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Lost in 4x4 land. Help?

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by Veefour, Nov 21, 2005.

  1. Veefour

    Veefour Registered Member

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    I'm lost in 4x4 land and was hoping that CK5 would be my GPS. However, I'm still finding myself lost and in need of a guide.
    I bought my 85 K5 back in the summer from a friend and had hopes of building it into a nice DD/Weekend trail truck. But where do I start? What engine would be best suited? What tires? Should I beef up the suspension first or replace the transfer cases? Tons of the usual newbie questions, but very few answers. Everyone here seems to know exactly what they are talking about, and know what they are wanting to do next with their own rigs but I'm finding myself lost in the technical aspects. Someone throw me a tow line and pull me out of this technical mud.
    My truck needs it all. New engine (It runs, but I don't know for how much longer), body work, interior work..I don't even have a dash pad, just the metal that the dash fits over, I'm sure the drivetrain could use a rebuild or replacement since it's all bone stock and 20 years old (but hey, to this point its all still working).
    I'm just looking for some guidance here. Heck, I'll even document it, photograph it, and write it all up as I go along and CK5 can have it all. Its very own "'How to' for newbies" on a complete build up.
    What say you?
     
  2. jekbrown

    jekbrown I am CK5 Premium Member GMOTM Winner Author

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    Congrats, thats the same year K5 I have. Good rigs. :thumb:

    There is a scientific method for upgrading 4x4s. Step 1 is to determine what kind of abuse you plan on putting on a rig. This includes what type of terrain you plan to drive on, what tire size you want to run, how heavy of a right foot you have and how many street miles it might see. Once you know the answers to these questions, and you get some info on stock/aftermarket parts that might be best for your application, things become much clearer. There are plenty of knowledgable people here on CK5 who can help, if you can fill in the blanks on the questions above. Searching the garage helps too. That is the fastest way to get answers.

    Depends on your needs, but for any type of 4x4 a fuel injected engine would be best. They won't die at weird angles like a carb'd engine will. A TBI (throttle body injected) 350 or 454 would be the cheapest/easiest swap. If you have plenty of ca$h, you might consider a ramjet 350. It comes complete with a fuel injection system / computer etc. All you need to do is give it fuel 'n' spark.

    For a rig that will see lots of street miles, a standard "mud terrain" style of tire would be best. Pretty much every tire manufacturer makes a tire like this. BFG MT, Procomp MT, Toyo, Goodyear MTR etc would all serve you well.

    I'm a firm believer in upgrading your axles first and then working your way up the drivetrain from there. Once you figure out how much abuse this beast is gonna receive, you upgrade your axles accordingly. Next goes the suspension. From there the real major stuff is next... tranny/tcase changes will probably effect driveshaft lengths etc too, so its easiest just to swap them all at once. I'd worry about / mess with the engine last, unless the one you have now is non-running or something.

    Actually, there are all the answers you need hidden inside the "search" feature....

    dunno if I'd go that far. K5s have been around for a long time now though, and with that many years of history there has been enough time to find out what works and what doesn't. The result is a forumla... which is why most ck5 rigs are similar or heading in the same direction.

    how much ca$h do you have to work with?

    Wouldn't worry tooo much about this, unless its just rust prevention. Body panels tend to get mangled offroad anyway.

    Nothing wrong with a sparse interior, I don't have any of the factory carpet/plastic/dash in mine either. :thumb:

    If this is the case, you might consider buying a donor rig, like a 70s 3/4 ton truck, that has a good engine and swap the drivetrain over. You could score desirable parts that way and it tends to be a lot cheaper than buying everything individually.

    j
     
  3. Leper

    Leper 1/2 ton status

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    What he said with one main exception. Do the lift first. I have wheeled my wimpy 10 bolts for a while with no breakage. It is cheaper to lift it than to put 1 tons under it. Lift it and go have some fun and decide if you need bigger stuff.

    USE THE SEARCH FEATURE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11
     
  4. Veefour

    Veefour Registered Member

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    Ok well lets say it's Moderate abuse, including trail/mud/snow terrain, I want to have at least 38" tires, not too heavy of a right foot....I would say average redblooded american male weight :wink1: ,street miles that it could see would be say 100 a week give or take a few.

