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My ‘94 2WD Blazer - Build Log

1330 Views 15 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Brawndo
I recently picked up a ‘94 S10 Blazer W vin with 140k miles and some issues, but in pretty great condition otherwise. I’ve been a C10 guy my whole life thanks to my dad, but can’t afford one with how crazy they are now. I had never really paid attention to S10’s til I saw a nice one at a show in July, and a few days later I was head over heels for this one I found on facebook. Here’s the post I made in Member Rides when I bought it
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There’s no real point to posting this, just a brain dump of what has engulfed most of my free time the past few weeks and a bit of a build log. It’s going to be long and verbose so I don’t expect anyone to read it all, my friends just aren’t really gearheads so I gotta put all this somewhere lol.

I’ve never undertaken a job this big before and I’m doing research and taking it slow every step of the way to make sure I don’t screw it up. I can only work on it 3 or so hours a day during the week so progress has been a bit slow. I threw the rule “don’t fix it if it ain’t broke” out the window for this project since it’s going to become my new daily, and since I already had to pull the motor to swap the freeze plugs I wanted to make sure it wouldn’t need to come out again for a very long time. I listed most of its issues in the previous post I linked, so I won’t restate them all here. In short, it leaked coolant, oil and ATF, misfired at idle and ran super rich, motor mounts were shot and A/C didn’t work, among other things. I say those in past tense in hopes that they’re all resolved after the motor goes back in tonight.

I started by swapping plugs, wires and O2 sensor cuz it was reading lean despite running rich as hell, thing was CAKED with soot, much like my garage floor below the tailpipe. The speed sensor at the transmission output shaft was leaking a ton of ATF, so I put in a new one which was a bit of a pain since it was pretty baked in and there wasn’t much to grab onto, but some wide jaw pliers and PB Blaster did the trick. I used a bit of oil and some clamps to press the new one in.

Next I hooked up a fuel pressure tester and it built full pressure, but leaked down to 20psi in about 5 seconds. Opened up the plenum and watched the CPI regulator spout a healthy stream of fuel, but lines/poppits seemed okay, so I just bought a new regulator and nut kit for now - regulator was $10 in a closeout sale on rockauto so I went ahead and bought a spare just in case. The nut kit was out of stock basically everywhere, but thankfully PartsHawk had 2 left.
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Yuck. Hard to believe the driver’s side is closer to how it should actually look than the passenger side.

I then tried to do my lower intake gasket while waiting until I could pick up my dad’s engine hoist, but with no guide pins and no extra set of hands I wound up sliding that thing all over the place before I got it lined up, not to mention I didn’t use thread sealer nor apply RTV around the coolant channels. The original gaskets had bonded to the heads on a damn near molecular level and were an absolute nightmare to clean off; that was the worst part of this entire project, but would’ve been much easier with a fine chisel/scraper rather than the loose razor blade I used.. I also wound up bending the fuel inlet/outlet lines a bit when removing the intake (you can see they’re slightly askew in the pic below), so hopefully those are still okay.
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After that endeavor I got most things disconnected, pulled the rad, fan etc., and picked up my dad’s hoist and a friend’s engine stand. Previous owner said he had replaced the dist. cap and rotor but they were super corroded when I pulled them, so added another few parts to the list. Since I had the plenum off I was able to get to the top 2 trans bolts with a wrench, though I’ve never spent so long unscrewing a single bolt so that led me to pick up a ratcheting wrench the next day lol. My dad’s buddy lent me a custom 3’ extension he made which made fairly quick work of the other 4 bolts. Managed to only snap one exhaust stud, but sadly the other studs unscrewed rather than the nuts coming off of them so I’m going to have a heck of a time getting those out of the y-pipe flanges tonight.

