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Cutting Brakes for Christmas! 1/20/2011
Amber got me cutting brakes and new performance brake pads for Christmas! I finally gathered all the parts I needed to get them installed including a line lock for added security when parking on a hill.
I started out by plumbing from the brake bias valve to a -3 bulkhead fitting on the firewall. I used nickle copper line so it was easy to flare and I won't ever have to worry about corrosion problems.
The cutting brakes and line lock got mounted to the left of the drivers seat. They are easy to reach here and my cooler is already set up on the other side of the seat. The single line from the firewall is plumbed into the right side of the back of the twin master cylinder and splits into two individual lines that go through two -3 bulkhead fittings behind the seat.
From there the lines follow along the frame and connect to 2 20" -3 stainless braided flex lines and connect to the axle and to the individual calipers from there. I tested it out in the yard a bit, but I won't really be able to tell if they help until I get out on a trail. They will help a lot once I replace my Detroit rear locker with an ARB, but for now they will help with front digs a bit.
Fixes from Vegas 11/27/2010
A reoccurring theme, fixes from... I made a mistake when I built my front axle, I replaced the king pins. I've had problems with the king pins working loose since I built it. Torquing them and using red Locktite would not prevent this. While I was in Vegas, I accidentally drove off a 6 foot dune while playing around in the sand. That in combination with my king ping being loose caused it to strip the threads out. I ordered Ried Racing inner C's to replace the stock ones. The first step was cutting off the old ones, since I wasn't reusing them, this was a bit easier. You can see in the second picture that there is a clear ring on both of the old C's where the king pins would wobble around because they were loose.
After the axle was all cleaned up and prepped, I tossed the new knuckles in the oven. This made them fit over the axle tubes a little easier. For some reason I forgot to take any pictures after this point, so I just went outside and snapped a couple pictures of the finished product. The C's were clocked to match what they were before and re-welded on. I also welded the axle tubes into the center section for added strength.
Fixes from Moab 10/18/2010
One of my leaf spring bolts stripped out of the D60 carrier in Moab, this has already been upgraded twice, 9/16" studs from the factory, upgraded to 5/8" bolts, upgraded to 3/4" bolts, all of which ripped the threads right out of the carrier. To fix it again I installed 3/4" course pitch helicoils and made studs from grade 8 threaded rod. Hopefully these will hold up.
The other major problem I had in Moab was that I twisted the sector shaft on my steering box. I believe this was caused by the bolt that attaches the heim joint to my pitman arm catching on my leaf spring while I was turning with the drivers side front wheel stuffed. The ram continued pushing the steering even though the pitman arm was stuck couldn't move resulting in a twisted sector shaft. To remedy the problem I switched to a different pitman arm that had a little more drop and moved the heim joint to the top of the arm. This gives me a few more inches of clearance than I had before so I should be good now. To compensate for the increased angle on the drag link, I made a new z-bar drag link to keep the heims straight at ride height. I then lowered the axle side panhard bar mount so the angle of the drag link and panhard bar would match. The panhard bar mount had actually cracked so another piece of steel was inserted into the square tubing and welded in place to provide additional strength. With the mount now 2.5" shorter the repairs should make it stronger than before.
Bodywork Part IV 8/6/2010
It's finally done! I fixed the part that had been cut out of the grill, cut down the center section and got it all bolted together. It's the first time the truck has had a bow tie on the front since I've owned it. Maybe people will stop calling it a Bronco now...
I also welded on tabs and bolted the lower portion of the fenders to the rock sliders to finish off the install. I'm ready for the show circuit now!
Bodywork Part III 8/6/2010
I bolted the body panels on and it looks good! I still need to finish up a few things like the rear lower fender mounting bracket, hood pins and grill repairs but it's looking good so far.
Bodywork Part II 8/1/2010
I took a weekend off to get away from the heat but got back into it this weekend. I pulled all the body panels off and got to work. First I welded a piece of angle iron to the bottom of both fenders to give me a mounting flange to bolt it to the rock sliders.
Then I rolled the fenders and hammered them flat.
Followed by sanding and primer.
And finally the top coat.
It's way to shiny to be on the Beast, but it will have to do until it gets scratched and covered with dirt/mud.
I got the body panels installed this weekend. Here's a few quick pictures of the amount I had to trim off the front fenders to clear the tires, bumper and boat sides.
Now I need to remove the panels, roll the lip on the front fenders, paint and reinstall...
New Engine 7/14/2010
The engine that was in the blazer lived a short and hard life, between programming issues with the Holley and a loose oil pickup tube it was dead in about 5-6K miles. I decided to just pick up a GM GoodWrench crate 350 and drop it in. I forgot to take pictures of the engine on the crate and any pictures of me moving all the parts over :(. I blame the 110 degree high humidity (for Phoenix) heat. Here's a finished picture, you can see the cage disconnects I added to make the engine brace removable.
This weekend I plan on getting some new body panels installed. I'm going to get them trimmed up and fitted, then I'll remove them to paint.
Cage work 7/6/2010
I've had been fighting frame flex on the blazer for a long time. I've boxed the front half of the frame and chased cracks over and over again. I decided that I needed to add some tube for extra strength, hopefully this fixes the issue. First I modified my bender to use an air over hydraulic ram to make bending 2" .120 wall possible.
Then I started bending tube. I tied the tube into the front of the frame, over the engine and back to the main roll cage through the firewall. It's attached to the front of the cage in two places and will give me a place to mount coilovers when/if I link the truck.
Since I tied the tubing in to the front hoop of the roll cage I needed to bring the stress line back down into the frame of the truck. I added a couple door bars to do that. You can also see in the picture the new seat mounts I made to accommodate my new suspension seats. The tubes the seats mount to are tied directly into the roll cage. The old seats were done the same way, but the suspension seats are much taller so the old tubing had to be removed and new tubing had to be installed. The tubing is mounted so low I had to notch the transmission tunnel to clear the tubing. You can also see the new cooler/center console mount between the seat mounting locations and a final shot of the seats installed.
I'm on a boat! 5/2/2010
I've been wanting to do boatsides on the Blazer for quite some time and I used the last few weekends to get it done. Justin managed to rip the passenger side rock slider and threshold off in the firehole so that set things in motion (I was spotting him :o ). Here is the passenger side pre-op, I did a pretty drastic boatside and cut the body off right at the body line.
After the body was cut away I welded in a 2x4 3/16" wall tube. This tube was attached to the frame using 2x2 .120 wall tubing (sorry for the crappy picture).
Once all of the frame supports were tied in I plated the bottom with 10 gauge steel. The plating goes to the back wall of the rocker boxes that used to reside under the truck. I didn't want to take the plating all the way to the frame for so that I wouldn't be trapping water and debris there.
