Say hello to Charlotte. My 73 K5

Crusty Shellback

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So I figured I'd start a build thread for my '73 K5 I named Charlotte de Berry, after a 17th century pirate captain, since I'm a sailor of 38 years and still going.
I found her about 2 years ago in the classified here on RDC.
The PO had the suspension done with Deaver springs and King shocks by a company known for building Broncos and had a drive line shop in LA set up the drive line angles. After digging into the K5 and finding a bunch of stuff to fix, I wouldn't let them work on anything I owned.
Some PO had pulled the original 307 and replaced it with a HO 305 out of a mid 80s Camaro. I drove her home, about 100 miles and actually made it. I'll go thru what I've found and done over the past 2 years to make her reliable and road worthy, instead of just a dirt play toy.
So here's what see looked like when I got her aft er I put some new shoes on her. BFG mud terrains in 35x12.5 15s.
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Kyle D

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I had a 74 I bought in high school for the power train that was in. Another kid crashed it getting out of shape at a railroad crossing and clipped the track thus bending the right front portion of the frame. I wasn’t involved anything fab or desert related at the time and as soon as I saw the frame with a little wowser in it I decided to low ball the guy and see if he’d take it just so I could have the running gear because “you can’t fix frames!”. He did and I canned the body and frame.....with a sawzall. O boy the mistakes you look back on and cry about.

Nice blazer! Great platform to start with.
 

pwerwagn

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Nice blazer! Do you have any details on how the deavers are setup? Stock length? What shocks/valving? How does it work off-road?
 

Crusty Shellback

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The quick answer, the front deavers are longer than stock, 13 1/2 leaves. double rolled eyes with 8" shackles. rears are 12 leaves high arch with 8" shackles, no shackle flip. Has about a 5" lift.
Shocks are King 2.5 with remote resis. 12" F/18" R. I rebuilt them and changed the valving around a bit by moving one of the smaller shims to be a spacer after the first large shim on the front as they were too stiff on hard stutter bumps. But I cant remember what the shim stacks were other than the fronts were thicker than the rears. Now that I've redid the suspension so it works and I get full travel, she works great. At the 1000 last year on the cross over road thru Coco's, I was doing 60 on the old road and she rode like a Cadillac. I've gotten her airborne some up in Pismo dunes and she landed nice and soft, soaked the bumps right up.
I'll slowly go into details of the build and what I've done.
 

Crusty Shellback

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So after getting her home and new tires, first issue to address was the handling as she was all over the road. I started by replacing some of the steering tie rod ends. Then took her to VtoR. It was an adventure to say the least.
Here's what I found out about another persons project as I went thru it.
D44/12Bolt axles. HO 305 with high end HP but no low end grunt. SM465 4 spd and NP 205 T case. 1350 U joints. Full cage that goes thru the body and is tied to the frame. PRP front buckets with a PRP bench in the back. Doors were stripped clean with no internal guts. No wipers. Found that the front D44 probably hadn't seen grease since it rolled off the assembly line. His "drive line" shop added shims to "correct" the pinion angle but lost all castor so that it handled like crap. rear axle shafts were worn a bit and bearings were shot. Brakes were marginal. Turning radius was terrible.
No top or tailgate as it had the spare tire hanging out the back. No heat or AC. radio didn't work. Speedo and half the factory gages didn't work. But she started and drove and for what I paid, I couldn't have bought the suspension for that much.
 

Crusty Shellback

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I'll start this off by saying all work was done by me with some help from a good buddy. All in my drive way in front of my garage. No high dollar build with expensive stuff here. Just someone who likes to build things for fun. This is my first true off road build, but not my first build. I've built custom Harleys, Pro street trucks and cars, and a semi show truck. But no trailer queens. If I can't drive it, I don't build it.

