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Unread 01-25-2014, 01:31 PM
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Default Re: Vorshlag Shop Truck - 5.3L SWB GMT800

Originally Posted by Fair! View Post
...Ed's '03 GMC 3500...
FYI...My truck is a 2005.

You should fact check before posting.
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Unread 06-05-2014, 06:49 PM
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Default Re: Vorshlag Shop Truck - 5.3L SWB GMT800 (Truck Norris!)

Project Update for June 5, 2015: Wow, been a few months and we've finally gotten around to some updates to Truck Norris. A nagging "CEL" has been repaired, the truck was custom dyno tuned (which fixed a bunch of issues), we got yet another new windshield (freagin rocks!), and some busted lights were replaced. Let's cover it...


So Truck Norris has been running progressively worse for months, and we've had a Check Engine Light since we put the headers and new exhaust on. I know why, and we knew it would happen, but I figured I'd get the truck custom tuned at some point to work with the mods that it has (cold air + full length headers). The state inspection finally ran out, and I had to get it tuned before it would pass again, so I finally called the folks at True Street Motorsports and got an appointment to bring it in a couple of weeks ago. These are the guys that have tuned our 2011 Mustang GT so well, and we send all manner of cars and trucks their way for EFI tuning.

As I try to do when getting work done by any outside shop I made them a list of the mods we knew the truck had, the problems we were experiencing, how we used the truck, and sent a copy via email when we scheduled the work + left a printed copy on the front seat to make sure they knew what we had and needed. I asked them to fix the CEL, dyno tune the engine/air/fuel/spark, up the line pressure in the automatic trans (it was slipping a bit), see why it had crappy fuel mileage, calibrate the speedo for these 20" tires, and see if they could tame the cold start hunting idle. They also knew to tune for cheaper 87 octane fuel, daily driving and hauling around heavy loads from time to time. I wasn't looking for a race tune, just a good safe street tune. The current state of tune on the motor was a total mess... but they did their magic!

As you can see from the dyno sheet above there were some issues with the (before) stock tune when coupled with the K&N cold air and ARH headers, plus our custom exhaust. A previous owner had installed a different set of headers (craptastic and leaking Edlebrock shorties), a janky exhaust, and the K&N cold air... tens if not hundreds of thousands of miles ago. After so many years of abuse the actual air filter element was old, dirty and had a big hole in it (which I hadn't seen - doh!). They called before they replaced the filter, which I thanked them for finding, then did a base line pull. They said the fuel trims were off by 25%, with the engine running lean and the computer trying like mad to get it all sorted via the O2 readings.

I daily drive this truck from home to work, then it gets used in deliveries, and our mixed but consistent city/highway fuel mileage had been steadily dropping from around 14-15 mph to 11-12 mpg of late (I log every fuel fill up and calculate the mileage over each tank), so I knew something was wrong - even considering the speedo was off by about 8% due to our tire height change from stock. After the custom dyno tune the engine picked up 13 whp at the peak, but more importantly it RUNS 100 times better. I've been driving it for about 2 weeks and it is an entirely different experience.

Sure, it only makes 260 whp and 300 ft-lbs at the tires, but its literally the weakest 5.3L engine GM ever made and was only rated at 285hp at the crank, stock. It also has racked up over 245,000 miles. I'm just happy that it still runs, holds most of its fluids inside the engine, and gets me to work every day without fail. After the re-tune it feels a lot crisper on throttle, the transmission isn't slipping, and the idle speed is rock solid, hot or cold.

They only had the truck in for tuning for a day, and the fuel level was low after they were done, so I filled up the tank on the way back from True Street. After driving all over town for about a week and a half, it had gone through 19.55 gallons of 87 octane. With the speedo now calibrated (which hurt our numbers) the truck still managed 15.65 mpg on that tank, compared to 12.73 mpg on the previous tank (and the trend of 11-12 mpg had gone back for months in my fuel log). Lots of people drove the GMC over that week, including me, Brandon, Brad, Shannon, and one of our customers Marc - who all had driven it before, and each remarked at how much better it ran and drove. Good stuff.


Over the time we've had this truck it has had a few rocks fly up at the windshield. It gets driven around Dallas and Ft. Worth to pick up and drop off parts from our various machine shops, platers/coaters, and other vendors. Often times it is driven in heavy traffic, through construction zones, you name it. I bought this truck with a giant crack in the windshield, which I had the folks at Titan Auto Glass replace last year. It was nice having a new windshield, as all of the tiny pock marks, chips and cracks become even more noticeable after you replace it with a perfect new piece of safety glass.

The new windshield wasn't in the truck for THREE WEEKS before it was ruined. I was driving on GBT going 70 mph and a big 18 wheeler kicked up a huge rock and POW! It popped the front glass on the passenger side and I watched as this fixable chip progressed into an 18" long crack over the next 30 minutes of my drive. GRR! Just figures.

Once again, the new state inspection was looming so I had a good excuse to get the windshield replaced. And Jason's 8.1L GMT800 truck just had a huge rock impact in it's front glass also, so we called Titan and they brought two identical new front windshields and changed them both the same day.

We pressed the "easy button" and called Titan to do their thing. Both GMT800 trucks had brand new, quality replacement windshields within about 90 minutes. We will also replace the huge, gaudy front "Vorshlag.com" windshield banner with something new.


Most GMT800 trucks came with running lights in the USA, as part of some Daylight Running Light safety program. The trucks either came with the main headlights on during daylight or with small clear lenses that illuminate inside of the amber parking lights.

