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4937 Views 93 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  SuperBuickGuy
I like Overlanding... which is what they used to call car camping when I was a kid. I've built all sorts, and I have a range of options when I go outdoors - from an enclosed hammock to a class A motorhome. Currently, I use a 94 Suburban and it's perfect. So a Blazer would be perfecter... right? actually, I came very close to buying the Chalet Blazer that keeps trying to touch the stratosphere with its asking (I thought $7500 was too much). But it wasn't perfect, the size and shape, I like, but it's not a diesel, it's not a pop top, and it's not coil sprung front end.

Funny thing, no one has built a Blazer with those specs - add to those specs, I'd really like to make my Class A redundant. I travel with me, wife and the dogs - and the occasional racecar.
So we're starting with some requirements:
1) A Blazer with half-removeable top (so I can take the camper off)
2) a diesel
3) one ton running gear
4) Manual (nice guy, always does what he's told
5) coil sprung front suspension... to the purists, it's on tons, go away. To everyone else, buckboards hurt my back and the Broncos do ride better...
6) must be able to tow 12,000 lbs and crest the hills around here at or near the speed limit while towing.
7) absolutely stone cold reliable.
8) and finally, I go to SEMA so occasionally the 'needs' list gets longer when I find out there's something I never knew existed by now cannot live another moment without

There is more - one of which you may find interesting. My wife's Jeep I converted to have cages so that she could cart her Search and Rescue dogs. One of the latest options is we added a 24v powered AC unit to it. It should work just fine for the camper I'm building.... alright... pictures.... I have a minor question... but first...

The Suburban.... there's a story behind the hood open, but for now, there it is... 94 6.5 250k miles, paid $300 for it. Put a motor in it (though I didn't have to, shades of this is in the Blazer story), updated to a HX35 turbo and have literally driven the wheels off it... it owes me nothing

what is this called.. foreshadowing.. the 'burb with the Blazer nosing in

the Blazer, 1986, 6.2 diesel, broken crank (ran when parked - which, sure, but knocked like a sob). Not rusty, fully loaded, and a diesel

someone will ask... so here it is... 1971 FJ40.... linked, tons, 350 chev, 5 speed

what I race 1976 Corvette, I built every stitch of it... BB 427, 5 speed (there might be a theme with that), C5 front suspension, 5th gen Camaro SS rear suspension... I race autox and Optima Challenge ultimate street car. I have plans to do the Silver State Challenge and may do the Wilwood Corvette Challenge (though that would require a newer Corvette)

Back to the Blazer... I bought a set of one ton axles, Dana 60 front (GM), 14 bolt van rear. 4.56 gears detroit locker in the rear (I've done this before, was a bad idea then - but, well, that's what it came with) and limited slip front. All the suspension parts are from Ballistic Fab and, if they ever arrive, from a Ford F350 van (springs). It's 10" of lift and I'm close to being done with the suspension... need to install spring pockets and a sway bar...
sharp eye'd viewers will notice the tires seem to have been on the FJ40... you're right, they were and they were WAAAYYYYY too hard of sidewall so it wouldn't flex...

I do suspensions, but I love the 6.5 and 6.2 diesels.... I've had a bunch, never had a manual one.
The motor
this is what it looked like tonight

it's a 99 H1 civilian 6.5 diesel with 34k miles on it (maybe)... ebay... it is a 506 block and it is a van block - which puts the turbo between the heads. I swapped to the updated heads because I wanted stronger but more importantly the pickup style for the turbo. It's a DB2 fuel pump but it's from the 92/93 6.5 turbo. I've had LOTS of these motors. I've been pulling from my stashof parts to assemble this... I have 4 turbo set ups from 6.5 motors I've parted or sold. I've also turbo charged 3 6.2s - this is getting to be long, but pictures will happen eventually.
I've put ARP studs for the heads and a fluiddamper on it. I have a new HX35 turbo.. because it's a 99 H1, it already has the better water pump
the goal of this motor 300-350 hp, 550 lbs torque and reliable. Sure, I could turn up the boost in anger and make quite a bit more power, but, all honesty, I don't need it or want to deal with a motor that melts down. 15 psi max - and yes, I understand I could turn it up a lot more... but I don't think I'll need it.

