You might be wondering what happened to the Mail Truck column. It's still around, we just gave it a snappy new title befitting its new direction. From now on, your questions will be answered by a revolving panel of industry experts in addition to the staff of the magazine. This month, we've got Early Classic Enterprises' Stan Hammond and McGaughy's Suspension owner, Mike McGaughy, droppin' all kinds of suspension knowledge. Some of these questions were pulled directly from the forums at sporttruck.com, and the rest came right from Mike's email in-box. If you'd like an expert answer to a question concerning your truck or the magazine, visit the forums or send Mike an email via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who Needs Four Wheels When Two Will Do?
I have a '78 Chevy Blazer 4x4 that I'd like to lower and convert to two-wheel-drive. I also have another Blazer to use as a parts donor. I'm confident that I can do the back conversion without any problem, but I'd like some direction on how to make the swap up front. Thanks.
Heath, the swap can be done without removing the engine, but is definitely easier to do with the motor removed. First things first, make sure you measure your wheelbase. On the Blazer it should be 104 inches. After you have removed the four-wheel-drive components with the frame on jackstands, roll the complete two-wheel-drive crossmember under the frame. I strongly recommend keeping the crossmember complete to measure your wheelbase to get the correct location of the crossmember. Any amount that you are off will give you troubles later during the conversion. You can actually lower the frame right onto the crossmember to get your wheelbase set to the same measurement as before.
Using the crossmember as a template, mark the holes (14 in total) and remove the crossmember to drill the holes. The steering gear actually mounts in the same location, but the holes are different from 4WD to 2WD trucks. Once the 800-series gearbox is mounted to the frame, take the complete center drag link with pitman and idler arm attached and mount it to the gearbox. Make sure that the gearbox is centered and swing the pitman arm up to the framerail on the passenger side while making sure the center drag link stays parallel to the center crossmember. Mark and drill your holes for the pitman arm bracket.
The drag link will be very close to the crossmember but should not hit it.
Now the motor mounts can be installed in the existing holes and motor can be dropped back in place. The hard part is done, however a new automatic transmission crossmember will need to be installed. ECE offers one that will bolt in place (depending on motor and transmission combination, you may need to drill the holes). You will also want to get a 2WD fan shroud since the engine will now be in a different location.
Early Classic Enterprises specializes in hard-to-find parts for old-school trucks. The shop has done all of the popular conversions, including longbed-to-shortbed swaps, and 4x4-to-2x4 drivetrain rebuilds.
Homie Doesn't Want To Get His Lean On Anymore
I just put a McGaughy's 2/4 drop kit on my four-wheel-drive 2004 Chevy Silverado 1500. I've changed it a little. The truck comes from the factory with 2-inch lift blocks in between the axle and the leaf spring. I took those out and I have adjusted the torsion keys completely out so my 2/4 drop has become a 4/6 drop. Anyway, I'm having a problem with the right side of the truck leaning farther down. It's done this since I've owned it and I thought it might be shocks so I replaced those today. That didn't fix the problem. I'm just wondering if anyone has dealt with this before and might know what the hell is wrong.
The problem with the truck sounds like the dreaded GM lean. From the factory, GM trucks don't sit level (I have seen as much as 5/8-inch difference from side to side). Changing the shocks won't help either. All you can do is adjust the torsion bars accordingly to help compensate for the factory lean. There is an even bigger problem with this truck, though. We strongly recommend that you do NOT lower a 1/2-ton four-wheel-drive any more than 2 inches in the front. This will cause an excessive CV joint angle which can cause vibrations, premature wear, and/or breakage. Please take our warning seriously because we have done a lot of testing and have seen these things happen. Thanks for your question!
McGaughy's has been in business over 25 years, engineering and manufacturing the world's finest lowering suspension parts. The company offers parts for 1960 to 2009 GM trucks and many other applications including Ford, Dodge, Nissan, and Toyota
We're Average, But In A Good Way
I am looking for a magazine for the everyday person who wants to work on his/her truck. Almost all of the magazines I look at are about nothing but lowering a truck and making it unrecognizable. If anything, I would like to raise my '94 S-10 a little. Does your magazine offer articles for the average truck enthusiast?Thank you,
We are far from average here at ST. But, we are a family of knuckle-busting gearheads that prides itself on getting' dirty in the driveway and turning wrenches whenever possible. To that end, you'll find lots of do-it-yourself tech articles in the magazine and on sporttruck.com. While the lifted truck scene has receded a bit as of late, you'll still see some tech articles on lifting sport trucks from time-to-time. You can also check out back issues of ST that feature tips on lifting the same kind of truck you have. In fact, check out the tech article section on sporttruck.com for a story where we lifted and lowered an S-10. Now, how is that for average?
Mike Finnegan / Editor
I have an '00 Silverado on 'bags. When parked overnight or for a long period of time, the tail end loses air and eventually hits the ground. My compressor isn't kicking on either. If you can help with this I'd appreciate it. Thanks.
Most air systems are wired so that when the air in the reserve tank falls below a certain pressure, the pressure switch signals the relay to turn on the compressor and refill the tank. If the relay is powered by a wire that only provides voltage when the ignition is on, then it won't work when the truck is parked and not running. If you check out the schematic on this page, you'll see that in order for the pressure switch to have power, the ignition must be powered up. Without the ignition sending 12 volts to the pressure switch, the switch does nothing even if the air tank is empty.
Another issue to consider is that just because the rear 'bags are losing air doesn't mean that the reserve tank is losing air. If the tank is full, then there's no reason for the compressor to kick on. Even if it did, it's not going to automatically raise up the back of your truck unless you have the system plumbed and wired to do so. We suggest filling a squirt bottle with a soapy water solution (dish soap and tap water works well), fill up the 'bags with air, and then crawl under the truck and spray all of the air lines and fittings until you see bubbles. The bubbles indicate an air leak.
Mike Finnegan / Editor