Offroad Trailblazers and Envoys

Trail X's Build - 2005 Chevrolet Trailblazer

Vehicles posted here have shown that they are not only capable of traversing very rough terrain, but also capable of doing so for extended overland trips.

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by Trail X » Sat Sep 12, 2009 1:50 pm

The final product of this build will transform this grocery getter into a capable off road vehicle that can support me, my wife, and my friends on our long weekend trips off road, and the longer cross-country trips the wife and I have planned. Because this remains as the daily driver, everything is a compromise between off road capability and day to day economy.

Where it stands today:

Image

2005 Chevrolet TrailBlazer

Suspension/Drivetrain Modifications:
  • 285/70/R17 (33") Mastercraft Courser MXT - Load Range E
  • 1.5" Wheel Spacers from WheelAdapter.com
    FRONT
  • Radflo Coilovers
  • Custom Upper Control Arms
  • Cromolly Tie Rod Links with 2500HD Ball Joints (Moog ES800223 w/ M16x1.5mm Class B7 Threaded Rod)
  • Swaybar Deleted
  • 4.56 ratio gears
    REAR
  • 2" BDS Suspension Lift
  • Tahoe Z71 GM Rear Springs 15234633
  • Bilstein 5125 (P/N 33-185552) digressive shocks
  • Swaybar Deleted
  • 8.6" Axle, 4.56 ratio gears, No-slip locker

Exterior Modifications:
  • Custom Receiver Bumper - Hella Rallye 4000s - Hella Micro DE fogs - By Tactical Armor Group - Modified by Freaky Tree Fabrication
  • Custom Rear Swing-Out Bumper - By Freaky Tree Fabrication
  • Trasharoo on the Spare Tire
  • Roof Top Tent - Homemade by me
  • Custom Rock Sliders - By Freaky Tree Fabrication
  • Aluminum Oilpan Skidplate and Custom Radiator Skid Plate - By MDB Fabrication
  • Half-Roof Rack w/ Bike Rack, Kayak Rack, and Kawell LED Off-Road Lights - Custom
  • Diff protector - By Purple Cranium

Engine Modifications:
  • Synthetic Motor Oil & Diff Oils
  • Removed Exhaust Resonator
  • That's it!

Interior Modifications:
  • Custom HD Rear Cargo Drawer & Cargo Cases
  • Weather Tech Floor Mats
  • 12V Fridge mounted to...
  • Custom Rear Seat Replacement Deck
  • Custom Switch Cluster
  • Bail-out fire extinguisher
  • Red/White Hazard/Emergency LED Strobes (For roadside emergencies)
  • Weather Tech DigitalFit Front Floor Mats

Electrical Modifications:
  • Dual Battery Setup - Homemade
  • 750 Watt Inverter
  • Microsoft Surface Pro 2 w/ Delorme Topo USA
  • ProClipUSA Surface Pro Tablet Mount
  • Scangauge II w/ Xmount
  • Navigon 2100 Max
  • Bluetooth GPS Receiver
  • Cobra 19DX IV CB Radio
  • 3' Firestick Firefly CB Antenna on Custom Mount
  • FRS/GMRS Hand-held Radios
  • iPod input for factory radio
  • Reverse camera
  • Sears Diehard Platinum AGM primary battery
  • On Board Air - Viair 400C
  • On Board Water

Recovery Equipment:
  • Superwinch LP8500 Electric Winch mounted on Curt Receiver Winch Plate - Amsteel Blue Syn line
  • Hi-Lift Recovery Jack + Offroad Winch Kit + Lift Mate + O-R Base
  • WARN Snatch Block
  • Recovery Shackle Receiver Mount
  • 30' ARB Recovery Strap
  • 10' ARB Tree Strap
  • 75' Amsteel Blue Winch Extension Line
  • Bridging Ladders
  • 20' Static Rigging Strap
  • Chain, D-rings, etc
  • Staun Tire Deflators
  • A ton of tools and survival gear
Last edited by Trail X on Mon May 15, 2017 4:19 pm, edited 21 times in total.
Reason: Updated
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Posts: 9882
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Name: James Downing
Vehicle Year: 2005
Vehicle: Chevrolet TrailBlazer
DriveTrain: 4WD w/ Aftermarket Locker
Rank: Expedition Guide

by Trail X » Sat Sep 12, 2009 1:52 pm

Where it began:

Image

Running boards, no lift, stock tires... we all have to start somewhere.

