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1966 Chevrolet K30 Crew-Cab: Big Deal

As Big & Green as Its Namesake

Chris Shelton
Aug 14, 2019
Randall Robertson thinks big ... really big.
If the name triggers a synapse, it's probably because you saw the feature on his earlier truck, a '72 K50 Crew Cab one-of-none Pegasus unicorn that answered the question, "What would a contemporary truck look like half a century ago if today's market existed back then?"
Lifted, rolling twenties, and clattering away thanks to a Cummins swap, Robertson's Duke (a homage to his spirit animal, John Wayne) is the un-brodozer. Diametrically opposed to the countless C10s laying rocker at any given automotive gathering, it elicited strong response, inevitably positive even among those who usually regard brodozers with contempt.
Photo 2/20   |   1966 Chevrolet K30 Crew Cab Big Deal
There was only one problem with the Duke: there was really no way Randall could outdo it, or so they said, which doesn't sit well with Randall. As the owner of Rtech Fabrications in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, it's his job to raise the bar with each build. And given that the Duke won its class at the Brothers 19th Annual Chevy and GMC Truck Show 'n Shine (Rtech's second win in as many years), the deck really did look stacked against him.
By the time we met a few weeks after that show, Randall had already formulated the next build. To be fair, he probably hatched the plan early in the Duke's construction. "We have to do something completely different," I remember him telling me. He was pretty sparse on details, but it was obvious that he knew exactly where he'd direct his crew for this next magnum opus. "It's going to be big," he assured.
Let the record show that Randall Robertson is no bullshitter. Rtech's latest, the Ponderosa (a reference to the massive, bright-needled pines of the west), is big. No, it's massive. But size wasn't necessarily what he was referring to. Ponderosa is big because it represents a significant departure for Rtech. "Until now everything we built was based on the '67-to-'72 trucks," he points out. "We needed to do something different." A recent trip to Rtech proves that he's broadened his scope to include Blazers and even square-bodies.
Photo 3/20   |   1966 Chevrolet K30 Crew Cab Big Deal Rear 3q
This time Rtech went earlier with a '66. The shop's stock-in-trade is crew cab conversions and the earlier body style gave Randall the opportunity to prove that the crew wasn't just cutting up Suburban bodies. And while the shop uses front doors to fill the rear openings (it doesn't make sense to reinvent the wheel after all), it's unfair to call them front doors anymore. Beyond the obvious window-frame modifications, there's so much work in hinge area that Randall won't let just anybody see what's been done there. The same goes for the structure that they build into the roofs. Top-secret stuff, all of it necessary for structural integrity.
Ponderosa is also a departure from Rtech's other stock-in-trade: 50-series frames and front clips. He based this on a C30 chassis and kept the light-truck front clip makes the truck much more relatable or at least identifiable.
Photo 4/20   |   1966 Chevrolet K30 Crew Cab Big Deal Suspension
Describing what Rtech did doesn't really do the work justice. "Chevrolet never built anything larger than a 20-series as a 4x4," Randall explains, which meant fabricating a whole new front crossmember and creating mounting points for leaf springs. Instead of using a frame from a cab-and-chassis that likely saw heavy use, he sourced one from a low-mileage Class A motorhome. To give the occupants a level of ride quality that we've grown accustomed to, Rtech suspends the cab on hydraulic mounts and uses reservoir-type monotube shocks. These bear mention because these components work together to make Rtech's trucks feel downright plush. You tend to forget that you're riding on buggy springs.
Building trucks from work-truck parts gives Rtech creations a measure of durability unmatched at even several times the cost in the aftermarket world. And using production parts—even when modified—ensures serviceability. For example, they're not likely to be drilled and slotted, but brake rotors from any parts store will get you home in the unlikely event of a failure. Same goes for calipers, axles, steering, and even drivetrain. Rtech builds its engines to spec, but they all share production components. Literally any truck-service shop on the continent can repair an Rtech rig, something that not all custom shops can claim.
Photo 5/20   |   1966 Chevrolet K30 Crew Cab Big Deal Engine
Every successful company has a mission statement, something that expresses its intent and values. Rtech Fabrication's is succinct: We Build Trucks to do Truck Things. "A lot of (modified) trucks out there look great, but that's usually all they can do," Randall laments. "We can't bring ourselves to do something if it comes at the cost of function. Our stuff has to work."
Case in point, Rtech fabricated a crossmember to mount a gooseneck ball hitch in the bed. It's not for looks and Randall intends to prove it by fabricating a trailer to haul similar-era toys. But at the same time, it is for looks. The crew machined it to integrate with the bed floor design. At the end, the beauty is in the function of it all.
To call Randall Robertson wildly ambitious is to understate the obvious. Each of his shop's builds has outdone the prior so completely that it's hard to fathom what they could do next. Which raises a question: Can Rtech Fabrications really outdo this one?
Photo 6/20   |   1966 Chevrolet K30 Crew Cab Big Deal Interior
Inside the build:
Year/Make/Model: 1966 Chevrolet K30 crew-cab
Owner and City/State: Randall and Dru-Ann Robertson
Chassis:
1980s C30 Class A motorhome with custom crossmembers for spring and drivetrain mounts
Front Suspension: Skyjacker springs, Saginaw 708 remanufactured by Red Head Steering Gears
Rear Suspension: Skyjacker springs with custom-made shackle-end traction bars
Shocks: Bilstein 5160-series reservoir-style monotube
Brakes: Bendix/Bosch Hydro-Boost, GM 30-series floating calipers and drilled-and-slotted rotors (front) and 13-inch Bendix drums (rear)
Drivetrain:
Engine: '96 Cummins 12-valve rebuilt by Rtech Fabrications, Mahle pistons, ported-and-polished head, COMP Cams camshaft, BD Diesel three-piece manifold and turbocharger, Bosch/Dynomite Diesel Stage 3 injectors, K&N filter, Derale fans, Champion three-core radiator, custom air-to-water intercooler, 4-inch steel exhaust by Flow Master, Hayden, Idaho
Transmission: NV4500
Axles: Dana 60 (front) and 70 (rear), 4.10:1 gears, locking carriers, steel driveshafts by Six States Distributors, Spokane
Body:
Cab extended, rear doors fabricated from fronts, custom window frames, roof reinforced, hydraulic cab mounts, stepside fenders grafted to 8-foot bed, glass by Grizzly Glass, Hayden, ID with Nu-Relics power windows, plating by Spokane Metal Finishing, AMP Research Power Steps, Stock trim with rear-door pieces made from spare bed spears. One-off Dino's Chevy Only badges, Factory front bumper with modified dealer-accessory rear step bumper
Paint: Lusid Technologies GM 503 Light Green sprayed by Matt Thorne, Rtech Fabrications
Interior:
'66 GMC Sports Trim bucket seats. Console lid made from hood by Jarin Hirschi, Rtech Fabrications, Deluxe steering wheel on '67-to-'72 GM tilt column, Speedway Motors wiring harness installed by Jose Gonzales, Rtech Fabrications, Old Air Products Climate Control, upholstery by Rick Theiss, Rtech Fabrications using reproduction vinyl and cloth by SMS Auto Fabrics. Daytona-weave nylon carpet.
Audio: RetroSound Hermosa RetroRadio with Bluetooth; Kenwood amplifier and speakers, Navigation from a Hull Mfg. compass
Wheels & Tires:
Wheels: 20x8.25; American Force
Tires: 37x11.5R20LT; Nitto Trail Grappler

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