Below is a customer question about leaning springs and what to do to remedy the situation. We figured it could be helpful for many people:
A lean is fairly common and is a byproduct of a soft spring and kind of unique to this truck platform because the front springs’ mounting width is fairly narrow. A small difference in the height of the springs can make an exaggerated difference in side to side height and a small weight difference can also also cause an exaggerated ride height change. To put some numbers on it, the springs are about 32” center to center and the outside of the body where you see and measure is about 80”. The body has about 2.5:1 leverage over the springs so a ¼” change at the spring pad should convert to 5/8” at the body line. It also works the opposite for weight, any weight change has a big lever arm over the springs and makes itself look way bigger than it should.
We have yet to have a spring problem that was causing a lean so I’m betting your springs are just fine and we need to work out what else is going on. It is possible there’s a small variation in the spring height and if there is ¼” of difference (typically more than they vary) and the low side is on the heavy side of the truck it would amplify that weight difference. Simple solution (that’s not so easy to execute) is swap them side to side. This does a few things:
1: if there is a slight height difference in the springs you can put the taller spring on the heavy side of the truck and make a little improvement in the lean.
2: if there is a big height difference in the springs we know about it and can fix it.
3: if a large ride height problem follows the springs when they’re swapped side to side then we know it’s a spring problem.
Some deep background info on springs
The height of a spring under load is set by the spring’s rate and starting height. Spring rate is set (in a leaf spring) by the number of leaves and the thickness of each leaf along with spring length, some factors that have to do with construction technique and a material property (modulus of elasticity) that is essentially the same for all grades, types and heat treats of steel. Height under load is just the weight on it divided by the rate. The important detail here is that the variables that effect the springs performance are all very visible, measurable properties. Boiling it down, if a pair of springs has the same number of leaves, length of leaves, and thickness of leaves, they’re going to be the same rate. That’s a big important point. If the material has all the same measurable characteristics, it is the same rate. If the height is the same between the two, they will hold an identical load at the same height also.
The “hidden properties” are material grades and heat treating but their effect is seen in the strength of the material that will be apparent when the spring is at its highest stress point meaning at full load or bump travel. The way a weaker material or heat treat will become obvious is that the material won’t flex and spring back when loaded heavy, it will flex as far as it can and bend permanantly to some extent so it won’t return to it’s original arch. To illustrate, if your spring has 5” of arch when it’s brand new and you install it and take it to full compression and check it again, it should still have 5” of arch. If there is a material strength problem you may measure 4.5” of arch. The actual rate still didn’t change but the height that the spring will hold a load changed because it bent a little instead of just “flexing”.
So the way this translates to the real world and your leaning truck is that the spring rate itself is very unlikely to be the problem. Unless one side is missing a leaf or a spring is built with the wrong material thickness, they will be the same rate. This leaves 2 variables, the arch of the spring and the weight on it. The arch is easy to check when the springs are on the floor and it’s always a good idea to check them side by side when they’re new so you have a baseline height when it’s easy to check. Unfortunately it’s hard (virtually impossible) to check the free arch on the truck but it’s the only way to know if the spring height is the problem. This comes back to pulling the springs, measuring them and swapping side to side to see if a problem follows the spring. You might be able to read between the lines in all of this and say there is no reason to swap the springs side to side if you know the construction is the same and the height is the same but it is the ultimate test in proving if the lean follows the springs.
The last variable is the weight on the spring. There’s nothing that says any given truck is loaded the same on every corner and a softer spring will make a load change from one side to the other more apparent than a stiffer spring. This is something we run into fairly often: a guy’s old lift kit springs sat level but when he installs his ORD springs the truck has a lean. The old springs were stiff enough that the weight difference was not obvious but our springs make the weight difference apparent.
So, what to do?
If you can remove springs to measure and swap that’s a great start. If all the checks on the springs come out OK then it’s time to start adjusting things. The available options are (in no particular order):
Add a swaybar
Move weight around on the truck
Shim the springs to correct heights
Build custom springs with individual rates for the corner weights on the truck.
A relatively easy step is to put a swaybar on it (assuming you haven’t already) since the extra roll rate on the bar can help level the truck side to side. There’s also room to preload the bar a little if the end links are adjustable. If you have a swaybar installed, make sure it’s not bent and preloading the suspension the wrong way.
Moving weight around is sometimes pretty simple. If you have your toolbox tied down on the low side, move it to the high side and see what happens. Sometimes it’s not simple, like if your spare tire carrier is built to mount the tire offset to one side. Just look for the easy stuff and do what you can. If you want to get really official with this stuff, you can weigh the truck on each corner and have an idea what’s going on and what it would take to correct it.
It’s totally fine to fine tune things with some short shims between the spring and axle. With the narrow spring mounting on the front of most GM trucks, a little bit can go a long way and ¼” to 3/8” of shim under one side probably won’t be noticed by most people but will go a long way toward leveling the ride.
At the end, we can build custom spring systems with 4 individual different rate springs for each corner. This is getting pretty specialized but if you know your load is not centered it might be what needs to happen. The example that comes to mind is a K5 with a wheelchair lift
Below is the original text from the build thread copy and pasted here. Some of the text might not make much sense since some of the conversation is missing. To find the whole thread check out HERE
Also you can find the parts we used HERE
Now the only thing left in the truck is the long block.:shaking:
We actually shopped a little for this truck, we wanted the 88-98 type body style with the big block and after our recent headaches with 4L80's we really wanted the NV4500. Plus I've never wheeled a properly set up truck (low geared) with a manual so it'll be fun driving something different. We wanted a running driving truck so that we wouldn't be building an engine and transmission and we kind of achieved that.
