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  • How Jeff Stone Saved a 1989 Chevrolet C30 from a Wrecking-Ball Demise

How Jeff Stone Saved a 1989 Chevrolet C30 from a Wrecking-Ball Demise

Jeff Stone’s Junkyard Rescue Results in a 600hp Duramax-Powered Jewel

Jason Sands
Oct 15, 2015
Photographers: Jason Sands
It's hard to believe, but the pristine ’89 Chevrolet C30 pickup you see here was actually in a junkyard when Jeff Stone found it. The truck had issues with its original 6.2L diesel powerplant and already had parts and pieces removed from the engine (like the cylinder heads) when Jeff came across it. The truck had only a little more than 80,000 miles and was in good shape. Since Jeff bought the C30 with installing a 6.6L Duramax engine in mind, he didn't care about the missing items and dragged the carcass home. Jeff wanted a lifted four-wheel-drive truck (known as a K30), so he knew he'd have a long road ahead of him since the piece he bought was a lowered two-wheel-drive dualie. The dualie bed was replaced first with a regular fleetside version. Next was the complete suspension, which had to be changed from two-wheel drive to four-wheel drive. The rear upgrade was fairly simple, with a set of Tuff Country EZ Ride Suspension’s leaf springs and blocks providing a whopping 10 inches of lift. Mated to the suspension is an ultra-strong AAM 1150 rear end from anl’05 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD donor vehicle. With the rear suspension squared away, the front needed to be equally stout, so a Dana 60 out of a ’00 Dodge Ram got the nod to be used as the project’s front axle, and it was treated with 4.10:1 gears, a Randy's Ring and Pinion free-spin hub kit, and a custom three-link suspension built by Custom Exhaust Specialties.
Photo 2/23   |   023 1989 Chevy K30 Front Three Quarter Low
Photo 3/23   |   018 1989 Chevy K30 Rear
With the project looking a little more like Jeff intended (lifted, with two axles and a fleetside bed), Jeff turned his attention to the powertrain. The same ’05 Chevy that donated its axle also gave up its engine, transmission, and transfer case to the project, in order to power the ’89 down the road. Since Jeff didn't want to install the engine more than once, he made a list of supporting modifications designed to achieve the type of power he was looking for. The first upgrade was a set of ARP head studs, which was installed to keep the engine from having head gasket issues down the line. The Duramax was also upgraded with a PPE driver-side exhaust manifold and installed with a PPE stand-alone wiring harness, which took care of all the electrical work.
Photo 4/23   |   022 1989 Chevy K30 Front Three Quarter
Photo 5/23   |   019 1989 Chevy K30 Rear Three Quarter
While a stock Duramax engine is much more technologically advanced than the C30’s original 6.2L powerplant, Jeff decided to kick his up a notch with some additional performance parts. While the engine was out of the truck, an Industrial Injection 30-percent-over CP3 injection pump and injectors were added, and a BorgWarner S475 turbocharger was mounted in front of the stock turbo. Tuning was handled with EFILive’s DSP5 five-position switch, which features ECU calibrations by “Idaho Rob” of Adrenaline Truck Performance. The five-speed Allison automatic transmission also received a few upgrades, such as a triple-disc torque converter from SunCoast Diesel Transmissions, and a TransGo shift kit.
Photo 6/23   |   020 1989 Chevy K30 Side
Photo 7/23   |   021 1989 Chevy K30 Front
After two years of hard work, Jeff's self-made Chevy K30 was ready to hit the road. With its moderately built diesel engine in the low-mileage frame, the truck has been ultra-reliable. And, with an estimated 600 hp, the truck is quite a rocket. It also tows with ease thanks to the compound turbos, and Jeff reports that with an empty bed, his rig can achieve more than 20 mpg on the freeway. Using the best parts from old and new trucks, Jeff turned a junkyard wreck into the truck of his dreams.
Fast Facts:
Year/Make/Model: ’89 Chevrolet C30 4x4 conversion
Owner: Jeff Stone
Hometown: Bend, Oregon
Odometer: 86,000 miles
