NotLaw's 1984 K5 Blazer Silverado

NotLaw

Active Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2008
Messages
479
Location
Cedar City, UT
Car(s)
'90 Saab SPG, '84 K5 Blazer, '67 Fairlane 500
So, I finally bought tires for my truck, which has been parked since November 2012, just after when I got my Saab licensed, and brought it down to Cedar City to join the Fairlane.

I thought it was time to give it it's own PYC thread, and break it where it was buried in the Fairlane's Thread.

So, to start with, some history:

This truck was purchased brand new in 1984 by my grandparents. They had special ordered the truck with nearly every option in the book except the bigger engine, and they used it to tow their 20' travel trailer up the Provo canyon to the RV park near Strawberry Pinnacles.

The Blazer (slowly) did this duty until 1993, when the transmission bit the dust and had to be replaced.

When my grandmother passed away in 1998, (following my grandfather 10 years earlier) the truck had 66,000 miles, and was passed to my Aunt, who, between 1998 and 2000, only put on another 1000 miles.

The truck was parked in 2000 in my Aunt's driveway, and sat there with the paint falling off until I bought it in October 2007, for $800.

I squirted some ATF into each of the cylinders before I towed it home, and again the night before I started it, before finally doing a full fluid change before even attempting to start it.

If I recall correctly, I also tried moving the engine by hand with a socket on the front crank pulley before I put power to it, and I let it crank over several revolutions by the starter before I put plugs in it, and let it start for real.
I think there was also some Marvel Mystery Oil involved as well, and the engine gets a semi-regular treatment of Marvel now, as well as some ATF in the oil run for 10 min before a change.

At that point, with a fresh new battery, it started right up, no problems. :mrgreen:

I don't have any pictures from that time, due to a hard drive crash, But, I do have this from March 2008. This was before I had put new tires on it (the ones on there were the stock 29", that had been purchased from a discount tire in 1988) and it was before I had removed the running boards as well:




I got new tires on it, removed the running boards, and I drove it.


In the summer of 2009, and 2010, and 2011, I had some severe hesitation and stalling issues under load that turned out to be a bad mechanical fuel pump the first time, and a failing electric fuel pump the second time (due to poor placement), and an overheating electric fuel pump the third time (due to being too close to the exhaust on the frame rail)

In fall 2012, the Fairlane's automatic transmission shit the bed (url=http://forums.finalgear.com/post-your-car/1967-ford-fairlane-500-a-27056/page-6/#post1978317]More Here[/url])

The Blazer needed tires, which I could not afford at the time, so it was parked, and project Cheap-Saab was initiated (More Here)

Thus, the Blazer was put into Hibernation.

During Hibernation, I replaced the drivers side door hinge pin, which in typical GM fashion, was ruined, and I replaced the wore out original cloth hi-back buckets with some leather low-back seats from my dads old 1996 Oldsmobile Aurora, which were even the right shade of blue (almost)
Making adaptor brackets:



and Installed:




last weekend, the 8th and 9th of November. I bought 4 new tires from Tire-Rack:


Mounted them with my dad on his No-mar tire changer:



and got my truck back on the road:


At this stage was a real trial by fire/Roadkill moment. I put a full tank of gas in it, and immediately, with almost no preparation for the drive, drove 200 miles south on I-15 to Cedar City.

I won't say the truck performed flawlessly, as it didn't, but it made it, and nothing broke or failed. The problem I had was different, as I posted in the Random Thought thread:

So, I've been driving my truck for the last week since I got my new tires on it, and good god almighty, this thing is slower than an fat asthmatic mouse trying to hoist a hippo up a 20% grade. Something must be desperately wrong; it has to be. I don't remember this truck being this slow the last time I drove it two years ago.