As for the rest, NV4500, NP208 (until I find a NP205). I hope I never have to tow with the short rear driveshaft and 208 - but the benefit is the 208 gives me time to find the right 205....

and thank you. both for posting up so I could use your knowledge to build it better and for listening.


my question is how to block the oil holes in the top... I'm sure google will help me eventually, but that's the minor question.
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brake lines arrived... yay-ish

so here's the deal - no one had the parts to make one-piece lines. So I got to make up more universal... which isn't a huge issue except it has 2 new places for it to develop leaks... just for the record, all that new leakiness didn't save me much money either.

fuel filtering... decided to use a Chevrolet Colorado/Silverado (it's the same) fuel filter set up. Has a pump inside and as long as filter makers keep making filters - should work pretty well...

and got the seals and a rebuild book for the np205
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back to the transfer case

it fits

cleaning and working on subparts

but still parts to buy... I need 15 of these

need 2 good ones, have one

need two good yokes - since I'm getting new driveshafts, I'll upgrade to either 1350 or 1410 u-joints on the front and a flat so I can use a cv-joint
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back to the Suburban.... first, kill the wasps

this might be the problem... I hope so..... I had a wire overheat and thought I fixed it all... I didn't

I did now

NP 208 front flange works as a rear flange a NP205

the only difference is the outside diameter of the np208 flange - not optimal, but free... thus perfect

the whole point of switching to a flat flange is to lengthen the driveshaft to reduce angles... sure, not a lot, but a bit is better then nothing
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I'll say this to remind myself. I'm the type who'd rather just go online and order something. However, because this build has some nuance, I reached out to Tom Wood's (driveshaft company) and asked several questions about what yokes I needed for my t-case. Beside giving me all sorts of great answers, it also saved me money AND got me a part that isn't listed on their website. Pictures when the parts arrive, but my experience reminded me that it can be quite helpful to simply pick up a phone....
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OMG FIRE!!!!!! quick, get the explosives out of the shop (on another forum someone was proclaiming that I need another building for chemicals, welding gases, and any other flammable stuff.... oh and a fire system in the shop (which is all steel).... smh

in other news, welded the brackets for the shocks on the rear axle and the tabs for the brake lines

and mounted the T for the brakes

the other news was I spent quality time cleaning and rearranging....
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I haven't hit it yet, but it was just a matter of time - the problem - you can't reach the bolt heads on the frame without removing the tank or the bumper. You can't remove the bumper without removing the hitch... and the tank is mostly full... so I used fire*

sadly the fire system I don't have nor the safe space for flammables was used in this wonton demonstration of irritating fire officials

I also think several lithium batteries were in their chargers too....

also painted the transfer case... that was out too when I torched off the hitch....

I know this is silly, but I'm going give one last shot at getting the hitch out...the right thing to do would be to stuff a m80 inside then heat the outside with a torch....

also ran the lines for the rear brakes then hamfisted a fitting so now waiting for parts

looks good, though

*note, on another forum someone told me I was very unsafe because I didn't have a fire shed (for flammables) and a sprinkler system in my all steel shop.... then proclaimed he got a fire badge out of a cracker jack box.... (okay, the last 6 words were ad-lib)..... as such, and since I'm a complete respector of authority and their stupid rules.... I mock. I know, seems so unlike me... lol
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time to get a bit of paint on the bare metal

and finish the brake lines... but to fix means taking more apart...

remove the lines, rebend the lines, move the connection to behind the spring, drill a new hole and connect

and done

of course, had to hamfist and now I'm waiting for a new adapter (leaks)

front axle had a 1310 u-joint, now 1350

the old one, good thing I changed because it had a worn spot (would have leaked)

and done

went with flange type u-joint plates - gives me a longer driveshaft

then bled the clutch

only way to bleed

good spot for this
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continuing with brakes, but after a commercial break with the Suburban
I finally got a code (36 and 81). 81 I know about - when I bought the truck the seller mentioned the transmission was starting to go... that was 40,000 miles ago...anyway, 36 led me to a Youtube video that ....
this little bit is a bunch of resistors that go bad over time. When I put this new pump on it, the resistor bit was missing...for good reason, you don't need it

simply remove it

and plug the other 'end' back into the Optic Sensor

now, before anyone gets excited - I've done everything else to fix the surge problem....thankfully, this is pretty easy to test and that will happen tomorrow

now back to our regularly schedule Blazer update
got more shiny bits - there were enough bearings that were questionable that I bought new, Japanese bearings

and the right seals for the new output flanges

then continued with brakes.... this time e-brakes

needed to make a bracket to attach to the OEM brake cable

attach to here

like this

and then

didn't finish because it seems I managed to 180* install stuff... ah well
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what's wrong with this picture? everything.... first the bracket attached to the caliper is attached to the wrong caliper, second the caliper is on the wrong side, and finally, the bracket on the axle is in the wrong spot... pictures

now correct

had to extend a cable

and I got the last parts to adapt the nv4500 to the np 205... this is as bulletproof as it gets... nice pieces
adapter that allows you to 'clock' the transfer case (if you wish)

this is pretty cool, it replaces an aluminum part that's actually leaking on mine...

