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Old 12-29-2013, 11:36 PM   #1
Zoomad75
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My K5 Blazer Story.

Iíve had this Blazer for just a little over 10 years now. Itís nothing special by comparison to other trucks here on this forum, but itís mine. I've posted about this truck before but never put it all together in one thread. Iíll go back all the way to the beginning and bring it back up to the current form and future plans. Here it is on a run..



It starts back in 2003. I was a year into a major career change after leaving my position in the Fleet Dept within General Motors. Youíll see a reoccurring theme here with a particular cohort in crime of mine, my buddy Larry. You see, he and I went to college together and held similar career paths leaving our little town of Pueblo, CO for the motor city. I wasnít into the 4wd side as much in college as I was more into going fast back then. Working with Larry professionally and personally as well as some other alumni had me wanting a 4wd to put in the stable with my Nova. Old Iron in Detroit is few and far between so I held out as time and money was tight for my growing family out there. Still, even without a truck I worked on the Nova and helped Larry out when he needed it. I helped Larry convert his beloved K10 from and auto trans to sm465 4-speed in his car-port outside one winter. We froze our tails off. Still, as most have seen by his quality of work, by the time he finished it looked factory.

Things were changing within GM and Larry jumped ship for a startup company building step van and class A motorhome chassis that was sold off from GM in í98. He went to the service side with a handful of other GM folks at the time, including the guy that hired me in to Chevrolet out of College. This was pre-9/11 and GM was doing ok, but not stellar. My attempts to get out of Detroit back to the west as a GM employee failed as there werenít many positions open.

Then 9/11 happened. I had a 19th floor window cube view over the Detroit river and there was still a plane unaccounted for. Fearing Detroit might be a potential target, all the downtown high-rise buildings were evacuated. Scary stuff. The coming weeks inside GM forshadowed new problems that my long term GM coworkers couldnít imagine. My drive to get back home to be near family kicked into high gear. A call from Larry a few months later had a solution. He got a promotion and the boss told him to find a replacement. Happens to be that the ďbossĒ was the guy that hired me into Chevrolet 6 years earlier. I got the job and set up to move the family back to Colorado the next year.

That job had me on the road traveling to visit dealers and in some cases had me traveling with Larry too. Needless to say among the countless hours of ďwindshieldĒ time and many frosty beverages in different hotel rooms together I really was itching for a 4wd truck. We had many discussions about his K10 and what I would like to find once I move back. Fate is a funny thing as I got a call from Larry about a month before the move was going to happen. Another buddy of ours had a Blazer he just sold to a kid a week before and promptly blew the 350 up in spectacular fashion. Larry had just finished swapping a 454 into his K10 and had the old tired 350 he just pulled sitting in the corner of his Dadís shop. He wondered what he could get for it to sell to the kid. The story got a little fuzzy as the kid still owed our buddy part of the $500 he bought it for. I thought, if the kid canít pay for the rest of what he owed on the truck thereís no way Larry is going to get any money for the engine. The light clicked on in my head, why donít I buy the truck? Larry was out of town attending a Nascar race in Dallas, but he liked the plan and kick started the phone calls to make it happen. I had to sell my winter beater before I left so the money I got from that funded the K5. So in a matter of minutes and a couple of phone calls I had bought my K5 sight unseen. That wasnít the most ideal thing to do but the spec sheet was right for what I was looking for. It was a 1975 Full Convertible K5 Blazer. Factory 4-speed manual with a 205 t-case, Dana 44/12 bolt axles with 3.73ís. It even had a tilt column. It was dirty and had a fair share of rust in the quarters, rockers and fenders, but the floor and rocker boxes (unique to the 73-75ís) were solid. Larry went to pick it up and bring it home to his place until I got back and then sent the pics to me. He backed it off the trailer by bumping the starter in reverse and the engine commenced to spit lifters out onto the deck of the trailer through the gaping wound in the pan.

We moved back and priority #1 was finding a house to buy so the K5 had to wait a couple of months. Once settled in, we hatched a plan for a quick weekend swap to get the K5 running. Larry towed it over to his Dadís shop and we proceeded to yank the swiss cheese 350 out in short order. This wasnít going to be pretty, but we did power wash the engine bay to make less of a mess of ourselves. We swapped HEI and carb off of the old engine to the one that used to be in Larryís K10. Bonus, the dizzy had a fresh cap and rotor along with a brand new MSD super HEI module. We both surmised the reason of the old engineís failure was a combination of high rpm (granny gear/4low) while playing out on the hills outside of the local Dragstrip in town. The MSD module let that engine bounce the tach needle north of 5grand without any hesitation, as Iíve found out in the years of driving it. We got the truck running by Sunday afternoon and I drove it home.

I swapped out the teeny Grant Steering wheel that came on it for a leather wrapped stock chevy truck wheel from a 93 S10 that my Dad had at the time. It got driven in this form to work out the kinks and see what kind of reliability it had. That brings up another theme of this build, being hand-me-downís from others projects or garages. This truck has always been under a tight budget. So Iíve done a lot of junkyard scrounging, time saving up and the goodwill of friends that have helped with parts and time too. I did some ebay surfing and found a better cluster bezel than what I had to clean up the dash. I also swapped in a factory voltmeter to replace the dead ammeter that was in there at that time too. Like many my dash had been hacked for a DIN sized radio and I didnít like the hole that was left. My Dad gave me the GM sized Pioneer radio/cd unit that he took out of his 93 S10 but I didnít want to mount it in the dash. My new to me ebay bezel was uncut and I wanted a little more out of sight out of mind security too. So the radio got mounted in the center console on brackets I made out of angle iron. That still left a hole in the dash. That was solved on a visit to my Dadís house when I told him to keep an eye out for a ďradio deleteĒ plate when he was at the junkyards. He said he had one in the garage from his old state truck. Sure enough he did and it matched the bezel exactly! Score!! A wally world speaker box rounded out the sound system, covered by a towel for stealth.

