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I've been a long time reader of these forums and have shared a lot of my progress on the EVConversion subReddit I've been meaning to put a build thread here, but it just felt like extra work, so I kept putting it off.

The project: 1955 GMC Pickup

I picked up a 1955 GMC pickup that SEEMED in good condition for $2500 a few years back, because I needed something to haul parts, mostly. I'm not a truck fan, and I figured if I was going to be stuck with a truck I wanted it to be something cool. We actually went to look at a 1949, but it looked like it needed way too much work. If I knew then what I know now, I'd have probably just started with that, because even though the 1955 looked good (sheet metal wise), once I started grinding away old paint, nearly none of the original panels were reusable, or repairable in any realistic timeframe. So I SHOULD have just bought the 1949, opened the checkbook and ordered all the sheetmetal and started from there. It would have saved a LOT of time.

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(Okay, the attachment and embedding process was actually pretty slick. This won't be bad after all. Dread of inserting pictures is actually what made me wait so long to start this thread).
This was taken the day we got the truck home.

The original plan was to swap in a VK45DE 4.5L V8 from an Infiniti M45, but I ran into issues with the oil pan placement and it would have required major surgery. The perk was that, if you can make it fit and run, it's 335hp, and it was shipped to my house for about $1200, with the transmission and ECU. I finally ended up selling it to a guy in Finland, even though I had it flagged for local pickup only. He literally had the freight guy stop at my house and arranged it all. Hoping it worked out great for him.

When that didn't work, I'd been wanting to electrify a vehicle for a long time, been researching on and off for years. My original thought would have been a family car, like a E39 BMW, but hey, if I can't make it fit in an old classic truck, I can't make it work at all.

I worked with Adam at Hawkeye Innovations LLC who helped me figure out what I needed (I'd picked out the motor package, but he helped me figure out all the other little things like mechanical disconnect and HV relay, and things like that.) He's been super helpful, and he's relatively local, so if I run into trouble, I can depend on him for some quick tech support, even if I have to bribe him with dinner to come put eyes on it.
 

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The heart of the conversion is going to be the NetGain Hyper9 HV Integrated System, which should be a pretty good match for the gigantic cast iron i6 that came out of it. Voltage will be provided by a set of Nissan Leaf modules, at least initially. It cost me $1400 I believe to get the entire battery pack shipped to my house, which gave me 48 modules. I've got 42 of them connected up, with each module paralleled to give me 168V at 80Ah.

I also ended up buying my wife a 3D printer for her birthday, which I almost immediately commandeered to print terminal covers for the Leaf modules. It turns out there was already a project on Thingiverse so I used that as a jumping off point and modified it to fit my needs. I reused all the leaf bus bars and the terminal ends for the BMS system as well, so I got a lot of additional value out of the Leaf pack other than just the battery modules. They are INCREDIBLY easy to work with, even though there are lots of more power dense and longer lasting options. It at least made this a lot more approachable than it would otherwise be.

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Here's a better view of how the bus bars are arranged for the parallel bit:
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And finally with all the BMS wiring installed, before the loom goes over it:
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Here is the motor finally mated to the GM 3 speed transmission. My goal is to retain the 3-on-the-tree shifting. Thanks to the CanEV adapter, it still utilizes the clutch, but I'm not 100% sure on how the linkage is going to work.
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In order to get the clutch to work, I ground out the floor mounted mechanical clutch, and installed a Speedway motors firewall mounted clutch cylinder. I had to fabricate my own clutch bracket to make the slave cylinder mount, but I had some spare 1/4" thick angle iron from when I mounted the brackets the motor rests on. So this started life as a piece of angle stock, and it's WAY overkill for this, but the price was right.

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I didn't share all of these pictures on EVConversions, because some of these are more about the vehicle and less about the EV part. For example, here's what I did with the front end before fitting the motor. This is a Mustang II IFS kit from CPP Performance. I added some additional gusseting on the frame rails, but this gives me disk brakes on the front, and coilover suspension instead of the old sketchy leaf springs, not to mention changes the kingpin steering box to a regular rack. If I decide to go to power steering at some point, then it accepts a power steering rack from a Ford Mustang.
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I also ground out, painted and installed a new set of gauges from Speedhut. These were done when I was looking at it being a V8, but I'm hoping I can repurpose some of them, like fuel gauge into battery gauge would be nice. The Speedometer should work fine, because it's based on GPS.

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And illuminated:
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This is all from late last year, and the truck itself has gone through a lot - here's as it was back then, Nov 28th, 2020
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Around that time, I began starting to mockup the equipment to get a feel for how it needed to connect, so this is the pile in the floor I made.

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I began connecting a few things together here, but then decided it was premature. As much as I want to see this thing move under electric power, at this point it didn't have working brakes yet. As much as I wanted to see it go, I also didn't want to see it go up the drive, across the street and into my neighbor's living room.

