: Frame cleaned up, suspension should be here this week

04-25-2010, 09:22 AM
Well, I'm finally making some decent progress with my build. I've got the frame cleaned up of all unnecessary brackets (almost, need to cut off the old spring hangers today).


I decided to ditch the idea of the ford gas tank and mocked up the stock tank. Eventually I'll go flat bed, but with my new budget, that'll be a while. In the mean time, I'll cut a hole in the bed and box in a cover for the tank/evap and create a box for the battery. I'll be loosing about 17" which should put me right where the wheel wells start. This is the area where I'd planned on putting a tool box, so I'll have to figure that part out later down the line.

The tank location shouldn't interfere with the drive shaft. The 2x4 here is about where my t-case output will be, I have the old 1 piece drive shaft from when this thing still ran (I think I have 50 miles on it). It's currently strapped up as if I had a 2 piece (aiming it at the horse collar), and it's only marginally better than if I stay with a 1 piece (the t-case output would be at the bottom center of the 2x4). Since I'm going to have to go fairly budget with the rest of this build, I may run the 1 piece till it's bent, then upgrade to a 2 piece.


I'm going to chop the frame at the rear shackle mounts and box it in with 2x3x.25. Once that's done, I'll cut out the stock xmember (spare tire mount). I'll be bobbing the bed once it get's put on (which should be right after the suspension is complete and I have a roller again).

I also had to scrape a ton of gumpta from the axle just to find where the steering stops, shock mounts etc are. I cleaned off all unnecessary brackets and will continue to clean it all up in my spare time.

I went with the Trail gear 4" kit, which includes a gusset for the top of the axle, and I'll be ordering the knuckle gussets from WabFab as they seem to be the only ones that replace the shock mount with double shear boxed mount that integrates into the knuckle gusset. Most replace with just a single piece of steel and the shock mounts to it in single sheer.

I seem to be doing alot of things 2-3 times over no matter how much I try to plan the order. I guess that's what happens when you don't know what you're doing. I won't have the funds for the cromo shafts and knuckle rebuild for a couple months, so I'll go ahead and hang the suspension with the axle as is, then tear it down later to upgrade the shafts and from the balls out. I may end up putting off the upgrade to longs untill I actually get this thing rolling. I figure there's going to be alot of time between figuring out the wiring and chasing bugs once it will actually run.

04-25-2010, 09:46 AM

04-25-2010, 11:42 AM
I may end up putting off the upgrade to longs untill I actually get this thing rolling. I figure there's going to be alot of time between figuring out the wiring and chasing bugs once it will actually run.

Sounds like a good plan. No reason spending money you're not going to see the benefit of.

04-25-2010, 01:14 PM
Dont you have 5 inch rears? I have the 4-5 combo and with my bobbed bed the rear is stiff....really stiff. Im going to pull a leaf or 2 so it can get a bit softer. OR i will get the bumper on and tire carrier on so it helps with the weight.

04-25-2010, 03:57 PM
I wish I had gusseted my front axle on Tippy.... I think that one is bent now. I blame Troy. :neener:

04-25-2010, 08:51 PM
I didnt want the camber issues tippy has so i did mine.

04-25-2010, 08:51 PM
Nice work Doug!! Looking awesome!

04-25-2010, 09:11 PM
Looking great!

04-26-2010, 07:53 AM
Russ, I'm doing 4" front and back. I think I remember the rear being kind of stiff but I never really got it flexed out so the springs hadn't even started to get broken in. But then that was a long time ago. I look forward to bitching about my ride quality.

04-26-2010, 11:36 AM
I dont think it will be bad..My front rides great, The rear is just too light for 5inch springs...It was set up with the topper and now that i dont have that the shackles are just too straight up.

05-03-2010, 12:49 PM
I've mocked up the front suspension/steering as well as tore down the axle, cleaned it all and put it back together.

I wanted to mock up the whole front suspension to make sure where I wanted the steering box. This all needs to be done before I drill/sleeve the holes for the p/s gear and reinforcement. I'm not sure how concerned I should be with the shackle angle considering the springs are brand new and there's no drivetrain/body weight on it. This is the trail-gear kit and it's currently mocked up according to their directions. I decided to start with this cheap TG kit to get things rolling so I can fine tune (replace) things down the road based on experience with my particular truck setup. Some day I'll get some custom alcan's made up as well as switch up to a diamond axle along with going to hydro assist.

