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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Let’s say, for argument’s sake, a guy was adamantly opposed to lifted or stock height vehicles, and really loves his mega dually. But our completely imaginary, hypothetical idiot is sick of death wobble, spine-jarring suspension crashes over garbage pavement, and chasing the dragon when stuff seems to break in nickel-and-dime fashion.

Would it be more feasible / doable to “redneck enginerd” a rear 4-link and 4-corner air ride with the solid axle and spring perch as front bag mounts (which would also necessitate relocating all four front shock mounts)... or to attempt to swap on a GM front axle setup with all the beefiest components and address the rear separately?

Let’s hypothetically say the truck is already lowered ...well, a lot... and the front bump stops are already trimmed to as much front travel as possible without hitting the oil pan. And let’s say the rear spacer blocks are all removed, and the helpers are gone, and there are already 5k helper bags and cal-trac’s on the rear axle.

Let’s pretend, while we’re at it, our imaginary idiot isn’t totally opposed to taking the truck out of service for a few weeks while learning how to weld structural components but isn’t quite sure where to get hold of the specs on various air ride components to even figure out what I’d -I mean, HE’d- need. Asking for a friend... Yeah...

Srsly tho, this truck rides like a hardtail huffy with concrete wheels. Otherwise it’s a fantastic and reliable vehicle. I might not have an intact spine or functional kidneys when I get there, but the truck will definitely get there.


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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Nobody?

Not dead set either way. Call it bench racing, or a theoretical thought exercise, or a wild “what if” marginally intelligent discussion.

Open to any moderately considered input.


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air bag it, replace the strut bushing up front as they are commonly the source of DW.
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
On a 3d gen?

So I’m assuming that would necessitate welding on some late 4th gen offset front shock mounts. Any idea where one would obtain those without going to a salvage yard and scavenging?


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I think Kaufman has an all air lift kit you can look at for reference. If you're going to lower a 1 ton truck don't expect a smooth ride. You need suspension travel to soften the ride on a heavy duty suspension.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Oh no doubt. Cadillac, I’m not expecting. But if Cadillac mag-ride and airbags can make an M1 Abrams ride like a pickup instead of a tank, I’m hoping any improvement will make mine ride more like a pickup than a tank as well.

Was debating mildly notching the frame to get a bit more front travel, but not sure how much would be safe to avoid contacting the oil pan.

Also was debating relocating higher the rear perches and going to a single leaf for locating purposes only, with primary suspension by a pair of 5k (total capacity 10k) bags instead of the current dated 5k lb capacity pair of helper bags under the truck.

Granted, playing with either end too much might require custom driveshafts, but it doesn’t seem much more expensive (couple hundred bucks, maybe) to get custom shafts than it is to simply upgrade all the u-joints in a stock shaft.

Thoughts?


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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
I think Kaufman has an all air lift kit you can look at for reference. If you're going to lower a 1 ton truck don't expect a smooth ride. You need suspension travel to soften the ride on a heavy duty suspension.
When ArcWerx was here in New Orleans they used to have a weld-it-yourself full air ride kit for the 3rd gen on their site for what I considered a very reasonable price. Dummy me never bit the bullet and put them on the shelf cuz I don’t have a shop to do it in, or a welder yet. Now they’ve moved to tx and I haven’t seen the kit listed. Prob ought to reach out at some point. Hoping to have a respectable shop by the fall or early winter to go tinker in.


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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
...of not playing with my toy? Yes. Yes, I am. The pile of parts and no time to install them plus working night shifts tends to leave a guy to do way too much mental bench racing. In my case that usually leads to half baked bad ideas and more than a few episodes of “hold my beer and watch this”.


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If you haven't looked at Kelderman yet, take a look at their kit for ideas. Their minimum ride height on their 2 stage front kit is the stock 4wd height though so their kit won't work for a lowered truck. Their rear 4 link setup MIGHT work for a lowered truck but I can't say for sure.

Check out Firestone Industrial Products for airbags. They have air bags of all types and sizes to choose from for your build.
Firestone Industrial Products: Airide Suspension, Air Springs & More (firestoneip.com)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I’ve looked at the Keldermann setups; it doesn’t appear the way they’re engineered I’d even be able to adapt the front to a lowered application as it would necessitate significantly altering either the upper bag perch or the shock tower - at that point basically nullifies blowing $4600 on the kit anyway. Their rear does look like it would work, but then we have the mental block of forking out $4500 for suspension work that I could probably fake the funk with a 4-link racing kit and swap the coil brackets for airbag mounts. Considering picking up a 4-link kit from Hardway and fabricobbling some rear-hanging bag plates directly off the rear frame rails and relocating the driver shock to mirror the passenger shock configuration. Would like to retain the factory front spring perches for a top 4-link mount, as they’re known square to the frame, level, lined up across centers, and parallel (theoretically).

Interested in thoughts.


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The issue with a lowered solid axle truck having nice ride is that, like you mentioned, the axle is already VERY close to the bump stops. That means with any kind of impact you’re slamming straight into the bump stops. The only way to really do what you want to do right is to notch the frame for additional axle clearance so that the truck still has a half decent amount of suspension travel. Doable, but not easy!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Odd you should mention that... was just looking at that yesterday after finishing up an oil change on my wife’s pathfinder. Seems there’s about an additional 1.5-2” of clearance between where the frame rails are and where the oil pan is. Concern I have with cutting that too narrow, is how much could the frame be notched for clearance?

I could shave the bump stops in half but I’ve heard that just makes the impact on them less of a push and more of a slam. Guys who lower these trucks (usually 2500s) for drag racing typically cut the bump stops in half, but admit it makes the ride even more stupid harsh.


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What suspension travel?? This is air ride with a ride leveler. I would like to do a four link, but likely buying a semi in February or March. One thing I will say is, the unloaded ride is hugely improved, but loaded is so rough due to the high bag pressure. I've been looking to put much larger bags on that would allow an even smoother ride as the weight supported would be the same but at lower pressure. (I have airlift 7500). Looking to replace them with a semi-bag that has the same bolt pattern.

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Do you still have leaf springs or not? Can’t quite tell, but that thing looks clean.

Would you be willing to share some photos of your front suspension setup, if you’ve got that bagged as well?

The main challenge I’m running into is figuring a bag setup which would work on a 4wd truck to smooth it out and hopefully negate ever having to deal with death wobble. It’s bad when it happens at 45-50mph with coils; I couldn’t imagine it with air springs at 65-70mph on the highway.


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It's only got helper bags currently, doing a full air ride is in the not-so-distant future....maybe March or April. Just debating on whether I roll my own system (~$1k) or spend it on a kit (~$6k). I would have already done a Kelderman if they were priced more realistically, I think they must be sniffing paint to come up with those prices. Air ride is a huge improvement if you got big bags at low pressure, the bounce isn't there due to the shocks. Granted, it won't ever be perfect, but it will be improved. I've solved death wobble on a couple trucks in my shop by replacing control arms, others with track bars, and others with entirely new front ends and shocks. I have never encountered it on any of my vehicles, but my trucks are on a lift just about every weekend and everything gets replaced before it is bad or fails. I change parts because it only costs time when they have a warranty.
 
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