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Turning a Fake Off-Road Truck into a Real High-Performance Pickup

If you’re picking up right where we left off in the March 2019 issue, you know that our goal with this project is to give new life to a slightly old daily driver you may already own. We started with a lifted 2WD Silverado on 35-inch tires. The truck looked nice and sounded great, but the ride quality was good at best, and it was lacking quite a bit of power. So, we decided to give this truck a complete makeover with sport truck styling and real performance to back it up.

In the last year we showed you how simply the front suspension can completely be replaced with coilovers and new spindles from Belltech. We also installed a new beefier sway bar that is included in their Sport Suspension kit. This new set up will bring our previously 7-inch lifted truck down to around 3.5 inches lower than factory stock height. A lower center of gravity and a dramatic drop in weight will finally allow us to feel the true benefits of this recently Procharged 5.3-liter V-8.

In this issue we are going to focus on the rear of our 2011 Chevy Silverado and explain just exactly how these flip kits work. Once we get it on the ground to adjust the coilovers and set the shock rates, we can pull it out of the bays, test the waters and see what we’re working with. Even though it looks great and it’s ready to go, the complete job is only halfway done. We will still need to replace the rear axle gears, re-tune the computer to adjust tire size and the air/fuel ratio, as well as a full alignment using Belltech parts. Keep following along in the future issues and give us your thoughts on the direction we’re headed. Now, back to the shop…

To get the back of this 2011 Chevy Silverado low and tight, we are installing a Belltech flip kit on the rear axle. This will bring the axle above the leaf springs and closer to the frame rails, which in turn get the body closer to the ground.


In this illustration you can see how the position of the axle along with a 2-inch block can raise or lower the center of gravity.

We’re performing this install on a lift since we have one available but with the right tools and plenty of patience, jack stands on driveways is all that’s needed.

First to come off are the shocks and since Belltech includes new adjustable shocks in this kit, these were set aside to be cleaned and sold later on with the rest of the lift kit.


A crescent wrench is all you need to remove the brake lines, but do not forget to bleed them before you take the first ride!

Unbolting the leafspring u-bolts is next and removing the massive lift blocks from the previous lift upgrade. Imagine how rough this thing rode with those in it.

With the axle fully detached from the truck, Mike raised the lift and prepared the acetylene torch. Always a good day when flames are involved, right?

Along with the flip kit we are going to replace the factory leaf spring hangers with these new brackets from Belltech. This will raise the mounting locations on both front and rear hangers lowers the truck even further.

The instructions call for a cut-off wheel or grinder to remove the factory hangers, but the guys at Premier Truck Center of Ocala, Florida, are surgical with a torch so time was saved by melting some metal.

With the rear hangers removed, we can drop the leaves and prepare the axle for its new position.

Removing the factory bumpstops is a must when dropping this low and the grinding wheel makes quick work of it.

The new hangers are set in place and bolted down using the supplied hardware. This shackle has two separate mounting location for the leafspring to give some options on ride height.

The leaf springs can now be set below the axle and bolted to the new hangers. We will forgo the front bracket for now to check out ride height. We want a sport truck stance, not a tire tucker so we feel this will suffice.

These new Belltech shocks have adjustment at both top and bottom. Bottom for compression and top for rebound. We are going to set them to 0 for now and adjust them later.

With a new driveline angle, a spacer is required for the transmission. This come with the kit and is easy enough to install. Do not skip this step!

With the suspension back in place, Mike was able to slip the driveshaft back in and bolt it down tight.

To fulfill our engine revving, tire peeling urges we are mounting up a set of 22×11.5 Black Rhino wheels and wrapping them in staggered fit Toyo Proxes STIII tires. More info on this killer combination in the next issue.

With the wheels bolted up and the truck off the lift, it’s time to take a smoke break. The job is far from done but we need to set a realistic ride height by moving it around to settle. We have a lot more in store for the commonly seen Silverado Street Truck including styling, speed and sound! Stay tuned!

 

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