Turns out the 454 had the standard manifold leaks and some exhaust leaks so we're fixing that. At least it's easy to just fix stuff and put it back where we found it rather than building from scratch. We are resisting the urge to add a cam, headers and custom exhaust since we have about 3 weeks to put this thing back on the road.
The trans and clutch were OK but it's hard to not put in new stuff when the trans is held in with a few bolts. Seems the throwout bearing/slave system is a problem on these trucks too so we'll just put a new one in with the new clutch.
That's about the end of the stock mechanical stuff. The 241 is hitting the road and we have our GM203/Ford205 Doubler ready to bolt to the trans. Front axle is a 79 ford D60 and rear will be the stock 14 bolt housing. They're now empty housings waiting on the ARBs and Reid knuckles to assemble. We have the rest of the goodies:
They're 5.13's and we'll put some CTMs in shafts so it'll be pretty tough.
There's a spy shot of the ORD SAS kit we just got into production which we'll need since this pile of poo is laying on the ground now:
We happen to have a spare ECM here that we might take with us. Anybody with ideas on spare motor parts to carry should feel free to post them up, I've never played with the Vortec motor other than driving this one around for a while.
Don't need to wait on the ARBs anymore:
That just added to the workload a little bit.
Suspension is going to be leaves front and rear using our ORD custom packs. Fronts are a 3"-ish lift for a heavier 73-87 truck and the rear is a 65" long custom pack. We're leaving the tension shackle setup in the rear to pick up a little more travel and so the tail of the spring isn't the bumper. Fronts could have used our brackets for a 52" spring but I don't like losing the approach angle and I think the 48.5" will flex plenty. We generally use up all of a 14" travel shock in articulation so it'll be fine.
Sooner or later someone is going to wonder about the "shortbed" part:
Here's what it looked like before, at least the frame part:
Here's what it looks like after yesterday's fun:
It's missing 15" now, which should put the wheelbase in the 117" range. Maybe a bit more since our SAS brackets will move the axle forward a bit.
Here's the splice under the cab, it'll have a diamond shaped reinforcing patch when it's finished.
Little weird huh? Dad's old dually had 4.56's with a 465/205 and only ran 32" tires so I guess technically it had pretty deep gears. But we never really wheeled it. Our cheap truck now has a 465/205 with 4.10's and 37's and it did great on the hole in the rock trail but that's not really very technical. I ran my wife's stock '97 tacoma on hole in the rock with a 5 speed and it brought some suck in a few places, similar trips with the family '84 S-10 did the same. This will be fun.
I like your main eye idea norby, it might even work out to run a heavy wall sleeve all the way through the frame for the bolt. We didn't think that much about it. I think it's a marine corp motto, "a good plan now is better than a perfect plan later", or something like that. We're using some of that ideology now.
Today we started with the rough cut frame looking like this:
And ended with it looking like this:
There is a LOT of cleanup involved with this process, holy cow. We went a little far with it maybe, the front crossmember looks like this now:
In other news today, the ARB is in the front housing, then we realized we didn't add plug welds to it like we usually do so we have that problem to address. The dash is loose in the truck so we can run the cage through the front of it and I think that's about it. We have the new PSC box in there now so we can place some new crossmember parts and we might call it a night a bit early.
Now that the heavy grinding is done we can start bolting brackets on and finish assembling the front of the motor and move back with the drivetrain. Material for the bed showed up today too so it's time to bend the B pillar and start working from there on the bed and the interior cage. Holy cow there's a lot going on!
We did some mockup with the 40s to verify some bed dimensions:
And couldn't resist sticking the tire in the front fender to see what it looks like. it looks like it's going to take some work to make it fit.
Thanks guys, quack update since I'm working from my phone...
203 on the 4500
05 installed. Bed framework is on the table now, I'll get ashot tomorrow.
the bed is taking shape. We're going to use a 99 suburban gas tank that will sit at the front of the bed and the tire will ride behind it.
I mounted the res for the power steering today, along with the ARB compressor. Buddy Alex Santiago, came up for the weekend and wired the aux fan override and the clutch safety bypass among a whole bunch of other things.
Ok, I have a keyboard now and can answer some questions.
On the original crewcab build (the green year "texas tour", '07) we had trans #1 in the truck through the build process and thought we'd better test it out a week or so before we were supposed to leave. This trans was rebuilt by a local builder who did great work for us, like my 700R4 that's still alive. He installed the trans-go full manual VB kit that involves some tricky work apparently.
Can't remember the specific problem but it either didn't have 2nd gear or locked up in 1st.
Spickler lets us borrow his trans by a different builder with the same kit. My aunt picks it up for us since we're all hands on deck building, then we put it in and it either doesn't have 2nd gear or locks up in 1st. We probe the valvebody and try to troubleshoot it ourselves but give up on it due to time.
Trans #3 was an off the shelf rebuild from a shop in Grand Junction combined with a Compushift kit and I do have to say it was flawless. It bolted in, the harness was total plug and play and it worked great. I had about $1700 figured on the 1st trans and ended up with more than double that by the time we were done. But it was good.
Fast forward to 2010 and I climb widowmaker and 2nd gear is all wonky at the top. Not terribly noisy but definitely not there. I figure it's moving fine in the other 3 so maybe it's a solenoid or something so I drive it home by skipping 2nd with the manual valvebody feature in the Compushift system. Turns out the trans is now full of metal and basically dead. So another new trans later (took till this spring to make that happen) and we're getting it together for Dad to make a trip down Lockhart basin and into Needles. New trans doesn't have 4th gear. So we put his gear in the Cheap Truck and the 465 and carb never let him down on the trip.
We fight pretty hard to get a new trans in it before EJS so we can have it at the show there and as we're getting ready to drive home the convertor seal is leaking so bad we put it on the trailer and I drive Wally home. That's how it sits now.
