2003 Chevy Silverado- Project Over/Under: Part 7

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Suspension Lift and Rebuild With Bulletproof, LMC Truck, and Fox

The day is finally here! After months and months of planning and truck building, we were finally ready to tear into the suspension of our ’03 Silverado. Even though we have rebuilt almost all of the truck in the past several months, we hadn’t taken so much as a wheel off when it came to its underpinnings. But all of that was about to change.
We were pretty specific when it came to exactly how we wanted to lift this truck. In keeping with the overland theme, we were seeking more than just drop-down brackets; we actually wanted to increase the travel a bit. But we also intended to keep the stock front-end width and not have to run fiberglass fenders—things that ruled out a full-on long-travel kit. Our options were limited, but we were happy to find exactly what we needed from Bulletproof Suspension. While mostly known for giant lifts on full show trucks, Bulletproof also happens to carry a 7-inch lift kit for the ’99-to-’07 GM ½-ton two-wheel drives. It consists of fabricated spindles, coils, and tubular upper control arms, along with all the necessary hardware. We also wanted to replace every single component we could, ending up with a truly brand-new front end, so we ordered up a whole bunch of parts from LMC Truck. Included were new hubs, steering components, and parts to completely rebuild the stock lower control arms we were reusing.
In this installment, we got as far as stripping the truck of factory parts, cleaning up what was left, and bolting up the main components. Next month, we will finish things up, including installing the Atlas rear leaf packs and the 18-inch Fuel wheels and 35-inch General tires.
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  |   Over the next couple of installments, Project Over/Under is finally going to look like the KP Concepts rendering.

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  |   We figured we’d give you one more reminder of our humble beginnings.

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  |   And here’s where we left off last month. We’ve got everything handled except for the altitude.

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  |   The 7-inch lift from Bulletproof Suspension consists of fabricated spindles, tubular upper control arms, and lift coils. Bumpstop extenders, upper ball joints, and steel braided brake hoses complete the kit.

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  |   We ordered a set of Fox 2.0 Performance Series IFP smooth-body shocks for the front and 2.0 reservoirs for the rear. These shocks are loaded with all the technology of a race shock rolled into a stock-sized shock.

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  |   An order to LMC Truck filled in all the blanks, ensuring we were installing all-new parts. Our list included hubs, lower control arm bushings and brackets, and steering components. We also picked up some sleeves from ReadyLift to stiffen up the tie rods (bottom).

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  |   We pulled in to New Century Tire in Westminster, California, where Junior and his crew were ready to tackle a couple of days of hard work.

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  |   With the truck up on the lift, we took the wheels off for the first time. It was exactly what we expected: a clapped-out front end that needed a full rebuild.

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  |   Jose made quick work of the teardown, starting with the brakes, sway bar end links, and tie-rod ends. Then he loosened the upper and lower control arm bolts.

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  |   With a jack under the control arm, the upper ball joint was separated from the spindle, and the coil was popped out.

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  |   The spindle was removed from the lower ball joint, then the upper and lower control arms were removed.

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  |   We quickly amassed a pile of parts that were going in the scrap bin. In fact, the calipers and lower control arms are the only components we will be reusing.

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  |   Speaking of lower control arms, Jose had his work cut out for him. He was tasked with removing the riveted factory ball joint and bushings. He started with a disc grinder through the rivets, then switched to an air chisel.

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  |   Then he drilled through the rivets. As you can see, this was a long process.

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  |   Finally, a pointed bit on the air hammer was the final step to free the old ball joints.

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  |   Next, the factory bushings were pressed out—the old-fashioned way.

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  |   We cleaned up and painted the lowers and slid the new Moog ball joints in place.

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  |   Then we torqued down the heavy duty bolts. We liked the quality of the Moog Problem Solver products.

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  |   Next, we pressed the new bushings into the control arms. It was actually a pretty smooth operation once the old ones were removed.

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  |   At this point, our lower control arms were rebuilt and ready to go on with the new parts.

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  |   While Jose was doing the hard work, we stayed busy cleaning up the frame and inner fender. We were ready for assembly.

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  |   We set the lowers into place by sliding in the bolts, but they weren’t snugged just yet.

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  |   We set the Bulletproof uppers in place with the factory adjuster bolts. We left these loose for now, too.

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  |   Then we bolted in the Moog upper ball joint and torqued the four bolts down.

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  |   We installed the Bulletproof fabricated spindles on to the upper and lower ball joints without the spindle in place. Jose was a man with a plan.

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  |   Rather than try to pry the coil up at a heavy angle the traditional way, Jose preferred to pull the lower control arm bolts, load the coils, and slowly jack the lower control arm straight up until the bolts could be reinstalled.

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  |   This is a slower and more controlled way to get the coil installed, with less risk of the coil flying across the shop.

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  |   Once the bolts were back in place, we got out first glimpse of the 7-inch lifted suspension starting to take shape.

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  |   The Fox front shocks were next. They simply slide in place before being bolted down.

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  |   We still have the traditional setup for this model, but we’re using some of the best parts available. Once the shocks were snugged down, Jose began to tighten up all the bolts.

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  |   Then we worked our way around and double-checked our work before installing cotter keys.

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  |   For the next step, we installed the hub bolts with a little Loctite.

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  |   Then the new hub from LMC was set into the spindle.

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  |   The bolts were snugged down and torqued. We are going stop here and finish up our build next month.

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  |   Check back when be button up the front, add Atlas leaf springs in the rear, and finally install these 18-inch Fuel Wheels and 35-inch General ATX tires.

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