Truck frames are among the most crucial components of any commercial vehicle, providing the essential support and structure needed to haul heavy loads across long distances.
However, sometimes a truck frame can be too long, posing significant challenges when manoeuvring in tight spaces or negotiating sharp turns. Shortening a truck frame is essential for any truck owner wanting to customize their vehicle or improve its performance.
However, shortening a truck frame can be daunting, especially if you don’t know where to start. Fortunately, shortening a truck frame can be a manageable and rewarding project with the right tools, knowledge, and skills.
So, how to shorten a truck frame? You need to know everything about the proper steps, equipment, and factors to consider. As long as you are trying, we are here to help you with everything you need to know to start on your project.
How To Shorten A Truck Frame? – Explained with Steps
Truck frames are an important component of any heavy-duty vehicle. They provide the necessary support and stability for the truck’s engine, cab, and cargo. However, it may be necessary to shorten a truck frame for various reasons.
One of the most common reasons is to improve manoeuvrability. A shorter frame allows the truck to make tighter turns, navigate through narrow roads and park in smaller spaces.
This can be particularly useful in urban areas with crucial limited space and manoeuvrability. Shortening a truck frame can also reduce weight and improve fuel efficiency. A shorter frame means less material is used, resulting in a lighter overall weight.
This can translate into better fuel economy, which is important for companies looking to save money on their transportation costs. Additionally, shortening a truck frame can make it easier to transport certain types of cargo. Please scroll down to learn how to do it.
Step 1: Remove The Bed And Rear Suspension
Remove the bed of the truck. This can be done by loosening the bolts that hold it in place and then lifting it off the frame. Once the bed is removed, you can remove the rear suspension.
This is typically done by removing the shocks and the leaf springs that hold up the rear axle. You can now cut the frame to the desired length with the rear suspension removed. Measuring carefully and making precise cuts is important to ensure the frame is shortened evenly on both sides.
You would strip everything down and disassemble your whole truck down to the frame since that is what we will work with. Ensure your truck’s frame is lifted with reliable supports like jack stands. The jack can support the front and rear frame rails. Also, support the manual trans cross member and the cross member bolted to the rear trailing arms.
Step 2: Cut The Frame
Have your truck frame all laid out and supported. You can finally start your actual work. Mark out the lines where you’ll place your cuts to make them more accurate. If needed, you may want to keep the serial number stamped on the frame’s rails, so don’t cut over it or destroy it.
Use a reciprocating saw or angle grinder to cut the frame at the desired length. To ensure accuracy, measure the frame and mark the cut line before cutting. Instead of just the straight or an angled cut, your best bet would probably be a stepped cut. It provides a lot more strength and reliability to the cut. How long or short you want the cut to be made depends on how much you want to shorten your truck frame.
Step 3: Reinforce The Cut
Put a mark and draw a vertical line using a square. Measure how long you want your cut to be and put another mark. Measure the same length from that mark and make another mark. Now, you need to find the centre of the top to bottom of the frame rail.
Put another mark at the rear lines and the front. You then need to draw another straight line connecting all three vertical lines. Reinforce the cut area with steel plates to maintain the frame’s structural integrity. Weld the plates to the frame using a MIG welder, ensuring a strong bond.
This method will give you a well-made stair step to join together perfectly. It’s also easier to align the front and rear frame rails, and the joint is stout when completed.
Step 4: Reinstall Rear Suspension
Before cutting, do not forget to remove the brake and fuel lines if you still want your truck to work when you’re done and prevent your workshop or backyard from burning down.
Using a plasma cutter to make all your cuts might make the process much easier, but you’ll do fine with an oxy or acetylene. Also, ensure that your straight lines are properly straight when cutting.
Measure your lengths twice so you don’t need to cut more than once. To make your cuts smoother, you can use a flapper wheel or a sixty-grit grinding disc after you dress your cut areas with a grinder.
It’s better if you have someone help you pull both halves together. You should also ensure that you have at least six or more C-clamps and some larger Vise-Grips since they will greatly help you.
Step 5: Ask For Help & Ensure The Right Kind Of Welding
You should ask for help from someone with good welding experience if you are unsure of your abilities. This requires not just a good welder but also good welding knowledge. You should take your time with this since you don’t want to weld so much at once that you warp the rails. You need to do it right in the first go because there is no helping it if you mess it up.
It is also important to ensure that you have the right kind of welding rod and the right type of gas to get the job done right. For example, if you are welding aluminium, you must use a different type of rod and gas than you would for steel.
Step 6: Reinforce The Weld Areas On The Frame
In order to provide some extra strength, you need to reinforce the weld areas on the frame. It’s better to do it inside the rails so it won’t be as easily visible if someone leans down and looks under your truck. Supporting any other short welds, you may have made would be best.
One critical step in shortening a truck frame is reinstalling the rear suspension. This step involves removing the rear suspension, shortening the frame, and then reinstalling the suspension in the new, shortened position. Proper alignment and positioning are crucial to ensure the suspension functions correctly and the truck maintains stability on the road.
