03 Chevy 1500HD - Identity Crisis


New member
Jan 8, 2023
Yo, my name is Mike and this is my 2003 Chevy Silverado 1500HD 4x4 “build thread”. This first post is all backstory shenanigans that don’t show much… scroll to post #2 if you dgaf my life story.

I got this truck back in 2017 as a “tow rig” and replacement for my daily driver. I can’t remember exactly, but it had somewhere around 160k miles and was completely stock minus some sicky gnar gnar lowering shackles in the back, a cherry bomb muffler, and some chrome grandpa steps.

That all lasted about a week until it got a black widow muffler, step delete, torsion crank, and some new wheels and tires.

It stayed like this for a couple years. Towed the old Tacoma to KOH, took it on multiple road trips with the family, and daily drove it. I eventually switched to 35s with some help from the trusty cutoff wheel, put Fox 2.0 IBPs on it, and put a baby sized cam in it in late 2018.

Around late 2020, I noticed a drop in oil pressure. No tick… but hot idle pressure was around 10-15psi. I assumed it was the oil pickup tube o-ring, so I ended up pulling the front cover off to do oil pump and switch it to a bigger cam since I was already there (bad lines good times, am I right!?)… Well, the o-ring looked fine, but I kept going and started to pull the cam out. It came out part way, but stopped and would not move past about 1/4 of the way out… tried a few things before aggression, and eventually got it to slide past this odd brick wall I was against, just to hear the cam bearing “ring” against the cam lobes behind it…

Back track a year and a half… I had purchased an LY6 (2007 6.0L engine) for my Tacoma… it was sitting in my garage at this time with a bunch of fresh parts and a decent sized cam. I also had a CircleD converter on the shelf for the eventual swap, and lots of other parts to make it jive…

So the obvious solution to fix my daily driver!? Let’s put the “Tacoma motor” in the Chevy! Had to order some electronic modules to make the Gen4 engine work in my Gen3 truck, but got it done and had my daily driver alive again! Unfortunately it looked exactly the same, so there’s no real pictures to go along with this…

Shortly after this, I rebuilt the old LQ4 from my Chevy and started the swap into my old Tacoma. This includes entirely rebuilding the Tacoma thanks to years of zero maintenance… so that was a long process and nothing happened with the Chevy.

Fast forward past the Tacoma shit to mid-2022. I found a place they would ship long tube headers to California, so I chose more bad lines (good times!) and ditched even more compliancy within California law in the name of performance! In actuality, it just made the truck loud and obnoxious, and made me feel terrible going to work before 6am every day…

Enter the CoBROlla, my 2003 Toyota Corolla shitbox daily that I love more than most things in life because it causes me zero grief. 250k miles, gutless, 5spd manual so my wife can’t drive it, leaks oil everywhere you park it… might be my favorite car I’ve ever owned.

So what do you do when you sell your off-road project you’ve had for almost 20 years AND you acquire a “new” daily driver…? Well, naturally you fuck up your old daily driver! BLGT!!


New member
Jan 8, 2023
So… plans started to come together quick. Bought myself a Dana 60 on eBay (from LKQ) out of a 2008 F250 in Tennessee. Axle showed up not even strapped to the pallet, just sitting there. Lol!

Most of the stock parts and bracketry went in the trash. Loaded the axle in the bed of the Chevy along with an AAM 11.5 “duramax” rear end I had acquired and drove to Clovis to have Alec Navarro at Axle Pros (HIGHLY recommend) put some 4.88s and fresh bearings in them. At the time, I was planning on 37s… but you know how that goes… should have gone bigger! (BLGT)

Long story short, I was driving home from Alec’s shop after picking up the finished axles, and noticed my oil pressure fluctuating… pretty weird, tried to ignore and forget it, but it was always in the back of my head.

Kept collecting parts for the solid axle swap, and in late 2022 I saw my oil pressure drop from 40psi hot idle to 20psi hot idle… Not knowing what was wrong, I added a high pressure oil pump, cam retainer, related gaskets, etc to my parts collection. Figured that during the SAS (Solid Axle Swap for you prerunner kids), it would be the best time to drop the pan and replace the parts, since nothing would be in the way.

Parts collection included some Fox 2.5“ Factory Series 10” coilovers from AccuTune, which did the baseline revalve in my old Tacoma. Hands down, the best “off the shelf” shocks come from them! Collected more parts from shops like Ruffstuff, Barnes4WD, Summit Machine, Poly Performance, and Offroad Designs… and then I waited. Added some beadlocks from Vision Wheel, some rear wheel adapters from 8x6.5 to 8x170 from BORA, and of course my radius arm prototypes from myself (James Way Off-Road). Sent stuff to powdercoat 100% untested, and continued to wait…

Collected more parts… got a Red Head steering box that was setup for hydro assist, a PSC ram and pump setup, WFO steering box brace and frame plates… and then I kept looking at pictures of trucks with Super Duty axles and I realized I just can’t run a low mount tie rod like they do stock. Ended up ordering a bunch of heims/bungs/jam nuts and misalignment spacers from Barnes4WD along with some nifty tie rod taper adapters. Got myself a stick of 1.75” x 0.250” and a sheet of 1/4” HRPO… and then I waited.

