Nuts & Bolts: Rust Repair on a 1984 Chevy S-10 BlazerPosted in How To: Body Chassis on January 11, 2017
It is finally time to rebuild my 1984 S-10 Blazer. The original plan was a solid axle swap, but first I had to get some rust repair done. Poking around, I discovered that the frame is pretty rusted from the rear axle back, so much so that one of the frame brackets has rusted through. Does it make more sense to lift the body off and slide a new frame under it, or cut off the back 3 to 4 feet and weld on a donor rear section? Do you have any pointers on how to weld the rear section on? I'm game for the work but am trying to figure out what's best. In all likelihood I should have started this project with another vehicle due to the rust, but my grandad gave me this truck when I turned 16 and he was a big influence on me. I also learned to drive and wheel in the old girl, as well as all the adolescent milestones. I've already swapped in a 4.3L and have a Dana 60 front and rear for it. I'd like her to sit low on 37s to explore the backcountry of Colorado and Utah. Thanks for any help you can offer.
Tech Editor Verne Simons is currently building a solid-axle 2004 S-10. Be sure to check back and watch the build, which will begin shortly. Though quite a bit newer than your Blazer, his story should have a lot of tips that apply to your planned swap.
As to the rust issue, that’s a tough call. If the rear portion of the frame is in that poor a shape, we’d be leery about the rest of it. You might be better off swapping the entire frame, especially if you don’t have the welding skills to do the repairs yourself. Proper frame repair is going to take a fair amount of fabrication and excellent welding skills, not to mention a lot of tools. If you don't have that, then you’re probably better off with the largely bolt-on procedure of a frame swap even though the complete swap is probably more work. Splicing frame sections together requires determining where there’s good metal on the original frame and then notching or pie-cutting both it and the donor section, as opposed to making a straight cut. You should also plan to sleeve the area with a section of steel that fits snugly inside the frame and can be rosette welded in several spots. Or, you can plate over the adjoined sections on the outside. Aligning the frame sections is going to be very tricky without a frame jig, but you can probably get “close enough” with levels and careful measuring as long as you take your time. If it’s off, then you will have all kinds of problems when putting the vehicle back together, including a vehicle that won’t go down the road straight. Once aligned and perfectly square, the sections can be welded together. Make sure you undercoat the fix so that the same thing doesn’t happen again several years down the road.