Given our really good luck with the 700R4 in Wally and the TH350 in Brandon's car, i'm not really down on autos and there was no specific problem with the 4L80 but that trans and truck seem to have gathered all our bad luck in one spot. I've talked to several others that had similar installation problems with the transgo kit, it's tricky to do but awesome when done.
Hence looking for a truck with the NV4500.
Cramer, the stock pile-o-poo does have 4.10s and I might consider parting it. I have a secret IFS fetish though and I'm not sure what to do with it...
As Chris said (77K5) that's the 2" up with a drilled and tapped 203, all pretty standard procedure for us by now. This system would bolt directly into our orange crewcab on the back of the 4L80.
Matzell, what do you want to see? I can get more pics, it's right there easy to do at this point.
After finishing the bracket to bolt the power steer res and ARB compressor in place of the ABS system, I hooked up the -12 feed hose and realized that any motion between fender end engine is going to cause problems. The direct route with the hose has no way for any flex to be taken up and it's going to kill something in the system so we ditched a few hours worth of carefully laying everything except that detail out and did this: :shaking:
It makes me wonder what the hell I was thinking, except that after you do the wrong stuff, the right way is that much more obvious. Now there's still a short straight shot to the pump but the res and engine move together. We may put a little heat shield over it to keep some exhaust heat away though it's probably not going to be worse than anything else under the hood.
We started work on the 14 bolt too, we pulled an old housing off the rack since we're changing spring perches, shock mounts, diff and brakes. The '99 housing has all the ribs on the bottom that would just add grinding time to smooth it out too. Here's the housing during grinding:
We like to add some plug welds to these while we're working on them since we have spun a couple.
We just drill some holes with a holesaw and burn in some new "pegs", typically 2-3 on each side.
The ARB and ring gear became best friends just before quitting time too:
Enough of the bed is framed up that we can take it off and finish on the bench.Other fun stuff going on like motor mounts and exhaust manifolds going back on and holes being cut in the cab to run the cage through to the "B" pillar along with final axle assembly and probably some more stuff too. More pics to follow...We got the holes cut in the back of the cab for the roof cage tube to come through.I guess something else came through the cab holes too. Must be one of the new style flipoff smilies.
We got the lubrican here today.We'll be making sure everything is sealed up well since we don't want water contamination in this stuff. The grease is looking really cool, the offroad grease seems to be designed specifically for equipment use where they work a lot of pins super hard which is exactly like what we do with Ujoints in our world so it should work great. We got NLGI#1 to run the CTMs since they like a grease that can flow a little bit and NLGI#2 for pretty much everything else. The water washout numbers look good on this stuff too so it'll definitely be running in the front wheel bearings where we're pretty much guaranteed to leak a little.
That MTG is listed specifically for the NV4500 so it is the right stuff to keep that guy happy. The rest of the gears should be more than happy with the standard Severe Gear. Probably the best lube this bunch of junkyard drivetrain parts has ever seen. I guess there's not much left from the junkyard inside the axles but the t-case guts are all stock 1970's hotness.So we got some stuff added in to the bed today:We rounded the back corner where the square tube was mitre'd so that it would look right with the round perimeter tube coming in:It's about time to put it back on the frame to mate the interior cage tubing to it and start fitting the nerf bars to it also. We finally got the motormounts in but it was a several hour affair since we put the exhaust manifolds back on and that was a lot of cleanup including a broken stud in one head. It'll be nice in the end though, we've fought problems with O2 sensors due to exhaust leaks and don't want to do that again.Axles are ready to bolt in and start setting up shocks and driveshafts as soon as we have the springs which should be mid day tomorrow. No it's not a 6x6, the one in the back is a customer's.The interior is about as close to being stripped as it can get and luckily it's about done since Dad and Brandon are finishing up the A-pillars now. There's going to be some time involved in just putting the dash back together. It'll be nice not having the tubing in the way but it's sure a pain now.here's the cage getting primed before it gets shoved up in place:Here's the hole in the back of the cab:The tube will run straight out the back to the "B" pillar that's built into the bed. This lets us X brace the heck out of the B pillar and keep the seat against the back of the single cab. It makes it hard to put anything overhead in the cab section.
We gusseted the corners both ways with sheet gussetsTubes are tucked up pretty nice so they're out of the way. The windshield crossbar has an offset bend in it to keep it out of forward vision too:Turns out the rear driveshaft plunges about 1/4". :smokin:
We also marked mount locations for the traction bars while cycling and they're not going to bind at all, as usual. i didn't take a picture of the apparatus for cycling the leaves since it's a bit ugly but it involves a bar across the frame and a couple of chain hoists to the axle. It gets the job done but it really enforces how nice it is to cycle a linked up suspension compared to leaves.
The rear uses a tension shackle with about a 2" longer shackle and looks like it'll cycle between 13 and 15" of vertical depending on what we do with the shackle.
Here's the rear at full droop:It's old news now but here's a shot of the new body mount we built to replace the one that was lost in the frame chop and splice job.This is the front of the 203 where we drilled it to bolt to the stock tailhousing on the NV4500:This is the transfer case mount bracket that helps build a higher clearance crossmember. We use a couple of plain urethane pucks in there for isolation.Here's the speed sensor installed in the 205 tailhousingHere's a start on the T-case x-member. Still a little work to do around the front driveshaft, drill mounting holes and fit the skidplate. Just when it seems so close..I need to get some more pics today. There's a lot going on now that doesn't look like much, like finish welding the crossmembers and bed and another big fun project: figuring out what's wrong with the front axle.