Here you can see how complex it was to run the support tubes down to the frame. The front tube on both sides actually goes through the door frame and roll cage. The cage is now welded directly to the square tubing that is tied to the frame. This should stiffen up the chassis and make the whole thing considerably safer in a rollover. This entire area had been flexed so badly that the firewall was tearing apart and you could easily move the dash/window frame just by pushing on the a-pillar.
I have some additional tube work planned that is going to make it a bit more difficult to get in and out of the front seats. To make this a bit easier for the driver I installed a Momo removable steering wheel I had laying around from one of my 510 projects. You can see the custom adapter I had to fab up to mount the Momo quick release to a Grant hub in the first picture.
New Tires! 1/23/2010
I cut a sidewall a few weeks ago and had to do something. I was planning on getting new tires in a few months, but this upped the schedule. I moved up to 42" Pit Bull Rockers.
Since I was still running stock inner shafts with Yukon 35 spline outers and Spicer u-joints I needed to upgrade to prevent the inevitable break. I picked up a set of Superior chromoly shafts and Nitro 300M super joints. This should give me indestructible shafts, now my weak point should be the hub locks which are easy to replace.
I Finally Installed My NV4500 1/2/2010
After having a couple NV4500's laying around my garage for a couple years I finally yanked my 700R4 2 days after turkey day. I started by picking up a new 32 spline input for an NP203 and a rebuild kit. I drilled and tapped the case to mate up with the NV4500 t-case adapter, slotted one of the bolt holes in the adapter and clearanced the adapter slightly to clear the bolts on the NP203 input bearing retainer.
After that was taken care of I tore apart my NP205 and replaced all the seals and gaskets (it was leaking like crazy). Then I bolted the two t-cases, the transmission and the Advanced Adapters bell housing together and modified my triple stick shifters to work with the NV4500.
I picked up a clutch pedal from Manes Truck Parts, a hydraulic adapter from Advanced Adapters and a master/slave cylinder from an '88 Suburban. I fabricated a mounting plate on my firewall for the suburban master cylinder and bolted it up.
Then I shortened the pushrod and bolted it up to a hole I had drilled through the clutch pedal arm and finished it up with a clutch reservoir from a Toyota (junkyard find) and a custom line from The Parker Store.
Finally the flywheel, clutch, bellhousing, transmission and transfer cases were installed into the truck. I made an adapter for the front mount on my crossmember and the entire thing was moved back 2" to accommodate the longer transmission.
The transmission swap was finished up by modifying my transmission tunnel and re-angling the shift lever. This was topped off by a fancy $15 shift knob from Autozone. The transmission was topped off with a 50/50 mix of Redline MTL and MT-90 and the t-cases were filled with MT-90. I kept GL4 compatible fluids in everything.
My old exhaust y-pipe hit the transmission so I took the opportunity to install v-band clamps on my headers a flex tube integrated into the y-pipe and recoated everything with high temp ceramic from Columbia Coatings.
Since I was going to have to have to get new driveshafts made anyways, I decided to do a major suspension change. 3/4 ton 52" springs up front and 3/4 ton 63" springs in the rear. The front was fairly easy. I welded in a new front spring mount 3" further forward and bolted in some longer shackles that I had fabricated a while ago and decided not to use. This moved the front axle about 1.5" further forward and gave me a better shackle angle.
The rear took quite a bit more work. The rear shackle mount had to move 10" further back to accommodate the new springs. This was far enough back that the shackle hangers ended up getting welded to the bumper mount and bolted to the frame with the bumper. The leaf springs end under the bumper.
Next the fenders had to be extended. The inner fenders were stretched 5", the sides of the bumper were trimmed 6" and the outer fender was trimmed and welded to the inner fender. Also not pictured, the gas tank was relocated as far back as possible (2.5" further back) which require a re-routing of the filler neck and the upper shock mounts had to be relocated further back.
With the axles and transmission situated I measured for driveshafts and had Phoenix Rack and Axle make me up 2 new 1350 CV shafts with 9" of slip. The front is made with 2" .120 wall Chromoly, the rear is made of 3" .250 wall DOM. I shouldn't have any issues with these for a while.
The final step before the first test run was to relocate the rear bump stops and modify the anti-wrap bar and crossmember for the new axle location.
This is where my truck ended up after our new years party...
New Bumper 8/10/2009
After fixing up all the crap I broke with the steering (both high steer arms, all 4 tie rod ends and the steering box) I decided it was time to finally get rid of the front bumper. It has been something I've wanted to do for several years, but I knew it was going to take a lot of time and fab-work to get it the way I wanted it. The old bumper just stuck out too far and made it difficult to get close enough to obstacles to get my tires on them. The new bumper only protrudes about 1/2" in front of the grill at frame height. About a 12" improvement over the old bumper.
The new bumper incorporates the front spring hangers and a shelf to mount the winch between the frame rails. The entire bumper is made of 1/4" plate and tubing.
Once I got the center of the bumper fabricated and installed, I added some recovery points and extra gussets/bracing to tie it into the frame.
Next I added 2x4 tubing out to the edges of the grille and a stinger to mount the lights on. Since the winch is now out of the sun I swapped the heavy cable out with a 5/16" Amsteel Blue winch rope.
I finished off the install by adding a 12volt Guy winch control panel on the roll cage. Overall I'm very pleased with how the bumper turned out. I can't wait to hit some of the trails that gave me problems before.
Broke again 6/21/2009
Somehow I managed to blow out the end of the steering box while blasting down the washes at Saguaro lake last night. I hopped over the berm and dug the drivers side front wheel into the hard packed dirt at the side of the wash. On top of blowing all the fluid out of the box it snapped the input shaft which left me with no steering at all.
There's a rock stuck in the bead of the tire from the impact. Somehow it was still holding air though. A couple of the guys from Loco Offroad gave me a ride home so I could get the parts and tools I needed to fix the truck and get it home. Now I need to drill and tap another steering box and get everything reinstalled.
Peterson's 4Wheel and Off-Road 6/8/2009
I just got the August issue and there is a small picture of our truck on the cover and a 2 page article!
New Top finished 4/14/2009
I put two coats of white Herculiner on the top to finish it off. I think it looks good and it's a lot more durable than the soft top.
New Top 4/11/2009
The old soft top was torn, zippers were falling off and the attachment points were all falling apart so I had to do something different for the summer. I had paid $700 for the old top and it only lasted 4 years so that wasn't a good answer. I decided to fabricate a permanent sheetmetal top. First I added some extra bracing to the cage to help support the top.
Then I skinned the top with 16 gauge steel. I put rosette welds on top of all the tubes in the middle of the top to keep it from rattling and fully welded the edges so it wouldn't pinch your hand when you grab the tube to climb in.
I painted the top white and the rest black to match the cage. Once the paint fully cures I'm going to coat the top with white Herculiner to keep the noise down and to give it a nice durable finish.
