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I just finished reading your Hit the Books suspension article and, dude, you hit the nail on the head. I have been researching four-links for a while to get ideas for my own air-ride setup. Is there a book that would best fit what I’m looking for, and if there is a great setup, does it need to be at a set ride height or will it be good throughout the travel? I didn’t mean to write a book but I’m sick of all the bullcrap on the Internet. I’m looking for someone that could set me up with a great ride.
George, this is the golden question for me, but unfortunately I have not found a book that has a straightforward answer as to how an air-suspended four-link should be set up, although I have written several articles about the subject, but those seem to get lost in the archives over time. I have been meaning to update my Bio Kustumz website with more tech info, but I just can’t seem to find the extra time to edit all of the old tech articles I’ve written. StreetSource.com has a lot of information in their suspension section if you want to do some digging. Good luck for now, and if I ever manage to find that “extra time” tree that I’ve been dreaming about, I’ll be sure to let you know.
I have been through five driveshafts and had the back air-bag bracket rip off the framerail and go through the floor of the bed. Is there a website or something at the library I can check out that could help me stop spending money on things that could be fixed once? I don’t have the ’bag over the axle; I have the ’bags in front of the back tires. I’m trying to keep the truck looking as stock as possible because the nice city police love to stop me (when the truck is on the road). I wanted to tube out the driver side of my truck, but the “nicely” placed relay box with a buttload of wires sits right in the way and I’m not about to start cutting wires hoping it works. Could you help guide me down the right road? Thank for your time.
This is a really tough question, Michael. The problem is that there are so many different things that could cause the issues that you have and simply reading a book won’t necessarily help. If you’re willing to put on your thinking cap (I always hated it when my teachers would say that), Carroll Smith has a phenomenal book called Engineer to Win. Most of the book is pretty advanced, but there are two chapters that I feel every fabricator should read. One chapter is about stress risers, and the second one is about proper bolt usage. It won’t make a ton of sense right away, but if you look at how your parts are breaking and look at the stress riser chapter, I’m sure that you can determine what is happening.
Do you guys come across a lot of custom second-generation Dodge Dakotas that have complete air-bag systems? I own a ’95 Dakota that I’m fixing up due to the fact I don’t see too many done up how I’d like to see them. Do you have any insights into any issues I might encounter along the way?
Mike, I feel like a broken record sometimes, but I’m going to have to say it once again—I am not the vehicle-specific guy at all. There aren’t very many vehicles that I can say “Hey, you should call me if you have any issues with that (insert vehicle here).” What I can tell you is that most trucks have very similar suspension systems. They, of course, vary somewhat but the theories are nearly identical. Rear suspensions have exactly the same theories, actually. Like I suggested to George, do some snooping on StreetSource.com around their suspension forums and read about four-link design since the ideas hold true to every truck out there. As for the front suspension, replacing the stock coil spring with an airbag should be pretty straightforward, and the only real trick would be where to mount the shocks.