Your Tech Questions Answered
Nuts, I’m Confused
Heavy Front F-150
Q Hello, I have an ’04 F-150 Fx4 and plan to lift it about 6 inches and run 35s. My question, however, is about aftermarket bumpers from Buckstop. According to the website the bumper (complete with guard) for my truck weighs 190 pounds over stock. I don’t think that includes the estimated weight of a winch. Is there any special considerations I should make while installing the new suspension up front? I plan to use the full suspension kit from Skyjacker with add-a-leaves and 35-inch Nitto Trail Grapplers. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
A Adding the extra weight will likely preload the front suspension and take up some of your tire clearance for 35-inch Nittos. Skyjacker adds a spacer ring to the front strut in the lift kit, and adding a second spacer ring will help make up for the height loss from the added weight. Moog also offers both a standard-duty and a heavy-duty replacement front coil spring and can be sourced through RockAuto.com. With the heavy-duty front Moog coils and the second spacer you should have enough room for the 35s along with your winch. I’m picking your letter for our Nuts, I’m Confused letter of the month and will be sending you a copy of our 2012 Ultimate Adventure DVD. It weighs less than a pound and will not affect your front spring rate!
Q I live in coastal North Carolina. I never rockcrawl or ride tough trails. The most my K5 Blazer sees is occasional beach trips in the summer and local camping trips in the winter. Currently I own an ’89 Chevy K5. It has a TBI 350, a 700R4, and an NP241 transfer case. The motor is stock except for the normal exhaust and other small things. It’s lifted around 8 inches and has 37x13.50x15 tires on the stock GM 10-bolts. It has the factory G80 in the rear geared 3.73 and is open up front, and I know I need to regear to about 4.56 since I have overdrive. I drive the truck almost every day but never really give it hell. I read online all the time on various forums that “you just have to get a GM 14-bolt if running over a 35-inch tire.” I do understand that there is a good option for me to upgrade to a 14-bolt semifloat so I can keep six lugs rather than regearing and upgrading to chromoly axleshafts and spending all that hard-earned cash on a 10-bolt.
What is the best option? I’m sure there are other people out there who love lifted trucks and who just take them camping and use them as daily drivers and who don’t go to the Rocky Mountains every weekend! I know a Dana 60 in front and a GM 14-bolt rear is what everyone claims is best, and I know it is a good combo, but I don’t tear my rig up every time I drive it and am just wondering if my current setup will hold up to 37s…or am I on borrowed time?
A I’m not going to tell you that your axle won’t break with larger-than-stock tires, but I always say if the axles are working just run ’em! Everyone thinks you need to upgrade your axles just because you are running big tires, and I agree that having appropriately matched gears for your tire size is helpful, but I doubt you need a 60/14-bolt for what you like to do. Larger tires will decrease the longevity of your axles, but even so I don’t think your axle will suddenly explode under your truck just because you bolt on 37s.
I replaced the 10-bolt and semifloating 14-bolt in my Suburban a couple of issues ago (“Got 74s?” Mar. ’13), but that was because I had bent the front axle, needed lower gears, wanted a locker, and fully planned on abusing the truck some more. If I was going to just daily drive it and cruise the dunes (no more jumping) then a new straight 10-bolt and gears in the existing axles would be fine.
I agree that the semifloating 14-bolt or a six-lug Dana 60 rear would be a great upgrade and probably smarter than investing a lot in your rear 10-bolt, but this all depends on how you drive and how secure you feel with the 10-bolt. I think your front 10-bolt will be fine.
So what would I do? I love overbuilding and have been accused of wanting a 60 and 14-bolt in everything I own, which is probably true. But I also always end up doing dumb stuff like jumping my truck or bashing it through a ditch or over a rock or whatever, and then it’s nice to know I’m not going to be dragging home a busted axle. I hope as I get older I’ll smarten up and stop driving like a jerk and eventually not need to put big parts under everything I drive (probably not). Here is my advice for you: Do a cost analysis of gears and a locker or limited slip for your rear 10-bolt versus the same for a semifloat six-lug 14-bolt. Then start looking for the semifloat 14-bolt—I see them all the time for $300 or less. I think you’ll find one pretty inexpensive and realize that the money for gears and a diff will feel better spent than doing the same on your 10-bolt.
Cut Grind Wheel
Q I recently purchased a set of stock steel Chevy wheels from an ’06 Silverado hoping to put them on my Toyota. I came across this wheel deal and remembered seeing them on a Toyota. This Toyota happened to be on the cover of your Sept. ’09 issue. Come to think of it, it was the only Toyota I have ever seen running these wheels. After returning home with my wheel loot excited to be the only other person I knew of running these Chevy wheels on a Toyota, I realized they suffered from the typical stock-Chevy-wheels-on-a-Toyota syndrome. The center holes are too small to fit over the hub assembly. Which brings me to the point of this letter. What did Mr. Moustache do to fit these wheels on his Toyota?
Potter Valley, CA
A Cutting the center hole out of a wheel to clear an axle hub can be done cleanly or as a backyard hack job depending on your planned use. I have seen guys cut them open with a plasma cutter or torch, but these are on vehicles that don’t see the street and don’t need to be well balanced. I have also seen guys cut them out with a hole saw, but it’s difficult to get the saw centered over the opening and get a perfectly centered hole. This works OK, but is only slightly better than using a torch or plasma cutter. The best option is to find someone with a mill or lathe that can center up the wheel and machine out the center to fit over the axle hub. This often requires a large machine to fit a wheel in or on, and all of a sudden your inexpensive used wheels are costing you time and money at the machine shop. I think getting the right wheels in the beginning would be cheaper unless you can do one of these three jobs at home.