The K5 was proving to be pretty darn reliable by now. It was my airport runner when I was on the road and daily driver status when I was home. Two problems did develop. The seats were not comfortable at all. The 31Ē tires were unbearable on the highway combining with the 3.73 ratio for 3,000 rpm screaming at 60 mph. The seats were from a Toyota 4 runner that a prior owner had booger welded to stock brackets some time ago. They sat too low and were generally worn out for my taste. Enter my Dad again, as he had bought a 2002 Silverado on my GM discount shortly before I left GM. The truck didnít have power seats and he wanted power. I found him a set of matching power seats for his with the harness from a local boneyard down here. We swapped the upholstery off of his manual seats and put them on the power seats and did the same to the manual seats. So I took the manual seats home and adapted them to fit the K5 tub. I couldnít use the original tracks from the K5 for the flip forward/entry but the 02 seats have lots of travel to allow easy entry from either side. I made adapter brackets out of ľĒ flat stock to bolt the seats down to the original mounting on the floor. As far as comfort goes, it was one of the most comfortable mods Iíve done to date. Added side benefit is the 3 point seat belts as the 75ís only had lap belts. The tires were rectified with a set of 33Ē Kelly tires that Larry used to have on the K10 and didnít need anymore. That brought the cruise rpm down 500 at 60 mph but further illustrated the lack of power I was dealing with.

The 33ís fit with no lift and did ok if it was dry. They flat sucked if it was muddy, but they were free and Larry warned me about the crappy mud performance. Heís got his stuck to the axles with the same tires in the mud down by the reservoir. I had gone out wheeling with the K5 a couple of times by then. One time in the snow with the 31ís where silly RPM was the only way I could climb and another time on the same trail with no snow on it. Larry swore I would have 8 dents in the hood from the pistons jumping out of the cylinders from ratting on it so hard. These early trips solidified a need for more tire and more lift. So saving was the name of the game.

After saving enough for a lift kit, I pulled the trigger and ordered one off of JC Whitneyís website. I bought a 4Ē Rough Country kit with front springs, rear blocks, 4 shocks and the raised steering arm with free shipping. I didnít intend on using the rear blocks as I had been doing a lot of online research about shackle flips for the rear. ORD was what I wanted, but couldnít afford with everything else. I little more surfing and I found a pair of flip brackets for sale on a local 4x4 forum for cheap. Made by a now defunct fab shop by the name of Echobit, they bolt onto the existing spring hangers rather than removing them completely. They arenít as nice as ORDís but they have held up well under my abuse through the years. Once everything was in hand another weekend wrench session was planned at Larryís place. As things normally transpire at his place the operation went off smoothly. An added hand (Bill) that weekend too thatís been a wheeling buddy all along. Heís the guy that found the K5 originally. The K5ís attitude was raised and the ride quality over what was on there. Somebody in itís life had out multiple add-a-leafs on the rear springs to the point it rode like a tank. We pulled the rear leaf packs and yanked to garbage off of them and bolted them back up with the flip kit. Even with the rough country springs up front it rides surprisingly well.

A few months later with a recharged slush fund for the K5 I upgraded to 35Ē tires. After much internet shopping I found what I wanted at the right price. I wanted mud terrains, but BFGís were way over my budget. I found Dunlop Mud Rovers for about $150 per though Samís club locally. Those tires have proven to be an excellent all around tire. Quiet on pavement, great in deep snow and excellent on rocks with only 15psi in them. Iíve had them on for almost 7 years now and they still are holding up well with more than 50% tread left on them.

The K5 in this form has had a lot of off road time with multiple weekend mountain runs with my son and I. This was primary goal, to have something to getaway with. Despite itís anemic power production, the 350ís been stone solid reliable. The q-jet carb has been dialed in and doesnít stumble off road or at high mountain altitudes. The engine is burning oil, but things are in the works to rectify that..

That brings us up to about 2009 as far as the truck goes. The economy as we all know by then was really in the dumps and the RV industry is one of the first to take a hit when times get tough. Whoís going to buy a $150,000 motorhome when they canít afford their mortgage let alone fuel for the coach? Having survived a number of head count reductions couldn't avoid it and I was laid off in May of 09. As luck would have it, one of my dealers I called on had an opening in the service department. I took a week off to catch up on some yardwork. I was writing service for a small town Chevy dealer now, but they are open 6 days a week. I ended up taking over the service manager position within a year. While my free time was certainly limited working 6 days a week, I still made time for some weekend runs or one day outings to go play. The clutch finally gave up the ghost in 2010 on the way to a local oval track to help one of my techís dial in his race car. I limped it home and saved up some funds to replace it. I got a deal on a clutch through the shop, resurfaced an extra flywheel Larry gave me and planned another weekend swap job. Larry offered up his place and help to do so. This is where having great friends really is special. Knowing I had to work that Saturday, he told me heíd get started on in that morning then when I get off work I can chip in. What I didnít know is that he called in the help of our buddy Bill and had the engine out, clutch changed and engine back in before I got there at 2 that afternoon. They gave me the chore of bolting the headers back up as both of them were cussing them out when they took them off before. 90% of the work was done before I even got my hands dirty. It was a very cool thing for both of them to do for me and I truly appreciated it.