It all started a couple days ago when the super awesome Dynatrac hubs showed up. (I never thought we'd ever pay that much for a set of hubs but after breaking 2-3 sets in my blazer, it seems OK) The driver's side bolted on just perfect but when we were done the pass. side didn't lock. So I start working out what's wrong and find that the inner gear has to be forced a little to go inside the outer gear. So something's wrong in the alignment of the spindle and wheel hub. Switching parts around between the 2 sides confirms that the hubs are just fine so we clean everything up and find that maybe a race isn't seated all the way. Check it out and that's not it. Try another wheel hub, that's not it. Try another spindle and BINGO, it all works. Just when it seems like it's all done, we tighten up the 3 screws on the cap of the Dynalock and the dial won't spin. So it seems the stub is sticking out to far. Why is the stub sticking out too far? Turns out the "C"s on the stock housing weren't seated onto the tube as far as usual and the inner axle is hitting the "C" and won't let it slide in the little bit it needs. So we clearance some on the shaft and on the housing and I think it's all good now. Nothing like a combo of parts that's supposed to bolt together and just barely won't.
So here's the photobucket album with a lot more pics in it that I'm posting here:
Here's an unexciting pic of the fully functional Dynaloc on the end of the housing that just bolted together.We decided that the huge unsupported length of frame under the engine was a bad idea so we have this convoluted item now.Turns out that trying to keep the ride height low with a low ride height (6" of lift is low in this case) is pretty tough. The Ubolt nuts are going to try to hit the bottom of the frame and there's barely room for steering linkage. And to make sure the diff doesn't hit the crossmember it's a bit whacky too.
No telling what has to be sliced out to fit a 40" tire in there. Looks like the washer tank will go in the back since it's probably not staying on the core support. AARRGGWe added a tab on the bottom of the bracket to spread the load out on the frame a little and I'm hoping that the nerf bar system is going to help stiffen it up some too.The front legs of the cage drop on top of the nerf bars toward the front and the "B" pillar on the bed ties into the back end of the nerf bar where it bends around the back of the cab so it'll be pretty well supported overall.
There are also stiffeners on the inside of the frame at each tube and the t-case crossmember is about 2 feet long all together which should help keep it all from wiggling too.it's pretty busy in the shop right now but here are a few pics of where it sits now.
This was the most awesome trans fill job ever. I haven't messed with a manual that much and this might be their best feature.This is one case that the Amsoil juice might be cheaper than the dealer fluid that the 4500 requires. Their allison spec fluid is the same way, the "torque drive" that I run in my ZF6 in the tow rig.
Power steering cooler is mounted and plumbed so that system will be happy. All AN8 return lines with full flow fittings so it's about as happy as it can get.The 180 on the end required some trimming on 2 of the fins but it makes the line routing work great. These log coolers are a pain to plumb without this trick.The bed is just about ready for paint, shock res mount are on:We had a big weekend for finishing up wiring and plumbing. We got this pile of hotness:Luckily they have a pretty nice harness system in addition to some kick ass lights so they're not hard to install. Now we just need a bumper to bolt them to but that'll probably happen tomorrow.
Alex Santiago came back over for a couple days and fit all the switches and wiring under the hood and in the dash. With a little trimming the switches fit right in the factory hole.That's got the BD Prerunner HIDs on the top, the LED bar switch and mode button in the middle and the ARB compressor and locker switches on bottom. The extra on the left is for the clutch safety defeat.
This side of the dash has the fan control switch for the extra cooling fan in front of the radiator. On-off-auto. The computer will turn it on at 206 now instead of 230 or whatever the factory setting is too.There was a hour meter in that hole to start with but we don't need it anymore.
The parking brake is now gone since the discs are on so we put this line lock valve on the A-pillar for the rear circuit. Bleeding will likely be a pain.Shifters for the 203 and 205 are in now but this is how the holes laid out. The shift handles ended up being pretty convoluted to clear everything just right. I'll get pics of that later.Back to the grind for me. Lots of little stuff going on now like running brakelines and I started on the 2 link traction bar system earlier and need to finish that today.
Here's the photobucket link with all the pics, there are a few more in there that I haven't posted.
http://s1181.photobucket.com/albums/x439/ORD2/Offroad%20Design%20UAK2500/one more quick one:
We hung the grille system back on it this morning so it looks a bit more like a truck now.Only fluids left to add are power steer and brake. maybe some washer fluid since the res had to be relocated to the bed.
Shock mounts in progress and bump can mount:T-case shifters got a little convoluted but they clear the seat, dash, driver's leg, trans shifter and each other while being relatively convenient to use and leaving some room for one of my kids in the middle seat.We've found that a 10" BD LED bar on the winch works like peanut butter and jelly. The top of the winch is typically open space and it's typically set up perfect for the light placement.And we managed to get this painted up and dry enough to not get dusty in the afternoon windstorm.Fans of "expo" white may now rejoice even though we left a good part of the bed in "easy to match with krylon after you scuff it" black.Here are a couple of battery "junctions". One is to replace the battery under hood so you have a place to hook up all the stuff that used to bolt to the battery, the other is in the bed to let us bolt up stuff like the Warn compressor without going directly to the batteries since they're a little hidden and the side posts are not usable due to space problems. You can also see where we tucked a pair of Optima Yellow tops alongside the fuel tank in the bed.
In the stock battery tray:In the bed:Here's where the fuel fill comes out for the 40 gal '99 suburban fuel tank we put in there. We wanted plenty of capacity and more important, we needed a tank that would take the factory sender quick and easy and the '99 burb did it.The washer reservoir ended up in the bed with the fuel tank since it started out right behind the driver's side headlight and the tire likes that space too. It's hard or impossible to see in the pic but there's a hole in the front of the tank cover to pour washer fluid in and it works just fine. We figured that it would since factory subs and tahoes pump the fluid all the way to the back anyway.
