McGaughy's Lowering Kit on a 2005 Chevy Truck - Lows For Tows
Dropping A New Chevy While Retaining Towing Capabilities
From the October, 2005 issue of Sport Truck
By Calin Head
Photography by Calin Head
Here is the Chevy four-door...
Here is the Chevy four-door Crew Cab that we will transform into a tow rig. As you can see, we already have the wheels bolted up and ready for action. Check out the huge gap between the fenders and the top of the tires. This is what we will be curing within this story.
As much as this pains us to say, not all trucks are built for show; some people still use their trucks for work. What's that all about? Since we are in the business of showing you, the reader, every aspect of trucks, we figured it was time to build a workhorse of a truck but with some style. You may ask, "If the truck is used just for work, why alter it?" Well, because we can, and why tow stock when you can tow cool? The truck that will be our test mule is an '05 Chevrolet Crew Cab shortbed. These trucks offer the best of both worlds-lots of interior room without being so long you need 17 lanes to make a U-turn. We will be throwing all the coolest towing accessories at this sucker, in hopes of making it the tow master.
To get started on the project, we contacted Mike at McGaughy's (pronounced Mickgoys) and filled him in with what we were doing. He informed us that the company had just what we needed to drop the truck and still retain its usefulness. The company's spindle-spring combo for the front and spring-shackle combo for the back will provide a 3/4 drop, which still allowed us to bolt up some big custom wheels without interference.
The spindles are computer-designed to lower the truck while still retaining the stock ball joints and factory geometry parameters. There will be no need to flip the ball joints or the sway bar to use them. This kind of R&D work really pays off when you go to put them on and everything slides into place.
Here is the truck after all...
Here is the truck after all the components had been installed. The kit will lower the truck 3/4, but initially it only went down 2-1/4 inches in the front and 2-1/2 inches in the back. After a little while, the springs will settle and provide us the drop that is advertised, this is true for any lowering kit that uses springs. If the kit you use is just spindles and shackles, you will see the rated drop right away.
The new spring pack for the rear is designed to drop the truck but still retain load capabilities. The springs provide 2 inches of drop, coupled with the company's shackle, and we will see a total of 4 inches. Instead of just using a 4-inch drop spring, McGaughy's found that a milder spring drop with a shackle produces a better ride, and the shackle corrects the pinion angle by raising the back of the spring to prevent pinion shake. This kit is not so severe that we have to get aftermarket shocks, but that's OK. We want to retain the smooth ride because we aren't going to be hucking a trailer through a slalom course-at least, not yet (wink, wink).
The best way to complement a lowering system is a killer wheel and tire package, and we didn't drop the ball there. We ordered up a set of Intro Custom Wheels 20-inch Vista IIs rims. These rims feature a six-spoke design with a suede accent in the center that Intro is famous for. The company is a full service fabrication and custom wheel design facility that manufactures aluminum billet wheels with CNC machinery in sizes 15 to 20 inches, and for you big-ballers, they even carve out 24-inchers. Truck enthusiasts that take pride in their work make all of Intro's wheels right here in the good ol' U.S. of A.
To wrap the rims, we contacted Toyo and took home a set of the company's Proxes ST high-performance tires in sizes 255/45R20 for the front and 295/45R20 for the rear. The Toyo engineers developed a unique Spiral Winding technology to construct these tires. A continuous band of 15mm nylon cord is wound around the circumference of the tire over two steel belts to eliminate the overlap joint splice, common in conventional tire construction. Building them this way provides improved uniformity at high speeds and a more comfortable ride with reduced noise levels. Another cool feature of the tires is the protruding ridge along the bead area of the tire. This ridge extends beyond the width of the wheel rim and acts as a bumper to protect the wheel from any failed parking attempts.
We had Marcel Venable from Venable Koncepts install all of these parts, because it is his truck and there is no way we are going to get dirty for him again. So, follow along, as we show you how to tow cool. If you are interested in any of these parts or want more information, contact the companies in the source box.
1a.Here are the hard parts...
1a.Here are the hard parts we received from McGaughy's: spindles and springs for the front and shackles and springs for the rear. The company did extensive R&D work to make sure everything fit properly without modifications.
2.After the truck was supported...
2.After the truck was supported on jackstands and the wheels removed, Marcel unbolted the caliper. He also removed all the clips that retain the brake line, so it could be set on the ground. If yours won't rest on the ground, then make sure to hang it on the frame. But, whatever you do, don't let it dangle from the brake line.
3.The rotor just slides over...
3.The rotor just slides over the wheel studs. So, once the caliper was off, it could be removed.
4a.The tie rod ends and the...
4a.The tie rod ends and the ball joints can be removed with a little persuasion from a big hammer, and a couple good whacks should break the tapered machine fit. If not, you might need to get yourself a pickle fork.
