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Baja Trip in the works

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by 87K506, Sep 18, 2005.

  1. 87K506

    87K506 1/2 ton status

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    Hey all,
    I'm a newbie here to CK5. I hope to hang out around these forums and gain some knowledge, because i know its there. First off....I came across an 87 K5 last year in pretty good shape, with the 350 TBI in it. It runs great. It has a few minor issues (pwr locks don't work, rear window is horribly slow etc.) My dad and I are plannin to restore it...and possibly use it for a trip to Baja California. The trip is going to be in about 4 years when I get out of college, sort of a last, balls out adventure before I get tied to a job. If anyone gets Offroad Adventures, I was thinking something along the lines of Got Baja? Spending a few days south of the border, exploring some of the dunes and coves and small fishing villages. SO...here comes some questions. It has 10 bolts f&r and I was wanting to do a 6" lift with 35s (and possibly some lockers or posis). Will they withstand a trip to Baja and back? Also, what should I plan on doing to outfit this thing for about 6-7 days in Baja. I know extra gas and water cans, and spare parts, but what specific spare parts? Would a winch be a neccesity? We plan on doing this build up over the course of my college years...slowly. But please any input would be greatly appreciated. Im at a loss of where to start on a build up. Our plans now are to get it painted and "restored" (new dash cover seat covers carpet, get it close to new condition again.) But as far as prepping it for a trip like that, I don't know where to start. Any help is greatly appreciated!
    Thanks,
    Cory
     
  2. 87K506

    87K506 1/2 ton status

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    Anybody? So far all of my adventures have been a day mudding with friends....easy to get out of any jam. A trip like this...it won't be so easy. Please help, or just give me some of your experiences on trip. I just need some basic points to shoot for, as this buildup is gonna be over time. When we go, i don't plan on runnin it like a trophy truck, but i'd like to air out the suspension a few times...any thoughts on that with a K5?
     
  3. ntsqd

    ntsqd 1/2 ton status

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    For Baja you will want as much Quality Wheel Travel as you can get. That means reasonably soft springs of high quality (hint: they aren't likely to come from a mass marketer) and shocks made by Fox, King, Sway-A-Way, or Bilstein. Limit the up-travel with bump stops such that even at metal to metal the spring still has some (~1/2"-1") of positive arch. Not allowing the springs to go flat or to a reversed arch is crucial to their surviving Baja.
    Know that if you can hit the bumps often or hard that they will not last. Spares might be appropriate to carry. When possible choose rubber bump stops over urethane (they live longer).

    Keep the mods away from stock parts to a minimum, or carry spares of the non-stock parts. If you custom fab anything that is needed to drive the vehicle you'd better make two of them and carry the extra.

    With the heavy axles of a K5 (even w/10 bolts) use two shocks per wheel and be sure to tell whomever you order the shocks from of this arrangement. Two 2.0" shocks will work, two 2.5" shocks would be better. Non-remote reservoir shocks aren't the best option.
    Mount the shocks as close to the wheel as possible and nearly straight up an down. A slight lean inboard and a slight lean towards the shackle may help. On the front this means put a socket on the upper ball joint nut and make the mount such that the lower shock eyelets & mount only just barely clear the socket.

    I am by no means a Baja vet, but if you want to see where this advice is coming from, click the link below. We have a Baja vet on this board, I'm hoping Ramsey will chime in.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2005
  4. BAJA_BLAZER

    BAJA_BLAZER 1/2 ton status Author

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    Thanks? In many ways Baja is still the Wild Wild West, which makes it so appealing for exploration and adventure. Once away from the populated areas of Baja Norte/Northern Baja (Tijuana, Mexicali, Ensenada, and even San Felipe) and Baja Sur/Southern Baja (Guerrero Negro, Ciudad Insurgentes and Constitucion, La Paz and Cabo) you can find yourself all the untamed wide open spaces imaginable. There is literally ten’s of thousands of off-road miles to be explored and very little paved road beyond Highway 1 that runs the length of the peninsular crossing a few times from the Pacific Ocean to the Sea of Cortez. So where do you begin? Research. There are hundreds of books and websites devoted to exploring Baja. You mentioned only spending 6 or 7 days in Baja, which isn’t very long because you don’t want to be rushing from point to point. So, hone in on a couple of places you would like to see and don’t try to do too much. In Baja, life is lived at a slower pace and that is how it is best enjoyed.

