A Solid 10
My wheeling vehicle of choice is an S-10. It has done well on the trails here in Michigan, but a solid axle swap is in order within the next year or so. I am pursuing the goal of low center of gravity with about a 35- to 37-inch tire. I have been just throwing around the idea simple, light, durable leaves in the front and then doing a three- or four-link coil or even quarter-elliptical in the rear. I am not sure how effective this would be, or if it would be a considerable benefit over just leaving leaves in the rear. This truck does see a considerable amount of highway time, so stability is important. Any advice you have for me would be much appreciated.
The reason many S-10 owners go to a solid axle with a link suspension and coil springs is because the front framerails of S-10s and Blazers were never designed to support the vehicles’ suspension in front of the axle. This is different on the frame of early IFS Toyotas, where many owners use a leaf spring for the solid axle swap.
I feel that a leaf spring solid axle swap is definitely possible with an S-10; you just need to be sure the frame is properly reinforced to help support the truck. A kit from Metalshop Motorsports (www.metalshopmotorsports.com) and a kit from Sky Manufacturing (www.sky-manufacturing.com) both offer a new front crossmember and shackle hangers. The Metalshop kit also offers an under-engine crossmember for more strength.
In the rear I would just keep the leaf springs. The quarter-elliptical design is great for added flex, but I don’t see it as a benefit for your truck unless you are looking for a low-buck way to get a 90-degree departure angle. But this will require cutting off the rear of your truck and/or moving your axle rearward. By the time you link the rear end you’ll spend a lot of money for link material and rod ends, especially if you go with coilover shocks. Putting coils in the rear with additional shocks will require a fair bit of fabrication also. I have found rear leaf springs to be the most stable, otherwise you’ll probably need a sway bar. With a good set of conventional leaf springs in the rear you’ll be able to get flex and stability on a budget. A properly linked rear suspension can work great, but for simplicity’s sake I’d stick with leaves.
Nuts, I’m Confused
About My Cage
After spending 14 years riding dirt bikes I decided to get a 4x4 so I could take my wife and 3-year-old along on trips. I found an ’84 Bronco II pretty much complete with an exo-cage. It was a two-seater, so I added rear cage work and a third seat for my son.
While the cage is well built and strong, I want it to be as strong as possible. The exo-cage has enough welding in places that the body will never come off the frame. My plan is to weld the rollcage to the existing body where the cab roof and rollcage are close and tie the lower cage to the rocker panels. If I tie everything together I hope to gain strength by having the body and cage act as one piece. I was planning to remove the poly body bushings and replace them with steel tube welded in their place. Is this a good idea and what are the downsides to doing this? This is a trailered rig, so ride quality is not an issue.
Second, the Corbeau seats are mounted on a framework that is mounted to the body. You have said many times that the seats and belts should be mounted to the cage. If I change the mount of the seat frame to points on the truck frame where the cage is welded to, is that acceptable or is there a better way to do it?
A safe rollcage is very important, especially when hauling the family around off-road. I have picked your letter as this month’s Nuts, I’m Confused winner and am awarding you an air compressor from Slime. But first, the answer.
Exo-cages are great for protecting the body of a 4x4, but they are not always the safest cage for protecting occupants. Yours, however, looks very good. You have diagonal bracing behind both rows of seats, and, as you said, everything is tied into the frame. Since you stated that the body cannot come off the frame I wouldn’t worry about the body mounts; they are probably reducing some noise and harshness from transferring from the cage and frame, so you might as well leave them. If you weld the cage to the body, check out how they do in many rally racing cars where the cage is attached to the frame via thin sheets of steel such as along the A-pillar.
I would recommend tying the seats to the cage/frame if at all possible. It is OK to attach the seats to the body, but you need to be sure the mount is strong and spread over a large area. Simply welding to the body or bolting through the body with small fasteners isn’t a good idea. Mounting plates of thicker material that sandwich the sheetmetal but weld to the seat frame above and cage/frame below the body is also a great idea and a design I have used before.
The same goes for seatbelts. Have them attach solidly but not just through the floor with a nut on the underside, as they can rip through in a severe accident. Attach them to the frame or cage using a large, thick body washer through rust-free body panels if need be. Finally, always, always wear your seatbelt. Give Junior the job of seatbelt cop. He gets a prize if he catches Mom or Dad in the car without belts on. And make sure the belts are tight. So often I see folks with fancy race belts that aren’t tight. You’d be surprised how much they stretch if you go belly up, so tighten them down good. The Slime compressor I’m sending you is a great addition to your new wheeling rig. It runs off your 12V cigar lighter, has a built-in light for airing up those tires after dark, and has a 16-foot hose and a 150-psi capacity. This inflator is perfect for getting into four-wheeling. You can move it from vehicle to vehicle easily. It has a built-in gauge and comes with a carrying case that also houses adapters to air up pool floats and toys. Slime is known for its line of tire sealants that are a great precautionary upgrade for off-roading. The green Slime tire sealant is biodegradable, won’t affect tire balance, and helps in sealing punctures or hard-to-seal wheels such as beadlocks. We have even used it in trailer tires with great results. For more info check out www.slime.com.
Confused? Email your questions about trucks, 4x4s, and off-roading tech using “Nuts, I’m confused” as the subject and include a picture (if it’s applicable). Digital photos must measure no less than 1600 x 1200 pixels (or two megapixels) and be saved as a TIFF, an EPS, or a maximum-quality JPEG file. Also, I’ll be checking the forums on our website (www.4wheeloffroad.com), and if I see a question that I think more of you might want to have answered, I’ll print that as well. Otherwise drop it old-school style with the envelope addressed to the address below. Letters published in this magazine reflect the opinions of the writers, and we reserve the right to edit letters for clarity, brevity, or other purposes. Write to: Nuts & Bolts, 4-Wheel & Off-Road, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245 fax to: 310.531.9368 Email to: email@example.com