Additionally, it is important to ensure all bolts and fasteners are tightened to the manufacturer’s specifications to prevent any safety issues. Before reinstalling the suspension, inspecting all components for any signs of wear or damage that might affect their functionality is also a good idea. At this point, you’re almost done. Now, draw a line on all three sides of each rail and cut the ends off. Dress the welds just like you did before.
Step 7: Reinstall The Bed Onto The Frame Again
Since the forward-most pair of bed mounts isn’t needed, you can remove them. Reinstall the rear cab mounts back on the frame. Reinstall the bed onto the frame again, ensuring all bolts are tightened to the manufacturer’s specifications. Olds are tightened to the manufacturer’s specifications.
Use a torque wrench to apply the necessary torque to the bolts. Double-check that the bolts are tight and secure before using the bed. Finally, if the bed has a headboard, attach it firmly to the frame before using it.
After you finish doing that, you are done; you can take a step back and look at the result of your hard work. All remaining is for you to use the sandblaster and paint it or even powder coat it.
Step 8: Brake Lines
When you shorten a truck frame, you must properly route and connect the brake lines. It’ll ensure safe and reliable braking performance. This can involve repositioning the brake lines, adding new sections to the lines, or even installing new brake components altogether.
It’s important to consult a professional mechanic or experienced builder to install and adjust the brake lines properly to meet the specific requirements of your shortened truck frame.
By addressing the brake lines properly, you can enjoy a shorter truck frame that looks great and performs even better on the road. There are a few different ways to shorten truck brake lines. Each has its benefits and drawbacks. Here are three of the most common methods:
- Cutting the brake line with a saw-tooth blade is the most common method, and it works well for short lines without corroding or rusting. The downside is that this can be dangerous and easily tear the lines if you’re not careful.
- Use a bypass – A small hole drilled into the line near the brake drum. This allows air to escape, reducing the braking power of the line. Bypasses are usually for short lines in good condition and don’t need much braking power.
- Use clamps – Clamps are a more specialized tool to pinch the line between two plates so they can’t move. This blocks off air flow and reduces braking power, but it’s often handy on long lines.
Step 9: Drive Shaft
One important aspect of shortening a truck frame is ensuring the drive shaft is the correct length. The drive shaft connects the transmission to the differential and transfers power to the wheels. If the drive shaft is too long or too short, it can cause vibrations, damage to the vehicle, and even accidents. Shortening a truck frame-drive shaft is a fairly simple process that a qualified mechanic can do. The following steps outline the general process:
- Locate and mark the location of the shaft on the truck frame. The shaft should be as close to the truck’s centre as possible to minimize vibration.
- Remove the drive shaft from the truck by unscrewing its bolts and removing it from the frame. It is important to note the ball bearings‘ position before removing them to ensure reinstalling them in the correct sequence.
- Verify lubricating all ball bearings properly before re-installing the drive shaft into the frame. Tighten all bolts securely and check for any wobbles or vibrations.
Shortening a truck frame is a common modification many truck enthusiasts undertake to improve their vehicle’s performance. The process involves cutting the frame to the desired length, reinforcing it, and then reattaching all the components.
It’s a complex process requiring much planning, preparation, and expertise. It involves a range of techniques, such as cutting, welding, and fabricating, and we don’t recommend it for inexperienced individuals.
However, with the right tools and knowledge, it can be a very rewarding project that will result in a unique and custom truck tailored to your specific needs. Follow all safety precautions and regulations to ensure a safe and successful outcome.
It can also be a bit technical and, if not done right, can lead to many problems with the weight distribution and even your safety. Getting help from a professional workshop is better than messing things up!
Frequently Asked Questions
1.Can You Shorten A Long Bed Truck?
Ans: There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best way to shorten a bed truck will vary depending on the truck’s length, width, and weight. However, some tips that may help include removing any excess parts (such as bumper guards and side steps), lowering the truck’s centre of gravity, and using heavy-duty straps or clamps.
2.Can You Cut And Weld A Chassis?
Ans: Yes, absolutely. Chassis welding can be a very challenging and skilled job. However, with the right equipment and training, anyone can learn how to weld chassis. Here are some things to keep in mind when welding chassis:
- Always use the correct welding techniques
- Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines &
- Have a backup plan
3.How Do You Weld And Cut A Truck Frame?
Ans: Welding and cutting a truck frame is a fairly straightforward process. First, you’ll need to determine the frame dimensions you need to weld or cut. Once you have those dimensions, you can start measuring and cutting the tubing accordingly.
Next, you’ll need to prep the frame for welding or cutting by coating it with a protective coating. Finally, you’ll need to weld or cut the tubing to the frame using an appropriate welding or cutting method.
4.How Do You Shorten A Dump Truck Frame?
Ans: Shortening a dump truck frame is a delicate process that requires the right tools and expertise. You may damage or destroy the frame if you attempt to shorten it. To shorten the frame without any damage, you will need the help of a professional dump truck frame shortening company.
These companies have years of experience and know how to shorten a dump truck frame without causing unnecessary damage. They will use the latest technology and equipment to shorten the frame quickly and efficiently.
5.How Long Is A C10 Long Bed?
Ans: A C10-long bed is typically around 8 feet and 2 inches long.