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Chace Yonts and I are keeping the momentum going so we can get Project Lucid Dreams ready to hit the open road! We are heading back to The Shop in Stanford, Kentucky, to resume our progress on the 2001 Chevy S10 Xtreme. When we left off last month, the C-notch had been welded in and the Thorbros three-link kit bolted up. It was now time to get the bridge kit installed and complete the entire bagging process for the front of the truck. Luckily, we had already picked up the Thorbros Bridge Kit when we purchased the three-link. Jason’s kit comes with all the necessary brackets and tabs to complete the rear setup. We had also purchased the Airlift Dominator 2,600-pound bags for all four corners of the truck.

Chace and his dad, Billy, started this part of the process by cleaning up the rear axles. Although this may seem like a minor step, it is necessary for your welds to have a clean surface to connect.

Now that the entire rear-end of the truck had been cleaned, Chace began to lay out the rear back brackets. Here is a great tip for setting up the rear: Chace built a spacer that would fit in between the upper and lower rear bag bracket. He did this by measuring the Airlift 2,600 bag when it was compressed. This gave him the measurements necessary for the spacer that would allow for him to weld everything up without having to install and remove the bag over and over.

It is extremely important that the upper bag bracket is completely level with the rest of the setup. Instead of “measure twice, cut once,” it’s “measure four times, weld once!” He started by tack-welding the upper bag bracket to the C-notch and then made his way down to the lower bracket.

With the bag brackets mounted, we were able to get the two bridge bars lined up and welded into place. Adding the two bridge bars made the entire rear setup much more stable and secure.

Another great feature of the Thorbros Bridge Kit is that it comes with the shock tabs so that you can weld them in and purchase a set of rear shocks to fit. When attempting to locate shocks that will fit, this can sometimes be a process of trial and error. A trick is to measure the distances from each of the tabs when the truck would be laid out and fully aired up. You will then be able to use those numbers to match up to a pair of shocks that will fit perfectly in the rear setup.

Since we had cut away the crossmember that housed the bolt holes for the muffler bracket, Chace got to work fabricating one to fit. This one will be welded to the raised-tank crossmember, which would help raise the muffler as well. He took a piece of box tubing that was cut to match the existing muffler bracket. Chace drilled out the holes for the bolts and then placed a welding nut on the inside. He then welded the box tubing to the crossmember.

We wanted to keep the Xtreme ground effects, so Chace came up with a clever idea. He was able to measure how far the ground effects hang down below the truck’s frame. With these measurements he created a bump stop that we could weld onto the rear axles to keep from crushing the ground effects.

With the bump stops welded into place, most of the rear setup was now complete. Chace called up a good friend of his, Josh Hampton at 859 Offroad and Powdercoating, to really showcase the work put into this truck. Josh absolutely knocked it out of the park powdercoating the three-link and crossmember for us!

While we were waiting for the parts to come back from powdercoating, Chace was able to paint the rear section of the frame to keep it from rusting. This also gives the truck a very clean and fresh appearance once the truck is cruisin’ the streets.

After reassembling the three-link, it was then time to get the gas tank mounted back under the truck. This requires some help, so call up a few friends whenever you tackle this part of the process. We were able to get a floor jack underneath the gas tank and position it under the crossmember so it could be bolted up. This is also a great time to change out the fuel pump if the truck has the original fuel pump still installed.

With the C-notch and link kit on the truck, the original brake lines would no longer work. Chace routed some new brake lines for the rear brakes and tucked them nicely across the rear end.

In order to finish up the back of the truck, we had to remove the original carrier bearing crossmember and install the new Illusive Design & Fabrication crossmember. Not all S10’s will have this crossmember, usually just the Extended Cabs. The original crossmember hangs too low so the new one will tuck up under the truck without any issues.

Now that the back of the truck is pretty much finished, we were able to move on to the front. First things first, we removed the rotor and brake calipers and sat them to the side.

We were then able to unbolt and remove the front shocks. Luckily, these were not difficult to remove since we had already taken them out to complete the lowering kit. These shocks have seen some better days!

Chace unbolted and removed the front sway bar and the tie rod ends. This would allow him easier access to the back of the spindles.

We then unbolted the Western Chassis drop spindles. Be careful removing these bolts as they can sometimes break off inside the spindle.

With the spindle out of the way, we were able to slowly drop the lower control arm down and remove the lowering springs.

You will also need to unbolt the bracket on the frame that holds the brake lines running to the front calipers. Keep all the bolts and brackets—these will be useful later!

Next, we were able to unbolt and remove the lower control arm to gain full access to the frame. Removing the control arm makes it much easier to remove the metal bump stop on the top of the lower control arm. This is also a great time to replace the ball joints and bushings, which is exactly what we did.

Now that all the suspension components were removed, Chace could begin cutting the front pockets. Using the plasma cutter, he was able to cut the frame to allow the airbags to compress and clear the entire frame. The first side is trial-and-error because you may have to trim more of the frame off for everything to fit perfectly. You can test fit the bag and make sure that it clears and does not rub before moving to the next side.

Since Chace cut one side, he was then able to create a template to use for the other side of the truck. This will help eliminate having to install and remove the bag multiple times to verify that it doesn’t rub. He drew out the template and then cut it to match.

After making sure the template matched up, Chace sanded down the frame to trace the outline of the cut he needed to make.

Chace fired up the plasma gun and cut right along the lines of the template. This can also help verify that both sides of the truck are exactly the same. Cut out the bottom part of the frame as well because you will need the room for the airbag.

After all the cutting is finished, it’s time to sand down the edges and prep the frame for the bag.

While we waited for the frame to cool off, Chace and Billy sanded the control arms and painted them black to match the frame. After they dried, we bolted up the bag cups and reinstalled the lower control arms.

Chace bolted in the front bag so that we could do one last test fit to make sure it would not rub the frame. The Airlift Dominator 2,600-pound bag will really give this truck a smooth ride!

Chace jacked the control arm up and compressed the bag so we could check to make sure it cleared the frame. Chace knocked it out of the park and the Airlift bag tucked perfectly up into the frame.

It was finally time to reinstall the front end. Billy got to work on bolting the drop spindles back up along with the tie rod ends and control arms. With all the components being put back on the truck, it was time to get started with the air management and wheels and tires.

Stay tuned next month as we install all the Airlift air management and button up everything so we can sit this S10 on the ground!




Illusive Design & Fabrications


Airlift Performance