Tag Archives: air ride

    • Rear Air Ride Suspension Fabrication- Project Pile House

      Recently I began to tackle suspension on the truck. Even though I'm using a vehicle that is pretty common to install air bags on, it still requires some extra thought to make everything work correctly when there is a classic truck body on top of the S10 chassis. I couldn't mount the bags or any brackets for them higher than the frame work in the bed that I already built, so I decided to buy some universal bag mounts and use some bar stock to make my own bag-on-bar air ride kit in the rear end of the truck.

      I started by test fitting the bags and brackets and setting them at a height that I utilized the full travel of the bags. Once I set the height of the brackets on top of the rear, I tack welded them in place and began work on the cross member bar that the bags will lift on. I mounted the bar snugly between the frame rails giving some additional lateral strength to the chassis, while also giving a firm location for the bags to lift on. This also allowed me to set the bar just below the level of the bed floor. Once I test fit everything together, I welded it all using the Eastwood MIG 175. This is where the extra power of the 175 was needed over the MIG 135 that I like to use on lighter fabrication and sheet metal jobs.

      After everything was welded in place I put a quick test line together with a schrader valve to test the movement of the truck by just adding air from the shop compresser to fill the bags. I will be deciding on an air ride management system later on in the build once some other parts of the project are completed first.

      Next up we will be refreshing the front suspension with our fancy new performance suspension parts from ProForged. They make some great severe-duty suspension parts that will handle most anything you could throw at them. At the same time we'll be installing the front air ride parts and be gearing up to build some new running boards from scratch to replace the rusty old ones. Lots of cool custom work to come, so check back often!

      -Matt/EW

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    • Bed Floor Restoration and Setting Rear Ride Height-Project Pile House

      We have been lucky enough on the east coast to have a pretty mild winter. This meant that we could really get work done AND enjoy our customs/classics throughout the winter (now I know what you west coast folks enjoy!). This meant that there was a month where I didn't get much done on Project Pile House. As the weather gets warmer and talk our our 2012 Eastwood Summer Classic stirs, I have really gotten the motivation to make some progress on the truck. Since we've already tackled getting the cab and front sheet metal mounted and stretched the bed sides, I decided to to build a new bed frame.

      The bed didn't fair nearly as well as the rest of the truck, and there wasn't much left of the bed floor. In the end I pretty much ended up cutting it all out to build new. I decided to firm the bed up by using a mix of angle iron and square box tubing. This allows me to have a nice base for the floor when it comes time to finish the bed. Since I was welding together fairly thick steel, I decided to pull out our MIG 175 and weld up the bracing on 220V. I first ground off the surface rust where I was welding the angle iron to the bedsides. I then hit up the entire perimeter of the bed where the new metal would overlap with Self Etching Weld Thru Primer to assure that the work I'm doing wouldn't rust out. Even though the truck is currently a Patina-Queen, I still want any work I do to last the life of the truck!

      With any custom vehicle, you will run into unexpected snags throughout the build. One thing I wanted to avoid was the "shallow bed effect" that you see on many lowered or classic trucks (especially ones with modern chassis). I want to actually be able to put more than a lawn chair in the bed! In order to do that I needed to move the OE chassis cross member forward a few inches to get it sitting below the bed floor. By doing this it also made the driveshaft uncomfortably close to the bottom of the cross member. I decided to notch and box the cross member before welding it back into the chassis. I may also need to cut down the top of the frame a small amount over the rear axle to keep the bed floor level, but we will tackle that later.

      From there I made mounts that tied the new floor frame into the S10 chassis and now it is a "bolt-on affair" to install the bed. With all of that done I began working on getting the rear of the truck sitting where I wanted when "aired out". Due to time constraints and to keep the 'budget-build" theme, I decided to ditch some of the leafs, install drop blocks, and build a cheap bag-on-bar air suspension setup in the rear. I don't plan to race the truck or build a high horsepower engine (yet!), so I went this route. Stay tuned as I continue working on the rear suspension and begin to get this old truck rolling again!

      -Matt/EW

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    • Welding Project With Eastwood TIG 200- Building Custom Strut Mounts

      Anyone that follows our posts here will notice that I am a fan of lowered vehicles. Could it be my fear of heights? Honestly, I'm not sure, but everyone can agree a car or truck that's "in the weeds" sure looks heavenly!

      As I get older I want my custom vehicles to ride better, even when they are extremely low. It's not fun riding on the rubber bump stops and dreading every imperfection in the road! With vintage watercooled VW's this is a big problem enthusiasts face. I recently found a set of early-spec"rebuildable" strut mounts and I decided to gut and raise them to gain some shock travel and improve ride quality.

