Let's face it, when some builders design custom suspension for their trucks, there's a bit of guesswork involved. It usually takes hours of trial and error, constant measuring, and many nights fitting nearly every component on the truck before the proper geometry is worked out.
In building the rig you see here, Kyle Allison of Hillsdale, New Jersey, did not have to go through as many of these fabrication hassles as one might expect. Kyle is a Design Engineer for Romaco Index and has plenty of experience working with Computer Aided Design (CAD) programs. After drafting his truck's stock IFS into the program, he began to design a solid-axle leaf-sprung suspension to take its place. Instead of finding used parts in junkyards that might work but compromise strength, Kyle designed and built his to fit the suspension and steering components--completely from scratch.
After designing the front-axle swap on his computer, Kyle enlisted the help of friend Dave Venti (owner of our Dec. '97 cover truck, "Caught In the Middle") and proprietor of Grizzly Installations in Madison, New Jersey. Gravy Davy, as he's known by his pals, did much of the machine work on the truck. The dynamic duo fashioned the new front spring hanger and crossmember along with the shackles from 4140 preheat-treated steel. This low-alloy steel is cold-rolled, so it is not only easy to weld on but also extremely strong.
Kyle chose 8-inch Skyjacker packs meant for the rear of an IFS Chevy to elevate the front of the rig, along with a Pro Comp shock hoop holding dual soft-valved Rancho RS 5000s per wheel. Big tires demand big axles, so Kyle found a Dana 60 from an F-350 and rebuilt it with 5.13:1 gears and a Detroit Locker. Since this custom Chevy's spring location is wider than that of a stock F-350, he fabricated and welded new spring pads on to the axle.
Now, Kyle is a perfectionist when it comes to safety, so it's no surprise that he developed a stout custom crossover steering system for this 44-inch-tired beast. Since this too was precision-designed on the computer, he had little use for off-the-shelf or junkyard parts. Instead, components such as the pitman arm and the steering arm on the axle were machined from solid 9-inch blocks of 4140 steel. Even new kingpin bushings were fabbed from scratch and machined on a lathe so the vehicle could better cope with the larger tires. All the suspension components were powdercoated by PPC Perfection in Pearl River, New Jersey.
Much like the front suspension, Kyle designed the rear with CAD. To match the front beef, a Corporate 14-bolt was swapped into place, converted to disc brakes, and loaded with 5.13:1s and a Detroit. Skyjacker 51/2-inch packs were slung on custom 4140 steel drop hangers and rear shackles to provide wheel travel, lift, and the proper pinion angle. Three-inch blocks elevate the rear to match the front, while two more soft-valved RS 5000s per wheel handle damping duties.
The stock 350 V-8 received a polished and chromed (by Chris at RW Weaton in Summerfield, New Jersey) Edelbrock intake manifold along with Gibson headers, a Flowmaster high-flow cat, dual Flowmaster mufflers, and Borla tips. These relatively mild mods send power down the pipeline to a stock 700R4 tranny and an NVG 241 transfer case. Through the axle's 5.13:1 gears, the torque is sent to 44-inch Boggers on 16.5x14 Bart steel wheels that are kept away from the fenders by a 3-inch Trail Master body lift.
Although the truck remains the same basic teal color it was when stock, the full host of Lund accessories have been painted with DuPont Chromasystem to match. Inside, Kyle jams the beats through a Panasonic head unit, two Denon amps (totaling 400 watts), and a slew of MXT subs along with Alpine liquid-filled mids and tweeters, which he installed in the cab. A Cobra CB keeps him in touch with the outside world, while Wet Okole seat covers and a Grant steering wheel keep him comfy.
This big beast has come a long way from its humble stock beginnings back in the showroom in 1994. After two years of CAD design and painstaking fabrication, Kyle and Renee Allison now have one of the best IFS-to-solid-axle-converted trucks we've ever laid eyes on. Kyle promises many more modifications in the coming years. If any reader would like to talk to Kyle about this burley beast, you can contact him at KA120@aol.com. FW