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Project Tetanus

89 K5 37s H1s 465 swap 241c sye Tub swap rust free

formercruiserhead

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89K5 Project tetanus

My first car was a 1974 K5 blazer that was the family vehicle that took us all over colorado with a pop up camper in tow. We took it to many mild offroad trails which probably started my problem. It was a base model spanish gold no AC, no interior just rubber floors, manual windows and a 350 2barrel. I inherited it when I was 16 after it sat on the side of the house for awhile. Drove it a couple of years, pulled the top off and had a blast. The gas to oil ratio was about 4 to 1 at that point and was sold to get something a little newer and better on gas, an 87 S10 blazer with a 2.8 (yikes). The S10 got me through a couple more years to finish up auto mechanic school and I began working at a Toyota dealership, and built several Landcruisers over the next 20 or so years. A 68 FJ40, 69 FJ 55, a 62 and a FJ60 and a 3rd generation 4runner for awhile. I always liked the k5 and almost bought one more than once over the years but never seemed to work out.
Living in the midwest meant rust and more rust and old Landcruiser parts were hard to come by. I grew tired of finding and shipping good parts from out west or south and spending as much on shipping as the parts, sometimes more. In addition most of them had some type of chevy drivetrain I swapped in that meant custom parts and lots of fabrication. The idea of building something and basically bolting it together became very attractive. Plus cheap and plentiful parts both used and reproduction was appealing as well. You can build a squarebody chevy almost entirely with finds on craigslist within a 100 mile radius if you are patient.
So started looking for awhile, bought 2003 landrover discovery just cause why not? They cant be that bad right? Realized the huge mistake and dumped before I lost any money (about 6months). Found a couple k5s that were either overpriced or had been hacked up by 8 different teenagers with mullets or both.
Fast forward a few more months and was talking to a friend of mine one day telling him I was looking for a k5 blazer and he said he had one. Go to look at it and was originally red and gold and someone had done a single stage all red paint job on it and when I opened the door 3 mice ran out. The interior was damp and reeked of mouse piss. I thought no way. After a few more weeks of looking I began to reconsider. At first glance it really didnt look too bad. There the typical rockers and above the rear wheel wells rust. It had a 2000ish era rear end partially swapped in but not hooked up but...

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formercruiserhead

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After getting it home, I started tearing it apart almost immediately just to see exactly what I had gotten myself into. I already had found a really good deal on some new H1 BFG baja t/a's 37 x12.50x16.5s while I was looking so that is where it was going before it existed.

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formercruiserhead

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The further I tore into it worse it got, I knew it was pretty bad but when I finally got the rear window down and opened the tailgate, it just fell out. Well that was easy.

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formercruiserhead

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So started looking at replacement panels and all the structure that held the floors together would need replaced as well. Then on the way home one day I saw a k5 tub axles and frame for sale sitting out in the rain in primer getting rusty! What is wrong with people? I drove past it for a couple of weeks thinking about it and how it would work as I dont have space and cant keep it outside in my neighborhood. Plus it was probably too much anyway because someone did a really good job on the body work that was already done. So I call the guy and look it over, no rust whatsoever with the exception of surface rust from sitting out. We agree on $450 and it came with rear floors from LMC that needed to be installed. On top of that he towed it to a storage lot where I keep my boat so got a break on storing it for a couple of months while I got everything ready.

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formercruiserhead

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So I typically work on this by myself late at night after kids are in bed and wife is unwinding watching tv or whatever she does. So getting the old body off with a bunch of friends is hard to do and time consuming as we are super busy with family stuff, school, work, sports ect. like everyone else. So every night I would go out and remove something, take pics and bag and tag everything. Eventually I had a pile of k5 in a trailer and 50lbs of rust dust on the floor.

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formercruiserhead

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Swapping bodies did require some help from the teenager as well as it was heavy. Anyway my son helped me to a point and then I didnt want him around to make sure he didnt get hurt. The saw horses I got it up on were a little shady at this point but ended up working.
The donor tub was not an AC truck or fuel injected so I cut those parts out of the firewall of the red one and welded into the new tub so everything bolts up and seals like it should.

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formercruiserhead

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The firewall and dash were painted the color the truck is going to be because I dont like it when the firewall is a different color. Also cut out the dash from the red one for the double din radio hole and AC duct holes and a couple of other switch differences, plus looked like someone had stepped on the original dash at some point anyway.

