Tag Archives: air ride

  • We have a Brake Pedal and The Firewall Becomes Three Dimensional

    In the last update I was working on cutting out metal to make the firewall and mocking up my new brake pedal setup from Speedway. Since then I've been pretty busy making something from nothing. I had to initially tackle how I was going to mount the brake booster and pedal assembly under the cab. The first problem was that where the pedal bracket needed to live the S10 chassis started to pinch in and put the pedal on a weird angle. This kit was made for an earlier frame that's mostly straight/flat and like anything with a custom build, I had to get creative.

    I first used some jack stands to hold the brake assembly in place and eyeball up the position it needed to be in. I then traced out the area that the mounting pad for the pedal bracket needed to sit. I decided I could make a "cheese wedge" shaped mounting box that I could sink into the frame rail so that the pedal bracket would sit straight and everything would jive. I used 1/4" plate and copied the mounting holes to the base plate and welded the mounting bolts to the plate since they'd be hidden once the box was built. I used our Small Magnetic Welding Jig Set to square up the pieces and welded them together with the TIG200 DC Welder. The result was a strong mounting box I could sink into the frame and mount to the pedal box. I made my cuts in the chassis and mounted the box into the frame. Once I was sure it was square, I tack welded it into place with the MIG175 Welder.

    Now that I had the shiny Right Stuff Brake Parts mounted in place I dropped the air suspension and checked my clearance when aired out. The booster sits a couple inches below the chassis, but even when the body is sitting on the ground the booster has 4 inches or more of clearance. I'd probably rip the front end off before the brake parts were touched. That would be a BAD section of road even here on the east coast!

    My celebration of having a brake setup was cut short when I slide the Speedway brake pedal on and found that the brake pedal landed where my throttle pedal should be. I like to heel-toe my brake and throttle when driving.. but this was unacceptable! I decided to cut apart the brake pedal arm, shorten it, brace it and move the pedal over a few inches so that it sat where a brake pedal should. I also had to "clock" the mounting tab for the linkage under the pedal so that the pedal sits up high enough that it won't contact the chassis when I am pushing the pedal. I again used 1/4" steel plate and the TIG200 DC to box and brace the pedal to handle the force of pressing the brake pedal. Don't mind the rough floor in the photos, we just welded that in temporarily to keep the cab from flopping around while we worked on the roof chop and the firewall.

    With the brake parts mounted in place I could finally turn my attention back to the firewall and engine/transmission tunnel. I started by making the back side of the firewall setback. I used one of our Adjustable Profile Gauges to transfer the radius of the top of the TCI Auto Transmission to the panel. After tracing out my pattern I cut the rough shape out of 16 gauge steel with our Electric Metal Shears. Now the electric shears work really great for cutting laser straight lines and gentle curves, but when you need to make a tighter radius cut those shears are out of their element. I decided to mount up one of our Throatless Shears to make the cuts I needed. The nice thing about the "throatless" shear is that you can go as slow or fast as you want so that you can make some really clean, accurate cuts. I cut out the top curves to match the top panel I made on the english wheel, then cut the transmission tunnel radius and I had my second panel of the firewall made.

    Now with the back panel of the firewall channel made, I decided that I wanted to ditch the panel I made on the english wheel and form the panel out of one piece. I decided to use 18 gauge steel and form the piece using our Shrinker Stretcher Kit to make the panel match the radius of the main portion of the firewall we had made already. I cut a piece of 18 gauge a little longer than I needed and broke a 1/2" bend on each side of the panel. These edges will allow me to work them with the stretcher to get the radius I need on the panel. This panel was a little more difficult to make as I had to evenly stretch each side little by little as I went to get the shape the same on the entire panel. I actually went a little far when initially stretching the shape I needed and I had to work backwards with the shrinker in a few spots to get the panel back into shape to match the panel. That's the nice thing with metal is that you can always undo what you've done if you stretched or bent the metal a little too much. Once I got the shape close, I used the hammer and dolly to match the rolled edge we made earlier match with this new panel. Then I used Cleco Clamps to hold the pieces together.

