Pickup Lines

February 9th, 2010

Making More Noise Than A Groupie At A KISS Concert

smTrav-01Team Effort

Building a custom truck is no easy task, especially when you are doing it on a tight deadline. Long before the doors to the Las Vegas Convention Center open in early November for the annual SEMA show, enthusiasts stay busy chiseling away on that unique custom truck project to debut at the show. No matter how much you plan ahead and how far you work in advance, it always seems to come down to those last few days, and sometimes last few hours, of grueling detail to finish before you can load the trailer and head for the desert—usually without any sleep. The experience of prepping for SEMA seems to build a whole new set of late night thrash memories every year, but it’s all worth it when you roll a vehicle that you and your buddies created onto the convention center grounds and stand back to watch people admire it.

Making More Noise Than A Groupie At A KISS Concert

smTrav-01Team Effort

Building a custom truck is no easy task, especially when you are doing it on a tight deadline. Long before the doors to the Las Vegas Convention Center open in early November for the annual SEMA show, enthusiasts stay busy chiseling away on that unique custom truck project to debut at the show. No matter how much you plan ahead and how far you work in advance, it always seems to come down to those last few days, and sometimes last few hours, of grueling detail to finish before you can load the trailer and head for the desert—usually without any sleep. The experience of prepping for SEMA seems to build a whole new set of late night thrash memories every year, but it’s all worth it when you roll a vehicle that you and your buddies created onto the convention center grounds and stand back to watch people admire it.

This year we chose to take a truck to Vegas in our own build stable known to the seasoned ST reader as “Operation Muscle Truck.” With a plan set in motion, our build outline was pretty simple: ‘bag it, shave a few things, paint it, swap the motor out, and put a retro-style interior in it. Sounds simple enough, right? We weren’t pulling the cab off the frame or doing any crazy chassis modifications, so in late August we decided to yank the motor out and get to work. After all, 10 weeks is a long time in SEMA build terms, so with some firm ideas in mind we charged forth and tried not to look at the clock. The engine swap featuring a GM Performance parts HT 383 crate engine stuffed in the hole where the factory 305 once did battle was first on the agenda. The frame, steering components, firewall, and bottom side of the hood were all blasted clean, and fresh black paint was laid over the tarnished pieces. The calendar was approaching September once those projects were out of the way, and we got to work dropping the engine and transmission back in place. Fortunately, the truck was already ‘bagged and sitting on bonspeeds and Baer brakes, which had been done prior to ripping the motor out. Once the motor was in, we took a break for about a week or two and prepared for the next phase: bodywork and paint. Keep in mind that this whole project was done on nights and weekends. We blazed the welders, turned the wrenches, dragged the sanding blocks, and laid paint all while balancing work and family time, so that 2.5 months I was talking about could pretty much be sliced right down the middle.

After the motor swap the truck was relieved of its tailgate handle and stake pockets by Marcel Venable and transported to nearby Coast Airbrush, where Tom McWeeney laid down a fresh white basecoat with flat black SS emblems and flat black muscle-car-style stripes. Marcel Venable, Tom McWeeney and I did much of the prep work on the truck before Tom mixed the color courtesy of PPG and Kustom Werx and gave the CK a facelift. This took us into mid-October, and with two weeks to go until the truck had to be on the trailer and headed for Las Vegas, we still had to get the audio system done, get the interior stitched up and in the truck, vinyl dye the dash and door panels, lay the carpet down, get the Line-X bedliner sprayed, and reassemble the truck. After the truck was color sanded and polished, after we had successfully removed the dash and cab plastics, dyed everything black and reinstalled it all, it went to Audio Innovations for the Pioneer sound system. Then it was trailered back to Radi’s Custom Upholstery the following day for the seats to be dropped in for good, and so the black loop carpet could be installed. After that the truck was trailered back to my house where we tweaked on it some more, attending to the small details like installing the custom billet pieces from Empire Motorsports and cleaning up all of the compound from the polishing job. The next night it left for Coast Airbrush for pinstriping, and so that they could install the Holley throttle body and Accel distributor. Somewhere in there we cut it loose for a few days to have the Gibson headers installed at Gibson Performance Exhaust.

The Saturday before we were scheduled to leave for SEMA I pulled off all of the bonspeed wheels and polished them inside and out. This was after I trailered the truck to 714 Motorsports and hoisted the GM Performance Parts LS3 engine into the bed that we had planned as part of the display. I loaded the truck at 10 p.m. that night, and being extra tired, forgot to chalk the front wheels. When the hydraulic ramp of the car trailer came down, the truck rolled forward and pinched me between the front bumper and the trailer’s gravel guard right at the knees. Luckily Mulligan and some family who happened to be visiting ran over and pushed the truck back to free what I thought were a pair of broken legs. Turned out I was okay, but the SEMA rush had gotten the best of me, and I was forced to rest.

The next morning we were on the road to Vegas with the truck in tow. We arrived in town about 10:30 a.m. and headed to our display spot. After a few hours of cleaning we stood back and watched early bird spectators stare at our creation. The truck was well received, and I could not be more proud of what Marcel Venable, Tom McWeeney, Mike Finnegan, Jason Mulligan, Chris Cisali, and I created. A lot of the truck was built right in my home driveway and garage with basic tools, and that is just plain cool. We wrench and build stuff right in our own garages and driveways just like many of you do, and nothing can match the pride you feel the first time a thumb goes in the air for what you built. I learned one very important thing from this year’s SEMA build experience: start earlier!

Until next month keep dragging the frame rails, cranking the hair metal and cruising until the fuel needle hits empty. TN

T-money

tnoack@beckett.com (tnoack null@null beckett NULL.com)

{smoothgallery album=5&timed=true&delay=25000}

Advertisement

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.