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Metalwork: Frame
Frame Preparation
In order to start the frame-conversion project we went to a local junkyard and found a '91 S-10 with a short cab and a long bed. The engine had already been pulled by someone else, so we removed the cab, bed, and front clip. Then, before we left the junkyard, we found a 4x4 rear end from a '94 Blazer, and swapped that under the S-10 chassis in place of the stock differential to widen the rear width. We also took the booster, master cylinder, and all other brake hardware. Total cost: $350.
After bringing the frame home, we set it up in the driveway and started cleaning it with degreaser and a power washer. Then we wire wheeled the whole frame to remove any rust buildup.
In order to use the S-10 conversion kit, we removed the original cab mounts, bed mounts, and front clips mounts from the frame per the included instructions. Then we sprayed the whole chassis with a rust converter (phosphoric acid), let it sit for a while, then rinsed and dried it.
Next, we hand brushed two coats of Eastwood Rust Encapsulator onto the frame; both inside and out. This will seal in the old rust and prevent any new rust from forming.
The final step in the initial prep of the S-10 frame was to paint the entire frame with Rustoleum "Appliance Epoxy" black. It is a very tough, durable epoxy rattle can paint that a lot cheaper than other mail order chassis paint and does as good of a job (in my opinion). It runs $4 a can instead of $12 a can for other products.
AD Engineering S-10 Frame Conversion
Per the instructions included we measured back 2 1/8" back from the oblong hole in the frame to locate the two front cab mounts.
Then we measured forward 10 1/4" from another set of holes in the frame to locate the two rear cab mounts.
To double-check our frame measurements we clamped the new cab mounts to their proper locations on the frame and measured diagonally across to confirm we indeed had a true square.
After confirming all measurements, we marked and drilled 5/16" holes in the S-10 frame for each cab mount. Then we used 3/8" self-tapping metal screws to attach the cab mounts to the frame. After everything was drilled and bolted on, we sat the cab on it's new mounts to confirm everything matched up. As expected, it all lined up correctly.
After bolting the cab mounts into place and confirming the cab fit on the mounts properly, we welded the cab mounts to the frame. Here are the front.
And here are the rear cab mounts after we welded them to the frame.
After measuring, clamping, bolting, welding, and painting, these are now the completed cab mounts.
Per instructions, we measured 6" from the end of the S-10 frame to locate the rear cross sill mounting bracket.
Then we drilled and bolted on the rear cross sill mounting bracket and cut the extra 6" off of the rear of the frame.
After we finished installing the running boards to the frame, we unbolted them and took them to a local business to have them media blasted. As soon as they were done being media blasted we ran them over to our local Line-X dealer and had the running boards coated with Line-X bedliner. Line-X is extremely durable and very thick, so it covered up all imperfections on the 50 year old steel.
Here is another picture of the completed running boards with the Line-X bedliner. Perfect finish. Better than we even expected.
Unfortunately the AD-Engineering kit did not come with a set of brackets for the front or rear bumper. So, after much debating on the best way to do it, I created my own rear bumper brackets with 4"x6" steel rectangular stock.
A closeup of the brackets shows how the rear bumper bolts into the side of the brackets. Then the bottom of the brackets and the frame had holes drilled into them to hold the bumper and brackets in the proper position.
The rear bumper is now installed in it's final location. We also installed the correct license plate bracket above the bumper and brought the bumper up as close to the licence plate bracket as possible. We also brought the rear bumper as close to the bed as we could.
Custom Frame Modifications
In order to get the Pontiac engine to fit into the S-10 frame and clear all the truck sheetmetal, custom frame mounts had to be fabricated from scratch. We started with a set of '72 GTO/LeMans motor mounts and bolted them onto the block. Then we bolted everything else to the block and lowered it into the position we determined. Finally we cut pieces of thick wall 1"x1" square tubing and
To create a transmission crossmember mounting location on the frame we took a section of 4"x6" heavy gauge steel box and cut it down the two opposite edges to give us two brackets.
We welded the steel brackets to the outside of the S-10 frame with the 6" side of the bracket on the bottom pointing inwards.
Since the S-10 frame is only 4" wide, this left us with a 2" overhang on the inside of the frame to mount our transmission crossmember to. This also will allow us future flexibility of relocating the transmission crossmember in the future by simply drilling new holes in the bracket.
We utilized a mid-70's Trans Am crossmember as a template for the transmission mount backet. After cutting the steel, we welded it all into place on the crossmember. We also made slotted holes in the bracket to allow for some movement of the engine & transmission during installation.
Another look at the bottom side of the transmission mount bracket.
Then we welded two pieces of steel to the end of the crossmember in the opposite direction of the transmission bracket to help stabilize and support the weight on the crossmember. Here is the completed crossmember ready to be installed.
Finally, here is the newly built transmission crossmember completely installed on the S-10 frame with the full weight of the engine and transmission on it.