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Was ?? 502 ??....now Dana-60 & GM 14-Bolt Axles....and MORE!

Discussion in 'OffRoad Design' started by Greg72, Mar 29, 2001.

  1. Greg72

    Greg72 "Might As Well..." Staff Member Super Moderator

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    Ok the 502 thread has gotten substantially off-topic into the land of axles....and equally interesting topic, but I'm tired of scrolling through 30 messages to see what's been added.

    I have some questions for you guys. I am in the planning stage for my K5 and wanted to solicit some feedback on my ideas. Lets start with the big question: "What will you be doing with your truck?" At this point my best answer is that it will be a street-driven truck first and foremost. I will definitely want to take it offroad....mud, snow, sand.....but no rockcrawling. It has to ride well on the street (no buckboard stiff springs!) and reasonable body roll....I know that lifted trucks handle differently, but it should still give a reasonable sense of safety in corners. I would like the truck to have an overall spring lift of between 4 - 6", and a tire size of somewhere between 35" - 38".

    Here are my ideas so far...remember, I'm new to this so some of it may not make sense:

    <font color=red>Springs:</font color=red>

    National Spring or BDS? It seems that the more leaves you use in a spring pack, the softer the spring rate is. I've seen some trucks which look like they much have 8 to 10 leaves per pack. I've heard estimates for the Nationals around $1000. Is that for a set of 4 or is that a pair? I also think those Revolver shackles are cool, but they may be overkill for a streetable truck....or maybe just plain dangerous?

    <font color=red>Shocks:</font color=red>

    I like the setup shown in at: <A target="_blank" HREF=http://coloradok5.com/ranchoreview.shtml>http://coloradok5.com/ranchoreview.shtml</A> with the 9012 shocks and custom mounting points. It would be cool to be able to flex like that when offroad. Maybe $750 complete with the brackets and custom rear shock fabrication?

    <font color=red>Sway Bars:</font color=red>

    When driving on the street, it would be nice to have at least a front sway bar. Maybe with a slick quick-disconnect system on it. Price $$$?

    <font color=red>4-Wheel Disc Brakes:</font color=red>

    Seems mandatory with the huge rotating mass of 35"+ tires!!! Plus, with the big block I already have in my K5 there is plenty of "GO".....it would be nice to give it some "STOP" too. Price is probably going to be incorporated into the axle cost, since I'll probably have the axles built "end-to-end"

    <font color=red>Axles:</font color=red>

    Based on the input of this list, now I'm thinking Dana-60 front, and GM 14-Bolt rear. Probably an 8-bolt wheel pattern...it seems that keeping the 6-Lug pattern (to use original Ralley wheels) would create a weak link in the driveline...do people ever shear off wheel studs? I would like to use the beefiest parts wherever there is an option (axle diameter, u-joint sizes, bearing sizes, etc) I know that I need some sort of locker on both ends....but I don't want all the weird "bangs!" from a Detroit Locker....this is a street truck primarily. So maybe some Air-Lockers, or that new "Electric Locker" that was shown at SEMA? Maybe the Eaton locker....not a "pure" locker, but substantially better than a limited slip diff.

    Price on front Dana-60: I dunno...maybe $2000?
    Price on Rear GM14-Bolt: I dunno at all.... $______
    Not sure what gearing to use yet...see transmission

    <font color=red>Transmission:</font color=red>

    Currently using a TH350...no overdrive, 3.73 gears and 35's. Turns 3400 RPM at 65MPH....not sure why. According to the calcs, it should be around 2500 RPM instead. In any case, I was thinking of switching over to a 4L80E. Based on the gearing, I could maybe stuff some big gears in the axles, and still get a decent highway RPM. Price for trans and any adapters: $2000?


    Like most things.....it makes sense to consider the "whole package" when designing a solution. I am trying to balance all of the variables I know of to create a complete, well-thought-out final product. So now I will ask you for comments or suggestions on areas I've overlooked, or ideas I've proposed that actually don't work in "real life".

    There is another area that needs some input....PRICE! It's great to have ideas like this, but it's important to know the costs too.... If anyone can fill in some prices for these various assemblies (even ballpark figures) I'd appreciate it.


