Step By Step
The ORU straight axle conversion kit consists of the brackets and hardware youll need to install leaf springs, but you supply the front axle, leaf springs, and U-bolts. The first step is to remove all the IFS stuff and sell it to some sucker.
With the torsion bars, A-arms, CV shafts, and all of the other outer garbage removed, the differential bracket and differential can be removed. The centerlink, idler arm, and sway bar are also tossed.
The factory rear lower A-arm mounting brackets need to be cut off flush with the bottom of the frame and ground smooth. You can remove them with a grinder, but a torch or plasma cutter is much faster.
The front spring hanger brackets are predrilled and bolt to the front framerails. There are two factory holes on the frame bottom you can use to line the brackets up, but you must punch and drill four holes in the side of the frame.
Attach the rear shackle bracket lightly to the frame with a clamp. From the center of the front spring hanger bolt hole to the rear shackle pivot bolt hole, measure 461/2 inches. Clamp the bracket tightly to the frame and drill the bolt holes.
The rear shackle bracket employs a reinforcement plate that slides into the frame. Line up the holes with the rear shackle bracket and torque down the 3/8-inch bolts to 30 lb-ft.
Install the supplied shackle on the rear hanger. The header needed to be cut in order to fit with the solid axle conversion. This isnt necessary when using factory exhaust manifolds.
The ORU conversion kit is designed to use super-common 73-87 GM front springs. Both trucks used custom packs from National Spring.
An ORU torsion bar sway bar was bolted on to help fight body sway from the soft National springs. The bar bolts to the frame using the same bolt holes as the stock unit. The torsion bar is connected to the front axle with arms and links, as youll see later.
Since the factory steering system cant be utilized with a solid front axle, youll need to purchase an ORU crossover steering kit. The kit includes the proper pitman arm, drag link, and steering arm.
The late-model axle has a 36 on-center spring pad width. A set of super-beefy ORU 1.5-inch 35-spline stub shafts will be installed to replace the factory 1.31-inch 30-spline units.
Bilstein 7100 series shocks were bolted to the ORU shock hoops, and tabs were welded to the U-bolt spring plate. Notice that the passenger-side knuckle is about to be replaced with an ORU F-350 knuckle. The new knuckle is modified to accept the passenger-side steering arm. This knuckle isnt necessary when using the old-style Dana 60.
An ARB air locker was installed in the front axle of both trucks for the convenience of either open diff steering or ultimate spooled traction at the flick of a button.
To call the underhood of late-model GMs cluttered is an understatement. We were shocked when we couldnt squeeze the compact ARB air compressor anywhere! Instead, we chose to mount the compressor on both trucks on the driver-side framerail out of harms way.
ORU fitted the 14-bolt rears in both trucks with the bombproof Detroit Locker. Since the diffs of Rozos GMC were open anyway, ORU upgraded the gears to 4.88s and replaced the bearings with parts from Drivetrain Direct.
Heres the finished deal. The end result rode better than the lifted IFS, articulated like nobodys business, and is the last word in bombproof. Perhaps the biggest advantage of the conversion kit is that it gives the super-high crowd a driveable option. No more stacking kits to get 10 inches of lift.
With the Suburban now sitting high the old 35-inch BFG M-Ts just werent cutting it. Rozo chose a trick new set of 37x12.50-17 BFG A-Ts on 17x93/4 Weld Typhoon wheels.
While its true that there are plenty of ways to increase the suspension height of 88-98 GM IFS-equipped trucks, none come close to matching the awesome flex, rugged durability, or dirt-simple design of the tried-and-true leaf-sprung solid axle.
Enter Off Road Unlimited in Burbank, California. Its no strangers to making Poindexters into rabid off-road animals, or converting IFS-equipped trucks into solid axle performers. Just look at our Project 4xQuad (Mar. 99 to June 99) to see what we mean. And, as it just so happened, ORU owner Maurice Rozo and technician Bobby Pouridis were about to perform the conversion on their rides.
The ORU Straight Axle conversion kit comes in two forms. One accommodates the early-style Ford Dana 60 axles with a 32-inch on-center spring pad width, while the other accommodates the late-model Ford Dana 60 axles with a 36-inch on-center spring pad width. The Ford axles are used because their driver-side pumpkin matches the left hand output of the late-model GMs transfer case. Follow along as we install the 36-inch kit on Rozos 96 GMC Suburban and the 32-inch kit on Pourdis 98 Crew Cab Chevy. The sharp ones out there may notice that there are no overall shots of the completed vehicles. Thats because they came out so killer we shot a feature on both of them. Look for them in an upcoming issue.