Four Wheel Blazer Pop-up, Finally found one

Skipping forward a few months and major changes in my life. I ended up getting a divorce, selling our house and quitting my job to move to Denver to help my Dad.

With all the changes I needed some time to think, regroup and map out the next steps. What better thing to do than get away from the snow and cold and spend some time in the desert in western AZ. One of my desert trip buddies is retired now and agreed with my logic, we need some time out west. His girlfriend Jenn came along as did my trusty pooch Storm with me.

We took off from Bill's house in the dark hoping to be in NM before the sun came up. It was a race against the sun. We were north of Trinidad when I shot this one.

Cutting it close the sun was creeping up over Raton pass as we climbed to the summit.

The pooch needed to stretch her legs so we pulled over at rest area. Bill's got a great setup for him with a really rare regular cab 8 foot box Power Wagon. Insulated topper, comfy bed inside and all the other things one needs.


Our plan was to take a lesser path into AZ by avoiding I-40. We blitzed through Albuquerque and hit US-60 south of there to head west. We wanted to check out the Very Large Array radio telescope and stop in Pie Town for a slice.

Unfortunately, the Array visitors center was closed for the season. So we stopped to see the size on the way back to the highway.


Pie town ended up being a bust. One of the two restaurants was closed and the one that was open was out of pie by 3:00 in the afternoon.

Continuing our race against the sun we hauled down US-60. The winds across the higher elevation plains were heavy. We crossed into AZ and kept rolling downhill. Alas, we lost the race with the sun to be parked before it went down. We saw the sun set on the road almost an hour before we stopped.

Bill had a patch of BLM land scoped out that we hit in the dark and set up camp quickly. It was in the high 50's vs freezing at home. We ate some sandwiches for dinner, had a beer or two and turned in.

Not a bad spot for getting there in the dark. However, it turned out to be prime parking for snowbirds who tow in side by side OHV's to go play in the dirt. We bugged out quick to avoid getting boxed in.


The drive across Phoenix sucked even off rush hour. Our target was Camp Bouse, an WW2 era tank training facility. Our last fill up prior to hitting dirt. (pricing was high to us, but it was a full week before the invasion of Ukraine)

Gotta love when you finally see a sign like this. Fun begins..

No sooner than passing the sign I started hearing an alarming noise. A clunk was coming from the left front corner of the truck as the suspension cycled over bumps. In my mind it sounded like the steering box was loose, a known issue on the Squarebody truck platform. I called out to Bill over the radio and told him I needed to stop and check it out. I had Jenn hop in and turn the wheel while I looked for anything loose at the steering gear or the frame. Nothing was jumping out at me. We burned an hour coming to the final conclusion that the dang driver side fender came loose at the cab (again). The issue now is that the captured nut on the a-pillar for the fender has pulled out of the body and unable to hold the fender in. We whipped up a temporary fix and hit the trail again.

The trail itself was nothing more than a powerline road that leads one right by Camp Bouse. Nothing technical at all, nor did it require 4wd. But it illustrated the need for an upgrade in the suspension department. My almost 20 year 4" lift springs up front are just too stiff for running quicker on fast sandy sections.

Soon enough we were turning off the powerline road into Camp Bouse. While there are no structures left there are reminders of what was all around. Most noticeable is the flag pole with old glory flying. This is part of what I love to see when exploring, history of what used to be out here. WW2 era training camps were set up quickly and left just as quick so you have to use a bit of imagination to see what went down here.

The flagpole was the marker where the camp hospital was located.

To think there were kids just enlisted into the Army mobbing across this landscape in tanks larger than both of our trucks combined is amazing to me.

We found the site for the headquarters.


The late afternoon light in the desert is pretty good. After driving around the area for a little while we set up camp back by the flagpole.

We had a friend coming in from Lake Havasu to join us for a night and day in the dirt. He had our location from my Garmin InReach, my cell and knew what GMRS frequency we were using. He was running late so we made up some fajitas and ate dinner while we waited for him. With the sun set I had noticed the last text was a while ago and he was in the actual town of Bouse which probably put him sooner than later. I had my handheld radio out but missed the fact that the darn thing shuts off after a certain amount of time without use to save the battery. I didn't hear anything since it was off. I rechecked my phone and just got a text saying he was stuck and wasn't sure where he was. I checked the radio and found it off. I quickly flicked it on and was getting a little signal but not enough. So I hopped in my truck and was able to talk on the more powerful unit. At first he said he'd hang there and we could get him in the morning. He was stuck in the sand in a dry wash and it was beginning to sprinkle. We had his coordinates he sent us and Bill and I agreed we weren't leaving him out there. Jenn hopped in the Blazer with my dog to hang out with the furnace going and Bill and I took off in the rescue Waggy following directions on my phone. He was less than 5 miles away but it was a moonless night and really dark out there. Even with the GPS we still struggled a little bit but we finally got to him.

He was in a '77 Suburban but the rear was buried axle deep in sand. His 4wd didn't work so we hooked up a strap to the Waggy and got him back to firmer ground with a couple of tugs. Sorry no pics, it was dark!

The next morning we assembled with a plan to go check out the old Swansea mine and townsite. The rain that had started when we were rescuing the Burb, continued off and on all night and extended into this morning. Side bonus was dust free exploring though.

The Burb is old school cool. Desert patina, carbureted small block and steel wheels. It's a work in process that explained the stuck situation the night before. He had no front driveshaft due to gear ratio mismatch front to back. Odd I know, but most of what we covered didn't need 4wd until he did. Lessons were learned...


My co-pilot is a pretty good navigator too.