I mean, yeah, it is a 1984 Chevy, with all the vacuum controlled emissions junk that comes with that, and yeah,, its a 305 v8, one of worst ever made with a whopping 160 horse when it was new, and yeah, it is a 5500 lbs truck, but damn, I have to nearly floor it to go up a 5% grade at 40 mph in second gear; the Semi trucks were all passing me.

I have to downshift for even the tiniest hills here in town, at town speeds.
I'm pretty sure this thing never used to be this bad.

So, with the idea that something must be wrong, I set out today to try and find the issue after I got off work.
- I checked each of the seemingly thousands of vacuum connections on the engine, and all the lines, having been replaced 3 years ago and only driven for a year, are ok.
- I checked the 6 easily accessible plugs, they're a lovely golden-tan color, with just a hint of red for some reason :dunno:.
- I checked the cap and rotor for the dizzy for abnormal wear, there was none, looks new.
- I checked the timing, right at 12?. more than specified (4?) for the emissions engine, sure, but hardly out of the realm of reason, surely.
- EGR has been deleted and all associated vacuum lines removed or plugged, so a faulty EGR valve isn't an issue.
- It's a Q-jet carb, and the APT screw (Adjustable Part Throttle, controls the Rod height in the Jets) was a little too far out, I put it back in where it should be, and it improved, a little; The fat mouse is no longer quite as asthmatic, but its still trying to haul a hippo up a hill.

So, in terms of basic tuneup stuff, the trucks fine, better than ever even, except for the complete and total lack of any power whatsoever.

I was reading through my factory service manual and found way I can test for a plugged cat using my vacuum gauge, so I'll try that tomorrow.
Speaking of vacuum gauges, the engine pulls 13" of vacuum at idle, but cruises between 6" and 3" most of the time, with any increase in throttle resulting in an instant drop to 0", but it's always done that from day one, I think because of all the vacuum controlled emissions shit. (it's a lot of volume to pull a vacuum in, with almost no check valves from factory)
Somehow, despite the apparent absence of vacuum in the system, the cruise control works fine.

I think, from having read through my service manual, I understand now how all that vacuum controlled emissions equipment functions now, so I might take some real good pictures tomorrow, and then shit-can the lot of it.



Or... I suppose it's possible that my perspective has warped from the last two years of driving cars with proper engines, like a turbo 4 in a small car, or a cammed v8 in a muscle car.

I don't think so though.

So, it's got no balls.


Some suggestions were made, and I responded:

How many miles? If a lot, it could just be losing compression - 305s wore out relatively early for SBCs.
The truck has 98000 miles on it, and it has been in the family since new.
My grandparents bought it to tow their travel trailer up the local canyon to the nearest rv park, which it did until around 1993, when they burned out the transmission, and stopped doing that. from that point forward, it was almost nothing but runs to the corner shop a few blocks away until 1998 when my grandmother passed away.

The truck was still used intermittently by my aunt for a few years, but around 2000 or 2001, it was parked indefinitely until I bought it in 0807. It had 60,000 at the time.
I got it running again, and put another 38,000 on it.
Power was inadequate at best when I got it, with dozens of vacuum leaks, and sundry other small issues, but once I fixed most all of it, around late 2010, power was lacking, but not dangerous.
I parked it in 2012 due to desperate need of new tires that I couldn't afford at the time.
The new tires are a bit heavier than the old ones too, though they are the same size, but no more than a pound or 3, and I have a hard time imagining the slightly heavier tires sucking away what feels like half of the power it had when I parked it.

It does burn quite a bit of oil though, about a quart every 1300 miles last I checked, so it could very well be nothing but a absence of compression.



Where are you getting that vacuum reading at? You almost always want full manifold vacuum for testing purposes and that means below the carb. Also check for critters storage or remains since it was not used for so long.

Vacuum reading is coming from the T that comes out of the manifold, just behind the carb. This is the primary vacuum source for most of the junk on that truck, and the gauge is plumbed into the system before any other T's to feed the rest of it.

In the last week, I have also put more than 400 miles on the truck, which it has performed flawlessly, other than the total absence of power.


