. I'm looking forward to showing up to my old high school in the same car that i drove through those years, but it looking a lot better.

anyway, that's it for now. this weekend I'm working on readjusting the seat belt and getting our Subaru running again.

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