Installing a Total Chaos Suspension, and Then Testing It
Disclaimer--What we did to the truck should be duplicated, because it worked great. What we did with the truck once the installation was finished should not be duplicated, unless you realize that you could get hurt. (Now that we've gotten the legal crap out of the way, let us tell you how we tried--and failed--to kill our free farm truck Clampy.)
It was a cold, dark, and stormy night, and we needed to do a story on a quick install. We looked at the sad state of our truck and decided that our tRUSTy old truck Clampy was going to be the recipient of a quick and easy IFS suspension installation, or so we thought. We had seen and heard good things about the Total Chaos Caddy IFS kit for '86-'95 Toyota trucks and 4Runners, and planned on installing it on our rig over the weekend, but there were a few glitches.
Most of the problems we encountered were because this truck started its life in New York state (where we think it was permanently towed behind a salt truck). To explain to all our West Coast readers, in New York and some other Eastern states they drop salt on the roads in the winter to fight the snow and ice, and to help destroy the value of nearly every vehicle within a few short years due to rust. Clampy was no exception, and we spent most of the installation just trying to deinstall the original IFS parts. But once we had the new long-travel front suspension on Clampy we were more than happy with all the work.
Yes, we know that we always say IFS is lame, and that you should just cut it out and make a solid-axle rockcrawler, but we felt that since Clampy now resides in Southern California, it would be interesting if we could make it into a SoCal prerunner-type truck which requires a go-fast independent suspension. Plus, then we could jump it. (If you have never jumped a truck, you are really missing out. It's way cool!) Independent suspension works great for going fast since it has less unsprung weight to control than a solid axle, and thus can react to the terrain quicker, plus each tire can react independent of the opposite tire. The Total Chaos kit, when installed with a set of Sway-A-Way shocks, torsion bars, and T-100 axleshafts, allows for up to 12 inches of wheel travel to really soak up bumps and jumps.
So within about a week we had the ol' Clampster torn down and rebuilt into a better, faster Clamp. Well, at least the front half. We are now debating what to do with the rest of the truck. It keeps running (aka it can't be killed) so we just may spend the time and money on making the rear suspension work as well as the front. Though the rust holes in the rear section of the frame do have us a bit worried, we feel that we owe it to the old beast. And then maybe nitrous. Stay tuned.