Guess who's back!?! Atl-atl's K5 Blazer + Four Wheel Camper "The Crawlin Cabin" documentation thread!

Atl-atl

Adventurer
Here we go. I started my search for a K5 Blazer with a Four Wheel Camper almost exactly five years ago when I first came across them and wound up with the FWC Hawk I had in my Dodge Ram 2500. Since then I have remodeled three campers, one in a very substantial way(Tacoma Fleet). A year ago I nearly bought a non-running K5 with a camper that was in shambles, Im glad I waited. Ill spare the details since this build will be posted across multiple forums and lots of people have already seen my previous work. If you are interested Ill include links at the end of this post.

It has patina, it has a little rust, it has a crapload of character and without further adieu, we have my newly acquired (4/9/2020) 1978 Chevrolet K5 Blazer + Four Wheel Camper Blazer.




Cheyenne trim level, 4x4, 5.7 auto. Arizona truck its whole life. Picked it up last Thursday, drove it home from Tucson with no issues other than a little float in the steering. Cleaned it up and tested all the systems Friday (everything works!). Managed to kill the battery because I forgot to turn the camper lights off when I went to bed. Woke up Saturday morning, finagled my Tacoma out of the garage to jump the Blazer that was blocking it in and promptly drove straight to the Tonto National Forest for a quick "test run" with a good friend who takes great pictures and makes great videos. He's talking about moving to Austin and selfishly I want him to stay in AZ and document this build in a much better way than I ever could.

Technically it has had "two owners" but in reality it is a one owner vehicle. It came with a plethora of paperwork including the original order card for the Blazer, the original order sheets for the camper and lots of maintenance records of years past. As far as I can tell its completely original and stock, except for maybe the wheels. They at least seem to be period correct.














At the moment Im researching until my brain explodes every night. This is really helping quarantine but not my pocket book. I unloaded the second of my two motorcycles today in anticipation of this truck taking up all my free time and disposable income. My plan last year was to go crazy with a modern camper renovation, LS swap, long leafs, 40s etc. but this one is so nice and so original I dont know if I can bring myself to do that, at least not to the camper... For now the plan is to fix up the interior of the cab for creature comforts on long drives. Make the stock drivetrain as bullet proof as possible for long drives and start building some axles outside of the truck while I learn the ins and outs of the K5 platform. I camp 25+ nights a year and plan to do even more in this rig.


Thanks for reading.





Aforementioned build threads
2008 Dodge Ram 2500 + FWC Hawk build thread
https://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/atl-atls-dodge-ram-2500-regular-cab-long-bed-documentation-thread.146703/

2018 Toyota Tacoma + FWC Fleet build thread
https://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/project-flift-a-1986-four-wheel-campers-fleet-shortening-documentation-thread.199234/
 

pigsammy

Member
That is an awesome find! I am slowly working towards a similar set up with my k5. I can't wait to see more posts and pics for ideas.
 

chilliwak

Expedition Leader
All I have to say is congratulations on your purchase. It looks like time is reversed and we are back in the 70s with such a cool rig in great condition. I would keep the vehicle stock if I was you. It has far more character in its original form then it will ever have modified. I am looking forward to seeing your progress with this cool Blazer as well has the wicked adventures you get up to with your newly aquired truck. You must be happier than a pig in sheit with this Blazer. Cheers Chilli.😎
 

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nitro_rat

On a Suburban Excursion
Those wheels are 1990's vintage. Period correct would be 5 slot mags or one of the many varieties of "turbine" wheels for aluminum. Real deal Jackman wagon wheels in steel would also be period correct but they're getting hard to find...
 