35 Spline Stub Shaft upgrade 4/4/2009
I broke an outer stub shaft on the AZ Run while Justin was driving the truck through Kenmore Canyon. You can see how badly it damaged the stub shaft, it's broken, bent and twisted. I upgraded to 35 spline chromolyYukon stub shafts with forged Spicer joints and Mile Marker hub locks. You can see the difference in size between the stock 30 spline shaft and the new 35 spline Yukons. I'm sure the inner shafts or u-joints will break before these do.
Transmission failure 2/16/2009
The truck tried to kill me on Wednesday. A series of events led up to transmission failure. As near as I can figure this is the series of events:
- Transmission rebuild 9 months ago, including all new high performance clutches and an Art Carr reverse manual valve body
- 3 weeks ago the transmission was taken apart enough to replace the output shaft I broke while "testing" the new anti wrap bar
- During the reassembly some contaminants were introduced into the valve body. I'm not sure how this happened but the result is that one of the few moving parts in the valve body did not move freely. The manual valve body has almost all parts locked in place, no check balls and everything is controlled by the location of the shifter. The one shuttle valve that got gummed up apparently caused the hydraulic pressure to not drain off properly from the drive clutches resulting in them being partially engaged at all times. The only indication I had of this after reassembly was that reverse felt a little weak, I did not notice any other symptoms.
- During the following 3 weeks I put approximately 200 trail miles on the truck. This was enough to wear the majority of the friction material off of the drive clutches.
-Wednesday morning I was airing up the tires on my back patio. I was trying to meet Amber for lunch so I was in a hurry. I happened to see a cinder block sitting next to the door after I started the truck so I grabbed it and slid it up against the throttle pedal to bump the idle up to ~1800RPM. I started airing up the tire and realized I didn't turn the compressor on. As I was reaching in to turn on the compressor the engine dropped to about 1200RPM. I turned on the compressor and adjusted the block (I just assumed it had moved) bumping the speed back up to 2000RPM and resumed airing up the drivers side tire.
-I realize now that the reason the idle dropped was because the last of the friction material had worn off of the drive clutches and the drive clutches and steels had welded into a solid chunk effectively locking up the transmission. The only slip now was in the torque converter. Shortly after resuming airing up the tire the parking pawl broke and the truck lurched forward.
Welded clutch disks and broken parking pawl -
- At this point I have no idea why the truck is moving, immediately after it started moving I heard a loud CRACK. I attempted to shift the truck into neutral, reverse, park, anything to stop it with no affect. it smashed into the S-10 bed that I had sitting on saw horses and finally stopped when I shut the ignition off.
The truck had been parked about like this, but it was closer to the edge of the patio by about 1-2 feet. I was crouched down airing up the drivers side front tire, right in front of the support beam (4x6)
The door was open and managed to catch the beam just right with the door handle and rip it out. This is what the CRACK sound was, the beam flipped over my head and landed about 20 feet away. If it had hit me it could have injured/killed me or knocked me under the moving truck which would have crushed me.
Paint from the beam on the door.
The tennis ball is sitting in the divot that the beam made when it landed
Damage to the S-10 bed.
I was planning on swapping in an NV4500, but this is going to move up the schedule. Hopefully I have it in w/in 6 months. I disliked automatics before this happened and now I hate/fear them.
Stupid frame 2/8/2009
I keep chasing cracks around on the frame in front of the front cab mount so I finally broke down and boxed it in. It's all boxed with 10 gauge cold rolled steel. The steering box bolt holes were sleeved and the bolts go through both sides of the frame now. I also added some more steel and gussets to the front crossmember. I'll be testing it all out next weekend.
Anti-wrap bar and new shackles 1/14/2009
I ended up smashing my rear shocks pretty bad due to the wider truss on the 14 bolt and axle wrap. To get the axle wrap under control I fabricated an anti-wrap bar. Before I addressed the anti-wrap bar I made some new rear shackles to level out the truck and to help the rear axle flex better. They are 2" longer than stock made with 1/4" plate. I finally figured out how to use my TIG welder and used it to make the shackles and some parts of the anti-wrap bar.
The anti-wrap bar is made from 1.5" 3/8 wall DOM, the crossmember is 2.5" 1/4 wall DOM. I used 2 Ballistic poly bushings to mount it to the rear axle and 2 Ballistic joints for the front shackle. I haven't had a chance to flex it out to make sure everything works properly, but acceleration, shifting and downshifting on the road feels much smoother.
I managed to smash the fuel filler and cap running a trail at Table Mesa so I modified the fuel filler neck and frenched it in to the side of the truck for protection.
I broke a steering knuckle in Pritchett Canyon during Blazer Bash 2008. When I got home I ordered a set of Reid Racing heavy duty knuckles and installed them so I wouldn't have to worry about that happening again.
My transmission started leaking again. This is the 3rd time since I installed the DIY4X engine crossmember that the transfer case adapter to transmission bolts have come loose causing a severe leak out the tail of the transmission. After talking it over with Steve from Offroad Design we came to the conclusion that my transfer case crossmember was too stiff and did not allow the transmission/engine to twist separate from the frame when the frame flexes while crawling. I designed and fabricated a new crossmember that has the same style bushings, but very close together. This should allow enough flex to prevent the problem from re-occurring. The new crossmember bolts directly to the frame so this should strengthen the frame and help reduce the amount of flex I'm getting there too.
New Tires 5/24/2008
I'm pretty rough on the truck and the old tires finally got to the point that I couldn't repair them anymore. I got a cut on the inner sidewall that went through some of the belts so I had to replace them. If this was a trailer queen I would have patched it, but I wasn't comfortable driving on the highway with the cut. I moved up in size to the biggest TSL SX available in a 15" wheel size. I picked up 4 38.5x14.5-LT15 SX's for the truck and a 38x12.5-LT15 bias ply TSL for a spare.
The transmission has been slipping on the 2-3 shift for quite a while, steadily getting worse. Then a few weeks ago when we took it out a seal blew out in the back of the transmission causing it to pressurize the area between the transmission and transfer case and spew tranny fluid everywhere. I decided to pull the transmission, rebuild it and install a manual valve body.
This is by far the most technical mechanic work I've done on the truck to date. What a pain in the butt. 2 days of being drenched in transmission fluid and having my hands cut up by machined surfaces just to get it taken apart and put back together. Not to mention the pain of pulling the drive shafts and transfer cases just to get the transmission out. The first picture is my workbench about half way through the rebuild, the second picture is the pile of parts that were replaced with the rebuild.
After we got it all back together I found out that I installed the manual valve body improperly and it wouldn't shift out of first. It took us about 2 hours to pull the the valve body back out, remove all the check balls that weren't supposed to go back in (the directions were not very clear) and get it back together. Now everything seems to be working good, it has nice quick, firm shifts and the transmission appears to be running a bit cooler.
