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'90 Suburban Southern Survivor Restore

Discussion in '2wd Suburban, Blazer and Jimmy' started by SquareKraut, Jun 24, 2020.

  1. SquareKraut

    SquareKraut Junior Member

    Posts:
    15
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    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2020
    Location:
    Augusta
    First Name:
    Marty
    Truck Year:
    1990
    Truck Model:
    Suburban R1500
    Engine Size:
    350 TBI
    Hi all,
    New to the forum, new to square bodies. Just picked up my dream truck actually, after a long time of wanting a square body: 1990 Suburban R1500
    2wd with 350 TBI, 700r4 automatic, 10 bolt rear axle, worn out stock suspension, factree front a/c only, bench seat with velour upholstery, power tailgate, power windows and locks.

    It's a SC survivor with totally rust free rockers, frame etc, no accidents. It does have surface rust on the roof, which I'll be addressing very soon.
    The truck is mostly stock, except for a terrible respray that hasn't aged well. I would have preferred unmolested, original paint, no matter how poor of a condition.
    The interior is, however, unmolested. So there's that.

    Judging by the interior sheet metal and door jambs, the original primary color is grey metallic. Also, I can see some remnants of a white secondary color, that was between the belt line and the lower body molding. I'll get better pics of it. According to square body sales brochures, this is called 'deluxe two-tone'.
    Currently, the truck rides on stock 15x10 rally wheels (trim rings removed) that were painted black, and the tires are crappy 29" Mastercraft Avenger GTs in terrible shape except one new tire (yes, the one in the pic hehehe).

    98031480_10216957134056997_6906328070760693760_n.jpg 98142528_10216957132936969_4808323107435577344_n.jpg 98437454_10216957133176975_5017440022786211840_n.jpg 98574658_10216957137097073_2568226718854676480_n.jpg 98884439_10216957133736989_845510380036816896_n.jpg

    Goals for this truck:
    -Restore everything to like new or better condition, have a reliable and comfortable daily driver that can tow a trailer from time to time.
    -5 speed NV4500 transmission swap.
    -LSD diff, maybe an Auburn bc they're affordable (input?)
    -Keep the 350 TBI (I love fuel injection, call me crazy)
    -Convert to 2500 springs front & rear, with beefy sway bars
    -Upgrade at least the front brakes, but only once everything else is tuned up and works as it should.
    -Tuck the hitch between the frame rails with the receiver behind the bumper (like newer Suburbans), for better departure angle and cleaner looks.
    -Convert GMC grille to Chevy grille bc I think it looks better.
    -Possibly, eventually convert entire front clip to 73 - 74 parts bc it's my favorite front end.
    -Proper paint job once the 'Burbskis runs, drives, steers and stops as it should.
    -20" Torq-Thrust II wheels with 30 to 31" Michelin tires. (The Michelins are a key ingredient in bringing the handling, steering and braking into the 21st century, as tires make the single biggest difference.)
    -Front bucket seat w/ center console conversion, but must be in matching color.
    -Overhead console and improved interior lighting throughout.
    -Major sound deadening and temp insulation efforts are in the plans.
    -All new rubber window and door seals, they're ALL SHOT.
    -Great sound system with a focus on sound quality. I actually own most of the components already, as I've been into car audio (and home hifi) for many years. I'm simply transferring my active front stage with time alignment from my previous car, plus adding 2 12s because I have the space. My trusty old 5 channel amp will run the whole show, with a Pioneer PRS-80deh headunit (time alignment, electronic crossovers, stereo 16 band eq). Tweets are NVX XSPTW 29mm units (monsters), mids are 6.5" Focals.
    -If I win the lottery, I'll swap in a 6.0, but that's only after everything else is dialed in. I really have no problem with a properly running 350 TBI.

    The 350 runs great, but needs a few tune up parts. It had a badly leaking EGR valve that I already replaced with a AC Delco unit. That was a big improvement.

    Overall, I want my Suburban to be a street truck that handles as good as a modern SUV on the road, stops as good as possible, can tow my 20' enclosed trailer from time to time, is quiet and comfortable commuting in and on long road trips, starts every time without fuss, and doesn't leave me wanting for an actual late model SUV.
    While doing all of this eventually, I also appreciate the style and charm of a classic American truck (hence the '73 front clip plans) that stands out in a parking lot full of modern, boring crossovers, Camrys and Tahoes.
    No offense to anyone who has a modern, boring crossover, Camry or Tahoe. That's just not for me.

