Author Topic: is a k10 too much of a project for a beginner?  (Read 3262 times)

Offline wannak10

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is a k10 too much of a project for a beginner?
« on: April 07, 2020, 07:55:58 PM »
Hello all, I am going to be 16 soon and looking at getting a truck.  ;D
I love the look of the square bodys but know how much of a project my dad's k5 has been for him.
however, I have also heard that these trucks are very simple to work on. any thoughts?

thanks in advance.

Offline bigben5054

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Re: is a k10 too much of a project for a beginner?
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2020, 10:25:46 AM »
It all depends on the particular truck you are looking to buy and what you plan to do with it.  If it will be your daily transportation and you don't want a bunch of headaches, look for something close to original.  Many of these old trucks are really hacked up and molested.  Stay away from those.

Offline wannak10

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Re: is a k10 too much of a project for a beginner?
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2020, 02:52:40 PM »
right you don't want to buy a truck with 4-inch suspension blocks or something. But could you get a relatively unmodified truck with a highschoolers budget? Because I have yet to see one on craigslist for less than 5k. 
I should probably mention that I live in Alaska, so everything up here is an overpriced rust bucket it seems!  ;)
« Last Edit: April 08, 2020, 03:18:01 PM by wannak10 »

Offline wannak10

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Re: is a k10 too much of a project for a beginner?
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2020, 05:49:19 PM »
also, I intend to get a manual so how would I know which transmission it has from what I have read you want to get one with the SM465 but I don't know how to identify it from say the NP833?

Offline VileZambonie

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Re: is a k10 too much of a project for a beginner?
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2020, 07:00:05 PM »
Quote
SM465 but I don't know how to identify it
You can tell by the fact that you need to punch the dash when shifting and that it drives like a school bus. You're 15 and this is what you desire? What do you plan to do with your truck? When I was in HS everyone hated their granny tranny trucks and we did tons of swaps to TH350's and TH400's. It's an old school work truck trans, so if your plan is to use it to do work, then maybe it is something you'd want.
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Offline wannak10

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Re: is a k10 too much of a project for a beginner?
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2020, 07:15:42 PM »
Quote
SM465 but I don't know how to identify it
You can tell by the fact that you need to punch the dash when shifting and that it drives like a school bus. You're 15 and this is what you desire? What do you plan to do with your truck? When I was in HS everyone hated their granny tranny trucks and we did tons of swaps to TH350's and TH400's. It's an old school work truck trans, so if your plan is to use it to do work, then maybe it is something you'd want.

I guess I wanted to get a stickshift for better control when doing mild 4x4ing and because I have heard they are more engaging. Are there better options for casual driving then the SM465 that is still a stick shift?

Offline JAH

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Re: is a k10 too much of a project for a beginner?
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2020, 11:12:19 PM »
You can tell by the fact that you need to punch the dash when shifting and that it drives like a school bus...


Truth.  ;D


To the OP...

I have two '86 K30s...one with the TH400, and one with the SM465.  The TH400 truck is one of the best-driving classic trucks I have ever had the pleasure of driving. 

All of my manual-equipped "classic" trucks ('72 K20, '86 K30, '79 F-350, and '92 W350) have been a handful, albeit not in a bad way.  They've all been enjoyable trucks, but not as much as the TH400-equipped K30.  Out of all of 'em, the '72 K20 (with the 292 L6) was the most fun to drive.  However, I must admit that the '72 had the smoothest SM465 that I have had the pleasure of rowing.  It was unusually smooth. 

The TH400 is a hearty tranny.  In fact, the 1986 Bowtie truck brochure recommends that those using their trucks for towing should opt for the auto.  I can't speak to the strength of the TH350, as I'm an 8-lug truck guy, and the only vehicles I've owned that had TH350s were a '77 and '79 Trans-Am.

I'm an "old guy" (49), but not so old that I can't remember what it was like to be young.  So, I can understand the appeal (to a young guy) of driving a truck that has all the appeal of classic Deere.  Because of that, I say, "If your heart is set on a manual, go for it!"  But, the old guy in me would also tell you to not discount a good/clean truck because it's a slush box.


Happy huntin', young'n.  ;)
I spent most of my money on Jack Daniel's, Copenhagen, pocket knives, and 4X4 trucks.  The rest I just wasted.

Offline wannak10

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Re: is a k10 too much of a project for a beginner?
« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2020, 02:16:07 PM »
thanks, JAH your post was that perfect mix of funny and informative, I think I'm going to have to change my craigslist search filters now.
I think that will make it a bit easier to find one of these "old" trucks. ;D  I guess my last two questions would be is the NP203 really as bad as some say or would it be fine for a daily.
Also, I have read that these trucks are very prone to rust due to there mostly steel construction but I don't see how a little rust could affect performance in a body on frame vehicle unless the frame is rusted as well?

again thanks JAH bigben5054 and Vilezambonie you guys have helped a lot.

Offline JohnnyPopper

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Re: is a k10 too much of a project for a beginner?
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2020, 04:25:39 PM »
When I turned 16 my pop gave up his '57 Apache 3100 short/stepside with a 235 6 cylinder and three on the tree transmission. (Steering Column shifted) I learned a lot tearing into that truck  ;D

I concur with the sentiments on here about hindsight on old funky clunky trucks. Would have loved to have what I drive now back then.

