1971 Suburban Project


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I haven't been impressed with what I've seen coming out of Zamboni's shop in the last few years.


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Long time between updates. My suburban doesn't fit in the garage, so I don't do much to it in the winter months.

This spring had lots of yard work, and my wife and kid actually got the Coronavirus (serious stuff folks, my wife was wiped out for two full weeks and is still not 100%). So no time for wrenching projects.

But finally get some stuff done. I replaced the oil in the trans and transfer case (it was fine, and new fluid did not cure my vibes).

I rebuilt the Edelbrock carb. My first one and it wasn't that hard. Followed a you tube video. While I was at it I installed the 'off road' spring kit from Edelbrock and put in a block on the rear fuel passage. Cuz its a 4x4 ya know.

I re routed the plug wires with some wire holders. Had to customize a bit since the rams horn come up higher than other manifolds. Not perfect, but will keep the wires off the exhaust.


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Since watching 'Engine Masters' test of carb spacers I decided it wouldn't hurt to add a 1" open spacer.

I retuned everything and it runs really nice now. It certainly picked up power from the carb rebuild (was pretty gunky inside, and I think the secondaries were sticking) and other stuff. I also found a vacuum leak.

I am frustrated with the choke. Even full warm, the quarter round part that keeps your idle higher when cold sometimes barely catches the throttle lever. It makes we wonder if the choke ever fully opens.


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I have a new harmonic balancer to install, since I'm still shotgunning my vibration issue. I've decided if that doesn't cure it, I'm just going to drive it until the vibes get worse and are easier to diagnose or go away. I have some sound deadening mat to install, so maybe I'll throw that in, turn the radio up, and ignore it!


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Installed some 'dynamat' in the back end of the suburban this weekend. I used the bulk 'ballistic' brand.

I promised my helpers they get to pound things (meaning flatten out the dynamat) and they were excited.


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Pulled off the side panels and found them stuffed with household insulation. Not sure if that did much. I suppose it blocked some heat.


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Was pleased to find the plywood in good shape. Only one spot showed any real rot. It was a bit mushy here.

Another hobby is restoring vintage arcade games. Some of them are particle board and they turn to mush if they get wet. I'd learned that this Wood Hardener was great for things like that. So I soaked some in to that spot (pic of game collection added just to show off.).


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The plywood was pretty dry and didnt have much paint left. There was a big oil stain in the middle, so an oil based paint was in order. I realized I had two cans of oil based clear polyurethane left over from a furniture refinishing project so I used that. Its strange that its shiny, but its was about to get covered up anyway.

It made a nice hard finish that the dynamat stuck to really well.


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Aand, all done. I didn't go crazy and cover every square inch like some do, but it should add some sound and heat insulation. Can't see in the pic, but I did do the inside of the side panels too. I didn't take a pic of it all back together as it just looks like the starting pic.

I'll do the front half soon, but I want to do inside the doors, and while I'm at it I'd like to do window seals and maybe replace the drivers window regulator, and I need to get those items ordered up.


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This weekend I decided to take on doing a new harmonic balancer and adding the serpentine kit.

I scored the kit on the Summit scratch n dent rack for $380. It included all the brackets, bolts, as well as a new water pump, power steering pump, and alternator.

One issue I knew of was that my AC pump is V belt and I didn't want to have to change it as its only a year old. So I got a new serpentine clutch. The swap wasnt too bad. Having the special tools and puller would make it go pretty easy. I had to improvise a bit, but got it done.
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One I was sure that was going to work out, I pulled the radiator and the rest of the accessories off.

This project has had a lot of 'do overs'. This is the third or fourth time I've had the radiator out, and second time I've had most of the front of the engine stuff off.

Looks familiar: IMG_2126.jpg


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Join Date: May 2018
Location: Reno, NV
Posts: 202
Re: 1971 4x4 Suburban Project - the 'Family Adventure Wagon'
Mounted up new balancer and timing tab.


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Fuel line is in the way, so that will have to get relocated.

FYI - if anyone else does this, the instructions say to mount the water pump first, but it would go a lot easier if you did it after mounting the AC brackets

Another issue, the new bracketry is for a R4 type compressor and I have a Sanden 508. There are some adapter kits out there, so I gave that a try. Here is initial mock up.


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New alternator on. It moves the alternator up and in, so I had to make a new charging wire, and add the CS-SI adapter pigtail.

PS pump also moves up and in, so lines will need some tweaking. Fun stuff!



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Was making good progress and decided to tighten down the AC Compressor. I think the adapter was based on different bracketry, because some things weren't lining up great. I thought I had it good, and was tightening the last bolt and 'POP!'.

So yeah, this happened.


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Also realized my water pump is now reverse flow, so I had to go get a new reverse flow fan and fan clutch - to replace the ones I added just last year. Also had to go to several places to find the odd ball fan clutch bolts, which were different than the oddball fan clutch bolts I had to track down last time.

Ended up getting a new fuel pump that points the in/out in a better direction. I probably could have made the old one work, but I didn't know how old it was and I figured, while I'm at it.....

I think the AC would be okay with the broken ear. It is firmly attached at three other points. I could also clock up up to the next set of tabs too, so its not the end of the world, just made for a frustrating day.

And I think my helper would rather be working on plumbing projects.


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I am curious to find out if this build has been successful.
Still a work in progress. The vibration issue stumped me. I got frustrated and haven't done much for 6+ months.

I actually signed up for the Manual Trans and Axles course at TMCC and the instructor will let me bring it in and work on it in class. Hopefully we'll track down the issue then and I can start enjoying it.

Once that is solved, I will likely do an engine and/or overdrive transmission upgrade. My hope is it can tow our camp trailer to moab, drive the 'moderate' trails with the family, and tow the trailer home.


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Ordered up a NV4500 and 241 transfer case today. $$$$$! Hopefully that will give me smooth shifting, overdrive, and cure my vibration issues.

Its going to be a PITA project. Shifter will be in a different location. Will require a different transfer case shifter. Going to convert to hydraulic clutch at the same time. Will require new driveshafts (again). My new exhaust will likely need modified. The trans/case should arrive in 2-3 weeks, so expect more updates then.

Dr Smash

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Reno4x4 Vendor
Nice a shorter driveshaft might sort out that wobble.

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