Making 2001 1500 HD more trail worthy.

LOW50S

Observer
Hello All I have a 2001 1500 HD with the gas sucking 6.0 gas. On a recent vacation to CO I kept running across 4x4 trails, and the adventurous side of me wanted to hit as many as I could, which got me thinking...

How can I make my truck more trail worthy?
If this was truck was yours what would be first on your list?

I have been wanting along the lines of a winch bumper but I have found no options for one that fits the 1500 HD
Bumper to help from front end bumps/ Deer and would be nice to have winch for times I do go off road.

are tie rod sleeves worth it?
I would like to add some jerry cans some place, and add some off road lights.
Do they have protection for T-case? Diffs?

Any ideas that people can throw out would be great and if you have something you have on your full size please share. help me get some ideas!
 

82fb

Adventurer
Small lift, some 35's, trimmed fenders. My suburbans rarely spin tires, but the length and width make them get hung up easily. Lift and tires are the place to start. Course then, you will want some rocker protection, bumpers, winch. Then you will decide that a solid axle is the way to go, and that a mild boatside would be the hot ticket, and the rocks are awful big, so some 39's would be cool. But will that rear g80 handle the 39's? Better go 14b with Detroit. Also, the rear quarters(bedsides) keep hitting trees, so lets bob that, and while the sawzall is out, this truck would rock as a convertible, but its gonna need a cage for safety. Oh, by the way, you will probably have already bought a stock truck for a daily driver by now...
 

dddonkey

Adventurer
I believe that the 1500HD is the old 2500 frames from GM, in 2001 they went to the 2500HD frames. There are many things that you can do with that truck and engine, you just have to dig a little, it is very capable with a leveling kit and bigger tires but know the limitation of the IFS. I would put on a winch bumper, winch, tires and rims, and wheel it that way for a while. I run H2 take offs ( can pick up a set for $100) and 33's and it serves my needs.

As far as tie rod sleeves, I think that they are great and ran them for 70K before I upgraded to the rare part tie rods. When running the sleeves you can get a replacement inner or outer tie rod at any parts store, and they are cheap. Good luck with you build, and keep your CV axels as level as possible to live a long and happy life.
 

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gmcpimpin

Observer
The 1500HD is the same frame as the 2500HD/LD, just without the 2" bodylift. The easiest thing for you todo is get a zone 1.5" bodylift and use what ever front grill guard/bumper you want designed for a 2500HD. Otherwise some larger tires, 33" will fit stock, possibly 35" with a little torsion bar crank. Add skid plates if you don't have them, if you have the rear G80 locker your good to go. I wouldn't spend too much money.
 

rkj__

Adventurer
The first thing I would add is skid plates.

After you add some protection, take it out on a trail to evaluate its strengths and weaknesses, before you spend a ton of cash.

I'd likely follow with a lift and bigger tires, then bumpers / winch.
 

LOW50S

Observer
You need to ditch your gas hog 6.0 and swap in one of these :)

THAT THING IS SWEET!!!!! I love my truck and I said I would love it more if it had a diesel, I have been throwing around the idea of trading it in for a 5.9 cummins but I dont want to jump into diesel truck payments just yet.

RKJ- You said lift and bigger tires. I have some 265/75/16 now. but I plan on going to 285/75/16 tires, or even the 255/85/16, but the 255 are a little less easy to come by and I am not sure I want to get into a size that I need to special order just in case I need a replacement.

I may go get some steel and make my own skid plates to replace the plastic ones, and order some rear diff protection.
 

Buliwyf

Viking with a Hammer
THAT THING IS SWEET!!!!! I love my truck and I said I would love it more if it had a diesel, I have been throwing around the idea of trading it in for a 5.9 cummins but I dont want to jump into diesel truck payments just yet.

RKJ- You said lift and bigger tires. I have some 265/75/16 now. but I plan on going to 285/75/16 tires, or even the 255/85/16, but the 255 are a little less easy to come by and I am not sure I want to get into a size that I need to special order just in case I need a replacement.

I may go get some steel and make my own skid plates to replace the plastic ones, and order some rear diff protection.
Sounds like an excellent plan. A minor 2" level kit/lift whatever to clear the 33" tires would be my first mod. Cooper STT's would be my tire choice. Shovel, Hilift w/wheel grabber, and some tire chains would be on my list before bumpers and lights. Generally, bumpers are just for show with most people. Your 6.0L is one of the best engines ever made. Don't fear the gear.
 

