1981 GMC Sierra 2500 in decent shape. New to restoration. Where do I - GM Forum - Buick, Cadillac, Chev, Olds, GMC & Pontiac chat


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Old 08-30-2014, 05:14 PM   #1
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Default 1981 GMC Sierra 2500 in decent shape. New to restoration. Where do I

Got it for $800. Not sure where to start. I don't have any tools yet but I do have the space and time.

Body is perfect. It needs a buff and polish though. There are like two small places that could use a paint touch-up.

The interior is in B+ shape. There is a seat cover that I haven't taken off yet to see what is underneath. The AC vent plastic is broken and needs to be replaced. The turn signal lever is loose and the whole thing probably needs to be replaced. No horn. The dash has been covered in some sort of padded vinyl. I'd like to get that back to stock. The Instrument panel has a few cracks and I would like that replaced. Windshield has a crack. Tailgate is frozen shut. Has a nice bed liner, not sure what is underneath.

I took it to a shop before buying it. Front brakes are real bad. Thermostat housing has a leak. Radiator has a small leak. Intake manifold gasket has a slight leak. Hoses, belts, and air filter need replacing. Battery is for a sedan and the contacts are loose. Alternator is in unknown condition.

That being said I drove it 40 miles home and it ran like a champ.

Here are pictures... 1981 GMC Sierra 2500 - Imgur
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Old 08-30-2014, 11:25 PM   #2
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From the looks of it you really got a good one. Its getting real hard to find a descent body within that yr anymore without any rust or in descent shape. I got a 86 and once the rust started showing it spread like wildfire. Id start making a list of what needs to be done. Id first start with under the hood and work my way toward whats required for a state inspection then so on. Congrats on your purchase.

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Old 08-31-2014, 08:31 AM   #3
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i would start on the coolant leaks, if your intake man gaskets are leaking you could hydrolock the engine and its done.

hard to believe you got that for 800. you check the frame frame over for rust through? that body style was particularly vulnerable on the frame where the body meets the bed.
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Old 08-31-2014, 04:39 PM   #4
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i would start on the coolant leaks, if your intake man gaskets are leaking you could hydrolock the engine and its done.

hard to believe you got that for 800. you check the frame frame over for rust through? that body style was particularly vulnerable on the frame where the body meets the bed.
Thanks for the advice. I think I might have a mechanic do the intake fix. As a noob I am nervous to touch the engine.

Frame is good. Nothing more than minor surface rust anywhere on the truck.

Yeah it seems I got a great deal. The woman who owned it had it willed to her. She knew nothing about it when she posted it to craigslist (not even the mileage or if it was an auto/manual). She was paying $150/month to park it. She had to drive an hour every time she showed it. She was asking $1500. After I took it to the shop to get it checked out and knew what was wrong with it I took a chance and offered her $800 (I was willing to go higher) and she took it.
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Old 09-01-2014, 09:21 AM   #5
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Intake manifold gasket so are cheap and easy on a sbc. Good thing to get started learning on. If you decide to I can post some tips not in the service manual
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Old 09-01-2014, 10:40 AM   #6
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The hardest part is reinstalling the distributor.
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Old 09-02-2014, 02:23 PM   #7
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I would be grateful for some tips but I am probably a ways away from tacking that project. I am going to start with the thermostat, belts, hoses, filter, and the radiator as those seem to be the easiest. Once I get the manual I will decisde if I think I can handle the intake gasket.

Thanks for the tips everyone.
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Old 09-03-2014, 12:48 AM   #8
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taking pictures of the engine compartment before repairs will help a lot. Mark the distributor rotor in relation to the distributor. This will help you set the distributor in the same spot as before when doin the intake gaskets.

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Old 09-03-2014, 08:55 AM   #9
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dont move the engine once you mark and remove the dist and to put it back in you just turn the rotor back counter clockwise a hair from your mark and it should land in the proper position. the gaskets come with end gaskets, throw them away and use a bead of super black silicone, seals better and lasts longer. it is seriously one of the easiest things you can do on a vehicle, take the carb off and take some bolts bolts off, then put it all back together.
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