|WCOR IFS Breakage
|I made this small page to answer some of the questions about what
happened to my short lived WCOR IFS kit.
|For detailed information on this kit and the install, click HERE.
|I purchased this kit used in early 2002 from the original owner. He purchased it
sometime in 1999 from West Coast Off Road. They are now out of business for
unknown reasons, but I've been told it was a small operation that the owner did as a
second job. As I understand, this kit was a basic copy of an early ATS Racing kit and
was designed to be a slightly cheaper alternative to ATS. But nonetheless, this kit
was still almost $2000 brand new.
Replacing all four A-arms and both axles with longer, stronger (supposedly) units, the
kit lifted the front end about 2" (not including any additional lift provided by cranking
up the torsion bars) and almost tripled the available front wheel travel. Install was
fairly easy and comperable to installing a typical IFS 4" lift. But the benefits were
dramatic. The truck handled like a dream and front IFS travel off road was
|I never dreamed I would have any major breakage with this kit. I was told that a
broken CV joint was a possibility as was a broken torsion bar mount. The former,
easy to fix or at least drive out in 2WD. The latter was fixable, if one just kept a
spare mount with them. Other than that, it should have been at least as strong a
stock set up. The axles and A-arms were made of chromoly which was suppose to
make them extremely strong. The kit proved to be very strong and was a real joy to
But all that changed on a late spring day, 2002, while I was out off roading. I was
about 60 miles east of Salem, Oregon in the National Forest. I had just driven up a
remote switchback trail that was extremely steep and littered with very deep
waterbars. In a few short miles, I had climbed over 2500 feet of hieght, reaching an
altitude of approximately 4000 feet.
When I reached the top, I ran into a very large snow drift, which meant I had to turn
around and head back down. As I began to turn around, I heard a very loud bang! I
had prior problems with the tire catching the fender at full compression, so I had
assumed, the tire just caught the fender then released it, making the noise. But as I
straightened out, I noticed that the driver's side was leaning low. Uh-Oh, I thought, I
broke a torsion bar mount. Sure enough, outside inspection revealed that the
driver's side was sitting on the lower bumperstops and the tire was jammed up into
the fender. I had no driver's side suspension left. I was kicking myself, because I
had four torsion bar mounts sitting at home on A-arms. I had always planned to pull
at least one off and keep it with me, but I never got around too it.
However, after jacking up the front end with my Hi-lift, and inspecting the torsion bar
mount, I found it was intact. Perplexed, I studied the suspension a little closer. To
my shock and horror, the situation was far worse than even a broken torsion bar
mount. The driver's side upper A-arm had snapped in two. I was dead in the water.
Standing there, miles from anywhere, 4000 feet in the air and about 4 miles of
extremely rough and steep road between me and anything paved, I began to wonder
what the hell I was going to do. It was a Saturday evening and darkness wasn't far
away. My cell phone didn't work, but I always had the Ham radio if I truely needed
help. But I was more concerned about how I was going to get my pride and joy out of
the woods At first, I thought that the truck would not be drivable at all. With the
A-arm snapped in two on side side, there was only half of the upper A-arm holding the
tire upright. It supported the truck, but I figured it too would snap under the slightest
stress. But faced with the unlikihood that a tow truck could or would make it up that
road, I had few options. I decided to try to drive it out.
I first removed the fender, which the tire was jammed into. Secondly, I unlocked the
hubs and intended only to use the rear emergency break to keep as much stress off
of the front end as possible. With the lowering of the front, I had a mear few inches
of ground clearance up front. Not much more than the average car. And no
suspension travel on the driver's side. It was all downhill to pavement, but I had to
cross dozens of waterbars, most of which were one foot deep. I also had to traverse
switchbacks. I quickly found out, my turning radius was about 20% of normal,
because the tire was driven so deeply into the firewall.
As I began to ease down the hill in 4 wheel low, I was happy that my tire did not
immediately fall off. Approaching the first water bar, I slowly eased into the
shallowest part I could find, all the while using only my E-brake to stop. The tire
scraped moaned for mercy and the front crossmember dug into the ground, but I
made it through. I just kept crawling down the hill, 1st gear low, with the hubs
unlocked. When I hit the first switchback, I had to constantly back up, turn a little,
back up, and turn some more, until I made the complete turn. What took me about
10 minutes to drive up, took me well over an hour to drive back down, but I made it to
This didn't end my problems. I was still in a very remote area on rough, steep, single
lane, switchback paved logging road. I was several more miles from the main 2 lane
paved road in the area. When I reached that road, I stopped and fully assessed the
situation. I figured, worse case, a tow truck, could reach me here.
After the success of driving over a 4 wheel drive required trail in 2WD with a broken
suspension, the pavement made things look real easy. I thought that I could make it
at least to the main highway about 15 miles away. I kept my speed down to about 20
mph, because I knew, that any moment, the other side of the A-arm could seperate
from the frame, causing my wheel to simply fall off of the truck.
