Sometimes the millions of dollars original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) spend on engineers and designers is just not applied the way we want. Take Ben Stewart's '90 K-1500 for example. We're sure that GM spent bucketloads of money designing the original independent front suspension, and after nearly seven years of trail use and abuse, Ben finally had enough and put a solid axle up front. We know that there is a fair share of suspension kits available to raise independently suspended GM trucks, but no matter what, the 11/42-ton axles are just plain weak, and no one even offers a locker for them. So what's a guy to do? More particularly, what's a guy to do who wants to take his truck ripping across the desert and crawling through rocky canyons and still be able to toss a bag and cooler in the bed and go camping for the weekend? Ben took all these goals and some spare time and money and had his unhappy little 1/2-ton transformed into a fierce 1500 with suspension designed for all-around action. Ben was a feature editor at Four Wheeler magazine back in the '90s when he built this truck. He now writes for Popular Mechanics. But before he started laying down verbiage he was a college student in Phoenix, where he first brought this red Chevy home. His truck went through a few different upgrades including an NV4500 transmission behind the TBI 350, a 6-inch IFS suspension, and 35-inch tires, but it wasn't until he took it to Dirt Trix in Phoenix that he really got serious about making his IFS truck into a solid off-road contender.Ben was a feature editor at Four Wheeler magazine back in the '90s when he built this truc Up front Ben's truck received a junkyard high-pinion Ford Dana 44, but first it was stuffed with 4.56 gears, an ARB Air Locker, new 3-inch by 1/2-inch-wall tubes, Chevy six-lug outers, and ample gusseting from Campbell Enterprises. This kept the driveshaft on the driver side and thus the NVG 241 transfer case was retained though Ben has planned upgrades of a slip-yoke eliminator kit and a 4:1 kit. The front suspension is a three-link with Panhard design, but in order to get the curved Panhard bar as low and flat as possible it was run from the passenger side to the driver side. Then in order to have the steering drag link mimic the Panhard-rod angle, a double crossover steering setup was incorporated with a passenger-side pivot.Up front Ben's truck received a junkyard high-pinion Ford Dana 44, but first it was stuffe Behind the trussed front 44 is a series of gusseted crossmembers for the frame side of the front chromoly links. Each link uses a Heim joint at the axle end and a sleeve and bushing at the frame end. This link suspension locates the axle while a set of 60-series Bilstein shocks and 170-pounds-per-inch coils do the damping and support.Behind the trussed front 44 is a series of gusseted crossmembers for the frame side of the Out back Ben matched the low-slung front suspension while still keeping the truck stable with a pack of National Spring leaves underneath a 35-spline Dynatrac Dana 60 semi-floater. Four Bilsteins do damping duty and body roll is tamed by a sway bar from Off Road Unlimited. Fiberglass bedsides, front hood, and the fenders help clear the 35-inch Goodyear MTRs on Ultra wheels.Out back Ben matched the low-slung front suspension while still keeping the truck stable w While out on this photo shoot we compared Ben's red Chevy to our own IFS Red Sled project. His 15 inches of front wheel travel laughs at our 5 or 6, but his 1/2-ton front Dana 44 is probably as strong as our 3/4-ton IFS axle (especially now that we run aftermarket half-shafts). We probably have an inch or two more ground clearance with our IFS, but are sure his iron-clad Dana 44 could take more abuse than our aluminum IFS housing. Unfortunately, Dirt Trix no longer builds custom long-travel solid-axle conversions, but check out "Ditch That IFS" elsewhere in this issue for companies that do.While out on this photo shoot we compared Ben's red Chevy to our own IFS Red Sled project. Engine: TBI 350Transmission: NV4500Transfer Case: NVG 241Front Axle: High-pinion Dana 44, trussed by Campbell Enterprises, 4.56 gears, ARB Air LockerRear Axle: Dynatrac Dana 60, 4.56 gears, ARB Air LockerTires & Wheels: 35x12.50R15 Goodyear MTRs on 15x8 Ultra wheelsSuspension Front: 17-inch Bilstein coilover shocks with three-link and Panhard suspension Rear: National Spring 11-leaf spring-under pack with Bilstein shocks and Off-Road Unlimited sway bar Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!