So the K5 hasnít changed much in a few years other than general maintenance. With limited time off most of my free time has been spent following my sonís high school soccer or club soccer teams. That being said, Iíve been in another mode saving and collecting parts to give the K5 a shot in the arm. There are some perks to working at a dealership for sure. Iíve acquired a used 5.3L vortec engine after a customer had us install a GM Performance crate engine into his 2002 Silverado. The engine itself was well cared for with mobil 1 oil getting changed out like clockwork every 3000 miles. Itís high mileage, but didnít use drop of oil before we pulled it. The engine is sitting in Larryís shop currently. Iíve traded Larry a 8.1 L big block for a aftermarket wiring harness and pcm to run the 5.3. Iíve got a few more parts to collect but Iíve snagged some from take offís from other jobs at work. More to come in the future on this.

As I stated early on, the body on my K5 is a bit crusty. Abnormally rusty for our dry Colorado climate for sure. Larryís joked I could just get another tub and be money ahead. Heís right, but I tend to get attached to things. I had been keeping my eye out for something, but not actively searching. After all, Iíve not really cared about the looks as I didnít want to stress about it off road. Still, itís not pretty. So enter our buddy Bill again. Heís working on a 94 Blazer project heís planning on flipping, but the engine was junk. He found running 2wd 89 GMC Suburban and picked it up for cheap. Only needing the engine, the rest was up for grabs. Bill and Larry yanked the front clip off in order to sell it and then they called me first. I negotiated a price and a couple of weeks later we loaded the clip, both front doors and all the goodies to make the conversion complete. I ended up with a good windshield too. So with those goodies and a rust free tailgate I pulled from a junkyard a few years back Iíve got most of the sheet metal to eliminate the rust. I think one of my Dadís neighbors has a full Blazer quarter in his garage too. Dadís checking on that for me.

That brings us up to date for the K5. We have a small snow run planned for new years day to go play. Iím planning on adding a 14b ff to the rear with a bump in gearing to 4.10ís just havenít been looking hard as they are pretty common. I hope you all enjoyed the saga and stay tuned for the coming chapters. Iíve more free time this next summer so expect some wheeling/camping trips to comeÖ





Final shot for now, my K5 on the cable due to my own stupidity. Long story short I had no reason to be on this rockpile with no lockers what so ever. Banged the rear driveshaft on a boulder and proceeded to twist it in half. 2 hours later on the winch and I was off the pile.
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1991 K5 5.3L/700r4/241/D44/14b Under Construction
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Old 12-30-2013, 08:27 AM   #2
Zane M
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Re: My K5 Blazer Story.

I enjoyed the saga of your Blazer.
Looking forward to future updates.
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Old 12-30-2013, 06:30 PM   #3
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Re: My K5 Blazer Story.

Great story, thanx for taking the time. Every story read helps keep our own alive, rekindles the fire knowing there are others out there slugging through the same trenches we are
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Old 12-30-2013, 10:12 PM   #4
jaros44sr
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Re: My K5 Blazer Story.

Im in, great read.....nice to have friends, good people
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Old 01-03-2014, 02:16 AM   #5
Zoomad75
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Re: My K5 Blazer Story.

A few us motored up to Westcliffe Colorado for a new years day run in the snow. Started out having to lock in the hubs on the highway as we climbed the grade up Hardscrabble. About an inch of snow was freshly down and made it just slick enough the K5 was wanting to swap ends on every hairpin turn. Locked them in and slowly made our way up to Westcliffe.

We met up with a couple of guys from work at the gas station up there and we all headed out. 2 TJ Jeeps, 1 Land Cruiser, 1st gen Cummins/Ram, 2nd gen Cummins/Ram and a Tracker. The goal of the run is to make it all the way to a cabin one of the guys with us built up on one of the moutains.

Without further delay...

Not even on the hard stuff yet. Right front tire grabbed the snowbank and then sunk in. I got first stuck for the day.




Climbing in the shade..






View from the cabin- Breathtaking!


Lined up:


Final push to get out before the sun goes down:


All in all it was an excellent run. No major breakage for anybody in the group. Minor disaster was averted with the blue Dodge when he chucked the chain off of the right front wheel and it wrapped around the axle itself. It didn't tear up the brake line as luck would have it. The chain did mangle the inner fender though. I only popped a collector gasket as we listened to it on most of the trail. Got pulled 3 times, pulled the blue dodge a ways and then helped a local rancher by pulling him out when he pulled over to let us by and he broke through.
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Old 01-03-2014, 03:24 PM   #6
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Re: My K5 Blazer Story.

Cool, I love a good story thread. Thanks for posting it.
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Old 01-18-2014, 02:59 PM   #7
DirtyLarry
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Re: My K5 Blazer Story.

Zoo,

Somehow I missed this thread until today. WOW, 10 years already! Unbelievable how time flies. Seems like only yesterday when you moved back for Detroit. Even though I lived this story with you it is a fun read to jog some memories. I had forgotten you ran those 33Ē Kelleyís for a while
I look forward to whatever the next project is on it. Hopefully, a 5.3L!
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Old 01-18-2014, 08:28 PM   #8
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Re: My K5 Blazer Story.

