There's definitely something to be said for people who want to "keep" an I-beam axle under the front of their old truck. In an era where it's commonplace to retrofit outdated chassis with modern independent suspensions, it may seem odd that anyone would want to retain, let alone rebuild, a parallel-leaf setup-and with non-power drum brakes and all, no less! Well, guess that's comparable with preferring to ride an old rigid-framed Harley over a new model that features a fully suspended rear...sometimes, you gotta sacrifice comfort for style.
Unlike the motorcycle comparison, when dealing with a straight-axle equipped pickup, there's another big factor involved-cost. For many, it's a hell of a lot cheaper to simply rebuild that antiquated frontend versus installing (or often having installed) a Mustang II-style or similar IFS. And in reality, while there's no doubt a huge difference in ride quality between the two (the IFS winning that one of course), you can improve the performance of a parallel-leaf setup to a certain degree. And for someone who's used to riding a rigid motorcycle, well, let's just say even the slightest improvement will be noticeable. Same goes for the brakes and steering.
The one area where limitations are extremely hard to overcome with an I-beam is of course the stance-you can only go so low before running into all kinds of trouble, period. If extreme drop is what you're after, it's probably best you go with an IFS. But, if you can live with the few inches a set of lowered springs and a dropped axle will give you, read on.
We decided to give LMC Truck a call to see what they offered in the way of frontend parts for a '47-53 Chevy half-ton. As it turned out, they stocked pretty much everything we needed, including all the necessary items to rebuild the stock drum brakes, as well. As we started tearing apart the old components, though, we realized that there were a few things needed that LMC did not offer-mainly a set of spindles. For as many trucks that have been IFS'd in the past, it's amazing how difficult it is to locate decent discarded I-beam items. Luckily, a call to Bowtie Bits not only resolved that issue, but also the situation we were about to encounter with the steering arms (more on that later).
Typically, an early Chevy frontend can be rebuilt with basic handtools, as there's no machining involved-that is, as long as your axle and spindle kingpin bosses aren't excessively worn. If that's the case, you may want to consider locating another axle, or better yet, stepping up to a new one like the dropped version CPP offers. We started off on the '53 by going through the main suspension first and will follow up with subsequent installments covering the steering and brakes separately.
While the frontend's stance on the '53 was acceptable, the ride and handling were anything
Generally, the majority of parts come apart with little to no resistance, however, dependi
One possible area you might run into some resistance is with the kingpin locks (or steerin
As for the kingpins themselves, they usually slide right out with little effort. However,
With the spindles free from the axle, carefully remove the old kingpin bushings from the o
You may have noticed the axle in the '53 was previously dropped (this one done by MorDrop