    -Greg72
    '72 K5 CST
    w/ Big Bad 427
     
  2. Stephen

    Stephen 1/2 ton status Moderator Vendor

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    This is a little deeper than I can go right now, my screen time is over, but it sounds like you should do some shopping now, based on this info:

    Engine: whatever you want and however much you want to spend.

    Trans: 4L80 or TH400, price both and decide. If you go with a 400 and use a Doubler for your offroad gears, you can run 3.73's or 4.10's and be fine on the street, and have plenty of off road gearing. May be cheaper that way.

    T-case: NP205 by itself, or NP205 and Doubler kit, depending on what you need for gears to work with the trans and diff gears.

    Front: GM D60, price your locker of choice

    Rear: 14 bolt only makes sense if you use a Detroit, otherwise you have to go to a D70 for an ARB.

    Good Luck and good shopping!

    Making the world better, one truck at a time.
    [​IMG]
    SW-ORD
     
  3. Brian 89KBlazer

    Brian 89KBlazer 1/2 ton status

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    Greg

    Since your plans remind me so much of mine & the years I've spent looking at spreadsheet budget after revised spreadsheet budget and your planned use seems alot like mine, I'll take a crack at a reply.

    First off, I think you're taking the right approach to a build-up. If you're doing it, do it right once is my motto! I originally "just" wanted to run a 4" lift for 35" BFGs. Boy has it gotten out of hand! Few of the major changes on mine will be ARB'ed D60 w/4.88's & 1350 yoke; 14-bolt w/discs, 6" BDS Springs; X-over steering; TBI 383 stroker; B&M prep'ed 700-R4; Tom Woods CV Shafts; Custom Tube Frame; 6-pt rollcage & 37" SSR's & a lot of other things I probably can't afford! [​IMG]

    On your spring question; I'm 75% sure I'm going BDS. Talked to Shawn Spickler and he has them & likes them alot. Other option is if Mr. Watson gets a line of OffRoad Design springs ready in the near future. [​IMG] BTW, the price on the Nationals you have should be for a set of 4 at $1000

    Shocks - I'm going same as Steve did in that article with the RS9012's & fabbing my own mounts - shouldn't be as expensive as you noted unless you're doing alot more custom fabbing.

    Swaybars: I figure 1 of 2 things. Either turn up the 9012 on the road for less sway or I'm thinking about trying to fab up some mounts to use re-use the stock swaybar either up front or in the rear possibly.

    4-wheel Discs: Definitely!! $120 for the caliper mounting plates from TSM; the cost of calipers & rotors will depend on the source & whether or not you want the caddy calipers for the e-brake

    The axles you already know what to get in my opinion [​IMG] I agree with you on the Detroit on the road & I'm a fan of the ARB. According to ARB, the 14 bolt FF version is in development but could be a year or two away yet so I ordered my 14-bolt open & will wait for the ARB.
    For prices, it depends again on what you plan to do.
    Axles equiped like mine noted above can run $5000 or more

    Trans; Very much an opinion issue!! I like the 700-R4 & plan to give mine either a JET T-700 kit or a B&M kit. The 4L80 is more like $2500 plus converter new. IMHO, for street, I like the OD but it's not totally necessary.

    Good Luck & if you have any other ?, drop me an email

    Brian
    89KBlazer
     
  4. BMRCCR

    BMRCCR Registered Member

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    I laughed a little seeing your prices. You are in for a big suprise when you actually get to building this thing. A 700R4 won't hold up to 510 ft/lbs. It is only rated at 450, I think. With a 502, a TH400, an NP205, and 38" tires, you will need about 4.56 or 4.10 gears. You axles should hold up fine with these tires. I would drive a vehicle with a locker in it first before forming any opinions about lockers. I don't find the quirks of a rear Detroit very bad at all. You also probably don't want a doubler kit, either. Unless you are rockcrawling, I wouldn't exactly recommend one just for daily driving (sorry stephen :) ). Also, tuff country springs are softer than any other springs on the market, even though other spring packs have more leaves. In such a high dollar vehicle like the one you want to build (I would guess at least $20k), custom springs and a doubler kit would only increase your budget a little. My $0.02.
     