With the trans, torque converter and exhaust unbolted only a few brackets and ground straps remained, so I put a 6x6 block on a jack to support the trans, hooked the hoist up to the lift brackets bolted to the intake and raised it enough to get to the rear grounds. With a few more pumps of the hoist and a bit of prying near the guide pins the motor was finally free. I cracked a celebratory beer and proceeded to mount it up to the engine stand with some 3” 3/8”-16 bolts - for what it’s worth, they were about half an inch too long for the harbor freight 1/2 ton stand I’m using.
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While mounting it to the stand, the knock sensor on the passenger side rear crumbled with a light tap of a ratchet handle, as did the oil pressure sensor. I was contemplating replacing those anyway, so that made the decision for me. I then got the passenger side accessory bracket off, and was annoyed to discover I had to rent a puller to get the P/S pump out of the driver’s side to get to the last bracket bolt. With that done, I finally got a good look at the freeze plugs:
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They came out relatively easily with a hammer and socket extension/flathead screwdriver (there are 8 total, just took the pic halfway into the job). As you can see, they were in pretty bad shape lol. I popped them all out, got all the rust chunks out with a magnet and screwdriver and then ran a hose through the holes for a while til it ran clear. I won’t bother posting a video, but I’ll just say there was about half an inch of dexcool sludge in the bottom of the channels in some spots, so it was more mud than water at first. With that done, I grabbed a big socket and hammered in the new brass plugs:
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Also threw on a new water pump while I was at it. Shiny.

Next I pulled the oil pan, and was pleasantly surprised with the cleanliness inside. I noticed my rear main seal was leaking slightly, so I replaced it which was WORLDS easier than when I did the same job on my 350Z. New melling oil pump and pickup went in too. I installed the pump, measured the depth of the pan and marked the pickup before removing the pump and hammering it in to make sure it was the proper distance from the bottom of the pan. The pickup was a bit of a pain to get pressed into the pump, but once I stopped babying the hammer it went right in.
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With that done I cleaned up the faces, put some black “Right Stuff” RTV in the corners around the main seals, popped the new gasket on and torqued the pan down. My 350Z just uses RTV as the pan gasket which was not fun, so this rubber gasket was awesome.

At this point I took the intake manifold back off and saw how poor a job I did the first time, so I cleaned the faces back up and tried it again, with black Right Stuff this time instead of the grey stuff that came with the gaskets. I also had friends over to lend a hand so we were able to set it straight down lined up perfectly; having lined the coolant channel openings with RTV and putting thread sealer on the bolts this time I’m infinitely more confident in it than my first attempt. The RTV bead looks like a factory job from the outside. I also put in a new thermostat, the old one was looking pretty crusty.

After that was done I put the accessory brackets back on and bolted my new jagsthatrun motor mount adapters to the block, and bolted the mounts to the frame. My initial review is that these are fantastic upgrades over OEM or Energy Suspension mounts - thanks to Harley for the recommendation.

I also picked up some Ryobi screw extractors for the sheared exhaust stud, which to my surprise made quick work of it. I then put in all new studs.

Getting close now - I started swapping in the parts for my R12->R134a conversion, and when I pulled the orifice tube it was mostly black and had metal shavings in it, so I went ahead and picked up a new compressor. Advance Auto had an OEM GM/AC Delco compressor in stock, which was a relief because all the aftermarket/reman comps have terrible reviews. Advice for anyone else doing this conversion, O’Reilly’s has 2 accumulator options - one says R12 and the other says R134a, but the R134a model is for trucks that came with factory R134a - both will work for either refrigerant, but the R134a model would not accept the sensor from my original R12 accumulator, so I returned it and bought the R12 model which was identical to the one I took out. I got that bolted up and new o-rings put in all of the fittings, so all that’s left is putting the switch from my old compressor into the new one.

That brings me here:
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(just noticed I forgot to put that idler pulley back on.. gotta do that)

After doing some reading I think I’m going to fab up a block-off plate for the EGR valve, I’m not thrilled about my intake getting pumped full of carbon all the time. Going to just leave the valve on and plugged in to avoid having to get the code flashed out, I have the electronic EGR not the vacuum actuated one.

