Bad Cop, No Donut!
Dear Lance and Mike,
My friend Shane and two of his buddies were on their way to the 1st Annual Tarheel Nationals in Burlington, North Carolina. About half way there, they were pulled over by a state patrol. He slapped them all with a bunch of fines and then proceeded to take there tags. Then the cop had to call three tow trucks to impound the vehicles and tow them to the yard. It got better for Shane when the tow truck operator ripped off his roll pan while dragging the truck on the roll back. One guy opted to go home, while Shane and Eric decided to be towed to the show. Now they have 15 days to get their trucks back up to stock height so they can have their tags back. This was one expensive weekend!
Jason B.

Another one in the books for cops everywhere. Makes you want to go out and hug a tow truck driver, doesn't it?

Cantilever What?
Dear MT,
I'm confused about cantilever suspensions. I've seen some rear suspensions where the 'bags are mounted on the lower link bars, and some people say this is cantilever, but I don't think it is. What's the dealio?
Ryan S.
Hemet, California

Ryan, you are correct. The suspension you are referring to, which positions the 'bag at a mechanical advantage on the lower link bar, is not a true cantilever design. A true cantilever design can be found on the front suspensions of Indy cars and even some more sophisticated mini-truck suspensions. We've seen some pretty trick cantilever designs come out of Silver Star Customs shop in Horn Lake, Mississippi. (You can see pictures of the shop's work at www.silverstarcustoms.com.)

A cantilever suspension relies on three distinct parts to perform work. The first is the airbag, the shock, or the hydraulic cylinder. We'll look at this design in terms of an air suspension. One side of the airbag is bolted to a mount that is solidly attached to the chassis of the truck. The second part is a rocker, or pivot point. One side of the pivot is attached to the other end of the airbag. As the airbag is inflated, it pushes on both the chassis mount and the pivot point. Because the chassis mount is a fixed point, the pivot will rotate. The third part of the equation is the actuation rod. The rod is attached to the other side of the pivot point and fixed to the suspension, which in this case is the rear axle housing. When the 'bag is inflated, it pushes the rocker arm, which pivots and pushes on the actuation rod. The rod then pushes on the axle housing, lifting the chassis upward.

Installing a cantilever suspension enables you to fine-tune the suspension to a degree not possible with a standard suspension where the airbags are mounted to the axle housing and an upper bridge. By altering the ratio of pivot between the airbag and actuation rod, you can design your rear suspension to handle any way you prefer. This can be achieved with different sized rockers or by fabricating the rocker with different mounting holes for the actuation rod. By moving the rod along the trailing edge of the rocker, you can adjust the ratio of the pivot. This will vary the amount of air pressure you'll need to make the rear suspension lift your truck off of the ground. It's a not a complicated design, and once you've figured out the mechanics involved, you'll learn to love the ride quality.

Schoolin' You
Dear MT,
I am currently in the army. When I get out, I would like to build custom trucks and cars. I was wondering if you knew what the best schools are to learn this trade?Thank you for your time.
Spc. Ramirez, U.S. Army

Any VoTech school that teaches certified welding, basic autobody, and general automotive should be able to give you the basics. After that, you'll need to work in someone's shop until you learn the essentials of building customs. At some point, you should be able to move out on your own or work for a well-known, reputable shop. Just remember that people's lives are riding on your skills as a builder. Shortcuts or shoddy work can cost people their lives. Good luck!

Draggin' With Honor
Dear MT,
My name is Justin and I am in the Air Force. I've been working on my Mazda for almost three years. You probably couldn't tell by looking at the pictures, but keep in mind that I'm working on a military budget with a wife and child and doing all the work with my own two hands.

Anyway, the reason I am writing is that my truck was planned to be finished before this spring, and I was going to hit up all the shows I could from Texas (where I am stationed) to Tennessee. I've been planning this for a year now, but it seems I will not be showing. Uncle Sam has other plans for me, and it's not going to take place here in the States. I'm rolling out for about six months give or take. I'm a little disappointed, as you can imagine, but don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. This is what I do, and I will do whatever it takes to keep my family safe and my fellow mini-truckers draggin' without worries. I know this might sound a little corny, but I just thought I would drop you an e-mail to tell you and all the mini-truckers hitting the show circuit this season to never let up and keep planning some tight-ass shows for next season because I will be ready one of these days. If it wouldn't be too much to ask ( I know you are damn busy), I wouldn't mind having someone to talk about mini-trucks with while I'm over yonder. If not, no biggie, and I'll see you at the shows next year. I'll be the guy in the bright-red, chopped and dropped Mazda, doing 70 mph and draggin' body with flames shooting out the exhaust and my hair on fire. I can't wait. Later.
Justin L.
U.S. Air Force

We're so glad to know that guys like you are protecting our nation. Keep in touch when you can because we have all the time in the world to talk about trucks with you. Keep your head up, stay safe, and you'll be at a show before you know it. Good luck!