My thought process is this:
I need to figure out where the axle will sit so that I can make sure the drag link is parallel with the tie rod (which I understand is the proper way to setup leaf spring steering). This will tell me the how far forward to place the steering gear. At this point, I know that the axle will move back (and shackle angle will improve) a few inches as weight is added and the springs break in. I'm just not sure how much. Any write ups I've seen about placing the steering gear says "as far forward as possible" and most end up cutting up the core support (which I'm not opposed to as long as it's the right thing to do). With this current mockup and my guesses about what the springs/shackle/axle will do once weight is applied, I figure I could actually move the steering gear rearward to obtain the drag link/tie rod configuration.

I also want to figure out how people determine what pitman arm to run. Some run flat arms, others with various drop dimensions. I have yet to see any posts that discuss why one arm is chosen over another other than working around a given steering box location. Currently I have the box positioned such that I have the option of switching to a flat arm (I like leaving myself options).




Here's some questions for the SFA guys:
1) Am I correct in shooting for having the drag link and tie rod parallel (my understanding is this effects bump steer)?

2) Besides working around an existing steering box position, what should I take into consideration when choosing a pitman arm?

3) How should I guess at my final axle location? It will obviously move back, I just don't know how much.

4) am I overthinking this WAAAAY to much (I tend to do that)?

05-03-2010, 10:55 PM
I say we slap the cab on there and see what the shakle angle does.

05-03-2010, 11:13 PM
I say we slap the cab on there and see what the shakle angle does.

That was pretty much my suggestion too, except I voted for dropping the motor on the mounts.

05-03-2010, 11:24 PM
Mine pointed forward with no motor and with a motor were about straight up and down. Mine are close to 30deg up front now. Looks pretty good doug.

05-04-2010, 09:11 AM
I set the motor and tranny/t-case on it yesterday. Shackle angle went to nearly vertical (only a few degree's forward). I'm not going to go thru the hassle of putting the cab on it. The shackles moved a bit and they'll move a little more with the cab, fluids, etc, then move some more as the springs get broken in. I think it's going to be fine. I'm going to set the steering box so the drag link and tie rod converge slightly so once all the weight get's on there and springs settle they should be very close to parallel.

I'll grab some pix later.

05-04-2010, 10:54 AM
Doug...This is my shackle angle after driving from my house to 66 and i 25. It was slightly aimed back now they are back even farther.
I thought i had a pic of how they are now but i guess not. Id say they are about 25-30 degrees up front and after driving to parker and back with 900 pounds of tools in the bed of the truck even the rears are starting to move back.

05-04-2010, 10:59 AM
Perfect. Exactly what I was looking for.

Thanks! :kewl:

05-04-2010, 11:11 AM
No prob...You saw how much the fronts have moveed when i was up last week. The springs settle a lot. My rear is being a pain cause i set them up with a topper and weight and now no topper and no weight. They are straight up most of the time but after my drive yesterday they are 5-10 degrees back so i have some hope.

05-10-2010, 10:45 AM
I took some advice and broke down the leaf pack to cycle the suspension to full stuff (springs went slightly negative and still had about 5" of travel to the frame) with the drivetrain all in place.

Everything looked great! then I marked it, drilled it, welded it, and put everything back together.. THEN I noticed I must have bumped the steering box between cycling the suspension and marking it because it's off a little from where I had it before cycling the suspension.:banghead::banghead:

Oh well... it's not off by much (steering box moved towards the rear a little less than an inch). I went ahead and broke down the leaf pack and cycled the suspension again after the box mount was all burned in. Looks like I have drag link/tie rod parallel at full stuff and the drag link slightly crossing the tie rod at ride height.

fuck it, I'm running it as is.

spent the rest of the weekend tearing everything down, scrubing the frame, welding all the gussets to the front axle and finish welding the frame (motor mounts, t-case mounts, plating). I still have to finish the front xmember (spring hanger), paint the axle and weld up the diff cover. but made some decent progress overall.

05-10-2010, 12:31 PM
Sounds like a fun weekend. Can't wait to see it.

05-10-2010, 09:24 PM

05-11-2010, 11:26 AM
here's what I have for pix... I took an old spring pack I had laying around and cut them up to use as spacers in lieu of the full pack for checking the clearances with only the main leaf from the pack I'll be running.

