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Old 09-04-2018, 02:55 PM   #1
buffydores
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Building a Bulletproof Squarebody Suburban: Community Input Requesting

Hello Folks. I've been playing around with building a Squarebody Suburban into a daily driver. I have a lot of opinions, but I want some feedback from fellow squarebody lovers. Here are the areas for discussion.

1989-1991 Suburban

Ride Quality: What's the best you can do with solid axles. Would boxing the frame actually make the ride worse?

Engine/Transmission: I like the 6.0L L96/6L90E or 6.2L L86/8L90E combos on paper. 8.1L L18/4L80E??

Axles: Upgraded Dana 44 Front / Upgraded 14BSF(9.5") < Want to manage unsprung weight.

Obvious additions: Vintage Air / Bluetooth Radio
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Old 09-04-2018, 03:25 PM   #2
68Timber
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Re: Building a Bulletproof Squarebody Suburban: Community Input Requesting

For ride quality, why not custom springs? Get them tailored to the height/capacity and stiffness you want based on their recommendations.
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Old 09-04-2018, 03:48 PM   #3
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Re: Building a Bulletproof Squarebody Suburban: Community Input Requesting

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For ride quality, why not custom springs? Get them tailored to the height/capacity and stiffness you want based on their recommendations.
I run custom springs from ORD on the Blazer. Definitely a good upgrade. My only critique of leaf packs in general is periodic binding between the leaves. It takes away from the perceived refinement. I'd think a properly dialed in coil setup might be superior. Thanks John.

Last edited by buffydores; 09-04-2018 at 04:22 PM.
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Old 09-06-2018, 11:36 AM   #4
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Re: Building a Bulletproof Squarebody Suburban: Community Input Requesting

I'm old school when it comes to off road stuff and have always preferred leaves to coils, mainly for the simplicity of not having links to bend. You can also weld leaves together on the trail if need be. I had a set of Alcan springs on my stretched FJ40 that flexed like crazy and used the "open" style spring locating clamp which lete them move around as needed. I think that ORD uses a pinch clamp? Dunno, maybe that's what causes the bind. Before getting the Alcans, I bent up the pinch clamps and drilled them for keeper bolts on my stock springs. That worked pretty good too except the stock springs cracked from all the SOA flex (see welding comment above )

Anyway, please document your Suburban "journey". I'm heading that direction with the '89 I just brought home.
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Old 09-07-2018, 02:58 PM   #5
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Re: Building a Bulletproof Squarebody Suburban: Community Input Requesting

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I had a set of Alcan springs on my stretched FJ40 that flexed like crazy and used the "open" style spring locating clamp which lete them move around as needed. I think that ORD uses a pinch clamp? Dunno, maybe that's what causes the bind. Before getting the Alcans, I bent up the pinch clamps and drilled them for keeper bolts on my stock springs. T.
I hear you. The clamps on my ORDs are open. They shimmy plenty. I just think grit works its way in there over time.

I like the idea of the 6.0L(L96)/6L90E combo up front. Seems like a strong combo. I could do a Raylar 8.1L, but the horrible fuel economy would suck.
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Old 09-07-2018, 06:56 PM   #6
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Re: Building a Bulletproof Squarebody Suburban: Community Input Requesting

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I hear you. The clamps on my ORDs are open. They shimmy plenty. I just think grit works its way in there over time.

I like the idea of the 6.0L(L96)/6L90E combo up front. Seems like a strong combo. I could do a Raylar 8.1L, but the horrible fuel economy would suck.
If I could afford a Raylar, fuel economy would be the last thing on my mind.
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Old 09-07-2018, 08:30 PM   #7
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Re: Building a Bulletproof Squarebody Suburban: Community Input Requesting

Lol, good point. My concern on fuel economy is more about range not fuel. The Suburban has a 40 gallon tank. Most of the 8.1s seem to get around 10mpg. I'm intrigued by bolting a Allison 1000 6-speed behind it because 1st gear is a little above 3.00 and the second overdrive is in the low .6s. That's attractive for the speeds I'm running on the highway. The 6L90e has a deeper 1st gear for launches, but no other advantage I know. If I could get 12 mpg out of the combo, I'd be rocking.
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Old 09-08-2018, 05:55 AM   #8
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Re: Building a Bulletproof Squarebody Suburban: Community Input Requesting

I would follow a build thread on this with interest. I imagine that the stock frame flex might soften bumps a tad by flexing but react more harshly over repeated bumps than a boxed, stiffer frame would. A boxed frame with coils is an interesting (costly, tho) idea. The right Bilstein shocks have always impressed me by making just a little more improvement than I thought possible. They don't erase bumps but you do notice an immediate difference in places where you are used to putting up with a "truck" ride. Also, having tires with appreciable sidewalls. Sidewalls being the first "suspension component" impacted by the road surface.
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Old 09-08-2018, 10:47 AM   #9
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Re: Building a Bulletproof Squarebody Suburban: Community Input Requesting

I agree with the sidewall comment. If staying 6-lug, I'd stick with 15" wheels...maybe. That said, even though big wheels are all the rave, a 17" diameter wheel would be as large as I would go and I'd actually go 16" max with a 35" tire. If you were wanting to run 37's there are way more choices in a 17" wheel. See?...clear as mud.
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Old 09-08-2018, 03:06 PM   #10
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Re: Building a Bulletproof Squarebody Suburban: Community Input Requesting

