1978 Blazer FWC

#2
PIcked this up in Denver last month. I saw the ad on Craigslist. It was exactly what I was after, and the price was right. The logistics were going to be difficult, as the Blazer was in Denver, and I was in South Texas. But, the seller said there was no reason for it not to make it to Texas under it's own power, so I bought a one way ticket to Denver.

The seller was more than cool. He had the camper popped up and ready, so after getting to his house at about 1:30 a.m. on a Thursday morning, I just climbed in the back of the camper and racked out. He knocked at the door to the camper around six, I handed him the cash, he handed me the title and the keys, and off I went.

The Blazer ran great! ZERO issues in 1200 miles. I can't wait to get this thing to the mountains. Here's some pictures of the trip. FB_IMG_1523846817748.jpg FB_IMG_1523846823470.jpg FB_IMG_1523846843632.jpg FB_IMG_1523846827704.jpg FB_IMG_1523846835504.jpg FB_IMG_1523846858729.jpg
 
#3
Can you actually get into the camper from the cab given it's a blazer or do you still have to get out?

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vintageracer

To Infinity and Beyond!
#4
Yours is a much better rig than the numerous Blazer Chalet's I have owned.

No rear overhang like a Chalet and a LOT less weight on the back of the Blazer should make for a very capable truck!
 
#6
Yours is a much better rig than the numerous Blazer Chalet's I have owned.

No rear overhang like a Chalet and a LOT less weight on the back of the Blazer should make for a very capable truck!
Thank you. I looked at a Chalet several years ago, but ended up passing for exactly those reasons.
 
#7
A couple more pics. 20180320_190108.jpg
Changing out the seats for some power, leather ones out of a newer Tahoe.
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My wife and I had to go to Waco, so we ended up stopping in Buda on the way and camped in the Cabelas parking lot. It's the closest one to us, so I take the opportunity when it presents itself!
 
#8
I really am interested in this project. So did FWC build the pass through or a previous owner? What sort of suspension mods had to be done?
 
#9
Looks like a blast! Always nice dealing with a seller that is up front with you. I look forward to seeing your work on the camper and blazer. I've had a couple FWC grandby's and really enjoyed them. Lots of fun to upgrade them and make them your own.
 
#10
I really am interested in this project. So did FWC build the pass through or a previous owner? What sort of suspension mods had to be done?
FWC built it that way. They built pop up campers for Blazers, Broncos, Scouts, and Ramchargers in the 70's and 80's. As for suspension work, I think one of the previous owners (there are three that I know of) put a 2 inch spring lift all around (I have receipts) back in the late 90's. The rear sags a little, but not too bad.

Looks like a blast! Always nice dealing with a seller that is up front with you. I look forward to seeing your work on the camper and blazer. I've had a couple FWC grandby's and really enjoyed them. Lots of fun to upgrade them and make them your own.
Thanks, I look forward to using it! I've been wanting one of these for a long time (ask my wife). So much so that's it's slightly wierd to not be on the internet surfing Craigslist looking for one. It's almost like I don't know what to do with all this free time!

The seller was seriously cool. He thought I was crazy for flying in and driving it back untested. But I felt confident that what he told me was accurate, and I took a bunch of tools with me, figuring that parts for this truck would be the easiest to find in any parts store if I needed them. The seller is a mechanic for a living, and hooked me up with a new starter and batteries at his cost, and didn't charge me for installing them himself. All I had to do was literally get in it and go. One of the most fun trips I've taken.

I think this is going to be a pretty slow build. I have a serpentine belt setup for it that I pulled from a junkyard. I just got a new radiator, water pump, 140 amp alternator, and a few other little things that I'll be putting on in the near future. Otherwise, I just plan to use it. Oh, and I will have to fix the rust issues. Strangely, the underside of this thing is super solid. The only rust on it is on every visible panel. So that will slowly get addressed. I may also replace the wiring harness with an aftermarket one as finances allow. I've installed a few Painless harnesses, and may try a more economical one on this. But I definitely want to upgrade the wiring.
 
#11
I wondered where that one ended up. Been watching it on craigs for over a year. I looked hard at it last year before I pulled the trigger on my FWC but the crusty panels steered me clear of it. Plus I didn't really need the Blazer itself as I wanted to put one on my 91 and that guy didn't want to split them up. I've been through one rusty K5 in my lifetime and didn't want to go down that path again. Glad to hear it was just on the surface and the floors are good.