After another hour of slow white knuckle driving, I made it to the junction at Hwy 22,
the main highway through the area. I was near a Forest Service station, which was
closed for the weekend, so parked in the parking lot to again assess the situation. I
was debating attempting to drive the 80 miles back to my house in Gresham. But
one look revealed I wasn't going anywhere. The bushing on the side that remained
attached to the frame was completely destroyed. The side of the A-arm still attached
was riding loose inside the mounting bolt and would surely break off at any moment.
It time to call a tow truck.
Not wanting to pay the exorbant tow bill I expected to be charged to go all the way
back to Gresham, I tried to explore other options, but that late in the day, none of my
friends or family was able to get access to a trailer or tow dolly. So, I called for a tow.
My parents live in McMinnville, which was only about 50 miles away. To save
money on the tow bill, I had the truck towed there instead of to my house, which
would have been twice the cost. This decision would later pay off big time for other
After arriving at my parents that night and examining the truck, I could see that the
breakage was pretty dramatic. The A-arm chromoly tube had snapped, but not
cleanly. It was a jagged brake, indicating to me a large crack had developed prior.
My Dad is a professional welder and metal worker, who works on all kinds of metals
including exotic metals, to build large tanks for the government and industry. He
knows his stuff. He thought that the A-arm might be repairable, but pointed out the
inherant flaw in the design. A hole was drilled in the tube to install the torsion bar
bolt. This dramaticly weakened the tube and no real reinforcement was designed to
compensate for that. Current A-arm kits solve this problem with a different design,
but the WCOR kit failed to fix this issue.
My Dad suggested that it might be fixable and then beefed up, but there would no
garrantee that such a catastrophic breakage could not happen again. Most of my 4
wheeling is in very remote areas on very rough roads. Far more remote than where
this breakage occured. I could not afford such breakage again. I had considered
that the weeks prior to this breakage, I was in far eastern Oregon in some very
remote areas. Had it broken there, I have no idea what I would have done. The tow
bill over a distance of easily 500 miles, would have enormous. So, I decided to dump
the kit once and for all and not attempt to repair it.
This left me with several options. Buy a different A-arm kit, such as from ATS,
Rockstomper or Chaos Fab, and install that one. Reinstall my old IFS system or do a
solid axle conversion. I did not want to go back to the stock IFS, after experiencing
the advantages of so much greater wheel travel. I did consider going with one of the
A-arm kits, but I knew I wouldn't be able use my WCOR axles. These axles were
very high quailty pieces, but were only 2" longer than stock. Most of the current kits
required 3" longer axles. In the end, I decided that this would be the perfect
oppertunity to do a solid axle conversion. The truck was in my Dad's driveway and
he had all the necessary welding and cutting equipment to do the job as well as the
skills. Fortunately, despite the complication of tackling such a project and the
prospect that the truck would be taking up driveway space for at least a month, my
Dad agreed to help with the swap. His help, later turned out to be invaluable.
I decided, no more IFS. No more breakage like this. I was going to go all out and
install the best off road system I could afford. A solid front axle. In the end, it was
the right decision. When looking for simplicity and ulimate in strength, a solid front
axle cannot be beat. The added articulation is just icing on the cake.
Would I discourage anyone from modifying the IFS system for use with a kit similier
to the WCOR IFS kit. Absolutely not! This kit worked wonders both on and off road.
It was mostly bolt on and easy to install. I consider these kits to be a viable
alternative to the complicated solid axle conversion, when used for up to moderate off
roading and especially high speed off roading, such as sand dune and desert racing.
Fortunately, most of the current kits are of far better quality than this old WCOR kit.
Most of the parts from this kit and the solid axle swap have been salvaged and sold.
However, the WCOR A-arms, which are of little value, remain in my garage,
probably forever, only to rust away. A sad testimate, to what should have been one
very awesome IFS kit.
One of old WCOR A-arms were actually put to good use recently. A gentleman who
was reading my site wrote me to tell me that had also experienced the exact same
breakage I had on his WCOR IFS A-arm kit. Since WCOR is long out of business,
and not all that many kits were sold, finding replacement parts is impossible.
Fortunately, the oppisite side A-arm broke. This allowed me to ship off my
remaining good A-arm to him, thus giving him a full set again. Hopefully, he will
be able to have both WCOR A-arms strengthened so they might provide many more
years of service. The only parts I have left of the kit are the 2 lower A-arms. Pretty
much little more than scrap metal at this point.
For more information on my solid axle swap, click HERE.
|The front fender removed, the
tire was jammed against the
fire wall. No front suspension
|The broken A-arm. Note how
the A-arm snapped in two near
the torsion bar mount.
|The right front suspension with
no travel left. Sitting on the
lower lower bumpstops.
|The tow. While quite
expensive, it was still half as
much to tow it to my parent's
house, rathar than my own. It
was this fatefull decision that
allowed me to convert to SAS
later on, so easily.