Well this truck had the smaller Daylight Running Lights, and one was burned out when I bought it. This is super common in the GMT800 series, as my 2002 1500HD had the "cyclops" look for the entire time I owned it (and after trying a new bulb it wouldn't work). Come to find out these trucks often had this light bulb sockets burn out, with some crappy GM wiring or metal fixture in the socket that would always get friend - usually on one side. If you know what to look for you will see hundreds of these GMT800 trucks with one DLR that is always out.

When we replaced the front lights and grill last time I had hoped to fix this issue with new bulbs, but of course that wasn't it. So I ordered the light bulb socket above (ACDelco LS94 Daytime Running Lamp Socket) for $16, and asked our guys to replace it. I also ordered a pair of 3157 style LED bulbs to replace the old ones. I looked for something better than the standard incandescent bulbs and decided to try some "super bright" LED replacement bulbs that were "very white". There was an amazing number of these cheap LED bulbs available with anywhere from 12 to 68 "SMD" LEDs on mounted onto a cluster that mimics the 3157 bulb's shape. Most were $1-2 each, almost all of them shipped from China, and the customer reviews were generally TERRIBLE. I picked one of the 68-SMD units that had 3.5 stars, which was relatively high for these units, for $2.15 for the pair.

It turns out that the bulb socket wasn't bad, and Brad was able to repair the stock socket with a little fiddling (one of the connectors had been mashed down and wasn't making contact). They installed the two LED 3157 bulbs, and, well... they look awful. Nothing even remotely approaching "white light", instead its much more "blue" and just turrible. So if you learn anything from this it is: check the socket to see if it can be fixed, and don't buy these cheesy LED bulbs.

One of our fabricators, Olof, picked up a GMT800 Short Bed Short Cab Chevy a few months back and it looks pretty slick. He bought the truck with the mods shown and it is riding on OEM Chevy 20" truck wheels, is lowered several inches at both ends, and has a Chevy 4.8L V8 under the hood. He's already replaced the steering rack and done some other repairs, so I'll include any updates to Olof's Chevy in the Truck Norris thread when I do updates from now on. Of the 10 people that work at Vorshlag, 3 of us own GMT800 trucks now (me, Olof and Jason).

Last but not least is a Raptor vs Truck Norris comparison. One of our friends (Nathan) picked up this 6.2L Raptor from our local Ford sales guru Corey White and it is damned nice. But, the interesting thing is, Truck Norris gets better fuel mileage, weighs a crapload less, and costs about 1/10th of what the Raptor did. And our GMC has wider tires... so there!


That's all for this time. We still have lots of little things to tweak and update, and someday I'll get around to drop spindles up front and a C-notch kit out back to get MOAR LOW.

With a current inspection sticker, custom engine tuning, and a new windshield, Truck Norris is looking better than ever


Last edited by Fair!; 07-03-2017 at 09:24 AM.
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Unread 07-24-2016, 02:03 PM
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Default Re: Vorshlag Shop Truck - 5.3L SWB GMT800 (Truck Norris!)

Project Update for July 24, 2016: It has been over a year since my last update, and Truck Norris has racked up tens of thousands of mostly trouble-free miles. We have done very little maintenance on this truck in that period, which is is frankly... a little embarrassing. You know how it goes.. we've been busy at the shop, and I haven't had the manpower, time or money to do much to my old shop truck. Recently I hired a new technician / fabricator (Donnie), and he had a few hours of time available while waiting on parts for billable customer work... and I had a pile of parts for Truck Norris that need to be installed. He only spent a half day but knocked out a TON of much needed repairs in July. There were also a couple of things done since my last post last year - an oil change, window switch, and one tie rod - but nothing else. Most of this below happened in one day, and man it made me happy to get this truck back in tip top shape!

Over the past year since my last post Truck Norris has carried me to work 7 days a week, hauled transmissions, transferred up pallets of machined and laser cut parts, and taken wheels and tires all over town. Almost 30K miles worth of hard work, never driven easy, because I'm always in a damn hurry, LOL! In mixed driving it has gotten between 15-17 mpg, which considering how much city driving I do, is pretty good. I even took this truck on a few trips out of town (100-200 miles away), which was risky considering how much maintenance had been deferred. But now we fixed a lot of that, so it is now longer a worry - I'd hop in this truck now and drive it to Alaska, no sweat.

As you will read below, I had "pushed" a lot of issues out of mind on this truck. This is not at all how we treat customer cars, or even our own shop race cars. This truck is like the honey badger - it just doesn't care if we change the oil, or ignore other maintenance issues. Mostly these things little things have just been slowly driving me insane. Owning a motorsports business is not a great way to make "mountains of gold", so this truck has been the last thing that gets worked on. Poor old Truck Norris has been ignored for the entirety of the last year - hell, its been 14 months since the last oil change! Shameful.

I also haven't had a lot of time to properly document many of our continuing build threads since January, after I took over our purchasing & service invoicing position 6 months ago. I still work a lot of hours but cannot seem to find the time to update our forum build threads properly - trying to rectify that today! I've posted several "This Week At Vorshlag" videos which cover some of the highlights of a few projects (see our YouTube channel) but Truck Norris here has been ignored completely on those. So why not, let's do a quick and dirty update on the Vorshlag Shop Truck right now.


The ABS system started bugging out about 2 years ago, mostly during rainy days. Seemed like something was getting wet and causing this pair of warning lights (below) to pop up. When that happened the ABS stopped working completely - not that it ever works all that well. I'm convinced GM doesn't know how to make an ABS system worth a damn (ask me how easily I can ICE MODE the brakes on a modern Corvette or Camaro).