The guy I got my camper from was willing to split them so I jumped on it despite it's condition being less that of yours. I've been working on mine for 8 months or so and just installed it last month to my 91. I've partially gutted mine and built it back up so if you have any questions, feel free to hit me up. I made a couple of key changes to the mounting to make it more secure to the K5. Yours by the pics looks like mine was by not using the factory bolt locations on the cab to attach the camper to the cab like the factory fiberglass top. That leaves the 5 bolts per side on the bed rails as all that holds the camper to the truck. My first drive with mine bringing it home I discovered the camper would lift at speeds higher than 65mph. The gaping hole in the cab over floor on mine at the time didn't help as it was pulling more air in than could get out, but it spooked me. So I ended up using another stock K5 top to rob the first 1 3/4" to attach to the front cab wall of the camper and fill in the gap that is exposed if the camper is just butted up to the cab. The fiberglass section made it easy to locate the holes needed to run the bolts in from the inside of the camper into the cab. Plus the fiberglass section allows you to use stock K5 top seals to seal the area better than just camper tape.

I'm curious though, what kind of mileage you pulled from CO to TX with it? It had a carb'd 350 if I remember the craigs ad.
 
#12
I wondered where that one ended up. Been watching it on craigs for over a year. I looked hard at it last year before I pulled the trigger on my FWC but the crusty panels steered me clear of it. Plus I didn't really need the Blazer itself as I wanted to put one on my 91 and that guy didn't want to split them up. I've been through one rusty K5 in my lifetime and didn't want to go down that path again. Glad to hear it was just on the surface and the floors are good.

The guy I got my camper from was willing to split them so I jumped on it despite it's condition being less that of yours. I've been working on mine for 8 months or so and just installed it last month to my 91. I've partially gutted mine and built it back up so if you have any questions, feel free to hit me up. I made a couple of key changes to the mounting to make it more secure to the K5. Yours by the pics looks like mine was by not using the factory bolt locations on the cab to attach the camper to the cab like the factory fiberglass top. That leaves the 5 bolts per side on the bed rails as all that holds the camper to the truck. My first drive with mine bringing it home I discovered the camper would lift at speeds higher than 65mph. The gaping hole in the cab over floor on mine at the time didn't help as it was pulling more air in than could get out, but it spooked me. So I ended up using another stock K5 top to rob the first 1 3/4" to attach to the front cab wall of the camper and fill in the gap that is exposed if the camper is just butted up to the cab. The fiberglass section made it easy to locate the holes needed to run the bolts in from the inside of the camper into the cab. Plus the fiberglass section allows you to use stock K5 top seals to seal the area better than just camper tape.

I'm curious though, what kind of mileage you pulled from CO to TX with it? It had a carb'd 350 if I remember the craigs ad.
I remember when yours was for sale on Craigslist, too. I talked to the guy shortly after he posted it. I was thinking hard about it when you got it, but he was asking a lot for the combo. I've been following your buildup and already have a line on a damaged top that I can do the same modification with the mounting where it meets the top of the cab. You're right, mine doesn't have any bolts holding the upright section, just on the bedrails. With mine, when I'm driving down the road, the wind pushes the rubber seal down between the cab and camper and I get quite a draft hitting me in the back of the head. I kept thinking the rear door or window fell out when I was leaving Denver until I looked up and saw the middle section of the seal hanging loose between the cab and the camper. Thankfully, all the wood under the top bunk has been replaced, it's super solid. I do plan to do a cabinet change/remodel as it's already been changed and there's no place for a fridge. I plan on an Engel or an ARB (or the like) in the future and want to put it where the original fridge went.

Yes, it's got a carb'd 350. I haven't added up the actual numbers to see how bad the mileage was. I'm a little scared to! I don't want my wife to find out how much I really spent! If I had to guess, I'd say it was close to 10-12 mpg, but I only did about 60-65 the whole way here due to the front of the camper lifting when I increased the speed. I don't think it would have come off, but it sure moved around a lot, and like you, I was spooked.

I was considering a 5.3, but you mentioned that you'd had some problems with it overheating in another one of your threads. Granted, you were working it pretty hard. I used to have a Suburban with the L29 454 in it, and I think that'd be about perfect for this type of rig. If the stars align and I find a donor vehicle I can't pass up, that may be the direction that I go. For now though, I'm just trying to make it reliable enough to use it regularly. My next priority is getting the A/C functional, then maybe fuel injection or a complete drivetrain swap. We'll see.
 