Once I get home today I’m going to douse it in degreaser and clean it up a bit more, crack open some beers for my friends coming to help, and hopefully have it bolted back in the truck by the end of the night. We’ll see if I manage to get all the wiring right on the first try since I only started labeling halfway into it, sure I’m going to learn my lesson there. Probably going to reloom sections of the harness that have dry rotted and cracked off.

It’s been exhausting but a lot of fun. The most intense job I had done prior to this was the clutch/flywheel and RMS in my 350Z, so lots of new territory for me. I’ll post updates as things progress.
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Lot of work so far. Seems like you have it under control. You really lucked out with that broken exhaust stud. Most are hard as heck to get out once they break.
Blocking off the EGR and leaving it connected might not work. AFAIK the ECM, or what ever they called yours in 94, is looking for a change in the exhaust gas % when the EGR is operating. If it doesn't see that it sets a code and turns on the SES light. I don't remember how many cycles that takes.
You should put in a new A/C condenser also. It's likely full of crud if your compressor was going out.
Lot of work so far. Seems like you have it under control. You really lucked out with that broken exhaust stud. Most are hard as heck to get out once they break.
Blocking off the EGR and leaving it connected might not work. AFAIK the ECM, or what ever they called yours in 94, is looking for a change in the exhaust gas % when the EGR is operating. If it doesn't see that it sets a code and turns on the SES light. I don't remember how many cycles that takes.
You should put in a new A/C condenser also. It's likely full of crud if your compressor was going out.
Yeah I was dreading it but it only took a couple minutes to get out. Thanks for the info, I hadn’t finished reading up on EGR deletes, I think most of the posts I read were for vacuum-actuated ones. Also good call on the condenser, I was expecting them to be like $300 but looks like it’ll only be half that so I’m definitely picking one up today, would suck to have to pull everything out to get to it again.
Well I had some friends over Thursday night who helped me drop the motor back in. I regret not forking over the $40 for a load leveler, we got it to hang level front to back but rotated counter-clockwise ~30 degrees so we had to lower one mount on and then hinge it down onto the other mount, so getting the flex plate to clear the transmission was a huge pain. It took us right at 2 hours from hoisting it up to putting the last motor mount bolt in, lots of pushing/pulling and raising/lowering but finally got it lined up and clear of everything.
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My friends headed home and I spent another hour getting the transmission mated up, got it in with about a 1/4” gap all the way around and cinched it down with the bottom 4 bolts.

I took Friday night off cuz I was pretty worn out, but I’m getting ready to get back into it after I pick up a new A/C condenser.
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why would Chevy design a flywheel access cover you can’t access with exhaust in?! Guess I’m going to have to pull the y-pipe tomorrow. Will make it easier to cut the exhaust studs that came out in the flanges anyways, I got three done with a hacksaw under the truck but my arm is about to fall off. Going to try to rent some bolt cutters.

That annoyance aside, today I got all of the transmission and torque converter bolts torqued down, got all the grounds connected to the block, some wires reloomed and plugged back in, and fuel feed/return lines hooked up & secured.
Yesterday I got the new A/C condenser in and all of the lines hooked up with fresh o-rings, probably need to open up the cover on the firewall and see if there are any fittings in there. The condenser didn’t really fit the OEM mounts, it has tube ends rather than flat/rectangular. I still got the mounts onto it though, and once I bolted them in it’s held solidly in place and still has a bit of give for dampening, so I think it’s good enough for now at least.

I threw the lower fan shroud & radiator in after giving it a thorough flush and hooked up all of the lines other than the upper hose, including a new set of oil cooler lines.

Today I was actually able to get the t-converter cover in pretty easily by pushing the exhaust all the way back in the hangers and lightly massaging it with a mallet - that was a huge relief because I really didn’t feel like pulling the y-pipe out this close to finishing the job. Went ahead and bolted up the driver’s side since I got the studs cut out - I’m borrowing a coworker’s sawzall tomorrow for the other side. After I got that in I bolted up the starter, reloomed and cleaned its wires and got it hooked up.

