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Thread: My 1985 Suburban project

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Antelope Valley, CA
    Posts
    16

    Default My 1985 Suburban project

    My project started out great in the beginning with lots of upgrades and modifications. But my Suburban has been sitting in the driveway now for the last couple of years being neglected. I ran across this site, and it is just what i need to get me jump started into working on it again. It's a 1985 K20 with a tired 350 engine. I would love to do a crate engine in the future. I installed a rebuilt 700r4 transmission a couple years ago from Bowtie Overdrives in Hesperia California. I have also installed an additional transmission oil cooler in front of the radiator. I have less than 50 miles on the new transmission. After installing the transmission, I just kind of lost interest or burned out on the project. It has a 6 inch suspension lift with 16 inch wheels and 35 inch tires. It has been re-geared front and rear to 4.56. There is a Detroit TruTrac limited slip unit installed on the front. I want to do air lockers front and rear. I have 2 Optima batteries with a battery isolator from Painless Wiring. The interior was redone with a new headliner. New carpet kit. I have some slip on seat covers on the front. The rear seats still have the stock upholstery on them. I haven't decided what to do about the seat upholstery. I have a front Warn winch bumper with a Mile Marker 12,000 lb winch. The roof rack is a Defender unit with a Hi-Lift jack and shovel/axe combo mounted to it. There are ProComp lights front and rear. I have been researching building a rear bumper with swing away tire carrier to carry the full size spare. I have gotten a lot of ideas from this forum. I need to get motivated (and to start working that overtime at work) to get this thing road worthy again. Thanks for taking the time to read my post. Any ideas from any of you would be welcome.
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    Last edited by Al_Santos; 03-10-2012 at 07:03 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    South Dakota
    Posts
    112
    Gorgeous Burban! I love it! one of the things i was thinking of doing with my seats was to cover the front bucket seats with mossy oak black and camo seat covers and then buy a bench seat one as well for the rear. when you want to fold it up just undo it and fold everything down. but in the meantime it would all match at least. at least thats one idea im considering lol. I love the roof rack! did you make it or buy it? same with the bumper. How do you like the new gearing? do you think it uses a lot more gas? I know these things are dang thirsty to begin with, i know mine is and its got stock gearing and only a 2 inch spacer lift lol :P I doubt if i ever get over 10 MPG, thinking of doing an engine swap/tranny swap too. but anyway, great rig! cant wait to see more of it!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Phx, Az
    Posts
    4,687
    great looking burb....
    now get out and do some trips and I bet your interest will get rekindled.
    As interesting as builds are it is really making use of our toys that matters....the rigs are just a tool for taking the family out to see & experience cool remote areas.

    You have a ton of options in California, post up a trip report so we can enjoy your burb also
    cigar smoking, wilderness first responding, ham talking night nurse who is overland certified and a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.....
    now everyone say "so what where have you been lately?"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Antelope Valley, CA
    Posts
    16
    Thats a great idea for the seat covers. I'll take all the ideas from anyone . I bought the roof rack from 4Wheel Parts. Kind of a pricey addition, but I like the way it looks and will carry a ton of stuff if need be. I was thinking about making a roof rack, but I didn't have the tools and "know how". But I'll be buying a tubing bender here in the near future for my rear bumper build. The front bumper is made my Warn. After looking at the construction of this bumper, I bet with a little time and help, I could of made that too. i love the new gearing. It was really a dog with the stock gearing and those big tires. I'm guessing I get about 9 miles a gallon with this set up. But i can't be 100% correct, with the speedo being off with the tire/gearing combo. Before i changed the tires and gearing, I was getting 11 mpg. Thanks again for your ideas and sharing your knowledge and experiences.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Rohnert Park, CA
    Posts
    124
    I dig it! Being a Suburban owner myself...

    I've got TBI on my '89 Suburban, with 3.73 gears, 700R4, a TBI spacer & salad bowl installed it isn't bad at all here at sea level. High altitude however negates the use of 4th... Most of the time though I'm happy with the gears I've got.

    I recently installed a True Trac in the rear of my Suburban and am loving it after my last outing. My buddy who helped me install it said I should put one in the front too, instead of installing the old Gov-Loc in the front. What do you have in the rear right now? Just curious.

    Love the color combo too!