Dude, you've always been involved in some way shape or form. It's been a riot to wrench together, wheel together and share a beer or two. 10 years is a long time for sure. I wouldn't have got into the 4wd thing if it wasn't for you. I've had a lot of fun with the car show scene and drag racing, but nothing seems to clear my head like a mountain off road ride. I haven't had as much time over the last summer's to wrench or wheel, but this summer I plan on getting a lot of dirt on the tires. A new tent is in the garage waiting to get pitched. Plus I got a co-driver now that the boy has his license. (maybe not on any high shelf trails though!)

I know it doesn't get said much, but thanks for everything!
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Old 01-19-2014, 03:45 PM   #9
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Re: My K5 Blazer Story.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zoomad75 View Post
Iíve had this Blazer for just a little over 10 years now. Itís nothing special by comparison to other trucks here on this forum, but itís mine. I've posted about this truck before but never put it all together in one thread. Iíll go back all the way to the beginning and bring it back up to the current form and future plans. Here it is on a run..




It starts back in 2003. I was a year into a major career change after leaving my position in the Fleet Dept within General Motors. Youíll see a reoccurring theme here with a particular cohort in crime of mine, my buddy Larry. You see, he and I went to college together and held similar career paths leaving our little town of Pueblo, CO for the motor city. I wasnít into the 4wd side as much in college as I was more into going fast back then. Working with Larry professionally and personally as well as some other alumni had me wanting a 4wd to put in the stable with my Nova. Old Iron in Detroit is few and far between so I held out as time and money was tight for my growing family out there. Still, even without a truck I worked on the Nova and helped Larry out when he needed it. I helped Larry convert his beloved K10 from and auto trans to sm465 4-speed in his car-port outside one winter. We froze our tails off. Still, as most have seen by his quality of work, by the time he finished it looked factory.

Things were changing within GM and Larry jumped ship for a startup company building step van and class A motorhome chassis that was sold off from GM in í98. He went to the service side with a handful of other GM folks at the time, including the guy that hired me in to Chevrolet out of College. This was pre-9/11 and GM was doing ok, but not stellar. My attempts to get out of Detroit back to the west as a GM employee failed as there werenít many positions open.

Then 9/11 happened. I had a 19th floor window cube view over the Detroit river and there was still a plane unaccounted for. Fearing Detroit might be a potential target, all the downtown high-rise buildings were evacuated. Scary stuff. The coming weeks inside GM forshadowed new problems that my long term GM coworkers couldnít imagine. My drive to get back home to be near family kicked into high gear. A call from Larry a few months later had a solution. He got a promotion and the boss told him to find a replacement. Happens to be that the ďbossĒ was the guy that hired me into Chevrolet 6 years earlier. I got the job and set up to move the family back to Colorado the next year.

That job had me on the road traveling to visit dealers and in some cases had me traveling with Larry too. Needless to say among the countless hours of ďwindshieldĒ time and many frosty beverages in different hotel rooms together I really was itching for a 4wd truck. We had many discussions about his K10 and what I would like to find once I move back. Fate is a funny thing as I got a call from Larry about a month before the move was going to happen. Another buddy of ours had a Blazer he just sold to a kid a week before and promptly blew the 350 up in spectacular fashion. Larry had just finished swapping a 454 into his K10 and had the old tired 350 he just pulled sitting in the corner of his Dadís shop. He wondered what he could get for it to sell to the kid. The story got a little fuzzy as the kid still owed our buddy part of the $500 he bought it for. I thought, if the kid canít pay for the rest of what he owed on the truck thereís no way Larry is going to get any money for the engine. The light clicked on in my head, why donít I buy the truck? Larry was out of town attending a Nascar race in Dallas, but he liked the plan and kick started the phone calls to make it happen. I had to sell my winter beater before I left so the money I got from that funded the K5. So in a matter of minutes and a couple of phone calls I had bought my K5 sight unseen.



That wasnít the most ideal thing to do but the spec sheet was right for what I was looking for. It was a 1975 Full Convertible K5 Blazer. Factory 4-speed manual with a 205 t-case, Dana 44/12 bolt axles with 3.73ís. It even had a tilt column. It was dirty and had a fair share of rust in the quarters, rockers and fenders, but the floor and rocker boxes (unique to the 73-75ís) were solid. Larry went to pick it up and bring it home to his place until I got back and then sent the pics to me. He backed it off the trailer by bumping the starter in reverse and the engine commenced to spit lifters out onto the deck of the trailer through the gaping wound in the pan.



We moved back and priority #1 was finding a house to buy so the K5 had to wait a couple of months. Once settled in, we hatched a plan for a quick weekend swap to get the K5 running.



Larry towed it over to his Dadís shop and we proceeded to yank the swiss cheese 350 out in short order. This wasnít going to be pretty, but we did power wash the engine bay to make less of a mess of ourselves.



We swapped HEI and carb off of the old engine to the one that used to be in Larryís K10. Bonus, the dizzy had a fresh cap and rotor along with a brand new MSD super HEI module. We both surmised the reason of the old engineís failure was a combination of high rpm (granny gear/4low) while playing out on the hills outside of the local Dragstrip in town. The MSD module let that engine bounce the tach needle north of 5grand without any hesitation, as Iíve found out in the years of driving it. We got the truck running by Sunday afternoon and I drove it home.