I went to put the fan back on and noticed my new water pump didn’t come with studs in it, so will have to pick up a set tomorrow.

I also went to put on a new distributor rotor and realized how disgusting and rusty/corroded the whole thing is, so I’m going to just replace it now since it’d be annoying to do later and I want this thing to run as good as possible.

I plugged up the rest of the wiring which, to my surprise, was very straightforward despite my lack of labeling. I don’t think I could’ve hooked anything up wrong if I tried. All that’s left is the fan, distributor, passenger side exhaust bolts and the plenum - though I’m going to test the pump again before I reinstall that to make sure the poppits don’t leak after replacing the regulator & nut kit. Should be ready for a first start tomorrow evening!
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Well on Tuesday I got the fan on, picked up a harbor freight reciprocating saw ($20) which made quick work of the remaining 3 exhaust studs, which came out like this (threads are gone from trying to grab it with vice grips and break the nut):
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With those gone & replaced, I stuck in the new donuts and bolted them all up. I then primed the fuel pump to check for leaks in the plenum, and the service port on my new nut kit leaked. However it was just loose, so tightening it a quarter turn or so sealed it up and its holding pressure now.

With that done, I put in a new distributor - have a feeling I may regret not getting an AC Delco, but they were out of stock and it’s not the end of the world if I have to replace it later. I put the #1 cyl at TDC (feeling for a rush of air at the plug hole) and aligned the distributor to point at the #1 spark plug as well as lining up the oil pump driveshaft with a long flathead. The dizzy ended up rotated slightly clockwise compared to the one I took out, but as long as its pointing at #1 it should be okay? I then slapped the plenum back on, hooked up the last few wires and a few minutes later the truck was fully reassembled!
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I then filled all the fluids, and to my dismay my P/S pump started pouring fluid out between the reservoir and pulley - I’ve read these go bad fairly easily, but it worked fine when I took it out and I was gentle with removing it, so not sure how it got damaged but I’m going to pull and rebuild it once I get the truck running. I pulled the fuel pump relay and dizzy connectors and cranked it for a bit to try and get the oil pulled up.

Time for the first start!…. no dice. It cranks fine (battery was pretty dead so I jumped it, its now on a charger/tender) just didn’t even try to start. I suspect either a blown fuse, injector not firing (I’ve verified fuel is getting to it), ignition coil, or I messed up the dizzy install. Though if the dizzy was just off I would expect it to still try to start unless its in just the right spot where it isn’t sparking until the fuel has been dumped into the exhaust, but even then I think I’d hear a cough or two.

I picked up a timing light after discovering I need to manually time the dizzy on my ‘94, so tonight I’m going to dig into troubleshooting. Here’s hoping it’s something simple.
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Time to play catch-up, have been taking some time for rest & other hobbies since finishing the 3-4 weeks of work it took me to get everything apart, fixed and back together.

So the truck wouldn’t idle once I got it back together. I set the timing (timing wire unplugged) but couldn’t get it under ~15° retarded without it bogging hard and dying. Was cranking hard, spitting fuel out of the exhaust, misfiring and would bog down and die before I could get out of the driver’s seat and around the front of the truck. I pulled my hair out chasing the issue - more fuel pressure testing, checked IAC & TPS, cleaned intake butterfly & checked/cleaned all sensor connections, then went down a rabbit hole chasing an orange spark… I had replaced every single ignition component - distributor, cap & rotor, coil, wires & plugs. I was initially arcing the plug wires to one of the plenum bolts, spark was much stronger when arcing to a jumper direct to the negative terminal. I then went over all my grounds & did the big 3 with 2awg cuz this is how my main engine ground looked:
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Spark was much stronger now! Not running any better though.. time to look at timing again since I had ruled out fuel, air and spark.