We ended up putting the ball valve for the rear brakes down near the factory ebrake location since it wouldn't bleed easily up high like we started. We might have been able to get it done but not in the time frame we had so i pulled it down. Luckily that was just that easy since we used flex lines. Glad I didn't hardline it up to the top of the dash.We ran the rear brakeline, breather and ARB air hose all together from frame to axle to protect them a little better. This also shows the space available in the wider IFS truck frame rails. The exhaust has a ton of room around it where it's normally really tight. Makes it nice to install and gives some peace of mind for everything staying cool too.Here's one nice "sub-feature" of the Crane cover, being steel it's easy to weld to so we just welded a bolt to it for the "T" block in the brakelines. We used our production longline disc kit to go from the T to the caliper which makes it all really straighforward to install. And in the grand scheme we're only adding about 2 feet of flex line so i don't think we're losing much if any brake feel.Keeping a CB antenna alive in trees has been a challenge and they never seem to work worth a crap when mounted low so we started mounting them on a hoseclamped post so we (or a tree branch) can rotate the antenna down when necessary. It must have worked, we seemed to have one of the better radios on the trip and it's a cheap radio shack unit but maybe a nice long antenna on top of the truck makes it work it's best all the time.So after the trip we pretty much just brought it home and washed it up and the next trip was a camping wheeling trip with my 2 youngest boys over Schofield Pass and Pearl Pass up here close to home. Camped out 2 nights along the way. Gear storage was nice and the bench seat worked just fine for the 3 of us.
Bottom of the Punchbowl on Schofield:Boys and truck on the top: Jackson (9 yr old) is now big enough to reach the pedals so he got to drive a few miles. He likes the manual, or at least likes being a 9 yr old that can drive one.The wheeling was standard Colorado high country passes, just rocky narrow roads. There were miles and miles of roads where missing the road by 2 feet would kill you but none of it that hard. This was my first real experience with snow crawling with a manual and that was AWESOME! There was a left over avalanche over the road between Gothic and Crested Butte that we played on a little. I was able to blast up on the snow with the tires aired up (20-something psi) but I couldn't hold the side hill to get across it so we dropped to 6-7 psi and pretty much owned that snow patch. At the worst spot I just put it in all the low gears and let it chug it's way along. Pretty cool.
We ended the trip driving from Aspen to Rifle for my brother in law's birthday including a 80 mph rip down the interstate. 80+ is not great in the truck, you can feel there's a lot of drag and I can just about watch the gas gauge move. Overall milage has been really hard to check since with a 40 gal tank the use is always mixed but with a trail/road mix it's around 8 mpg and is running about 10 on the highway at interstate speeds, around 70.
On that trip the manual trans was good, no situations we didn't have the right gear to do stuff and it was kind of nice not ever thinking about the trans temp.
I guess the point of what's essentially a trail report on a build thread is the fact that the truck took us on what turned out to be a real vacation for me. It's comfortable, reliable, over capable, has plenty of room for our gear and took us into some amazing places not everyone gets to go with no stress at all. And it was ready to go with very little prep work, that's really important to me right now.So the next real trip (other than some daily driving which is kind of cool) was the Blazer Bash trip in Moab. I ran Hell's Revenge twice playing tour guide and wheeling school teacher, then Golden Spike and Pritchett. The truck did all but the rocker knocker and rock pile and I never really tried the rockpile since it was 7:00 at night and it was time to leave. I wasn't really willing to tip the truck over far enough to drive the rocker knocker line so I took the Warn line. It's very reliable that way.
Hell's Revenge with a bunch of super nice K5s getting lost in the scenery:Here's our group on the 'Spike trail, typical all day trip with some drama thrown in:And one from a play area in Pritchett of a buddy entertaining himself with his rear steer and my kid. His quote of the day: "I wish I'd thought of this yesterday, it makes the trails lots more fun"Now to the serious stuff. The manual was great on everything but the toughest stuff we've done and while I've driven through all of it, I'm still sold on the auto for the hardest parts. I don't like the fact that you're a lot more committed to any line you take since stopping involves all 3 pedals or killing the motor with the key switch leaving you pretty much dead in the water and recovering from any problems on a climb means you push the clutch and hope you don't need reverse since you're probably not going to find it in time.
It's also hard to transition smoothly from a slow crawl to a stop. With the auto that's just taking pressure off the gas and/or putting more on the brake. With the manual you may have to go from holding back with the brake while pushing on the gas to pushing the clutch with the left foot and grabbing the brake with the right and it's not going to be as smooth as is should be. When traction is at a premium that situation makes me nervous.
For this truck's purpose in life (a do it all exploring camping trail capable truck) the NV4500 is great. It really only gets uncomfortable in places that it probably should not be and to give the trans some credit, I'm still learning to play with it and there's room for me to close the gap to the auto's performance in the hardest spots. I just don't think it will ever be as good which I'm not the first to find and probably won't be the last. I remember when Pat Gremillion finally got rid of his NP435 in his bronco after a backward roll while he was trying to get it into reverse and missed. That's been a while.
I drove the truck from our shop to Moab and back and it was really pretty pleasant. The cab has some wind noise to work on from the B pillar area but otherwise it's pretty comfy. That became a bigger deal on the way back since I drove home after running pritchett which meant a 10:30pm departure from Moab and about a 2:30 arrival at home after stopping to take 2 naps. Driving an uncomfortable truck would have been worse than that trip already was.
Best Way to Setup Your Steering Gearbox For Hydo Assist
Recently we were asked about the steering box end caps and why we don't offer a tapped one for hydro-assist. Since this is an often asked question we figured the answer could help a few others out as well!
