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GM Standard SFA Trucks & SUV's All discussion of full sized Solid Front Axle Trucks, SUV's to include Suburban

 
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post #1 of (permalink) Old 07-23-2003, 06:04 PM
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New vehicle for a GMC n00b

I spend most (read, aside from this post, all) of my time in the Ford forums, but I am currently debating the idea of getting a GMC/Chevy Blazer/Jimmy or Suburban. I want solid axles all the way around if go this route, as well as fuel injection. Therefore, it's 1987-1991. As it goes now, I'm open minded to one with a six cylinder, as the straight six for Fords is very nearly the equal of the 302, but I would like your opinions on all the various engines. Also, your opinions and information for the available auto transmissions would be greatly appreciated.

I intend to build the vehicle up into a respectable weekend warrior (a 4 or 6 inch lift, 35 inch tires, basically outfitted for being able to clear a little water and rough terrain without complaint, but nothing approaching trailer queen levels), hence the desire for solid axles. I know about the various axles available, but the first question would be whether the front ends had springs or leaves. Following that, a clarification of which models, if any, had full time 4x4, as I would like to avoid that. Rust shouldn't be a problem in southern Arizona, but any other vehicle "quirks" to be noted would be apprecaited.

In my research, I have learned that the trucks from GMC recieved a structural update in the late 80's (87 I believe), going to IFS among other things, but that the suburbans and blazers continued in their older ways until 1991. Looking around some more though, I find that many suspension lift kits make a distinction between 87-91 half-ton SUVs and their .75-ton counterparts. Did the .75-ton models recieve the "upgrade" to IFS along with their parent trucks at the same time, or did they remain with solid front axles until 1991?

That brings me to one more point - are there any structural differences between the half-ton, .75-ton, and full-ton variants? I know that in Ford trucks before 1997, the only difference between the classes were larger brakes, axles, and springs - things that are easily trnasplanted from one vehicle to the next. Is it the same for GMC?

Forgive me for the lack of brevity, but I try to be clear. Thank you for your attention.

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post #2 of (permalink) Old 07-23-2003, 07:03 PM
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Re: New vehicle for a GMC n00b

Ok, 1987-1991 K5 Blazers/Jimmys, Suburbans, and Crew Cab 1-Ton trucks are all solid front axle and fuel injected (TBI). Suburbans came in 1500 (1/2-Ton) & 2500 (3/4-Ton), both solid axle. In the 1500s you get 10 bolt axles front and rear, an NP208 (maybe NP241[img]images/graemlins/confused.gif[/img]) transfer case. 2500 'burbans have 10 bolt front axles (8-lug though, over the 6-lug 1500s) and either a 14 bolt semi floating (with 9.5" ring gear) rear axle, or the 14 bolt full floating (10.5" ring gear) rear axle. All of GMs front axles will swap in place of the 10 bolt front. If you get one without a 14FF in the rear, you can only transplant one from a pre-87 3/4-Ton truck without modifying it. 1-Ton trucks had narrower spring pads, as do the 88+ ones. As for difference between them, the frames are going to be a little beefier on the 2500s, more cross members, heavier springs, bigger axles (and thus larger brakes). I don't think any 'burbans came with 6-cyls. More than likely you'll find a 6.2L diesel, 305, or 350, might get lucky and find a 454 in a 2500 'burban. Someone else will have to shed some light on waking those engines up, I don't remember what works well with TBI ones.

To me "weekend warrior" implies that it might get banged around quite a bit, 10 bolt axles can't take much of that even with only 35s on them. Try and get one with 4.10s to turn those 35s. You're not gonna find an fulltime 4x4 ones, but you will find those chincy automatic locking hubs, GET RID of them [img]images/graemlins/tongue.gif[/img]. I think a 4" lift with some minor trimming will acheive what you're after with 35s. Maybe 6" since 'burbans are heavy. There's people that have 4" and 42s, but that takes massive trimming to accomplish. I guess it's a matter of preference.
post #3 of (permalink) Old 07-24-2003, 12:19 PM
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Re: New vehicle for a GMC n00b

Thanks much for the information, it really helps.