5.The spindle was set aside,...
5.The spindle was set aside, so we could swap the hub to the McGaughy's piece later.
6.The sway bar endlink and...
6.The sway bar endlink and the shock are preventing the spring from jumping out at the moment. Marcel threaded out the endlink hardware and then supported the lower area with a jack before removing the shock.
7.With the shock out, the...
7.With the shock out, the jack was lowered slowly to unload the spring so it could be removed.
8.The rubber cushion was reinstalled...
8.The rubber cushion was reinstalled on the new spring to prevent squeaks.
9.The new drop spring goes...
9.The new drop spring goes in, just like stock; care was taken to clock the spring so it would index into the pocket correctly.
10.Then, the endlink and shock...
10.Then, the endlink and shock were reinstalled.
11.Over at the bench, Marcel...
11.Over at the bench, Marcel removed the bolts holding on the hub.
12.The McGaughy's spindles...
12.The McGaughy's spindles come unfinished, so a few coats of black paint were applied from a rattle can.
13.Because of the new location...
13.Because of the new location of the spindle's shank, two of the bolts have to be converted to studs that are provided in the kit.
14.A few drops of Loctite...
14.A few drops of Loctite were applied to the threads, before the bolts were torqued to 133 lb-ft.
15.Here, you can see the nuts...
15.Here, you can see the nuts being threaded onto the studs and why they needed to be converted. The hub flange would prevent you from installing a bolt, unless you drilled a big hole in it, and who wants to do that? We think McGaughy's way is better.
16a.With the hub tight, Marcel...
16a.With the hub tight, Marcel slid the spindle assembly on the ball joints and reinstalled the tie rod ends and the brakes to complete the front half of this install.
17.The first step in the rear...
17.The first step in the rear installation necessitates the removal of the gas tank because there is not enough room between the tank and the front spring mount to get the bolt out. Gas weighs about 6-1/2 pounds per gallon, and these trucks have a 26-gallon tank, so to make life easier, burn up as much gas as possible before you try and remove the tank.
18.With the rear end supported,...
18.With the rear end supported, the U-bolts holding the spring pack to the axlehousing were unbolted with an impact.
19.After the front and rear...
19.After the front and rear bolts holding the spring came out, they needed a little persuasion from Mr. Hammer.
20.That allowed the spring...
20.That allowed the spring pack to come out, but Marcel noted: Be careful not to hit the sheetmetal while removing it.
21.The new spring bolted right...
21.The new spring bolted right in place of the stock unit, but what's not pictured is the shackle that is already mounted to the back end of the spring. The U-bolts were tightened, per the instructions, but the shackle bolts were left a little loose so they could be tightened when the truck was on the ground.
22.A tranny jack made putting...
22.A tranny jack made putting the tank back much easier than trying to muscle it up.
23.The Intro wheel and Toyo...
23.The Intro wheel and Toyo tire package finished off the installation of the parts.
24.Once everything was tight,...
24.Once everything was tight, we drove very slowly over to Dave's Alignment to have the frontend brought back to spec. Dale adjusted our caster and camber to make sure we didn't prematurely wear out our tires.
1.This is where a custom Intro...
1.This is where a custom Intro wheel starts. What you are looking at are the raw centers before they are machined.
2.The centers are chucked...
2.The centers are chucked into a CNC mill and the specific design is whittled out.
3.In this case, after the...
3.In this case, after the machining is complete, the spokes are masked off and media-blasted, producing Intro's famous suede finish.
4.Here is the center ready...
4.Here is the center ready to be stuffed inside the hoop.
5.Speaking of hoops, Intro...
5.Speaking of hoops, Intro keeps a wide variety on hand, so turn-around on a custom offset is pretty quick.
6.The hoop is placed onto...
6.The hoop is placed onto a revolving table, so it can be evenly heated. This will expand the hoop and allow the center to slid in.
7.While the hoop is still...
7.While the hoop is still hot, the center is pushed in with this press.
8.Once the tech verifies the...
8.Once the tech verifies the wheel is true, he welds the two components together.
Here is the progression of...
Here is the progression of a center cap starting from a solid chunk. It is machined and polished to produce a nice smooth cap. Right before it is boxed up, Intro etches its logo on the face.
1a.Junior at New Century Tire...
1a.Junior at New Century Tire did an excellent job at mounting and balancing our 20-inch rollers. He made sure all of our tires were clocked the same, and he also keeps the soapy water to a minimum, because who wants a dirty set of wheels.
Intro Custom Wheels
1225 Knollwood Cir.
6261 Katella Avenue, Suite 2B
Mike McGaughy's Classic Chevy Parts Inc.
New Century Tire