1995 2WD F-350 Dualie Gets Leveled and A Front-End Upgrade
Age takes its toll on every vehicle, and miles just speed up the aging process. That's definitely the way it typically works for trucks that see regular duty on streets, highways, farms, and anywhere else they can be driven. Our '95 Ford F-350, Big White, is a prime example of a rig that's experiencing both.
The two-wheel-drive 7.3L-powered crew-cab dualie turns 25 years old in 2020, and by the time you read this, the odometer will have passed 170,000 miles. It has weathered the time well. But mechanical issues are starting to arise, and they need addressing.
For this upgrade exercise, taking care of Big White's aging front suspension is our top priority. Worn ball joints and tie-rod ends are contributing to accelerated tread wear on the inside of the Toyo Open Country H/T tires. And the attrition the twin I-beam steering components are experiencing has also brought about vibration in the steering wheel and a slight pull. Our dualie is also in need of new shocks, brakes, and lifting of the front end a couple of inches to get rid of the "stink bug" stance.
Unfortunately, because of its age, it's not easy to find all the correct steering and suspension parts for old-body-style (OBS) Ford pickups at a Ford dealer's service department. We gathered the ball joints, drag link, tie-rod ends, and brake components from Auto Zone, choosing Duralast's top-of-the-line "Gold Series" front-end hardware for our rebuild because they are equal to, or better quality than, the OEM parts.
For lifting/leveling the front of Big White to get rid of the raked stance, we turned to Complete Performance Products in Jasper, Texas. There are a lot of leveling kits for four-wheel-drive Super Duty rigs, but "CP Addict" produces the only one we know of designed exclusively for '80-to-'97 OBS two-wheel-drive trucks.
The leveling kit consists of a pair of special billet-aluminum spacers that are slipped beneath the coil springs and raise the front suspension by 2 inches. "We built these spring spacers to level out the aging '80s-to-'90s trucks with front ends that are sagging from the weight of the diesel engines (Ford Power Strokes, Cummins conversions, and such)," says CP Addict co-owner Chris Rutledge. "We decided they needed to be durable and long lasting just as the trucks are, so they're built from solid billet-aluminum to prevent early deterioration."
With the springs out, it's the perfect time to replace the truck's worn-out twin-tube hydraulic shocks with Bilstein monotube, gas-pressure shocks. The Bilsteins, recommended by and available through CP Addict, are the best replacement dampers for OBS trucks, and the high-pressure gas inside them will keep the fluid from aeration that diminishes shock control. These high-quality shocks will help make Big White's ride smoother and reduce tire wear.
A&G Automotive Tires and Wheels in Reseda, California, are experts at working on trucks like Big White. It didn't take long for technician Fabian B to disassemble the front end and replace the old parts with the Duralast and CP Addict upgrades.
Brake rotors, calipers, pads, drag link, tie-rod ends, spring spacers, shocks, and new camber-caster bushings were dutifully and expertly installed. Then we took our dualie to the alignment rack to have the front-end aligned to factory specifications—something that hadn't been done in years.
With the work completed, it was out to the street to see how Big White responded to the upgrades. The ride and handling are markedly better. The steering vibrations are gone. There's no pull, and it rolls through dips with excellent stability and crosses expansion joints and potholes with far less jarring than it did before the modifications.
We are very pleased with this stage of the truck's rebirth and absolutely love the level stance. As far as the cosmetics, just to let you in on what the future holds, the body is going to get a wrap. So we don't know if we'll be able to call it Big White anymore. (The wrap scheme is being conceptualized right now by Mike Smith at Raceskinz).
The old Weld wheels and the Toyo Open Country H/T tires are going to come off and be replaced with Mayhem's Monstir (dualie-specific) wheels and Toyo's newest Open Country tire, the H/T II. We daily drive and tow trailers a lot with Big White, and the H/T tire has worked well for us in that regard.
Follow the Diesel Power Magazine Facebook page, and check out trucktrend.com to stay abreast of the future stages of our OBS rig's rebirth. We think the upgrades and modifications we're doing are exactly the right stuff for a 25-year-old pickup.