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Dear Chevy Luvrs: What Do You Think Of This?

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by kookydoright, Nov 9, 2006.

  1. kookydoright

    kookydoright Registered Member

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    Hello, my truck is an 85 swb, 350, 700r4, np241, 33" bfg's, 4" springs all around, 10blt front and 12blt rear with 3.73 ratios. i've had the truck three years. the only mods i've made are the lift, tires, new drivelines, and braced the steering box. the truck has taken me through all my local trails and hollows, while also being my daily driver. for the price i think i got a good platform to build from.
    anyhow, i no longer need the truck for a daily driver. so its time for a little TLC and some serious mods. axles. the front 10blt is seeping from the inner seal so while its gutted i figured i would start there and beef it up because i would like to eventually step up to some 36" TSL swamps.
    now i've read all the mags and browse this site(which is a great reference and quite helpfull) so before everyone tells me not to waste my money and junk the 1/2 ton axles hear me out. think of me as "that guy". you see me out on the trail waiting for my 10blt to explode and never having the sack to attempt that one super radically extreme trail/canyon in the earth that some rag wrote an artical about and took photos of while bashing their junk up and down it. don't get me wrong, i would love to bash my junk down a trail like
    that and drive my truck places expected only of a packing mule. but im still learn'n and have a plan for a build up to reliably wheel 36's without a kamakazi driving style. if i out grow that or win the lottery i'll go down to the bowtie grave yard, purchase a donor 3/4, and probally post another "help me/will this work" thread for you guys. after reading if you still think im wasting money and my axle will explode tell me to buy a dana or 3/4 running gear. thats why im posting this, you guys have chevy in your blood. i like that. i want to hear the opinions and real world experiences of guys who have been there or are gettin there as fast as they can!
    ok, first a gear change. the 350 is reliable and mostly stock so with the OD tranny i was thinking something like 4.56's? for traction a detroit trutrac slip for the front and maybe a loc rite for the rear. i need some suggestions for front shafts(brands,experienses, price vs. performance). I figured the 12blt rear shafts could hold the 36's just fine. can it? will the front axle joints need to be upgraded? i have read about, i believe they are called ox and ctm joints and they are costly. i was hoping to rebuild everything except the shafts in the front back to stock. in the rear new gears, loc rite, and some gear lube and she'd be happy. will it work? also what do you think of putting wheel spacers on the rear to even the track with the front on a 1/2 truck? i had never thought about it, but it came up in conversation over a few cold beverages. has anyone wheel'd with spacers or are they just for looks and apperance? could it be a disadvantage somehow on the trail or damage the rear axle? unfortunally because of my skills, or lack of should i say, most of the work will be done by a good shop. so while i stash back cash im trying to collect as much input as i can. mags, the net, and now you guys.
    so what do you think? am i on track but missed something, am i out of my damn mind, or do you still want to see a big ol' beefy 60 under the bowtie on my grill? all comments and sugestions will really help when i start gathering parts soon. it will be tonight before i can recheck this thread, so thanks in advance to all replies.


    "my granny always said a jeep couldn't pull limp dicks from a lard bucket."
     
  2. tRustyK5

    tRustyK5 Big meanie Staff Member Super Moderator GMOTM Winner Author

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    10 bolt front and FF 14 bolt rear. 36's are already pushing it with the 10 bolt front and just begging for breakage in the rear with the half ton stuff. You don't necessarily need a D60 up front though...and that is the spendy diff to find. I grenaded a 12 bolt rear on 33's backing out of a parking space, they are not tough diff's.

    A 3/4 ton swap gives you very good bang for the buck...plus they're easy to find. Even then with 36's I'd leave the front open, lock the rear, and wheel it. Being open up front will help the front 10 bolt survive a little abuse.

    4.56's with the OD trans is about right, as for a locker you can't go wrong with a Detroit in the 14 bolt.