LT7A and RDrancher: Love the input. I concur with y'all's thinking. I want to run a skinny 33" tire. Probably a 16" rim. My max would be 18". There are too few tire options at 15" these days. Boxed frame. Coils. I'm gonna try to think through the Raylar 8.1 and Allison 1000 6-speed. The gearing looks good on the transmission and I think you can get them to talk together. Just need a competent guy on that transmission. I'd add tons and tons of insulation. Get rid of the spilt windows. Improve on the window actuator motors. Tons of relays controlling electric.
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Old 09-15-2018, 12:33 PM   #11
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Re: Building a Bulletproof Squarebody Suburban: Community Input Requesting

I have had a '89 V1500 Suburban since 1992. I would say if what you want is a good reliable vehicle get one and restore it to original. There is no need to go to an aftermarket air conditioner as the stock one works very well, the windows don't need an "upgrade" just lubrication and rubber seals that are in good shape. It drives me crazy to see people throw money away on aftermarket stuff that is supposedly an upgrade when all the vehicle needs is maintenance and repair. The original equipment parts are engineered to work flawlessly for a very long time and are usually manufactured to a high standard that I don't feel is there for many aftermarket parts.

Our Suburban still works very well and I would trust it for any long distant drive. I am always amazed how short a turning radius the old style straight axle has compared to newer vehicles. It is a comfortable car with a pretty decent ride.
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Old 09-15-2018, 01:53 PM   #12
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Re: Building a Bulletproof Squarebody Suburban: Community Input Requesting

I totally appreciate your viewpoint. For the most part, I like original stuff. Just look at my Blazer build below. But, the old stuff has limitations. The factory AC cannot remotely keep up with the heat we experience down south. When the square bodies were built, speed limits were 55mph. It's 75 mph for most of our highways now. A double overdrive transmission can give me manageable fuel economy. We can also make the riding dynamics better. I like the old stuff, but a better version of it.
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Old 09-15-2018, 03:11 PM   #13
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Re: Building a Bulletproof Squarebody Suburban: Community Input Requesting

I'm leaning L96 / 6L90E with a roots supercharger. I've been trying to figure out if NP242 guts would work in a NP241. Probably not. I'd love to be able to have full time four wheel drive. Rear axle will probably be a AAM9.75 out of a 6.2 K1 truck. I still think the 10 bolt may be the ticket up front with some beef. The D60 would be great, but think for my purposes overkill and heavy.

I've moved away from the 8.1. It's just poorly supported.
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Old 09-17-2018, 08:28 AM   #14
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Re: Building a Bulletproof Squarebody Suburban: Community Input Requesting

Quote:
Originally Posted by buffydores View Post
I'm leaning L96 / 6L90E with a roots supercharger. I've been trying to figure out if NP242 guts would work in a NP241. Probably not. I'd love to be able to have full time four wheel drive. Rear axle will probably be a AAM9.75 out of a 6.2 K1 truck. I still think the 10 bolt may be the ticket up front with some beef. The D60 would be great, but think for my purposes overkill and heavy.

I've moved away from the 8.1. It's just poorly supported.
I can't help at all on your transfer case question, but it is a good one and maybe someone will know. Your engine/trans idea is great and I think ideal for your goal. I believe you're correct in thinking a beef'd up 10 bolt up front will be ideal too. I believe off road design has chrome molly axle shafts available for them and I think those alone would be more than durable enough for a daily/trail rig. Looking forward to this build as I am a huge fan of your K5!
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Old 09-17-2018, 12:38 PM   #15
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Re: Building a Bulletproof Squarebody Suburban: Community Input Requesting

The 6.0/6L90e combo is a good one. I drove a 2500HD daily for a year with that setup. It ran like a scalded dog with a custom tune. It would easily see 16-16.5 on the highway at 68-74mph. Pickup weighed 6300lbs and was a 4x4 with 3.73 gears. If it wouldn't have rode so rough, I'd probably still be driving it.

I see you stated tall skinny 33" tire, how much lift are you planning, 4"?

In northeast KS we regularly see extreme heat/humidity in the summer, the humidity is generally 50% or more where I'm at, so I understand wanting a good AC setup.


When the 700R4 dies in my 89 Jimmy, I'll be LS swapping my K5. But I'll keep it simple with a 5.3l and 4l65E....maybe an 80E, maybe. It's just for back and forth to work and I don't need it to pull a trailer.
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Old 09-18-2018, 12:28 PM   #16
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Re: Building a Bulletproof Squarebody Suburban: Community Input Requesting

I have been working on a similar project for my Suburban, The updates I have done on this 1990 V2500 is: 4L80E transmission, 4" lift with Deaver Springs and Bilstein 5100 shocks (This was a night and day difference in ride quality) , rebuilt the rear axle and put a Eaton Truetrac in, Wilwood calipers on the front, 2003 HD Rims with 33" tires. The next few items will be a LS3 EROD engine, rebuild the front axle and install a true trac. I also plan to put leather seats from a 2009is suburban in. You can see all the interior stuff I have done in my thread.

http://67-72chevytrucks.com/vboard/s...d.php?t=727736

We use this vehicle for family vacations and camping trips. I have put over 15,000 miles on this since I got it almost 2 years ago. It is reliable and comfortable for a family of 5.
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