    To me, the square body trucks are that perfect blend of classic American 'get out of the way' truck with metal bumpers, while being modern enough (with a little help) that one can daily drive them without hating life.

    I'm starting this thread to share the progress of this slow restore with fellow square body enthusiasts, and I also look forward to your input and suggestions. My feelings can't be hurt, so fire away. :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2020
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  2. Goldie Driver

    Goldie Driver Full Access Member

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    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2018
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    First Name:
    Britt
    Truck Year:
    1980
    Truck Model:
    GMC K1500 Suburban
    Engine Size:
    350
    Tailgate- very nice !:)

    I had a '91 GMC burb - I prefer the headlights vertically so if it was me, I'd change just that. Probably a whole lot easier, too.

    Good luck to you with the new rig !

    Britt
     
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  3. SquareKraut

    SquareKraut Junior Member

    Posts:
    15
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    25
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2020
    Location:
    Augusta
    First Name:
    Marty
    Truck Year:
    1990
    Truck Model:
    Suburban R1500
    Engine Size:
    350 TBI
    The ride of the Suburban was super soft, with tons of body roll, so not at all what I like. I knew that I would replace springs and shocks. After a little research, I found out that 1500 and 2500 'Burbs have the same shocks, despite different springs. So I ordered front and rear Bilstein 4600 shocks for starters.
    I installed the rears first and it was a huge improvement. The back end now feels pretty planted and controlled.
    After installing the front shocks, however, the front end really didn't ride a whole lot better. Still very soft, lots of body roll, and the shocks don't really dampen the movement enough. I was a bit surprised at the results.
    I'm waiting until after I also replace the springs, before I decide if I'm keeping the Bilstein 4600 front shocks.

    Here it is on the ride home, first fill up, made the 100+ mile trip home no problem.

    20200523_171522.jpg 20200523_171540.jpg 20200523_171559.jpg 20200523_171826.jpg

    That's my friend's Buick Roadmaster, he gave me a ride to pick up the 'Burb.
    Can you believe that last-of-a-breed wagon is only 2" shorter than a Suburban? Fact.
     
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  4. SquareKraut

    SquareKraut Junior Member

    Posts:
    15
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    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2020
    Location:
    Augusta
    First Name:
    Marty
    Truck Year:
    1990
    Truck Model:
    Suburban R1500
    Engine Size:
    350 TBI
    Some interior shots. I really like the interior, except I wish it had the bucket seat setup. I'm 99% sure I want to convert to factory bucket seats with center console.
    The dash pad needs replaced.
    I'm missing the driver's lower door carpet piece, and missing the spare tire carpet cover (please contact me if you have any of these items for sale).
    Not sure if my truck came with the 3rd row seat and it's gone missing on a guy, or if it didn't come with it but still has the factree provisions for it (mounts, seat belts, etc).
    More automotive archaeology needed.

    98097115_10216957134857017_235286632121499648_n.jpg 98331768_10216957136817066_3297612560576020480_n.jpg 98341025_10216957135297028_1613957987242606592_n.jpg

    The headliner looks redone. I don't like the baby blue color though, so I may dye the whole thing black. A black headliner will darken the otherwise light interior a little, so that should be a welcome change.

    98345424_10216957134417006_5493597771011194880_n.jpg 98979154_10216957135697038_4056905934616657920_n.jpg

    As soon as I got home, I pulled out the aftermarket rubber floor mats. Would be nice to get some OE style carpet ones eventually. However, until after I replace all the body and window seals, I don't want anything onboard that traps moisture. I still have to pull the carpet and check the floor, I noticed some water in the spare tire well.
    I do very much prefer this late square body interior, with the updated seats and steering wheel, the door pockets are a nice touch, although the early 73-79 square bodies looked better to me from the outside.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2020
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  5. SquareKraut

    SquareKraut Junior Member

    Posts:
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    Joined:
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    Location:
    Augusta
    First Name:
    Marty
    Truck Year:
    1990
    Truck Model:
    Suburban R1500
    Engine Size:
    350 TBI
    Crappy cell phone pics of the new Bilstein shocks installed. As you can see, the stock leafs are 4+1 and I measured them at 56" rather than 52" long. So I guess that's a plus.

