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Technical Twin I beams: The good, the bad and the ugly. School me

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by belair, Dec 19, 2021.

  1. belair
    Joined: Jul 10, 2006
    Posts: 8,876


    Looking for an older truck. I'm familiar with I beams and A-arms, but leery of the twin I beam trucks. I've heard the horror stories about alignment and front tire wear. I like the looks, but are they as bad as some say, are there solutions, are some years better than others, are parts available, etc? Pros and cons, please.
    nevrdun likes this.
  2. nosford
    Joined: Feb 7, 2011
    Posts: 721


    I have had several since 1970 and never had a problem with tire wear unless something was completely worn out like king pins, shocks, radius arm bushings, etc. It is like any suspension system, if it is in good shape it will drive as well as it ever did but don't expect it to drive like a 2020 truck. I put a sway bar from a f250 camper special on my F100 along with some good gas shocks and urethane bushings and it drove quite well in my opinion. Had it for 20+years. IMG_0455.JPG
  3. stuart in mn
    Joined: Nov 22, 2007
    Posts: 2,133

    stuart in mn

    I have a 1966 F-100, and have driven thousands of miles in many other twin I beam trucks over the years. You won't get sports car handling, but they work just fine.

    You are limited somewhat in lowering the truck, if that's your intention. There are dropped axles available for them from a couple sources but I haven't heard a lot of good things about them (other people may have better information.)
    belair likes this.
  4. wicarnut
    Joined: Oct 29, 2009
    Posts: 8,540


    I had a 1 ton Ford King Cab years ago, towed a racer all over Midwest with it, from my experience I can't say anything bad about the front end, from a hot rod view point, I never saw one used.
    belair likes this.

  5. I have had a few twin I-beams over the years and drive one now. As long as they are in good mechanical shape and good shocks they do a fine job, no issues. And they are tough! I have driven mine over some rough mountain roads repeatedly and they hold up very well.
    belair and Blues4U like this.
  6. finn
    Joined: Jan 25, 2006
    Posts: 991


    Drove my old Econoline 169k with no suspension issues. Was still going strong when the body succumbed to road salt.

    The internet issues are way overblown.

    They made tens of millions Ford trucks and vans with twin I beams over a fifty some year production run.
  7. fastcar1953
    Joined: Oct 23, 2009
    Posts: 2,868


    Agree with everyone else. I had a 65 f100 drove just fine. No wear on tires.
    You can cut the front springs down to lower it.
    belair and Blues4U like this.
  8. williebill
    Joined: Mar 1, 2004
    Posts: 2,956


    Never a problem with mine. Drove it over a lot of stuff exploring old junkyards, and looking for old tin on non existent roads.
    belair and Spooky like this.
  9. 2OLD2FAST
    Joined: Feb 3, 2010
    Posts: 4,069

    from illinois

    I had a '79 ford e100 LWB van. Put 140k miles , handled great no tire wear issues , used it as a hauler , tow vehicle , conversion van .
    belair and loudbang like this.
  10. onetrickpony
    Joined: Sep 21, 2010
    Posts: 548

    from Texas

    Like others have said, if it's in good condition twin I-beam works just fine. Adding a sway bay gives extra stability in cornering
    belair likes this.
  11. Tow Truck Tom
    Joined: Jul 3, 2018
    Posts: 478

    Tow Truck Tom
    from Clayton DE

    I bought a van that had rolled the odometer past the hunert mark. Let a spring and chassis shop have their way with it. Was able to abuse it for another 45 thou. Never giving any less than 'beat the clock' maneuvering. Many trips up and back private service roads. ( one in particular was so bumpy, the oil pump got starved 'til I slowed down ) Then made a new owner happy.
    belair likes this.
  12. Fabulous50's
    Joined: Nov 18, 2017
    Posts: 470

    from Maine

    My biggest complaint with then is the lack of turning radius. My last vehicle was a 2012 E250 2wheel drive. It had a terrible turning circle, as well as all the 2wd f-xxx I've had/driven.

    Never had any tire wear issues and handled any worse than their GM counterparts.
    belair likes this.
  13. razoo lew
    Joined: Apr 11, 2017
    Posts: 513

    razoo lew
    from Calgary

    I’ve had a few, never had any problems. Drove well (they were trucks!), nothing unusual in terms of wear or longevity.
    belair likes this.
  14. 6sally6
    Joined: Feb 16, 2014
    Posts: 1,921


    My father-in-law switched to Chevy after 30 years of Ford trucks.....when the twin I came out!
    He said he hated the way it 'rared-up' in the front when he put a load in the bed.(granted... he would shove 20 head of 'no.1' hogs in the bed going to market!! I have been in the truck when the front tires would lift off the ground when easing away from a stop sign!)
    Overloaded was an understatement.
    I never liked the 'no-road-feel' I got from the twin I trucks I drove but, that coulda been the type power steering Ford had at the time.
    Put me down as not a fan of..BUT...... It would NOT stop me from buying a Ford truck if a deal came along.
    das858 and belair like this.
  15. On an Auto-Cross course where time is measured in very small increments I got an idea that there are better suspensions or perhaps better driving suspensions.

