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1988 K5 the "Big Blue" compromise

scouthead

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Next came a bunch of small upgrades and modifications. I lost some photos, so some of these were taken recently, after 10 years of dust, and use:

I installed a bypass switch to the "safety" switch on the steering column. The safety switch is connected to either the clutch pedal, or the transmission? - its gotta be the clutch pedal (sorry its been a while).

In an emergency, i want to be able to put my truck in gear and use the starter to get it out of harms way.

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Then the heater core leaked into the cab and got replaced with a spare that i had.
shortly after that job i found that the blend door for the heat/ac was not working. the vacuum actuator has a little rod that connects to the blend door itself? -well the rod goes into a plastic piece on the metal door. the plastic broke. after looking around for a replacement and not finding anything, I miracled a new one out of tiny metal bits welded together, and riveted it to the door. Never gonna brake in THAT spot again!
If i can find pictures of this I will come back and add them later.

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Next up were interior and audio upgrades.

The rubber floor mats were cool, but it was too loud inside the Blazer when driving down the freeway. I found a blue interior in a wrecking yard and jumped on it.

-the large rear panels went in across the bed sides and i stuffed the voids with insulation. (I had to cut the origional ash trays off :frown-they were spot welded to the bed rail and/or the B pillar, and were keeping the panels from mounting correclty)

-the sound deadening material and carpeting from wrecking yard went in on top of the factory rubber flooring.

-no door panels or headliner though- left those alone. all metal up front still.



Got a radio/CD player to put in it. All the latest tech- like the separate controlling module, and cord strung into the glove box for an iPod. this was pre blue tooth, so the module allowed the head unit to control the iPod like a hard drive. sooooooooooo cool...
Where i wanted to have the radio didn't jive with the factory cut out in the dash bezel thing. I had access to a lot of fun materials at the time, so I cut the bezel and dash as needed (leaving one corner thin and weak), and then I cut some low luster black powder coated aluminum and used aircraft epoxy to overlay it across the entire area of the dash piece. Nice and strong, and looked pretty good too until I scratched it!

UP front, couldn't fit the speakers that i wanted into the corners of the dash, so i pulled the windshield to get access. Cut/opened up the factory holes and got my speakers installed. cant remember now but they were 3.5 or 4inch round -two, or three way. Found speakers for the rear panels that were close to the stock size for the new panels- 3x10?

Then during reassembly I cracked the windshield, so installed my spare. It had the radio antenna wires in the glass...

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scouthead

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My K5 didn't come with a console. it was nice having easy access to the backseat, but i wanted storage and drink holders.
I Found the correct blue center console at the wrecking yard in a suburban. Added a metal plate on the inside to help support a CB radio on the front. It was the only place I could figure out that would not interfere with the gear shift lever.

Since the Am/Fm radio could use the antenna in the windshield now, I made a custom CB antenna mount for the original FM antenna location. I used part of a cheap socket and some scrap steel to make a mount that looked similar to the factory set up, and used the factory screw holes. I don't know a lot about CB antenna locations, but I'm guessing this is not the best RF ground plane??? The top third of antenna DOES extend above the roof though... I figured maybe I could add a second antenna on the back bumper at some point. Anybody want to chime in and let me know if this was a dumb idea?

The 4 foot Wilson stick has a tunable tip, and I used the SWR meter to get things tuned as best i could, and the ground lead on the antenna mount was grounded to the body. It needs a new handset now, but last time i used it, it worked as well as any of the other cheap CB radios and various antenna setups my friends had in use.

anyway it looked cool and it's reversible if need be.

Also had my charging cradle for the Magcharger flashlight mounted down there. Need to find that thing and see if it is serviceable.

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These are more recent and show some neglect. The console is now falling apart and scheduled to get replaced by the back up that I have been hiding.

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I think I will be updating the first post with the page numbers as a kind of legend to separate some of the more exciting parts/ modifications.

Ok here comes some of the good stuff:

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I had previously modified the stock crossmember for extra driveshaft clearance, and lowered it 3/4 inch with spacers. Things were functioning really well, but, on a couple occasions I tagged that stock crossmember on rocks. The last time got me hung up pretty good: going up a sandy hill full throttle and I didn't make it -tires dug in. I tried to back up, and the crossmember peeled a boulder out of the sand and proceeded to roll it up and out of its hole while stuffing it up and into the front axle at the same time. I couldn't move forward and was locked in to that boulder -completely pinned to the side of a step hill.

There was an awful. lot of digging to get the boulder to roll back out of the way, and well, that was the last time. I had made up my mind not to raise the truck anymore to get more ground clearance...