I suppose the real solution to my problem is a new engine.

Anyone got a running 6.0 LQ9 or other truck LS motor laying around I could have for free? failing that, I need about $2750 to get a 5.3 setup from BD turnkey...


More comments were made, and my responses:

How much is a used 350 Vortec in your area? If you're on a budget, I'd go that route, as the LS series has a different transmission bolt pattern and requires a different set of engine mounts.

I'm not in a position right now to be doing another engine, so soon after doing the one in the Fairlane, and dropping $880 on tires, (with lifetime balance and rotation from American Car Care Center) so a new engine is not realistically in the options list right now, I need to get this to an adequate level on the cheap.

Unless you fogged the cylinders with oil when you parked it or at least fogged/poured a little oil in the cylinders before trying to fire it back up, there's a good chance you may have cracked one or more piston rings either/both this time you fired it up after the two years parked or the prior hibernation; the oil consumption being high for a 305 lends support to this idea. Only way to diagnose is to do compression and leakdown testing.

I suppose the real solution to my problem is a new enginetruck.

FTFY. Sell the truck to a rabid Chevy bigot and buy something like this:

http://lasvegas.craigslist.org/cto/4736395715.html

4.9L straight six isn't all that powerful but it's damn near unkillable.

This last time I parked it, it's been started and moved about every 6 months or so over the last two years, sometime more often, but no, I did not fog the cylinders or anything like that at all for this last hibernation.

(copied up-post) The previous long-term hibernation (it was 7 years) I squirted some ATF into each of the cylinders before I towed it home, and again the night before I started it, before finally doing a full fluid change before even attempting to start it.

If I recall correctly, I also tried moving the engine by hand with a socket on the front crank pulley before I put power to it, and I let it crank over several revolutions by the starter before I put plugs in it, and let it start for real.
I think there was also some Marvel Mystery Oil involved as well, and the engine gets a semi-regular treatment of Marvel now, as well as some ATF in the oil run for 10 min before a change.


I did do a compression and leakdown test in 2008, not long after I bought it, but I can't find the results sheet that I stuck into my service manual, and I don't remember the results of the top of my head, I don't remember anything jumping out at me as being desperately wrong though, it was all as I expected for a then 60000 mile, but very very tired engine.

If the truck has been in his family since new I wouldn't go telling him to sell it to buy a Ford. There would be a fair bit of sentimental attachment to something like that.


And Indeed, as Hbriz says, there is some amount of sentimental value in this truck to me, as almost my only memory of my grandmother is when she was driving us somewhere in this truck, so getting rid of it is not an option.

Now having said all that, I'll continue with the results of today's tinkering in a new post.
 
Last edited:

NotLaw

Active Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2008
Messages
479
Location
Cedar City, UT
Car(s)
'90 Saab SPG, '84 K5 Blazer, '67 Fairlane 500
Thanks CraigB. I feel much the same way. This is a truck with some nice amenitys, not a glorified soccer mom van that's a bit taller, and pretends to be "offroady"




Today, I started my tinkering by going through the 130 some pages of my factory service manual's section on Emissions and Driveability teaching myself what all these silly vacuum controlled valves and sensors do so that I could determine what I needed to keep, and what I needed to get rid of.

Here's a picture of my emissions diagram on the core support:


I still don't know what the "TIP IN VAC SW" does, but I've determined that almost nothing on that diagram is required for the truck to run right.

This is the rat's nest before I did anything:





And after, well... I didn't take any pics because it looks nearly the same. :lol:
I pulled all the hoses off of the carb, as well as the manifold vacuum tee in the back of the manifold, and I ran new lines to apply manifold vacuum to the gauge, tip in switch, and the trans converter switch. The routing for the Cruise control, power brakes, and HVAC controls was on a different circuit, and I left it alone. I also left the PCV valve and most of the EVAP can alone.

