Precision Fabrication Plus RDP Xtreme GM Solid Axle Swap Kit
Improved Capability, Reliability, and Looks For GM HDs
Many folks would argue that General Motors builds some of the best eight-lug trucks on the market. They are strong, comfortable, and built to handle the toughest work you can throw at them. However, when it comes time to customize your ride, the Silverado and Sierra HDs have one glaring weakness. The same independent front suspension that provides a superbly comfortable on-road ride can become a big hang-up when more power or larger tires are added.
There are several weak points in the front suspension of GM 2500 and 3500HDs. The relatively small steering tie rods and centerlink are prone to bending, and the pitman and idler arms wear out quickly at the sight of larger tires. The CV axles have proven fairly reliable in most circumstances; however, the center axle disconnect is known for becoming stuck in both the locked and unlocked positions. This can lead to either poor fuel economy or no four-wheel drive. The trucks also become difficult to lift the higher up you go, as giant subframe assemblies must be used to lower the entire front axle and suspension.
Replacing the IFS front suspension with a solid axle, much like Ram and Ford trucks feature as factory-stock, has become increasingly popular for the General Motors trucks over the years, as it eliminates all of these weak points. The biggest issue with this procedure is the amount of custom fabrication it takes to complete the swap. Fortunately, the folks at Precision Fabrication Plus in Sonora, California, have got it figured out.
Founded in 1976 in San Jose, California, Precision Fabrication Plus has made a name for itself as a complete fabrication, machining, and welding outfit servicing a broad audience of aerospace, electronics, mining, medical, and firefighting companies. Seeing a hole in the custom truck market, the company launched its RDP Xtreme brand of products in 2014. The mainstay of the line is the GM IFS Delete kit. Anywhere between 3 and 18 inches of lift are available, and this kit is designed to install with little more than handtools and a tape measure—taking all the complicated fabrication of a typical solid-axle swap out of the equation.
The RDP Xtreme IFS Delete utilizes a five-link coilover suspension, which provides outstanding ride characteristics while maintaining or improving capability, including raising the front axle's gross weight rating. Larger brakes, serviceable ball joints and bushings, manual locking hubs, and fully functional ABS and traction control are just a few of the other benefits the kit provides.
While the kit includes all the necessary hardware and brackets, the customer will need to provide a few parts found on '05 to '15 Ford F-250 and F-350 pickups. The front Dana 60 axle, tie rod, Panhard bar, passenger-side lower drag link, sway bar, and ABS sensor wires all need to be purchased to make the swap complete. The 3-inch kit also needs the Ford's coil springs, while the 12-inch-and-larger kits can omit most of the steering parts. What comes in the package from Precision Fabrication Plus is all the laser-cut and formed brackets, which are fully welded and powdercoated. Fox 2.0 performance shock absorbers and coil springs are utilized for the 3-to 6-inch kits while King 2.5-inch coilovers find a home on the larger kits. Crossover steering, limit straps, stainless steel braided brake lines, and a 1350 series front CV driveshaft round out the kit.
So if you're looking to add a tall lift and big tires to your Silverado or Sierra, a solid-axle swap is the best way to go. The offerings in the RDP Xtreme line are well thought out, easy to install, and overall very complete.
If off-roading is your thing, the RDP IFS Delete will allow for much greater axle articulation than the factory independent suspension.
Solid-axle swaps aren't only for trucks with big lifts. RDP Xtreme kits start at only 3 inches of lift. This is perfect for the person looking for added reliability and front-end capability without the need for a stepladder to get in the driver seat.
With the RDP Xtreme kit, the customer provides the front axle while Precision Fabrication Plus supplies all the hardware and brackets. For those looking to customize their kit, all the parts come powdercoated in the customer's color choice.
All the brackets are laser-cut for a precision fit and fully welded for extreme strength and durability. Installation is simple and can be completed with handtools and a tape measure.
The kit uses the front Dana 60 axle and steering components found under '05-to-'15 Ford F-250 and F-350 trucks. This provides ample strength while maintaining easy serviceability.
Larger lift kits feature custom Reid Racing Highsteer steering knuckles to provide seamless on-road handling. Crossover steering is standard on all lift heights.
Manual locking hubs provide the ability to use two-wheel-drive low range, while adding durability compared to the unreliable factory automatic hubs.