Ford Super Duty Coilover ConversionPosted in How To: Suspension Brakes on March 1, 2007 0) (
If you own a Ford Super Duty built between 1999 and 2004, this story is for you. Recently, Full-Traction of Bakersfield, California, developed a new system designed to improve over-the-road ride quality while greatly increasing trail prowess at the same time. Full-Traction calls its new offering a "four-link conversion system." We dubbed it a "worthy conversion" because that's exactly what it is. We were very impressed with the kit's high-quality components and were delighted with its performance both on- and off-pavement. The kit evolved from Full-Traction's involvement in the ever-popular Jeep Speed racing circuit. Now we know what you're thinking; how does Jeep Speed racing have anything to do with Ford truck suspension? The answer lies in the desire to go fast.
Steve Kramer, owner and president of Full-Traction, found that his '01 F-250 couldn't handle the rough stuff like his company-sponsored Jeep Speed Cherokee racer could. Big surprise, right? But Steve wouldn't have it that way. So one late night at his shop he decided to dissect the issue and sort out the shortcomings associated with the Ford leaf-sprung front end. Steve spent a few hours under each rig, all the while taking notes on each suspension setup. Full-Traction already had a four-link suspension system available for the newer '05 coil-sprung Super Duty, and because the older Ford's frames were very similar in design to the newer truck's, Steve knew he could simply modify a few existing parts from his '05 kit and adapt a slightly different version to that of the '01 model. When he emerged the next morning, a winning concept was born. Basically, Steve figured out how to convert his front leaf-spring suspension to a four-link like his Cherokee: a four-link with a Panhard bar. The only difference is that Steve's kit uses coilover shocks instead of coil springs, and the components are much bigger, of course.
More than just a cosmetic attitude adjustment, this system increases front wheel travel significantly, therefore improving articulation and ultimately traction and control. The kit is available in either a 6- or 8-inch version. We opted to test the 6-inch system.
We like this kit because it features heavy-duty brackets intended to take a thrashing, plus it uses those sweet rebuildable Johnny Joints on each of the four 2-inch-OD, 1/4-inch-wall DOM control arms. All the welds throughout are impeccable, and the overall fitment of the system was, without question, outstanding. All the correct parts and pieces were included with the system, and installation was a simple bolt-on affair for our friends at 4-Wheel Parts in Redondo Beach, California. Easy-to-interpret instructions were also supplied with the kit. Follow along as we highlight the installation process and detail what makes this kit a worthy conversion.
1. This conversion system allows use of any standard 2.5- or 3-inch coilover shock available today. We opted for a pair of 2.5-inch Fox Racing Shox with remote reservoirs because we believe they are a superior design for this particular application. We like the Fox units because they are comprised of high-quality internal parts such as solid 17-4 stainless steel shock shafts that measure a whopping 7/8 inch in diameter. Fox also leads the industry in terms of product confidence as each and every shock the company sells is backed by a full 1-year warranty against defects. It's also worth mentioning all the details about the warranty are published very clearly on Fox's Web site for would-be buyers. We also added a pair of Eibach (PN 183104) springs to provide the necessary spring rate for our V-10-equipped donor truck. Eibach springs are the gold standard of the coil-spring industry. We like that they come with a million-mile warranty too.
We anticipated a significant improvement over the stock ride. However, in particular we greatly underestimated the enhancement this kit provides on pavement. Especially going around corners, this kit is leap-years ahead of the stock setup. We'd even say it's better than that of the new '05-and-up coil-sprung Super Dutys. Much to the delight of our donor truck's owner, this kit performs awesome in the dirt as well. Going over small roller whoops at speed is now way too much fun, and the speeds at which you still feel safe and comfortable at are actually very dangerous without a cage. The steering feels more responsive than ever, and the wheels have a more predictable return-to-center feel than before. All in all, we give this kit two thumbs way up.
For this particular project, we wanted a set of wheels that complemented the truck's new top-notch suspension system. We found what we were looking for in Pro Comp's Extreme Alloy line with the 6089-series chrome wheel. These wheels are a good balance between light weight and high strength. We like the open-spoke design and feel confident that the chrome-plated finish wouldn't detract too much from the truck's bold new aggressive look. Our tire of choice was the brand-new 37x12.50R17 Pro Comp Extreme Mud Terrain. This newcomer looks to be a formidable player in the light truck market. We can't say much about the dependability of this tire yet, but we will assure you that the carcass upon which this new tread is based has been around for some time now. However, Pro Comp did manage to drum up a nifty new slogan, "Amor-Tek3 Carcass Construction," which promptly caused us to do back flips with excitement when we read it. The Carcass is constructed of two radial polyester body plies and one angled polyester body ply. These three plies should improved puncture resistance and the new aggressive tread design fits our needs perfectly. Stay tuned for a complete review on this new tire in the near future.