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How do you raise the suspension 4 on an 1985 S-10 extended cab Chevy without a lift kit?

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10/20/2011

This is a surprisingly complex question with many different routes. My daily driver is a 1991 S10 Extended Cab. This is kind of stupid, but I started looking for lift kits after the vacuum switch on top of my transfer case went bad. This switch supplies vacuum to the 4wd actuator that connects the right axle shaft, and I really didn't want to drop my transfer case to replace a 10 dollar switch. I may have given you a lot of unnecessary information because I'm not sure if your truck is 4wd. Anyway, I started out at my local U-pull it, and was walking around looking at jeeps and the ways they utilize the axles and suspension. I was planning on putting larger tires and ended up deciding on either 33's or 35's and the S10 axles are far to weak for the lever effect those tires will place on them. I wanted a width that was as close to the same as possible maybe a tad bigger in a Dana 44 package or similar. I happened to come across a 1984 Grand Wagoneer, which is Jeep's full size luxury model. It had the driver side pumpkin up front so i knew the front drive shaft would bolt right up as it used the same 1310 u-joint. This particular Grand Wagoneer had a Dana 44 front and an AMC 20 for the rear, which is an axle that creates a lot of debate. However, I knew that the full size Waggys had one-piece 6-lug axles, thicker tubes than the weak AMC 20 found on Wranglers. I brought the two axles home complete brake to brake with all hoses. My original plans were to just swap in the rear axle, which involved buying stainless steel braided rear brake lines at the correct lengths with the correct universal fittings. The jeep and s10 use slightly different fittings. I can't remember if one of them was metric or if they were just different sizes, but I will look later tonight. Now I may be getting way beyond what you want to do... I don't really know, but replacing the front IFS (Independent front suspension) with a solid axle (unless you are wanting to race across the desert) opens up a large number of options. It makes it fairly easy to convert 2wd to 4wd, it allows for much greater articulation, and puts common parts on the hard to upgrade s10. I won't go into any more details until I know exactly what you want to achieve and the use of this s10. Adding to that though, I set my front Dana 44 on my s10 with 12" travel dual rate coil overs and the back sprung over and I love it and I can just about go anywhere without worrying about breaking things. There are really no easy ways to lift the front of the s10. The Trailmaster 5" lift kit will run about 2500 i believe and it requires a lot of work; whereas, when I first swapped my axle from the waggy, I paid right at 2000 and that included the tires. That was when I used leaf springs up front, and I performed all the fab work, minus the welding which needs to be perfect so someone doesn't die. I started typing too much and lost my train of thought, but feel free to ask any questions, and I will do my best to answer them.