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Part 1: Bringing Down the Rear with AirRide Technologies RoadGRATER System

Air Suspension has come a long way in the last several years. With more and more builders opting for bags, it was only a matter of time before somebody came along and put together complete air suspension kits that the average guy could bolt on in his backyard over the course of a weekend.

The guys at AirRide Technologies quickly realized that there were huge opportunities in this market, and decided to focus some of their air suspension expertise from hot rods and street rods to the world of custom trucks. The result of this hard work is AirRide's complete line of easy-to-install, custom-fit air suspension systems - available for just about every truck on the road.

AirRide Technologies' suspension systems are all performance tested for safety, ride, handling and reliability. That means that their systems aren't just a novelty show trick; it means you can actually drive your AirRide equipped vehicle on a day-to-day basis. Over the course of the next few issues, we'll show you exactly what it takes to put a truck on air the right way, demonstrating our installation on an S-Series pickup.

The Truck
The Chevy S-10 and GMC Sonoma have long been the choice for many custom truck builders. The reasons are quite simple. S-Series pickups are strong, affordable and reliable trucks with a vast array of customizing possibilities and a huge variety of parts available. However, one area that always seemed to be lacking was air suspension - that is until AirRide Technologies came along and once again revolutionized the market.

Before AirRide Technologies, if you wanted to put your S-Series (or any other truck for that matter) on air you had to fabricate your own system from scratch. In many cases, the results proved to be dangerous and unpredictable; leaving many builders cutting and hacking at their truck beyond the point of no return. AirRide's fully engineered systems, on the other hand, eliminate the guesswork and give you a ride that's reliable, safe and completely at your control.

Step Toward the Rear...
We'll begin this series in the most logical place to start your air suspension buildup, the rear of the truck. AirRide Technologies' revolutionary S-Series RoadGRATER 3-link wishbone suspension system consists of a C-notch, full wishbone assembly, shocks and air springs. When installed this system provides a full 7-1/2" of travel and allows the truck to lay frame with up to 20" wheels without modification. However, with a little fabrication a clever builder can tuck up to 22" rims (265/35/22) and still get the frame on the ground. Inflated to ride height (the height you'll be cruising), the RoadGRATER systems sits a full 8" below stock - yet still provides excellent ride quality.

The C-Notch
The first ingredient in the RoadGRATER system is the custom-fit, bolt-on super C-notch assembly. It's this C-notch that facilitates the huge amount of suspension travel. The heavy-duty brackets bolt to your S-Series truck's frame before you cut, and they're even contoured to fit around OEM rivets for a tight fit without the need to grind. The bolt-before-you-cut design ensures that you'll maintain proper frame alignment and actually helps improve the structural integrity of the frame.

The next innovation that makes the RoadGRATER system truly unique is the front and rear cross member system. Both the front and rear cross members bolt to the newly C-notched frame for added strength and rigidity. The cross members are also pre-fabricated with all necessary mounting points and brackets to install the air springs, shocks and the upper portion of the wishbone system.

Once the C-notch and cross members are installed, it's just a matter of bolting up the axle using the lower bars and top wishbone triangulation bracket. The lower bars fit between the front frame and the axle brackets. At this point, the axle will move up and down but remains rigid and stable in other directions.

The Next Step
With all of the main components bolted in place, the next step is to install the shocks and air springs. If all of the components have been installed properly, the shocks will easily bolt into place and the air springs will be perfectly seated on top of the billet aluminum air spring spacers. Now is also the best time to map out and route air lines to the rear bags (for more information about air management be sure to check out part three of this series).

For the final step in the installation process, a portion of the truck's bed must be cut away to facilitate the C-notch and make room for the top of the wheels. This is where skill and creativity take over, and where a lot of custom builders have fun designing new and interesting ways to cover up the hole in the bed floor.

The Continuing Saga...
Over the course of the next two issues, we'll take a look at bagging the front of your S-series truck; as well as selecting and installing the appropriate air management system.

6. The shocks are then bolted in place to the rear cross members and lower axle bar.
air bags 7. The air bags are secured to the cross member and a billet aluminum spacer attached to the lower axle bar.
cross member and gas tank
8. The front cross member is designed to facilitate the use of your stock gas tank.
C-notch assembly
9. This picture gives you a good look at the area of the bed that must be cut to facilitate the super C-notch assembly.
20 inch wheels
10. If you plan on running 20" or larger wheels, it is also necessary to remove a portion of the wheel wells as shown in this picture.

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