  5. Boss

    Boss 1/2 ton status Author

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    How about these things to consider. Since you don't want that crazy type steering when you jack up your ride, go with a crossover steering. That'll pretty much take care of all the bump steer asociated with lifted trucks. It also brings back your turning radius to where it was when it was stock.

    Springs, its really up to you. Nationals I hear are the best, but damn, that's pricey!!

    Shocks, you have the right idea if flex is your game. mud, sand snow, flex isn't really required as much as Rocks and trails. So, you can save the effort and cost to do that. Unless you want to have a flexy rig, its up to you. I'm personally working on doing that myself, but my truck is being built for the trails and rocks. It's my daily too btw.

    For sway bars, with the crossover steering you'll have to get a custom sway bar made or find some company that makes em. I won't be running one though. I hear lots don't really, and it really doesn't effect much. Just don't take corners like you're in a Vette. [​IMG]

    Rear disc is nice. I'm currently working on mine as well. Definately go with TSM like Brian suggested, or fab your own if you can.

    You have the axles covered. Price for 14bolt is about $300 or less. If it has the goods in it already (Detroit or lower gears ie. 4.56 or higher, then that raises the cost.) Now that is if you look for em. If you go with Boyce or Dynatrac, you'll pay your ass off, but you'll definately get a GREAT axle for the money. You won't have to do anything to em, just put em under. I went the cheaper, but still steap way, and bought them used from someone. I had to fix up a lot of things before they go under. For the Tranny, if you go with a 700R4, make sure its from a reputable source. Jet, B & M. But really, the key to its survival is to keep it COOL. Get the largest tranny cooler available. I may swap in a 700R4, but my TH350 has just been rebuilt in the last 2 years and shows no sign of weakness, so who knows. I like OD, but for the price, not sure.
    That's all I can think of for now. I have to get back to work anyhow.
    Boss

    <A target="_blank" HREF=http://www.boss.coloradok5.com>http://www.boss.coloradok5.com</A>
     
  6. Greg72

    Greg72 "Might As Well..." Staff Member Super Moderator

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    Yeah Brian....I'm with you.

    If there is a way to get the 'ultimate' setup from the beginning, I can save myself a lot of breakage and hassles. It's probably cheaper in the long run to buy the "good stuff" once....the incremental costs of upgrading a feeble driveline, breaking it, beefing it more, breaking it again....is probably a false economy....and really irritating! [​IMG]

    Plus, it's really satisfying to do all the research ahead of time and really know what ALL the options are. I can really feel confident in my purchases knowing that I have explored all the options...case in point, the Dana-60 thing. I assumed initially that Dual Dana-60s were the best you could get. It's become clear to me now that is not really true...at least for full-size K5s.

    I'm also getting a real thrill out of all the creativity that I see on people's rigs. These custom long-travel shock setups, body mounts with valve springs incorporated, crossover steering conversions, engine swaps, custom skidplates and armor plating, etc. It's great! The K5 truly is like a blank canvas that you can add a lot of your own creativity to... I think that's one of the things that makes it so fun.

    Of course I'm new to all of this....so I feel like a wide-eyed kid walking through a candy store! [​IMG]

    -Greg72
     
  7. Greg72

    Greg72 "Might As Well..." Staff Member Super Moderator

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    Hi Anthony,

    I am sure you are right about the prices (my guesses are probably all too low!) they do seem to spiral up there...sometimes you get the basic prices right, but then all the "little stuff" that also goes along with each upgrade really starts to add up too...

    I guess I'd be happy if I could build a bullet-proof drivetrain and suspension for $20K.... I am horrifed when I see and hear the prices of a new truck or SUV these days. To me, the K5 has infinitely more personality and "character" than anything out there today. I can't believe how excited people are to see a classic K5 on the street. I've had people wave, talk to me at the gas station...even follow me into my own driveway just to ask me questions about my rig. It's a cool feeling.....but then I guess we all know that, don't we? [​IMG]

    You can't put a price on the uniqueness of a Blazer, or the satisfaction of building it "just the way you wanted it". Somehow, picking a vehicle off a dealership's lot doesn't seem nearly as rewarding.