All of the "internet wisdom" on the truck forums said to replace the ABS Control Module, so we ordered the Dorman remanufactured unit above. Nearly $300 but at least it is somewhat easy to replace.

The ABS hydraulic unit is mounted under the cab, next to the fuel filter. The ABS control module is the bit bolted on top, in the image above. My guys replaced this late in 2015, but we had a bit of a dry spell, and the warning lights never came on again. Sure enough, a few months later when it rained, the ABS failure lights were back. Now they are on about 1/3rd of the time, even on dry days. So yea, we're still chasing that one. So this issue has been "pushed" for now. I always brake early for everything in the wet, and most vehicles built for the past 100 years didn't have ABS systems, either. Meh.

Another PITA little nagging issue that cropped up in 2015 was the "SECURITY" light shown above. This is a failure in the Vehicle Anti Theft System that GM uses on all of their cars. The system (and its many failings) is detailed online, but it was bugging and the light kept coming flashing... flashing... Sometimes this was followed by a failure to start - you would turn the key in the ignition and nothing would happen. Some communication with the ECM and the key or some garbage? It left me stranded a couple of times, but if you sat and waited 10-15 minutes it would crank back up. Usually only did this when its 100 degrees outside, so you can sweat while you wait. Yay! Sometimes when I tried a second key it would start. Why? Who knows.

One internet theory was that some wiring in the column gets chafed. I took the column cover off (pin head or "Security" Torx bits needed) and checked everything - no worn wires, no shorts. I finally got fed up with it and asked Sean from True Street Motorsports to hook up to the ECM and just turn the damned VATS system off in the programming. The light still comes on at random times, but it hasn't "not started" since he did that bit of programming. Thanks Sean!

Another thing that was fixed back in January of 2016 was a front tie rod. This had a worn out ball joint end for months, and the wobble on the left front wheel had gotten so bad I couldn't stand it. Checked it out, ordered the replacement part, and Olof swapped that in. The left front tire had taken a beating during that time and had worn the inside into cords, so it was replaced - just the one tire.

Why just the one? Well the other 3 tires were still in OK shape and I didn't want to replace the rest until I decided if I wanted to keep this tire and wheel size. The ride quality has been worsening and wasn't sure if the 20" wheels were the right option long term (I waffled between 18" and 20" wheel choices when I bought this set of Forgestars). So just one tire, sort of a "push" until the rest of the tires got worse or I managed to get a new set of something better than "Generals". I'd like to have a new set of Michelin LTX tires (the best highway truck tires made) which are about $217/each, nearly double what these cheap-o General GRABBER UHP tires cost ($125/each). But you "get what you pay for" when it comes to truck tires. Always. Even when it comes to car tires, it is hard to beat the performance / ride / quality of Michelin. They just seem to be at the top of their game right now...


The years haven't being so kind to old Truck Norris here. Several interior bits have broken or fallen off in the last year... hey, its an 18 year old work truck, after all.

I need to replace those bits above + the steering wheel cover, when I have the time and budget. I've had bigger issues of late so those have been a "push" for now. Just typical "old car stuff" on a truck nearing 300K miles.

The worst part of the interior in this truck since I have owned it has been the steering wheel. The top of the leather cover has baked in the sun for nearly two decades, which dries out the material and causes cracks. A previous owner must have picked at this cover unconsciously and has shredded the top bits. Now watch this video on steering wheel wrap styles.

As I researched ways to make Truck Norris' (and another car I'm working on) steering wheel nice, I found that there are some really nice, custom leather steering wheel cover "kits" you can buy to install and stitch yourself. These come in two varieties: perimeter wraps, and OEM fit wraps. The perimeter wrap kits, like this brand, are "semi-universal", and fit around the perimeter of the wheel but do not go into the spokes. These can be customized ($50-150 for leather) and are relatively cheap. They can be installed by a DIY guy in a couple of hours, but it doesn't look even remotely factory, and depends heavily on your own skill.

The OEM fit wrap kits made much more closely to the OEM shapes, and can also be customized, for around $150-250 for the kits alone. These can take 5-10 man hours to install properly, require a LOT more skill, and frankly are not appropriate for a DIY install. But they do look very nice. Again, watch the video above to see what the differences is and how they are done. "Ain't nobody got time fo that!" There are companies that offer this as a service - you remove your steering wheel, ship it to the shop, and have these OEM kits installed. This can cost from $250-1000. The cheaper priced services have the installation work done mostly done in Eastern Europe, for what it's worth. You could be without a steering wheel for weeks or months, in that case. As with anything, you get what you pay for.

The third route to rewrap a crusty or torn steering wheel is a slip-on cover, and this seems more appropriate for Truck Norris. These can range from REALLY crappy looking to not-quite-as-crappy. I just bought the $21 leather steering wheel cover above for Jack Daniels, our BMW 325Ci. Installing this took some effort but stretched over the OEM steering wheel with two sets of hands in about 2 minutes (Pro Tip - halfway install these and let it sit in the sun for an hour, warming it up and making it more pliable). It doesn't look half as bad as the old, ripped up steering wheel leather on that BMW. I'll probably measure this truck's wheel and order one like this soon. Make sure you get the right outer diameter to fit your wheel.

The power window on one side was very slow then eventually stopped working late last year but this new window switch assembly fix that right up. The felts are worn out on that passenger window, too, and it has ripped up the window tint on that side. One more thing that needs to be restored, one more "push".