    IMG_20200530_193620282.jpg

    IMG_20200530_193708303_HDR.jpg

    Old rear shocks, some kind of air setup that was making the rear EXTRA bouncy and terrible:

    IMG_20200530_182359541.jpg

    The truck in its new home. The white Benz wagon in the background is what the 'Burb replaced, it is an awesome car as well, but I wanted to be able to tow.

    IMG_20200523_193643911_HDR.jpg

    IMG_20200523_193711943.jpg
     
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  6. Vbb199

    Vbb199 B-rate Hillbilly Customs Supporting Member

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    Joined:
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    Location:
    Salisbury NC
    First Name:
    Vince
    Truck Year:
    91, 89, 87
    Truck Model:
    91 Blazer V1500- "K5ton", 87 K10 Suburban, 89 Suburban R1500
    Engine Size:
    502, 350, 350
    I've currently got a 89 r1500
    Ho350, 700r4, 10 bolt rear, 3.42 geared, 31x10.5x15 tires, 41g tank
    Front and rear AC and heat, 3rd row seat, power everything, originally a tailgate truck, converted to barn doors, tranny, oil, and ps pump coolers.

    Also had a 90 burb, 350, 700r4, 10 bolt rear, 3.08, stock everything including tire size., 41g tank as well.

    I also have a 87 parts burb.

    I love my burbs, grew up in the backseat of the very same 89 I have now. Dad bought it when it was a couple years old.



    On the 89, I swapped the rear springs to 3/4 tons for towing more weight.
    Im gonna tell you now, if you wanna tow more than 6000 with 1/2 to rear springs and a stock 700, you're gonna need a tranny cooler and stouter springs OR air bags.

    While the 3/4 Ton rears aren't noticeable (52's), you can feel the difference over speed bumps.

    I can help you if you need it friend, with parts, the tbi, or in general burbs. :)
     
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  7. SquareKraut

    SquareKraut Junior Member

    Posts:
    15
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    25
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2020
    Location:
    Augusta
    First Name:
    Marty
    Truck Year:
    1990
    Truck Model:
    Suburban R1500
    Engine Size:
    350 TBI
    Took the old gal to Sconyers BBQ (where my Augusta, GA peeps at):

    IMG_20200530_145557862_HDR.jpg

    At home in the drive way:

    IMG_20200523_194746970.jpg

    IMG_20200525_185116740.jpg

    And after I got tint done: 20% on the front doors, 5% everywhere else.

    IMG_20200618_191552237.jpg

    IMG_20200618_191607367.jpg

    Feels great having tint! Privacy for the win.
    The a/c wasn't working, so I had a local shop charge it. It then worked for one day, but by the next morning all the freon had already leaked out. Took it back to see what the damage would be, but the shop refused to work on it further: something something due to the age of the vehicle blablabla

    I then took it to a competent repair shop, explained what happened and they replaced just the compressor. Ac works now. It was not cheap, but worth every penny.
    I still might want to upgrade the ac system a little more, by way of adding an aux fan to the condenser, for improved cooling. Also, if the system ever needs to be opened up for any reason, I'll use that chance to upgrade to a parallel flow condenser.

    In the last pic, you can see the aftermarket exhaust tips dumping out back. That's the reason I can't drive with the rear window down. I want to have them changed to side-dump behind the rear wheels. The hitch also needs to be moved to in between the frame rails, so it doesn't hang below the bumper. Newer Suburbans and Tahoes have this setup, where the hitch is behind the bumper, instead of hanging below it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2020
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  8. SquareKraut

    SquareKraut Junior Member

    Posts:
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    Joined:
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    Location:
    Augusta
    First Name:
    Marty
    Truck Year:
    1990
    Truck Model:
    Suburban R1500
    Engine Size:
    350 TBI
    Thank you very much. I do love the tailgate! Great visibility out back while driving, and a sweet spot to sit on while ...tailgating / camping / whatever. Also, I love the option of driving with the rear window down, much like a modern Toyota Tundra or Sequoia.



