Our Story Begins ... in March of 2003 we bought a 1986, 3/4-ton Chevy Suburban and we began our Urban Gorilla project.
The post card to the left shows our progress as of August 2004.  It's now November 2004 and we've made even more progress since then, but we have a good bit of work remaining before we can do a test drive.

None of us had any automotive repair or building experience, but Dad is a nuclear engineer and retired navy officer with quite a bit of technical experience. 

We depend a lot on the H1-Forum and calls to Urban Gorilla to get us through the build.

Us boys were 13 and 14 at the start of the build in the spring of 2003.

Our project describes the basic steps in how we have tackled building our Gorilla.


STEP 1:  Find a Donor

Our first task was to find a suitable donor.  We purchased a 1986, 3/4-ton Chevy Suburban.  It had a 350 V-8 with factory quad shocks and steering stabilizer up front.  It was driveable, but was in bad shape.  It was a rusty heap, with oil leaks everywhere.  As soon as we got it home we popped it into the garage so we wouldn't offend our neighbors.

Unfortunately we are hillbillies and we lived in an upscale neighborhood.  We had to be on our best behavior so we would insult any sophisticates, or cause someone's property value to decrease.  All banging, burning, sawing and grinding was stopped at 10:00 PM every night.


STEP 2:  Strip the Donor Truck to the Frame

We stripped the truck down to its bare frame.  We used grinders, sawz-alls, wrenches, hammers - whatever it took to get things out or off the frame.  The three of us worked a couple hours a night for two weeks to get this step done.

All body mounts were cut off the frame.  We pulled all the wiring and wiring harness and stuffed them into plastic bags.  Shocks were removed.  Parking brake went into the junk pile.  The heating and cooling lines were pulled.  The A/C and heating components were pulled and kept for potential reuse or mock-up for new parts.  The 40-gallon gas tank had about 7-gallons of gas still in it.  We siphoned it out, dropped the tank.  Filled it with water, then poked holes in it before sending it to the dump.  (Our neighbors were really nervous when they saw this.)

The engine, transmission, transfer case and drive shafts were pulled as well.  We had no intention of saving the engine, but the rest of the drive train was removed so we could blast and repaint the frame.

STEP 3:  Sand Blast, Prime and Paint the Frame

We had professionals haul-off the frame and blast it to bare metal.  They then primed and black clear-coated it.  When we got the frame back it looked brand new and was squeaky clean.  We almost left it in the driveway for everyone to see and enjoy with us, but one of the neighbors gave us a look that said he thought we were red necks.  If he only knew how much hill billy potential we really possessed. 

As you can see to the left, the frame looks really good sitting on 37-inch Super Swamper Radials and Rancho 5000 shocks.  Our photo is a little ahead of the story, but we liked these pictures, and they show what you can do with a derelict donor truck if you will just give it a little love and patience.!
The Truck Takes Shape . . .
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