    As far as vehicles go, I have been down there in $100,000.00 Prerunners and in a $700.00 VW Van. One thing that always amazes me is that just when I think I am about as far back and remote as one can get, along comes a family (Mom, Dad, the kids, the kids’ kids, an aunt and uncle or two and the Abuela/Grandmother) all loaded in a 1969 Ford LTD Wagon with bald tires. These folks know how to wheel down there! Slow and steady will get them anywhere. So what does that mean for your Blazer? It’s a Chevy; parts for those things are just about everywhere on the planet, especially in Baja. A couple of trips back, I was crawling up a hill through head high dry thistles unable to see the ground and a tall pointy rock managed to totally crush my oil filter without hitting anything else (i.e. oil pan, exhaust, transmission pan, transfercase) which was amazing considering how protected and high up it is. Luckily I was prepared and had the single most important thing you can take along with you in Baja, a BUDDY with a second vehicle. We drove to the nearest little village noting the location of all the wrecked or worn out Chevys along the way in case a new filter was not to be found and went to the nearest Taco Stand. Ten or 12 tacos later one of the locals told me about a family that live up the hill in a big yellow house that sold auto parts out of his garage. The kids were playing in the yard and spoke pretty good English, which reminds me, study Spanish in College if you don’t already speak it, you’ll never regret it. They were able to tell their father what I needed and damned if he didn’t have three or four of them and oil too; all for 80 Pesos (about $7.50) and if he didn’t have it someone else would have. A friend broke an axle shaft once last year and his buddy was able to drive out and find him another one out of some guy’s backyard. Two points to get out of this dissertation: 1) Take a buddy. 2) Like Thom suggested, use stock parts. 3) Don’t worry it will all work out.

    A Blazer is a great choice for Baja, 35” tires a good ides, a 6” lift – well, a compliant suspension is much more important than lift. Again as Thom suggested, after driving all day on Baja’s dirt roads you’ll regret that off the shelf lift and wish you had something designed for Baja. The SFA and front leaf springs on a Blazer are not the suspension system of choice for Baja but they can be made to work. You might want to do some poking around race-dezert.com and look for threads on the subject.

    Oh, on the subject of tires/wheels many around CK5 are partial to 10 and 12 inch wide wheels; they have no place in the desert. A 35” 12.50 X 15 should be mounted on 7 or 7.5 inch wheels for less exposed sidewall, and take two spares.

    Vaya con Dios, amigo! :waytogo:
     
  5. 87K506

    87K506 1/2 ton status

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    Well...Im astounded....Thanks alot for the input so far. I didn't imagine i would get those types of detailed replies. As far as my plans...I plan on 35X12.50 Xterrains (who knows though, stuff changes in 4 years), and regearing to 4.10's. I don't want the engine rapped out all the time with 4.56's. Im thinking some type of posi front and rear, but i have heard from a few people that a front posi or locker isn't a good idea. I don't know if me and my dad would be able to fabricate a new shock mount for the front, but then again Im going to major in Mechanical Engineering...so that could change too. Im not sure on springs... there is local spring and brake place...i might be able to talk to them about springs...Is that what you were talking about (springs from a small company)? As far shocks I haven't ever looked into Fox, King or Swayaway prices, but Ive heard the names. If i had to choose right now based on my budget, Im guessing i'd go with Bilstein. I kind of plan on this being an all purpose vehicle...Being able to wheel on some local trails, being totally street legal, and be able to drive all the way to baja and back (from Texas). I plan to keep the motor largely stock, with the exception of maybe headers, good exhaust, and a GREAT air filter...don't want dust in the engine from what i hear lol! And also, I have the 700r4 in it...I know most on here don't like its durability. Its prolly the roughest part of the truck (it shifts oddly sometimes), but I plan on haveing it rebuilt (i want to keep as much original running gear)...What do ya'll think of this trans for what i plan on doing? I mainly plan on exploring, not running it real hard, but like i said...I get tempted easily, and I already have visions of A K5 aired out...lol!
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2005
  6. ntsqd

    ntsqd 1/2 ton status

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    Deaver Spring

    For the air filter, when I took the Sub to Baja for the 2001 1000 my co-driver made a frame of welding wire that kept a K&N prefilter sock opened up. This assembly was crudely hose clamped to the end of the stock air filter can's snorkle. It bled K&N oil all over the alt tension bracket, but the same paper filter is still in the truck.
     