I tried setting the timing a handful of times, rechecking my cap & rotor positions and making sure I was on the compression stroke etc. Same result every time, it ran worse and worse the closer I got to 0°. I then remembered I had a cheap USB inspection camera sitting in a drawer from 7-8 years ago, busted it out and stuck it in the #1 plug hole, started turning the crank and found TDC visually. I looked down and saw my timing mark sitting 90° clockwise from where it should be - upon closer inspection I could see a ring of shiny metal exposed around the rubber dampener, so I knew it had slipped. I took this pic after I had confirmed TDC - I had marked the 2nd notch with silver sharpie so I could see it with the timing light, and as you can see it spun pretty far off:
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My dad made the trip down to work on it with me the next day and we got the balancer off, pulled the front crank seal out and replaced them with new units. We also picked up a P/S rebuild kit, pulled the leaky pump out and rebuilt it which was a cool experience; next time I’ll probably just fork over the extra $30 for a new pump though.. it was a bit of a pain. It was the big gasket that seals the pump to the reservoir that was leaking.
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With that done, we buttoned everything up and I reset the distributor to the newfound TDC. With little more than a bump of the key the 4.3 roared to life and sounded smooth as butter. I popped on the timing light and dialed in the timing, adding 2° of advance since it’s got 140k miles and it sounded a bit better than at 0°. Plugged the timing computer back in and let her run some more, topped off all the fluids and took it for a drive. I was over the moon with how much better it ran than it did when I bought it.
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That was one of the most rewarding experiences/days of my life, and I’m glad my dad was able to be there for the finale. I’ve done plenty of maintenance work but have been eager for a bigger project like this since I was 15, so driving it really puts a smile on my face after so much hard work.

I’m happy to report 1 month of dailying the Blazer with no issues and a lot of turned heads riding around town. Here’s the scrap pile sans a few small parts that got tossed:
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After spending a couple weeks making up all that garage time to my girlfriend and enjoying the new ride I started working on some cosmetic things, starting with the faded windshield wiper arms and rear window trim. Being my only car right now, masking off the whole car and waiting for primer/paint to dry and unmasking it for work is a pain so I’ve only done the driver’s side so far:
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And to fix that pesky little trim piece that isn’t reproduced and crumbles to pieces every time I find one at a junkyard, I put my CAD skills to work:
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Not 100% perfect but after a couple iterations it was close enough for me, I may tweak it to sit a bit more flush later on. Printed in Atomic Filament’s Cosmic Graphite PETG to stand up to the heat and get close to the right color, though I could sand & paint it if I wanted. I’ll probably throw these up for order on a 3D printing service website for anyone that wants a set.

Those 3 things made a massive improvement, though I managed to crack the original windshield while trying to pull the driver side wiper arm off… idiot

Next I launched a 4-phase assault on the cloudy fading paint with a wash, clay bar, polish & wax. I used a clay mitt from Amazon which was waayy easier than the bar that came with my Chemical Guys clay lube. This was my first time claying a car, and WOW what a difference it made, the first clayed section I did made the rest of the paint feel like sandpaper. I then went over the whole car with Mequiar’s Ultimate Compound and Mequiar’s wax. Decided to skip their polishing compound after I realized I’d have to do sections 1/4 the size of the Ultimate compound cuz of how fast & hard it dried, I tried doing 1/3 of the hood at once and ended up having to go over again with Ultimate cuz the polish wouldn’t come off. I also hit all the black trim with Chemical Guys VRP which I must say I’m pretty pleased with, gave it a deep black shine. Here’s a before and after:
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The pics really don’t do it justice, it’s a stunning difference in person.

