Classic Performance Products 378 E Orangethorpe Ave., Placentia CA 92870

Hey, down in front! Now it's easier than ever for '53-56 F-100 owners to heed that request, thanks to new dropped axles available from Mid Fifty F-100 Parts.
These before-and-after photos show what a difference the swap can make.

Takin' the Low Road
Putting an F-100 in the Weeds Without IFS

By Damon Lee Photography: Damon Lee

Stance and attitude go hand in hand when you're talking about hot rod pickups. Or, put another way, nothing says "farm truck" like an F-100 with its nose in the air and a 6-inch gap between the fender and top of the tire!

Achieving that perfect nose-down stance has been a quest for Effie owners ever since the first '53s rolled down the assembly line. Through the years rodders have used just about any means available to get that desired look, from tweaked springs and stretched axles to all manner of frame alterations and IFS conversions. You'd have thought that a simpler solution would have come along by now, and as a matter of fact, it has.

We first got a peek at the new dropped axle available from CPP last year at the F-100 Supernationals. Right away we could tell it was a home-run product. After all, who could argue with the idea of lowering your '53-56 F-100 3 or 4 inches simply by swapping axles? And this wasn't some cobbled-together experiment of a part, either. With a 2-inch seamless tubular steel center, CNC- machined billet steel ends, and laser-cut spring pads, it appeared to be a stout piece that was engineered to do the job properly. Home run, indeed!

The installation we're showing you here took place at Classic Performance Products with Jim Ries' '56 F-100 acting as the guinea pig. CPP supplied 2-inch dropped springs, as well as the 3-inch axle, making for a pretty substantial drop. The springs also move the axle 1 1/2 inches forward to better center the wheels in the fenders. In addition to the lowering, the F-100 was treated to a CPP disc brake kit, new shocks, new shock mounts, plus fresh bushings and hardware; pretty much a total frontal rehab.

For the most part, swapping axles is a fairly simple remove-and-replace procedure that can be accomplished using basic tools (though more extreme measures may be needed to disassemble the crusty old stuff). So with the formalities out of the way, let's watch Alan Crouse put this Effie's nose where it belongs--in the dirt!

Here's a look at the stock front underpinnings. Just your basic, original, worn-out Ford stuff. Taking it all apart was a pretty straightforward endeavor, so we won't bore you with the details.



Here are the primary parts that came from CPP, including the dropped axle and a new pair of leaf springs designed to provide an additional 2 inches of lowering.

The axle is a fabricated piece made from a 2-inch tubular steel center section and CNC-machined steel ends. The ends actually slip inside the tube several inches so they can be fish-welded, in addition to being welded at the joint. The spring pads are laser cut and CNC-bent. A comparison of the new and old axles shows the height difference between the two. In addition to their lower arch, these leaf springs are available with repositioned locator pins to move the axle 1 1/2 inches forward, which centers the wheels in the fender openings.
Alan cleaned up the frame rails and installed new bushings and hardware in the spring hangers before installing the springs. These replacement parts are available from CPP. The new axle bolted up without incident using fresh U-bolts and shock plates.
New kingpins and bushings were used when installing the spindles. These parts are also readily available through companies like CPP. Alan made sure to align the notch in the kingpin with the location of the lock pin. The CPP disc brake assembly is basically a bolt-on affair that begins with the caliper brackets...
...then moves on to the installation of bearings and rotors. A machined spacer is first driven on to the spindle to ensure proper fit. Rotors are available with either Chevy or Ford bolt patterns. Fresh calipers and pads completed the brake portion of the install.
With the spindles located higher (due to the dropped axle), compensation is needed to link the tie rod to the steering arms. Several styles of tie rod end spacers are available, and CPP just introduced these tie rod ends with longer shafts that will also do the trick. A heavy-duty CPP tie rod was also used. The original shock mounts were trashed, so Alan got creative, dug into the CPP parts bin, and came up with some repo Chevy-style mounts that he thought would work.
Two holes in the frame actually lined up with each mount, so Alan just drilled a third to finish it off. The mount hangs below the frame slightly, but could easily be trimmed off for a cleaner appearance. New shocks from CPP bolted right up. Here's a look at the driver's side with everything assembled. Naturally, it looks great since everything is shiny and new; it'll be even more impressive once the truck is on its wheels again.
To be fair, our test truck will be gaining a little lower attitude from the wheel-and-tire combo. The original rollers measured in at 28 inches overall diameter, while the new ones were a little smaller at about 26.5 inches. The tape tells the tale. With sheetmetal back in place, ground-to-wheelwell measurements went from 30.5 inches to about 25.5 inches--or a drop of about 5 inches. Granted, some of that came from the tire-and-wheel combo, but remember, leaf springs tend to settle a little after a few hundred miles of driving. We think the stance is right on target, especially considering that it's achieved with bolt-on parts.