The corner lights on the front grill, the bulb sockets were shot. I had ordered a set of 194 sockets to use with the new dash gauges, and it came with spares, so I ended up 3d printing an adapter to replace the old socket with the 194 socket, so I could use 168 bulbs in them (bigger brighter, for parking lights).
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Just a few weeks ago, I finally managed to get the motor mounted in place. I was waiting on a backordered set of bolt through motor mount brackets from Speedway motors to mount the ears on the motor itself to the angle iron I had it resting on, to set the height. Then that let me get it back into position so I could drill holes and add ears for the transmission to hopefully keep it from twisting. The motor slid right where I wanted it, the mounts I cut perfectly (1/4" aluminum plate) the bolts I picked up were the perfect length and size, with a flat washer on each side and a lock washer on the back... except the bag from Lowe's had a hole in it and I lost one. It ended up being okay, because it's got a bit less tailshaft in it than I would like. I haven't decided if I'm going to try to slide it back 1/4" and use washers and longer bolts, or if I'm just going to take a leaf out of the rear springs. I'll have a better feel once I have the batteries in, because without the weight of the monster 248 cu inch cast iron I6, it sits pretty high front and back right now. You can see the downward rake on the lower A arms.

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Here are the bolt through mounts installed, and my beautiful motor mount bracketry. This is 2" 1/4" thick angle iron, that I ground some off so it would overlap the crossmember. I wasn't sure how it was going to hold up and wondered if I needed to triangulate it to the frame for strength, but even with the full weight of the motor and transmission, pushed twice as far back as it sits currently, there was almost no deflection. pat That's not going anywhere.

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Here's the most recent view of the truck - doors are fitted, and more or less shut well, you can see how the motor sits, the new hood is on.
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It's still mostly like this because for the past few weeks I've been fighting my wife's car in the background. Inspection was due and the reverse lights didn't want to light, so it needed a new switch. But if I needed to get it on the lift to do THAT, I might as well fix the leaking rear main seal. Which meant removing the exhaust and the driveshaft, and dropping the transmission out of it. Then while replacing that (twice, because the first one got nicked, and PROBABLY would have held, but it's worth another $10 to not have to drop all that again.) I realized that it COULD be the oil pan gasket leaking. So we dropped and replaced the oil pan (the one on it was one of the cheap stamped ones, so we went back to factory... a lot on this car was done up for show, and slowly we've been walking it back to make it more reliable and original)... but to drop the oil pan, we had to lift the engine... so might as well fix those sketchy engine mounts. . . and with new mounts, I could finally fix the way the engine used to be kinda tilted weird in there... but that meant that when I went to put the exhaust back on, the transmission was tilted differently and hit the exhaust... so then it was back off with the exhaust for 'clearancing' with a torch and hammer. Got it all back together, finally, after trying to fit the stupid torque converter about 4 times, and to find out the reverse light switch was actually BROKEN, not just out of adjustment... got that replaced, and went and passed inspection at long last... except now the speedometer is not working. So this weekend will be another weekend with that car and another one without doing much to the truck.
 

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More random truck pictures of that part of the restoration. And yes, for those of you wondering, I picked this thing up thinking "You know, I can probably have this running in about 4 weeks". Well I probably COULD have... but I wanted to fix the rust holes in the cab corners, and that meant replacing the steps on the cab, and that meant fixing the bottom front of the cab... plus I didn't want to be sitting on the gas tank, so I patched and filled the fuel filler hole, (which Ironically NOW would have been an AMAZING place for the J1772 port).

In the interest of things I had to do before I could get to the stuff I needed to do with the EV, I had to paint the dash before I could mount the gauges, before I could mount the steering column, before I could mount the bench before I could see how much clearance I had behind the bench in the cab for EV equipment.

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I was impressed with this, because I didn't actually cut and buff it with compound and a buffer - it was all done with Microgard pads I had left over from restoring a guitar. It worked really well, but they're a bit spendy. I've got a few nearly worn out after this, but it beats digging compound out of every crack.

This is going to be the final truck color, too, but for now I'm enjoying the flat black.

The gauges from before, mounted in the dash (and needing a dusting, and the two new LED signal lights fitted):



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Here's the state of the old column shift box - if you ever wondered what was inside one.
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And after cleaning - right now it's dry until I have the linkage mocked up and know it'll work, so I can see how the teeth mesh. Eventually it'll get a load of axle grease like it had before, but clean new stuff works better than 66 year old Texas oilfield sludge.

