It's been a while since we've brought our loyal readers an update on our long-term '69 Chevy C10 project. Sometimes life happens, what can we say? But despite the lag time we have managed to make some progress on the beast. When we last left off, the BluePrint Engines 383 fired up, and there were just a few loose ends left before we were finally able to run this thing down the road. One of the remaining items on the punch list was the driveshaft. We were ahead of the game, because back when we airbagged this truck about 10 years ago, we had Inland Empire Driveline build us a brand-new aluminum unit. With the new engine and Gearstar 700R4 transmission, though, it was going to have to be shortened and freshened up. All it took was one call to our pal Nacho at IED to set the appointment. We ended up with the perfect length and polished the whole thing up while we were at it.
| In a nondescript industrial suite in Corona, a little shop called Inland Empire Driveline builds precision driveshafts for every type of custom or race vehicle imaginable. Luckily, we had a nice piece already built for our C10 by IED, it just needed to be shortened for the new engine and trans combo and cleaned up.
Next on the agenda was to fabricate an exhaust system. Because the truck is airbagged and none of the crossmembers are stock, we already knew that nothing off a shelf was going to cut it. We would be going custom from the Hedman Hedders back. Luckily for us, we were in touch with Shawn and the crew at Gibson Performance. After getting the truck out to Gibson HQ in Corona, California, we got it up on the lift in their R&D department. Shawn and his R&D expert, Jack Ambriz decided the best way to go would be to run 2 1/2-inch stainless tubing in conjunction with Gibson's MWA stainless mufflers. We also decided to set each side up so it dumps right in front of the rear tires through a polished 3-inch slash tip. With just a couple days' worth of work, we finally had a driver in front of us. Check back soon because we think we have some momentum building to make some real progress!
| Elsewhere in Corona, the Gibson crew was gearing up to build a dual-exhaust system for the truck. The star of the show is the new MWA Superflow mufflers. The cutaway version is shown here. It features straight-through design that flows at a rate of only 3cfm less than a straight pipe, improving power potential while keeping interior drone to a minimum. The MWA has no internal packing or weak baffles, either, allowing it to maintain a lightweight design with a unique and powerful sound. The MWA Muffler is 100-percent Made in the USA and is constructed of high-quality stainless steel.
| We brought our old driveshaft in and Nacho and the crew had it loaded into the lathe immediately. The bit is made specifically for them to cut out the weld to separate the front tube yoke from the tube.
| Instead of overcutting and ruining the tube yoke, it is checked periodically to see if it's free by tapping on it with a hammer.
| Now, the crew pulled apart and cleaned the yoke, still attached to the slip yoke, with a wire wheel and sandpaper.
| With the remainder of the driveshaft still in the lathe, the tube was now cut down to the new required length.
| The two parts were then mated back together with a little pressure and measured with a micrometer before welding. A little tap of the hammer here and there.
| Finally, the jig was set up for the welder and a nice bead mated the yoke back to the tube.
| We were still a touch out of balance, so this small weight was added.
| While still on the balancer, the driveshaft was refurbished first with sandpaper, then with Scotch Brite.
| We were looking good at this point. Our next stop was across town at Gibson.
| This is how most exhaust systems begin, the down tube with flange followed by the mufflers. We used 2 1/2-inch, 409 stainless steel throughout our build.
| The first half of the stainless Gibson system is extremely straightforward—or rearward, in this case. The premade 45-degree bend was the perfect angle and bolted right up.
| To clear the transmission crossmember, we did have to kick the tubing up about 2 inches. All Gibson bends are completed using a mandrel bender, which keeps the tubes diameter intact throughout the entire curve, instead of giving the tubing that stretched look some lesser products have.
| We had the perfect amount of space between the POL tranny crossmember and the Ride Tech trailing arm crossmember for the Gibson MWA mufflers. We tacked them in place, removed the assembly, and fully welded them solid.
| Many exhaust systems end here. But we had big plans to keep the rear end clean and give our system a clean exit.
| After some trial and error, Jack came up with a clean, side-exiting pipe that cleared the trailing arms perfectly, but we weren't done yet.
| In order make this section in all one-piece instead of four, Jack scanned the entire piece using an XYZ/LRA scanner, allowing him to turn his rough draft prototype into a clean final prototype that fit the car. Scanning the part also makes it possible to mirror- image the piece for use on the passenger side of the truck, and saves the program in the Gibson system for future use!
| How's this for cool? The information was automatically sent from the scanner to the programmable mandrel bender. We're a long way from the guy in the pit at the local muffler shop!
| And within a minute or two, we were seeing our tailpipe form in front of us.
| The leading end took a trip to the expander, so it would slip over our existing pipes effortlessly.
| We rounded up a pair of Gibson's polished 3-inch single-wall slash tips, attached them loosely to the tailpipe, and held it up with a jackstand while we double checked the fitment.
| A piece of dense foam was used to keep the perfect distance between the polished tip and the bottom of the bed.
| Once everything was triple-checked, we welded a final hanger to the frame and the tailpipe. The tailpipe was welded completely to the muffler outlet.
| The last step was to install an equalizer pipe, or H-pipe, made of 1 1/4-inch stainless, that would tuck up tight to the transmission of this 'bagged truck.
| You'll notice that it's welded up solid at the moment. We know the truck is coming back apart in the hopefully, not-too-distant future, so we opted not to weld in the flanges to make it removable just yet.
| We think the final result looks pretty good, if we don't say so ourselves. The Gibson Exhaust system and polished aluminum driveshaft are welcome additions to Ride Tech-equipped rear half of the truck.
| Even though the harsh SoCal weather has taken its toll on some of the rear suspension, we think the view through the non-existent bed floor looks pretty good, too.
| But the real test was the sound. The mufflers subdue the sound just enough to hear all 440hp coming through and even in bare metal, the drone in the cab is kept to a minimum! Stay tuned to Truckin magazine and Truckin.com for all the stories and even some video updates on our '69 C10 Project.