The damned radio stopped working in 2015, which is slowly driving me insane. One day the speakers made this loud POP! noise and then... nothing. The lights on the Alpine head unit come on, but the amp is dead and at least two of the speakers are blown.

I'm no audiophile, but I have racked up a lot of miles in this truck in the last year, spending most of that time with no working radio. Instead I use my phone on a dash mount to listen to streaming music + my navigation app, but the volume and sound quality is as bad as you might expect. And with no hands free Bluetooth phone connection any longer, its a hassle / danger to make or answer calls.

I haven't installed a car stereo since high school, and that one was a cassette deck... so its been a few decades, and I'm a bit rusty. The proper radio fix is "simple": give a bunch of money to a stereo shop (I got quotes from $1000+) to replace the amp and speakers. Option 2 is to rip out this old aftermarket amplifier, aftermarket speaker box, and blown factory speakers, replace the factory speakers with new units, and re-wire the entire radio and speaker wiring in the truck (where the internal amp in the head unit drives the speakers). Due to costs or time, neither of these options has been high on my list, so another "push" until I get the motivation. But soon....


I used to be good about maintaining my own cars and trucks, but as my free time has dwindled down to zero and the shop stays busy on customer work, my vehicles seem to be the last ones worked on. What do they say, "a Cobblers children have no shoes"? That's so true...

I make sure and get a picture of any work on this truck, and the last oil change was May of 2015. Holy crap, that's terrible... at least it is synthetic. And "luckily" about a quart leaks/burns off every month, so its been sort of changing itself, you could say. We checked it last week and it was 2 freagin quarts low - good grief! Fixing the leaks on a 275K engine is kind of pointless, though, and we have another built LSX engine I would like to install in this truck soon. So another "push"...

continued below

Last edited by Fair!; 07-30-2016 at 02:49 PM.
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Unread 07-24-2016, 02:50 PM
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Default Re: Vorshlag Shop Truck - 5.3L SWB GMT800 (Truck Norris!)

continued from above


After a year... OK two years of deferred maintenance, this happened last week:

Massive transmission fluid leak that, after 3 days, just wasn't seeming to fix itself. Where are those magic leprechauns when you need them??? Luckily I had just hired a new mechanic that knows GM vehicles well, and he diagnosed the issue minutes after he got the truck up on a lift.

Apparently a transmission hard line had worn through where it was rubbing on the oil pan for the last 18 years. It leaked enough to cover the underside of the truck in trans fluid... yay. Guess its not gonna rust anytime soon, so that is a bonus.

After ordering a new pre-bent trans cooler hard line from one of our suppliers ($17.10) and some new retaining clips for both ends ($10), the busted line was replaced in mere minutes. It needed 4 quarts of trans fluid, so that was added. While its up in the air I gave Donnie a pile of parts I had been accumulating and asked him to install "whatever you can by noon". After that I needed him back on a customer job.

The fuel level gauge has been psychotic for over a year, going from dead empty (with accompanying "LOW FUEL" light flashing, switching between that and the constant "SECURITY" light) to sometimes showing the actual fuel level reading. Lately it hasn't worked properly even 10% of the time, so I just use the trip odometer to gauge my fuel range. I had purchased the Dorman 2630370 replacement fuel pump / level sensor almost a year ago, but one of my former technicians said he needed to pull the bed to access the tank to fix this. I didn't want to tie up the shop for a whole damned day just to fix the fuel level gauge so I "pushed" this repair on my truck for almost a year.

Donnie knew the proper procedure, however, which was much easier than that. First he removed the rear of the driveshaft from the axle, lowering that out of the way. Then put our telescoping transmission transmission jack under the fuel tank. Disconnected the filler neck and dropped the tank down 2 feet, full of fuel and still connected. Then he could access the top and pull out the older pump assembly. He had this replaced in 20 minutes, hot damn! I told him to keep going.

One major suspension issue that has been broken since I bought this truck 3.5 years ago were the rear lowering shackles. These were installed by a previous owner to lower the rear ride height about 2 inches, so they are about 2" longer than the stock bits. These had polyurethane bushings instead of rubber, and they had worn out ages ago - before I bought this truck. Every time you came to a stop the shackles would articulate (as normal) but would get STUCK. The back of the truck would stay up a couple of inches. Then when you drove away from a stop the rear end would BANG back down, after the shackles unstuck. It was driving me crazy, like so many things on this old truck.

It was hard to tell with these installed, but the shackles were actually sticking sideways a bit, twisting the rear leaf springs when they rotated. The rear shackles need to articulate slightly during suspension travel, but when they get stuck (constantly) it degraded the ride quality - badly. Part of the problem with buying a modified vehicle with a lot of miles on it is you don't know exactly what they have done, and which parts of what quality they used.

I didn't really want to chase down and re-purchase the janky aftermarket lowering shackles they had used before, so I took a chance and purchased OEM length shackles last year (2 qty Dorman 722029, $19.32 each). The trailer hitch had to come off to get the bolts out (which were installed backwards), but then the new Dorman parts were installed with the new hardware the correct way. Bushings were fresh, lengths were OEM correct for this truck. Another seemingly hard fix that turned out to be easy. I'm not an experienced truck mechanic, but it sure helps to have a guy on staff that knows these trucks.

He checked all of the rest of the front suspension ball joints, and surprisingly they were all in good shape - no excessive movement when pushed with a pry bar. All 4 wheels and tires were re-balanced (finding a thrown weight - which are all now secured with aluminum tape) and rotating the tires front to back. That constant shimmy that was there at 60 mph before is now gone. Oh, and he checked the diff fluid and it was 1.5 quarts low, which he refilled - I think it only holds 3 quarts. One more think to plan for later.

