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Old 01-07-2012, 11:17 AM   #1
J S Machine
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Default Difference between 1/2, 3/4, and 1 ton Chevy pickups?

I have a '95 K1500 with a 5.7 and 4L60E (I think). It may be a 700R4, but pretty sure it is a 4L60E. I love the old truck, but I have considered getting myself a 3/4 ton. I don't really want a dual wheel truck so I think a 3/4 ton would be better suited for me. I am aware that they make 1 tons without dual wheels out back, but I'm not sure exactly how that works. The only reason I would ever get rid of the old truck was if I traded it for a 3/4 ton or 1 ton. I never really drive the truck anymore. I use it for hauling things and occasionally driving it just to keep it from sitting up..an alternate vehicle of sorts. I thought of getting a camper one day in the distant future, and I'll need something to pull it with. I like my body style, the 88-98 trucks.

Would it be a rediculous and pointless idea (more trouble/cost than it's worth) to swap over 3/4 ton running gear?

I helped a friend do this one time with an '85 Blazer. He wanted bigger tires, so he went ahead and upgraded everything to 3/4 ton. We swapped out spindles up front, and put a 14 bolt rear end under it. It was a mud truck, so no heavier springs and all but you ge tthe idea.

I'm sure that it would be a little more involved with my truck, but I'm not sure. Leaf springs? What all would have to be moved? Would the transfer case work? Would I have to swap the whole front axle or would it just be the knuckles like we did on the old '85 Blazer? Would that transmission work with the new running gear?

I would essentially have a 1/2 ton that has been converted to a 3/4 or 1 ton so I would have the extra towing capacity if I ever needed it.

If the whole idea is nuts, What exactly is different about the 3/4 and 1 ton trucks? I suspect heavier springs, axles of course, and maybe a trans cooler, bigger radiator?? higher output alternator to support trailer lights, etc.
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Old 01-07-2012, 11:30 AM   #2
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Frame and drive train ..suspention,wheel&tire size
As the weight carry numbers go up so do the body ..
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Old 01-07-2012, 11:44 AM   #3
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The 3/4 ton frame is bigger, the brakes are probably different, the driveline (especially the front and rear diffs) is different, it will have bigger springs and shocks, HD cooling, and the trans should be different. 3/4 tons will typically have LT-rated tires where most of the 1/2 tons will use a P-metric (passenger car) tire. The wheels may be larger and carry more load.

It would be much easier to sell the 1/2 ton and look for a 3/4 ton. That way, everything you need in terms of towing capacity is there and ready to go. For a camper or travel trailer, you need to figure out what the weight will be and go from there. If you are towing something like 5000 to 6000 lbs, a 1/2 ton should work with a weight distribution hitch, helper springs or air bags. Add a larger tranny cooler too.
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Old 01-07-2012, 11:57 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by c4cruiser View Post
If you are towing something like 5000 to 6000 lbs, a 1/2 ton should work with a weight distribution hitch, helper springs or air bags. Add a larger tranny cooler too.
This may be the easiest way to go. If we ever get one, it doesn't have to be one of those huge 4 bedroom 50 ft long deals. A small camper trailer would be fine.
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Old 01-07-2012, 12:03 PM   #5
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I'm a ford truck guy and there isn't much difference between a 3/4 and 1 ton ford except for ins and rated towing capacity. I wasn't aware of a gm having a srw 1 ton, thought the newer ones were all drw.

Doing a swap out might not be a great solution if you're going to pull a trailer (camper style) because if anything happens and it's registered as a 1/2 ton and you're over your max for 1/2 ton pulling capabilities without proper coverage, you could be screwed.