    Thanks for the comments and input.

    -Greg72

    BTW -&gt; My K5 doesn't have a 502. It's a 427.....but it does have around 450HP....so your tranny advice is still very relevant.
     
  8. Stephen

    Stephen 1/2 ton status Moderator Vendor

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    Random points to consider:
    figure the budget and add 50%. This is no joke, there's no end to things like belts and hoses, and changes along the way. It sounds steep, and 25% might work, but you're going to get in deeper than you think for sure.

    Limiting the power output, or your use of the available power will make the whole drivetrain much happier.

    Are your power numbers dyno'd locally? I thought I had a good motor, and the corrected numbers were pretty decent, but my 383 actually put 310 ft-lbs to the flywheel at this altitude. Corrected #'s were 420 ft-lb.

    I'm using an Art Carr trans, they rate their TH700 for 700 hp, in the "extreme" version. Still not a cheap way to go though.

    I'm going back to work now



    Making the world better, one truck at a time.
    [​IMG]
    SW-ORD
     
  9. Brian 89KBlazer

    Brian 89KBlazer 1/2 ton status

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    Yeah Greg!
    That's one thing I forgot to mention. Like Stephen said, there'll be alot extra to replace if you're doing a total rebuild. I've got mine stripped and almost ready for the body to come off and there's alot of things to be replaced when it goes back together!! Hoses, belts, pumps, body mounts, trim pieces, gaskets, tailgate parts, and the list goes on and on. Luckily for me, I had alot of that in my budget already so I'll probably get away with 20% over which I sorta planned for anyway!

    Good Luck
    Brian
    89KBlazer
     
  10. Burt4x4

    Burt4x4 3/4 ton status

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    Hey Greg just wanted to share with you what I did for a front swaybar w/disconects...
    [​IMG]
    The sway bar kit was made by , I think Adcco, or something like that. I bought it years ago for like 100 bucks. I got it cuz i almost whent head on with a big rig heading out camping. I was going 60mph and the side to side bouncing sway got so bad from the uneven road I was on(going straight) all I could do is hold the steering wheel straight and pray as the semi whent wisking by. That monday I bought this sway bar. It completelly eliminated the side to side roll. The disconnects are custom made by http://www.burt4x4.coloradok5.com
     
  11. Stephen

    Stephen 1/2 ton status Moderator Vendor

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    We have customers who have retrofitted early trucks with a 73-up swaybar with our disconnects with minimum hassle, might be a good way to go also.

    Making the world better, one truck at a time.
    [​IMG]
    SW-ORD
     
  12. Greg72

    Greg72 "Might As Well..." Staff Member Super Moderator

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    Stephen,

    There are a lot of "unknowns" since I bought the truck so recently. The guy seemed to really know his stuff about the engine he had built and he gave me a full parts list of what's in it. So far the motor only has 1500 miles on it....it's breaking in, and almost all the way there. It's nice to have a completely fresh motor, trans, and transfer case....so I have a few less things to worry about (and more money to spend elsewhere) [​IMG] It sounds like I will need it if I have to add 50% to my budget.

    I was hoping to locate a local shop (San Jose, CA) with a chassis dyno who could run this rig and do all the final jetting and tuning to really maximize what the engine has to offer. From what I've read and researched...a 427 could do 450HP with the right parts (1HP per cubic inch is usually pretty feasible). As always, numbers talk and BS walks....I would like to see "real" numbers on this motor before I get too excited.....but I'll be honest, this thing already feels like a rip-snortin' torquey-pavement-wrinkling monster!!!! [​IMG]

    I do have a lot of fear about those 1/2 ton axles underneath. Once I really start mashing the loud pedal, I think I'm going to start scattering parts everywhere!!!!

    -Greg72
    Gimme a reverse-cut Dana 60 front, and 14 Bolt Rear....then I'll have NO FEAR!
    ....what a poet!
     