I’ve also been working on a side project for a few weeks - an 3D-printed insert to fix the useless cupholders. I made a post in the Blazer subforum about it that I’ll be updating soon, but here’s my first test print in the same filament as the window trim piece:
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I made a few tweaks to improve fitment and reprinted it with higher resolution to get rid of the segmenting you can see in the inner rings, will post some new pics in my other thread next week and get the file uploaded for anyone who wants to print/order one. It works great and keeps cans and medium/large drinks from tipping over around every turn, that got old very quick.
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Few final updates to get up to date on my progress. Firstly, in prep for a 5 hour trip down the Natchez Trace & back for a C10 Club show in MS this weekend (Truckin’ the Trace), I ditched my bald 225/70r15’s for a set of 30x9.5x15 BFG KO2’s:
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:love: What an upgrade, wow. They do rub the back of the front inner fenders after 1 steering wheel rotation, but lift spindles will hopefully fix that in the near future. I have to do a 3-point turn to park and can’t really U-turn but no issues during normal driving. After replacing the Vehicle Speed Sensor my speedo was reading 3-5mph fast, but the bigger tires brought it back to accurate. Looks like I lost about 1mpg, no significant power loss though.

My front impact strip was faded with white patches all over it so I went over it with a heat gun which got rid of most of the patchiness, and then I put a ceramic coating on it which took away the fading and left a deep black shine - found that trick in ChrisFix’s paint restoration Youtube video. I also had a new windshield put in, hated staring at those huge cracks every day after putting so much TLC into this thing. One of my front side markers was also flapping around and rattling, they’re plastic welded to the grill and turns out 3 of the 4 tabs had popped off. I put some high temp JB weld over all the tabs on both sides which did the trick, and I painted my cracked gold bowtie emblem yellow while I had the grill off but it’s not quite the color I was looking for so will have to redo it soon.

And last but CERTAINLY not least, I replaced the heater core today… ugh. I went with AWD V8’s method, which was easy to follow and straightforward, albeit still a pain. I bought a Murray heater core from O’Reilly’s, and once I sat the OEM core next to it I knew I was going to have a long day.. the tubes end about 2” away from where they end on the OEM core, and the 5/8” tube had an additional bend not present on the OEM. I bent the tubes to match OEM as closely as I could, but either that extra minor bend or the large ridges where the ends are crimped onto the core made it impossible to get it anywhere near seated; the left side would go in, but the right side with the tubes still needed to go in 1-1.5” and wouldn’t budge. I spent probably 3 hours tweaking it and couldn’t get any closer than that - I also noticed they had forgot to crimp/bend over ALL of the tabs on one end of the core. Nice. I picked up a Carquest (Spectra) core instead, put a fat bead of RTV around the base of each tube, and it slid right in no problem besides having to reshape the band clamps a bit. After an hour or so of reassembly I cut & ran new hoses, swapped my leaky lower rad hose and filled it up, heat works great!

I’m hoping to get some good pictures of it during my trip this weekend, will post them here if I do. I also got a package full of lift parts that’ll be the focus of my next post sometime soon:cool:
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Looking good, what’s the rocker switch next to the 12v on the floor tray?
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awesome toy, it really looks great
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Thanks to OH Really? Auto Parts you had to do a lot more work than necessary to get that core in. The kid behind the counter probably ordered the wrong one. We have one nearby in our little town, but I just ignore it and drive 2 blocks to NAPA. Prices are tiny bit higher, but parts fit and the guys behind the counter seem to know what they're doing.
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Looking good, what’s the rocker switch next to the 12v on the floor tray?
Beats me, I assume maybe the original owner wanted to wire it to cut off that 12v accessory port but nothing’s connected to it.

