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Frame Restoration

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Hey Scotty, 

I got an 04 Chevy Silverado 2500HD and I was considering restoring the frame. It was my grandfathers truck that I inherited after he passed two years ago.

We've had the truck since 07 and she's clocking in at 293,000 miles now. I would like to keep it around for some time yet as it is my favorite thing to ride around in and use to plow as a side job when it snows (We live in the sad state of New Jersey).

It had been through Hurricane Sandy 8 years ago and it had experienced some water but not enough to make my mechanic say it's unsalvageable. My grandfather had handled most of the electrical problems that have come with that over the years already. Recently my mechanic has mentioned to keep an eye on it cause "it's not pretty" under there.

She clunks a little here and there when stopping and going but still goes pretty strong, I would like your opinion and what I should be looking into involving that kind of service.

Thanks Scotty

 

PS If it was anything other than a heavy duty pick up with utility to it, I would not even consider frame restoration. I know most people would tell me to buy a new truck but I figure I rather spend the money making this truck new again since it didn't cost me anything and I love this Silverado.

2 Answers
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Depending on the condition of the frame, you may spend more on repairs than buying a new truck would cost you. There is nothing about it that is cheap and if it is really in rough shape, you may need a whole new frame in order to make it safe. That means having to find a good donor truck as GM does not make the frame assemblies for those anymore. Of course that comes with a LOT of labor to basically disassemble two trucks and reassemble one good one.

 

Sinking that kind of money into a Chevy with 300k miles would DEFINITELY be a terrible financial move, but I understand nostalgia as well. Just know you could be looking at a big bill for the job, done right.

I appreciate your advice, I know it certainly isn't a the wisest move financially. I've thought about it for a long time and I've done a fair amount of research into my Silverado. Believe me, if it was a 1500 or smaller vehicle, I wouldn't even hesitate at the thought of junking it when it's life is up.

At least from what I've read, 1999-2007 were the best years for GM's Silverado. And although GM isn't the greatest manufacturer out there, I've heard multiple times that their engines are notorious for reaching over 200,000 miles easily and the Allison transmissions in the bigger models are incredible as well. So of course, if I planned on restoring the frame, I would also be ready to replace the engine/transmission if/when need be.

Would you have any idea what kind of price range for that service would be? All I've been able to see online is a general cost of $10,000, which I would imagine it would be more than that.

Thank you again for your response!

You're welcome! Yeah I do custom builds and restorations at my shop. I would say to do everything right, including replacing the engine/transmission which you may as well while you have it all apart to save money down the line, and counting the cost to buy a parts truck that's in decent shape, you're in the $30k to $40k range. And that's not doing any upgrades or paint, just going back with what is still good and swapping out worn parts with OEM stuff. It can get expensive real quick as there is a lot of labor cost involved with a project like that. Those would be ballpark numbers as sometimes you find other problems in the process, and sometimes you find parts that can be reused that you weren't expecting. But it is a tedious job for sure.

Not to mention other things that will be breaking down. It may turn into an endless money pit.

If you like this model of truck, then maybe you can find another low mileage rust-free specimen.

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I bet you could find a frame in good condition on a donor vehicle from a junkyard or somebody parting one out. A swap would be easier than a restoration.

You think so? Would a frame repair shop give that to me as an option or would I have to be the one to find it and bring the donor frame to them? Either way that sounds like a awesome idea as well.

I don't think you want to pay someone to look for donor vehicles for you. I think that's better done yourself. But you could ask them if they know of any. Or they might know some good places to look.

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