  13. 84K5WITHAJUNK305

    84K5WITHAJUNK305 Registered Member

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    IF you use a 700r4, GET a transmission temp gauge and the biggest tranny cooler you can find. Also make sure that you get one out of an 85 or later truck or blazer, and have it rebuilt with the best parts money can buy(or get one from JET, etc.). The 700r in my blazer probably has less than 800 miles on a rebuild, and it's all the clutches are burnt yet again(due to excessive use of the go pedal in slippery situations). There are a couple of other things to remember about a 700r, one of which is that they don't like it when you get stuck and try to "rock" the vehicle back and forth to get it unstuck, and they also don't tolerate being driven around town(35-45 mph) in overdrive. I'm not about to spend another $300 on parts to rebuild mine again, so I'm going to swap in a TH350/205 I have in my shop.

    A dana 60 will run you a little more than 2 grand without a locker(assuming you're buying it from a rebuilder), but a FF or SF 14 bolt should be fairly cheap and easy to find, but will probably require a rebuild, along with whatever you want to add to it. Shearing studs, yep, TWO have sheared off my crappy nissan truck, and that's just removing/installing the wheels and tires.

    3,400 rpm instead of 2,500 sounds like either the tach is wrong, or there are lower gears in the diffs than 3.73s. Take it from me, it's fairly easy to set a tach wrong if you aren't paying attention.
     
  14. 4xmac

    4xmac Registered Member

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    Greg, I"am running national 6" springs all the way around. They are the best spring out there. I purchested mine in january of this year. The fronts have 12 leafs and the rears have 13. They are a little pricey at 1470.00 dollars minus shipping, but if you NEED the best then national is the way to go.

    MAC
     
  15. Greg72

    Greg72 "Might As Well..." Staff Member Super Moderator

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    MAC,

    How much information did you need to provide for them to make up those springs? I would imagine that you'd need to provide accurate vehicle weights (front and rear) so they'd know how much truck they needed to hold up....and how much additional spring rate would be needed to achieve the desired lift.

    Did they send you any specs (Lbs/in) for the spring rates you received? I am curious if the rates are as soft as the Tuff Country stuff, or maybe even softer?

    Do you drive with the top removed? It seems like that would affect the rear ride stiffness if the springs were designed for the weight of the top installed.

    Also, have you done a shackle flip in the rear, or did you use a longer arched spring for the rear lift....? Again, the thing I am trying to understand is the best way to get a soft ride in the back in both (top installed / top removed) situations.

    Thanks for any input....I have been anxious to find someone with firsthand experience with the National Springs! [​IMG]

    -Greg72


    ps. Have you done an RTI (ramp) on your suspension yet? I'd be curious to hear how your setup scored!!!
     
  16. 4xmac

    4xmac Registered Member

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    Greg, win i ordered the springs they wanted to know front weight, rear weight and total weight of Blazer plus if i plan on wench and bumper. also how much weight I entend to carry in back from time to time. They asked me what type of wheeling I mostly intend to do. They ask for how much hight, spring under, spring over and what kind of axels. My springs are two stage so I can carry extra weight in back from time to time with out sagging. My springs are set up for 12" of up and down travel. So you can see that these springs are really custom taylored for my needs. I do not run blocks or shakle flip, just straight springs. The price of 1470.00 is with bushings, U-bolts and tax. Hope this helps.

    MAC
     
  17. ken

    ken 1/2 ton status

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    I am running 12" Nationals on my '77 Suburban. Front and rears all have 12 leaves. Super nice ride and real flexy. I got em for $1100 a couple years ago, but I hear now they're up over $1500 (that's for ultra lifts, 8" and up), the 6"ers may be cheaper.