I swapped out the teeny Grant Steering wheel that came on it for a leather wrapped stock chevy truck wheel from a 93 S10 that my Dad had at the time. It got driven in this form to work out the kinks and see what kind of reliability it had. That brings up another theme of this build, being hand-me-downís from others projects or garages. This truck has always been under a tight budget. So Iíve done a lot of junkyard scrounging, time saving up and the goodwill of friends that have helped with parts and time too. I did some ebay surfing and found a better cluster bezel than what I had to clean up the dash.



I also swapped in a factory voltmeter to replace the dead ammeter that was in there at that time too. Like many my dash had been hacked for a DIN sized radio and I didnít like the hole that was left. My Dad gave me the GM sized Pioneer radio/cd unit that he took out of his 93 S10 but I didnít want to mount it in the dash. My new to me ebay bezel was uncut and I wanted a little more out of sight out of mind security too. So the radio got mounted in the center console on brackets I made out of angle iron.



That still left a hole in the dash. That was solved on a visit to my Dadís house when I told him to keep an eye out for a ďradio deleteĒ plate when he was at the junkyards. He said he had one in the garage from his old state truck. Sure enough he did and it matched the bezel exactly! Score!! A wally world speaker box rounded out the sound system, covered by a towel for stealth.

The K5 was proving to be pretty darn reliable by now. It was my airport runner when I was on the road and daily driver status when I was home. Two problems did develop. The seats were not comfortable at all. The 31Ē tires were unbearable on the highway combining with the 3.73 ratio for 3,000 rpm screaming at 60 mph. The seats were from a Toyota 4 runner that a prior owner had booger welded to stock brackets some time ago. They sat too low and were generally worn out for my taste. Enter my Dad again, as he had bought a 2002 Silverado on my GM discount shortly before I left GM. The truck didnít have power seats and he wanted power. I found him a set of matching power seats for his with the harness from a local boneyard down here. We swapped the upholstery off of his manual seats and put them on the power seats and did the same to the manual seats. So I took the manual seats home and adapted them to fit the K5 tub. I couldnít use the original tracks from the K5 for the flip forward/entry but the 02 seats have lots of travel to allow easy entry from either side. I made adapter brackets out of ľĒ flat stock to bolt the seats down to the original mounting on the floor.



As far as comfort goes, it was one of the most comfortable mods Iíve done to date. Added side benefit is the 3 point seat belts as the 75ís only had lap belts. The tires were rectified with a set of 33Ē Kelly tires that Larry used to have on the K10 and didnít need anymore. That brought the cruise rpm down 500 at 60 mph but further illustrated the lack of power I was dealing with.



The 33ís fit with no lift and did ok if it was dry. They flat sucked if it was muddy, but they were free and Larry warned me about the crappy mud performance. Heís got his stuck to the axles with the same tires in the mud down by the reservoir. I had gone out wheeling with the K5 a couple of times by then. One time in the snow with the 31ís where silly RPM was the only way I could climb and another time on the same trail with no snow on it. Larry swore I would have 8 dents in the hood from the pistons jumping out of the cylinders from ratting on it so hard. These early trips solidified a need for more tire and more lift. So saving was the name of the game.

After saving enough for a lift kit, I pulled the trigger and ordered one off of JC Whitneyís website. I bought a 4Ē Rough Country kit with front springs, rear blocks, 4 shocks and the raised steering arm with free shipping.



I didnít intend on using the rear blocks as I had been doing a lot of online research about shackle flips for the rear. ORD was what I wanted, but couldnít afford with everything else. I little more surfing and I found a pair of flip brackets for sale on a local 4x4 forum for cheap. Made by a now defunct fab shop by the name of Echobit, they bolt onto the existing spring hangers rather than removing them completely.



They arenít as nice as ORDís but they have held up well under my abuse through the years. Once everything was in hand another weekend wrench session was planned at Larryís place. As things normally transpire at his place the operation went off smoothly. An added hand (Bill) that weekend too thatís been a wheeling buddy all along.



Heís the guy that found the K5 originally.







The K5ís attitude was raised and the ride quality over what was on there. Somebody in itís life had out multiple add-a-leafs on the rear springs to the point it rode like a tank. We pulled the rear leaf packs and yanked to garbage off of them and bolted them back up with the flip kit. Even with the rough country springs up front it rides surprisingly well.



A few months later with a recharged slush fund for the K5 I upgraded to 35Ē tires. After much internet shopping I found what I wanted at the right price. I wanted mud terrains, but BFGís were way over my budget. I found Dunlop Mud Rovers for about $150 per though Samís club locally. Those tires have proven to be an excellent all around tire. Quiet on pavement, great in deep snow and excellent on rocks with only 15psi in them. Iíve had them on for almost 7 years now and they still are holding up well with more than 50% tread left on them.

The K5 in this form has had a lot of off road time with multiple weekend mountain runs with my son and I. This was primary goal, to have something to getaway with. Despite itís anemic power production, the 350ís been stone solid reliable. The q-jet carb has been dialed in and doesnít stumble off road or at high mountain altitudes. The engine is burning oil, but things are in the works to rectify that..