Donnie was skilled in A/C repairs and he hooked up to, diagnosed, and fixed the busted A/C on the truck in less than 15 minutes. It hasn't worked worth a damn for over 6 months, but with a can of R134a it is back to freezing cold again. Right in time for 100F weather, too. He topped off the engine oil and had all of that finished before lunch, so my truck didn't tie up the shop all day.


That was a lot of fixes to Truck Norris in a half day, and it was well worth it. The ride quality is vastly improved (new shackles) and the rear end isn't getting "hung up" every time I come to a stop. The Air Con works again! The trans leak is fixed, diff fluid and engine oil topped off, the tires were re-balanced, and the fuel gauge now works. There is more to fix, of course.

The factory 5.3L V8 feels a bit more sluggish lately, maybe losing some compression, and its seeing more detonation as the ambient temps rise. It is definitely burning (and leaking) some oil, and with 275K miles it might finally be time to replace it. I have a fresh, fully race built LSX V8 left over from a previous project, which has an iron block. I can't put an iron block LS engine in any race car (its 80 pounds on the nose), so its been sitting there waiting to replace the worn out 5.3L in Truck Norris for a bit.

But the old 5.3L just keeps going and going, like the damned Energizer bunny! It leaks oil, knocks, and feels slower, but nothing else serious enough seems to go wrong with it. If we ever get the time to sneak this truck into the shop for a couple of days, I'll have the crew install that motor into this truck. The 275K mile 4L60E transmission is very much on its last legs, so it really needs to be replaced with a freshened and beefed up unit if we add a 400 whp engine to the truck, too. Just takes time and money.

This truck also needs a rear gear ratio change (its too tall, making the engine lug at highway speed - down shifting too much to maintain 70-80 mph) and a limited slip differential. That open diff has been a nuisance ever since I bought this truck. We have been using Donnie to do rear gear + differential setups for several years, and now that he is here as an employee we will use his talents to update this rear axle on Truck Norris, soon.

Radio has got to be fixed soon, and now the rear ride height is 2" taller again, with the OEM length rear shackles. That is making my eye twitch....

My buddy Jason's similar 2000 GMC 1500 has had the front end updated to a 2003 grill installed along with the 2003 bumper bits. I bought all of these parts ages ago but haven't them installed yet. I'll try to sneak the new 2003 black bumper and lower plastics onto my truck soon, along with a few other things I purchased that haven't been installed - like new door hinge pin repair kits, bed rail covers, and a later model tail gate cap. The paint is getting pretty rough on this truck, but I can't think about that right now. Too many other fires to put out on too many other projects. Already spent too much time writing this...


Last edited by Fair!; 07-30-2016 at 02:59 PM.
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Unread 08-18-2016, 09:05 PM
FuelerFire FuelerFire is offline
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Default Re: Vorshlag Shop Truck - 5.3L SWB GMT800 (Truck Norris!)

Something about your truck looks familiar...

Mine even came from Texas. It's a 2002 that I picked up on Ebay and drove from Jacksonville, FL to Dallas to pick up in 2004. Was supposedly a show truck for Boze wheels (hence the bling) that the owner lost in a divorce. The receipts for work and parts was more than what I paid for it. He was even nice enough to install a Vortech supercharger and prepay the XM radio. Anyway it's been a fun and reliable truck that I have no intention of getting rid of and it's time to show her some love so I have enjoyed reading about your progress.

Time is cruel to us all and this one is no exception....
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Unread 08-18-2016, 09:26 PM
FuelerFire FuelerFire is offline
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Default Re: Vorshlag Shop Truck - 5.3L SWB GMT800 (Truck Norris!)

Here's how she sits at the moment...

Don't make fun of my grandpa topper. I was remodeling our house for a year before we could move in and needed to keep tools with me all the time. As for the wheels, I just don't have the time to polish billet constantly and 305/45r22s are stupid heavy. This thing couldn't spin the tires with the old wheels. I do miss the handling though so things are about to change.

Plans are to ditch the topper, drop it back down, freshen up the suspension, rebuild the blower and at least start gathering parts for a 5 or 6 speed swap. So that leaves a few questions:
What part numbers did you use for the Bilstein 5100s and what needed modifying?
What is the story on the wheels? I want something light and sportscar-ish. I used to work for Brumos Racing and even talked to the owner of FABCAR once about making a set of hubs to be able to run center-lock Fikses like we had on our Daytona Prototype. Not gonna lie, I still want that, but stupid adult responsibility stuff.
Have you got any products in mind for the future? I'd love to see a watts link or other suspension goodies. Maybe work out the kinks to swap the new 6.2 in these. Or even just a good complete manual trans swap kit. Lots of guys have done the t56 swap, but they are getting expensive and the double overdrive makes a rear gear change necessary. The Tremec TKO has some good ratio options and is lighter to boot.
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Unread 03-30-2017, 01:45 PM
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Default Re: Vorshlag Shop Truck - 5.3L SWB GMT800 (Truck Norris!)

Project Update for March 30, 2017: Well I've got good news and bad news. The good news is we did a lot of little repairs on TruckNorris since my last post. For the first couple of months of 2017 it was as CLEAN AS IT HAD EVER BEEN in the four years I owned it. And the radio worked, with all 4 speakers, for the first time as well.