    Well the truck currently has a 305 in it. The engine was pulled from a 70's station wagon and swapped in after the guy I bought it from bent a valve in the original. However, I do have the original engine on a stand in my best friends basement. I was thinking maybe trade in the original as a core for a SB 350 and buy aftermarket heads?
    I had also thought about FI, but thought it would be too pricey. I hear Holly makes a Carb designed for offroad use? I don't plan on getting it into too many wierd angles....but you can't plan everything when it comes to off road, so I don't want it to be a slouch either.

    I'm not rich. I'm like the rest of you I guess. I save up for the things I need to get and then I get them. The more expensive, the longer I need to save.



    I wouldn't worry about this if the truck was purely a beater, but I do want to have it somewhat nice on the inside. It's our only 4x4 vehicle and my in-laws live in the mountains of West Virginia. If the wife and I are up there in the winter (as we are quite often) I want to be able to take the Blazer and not worry about a snow storm like we do now with her Mustang. So the truck has to have an interior. I'll have to put in some sort of a rear seat (don't have one now due to special made storage boxes over the wheel wells)Because the dogs travel with us. My original plan was after replacing the rusting floor panels (Some parts have rusted through) was to use a bedliner material. Either spray on, or roll on. I hear it insulates from the noise of the road (and big tires), not to mention clean up from a muddy afternoon/weekend would be only a garden hose away. Plus it also has a rust prevention factor.
    Good idea or Bad?

    I have done some thinking and a bit of research on it, I'm just lost on where the best place to start would be. I know it really needs a frame off reconstruction, but that isn't an option since I'm heading into the winter, and I need the truck avalible to drive if need be. So this is a perfect time to get a plan together and start saving. I just need some direction. Ya know?
     
  5. gjk5

    gjk5 3/4 ton status

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    My $.02 on the bedliner:

    It will not insulate for either noise or temp, my entire tub is lined and it is loud as crap and cold/hot as crap.
     
  6. ZooMad75

    ZooMad75 1/2 ton status Premium Member GMOTM Winner

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    38" tires is getting on the larger side for regular street duty. Many have, its just that to make 38's useable (street and trail) requires some axle mods. Some would say go right to the D60 and 14bFF, while some have made 10bolts live with a light right foot and careful driving. either way, you would have to change ratio's to account for the large tire size. 4.56/4.88/5.13's would be the range of choice. 14bff's are easy to get a hold of for under $500, but the D60 is going to run upwards of over $1000 once you rebuild it and regear it.

    I'd suggest, dropping the tire size a couple of inches to 35/36" range. This would still allow use of the 10bolts (still driven somewhat carefully offroad) and depending on you stock ratio, you might not have to regear. If your truck does have wimpy gears like 3.08's or 3.42's, swapping gears to get to 4.10's would still be less than the full on D60/14bff swap.

    Here is where the planning all comes in. you want 38" tires, which requires the mods above to allow the use of the tires from an axle perspective. To run 38" tires you need a certain amount of lift (6-8", with the possible trimming of sheetmetal). With the 6-8" lift comes with the obvious steering and driveline corrections that are needed. Remember that large (arched) lift springs, don't flex as well as flatter/lower springs (search on the 52" front spring swap or see the tech article) It just snowballs from there....

    Like most have said the search function has a ton of info on what mods are done and it's going to give a lot of detail for you. I can tell you there are a lot out there like mine that have a low lift (4") run 35" tires and still run 1/2 ton axles and wheel the wee out of them. Lifting lower costs less, require less steering correction (raised arm or dropped draglink/pitman arm) and little to no driveline correction. The smaller tires are easier on parts, take less power to turn (gear correctly of course) and are more streetable/stable on the highway. They still do great off road, don't feel nearly as top heavy as one with a lot of lift and larger tires at the cost of a little ground clearance. If its going to see any amount of highway time, I'd keep it to the 4" lift and no larger than 35" as I can run mine at 80 all day long (or as long as the tank has fuel), I'm not sure how much less stable it would feel stitting on larger tires on a larger lift.

    Then again, I built my K5 for me and the plan of a semi-DD/trail rig. You can do to your rig what ever you want. Just remember, when you make a decision on what you want that each modification usually requires something else to compesate for it. Larger tires=more lift/bigger axles/changed ratios, larger lift=steering/driveline corrections and it goes on and on. It all in managing the compremises, less lift/smaller tires is more street/highway friendly but potentially less trail capable.
     