I finally finished up the hydraulic ram install. I ran the stock PS line from the pump to the steering box, a solid 3/8 line from the steering box to the cooler, a solid line from the cooler almost all the way back to the tank and a short flex line to the tank. A 5/8 hose connects the tank to the pump and two 3/8" flex lines connect the steering box to the ram.
The system is all bled and works great. I still haven't taken a test drive as I'm waiting for a new hood latch to come in. If it doesn't get here tomorrow I'll put the old one in and take it for a drive so I can get the steering adjusted.
It's been a long time since I've updated the truck page. We broke quite a few things on the AZ run. The frame cracked where my track bar was mounted due to the stress from the steering box and the track bar twisting the frame in opposite directions. I've been busy working for the last few weeks fixing all the issues that arose from the AZ run.
First I stripped off the old track bar mount and welded up all the cracks in the frame.
Then I Installed a new engine crossmember. The outer pieces were welded into the frame to box in that section. I also extended a boxed in section for another foot in front of the damaged area. The crossmember is from DIY4X and was designed to work with a "stock" oil pan. Unfortunately the pan I had did not work even though it was just a 4 qt sump. I purchased a new pan and modified it to clear the new crossmember. I also cut the bottom of the pan off and replaced it with 10 gauge steel to give it some protection from the rocks. A high pressure/high volume oil pump was installed to go with the new bigger sump. When I took everything apart I realized that I had broken one of my poly engine mounts and that the pickup tube had fallen out of the oil pump at some point. The new style engine mounts should hold up much better.
Once I had the crossmember installed I plated the top bottom and side of the frame with 10-gauge cold rolled steel (the open side was also boxed in).
Then I fabricated a new track bar mount. I moved it back a bit and made it narrower because I was having an issue with the old mount hitting the tie rod.
To remove some of the stress on the frame from steering I decided to install a PSC hydraulic ram steering assist. I fabricated a mount to attach to the axle tube and welded some tabs to the tie rod. I had them modify my pump for higher pressure and output and they put a new can on it to allow for a remote reservoir. A cooler was mounted up behind the grill. I still need to get it all plumbed up, but all the hard work is done.
Tire mounting and dismounting writeup (with rock-ring installation) 4/13/08
I've managed to bend and bang up all of the new wheels I bought when I did the 1 ton axle swap. I picked up some rock rings from DIY4X. Several people have asked me about dismounting and mounting your own tires using a high lift jack so I'm doing a little write-up on how I pulled the tires off the rims and remounted them to weld on the rock rings.
First pull the wheel off the truck, remove the valve core and lay the tire down under something heavy that you can use a high lift jack on (I used the bumper of my Silverado). Place the base of the high lift on the tire close to the rim and jack it up. I usually jump on the tire to get it to start moving. You may have to reposition the jack to get the tire to come off the bead, it gets easier with practice. Once you get one side off the bead, flip the tire over and repeat the process.
Now that you have the tire loose on the wheel you need to grab some pry bars. Push one side of the tire down to the narrower part of the wheel and use your pry bars to start working the tire over the rim. It is very important to push the tire down to the narrow part of the wheel or it is next to impossible to stretch the tire over the rim. Once you get passed the half way point it should just pop the rest of the way over the tire.
Getting the wheel the rest of the way out is fairly easy. Pull it up at an angle and pry it out. You can almost do this step without tools.
At this point I welded on my rock rings. First I removed the valve stems, ground off all the paint around the edge of the rim and straightened out any dents. With a clean area to weld to I welded in the rings on both sides. ground the outside smooth and sprayed on some gloss black paint.
After I let the paint dry, I remounted my tires. Getting the rim back in half way is just as easy as pulling it out. Push one side of the rim into the tire and use a pry bar to work the other side in.
Flip the wheel over and push one side of the tire over the rim. Use pry bars to work your way around the tire until you have it back on the rim. Once you get to the half way point you need to push the tire down into the skinny part of the wheel again so you can finish getting the tire over the rim.
I personally have not had any luck getting my Swampers balanced properly. With my 6 lug wheels I ran Centrimatic balancers along with getting my wheels balanced and they still shook like crazy. When I moved to the 8-lug wheels I could no longer use my Centrimatic balancers so I decided to try using airsoft BB's inside the tires. My tires are still bouncy (especially when they're cold), but they balance better this way than they did with the wheel weights and Centrimatic balancers.
The next step is to get the bead to seat, this can be tough. I start by wrapping a ratchet strap around the tire as tight as I can get it. Try to push the rim so that both beads are on the raised part of the rim so that it will hold air. Start pumping in the air as fast as your air compressor can go. Sometimes it takes a bit of work to get the tire just right so it starts to inflate. As soon as it starts to inflate release the ratchet strap so that it doesn't break and go flying as the tire grows. Continue inflating the tire until the beads pop into place (sometimes this can be pretty exciting). Your tires should list the "maximum bead seating pressure" on the side, but they should pop into place long before that.
Once your tire is fully inflated and the beads are seated go ahead and reinstall. I can dismount and remount my own tires in about 2-3 hours. In my experience that's less time than it takes to drive down to discount and wait for someone to do this for me.
Dana 60 and 14 Bolt Axles FINISHED! 1/24/2008
I busted my ass the last 4 nights after work and finished up the axle swap. I just got back from the first test drive and everything seems to be working excellent. On Monday Amber picked up a new seal housing and o-rings and we reinstalled the carrier, tested the ARB (it worked) and put the front axle and hubs back together under the truck. Amber also dropped my drive shafts off at Precision Drivelines to have them modified for the 1350 yokes on both axles and have them both shortened to accommodate the longer pinions.
Tuesday Amber picked up the modified drive shafts after work. We installed the tie rod, drag link and drive shafts. I then fabricated a new panhard bar axle end mount and prepped the stock Dodge shock mounts to be welded back on. John (datZ from Nissan 4 Wheelers) brought a 7 degree ream over and we reamed out the drag link hole in the high steer arm to accept the high misalignment tie rod ends.
Wednesday night I welded on the front and rear shock mounts and the panhard bar mount. We then installed the shocks, shortened the panhard bar and installed it. While I was welding Amber and Justin made some spacers for the front shackles. I didn't think the 1/2" wider spring perches were going to cause much of an issue, but once it was installed my shackles were at a pretty severe angle.
Thursday night we finished up. Justin started by adding gear oil to the front axle and greasing all the zirks. Amber and I installed the spacers on the front shackles and set the alignment. Then we bled the brakes, reconnected the rear axle breather line and took the truck for a test drive. Everything works great on the road, the new brakes work better than the old ones already and I'm sure they'll get better once the pads get bedded in properly. We'll be heading out to Bulldog Canyon on Saturday to give the truck a thorough test on the rocks.