That brings us up to about 2009 as far as the truck goes. The economy as we all know by then was really in the dumps and the RV industry is one of the first to take a hit when times get tough. Whoís going to buy a $150,000 motorhome when they canít afford their mortgage let alone fuel for the coach? Having survived a number of head count reductions couldn't avoid it and I was laid off in May of 09. As luck would have it, one of my dealers I called on had an opening in the service department. I took a week off to catch up on some yardwork. I was writing service for a small town Chevy dealer now, but they are open 6 days a week. I ended up taking over the service manager position within a year. While my free time was certainly limited working 6 days a week, I still made time for some weekend runs or one day outings to go play. The clutch finally gave up the ghost in 2010 on the way to a local oval track to help one of my techís dial in his race car. I limped it home and saved up some funds to replace it. I got a deal on a clutch through the shop, resurfaced an extra flywheel Larry gave me and planned another weekend swap job. Larry offered up his place and help to do so. This is where having great friends really is special. Knowing I had to work that Saturday, he told me heíd get started on in that morning then when I get off work I can chip in. What I didnít know is that he called in the help of our buddy Bill and had the engine out, clutch changed and engine back in before I got there at 2 that afternoon. They gave me the chore of bolting the headers back up as both of them were cussing them out when they took them off before. 90% of the work was done before I even got my hands dirty. It was a very cool thing for both of them to do for me and I truly appreciated it.

So the K5 hasnít changed much in a few years other than general maintenance. With limited time off most of my free time has been spent following my sonís high school soccer or club soccer teams. That being said, Iíve been in another mode saving and collecting parts to give the K5 a shot in the arm. There are some perks to working at a dealership for sure. Iíve acquired a used 5.3L vortec engine after a customer had us install a GM Performance crate engine into his 2002 Silverado. The engine itself was well cared for with mobil 1 oil getting changed out like clockwork every 3000 miles. Itís high mileage, but didnít use drop of oil before we pulled it. The engine is sitting in Larryís shop currently. Iíve traded Larry a 8.1 L big block for a aftermarket wiring harness and pcm to run the 5.3. Iíve got a few more parts to collect but Iíve snagged some from take offís from other jobs at work. More to come in the future on this.

As I stated early on, the body on my K5 is a bit crusty. Abnormally rusty for our dry Colorado climate for sure. Larryís joked I could just get another tub and be money ahead. Heís right, but I tend to get attached to things. I had been keeping my eye out for something, but not actively searching. After all, Iíve not really cared about the looks as I didnít want to stress about it off road. Still, itís not pretty. So enter our buddy Bill again. Heís working on a 94 Blazer project heís planning on flipping, but the engine was junk. He found running 2wd 89 GMC Suburban and picked it up for cheap. Only needing the engine, the rest was up for grabs. Bill and Larry yanked the front clip off in order to sell it and then they called me first.



I negotiated a price and a couple of weeks later we loaded the clip, both front doors and all the goodies to make the conversion complete. I ended up with a good windshield too. So with those goodies and a rust free tailgate I pulled from a junkyard a few years back Iíve got most of the sheet metal to eliminate the rust. I think one of my Dadís neighbors has a full Blazer quarter in his garage too. Dadís checking on that for me.

That brings us up to date for the K5. We have a small snow run planned for new years day to go play. Iím planning on adding a 14b ff to the rear with a bump in gearing to 4.10ís just havenít been looking hard as they are pretty common. I hope you all enjoyed the saga and stay tuned for the coming chapters. Iíve more free time this next summer so expect some wheeling/camping trips to comeÖ








Final shot for now, my K5 on the cable due to my own stupidity. Long story short I had no reason to be on this rockpile with no lockers what so ever. Banged the rear driveshaft on a boulder and proceeded to twist it in half. 2 hours later on the winch and I was off the pile.

Nice story there. It's amazing how time flies and how the order of events and details pertaining to them get forgotten. Your story is the perfect example of how you really don't "need" all of those fancy parts to have a reliable vehicle that takes you where you want to go.

I'm looking forward to the next installment of the project.
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Old 01-23-2014, 11:03 PM   #10
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Re: My K5 Blazer Story.

That's a cool read! There's few things that beat a full convertible Blazer in my opinion, and I don't own one! Looks like you Colorado Boys have lots of fun. Next time I'm in Colorado, I'm gonna have to look Larry up. He's like a 4WD internet legend. I want to meet him and shake his hand!
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Old 01-24-2014, 12:27 AM   #11
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Re: My K5 Blazer Story.

Just hit us up. We do aim to have fun that's for sure.

Another piece of the puzzle fell into place on the 5.3 project. Funny story. My buddy that rode along for the snow wheeling run on new years pulled a fast one on me. We had a lot of seat time that day (right at 12 hours) between the ride up, wheeling and the ride back. We had a number of discussions that ranged from our boys (who have been best buds since 1st grade, now 17), cars, trucks, camping among other things. The topic got to the K5 and I went on about the plans of swapping in a 5.3L Vortec. I rattled off the list of what I'm still looking for. He's a pretty savvy internet hound looking for bargains and by the next day he had sent me some links of stuff he found that might be a match.

Fast forward a couple of weeks to today. He had me take his Mom's 08 Silverado up to my dealer to do the brakes and replace the front hubs for him. So I brought the truck back tonight and he motions me into the garage to check something out. We just installed a complete 2.5" exhaust system from Eckler's late great Chevy last week on his 63 Impala SS 'vert so I figured it was something about it. Nope, he's got a complete intake manifold for a 5.3 he found for me. He said it's an early birthday gift. I about fell over. He ran into somebody that wrecked a 99 Silverado and was parting it out. So he snagged it for cheap with the mechanical throttle body, fuel rails and injectors, bolts, the whole ball of wax.