  7. Veefour

    Veefour Registered Member

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    This is why I posted this. This is the info that I'm needing. It sounds like you have built what I'm trying to build. Highway use is definately a must. I know its more than "Give me big lift and big tires and I'm ready to go", but I don't know everything that I need to.
    If I drop to say 35 or 36's, would it be cost effective to change the axles etc. anyway? I mean I want to be prepared rather than get stuck wishing I would have beefed up the underside instead of trying to make stock stuff work.
     
  8. ZooMad75

    ZooMad75 1/2 ton status Premium Member GMOTM Winner

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    Well thats where there are many schools of thought on CK5. Some say the only way to go is to ditch all the 10 bolts and immediatly move to the D60/14bff route. Others (that have a little restraint with the right foot) can make 10bolts live in some pretty gnarly situations. Still D60's don't grow on trees (the last chevy trucks built with them was 1991) and most boneyards know what they are worth. Sometime it's cheaper to find a brokedown 1 ton 4wd, rob it of the D60 and any other hardware and scrap the rest. Still at minimum you might end up rebuilding the king pins, fresh brakes and a regear. That cost $$$$$.

    There is a middle ground. A lot on here are running 14bff's in the rear, but still have a 10bolt or D44 up front (just converted to 8 lug). That gives a true upgrade of strength (but you do need to switch wheels to the 8 lug variety) and if you were to break an axle, the wheel wont come off the truck. Look at the tech articles for the one on how to convert a 6 lug 10 bolt /D44 to the 8 lug variety. Add some high quality axle shafts to the front axle and it take the abuse of 35/36" tires well.

    Add lockers to either end with the 10 bolts and you better carry spares. If you upgrade to the 14bff in back, spend the extra 300 for a detroit locker and you will have a bulletproof assembly.

    I'm not worried about the D44 and 12bolt axles in my truck as I have gone through them and made sure everything is in good shape. I found my front wheel bearings were SMOKED when I put my lift on so I installed some fresh timkens. Axles were in good shape as were the u-joints. Gears were ok too. I don't run a locker in either end so that does take some of the stress off. I did have a Detroit EZ locker up front and busted IT (not the axles).

    Being prepared does not always mean having the biggest/best equipment, it means having what you got in good condition ready to go. Let me put it another way, just stuffing a D60 in and not checking the bearings or anything else don't mean you are not going to have problems on the street or trail. You have to make it roadworthy to start, axles, engine, trans/tcase, brakes and suspension. Again, thats whether you got a big block/small block/6.2 or a th350/205 or whatever. If it's not checked out and run through, your potential for something to fail is much greater.

    Take a real good assesment of what you got. if the axles are serviceable, run with what you got, just go through them. change the gear oil, look the gears over, check the wheel bearings/axles, ect. replace any damaged parts (10 bolt parts are less than D60 stuff) Do the same for the engine/trans/tcase and start working from there.

    As for the engine, it runs but you are not sure how many miles or condition. Check it out, run a compression test on it, does it use oil? does it knock or make noise? Does it need a tune up/carb rebuild? Small blocks are very durable, with regular oil changes can live for many thousands of miles. My tired little 350 has an unknown amount of miles but with a fresh tune up and carb rebuild it starts right up, idles fine, don't smoke and hauls my heavy butt where ever I want to go. Don't give up on the 305 just yet. It might just need some TLC....
     
  9. Veefour

    Veefour Registered Member

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    Well, I know I have a locker up front. When I'm in 4wd, and turn sharp, it hops and jumps. I was under the impression that this was stock from the factory. I guess I was wrong. Maybe I should crawl up underneath and get some pictures of what is there and have you guys see if maybe I already have a pretty good set-up going.
    Otherwise, as I mentioned my wifes famitly is from the mountains of WV. There are tons (and I mean TONS) of used/brokedown, rotting, old 4WD trucks all over. The chances of finding a cheap 1 ton is pretty good.
     
  10. joez

    joez 1/2 ton status

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    Thats what all true 4x4's do when on pavement, there was no factory locker up front unfortunately.
     
  11. durantk5

    durantk5 Registered Member

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    where in north carolina do you live? i have installed a lift and swapped axles and all that so i may be able to help out a little.
     
  12. jekbrown

    jekbrown I am CK5 Premium Member GMOTM Winner Author

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    Considering your plan for how it will be used and the tire size you want to run, I'd highly recommend tracking down a 3/4 ton truck for a donor. Sure, a 1-ton would be even better, but they are almost always more expensive and/or snapped up 5 mins after they are posted FS. Monitor craigslist, newspaper classifieds and the nickle ads on a daily basis. Only a matter of time really before you find something you need.