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And just a set of basic bedwood from LMC Truck. Some people spend thousands of dollars on this, but this truck will actually get used. So no purple zebra heartwood, red oak is fine:

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They actually kinda screwed me up here, and sent me the stainless bed rails. I had planned for (and ordered) mild steel ones, and was going to paint them, and had already ordered all black phosphate carriage bolts to bolt them down... so suddenly I had to run to Lowe's and clear them out of stainless carriage bolts, which were the wrong size. The wood isn't super thick, so I always wondered why the spec'd 1 3/4" bolts, when 1" was plenty. Well, 1" IS plenty, but now you need someone in the bed to push them down while you put the nut on them. It worked out though, my 8 year old daughter was thrilled to be included, and only complained when it was time to lower the lift down.

I had some very grand ideas about the tail lights for this. Lots of people do custom things, and I had a set of Packard Clipper taillights that were so cool that I didn't want to throw them away, so I actually polished them up, thinking I was going to mount them on the rear skirts for taillight. But 2 years ago me bought current me a present, and as I was finally straightening up, I had the two correct stainless/chrome tail lights from when I bought the back bumper that the truck didn't come with (I also ended up with two sets of bumper brackets this way.)

r/EVConversion - 55 GMC Truck Project - Drive package mounted


I may still go back and do it, because the Packard lights ARE total Coolsville, Daddy-O. But for now I want to make function. THEN I can work on the other bits of it. These are the ones, I'm surprised I didn't have pictures after I restored the ones I owned, but I'm not finding them on Google Photos anymore.

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I also can't find any pictures showing all I had to do for the rear of the truck. It still has the leaf spring suspension, but with all new leafs. The axle, I swapped the original for a 10-bolt GM axle from a 1996 Camaro, expecting to match my 5 bolt Chevy bolt pattern for the front. However, it turns out the Camaro bolt pattern was NOT the same, but luckily matched to the second drilled set of holes, so I was able to use those tires anyway. The original 6 bolt ones had to be swapped because they wouldn't clear the calipers. I got the 17" steel wheels for the look, but 17" diameter of steel is SUPER heavy. So we'll see what kind of range I get.

The brakes have been converted from the old drum brake, single reservoir under the cab, to a modern power brake system on the firewall. I custom bent all new brake lines, and finding the pieces to convert for the Camaro rear end was ridiculous, because it's apparently all metric.

So now it brakes, it steers and it de-clutches.

Next major bits:
  • fit the seat, so I can see where the equipment can fit
  • fit the front end, so I see where THAT equipment can fit.
  • install the low voltage harness (so I can locate the fuse box and it MAY go behind the seat with the HV stuff) - gives me lights and power for the low voltage stuff
  • mount the batteries (I had boxes and an elaborate scheme to mount them up under the cab... but I may punt and install them in front of the motor or behind the seat and move the EV equipment to a box under the hood. Mostly because they're in two pieces, and all the BMS harness is run and tested, but to mount under the cab, I have to break the longer one up and make a 3rd box to mount under the step... if I go under the hood or behind the seat, I can keep it as two, and it'll be done.
  • wire the EV equipment
 

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Wow, keep up the amazing work! I am looking forward to seeing it up and running. I am working on an s-10 conversion at the moment (that is orders of magnitude more amateurish) and I am also going to run a hyper 9 in mine. Looking at your pictures I see you are supporting the tail end of the motor on rubber mounts, but then are those 1/4" steel plates on the back half of the transmission making a solid connection to the frame? Would love to hear your thought process on this topic as I design my engine cradle.
 

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Wow, keep up the amazing work! I am looking forward to seeing it up and running. I am working on an s-10 conversion at the moment (that is orders of magnitude more amateurish) and I am also going to run a hyper 9 in mine. Looking at your pictures I see you are supporting the tail end of the motor on rubber mounts, but then are those 1/4" steel plates on the back half of the transmission making a solid connection to the frame? Would love to hear your thought process on this topic as I design my engine cradle.
Yep, so there's the band that goes around almost the front of the Hyper 9, that bolts it down using the clamp that Netgain makes for it. Then the transmission is supported through the front flange with 1/4" aluminum (mostly because I had some lying around). It's a solid mount at the transmission, so we'll see how it rides, but I'm expecting it'll be pretty smooth since there aren't thousands of explosions powering it. If I need to, I may fit a bit of rubber or polyurethane where it bolts together, but I don't think it'll be necessary.

Believe me, there are lots of times during this when I wish I was doing a car that didn't need so much work going together, but it should be pretty cool when it's done.

I just love the design of cars in the 50's. If this goes well, you may see an EV Packard Caribbean next from me.

Now for your S10, I'd leave the transmission mounts where they are, if possible, keep all of that linkage geometry and take advantage of that - my problem was the 1955 bellhousing had the mounts, apparently, and the 1978 bellhousing I had to convert to for the kit, didn't. But if I could have, I'd have bolted on the transmission, and located the motor from there. It's NOT heavy, so if the transmission is planted, you can set up the motor wherever it needs to go to save yourself trouble in the long run. Another option is a piece of angle or box steel across the frame rails where you can fit it, and the band clamp can slide forward and backward. My advice though, drill the holes for the band clamp mounts before you clamp it on the motor, then you just set the motor in the bottom half of the clamp and add the top. I had to redrill mine to make it fit, because the tape measure lied to me, although it'd be easier to measure on box steel than the angle, I'm sure.
 

