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Old 10-01-2012, 09:58 PM   #1
Bo Duke
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Any interest in a 2wd to 4wd conversion kit?

I'm looking for some input here. Does anyone see any interest in an inexpensive bracket kit to convert 48-54, 55-59, or 60-66 2wd trucks to 4wd using 73-87 lift springs?

I see a lot of people try to mount the old body on a newer frame, and it just never turns out right without a lot of work, shortening the donor frame, or a huge body lift.
I've been looking to convert a 60-66 truck as a project for myself. I've got axles, drive shafts, and a t-case begging to get put under a truck. I can easily design the brackets in CAD, and have them laser cut and formed for a reasonable price. Do you guys think there would be a market for a kit? I could also do a kit to mount '88 and up 63" rear springs on the back.
I'm not looking to make much money here, I just figured if I took the time to make good brackets, maybe other people would be interested in them.
What year would bring the most interest? I figured I would start with the 60-66 since that's what I want, but I can get a free 55-59 frame that I could mock up brackets on too, if there's a demand for it. Target buyer would be someone who wants to use the truck more than you would an original (rare) Napco conversion truck.

One thought I had is that, ideally, on the 48-59 stuff, I would make it bolt on. That way no permanent changes are made to the frame. But I'm not sure if that would even be important to most people doing the conversion.

Any input? Thanks!
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Old 10-01-2012, 10:46 PM   #2
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Re: Any interest in a 2wd to 4wd conversion kit?

I think you have a good plan. I have a 62 shortbed 4x4 chev that need a new suspension. I also think a 67-72 kit would be in demand. I can find worn out 4x4's for about 1500, so that would give you a good price point to start from. Also, you need to have an option for trans/transfer case mounts.

You should have some more input from other experienced users soon!
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Old 10-02-2012, 02:29 AM   #3
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Re: Any interest in a 2wd to 4wd conversion kit?

If you could do it cheap enough and bolt in it probably would sell i think.
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Old 10-02-2012, 08:44 PM   #4
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Re: Any interest in a 2wd to 4wd conversion kit?

Thanks for the responses guys
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Old 10-05-2012, 11:17 PM   #5
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Re: Any interest in a 2wd to 4wd conversion kit?

Ive been kicking around converting my 59 to 4wd. The springs don't seem too involved. Its the steering that seems complicated. Most guys seem to use a 73+ 2wd box and convert to crossover steering. If you come with an Idea for for a 55-59 set up LMK.
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Old 10-06-2012, 02:03 AM   #6
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Re: Any interest in a 2wd to 4wd conversion kit?

I am about half way through my 1959 2wd to 4x4 swap. I wish I had parts to bolt on, would have saved so much time. Go for it in making the parts. Nobody else has them.
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Old 10-06-2012, 02:31 AM   #7
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Re: Any interest in a 2wd to 4wd conversion kit?

Interesting you would post this. Today I was going to purchase a kit from Sky Manufacturing (their S10 SAS kit) to do just what you describe. This will be the second 55-59 I've made 4x4. The first was my dads 56 using stock rearched springs bolted to a 72 Blazer axle. Stock steering box/pitman used. I have to say, that thing rode like a tractor. I was told by several suspension experts that a shackle reversal would make it ride nicer. I drove that beast clear through college like that and I loved it.
So, I made all my mistakes on that truck. Plans for this second 56 will include the shackle reversal using something like the above mentioned kit and using either 1967-72 2.5 in. wide Chevy springs or Wagoneer springs. It will have crossover steering using a 78 IH Scout p.s. box and a kit from ORU, DIY, or Sky mfg. Some people cringe when I mention the Scout steering gear, but it is a Saginaw gear just like GM uses and I'm told my p.s. pump hoses will screw right to it without modification.
Why not just use a GM box you ask. In the past 25 years I've seen dozens of people do just that on 55-59 conversions (steering box on outside of frame rail) and all of them that use tires larger than 33 in. complain about the tire hitting the steering box and limiting right turn radias. The Scout box doesn't interfere because it mostly sits on top of the frame rail.
So, back to the topic. If you are thinking of building a front spring hanger kit for 55-59 Chevy 4x4 trucks that is strong and inexpensive count me in. I suggest you look at the Sky Mfg website at the S10 SAS kit to get an idea of what I am looking for in a kit. I'll be standing by.

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Old 10-08-2012, 01:12 PM   #8
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Re: Any interest in a 2wd to 4wd conversion kit?