Back when I first started modifying my truck, I decided to 'protect' the vehicle with some brush guards.

Luckily I made the smart choice when it came to manufacturers. There are a ton of brush guard makers out there, from $100 to $500. After examining the options, I went with a front and rear guard from WAAG. The WAAG mounts through the existing bumper holes, and still allows the user to retain use of the stock tow hooks. This is handy because it doesn't destroy under-bumper clearance.

Image

The front guard is stronger and more stable than others on the market because it also mounts above the bumper. This gives it a stable platform for mounting the heavy Hella 4000s.

After reading up on the different beams that Hells offers for these lights, I chose the cornering beam. I absolutely love the spread of light, which is perfect for night wheeling. My only negative comment for these lights is that they gobble up water when they are submerged (hey it happens, right?). They are not sealed where the bulb enters the lens housing. So they resist splashing well, but dunking is a different story. They have a modular design though, and can easily be taken apart to dump out the water.

Image

The beam pattern is excellent, especially to the sides. Here's a picture from some night-time exploring:

Image

The problem with low headlights when off road is that they can cause you to misjudge bumps and crests. They throw long shadows that can make bumps look deceptively large, or make ruts look deceptively deep.

Image

The only way to fill in these shadows is to have light above the line of sight, so yep, that means roof lights. Currently I have a very simple, cheap, yet fairly effective rack of tractor lights ($20 a pair) mounted to an aluminum extrusion. They are low enough that they cause minimal drag, yet bright enough to fill in the shadows. I'd eventually like to replace them with some decent lights, as I have learned... you get what you pay for.

Link to the DIY thread: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=8
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Posts: 9882
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 10:22 pm
Location: VA, Roanoke
Name: James Downing
Vehicle Year: 2005
Vehicle: Chevrolet TrailBlazer
DriveTrain: 4WD w/ Aftermarket Locker
Rank: Expedition Guide

by Trail X » Sat Sep 12, 2009 1:56 pm

Now the most imporant part!... THE LIFT!

:mechanic:

Before this, I had made a few trips at stock height, but was either scraping my frame on rocks and mud, or I was in fear of scraping the frame on rocks and mud. So some adjustments were in store.

Since the truck is not only a daily driver, but also the trip truck, gas mileage was somewhat important, so I wanted to make the truck as capable as possible while maintaining decent fuel mileage.

There are limited options for lifting a TB, so I went the BDS route. They have a body lift and a suspension lift, both 2". I decided the cost of the body lift was not worth the minimal benefits, so I stuck with only a 2" suspension lift (and I have yet to be thwarted on the trails I run).
Image Image

The 2" lift spacers all around was supplemented in the rear with z71 Tahoe springs. These added another 1.5" in the rear only and increases the payload capacity (critical when you're carrying a good bit of camping and recovery equipment).
Image

For a tire choice, I went with the tried and true BFG T/A KMs. I found an excellent deal on 32"ers and have not had a single complaint since.
Image

Here are comparison pics, before and after the install:

Image

The front and rear suspension with the new components:
Image Image

Time to hit the trails!
:flex dirty:
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Trail X
Founder
 
Posts: 9882
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 10:22 pm
Location: VA, Roanoke
Name: James Downing
Vehicle Year: 2005
Vehicle: Chevrolet TrailBlazer
DriveTrain: 4WD w/ Aftermarket Locker
Rank: Expedition Guide

by Trail X » Sat Sep 12, 2009 2:07 pm

Lots of external modifications next:

Rear tire carrier, made by CBI offroad fab:
(Detailed thread: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=14)
Image


Roof Rack, made by BajaRack:
(Detailed thread: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=16)
Image


