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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What makes a 2500 Suburban versus a 1500? Is it just suspension?

Are all 2500 Suburban's powered by the 454?

I'm wondering if it is possible to make a 1500 into a 2500 by swapping parts?
 

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I think it has a stronger frame, like the front of the frames by the steering is beefed up and boxed in better. You may not be able to turn a 1500 into a 2500 by swapping parts, but I imagine if you were to weld in frame supports all over the place, you could either make the frame as strong, if not stronger than the factory 2500 frame. I have been wanting to do this same project myself. Probably if your 1500 isn't 4x4 and you'd like it to be, these 2 projects would most likely go hand in hand. Beef the frame up big time while custom fitting the solid front axle in, etc. I have a lot of frame-related work I want to do on my 1500, beef it up, change the IFS to a sold front axle, make supports for an air tank or 2, mount running boards/recovery tool boxes, etc. All that will most likely happen at the same time for the sake of being easier to do "since I'm already under there"
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Do the 2500's have a solid front axle?

If there was a way to do it, I'd like a little beefier to handle the load, but still ride as nice as it does currently. Perhaps that isn't possible.

I thought about installing airbags to help with heavier loads, but it probably wouldn't be the same.

2500 Suburban's seem to be a bit more rare to find.
 

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no, you only have a solid front axle if you have 4 wheel drive. I was thinking bout going 100% airbag suspension, but I haven't come up with a good enough "limp-home" method if I blow a bag or line.
 

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Not all 2500's are 454 powered, depending on what year you're talking about. For instance in '93 the 2500 was powered by either a high output 350, or a 454. (all info I give from here out is based on 1993 models)

The 2500 also has an enclosed box frame in the front only, the mid to rear is open channel.

You already hit on the fact that suspension is a major factor as well as brake size.

Also probably due more to component changes in suspension the 2500 enjoys a smaller turning radius than the 1500.
43ft for 2wd, and 47ft for 4x4 (2500)
vs
47ft for 2wd, and 49ft for 4x4 (1500)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
no, you only have a solid front axle if you have 4 wheel drive. I was thinking bout going 100% airbag suspension, but I haven't come up with a good enough "limp-home" method if I blow a bag or line.
Yes, I currently have a 4x4.

That would make sense, because originally I had an 88 2WD, and it did seem to have a much nicer ride while driving. I just put some new shocks in so it's not too bad.

I suspect a 2500 the ride is going to be a bit more jarring than even my 1500. I'd like to get rid of the rear end sag while moving a heavy load. I think Airbags is probably what I'll look at doing.
 

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the 2500 suspension is rougher, but my 91 1500 suspension is pretty smooth, like a greyhound bus. If you go with airbags, I'd suggest going with them in helper spring configuration. Your ride will probably get a little rougher in that way, but going straight airbags is a big risk. If you blow a bag or a line on a straight air-ride truck, you aren't moving an inch until you can either block the body of the truck up, or get towed/fix it on the spot. Blowing a helper bag you can keep running, you just lose your assitional weight capacity.
 

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A few of the differences I can think of, but I'm not sure about specifics.

1) 2500 use a 14 bolt rear (and accompanying larger front diff if 4x4) where the 1500 (5.7L) use a 10 bolt rear and 8.25 front IFS
2) Most 2500's would use the 4L80E transmission rather than th 4L60E
3) Frame differences. I got the impression once that the frame differences are significant enough to make it difficult to put swap front drivetrains in 4x4's
4) 1500's didn't have the big block option, most (99%) being powered by the 5.7 L. While the 5.7 isn't unheard of in 2500s, the 7.4 is also available as well as the diesel.

While Ford and Dodge have continued to use solid front axles in 4WD 2500+ trucks, I'm pretty sure GM abandoned the SFA in the '80's. If you go back far enough (I'm not exactly sure what year), you would find that all Suburbans/Blazers/etc. came with a SFA (4wd versions, anyway). You didn't say what era Suburban you are talking about, and I don't know for sure how many differences there were between a '75 1500 and a '75 2500.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well at the moment I'm focused on my generation (91 Burb). I'd consider a newer one, but mine is working so well right now.

If the time comes and the engine dies, I would possibly consider swapping in a Vortec motor from a newer burb. Then the decision would be to use the 4l80E or the newer 4l60e. I suspect either selection with the new computer, might net me some better gas mileage. I'm not sure though.

As for the Airbags, I was definately thinking of them as addition in helper mode.

I don't haul heavy loads all the time, but it's nice to have the extra capacity when you need it. :). If I could make my 1500 into a "2000" or something with some mods, I'd probably be more than happy.
 

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What makes a 2500 Suburban versus a 1500? Is it just suspension?

Are all 2500 Suburban's powered by the 454?

I'm wondering if it is possible to make a 1500 into a 2500 by swapping parts?
Yes, suspension.

Some were powered with a 350, but they seem to be rare.

Yes it is possible, but taking into consideration time and money spent you'd be better off looking for a 2500.

The newer 2500's (93 and up) ride smooth, possibly smoother than a 1500, and definately smoother than a 1500 when they have weight in or behind them.
If your having problems finding a 2500 come down to Texas, most of the Suburbans for sale here are 2500's.

A set of air bags is an excellent choice to increase your load handling ability and increase vehicle stability. I had them on my last 2500 Suburban and the difference was like night and day. Loaded it handled great and had no rear sag (32' trailer with 12K), Unloaded it was great to be able to drop the pressure and adjust the bags for the weight I was carrying. I'm looking at putting them on my new Suburban.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I don't think you can, which is too bad.

My '88 2WD burb rode real nice. My '91 4x4 had definately a more "buck-like" ride. I bought some new shocks for it, and it helped a little.

I think the alternative is to buy a 93+ or newer burban that is the next generation.
 
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