Swapping out your truck's rear suspension isn't as difficult as you might think. In the past, this might have been a very expensive modification because you had to rely on a fabrication shop to cut everything for you, add the threads, and supply the proper ends. All this was just to get the bars-you'd still have to pony up for the brackets and tabs. Thanks to Airbagit.com, you can now purchase a triangulated four-link kit for your mini-truck for less than 160 bucks! All you have to provide is a little measuring, a welder, and the help of a friend.
The all-new four-link from Airbagit is constructed of 0.156-wall DOM tubing and has everything you would need for the install (minus the tools). The bars are covered in a black powdercoating, and the brackets come raw and ready to weld. If you already have a wheel-and-tire combo you're happy with, then installing this four-link will get you nice and low without the need for a monoleaf and a huge lowering block. You'll still need to install some sort of way to support the vehicle's weight-either a 'bag or coilover setup. A 'bag-over-axle is the easiest route, but it won't give you the best possible ride. To get that, you should fabricate some brackets or buy some from Airbagit to mount the 'bag one-third of the way back on the bar from the front pivot point. This will give you the best ride and enough lift to clear a set of 20s with a standard airbag with 8 inches of stroke. If you are a spring type of guy, then all you'll need to do is make a crossmember for the upper mounts because the lower bracket already has provisions for the shock. Other cool stuff you'll get from a four-link: The suspension will not wrap up under acceleration, you can adjust the pinion angle without the need for shims, and you'll be able to center the wheels in the wheelwell just by lengthening or shortening the bars.
Mike Cotten of Midwest Images called and told me he just picked up a set of used, but very cheap, wheels and tires for his first-generation roadster S-10 project. The tires are not a superwide Pro Street-style but a 20x10 with very little backspacing, making the rims look ultradeep. There are two problems with trying to fit deep wheels on a dime. Issue one is the rearend. It's too wide and the wheels stick out way past the rear quarters. Issue two is the tires hit the leaf springs once the rear is narrowed.
This install is a bit unusual because Mike is moving the bars to the inside of the frame for even more tire clearance, along with having a 9-inch cut down. Chopping the 9-inch and flipping the four-link to the inside will cure the problems created by the new wheels, but the main procedure for installing the four-link is the same. Make sure to check out the TechTip sidebar, which covers how Mike Larabell of M&B Hotrods in Eureka, Missouri, cut down the 9-inch rearend. If you don't plan on stuffing fatties underneath your ride, all you need to do is ditch the springs and weld stuff in slightly different locations (see the diagram at the end of the story). One big thing to note is the fuel tank. If you're doing this on an S-10 like Mike's, you'll need to move the gas tank or install a fuel cell because the upper bars will hit the tank.
To aid in the install and make things a little easier, Mike Cotten asked longtime friend Mike Lee of Mykals Custom Auto and Paint to come by the shop and help wrench. Even with an extended lunch break and some general messing around, the job was completed in one day.
Sit back and enjoy the tale of the magazine editor and the three Mikes who four-linked a dime.