Advance adapters ain't cheap, but it's solid quality. 4x4lugnuts (the JO who put the calipers together.... not so much)... here, let me put him out of business. The cable set is a wilwood part, the calipers are simply 1977-79 Seville and El Dorado rear calipers. Save yourself money.... don't use him. I suppose I wouldn't be as annoyed if his advertising is "well, you can save money or save time with my parts"... how does he figure? can't tell his right from left.... screw him, the parts are available elsewhere for less money AND you'll get pictures that actually mean something.
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for those draining a NV4500... here's the drain plug

time to pull the NP208

hopefully I get a minute to work on this tomorrow.... probably not, but here's to hoping
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Today's hell... getting thus nut off. Mind you, it being stuck isn't a bad thing, initially they would come off and destroy the transmission. Add to that the 12v Cummins had the death pin and you could get it from either end in those... but GM trucks weren't immune and a lot of the trucks got the t-case dropped then this nut removed and bathed in red locktite.

apparently it needs more then 500* to get it to come apart... ask me how I know... yeah
also, that nut, why the hell couldn't they just put a nut on it rather then the stupid pin thing? why am I ranting? the socket to remove that is $355.95 .... no blanking way... I'd weld a nut to it before I'd do that .... then, the same video I watched on removal of that nut suggested a solution but also mentioned that dimension is 2 3/8 of an inch... so basically the same dimension as hitch material....
first attempt, though, was chopping up a dana axle nut removal socket (it's already hurt, so no loss)

round 2 (after learning about the 2 3/8

round 3, moved the pins to the outside of the tube - that plus 738 degrees = full win

and yes, a bit of grinding to make it work - but not $355.95

what winning looks like

followed by the disappointment that my puller doesn't have enough depth to pull the balancer off
I plan on building a v4.0 to install the new nut that's coming.... but the concept... worked... key, though, is heat
the rear is done, it's plumbed, it has e-brakes...
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so let's try to make today into some semblance of sense... when we last talked, I had built a nut removal tool that eventually worked.
what I didn't do was pull the balancer off because I didn't have the puller. $21.98 and 100 Chinese children will eat tonight

it worked too... but it took a lot of heat

then it was time to give the output shaft a 5/8" shave

and success (blue tape to minimize crap getting into the trans)

then got dead stopped because someone removed the dowel alignment pins - and the fast way to destroy a transmission and transfer case is to ignore the alignment (for those cheaping out - that housing is from a Dodge version of the NV4500 - Advance adapters simply adapts that housing to the NP205). Careful shopping and you'll probably save $200 in parts buying piecing it together

then into the bulk of my night... 205 rebuild

some of the parts looked fine but since I already have new parts (good parts), I'll replace them like this bearing in the lower cover.

first was take the rest of the assemblies apart to check whether or not they needed replacement
this bit was fine

then pull the other t-case apart to see if it had any parts I needed to replace

sure comes apart quickly when you know what you're doing

sadly, a lot of the parts were junk - however, some good was found

the left one is the good one

and the problem with the other is the teeth are worn where they engaged - which would have allowed the case to pop out of gear.
one of the parts I needed to replace was the rear output shaft.... and no joy, while the other t-case part was in good shape, it's the wrong spline - and this one really matters

but the shift fork was in great shape - thankfully, they interchange - so even if the high range fork is worn, you can use the low range fork (which is the same part number)

interestingly, these were in good shape in the t-case I just took apart

they weren't in the one I'm building... too many jammed gears, I guess
this shaft - see the ridges on what is supposed to be a smooth surface? also the teeth where the ring engaged it was absolutely trashed

anyway, new, updated output shaft is on its way and a bunch of other minor parts... I certainly have plenty to do while waiting for them
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Back to the 'burb.... still gets a CEL under hard acceleration (and goes out when I pull out of the throttle) - but that's a totally different problem from before. I need to pull codes tomorrow (because the CEL may be a transmission issue).... but in any case, I'm willing to risk it and go to the NW Overland Rally. One final thing is get the freon level checked because it didn't seem to be blowing as cold as normal and I think I was hearing the compressor cycling tonight... but no surging and trying to die. I may still have problems - but it 'should' be okay.
parts arrived

first install the dowels

glue in place

new problem.... trans mount....

onto the transfer case... the new shaft arrived... supposed to be quite a bit stronger

verify fitment of the other shift forks... they're not exact, but seem to meet all the critical dimensions

just for the record, the build date for one case is like 1976 the other 1978
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