Q My father and I are looking to beef up his '96 1/2-ton Chevy Suburban for mild off-road and some heavy towing. The tired 350 is going for a full rebuild and a turbo, but the questions come in about suspension, most likely 3-inch, but what kits offer good rearend stability for the towing? Also a new axle in the rear is in the plans, but we are not sure what to look for. Something that would swap right in without total modification is preferable. A selectable locker is also going to be in the mix, most likely an ARB Air Locker. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
A Making a 1/2-ton into a towing machine is an uphill battle, but it doesn't need to be a tremendous headache. If you can find a 91/2-inch semi-floating 14-bolt rear axle out of an '88-'98 light-duty 3/4-ton (these are recognized by their 2500 badge, yet six-lug wheel bolt pattern) it should nearly bolt in and there is an ARB available for it. As for suspension, I agree keeping it around a 2- to 3-inch lift will be best for both wheeling and towing, and I would also invest in some rear air springs such as those made by Firestone Ride Right (800.888.0650, www.ride-rite.com) or Air Lift (800.248.0892, www.airliftcompany.com) to help support the extra weight of the trailer. And finally, look into trailer brakes, a brake controller, and a weight-distributing hitch such as those from Draw-Tite (866.308.9054, www.drawtite-hitches.com).
Q I have an '04 F-250 Super Duty four-door with an 8- to 10-inch lift and 44-inch Michelin XL tires, but now I badly need some step rails. Normal step rails won't be any help. I made my own front bumper and have included a photo of the truck.
A If you want something to protect the rocker panels during off-roading, then you are looking for rock sliders. Rock sliders are designed to take abuse off-road, slide over obstacles that want to dent your cab, support the weight of the truck, and depending on the design also offer a step up to get into your truck. Very few companies make serious rock sliders for fullsize trucks, so I suspect you'll need to find a specialty fabrication shop to make you a set or build your own at home.
If you are just looking for a step up into the truck I'd recommend the retractable steps from AMP Research (amp-research.com) and distributed by Bestop (800.845.3567, www.bestop.com). I used to think these were a gimmick, but they are extremely handy for getting in and out of a tall truck. I keep hoping they will offer a super-rugged off-road version that can be dunked in mud, take some rock abuse, and be shut off when the truck is in four-wheel drive. Hey, AMP, you got your ears on?
Q I am the proud owner of an '02 S-10. It has gotten me everywhere I need to go, except the back nine. The problem is that my truck is two-wheel drive. I really want a 4WD but cannot afford to sell my truck. I am a college student, so I cannot afford to buy a new output shaft and transfer-case adapter. I have devised the plan of divorce-mounting a transfer case. The problem is that I have no experience with doing so. I have never had a truck with one and have never been around one, period. I currently have an NP205 case lying around, but I am considering using a Toyota case instead. My truck has the 4L60E transmission and the 4.3. Now, granted, this swap will not be a permanent solution, but it will be used until I win the lottery or get a better job. Help me!