From what I gather then, a lift kit for a 1500 will also work with 2500?
Also, how do you tell the difference between a full and semi floater? Is the ring gear size difference noticeable from differential case? Or do the full floaters have hubs that extend beyond the wheel center (as in the difference between full and semi float Ford sterling rear ends)?

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post #4 of (permalink) Old 07-24-2003, 01:47 PM
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Re: New vehicle for a GMC n00b

Or go earlier and swap FI onto it. One cool thing about chevy is just about every thing will swap around between the small blocks and all bigblock stuff swaps onto the other bigblocks. You can get aftermarket or junkyard TBI injection to work with not much $$$ and not much fuss.

The 4.3 v6 is a good running motor. They are basicly a 350 missing 2 cylinders. They make good power and are good little motors and basicly act like a 350 minus the cubes. Just down on power a bit. They are nothing like fords 6 cylinder. Ford ran an inline that was a tourquey little bastard. No the same as a v6. But back to the great thing about chevy. A small block or bigblock will go right into the same place as a 4.3, motor mounts to tranny its pretty much bolt up.

k5's are great all around rigs plus the older ones have removable tops [img]images/graemlins/cool.gif[/img]

chevy uses leafs all around on the solid front axel trucks

different axels have different diameter tubes so the the ubolts are different. 1/2 ton to 3/4 ton is all a basic bolt on swap type deal. 3/4 ton stuff as a 14 bolt and a 44 up front would swap very easy to a 1/2 ton truck or blazer or what ever. 1 ton stuff requires moving the pearches but its no big deal.

My advice is pick a vehical and a body style that you like the best and suits you. That way you have the looks that you want and config(be it a reg cab short bed or a blazer or suburban). its easy to swap the stuff like bigger axels and FI

post #5 of (permalink) Old 07-24-2003, 02:07 PM
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Re: New vehicle for a GMC n00b

Again, thank you for the assistance.

You mention that the older K5's (A Blazer/Jimmy, I assume?) had removable tops. Which years is this the case? One of my main attractions for the bronco rested in the removable top combined with my familiarity with them mechanically. I did not know previously that GM also incorporated a removable top.

Which years would the vehicle components interchange easily? 81-91? 73-91? If it's the 73-91 case, I would suddenly be very enthusiastic, for I would be able to skate under the emission laws in Arizona. That would be awfully nice. [img]images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

post #6 of (permalink) Old 07-24-2003, 04:31 PM
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Re: New vehicle for a GMC n00b

Yup, K5 fullsized jimmy or blazer(technicaly its just a 4x4 blazer of certian years)

body parts interchange? Most of the older stuff swapped fairly easy or directly(like its not that hard to swap front clips from a 87 and stick it on a mid early 80 or put a full convert top from a pre73 on a mid 80) or motor stuff? everything but the really new motor stuff swaps(the new 4.8 and 5.3 is by itself) But even the newer "vortec" motors are the same old basic design. This is all really general and vague.....but for the most part all the 70-80 stuff swaps easy enough and motors are swappy up to the late 90's. Some stuf wont but about everything does. Only thing thats kinda a PITA is going from IFS to SFA. its not bad and there are quite a few people that do it but as a pretty much grab it from the junk yard and get it to fit will little $$$ and work its a little more involved.

The old blazers had full removable tops(even part over the driver) but that stoped in 73 I believe. Then they went to the tops like the broncos were it comes off just behind the driver. They stopped with the removeable top when they went to IFS I believe.

www.coloradok5.com is an excellent site on blazers. I get kinda vague on when exeact years for certian changes are so definatly dont take my word as gospel.

post #7 of (permalink) Old 07-24-2003, 09:43 PM
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Re: New vehicle for a GMC n00b

I think 73, 74, 75 were still FULL convertible, supposed to stay away from 73s, something about the way it attaches or the like breaks easily. ratlover is right, check out ColoradoK5, a superb site for K5 info.

My Semi/Full Floating axle comments are the same as any other semi/full axle, the sterlings, danas, rockwells, AAMs (American Axle & Manufacturing, they make GMs axles & now the new '03+ Dodge ones). Just pop a hub cap and look for a hub. On ColoradoK5 you might find their axle identification page, you'll notice that the housings are different, yes, between the two 14 bolts that GM uses.
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