  7. 87K506

    87K506 1/2 ton status

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    Well as far as air filters, Ive heard to stay away from k&n's but then again we have one on our 99 powerstroke. Also, I was wondering what to do with the 700r4. I like the transmission, especially with the overdrive, and I want to keep it. It will need to be rebuilt before then, it already shifts funky sometimes. But can it be built up for what i want to do? Thanks
     
  8. ntsqd

    ntsqd 1/2 ton status

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    This wasn't the std K&N that I wouldn't use either. This was one of their Pre-Filters, which is a oil soaked foam deal that goes over the outside of one of their 'normal' filters for use in heavy dust. Matt made a frame that held it to it's intended shape w/o having the filter inside it. That and the pre-filter were what was hose clamped to the stock filter can's snorkle.

    The 700 can be built to survive this. Have a look at Bow Tie Overdrives On my Sub I used an 11" by 11" stacked plate oil cooler for it's TH400. I do not believe that you can over cool an auto trans in baja.
     
  9. Stephen

    Stephen 1/2 ton status Moderator Vendor

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    I'd take a hard look at what's required to do the baja trip in the way you want to do it, and how that vehicle will fit into your normal life. There's a big difference between driving aggressive and taking it easy. The vehicle that will handle taking it easy in baja will probably fit your everyday life a little better.
    At this point I wouldn't mind taking my 'burb down with the tuff country springs and some bilsteins, but I would have to drive with a brain. Trying to play racer would require a LOT more that what will get you by if you're smart.

    Want to see adequate? Take a look at that toyota of Chris Collard's in the Got Baja article. The thing is not fancy at all, in fact, some would call it a roach but it got him there and back. It's a good thing he had a good group to help fix it here and there but they got it done. And neither of the vehicles with him were high dollar. Experience goes a long way.
     
  10. DavidB

    DavidB 1/2 ton status

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    This thread makes me proud to be a CK5er. Lot's of nice guys who know their stuff. Excellent info. I've never run Baja, but I live just north of it in CA and I spend most of my free time in the desert.

    Only thing I can think to add, is to work and spend your $ on the mechanical, NOT the appearance. Do most/all of your mods/repairs yourself. That way you become familiar with how everything works and goes together, as well as what kind of shape it's in.

    I'm also big on keeping weight down. It breaks stuff. Lots of guys like big heavy bumpers, etc. but unless you're smashing into trees/rock all the time, it's just extra weight. Good strong front end protection is a must if you wanna zip around tho.

    I'm not sure about the big fancy shock thing...if you wanna jump it a little, some good bilsteins are fine. If you wanna go fast for extended periods on rough terrain, then you should prolly look at big shocks with reservoirs.

    Test run everything before you go.

    Have a blast!

    That's my .02 - David

    P.S. When you graduate with your ME degree, you can come back and tell us how to build it. :D Which reminds me, there was a thread somewhere on here about ME awhile back...interesting. Anyone remember?
     
  11. 87K506

    87K506 1/2 ton status

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    I will for sure when I graduate lol. Actually my plan, if I can find a place where it's feasible (after I get some real world experience) is to open an offroad shop and design and custom fab off road stuff, such as suspensions. Here in central Texas there is basically nothing like that, but I don't know if its because there isn't a need for it, or if no one wants to go out on a limb to start a shop like that. I know there are a lot of people out there that do that, and Im sure its competitive, but that has alway been the thing I would enjoy most. But thanks for the input. I have to be truthful, the K5 is the cheap solution to my Baja vehicle, because its been sitting (literally, sitting around) around the house doing nothing for a couple of months. But I also like the Tacomas, and was kind of thinking about using one, but it would also be my daily driver (i have 96 4runner right now...talk about reliable). There's two good reason's I like Toyotas, they are reliable, and the 3.4 V6 is a good lil motor. So Im in a tough spot. I really like the idea of the K5's room in the back, but I could get a soft top camper for a Toyota (i think). But like i said i have 4-5 years to plan this out. But this has been an excellent way for me to start getting my eggs in one basket. If anyone has done some of the baja stuff, feel free to tell me some stories. I wish i could find more articles on wheelin in Baja, but I've pretty much found zilch. Anyways, Im out!
    Cory
     

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