    Now that I have the pieces in place I can start to see everything taking shape. I need to tackle making the wheel tubs for the front wheels and the transmission tunnel next. I'm hoping I'll be able to start melting all of this metal together with an Eastwood Welder shortly! Thanks for watching!

    -Matt/EW

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  • Video- Installing New ProForged Suspension and Custom Front Air Suspension

    We know everyone loves videos as well as pictures, so to supplement Part 2 of our Front Suspension Project we decided to show you how we went about installing the new front Proforged suspension and steering parts, as well as the custom air ride suspension in this video. Although it looks pretty straight forward to build and install in the video, I must have had the front suspension apart at least 5-10 times! Enjoy the video and make sure to follow our next episode where we show you how we built a new set of running boards from scratch!

    -Matt/EW

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  • Suspension Removal Video and Custom Running Board Build

    While we haven't been updating as much as we should, we've been busy! I figured I'd give a peek into what's been going on with Pile House since our last official build update.

    We got a comprehensive series of videos coming together for the front suspension and chassis detailing. Check the first of 3 videos for that process below.

    We had a cruise-in at Eastwood headquarters last Friday and I worked hard to figure out how we were going to make new running boards for the truck for the cruise in. I got the basic form made and once we perfect this first running board, we'll have a video out shortly giving a tutorial on how to build a basic set of running boards from scratch. Here are a few teaser shots thus far.

    We've also been test fitting a mock-up chevy 350 block in the engine bay. This will help determine how much more needs to be cut on the truck along the way to get the engine fitted with all the necessary parts and drive down the road.

    We then rolled it out for display at the cruise in. It's the first time I've been able to see the truck outside of the garage in a while. It's starting to look like a truck again!

    Stay tuned for more videos and pics as we are really starting to kick this build into gear!

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  • Rebuilding front Suspension with a custom twist Part 2

    In the last entry we showed you how to disassemble the front suspension on the S10 chassis that sits under Project Pile House. Once we had it all apart we began fitting the front air suspension. Air bags will allow the truck to drop all the way to the ground and lift to almost stock ride height. This will give us the looks AND function I want out of the truck.

    A warning for anyone starting an air ride build--it will NOT be a bolt-on job! It can be nearly "bolt" on with some of the expensive kits out there, but most won't get you much lower than a set of drop spindles and some lowering springs/drop blocks. To get the "slammed" or "laying frame/body" look that many want, you will need to cut, weld, and fabricate. But for me, that's the fun of building a custom car or truck!

    I started with a cheap eBay S10 "bolt-in" front air ride kit with the larger 2600 bags. They really use the term "bolt-in" loosely, as the lower mounting plate for the lower control arms were completely wrong and I binned the idea of using them pretty quickly! Regardless of 2500 or 2600 series front bags, you will need to cut the spring pocket to make room for the bag when deflated. If you don't cut the pocket the bag can rub the opening and put a hole in it quickly, not something you'd want to happen on the highway! I set the bag and upper mount (which mounts through the OE shock hole) into the truck to get an idea what needed to be cut. I then pulled out the Eastwood Versa Cut Plasma Cutter and made quick work of the frame notch.

    Once I found that the cut around the spring pocket was large enough to tuck the air bag inside, I moved on to fitting the bag to the lower control arm. This is where it was evident that the lower bag mount plate wasn't going to work and I decided to plate the control arm myself. I first outlined the bag so I had an idea of the minimum area I had to plate to support the bag. Next I cut out the "humps" in the control arm with the Versa Cut (mini truck guys call it "dehumping") and welded in a plate to make the top of the lower control arm more flat. A plate was then added to cover the top of the lower control arm and welded it in with the Eastwood MIG 175. Lastly I drilled a hole in the plate to mount the bag to the lower control arm. The final outcome is now a bolt-on job.