Dana 60 Front Axle Part IV 1/20/2008
I worked all weekend on the truck again with mixed results. Friday night started good. I installed the carrier and ARB locker and glued/bolted the cover on the differential.
I had all of my tires (4 for the truck, 1 spare and two trailer tires) moved over to the new 8 lug 15x10" rims (2.5" backspacing). We tried to balance the tires, but it was obvious that it is a waste of time to balance a cold Interco tire. I did some searching and decided the best option would be to use 10 oz of airsoft BB's in each tire. While I had the beads popped I installed a set of Rim Rock RADS (Rapid Air Deflator valve Stems).
Saturday started off good. I installed longer studs on the rear axle and mounted up the tires then hung the Dana 60 under the front of the truck, assembled the hubs, shaved the calipers to clear the wheels and bolted on the tie rod.
Then I hooked up the ARB and tested it. This is where it went bad, the ARB wasn't working then to make matters worse after a few minutes of testing the o-ring blew out. I called it a night early. Sunday I disassembled and pulled out the axle and carrier and figured out what went wrong. I had some problems with getting the wrong bearings when I was setting up the gears and installed/removed the carrier numerous times. Apparently at some point I nicked the ARB seal housing. When I did the final install the nick caught one of the o-rings and pulled it over the air passage. I'm going to replace the seal housing and o-rings and put it all back together next week.
I spent the rest of the day modifying the spare tire carrier for the new 8 lug 2.5" backspaced wheels and I fabricated the shock mounts for the rear axle (as well as pulling the ring and pinion out of Gummybob's axle for him). I added a guide to the spare tire carrier to make it easier to hang the tire on and get it lined up with the wheel studs.
14 Bolt Rear Axle Part IV/Dana 60 Front Axle Part III 1/14/2008
I worked all weekend on the axle upgrades again. Friday I spent the evening getting tires swapped over to new rims at Desert Rat. Saturday morning I got up and removed the 12 bolt. The 14 bolt was put into place and I realized that the u-bolts and spring plates I had were wrong. Amber ran and got me some custom u-bolts from ORU and I fabricated some new spring plates out of 1/4" steel. Then the axle was bolted into place, brakes were bled and the truck was turned around to work on the front axle. We still need to sort out the drive shaft modifications and fabricate new shock mounts, but it's rolling on the 14 bolt now. For the record the clearance under the shaved rear diff is exactly the same as it was under my mildly shaved 12 bolt (10 3/8"). Not a bad deal for going from an 8.875" ring gear to a massive 10.5" ring gear.
The Dana 44 was removed and the Dana 60 housing was bolted into place to position the inner steering knuckles. The knuckles were heated and slid into place and welded on at 8 degrees caster (really, it was just that easy... NOT). Much bleeding and swearing occurred during this process, but the end results speak for themselves.
The axle was pulled back out with the intention of installing the axle seals, carrier and put it back under the truck. I managed to mangle one of the seals so I moved on to the outer knuckles. New king pins and bearings were installed and the knuckles were reassembled. I'll have the replacement seal later this week so the axle should be back under the truck by Friday.
Dana 60 Front Axle Part II 1/6/2008
I worked all weekend on the front axle and made some serious progress. Friday night after work I chopped 1-1/4" off the bottom of the housing. I plasma cut a 1/2" plate to fill the hole and welded it in place. I welded in a block of steel, drilled and tapped it to relocate the cover bolt hole that was cut off. The outside of the case was ground smooth so it would slide off the rocks better.
Saturday I started on the diff cover. I started by plasma cutting a bolt ring from 3/8" steel and drilling the 10 bolt holes. The ring was cleaned up and cut to clear the ring gear and bearing caps. With the ring completed it was bolted in place and the 1/2x2" steel ring gear guard was tacked together and the carrier was removed. With the ring gear out the cover was bolted back on, the ring gear guard was fully welded and tubes were welded on over all the bolts to countersink them. After that numerous 3/8" thick pieces were plasma cut and welded in place completing the cover.
Sunday I spent all morning cutting, grinding and filling in the cover. Once it was all cleaned up I drilled and tapped it for a fill plug and gave it a coat of paint.
With the shave and cover complete I cleaned up the axle housing and welded 8 degree steel shims into place on the spring perches.
To finish up the weekend I drilled and tapped the housing for the ARB air line. Next I'll work on setting up the gears and finishing the ARB install.
Dana 60 Front Axle Part I 1/2/2008
I made some progress on the front axle over the holidays. I started by completely disassembling the axle. I fabricated a case spreader to remove the carrier. It's under load in the second picture and you can see it flexing.
Here is a comparison shot of the 4 carriers. 14 bolt full float on the left followed by the old 12 bolt Dana 60 and Dana 44. Everything about the new axles is so much bigger, stronger, heavier.
Once all the bolt on parts were removed from the axle I cut and pressed the inner knuckles off so I can rotate the pinion up and set the caster angle correctly after I put the axle under the truck. I also removed the king pins as I will be replacing them when I put everything back together.
With the axle fully disassembled I started cleaning things up and prepping for reassembly. I bead blasted and powder coated the outer knuckles, high steer arms, caliper mounting brackets and brake backing plates. I also bolted the new ring gear up to the ARB carrier and pressed one of the bearings onto the pinion. Here is the pile of parts that needs to get put back into/onto the axle when it's done.
The only thing left to do prior to reassembly is shaving the axle housing and fabricating a new diff cover. Hopefully I'll get that done next weekend.
Dana 60 Front Axle 12/18/2007
With the majority of the work done on the rear axle I can start on the front. I have it pulled out of the donor vehicle and sitting in the garage. I have a pile of parts ready for it, but we'll get to those later.
14 Bolt Rear Axle Part III 12/18/2007
Now that all the fabrication is complete I assembled the axle. I set up the gears and glued on the cover.
Brake caliper brackets from Sky Manufacturing were bolted on and the hubs with rotors were installed. 3/4 ton calipers were bolted up and the axles were installed to finish up. I test fit one of my new wheels (15x10 with 2.5" backspacing) and it clears the calipers with no grinding. All that's left are brake lines and shock mounts.
14 Bolt Rear Axle Part II 12/3/2007
Because I shaved the rear axle I had to make a custom cover. I started out with an 18x18x3/8" plate, traced out the shape of the differential and cut out the rough shape with my plasma cutter. I had to relocate one of the holes as it was cut in half when the bottom of the diff was cut off. After I got the holes drilled in the ring I cleaned it up and trimmed it to fit around the ring gear.
The design I came up with for the rear cover has to be the most difficult thing I've ever fabricated. It is literally bulletproof. I welded in 1/2" steel plate over the ring gear for protection. All of the bolts are frenched into the cover in 1/8" wall tubing and the rest of the cover is made of 3/8" plate steel. The finished product weighs about 20 lbs and took me approximately 16 hours to fabricate. It should slide off the rocks nicely though.