My '78 K10 has a TH350, which is plenty strong for this rig, and has the NP203.

This transfer case is pretty tough, but being full time 4x4 is harder on gas than not. Also it taxes your horsepower.

I finally did the conversion to a part time kit by Miles Marker, DAY and NIGHT difference...

I think one of your early questions was about simplicity? They are very simple relative to more modern trucks. No silicone semiconductors.

If you find one with an automatic, don't worry about off roading, you can downshift an auto just fast as a manual. Maybe faster...

Just keep it clean inside, as in change the oil and filter on a regular basis. THAT is what keeps them alive and well, and money in your pocket.

Please come back when you get one, we would love to see what you find!
1957 Apache 3100 235 Inline 6, 3 on the tree
1973 C-20, 3+3 454 4BBL TH400  Water Injection
1978 K-10, 350 4BBL TH350 NP203 M.M. Part time Kit/Hubs
1980 C-10 under construction

Offline wannak10

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Re: is a k10 too much of a project for a beginner?
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2020, 05:45:15 PM »
When I turned 16 my pop gave up his '57 Apache 3100 short/stepside with a 235 6 cylinder and three on the tree transmission. (Steering Column shifted) I learned a lot tearing into that truck  ;D

I concur with the sentiments on here about hindsight on old funky clunky trucks. Would have loved to have what I drive now back then.

My '78 K10 has a TH350, which is plenty strong for this rig, and has the NP203.

This transfer case is pretty tough, but being full time 4x4 is harder on gas than not. Also it taxes your horsepower.

I finally did the conversion to a part time kit by Miles Marker, DAY and NIGHT difference...

I think one of your early questions was about simplicity? They are very simple relative to more modern trucks. No silicone semiconductors.

If you find one with an automatic, don't worry about off roading, you can downshift an auto just fast as a manual. Maybe faster...

Just keep it clean inside, as in change the oil and filter on a regular basis. THAT is what keeps them alive and well, and money in your pocket.

Please come back when you get one, we would love to see what you find!



thankyou for the advice you guys, I am now more convinced than ever that I need to find one of these square-bodys and get it.
I guess this wraps up things pretty well unless there is some pressing issue I do not know about.

Offline SilverMiner

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Re: is a k10 too much of a project for a beginner?
« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2020, 07:01:43 PM »
...  I guess my last two questions would be is the NP203 really as bad as some say or would it be fine for a daily.
Also, I have read that these trucks are very prone to rust due to there mostly steel construction but I don't see how a little rust could affect performance in a body on frame vehicle unless the frame is rusted as well? ...

wannaK10 - finding the right truck will be difficult enough without adding unnecessary restrictions. JAH provides an excellent example with regard to transmissions. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with a NP203 equipped rig. Finding a rig with a NP205 is better, but if you were lucky enough to find an unmolested '73 to '79 with the 203 and less than 100K miles on the clock I'd jump on that in a heartbeat if it were in your price range. The 203 suffered from undeserved bad press back in the day due to the 73 and 79 oil crisis, but they were and are a fundamentally solid t-case. Millions were converted to part-time for no better reason to gain an imagined 10% of economy in a rig that would only get 10mpg on average to start with. The likelyhood of chain failure does increase as the miles rack up, but you're diving into the old truck world and you can't let fear drive your decisions.

Offline wannak10

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Re: is a k10 too much of a project for a beginner?
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2020, 11:31:27 PM »
Ok well, I have thought that the 203s were cool because they work similarly to an AWD Subie or something, but on the note of a clean body, there are several k10s and k20s in my neighborhood that are mostly rust free. I would assume it is rude to just go up and ask if they are willing to sell their truck, is there a better way to go about that or should I just stick to craigslist, etc?

Offline zieg85

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Re: is a k10 too much of a project for a beginner?
« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2020, 07:30:39 AM »
I've had better luck both in selling and locating using Facebook Marketplace.  My $.02
1985 C30 Custom Deluxe Ext. cab 5.7L TH400 3.21 
1985 C20 Scottsdale 7.4L 4 speed 3.21
1986 C10 under construction
https://www.facebook.com/groups/248658382003506/

Offline wannak10

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Re: is a k10 too much of a project for a beginner?
« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2020, 02:44:48 PM »
Facebook marketplace, huh I will have to check that out. I thought it was just a place for people to sell old furniture.
thanks for the tip.  ;D

Offline Mr Diesel

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Re: is a k10 too much of a project for a beginner?
« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2020, 03:28:01 PM »
FB Marketplace is a GREAT place to find these old trucks right now. However, I bought my favorite squarebody (1983 K30 crewcab) by simply walking up to the front door and asking the owner if he wanted to sell it. Caught him at the right time and he thought about it and agreed. I went home that day the proud new owner.

My 1982 K30 crewcab was purchased the same way. Saw it parked and stopped to ask the owner if he wanted to sell. Cash talks and I drove that sucker home too!

Followed up on a great one the other day the same way. I should have waved some cash in front of him that day though, because I waited and now he is having second thoughts.

My wife looks at my squarebody collection and says I have a problem, but if there is one I sure don't see it.
1976 C20 Crewcab, 6.2L/SM465
1982 K30 Crewcab , 427TD/TH400
1983 C30, 6.2L/TH400
1983 K30 Crewcab 454/700R4
1986 K10 350/400. 1989 K30 cab/chassis 454/SM465