2000 Suburban K1500 budget low lift with 37"s

Roadtrip: North Pole expedition to find Santa

Best part about having a 1 and 2 year olds is that we get to go on fun trips that we would not go on otherwise. This week we endured a grueling expedition to the North Pole to meet Santa Claus himself. Unfortunately due to the time constraints of work and daily life we were unable to take enough time off work to drive all the way to the North Pole and I do not doubt that the Sub will have any difficulty making it there, so we took the Polar Express which seems to have found a shortcut through the space time continuum saving us a tremendous amount of time we used to explore other areas of the state.



Our journey began on the Extraterrestrial Highway because all things considered it is the most likely place to spot the real Santa and Easter Bunny.



We arrived at the Alien Research center to find directions to the North Pole.



We were greeted by a 30ft tall alien that was out of this world who assured us that he has not seen Santa this year.



We continued driving north and soon started seeing snow, we knew that we were close.



We found some rail road tracks and followed them towards the nearest city.



Found a cool looking train with a couple cars attached.



One of the passenger cars.



This is the Polar Express train we have been searching for.



Our round trip tickets to the North Pole.



Train conductor confirmed that our golden tickets were valid and we were on the the correct train. ALL ABOARD!!!



We boarded the train.



Inside was decorated just like the movie and the servers were handing out cookies and hot chocolate the entire ride.



Once we got out of town Santa's elfs authorized us to pass through the North Pole portal expediting the train ride to Santa's home at the North Pole.



We finally made it to the North Pole.



The big man himself stepped out of his home and boarded to the train to greet all the boys and girls young and old presenting everyone that believed in him with the first gift of Christmas.

This was definitely not an overland trip but a road trip where the tires practically did not see any dirt but it was a great trip exploring parts and areas of Nevada that we would probably not see. The kids had a great time and had the opportunity to take the real Polar Express to the real North Pole to meet the Real Santa and thank him for all the presents they received this year.

Stay tuned for more shenanigans!
 
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The best part of this thread are the adventures. I’m stoked to drive south and do these trips. Full size rigs are a blast to overland in and as the beginning of this thread shows can be controversial.

PM me when you decide to go to Toroweap or anywhere in southern Utah. I’d love to see the burb in person. I won’t bring my $70k Rubicon, I wouldn’t want you to be seen wheeling with one. ;)

Keep the posts coming.
 
Oh man I'm excited to see the review after they're mounted. I have been looking at those same tires for the exact same reason. Can you post how tall they are after they're mounted?
Ivan,

Got the tires mounted a few days ago and already got over 1k miles on them. Will put the pics and initial impression in the next couple days. Want to try them on a couple more different road conditions. So far I absolutely love them.

I was flipping thorough previous posts and noticed that Facebook has been changing the links to the pictures, I am in the process of changing all pictures over to Imgur so they don't dissappear.

Stay tuned for more shenanigans!
 
The best part of this thread are the adventures. I'm stoked to drive south and do these trips. Full size rigs are a blast to overland in and as the beginning of this thread shows can be controversial.

PM me when you decide to go to Toroweap or anywhere in southern Utah. I'd love to see the burb in person. I won't bring my $70k Rubicon, I wouldn't want you to be seen wheeling with one. ;)

Keep the posts coming.
hard2flw,

We are planning a Toroweap, Bar 10, Twisted Nutter Rd trip in a couple weeks, will PM you when I get closer.

As far as your $70k Rubi, I would love to hit some trails with it, I bet you got a winch on there that will be able to drag me places I never imagined possible on the Sub.

I only pick on Rubicons because they are so awesome and I can never afford one and it's an amazing vehicle for solo or two person trips but it's absolutely terrible for 1 and 2 year olds.

Stay tuned for more Shenanigans!
 
Fender flares

When I chopped up the fenders to fit larger tires I removed the factory cosmetic fender flares which only had 1/2" of extra tire coverage and was planing on installing fancy pocket style fender flares. Bushwacker makes an amazing set for $600 which I can not afford so I have spent months on eBay debating if I want to go with a round F250/350 fender flares or stick with a GM square fender flares. Ford fender flares offered 2.75" of additional tire coverage where as GM fender flares offered 1.75" of extra coverage.

I rolled around with 13.5" wide tires and 2" wheel spacers in the rear for nearly a year and decided that I wanted a narrower tire with a smaller wheel spacer. When I helped my buddy with his Denali he got 1.25" spacers because that's the biggest spacer he could get to run 33s without rubbing. He did not like the look of how narrow his rear tires sat and I offered to trade my 2" for his 1.25" spacers.



