Our '02 Chevy 2500 was going to go from puddle master to trail killer in hopefully just a
If you've never noticed, we're not into redundancy. Seeing the same old truck builds gets kind of tiresome. Don't get us wrong; tried and true hard-core suspension, engine, axle, or whatever buildsare killer, but we're in the business of bringing you new and innovative ideas and products, so we intentionally seek out and promote the next big idea.
So what has been on our minds lately? Solid-axle swaps for IFS 4x4s.
But this is nothing new, and especially not for fullsize IFS Chevys. At least a dozen companies offer leaf-spring solid-axle conversion kits. Yet, how many coil-sprung kits are there? The only solid front axle vehicles currently built in the U.S. are coil-sprung frontends, so why would you take your newer truck and put an old-school leaf spring on it? The simple answer: It's easier.
But what if it wasn't easier? What if you could bolt on a coil and radius-arm kit in just a weekend, and have it completed enough to drive it to a muffler shop on Monday?
We'd been looking at CAGE Off-Road's radius arms and solid axle brackets for some time and wondering how easy it would be to get a do-it-yourself kit like that together. We gave Jim Cole at CAGE a phone call and quickly learned that he'd been thinking the same thing, but didn't have a truck to build a kit off of. Funny he should mention that....
A few weeks later, we were in Oregon with a guinea pig Chevy to spend a few days prototyping and installing what will be a really neat and affordable coil-spring solid-axle swap kit for both the 1/2-ton and 3/4-ton '99-'06 Chevys.
The IFS deletion started with putting our truck up on jackstands and making sure that they were secure. You'll have to have some tall jackstands (go buy some if you don't have them; don't stack concrete blocks or anything dumb like that) because the truck is going to be sitting nearly a foot taller when you're done. We loosened the torsion-bar keys, pulled out the torsion bars, removed the torsion-bar crossmember, unbolted the CV shafts, upper A-arms, lower A-arms, and threw it all into a pile (remember to disconnect the ABS lines and wrap them up-you won't use them anymore either). Cole benchpressed the differential down to the ground, after first remembering to disconnect the 4WD electrical harness. You can tuck that up and zip-tie it out of the way now, because you'll never use it again. Lots of stuff has to be cut off for a solid-axle swap. Both front and rear lower crossmembers for the IFS have to be cut off the frame, and the outer horns for the upper A-arms need to be removed as well. You basically want clean, rectangular framerails without anything protruding from them. The biggest pain in the butt of this entire solid-axle swap is the grinding. If you have a plasma cutter, use it. If not, then buy a lot of grinder wheels.
To get the steering off, Cole also had to plasma-cut the original pitman arm off (arrow).
One thing you'll have to have before you start installing is the solid axle. A Dana 44 fro
CAGE's new radius arms are the same ones sold for Broncos, but are pictured here with the
Assuming you do not have a '78-'79 Ford Dana 44 (in which case no welding is required), th
The radius-arm brackets bolt on right behind the transfer-case crossmember. There is a 1-i
Since we were prototyping, it wasn't just "hold it up and bolt it up" for us. CAGE had to