"I'm planning a hydro assist conversion using the part below (tapped end cap for steering gearbox), tapping the other hole for the system in the aluminum cap on the top of the steering box (there's a link in his description to a video on youtube where a guy does this on a jeep). If you made a part like that, I'd buy it from you. Is there a specific reason that you don't make that, or wouldn't recommend it?"On the hydro assist, the problem with the end cap kits is that they don’t tap into high flow areas of the steering box so steering response is really slow when you add the ram. There’s a small diameter, long length passage connecting the valve in the head of the box to the end cap and trying to send and return ALL of the fluid through it just can’t happen fast enough. This is why the higher end systems tap the box where they do, they’re pulling fluid off right at the valve so they have a large diameter fitting and hose heading to the ram PLUS the original passage going to the piston. You’ll read the common complaint with an end cap kit is that they have plenty of power but you just can’t steer fast. This is an issue often enough with a properly ported box and a good pump that I see a stock pump and end cap kit as an open invite to smack a tree or spin out on something slick because you can’t steer fast enough. This can be mitigated a little bit with a small diameter cylinder but then you lose steering power and still don’t fix the problem.Another thing we’re running into more and more now is the reason PSC quit rebuilding steering boxes: they’re all wearing out. It’s harder and harder to build a good box and internal leakage robs power making all the problems worse. I hate the fact that the price of hydro assist has gone up so much over the last few years but in the end there’s a good reason: it’s worth it. When you get to start with all brand new components you have a good chance of a troubleshooting free install and a long service life. Realistically, service life is beyond what most people will ever see from a truck but we all like to dream of really being able to use our stuff a lot so it’s nice to have. The other side of it is that losing hydro assist doesn’t make a truck undriveable but it can cause some other problems and make a potentially really valuable vacation a lot less fun. A lot of people don’t consider that aspect but when a “big trip out west” can be a lot of vacation time and a once in a lifetime thing, taking a vacation toy that you’re not 100% happy with is a problem. Especially if you’re driving it there and back.Hope this helpsStephen Watson
View orginal article HERE
This Vintage 1972 K5 Blazer Has All the Right Hardware
LS-Powered, 1-Ton K5Harry WagnerAuthor
Square-body Blazers are commonly spotted on the trail, and for good reason. They came from the factory with V-8 engines and solid axles, the top is removable, and an 18-year production run ensured that there are still plenty of them out there. First-generation (1969-1972) Blazers are much rarer, and we can't recall seeing many of them that have been repowered with an LS engine and fitted with coilovers and 1-ton axles.
Nate Jensen from Nate's Precision has built a lot of custom trucks over the years, many of them for Jack Stanko. Stanko commissioned Jensen to build this Blazer, knowing that he would apply the same level of detail he does to every project. The original plan called for 37-inch-tall tires and uncut fenders, but things quickly got out of control. All it took was seeing a set of 40-inch Goodyear Wrangler MT/Rs sitting next to the Blazer for Stanko to know he needed them on it.
One of the reasons Jensen has built so many vehicles for Stanko is that he has a hard time keeping anything for long, often giving his friends killer deals on past projects so he can make room for new ones. That is how this Blazer ended up with Vincent and Inez Guss. They wanted something different from the standard square-body Blazer, and they got just that. With air conditioning and a full interior, along with locked 1-ton axles and linked suspension front and rear, this Blazer can go just about anywhere and keep them comfortable along the way.
1972 Chevy K5 Blazer
Engine: 6.2L Gen III V-8
Transmission: 4L65E 4-speed automatic
Transfer Case: Offroad Design Magnum
Front Axle: Dana 60 with 5.38 gears and ARB Air Locker
Rear Axle: 14-bolt with 5.38 gears and ARB Air Locker
Springs & Such: Offroad Design 4-link kit with 14-inch-travel King coilovers (front and rear)
Tires & Wheels: 40x13.50R17 Goodyear Wrangler MT/R on 17x9 TrailReady Creeper beadlock
Steering: Crossover with PSC steering box, hydraulic assist ram, and pump
Lighting: Dual Rigid 20-inch Midnight Series LED light bars in the grille, Southern Rods Silver Bullet headlights with integrated turn signals
Other Stuff: Offroad Design front bumper, AutoMeter Pro-Comp Ultra-Lite gauges, Winters Sidewinder shifter, Warn VR10,000 winch, Factor55 fairlead and winch thimble, custom Nate's Precision TIG-welded 1 3/4-inch DOM rollcage, PAC Spring sway bar, custom Nate's Precision TIG-welded rock sliders, Camaro SS front seats, Vintage Air air conditioning, Ididit tilt steering column
Original article can be found HERE
This 1984 Chevy K5 Blazer Goes Anywhere, Almost
Eddie Loomis brought his K5 to Hammertown, and check out what he’s done with the cargo area.Jered KorfhageAuthor
Even though its paintjob almost blended in with the dusty desert, we spotted this 1984 Chevy K5 Blazer at the 2020 King of the Hammers race. Eddie Loomis gave us the rundown of how he turned the stock Chevy into a dirt-blasting machine.
How Eddie Found The 1984 Chevy K5 Blazer
"I found the '84 Blazer on Craigslist, traded a quad for it, and drug it home," Eddie told us. He then dug into the K5 and what the seller described as a "blown transmission." But this wasn't Eddie's first Chevy.
"I got my first Square Body when I was 17—a rusted-out '74 GMC Jimmy," he explains. "I started fixing it up until I realized the body was toast. I found a '73 K5 with no rust and combined them to make one good one. When I started to wheel it in the local canyons, I decided the body and frame had way too much flex. The tailgate would fall open, and the doors would bind up. I turned my attention to trucks and swapped all my drivetrain into a shortbed K10 chassis." Eddie then found himself searching for a rig with more rigidity in the body, perhaps a Blazer without a convertible top. That's when he happened upon the Craigslist gold from 1984.
