1971 Suburban Project


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Took it to the drive in over the weekend. I think I read that there were only about 30 drive ins still in the US and we are fortunate to have one in Reno.

The suburban is a great drive in rig. We put the air mattress in the back and enjoyed Toy Story 4 and the Lion King with the kids. With the new lift and tires it gets comments every where I go.


Still fighting some driveline vibes and a leaking front axle. Looking forward to some cool weather this weekend to take care of that.


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Did some more work on the suburban. My used axles turned out to not be such a deal as the front leaked. On a Dana 44 there is only an inner seal, nothing on the outer part of the axle tube so you have to pull the cover and remove the axle shaft to replace the seal.

Of course NAPA sold me the wrong seals the first time so there was the requisite mid-project trip to the parts store.

Sorry for the dark pic.


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As long as I had it apart, I did new rotors and calipers. I added HAWK HPS pads as they did a great job improving the stopping of my Cherokee.


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Got smart and invested in a popup tent for shade. Also scored a deal on a Portacool standalone evaporative cooler (grey thing in the background). Makes a big difference when working outside on hot days!




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My old man is a retired 'gear man' who worked on semi truck axles and transmissions. He helped me do the seals. Its great to have knowledgeable help. He even had the big weird socket for the hub lockrings.

When he had the axle apart, I thought I'd get the brakes bled. In addition to the new calipers, I'd installed new longer flex lines in the front and back.

I got this slick Motiv power bleeder. Its really nice, but you've got to get it sealed well. The supplied chains are useless. First try with a clamp I didn't get it sealed well and started squirting brake fluid everywhere - right above where my dad was working on the axle.

Well got it sealed well and pumped it up again. Big mistake - the front calipers weren't mounted and the power bleeder adds enough pressure that I pushed the piston out of the caliper. Yep brake fluid everywhere again.

But managed to get it all sorted eventually and I'm pretty happy with the braking now. I only put the Hawk pads in the front and now it will lock the fronts before the rears, so I will probably add them in back too.



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I've still got some bad vibes in the back when I hit 55mph. When you change tires, wheels, driveline, axle, and springs all at the same time, it can be hard to track down the culprit.

I've measured and remeasured my driveline angles and tried several different shims. I guess I need to have my tire balance rechecked and the driveline balance rechecked now. I'm going to put it up on stands and run it to see if there is a bent wheel or axle (both bought used).

So had to press the old Cherokee into service for another camping trip.. :(IMG_1739.JPG


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Added some slip on seat covers today. My seats are actually very nice and the front has been reupholstered by the previous owner. But I've got kids and a dog, so I wanted to protect the seats.

I would have loved to find some that resembled the 'highlander' plaid, but didn't find anything. So I decided to go with traditional horse blanket. They certainly look period correct. Reviews for the $40 ones on Amazon weren't encouraging, so I got these from FIA out of Canada. I'm pretty happy with them. They are certainly heavy duty.

My back / middle seat is from a 74ish suburban so it is a 70/30 split. Good luck finding anything to fit that. However I realized I'll usually have the small seat folded up, so I got a small bench seat cover like for an old toyota and it did pretty good for the long section, just a bit long.



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Still struggling with my vibration. Put it up on stands today and found this. Driveshaft has some up and down motion. Not sure if it is the shaft or the axle. Axle was used, driveshaft got shortened when it was all installed.

Emailed the company that shortened the shaft and will see what they say.

Can't figure out how to embed the video, but here is a link:



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Got my driveshaft rebalanced. I noticed when I brought it back in that it had one weight on one end. Now it has two weights on one end and a weight on the other end. Aaron at Axleline was super helpful and great to work with. I highly recommend them for your driveshaft needs!

My vibration is still there, but significantly reduced. What remains could be a bit of tire vibes or due to pinion angle. Its good enough I feel okay driving it.

Also scored a serpentine belt kit at Summits scratch and dent pile. Was $987, got it for $380.


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Still chasing a vibration!

Found one rear tire had a bit of a bounce, and decided the hub was a touch loose. Tightened and and no change.

Took Aaron at Axeline for a ride to see if he could help me diagnose the issue. The best he could come up with was that the transfer case output seemed a bit sloppy. So I'm going to do a fluid change and replace the output bearing and seal. Not very optimistic that is the issue.

Again, very impressed with Axeline and their helpfulness with trying to diagnose this for me. I really appreciated their help!


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Decided to take a break from chasing the vibes and do some simpler projects.

My headlights have been a bit flaky, so I decide I might as well upgrade them.

I did some research on a few forums and liked the H4 and relay upgrades some guys do so I decided to take that route.

Bought Cibie 82440 H4 housings on ebay for $94. Also bought a H4 relay harness for about $20.

On Amazon I bought some H4 80/100W bulbs.

Got everything installed in about an hour. Haven't had a chance to drive at night yet to test and align/aim, but they certainly are brighter than stock, and now the headlight voltage doesn't need to go through the dash switch. And at about $150 total, waaay cheaper than some of the LED upgrades.


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I also did some tuning. I thought my advance came on early and had too much, so I changed some things. I have the MSD Streetfire HEI.

I changed springs to the next level firmer based on the spring kit instructions. I also added the vacuum advance limited to setting 'B'. This was all based on what I've read has worked well for others.

My carb is an Edelbrock 1406. I've read many people swap the jets/rods for those that come stock in the 1405. So I made that change too.

The result was a nice improvement in responsiveness and acceleration. I feel it has a fair bit more power from 2-3000 rpm. So if you have a MSD dist and/or a 1406 carb, I suggest trying out these changes.


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I had decided that my 'vibration' might actually be a very obnoxious exhaust resonance / drone. The vibes are the same frequency as the exhaust note. It had straight back dual exhaust with no cross over and straight through mufflers, which from what I've read, would be prone to such things.

I'd already bought some 2.5" 'ram's horn' manifolds to replace the stock cast iron truck manifolds, so I decided it was time to put them on.

Not sure it makes a big difference in performance, but they look nice.


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Took it to an Zamboni's and talked it over with the old guy who's been doing it for 50 yrs. Told him I wanted it quiet. Got it back with a 14" magnaflow that was NOT quiet.

After some back and forth they agreed to make it right and got this set up. Dual 2.5" pipes to a single muffler with a 3" output. Sounds nice and mellow.

Dr Smash

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Reno4x4 Vendor
My sub has the same exhaust setup not too loud.

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