    With the hard fabrication work done, I moved on to removing the old tired steering components. These were just as bad as the suspension components! Pile House will never be a daily driver, but I plan to take it on long drives and it may even double as a tow vehicle once in a while. For this reason I want the suspension and steering components to stand up to a lot of abuse and function well with the lowered stance and added power it's getting. I decided to call up the folks at ProForged Severe Duty Chassis Parts and see what they had to offer. Zack and crew came back with just what I needed; severe duty replacement steering components, drilled and slotted rotors to help stop the truck better, and my favorite, extended travel ball joints. These ball joints are right up my alley, they were designed to eliminate ball joint binding when a GM chassis is lowered. Ball Joint binding can happen on vehicles that are lowered (even with small drops!) when they hit a bump and the suspension compresses (lowers) and the stock ball joints go past their optimum point of travel and bind. All of this GREATLY decreases the life of the parts and can cause them to fail prematurely. Best of all ProForged offers a Million-Mile Warranty on all of their parts!

    From here we test fit all of the parts and made sure the truck was sitting how I wanted when dropped. I did have to cut the height of the upper bag mounts to get the truck to sit flat on the ground in the front, but only a minor job compared to the all the other work that's been done thus far! Now that all of the major fabrication was done, we could move on to installing the ProForged parts and begin cleaning and detailing the front suspension. Stay tuned for the next entry where we detail and assemble it all.

    -Matt/EW

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  • Rebuilding the front suspension with a custom twist Part 1- Front air ride on a Chevy S10

    After I got the custom rear air suspension built for Project Pile House, I could now move on to the front suspension. The rear was relatively easy since there was a ton of room under the bed, but the front isn't so easy. After some research on mini truck websites and the S10 forums, I found that most guys suggested upgrading to the larger 2600 series air bags in the front when you are planning a V8 drivetrain (as I am). The 2500's apparently require much more air to get the truck up to an acceptable ride height and driving the truck at those high pressures makes the ride very harsh. Ideally for the best of both worlds you want the vehicle to ride at a mid-range pressure that will give you a nice ride, but still handle well. The downside is that the bag is obviously larger and requires a bit more modification to the spring pocket to fit.

    I began by disassembling the front suspension, you can see above it was definitely time to address the front steering and suspension components on this chassis! I started the job by removing the tie rods out of the steering knuckle. Many struggle dropping the ball joints and popping the tie rod out of the knuckle when doing this job. I was taught a trick long ago that makes the job really easy.

    What you want to do is remove the nut from the tie rod (or ball joint) and clean off the outside of the pocket where the tie rod is seated. Look for a casting mark where the knuckle was formed. Some vehicles (like this one) it's a flat area, while others it's just a rough raised line. You then take a large hammer (I like to use my 5 pound sledge), and take one REALLY good swing at the pocket; aiming directly for that casting mark you previously found. If you have good aim and swing hard enough, this will shock the conjoined parts loose and the tie rod or ball joint will be free enough that you can pull them out by hand. Sometimes the tie rod will even just fall right out. This is a great trick to show off to your friends and has saved me loads of time over the years.

    After knocking the tie rod out, I moved on to removing the bolts holding the shock in place. I then used a jack to compress the coil spring and slowly dropped the jack down relieving the pressure off of the spring. With the spring pressure relieved, I could remove the spindle, control arms, and other steering and suspension parts. This procedure was a good test for the new Eastwood 1/2" Composite Impact Gun. Even with the extra long air hose we have running to this side of the shop (can cause a pressure drop), it performed flawlessly removing bolts that probably haven't been touched since the chassis was newly assembled!

    With the old suspension out, I now could start on the front air ride fabrication. The nice thing about these larger bags is that they give a ton of lift when aired up, but when fully compressed they are probably a 1/3 of the size of the stock coil spring. For fun I sat the two next to each other before I began the job. Talk about a huge difference in height!

    That's it for the first part of this tech series, stay tuned for our next entry where I will show you how we mated the air bags to the stock suspension and chassis. Then we clean and detailed it all with some help from some Eastwood chassis coatings!

    -Matt/EW

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