X88 expeditions - Documenting and sharing overland travels, adventures, and expeditions

May 31, 2008

Going For The 4•5•6 - Fabrication Begins!

All right !!! Things are finally moving on the drivetrain. Stopped by National 4WD one morning and put down a deposit for work to be done. First step is they are going to take apart the rear 8.6 to make sure the axles are in good condition (no stripped threads, bent shafts, etc.). Then they are going to give it a quick spray with some anti-rust black paint, decided to skip the POR15 - kind of overkill for a stock axle, plus pretty expensive !!! Lastly, their sales guy is doing some research on gears.

However, never to stand still, I have done some research on my own through Randy's Ring & Pinion. Their web site is not 100% accurate, but their phone guys seem very knowledgeable. Here is the parts list I am looking at right now - 4.56 gear ratio:

Yukon Gear 7.2 R&P (reverse) - YG GM7.2-456R
Yukon Gear Master Overhaul Kit - YK GM7.2IFS-L
note: current kit lacks side seals - needed from dealer)

Yukon Gear 8.5 R&P - YG GM8.5-456
Yukon Gear Master Overhaul Kit - YK GM8.6
Auburn Ected electronic locker (full kit) 30 spline - 545004

I am also waiting on pricing from my contact at North Shore Off-Road, but I think they will come in higher as Auburn is not a big seller for them. And since the dollar is about even, I will probably end up with Randy's.

And for some brand new news. Tomorrow I drive HERE to check out a front 2003 axle that is priced at $400. This is the cheapest I have seen them, so if its in good condition I will pick it up so that my fabricator can get EVERYTHING ready off the vehicle, and I can keep driving the Trailblazer.


Well, came back from the yard but no axle. Why? Because I forgot that it was probably still on the vehicle, DOH!

So they have a completely BURNT 2003 Envoy XL there. I crawled underneath and took a look at the front axle housing. Looks in great condition, the fire didn't reach it at all. I turned the front driveshaft with no problems so the insides feel good too (not like I am going to use them).I put down the deposit and will be picking it up this week sometime, after they remove it from the vehicle.

May 22, 2008

Headers? We don't need no steenking headers!

Headers are a standard replacement for many enthusiasts who look to upgrade their stock iron exhaust manifolds and increase efficiency and gas mileage. Unfortunately, Trailblazer/Envoy owners with the Inline 6 cylinder engine have been teased by more than one manufacturer that headers for the I6 were "almost there". I have been hearing this since 2004, and still nothing. So I decided to take an alternate route. Actually, I had done this same mod on my old blue Trailblazer but had no pictures. I at least took some pictures this time.

Step 1 - Start with buying a brand new exhaust manifold from GM. Be careful of the year as there was a slight change at some point. For my 2006 it is part# 12587310.

Step 2 - Ship the shiny new manifold to Extrude Hone for their AFM (Abrasive Flow Machining) process.
You can tell what the inside surface of the manifold used to be like by looking at the 3rd picture. In the center, behind the ridge there is a flat surface where the powerflow did not touch. Compare that rough surface to the absolute smoothness of everywhere else.

Step 3 - After receiving the part back from Extrude Hone, get it ceramic coated for corrosion protection and to keep the heat down in the engine bay. I have a (fairly) local shop I have used before - Fireball Coatings - they do great work. Since it ends up behind the heat shield anyways, there is no point going the polished silver look (which is not as good a heat diminisher as the black). Sorry, no pictures.

Step 4 - Enjoy.

This time I was much luckier. As the vehicle was newer, there was no problem of the bolts breaking off (as unfortunately, The Roadie's did). Money-wise, I know its more than even ceramic coated headers would probably be, but I am not holding my breath on headers coming out any time soon.

May 12, 2008

Off-Road Rides - July 2008

I sent in my tree/accident story to Off-Road Magazine a few months ago and they included it in their July 2008 issue.
They mostly got it right, here is what they wrote:

Ouch! That's what we thought when we opened the e-mail Alek Grguric sent us. On an expedition to Colorado, he pulled over to the side of the road to check his map. All of a sudden, he heard some crackling behind him, and then a tree unexpectedly landed on top of his '02 Chevy TrailBlazer. Talk about bad luck! He salvaged what he could and purchased an '06 Chevy TrailBlazer to replace it.

I wasn't actually on my way to Colorado when the bad luck happened. I took that expedition later the same year ... in my replacement 2006 Trailblazer.

Click on the thumbnail or the link to see the full article.