The bad news is - some jackass slammed into the back of me and drove the truck into other stopped traffic on the highway, totaling it. Yes, TruckNorris is dead.... LONG LIVE TRUCK NORRIS!

I bought the truck back after the insurance payout yesterday. We will use some parts of TruckNorris on our next truck build; whatever we don't use will be listed for sale in a future post.

We did get a lot of little upgrades and repairs done in the months since my last post, and some might be helpful to you readers with GMT800 trucks, so I am going ahead and finish the forum build thread update.


What's the saying, "The cobbler's children have no shoes"? Well the shop owners car is often the last one to get worked on. When you have more work lined up than you can ever complete, it's hard to make time for my crew here to work on my daily driver. I finally snapped, and last fall the interior TruckNorris was beyond dirty and dysfunctional.

This 3 year old picture was a distant memory - the interior was nasty by Fall 2016. I had been battling with a field mouse that kept sneaking inside during cold weather, eating paper, and pooping on the carpet. We live out in the country and that's what happens sometimes. I was setting traps inside the truck every night, had bait stations in the garage, even started parking the truck inside, but the bastard kept sneaking in and fouling the interior - it was time for drastic a cleanup in there!

Back in October 2016 we had some unscheduled time for Donnie, so he started by pulling out the seats, then the dead amp and speaker box (which were thrown away). Then he pulled some interior trim and out came the carpet and sound mat material. He stripped the interior down to the bare metal, and even pulled the door panels (for a speaker upgrade that came a month later).

Normally the moment I buy any used vehicle I do this - pull the seats, steam clean the carpets and floormats, and give the interior a serious scrubbing. I got too busy and never did this until October of 2016, when the smell of mouse droppings got too strong. The carpets were seriously nasty, with crumbs of food, drink stains, and trash everywhere. No wonder the mice were wanting to break into the cabin! Disgusting.

After vacuuming the carpets while still in the truck, Donnie removed the entire carpet and power washed it with soap and water. Normally a hot soapy water solution with a steam cleaner style carpet cleaner works well enough (you can rent these for about $20-25 from your local grocery store) and that's what I've always done on my own. But this carpet was nasty - gallons of coke and/or coffee had been spilled in this truck over the last 18 years and it needed some pressure to get it clean. The sound mat was washed also. The carpet and mat were left out to air dry for 24 hours.

The sticky soft drink stains were also all over the metal structures of the seats and interior plastics that had been removed, so those were all pressure washed as well. After the seats were vacuumed a damp towel was used to remove any gunk from the seat fabric. Lots of soap and water and towels later, the seats looked NEW. They were also left to dry for 24 hours. While he had the power washer hooked up I asked him to power wash the engine bay as well.

With the interior removed, steam cleaned, and no food or trash left inside, the metal floors were then washed and dried as well before the carpets went back in.

With the sound mat and carpet cleaned and dried they were replaced back inside, then the cleaned seats went in next. These nasty carpets looked brand new - it might have been 4 years after I bought the truck, but it was nice to see that. The truck smelled clean and fresh, and no more mice were noticed inside again. It took 6.42 hours to get the interior this clean, but it was worth it.

The aftermarket amp that was mounted under the passenger seat had died a year ago, and I haven't had a working radio since. This was driving me nuts! So with the carpets out Donnie removed all of the janky wiring and even re-wired the Alpine head unit to cut the amp out of the circuit (there were just pre-amp outputs at the head unit, before). Luckily the person who added the amp was lazy and left the wires in the dash, so they were re-wired to the Alpine harness and routed back to the stock speaker locations. It would be a month until we had new speakers and the time to add them...

Three of the four old speakers were trashed, but for that month I had the radio working with ONE speaker, and it was glorious! I had been listening to my phone on my daily commute and parts runs for over a year, so one speaker was heaven. Now it was time to splurge on four all new speakers. Woo! A month after the interior cleanup, on November 28th, 2016, Donnie removed the door panels and got to work mounting the new gear.

The old tweeters (aftermarket) had been mounted with nails and hot glue... not kidding, look at that picture! This was one of the jankiest speaker installs of all time. Donnie cut all that crap out, modified the mounting flanges and bolted in the speakers correctly.

A pair of 6.75" round speakers went in the doors and then some 4x6" speakers went in the rear B-pillar area, under the stock grills (see above). These aren't the exact stock sizes but damned close, and are the sizes that both Crutchfield and the interwebs recommend. With a little trimming and drilling for new holes, they fit fine.

When you are ballin on a budget like me, sometimes you have to make compromises. For the doors I ordered Rockford Fosgate R1675X2 Prime 6.75" round Coaxial Speakers, which were $37 a pair. The rear speakers were Rockford Fosgate Punch P1462 4"x6" units at $52 for the pair. So for $89 total the new speakers were not exactly super high end, but they were also not blown out speakers held in with nails and hot glue!

During the interior / radio work Donnie also fixed the aftermarket center console latch, which was always "sticky" - now it was smooth as butter, and always latched like it should. He also found all of the hardware and replaced the steering column plastics that I had taken off over a year earlier when I was chasing "security light" issues.

Sometime in the new radio wiring / speaker install work the microphone cable for the Alpine unit's Bluetooth setup was cut. So I ordered a replacement (this would be the 3rd one for this truck, but they are only $20) and it was installed on Feb 17th, 2017. The radio work in November and February totaled 3.22 hours, but damn was it worth it. For the first time in the 4 years of truck ownership I had 4 working speakers and a working Bluetooth microphone for hands free calling. I felt like king of the world! (for two whole weeks!)