I would be interested, in the process of looking for a 4x4 donor truck to swap a 66 suburban. Let me know what you decide to do?
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Old 10-08-2012, 09:52 PM   #9
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Re: Any interest in a 2wd to 4wd conversion kit?

Thanks for the responses guys. I'm in the process of trying to find a decent truck to start with. I'd rather focus more on the drive train than the body work....

I'm familiar with the Sky Manufacturing parts. They have some good stuff.

I like the Scout steering box idea and how it would keep the box up on top of the frame. The only down side is the long sector shaft length, which can be a weak point. But that's only with hard wheeling and big tires.

Keep the ideas and comments coming guys! I'm liking this more and more
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Old 10-09-2012, 11:02 AM   #10
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Re: Any interest in a 2wd to 4wd conversion kit?

I've also heard that old full size jeep truck and wagoneer axles fit a little narrower than 70s GM axles so your tires don't stick out so much. Never tried them but thought I'd pass that along. I used 72 Blazer 1/2 tons and just used wheels with less offset to keep tires covered and cops off my tail.

Has anyone ever put ididit or flaming river tilt wheel in a 55-59 with an orig. steering wheel? I'm thinking a tilt would be nice but I'd hate to not be able to use my original steering wheel. I want to keep my interior looking as original as possible.
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Old 10-09-2012, 08:47 PM   #11
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Re: Any interest in a 2wd to 4wd conversion kit?

Looks like the Wagoneer Dana 44 front is about 62-63" at the wheel mounting surface. The stock rear end for the '59 and older is 63" (3/4 ton is, not sure on the 1/2 ton), so that's a decent match.

Spring pad width is the same between a full width Chevy front and the Wagoneer. So any thing done to fit a Chevy will fit the Wagoneer and also a '78-79 Ford front.
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Old 10-15-2012, 05:37 PM   #12
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Re: Any interest in a 2wd to 4wd conversion kit?

BD, did you get the PM I sent you Sunday? I looked today and can't see that it went through.
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Old 10-15-2012, 08:59 PM   #13
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Re: Any interest in a 2wd to 4wd conversion kit?

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BD, did you get the PM I sent you Sunday? I looked today and can't see that it went through.
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Yep, PM replied to
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Old 10-20-2012, 08:48 PM   #14
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Re: Any interest in a 2wd to 4wd conversion kit?

Don't all the pre 1960 trucks have leaf springs under the front?
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Old 10-20-2012, 10:55 PM   #15
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Re: Any interest in a 2wd to 4wd conversion kit?

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Originally Posted by 1972RedNeck View Post
Don't all the pre 1960 trucks have leaf springs under the front?
Yeah, but if you wanted to use the truck for any type of offroading, you wouldn't want to do it on stock, 50-60 year old springs. Plus if you could mount 73-87 truck springs under it, you could lift it as much as you want with off the shelf springs
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Old 10-23-2012, 08:20 PM   #16
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Re: Any interest in a 2wd to 4wd conversion kit?

Interested also. Don't like the body swap idea either.
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Old 01-15-2013, 05:56 AM   #17
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Re: Any interest in a 2wd to 4wd conversion kit?

Quote:
I also think a 67-72 kit would be in demand.
i am interested! i want 4wd on my 68 longhorn. and 63" springs in the back. some brackets for the helpers would be awesome too!
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Old 01-15-2013, 06:23 AM   #18
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Re: Any interest in a 2wd to 4wd conversion kit?

I'd be interested in a 64-66 1 ton kit that would eliminate some of the guesswork.
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Old 01-15-2013, 10:49 AM   #19
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Re: Any interest in a 2wd to 4wd conversion kit?

Seems like you have alot of interest, Just make sure you do the research and make it a kit that is pretty easy. Most people doing conversions have the skills to do it, BUT there are some out there with limited experience and skills. Coop
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Old 01-15-2013, 02:14 PM   #20
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Re: Any interest in a 2wd to 4wd conversion kit?