The next step was the relocated spring perches. New perches were made from 2x2x1/4" wall tubing and welded on in their new location. A nice easy job after making the cover.
The final fabrication step for the rear axle before installation is the truss (shock mounts will have to be added after the axle is under the truck). The truss is made of 2x3x1/4" wall tubing and is welded to the axle tubes and the diff housing. The final picture is after paint with the cover hanging in place. All that's left is reassembly.
14 Bolt Rear Axle Part I 12/3/2007
My front axle started leaking around one of the tubes. On of my wheeling buddies commented that the tube looked crooked so apparently it's time to upgrade. I've had the Dana 60 and 14 bolt in my back yard for a while now but I was hoping to put this off for another 6 months. Apparently that's no longer an option.
I started with the stock rear axle from an '87 K20. Dirty, nasty, drum brakes and bad clearance.
I picked up rotors, calipers, seals and a master install kit from NAPA, then I started to disassemble and clean the axle. I took apart the hubs, cleaned them up and installed 3/4 ton rotors for the disk brake swap. There's also a picture of the cleaned up axles with a 6" ruler for comparison, they're massive.
Next I disassembled the diff carrier and pinion, installed a set of 4.56:1 gears I picked up on Craigslist and a Detroit Locker from DesertRat. I replaced the stock strap style pinion yoke with a modified u-bolt style yoke from High Angle Driveline. It takes a massive amount of pressure to crush the crush sleeve on the pinion to set the pinion preload (500-600ft lbs). I read a write-up that said you should start the crush using a press if possible to make it easier to set the preload. I put it on a 20 ton press and snapped a 1" thick cast steel plate in half without even starting to crush the sleeve. I ended up getting a 3-foot pipe wrench with a cheater bar on the yoke and a 7 foot cheater bar on the pinion nut to get it torqued down.
Now that the "easy" part was done I started cleaning up the housing. 2 hours later I had the shock mounts and one spring perch cut off and cleaned up along with the majority of the rest of the dirt and grime wire wheeled clean. I left one perch on (but partially cut) to help align the new perches. With the axle cleaned up I could start shaving. I tack welded a piece of angle iron to the housing to use as a guide and used my skill saw with a metal cutting abrasive blade to cut 1-5/8" off the bottom. I used my plasma cutter to cut a piece of 1/2" steel to replace the missing section, heated the housing to 500-600F and welded in the new piece.
I'll be fabricating and installing new spring perches, an axle truss and a custom diff cover next.
Apparently the spherical end link (Daystar) I used on my track bar was not strong enough. It tore out on a dirt road. Luckily the truck still drove ok below 40 so I made it home and replaced both links with 3/4" heims.
I've been having problems with my rear axle ring gear bolts coming loose. Since I bought the truck I've had bolts fall out twice and they've been loose every time I've taken the rear diff cover off. This time I drilled the bolts, used Locktite and safety wired all of the bolts. Hopefully this fixes the problem. I'll pull the cover off in 1000 miles and check.
My old off-road lighting had seen better days. My rock lights were smashed and my KC's wouldn't keep a bulb from burning out. I picked up 4 8" 35w HID off-road lights from 45ALE Fabrication and 8 superbright LED's from superbrightleds.com. The 2 floods got mounted in the grill next to the headlights, the 2 spots are on a removable bracket over the winch, 6 LED's went under the truck for rock lights, 1 went under the hood for nighttime repairs and one went on the cage for interior lighting. I think I have at least 10 times more light than before and I'm pulling half the current (or less if I turn off my regular headlights). The last picture is wit the HID's and LED's on. Even though the HID's are totally washing out the picture you can still see the area the rock lights are lighting under the truck. I'll eventually fabricate a new grill to better cover the area around the floods, but this will work for now.
I finally got around to putting a couple heavy duty gussets on the frame side track bar mount. I cut them out with the new plasma cutter. This got rid of the slight wobble I during braking and acceleration.
NEW TOY! I've been watching craigslist for a plasma cutter that can cut 1/2" or more for a while. I finally snagged a Lincoln Pro-cut 60 for $500. I had to pick up some new nozzles, electrodes and shields for it but it works great now. Pictured below is 1/2" steel, 1/4" and some thin sheet metal I tested it out on. I've never used a plasma cutter before so I'm sure my cuts will get better the more I use it.
The flexy Johnny Joints on the upper shackle mounts were a bad idea. Death wobble comes in at about 30mph and truck won't go straight. I built a panhard bar to fix the issue. I 1-1/4" DOM tubing with a poly bushing at one end and the other end tapped for a Johnny Joint style rod end from Daystar so I would have some adjustability. I welded one mount directly to the axle and braced it to the inner steering knuckle, the other mount was welded to a 1/4" thick steel plate I welded to the frame. I jacked the corner of the truck up by the frame side mount just to make sure it was sturdy enough, it didn't flex at all.
You can see in the assembled pictures that the angle is exactly the same as the drag link, the length is the same too so I managed to totally eliminate bump steer while doing this mod too. I added zerks to the bushings to make them easier to grease. The bump stops were also relocated to clear the panhard bar and lowered to be effective after the additional lift from the longer shackles.
The other issue caused by the longer shackles was the failure of my upper shackle bushings. They only lasted one week before they were completely destroyed. To resolve this issue I purchased a set of 2.5" Johnny Joints from Currie Enterprise and fabricated new mounting brackets for them. I ground off the rivets on the old hangers and drilled out the holes to accept 7/16 grade 8 bolts and bolted in the new hangers.
My old exhaust was causing some issues from the heat. I picked up a new set of Hedman Hedders and fabricated a new y-pipe to mate up with my existing exhaust. Once the y-pipe was finished I sand blasted, ceramic coated and bolted it up.
The longer shackles I installed a couple months ago have caused some issues. I couldn't set my caster right without the high steer tie rod hitting the leaf springs. My drive shaft angle was pretty bad too. I finally got a chance to cut the inner knuckles off and rotate them for correct caster/drive shaft angles. I welded 8 degree shims onto the spring perches and I have 4 degree shims on the spring packs. This gives me a good driveshaft angle and 8 degrees of caster.
I ordered a 12 bolt diff cover kit from BlueTorch Fabworks. It took about 2 months to come in, they were having issues getting the rings from their laser cutter. I'm not too impressed, both with service and fit/finish. The bolt holes in the cover are not in the right spots, they just cut them bigger than necessary to make them fit. For the $90 pricetag I expected better (especially since I had to weld it myself). Unfortunately they're the only supplier that I could find for a 12 bolt HD cover.