      Since I needed an oddball sized piece of tubing to build the extension, I had a piece of 11 gauge steel rolled to match the diameter of the strut mount shell. I then used the vice and a pair of Eastwood Locking Pliers to clamp the rolled metal together. I then chamfered the edges and used the Eastwood TIG 200 on 220v to weld the two ends together. The result was a nearly flush joint that just needed a small amount of finish grinding.

      With my "tubing" now formed I chamfered the edges of every piece to help me make a flush weld joint. I started by clamping the bottom halves in the vice and tack welding them together. This allowed me to flip the mount over and weld it in a more comfortable position. I set the TIG 200 to a max amperage of 140 amps and used 1/16 Steel TIG Filler Rod to join it all together and fill the chamfer I made. I repeated the process with the top cap and I soon had a mount that looked OE, but is 1.5 inches taller.

      I am still working on making my weld puddles all look uniform, but I have come a long way since I first began learning to TIG weld on the TIG 200 about a year ago! With a little patience and a lot of practice, it really opens up what you can fabricate!

      -Matt/EW

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    • TIG Welding Custom Air Ride Struts With TIG 200

      I've gotten into the mindset where I like to try and custom build or DIY as much as possible when building a car. While more and more small niche companies are making specialized parts to "bolt-on" your project, it's easier than ever to build a "custom" vehicle. Nothing beats being able to show off your ride at a show and have people notice all of the one-off modifications and parts. In the end I spend less money, and I don't need to wait for "custom" parts to show up in the mail. It's one of my secrets to completing project cars so quickly.

      This weekend I started tackling a project that is a perfect example of this topic. Currently I'm fitting one of my project vehicles with air ride suspension. A few sites offer high-priced, "bolt-on" kits, but they still aren't a true bolt-on affair. These kits also are way out of budget for this particular build. The first big piece of the puzzle are the rear air shocks. Since this is a small vehicle, I'm tight on space and opted to go with Air Lift Chapman style air struts. These are close to the same dimensions of the original rear suspension, but they need a mount solution where they meet the rear axle beam. Niche companies do sell accessories that allow you to bolt the struts on with out breaking out the welder. But the cost to buy them, and wait for them to be made, and arrive to me; I could've saved time and $150-$200.

      I decided to take a pair of worn out, original rear shocks and cut the bottoms off with the end links and use my Eastwood TIG 200 to mate them together. Luckily the Air Lift rear air struts came beveled at the bottoms to make a nice valley to lay the filler rod in. I also ground a small bevel on the original shock bottoms.

      I then set my TIG 200 up on a 110V outlet and set the output at the pedal to be a max of 120 Amps. I decided to use an .030 filler rod to produce a small, tight puddle that wouldn't protrude from the joint too much. I found myself hovering the pedal around 75% which was about 100-110 Amps. The results were pretty good given that I am definitely still a beginner to TIG welding.

      In the end I spent about an hour total modifying these air struts, and saved myself a significant amount of money and wait time. If you do this a few times even on one project, you can see how you've quickly paid for your welder, and have the satisfaction of having parts you made yourself!

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    • Suspension and Brake Parts Roll In

      With any project, you always want to think ahead to keep the project moving smoothly. Projects can often get delayed when you don't think ahead, especially on large items like brakes, suspension, and the engine. I like to start the process WAY before I actually need the parts, so that if there is a delay, I can have what I need by the time I am ready to install them. With the body now mounted to the chassis, and the bed mocked up, I need to know where the bed floor will end up, and this will be determined by how low the chassis needs to be dropped to get the body sitting how I want it. This means I need to sort out the suspension now, and "while we're there" we might as well refresh the old brakes on the S10 chassis.

      Rusty Rear Suspension

      S10 Bare Chassis

      We've been lately working with some of our favorite companies to get the suspension. steering, and braking on the chassis sorted. Today some of the first items rolled in from our friends at ProForged. They make suspension, steering and braking parts that are meant to withstand severe conditions. All of their products are tested to handle most anything you can throw at them. The "million mile warranty" they offer really shows that they stand behind their products as well; something we also strongly believe in here at Eastwood. So far we have received the ProForged tie rod ends, billet aluminum tie rod adjusting sleeves (necessary for a vehicle that is getting lowered), center link, idler arm, and upgraded cross drilled and slotted rotors. This chassis will be better than new when done!

      Shortly we should have some of our air suspension parts coming in. I plan to do a full detail on how to replace everything from the tie rods, rotors, etc, to installing the custom air ride system, so stay tuned, we are just about to dig in!

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