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Now for your S10, I'd leave the transmission mounts where they are, if possible, keep all of that linkage geometry and take advantage of that
Yeah, I was planning to leave the transmission on the stock cross-member, and I just got an angle meter to try and locate the position of the trans to get the driveshaft angles to match up. I like the thought of planting the transmission in place first, so that once the motor is bolted on, the whole assembly will just drop in and be correctly aligned. I bought an engine mount kit that I am planning to use to dampen the front cradle, so I might think about trying to add some sort of framework that runs parallel to the motor case from the front mounts, and bolts to the transmission bell housing. I dont have the motor and adapter plate on hand, though, so I am loathe to try and design too much before I get a better sense of how everything is going to fit into the space. I appreciate the input, though, and might follow up when I get a little farther along.
 

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Yeah, I was planning to leave the transmission on the stock cross-member, and I just got an angle meter to try and locate the position of the trans to get the driveshaft angles to match up. I like the thought of planting the transmission in place first, so that once the motor is bolted on, the whole assembly will just drop in and be correctly aligned. I bought an engine mount kit that I am planning to use to dampen the front cradle, so I might think about trying to add some sort of framework that runs parallel to the motor case from the front mounts, and bolts to the transmission bell housing. I dont have the motor and adapter plate on hand, though, so I am loathe to try and design too much before I get a better sense of how everything is going to fit into the space. I appreciate the input, though, and might follow up when I get a little farther along.
You're on the right path. I did, and am doing, the same exact thing. With the big flat crossmember, I used the angle iron and had a nice flat surface to weld to, and that let me slide forward and backward when test fitting, and that worked beautifully. Once you locate it front to back, you control the tilt of the motor/trans by shimming up either the front or back.

But the reason it doesn't have wiring yet, or batteries installed, etc is I keep thinking about options and waiting for everything to fall into place and go "That's exactly how that should work". Ideally without doing it wrong 5 times and spending unnecessary money on it.
 

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Good grief this things beautiful. Great project mate!
Thank you! Yeah, like I said, I bought it thinking I could just get it running in a month or two and use it (like, 2 or 3 years ago), but realized I wasn't going to be happy unless I tried to do it ... reasonably right. I'm still stopping short of spending thousands of dollars to make it perfect, but it should at least be darned good.
 

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I've got the front end sort of on, just a few bolts holding it in place, so I can measure, but for now it has to get out of the way to get my wife's car back on the lift again. Luckily we passed inspection, but now the speedometer isn't working. Here's how it looks as of today.
 

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Lately I've been working on mounting the seats. They mostly fit, but I'm going to need some more height because you have to be a yogi to operate the pedals the way it sits now. Looks like the battery pack WON'T fit behind the seat, because I need as far back as I can get.




I'm TRYING to retain the fold flat, flip forward and slide, but it may not make sense as I keep going. The bench that came with the truck was destroyed beyond all hope of recovery. These are out of an Escalade.
 

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Still making progress, just had no Internet (or power) for most of last week due to the Ice Age in Dallas. Also took some time out to build a drive-in theater as a treat for my wife and daughter for Valentines' Day. Put a seat cover on the bench in the Packard, rebuilt some drive-in speakers and connected to a PartsExpress blue-tooth audio amplifier, and a projector to watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.




It was a hit, but if we do it again I'm going to have to add some support to that seat. It wasn't great on my back for sitting in for 2 hours.

Figured out a simple mounting bracket for the Hyper controller, which wants to be as close to the motor as possible, and gave me an opportunity to learn how to use my new plasma cutter.






This was from before the outage - during the outage I broke out the flashlight and started identifying the wiring for the controller plug, which I made WAY harder than it needed to be. I don't have any pictures of that because it looks like a rat's nest at the moment. My operating plan was to terminate the wires as they are, like 12 ft long, get them going where they need to go and working, and then I'll take the excess out of the middle once I know where everything will permanently mount.
So far I've got the motor encoder, the thermo-probe, the throttle pedal, the contactor. I enjoy that they're like "keep these wires away from the motor and out of the motor's field" but they want the controller as close as possible and it's literally attached to the motor at one end. We'll see how that goes.
This past Saturday, I ran the 2/0 cables back to the bed. For now I'm skipping the box mounting and just loaded the batteries in the bed of the truck, until I know it will go. I had planned to continue on Sunday, but my father came to visit, so I took advantage of a second set of hands to help me go for round 3 with the truck bench seats.
 
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