I had to trim 1/2" from the twheel studs for the spacers to fit my rims without touching. There is at least 1/8" of thread sticking out past the lug nut so there is no weakened integrity of the gripping force of the studs and spacers, decreased weight reduces the rotational mass, which is good.



Wheel spacers bought the wheel 0.75" inward, and 1" narrower tire added another 0.5" bringing each of my rear tires 1.25" in towards the center of the truck, giving it a much better aesthetic stance also allowing me to get the GM fender flares which cover the tire tread completely and make the truck 50 state street legal!


The fender flares are on and they look pretty.


Rear wheel.


Rear wheel front of truck coverage.


Rear wheel back of truck coverage.


Front wheel front of truck coverage.


Front wheel back of truck coverage. I had to trim the front flare quite a bit to clear the door without touching.

I paid $22.10 for these on eBay and picked them up in a warehouse in LA while on business trip. They came with a rubber protective strip and fake bolts for the holes neither of which I used. I used a heat gun to bend them to contour the trimmed fenders better and self tapping screws to attach them to the sheet metal.

Stay tuned for more shenanigans!
 

chilliwak

Expedition Leader
WoW:Wow1:$22 has to be the best deal anywhere! Your install looks good and the GM flares make the truck look original and stock. Do you get any rub at all on the front tire with a full wheel crank? Anyways looks great Crazy and I am looking forward to seeing you out wheeling with those new meats and flares. Cheers, Chilli...:)
 
WoW:Wow1:$22 has to be the best deal anywhere! Your install looks good and the GM flares make the truck look original and stock. Do you get any rub at all on the front tire with a full wheel crank? Anyways looks great Crazy and I am looking forward to seeing you out wheeling with those new meats and flares. Cheers, Chilli...:)
Chilli,

When I put the flares on I also reinstalled inner plastic wheel wells, I don't rub on the flares, but I started rubbing on the plastic wheel well. Looks like I have to trim and reshape them a little with a heat gun my next day off.

Stay tuned for more shenanigans!
 
Hitches

Ever since the body lift I have been looking for a new hitch. I had a 3" gap between the rear bumper and the hitch tube and the factory hitch receiver sat another 3" below that. This interfered big time with my departure angle. There are many one piece hitch options for this truck however I was lucky enough to find a 3-piece hitch on eBay that was along the lines of what I was looking for.

REAR HITCH



Factory hitch sitting way below the body in the factory location.



22" from ground to bottom of tow ball tongue or 21.5" ground to bottom of hitch.



Unknown brand three piece class 3 hitch. My goal is to cut another piece of 1/4" steel side brackets to raise the hitch another 2" to get an even cleaned fit and finish.



I was going to mount the side supports on top of the frame rails but my access to the bolts was impossible and the hitch sat too high above the bottom of the bumper so I mounted it as designed.



I can still use the two top bolts to attach the hitch to the bumper and use it for bumper pulls, but I will not.



New hitch is on.



24.5" from ground to tow ball tongue or 24" ground to bottom of hitch. I should have done a side profile also but the new hitch sits approximately 1" toward the front of vehicle than the factory hitch.

FRONT HITCH

Unlike the multitude of rear hitches, the front hitch option for a GMT800 is very limited. I found that a Curt 31302 three piece front hitch would fit my application the best without compromising the approach angle.



Front of truck as it sits.



Curt 31302 front three piece hitch.



Tow hooks that I flipped upside-down and switched them from right to left and vice versa in order to keep them. Tow recovery hooks were removed and I had clear access to mounting holes.



Bolts are in the mounting holes and side brackets are attached.



This is how this product was intended to be used, however due to my body lift the hitch sits way too far down and interferes with the approach angle.



I flipped the hitch upside down, measured the new location of the receiver, then cut a hole for it in the plastic.



This sits much better and cleaner, there is still approximately 0.5-1" of mount that is interfering with my starting approach angle but I will be able to grind and weld it at a later point in time.



This is the finished front end look with the hitch that is barely noticeable and sitting neatly tucked away inside the front trim.

APPLICATION

There are several reasons for a front hitch, in my application its a solid front anchor point for recovery since the Sub is such and awful off road vehicle. This gives me an option for a receiver mounted hitch which can be used in the front or rear of vehicle. And finally I can carry two dirt bikes or enduro bikes in my case when we do family adventure outings.