    Rene
     
  3. Chaddy

    Chaddy 1/2 ton status GMOTM Winner

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    Wow! Lots to take in......First, If your looking at changing your axles then look for 1 ton stuff. I wouldnt reccomend building your 10 bolt. For the other stuff there is a search button up top with all the info you could ever need:waytogo:
     
  4. ZooMad75

    ZooMad75 1/2 ton status Premium Member GMOTM Winner

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    Wheeling on 1/2 axles can be done. Like you said, keep away from the kamikazi driving style should reward you with minimal breakage. Just be prepared for it. Beefing up the front 10b axle shafts with high $$ u-joints , but leaving the shafts themselves might be a waist of time. The weak link will be the shafts. Might be better off in my mind spending the dough you would have on CTM's and buying quality spicer u-joints and spare shafts for the trail. That is unless you want to upgrade to cro-mo shafts.

    Still carry spares of the axle shafts (F&R). You don't want to be "that guy" on the trail holding up the way with a broken axle shaft and not be able to fix it. Even more so wheeling on 1/2 ton axles. It's not if, but when they break.

    I've been wheeling on my 1/2 ton axles for a while now with 35's. No problems so far. I'm not locked up and that makes a big difference as far as axle life goes. Running locked up puts more stress on the shafts and then allows you to go into more difficult terrain, thereby increasing your chance of getting stuck and breaking stuff.

    Take it easy and carry spares.
     
  5. big dan

    big dan 1/2 ton status Premium Member

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    I too say at least get a 14bff for the rear. it has been one of the best mods I have made to my truck. they are cheap, got mine for free, plentiful and easy to swap. they are super beefy too so if you do happen to break the front you'll still have a good rear to at least get you home. you'll also have one less part to carry since you wont need spare rear shafts. I run mine welded and its my dd.
     
  6. OffRoad

    OffRoad 1/2 ton status

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    i agree with trustyk5

    10b front, 14ff rear, 4.56, weld or detroit. leave the front open.
     
  7. blazinzuk

    blazinzuk Buzzbox voodoo Premium Member GMOTM Winner

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    time to start scrounging. You can usually find some 3/4 ton axles for not to much money and you usaully get 4.10 gears with them. Its hard for me to say spend money on your half ton stuff. If you have a shop set up the gears that in and of itself will buy you a set of 3/4 tons, although for the most strength and cheapness of locker make sure you get a full floating 14b many later 3/4 ton trucks had semi float.

    Now if your truck is an 85 and has the orginal axles the rear would be a 10 bolt not a 12 bolt unless it was put there by someone else. The other thing is the t-case should be a 208 if its the orginal case. You need to know what your truck has, some shops around here will charge more if they don't think you know what you are doing.

    I have wheeled with alot of trucks and some that have 10 or 12 bolt rears and they usually don't break on very hard stuff. With 36s you run the risk of breaking on very easy stuff. You can say "well I will bring extra shafts" all but one exploded rear axle I have been on the trail with c clips (including jeeps) it has been impossible to get the broken part of the shaft out of the carrier. Out of about a dozen or so 10 bolt and 12 bolt rears that have broken about 5 of them took the locker with them. Two of them also took the ring and pinions. Thats is part of the argument for a 14b rear end. You are probably not going to break it, so as long as the front end is still under the truck and in one peice you can get home

    You got to break down the overall cost if you are on a budget. 4.56 gears for 10 bolts are about 150 each one master install kit is 100 bucks (for the rear) and a install kit for the front is 30 bucks. The cheapest around here you can get gears set up for is about 125 an end. So you are aorund 700 bucks already. You will probably need new carriers in addition to that. And you still have a weak axle.
     
  8. blazd88

    blazd88 1/2 ton status

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    A D-60 is like a pillow. You can sleep without one, but do your really want to.
     