This was the excuse I needed to dig in to the underside, and ditch the NP208 in favor of the np241. Ordered a clocking ring... and off we go

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scouthead

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The new crossmember is hella-flat, and even without spacers, kept the transfer case at about the same height it was previously.

I used dom tubing and plate steel. The thought process was that if the frame was flexing, the tubing would flex a little as well (similar to the original stamped one) in the spans between frame rails and center transmission mount -trying to minimize breaking welds and frame cracking later?? The front tube had to get a radius'd section grafted in to keep the driveshaft from contacting.

no sense in doing all this work for only an inch or two of extra clearance- i wanted FLAT. Clocking the 241 horizontal would not work because the floor/body was in the way, and the passenger seat would be in the way. No problem- make them gone. 241clocked up flat, and above the frame rails. NICE.

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The shifter no longer worked. The factory linkage is a metal rod attached between the shifter and transfer case- both have flat arms that need to swing together in the same plane. I chopped and adjusted the angle on the tranfercase shift arm -added a threaded stud to it. The linkage between that and the shifter now has a hiem on each end, and allows the shifter to swing forward and back, and the arm on the transfer case to swing in an arc without hitting the floor of the body. I had to adjust the length of the link a few time to make sure the shift gates matched the detents in the transfer case. Final outcome works great. (still looking to see if there is a photo somewhere)

The floor got patched with a jigsaw puzzle of diamond plate i had laying around.

The passenger seat bracket was chopped and fit to the new contour - then rewelded. had to get a little creative with the carpet padding to get the carpet to lay down nicely- no big deal.

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the rear went together just fine- same spline on the 241output as the 208, so driveshaft went right in.

However, The lift I already had, combined with turning the output on the front of the 241 up 4-5 inches higher made the front driveshaft very "no worky".
I found a piece of tubing that was the same size as the front driveshaft and cut a spacer to lengthen it. Butt welding did not seem like a good idea, so I found a piece of tube that fit snug inside all 3 of the parts.

Then using 2 pieces of angle iron, and hose clamps to align/clamp and straighten everything, I welded all the seams, and put in a few rosette welds into the innermost tube.

Bam! -a new front driveshaft on the cheap!
 

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Now for a skid plate! I had seen a few designs for sale where beefy skid plates replaced the crossmember. They looked strong, but how do you work on anything? i would not want to need a floor jack every time i wanted to check the oil. What i came up with was a frame constructed of three DOM tubes running sideways. A few pieces of tubing running front to back to connect, and then everything plated. I cut a relief in front tube for the front driveshaft clearance.

Nuts are welded inside the frame rails, so no need for a second wrench. I can hold the skid plate up with one hand (30-35lbs?), and zap the bolts in with my impact, or a ratchet. 6 bolts, and with the way the frame was designed, the bolts are shielded. No hardware is exposed where a rock can grind on it or shear it off.

I can drop it in a few seconds and the transmission is still fully supported on the new crossmember. The very bottom of the skid plate is only 5/8inch lower than the hardware for the transmission mount.

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I don't intentionally try to break my stuff, but the skid plate has taken a few hits, and has had the weight of the truck on it when I high centered on dirt piles or sand peaks. So far working great!

Doing its job and Sooooooo much higher, and better than the boat anchor the stock crossmember had been. Higher, AND my precious new 241 was fully protected from impacts!
 
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scouthead

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In the pictures above with all the transfer case and skid plate work -the blazer had to go back on the 31" tires for a little while. I was driving it a lot for work at the time, and one of the 33" Bridgestone Duellers exploded at 70mph on the 605 freeway (in the center lane) .

No warning. POW! -then the rear passenger corner dropped 10 inches and we made an immediate 3 lane change to the shoulder while a giant flap of tread beat the hell out of the gas tank, body, and ripped off the strut that supports the fender area. My Brother was with me and we both looked at each other like WOW.
 

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So, this picture is "the sand hill" -one of the only dunes local to my cabin.
It's one of the tests that everyone's vehicles are measure by. who made it up higher...
Its very rare that a full size vehicle can blast right up the face. It's too steep, too soft, too loose... a high power bike or quad has a good shot, but ive only ever seen a couple of buggies go up it - one had an LS, and the other was a turbo rotary...
All the trails to get there are rocky desert terrain- never seen anybody show up with paddle tires.

Anyway, there area couple of trails coming in from other directions that will lead you up the hill, over the top and dump you down the face. Once you crest over -no turning back. No stopping either. If you touch the brakes, your car will continue accelerating and plowing sand while you loose control. Ive never seen anybody flip/coming down, but it has happened, and my friends have seen a few jackass side by side owners do it. I HAVE seen people loop their quads and bikes when they didn't make it all the way up.