I ran a new line from the ported vacuum source on the carb to the vacuum can on the dizzy.

The AIR pump, Decel valve, EFE valve, EGR Bleed Solenoid, and EGR valve are no longer connected to the vacuum system, and in the case of the EGR valve, it is removed and blocked off.

I also removed the 3 TVS or Thermal Vacuum Switches from system, though they are not removed from the truck.

In fact, I removed no vacuum lines or devices from the truck today (other than the EGR, which was removed years ago) I left all the crap in there, and with the air cleaner on, there is no way to tell that it's all disabled.

Result?

It's better. not a lot better, but better. :cool:
I have some power now around town, and when I went up on top of the mountain, it had as much power at 9,000 ft as it had at 6,000 ft yesterday before I removed all the emissions junk.

It's still slow, don't get me wrong, but it feels more like I would have expected it to comparing my remembered power levels with the idea that my tires are now 43 lbs a piece, instead of 40.

So, as I said, I went up on the mountain, hit some dirt roads, and took some pictures:






Next on my agenda is a full rebuild and re-calibration of the carburetor, with a kit from Cliff Ruggles, like I did for the Q-jet I put on the Fairlane.

As a test, I may put the F-lanes Q-jet on the K5, to see if it helps, makes it worse, is a bad tune for it, etc.
 

GRtak

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Joined
Sep 6, 2008
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21,343
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Michigan USA
What about dropping in a mid 90s LT-1 out of a Caprice, Impala, Roadmaster?
 

NotLaw

Active Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2008
Messages
479
Location
Cedar City, UT
Car(s)
'90 Saab SPG, '84 K5 Blazer, '67 Fairlane 500
It mostly depends on what I find when the time comes to replace the engine.

In all likelihood, rather than an LS swap, I will just get an old gen 350 to drop in there from a junkyard.

when I go looking, I'll probably be looking for a later Vortech 350, and plans would be a RV cam, intake, and headers.

I probably won't covert to fuel injection, since I don't really want the headache of the conversion on this truck. I'll just pop the Q-jet back on with a good rebuild like I did on the Fairlane's Q-jet.


In reality though, a new engine wont happen for a while. I need to finish this last semester of school, and get settled into some gainful employment with a steady income before I can think about the K5's powertrain.

By the time the swap does happen, plans could change wildly. In the last 5 years, I've gone back and forth between wanting a simple a 350, a LS motor, a Detroit diesel of some kind (that sound:love: ) a Cummins 6BT, a 4BT, a GM 6.2 diesel, a 6.5 TD, a 454, and an 8.1 out of a later suburban.

like the Fairlane, it'll probably depend on what falls into my lap at a time when I am ready to do it.
 

LiveToWin

Active Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2010
Messages
403
Location
Tempe, Arizona, USA
Car(s)
2012 Lexus IS F
It mostly depends on what I find when the time comes to replace the engine.

In all likelihood, rather than an LS swap, I will just get an old gen 350 to drop in there from a junkyard.

when I go looking, I'll probably be looking for a later Vortech 350, and plans would be a RV cam, intake, and headers.

I probably won't covert to fuel injection, since I don't really want the headache of the conversion on this truck. I'll just pop the Q-jet back on with a good rebuild like I did on the Fairlane's Q-jet.


In reality though, a new engine wont happen for a while. I need to finish this last semester of school, and get settled into some gainful employment with a steady income before I can think about the K5's powertrain.

By the time the swap does happen, plans could change wildly. In the last 5 years, I've gone back and forth between wanting a simple a 350, a LS motor, a Detroit diesel of some kind (that sound:love: ) a Cummins 6BT, a 4BT, a GM 6.2 diesel, a 6.5 TD, a 454, and an 8.1 out of a later suburban.

like the Fairlane, it'll probably depend on what falls into my lap at a time when I am ready to do it.

I'm liking the diesel idea, particularly the Cummins flavor.
 
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