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Installing A Mazzulla Cantilever Rear Suspension System

Different Strokes

Matt EmeryPhotographer, Writer

There may be nothing as sleek as a Formula 1 car. The teams spend millions on wind tunnel testing to make sure of it. But like any other racecar, they have to have room for everything beneath that carbon fiber body.

Anything that sticks out creates drag, so they had to get creative when it came to getting as much suspension travel as they could while staying within the confines of the shell. They literally looked at the problem from another angle. They chose to use a cantilever to connect the shocks to the arms thus allowing the shocks to lay flat beneath the cowling. That way, they could have long shocks, and still stay out of the breeze.

Cheating the wind may not be such a big deal with pre runners, but bed space is. Having long travel rear suspension usually means having a cage in the bed and the shocks running from it to the rearend housing. Though efficient, that setup takes up a lot of room; too much room according to the guys a Mazzulla Offroad.

They designed a rear suspension system that stays beneath the bed floor, and still gives 18-inches of wheel travel. They did it using a cantilever system much like the F1 guys did. The shocks, rather than being straight up, are laid out flat, and a cantilever is used to connect them to the rearend housing. Sounds simple enough, but geometry was never our thing. And mad geometry skills are required when designing this type of system. There’s a lot that can go wrong when deciding on the curve of the cantilever itself.

It also takes a lot of parts, all of which Mazzulla supplies. Installing them, as long as you have good welding skills, is pretty straightforward. Luckily for the owner of this brand new, right off the lot, no miles on it Chevy, the crew at SMP Fabworks are welding experts. Note that SMP have already installed a Mazzulla Long Travel front suspension system on the Chevy, and it utilizes King shocks and bump stops.

We were on hand as SMP installed the Mazzulla Cantilever system, which included King shocks and bumpstops, Deaver leaf springs and a Camburg Engineering full floater 9-inch rearend.

SMP also highly recommends that a Mazzulla’s Shackle and Hanger Kit be used with the Cantilever kit. The Shackle and Hanger Kit mounts the spring pack in the factory location but relocates the shackle to allow it to fall out without binding. This system was designed to use with a Deaver leaf pack, which are the go-to leaf spring for serious off-roading. Including the Shakle and Hanger kit is a no brainer as it really lets the truck get everything it can out of the Cantilever kit.

Know that this is not a one-day install, and SMP went all out with their boxing and strengthening of the frame in preparation for the install. They then painted the pieces after fitting was done. A job well done.

Now we just want to go for a ride in it.

Mazzulla’s Cantilever kit comes with all that you need to put long travel on your truck and still have space in your bed.

The truck that’s going to get the kit is a brand new Chevy that’s fresh from the showroom.

SMP had already installed a Mazzulla Long Travel from suspension system to the Chevy, complete with dual King shocks and a bumpstop per side.

We got over to SMP just as they had removed all traces of the stock rear suspension and started boxing the frame.

Though there’s not really any instruction sheet supplied with the Mazzulla kit, they did provide one very important piece of info, and that’s the exact positioning of the drop down bracket.

Using the diagram, the frame is measured and marked.

The drop down bracket is slid up onto the frame rail at the markings.

The cross member bolts to the drop down brackets. One for the cantilever arm pivot, and another a dead bolt. The dead bolts are installed first.

The bolt that acts as the cantilever arm pivot is installed next.

Beefy describes the cantilever arm well.

Two braces had been welded at the rear of the rails to keep the frame square. One is removed at this point to allow for the next cross member piece to be installed.

The shock bracket/cross member is slid into the ends of the rails and measured to ensure that it’s perfectly square with the drop down bracket.

SMP also included Mazzulla’s Shackle and Hanger Kit in this install. The Shackle and Hanger Kit does not come with the Cantilever kit, but the two should go hand in hand as the addition of the Deaver springs and additional rear end movement is imperative to getting the most out of the cantilever kit and King shocks.

Final measurements are taken to ensure everything’s squared up.

The drop down brackets are fully welded up.

SMP boxed the rails from beneath the cab all the way to the ends. In fact, they put plates on the outside of them too, just to make sure there wasn’t any flex.

The Mazzulla supplied X bracing sections are installed.

With the hard parts tack welded in place, measurements are again taken and final welding occurs.

The Deaver Suspension leaf packs are hung.

Measurements are taken of the springs. Note that the entire pack is in place. This way, the full droop is determined.

A Camburg 3.5 9-inch rearend is equipped with Camburg’s full floating hubs, and is a work of off-road art.

Measurements are taken to ballpark the spring perches.

The rearend is set into place.

With the driveline installed, the pinion angle is set

Rather than mount the King Shocks bumpstops alongside the frame, SMP decided to go through it. The result is very clean.

With only the main leaf of the Deaver leaf pack still in place, the rearend is bottomed out. Measurements are taken, the pinion angle checked again, and is given the once over.

It’s still strange to see the reservoir-equipped King Shocks at such an angle.

The pads for the bumpstops are located, and will be welded in place during final welding.

The strut that connects the rearend housing to the cantilever arm is located

At full compression of the 18-inches of available travel, nothing about the Mazzulla Cantilever Suspension system is above the frame rails. Nice.

With final welding and painting, the rearend is done, and the truck is going back together.