Front Suspension

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Psyclopse, Dec 11, 2000.

  1. Psyclopse

    Psyclopse Member
    Messages: 94

    I have seen conversions for the 88 and up Chevy/GMC trucks that replace the tortion bar setup with a traditional leaf/solid axle setup. What are your thoughts on which would provide a better suspension for plowing? I am not actively considering this swap anytime soon, I am just curious as to the thoughts of others.

    Also, how does the tortion suspension on my 3500 differ from tortion suspensions on 2500 or 1500 trucks of the same body style? Any special concerns I should keep in mind about the front suspension on my truck?

    By the way, I just got an 8 foot Western setup cheap and didn't need to modify anything (thanks for all the input).
  2. Deere John

    Deere John Senior Member
    Messages: 410

    Welcome. I have used both torsion bar and leaf spring styles, and I wouldn't change anything with your rig. I found the torsion bar system rides so much better that the plow does not get tossed into the air (on big bumps while travelling) nearly as much. Regarding the differences, the bigger components on the 3/4 tons and bigger are similar to the 1/2 ton stuff, just more robust, durable and foregiving.

    Attention to detail of the "small" things are what will keep you mobile and make you successful. I wouldn't want to stake my living on my re-engineering of a suspension sytem that had millions of dollars of R&D money spent on it. Hope this helps.
  3. CT18fireman

    CT18fireman Banned
    Messages: 2,133

    On my first toyota I converted it to a solid axle for off roading. After installing leafsprings I found that the plow frame would no longer fit. Had to customize it heavily.
    I also agree that the torsion bars to seem to ride better. It is possible to get heavier torsion bars for most trucks.
  4. plowking35

    plowking35 2000 Club Member
    from SE CT
    Messages: 2,923

    My k-3500 has much heavier a arms than on the 1500 and 2500 series truck. Add to that torsion bars that are heavier and with the 8.5 v plow the front sags about a 1/2". I also have load boosters just in case. I personally wouldnt go through all that trouble to change over to a solid axel design. If you like solid axel that much go back to a pre 88 truck.
  5. OP

    Psyclopse Member
    Messages: 94

    Thanks for the input. I don't really have any qualms with the torsion bar setup (other than my misspelling it as tortion more than once). This is my first GM truck with torsion bars, and for a 1 ton, it is a smooth riding rig. All my buddies that told me I should swap are into lifted off-road trucks, which is probably why they like the idea. I didn't buy this thing to toy with, I bought it to WORK- so a lift is out of the question anyway.

    One question though (and this may belong in the truck forum)- how much lower should the front of the truck sit as compared to the back (bed empty and plow off the truck)? I have a noticeable 'rake' to the front when sitting on a level surface. The front doesn't sag much more with the plow on- maybe 1/2 to 3/4 inch but I haven't had snow in the last 24 or so hours since I got the plow to test it out.

    The front end doesn't seem worn and my father claims that the 3500's just sit like that anyway, but I want to be sure. Is it fine, or should I crank up the bars a little? Should I add some type of helping device?

    Am I being overly cautious or paranoid? With the Ford, I just get in and go- I know the truck well and I know the plow well. The GMC is all new to me (including the plow), cost me more to buy, and is even more expensive to fix.
  6. TLS

    TLS Addict
    Messages: 1,424


    I also have a K3500 its a 1990 Single Rear Wheel (SRW). Is yours a SRW? These have different torsion bars than the duallys. I have the extended cab and I run a Boss V plow. Its one of the heavier plows out there and I haven't had any problems. It does sag a bit, but with a pallet (2400lbs) of salt and a tailgate spreader, this brings the rear down too! So I am now a lowrider! It will go through just about anything (withen reason)! I have seen the straight axle conversions also, but they are all lifts of 4-6". The straight axle would fix the horrendous turning circle of the IFS GM's. I have a '75 Suburban and its turning circle seems like it is half that of the '90!! I wish GM would address this IFS turning issue as mine is a long wheelbase truck. The only time I would go lock to lock would be in parking lots and snowplowing. Makes me want to get out the grinder and grind down the turning stops to gain that 1/4" that those nubs prevent. Any thoughts on this anyone?
  7. OP

    Psyclopse Member
    Messages: 94

    Yes, mine is a single rear wheel model, but mine is a standard cab. I have to put a significant amount of weight in the bed before it starts to drop any. I had 12 sheets of 5/8 drywall, 10 sheets of 1/2 OSB and 40 2x4's a few weeks back and the front end was still slightly lower (without a plow on). Like I said, it seems to ride fine- the ride is better with a bed-full of weight than my other trucks.

    What brand and size of tires to you prefer?
  8. fordkilla454

    fordkilla454 Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    Maybe this deserves to be in the Chevy Truck Forum but oh well it started here. I to have considered converting my 1995 IFS to a solid axle with leaves. Unlike most of yall I am interested in off-road performance instead of pushing snow. My question is will the suspension lifts for 81-87 be a direct bolt up or will spring perches and the like have to be moved around. I realize spring perches will have to be placed on the front axle.
  9. John DiMartino

    John DiMartino Veteran
    Messages: 2,154

    I think the rake is normal,since the payload is around 3500lbs,even on the SRW model,I bet it takes at least 2500 lbs in the bed to make it sit level.I think this is normal,thats how all the ones I see sit.
  10. TLS

    TLS Addict
    Messages: 1,424


    Try turning up your torsion bars another inch or two. In 1988 (first year) they didn't offer the HD torsion bars for the snowplowing prep package. Yours may be a tad smaller than mine. (good ride) If your "pork chops" are resting on your crossmember, turn them up till the adjusting bolt takes them up a 1/4" (2-4 turns). In winter I run 235/85 Goodyear Workhorse Extra Grip and in the Summer I run Michelin LTX M/S 265/75's (very nice comfortable quiet driving tires)


    My truck weighs 5900 lbs empty and with the 8600 (yuck) GVWR that leaves me only a 2700 lb payload. Well Im way overloaded when plowing. It takes it though, and I'm careful and don't beat it.


    I believe the solid front axle kit is a 4-6" lift already. With that and a 3" body lift, you can fit some pretty big meats under it then. If your interested in off-road performance, then stick with the IFS. There are nice lifts for this and torsion bars that are spongier for the off-roaders.
  11. 90plow

    90plow Senior Member
    Messages: 727

    can i turn up the torsion bars on my 95 1500 and how much can i turn them? I have heard that if you turn them to far it will ruin the cv joints or somehthing in that area is this true? and how much more lift will this give me on the front end just looking for a cheap couple of inches.
  12. c_maint

    c_maint Member
    Messages: 46

    I had a Chevy 1500. I cranked the torsions up a little. I plowed one year with a meyers 7.5 the cv joints were shot after that. I traded it in for a Dodge ram 2500. if i had knowned better, i would have stuck with Chevy! don't get me wrong, dodge is a nice lookin truck but, for me, i'll go for a chevy
  13. johngus

    johngus Senior Member
    Messages: 117

    Anyone looking to convert a 88 and up GM should contact Off Road Unlimited.I think they're in california,they have a bolt on kit to convert to solid axle and leaves.I hear it's not cheap but their products are very high quality.Check 4x4 magazines or their website.I think its not buy a dodge or ford?it already comes with a REAL front suspension!!!What a war that just started?????