When I did the high steer conversion I used a jeep pitman arm reamed out to accept Chevy high misalignment drag link ends. Unfortunately this limited my steering quite a bit as the arm wasn't long enough to give me full steering travel. The person that owned the truck before me had installed longer springs in the front at some point, he accomplished this by moving the front spring perch forward and effectively moved the axle forward about 1.5". In order to accommodate the longer Ford Superlift pitman arm I had to move the steering box forward about 1.5". I made 4 spacers and tacked them to a 12 gage plate that I welded to the frame after I ground down two of the old mounting points. The new arm gives me almost full steering travel and the new steering box position keeps the drag link from hitting the tie rod.
I got a big Bosch electric fans from a friend on nissan4wheelers. It's from a Volvo diesel truck (big) that was removed due to a recall on the fan controllers that were mounted on the fan assembly. I finally got around to installing it on the truck after I did the motor swap. I made up an adapter bracket that bolts the Volvo fan onto the stock location in the truck. It's almost a perfect fit covering 90% of my radiator.
I purchased a SPAL programmable fan controller to run the fan. It runs the fan at two speeds at two set points that you program. It's all hooked up with a 30Amp auto resetting circuit breaker. There is a lot more room to get t the belts and power steering reservoir now too.
Once the axles were set up and ready to go I started working on getting the engine from the '76 K5 cleaned up and ready to go into the '72. I pulled the heads and cleaned everything up, replaced all the gaskets, sprayed a little paint on and transferred over some parts. The engine was then dropped in and hooked up. It needs a little tuning, but it is already running better than the old engine.
With the engine in and everything settled I decided that the truck was sitting too low in the front. To fix this I fabricated some longer shackles, 3" longer that stock for ~1.5" of lift. You can see them compared to my old ORD shackles in the first picture.
After I finished with the axle truss I installed the new Detroit Locker, set up the gears and installed the axles in the new housing.
I gave the axle a quick paint job, temporarily put the old diff cover on (I'm waiting for my new cover "kit" to come from Blue Torch Fabworks). I installed the bakes and bent up new brake lines. At this point I though all I had left to do was make up the new shock mounts.
Unfortunately when I tried to install the axle in the truck I realized that the 2nd generation Blazers had different spring spacing than the 1st generation. I had to fab up new spring perches along with the shock mounts. The spring perches were fabricated from 2.5X2.5X1/4" steel tubing and the shock mounts were fabbed from 2X1/4" DOM tubing
The old perches were cut off and the ends if the truss were notched so the new perches could be welded on.
After I installed the axle I welded in the new spring perches, painted the axle and bent up new brake lines (again). With everything back together I bled the brakes and turned the truck around to work on the front axle.
Since I'm going to keep these axles for another year or so I had to replace the front locker. I was sick of the way the Lock-Rite slipped and popped and shook the truck any time the front axle was powered. I picked up an ARB locker and compressor from Desert Rat. While I had the axle apart I replaced the pinion bearings and seal, installed new axle seals and replaced the carrier bearings. I had to drill and tap a hole in the case and drill a hole through the bearing cap for the air line.
I zip tied the air line to the diff vent and ran it up to the firewall where I mounted the compressor and solenoid. All that's left is wiring.
When I put the truck back together I rebuilt the hubs that I trashed on the AZ Run. I replaced the spindles with used big bearing models from a newer truck. New hubs, rotors, bearing, seals and hub locks were also installed.
On the recent AZ run I ran into numerous issues. Bad front wheel bearings causing spindle and hub problems, broken rear axle housing (causing a broken locker and damaged carrier) and broken hub lock. The front axle has been rebuilt (new big bearing spindles and hubs, new hub locks, new axle seals) and I've started working on replacing the rear axle.
I had a spare axle housing in my shed that I've started rebuilding. I started by wire brushing and cleaning up the axle inside and out, cutting off the factory shock mounts, minor shaving of the bottom of the diff housing (~1/2") and sand blasting the housing to prepare for a truss so I don't break it again.
First I preheated the housing with a propane torch to 600-700F. I then used my MIG to weld a 2X4X1/4" tube to the top of the housing and peened the welds with each pass.
I left the propane torch running (slowly backing off on the heat) as I fabricated and welded the rest of the truss. Once the temperatures got down below 200F I wrapped it in a welding blanket and set it aside. I'll make new shock mounts after I get the axle installed in the truck.
For some reason I never snapped any pictures of all the work I've done on my truck recently. In this picture you can see the new tires and wheels, re-arched front fenders and the new rear stance due to an ORD shackle flip.
I bought the '76 K5 for two reasons, axles and engine. The engine is supposed to be a freshly rebuilt 350 with about 500 miles on it. The cleanliness of the exhaust ports and overall appearance of the engine would lead me to believe that this is true. Unfortunately the engine has been sitting open (no carb or valve covers) in the engine bay for at least a month. I needed to get it out of the truck and into my garage to prevent ruining a good engine. My engine hoist is big, even so it will barely lift an engine high enough to get it out of my '72, I knew it wouldn't work for the '76. I ended up using the winch from the '72 over a pulley strapped to a tree in my back yard to pull it out. My 5' measuring device (Amber) shows how high we had to lift the engine to clear the front of the truck. We still had to drag it over the core support to get it out.
I picked up a parts truck yesterday. Dana 60, Dana 70, freshly rebuilt engine and various other goodies. The guy was making it into a monster project and just ran out of time/money so I picked it up cheap. 12" of suspension lift and 3" body lift on a 76 K5.
Here are some pictures of us bringing this beast home. It was quite the challenge getting this home as it had no driveshafts, no drag link, no brakes. I had to winch it onto the trailer with my 72. One of the straps broke and another fell off on the 2 mile drive home. Luckily, nothing bad happened because of it. All in all it took us 5 hours to get the truck home.
The guy I bough it from did a budget shackle flip in the rear. Unfortunately he put the brackets too far back so the shackle on the passenger side flipped up and the truck sags a bit to the right. You can also see the Dana 60 and 70 in these pictures and see how crazy the spring packs are. The front spring packs are 52" springs with 12" of lift and have a huge arch.
I've had some problems with my rear tires having a lot of fender contact. I finally got around to trimming the fender. I made them a 42" radius centered above the wheel and 3" higher than the stock openings. The fenders were cut, rolled under and welded to the inner fender. I think they came out pretty good and I didn't have any rubbing at the rear on my last run. You can see how far I had to move the wheel arch back to center it over the wheels.
Rear bumper Part 2:
The bumper is finally done. I made a swing away portion that holds a spare tire (up to 42"), 2 NATO cans and a 60" high lift jack. It also has a CB antenna mount and license plate mount with light.
The first step was attaching a square tube to the hinge and adding a latch. I fabricated the angled part on the end of the tube so that the latch would pull the carrier down and forward into the bumper.