    They work fine for a street driven truck. They are a pain in the ass for lifting or lowering. The Forerunner crowd (2WD) in the '80s had a specially designed trailing arm bushing to deal with the ever changing castor issue. This issue is never really noticable on a stock ride height vehicle. It is really noticable at speed on a lifted truck, highway or off road when you hit a bump it wants to get a little dodgy without the bushing. Lift kits could range from extremely high tech to altered beams. Cheap or expensive basically.

    Ford used the suspension about forever. it works fine for a truck. Not so much for anything else. I never had a problem with it in any truck I ever owned. But I am not as refined as some.
    belair likes this.
  16. Marty Strode
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 6,840

    Marty Strode

    I have been driving this one (1965) for almost 49 years, the king pins are getting loose, replaced once, about 220,000 miles ago. When everything is up to snuff, it drives great, and the 390 hauls it down the road ! IMG_0493.JPG
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2021
  17. Joe Travers
    Joined: Mar 21, 2021
    Posts: 696

    Joe Travers
    from Louisiana

    I've owned a LOT of twin-beam Fords and never had a problem with any of them. Mind you, I used them all as trucks and vans, not custom street rides. Do have my eye on a '64 styleside for such a move if the owner comes down on price. Nothing irks me more than a guy trying to sell a fancy set of wheels and tires on a beat roller (esp. when I don't like said wheels or tires). o_O

    belair likes this.
  18. As designed and unmolested, the toughest front end ever put under a 1/2T truck IMO. Two flaws IMO; one is bump steer and that can be easily fixed with stiff front shocks, or if you do any high-speed off-roading, a sway bar. You'll break shocks/shock mounts with stiff shocks in that application. Two, front end alignments. The early versions needed the axles bent for camber adjustments, not many shops can do that as it takes special fixturing. Find a shop that services bigger trucks. But once it's right, you shouldn't have to ever touch it again as long as you grease everything once in a while and don't try to see how many school buses you can jump over...

    I used to own a '68 and routinely got 40K miles out of 6 ply nylon truck tires. Depending on your use, tire rotation will address any tire wear issues. At 250K when the motor finally expired, the front end had been trouble-free the whole time.
    belair likes this.
  20. BamaMav
    Joined: Jun 19, 2011
    Posts: 5,592

    from Berry, AL

    Never really had a problem out of the ones I've owned other than having to replace the strut rod rubbers.
    belair and anthony myrick like this.
  21. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 20,279


    I have only heard a few folks complain about tire wear.

    Close inspection revealed high-mileage trucks, that appeared to have had little or no maintenance performed on them.

    None were in correct alignment, either.
    Boneyard51, anthony myrick and belair like this.
  22. If we can't discuss MII front ends, we shouldn't be able to discuss twin I-beams.
    Boneyard51 likes this.
  23. We can't discuss a suspension that was introduced in 1965? That's with in the H.A.M.B rules

    The Mustang II wasn't introduced until 1974 well outside the H.A.M.B. rules.

    Boneyard51, Baumi, KUNFEWZYUN and 7 others like this.
  24. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 31,069


    They can be a bit hard on tires if you don't rotate the tires at the prescribed mileage but as the others said, a few simple changes seem to help the driving. I'd say the main issue is that a lot of guys run what you southern boys call "Grips" on the back and don't rotate tires and that causes the fronts to wear out pretty fast but that happens on any two wheel drive you run traction tires on the rear all the time.

    I'd say that it is like anything else automotive, you either embrace it or you find things to fuss about on it.
  25. Just trying to understand the rules!!!!
    Boneyard51 likes this.
  26. Replaced the straight axle in my 64 f100 with a 65 twin I beam ,drives like a Cadillac never a problem with tire wear .
    I have had 6 ford trucks and Van's over the years and twin I beam never an issue . 20181008_112520.jpg
  27. I’ve. never had an issue. Probably owned half a dozen of em.
    the alignment is pricey. Most shops don’t have the equipment.
    Lowering? Gets costly compared to GM trucks.
    Nostalgia Sids is dropping the stock beams.
    I’m not a fan of the steering fix.
    Boneyard51, guthriesmith and F-ONE like this.
  28. Fabricated beams are out there.
    D4B4973C-F8EE-4909-AE99-10A7B3826E64.jpeg 4461190F-B8A4-4304-AC4C-CA01AED9FED4.jpeg 6B1D9778-B769-4A78-B1F2-9E37459D8D8D.jpeg
  29. Mine is rebuilt with discs.
    Drives great. Stops great.
    Used Ford Explorer front springs. About 1.5-2 inch drop. Progressive rate springs. Love em. Had it aligned after the spring install. Cost $125.
    The springs were under $100 from the chain parts store
    Boneyard51 and belair like this.
  30. dwollam
    Joined: Oct 22, 2012
    Posts: 1,781


    Dad always added a second shock to each side. Was pretty simple, mostly just adding the lower brackets as the top was already there. Tamed the front end very well.

    Boneyard51 and belair like this.

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