    Clay
    1987 Jeep Grand Wagoneer: '06 - '10
    http://carleynet.net/familypictures/...1005.sized.jpg
    1989 Chevrolet Suburban: '09 - ??
    http://carleynet.net/familypictures/...0874.sized.jpg
    1969 VW Bug: 1998 - ??
    http://carleynet.net/familypictures/...1119.sized.jpg

    New! 10-4-10, Technician Class Amateur Radio License! KJ6KPS

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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Antelope Valley, CA
    Posts
    16
    I don't have anything in the rear. I was going to hold off and try to find a 14 bolt full floater and get an air locker for it. I don't do any serious off roading or rock crawling. What do you suggest? Should I keep what I have and get an air locker for the rear or maybe something from the detroit locker family? I'm really torn on whether to spend the money and go for the stronger rear end or keep what I have.
    Last edited by Al_Santos; 03-05-2012 at 08:34 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Rockwall, Texas
    Posts
    62
    Al- nice looking suburban. Welcome to Expo. That is one of my favorite color combinations on the square body GMs. It looks and sounds like you have your 'burb set up well. As far as the rear end, I think I'd take it on some trips and see what you think it needs. You may find that for the style of off-roading you do, you may not need anything. Sure, the ultimate rear end for it would be a locked full floater, but if you're just running fire roads, camping, and running around the woods, your 14bolt SF may be fine. If you were gonna chop it all up, and make it a rock crawler, or Top Truck Challenge competitor, then that's different.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Antelope Valley, CA
    Posts
    16
    That makes a lot of sense. I use my suburban mostly on that type of terrain. I still want to get some sort of locker for the rear. I like to be prepared for that unforeseen trouble on the trail. Thanks for your reply.
    1985 Chevy Suburban 4x4 K20
    Stock 350 motor
    Bowtie Overdrive Stage 2 700R4 transmission
    6 Inch Lift
    Detroit TruTrac in the front dif
    American Racing 16x10 wheels
    35 inch Maxxis Buckshot Mudders
    Dual Optima batteries with Painless Wiring battery isolator kit
    4 Core Radiator
    Additional transmission cooler
    Warn winch bumper
    Milemarker 12,000 lb winch
    Defender Roof Rack
    ProComp Lights
    New carpet and headliner

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Rohnert Park, CA
    Posts
    124
    Al,

    For what you describe, I sure would keep the axles it has. Spend the money on a traction adder for the rear. If you are super concerned about it, I'm sure a Detroit/Eaton locker would work. Being long wheelbase helps out with the quirks that come with a locker like that. A TrueTrac, though, is very smooth on the street, and I would think with what you describe (which is much like what I do) a TrueTrac in the rear, as well as the front, will get you out of whatever you might get into by accident.

    The TrueTrac might not work on a rock crawler, but for mud, sand, snow, and ice, it seems to be the ideal choice. The only thing to worry about after that is your axleshafts

    Good luck with your decision... and I can't wait to see some action shots of your Suburban!

    Clay
    1987 Jeep Grand Wagoneer: '06 - '10
    http://carleynet.net/familypictures/...1005.sized.jpg
    1989 Chevrolet Suburban: '09 - ??
    http://carleynet.net/familypictures/...0874.sized.jpg
    1969 VW Bug: 1998 - ??
    http://carleynet.net/familypictures/...1119.sized.jpg

    New! 10-4-10, Technician Class Amateur Radio License! KJ6KPS

    Even Newer! Passed the General Class Amateur Radio License test!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Antelope Valley, CA
    Posts
    16
    Clay,

    Thanks for the advice. After reading the replies, I was really thinking about just keeping what I have due to the type of off roading that I do. Plus it will save me some money and time in the end. I will look into getting some sort of locker for the rear here real soon. I'm piecing together all the parts and tools right now to do a rear bumper with spare and gas can holders. I've looked at a lot of examples here on this site. Can't wait to get started!

    I was wondering about the front locking hubs. Should I just keep the stock auto locking hubs that are on there now, or change them out for some manual locking hubs? I actually have a brand new set of Warn manual locking hubs that I have not installed yet. Is it worth the swap? How reliable are the stock automatic units?

    Thanks again,
    Al
    1985 Chevy Suburban 4x4 K20
    Stock 350 motor
    Bowtie Overdrive Stage 2 700R4 transmission
    6 Inch Lift
    Detroit TruTrac in the front dif
    American Racing 16x10 wheels
    35 inch Maxxis Buckshot Mudders
    Dual Optima batteries with Painless Wiring battery isolator kit
    4 Core Radiator
    Additional transmission cooler
    Warn winch bumper
    Milemarker 12,000 lb winch
    Defender Roof Rack
    ProComp Lights
    New carpet and headliner

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