I'd just go with a newer truck if you can swing it. Better safe than sorry is my motto.
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Old 01-07-2012, 12:41 PM   #6
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You would want to switch to a 4L80E or a TH400.
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Old 01-07-2012, 01:02 PM   #7
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Quote:
Difference between 1/2, 3/4, and 1 ton Chevy pickups?
I'm going with about a thousand pounds.
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Old 01-07-2012, 01:10 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J S Machine View Post
This may be the easiest way to go. If we ever get one, it doesn't have to be one of those huge 4 bedroom 50 ft long deals. A small camper trailer would be fine.
I used my old '99 Silverado K1500 extended cab Z71 to tow my car trailer and 87 coupe. Total towed weight was about 5600lbs and that truck (with the first year of the 5.3L motor and 270HP) towed it just fine at freeway speeds up to 75MPH.

I now have an '08 Silverado K1500 ext cab, Z71 and a 6.0L motor and it handles my new 20' enclosed car trailer with no problems. The towed weight is now at 6700 but I'm using a WD hitch.

Both trucks were equipped with a trailer towing package, 4-wheel disc brakes. My 08 will carry slightly more weight, but the 6 liter motor with 367HP and close to 400 ft-lbs of TQ is a big help. This truck also has a G80 locker diff instead of a positraction and a HD auto trans.

Also, back in the mid-90's, Chevy and GMC offered a HD1500 in both 2 and 4wd. They called it a "heavy-half" and was basically the 1/2 ton truck with a stiffer frame and heavy-duty springs and shocks. It was designed for those who didn't want the full 3/4 pickup but needed a higher cargo capacity than the 1/2 ton.
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Old 01-07-2012, 01:14 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swany00 View Post
I'm a ford truck guy and there isn't much difference between a 3/4 and 1 ton ford except for ins and rated towing capacity. I wasn't aware of a gm having a srw 1 ton, thought the newer ones were all drw.

Doing a swap out might not be a great solution if you're going to pull a trailer (camper style) because if anything happens and it's registered as a 1/2 ton and you're over your max for 1/2 ton pulling capabilities without proper coverage, you could be screwed.

I'd just go with a newer truck if you can swing it. Better safe than sorry is my motto.
Never thought of this. Thanks for helping me realize it. Very good point
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Old 01-07-2012, 07:24 PM   #10
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If you have a 95 Z71 I believe they had an extra leaf and higher towing numbers.
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Old 01-07-2012, 07:36 PM   #11
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1500
1/2 ton load rating, base frame, V6, 305, 350...10 bolt rearend, 5 or 6 lug, 4L60 Light duty trans, HD cooling options, and stuff like that.

3/4ton, little heavier frame, heavier springs, Semi-Floater 14 bolt rearend, 4L60 trans, HD cooling, Tranny cooler, 8lug. 350, Diesel,

1 ton, HD frame, HD springs, Full FLoater 14 bolt, 4L80E, Severed duty cooling for engine and trans, 8 lug, 454, 350, Diesel

1 ton tow rating is 10,000lbs
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Old 01-07-2012, 08:48 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RED-85-Z51 View Post
1500
1/2 ton load rating, base frame, V6, 305, 350...10 bolt rearend, 5 or 6 lug, 4L60 Light duty trans, HD cooling options, and stuff like that.

3/4ton, little heavier frame, heavier springs, Semi-Floater 14 bolt rearend, 4L60 trans, HD cooling, Tranny cooler, 8lug. 350, Diesel,

1 ton, HD frame, HD springs, Full FLoater 14 bolt, 4L80E, Severed duty cooling for engine and trans, 8 lug, 454, 350, Diesel

1 ton tow rating is 10,000lbs
The GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) of a 1 ton Dually is 10,000 lbs. Tow capacity was quite a bit higher than that. Up to 19,000 lbs (truck and trailer), if I believe this '91 GMC brochure. Compare that to today's numbers: 21,700 lbs for just the trailer on a new '12 Sierra 3500.

Click the image to open in full size.

Last edited by Polar_Bear; 01-07-2012 at 08:51 PM.
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Old 01-07-2012, 09:12 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RED-85-Z51 View Post
1500
1/2 ton load rating, base frame, V6, 305, 350...10 bolt rearend, 5 or 6 lug, 4L60 Light duty trans, HD cooling options, and stuff like that.