  9. bowtiepower00

    bowtiepower00 1/2 ton status

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    I agree with the 14FF/ Detroit crowd, that's what I'm running. If you shave it a little and add disks it will be lighter and have more clearance. For the front, the 10b is OK depending on the terrain, with 35's+ I would be careful on the rocks, but the auto trans will help you avoid breakage. The problem is that when you add up the money you'll spend beefing the 10B and adding x-over you're already darn close to the price of a 60. If you are sure that 36's are as big as you're going to go than I'd keep the 10B, especially if you're not breaking it. For gears, I'd go 4.88 with the 700R4 to be easy on the OD and allow room for 37's down the road. 4.56's will work too, but if you're going to regear I'd do the 4.88's.
     
  10. 87BrnRsd

    87BrnRsd 1/2 ton status

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    I say for what you want to do, go with a 14ff out back and leave the 10 bolt up front. Leave the front open however. I wheel with a 14ff rear and a locked 10 bolt front (lockrite) with 37's and have managed to make it last for a while. I do carry spare shafts though. As long as you keep it light on the throttle, it should hold up pretty well. You can usually find replacement shafts on here for around $25 per side for a 10 bolt.

    Here is an example of what not to do with a front 10 bolt and large tires:
    http://www.holodeckdesigns.com/77GMC/AT06URE/Harrison%20switchback%202meg.wmv
    That is a viedo of me, using waaay more gas than i needed. Watch the front passenger side tire when I land, should have been a broken shaft or something. Actually, I didnt break anything. But I dont need to do that again, and was light on the throttle the rest of the trip. Im still getting used to driving with a front locker, and I have found when you start slowing down, just give it a small amount of gas and let it just continue to crawl. With an open diff, you often need to punch it when you start losing momentum.

    Anyways, on the same trip a guy in our group broke a rear 12 bolt shaft. Since they are sf rearends, the tire ended up making its way out of the axle tube. It wasnt as simple as just pulling the shaft and replacing it since metal got inside the locker. We had to pull the whole carrier/locker assembly out to fix it. You wont break a 14ff shaft, and if you do, its a lot easier to replace since its ff.
    -Harrison
     
  11. kookydoright

    kookydoright Registered Member

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    thanks for the comments. the feedback is pretty much what i figured. the rear 12blt was out of a 78 blazer i believe and the np241 was from an 89 blazer. thats what i meant by a good platform to start with(axle: larger shafts/ring gear, t-case: lower first gear, both better than stock).
    now some questions. will the 3/4 14blt be a direct bolt in? i have not a clue as to how an axle is setup plus with caster and such, these things i know not. although i have read articles and photos of this swap, i have never eye-balled a complete funtional setup in real life. what would be the driveline issues (front & back) such as attaching the bigger u-joints the the t-case? what are some specs on the 3/4 10blt vs. the 1/2? what makes the 3/4 version beefy enough for 36's without the costly upgrades i was already
    considering? also in the front could i use my pitman, draglink, etc with the 8 lug? would there be any issues with 3/4 axles and my suspension/shock mounts or even brake lines? the 4" rough countrys are about a year and a half old. i know i could have searched the forum, but since we were already chatting and im tired i thought i would ask here.
    honestly im seriously leaning towards the 14blt rear. i just turned down a free one about 7 months ago (no storage space or funds for matching gears) and im almost certain i came across one waiting to be harvested recently for little or no money. i will have to study the process more to see what im getting into, but if "its so easy a caveman can do it" than im sold. i suppsose this would save me some ching chang if i just re-gear and drop a detroit in the rear. its just the front that has me pacing! but as always im open to suggestion......
     
  12. 87BrnRsd

    87BrnRsd 1/2 ton status

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    If you get a 14 bolt out of a 3/4 ton pickup, then it will bolt right in. All you will have to do is either get a conversion u-joint (1310 1/2ton side caps on one end, 1350 1-ton caps on the other). They are expensive though. You can aslo find a driveshaft off a 1 ton truck and have a driveshaft shop weld the bigger yolk on your shaft, allowing you to run a regula 1350 u-joint. Personally, I like this route. If you run a conversion joint, then two of the caps are still the weak 1/2 ton size.