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formercruiserhead

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Some of these arent in exact order but you get idea. At some point I wasnt happy with the 3.42 stock ratio of the half ton axles. I knew the 700r4 wouldnt last long either pushing the heavy 37s around with stock gearing. Plus I wanted bigger brakes and to be honest a k5 with 8 lug axles looks kick ass. Also I used to do some pretty serious trails in my FJ40 and the idea for this is wheel it and drive back home and I didnt want some anemic axles getting me stranded. So started looking on craigslist for something with factory 4.10s or better. Found a guy nearby with corp 14boltFF and dana 44 8lug. Pulled the cover on the front as it was laying in his garage to verify the ratio was actually 4.10 and everything was good. Then he had to pull the rear end out of the truck yet. So I ended up being there about an hour longer than expected helping him and for $250 for the pair I cant complain. They got somewhat cleaned up took some pics of the gm ring gear numbers and threw them in a corner and forgot about them for a few months. It wasnt until I was watching Ian on 4x4 garage that some thing caught my attention. He was building a corp 14 bolt and showed the gm numbers on the ring gear and says "this means this rearend has 3.73 gears" WTH? Start looking through my pics and realize my deal was not as good as I thought, bummer. I dont think the guy even knew honestly. So had to swap in 4.10s in the rear to match everything up. It really wasnt too bad, 14 bolts are probably one of the easiest set ups I have done.

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formercruiserhead

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The dana 44 was locked turning left so new ball joints seals ect were done. Along with new rotors, calipers and whatever else. Horse traded a stock steering arm for a raised one from someone on here that lived about an hour away. I also got my son in the garage telling him I got new video game called how to set up wheel bearings on dana 44. I am sure none of his friends have it. He is a cool kid who loves anything like this and the more I can show him now...Also threw on some warn hubs I had on a 10bolt axle laying around as this one came with slugs.

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formercruiserhead

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Rear axle ended up being easier actually, disk brake swap new spring mounts and ubolts all around. Also if your spindles on your 14bolt FF are etched and cause leaks offroad design sells some seals that do not spin on the spindle and seal over the imperfections. Pretty trick. Swapped out the gears to 4.10s with some very good condition used factory ones from ebay for $80. Also made this jig to go on my floor jack so I dont kill myself trying to move this thing into position all by my lonesome. The spring pads were cut off and some ruff stuff ones are currently floating in place waiting to set the pinion angle.

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formercruiserhead

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Suspension was pretty simple, the truck came with new stock height rear springs with an added leaf because my friend intended on towing something at somepoint. I ended up doing a shackle flip in the rear and new shock mounts from ruff stuff as someone had horribly welded on some type of mess for those. Front is new 4" procomp springs I got as new old stock on ebay and some used zero rates from ebay as well. I dont know how stiff they will be and yes I know there is better stuff out there but doing everything at once gets expensive so we will try these out.

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formercruiserhead

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Had to cut off shock mounts from another axle as someone got crazy with the original ones and a torch. This is the type of stuff that takes alot time.
A tip I have found out about cheaper shocks, they are not powder coated like some of the higher end ones. They usually have a very thin coat of paint that doesnt stand up to road debris which makes them rust quickly. So I scuff them up really well and give them a good thick coat of paint before I install them. Also not a fan of shock boots I think they trap dirt and mud. Plus look like I should grow my mullet back.

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formercruiserhead

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So some of the problem s with doing everything at once is you start at one spot but never quite finish then start on something else ect. Usually because waiting on a part or welder is down or out of money so start on something else just to make progress. That is why everything kind of jumps around with this build.
I started on the rear floors, was the only thing not done on the body and had to purchase the rear crossmember from LMC that mounts the tailgate and floor together. While doing this I realized that the gas tank is now almost 3' off the ground, and the pump is inside the tank. Well I had enough trouble getting the empty tank mounted with new straps because it was so high. I really didnt want to ever have to drop the tank with 31 gals of fuel in it to replace the pump. So I made an access in the floor. Will be totally covered with the flooring and took an hour or so to make/install but I think it will be well worth it someday.
Also everything was coated with eastwoods epoxy(grey) to give another barrier against rust then the underside with rubberized under coating(black). So should be really rust resistant. Also plan on making some type of boot or flap that keeps mud and stuff from being flung by the rear tires to the door jambs and the rear gate cross member.
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formercruiserhead

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I tried to figure out the rear driveshaft angles as cheap as possible. Well I really didnt like the angle of the stock shaft at all. I think with the 14bolt being bigger, shackle flip, added leafs in the new springs my guess is it is 6-7" over stock? The springs will need to be broke in obviously, and there is no weight in the back (top, seats, ect) so it will settle.
I could have just lenghtened the stock shaft set up but didnt like that and talking the guys at offroad design I would have viberation issues since this is going to see highway speeds. Long story short I bit the bullet and bought the slipyoke eliminator kit with the 1350 flange so I could use a F350 front driveshaft. It has big 1350 joints, double cardan on one end and easily found in junkyards if you are quick. (Seems they are somewhat popular) Using a F350 shaft saves me from having one made for around $600. Very easy to do if you are thinking about doing it. Now just need to get the drive shaft shortened and pinion angle set and weld the perches. I made another jig out of scrap for the tcase as it is a strange thing to pick up and a trans jack wouldnt work either really. In addition this swap will make it easier to do and eco box swap in the future.

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formercruiserhead

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Finally got the rearend buttoned up. Brakes installed and bled, shocks mounted pinion angle set and mounts welded in. Also exhaust almost finished. Ran dual to clear front shaft and got some used flowmasters so less the $100 into that. Had the front f350 driveshaft shortened and bolted that up as well.

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