I performed the solid axle swap on my truck in the spring of 2003. I started the project at the end of March and finished at the end of May just in time (the day before) for the 4th Annual S10 Bash. This project is not for the basic mechanic. It takes a lot of time, patience, research, and lots of measuring. I could not have completed this swap so easily without the help of the people at
Like any major project the first thing to do was record what I already had. I measured the position of the wheels and the ball joints so that I would have a reference point for placing the new front axle. Then I had to get the old suspension out of the way. This required first unbolting the individual front suspension parts and then using a plasma cutter and grinder to remove the mounting brackets from the frame.
The pile of removed suspension junk and Cutting the frame brackets off.
Next I slid the axle under the truck with the springs attached. This was so that I could determine how far I wanted to move the axle forward and then get some measurements for my front spring hanger
At first I only moved the axle forward 1". I have since moved it forward 2 more inches in order to get the tires to stop rubbing the back side of the front fenders during extreme compression. But once I had decided where I wanted the axle I built the front crossmember and test fit it. I was able to "fine tune" the position of the axle by moving the front crossmember forward or backward on the frame before drilling the final mounting holes.
Next I had to come up with a way to mount the shackles. Since I used a full width axle (Dana44 from 77 F250) and the fullsize Chevy springs (Tuff Country 2" lift), the shackle mount ended up on the bottom side of the frame. I also used fullsize Chevy rear shackles that I widened to go around the wider front springs. Once I had them designed and built I simply had to bolt them on. Setting the angle of the shackle is very important and can be tricky. Mine was fairly easy to set because my springs were almost flat so I already knew about what their longest length would be. I set my shackle angle at about 5 degrees toward the rear of the truck at normal ride height.
With the all of the spring hangers mounted the front axle was installed with new 4.10 gears, a Loc-Rite locker, new balljoints, wheel bearings, axle U-joints, and of course a nice coat of paint.
With the front able to support its own weight. I moved on to the rear axle. The rear axle (Ford 9" from 78 Bronco) got the same attention as the front with all new bearings, brakes, 4.10 gears, a detroit locker, and again a new coat of paint. The only fabrication for the rear was to weld on the new spring perches and shock mounts. The rear lift was acheieved by going spring over, 2 add-a-leaves to each side, and 2" longer shackles. The shock mounts were welded on in line with the factory frame mounts. The springs perches were positioned so that the axle was centered and so that the pinion angle was raised 7 degrees in relation to the transmission output shaft. I have been told by many sources that anything more than 3 degrees will cause vibrations but after a lot of trial and error, the 7 degrees was best for my truck. At 2 degrees I hads very bad vibrations during acceleration. After a lot of searching a yoke was found from a Ford van with a 9" rear end that would work with the stock S10 U-joint. The stock driveshaft was about 1" too short, so I used a driveshaft from a 86 2wd regular cab shortbed S10. This driveahft was was 7/8" longer than my original driveshaft and worked perfectly.
The steering was the next task to tackle. I decided to go crossover and full hy-steer. I used steering arms and 1" spacers from Shakerbuilt.com along with a 4" drop pitman arm for a 78 Bronco. This pitman arm fits directly onto the stock S10 box since both the S10 and Bronco boxes are made by Saginaw. The steering arms and pitman arms were reamed for the large GM tapered tie rod ends (TRE). The TRE's that I used were the draglink ends for a 78 fullsize Blazer. I took stock Blazer tie rod bars (the long one that connects the 2 TRE together) and had them shortened and threaded to use the adjuster sleeves that match the Blazer TRE's.
I installed braided stainless steel brake lines on the front and rear from Inlinetube.com. They provided my with the proper length lines and correct adapters to work with the stock S10 line at the frame and with the Ford calipers. Because of the amount of lift, the transmission crossmember was in the way of the front driveshaft. To fix this problem a driveshaft hoop kit from summit was used. A section of the crossmember was removed and the hoop welded in its place with some extra gussetting for support.
The driveshaft and yoke are the same style found in Jeep Cherokees. The driveshaft is a double cardan joint at the transfer case and a single cardan at the axle. The yoke must be from a NP231 and will bolt to either of the NP207 or NP231 found in S10's. For those with a 2nd generation S10 (94 and up) that have the CV type driveshaft and snap ring type front output shaft, an output shaft from an older NP231 with the bolt on yoke can be swapped out with no modifications.
With all of the fabrication done all the truck needed was a new set of tires and wheels to match the lift. For street driving and easy offroad conditions I have a set of American Racing AR-23 wheels. They are 15x12 and have a set of 35x12.50 Mud kings on them. For serious offroad trips I run a set of 15x10 beadlock wheels with 33x12.50 Super Swamper TSL's.