So one of the first fixes was to completely replace the brake system. So all new brake components. Rears I found out were the heavy duty drums and pads as they are wider than the normal stock ones. Fronts are stock disc. replaced all of that and flushed out the fluid. Now I have brakes and she stops good, just no parking brake as that system was shot.
Second part was the steering. First thing I found was someone welded a socket on the stops to keep the front end from turning too far. Once I removed that, I found out why. The tires would rub the shock resis. So I just relocated the resis and fixed that problem. Second issue was the dual stacked steering stabilizer was rubbing on the axle and diff cover, so I replaced it with a stock setup. Now I have full steering.
Next issue was the travel. With a 12"F and 18" R stroke shocks, one would think it would have some nice travel. But for some reason, they strapped it at 2" of droop. I finally figured out why, the shock mounting was set up wrong and any more than that and the shocks would top out. So I built some new lower shock mounts to relocate the lower end and get the shocks set an mid point when the K5 was at ride height. I had to raise the rear shock mounting point 6" and the front about 2". I also relocated the limit straps and now I have the full travel on both axles. More on this later.
When I started digging into the axles, it was easier to just buy a new front axle that already had the 3.73 gears in it that I wanted. So I picked up a used axle and completely rebuilt it. Added in a lunch box locker and replaced the inner hub seals with some composite bushings I found on a Ford sight. Works better and keeping out the dust and water. I also modified the knuckles as they were flat tops and installed a cross over steering set up. The rear I installed a Aubrun gear limited slip and 3.73 gears I got from a buddy. I also got the wider repair bearings and seals that ride on a different part of the axle, away from the worn area.
When I installed the front axle, I installed some lower degree shims in the front to bring my castor back into spec. Now I have some good axles, right gears, full suspension travel and she finally handles like she should.
 
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Dirty Harry

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Great detail about your project. Thanks for sharing! No issues with the front driveline binding at full droop?


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Crusty Shellback

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Here's a few pic. The rear shock set up after I fixed it. VtoR pit on its first trip. Crossover steering. Some flexing after I fixed the suspension travel. knuckle machining and locker.
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Crusty Shellback

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So far, no. The factory setup has a double cardian joint at the T case. The rear Drive shaft and T case were changed to a slip drive shaft with a slip yoke eliminated on the T case. I'm looking swapping to some high angle drive line stuff one day.
 

Crusty Shellback

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So now that I had it handling, I started collecting parts. One was a '90 350 out of a '90 Blazer. Complete motor including the TBI and computer. Supposedly the motor had over 200k miles on it. But after tearing it down and measuring everything, it looked like a new motor. Crank journals were almost dead center of the specs. Cylinder bores were 3.99 on what is a 4.000 bore. No lip at the top. So I picked up a few parts, a mild cam, 1.6 full roller rockers, flat top pistons, and a mildly massaged set of true vortec heads from a NASCAR sportsman truck motor. Since the bore was good, I did not bore it any, but kept the stock bore. However, I did have to take it in and get it honed out a little to get the coated pistons I bought to fit. I also balanced the pistons to + or _ .20 grams. I installed all new bearings, using some .001 over rod and main bearings, filed the ring gaps to center of the specs, and degreed in the cam. I left it straight up as I wanted more low end torque than top end power. Used a air gap style dual plane intake and originally put on a Holley truck Avenger 670 carb. Headman long tube headers w 1 5/8" primaries and 2 1/2" collectors. Took me about a year of collecting parts to build it. before I installed it, I wound up going with a vintage air set up so I had to build a custom bracket to mount the AC compressor and still clear my tall valve covers. More on that later.
 

Crusty Shellback

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Some pics of the motor build.
Motor should be good for about 375 HP and 425 TQ with over 400 TQ from 2000 to 4500 RPM. That should work.
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Crusty Shellback

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So I also picked up a few other things to make the ride a little more comfortable.
A set of rust free doors from a 'Burb with power door locks and power windows, a soft top to enclose it, a Blazer tailgate, and a hard top to repair and eventually install.
 

