Offroad Trailblazers and Envoys

Diacom's Build - 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer

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by Diacom » Sun Aug 14, 2011 12:51 am

Last edited by Diacom on Fri Jul 04, 2014 2:41 pm, edited 4 times in total.
Diacom
Addict
 
Posts: 808
Joined: Fri Jul 23, 2010 9:08 pm
Location: Mt, Great Falls
Name: Noel
Vehicle Year: 2003
Vehicle: Chevrolet TrailBlazer
DriveTrain: 4WD w/ Aftermarket Locker

by Diacom » Sun Aug 14, 2011 12:42 pm

So, here she is stock, back when my Wife and I bought her.

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Purchased to replace a 2001 Chevrolet Blazer 2dr 4X4 that was our primary driver. Mostly stock.

My wife wanted a 4 door, and after looking at both Blazers and Trailblazers we found a great deal on the '03. We traded in the '01 and paid an additional $4,750 for their original asking price of $10,000. Had just under 53,000 miles.

We have always upgraded the sound systems in our vehicle, nothing extravagent, just better than stock. I did some looking and found AVH-P4100DVD for an indash replacement. At the time it was a newer product with great features. Of importance was a rear mount USB connector and stereo jack. We use Sony walkman MP3 players and this unit will control the players through it's touchscreen.
The stereo jack will allow use of non controlable players. I-pod is also supported. Jumpdrive support is also a plus with touchscreen control

One of the issues with an after market unit was fitting it in the stock location. This required some in dash modification.
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This shows some of the cutting needed.

The other issue is the rear mount USB and stereo jack. This is pretty much useless, but with the larger full screen, it did not leave anyplace on the front to mount them on the unit. A little ingenuity and a few cables later, I had created a front panel mount for both.
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One of the problems with using this location is the sub dash support is moulded directly behind this area. This required some cutting as well.
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So this is what the finished product looks like:
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And a fairly well hidden USB/stereo jack mount:
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I had also pulled our system out of the '01 and transfered it to the TB. Replacing the rear 6X9's from the Blazer with another pair of 6.5's as listed above in the interior mods.
Last edited by Diacom on Fri Jul 04, 2014 2:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Diacom
Addict
 
Posts: 808
Joined: Fri Jul 23, 2010 9:08 pm
Location: Mt, Great Falls
Name: Noel
Vehicle Year: 2003
Vehicle: Chevrolet TrailBlazer
DriveTrain: 4WD w/ Aftermarket Locker

by Diacom » Tue Sep 06, 2011 10:59 pm

We had always wanted to lift the 01 Blazer, but the cost of the lift at the time was prohibitive. Once I found Trailvoy and did alot of reading, I talked to my wife about lifting the TB. Her concern being of course that it would cost what it would have had we lifted the Blazer.

I showed her some of the lifted vehicles on Trailvoy and showed her the cost involved in a lift and she was hooked.

I did some additional research and chose MarkMC's Lift Meister

Installation wasn't overly difficult. We purchased new Bilstein HD's for the front and rear. Unfortunately, I was unaware of this site at that time or I would have gone with the BDS rears.

Also ordered was a set of 1.5" adapters to go to the 6X5.5" wheels to be used later.

Stock:
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Lifted:
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We took it in for an alignment and ordered up the wheels and tires we had finally agreed upon. Not an easy thing to do when you and your wife have a very different like in wheels. We found the AR Punishers in the black chrome that we both liked so with that done we impatiently waited for them to come in.

The upside of having to wait is we found that the alignment did not quite work and the front tires were wearing a bit on the inside. So when the call came that the new set had arrived, I rushed in and had them installed with an adjustment to the alignment. Driving home I found that there was some expected rub in the front on the bumper cover and rear fender area.

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A little trimming took care of the bumper cover. We had already removed the front factory mud flaps, but there was still a little rub on the lower moulding in the rear of the front fender well. After removing the moulding, I noticed that the bracket that the inner fenderwell mounted to. We had to take the TB into the body shop to see if they could get the bumper cover to lie down flat from the repair they had done when my wife lent the TB to my brother and he had hit an antelope. I asked them to cut the bracket off and move it back to give the additional spacing I needed so the rear of the tire wouldn't rub.

