SOLID FOUN­DA­TION, PART 2

PART 2 MOD­ERN CHAS­SIS SO­LU­TIONS FROM TCI EN­GI­NEER­ING

Street Trucks - - CONTENTS -

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.

REAR 4-LINK

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.

REAR COIL-OVERS

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.

FIN­ISHED 4-LINKS

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.

9-INCH REARENDS

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.

FRAME AS­SEM­BLY

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.

16

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.

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