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One Built S-10 Baby Blazer

Posted in Features on October 18, 2015
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Chad Lien acquired a bone-stock 1996 Chevy S-10 Blazer a few years back doing some labor bartering. It had been sitting with a blown transmission for over two years, but Chad had a plan in his head and the motivation to turn the disabled SUV into the bigger beast you see here.

He toiled on it over two hot Arizona summers, torching off the factory IFS, changing some of the drivetrain, and adding heavy-duty axles underneath. He kept the factory 4.3L Vortec V-6 engine and had the 4L60E auto transmission rebuilt with a shift kit and improved external cooling.

Tiny tires would do Chad little good for where he wanted to explore, so 39-inch rubber was tucked under heavily trimmed fenders. Linked suspensions were fabricated front and rear, then the Blazer was sprung with ADS air shocks on all four corners. Custom hydro-assist steering was added to direct the big meats.

The final result is a unique rig built to take Chad out in the Southwestern desert, whether that be rockcrawling or bombing down some fire roads. There's nothing much babylike about this Blazer anymore.

Chad Lien torched most everything off the front and rear of the frame, then built up his own three-link suspensions with Panhards. He started with some frame reinforcements and added Ballistic Fabrication brackets and tabs on which to hang suspension components.
The front axle is a Dana 60 from a 1996 Dodge 3500 spinning 4.88 gears on a welded differential. Upgraded chromoly shafts turn Warn hubs mated to an EMS Offroad hub conversion kit. A Ballistic differential cover protects the innards of the housing that has been strengthened with an Artec Industries truss. Steering assist comes from a 1 1/2-inch-diameter, 8-inch-stroke PSC hydro ram that helps the 1991 Chevy Silverado Saginaw steering box.
The tail end got an AAM 11 1/2, 14-bolt full-float axle with OEM disc brakes. Like the front, it got 4.88 gearing, welded spiders, a Ballistic cover, and an Artec truss.
Lower links are built from 2x0.25-wall DOM tubing terminated with RuffStuff 1 1/4-inch rod ends. Spring support and damping are provided by 2 1/2-inch, 12-inch-travel ADS air shocks up front and 14-inch-travel versions in the rear.
The Blazer retains the stock, factory 4.3L Vortec V-6. The blown transmission was replaced with a Hayes-built 4L60E four-speed auto with a shift kit. To accommodate the new steering and keep the ride height relatively low, Chad sliced a hole in the hood and relocated the radiator and A/C condenser about 5 inches upward.
Behind the 4L60E sits an Offroad Design clocking ring used to flip a Chevy NP241 reduction unit upside-down. Behind the front crawl box is a Box for Rocks Doubler adapter from D.D. Machine used to stack the rear 32-spline Chevy NP241 T-case inline, for a total low range reduction of 7.4:1. The rear yoke exits an SYE kit from JB Conversions. With this configuration, the T-case shifters are run straight out of the box, using no OEM linkage.
Down below, Chad fabricated a custom T-case crossmember to hold the new drivetrain in place. He also fabricated a 3/16-inch-thick steel belly pan to protect the engine and transmission oil pans. Behind that, the factory aluminum skidplate was trimmed to fit with the other modifications.
Chad fabricated his own bumpers. The front bumper is simple and effective and holds a Central Pneumatic 10K winch tucked up high and into the grille area. The frame sections added front and rear are constructed from 2x- and 3x0.25-wall rectangular tubing. The remaining factory frame is now fully boxed.
A high-clearance tube bumper sits at the rear, and the stock taillights were replaced with 6-inch oval LED lights that were inset into the stock taillight pockets. Rolling rubber is a set of 39-inch BFGoodrich Baja T/As spooned onto Hummer H2 wheels.
The door skins are plated with 3/16-inch steel plate to protect the rockers. Rock sliders below are welded to the body and frame.
The rear bench seat is intact so seating for five remains. Tucked in the cargo area is a steel rack supporting a spare tire. Underneath, Chad packs spare parts, fluids, tools, and a second matching winch for the rear on a removable mount. A set of Optima YellowTop batteries also resides just forward of the tailgate.

Tech Specs
1996 Chevy S-10 Blazer
Engine: Stock 4.3L Vortec V-6
Transmission: GM 4L60E 4-speed auto, shift kit
Transfer Case: NP241 with Box of Rocks Doubler setup
Front Axle: Dana 60, 4.88 gears, welded spider gears, EMS Offroad hub conversion, Warn hubs, Artec axle truss, chromoly shafts, disc brakes
Rear Axle: AAM 11.5 full-float, 4.88 gears, welded spider gears, Artec axle truss, disc brakes
Springs & Such: 2 1/2-inch, 12-inch-travel ADS air shocks with 3-link (front); 2 1/2-inch, 14-inch-travel ADS air shocks with 3-link (rear)
Tires & Wheels: 39x13.50R17 BFGoodrich Baja T/As on 17x8.5 Hummer H2 wheels
Steering: 1991 Chevy Silverado 4WD box, crossover steering, PSC hydraulic assist ram, OEM pump
Other Stuff: Custom bumpers, body rocker armor, full skidplates, Central Pneumatic 10K winches, rear-mounted batteries, inside rear tools and tire rack, twin Maradyne electric fans

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