The K5's allegedly "blown transmission" gremlin was really a transfer case stuck in neutral, and after Eddie replaced the bound-up automatic locking hubs, he had it rolling again. However, he was not infatuated with what the previous owner did with the engine. "They stuck a big-block in there, a Gen V with a carburetor. Gutless. It ran hot, and I hated it." His solution was to replace the mill with a 383 Stroker. With the engine in place, he continued under the philosophy of wanting "to build something to take me almost anywhere." Using the home garage as the workshop, he assembled the Blazer from a mixture of donor parts and hand-built creations until it worked, as he described it, "perfectly." Whether it's grilling out in the local desert or wheeling hard-core trails across the American West, Eddie's combination of a linked coilover front suspension, internal rollcage, and payload of compartmentalized camping gear gets it done—at least for now. His tentative to-do list includes deciding whether or not to link the rear suspension, and adding more to his rollcage. And, as Eddie put it, "When the old-school 383 gives up the ghost, I'll be swapping in a Gen V series engine, at least a 6.2, maybe an LT4."
The carbureted 454 that came with Eddie's 1984 Chevy K5 Blazer didn't last too long. Instead, he chose a stroked 383 for motive power. You'll find no carburetor under the hood; instead, a TPI manifold, MSD ignition system, and MegaSquirt EFI make sure gas is turned into pure horsepower. Behind the engine sits the SM465 transmission, and its 6.55:1 granny gear contributes to the Blazer's 159.2 crawl ratio. Eddie used 2.5-inch tubing to direct gases from the Sanderson headers into the 3-inch Flowmaster exhaust.
"I wanted everything where I can reach it with my harness on," is how Eddie explained the layout of the 1984 Chevy K5 Blazer's cab. While he's firmly planted in his PRP Daily Driver seat and restrained by a four-point harness, he can easily get to the console, dash controls, and his iPad held in place by a RAM mount.
His custom-built console sports a vinyl wrap courtesy of Eddie's friend, which is home to the display for the ARB fridge, the triple-stick controls for the NP205 and its Magnum Underdrive, switches for the air compressor, locking differentials, and off-road lights; and USB charge ports. The parking brake handle came from a '90s Camaro. Communication devices include a 50W BTECH race radio and a Cobra 19 DV IV CB radio.
Starting with some parts from DIY4X, Eddie built a rollcage for the Blazer's cab, which he plans to extend to the rear of the rig.
Wheels And Tires
Eddie's logic for the 40-inch boots on the Blazer goes like this: "I've run 35s forever, and I wanted to go bigger so I wasn't dragging the axles over rocks. I was gonna do 37s, but I have a lot of buddies in the Jeep club who say 37s are the new 35s. Then I looked at Stephen Watson at Offroad Design who has 40-inch Nittos on his trucks, and he raves about them, so I went for it." Don't forget about the 17x9.5 aluminum Pro Comp wheels.
Wheelwell modifications were necessary to stuff and tuck the 40-inch meats. "I trimmed as much as I could without gutting the inner fenders and it is maxxed. "
Eddie took his Dana 60 down to bare metal before dressing it up with 35-spline axleshafts, Yukon hubs, with an ARB Air Locker and 4.56:1 gears behind his RuffStuff differential cover. Ram 3500 brakes found their way onto the frontend thanks to the kit from Torq Motorsports and even though "they barely clear the 17-inch wheels, they're worth it." You won't see any high-dollar rock lights under the rig; instead, the 4.5-inch bargain-basement round LEDs do a fine job. If one takes an errant stone to the lens, "that's why I ordered a six-pack of 'em."
Steering 40-inch tires through bumpy stuff is as important as keeping them straight on the road, and Eddie's PSC hydraulic-assist crossover steering setup makes that task simple.
The technical reason Eddie selected 14-inch-travel King 2.5 coilovers? He's seen them performing on race trucks for decades. The not-so-technical reason? "I like the blue. The truck's mostly black and tan, so it's gotta have some color in there." King 2.5-inch hydraulic bumpstops are also on hand to keep the axle from smashing into the frame.
Eddie chose Offroad Design for his front suspension links, first, because "the company's local, family-owned, they eat, breathe, and sleep Square Bodies; and they'll talk tech with you all day." He's also a fan of the 2-inch-diameter, 0.25-inch-wall tubing used in the four-link conversion kit. With 1.96:1, 2.72:1, and 5.33:1 low-range ratios, the NP205 transfer case and Offroad Design Magnum Underdrive give him more than enough choices when it comes to how fast or slow he wants to take on obstacles. 1350-series driveshafts from Adams Driveshaft & Off Road get the power out to both axles.
Once he's sick of the traction bar tearing its weld off at the axletube, Eddie has an AAM 10.5-inch rearend sitting at the ready in his garage. Until then, the semi-float 14-bolt with its 4.56 gears and ARB Air Locker get the job done.
Offroad Design and Alcan are at work in the Blazer's rear suspension with 52-inch leaf springs and a 4-inch shackle flip, while a pair of Pro Comp shocks are on duty to damp the axle's movements.
Fabricated from a mix of 2- and 1.75-inch-diameter tubing, Eddie's bumper was home-built and is full of function. A single 150-watt halogen KC light sits at each end of a Badlands 12,000-pound winch, while a quartet of New Osram 60-watt LED headlamps take care of non-trail illumination. The bumper's hoop is extended to give Eddie an idea of where the front end of his rig sits when squaring up to obstacles (or garage doors), and the tubing ties into his custom-fabbed radiator skidplate underneath.