After a Mobil1 synthetic oil change and new Wix oil filter in January, the next upgrade was replacing the wiper arms and wiper blades. I was feeling rich and spent $42 and got all new wiper arms and new blades.

See above - the 18 year old wiper arms were hammered, the paint all peeled off, and they looked terrible. Could we have stripped, sanded, cleaned, and painted them? Sure, but they were so inexpensive it made sense to just get new ones from RockAuto. DORMAN 42548 (left) and 42535 (right) wiper arms were only $24 for the pair. BOSCH 4822 (22") Evolution beam style wiper blades were all of $9 each.

Brad installed these parts on Feb 27th, one day before the truck was totaled. Its almost funny - I never even got to use them once.


On Feb 28th, 2017, I was coming back from Microcenter with $3000 worth of new Dell computer equipment. Traffic on highway 75 was backing up so I slowed down and stopped behind a line of cars, behind a trailer (above) that was full of dirt and cement, being pulled by a 1 ton Ford truck.

I stopped short of the trailer by 15 feet, not even 1/2 braking effort, but it was a quick stop. Normal city traffic stuff, but some lanes were still buzzing by at 50-55+ mph. And so was the driver of the van behind me, who was jacking around on his phone and never hit his brakes...

I was stopped, just starting to look in the rear view and all I saw was grill... BOOM! The white 3/4 ton van plowed into the back of TruckNorris and shoved me into the trailer ahead, pushing the stopped truck & trailer and my truck forward another 25-30 feet. The van was doing 50+ mph, and it was a HARD hit; first from behind, then from front. Popped the airbags.

The hit was so hard it buckled the rear frame rails and the entire bed/fenders in the rear, and of course knocked the rear bumper all askew. The subsequent front hit looks pretty bad, but I was stopped and then shoved hard into the trailer ahead. The rear hit was enough to total the truck, but the front hit did a LOT more damage. In Texas this type of accident is considered fully the fault of the car at the back of the train, and his insurance just paid me the property claim for my totaled truck.

As bad as it looks, TruckNorris was still able to restart and drive 1/2 a mile away from traffic and into a parking lot, to await the police. Steering was a little off, but otherwise it drove fine! The transmission started leaking fluid, since the radiator was shredded in the hit, so it was slipping a little when the flatbed arrived.

Pour one out for your homie #TruckNorris

Yesterday I got the check for the difference of the value of my truck minus the buy back. It was a pretty piss poor payout, and I since then have learned to add a "aftermarket upgrade rider" to my own insurance policy whenever we have done significant upgrades or modifications to our vehicles. That way it is insured for X dollars, no matter what the blue book value shows. So yea, they gave me what they thought a 18 year old truck with 280K miles was worth - never mind that I couldn't buy a regular cab / short bed / 5.3L V8 GMT800 for double what they paid me. Never mind the 8K in parts upgrades - we gave them receipts, didn't matter.

We will use this truck for parts on the next build, then sell off the rest of the interior, drivetrain bits and wheels - so I will post here again when that happens. As bummed out as I've been over the last month about losing my truck, I'm starting to get excited about the next build. We never got to do the big engine upgrade, but the next one will get BIG LS power.


Yes, I was hurt in the accident, but that is still a pending case so I can't talk about it here. What I can talk about is what comes next for my Daily Driver / Fast Delivery truck.

After lots of discussions, tons of research, and hundreds of CraigsList searches I have decided on... a GMT420. That refers to a Tahoe or Yukon made from 1995-1999, and specifically I'm looking for the rare 2 door version that is RWD (instead of the 4WD or 4 door versions). I think they look great, and their 111.5" wheelbase is shorter than even TruckNorris' short 119", which makes it smaller, easier to maneuver, and lighter than any of the 4 door SUV versions.

I'll talk more about that build in a NEW project build thread, which I will start shortly after I find the right candidate to start with. The 454 SS GMT400 truck above has some elements we might be adding to the Tahoe, so stay tuned for that...

Until next time,

Last edited by Fair!; 04-11-2017 at 08:31 AM.
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Unread 04-01-2017, 07:43 AM
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Default Re: Vorshlag Shop Truck - 5.3L SWB GMT800 (Truck Norris!)

Why look at enclosed vehicles? Wouldn't you want something open for delivering stuff, or is it all small stuff? Also, I don't know what insurance you have but a lot of people (and CR) are praising Amica. If we didn't have USAA for everything, I'd be looking into them.
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Unread 04-10-2017, 07:58 PM
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Default Re: Vorshlag Shop Truck - 5.3L SWB GMT800 (Truck Norris!)

Project Update for April 10, 2017: Well as much as I liked the idea of getting a 2 door GMT420 Tahoe and Yukon, I went in another direction for the replacement for the wrecked TruckNorris. I bought something last week - You can read about the new Vorshlag shop truck below, but we don't have a lot of plans for it just yet.

Mostly it came down to the slim selection of 2 door Tahoes and Yukons. The ones we could find were either ratted out junk boxes that needed a complete restoration, or they had some very janky mods that would have to be undone. People that own these know how rare they are and are charging a mint for clean, unmolested, stock 2 doors - even with 200K+ miles on them they are going for $8-15K. Crazy.

The other challenge outside of finding a clean stock 2 door GMT420 to was that the old school Vortec V8 would need to be replaced, and pretty soon. This 1990s era Gen II Small Block Chevy engine is a far cry from any Gen III LS engine. I had researched the swap extensively, and it was going to gobble up about $1500-2000 in parts just to get the wiring harness, A/C + alternator, gauges, and other systems to match up with an LS engine. With the loss I took on the insurance claim for TruckNorris, that meant I would be stuck with feeble Vortec V8 for a while longer than I liked. This would be a downgrade in power from the 5.3L... bigly.