Crusty Shellback

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So at this point she was comfortablel to drive with a top, tailgate, and doors with windows.
I had also I stalked a factory heater, built a dash mount to install a stereo and VHF race radio in the dash, cut out the spare tire holder hanging out the back so I could install the tail gate and CV it out the cage in the cab area so I could get into the dash.
I drive her to the Pismo dunes for family camping, took her to the mint and a couple of trips to Baja for the 500, including g the hot one, even though I had no AC.
From this point, I started ordering more parts and making a plan for a major upgrade before the 50th Baja 1000. More to come.
 

Crusty Shellback

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When I got the K5, she had 15x8 rims. But I wanted 15x10. So I found a set on CL that came off a K5 that caught fire. A little dirty but in good shape and the right price. With a little elbow grease, some scotchbrite pads, soap and water, and a mother's cone polishing kit, I think they cleaned up really good.
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Crusty Shellback

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So my next step was to start collecting parts for the next big redo and new motor install. I was trying to get it all done for a Pismo dunes camping trip last year but that didn't happen. So my next goal was to have it done in time to drive her down to Baja for the 50th anniversary of the 1000, which I did make.
So here,s a list of parts I collected over the course of time and eventually made it onto the K5.
Built 350 which I already showed.
ORD engine crossmember and DIY4X motor mounts.
Vintage Air system. I went this route because the design of the front suspension and shock hoops precluded me from installing the factory setup.
Holley Sniper EFI and a Tanks Inc in tank fuel pump and sump system.
Energy suspension poly body mounts.
'86 Blazer wiring harness. My '73 harness was all hacked up. Plus the '86 had the blade fuses. I did some modifications to it to fit my needs. I also wired it up so I can run 2 batteries thru it. One battery supplies power for all of the main stuff. The secondary battery runs just the lights and radios. I also included a battery isolator so that I can drain the second battery running the lights and radios all day/night, but it will not drain the primary battery and I can still start the K5. Once started, the isolator will close and start charging the second battery. This way, I don't have to remember to open/close any switches.
Marshall analog gages. Electronic speedo, Tach, Volts, Oil Pressure, Water temp, Oil temp, transmission temp and fuel gage. I built a custom dash to fit all the new gages along with a switch panel for my light switches.
I bought a used set of front fenders and flared them out 3". It was a learning experience and I now have a better understanding of what to do. They are functional for now. I have since bought a set of new fenders and will be working on them in the future to flare them out 3" or so and replace these. The old fenders I had I found out were full of bondo, hence some of the issues I had. I didn't want to go fiberglass for several reason. One being cost, two being I would have to change out the whole front clip to a later model year which I didn't want to do as the front end grill is a 2 year only grill and the front clip design is a 8 year only design. Plus I wanted to keep the body lines on here.
I had used a 4" drop pitman arm when I did my crossover steering, but it hits the leafs when they are compressed. So I found a jeep pitman arm that only has about a 1" drop. So plan was to use it and notch the frame. It works great and clears the springs. I also had to raise the passenger side arm another 2" to clear the springs.
Picked up a pair of dynomax super turbo mufflers for it as well for the new exhaust. 2 1/2" in and out.

So s you can see, it's going to be a lot of work.
 

Crusty Shellback

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So here's some pics of the work I did on the fenders. One issue I found out after I installed them was that I had pulled/misaligned some of the mounting holes so things don't line up quite right.
So my plan is when I do the next set, I'll mount them on the K5, get everything aligned right, weld on some straps to hold the alignments, then start my cutting, pulling, stretching, welding with the fenders on the truck. That should keep everything lined up when I'm done.
What I did was install the inner fenders, Mark the edge, then cut on that line, cut out a section of the fenders and pulled them out. I them welded in some metal to fill in the open gap on the inside of the fender I had made. I then cut out some of the outer fender and made new sections to fill in and keep the original body lines. I also rolled the inner lip to get rid of the sharp edges. Or at least that was the goal.
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Crusty Shellback

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A few more pics. In the last one, that is a stock fender on the left.
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Crusty Shellback

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And here are some of the parts i collected.
ORD cross member motor mount
Slider window set up for my hard top
DIY 4X motor mounts.
Light switches.
Sniper EFI.
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