#13
That's funny about feeling the air blow down the gap between the cab and camper. I was vacuuming out the area behind my seats a couple of weekends ago and found a ton of chunked particle board pieces that got blown down when I brought my camper down from Denver. I could actually see the gap increase as I went faster. I'll say this, now that I've added the section of the stock top and bolted the camper to the cab the whole setup is rock solid. Drove it to Denver last weekend and the only problem with going faster was the alarming rate the fuel sucked out of the tank. The speed didn't bother the camper.

The only problem with the 5.3 running hot was not having a large enough radiator. By swapping in a big block/diesel sized radiator my running hot issue is gone. If anything the sucker runs too cool. I'm lucky to hit 160 on a warm day. It's actually causing the EFI to stay in fuel enrichment mode since it's not seeing it at the correct operating temp. My last change to the calibration on the ECM dropped the temp threshold so it shouldn't stay stuck in fuel enrichment mode as long.

My initial tank had me around 10mpg but that had a good chunk of in town mileage with me ratting on it pretty good. The 5.3 with the stock top had it around 14-16 average with the 35's and 4.10 gearing. I'm hoping with keeping my right foot in check I can keep at 65mph and the mileage at or near 12mpg. The 5.3 has enough power to push this brick north of 75-80, but it's not worth the expense in fuel.

I think a L29 is a great engine for this application, either that or an 8.1L. I'm pretty sure I know a guy that can help with that... I had always kept my eye out for a FWC but the reality was finding one was getting tougher. The 5.3 was free and was in good condition. As far as the plan was on my 91, the 5.3 would be great and it is. Had I known I was going to actually find one I'd gone with a big block from the get go.

The funny thing was, we were on the desert trip last year after the first full trail day sitting about 12 miles north of I-70 on the Devil's Racetrack trail and we actually had cell coverage. I was surfing craigslist from my tent and found a loose FWC for sale in Grand Junction, right price, wrong timing. Missed it. Then the one I ended up with came up and I flooded the guy with emails/texts. He was willing to split the combo and told him I would meet him that next Saturday. The rest was history from there..
 
#14
I finally decided to put the serpetine belt setup I had that I got off of a '97ish Tahoe. I had already purchased a CS144 alternator (140 amp), an new power steering pump, a thermostat, and a Spectra 730 radiator. I got a Gates Fleetrunner belt for it. I have a Fleetrunner belt on my Cummins Dodge that has about 100K miles on it and it still looks great (I carry a replacement to be safe). 20180430_191829-2124x1195.jpg 20180430_191857-2124x1195.jpg
The only problem I'm having is getting the alternator to charge. I have a gauge, not an indicator light, and wired it just the way I've seen all over the internet. The S terminal has constant hot, I tried the two middle terminals (both the F and the L) for the switched power and neither seem to get it to charge, then the last one (P) isn't used. I don't know what I'm doing wrong, other than not powerwashing the engine compartment. It's filthy. :) Also, don't mind the a/c compressor. It's temporary. It came with the brackets and I'm using it until I collect the rest of the parts to get the a/c working. I'll get a new compressor then.

Here's a pic of the alternator wiring. Red is constant hot, blue is switched power. When I wired the alternator, I just used the two wires that were already in use on the alternator. However, I did notice when using the test light that with the switched power, the bulb was really dim. I assume there's a resistor in there? The previous owner has the power wire to the electric choke spliced into the blue wire. If I run a dedicated 12v switched power to the F terminal will that solve my charging problems? I'll have to give that a try this week.
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#15
Short lived moment of victory.
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I broke 3 lug studs in this process. Shouldered lugs are a pain in the butt. Thankfully, the ones I broke are all on the rear, which is handy because the parts store only has lug studs for the rear. I ran a die around all the front studs and didn't have the same problem up front. Two of the lug nuts got halfway down on the p/s rear and wouldn't go any further, and I know they weren't cross-threaded. One broke on the other side when I had to take them all off. Why did I have to take them all off? Due to the fact that the they balanced with the stick-on weights; I got the front wheel on in the picture, then when I tried to rotate the tire, it bound. Rotated the other way, it bound again. So, off came the wheels/tires for another trip to the tire store for a re-balance using the other style of weights (assuming they have them). But they sure looked pretty for a few minutes. I love the way they look on the Blazer, but honestly, they're such a pain to install, I may swap them for some steel wheels with hubcaps. I never really liked the GM rally wheels.

On another note, I still have no idea why it won't charge. I also have a slight fuel leak at the fuel pump that will need to be addressed.
 
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