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1979 Ford F-150 - Project Two-By Four, Part 2

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John Cappa | Writer
Posted August 1, 2001

Shocks and Hoops

Step By Step

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  • With King’s help we decided that the 14-inch-travel Pre-Runners were the best choice for our project. The front shock (left) has the coil hardware and Eibach coils installed.

  • Eibach offers a number of different coils categorized by spring rate and length. The coil on the right is rated at 500 pounds per inch, while the other is a 200-pound spring. Notice the difference in thickness of the coil wire. King recommended dual-rate coils. The lower coils on our shocks are 350-pound and the uppers are 250-pound. This is considered a light setup and should put the shock in the middle of its travel with the static weight of our truck.

  • In order to keep the shocks from bottoming at full bump we removed the urethane bumpstops and let the axle rest metal-on-metal before fabricating the hoops. We also removed one of the coils to ease full compression of the shock. One coil is left in place to expose any clearance problems.

  • The main hoop is welded to the frame with 2 1/2-inch sections of 1 3/4-inch tubing. The caps from A&A are welded from the inside for a clean look. Notice the tight fit of the pieces before they are welded.

  • In addition to the tools mentioned last month you will need the raw materials shown here to build the shock hoops. The main part of the hoop is 1 3/4-inch, 0.120-inch wall tubing. The brace is 1 1/2-inch, 0.120-inch wall tubing. The weld tabs are stamped units from A&A Manufacturing. A fabricator or an exhaust shop should be able to bend the tubing for you if you don’t have a bender.

  • This is what the front hoop looks like from the engine compartment. We’ll add a removable crossover brace that will stabilize the front hoops once the engine is in place.

  • The shocks can be adjusted for the desired height once they are installed. Tightening the adjusters or swapping to a stiffer coil (not longer) will lift the vehicle. The adjusters always have to have some preload to keep the coils in place. Lowering the vehicle will usually require a lighter set of coils. The reservoirs and shocks should be mounted away from heat sources for best performance.

  • In the rear we replaced our dual conventional shocks with single, non-coilover, reservoired Kings mounted to our existing bed cage. We decided long ago that we didn’t mind the shocks coming through the bed. The cage bolts directly to the frame through the body-mount bolts. The reservoirs have been temporarily fastened with zip ties until we build some real mounts. King offers anodized, billet aluminum reservoir clamps for those looking for a real clean trick look.

Having become fed up with sticking our two-by in the dunes and mud, we decided that it was time to get some extra wheels spinning. Very few of us can afford to drop a truck off at a fab shop and leave a blank check, so we are doing all of the fabrication and design ourselves. We know that many of you have welders and other fabricating tools and are fairly proficient with them, so this project shouldn’t seem so far out of reach.

Last month we covered how to build the three-link suspension, the solid front axle installation, steering, and the initial planning of our two-wheel-drive to four-wheel-drive conversion on our ’79 Ford F-150. The design of the three-link is such that it can be done on any straight front-axle vehicle if you don’t mind doing a little homework. This month we’ll cover how to build the shock hoops for coilover and standard long-travel shocks. We’ll finish off next month with the transfer case installation, and tie up the other loose ends.

We often see coilover and large-diameter, reservoired shocks on the trail. A few years ago this was almost unheard of. The industry has since realized that there is a market for quality budget shocks. King Shocks is well known throughout the off-road race scene as one of the best custom shock manufacturers. King builds full-tilt, wonder-budget race shocks, but it also offer the Pre-Runner Series shocks for significantly less coin. We provided King with a good idea of what the truck weighed, its intended use, and the mounting locations of the shocks. With this information the company assembles and valves the shocks for the specific application. These could be the last shocks you ever buy because they can be rebuilt and revalved if you decide to use them in a different application. The standard Pre-Runners can be converted to a coilover by adding the threaded adjusting sleeve and other hardware.

To read "Project Two-By Four, Part 1: Building a Three-Link and Converting Two-Wheel Drive to Four-Wheel Drive," click here .

For "Project Two-By Four, Part 3: Driveline and Airtime," click here .


Eibach Springs
Corona, CA 92879
A&A Manufacturing
King Off-Road Racing Shocks
Garden Grove, CA 92843