    As far as fronts go, there isnt much difference strength wise between a 3/4 ton 8-lug 10 bolt and a standard 6-lug 1/2 ton one. The 3/4 has slightly larger hubs and rotors. You can easily swap your hubs, rotors, and brake backing plates for ones from a 3/4 ton 10 bolt and have an 8-lug setup to match the 14ff rear. If you find a D44 or 10 bolt front from just about any gm truck from mid 70's to around 1991, everything will be exactly the same. Spring perches, steering components, shock mounts...everything is the same.
    -Harrison
     
  13. gmc4cw

    gmc4cw 1/2 ton status GMOTM Winner

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    Its so easy a caveman can do it.

    find a 14 bolt with 4.56 gears and an open carrier. throw a detroit in and have fun. I found mine under a 1975 6 cylinder if that helps. get the front diff if its 4wd. then you don't have to set up gears.

    Everything bolts right up. shocks, steering, brakes. my dana 44 came with flattop knucles which was a huge bonus. You may get lucky as well.

    with HD shafts in the front you should get a lot of trail time in before you really start pushing it and break something. hub fuses help. warn sells them for their 44 selectable hubs. CTM's are a ton of money. buy the better spicer joints.

    If you are not going bigger then 36's EVER then an ARB would be a good front locker. that way you would only engage it when you needed to and make sure the wheels were mostly straight.

    I ran a locked 44 for a few years. first to go was the short side stock shaft. I replaced it with warn HD shafts. then the u-joint and ears on the inner shafts went. replaced all the shafts innner/outer with warn HD's. heavy duty spicer joints and hub fuses. blew the lockright, not so bad because you can still wheel all day.

    All that was on 35's. I bought a 60, bodylift and 44's. Haven't broken the 60 yet.
     
  14. mulletman671

    mulletman671 Registered Member

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    As long as your not stupid with the stuff you do the 10 bold should hodl up fine to 36s, as long as you don't lock it. Ive seen too many dana 44s with trutracs snap axles on 35s while messing around a little too much.
     
  15. kookydoright

    kookydoright Registered Member

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    the 14blt i have my eye on is out of a 79 2wd. this will work right? since i have to tear into the front to fix the inner seal, i figured i would re-gear the front and maybe use some kind of conversion kit to make it 8 lug. does that sound reasonable? how complicated is the disc brake setup on the 14blt? i've read the drums on the 14blts are a real pain in the arse!
    i still have to do some figuring on cost, with having to swap rims and tires, driveline, and such. this sounds like the way to go in the long run, but something still makes me want to waste a little money on that front 10blt. i mean everyone says "don't lock it, put on big tires, look at it funny or it will break" but still yet every rag i pick up people are doing this! even on this web site people are doing it! i know maybe after i lock it up with big tires like everyone else, i'll jump off the bridge with them to!
    right now with the 33's, maybe i should fix my seal and re-gear the front and back to maybe some 4.10's and start planning the 3/4 swap. 3/4 usually have 4.10's right? so the front axle would already be geared to match a 14blt. this way i could still wheel all the places i have been, and start gathering up 16.5 rims and new tires, refurbish an old 14blt, and schedule some time for the swap. what do you think?
    thanks for the replys
     
  16. gmc4cw

    gmc4cw 1/2 ton status GMOTM Winner

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    for what you will spend regearing your current axles you can buy a 14/44 combo with 4.10 or 4.56 gears. I paid $300 for a dana 44, 14 bolt and NP205 with both driveshafts. sold the 205 for $200.

    don't waste money on axles you know you will replace. visit the local junkyards. If you can find a matching set cheap then you will have money left over. take your time rebuilding them while you wheel the junk you have now.
     

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