    3/4 ton axles are a great upgrade to have. You get a ff14b rear axle, which is pretty much the best rear GM axle you can get. They are cheap, common, hella strong and some come with lower gears (4.10/4.56). Great thing about having a ff14b is that you ain't gonna break it... you might break the D44/10bolt front, but you can always put it in 2wd, unlock the hubs and use the ff14b rear end to "get ya home". Definitely a plus, especially if you're gonna have the wife along while offroading. You can just swap a ff14b into your rig and keep your stock front axle, but then you'd have to address the lugnut # difference. Stock axles use 6 lugs... 3/4 and 1 ton stuff uses 8 lugs (with the exception of the sf14b...).

    If you get a donor rig, you'll also get compatible driveshafts. No need for conversion joints... etc, just make sure its balanced and call it good. Most any driveline shop can lengthen/shorten and balance a driveshaft for ya and it shouldn't cost too much green.

    For the engine, a factory Q-jet carb is easy to be rebuild and works very well at all but the most extreme angles. If you are on a budget (and who isn't!) a good runnin' stock 350 or 454 with a Q-jet would be a good option. Chevy built about a billion 350s and 454s... finding a runner shouldn't be toooo hard.

    Tranny options are kinda tricky. You want to drive at high speed and you also want big tires. Its nice to have OD so you're not turning a bazillion RPMs on the freeway... but the best old school GM tranny is the TH400... which doesn't have OD. Anyway, the 700R4 has OD and can be built to handle a good amount of HP. For a DD-type rig I'd recommend a built 700 with the biggest oil cooler you can find. If you can deal with high RPMs or you don't want to drive over 75mph, you could use the 400. They tend to be cheaper and are definitely stronger. You can find th400s in all kinds of old chevy trucks. The 700, you want one of the newer ones... took them a few years to work out its various issues.

    j
     
  13. Veefour

    Veefour Registered Member

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    \

    I'm in Winston-Salem
     
  14. Veefour

    Veefour Registered Member

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    So keeping my stock 4 speed manual (Granny gear for first) isn't a good idea?
     
  15. clarkjw24

    clarkjw24 1/2 ton status GMOTM Winner

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    Buy 2 K5s.

    1 for the street
    1 for the trail

    Simply because once you start modifying it for a weekend warrior it's not gonna stop.

    This is what I did but like stated above my DD is slowy turning into a major build also. :o

    I'd keep the manual. just my .02
     
  16. Veefour

    Veefour Registered Member

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    Hey, believe me...I've been thinking about buying another K5. However, I really don't see too many of them for sale around here. Plus I don't have the money for another one at the moment, it's easier to explain to your wife why you need to fix or replace a part rather than explain to her why you need to buy yet another vehicle.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2005
  17. ZooMad75

    ZooMad75 1/2 ton status Premium Member GMOTM Winner

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    KEEP THE 465!!!! It is bulletproof. One less thing to fail when you are off road (or on for that matter). Yes it lacks OD, but if you match up your axle ratio with the tire size you plan to run you can still run on the highway. 4.10's with 35's nets a cruise RPM at 65 of 2558. 75mph pulls the RPM up to around 3000. Not perfect, but liveable. The ability to shift into Granny gear to climb or decend downhill (without needing brakes) more than makes up for it.

    You are in the beginning stages of your CK5 sickness. You don't need a second one yet...The progression of the disease has you throughly trashing what you got, making a second one as a driver more a requirement. This way the trashed first one can continue to grow bigger for trail only duty.....
     
  18. Veefour

    Veefour Registered Member

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    I actually have a line on an '86 with a locked 6.2 and needing a hood for $200. Everything else is said to be in great shape. Though I haven't seen it yet.
    2 K5's may not be as far fetched as I thought.
     
  19. unclematty

    unclematty 1/2 ton status

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    I read this post and got all teary eyed at the amount of (let me help you) Naw just kidding, CK5ers rock!
    Vee four do what all these guys said follow the "search" it will take you far
    I've done what your thinkin and built my blazer into something I love to drive and wheel in, and now am totally redoing it again, (see my signature) . Alot of us are or have been mechanics for a long time and really know our stuff, so if you have a question thats really stumping you just ask away! :thumb:
     
  20. jekbrown

    jekbrown I am CK5 Premium Member GMOTM Winner Author

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    whoops, I missed that part of your post.. yeah, if you have a manual, keep it. :thumb:

    j
     

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