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Old 02-03-2017, 02:43 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Suburban 1/2ton vs 3/4ton advice

Hi all,

Last spring I bought a K5 blazer to learn how to work on and upgrade and use as my backcountry exploring/hunting rig. After spending a season hunting and scouting in it with friends and family, I decided I want four doors, so I'm looking for a 87-91 Suburban.

I have been doing lots of reading and watching videos, and I am still uncertain as to all the differences between the 1/2 ton and 3/4 ton.

Here's what I think is right, please tell me if I'm wrong:

1/2ton is corp 10 front and back, 3/4 is corp 10b up front maybe 14b sf or ff in rear
Heavier leafs in the 3/4 ton
Maybe stronger transmission? TH400 in 3/4 seems common
Bigger brakes in 3/4

Does this seem accurate? Am I missing anything?

My goal for this truck is to go anywhere in the units we hunt in Northern AZ with my friends and family. Some of the places we go get pretty rocky and rough, but most of the time I get through with a stock Xterra. I have definitely had to call it and turn around more than once though.

Given that the Suburban is so heavy, and I will likely be loading it down, as well as doing a moderate lift/tire increase (4", 35s), would it be wise to hold out and start with the 3/4 ton as my base? Any drawbacks to the 3/4 ton?

Also, would doing something like b52/shackle flip as opposed to all springs for the lift make a more comfortable ride over the long rocky "roads" that we travel for hours on end?

I know I dropped a lot of questions in there, thanks for taking the time. I want to make sure I buy the right rig to start with this time around.

-Craig
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Old 02-03-2017, 06:34 PM   #2 (permalink)
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For those trucks the vehicle information kits at gmheritagecenter.com will tell you a lot. They do use axle rating ring gear size, and semi/full float to identify axle type, though. Like the 6000ff/10.5 is the popular 14 bolt, the 6000sf/9.5 is the semifloat 14 bolt, etc.

And keep in mind gm build odd duck custom stuff over the years, so be careful saying "that truck never came with..." there may be rare examples out there to prove you wrong.
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Old 02-03-2017, 08:08 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I have an '84 suburban.

10b front, 14b sf rear with a 700r4 trans and np208.

Have seen a '73? At the junkyard

D44 front, 14b ff, th350/np203

The frames on the 3/4 ton vehicles are slightly thicker than half tons as well.
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Old 02-04-2017, 09:22 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks for the link to gmheritagecenter.com, that's pretty cool. I got the spec sheet for an 88. It didn't mention the axle type, but I did notice the spring capacity was 1000lb more on the rear.

I am tempted to go with the 1500 with lighter duty springs because I want work towards making the ride less jarring. Will the heavier springs make it noticeably more stiff? I've read the 3/4 will ride better only when weighed down. I won't be towing anything, but I will be loading it up with camping gear often. Not sure if that will be enough to make a difference.

I'm really torn between the beefiness of the 2500 and the potential ride quality of the 1500. Guess I can't have both huh. Would it make more sense to upgrade the axles on a 1500, or put lighter springs on a 2500, or just buy one and stick with it. Or am I not even thinking in the right direction??

Thanks for your opinions...
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Old 02-04-2017, 11:34 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Get a 2500. If it rides rough, change/modify springs. Better frame/rear axle/trans.
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Old 02-04-2017, 12:17 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I was under the impression that only the diesels and big blocks had the stronger frames?
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Old 02-04-2017, 04:12 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I have owned both. I just got a 1/2 ton today. I prefer the od. Half ton is easier to find like that,and 3/4 ton springs and axles do not take long to swap in. My 3/4 tons were just a year or 2 too old for overdrive, and either way, i think the brakes for the semi floating 14b and 8 lug 10 bolt are still too small.
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Old 02-04-2017, 04:21 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NOODLES View Post
I have owned both. I just got a 1/2 ton today. I prefer the od. Half ton is easier to find like that,and 3/4 ton springs and axles do not take long to swap in. My 3/4 tons were just a year or 2 too old for overdrive, and either way, i think the brakes for the semi floating 14b and 8 lug 10 bolt are still too small.
Fwiw the 8 lug 10b brakes are slightly larger than the 6 lug

