Suburban Maintenance Questions

I am considering restoring my dad's 77 Chey Suburban C10 2WD 454 which is of considerable sentimental value to me. I just had all the control arm bushings replaced and a front end alignment done and that made a world of
difference in the ride and steering. There are alot of other things I know I need to attention to put it back into good working order. Please keep in mind that I live in Phoenix Arizona where it is hot as a blast furnace in summer. We also have dust storms from time to time and frequent blowing dust. The Suburban has about 140K miles on it and has a rear end ratio set up for towing. I don't intend to do any towing , heavy cargo or off-roading with it. Any inputs to these questions would be much appreciated.
1. I has been way too long since I had the transmission serviced and whereas there doesn't seem to be anything obviously wrong with it I'd like to get it serviced properly and have a good quality fluid. How do I find a place that will service it honestly and not act like I am Bill Gates when it comes to suggested repairs/service? I would think it needs new fluid, a filter, possibly a modulator valve? and a pan gasket. Anything else as part of standard service? Is Mobile 1 ATF worth looking into? As little as I know about trannies they could tell me my torque convertor is about to crap out and I would not know one way or the other...
2. I can see my differential has been leaking some and fear what shape the gears and axle bearings might be in. I figure if I open it up and there are any traces of metal in whatever fluid there is left, or wear on the gears then I will possibly have to have the axle bearings and or gears replaced? Or is it a case if they don't make noise then just drain it, spray it out with brake cleaner, new gasket, fill it and run with it? I have purchased Valvoline Synthetic Durablend 80W-90 gear oil. Is this a good choice?
3. I think the steering box is leaking from the shaft seals(looks like both steering shaft and pittman arm shaft. I see they sell seal kits I assume to fix this problem. Is this pretty difficult task? The guy at the auto shop says most shops won't do it because of liability issues.
4. Has anyone replaced the front main bearing seal on a 454? I almost replaced it when I replaced the harmonic balancer but just plain ran out of time and had to get it up and running. It was definetely leaking. Is this a big job once I remove the harmonic balancer?
5. The air conditioning has been inoperable for several years, so I figure it will require replacing all the parts. It is a single front unit. Where is the best place to look for compressors, accumulators etc that come at a good price and decent quality. R-12 is expensive and I can't service it. R134A is owner serviceable but is also less efficient so I hear. Any suggestions? Has anyone used Freeze 12? I would like to drive around next summer without having the back of my shirt soaked when i arrive :)
6. My driver and front passenger door hinges are loose. I've read where you can get replacement bushings and new pins. It looked like they enlarge the holes to fit the new bushings. Is this the way its done or are their old bushings that are just replaced?
7. Most of the window guides are gone leaving all my windows to ratttle. Is there a good source to find these guides / seals (including for the rear window, tailgate variety)?
Thanks, Bob
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seems like you have your work cut out for yourself.If i were I would get a service book on the truck most of the stuff you have listed you can honestly do your self a shop is goin to ream you if you go into one with a list like that the only thing you need to do is have you ac dye tested to see where the leaks are .134a is what is coming out in all new cars and trucks and is no better or no worse than r12 freeze 12 is junk enough said everything you want done is really simple and cut and dry seems like you have a good head on your shoulders.Another thing about your gear box leaking Id just replace it once it starts to leak it more or less down hill from there.front seal is a piece of cake once you get the harmonic balancer out of the way.if you have any other questions you can e-mail me id be happy to get you running try calling junk yards and body shops for your window issues and door hinges
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Thanks for your help Steve. I think my A/C is so old (14 year old compressor) and has been at atmosphere so long (about 7 years) I'm not optimistic but I'll have it leak checked. The heat / low humidity out here seems to take its toll on stuff. I imagine there are things I will have to do as part of a R134A conversion such as oil, orifice and seal replacement but I'll research that.
Where to get the tranny serviced is my biggest worry as that might run into big bucks. I don't know whether to go with a AAMCO or Lee Myles or just take it someplace where they will do the filter and fluid.
Differential I will get to today once I find out how many quarts I need to refill it.
As far as shocks go I am thinking about Monroe Reflex, KYB MonoMax or GasAdjust and maybe Gabriel GasRyders as per Doc. I won't load it heavy or take it into rough stuff. I just want a fairly comfortable ride, reasonably firm control and long life good reliability. Don't know if that's even possible.
Thanks, Bob

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If i recall it only takes 5 qts of fluid to fill your tranny start with 4 then start it up and check it then add as needed as Id only change the fluid and filter if your not having any shifting problems as far as a 134a conversion its no big deal once you get your system running after you test your system and make sure its running all you will need to change is the fittings on the High and Low side vacuum, it out and add oil and 134A you dont have to change the oirifice tube if yours is good people say to just to get you for more money but if yours is good keep it when buying a conversions kit at the parts store they only give you the new High and Low side adapters.I live in south texas by the mexican border so i know somewhat about your weather never seen snow down here lol dye testing will tell you what seals are bad and they will tell you what is wrong and where just get a est then shop around some people do abuse the AC factor that some people need them and over price.your diff once you get it cleaned up and the new gastket on just fill it up to where it starts to come out of the plug then install the plug and youll be fine i think the sell it in qts get 2 or 3 and you should be fine I too would go with Doc on the shocks good choice
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