Chevy K10 truck restoration Phase 5: Suspension and Wheels
What I'm about to do is not going to be incredibly popular with the chevy squarebody community, especially the off-road bunch. I'm going to remove the 4" suspension lift and drop it down to stock height. This was the plan all along with this truck. I'm not into mudding. Since buying this truck I tried a few times and it was just alright but the most fun I had off-road I could just as easily achieve with 33" tires and no suspension lift. In addition, the gear ratio in my GM 10 bolt rear end was only 3.42, much too small for 35" tires even with a SBC 350 engine. I live in a hilly area and on several occasions I got in a jam while going up hill in top gear at 30mph, and the truck did not like that. Smaller tires will make it muuuuch easier to drive around town with the Muncie SM465 transmission, although it will lower my highway speed.
Ok left's start off with how the truck and suspension looked on the day I bought it with 35" tires and a 4" suspension lift:
Before I could lower the truck, I needed smaller tires. I picked up some used BFGs All-Terrains for $180 of CL. Pretty well chewed up but will last me a year or two since I don't drive this truck but once or twice a week. Theres a screw in one of them but all four are holding air no problem.
The tires, while a great price, are 305/70/16 (works out to about 32.5" by 12") and 16" inner radius, so I'll need new rims too. And BFG's website says those tires need a minimum rim width of 8" and a max width of 9.5". Well, no one makes 9" wide rims! So 8" rims it is. I choose the JEGS D-Window rims because they're good and cheap at only $60 each with free shipping.
What a difference a few inches makes.
I sold the old tires and rims for $650.
Tires are done. One more thing to do before I can lower the truck: the driveshafts. The front and rear driveshafts are a great fit with the 4 inch lift, but once lowered they will be too long.
I drove 40 miles to a place in Kansas City that could machine the driveshafts. Before making the drive though, I did a little algebra. Remember that all that algebra stuff in 9th grade math class? a squared plus b squared equals c squared. Of course this only works for a right triangle. But from that calculation, my front driveshaft needed to be shorted 2 inches and my rear driveshaft 1 inch.
Ok back to the KC truck shop, I told the manager there these calculations and he wasn't having any of it. The only way to do this once (and not have to come back and have them shortened again because it wasn't enough the first time) was to do the drop then take a real measurement from u-joint to u-joint. (Spoiler alert: he was right, I was wrong.) So the plan we came up with was to leave him with my rear driveshaft and to drive back home in front wheel drive only, then drop the rear and call him with the measurement. So that's what I did and I'm glad I did because the measurement was no where near what I had calculated it would be. It wasn't a right triangle.
So that's why I started with the rear suspension first. Here's a look at it before I got started:
And here's the lift block the pervious owner had installed. Wow that's dangerous! It's sections of 4" c-channel steel with some mroe steel welded in there to make it tubular. But they're buckling under the load! Can't wait to get these out of there....
And I'm not going to need these u-bolts any longer so, see ya! I just sliced them in half with an angle grinder, much easier than trying to remove the rusty bolts.
Then I was able to just knock the old lift blocks out between the axle and leaf springs no problem.
Next I needed to install the new shocks. But I ran into a problem. The stud broke when I tried to free the rusted nut. No problem, I have new studs that came with the shocks but OH WAIT THE PREVIOUS OWNER WELDED IT TO THE FRAME.
Time to get the grinder back out and go to town on it.
Finally, the shocks could be installed.
Here's a look at the new u-bolts. A little extra thread then necessary but oh well, just so long as there's no chance they'll hit the frame. And I painted as much as I could while I was down in there.
Here's how he looks with 4" lift in the front and no lift in the back. Kinda funny looking if you ask me!
Onto the front suspension now.
No major problem with the front end, just lots of little things that slowed me down. Like every fucking bolt just wanted to be a pain in the ass. Especially the front leaf spring bolts, not the shackle bolts the other ones. The problem is that they rust to the metal sleeve inside the bushing and, while the nut comes off not big deal, you can't remove the bolt. My solution was to use a Big Fucking Hammer (BFG), of course. But hitting it directly would mushroom the end of it and it'd be like a giant rivet, never to come out, so I held a block of aluminum over the threads and then smashed it with the hammer. Bingo.
The 4" lift is achieved with aftermarket rancho leaf springs.
Dropped the axle (not an easy thing to do without a lift) and took everything apart.
I had it all sitting on this one old jack stand. Nah just kidding! Yhat's just there for backup, there's two big jack stands back on the frame by the doors that aren't visible in the picture.
I bought new leaf springs from General Springs KC. They ship them but I saved a large sum of cash by picking them up, they're only 40 miles from me. $70 each.
New u-bolts and shocks too. Starting to get expensive!