Thanks to OH Really? Auto Parts you had to do a lot more work than necessary to get that core in. The kid behind the counter probably ordered the wrong one. We have one nearby in our little town, but I just ignore it and drive 2 blocks to NAPA. Prices are tiny bit higher, but parts fit and the guys behind the counter seem to know what they're doing.
Yeahh the website said it fits (auto, A/C) but it certainly did not. I normally prefer O’Reilly’s but this time Autozone saved the day
It's been a fun 2 weeks... starting with my road trip from Nashville, TN to Tupelo, MS down the Natchez Trace with 70 other old trucks from C10Club (I was the only S10 besides a bagged 2nd gen who made the drive with us but wasn't at the show the next morning). We took this trip last year in my dad's '75 K5 Blazer which is currently undergoing an engine rebuild, so I got to show off all my hard work on my baby Blazer this time. Most of these guys aren't really into S10's but I still got some compliments on it. The urgency of a lift was made very apparent by the end of the trip after many 5-point turns and lots of inner fender rubbing from the new 30x9.5's.
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A week after putting in the new heater core, my upper radiator hose fitting cracked around the bottom edge and caused a pretty decent coolant leak. The rad was one of the only major components I didn't replace during my overhaul, so I knew it'd go sooner or later but didn't expect it to give up that fast, I had just filled it with fresh coolant. I begrudgingly forked over the $200 for a new one and had it swapped in under an hour, not too bad. I also put on a new lower hose since the old one leaked if I wiggled it.

Now for the fun stuff... 3" lift spindles and extended stainless brake lines from Spindle Source, and 2" lift shackles from Crown Suspension. Went up to my parents' place for the weekend to hang out and get them on, it's always a great time wrenching with my dad so I usually try to make the trip when I have upgrades to install. We started with the front, and since the prev. owner had the UCA's replaced last year none of the bolts were too seized up, most of them came right out with a couple taps of a hammer. My shocks are definitely pretty toast, there was almost no resistance when pushing/pulling on the passenger side. I assume the rears are in similar shape, so a set of Bilsteins has been moved to the top of the priority list. Also, I think I was a few thousand miles or one really hard brake slam away from blowing the front brake lines.. both layers of insulation were fully split open leaving just the fiber weave and whatever's inside that. Here's a before pic where you can see it:
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Lower ball joints also need addressing, no play in them but the boots are shot. Added to the list... I then got busy cutting off the steering stop from both LCA's. Not 100% sure they're an issue on 1st gens with lift spindles but I didn't want to risk it.
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We had to cut off the upper corner and the uppermost ABS wire clamp on the rock/dust shields but didn't have to extend the ABS wires. Extended lines bolted right up, honestly seemed a bit too long but I got them routed well where they can't get pinched or anything. We packed all the BJ's with grease and continued reassembly:
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I was pleased to see my wheel bearings look fairly new. Everything else went back together with no issues, and resulted in this abomination:
Automotive parking light Automotive side marker light Wheel Tire Land vehicle

I swear my whole neighborhood decided to sit on their front porch that day, at least 15 neighbors saw my test drive around the block... felt like I needed to stop and explain to each of them that I didn't squat it on purpose🤣

Despite several degrees of positive camber and about an inch of toe-out per side it actually drove really well, and I got the other 2/3 of my steering angle back😎 I pulled back in and we got started on the shackles. I had been soaking the shackle bolts in PB blaster daily for a week or two after reading some horror stories about removing them. Turns out the shackles and bushings had definitely been replaced in the last few years as they looked brand new. We easily removed all the nuts then jacked up one side until the tension came off the lower bolt which then came out with a few taps of a hammer & punch, rinse & repeat for the upper. We got the new shackle in and moved to the passenger side which didn't even require a hammer, bolts slid right out when we got it raised to the right height.

Before the lift I was already sitting 1 1/8" low in the back, not sure how it sat when it was new, but that means that the ~1" of lift from the shackles (haven't measured yet to confirm) was far from leveling the truck with the 3" shackles up front. I knew that going into it, and planned on putting in a long AAL anyways, just had to wait for the next paycheck😅 I picked up a set from Supreme Suspensions on Amazon for $80 that will be here in a few days and will hopefully get it close enough to level. My goal is making this a part-time overlanding rig, so the extra load capacity in the rear will be worth any minor decrease in ride quality I'll get with the AAL.

