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2012 Chevy Silverado 2500HD Duramax With A Solid Axle Swap

Posted in Features on May 6, 2015
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Elsewhere in this issue you will read about tips and parts for your tow rig. That is because most people with hardcore off-road rigs trailer them to and from their destinations. Most, but not all. Jack Stanko wanted a vehicle that he could fit the whole family in, safely travel down the freeway with, and still tackle the toughest trails around in. Stanko lives in Reno, Nevada, just a stone’s throw away from the Rubicon Trail. He didn’t want to have to worry about going in and out of the trail from the same direction or the hassle of a tow rig and trailer. It isn’t an inexpensive option, but when you do the math, a tow rig, a trailer, and a wheeling rig can easily equal the cost of this Duramax.

Up front a Ruff Stuff 14-bolt housing is fitted with a Solid Industries third member that houses an ARB Air Locker and 5.38 Nitro gears. 300M RCV axleshafts that are 30-spline at the differential and 35-spline at the Solid Industries knuckles combined for sharp steering to help the long truck fit on tight trails. Nate’s Precision even retrofit the huge factory 2500HD brakes and installed Yukon Hardcore Locking Hubs to keep the front High Angle Driveline from spinning on the street.

Stanko has collaborated with Nate Jensen of Nate’s Precision on several vehicles in the past, from full-blown buggies to leaf-sprung, solid-axle Duramax trucks. For this 2012 Chevy Silverado 2500HD, Stanko gave Jensen and his staff full reign to build whatever they could imagine. It is the sort of opportunity most fabrication shops would kill for, and Jensen did not squander the opportunity.

When you do the math, a tow rig, a trailer, and a wheeling rig can easily equal the cost of this Duramax

Jensen and crew built a completely unconventional suspension that keeps the ride height low with 42-inch Goodyear Wrangler MT/Rs and handles exceptionally well on the pavement while allowing for gobs of suspension travel off-road. The front suspension uses a triangulated four-ink with a bellcrank steering configuration to eliminate bumpsteer, while the rear suspension uses a three-link with a Watts Link to fit under the factory bed and share space with the factory fuel tank and exhaust, complete with the diesel particulate filter. Ruff Stuff–fabricated 14-bolt housings with Solid Industries dropout third members were connected to the suspension to provide Stanko with a sense of security regardless of whether he was traveling down the freeway or the Rubicon Trail.

There is not a lot of extra space under the hood of a modern diesel truck for items like shock reservoirs and power steering reservoirs, so Nate’s Precision had to get creative. Duramax trucks can be ordered with dual alternators. One of the many clever tricks Nate’s performed was using the auxiliary alternator location for a second power steering pump, with one pump running the hydroboost brakes and the other responsible only for the steering.

Tech Specs
2012 Chevy Silverado 2500HD

Drivetrain
Engine: 6.6L Duramax diesel
Transmission: Allison LCT1000 6-speed automatic
Transfer Case: MP1226XHD
Front Axle: Ruff Stuff 14-bolt and Solid Industries third member with ARB Air Locker, 5.38 Nitro gears, RCV axleshafts, Solid Industries knuckles, Yukon hubs, factory GM brakes
Rear Axle: Ruff Stuff 14-bolt and Solid Industries third member with ARB Air Locker, 5.38 Nitro gears, RCV axleshafts, Solid Industries hubs, factory GM brakes

Suspension
Springs & Such: 3-inch-diameter King coilovers with triangulated 4-link (front) and Watts Link (rear)
Tires & Wheels: 42x14.5R17 Goodyear Wrangler MT/Rs on Stazworks double beadlocks
Steering: Nate’s Precision custom bellcrank steering with dual steering pumps, Artec double sheer steering arms, PSC hydraulic assist ram
Other Stuff: Addicted Desert Designs front bumper, Warn 16.5ti winch, Smittybilt synthetic winch rope, Factor55 Pro-Link, dual Rigid Industries LED light bars, Rigid Industries rock lights, High Angle Driveline drivelines, Nate’s Precision rock sliders, dual AMP Research steps, Nate’s Precision custom rear bumper powdercoated by Advanced Powdercoating, custom aluminum washer fluid bottle, Royalty Core RC3DX grille, Mac’s VersaTrack, relocated urea tank, Nate’s Precision custom skidplates

The front suspension uses 14-inch-travel, 3-inch-diameter King coilovers with King dual-rate coil springs. The axle is located by a triangulated four-link suspension with 45-inch lower links and 361⁄2-inch uppers. Typically a triangulated four-link front suspension requires full hydraulic steering to eliminate bumpsteer. Since this truck is used as a daily driver, full hydraulic was not a viable option, so Nate Jensen and Bernie Dittrich built a bellcrank-style steering where the drag link travels along the frame parallel to the suspension links to the Artec double sheer steering arms and PSC hydraulic assist ram.
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From the driver seat the truck looks entirely stock. No squeaks, rattles, or other issues that would prevent Stanko from driving this truck every day. It has satellite radio, all of the HVAC systems still work, and there is room for the entire family.

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