55-59 TF 4WD is a bolt on conversion as far as the axles are concerned. Steering can be accomplished different ways. 4" lift blocks in the back are needed to level it out. If you want a different spring length cut the rivets and move the shackles. 55-59 frames are consistant width (34") full length, only vertical offset is above the rear axle.
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Old 01-15-2013, 02:22 PM   #21
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Re: Any interest in a 2wd to 4wd conversion kit?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 72Blazerock View Post
It will have crossover steering using a 78 IH Scout p.s. box and a kit from ORU, DIY, or Sky mfg. Some people cringe when I mention the Scout steering gear, but it is a Saginaw gear just like GM uses and I'm told my p.s. pump hoses will screw right to it without modification.
Why not just use a GM box you ask. In the past 25 years I've seen dozens of people do just that on 55-59 conversions (steering box on outside of frame rail) and all of them that use tires larger than 33 in. complain about the tire hitting the steering box and limiting right turn radias. The Scout box doesn't interfere because it mostly sits on top of the frame rail.
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Don't know how far you got in your build but I have photos of a Jeep saginaw box that mounts inside the frame infront of the crossmember and uses crossover steering. My recollection is that it was a stock Jeep application.

I mounted a 74 box on the outside like you said and will just deal with the turning radius, if its a PITA than will probably convert to something like this.
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Old 01-15-2013, 08:33 PM   #22
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Re: Any interest in a 2wd to 4wd conversion kit?

I haven't forgotten about this thread. I've done a lot of research on this and here's where I'm at.

1955-59
As OrrieG said, it's a straight swap to put a front axle with a 32" spring pad witdth into these trucks. He's got a good write up on it.

My thought was that some people would want to be able to run '73-87 front springs with poly bushings, so it could actually do some mild wheeling. I bought a rough '56 short box frame stripped it down, and started to do some mock up on it. Basically, once the frame is stripped (all the rivets for the factory stuff removed), it's just a thin walled weak frame with a lot of holes in it. It would take a lot of work to make it strong enough for mild wheeling. I did go ahead and design brackets though. But since the frame width is perfect for mounting springs under the frame, someone could easily order generic leaf spring mounts and, with some work and forethought, hang any leaf spring they want under the front. So I sold the frame and moved on.

1960-62?
I believe these 1/2 ton trucks have an X Frame with torsion bars, making it pretty much impossible to convert those year trucks to 4wd.

1963-1972
Despite the body style change, these truck have pretty much the same frame rails. The differences are the front frame horns and the body mounts. So I've been trying to find a truck, but my budget is low and my expectations are high. I'm in no rush so I'd rather wait for a good truck to start with. I'd still like to make some simple brackets to swap leafs into these years of trucks, but don't hold your breate. For those who are wanting something soon, check out these companies websites. They all offer a lot of options for mounting brackets and tabs.

Barnes4x4
Ballisticfabrication
Polyperformance
Bluetorchfab
Artecindustries
Ruffstuffspecialties
Copperheadfab
And
DIY4x

Diy4x has a spring hanger kit listed for '69-72 4x4s. I think it could be easily modified for the 2x's. It's pricey, but it's a nice product.
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Old 01-15-2013, 08:43 PM   #23
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Re: Any interest in a 2wd to 4wd conversion kit?

About 7 or 8 years ago one of the Peterson's mag's (pretty sure it was 4wheel & off road) converted a 4-5-6 truck to 4WD. I'm a chronic hoarder, especially when it comes to car magazines, but for the life of me can't find that issue. If anyone else is a regular reader, I'm pretty sure it was when Frieburger (sp) was at the helm, gonna say around 2002-2003 time frame. I've searched their archives with no success but continue to look. I don't remember how they did it, but I do remember they put leafs and a solid front axle under a 2wd frame.
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Old 01-15-2013, 11:10 PM   #24
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Re: Any interest in a 2wd to 4wd conversion kit?

I was wondering if you had a chance to make this kit. I want to turn my 64 2x4 1 ton dually in to a 4x4.
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Old 01-31-2013, 01:19 PM   #25
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Re: Any interest in a 2wd to 4wd conversion kit?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bo Duke View Post
1963-1972
Despite the body style change, these truck have pretty much the same frame rails. The differences are the front frame horns and the body mounts. So I've been trying to find a truck, but my budget is low and my expectations are high. I'm in no rush so I'd rather wait for a good truck to start with. I'd still like to make some simple brackets to swap leafs into these years of trucks, but don't hold your breate. For those who are wanting something soon, check out these companies websites. They all offer a lot of options for mounting brackets and tabs.
I'm in Omaha and just bought a 1970 GMC Custom Camper and a 1978 one ton SRW 4x4 to take the drivetrain out of for the GMC. I won't be cutting them up for a few months. If you want to get together and do some mockup just let me know.
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