Rock sliders, by Freaky Tree Fabrication:
(Detailed thread: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=15)
Image


Front bumper, based off Kennesaw Mtn, customized:
(Detailed thread: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=9)
Image
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Trail X
Founder
 
Posts: 9882
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 10:22 pm
Location: VA, Roanoke
Name: James Downing
Vehicle Year: 2005
Vehicle: Chevrolet TrailBlazer
DriveTrain: 4WD w/ Aftermarket Locker
Rank: Expedition Guide

by Trail X » Sat Sep 12, 2009 2:09 pm

So at this point, I was driving around with all sorts of random junk just rolling around in my cargo area... see picture below:

Image

Something needed to be done.

I started looking around for some ways to store my equipment, and with the combination of a custom built drawer and a few tool cases I think it's looking a whole lot better:

Image

Link to a more detailed thread: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=70

Here's a good picture from a recent trip when I was checking things and airing back up before hitting paved roads again:

Image
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Trail X
Founder
 
Posts: 9882
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 10:22 pm
Location: VA, Roanoke
Name: James Downing
Vehicle Year: 2005
Vehicle: Chevrolet TrailBlazer
DriveTrain: 4WD w/ Aftermarket Locker
Rank: Expedition Guide

by Trail X » Sat Sep 12, 2009 2:17 pm

I have found that navigation by a handheld GPS gets a tad silly at times. Handheld GPS units are great for hiking, don't get me wrong, but for vehicle travel, I wanted something better suited. So I mounted the laptop on a ram-mount:

Image

I run Delorme Topo USA:
Image

Here's a panorama from the passenger seat taken during TECORE I.



After running with the mount through a few trips, I realized there are two NEEDED upgrades for the ram system when going off road:

Screen stabalizer:
(Otherwise the screen vibrates everywhere and eventually bends over)
Image

Low profile laptop holders:
(With the stock ram-mount holders, the screen cannot close while the laptop is in the holder)
Image
Last edited by Trail X on Mon Sep 28, 2009 6:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Resized wide image...
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Trail X
Founder
 
Posts: 9882
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 10:22 pm
Location: VA, Roanoke
Name: James Downing
Vehicle Year: 2005
Vehicle: Chevrolet TrailBlazer
DriveTrain: 4WD w/ Aftermarket Locker
Rank: Expedition Guide

by Trail X » Sat Sep 12, 2009 2:18 pm

It seems the common theme among all cargo is to organize it into groups and condense it into easy-to-access cases.

I have been carrying around my grille and all associated cooking items separately for a while now. It seemed everything was hidden in a separate case or tub. So like the recovery equipment, organization was needed.

I found a few used cases at work, and went to town with my pocket knife and cored them out by cutting out small peices of plastic here and there. The end result turned out to be a decent field kitchen case.

One case is the field kitchen, and the other is completely cored out and holds dry foods, plates, cups, and other misc. kitchen items.

Image

In the kitchen case, everything is held in place by straps, or is wedged under a nook of plastic. I just got extremely lucky with it all fitting as it did. There's still a little room for some other things... maybe some mini salt and pepper shakers?

Image

For what it is... I'm pretty happy with it.
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Trail X
Founder
 
Posts: 9882
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 10:22 pm
Location: VA, Roanoke
Name: James Downing
Vehicle Year: 2005
Vehicle: Chevrolet TrailBlazer
DriveTrain: 4WD w/ Aftermarket Locker
Rank: Expedition Guide

by Trail X » Sat Sep 12, 2009 2:27 pm

CB radio:

REQUIRED READING:
First... here is a good article on CB radios for jeeps and off road vehicles: http://www.firestik.com/Tech_Docs/jeeps.htm
And a good article on how to tune an antenna's SWR: http://www.firestik.com/Tech_Docs/Setting_SWR.htm

I decided to go with a different mounting method for my 3' CB antenna than I had seen before on a TB:

Image

The bracket I used was marketed as a Jeep Wrangler hood mount by firestick.