LOW50S

Observer
thanks for the great advise! I need to look local for a HiLift and looks like those wheel adapters are a great idea. I have a come-along that I have with me now but I think I need a more Heavy duty one.
 

LOW50S

Observer
Sounds like an excellent plan. A minor 2" level kit/lift whatever to clear the 33" tires would be my first mod. Cooper STT's would be my tire choice. Shovel, Hilift w/wheel grabber, and some tire chains would be on my list before bumpers and lights. Generally, bumpers are just for show with most people. Your 6.0L is one of the best engines ever made. Don't fear the gear.
Ok, I found a place that sells Hi-lifts locally so I can pick one up any day of the week, but before I pick one up, I need to find out where/how to mount it, is there any good place to mount one of these that wont lose large amount of storage?
 

VTOLRN

New member
You can either crank your torsion keys slightly to level the truck or do the "GREEN" torsion key swap like i did. Here is a link for the info. In my opinion the truck leveled better with the keys but it rides slightly rougher with a higher angle on the upper ball joint. I run a 285/75/16 General Grabber which works very well on the same truck as yours.

http://www.fullsizechevy.com/forum/general-discussion/offroad/65871-ford-keys-torsion-bar-cranking-replacing-tech.html
"For the 3/4 ton trucks and above use the "green key" or the 1/2 Chevy key. 15592573 you can get them from GM Parts Direct "

I have done a tone or research online to convert my truck to solid axle with adding a new process transfer case behind by 2wd transmission.
 

shopkins

aka Glitch
you should be fine with 33's and cranking the torsion bars since the truck is a 2500 basically. you already have a bit more room. if you want to be safe look at www.roughcountry.com and look at their leveling kits. i have an 04 1500 with they're leveling kit and 285/75r16s on it. Works well for a daily driver and still has plenty of clearance. 35" tires and a big lift are unnecessary on these trucks as they are independent front suspension, so you're still going to have clearance issues with the front axle setup no matter what you do. keep it simple. if you can find a z71 truck at the junkyard (not sure if they are the same between 1/2t and 3/4t mounting) grab some of the factory aluminum skid plates. here is a picture of my truck and its only a 1/2 ton yours will set up a bit higher with a leveling kit.

-Shaun
 

mccustomize

Explorer
mild crank on the torsion bars, some good 285s and front bumper trimming. This will probably take you farther than your driving skill off road at this point, you will be surprised what a very mild truck can do with careful lines, a good spotter, and careful tire placement.

Once you have the basics down, then start looking at upgrades beyond those.
 

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1stDeuce

Explorer
Yup, crank the front bars about 1" (You don't need a leveling kit, there's plenty of adjustment in the factory keys, and the shock length is OK if you only go 1".) and toss on either 285's or 255/85's. If you have the G80, and it's working, you're good. If not, toss an EZ locker in the back. (You have a 9.5" Semi-floating rear axle in case you didn't know.) The biggest limitation of IFS is the lack of flexibility, and a rear locker will cover that nicely. The factory skidplates are not up to shielding big impacts, so keep the speeds down. Anything that you're going to run the front over that needs a HD skidplate is probably going to do damage to the trans crossmember too, and there's not a good fix for that. I've had my truck down some pretty nasty stuff now, like coming down Mineral Creek on the way from Lake City to Ouray. (I'm on 235/80R17's @ 1" higher front) It took a long time, but I didn't have much "difficulty". Going down was probably key, as I'd have been on the locker a lot more if I was going up.

The other mods (Bumper, rocker guards, etc) are perhaps nice to have if you're going to try to follow jeeps or something, but if that's the case, I highly recommend a smaller vehicle. Breakover, maneuverability, and flex are going to be your main limitations. It also depends heavily on what sort of terrain you'll be in. My truck does fine in the wide open spaces, but I've had it on some tight trails, and frankly it's just not fun. Same when the going gets rough... Rock crawiling in a 3/4 ton takes a lot of patience. Add a crapload of wheelbase, smallish tires, and fairly exposed underbelly and it looses appeal too.

To be honest, I really believe that skill at picking a line and knowing your vehicle for tire placement, articulation, and clearance low points is is probably the single biggest "improvement" you can make to the off road capability of your rig. Given that, my advice is to get out there and enjoy some trails! Start with some easy ones, and take tougher lines as you get more and more familiar with your truck.
Chris
 
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