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1987 Chevy Suburban - Got 74’s?

Posted in How To on March 1, 2013
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This type of hooliganism is not good for light-duty parts. I had a blast abusing the Suburban like this but came home with a bent and leaking 3⁄4-ton 10-bolt front axle. A new 10-bolt could have been swapped in, but I also wanted lower gears and maybe a locker or two to deal with the 36-inch Swampers.

The CheapBurban project truck is getting stronger. I have a theory that if you break something you should try and upgrade it rather than just repair it. Take my ’87 Suburban’s front axle for example. I bent it jumping the truck at the dunes during Cheap Truck Challenge (Sept. ’12) and had to decide how best to keep that from happening. I should start by not jumping such a big truck again. I could also have tried to straighten it, truss it, and then cross my fingers, or I could just dump the 3⁄4-ton parts for 1-ton axles. I went with the 74s (Dana 60 + Corporate 14 = 74).

I should start by not jumping such a big truck

Swapping Chevy 1-ton axles into a 3⁄4-ton GMC Suburban isn’t a hard conversion, but it does take work. There is cutting, grinding, and welding, and some new parts are needed to make it go smoothly. I also upgraded to a disc brake conversion for the rear axle and replaced a few worn components to make the big Burb more reliable. I would say this swap could be done in a long weekend if everything goes according to plan and no unforeseen issues show up.

I searched the classifieds and came across a guy selling a few sets of military GM CUCV 1-ton axles (technically these are called 5⁄4-tons). These are Chevy Dana 60 front and Corporate 14-bolt rear, but they have 4.56 gears and a rear Detroit locker in factory form, perfect upgrades for my Burban. I brought them home for $1,600, about the normal price for a set of used CUCV axles.
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How Much?
The CheapBurban is getting more expensive, so I wanted to update the cost with what we spent before and how much this episode added to the tab. These are retail prices except for the used axles and may change depending on where you purchase these items and if prices have increased since time of print.

I’m pretty sure the Burb is done at this point, and I am ready to take it on some adventures. I could go further with additional gearing options, lights, winch, and bumpers, and if I do you’ll see it in a future issue, but for now consider it done.

Used CUCV Army axles, Dana 60 front, Corp. 14-bolt rear, 4.56 gears, rear Detroit locker... $1600
Off Road Design (ORD) sway-bar disconnect, and front heavy duty shackles... $198
ORD rear brake lines... $89
ORD front and rear U-bolts and rear U-bolt plates... $137
ORD drop pitman arm and steering box brace... $245
ORD disc brake conversion kit... $150
2 rear brake rotor and calipers... $234
Rock Auto clutch and flywheel... $203
Clutch slave cylinder... $40
2 Drive shaft U-joints... $30
2 front axle calipers... $98
Steering drag link...$46
Current upgrades total...$3070
Purchase price... $1300 Cheap Truck Challenge upgrades (Sept. ’12)... $2012
Interior upgrades (Feb. ’13)... $2503
Current total investment...$8885


Rock Auto
Madison, WI 53719
Offroad Design

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