I've got a few other items to obtain for the swap to happen, so I'm on the hunt.
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Old 01-24-2014, 12:51 AM   #12
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Re: My K5 Blazer Story.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Tex View Post
That's a cool read! There's few things that beat a full convertible Blazer in my opinion, and I don't own one! Looks like you Colorado Boys have lots of fun. Next time I'm in Colorado, I'm gonna have to look Larry up. He's like a 4WD internet legend. I want to meet him and shake his hand!
Geeze, a legend? I am just a regular truck nerd like everybody else here. Thanks for the kind words though

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Originally Posted by Zoomad75 View Post
Just hit us up. We do aim to have fun that's for sure.

Another piece of the puzzle fell into place on the 5.3 project. Funny story. My buddy that rode along for the snow wheeling run on new years pulled a fast one on me. We had a lot of seat time that day (right at 12 hours) between the ride up, wheeling and the ride back. We had a number of discussions that ranged from our boys (who have been best buds since 1st grade, now 17), cars, trucks, camping among other things. The topic got to the K5 and I went on about the plans of swapping in a 5.3L Vortec. I rattled off the list of what I'm still looking for. He's a pretty savvy internet hound looking for bargains and by the next day he had sent me some links of stuff he found that might be a match.

Fast forward a couple of weeks to today. He had me take his Mom's 08 Silverado up to my dealer to do the brakes and replace the front hubs for him. So I brought the truck back tonight and he motions me into the garage to check something out. We just installed a complete 2.5" exhaust system from Eckler's late great Chevy last week on his 63 Impala SS 'vert so I figured it was something about it. Nope, he's got a complete intake manifold for a 5.3 he found for me. He said it's an early birthday gift. I about fell over. He ran into somebody that wrecked a 99 Silverado and was parting it out. So he snagged it for cheap with the mechanical throttle body, fuel rails and injectors, bolts, the whole ball of wax.

I've got a few other items to obtain for the swap to happen, so I'm on the hunt.
Saw Wheat! We might be doing a 5.3L swaperoo sooner than later! Nobody is looking forward to getting your 5.3L crate out of my garage more than me
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Old 01-24-2014, 11:08 PM   #13
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Re: My K5 Blazer Story.

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Saw Wheat! We might be doing a 5.3L swaperoo sooner than later! Nobody is looking forward to getting your 5.3L crate out of my garage more than me
Yeah I'm working on the list right now of what is left to get. It's getting shorter for sure, but the intake was a critical item to get complete. I think we can make it happen sooner than later at this point. Maybe the front clip at the same time!
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Old 01-24-2014, 11:23 PM   #14
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Re: My K5 Blazer Story.

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Maybe the front clip at the same time!
Now that would be nice! If you can find a NV4500 too I know a guy with a 205 fitted with AA pieces to make it all bolt together!
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Old 01-25-2014, 09:55 PM   #15
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Re: My K5 Blazer Story.

Thanks for the great read.
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Old 01-28-2014, 09:56 PM   #16
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Re: My K5 Blazer Story.

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Thanks for the great read.
Thanks for checking it out!

Got a Injection style tank this week. Darn near let it go as it came off the same Suburban my new front clip came off of. Working on a few more items on the list to get the 5.3 project moving.
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Old 02-09-2014, 04:36 AM   #17
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Re: My K5 Blazer Story.

Thanks for sharing the great story! Looking forward to seeing the 5.3 swap going in. Are you going to cut the window frames off the burb doors to make them work with your convertible?
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Old 02-09-2014, 11:38 AM   #18
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Re: My K5 Blazer Story.

i had a blazer like yours years ago,had 11'' of lift and 3/4 running gear under it. 373 gears miss that truck sure had alot of fun with too. great read enjoyed the ride and the beautiful country side pics.sure would like to make it out there one day. been half way around the world[military] but hardly any where in this country. sorry for the hijack but just had to comment.
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Old 02-09-2014, 12:40 PM   #19
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Re: My K5 Blazer Story.

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i had a blazer like yours years ago,had 11'' of lift and 3/4 running gear under it. 373 gears miss that truck sure had alot of fun with too. great read enjoyed the ride and the beautiful country side pics.sure would like to make it out there one day. been half way around the world[military] but hardly any where in this country. sorry for the hijack but just had to comment.
Kurt, no problem on the hijack. Thanks for the comments and your service to our country. When you get back and ever happen to get out west, look us up.
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Old 03-15-2014, 07:10 PM   #20
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Re: My K5 Blazer Story.

Did some boneyard hunting this morning for 5.3 parts. One yard only had a single vehicle that was built with a gen III engine, but it had been pulled already. On the way back home I hit up another. They had plenty, but they wouldn't let me in to wander the yard. They did let me in to go scrounge in their engine core pile. That narrowed my focus a little bit, but they did have around a half dozen gen III's laying around. Nice thing about these engines is that the blocks are clearly marked what displacement they are with cast in numbers on the ends.

1st minor mistake, I forgot my blue point electric impact at the house. I won't do that again. I could have got the balancer I needed, but I neglected to bring my balancer removal tool (2nd mistake). I did get the bolt though, but attempts to get the balancer off by any other means were going to destroy it. So I focused on the little things I could get. I went after the dipstick and tube. I've got coils, but no brackets so I grabbed a pair with the coil harness attached. I also went after steam tubes that connect the heads together and provide the coolant feed to the throttle body. I got the hose that goes from steam tube to throttle body too. I ended up getting two different styles of tubes just in case. The more common setup only has one tube coming off the front of the heads, passing under the throttle body and the rear passages are blocked off. The other setup actually has all 4 passages tied together with one tube. I pulled the formed hose for the pcv from the intake to valve cover.