Image

I used 1/4" self-tapping sheet metal screws. They worked quite well, because that area of the body is a joint between two sheet metal pieces. The body was about 1/8" thick, which should hold pretty well. I wanted to use bolts, but I couldn't reach the back side of the quarter-panel in that area.

Image

Seems to be pretty sturdy. I'm happy with it.

As for the radio itself, I used a Cobra 19 DX IV. It's been working great now for almost a year.

Image

I used the HVAC fuse with an Add-a-fuse. It comes on when the key is in. Turns off when the key comes out.

(NOTE: Apparently the RADIO fuse is not switched with the ignition)
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Trail X
Founder
 
Posts: 9882
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 10:22 pm
Location: VA, Roanoke
Name: James Downing
Vehicle Year: 2005
Vehicle: Chevrolet TrailBlazer
DriveTrain: 4WD w/ Aftermarket Locker
Rank: Expedition Guide

by Trail X » Mon Sep 28, 2009 3:47 pm

Superwinch LP8500 Installed: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=105

Image

Image

Note: the stock battery cannot accept winch wiring. You will have to upgrade to a battery with top-terminals. I upgraded to a Sears Platinum, Group P-4 (viewtopic.php?f=26&t=103).
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Trail X
Founder
 
Posts: 9882
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 10:22 pm
Location: VA, Roanoke
Name: James Downing
Vehicle Year: 2005
Vehicle: Chevrolet TrailBlazer
DriveTrain: 4WD w/ Aftermarket Locker
Rank: Expedition Guide

by Trail X » Mon Dec 21, 2009 11:10 am

Dual Battery Setup (viewtopic.php?f=9&t=602):

Battery, inverter, etc, housed in rear cargo compartment:
Image

The charging circuit... home-made:
Image

Wiring diagram of the auxiliary battery charging circuit and accessories:
Image

:excited:
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Trail X
Founder
 
Posts: 9882
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 10:22 pm
Location: VA, Roanoke
Name: James Downing
Vehicle Year: 2005
Vehicle: Chevrolet TrailBlazer
DriveTrain: 4WD w/ Aftermarket Locker
Rank: Expedition Guide

by Trail X » Thu Jun 10, 2010 2:24 pm

Upgraded roof lights. Hella 550s, Driving lights center - Fog lights on the ends:
Image

Rewired the lights too:
Image

Beam Comparison: Stock first, second is stock with roof lights only:
Image Image
(Note the bright spot in the center, and the two wide beams closer to the vehicle.)

In contrast, below is the stock first, then the stock + Hella 4000s second:
Image Image

My conclusion is that I still need to redirect the roof lights a bit more upward.
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Trail X
Founder
 
Posts: 9882
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 10:22 pm
Location: VA, Roanoke
Name: James Downing
Vehicle Year: 2005
Vehicle: Chevrolet TrailBlazer
DriveTrain: 4WD w/ Aftermarket Locker
Rank: Expedition Guide

by Trail X » Mon Dec 20, 2010 10:04 am

Custom rear bumper completed:

Design/Build Thread: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1132

Image

Image
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Trail X
Founder
 
Posts: 9882
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 10:22 pm
Location: VA, Roanoke
Name: James Downing
Vehicle Year: 2005
Vehicle: Chevrolet TrailBlazer
DriveTrain: 4WD w/ Aftermarket Locker
Rank: Expedition Guide

by Trail X » Wed Mar 23, 2011 9:03 pm

On board air plumbed up to the bumper tank using an MV-50 compressor.

viewtopic.php?f=27&t=1904

Image

Image

:safari:
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Trail X
Founder
 
Posts: 9882
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 10:22 pm
Location: VA, Roanoke
Name: James Downing
Vehicle Year: 2005
Vehicle: Chevrolet TrailBlazer
DriveTrain: 4WD w/ Aftermarket Locker
Rank: Expedition Guide

by Trail X » Thu Apr 14, 2011 12:57 pm

Added a cooking table setup to the swing-out arm:

Image
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Trail X
Founder
 
Posts: 9882
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 10:22 pm
Location: VA, Roanoke
Name: James Downing
Vehicle Year: 2005
Vehicle: Chevrolet TrailBlazer
DriveTrain: 4WD w/ Aftermarket Locker
Rank: Expedition Guide

by Trail X » Mon Apr 18, 2011 12:18 pm

Due to sagging front springs, it was time for some front end work.