Rear bike rack.



Same bike on the front bike rack.



Bikes on the front and rear racks. Well balanced truck on the highway getting to the trails, racks are tucked away so I can follow the dirt bikes in the truck and not remove them.

Stay tuned for more shenanigans!
 
OH SNAP!!! finally found a weak point in my drivetrain

This is happened a few weeks ago. One hour before I was ready to put the new tires on the truck a friend just bought a Jeep and wanted to get it dirty, so I figure we go hit up the trails that are 1.5miles from my house. We played around on the sand stone, navigated a couple fun boulder fields and then we came up on a pretty steep hill. The Jeep only made 1/3 of the way up before the truetracks gave up and did not deliver enough limited slip to make it to the top. Of course full of newly gained confidence I gave the hill a shot.



After several attempts and finding the right line I make it nearly to the top.



Got my front tires up the last 4ft ledge at the top, but the rear right would not go up. I backed down and gave it hell.



Pretty suspension articulation.



This time I gunned the truck up the hill, bounced the front wheels up the last ledge, and got the rear left up, but the rear right that had all the traction at this point started spinning. The wheels are spinning at about 20mph at this point, and I did not previously spin the tires to engage the GovLock. Rear left is the only tire that has traction, while the other three are spinning, and at 20mph the GovLock engages, BANG, SNAP, CRACKLE, POP!!! First thing that goes through my mind is I finally busted the weak front end or CVs or the infamous G80 finally exploded like everyone said it would. I lost all power and could only roll backwards down the hill.

Like a pure genius that I am I attempted to climb the hill again but only got as far as the Jeep, this was a good time to turn around and go home. I put the truck in 2WD and the rear diff spun then engaged, I drove approximately 1.5 miles on the trail and another 1.5miles on pavement in 1WD.

The garage door opens, first thing I see in the stack of new tires that were supposed to be mounted later today. My buddy helped me rip the rear end apart and this is what we found.



Rear left half axle, it's pretty but this is not what its supposed to look like.



The other end of the half axle that is still stuck in the G80.



Close up of the broken piece. I attempted to remove it but it would not budge.



After a couple of days in the deep freezer, I managed to push the axle in, get the C-clip out and remove the broken piece.



4130 Chromoly steel in the factory axles put up with an insane amount of force to break like this and not to mention 250k miles.



This shaft is designed to handle 97,000 PSI of tensile strength and I managed to break it.



I am keeping this piece as a souvenir to remind myself to lay off the throttle and enjoy the truck for overlanding not rock crawling or hill-climbs.

PLAN OF ACTION

I could not get the broken piece of the axle of the of the G80 for several days and needed the truck running sooner than later. I always heard good things about locking rear ends and had a quick decision to make: Detroit locker, TruTrack, eLocker or an eBay G80. I knew that the TruTracks were useless in my application and would not provide 100% lock that I need (read want). Always on of the Detroit locker might be too much for a daily driver and would wear the tires too much, my wife also drives the truck and would not like the feel. Did not see and G80s on eBay at the time. eLocker or the OX locker were the next choices, however the eLocker won out due to the price.

Ordered a pair of axles for $155 shipped. New wheel bearings since I have the rear completely apart and new seals. Hesitated but pulled the trigger on a the eLocker. I only hesitated because I have heard mixed reviews of the reliability and performance.

Now to wait for parts to arrive and put this thing back together.

Stay tuned for more shenanigans!
 
eLocker and 4.10 gears

Couple days after destroying the rear end axles and the eLocker came in. I was still waiting on the rear diff cover but could not wait to put everything back together. The three days the truck was sitting in the driveway I pulled out the front 3.73 differential and and swapped it out for the 4.10 front diff I had laying around the garage for months. Swapped out the axle bearings, seals and put new wheel studs into the axles.

I used a friend's pinion depth gauge to set the pinion depth however the first time it was too shallow and the second time it was too deep, but on the 3rd attempt I got the paint pattern perfect. Adjusting the backlash was really easy also and took a couple attempts to get it within factory spec.



eLocker is in, marked a spot where the wire would go, pulled the diff out and drilled the 1/2" hole for the wire. Reassembled everything, RTV in around the wire in the hole, RTV on the diff cover, my rear end was back together.

It was a long and frustrating day with no one to help me so I did not get a chance to take pictures, just wanted to get this done. I ended up running the eLocker cable along the main wiring harness of the truck and into the cab. I placed the actuator button directly behind the shift lever so that when the truck is in drive I physically can not engage the rear locker unless I was in 1st gear or in park.