While I was under the truck I noticed my tie rods were looking very rough, so I ordered a set of Moogs from RockAuto. The cheapest bargain bin tie rods I could get from the parts stores in town were going to cost $170 all up... paid $70 for the full set of Moogs, RockAuto is a godsend. For some reason I decided to start tackling these at 8pm last night thinking it'd take me an hour, but half an hour in I realized I had to remove most of the steering linkage to get the inner tie rods out since they butt against the crossmember... after a solid hour of PB blasting, pickle forking and hammering I was able to get the relay rod loose and tie rods removed. Guess I can add relay rod to the list after giving it such a beating🙄

I grabbed some scrap squares of automotive carpet and placed them carpet side down over two folded up grocery bags to make some poor man's alignment turntables, which worked like a charm:
Tire Wheel Automotive tire Vehicle Tread
Tire Wheel Car Vehicle Automotive tire

I ran some braided fishing line between two jackstands and used calipers to get it as parallel to the rear wheels as I could, within a ~32nd of an inch or so measured at the front and rear of the wheel lips. Was a little extra work since the fronts stick out so much further (1.5" spacers for the rear coming soon) but not too bad. I didn't bother with caster as it was aligned last year and I'm going to have it professionally aligned soon, so to fix the positive camber I just removed one 1/8" shim from both bolts on each UCA - shop's going to have to remove another one though as it didn't quite get me there. I somehow don't have the right size wrench for the bolt heads, and getting a ratchet wedged in to hold the rear bolts was an absolute nightmare. With those tightened back up I got the tie rods set close to correct and torqued everything down other than the joiners, and used calipers to measure from my fishing line to the centerline of the tire front & back looking for about .05" of toe in. It was 3am by the time I got both sides aligned and torqued down... getting out of bed this morning was as grueling as the install. They don't appear to be packed with grease but there was definitely at least some in them, so I need to pick up a grease gun or run by a shop in town to grease them today.
Wheel Tire Vehicle Car Automotive tire

The drive to work this morning was much better... having so much positive toe and camber did not make for a relaxing driving experience. It tracked straight and didn't wobble, but I was white knuckling every curved portion of highway cuz it felt like one wrong move of the steering wheel could send me into the ditch - not to mention what it was doing to the new tires that cost 1/3 what I paid for the truck.

Funny and slightly scary side note: My tailgate & rear glass have been an absolute rattle trap since I bought the truck, the tailgate wobbled almost half an inch and the glass latch squeaked with any vibration or bump. A while back I had spent an hour or so adjusting the glass latch little by little which helped for a few weeks, but it quickly started squeaking again. Last night I adjusted the tailgate lugs and was horrified to discover my tailgate has only been halfway latched since I bought it, and presumably for the 3 years the previous owner had it. If it weren't for the spare tire holder I think it would've flown open over a bump by now and maybe shattered the glass. After the adjustment it's rock solid, doesn't budge but still opens fine. Huge improvement.

Final notes:
I finally looked through all the old receipts in the glovebox and was very excited to see the fuel pump was replaced ~20k miles ago - that was the biggest concern I had left! Front window motors, trans filter & pan gasket done too. Round of applause for previous owners keeping receipts.

I'm planning my first ever overlanding trip with some friends - going to ride some forest service roads, try to catch & cook some trout and camp out in the Chattahoochee National Forest. With that in mind, my next focus is getting the AAL in the rear and buying some gear. I picked up an 8' section of 6" PVC for $10 on Facebook and some conduit carrier caps to make a rooftop fishing rod holder, I'll make a post about it when I get around to building it. I picked out a roof rack, found a pic of a 1st gen 2 door with the smaller version of this rack which looks good, but this bigger version measures out to sit just beyond the OEM rails on all sides which is the look I'm going for. Not sure I can swing it before this trip though, I think new shocks are a much higher priority.

I'm sure many of you would have some choice words about building a lifted overlanding vehicle out of a 2wd, but since my other car sits 3" off the ground (and needs a new motor...) I really wanted something with good ground clearance; since it's my daily and parts are not overly abundant I appreciate the ride quality and simplicity of the 2wd, and once I put a locker in the rear it should be plenty capable for any offroading I'll be doing - I'm not rock crawling or mudding the thing.
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Looking good!
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