Hardbody Front Bags

Started working on the front air bags today. Last week I removed the torsion bars while working on the frame as they are not needed when bagged.

First step was to remove everything on one side. I tend to only work on one side at a time when possible incase I need something as a reference.

I am using some Chad Chris control arms and are supposed to lay frame without the use of drop spindles. I’m typically a big fan of drop spindles but Ben Osborn parts supply suggested these. They are very similar to the stock lowers.

right front suspension on nissan d21
spindle and brake parts removed

The picture above shows the new upper and lower control arms. Right now all the stock braces for the bumps stops are in the way. While waiting for upper and lower ball joints to arrive I removed all that extra metal. I know from the Mazda that it needs to go to make room for the bag.

hardbody bump stops removed
bump stops removed
hardbody tire with camber
tire above frame

Before welding anything you need to mock everything up to check travel and bag position. Well, within seconds I knew I did not like the negative camber I was seeing. I proceeded to mockup bag placement even though I suspected an issue.

hardbody bag mockup
bag mockup

I have a few used bags laying around that come in handy for mockup. I know my real bags will be a little taller when compressed so I leave a little extra room. I simply tack the upper bracket in place allowing me to move the suspension up and down, and side to side to make sure everything is clearing as it should.

I stopped at this point and reached out to Facebook for some advice on the negative camber. Within a couple hours the Chad the guy who designed the control arms was found and explained that drop spindles are required with these. Not a big deal as I already expected this to be the cause of the negative camber.

After ordering beltech drop spindles I moved on to cleaning up the other side.

D21 pie cut engine cradle
pie cut cradle

I pie cut the engine cradle and hammered the sides in to allow extra clearance for the lower control arm.

I should have taken a another picture of the mock up with the drop spindles. Once they arrived I installed one allowing me to check the bag placement. The spindle allowed me to change the angle of the bag mount but I left it the same distance up. Since it was tacked in place I simple bent it down ward about 1″. Then started welding it in place.

front bag bracket
front bag bracket

When making your outer bracket brace make sure you pay close attention to the size of the bag. If I were to make the brace sit at more of a 90 degree angle the bag would rub. I checked this placement several times with a large bag deflated and zip tied in its compressed state.

hradbody plated cross member
plated crossmember

I plated in the area I cut out for looks. Structurally, you probably don’t need this welded closed but I want it to look finished. Your cuts would certainly need welded as they could tear under stress. The plated cap also removes any sharpe edges that might damage a bag.

driver side bag clearance
Driver side pie cut
hardbody bag bracket
finished right front bracket
hardbody left front bag bracket.
finished left front bracket

All the pink paper laying on the floor is left over scrap from making my templates. Whenever, I work with metal I use heavy paper to cut into the proper shapes. I then transfer the shapes to metal. I find it way easier then just guessing.

At this point I could reassemble the front suspension and call it complete. Your truck will lay frame and drive fine. I decided to remove the front strut rods and replace them with a more traditional style control arm. I noticed that they site lower then my frame after the body drop. I will go over those in my next post once they arrive.

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Gordon French

Gordon French was born in Wyoming in 1978. He is married to Tiffany French. He has two children Halie and Zac. His first passion of course family with cars coming in a very close second.

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