It's been more than a few years, shall we say, since the old trucks we love rolled off the showroom floor, and many have lived their lives and passed on, been resurrected, or just managed to survive the scrapper to live another year. Over the course of time, many trucks were "upgraded" to suit the owner's work/driving needs, restored, or maybe customized, but regardless which scenario, things like these were usually done on the cheap to get by or to work within the owner's budget.
There will always be the debate about I-beam axles versus IFS clips, and the biggest argument for or against the issue is cost. The second factor is "how low do you wanna go?" and it's quite well-known that an IFS will net the best ground-hugging results. But what if you still can't afford to, or you can't bring yourself to cut up your stock frame? I-beam axle trucks that have taken a more custom turn have seen their fair share of botched lowering jobs over the years, with most ranging from dreadful to dangerous, but to do it "right" and safely, you need to start over with parts made to do the job. Flipping the axle on top of the springs, removing leaves, and making spacers will only get you a treacherous, rough, frame-on-axle ride with the potential of breaking important parts-possibly causing an accident-not to mention bumpsteer and bad steering geometry.
We knew someone with such a precarious frontend setup on his '55 Chevy truck. It's an in-the-works custom inspired by the '50s Barris-built Kopper Kart with a lowering job that could have dated back to those very days. Besides the fact that the front suspension setup in the truck was a bit dodgy, to say the least, there was no axle travel, which is pointless and hazardous, so we consulted with the folks at Classic Performance Products (CPP) in Anaheim, California, about the issue. They said they had the parts to do the job right and end up with a decent ride in the end while keeping the 'beam axle setup.
CPP offers a new 3-inch dropped axle, 3-inch dropped monoleaf springs, new shackles complete with bushings and pins, U-bolts, short bumpstops, shock mounts, shocks, and a beefy 1-inch replacement tie-rod bar to cure your '55-59 Chevy suspension woes. All or part of this list can be used depending on your needs or desires, but one thing is for sure, you won't be able to get your non-IFS truck much lower than this and retain any sort of decent ride without cutting the frame and opening up another can of worms.
Of course, doing any amount of major lowering is a give-and-take process, but one of the most important issues when it's all said and done with these trucks is the drag link angle. The drag link connects the pitman arm on the steering box to the steering arm on the spindle, and when there is too much of an angle in the drag link, you get bumpsteer. To rectify the situation after a dropped axle and/or leaves have been installed, the steering arm needs to be heated with a torch and bent, usually down, to level out the drag link. Obviously, this needs to be done right, or you could not only hurt yourself, but could do something like set your truck on fire and ruin parts, so ask for help or hire a pro when it comes time for this portion. Everything else with this job is pretty straightforward. So if you're tired of losing fillings while driving down the road or just want to lower your stock truck, give CPP a call today and get down!
This custom '55 Chevy truck is the long-term project of a local upholsterer and was inspir
While there is the chance that nothing would ever happen with a lowering job like this, th
With the truck in the air, the wheels, brake drums, and backing plates need to be removed
Before trying to beat out the kingpin, make sure the tapered cross-pin is removed. Once yo
The remainder of the front suspension can come off as a unit by disassembling the shackles
ith the frontend stripped from the Chevy, now would be a good time to degrease the rest of