A mount for the spare tire was then added. I've had one break here before so I attached it with two pieces of 2"X2" tubing.
Next was the jack mount and Jerry can holders.
Finally a CB Antenna mount and license plate frame were added and the entire assembly was painted.
Everything mounts nice and high. I've had problems dragging my spare before and this mounting position does not affect my departure angle at all.
Rear bumper Part 1:
I've been wanting to make a new bumper for a while. The old one didn't work really well with the tire swing, hung too low and the incorporated rock sliders were too far forward and hit the tires at full flex. I think that may have been the cause of the blowout I posted recently.
Here is the old bumper and a shot of the bumperless truck. It was welded in place so it had to be cut out.
I started with a 2X4 3/16th wall steel tube. I flush mounted a hitch receiver and installed 2 - 1X2 steel shackle mounts I fabricated. They go all the way through the bumper, are welded front and back and are welded to the mounting brackets that bolt to the frame of the truck.
Next I bolted some 1/4" steel to the frame rails and tacked the bumper in place. Then installed a hinge for the spare tire/gas can/jack/etc. swing away rack I'll be making next. It's an extremely beefy hinge made by 4 Wheelers Supply's fabrication shop using tapered spindle bearings. It partially blocks the right turn signal lens, but it's only covering the reflector so it shouldn't be an issue. Rock slider extensions were then added to the bumper. They are quite a bit shorter than the old ones so they don't interfere with the tires, the fenders will need to be trimmed to match.
A diagonal brace was added that went from the bumper to the rock slider. This was then tied in to the roll cage through the floor of the truck. It should hold up very well. Once everything was tacked together I removed the bumper for finishing.
All welds were finished, the ends of the bumper were beveled and rounded off and gussets were added to the mounting brackets and hitch socket. I then added 1/4" plating to the rock slider tubes to taper it down to the bottom of the bumper. After the welding and cleanup was done it was sprayed satin black and hung to dry.
While the paint was drying I took the time to prep the truck for the bumper install. The frame rails had to be cut down to get the bumper tucked in as tight as I wanted it. They also had to be trimmed up as they now hung down lower than where the bumper was going to be. I capped the ends of the frame rails for added strength. Braces were added to the roll cage mounting plates to strengthen them where the bumper bolted on.
Here are some final install shots with shots of the old bumper for comparison. The new bumper will be much stronger and has considerably more ground clearance, an improved departure angle and doesn't interfere with the rear tires.
What the hell happened to cause this? It happened on the way home, after a day of trail riding, on the freeway. Luckily it was a rear tire. It blew out when I was doing about 70mph.
I just finished the next stage of the truck. Since I bought the truck it has not had emergency brakes. I purchased a driveline e-brake kit from High Angle Driveline including an output flange for my NP205 to mount the rotor too.
Here is the rotor and caliper mounted up:
Finished up with cable mounting bracket and return spring:
The factory rear drums were missing e-brake parts when I purchased the truck, it was also missing the y-cable and several other parts. Now that I had an emergency brake that wouldn't get bound up or snagged when I'm crawling I swapped out the rear drums for disks. I cut off the stock backing plates and installed rotors and mounting brackets from The Streetrod Manufacturing Co., Inc. Their slides onto the axle like a factory rotor rather than being pressed on from the back. Since I'm currently running a 12 bolt I didn't want to have to worry about moving the rotor over to a new axle should I happen to snap one again.
I took it for a test drive and I'm still not happy with their performance. I think I need to pull out the factory proportioning valve and plumb the lines straight to the calipers. If that gives me too much rear bias then I'll have to install an adjustable proportioning valve.
The final mod for this update was the biggest one. I've been having issues with the stock steering binding up when I'm off-road. Not to mention the horrendous bump steer the stock steering caused. I also had bashed up my tie rod on rocks on two occasions so I figured it was time for a crossover/high steer conversion.
I purchased steering arms, studs, tie rod weld in inserts, steering arm mounting studs and nuts, and knuckle machining from Sky Manufacturing. Their arms are made of billet steel and are angled for proper tie rod alignment. They also were the cheapest place for D44 knuckle machining I found ($45).
I picked up a 2 wheel drive steering box and had 4 Wheelers Supply fabrication shop machine a Cherokee steering arm and my passenger side steering arm to accept high misalignment 1-ton tie rod ends.
It's a bit close when the suspension is flexed, but it still clears even with the wheels centered.
Time to go take it for a test run!
I've just finished doing some major work on my truck and finally took the time to post some pictures.
First project was onboard air. I picked up one of the "big" York A/C compressors from the local ecology auto wrecking and some other parts from www.onboardair.com.
First I fabricated a mounting bracket and belt tensioner:
Then I installed the pump and wiring:
Hooked up an air tank:
Installed a fitting and pressure gauge inside the truck:
Most of the factory gauges were either inoperable or inaccurate so I replaced all of them with Autometer Phantom series:
The stock TH350 tranny was not working properly so I swapped it out with a rebuilt TH700R4. This gave me a good overdrive that makes getting to the trails much easier and a lower first gear. I also installed a double transfer case setup at the same time using ORD's doubler an NP203 reduction housing and an NP205 transfer case:
Here is the custom crossmember I made to hold in the massive assembly (250lbs just for the transfer cases):
Custom driveshafts (the front is now longer than the rear):
I opted for the triple stick shifter configuration with internal shift linkage modifications. This gives me the ability to do FWD, RWD or 4WD in high, low, or ultra low. These shifters were designed for the later model K5's (I think) so I had to highly modify the transmission cover to make them fit:
The final step was a new exhaust. I used to have a double exhaust that hung way to low. I had to switch to a single exhaust as there was no longer room for the exhaust on the passenger side since I opted for the 2" up rotation on the NP205 housing. You can also see my LED rock lights in these pictures.:
I went out on July 3rd for a test run at Saguaro Lake. I discovered that my alternator does not have enough power to run all my lights and other electronics simultaneously so a 140amp replacement has been ordered. Here's a couple poser shots of my '72 Blazer flexing on the remains of an 80's era S-10 Blazer. Survival of the fittest:
140 amp alternator has been installed and the truck has been rewired to handle it. The roof rack is done. You can see the rack itself with a fresh coat of herculiner:
Me testing the strength prior to painting the mounting bars:
Packed and ready for camping:
We took the truck up to Mogollon Rim on an 8 day camping trip, pictures here.
I'm getting the truck ready for the Payeatt Draw run with Nissan 4 Wheelers so I fabricated some mounting brackets for recovery shackles and welded them onto my front bumper:
For some reason I never posted pictures of my shock modifications. I put the longest Rancho 9000's available on (13.8" travel). It required a bit of work, but I don't think I'll ever max them out. I used ford shock mounts, welded to the frame up front and fabricated custom mounts out back which were welded to the frame and axle.