Well, they had the TB a few days longer then they said they would, and couldn't get the bumper cover to flatten out, but they did adjust the bracket at no additional charge.

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Not exactly what I had thought, but it worked just the same. Now with the lower moulding installed it would not rub.

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Here is a pic with the new wheels and tires pre trimming and adjustment, but it shows how it all turned out.

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Diacom
Addict
 
Posts: 808
Joined: Fri Jul 23, 2010 9:08 pm
Location: Mt, Great Falls
Name: Noel
Vehicle Year: 2003
Vehicle: Chevrolet TrailBlazer
DriveTrain: 4WD w/ Aftermarket Locker

by Diacom » Thu Sep 08, 2011 9:35 pm

Well, now we're lifted some, have new wheels and tires and didn't like the idea of having the spare under the rear as it would drag in the snow drifts as we had found out last December.

http://s1033.photobucket.com/albums/a42 ... ter=videos

So, our thoughts turned to a roof rack. Did a bit of research and price comparison and found something we could afford from Curt Mfg.

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The problem with the standard basket as noted from the above pic is that the spare tire pretty much takes up all of the basket. In and of itself this is fine, unless you would like to carry additional items in the basket. So the extension was ordered as well.

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Now we have enough room for a spare and a additional space.

The roof basket was done in the early spring just as my order from Bartonmd finally arrived. Standard order from his group buy, bumper, rad and oil pan skid. Had planned on adding a grille guard later, but Mike was very busy at the time filling his orders, so I did some digging and found a useable gille guard that appeared to be along the lines of what we wanted. I placed the order from Truck Gear Direct and had it shipped to Mike for install on the bumper.

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Took a weekend to install, partially my own fault, as the rad skid didn't want to line up due to the aforementioned run in with the antelope. Did some review of installation from the site and took all the necessary steps to get the bumper in place.

Final product...

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Diacom
Addict
 
Posts: 808
Joined: Fri Jul 23, 2010 9:08 pm
Location: Mt, Great Falls
Name: Noel
Vehicle Year: 2003
Vehicle: Chevrolet TrailBlazer
DriveTrain: 4WD w/ Aftermarket Locker

by Diacom » Sat Feb 08, 2014 7:17 pm

Well, after having the roof rack in place and having had my wife help me load and unload the spare tire from the roof, it became obvious that she wouldn't be able to do this alone.

Taking inspiration from others, it was time to build a rear receiver tire carrier. I picked up supplies, and on a trip back to Montana from Wyoming to visit, I went to a friends house so we could do some work.

First was a purchase of a CURT Spare Tire Mount
Also a Receiver Extender
An extra piece of 2" boxed Receiver tubing as well as a 1" X 48" piece of stainless strap from the local supply store
3 new Wheel Studs and locking Lug nuts from the local auto parts store

We started by cutting the receiver stinger from the tire mount. This left the 24" high box tubing and wheel mount in place.
We took the extra 2" boxed Receiver tubing that I had purchased in an 8" length, and cut one wall off.
We ground the coating on the top surface of the Receiver Extender to make a clean welding surface. Beveled the ends of the boxed tubing and had it tacked to the Extender.
We mounted the Extender and placed the Tire mount in place to check for clearances. Once satisfied everything was in the correct position, the tubing was burned in to place.

Upon getting home, I hooked up with one of our Roustabout companies to do some drilling. We used their drill press to drill a pivot at the bottom of the box tubing and Tire mount.
Bolted that point, and then drilled a lock pin location further up the box tubing. Once completed, we removed the Tire mount and beveled the bottom to ensure there would be no binding when it is lowered.
Using a spare wheel set up, We figured where to place the studs and had them welded into place to ensure they wouldn't come lose later on.

One of the Engineers where I worked does powder coating at home. So I took a Saturday and went over to his place. First we sandblasted both of the pieces down and cleaned thoroughly before hitting them with powder
and baking them in the oven. I also had him hit some chrome Warn lights that I picked up from my older brother when he placed new ones on his headache rack on his truck. Figured they would look better in black to keep
with the near no chrome aspect of our Trailblazer.