I managed to buy TruckNorris back from the insurance company after it was totaled, so many of the best parts from this truck will live on in our next project.

Originally Posted by Redwood View Post
Why look at enclosed vehicles? Wouldn't you want something open for delivering stuff, or is it all small stuff?
Good point - and one we debated internally. We do have to carry bigger pallets that would be easier to transport in a truck bed, which is not as often as we carry just a bunch of "boxes of parts", but it does happen. Yet we also have to deal with rain and other weather sometimes getting the contents in the truck bed wet, which can ruin raw steel parts. So there's gotta be a compromise - you will see what we did to address that below.


The final solution was... another GMT800 Short Wheel Base (119") 1/2 ton pickup! A Facebook friend sent a link to this SUPER CLEAN 2000 Silverado for sale on an obscure TexasAggie forum, which not many people saw (thankfully). After teetering between the Tahoe and another GMT800 pickup I caved in and bought this super clean Silverado.

It was located in Katy, Texas, which made for an 11 hour round trip. Instead of waiting for a weekend, Amy and I went down towards Houston on a Tuesday (4/4/17) to get this one. Long day but it was luckily worth it. If I had driven that far to only see a ratty turd, it would have been "par for the course" for a CraigsList find - but this fellow Ag took great pictures and his ad was extremely accurate. I got lucky.

For a nearly 18 year old truck the all original paint is amazingly flawless. This was a truck that was cared for and kept in a garage. There's maybe one small ding in the body (that can be fixed with PDR) and a dent in the front chrome bumper (that will be replaced with a body color version someday), and maybe 3 or 4 small rock chips. That's it!

The only real mod: an ARE branded fiberglass bed cover, which has gas assist lift struts and is lockable. That gives us the all-weather, secure bed storage we need - but it does limit what you can store inside. I will get to that issue below.


The one thing that is both useful yet ruins the look of this truck is the aftermarket, fiberglass bed cover. On the short wheelbase truck, this taller bed cover messes up the body lines completely. It looks like it has a "hunch back", really ugly...

Back in 2007-2010 I owned another GMT800 truck - this white crew cab 3/4 ton "1500HD" shown below. It also had a fiberglass bed cover (SNUGtop brand) that also came with the truck, but wasn't as tall. These hard tilt-up bed covers cost $800-1000+ painted and installed, so its not an inexpensive thing to add as an upgrade (and it makes it seem expensive when you remove it).

That 3/4 ton truck was super clean and looked more like how most of my long term car/truck purchases: CLEAN. I try to keep my daily driver vehicles spotless inside, out, and under hood. The old '99 GMC (TruckNorris) was one of the rattier vehicles I have ever purchased or kept for as long as I did... we made it much nicer over the 4 years, but the paint was always a mess. I always hated the color of that GMC, too.

Anyway, the bed cover on that 3/4 ton truck was handy at times, but a total PITA at others - which is why I never got one for the '99 GMC.

I removed the bed cover from the 1500HD and kept it off of this truck for about half the time I owned it. Why? Because you can't fit anything tall under the bed cover! Something more than about 20" tall would prevent it from closing. We used this truck primarily to haul an open trailer + race car to events all over the state. I found out pretty quickly that it was REALLY hard to fit our tools, a set of wheels/tires, and other "track stuff" under the hard bed cover.

A power retractable bed cover might work much better... it has the security of a lockable bed cover, but since it doesn't pivot up at the rear you can just roll it out of the way and stuff large, bulky items in the bed. Win, Win. They aren't cheap but maybe if I can sell this one piece bed cover it would help pay for the new retractable unit.


If you know me, you know I cannot leave anything "stock". I have already ordered a few small items to fix or upgrade some things and we will be swapping over many of the better parts from TruckNorris: the ARH 1-7/8" long tube headers, dual 3" stainless exhaust (might get different mufflers), maybe the rear brakes (front will get Powerbrake 6-pots), the radio + speakers, and a few other things. The 20x9" Forgestar wheels will be removed and likely sold.

The interior on this 2000 Silverado is a lighter shade of gray than the GMC but it is in FLAWLESS condition. The aftermarket Alpine radio button layout is a bit funky and I've already tired of it, plus it doesn't have Bluetooth. We'll swap the radio and speakers over from the GMC very soon. There's a rattle on the center console cover so that might get swapped over as well. An aftermarket alarm is installed but its janky and about to be surgically removed, too.

The 4.8L engine is a bit gutless, so something will have to be done about upgrading that, eventually. Our new engine shop (after merging/moving HKE up to McKinney last month) Horsepower Research is already operational, known for BIG displacement LS engines, and... that has given me "some ideas". #SS454


Its still a bit early to give this bland white truck a "name", and we usually reserve that for our bigger builds here at Vorshlag. But we're getting some pressure to name this baby early. Right now its just THE WHITE TRUCK.

There have been a lot of suggestions, and the TruckNorris name might just be re-used for this Silverado (Truck Norris reincarnated.... reinTRUCKnated?). Another name that is on the short list is Truck Yaeger, but that's a bit of a stretch. My personal favorite is TruckNado. Give us some suggestions!

More soon,
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Unread 04-14-2017, 02:08 PM
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Default Re: Vorshlag Shop Truck - 5.3L SWB GMT800 (Truck Norris!)

The Great White Hype?
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