Atl-atl

Adventurer
Those wheels are 1990's vintage. Period correct would be 5 slot mags or one of the many varieties of "turbine" wheels for aluminum. Real deal Jackman wagon wheels in steel would also be period correct but they're getting hard to find...
Awesome, thanks for the info! I really want to run steel wheels but Im having a hard time finding what I want. Would it be weird to run 17s? I have some nearly new 315-70-17 BFG ATs that would be perfect on this truck.
 

nitro_rat

On a Suburban Excursion
Awesome, thanks for the info! I really want to run steel wheels but Im having a hard time finding what I want. Would it be weird to run 17s? I have some nearly new 315-70-17 BFG ATs that would be perfect on this truck.
My favorite steel wheel came on the military CUCV Blazers. It's a 15x8" that takes the factory dog dish hubcaps. I think Wheel Vintiques builds something similar. Another way to get that look is to take a standard set of 15x7 plain steelies and rehoop them with some 8" wide rallye wheel rims.

I have 17's on my Suburban. I like them and the tire selection but the "Soft 8" style isn't period correct. They are currently only available in black, the chrome is NLA.

The closest thing to a "period correct" 17" wheel is the American Racing "Outlaw II" style but I think they're only available in 8x6.5 bolt pattern. Maybe worth a look though...
 

Klutch7

Member
Awesome find! Looks like it was used and loved just enough. I would be interested in a link to the build thread. I look forward to your progress. On the K5 FWC, does it open into the cab? Can't say I've ever seen one!
 

Atl-atl

Adventurer
Awesome find! Looks like it was used and loved just enough. I would be interested in a link to the build thread. I look forward to your progress. On the K5 FWC, does it open into the cab? Can't say I've ever seen one!
This is the build thread for the K5. The other ones I mentioned were for previous FWCs Ive had. Yes the camper is open into the cab on these models, its the main reason I like them so much!
 

nitro_rat

On a Suburban Excursion
Awesome find! Looks like it was used and loved just enough. I would be interested in a link to the build thread. I look forward to your progress. On the K5 FWC, does it open into the cab? Can't say I've ever seen one!
Here's a link to another K5 4 wheel camper build:


He has a thread on another site that details the rebuild of the camper but I don't have a link handy...
 

zoomad75

Observer
5 Slot mags, Vectors or Turbines. US Mag does make a 17" size of the slot mag wheel that would look bitchin on it. I think the look of the slots would still feel period correct even in the larger size. Besides most of the younger crowd wouldn't pay attention to the fact that 17" wheels weren't available back then.
 

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nitro_rat

On a Suburban Excursion
The 17's kinda look like 16.5's. I always thought 16.5x9.75 with a 33x16.5 tire were the perfect size for most rigs. The 17x9 with 33x12.50R17 is as close as you can get now days!
 

Atl-atl

Adventurer
I just checked US Mags and they have a Blazer in the "car builder" on their site but they say no wheels of any size are available. Oh well. Ill figure it out eventually. Thats the least of my worries right now anyway.

My steering is pretty loose. Ive gone through the list of causes so I started diagnosing today. I definitely have play at the steering shaft bearing, not a ton but enough that I ordered a new bearing retainer for it. Then I had my girlfriend turn the wheel back and forth while I looked over all of the steering components. There is definitely some movement of the entire box on the frame. Gotta get a brace on order. Tomorrow Im hoping to check a few other things like wheel bearing nuts which apparently are a super common cause of loose steering in these trucks. The last thing I noticed was the front leaf spring bushings are definitely toast. There was visible back and forth movement in the bushings as the steering was going back and forth. That will hopefully be remedied soon with new suspension.



Then this evening I went to the auto parts store and left with $85 worth of light bulbs, only to find that a number of my lighting issues are not bulb related. A lot of the wiring on this truck has been messed with in various horrible ways. My front right turn signal doesnt work and my rear right tail light doesnt work. I decided to tackle the rear right first. Someone in the past did a really shoddy job wiring in a trailer plug but the truck doesnt have a trailer hitch. Interesting. Also being from Arizona a lot of the wiring is super dry rotted, cracked and has exposed copper. I removed the trailer harness, vampire connectors and cleaned up some of the exposed wires and surprise surprise, rear right tail light and license plate lights work again!




This is the real reason my tail light wasn't working.


Works!
 
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