Here's the full Pro-Line kit spread out. As you can see, it has everything you'll need for the swap. We opted to install the optional MIP CVDs that are also displayed in the picture.
1. For starters
We'll need to gain access to the suspension components. Start by removing the wheels, shocks and body mounts. You'll also need to remove the front and rear bumper, but do so by unscrewing the bumper bracket from the bulkhead. Remove the bumper brackets to gain access to the upper hinge pins; this is a good time to detach the steering tie-rod from the steering knuckle and rear knuckle.
2. Remove the stock suspension
Start with the shock towers, which are held to the bulkheads with four screws; simply remove the screws and the shock tower. At this point, strip the truck of its original suspension arms by unscrewing the screw-type hinge pins. Take off the upper and lower screw pins and pull the suspension assembly out of the truck.
CVDs or telescoping axles?
The Pro-Line kit extends the suspension by 1/2 inch on each side. This means that the slider axles slide out 1/2 inch, and that has some Maxxers concerned. Here's the real deal. If you run the stock engine with only minor modifications, such as an aftermarket tuned pipe, there's nothing to worry about; the stock axles will hold up just fine. But if you have installed an aftermarket .15 engine that has more power, then you should seriously consider buying the MIP CVDs, as the stock axles will probably twist under the load. If you decide to use a .21 conversion, do yourself a favor and pick up the optional CVDs
3. Remove the knuckles
The steering knuckles and rear knuckles with the bearings, axles and pivot balls need to be transferred to the new Pro-Line arms. At one end of the knuckle is a large hex bolt; this is the ball retainer, and it doesn't need to be removed. Look deeper inside the knuckle, and you'll notice the pivot ball, which can be unscrewed with a 2.5mm Allen wrench. Keep track of which knuckle came from which corner of the truck; they are identical, but it's a good idea to keep them in their original locations so the male and female axle halves continue to wear in their original pairings. (If you're upgrading to MIP CVDs, you don't have to worry about that.) It's also a good idea to make a note of how many threads of the pillow-ball screw are exposed from the end of the arm. You'll use that reference when you reinstall the pillow balls in their new arms.
4. Transfer the knuckles
Install the steering knuckles and rear knuckles on the new Pro-Line arms. Remember the note you made about the number of exposed threads? When you screw the pillow balls into place, leave the same number of threads exposed. This will get you very close to your original camber settings.
5. Tie-rod swap
Before you reinstall the suspension, you'll need to swap out the steering tie rods and rear toe links. Remove them from the steering bar in the front and the bulkheads in the rear. You also need to transfer the plastic ball ends to the new tie rods supplied in the Pro-Line kit. Note that two of the tie rods are longer than the other two; the long rods go in the rear and the shorties go up front. You will also want to remember to install the outer rod on the bottom of the knuckles, or you will wind up with a lot of bump-steer.
6. Install the new suspension setup
It's time to rehinge the suspension. Slide the drive axles together first, as it's impossible to slide them together after the suspension arms have been hinged into place. Position the upper arm and slide the screw pin in, and follow with the lower arm and pin; screw the pins in until they are snug. Now bolt the outer ball ends onto the tie rods to the knuckles. I opted to swap the kit-included screw pins for E-clip-type titanium hinge pins from Traxxas. This is something you might want to consider, as the titanium pins are much stronger and won't bend in a hard crash.
Like on a full-size car, when you alter the suspension you should have the suspension, and steering aligned. The least expensive way to set camber is with a plastic camber gauge such as the one from RPM. If you have to have the primo gear, Hudy offers a full setup station to precisely tune your truck. Set both the front and rear camber to either 0 or -1 degree of camber. If you counted threads, as suggested in step 4, the settings should already be pretty close.
Tuning the Pro-Line MAXX® Suspension
Given the 1-inch increase in track width with the stock offset wheels and the lowered ride height, you may wonder if the addition of the Pro-Line kit requires tuning the shocks, such as spring and oil changes. The new geometry actually improves the stock spring and shock-damping rates, and the three locations on top and on the bottom allow you to fine-tune the setup for your needs. We left the shocks in the center of the arms and towers so that we'd have the option of standing up or laying down the shocks. The in-the-middle setup seemed best, so we left it alone.
7. Finish the assembly
Pro-Line's new shock tower is bolted right onto the bulkheads in place of the stock towers. After you've installed the new towers, reinstall all the parts you took off in step 1: shocks, bumpers and wheels.
Pro-Line's MAXX® Performance Suspension Kit definitely improves the driveability of an already great-handling truck. But it's not only an improvement in handling, but also in durability. With the kit's alterations, the truck's suspension arms and shock towers are more rigid and can take a lot of abuse. The titanium turnbuckles are much stronger than the stock steel units, and the optional MIP CVDs are not subject to twisting as the stock sliders are.
From a lot of different angles, the Pro-Line MAXX® Suspension upgrade is well worth the money.
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