Once cured and reassembled, it was time to mount a wheel and tire into place. I found a problem with mounting however, the combo would not allow the wheel to completely mount down to the face of the wheel carrier.
Rather than cut and re angle the mount place, I hit up Walmart for a black cutting board. Cut it down and drilled it out to make a spacer for the carrier. It fit perfect and gave filled the space I needed to seat the wheel fully.
This also acts to keep a metal on metal contact from the wheel to the mount.

Here is a pic of everything mounted up from my trip to DTC

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Now, with the license plate covered by the new carrier, it was time to relocate the plate. Taking the 1" stainless strap and cutting it into half, I used a vice and hammer to bend the strap around until I was satisfied with the shape to have it fit the back of my Trailblazer.
I picked up a package of large suction cups and small square bumpers. The suction cups are used on the outer most license plate bolts to help keep the place against the body while insulating against bolt abrasions, the bumpers fit behind the inner most license plate bolts and near the bends of the brackets to help keep any vibration from ruining the paint below them. As of now, I do not have my light relocated, please don't do this, it's not exactly legal, I've just been lucky driving at night and not getting pulled over for it.

Here is what it looks like:
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It works quite well. That being said however, there are a few short comings. First, the stinger hanging down would drag on obstacles while running trails. Found out how bad on the first day of the event.
The solution was to remove the tire carrier and just run the stinger and shackle in place as having a rear mounted extraction point was required of the event.

Second, on paved roads, everything was fine, but once offroad or on a rough incline, the carrier would move around quite a bit. My solution for this was to take door frame wedges and force them into the lower
and one side of the carrier once it is mounted. This eliminates almost all of the movement in the receiver. If you are a bit smarter than I was, and find a hollow extender rather than a solid one like I have, there
are better options to keep this from happening such as Curt Anti-Rattle Kit.

For now, this will work just fine until a new rear bumper is built with a tire carrier mounted to it.
Diacom
Addict
 
Posts: 808
Joined: Fri Jul 23, 2010 9:08 pm
Location: Mt, Great Falls
Name: Noel
Vehicle Year: 2003
Vehicle: Chevrolet TrailBlazer
DriveTrain: 4WD w/ Aftermarket Locker

by Diacom » Sun Feb 09, 2014 1:05 am

8.0 to 8.6 upgrade.

Though I swear I had some pictures of the new diff, I'll be danged if I can find them. Oh well, there's the low down.

This Trailblazer came stock with a 8.0" ring gear and 3.73 gears. I was able to source a new rear unit 8.6" ring gear with 3:73 gears non G80 model locally via Car-Parts.com.

Once I had a differential to work with, I picked up a few necessary items:

New axle shaft seals
Royal Purple 75w90 Gear Oil
Powertrax No-Slip Locker From http://www.4wheelparts.com/
A few cans of Primer and Black paint.

I placed the axle on a set of 3 ton jack stands and started with a wire brush and wire wheel on a drill. I cleaned the diff housing thoroughly and prepped for primer and then followed up with several good coats of black paint.

At this point, I finished disassembly of the axles shafts, pulled those and removed all of the old brake components from the 8.6" housing, they were trashed from sitting in the dirt for some time and no longer of use. Fortunately the parts from the 8.0" diff are the same at the 8.6" for the brakes, so I just pulled the original parts from the 8.0", installed them on the 8.6" and installed the new seals.

With the diff cover off, it was time to finish the removal of the spider gears and get ready for the install of the No-Slip. Installation was fairly straight forward as their directions are good and there's not really much you can mess up as long as you do not remove the carrier. Gear wear and play all checked out ok, so everything was installed and buttoned back up.

The rest of the swap was pretty straight forward, lower the 8.0" down, remove springs and spacer, check to ensure calipers where up and out of the way from brake removal. Remove control arms from the 8.0" housing and lower it down. Pulled 8.0" out of the way with the old set of wheels from before the lift and rolled the 8.6" in place with the spacers and new wheel/tire combo from the lift. Reversed disassembly, filled the diff and was ready to go.

Time for the Test drive, ETA to leave for 2011 DTC 2 days. Started slow to ensure if anything happened, I would not be traveling at speed and have a catastrophic failure on the road. I drove to a nearby Rail Yard and began a few test, turning, acceleration etc....
Found a squeal from the brakes on one side as well as a bit of a vibration. I had my wife get in and drive around in a circle while I watched and found one wheel was wobbling quite a bit. Frustrated, we drove back to the house and began pulling parts.

