Question: I have an '84 fullsize k-5 blazer. It currently has a manual transmission (SM465). is there any kit out there that would convert my present mechanical clutch to hydraulic? if there is no kit available, what would it take, if possible, for me to create one? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!
Answer: You have two options. get the hydraulic clutch-conversion kit from novak Adapter (435.753.2513, www.novak-adapt. com), or look for the parts from an '85-andup blazer with the hydraulic clutch as a factory option and swap it in. The novak parts are probably easier since you won't need to swap bellhousings like you would if you went with the '85-and-newer parts.
Question: I am currently in iraq but i bought a CJ-7 that i haven't seen yet. i'm in the process of buying parts to make it a more capable off-roader, such as Dana 44 axles with 410 gears and lockers (the $1,400 Jk Rubicon special). i plan to put the motor and transmission from my mud bogger (350 V-8 with 350 turbo trans) in the Jeep, and i'm one click away from buying a 6:1 Atlas transfer case. Are my eyes getting too big for my axles? And for my suspension i want to convert to coil springs. Would i be better off buying a lift kit and trying to convert it to my application or pull out the old tape measure and hope for the best?
Answer: I think the Mopar Jeep Jk Rubicon axle deal (see "Cheap Rubi Axles," Apr. '08) is excellent, but remember they have a 5-on-5 bolt pattern and never came behind a V-8. Jeep does offer a V-8 in its grand Cherokee and Commanders and they all come with axles that are smaller than the Rubicon Dana 44s. However, I don't know how hopped up your V-8 is, how big a tire you are running, and what type of terrain you are planning on hitting, so advising for or against the Dana 44 is going to be difficult. i'd say they will be fine with 35-inch tires and probably even 37s as long as you're not too crazy on the go pedal. The 6.0:1 Atlas would be a bit low in my opinion, and i think the 4.3 or 5.1 would be better, or if you can swing it, the Atlas four-speed with the 5.4:1 compound low range would be perfect for your CJ-7. Just remember you need a driver-side front-output transfer case for the Jk axles.
Your suspension is going to require some fabrication, either cutting all the mounts off the axles and attaching leafspring mounts, or attaching some sort of coil mounts and buckets to the CJ frame and aligning everything with the axles. The leaf-spring setup would be simpler, but the coil-spring setup will likely offer a softer ride. if you want coils i wouldn't shy away from the work, but remember that the entire CJ frame is different from the Jk, so the links won't just fall into place. if it was me, i'd pull the CJ axles and springs, swing the new axles underneath, and start measuring. Maybe get a friend with a Jk to stop by and see how his suspension layout is and what could cross over to the CJ. One company to talk to is Rubicon Express (877.367.7824, www.rubiconexpress. com). They have suspensions for Jeeps from CJs up to Jks. They offer builder parts as well, so they might have some insight on what you would need to build a CJk suspension conversion kit. We wouldn't be surprised if there aren't some kits for this conversion in the future.
Question: I have an ex-military '85 Chevy blazer with a 6.2L diesel sitting on 36-inch tires. When i hit the trail, i usually have two big plastic containers with gear in them such as a chainsaw, three big clevises, jumper cables, two 40-foot tow straps, sledge hammers, and other big tools. i also carry a cooler, a large metal toolbox, and a new Hi-Lift Jack. My most important cargo, my wife and now 18-month-old daughter, usually go wheeling with me. My problem is this: How can i safely contain a large amount of gear so nothing can become a projectile should i stop suddenly or roll over?
Answer: This is a basic question that should really be taken to heart by anyone who goes off-roading, and as such i'm going to send you our nuts, i'm Confused prize for the month, but first let's discuss your options. The best rule is to separate as much of the gear from the family as possible. We installed a wire Cargo barrier from Slee Off Road (303.278.8287, www. sleeoffroad.com) in our ultimate FJ Cruiser project and it was a great way to keep all the deadly gear away from occupants' heads. Slee also offers some drawer systems that, though not specific to your blazer, may be modified to work.
Look into using a dog barrier or building your own mesh screen behind the back seats to keep stuff from flying forward. you can attach the big cargo boxes from Tuffy Products (www.tuffyproducts.com) or some surplus ammo cans by drilling and bolting them to the floor. i've seen folks build a tubular floor grid that you can tie and ratchet-strap things to such as tool bags. Some even build a shelving system that is only accessible with the tailgate down so everything is locked away from the passengers.
Another thing to remember is to put all your soft stuff like clothes and sleeping bags on top, so that the heavy items stay close to the floor and keep your center of gravity lower.
If you are thinking about building or buying custom bumpers, why not get some with built-in toolboxes? The now- defunct Con-Ferr Products used to sell Jeep and Toyota bumpers with built-in toolboxes and i'd look around at some of the industrial and ranch-truck suppliers for a rear bumper with lockable toolboxes built in. These make an easily accessible place for snow chains, recovery straps, and so on.
I hope you can use a set of heavy-duty spring shackles from Off Road Design (970.945.7777, www.offroaddesign. com). These guys have been messing with fullsize gM trucks, Suburbans, and blazers for years and they offer everything from bumpers to steering braces, not to mention the famed 203-to-205 transfer-case doubler. Since they are a family-run business, many of their trail rigs have to haul a troop of kids and grandkids, and they know about gear storage. The heavy-duty shackles they are sending you use big greaseable 1/2- inch bolts, thick 3/8-inch side plates, and long-lasting poly bushings. i've run them for years on my Army truck with no issues and the zinc plating is holding up great to daily driving and trail riding.