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1986 Chevrolet Blazer K5 & 2001 Toyota Tacoma Prerunner - Off-Road Mail

Posted in Features on June 1, 2005
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Editor's Note: If you have any questions, comments, rants, or raves, please feel free to contact us at OFF-ROAD magazine, Mailbox, 2400 E. Katella Ave., 7th Floor, Anaheim, CA 92806. You can e-mail us at kevin.blumer@primedia.com.

Jeep Freak Dreams
I'm an American soldier fighting in Afghanistan on behalf of the United States as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. My unit has been here almost a year, and we're getting ready to come back home within the next few months. I'm an avid four-wheeler originally from Montana. For the last three years before I deployed, I took full advantage of the four-wheeling spots on the island of Oahu, as I was stationed at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

Every Jeep freak has a dream. Well, my dream is to be able to afford a good 6- or 8-inch suspension lift on my TJ Wrangler - preferably the long-arm type with all the toys. Like I said, it's a dream, and I figure that the closer I get to establishing the dream, the better off I'll be. "If I don't attempt to climb the hill, I'll never get to see the top." Therefore, I'm asking for the possible chance of getting a welcome-home present or a reasonable discount on your product so I'll be able to afford my four-wheel dreams. I will be forever grateful and indebted to you.Justin C. PearsonA deployed Jeep freak awaiting return from Afghanistan

Justin,
Our product? Well, we suggest you subscribe to OR and get free home delivery and a huge savings off the newsstand price. As for the rest of the Jeep Dream, there is an ever-growing array of kits that will increase lift height and suspension travel on your TJ. A bigger marketplace means competition, and that brings prices down. You should know that OR Editor Phil Howell is a genuine Jeep freak and may just love Jeeps even more than you do.

K5 Upgrades
My name is Chas Higdon. I'm in the military and am currently deployed in Afghanistan. Before I was deployed, I'd started building my '86 K5 Blazer. I bought a 12-inch lift and 39.5x15R15 Super Swamper TSLs, which I'm planning to install when I get home. I was wondering if I need to upgrade the axles and gears in my rig. I do a lot of hill climbing and mud-bogging. I also plan to put ARB Air Lockers in the front and rear. Could you tell me what axles and gears came stock with my Blazer and if you have any advice on what would be a good upgrade? My Blazer has a 305 V-8 and a four-speed automatic with Overdrive.Chas HigdonOperation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan

Chas,
Take a good look at some of the beefy military hardware you're working around and compare it with the stock GM 10-bolt front and rear axles under your Blazer. We think you'll be shocked at how wimpy the stock 10-bolt units are. Yes, you'll need to upgrade your axles to run your 39-1/2-inch Swampers. The GM 14-bolt 1-ton rear axle is easy to find in most wrecking yards and is fairly inexpensive to purchase used. Be aware that the dualie versions (which you'll want to avoid) are narrower than the single-wheel pickup versions. For a front axle, the ideal unit is the Dana 60, which came on many K3500 1-ton 4x4 pickups. They're pricey used, but offer big-time strength. Since the 14-bolt rear and Dana 60 front are eight-lug applications, you'll need to buy some new wheels. If you can't find or afford a Dana 60, a 3/4-ton Dana 44 with eight-lug hubs is a good second choice and is stronger than the stock 10-bolt front axle. The big brakes on the 3/4- and 1-ton axles tend to rub on 15-inch wheels. We've heard of people sanding the brake calipers to clear 15-inch wheels, but there's always the risk of removing too much material from the caliper if you do this. Another way is to use wheel spacers just wide enough to get the wheels to clear the brakes. Obviously, you shouldn't buy the ARBs until you have the new axles in place. Your stock gears are most likely 3.08s. You'll definitely want deeper gears to go with the bigger rubber - 4.88 would be a good middle ground between highway cruising speed and low-range 'crawling speed. Hope you get back to the states soon and safe.

Letter Of The Month
Taco' Lift
I love the magazine, read the issues several times, and can't wait for next month's issue to come out. I have an '01 Toyota Tacoma prerunner extended cab. I just bought a 3-inch EZ-Lift suspension lift and would like to know if I need to lift it any higher to install 33-inch tires. The tires size now is 245/70R16. If I need more lift, would a body lift be enough? I really don't want to cut the body. What about brakes? Do I need more? Are my axles strong enough?Rebel Hunt, Lemoore, California

If you can stick with 32-inchers, you won't need to use a suspension lift larger than 3 inches for your Taco'. If you want to go to 33s, you'll need a 5-inch suspension lift. With all the problems that can arise with a poorly installed body lift and undesirable characteristics, such as a higher center of gravity and chassis flex, that go with even a properly installed body lift, we feel that body lifts are basically a bad habit that the truck world is having a hard time breaking. That said, a 3-inch body lift should get you the clearance you're looking for to fit those 33s. Thankfully, Toyota has equipped its trucks with strong axles and brakes, so the stockers will be fine with the 33-inch rubber you want to use. A ring-and-pinion change to 4.56 or 4.88 will let your motor turn the 33s with more authority.

How much do you love off-Roading?Do you have a funky creation at home or in your garage that personifies your love of off-roading? Have you converted an old racing seat into an office chair? Do you use suspension limit straps to hang pictures on the wall? Do you have the world's fastest refrigerator, one that has attained such high speeds only after being encrusted with racing stickers? Have you turned a shifter knob into a toilet flush handle? Did you craft a welding table or workbench using 4130 chrome-moly? If so, we want to know about it, and more importantly, we want photos. Submit photos and descriptions of your creativity to our new address:OFF-ROADAttn: Kevin Blumer2400 E. Katella Ave., 7th FloorAnaheim, CA 92806

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