We placed the rear end on the jack stands, I had my wife put the Trailblazer in gear with the wheel off on the side that was wobbling and found that the whole end of the shaft was wobbling causing the brakes to rub. Frustrated, I drained the diff, pulled that axle shaft and made a call to the wrecking yard I had purchased the 8.6" diff from some near 6 months ago. I asked if they had another 8.6" diff, which they did, and asked if I could purchase just the axle shaft beings it had been as long as it had and my situation on leaving in a few days for the offroad event. They actually said they would pull the shaft and have it ready for me the next day, no charge, even though I was past their return/warranty time, they would honor it beings I had actually not used the differential until just recently. I picked up the shaft the next day, taking in the old to show them it was in fact bent.

Got home, my buddy who was going to the event with me arrived from Montana. We reinstalled the new shaft, buttoned things back up, took a quick test run and began to load for leaving for DTC the next day.

Upon arriving at the check in station for DTC, they started looking over the vehicle and thought initially they would have to class us as a standard rating of 3, I told em to hold on a min, there's a locker as required to rate a 3+. For some reason they didn't believe me until jacking up the back end and having me put it in gear. They laughed a bit and put the + ranking down for the event.

Many there were impressed with how well a Trailblazer did. So I would say the No-Slip was worth the money to upgrade with the 8.6"

It worked flawlessly the entire event w/o a hint of trouble. That is to say until the trip home. We stopped in just off the interstate in Spearfish, SD to eat for the trip home and fuel. When leaving the station from a stop light, making a left hand turn from a dead stop, the backend made a weird ratcheting sound, quite loud, and I had no engagement from the rear end for a moment, then a bang and it acted like everything re-engaged. I drove slowly to the side of the road, did a few quick tests listening for sounds while moving forward and back, nothing unusual. At that point I figured I'd just have to wait until I got home to tear it down and see if anything was wrong. It actually worked normal for the next 3 and a half hour drive home, and pulling the cover a few days later did not show any signs of unusual wear. To this day I have no idea what happened and have not had another issue since.
Last edited by Diacom on Sun Feb 09, 2014 1:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
Diacom
Addict
 
Posts: 808
Joined: Fri Jul 23, 2010 9:08 pm
Location: Mt, Great Falls
Name: Noel
Vehicle Year: 2003
Vehicle: Chevrolet TrailBlazer
DriveTrain: 4WD w/ Aftermarket Locker

by Diacom » Sun Feb 09, 2014 1:08 am

Little bit of Lighting upgrades:

Early July 2011, I bought up James old light bar and Hella lights http://forums.offroadtb.com/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=8

My brother gave me a set of Warn lights, that I found to be http://www.amazon.com/WARN-220612-Spot-Light-Kit/dp/B000BQP5LC/ref=sr_1_43?ie=UTF8&qid=1391920510&sr=8-43&keywords=warn+light+kits from off of his headache rack for his truck. He was upgrading the lighting and handed these over when he took them off. One had a small dent in it. Both needed to be pulled apart, cleaned and new grommets placed in the bottom. Otherwise no wiring and no lens covers.

Once each light was disassembled, I sat in the house in my spare time with a body hammer and dolly and slowly worked the dent out. Picked up new grommets and tested the bulbs. Cleaned everything thoroughly and checked the lens seals for need of replacement. Once the dent was out and I had everything ready to go, I took the light housings and parts for the rear tire carrier to the aforementioned Engineer friends house to have them blasted and powder coated black.

With my roof rack in place, I was unable to mount the lights that I had purchased from James. I had attempted to find several different ways to mount the lights, but decided to give up for now and just put them back into the box and wait until such a time that I could find a way to mount them either to the roof rack or find another use for them.

The Warn lights however did get mounted to the grill guard/bumper assembly.

Image

Over all I think they look good, not to large nor to small, wish I could find some of the discontinued lens covers, but I'll come up with something at a later date I suppose.
Diacom
Addict
 
Posts: 808
Joined: Fri Jul 23, 2010 9:08 pm
Location: Mt, Great Falls
Name: Noel
Vehicle Year: 2003
Vehicle: Chevrolet TrailBlazer
DriveTrain: 4WD w/ Aftermarket Locker


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