SOLID FOUNDATION, PART 2
PART 2 MODERN CHASSIS SOLUTIONS FROM TCI ENGINEERING
Modern Chassis Solutions From TCI Engineering
LAST MONTH WE made a trip to Total Cost Involved (TCI) Engineering to check out the numerous ways the company helps people update the suspensions on their classic trucks. We were able to shine some light on many of the ways you can get your old truck to ride and handle like a modern vehicle using parts like independent front suspensions, coil-overs, airbags, power steering, sway bars and disc brakes. In the first installment of this story (“Solid Foundation, Part 1,” ST Aug. 2017, pg. 100), we focused on how these parts are created and how they come together on a classic truck.
During our visit, we discovered that TCI has a lot more to offer than front-end kits. It also carries a full line of lowered rear suspensions, including versions that use parabolic leaf springs, 4-links, coil-overs or airbags. These different types of systems can fit various build budgets, but for the ultimate in handling and suspension control, the 4-link with coil-overs and track bar is the perfect solution. This type of rear system provides an adjustable lowered height along with the benefits of greater axle control. If you have a high-performance driveline, you will need a suspension like this to help transfer power without wheel hop.
Covering all of the bases, TCI offers complete chassis for many classic Ford and Chevy pickups. The benefit is that you start with fresh steel that has not been weakened by age and corrosion. TCI improved the engineering of these chassis over stock versions: The main rails are 2 inches taller and have a stiff center section with clearance for the driveshaft and exhaust. There are many options when you order a full chassis, like notched rear rails for axle clearance on lowered heights, rear sway bar, rear track bar and larger brakes for better stopping power. They also come with a 9-inch rearend, and you can have it equipped with a limitedslip differential and varying widths, as well.
With more than four decades of experience creating suspension systems for classic vehicles, the crew at TCI knows their stuff. Everyone at the facility was hustling to get multiple orders done to meet customer demands. Better yet, the staff is very experienced in helping classic truck owners bring new life to their older pickups. Follow along as we show you some of TCI’S products and how they are made.
01 Though TCI does have suspension options for various budgets, one of the better systems to use on the rear of a classic truck is a coil-over-equipped 4-link. If you want to go super low, they can be fitted with Ridetech Shockwave airbagged struts. This is everything that that comes in the kit, including link bars, frame brackets, coil-over cross member and track bar.
02 Like many suspension components, the frame brackets are first formed using a CNC plasma table to cut shapes out of flat steel. Then, they are welded together.
03 Link bars are also constructed onsite. Round steel is cut and notched, and then the pieces are welded together.
04 Track bars were not being produced on the day of our visit, but here are some that were preassembled and ready to fulfill orders.
05 Here is a shock cross member being welded up. It can be used to mount shocks on a leaf spring rear and coil-overs, or Ridetech Shockwaves for 4-link rears.
06 TCI makes rear coil-overs in-house by stockpiling monotube shocks and machining a threaded shaft and adjuster. The threaded shaft is welded to the shock to secure it in place.
07 Once the shock is painted, the bushings are pressed in, the shaft is coated with anti-seize and the adjuster is spun on.
08 Completing the package, the springs are placed over the shock and the top hat to hold it all in place.
09Here you can see both the coil-over and airbagged 4-links. 10 When a complete kit or even a full chassis is ordered, rear systems are boxed and shipped.
11 Complete chassis come with custom 9-inch rearends that can be tailored to your needs. Third members and axles are preassembled to save time and effort. 12 Brakes are also installed on the rearends, and as you can see, larger versions can be ordered as well.
13 Complete chassis start with cutting flat steel for frame rails 14 The steel is placed in a jig and welded solid. Having fully boxed frame rails helps keep the chassis stiff. 15 Once the welds are completed, a team grinds them down for a smooth appearance. This is when they can spot and repair imperfections before chassis are shipped to customers.
With the rails finished, the cross members are welded in place to make a complete frame. Putting a frame together takes about a day for this team. Knowing this provides a little perspective on how much they cost.