It was all small stuff, but since my 5.3 was stripped bare to be put on the crate engine we installed into a customer's truck so the engine needs all the small stuff. Larry did score me some factory fuel lines that match up to the intake from Workhorse too. I've got a few more things to get a hold of, but it's getting closer.
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Old 03-30-2014, 02:34 PM   #21
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Re: My K5 Blazer Story, A dose of reality

So the parts collection is moving right along when I got a text at work. It was Larry:

Do you have a flywheel yet?

Me: No, but I was going to order one in the next couple of days.

Larry: How would you like an auto with OD instead? Specifically a OD in a 91 K5 body?

Me: Damn you Larry!

The conversation bounced back and forth but after some thought, I came to the realization that the rust in the 75 is more than it's worth to deal with in my case. Larry had been making that point for a while now, but sentimental nitwit in me chose to ignore it. Larry's had a 91 K5 stashed away for a little while and it's solid. The truck is minus an engine, but that's ok we have a solution for that. So I told Larry I'll go for it.

I'm sad to see the 75 to go, but the bones will live on as they say. The plan is to sell the front clip I was going to swap on, swap the axles and lift, pull the drivetrain and sell or crush the rest. Unless some nut really really wants the full top and windshield header to convert another, it's more likely to get munched.

By having another shell to work with, the 5.3 swap will be a bit easier. The auto while not my first choice to play off road, will be easier to set up the programming on the 5.3. As Larry said we won't know if it shells or not, but if it does a nv4500 swap won't be too hard to do. I'll be able to still drive the 75 for a little while until the lift/axle swap commences

I got to throw out a huge thanks to Larry for thinking of me and making the 91 available for me to buy. We have some prep work to do for sure as a couple of hack's had this before Larry found it. The only rust this one has is a small amount on the floor that will be easily fixed. Cool thing is the K5's original owner was the US Government. It's got the tag on the core support to prove it. So it's really basic, non-ac, no carpet, no frills except the silverado grille and power rear window.

A link to Larry's Flickr for a pic...

https://flic.kr/p/fBGVg6
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Old 03-30-2014, 02:48 PM   #22
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Re: My K5 Blazer Story.

That's exciting! Sounds like similar options to my 91 V3500. It's an Air Force truck, no a/c or power anything but the fancy front clip. So does it still have a 4L60 and 241 with electric spedo? Looking forward to the swap.
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Old 03-30-2014, 09:15 PM   #23
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Re: My K5 Blazer Story.

Good thing you didn't already buy a flywheel, as that may have changed everything.

Well got the thinking the other day how I really need a beater truck more than this K5 and you could certainly use a clean K5 roller with a nice body. Plus when it comes time to fix the body on your í75 Iíll probably be the guy doing the body work. That alone made me dreadful

The nice thing is the í91 is free after you sell the other í89-í91 front clip you have and scrap what is left of the í75 once we prune all the goods off of it.

Zoomadís new chariot









Now, with the í91 K5 out of my way Iím going to look that this beast sometime this week. Plan to use it as a beater truck as well as a truck to throw my dadís old slide in wrecker unit into. We really need a wrecker in our circle of friends! Also looking at a '72 Chevy Longhorn in Penrose but this J20 is sooo cheap it would be hard to pass it up even though it needs a little TLC. A few weekends through the Bigassgas Garage this J20 would be a decent beater/work truck.


Supposedly all this J20 needs is a new trans input collar as the release bearing seized on to it.
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Old 03-30-2014, 11:54 PM   #24
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Re: My K5 Blazer Story.

Thanks for posting the pics dude! You have your flicker on lockdown or else I would have already popped them on here. That J20 looks awful similar to one from the wayback files. Not quite as "school bus" yellow as Bill's was. I'm curious to see the longhorn too.

Oh and I wouldn't stick you with the bodywork. Well at least not all of it! My best thought is to fix the minor spots in the floor first and shoot it with primer and Hit it with this stuff. One of our college buddies used this on his Jeep tub and raved about it. Much much better than the duplicolor stuff Bill used. The rest of the reviews I've read were positive as well.
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Old 03-31-2014, 12:29 AM   #25
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Re: My K5 Blazer Story.

Nah, those dinkledorfs at Flickr changed the way things work again. It took me a few days to figure out how to link pictures to forum threads. It’s hard to explain how it works so we’ll have to go over on the phone. Chaps my rear they keep changing stuff every 9 months or so.

Funny, this J20 is exactly like Bill’s even down to the original color except this one is a T18 4 speed rather than a TH400. Bill later painted his a late ‘90s Dodge Solar Yellow. No guarantees I’ll drag this one home but it sure worth a look. I’ll keep you posted. I’m actually more interested in this J20 than the Longhorn. J20’s are getting pretty rare these days not to say Longhorns grow on trees either though. Keep it on the download from my boss! She doesn’t know yet.

Yeah, that stuff would work great on the surface spots on the floor. I can weld up the little cracks and hit the rusty spots with my spot blaster then seal it up with this stuff. I’m looking forward to getting started on your project!
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