After realizing what I was looking at, purchasing it, and bringing home the '74 Blazer, I had to think about the plan. This thing was really clean, actually, and if I could get it running right, this K5 could be a really fun toy.
I had to figure out what the deal was with the engine and transmission, but everything else seemed intact and in working condition. I would replace the missing parts on the engine, and then fire it up to see what the deal was with the transmission.
But before any of that, I figured I might as well install a suspension lift kit that I had already ordered. Yes, I was putting the cart before the horse, but the second I found out about the $3,000 Thrillrides challenge, I knew I'd be using a '73-to-'87 Chevy half-ton, so I ordered a kit up as quick as could be.
I was happy to replace the suspension. It was mostly stock, with the exception of some rep
I wanted a mild lift-3 to 4 inches-which would let me run 35-inch tires (with a little fender trimming) and wouldn't require me to make any driveshaft changes yet. I chose a simple 4-inch suspension kit from Skyjacker that replaced the front leaf springs and used small blocks for the rear lift. I could have gone with cheaper leaf springs, as the Skyjacker kit cost me more than $500, but I planned on keeping this K5 the same height and wanted to buy high-quality leaf springs the first time around. By doing so, I'd be saving money in the long run. Rear replacement springs would have been better than the blocks I opted for, but it added cost and I was already getting way too close to my $3,000 budget after buying tires.
Speaking of tires, I chose a very aggressive set of 35-inch Pit Bull Rocker radial mud tires to replace the original tires that appeared to be older than I was. The Rocker radials are just about the most aggressive radial tire made, and I figured these tires could help make up for the stock open differentials since there wouldn't be money left over for lockers. And I wasn't about to Lincoln lock the rear axle by welding the diff together. The new tires were mounted on the wheels that I bought the Blazer with after they had been painted with a spray can.
The 4-inch-taller Skyjacker springs slipped right into the factory spring hangers, after a little hammer massaging was done to get them to accept the slightly larger urethane bushings of the new leaf springs.
Since we were on a budget, we didn't get a suspension kit with new brake lines included. The originals weren't pulled tight with the leaf spring unloaded, but they were getting close to being too short and upgrading to new, longer brake lines is always a good idea.
I'll probably do so in the near future.
Four Skyjacker Hydro shocks came with the suspension kit to replace the originals. They we
The lift blocks and new U-bolts got the rear end up in the air for now, but I'll be lookin
It was looking pretty good with the new lift kit and 35-inch Pit Bulls! And the rattle-can
Obviously I did things a little out of order. Most people would not lift a truck before even making sure it runs. But I don't think most people are in my boat, with a magazine boss breathing down their necks for a story on a complete running vehicle. I knew this vehicle was going to run one way or another, so it didn't matter where I started.
Upon opening the hood I found that a few important components were missing. The starter, alternator, a few spark plug wires, and some fluid caps had been removed. My plan was to buy the parts as needed to verify the functionality of this "rebuilt" engine. Hopefully it worked well, but if the engine was bad, then it'd be off to the junkyard to find a donor. I couldn't start the truck without a starter, spark plug wires, and a battery, so I bought an alternator and borrowed a battery and some plug wires from other vehicles. After installing these, I removed the fuel line to the carb, because I had no idea what was in the open fuel tank (cap was missing there, too). I didn't want bad fuel stopping my project before it got started.
I needed to get some plug wires anyways, and a friend had some used Performance Distributo
The radiator appeared to be in good shape, but was missing a cap. I drained everything tha
The new dual plane Weiand Street Warrior manifold was a steal at $130. I don't think I cou
I replaced the fuel filter, fuel line, and thermostat. This is probably a good practice an
With the Truck Avenger carb on top of our Street Warrior manifold, my K5 was starting to h
With the K5 up and running, I had to find a more permanent battery for it than the one out
It was now time for the first moment of truth. After pouring a little fuel into the carb, I turned the engine over. It then backfired and caught on fire. Luckily a friend was there with me and grabbed a hose to put the engine fire out (he's played this game before). The backfire told me that the firing order might be off on the engine so I checked that next. It turned out that all the plug wires were off by one cylinder in the firing order. Could that have been why this project was never completed?
Ten minutes later, after a cell-phone Internet search for firing orders, I had the plug wires installed correctly and was ready to try it again...though I admit I was a bit scared. My friend stood ready with the hose as I put some fuel in the carb and turned the engine over. To my surprise, the engine fired at once and ran for a few seconds until it ran out of fuel. This was a great sign, the engine had spark and compression, so all it needed to run was more fuel.