Upgraded to #7 springs:
viewtopic.php?f=15&t=158

Image


Added washer spacers to the upper strut mount:

Image


Flipped the UCAs:
viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1136




Result:
Now above pre-bumper heights. 38" to the fender on worn 32" tires.

Image
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Trail X
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Posts: 9882
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 10:22 pm
Location: VA, Roanoke
Name: James Downing
Vehicle Year: 2005
Vehicle: Chevrolet TrailBlazer
DriveTrain: 4WD w/ Aftermarket Locker
Rank: Expedition Guide

by Trail X » Wed Jul 27, 2011 11:39 am

Homemade Roof Top Tent:
viewtopic.php?f=9&t=2008

Image
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Trail X
Founder
 
Posts: 9882
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 10:22 pm
Location: VA, Roanoke
Name: James Downing
Vehicle Year: 2005
Vehicle: Chevrolet TrailBlazer
DriveTrain: 4WD w/ Aftermarket Locker
Rank: Expedition Guide

by Trail X » Thu Aug 25, 2011 10:42 am

Cut and re-mounted the Baja Rack:
viewtopic.php?f=27&t=16&start=20
Image

On board water:
viewtopic.php?f=59&t=2303
Image

Put a jog in the laptop mounting tube, to move it away from the passenger's leg.
Image
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Trail X
Founder
 
Posts: 9882
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 10:22 pm
Location: VA, Roanoke
Name: James Downing
Vehicle Year: 2005
Vehicle: Chevrolet TrailBlazer
DriveTrain: 4WD w/ Aftermarket Locker
Rank: Expedition Guide

by Trail X » Wed Feb 15, 2012 5:41 pm

Weather Tech 'DigitalFit' floor mats. Made in USA. :salut:

Image
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Trail X
Founder
 
Posts: 9882
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 10:22 pm
Location: VA, Roanoke
Name: James Downing
Vehicle Year: 2005
Vehicle: Chevrolet TrailBlazer
DriveTrain: 4WD w/ Aftermarket Locker
Rank: Expedition Guide

by Trail X » Thu Jan 16, 2014 8:50 pm

ADDED:
Custom Fabricated Control Arms
viewtopic.php?f=9&t=4915
&
Radflos
viewtopic.php?t=3002

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Not all who wander are lost. -Tolkien
User avatar
Trail X
Founder
 
Posts: 9882
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 10:22 pm
Location: VA, Roanoke
Name: James Downing
Vehicle Year: 2005
Vehicle: Chevrolet TrailBlazer
DriveTrain: 4WD w/ Aftermarket Locker
Rank: Expedition Guide

by Trail X » Wed Jun 11, 2014 12:55 pm

My outer tie rods were on their way out, and I couldn't just replace it with the stock TREs, I knew there would be a better option out there. Unfortunately there wast anything avaliable in the aftermarket that really fit what I was looking for.

So I used the outer TRE from the 2007+ HD trucks (Moog ES800223), and used the inner TRE from a trailblazer. Both accept the same male threads. So all I needed to bridge the gap was a 7.5" long M16x1.5 threaded CrMo (class B7) rod.

It simplifies my trail spares, because all I need to stock now is the threaded rod since that should be the mechanical fuse. I might also pick up some amount of strength from the CrMo rod, but I'm not exactly certain of the stock TRE cast/forced material properties to make a proper comparison.

Image

Image

Image

viewtopic.php?f=15&t=2510&start=140#p103160
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User avatar
Trail X
Founder
 
Posts: 9882
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 10:22 pm
Location: VA, Roanoke
Name: James Downing
Vehicle Year: 2005
Vehicle: Chevrolet TrailBlazer
DriveTrain: 4WD w/ Aftermarket Locker
Rank: Expedition Guide

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