Engine: 6.6L Duramax V-8, with ARP head studs and PPE stand-alone wiring harness
Fuel: Industrial Injection 30-percent-over CP3 injection pump and injectors; AirDog 165-gph lift pump; and EFILive DSP5 five-position switch with tuning by Adrenaline Truck Performance
Air: AFE air filter, BorgWarner S475 over stock compound turbochargers, and S&B Filters intake bridge
Exhaust: PPE driver-side exhaust manifold
Transmission: Allison 1000 automatic with a SunCoast Diesel Converters triple-disc torque converter and TransGo shift kit
Power: 600 hp (est.)
Torque: 1,000 lb-ft (est.)
Tires: 37x13.50R18 Toyo Open Country M/T
Wheels: 18x12 Fuel Lethal
Suspension: 10-inch lift, featuring a Tuff Country EZ Ride Suspensions front three-link and 6-inch rear leaf springs with blocks
Axles: Front Dana 60 with 4.10:1 gears and Randy's Ring and Pinion free-spin hub kit, and AAM 1150 rear with 4.10:1 gears
Exterior: Pearl White paint by Shawn Kooch, shaved door handles and locks, and 2-inch Reflexxion Automotive cowl hood
Fun Fact: Jeff's good buddy Bennett Leffler, owner of Performance Authority, helped a bunch with the project, since he owns an engine-swapped Chevy C10—that’s Cummins powered.
Photo 8/23   |   There's plenty of room for the 6.6L Duramax engine in Jeff Stone’s ’89 Chevrolet C30-come-K30, since the truck has a mammoth engine bay. Thanks to a number of upgrades, the compound-turbocharged powerplant makes an estimated 600 hp, and more than 1,000 lb-ft of torque.
Photo 9/23   |   A 75mm S400 turbo from BorgWarner feeds the original variable-geometry Duramax ’charger. Total boost from the two turbos is 45 psi on the highest tune, which keeps EGT firmly in check at 1,200 degrees.
Photo 10/23   |   Jeff made good use of the ’05 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD he purchased, installing its radiator and intercooler in the C30
Photo 11/23   |   Twin Flex-a-Lite fans keep the Duramax from overheating, and Jeff says they work well—even when towing.
Photo 12/23   |   A stock ’05 6.6L Duramax has a driver-side manifold that is necked down for clearance. With plenty of room in the engine bay, the OEM manifold was replaced with a higher-flowing piece from PPE.
Photo 13/23   |   Given the high boost levels compound turbos create, the crack-prone stock Y-bridge can be a weak link, so Jeff replaced the original version with an S&B Filters unit.
Photo 14/23   |   Thanks to the C30's 10-inch lift, clearing big tires is no problem. Four 37x13.50R18 Toyo Open Country tires provide grip and are mounted on 18x12 Fuel wheels.
Photo 15/23   |   As Jeff’s ride was originally a two-wheel drive, a lot of work was performed to transform it into a 4x4. A Tuff Country EZ Suspensions system was adapted to the front of the C30 by Custom Exhaust Specialties in Bend, Oregon.
Photo 16/23   |   The tough Dana 60 axle of a ’00 Dodge Ram was swung under the front of the truck. It’s equipped with a free-spin hub kit from Randy's Ring and Pinion, which Jeff figures is worth a few extra miles per gallon in fuel economy.
Photo 17/23   |   The rear suspension’s whopping 10 inches of lift is accomplished with Tuff Country’s 6-inch-lift leaf springs and 4-inch blocks.
Photo 18/23   |   Jeff used the factory AAM 1150 rear end from his donor truck for the project’s rear axle and loaded it with 4.10:1 gears to match the Dana 60 up front.
Photo 19/23   |   Custom Exhaust Specialties lived up to its name by fabricating a cool 4-inch exhaust with a 4-inch muffler and dual exits for the project.
Photo 20/23   |   With only 86,000 miles on the C30, its interior only needed minor work to be brought back to near-new condition.
Photo 21/23   |   Jeff kept the gauges simple in his rig, with a two-pod boost and pyrometer setup. Using a clean but powerful tune, neither gauge gets anywhere close to the danger zone.
Photo 22/23   |   The only interior hint at what’s lurking under the hood is an EFILive DSP5 switch, which controls five tunes from “Idaho Rob” at Adrenaline Truck Performance.
Photo 23/23   |   A Reflexxion Automotive cowl hood clears the Duramax engine and adds some style to the truck at the same time. After everything was assembled, the truck was painted Pearl White by Shawn Kooch.