With the suspension completed, we moved on to the brakes. The deeper we got into preparing the Big 10 for Americruise, the more we learned about the F-44 package. We discovered it contains numerous factory upgrades that make it a very desirable option. On any truck, when it comes to front brakes, bigger is definitely better. During our research, we discovered F-44 front brake rotors are 1 1/4 inch wide in comparison to the standard C-10's 1-inch rotors. Because we were on such a tight schedule, the fast way to guarantee our front brakes were in perfect operating condition was to swap out our original 75,000-milers for a pair of CPP complete assemblies that automatically come with the F-44 brake upgrade. The CPP brake assemblies are also the hot ticket for those who want to step up to bigger brakes for their standard C-10; they bolt right in. On the rear, we retained the F-44's larger wheel cylinders, which after exhaustive testing have proven to be overkill for a truck that rarely carries a load in the bed. During Americruise, the '79 hauled a roll-away top full of tools, two spare tires, a floorjack, plus a bunch of other things so the brakes worked perfectly, but once the truck was unloaded, the rear wheels locked up. It's a common problem for any pickup whose hauling days are over; in an upcoming issue we'll shed a little more light on the subject.

Before it was time to hit the highway, we made some finishing touches to the Big 10, including new wheels and tires. Again, our main goal was to improve on the stock Big 10 without making any changes that could actually decrease the truck's performance. Frankly, it's not something you will find commonly mentioned in a tech story, but there are some modifications that will make a truck perform worse than stock. In past testing on another C-10, we learned that a closed-design wheel that won't allow enough cool air to pass over the brakes can cause brake overheating and consequently will result in brake fade. A trick hot rodders learned a long time ago was to check out what the manufacturers had done to solve a particular problem and then apply it to their situation. We went right to the source and selected a ventilated '71-81 Chevrolet truck Rally Wheel as our starting point. Naturally, being Custom Classic Trucks, we couldn't settle for stock. We contacted Gary McLean at Rally America in Fresno, California, to come up with a one-off custom design. We like to call them "Retro Rallys" because Gary grafted on a '33 Ford center with a Bow Tie stamped into a '33 Ford smoothie hubcap. We ended up with a custom wheel design that stumped everyone who speculated on its origin. Of course, Gary is in business to make a living, so if you want a set of Retro Rallys for your truck, he'll build more-just give him a call.

One of the last things we did on the eave of leaving for Americruise was to have Ron's Wholesale Tires mount up a set of 235/75/15 American Classic nostalgia wide whitewalls from the king of wide whites, Coker Tire. The very last thing was to repair the Big 10's factory air conditioning; special thanks go to Craig Ferguson and his crew at Ferguson's Auto Center in Garden Grove, California, for working way beyond their normal closing time to get our A/C fully charged and ready to go.

In retrospect, attempting to build the Americruise project in such a short time around a $1,600 truck might have been a little extreme, but thanks to an amazing amount of help from our industry friends, we were ready to roll only one day behind a ridiculously tight schedule. Since we were already a day behind the southern tour leaving out of Fort Worth, Texas, the plan was to either make it or break it the first day out by pushing the Big 10 as hard as we could.