"I wanted a swing-down tire carrier instead of one that swings out, so I can stand on the thing to climb into the truck. You also don't wanna pick up a 40-inch spare (roughly 134 pounds with the wheel) by yourself all the time." Eddie lifted the springs from a heavy equipment trailer ramp and devised his swing-down system. He found that two springs were too much and wouldn't let the tire lower, so he opted for a single spring. A pair of red pins keep the carrier locked in its upright position.
In addition to adhering to the black-and-tan color scheme of the rig, Eddie says the Softopper was "a very good investment," and he will "never go back to a hardtop." "It's lighter, you can roll it up and run like a safari top, and you can fold it back by yourself."
When it came to the cargo area of the truck Eddie told us, "I wanted to sleep in the back and I wanted storage, and I was also lucky the ARB fridge fit below the sides of the bed." His solution to organization was a wooden divider system with a platform for his 4-inch memory foam mattress. On the driver side there are two 5-gallon water cans strapped into place, next to the ARB fridge and its sliding tray. About the bins on the passenger side: "I used to just push the bins in until I built the slide. I modeled it after the fridge slide and used angle iron with rollerblade wheel bearings. I'll rotate bins in and out of the truck based on the trip to leave heavy stuff at home."
The ARB fridge is connected to its own separate AGM battery under the hood, and when the rig is parked at home, a power port through the bedside allows Eddie to pre-chill the unit for the next trip.
King of Hammers 2020!
Offroad Design is proud to annouce that we have two racing at KOH this year. We have Jackson Watson #171 racing in the King of Motos. Stephen Watson Co-Driving with Kevin Stearns in the #11 car for the 4400 race. This is the first year they are running the IFS car so should be really exciting! Like always the Magnum is going to be putting in work. To see more about the drivers bios click the link below:
3 JanIt’s common question with any truck and especially the older trucks we specialize in.We always start with the basics, the suspension has to move to follow the road so you don’t have to.
Common problems with leaf springs are corrosion in the leaf pack and worn leaf packs that have steps cut in them. Sometimes you can help things move easier with just some spray lube between the leaves, if it’s really gnarly in there you may need to take them apart and clean the leaves so they can slide by one another. We often notice that our trucks ride better when we get back from an offroad trip and it comes from making the leaves move through their whole range of travel over and over so they polish each other and move more freely.Find some products to fix your suspension hereNow that everything is at least functional let’s move to the next step, making sure you have the right stuff to have a chance at a good ride. It’s fairly obvious but a heavy rated spring isn’t going to ride nice with no load on it. There just isn’t much you can do with an unloaded K30 short of putting a load in it. Heavy axles with duals or other super heavy wheel and tire packages are tough to deal with since un-sprung weight is harder to control. A lot of off the shelf lift springs are going to be stiff, especially deep arch springs and especially on lighter vehicles.That does bring up another free tip for ride quality though: get rid of squeaks and rattles. A new 1-ton truck still rides stiff but they don’t feel as bad as an older truck because they’re tight and quiet. This is something we see with all levels of offroad vehicles, a bunch of crap bouncing around in the bed, a bare steel interior and a bench seat that doesn’t hold you in place will feel like it rides terrible where the same truck with a supportive seat and everything tied down and quiet will feel much better.Now we’re down to looking at changing parts. Let’s visit our first basic rule again, the suspension moves to allow the tires to follow the road so you don’t have to. So the suspension has to move.This is important because it ties into what we looked at with a 1-ton, stiff springs can’t move when they’re lightly loaded.It’s also important when we look at a common place that guys look when trying to improve ride: the shocks.Shocks only work when they move so you can bolt all the fancy shock you like next to a really stiff spring and you’re still going to have a stiff ride. This is not to say that a good shock can’t help a little but the spring is the biggest factor.Again, (maybe beating a dead horse but it’s a big important point) the suspension has to move and soft springs let it move.What this boils down to is the reason we came out with our ORD Custom leaf spring system, we need softer springs for better ride. Yes they’re expensive compared to an off-the-shelf lifted spring but they move so you don’t have to, so it’s worth it!We fully understand that everyone has a budget of some sort and put a lot of thought into how to make any of them go as far as possible.In this case the specific advice is to spend money first on the springs, and then on the shocks.You will have a better ride from a set of our custom springs with a set of $50 shocks than you’ll get with a stiffer spring with all the cool shock tech thrown at it.Yes, $50 shocks have some limits in durability and performance but they can be upgraded later if necessary.Check out our custom springs Here
- The first step is to make sure there isn’t an existing component limiting wheel travel. Seized up shocks, spring and shackle bushings and even seized driveshaft slip joints can keep the suspension from moving all together.
- Do the shocks have enough travel to let the suspension move? In general you need to have at least 3” of travel in each direction for good street ride and a little more helps. For offroad use, the more the better!
- Do the shocks have some resistance when you try to move them? Any dead spots or places they change as you move them indicate a problem.
- Make sure tires are at a realistic pressure, they help a lot with small bump compliance and don’t have to be aired up to the max all the time.
- Make sure your brakelines, breathers and any add-ons like hydro assist lines have enough room to droop all the way without coming up tight. They probably won’t limit ride quality for very long but either way if they’re too short you’re going to have a problem!
Once upon a time (with our old site), our technical information was scattered among product descriptions. We've tried to get a little more organized and have moved most of the technical information to our new Tech Center! This is where you can get a solid knowledge base on a wide variety of topis and components, including transmissions, transfer cases, suspension, and much more! We'll be continually adding to our Tech Center, so be sure to check back often!
You can check out the new Offroad Design Tech Center HERE.