    Awesome, thank you very much!
    I want to convert to the NV4500 5 speed manual trans before the end of the year. That's a heavy duty trans out of 90s C2500 and Dodge Cummins trucks. With that installed and 2500 suspension and upgraded brakes, I'm guessing the weakest link will be the stock rear end. If that can hold up to a 10,000 trailer, I'm fine with it. If not, I'll swap it out for a heavier axle. I should probably figure that out before I drop coin on a LSD and regear LOL
     
  9. Vbb199

    Vbb199 B-rate Hillbilly Customs Supporting Member

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    Location:
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    First Name:
    Vince
    Truck Year:
    91, 89, 87
    Truck Model:
    91 Blazer V1500- "K5ton", 87 K10 Suburban, 89 Suburban R1500
    Engine Size:
    502, 350, 350

    You'll want a Chevy c/k 3500's nv3500.

    The dodge 3500 is a different bolt pattern, unless you wanna run adapters to sbc/bbc.


    The 10 bolt for TOWING is fine



    Have to remember that the weight isn't actually on the the axle, you're not loading 10k on the axle, it's on the tongue, balanced across the trailer.
     
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  10. Vbb199

    Vbb199 B-rate Hillbilly Customs Supporting Member

    Age:
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    Joined:
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    Location:
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    First Name:
    Vince
    Truck Year:
    91, 89, 87
    Truck Model:
    91 Blazer V1500- "K5ton", 87 K10 Suburban, 89 Suburban R1500
    Engine Size:
    502, 350, 350
    Just remember, you'll have to find a 2wd nv3500 which is hard to find
    Lol

    Believe me, I looked. I needed a 2wd for my k5 when I was seeking a manual.
     
  11. SquareKraut

    SquareKraut Junior Member

    Posts:
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    Joined:
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    Location:
    Augusta
    First Name:
    Marty
    Truck Year:
    1990
    Truck Model:
    Suburban R1500
    Engine Size:
    350 TBI
    Gotcha, thank you. Good to know!
    I've looked only for Chevy NV4500 from a 2wd, and they are indeed rare. I'm thinking I'll find the right one since I do have time. What's the difference between nv3500 and 4500? Would either work? I believe the c/k2500 90s trucks had the nv4500, but I'm no expert.
     
  12. Vbb199

    Vbb199 B-rate Hillbilly Customs Supporting Member

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    First Name:
    Vince
    Truck Year:
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    Truck Model:
    91 Blazer V1500- "K5ton", 87 K10 Suburban, 89 Suburban R1500
    Engine Size:
    502, 350, 350
    Glad you weren't buying anything from me LOL.
    I wasn't even thinking.
    The nv3500 would've been like 1/2 ton chevy 5 speeds.

    The nv4500 would've been possibly 3/4 Ton, but primarily c/k 3500 transmissions.

    I do apologize for that, while typing, the misses was talking to me, and quite honestly, I was paying her mtoe attention! Lol.

    Was thinking in my head, the 4500 is the light duty.
    The 5500 is the heavy duty.. Bleh.

    I MEANT the nv3500 is the light duty, 1/2 ton variant, hell I think even some s10's would've had them.

    The much beefier nv4500 would've been behind a 6.5 diesel, or a 7.4 big block in a 2wd or 4x4 1 ton truck.
    Much much tougher
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2020
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  13. 89Suburban

    89Suburban Full Access Member

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    Location:
    Southeast PA
    First Name:
    Paw Paw
    Truck Year:
    2007
    Truck Model:
    Chevrolet Tahoe LT
    Engine Size:
    5.3, 4WD
    That's a sweet burb you got man! :)

    I miss mine so much. :(
     
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  14. Bextreme04

    Bextreme04 Full Access Member

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    Joined:
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    Location:
    Salem, OR
    First Name:
    Eric
    Truck Year:
    1980
    Truck Model:
    K25
    Engine Size:
    350-4bbl
    If your burb still has the SPID label in the glovebox, you can tell excatly what the original trim level and paint colors were, As well as all the options that were installed at the factory.
     
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  15. SquareKraut

    SquareKraut Junior Member

    Posts:
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    Joined:
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    Location:
    Augusta
    First Name:
    Marty
    Truck Year:
    1990
    Truck Model:
    Suburban R1500
    Engine Size:
    350 TBI
    Found the SPID label in the glove box:

    fullsizeoutput_98c.jpeg

    Now to solve all these hieroglyphs...
     

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