Following morning I topped off the differential fluid and we went for a test drive. We broke the parts in on approximately 150 miles of pavement, then 50 miles of gravel roads. I found a rut that is difficult to cross with an open diff, locked the diff and attempted to cross in in 2wd with the rear locked. Nothing, one wheel spun. eLocker would not engage.

I backed up, we jacked up the truck, unhooked and re-hooked the eLocker switch, traced all the wires to make sure everything was connected, turned the truck on and spun the wheels, engaged the eLocker, rear wheels locked. At this point I am wondering if I will continue to have these issues with the eLocker.

Locked the rear, crossed the rut successfully in 2wd high. Drove another 20 miles on a dirt road locking the rear occasionally to get through ruts, worked well. Turned around and went back home, got to the big first rut I had trouble at earlier, engaged the locker and went across, the wheels spun again in the rut with the locker engaged. I was pissed but this is only the beginning.



Turns out the locker was engaged and it sheared the half axle because the axles that I bought were the cheapest and crappiest made in china axles that were not even half the strength of what came from the factory. When I got onto the flat ground I tested to see if the locker still worked, it did, I had 1WD. drove it 100ft and to be safe turned off the locker, put the truck in 4WD high and drove it 45miles in ultimately locked center diff and open front and a shot rear. Called AAA for a 95 mile tow, managed to loose my camera that has all the pictures of this awesome adventure in Riverside Ghost Town or under the Virgin River bridge. If anyone finds it I will give you $100 for the pictures on the memory card, you can keep the camera.



Sheared off crappy axle. On the way home I found out about the different metal types and ordered 4340 chromolly axles, they were a little more than made in China crappy steel. Called discount auto and was told to fill out a return authorization form online so the defective item can be returned or exchanged, they claimed a lifetime warranty. They never answered my call again, responded to all emails with a generic, "We are sorry that you are experiencing problems and we will call or email you back shortly." 3 weeks later I got tired of the donkey show and Visa gave me my money back.

I pulled and returned the eLocker to Drivetrain America which handled all the warranty details for me. I will be buying all my drivetrain related parts from them from now on just for the old fashioned customer service rarely found. Eaton's phone and online warranty site were down that week and every email from Eaton was returned with "I am sorry that our site and telephone system is down, keep trying."



New allow axles arrived, I put them in, put the GovLock back in with the 4.10 gears this time, the pinion depth was perfect and I did not have to adjust it, took 5 minutes and 3-4 attempts to get the backlash dialed in. I found a 1/2" bolt that fit into the 1/2" hole I drilled for the eLocker wire, filled it with as much RTV as i could fit in the hole and tightened the bolt. RTV on the plastic gasket that came with the new diff cover. Assembled everything and let the RTV cure. Filled the rear end with diff fluid and 3k miles later not a drop and no issues.

Stay tuned for more shenanigans.
 
Could you tell much of a difference with the 4.10's in the short amount of time you got to experience with them?
mjmck,

I have had the 4.10s in for over a month, have 3k miles on them and love them. On the highway I am spending way more time in 4th gear and did 512 miles on a tank of 60-70mph highway driving. Acceleration has improved a little, the truck feels more like 3.73s did with 33" tires. In town I gained approximately 1.5mpg.

Did a couple Cali trips and was able to go up Cajon Pass and Baker Grade in 4th gear at 2krpm the whole way, before I would be screaming at 3krpm in 3rd gear.

Off road in 4x4 low the truck crawls significantly slower, at first I thought that my tranny went out it didn't. In 2wd I can keep the truck in D without worrying about overheating the tranny whereas before I stayed in 1st gear in 2wd on trails.

If I ever downsize to smaller than 35s I would drop back down to 3.73. If I go up to 40" tires when these wear out I'm getting 4.56 gears. For 35s or 37s 4.10 are the most versatile all around gears for commuting, road trips and occasional off-road adventures.

Stay tuned for more shenanigans!
 
Aviation Navigation Arrow

Spent the weekend in Salt Lake area enjoying the first real snowfall of the season, on the way back I stopped by one of my favorite landmarks: Aviation Navigation Arrows.



50ft long concrete arrow with the truck in the background.



First used for civilian aviation, then used to ease the navigation of mail delivery planes.



Picture taken from the roof of the truck.



The middle of the arrow had a "lighthouse" that illuminated the front and back of the arrow.

Stay tuned for more shenanigans!