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Mobility makes almost everything better around the shop, which is why it’s always good to know where to find a cheap set of casters. More to the point, it’s not a bad idea to have a few of ’em sitting around in a box just in case you get inspired or decide to add mobility to an existing project.

My first port of call for cheap-ass casters is usually Harbor Freight, where you can get a set of 3″ poly casters (soft enough to avoid marring floors but hard enough to support a bit of weight) for just $4.50. They offer lots of other options in the same range, too, like a 3″ hard rubber version with a swivel and brake for $6 and a rubber-tired cast-iron model for $6 as well. They also offer larger casters, like this 8″ cushion tire (read: not pneumatic) for $18. My father chose that 8″ model for his roll-around welding table, and they worked great.

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What the hell’s been going on with the Toolmonger Shop Truck Build? Well, for a while, a lot of nothing. You may have noticed that the economy isn’t exactly stellar, and honestly we just didn’t have the dough to mess with it for a while. But we’re off the dime, and the truck’s on the move again.

Once we got the engine out and on its stand we discovered we had a lot of work ahead of us. (Remember: a “free” truck is never free.) Time did a number on this truck, and its previous owner had ridden it hard and put it away wet more than once. Under the hood was just as rough as the interior and body work. In fact, it was worse.

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After a bit of a hiatus we resumed our search for a transmission for our shop truck project. We learned several things in the process, not the least of which is this: transmissions can be expensive.

Thankfully our luck held and we managed to find one in the local area that would suit our purposes — but not without first looking damn near everywhere for one that fit both our budget and level of desired risk.

The simple fact of the matter is buying a new tranny would cost about as much as the entire build put together, so we decided to look for the used/rebuilt solutions. These, however, come with the knowledge that you could be right back in this position sooner rather than later. We broke it down into several categories.

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Once we’d lifted our shop truck’s motor we knew we’d have to pay some serious attention to it to get it up to ‘workhorse’ status again.  Because we’d blown our wad on parts for the motor, we decided not to spring for an engine stand but build one ourselves from a few casters and some plywood.

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Remember our budget shop truck? We just took the next step in resurrecting it from the (almost) dead by pulling the motor and assessing the real damage to its components. This would be a major undertaking even for a truck in good condition, and after 235,000 miles of wear, tear, and generally getting beat to hell, our big blue “piece of Chevy” is showing the signs of Mother Nature and Texas roads.

Gunked (or rusted solid) bolts made for a fun day, but any day in the shop is a good day, right? Read on to see how we fared and what issues took us by surprise.

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At Toolmonger, we think of a shop truck as a vehicular multi-tool — as necessary to an active shop as fire and the opposable thumb. But what if you don’t have $25k burning a hole in your pocket? All isn’t lost, especially if you’re willing to turn a wrench and get your hands dirty.

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This makes a great DIY project for a Toolmonger, but cutting the angles can be a problem. After reading this post on the All-In-One Clamp, and this post on the MilesCraft Saw Guide, I still had no solution for how to cut long, straight lines that’re at odd angles to the edge of a board. A table saw with the guide set at an angle will do the trick, but here’s a way to manage it if your shop hasn’t grown that big yet.

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A few weeks ago we finally put the finishing touches on Project Yukon’s late-model engine swap — a task not nearly as difficult as most sales people will claim, but still not for the faint-of-heart.  The good news: The Yukon’s running great with its new heart, and it’s a lot more driveable than it was before the swap. 

Read on past the jump for some pictures, sounds, and a final project summary.

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We survived the “nothing fits” portion of this late-model swap, though certainly without a good bit of frustration.  While the GM Performance Parts H.O. 350 we selected does bolt to the stock engine mounts and transmission, that’s pretty much where the “bolt-in” part of the swap ends.

In this installment, we’ll walk you through our upper-engine trials and tribulations all the way up to installation.

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post-headpic.jpgThere’s no such thing as a bolt-in engine “swap.”  If anyone tells you different, they’re lying.  Even though GM Performance found us a really close match for the Yukon, none of the brackets that direct wiring looms and hold electronic packs over the intake manifold fit.  So, in this project garage update we show you how we fabricated replacements.

If you’re considering a late model engine swap — or just want to see how to make brackets from scratch — this is a must read.  (20+ pics)

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