This is about ride height with wheels straight

Full stuff, wheels straight. It's hard to tell, but there's about 2-3" between the bottom of the drag link TRE and the spring, and a little less between the pitman arm nut and the spring.

rod angles with springs at a slight negative arch (a little bit of a W in the springs at the axle) and wheels at full driver lock

Here's a decent shot showing the clearance between the top plate and the frame. I could run bumpstops for safety, but I don't think they'd hit anything unless the springs actually break. The shackles are all the way back and I ran out of spring length before the shackle actually hits the back side of the body mount.

Rod angles at full stuff and full passenger lock. What you can't see very well is that at full lock, the tires barely miss the spring. These are TowerRiggers 305/70's that I'm using for rollers. When I move up to 37/12.5's I'm going to definitely need spacers or I won't get to full lock (I already have the IFS hubs bolted up, but no rotors yet)

05-11-2010, 10:34 PM
Looks fine to me, but then I'm no expert.

05-12-2010, 12:25 AM
Looks like you are better off then mine. When im fully flexed out my compression side of the flex has about an 1/8 inch between the tierod and the leaf pack. My leafs back arch a bit. I was told to cut the metal stop in half and now the shock bottoms out before i hit it...Im going to air bump stops so i wont need to worry about it anymore.

Pitman arms...The more of an angle the the drag link is at the more bump steer you get im told. So from what i noticed with my truck is if i get in the brakes super hard and have the wheel straight when the suspension starts to stuff then the truck starts to go right a bit. I like my dropped pitman arm tho. I dont have any bumpsteer and the steering when i stop is only if im about to lock em up.....the fix = bigger arms lol

05-12-2010, 09:59 AM
yeah, it looks good in those pix. But I'm not sure when the box moved. I'm in progress with setting it up to check the clearances again to be sure. It's probably not needed, but it only costs time (which I have lots of). If I need to move the box, it's going to be a big time bitch, but even worse if I'm much further along in the build, so now is the time to check and deal with it if I've fucked something up.

this time around I'm going to take more time in checking things and getting measurements.

05-12-2010, 11:56 AM
It should be fine, just dont drop the thing on yourself while testing flex in the garage.

05-12-2010, 12:14 PM
im sure the cats could get him out.

05-12-2010, 12:20 PM
Na, there all lazy and overweight now that he has been working on Junior and not keeping up with their fleshzaw training schedule.

05-13-2010, 08:16 PM
Ok, so I got a little paranoid about how bad I might have fucked up the steering. I figured it was going to be a bitch to tear out the steering box mount no matter what, so might as well find out now instead of after I've finished welding everything up (still need to finish the front x-member plate, shock hoops and plating, frame reinforcements up by the xmember).

I put the motor/tranny back in, stripped down the leaf packs again and flexed it all out. This time my setup was a little more stable, so I could take more time in measuring and grabbing pix.

Full droop, wheels straight:


This pic you can really see the TR/DG converge. I don't think it's that bad but I'll be soliciting opinions.:

Driver Stuff:





I'm going to be cutting out the stock bump stop pads and am thinking of going to air bumps mounted off the frame:


lock to lock:


Passenger stuff:


Wheels Straight:


lock to lock:



I also found out that Trail Gear is back ordered on 12" socks, so they substituted 11" without telling me. The shock hoops are for 12" tho, so I'd have to hang them about 1/2" below the frame (or cut them) to prevent bottoming out. I'm going to place a call tomorrow and see if they will credit me towards some 12" 5150's. I've been happy with them on my taco so thought why not put them on this thing too. I don't actually need the full 12" (or even the 11" for that matter), but the extended lengths of the 12's will work well with this even if I leave a few inches of compressed length unused. my other option is to cut up the TG shock hoops and take about 3/4" to an 1" out of them and trying to reweld them (at an angle with a fish mouth without the proper tools).

All this depends on $$ tho. Last day for work is next Friday, I got to get my budget in check.

05-13-2010, 09:22 PM
From the pic's it looks like you're money on the steering box location even after it moved. You will loose an inch or so with the cab on but it looks good to me! I'd get a credit from TG and send the 11" shocks back. That's just shitty of them to do that. Also in the future you may need the full 12" and only have 11" loosing the bitch to a bigger one. H HAHAAHA. Cutting the hoops would be a real pain in the ass and a ton more work than it's worth.

Good looking work Doug. You have come so far from 2 years ago!

05-13-2010, 09:34 PM
While it is shitty and unacceptable that they substituted a shorter shock without telling you, it would be pretty easy to make longer tabs to move the upper shock mount down to compensate.