    On the tranny, don't even consider the 700r4. You have a big block and macho one ton axles in your plans, why screw it up with a tranny that can barely hold up to a 350??? Overdrive is a highly over-rated option for these "brick wall" trucks of ours!!

    ken
     
  18. BMRCCR

    BMRCCR Registered Member

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    Why are you so worried about flex if you aren't rockcrawling? Flex isn't very important unless you are rockcrawling or on an RTI ramp. I understand if you want ride, and tuff country springs ride very well. The HD springs are still softer than any other major lift kit's springs. You need to build the truck more for what you are going to do, more than trying to include every gadget in the magazines. I'd guess you want a descent ride, good handling, off road performance, and big tires, in that order. Get a 4" tuff country front springs, ORD shackles, and an ORD 4" flip kit with 0 rate springs. They won't let you down no matter what you do. Maybe a body lift and some fender trimming if you want those 38's. Revolver shackles are rediculous for your application. I don't even like them for 'crawling, although I haven't used them. Think of it this way: with revolver shackles, you are basicly just dropping the tire to the ground. What weight is adding traction to that tire? Just the weight of the axle and tire itself! IMHO, the only thing they are good for are RTI scores. Just IMO, though. My $0.02.

    Anthony
     
  19. BadDog

    BadDog SOL Staff Member Super Moderator Author

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    About the revolvers just "dropping" the tire. I thought the same thing about the revolvers and other setups like the "goofy" (sometimes called buggy) spring setups. At least the revolvers do "drop" it where the weight of the tire/axle is used/absorbed bending down the "goofy" leafs. Anyway, I made that comment on another post where someone was asking about these "goofy" leafs. One person responded with something I hadn't considered. The tire that is stuffed up is pivoting on the spring perch so some force is transferred into pushing down on the drooping side. Now, leverage being what it is, the short lever on the stuffed side working the long lever on the drooped side will not transfer allot of force but there is some.

    Now, I'm not saying that this is ideal or recommending it, it's just something else to think about.

    Bad Dog

    85 K30 CUCV, 350 TBI, TH400, NP205, D60/C14, 4.56 Locked
    Soon: 4" lift, 40" tires, massive cutting, shorter wb and rear overhang.
     
  20. Greg72

    Greg72 "Might As Well..." Staff Member Super Moderator

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    Anthony,

    Thanks for your input on the suspension...and keeping it "reasonable". I definitely can feel myself getting carried away sometimes as I read all of the articles and see all the cool stuff available. It probably doesn't help that I subscribed to EVERY off-road magazine I could find the instant I bought my K5..so I'm constantly being bombarded with ideas about what makes a good suspension!!! [​IMG]

    I think the other reason to maybe "overbuy" or "over-setup" the suspension is that as you get addicted to offroading, you will want to take on harder and harder terrain. The more capable your rig is, the more fun you can have...and with less breakage!!!! I don't have a tow vehicle to get a broken K5 home.....actually, the K5 is supposed to BE the tow vehicle!!!! [​IMG]

    The one thing that would really pi$$ me off is if I build a truck and decide after only a few months, that I bought some of the wrong parts....and I have to RE-BUY something to correct a poor product choice. This thread is great because it really helps me to assess what is important, and what I should be focusing on. There are plenty of people on this list with BTDT experiences, and I am happy to listen to them tell me what works....and what's a waste of money.

    One of the main concerns I have now is the rear spring and suspension setup. It was pointed out that it will be tough to setup the truck to ride well with the "top-on" and "top-off", the weight difference is significant! ...Add to that the fact that I will need to tow a trailer with this thing eventually....and I don't know what my rear ride height will look like in all of these configurations. (I think the ORD zero rate springs will help with the trailering part, correct?)

    When I first bought the truck, I didn't like that it had a 2" body lift on it. The more I think about it, I does help to solve a few problems (especially with clearance for the big block). If I decided to go with 38"s I'm sure that I will be happy having that extra clearance. I am hoping to keep the suspension to it's current 4" lift....so I'm not sure if 38"s will be appropriate. I would really like to avoid fender trimming for aesthetic reasons.

    I didn't really understand the benefit of the rear shackle flip at first, but now it seems like a good way to get rid of my 4" blocks and get a softer ride (even with the current springs). The low cost of this change makes it a no-brainer for me. I may try the longer HD front shackles too, though I'm fairly confident they're not going to soften my ride the way the rears will....

    Please keep the personal experiences coming...I really appreciate the information!!! [​IMG]

    -Greg72
     

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