3/4ton, little heavier frame, heavier springs, Semi-Floater 14 bolt rearend, 4L60 trans, HD cooling, Tranny cooler, 8lug. 350, Diesel,

1 ton, HD frame, HD springs, Full FLoater 14 bolt, 4L80E, Severed duty cooling for engine and trans, 8 lug, 454, 350, Diesel

1 ton tow rating is 10,000lbs
I have a 1/2 ton with a 14 bolt 5 lug rearend, factory.
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Old 01-07-2012, 09:17 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1911fool View Post
I have a 1/2 ton with a 14 bolt 5 lug rearend, factory.
It's not a full-floater big differance with the semi-float you have.
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Old 01-07-2012, 09:22 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m and t's77 View Post
It's not a full-floater big differance with the semi-float you have.
I have no clue what you are talking about. Can you explain it please?
The truck is a 454SS.
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Old 01-07-2012, 09:27 PM   #16
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semi float uses c-clips to secure axles in the housing -- broken axle shaft leads to loss of the entire tire/wheel assembly -- BAD.

A full-floater has the hub assembly bolted to the end of the axle tube, and the axle shaft is not what holds the wheel/assembly in to the axle housing.
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Old 01-07-2012, 09:30 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1911fool View Post
I have no clue what you are talking about. Can you explain it please?
The truck is a 454SS.
You have the small 14 bolt.
Click the image to open in full size.

GM CORPORATE 14-BOLT
The "small" GM 14-bolt has a 9 1/2-inch ring gear diameter. It was used in the rear of 1964-and-later GM pickups, and in the rear of 1984-91 3/4-ton Suburbans.



GM CORPORATE 14-BOLT
With a 10 1/2-inch-diameter ring gear, the biggest 14-bolt GM rearend looks much like a Dana 70, and is but a few thousandths of an inch shorter in ring gear diameter. This axle is commonly used with big engines and/or overly large tires. It was used under 1973-87 3/4-tons.

Click the image to open in full size.

Last edited by m and t's77; 01-07-2012 at 09:33 PM.
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Old 01-07-2012, 09:55 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Polar_Bear View Post
The GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) of a 1 ton Dually is 10,000 lbs. Tow capacity was quite a bit higher than that. Up to 19,000 lbs (truck and trailer), if I believe this '91 GMC brochure. Compare that to today's numbers: 21,700 lbs for just the trailer on a new '12 Sierra 3500.

Click the image to open in full size.
So Im looking at getting a 1996 K3500 Sierra, Factory 4:10's, 454/4L80E..using the chart, it can tow about a 11,000lb trailer? NICE
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Old 01-07-2012, 10:01 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1911fool View Post
I have no clue what you are talking about. Can you explain it please?
The truck is a 454SS.
You have whats known as a factory exception.

C1500's came with 10 bolts out back..and 5 lugs front and rear.

The 454 made more torque than a 10 bolt can handle, hell the 350 made more torque than it can handle...

So GM's fix for this situation was to use the beefier light duty 14 bolt semi-floater rear end that was used in alot of 2500 trucks.

The problem then was that the 14 bolt was 8 lug...and this would have required using 8 lug wheels front and rear, meaning C2500 front suspenstion.....

GM's resolution was to make a limited number of 5 Lug 14 bolt semi- Floaters for the 454SS trucks.

Later on, they had an issue where they had a similar situation...they wanted to make a Light Duty 2500 truck...basically a 1500 with better springs and cooling, 350 gasser, and used a 6 lug 14bolt semi-floater
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Old 01-07-2012, 10:16 PM   #20
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My two 2500HD's, gas and Duramax will each carry in the bed 3000 lbs legally with tags $153.00 p/y each. That's a load of coal level with the sides in an 8" bed.
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