And both my Sf 14 bolts had 13" drums in the rear. Have seen smaller on ff axles..
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Old 02-04-2017, 11:31 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I previously had a 1990 1/2 ton (wish I never sold it) that I converted to a 14b ff and kept the 10b front. Geared it to 4.56. Put a set of Rancho 2.5'' springs on the front and had the rear re arched and installed a 2'' block. Burb' ran sweet and smooth. 2 months ago picked up a 91 and am going to do close to the same thing. First going to try a 1 ton leaf pack off a dually, then match the rear springs for height. First Suburban I ran a 285-75r/16. This one I'm stepping down 1 size to a 265-75r/16. Keep the dual front shocks. I tried a single heavy shock originally on the 1990. Went back to a smoother dual set-up after a couple of months. Guess the factory put duals on for a reason.
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Old 02-05-2017, 10:15 AM   #10 (permalink)
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@NOODLES,
Did you notice it rode significantly different with the 3/4 springs and no load? The od is something to really consider I guess, since I often drive on the interstate a ways to get to our forest access points.
@KWTMECH,
You're going to put the 1ton leaf pack up front? And buy springs to match in the rear? Just trying to make sure I understand. What's the advantage there? Why the big 1 ton leaf pack? Thanks for the tip on the dual shocks.
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Old 02-05-2017, 10:36 AM   #11 (permalink)
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The 1 ton leaf pack has 3 leafs to it and will lift the front end up about 2'' from the stock 2 leaf pack I currently have. I will have the rears re-arched with a replacement main leaf and an extra spring for additional lift, then block from there to get it level. I think the rear springs will be about 5'' from where they sag at the moment. If you want an overdrive in the 3/4 ton, there is only 1 year with the square body. That is 1991. 1991 was the first year with the 4L80E. 1990 and older got the T400. But if your building one up, the only setback will be your check book. I went through 3 700r4s when I had my 1990. I think that was one of the reasons I sold the original burb. The 700 should have never been considered for a truck. This one has the 700 also and I'm choking a little on the 4l80 conversion or I may go to a Gear Vendor with a T400. Haven't decided if I want a GV unit hanging off the rear of my 241 t-case though. Looking at eventually making a back country rig out of it also, without making it extreme. Need to keep it as simple as possible.

Last edited by KWTMECH; 02-05-2017 at 10:50 AM.
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Old 02-05-2017, 03:17 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I did not notice much ride difference between 3/4 and 1/2 ton. The burbans are pretty heavy, and have quite a bit of weight on the rear. So imagine a truck with some weight in the bed, it will ride nice.

As far as frame difference between 3/4 ton and half. I really have not noticed that. I think ot is just axles and springs. As well as trans/ tcase.

I would love to find a set of tons to be had cheap. Just because this half ton will be my tow rig and i want the full floater rear and later options to play with bigger tires when it is not ised for towing anymore. I know these things can tow well already. And it is better than my 95 f150 6 cylnder 5 speed truck
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Old 02-05-2017, 03:20 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I would like to do a 4l80 on the future. But will wait for the 700 to fail. I have lots of transmission resources available to me.
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Old 02-05-2017, 03:32 PM   #14 (permalink)
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My .02 is rather than try to find or piece together the elusive 91 32 spline 241 you use a 241 based doubler and 205. There is a difference between early and later 241 inputs in the gear profile and they are not interchangeable. Factory disc 14b FF are starting to show up on CL and boneyards here at reasonable prices.

I looked forever for a 91 2500 without rust and finally gave up and have had a 99 and now 04. They ride and handle so much better than the earlier trucks that I don't think i could go back. The newer models are far more labor intensive when they get old and much more expensive to maintain.
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Old 02-07-2017, 10:56 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Seems like holding out for a 91 2500 would be ideal, but might take a while, or at least a long distance trip!
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Old 02-08-2017, 10:22 AM   #16 (permalink)
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My personal opinion is to always go for the larger capacity truck if available or feasible. The reason? Most people tend to make upgrades to their rigs, usually in the form of larger tires, and more lift, to handle more terrain. The bigger axles are better suited to supporting larger tires and can take more off road abuse.

1/2 ton trucks are the more common, but they give you the basics in drivetrain components.

The full one ton is probably the most preferred due to front and rear axles that are no less than Dana 60s

The 3/4 is something of a compromise. In many cases they run a 1/2 ton front axle with a one ton rear….there are exceptions of course, such as the use of semi floaters, and some which do run Dana 60 front axles, but the general configuration is 1/2 ton type front, one ton type rear. The few advantages with the 3/4 ton over a 1/2 ton is you will likely get a bigger/stronger rear axle, stronger frame, possibly more engine options, and larger brakes.

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Old 02-08-2017, 11:21 AM   #17 (permalink)
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True, but trying to find a decently clean square body 3/4 suburban that has not been chopped up and rolled over is not an easy task now a days. I looked diligently for over a year and was lucky to find the 1/2 ton. 145k on the speedo with original drive train that had not been trashed. Interior is almost perfect. Same with the crew cab 3+3, even the 2wd. They've just about all been trashed, stolen, cut, chopped, parted etc.
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Old 02-08-2017, 02:20 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I understand not being able to find a decent box body 3/4 ton….thats why I stated "when available or feasible"….sadly finding a decent square suburban, even in a 1/2 ton might not be easy either and the only other option is to go to the newer IFS model Subs. It's not the best option, but thats the nature of these things

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Old 02-09-2017, 05:45 AM   #19 (permalink)
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looks like a great deal for a rust free start https://milwaukee.craigslist.org/cto/5995553676.html
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