Got some Atlas rear springs to match the eventual front end… 4” lift. I think they call them their overland springs? Supposed to carry extra weight for inevitable broverlanding gear.


And then I waited. I waited until we had enough free time in the shop for me to occupy a lift for a couple weeks… and then it happened. Lift space was open, there was a hole in the schedule… it was time!


New member
Jan 8, 2023
Pulled the ol’ shitbox into the shop on the evening of February 2nd and left it there overnight. The next morning, the transformation to “identity crisis” began.

I started by fitting up my prototype radius arm brackets and transmission crossmember / transmission mount. It fit up almost perfect, but there was some slight adjustments needed that will be addressed whenever I decide to produce them.

Sorted out the small hiccups and moved on to the IFS delete. This part fucking sucks. Don’t let anyone tell you “it’s not that bad.” If you want to do a good job, it IS that bad.


WFO frame plates:

Started swinging the axle:

Started on the steering arm setup… apparently I didn’t take pictures of it, but I made double/triple sheer tabs and webbings for it out of 1/4” HRPO. Stock, the tie rod is on the bottom side of the steering arms, so this is a pretty substantial jump going to the top. 01F2DAB6-7B87-487F-9D7E-B6D335DB3FC5.jpeg

Then I started looking for clearance issues while hunting for maximum up travel. The long tube headers I had were the first issue, and were limiting up travel by nearly 2” before the next issue, so they had to go…

After that, it was time to make a track bar (no pictures of this process) and start on shock towers. Going for a low ride height with 10” shocks on these trucks is tough, and left me with a decent lean on the shocks. Reminds me of the old “karate chop the whoops” angle, so I’ll allow it. Also finished steering arms are here.

Building towers:

Gonna have to put the welded towers and the rest of the build in the next post for special reasons….


New member
Jan 8, 2023
Trying to be cool like my squirting mentor Mr Matt Helton (minus the CL) with the squirts… some are good, some are OK, but I try to be better every day. Pretty stoked on my bench welding abilities lately.

Finished up some other frame welding before paint, including bumps and limit straps.

And then had to make 40s fit… you know, because 40s are the new 35. Minor trimming required.

Then tear down, paint, replace oil pump, assemble, and drive!!!! Or so I thought. Not sure why I was so naive to think everything would work first try. Lol

Upon first warm up while cycling and bleeding the steering, one of the hard lines at the hydro boost cracked (brand new line) and squirted steering fluid everywhere. Super cool. Spring rate was too low. Oil pressure was GREAT though, so pretty minor things to deal with. Did a major shop cleanup, took a day off to collect my thoughts and relax for a bit, and simply appreciate how much I accomplished.

Off the lift. Stinkbug, aka anti-prerunner:


New member
Jan 8, 2023
At this point, the power was out at the shop due to a downed power line… so I was working in the dark relying on flash lights and M18 batteries for everything. Got the front coils pulled and exchanged them for some different rates thanks to Poly Performance’s easy spring exchange, replaced the power steering line that cracked (likely my fault during install somehow), re-bled everything, and drove it outside of the shop. Nothing seemed fucked, so I drove it around the block. And then around the block again. And again. Besides some tire rub in the rear, it seemed good to go!!

OH WHAT A FEELING!!! Quickly cleaned up the shop, cut some extra sheet metal in the rear, abandoned the CoBROlla in a parking spot outside the shop, and took the Chevy home! I cleaned myself up real quick, then the wife and I went to retrieve the kids from school. We were the only parents to show up with a cammed LS, beadlocks and 40s….. weird?! Bunch of yuppies at this school I guess.

Anyways, next day I went to drive it and 2 houses away from home the oil pressure dropped and engine started ticking… oh… what a feeling…

Took a week off from everything regarding this piece of shit truck.

Eventually called the chase truck and had it towed back to the shop.

Even though it was powerless, I still had to flex it with the forklift.

It doesn’t flex that great, but it’s pretty ok for radius arms I guess.

Pulled the engine shortly after the “flex test” and found my culprit… a spun cam bearing that shifted enough for the lifter to nom-nom-nom it.

Still debating the rebuild plans since I’m not naturally wealthy… but hoping to have it back together in a month or two.