Topic: The wheelchair van project
Enlisting the wisdom of the internet, this should go well....
Got a 1955 GMC 1-ton panel truck running a 248 inline and SM420 transmission. The headgasket is gonzo, the con-rods clunk on startup, and the input shaft bearing in the trans is mulch. Been trying to find a place that will rebuild the block in Seattle, everyone wants to pull the engine and send it to a machine shop. Nobody even considered doing the rebuild without pulling the block, not sure why that is. I'm a paraplegic on a very limited income, so I only have $5K to throw at this, and I know that's about a third of what's needed.
A cheaper alternative is to buy a "new" inline to replace the worn-out block, there's no concern over originality since the factory 228 had a rod sticking out the side when I got it. There aren't too many running 248GMC left and I'd like to keep this one from exploding. For the cost of a rebuild at the machine shop, I can order a fresh inline that might not even require new engine mounts. That's looking like a better way to spend my pennies, and it will get me back on the road quicker.
I can already hear some of you saying, "Dude, it's an inline, just pop the top off and change the gasket." And I would agree, if I didn't live in an apartment building in Seattle, and my lease didn't have a specific clause about doing work on your vehicle in the parking lot. Basically, if it's gonna be more than a weekend project I risk eviction. I've done the brakes, wheel bearings, and rewired the dash (twice) in this parking lot, but it always started and drove on Monday when the manager clocked in.
The challenge then becomes the transmission swap. Got a 1996 Chev Blazer with a 4L60 that I'm told will bolt up to the GM inlines with an adapter plate. I'll need to enlarge the rust hole in the van's floor and add some transmission mounts, then rebuild the center section of the 2-piece driveshaft. Add my hand controls to the steering column and I'm off to find a lift that fits the back doors.
I am a member of several vintage truck forums, but when I start talking about chopping into 65+ year old sheetmetal they get squeamish and make preservationist noises. This ain't a show truck, it's not a candidate for restoration, and I can't afford to subframe and LS swap like all the cool "non-conformist" kids have already done. There's not a single straight piece of sheetmetal on it, and it's painted with Rustoleum rattlecans. I don't need to impress anyone, I just need a reliable van.
So now you know what I've been doing during lockdown. Thoughts, suggestions, and open ridicule are welcome.