Assorted questions about my 85 k10 fixer upper

Hey there, new to working on trucks and such and have a bunch of different questions about my k10 pickup. Bought her about a month ago and have a bunch different projects going right now and million questions (some of them might need to go to another forum) so here we go.

  1. Steering rag joint is soaked in ATF and has lots of play. Does it need to be replaced or can I let it sit for a while? Obviously the play in the wheel isn’t great, but I don’t mind it if there are more pressing issues.

  2. Hi beams don’t work. The wiper controller doesn’t click when you pull it forward (seems like a broken switch). I was thinking I would just wire a completely new system rather than pull apart the steering column. Relay, switch on the dash, positives going to the four leads on the four headlights (I’ve got the 2 vertical headlights, assuming all 4 go on when turned to brights). Should I turn low beams off via the light controller on the dash when I turn the Hi beams on if I rig this system?

  3. The mechanical lift pump broke (broke before I bought it, the guy who opened the truck was a hobby mechanic and couldn’t figure out how to fix it (replaced it, still didn’t work, push rod moved when engine cranked…). So anyway I bypassed the mechanical lift pump and put an electric pump in. I put in a Mr. Gasket Electric fuel in place. rated for 35 GPH at 4-7 psi. Do I need to buy a nicer one or will that suffice? Note: I have the 10micron stock filter in, the pump comes fitted with an 100 micron inline filter, and I have a clear plastic filter to see what the fuel is doing before the pump. Also the pump is located in the Engine compartment, i.e. needs to lift some…

  4. I’ve noticed the past few days that when she started up, some white smoke comes out. Not a lot, a few puffs for 10-15 seconds then stops. probably just unburnt fuel from the cylinders begin cold and nothing to worry about, right?

  5. One of the batteries tested bad at LAPS. Haven’t gotten around to replacing the other battery yet as she starts quickly and on first try. Is that bad for anything? The battery that tested good is rated for 700 CA I think… Was going to buy another rated at that once it gets cold…

  6. Took the truck to a mechanic to look at, said rear brakes drums undersized (along with front rotors). I’m in the process of replacing rotors, ok to leaves break drums undersized for a while since most of your stopping power comes from the front?

  7. No stereo… if I can find a stereo at a pick-n-pull, is it as easy as connecting the wiring harnesses (would a new aftermarket stereo be that easy too)?

  8. Seems to idle a little rough. Not enough experience to say that with much confidence, but truck seems to shake and rattle a little (should probably take video…) at idle. Seems happier with my foot just a little bit down (no tach to tell rpms). Or is idling low fine as long as you never stall out.

  9. No AC. Someone sawed the hard line from the AC unit to the condenser on the top (probably need to take pictures to illustrate). If I put the new line in, and plug the harnesses in, should the AC theoretically work? Is this a hard, time consuming and not worth the effort job?

  10. Anything else you can think of to check or look into? I’m planning on using the truck to travel into the mountains this winter and possibly a cross country trip or two if she makes it to the spring/summer. Already changed ATF, power steering, brake fluid, rear/front diff fluid. Planning on doing fuel filter Oil in another couple hundred (only 500 miles old, but the old owner put them in, so just to be safe). Also in preparation for the winter I was going to check the glow plugs and replace U-joints in front drive shaft (at least one needs to be replaced).

Thanks so much to anyone and everyone who gives advice, apologies for how long this is. I’m sure I’ll remember a couple more questions by the time I wake up tomorrow.

I hope you got this vehicle cheap. To me…an '85 K-10 is a money pit. It will be a good learning experience though.

Here’s my 2 cts.

  1. Replace the rag joint. It’s a PITA, but also a safety issue.
    2.Replace the combo switch, if it proves faulty. A rigged system is a last resort.
    3.Don’t know. Try a Diesel forum.
    4.Probably water condensaton burning off.
  2. A balanced battery system is best to prevent damage to the good battery. Replace the bad one.
  3. Just don’t load up the back until you get those rear brakes fixed.
  4. Aftermarket radio just needs a 12v Bat, 12v switched, a ground, and an antenna. Best way to go.
  5. See No. 3 above.
  6. Forget the A/C. It’ll cost you thousands to fix.
  7. Don’t forget to join AAA. They can provide travel assistance if this rig self-destructs while you are far from home. And pack light incase you need to abandon it. Planning to use such a tired old rig for travel is a fool-hardy thing, but best of luck.

Before spending any more money on this thing I’d run a compression test on it. That rough idle may be a sign of a cylinder dropping. Hopefully not but best to discover this before going any deeper monetarily.

A diesel will require a specialized compression tester. The tester for a gasoline engine will not work.