Every time I see a black square body Burb with ambulance doors I wonder if it's the '91 that I sold to a guy from Vegas. 1/2t truck with 3/4t axles under it. Rear was a 14bff with 3.73's and a Detroit.

I've probably mentioned them before, but I had a set of Rancho 4" front springs under both Burb's that worked extremely well. They were NOT the std catalog listing. They were what Rancho called a "K5 Pre-Run" spring or words to that effect. When I bought mine the only way to find them was to look thru Rancho's specs by p/n listing and find the springs that dimensionally matched their std listing, but had something like 9 leaves in them and a far lower spring rating. Were it not for an old hand 4X4 shop friend I'd have never known about them at all.

I posted the p/n for them way back in the day on cK5, but I've not been able to find that post. I *think* that it was in the CoG sub-forum, but can't say for sure. Even the sworn desert buggy racing guy that I chased for commented on how nicely the truck rode considering what we were driving on (whooped-out race course access road). That with just a pair of old school RS5000's on the front.
I went surfing for info on the Rancho spring. Found a couple of your old posts on CK5 about it. #86210 is the 2.5” 9 leaf pack but nobody shows availability for it.

Unfortunately even if I could find them the lower lift anoint would exaggerate my tire to fender contact issue. I don’t want to go down on tire size as that would make the giant 14 bolt diff to drag even more on rocky trails.

Money no object I’d be having ORD spec out custom springs. But things changed slightly. One of the only problems the truck had on this last trip started out as a noise coming from the transmission. It worsened on the trip and developed into issues where it won’t stay in 4th if you let off the throttle and then intermittent times it wouldn’t come out of 5th. Later shifting became more crunchy. I’ve driven it a couple times since then and it’s a little better other then 4th won’t hold at all and the constant growl is hard to ignore. So I’m going to have to spend some money on a rebuilt transmission. It sucks but the trans was used and came out of a 3500hd that had a rollback wrecker body on it. It was probably abused for thousands of miles before me getting it.

I’ll probably go with the same front springs my buddy has on both of his 8.1 equipped trucks. Softride Superlift springs. A decent balance between softness and ability to deal with the big block on top of them. Price is a lot more reasonable too. Leaves money in the budget for other needed items.
Well, dang. I remembered them as a 4" spring, not a 2.5" :(

For custom springs I'd go right to Deaver (in my part of the world) or possibly Alcan (in your part). Both have excellent reps.
ORD's linkage and coil front kit would be a serious contender if I could swallow the price....

I don't know that I ever knew, NV 4500/5600 or?
torque king 4x4 used to be the go-to for NV rebuild kits. Not so sure any more.
One of the posts I found had a listing of a 6” lift pre-run spring. Still, neither are available so there isn’t much point in pursuing.

Alcan is who makes the springs for ORD. The difference comes in Stephen Watson’s knowledge squarebody trucks and what you want out of the setup. Not saying it isn’t worth it but a $1000 on a pair of springs is a major hit to my budget right now.

There are many places to get rebuild kits for the 4500. My issue is the damage is probably beyond the normal consumables. Shafts and gears are silly expensive, to the point if it needs multiple hard parts it will exceed the cost of a rebuilt unit.

Plus I need to turn and burn on this. I don’t want to get stuck with it apart waiting for parts. I’ve got a local old school trans shop in Denver that will rebuild one for me and I’ll bring him the core to swap out.
Thanks Richard. I really needed to get out of town and that did the trick.

Getting back into the trip. We started getting rained on a lot more as we climbed up what used to be a dry wash to leave the mine area. Knowing the possibility of being in a bad spot if the rain got worse, we made our way back to the road as quickly as we could. We came back to the town of Bouse to have some lunch and found some displays of Camp Bouse on the side of the road to check out.

WW2 era tank was awesome to see up close.

We aired up our tires after lunch and parted ways with our buddy in the Suburban. We decided with the rain to take pavement to Quartzite to save time instead of the possible mess if we took dirt. So we got into town and found out most of the flea markets were still closed up from the rain even though it had stopped. Instead, we got fuel and decided to get out of town again.

Still there's always some goofy stuff in Quartzite to see.


Not to far out of town, Bill made the turn to head us east and the Kofa Cabin. We have another buddy coming to meet up with us from Phoenix to ride along for the rest of the week. The rain started up again as soon as we started to air back down. You can just barely see a rainbow in the desert here.

We lumbered our way along and found many people at the cabin. We didn't want to crash anybody's party so we backtracked a half mile and found a nice flat spot to set up camp. We were able to get set and enjoy an awesome desert sunset.

Bill whipped up his legendary fried chicken for dinner. The wind picked up so I parked my truck to create a wind block for the back of his truck where we ate. Chilly outside but we got warmed up by the great food.

Our buddies coming in were running late and since it was chilly, we all turned in early. I heard the distinct sound of a 12v Cummins after turning in so I knew they had arrived. I turned over and went back to sleep. The next morning I spied our neighbors out my window as the sun came up.


My brain still being tied into work mode had me getting up before everybody. The doggo and I got up and went outside to goof around. I had brought along a 1/24th scale RC rock crawler with a kick ass 1967 Chevy truck body of course. I spent time getting some practice in on the rocks outside of our camp. I got my need to take stupid lines out of my head and let the little guy roll over than the big one I was going to drive later.

After making a quick breakfast of eggs and bacon for burritos we got on our way again back up to three trucks total. Clear skies and great views today.

Our new running mates in the 3-door Suburban know this area well. Nick and his son Leeland led the pack showing us the area driving a trail that cuts through the KofA wilderness area.

The fauna was so cool to check out. Cacti of all shapes and sizes.



Lunch spot.
Top Bottom