Well, one evening i bounced up the side trail and the Blazer slowly crested over the top with a full load of friends screaming and having a great time. I had it in low range, with the trans in 3rd gear. Engine breaking is awesome, but the Truck was picking up speed and i tried to feather the brakes a little bit... the front plowed, and the back end came around. As i counter steered and punched the skinny pedal, i was able to keep the truck from getting any more sideways, but we weren't really straightening out. It happens- i was going to leave it in gear and slowly accelerate down the hill until closer to the bottom where it levels out.

I glanced at the dash- 50mph (-ish) and I'm guessing around 4000rpm? still accelerating, and NO OIL PRESSURE.
Everyone was squealing and enjoying the sideways trip down the mountain...
All i heard was:
-clickety clickety
-Clackety clacketty CLACKETTY
-KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK...

There was NO WAY I WAS TAKING MY FOOT OFF THE GAS.
Parked at the bottom and had a beer with the rest of the group. The oil was at the correct level, and when i started it on flat ground i had oil pressure, but the knocking sound was a permanent addition, and got louder with increased rpm and/or load.


The whole trip down the hill was maybe 15 seconds, but that ended the first life of big blue.

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I actually drove the truck home 180 miles the next day - drove it like it was made of glass.

I listened to the knocking sound the whole way, and it didnt seem to get worse, so i ran it home and there it sat for a while.

When i got around to pulling the oil pan, didnt take long to find stuff. little bits of metal, and WHERE DOES THIS BIG BOLT HEAD BELONG???
and what the- what is????

the pick up had fallen out of the oil pump. When i went down the hill, the oil moved forward and away from the pump... so no oil.

the bolt head was one of the 2 rear main bolts. the other one had a slight tweak and allowed the bearing cap to flex down and slap the block every time the rear journal came around.
 

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this suuuuuuuux

But now i get to build an engine!!!
Its been quite a while- if i find any notes that contradict all this engine stuff, i will make sure to edit and correct.


Bought a long block from a friend for 100 bucks. Now i could build a motor without pulling the one in the blazer and having it immobile for a while.

The Machine shop was interested in bartering work for Racing stickers to hand out at a bike rally.... I worked at a sign shop back then, so PERFECT.
They had a new balance machine- If I find the spin sheet i will take picture and post it here. The final outcome was nuts- new flywheel and balancer... some welding and grinding... centrifugal force measured at over 9000 rpm was literally a fraction of what was measure stock -that's stock at around 3000 rpm.

I took a die grinder to the iron around the cam and removed most of the rough casting and any ridges/flash, then smoothed the edges of the galleys a bit.
The block needed .060 to get all the cylinders back into place. So, this might be the last use out of this now 360 cubic inch motor- so be it.
I spent a day with the die grinder and went to town on the factory TBI heads. iron removed until the metal was the same size as the opening in the intake gasket. Then that contour blended down the runner to the swirl bump. The swirl bump was left in place, but about 25 percent reduction in size, and reshaped. Factory TBI intake got the same treatment - everything matched to everything. The exhaust ports got cleaned up. All casting flash and rough spots removed. Ports opened up ALMOST to the same size of the headers i was planning on using. The heads got a valve job, and the machinist laughed at my turd polishing- said i should ditch those if i wanted to make power... i needed to pass emissions tests and wanted the TBI to function, and what could it hurt?? -insert "BIG BLUE COMPROMISE".

Vic Morse bored my throttle body and shaved most of the cone off the top (exactly as I requested), and then made a jig so he could bore the TBI spacer, and the intake manifold to match.

My block had the factory bosses and was already drilled, so it got the roller cam and hardware from a "baby LT1" (5.0 version of the LT1). i was doing a lot of research, and The cam specs were very similar to what the vortec 5.7 truck engines got. Pulled it myself on a sale day at the local wrecking yard- with all the hardware and retention plate, and the matching distributer driver gear (only drives the oil pump and cam sensor i think on the LT1 because of the optispark), and a set of lifters i didnt reuse - was like 40 bucks.

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scouthead

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i had to remove some material from the face of the block to get the double row roller timing chain to clear.

new roller lifters from comp cams.

new roller tipped self aligning rockers from comp cams. (might have been a split set- i know the ratio on the exhaust is higher than stock- maybe the intake too)

flat top pistons and headgaskets brought compression from 8.5:1 to 9.1:1

high volume standard pressure oil pump (i think melling?)

new engine parts are so sexy!! i wish i could find more showing all the roller cam stuff assembled. oh well.

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theres something in that there bore!.jpg
 
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