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A 6" lift with dual shocks

Naasau

Well-Known Member
Joined
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Messages
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City, State
Denver Colorado
Year, Model & Trim Level
'93 Explorer XLT
So, Here's how I slapped together the Beast's lift, for the second time:

Including, Ye of the olde Coil buckets and Dual Shocks

Backstory:
So a while back I decided that using Gas Charged Shocks up front with my crappy really stiff, orange(wtf?) lift springs was just not working; as I was getting pummeled to death on every bump. Since I had been driving around with it like that for almost two years, I finally decided to stop being lazy and fix my 6" lift now that I had some experience with fabrications.

I know, I know, what all was wrong with the first lift? Well, just about everything: I got it for about $100 off of a member of the forum who had salvaged his stuff off of his X after it burned. :( It consisted of a set of Skyjacker Extended radius arms :thumbsup:, some Rough country drop brackets :thumbsdown:, and lift coils from god knows where. The main issues with this stuff: The drop brackets didn't drop the TTB to match the coils, the coils were wwwaaaayyyy too stiff, and the radius arms didn't come with any way to attach them to the frame rails, and the extended brake lines had some serious corrosion issues.

Not really knowing what I was doing, I slapped it together and fabbed up the missing parts, and within a year or so I got numerous issues for my trouble, including a lovely hole punched in my front diff. I found that the moral of the story is that buying cheap doesn't save you any money.

Now I was drooling over ThatFabGuy's Experiments and decided that I really liked the look of James Duff's Coil seat buckets. They would solve so many problems, without the need of manufacturing/fitting twin F-250 shock towers... :rolleyes: The only problem with this addition was that I really really liked my skyjacker radius arms even if they were smashing up the body tubes of my shocks, and I wanted to keep them.

So... What I wanted was JD Coil seats with their shiny dual shock mounts that brought the critters up and out away from the frame rails, new drop brackets, a set of Skyjacker Coils rated at 400lbs/in and a tranny crossmember/radius arm bracket assembly that didn't suck. :Rolleyes:

So, here's how it went:
First, I ordered a set of these JD Buckets:
20100616163127.jpg


And a set of Skyjacker Drop brackets (I set the ones that I took off the Beast beside for comparison):
20100713153040.jpg


20100713190134.jpg


I got together a few of the necessary tools, including these guys, and a case of good beer:
20100616190402.jpg


Interestingly, I found that drilling more holes in the frame and engine cross-member was easier than pounding out all those friggin rivets, which Seemed opposite from what it was the first time I did worked on the front end.

After I got the pivot brackets, coil buckets and and coils in place, I Finally decided to deal with the hard part... How the hell was I going to get the dual shocks attached? Especially when I didn't even have the shocks, or any idea of how the JD Radius arm accepted them?

Here's where the beer came in. I sat down and stared at what I had so far, and started burning through my beverages.

….

…....


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…..


I kept getting distracted.... I HATE those brakes... damnit... deal with it later.... FOCUS! Shocks.... Hm.....

Then, finally, after many hours, it came to me. I decided that copying the upper mount, with its really long bolt, spacers, and washer assembly was probably the easiest way to go, and without using gas charged shocks, the assembly wouldn't be that hard either. Okay, now what? WHERE should it go?

Well, you all can see from the pics that the other shock mount allowed enough flex to have the shock tube impact the upper edge of the RA, and that was bad; so I decided that I wanted the bolt even with that upper weld line.

Now that I had the basic idea, I wanted to insure that there would be no conflicts or binding issues between the shocks due to the odd motion of the Radius Arms as they traveled throughout their cycle. So, I drew up some ideas, then I sat back down and opened another beer. Eventually, I decided that the best way to avoid conflicts was to design it so that the lower bolt and associated mounting structures would be perfectly 'in phase' with the upper mount when the RA was at estimated full compression, that was the lower bolt would always be at a slight outward point on the arc of motion from the upper, and there would be only nominal lateral motion when the two points were compared.

Awesome! Now that I had a plan, it was time to bust out the my trusty plumb-bob, tape measure and band saw and get to work. After more hours taking measurements and crunching numbers than I would really care to admit, I came up with these little guys:
img20100905140152.jpg


img20100905140109.jpg


img20100905140102.jpg


For my next trick, I had to get these guys perfectly parallel, and perfectly in line with the upper plates, so that the two bolts would be perfectly in phase. I got this by removing the spring, and using fancy mathematics to guess the point of max stuff as limited by the 33”'s that I didn't have yet. Then I measured the distance between the two upper plates, and cut a piece of pipe to match, then used the lathe to perfectly square up the ends. That way I could guarantee that the two plates were parallel, the distance was exact, and with a derivative of the plumb line idea, that the bolts were perfectly in line vertically. Now comes the PITA welding adventure. I learned that for strength, 'climbing' welds that grab material from both surfaces work best, and if you can get the timing right, it'll be fast, easy, and bubble free. I had to practice so that I didn't completely ###### it up, and it still only came out looking serviceable, not excellent.

I know that I had some close-ups of it around here somewhere, but I can't find any. (thankfully)

So in the end the whole assembly came out really nice! I even got real skyjacker brake lines!
img20110310171651.jpg


img20110624125555.jpg

By naasau at 2012-04-18
 



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Ah HA! I found a pic of the lower tabs, it was taken a few months later when I did the whole 95-97 knuckle out swap for the shiny brakes!



Still not a perfect pic, but I'll find some... someday.
 






Sorry Wood.

Damnit! I forgot to add my observations like Wood requested. Bah!

Caveat: Unfortunately, I didn't do the full empirical study that ought to be done with something like this; i.e. only changing one variable at a time, and testing them individually, blah blah blah. But... I'm lazy so any observations that I make will be slanted and incomplete.

So, here goes: The difference was like night and day! I don't know if it was the difference in springs, the loss of the gas charge, the addition of the really awesome JD 70/30 shocks (x4), or some combo therein, but DAMN! She rides better than a new caddy, stiff enough that there is minimal body roll in the high speed turns, but soaks up big pot holes and speed bumps like they aren't even there. It is amazing! For her handling, I think that there is no better upgrade for the front.

Now, I say this not only comparing the previous lifted setup, but also comparing it to the way she handled when I first got her, bone stock, with every bit of maintenance done. She looked and acted like she had just rolled out of the factory, even though she had almost 200k miles on her.
 






Way to go! That looks great!! Hows the ride now?
 






So Great! I didn't realize just how much I hated those tires that were on her either. I recently switched up to some BFG m/T KM2;s and with a good alignment (I had to do it myself... bleh), now she drives better than new!

I am also inclined to believe that swapping out the knuckles (so 4 new ball joints and all new rotors/bearings/races) probably helped her feel better too. :D
 






Hey buddy, nice write up. Maybe you can do one for the alignment you did too? Ha ha... I'm going to be lifting mine so I will have to do a home alignment too.

How do you like the new brakes? Do the twin piston haul it down quicker?

You're on the list!
 






I'm sure that there are any number of WAY more qualified people running around that have done alignment threads already... I hope... if not, then I'll take a stab at it, but expect no miracles.

As for the dual piston brakes:
1. They are soooo much easier to maintain, no chatter, no slipping and they come off and on so much easier that I doubt you'll even believe it.
2. Even with crappy drum brakes on the back and the stock master cylinder that I'm sure is on it's last leg, I now have amazing braking power; It is even, smooth, no pulling, no hesitation, and if I stomp it, it'll lock up my 33's when I'm doing 70 on the highway. (Yes, I had to test it... and yes, I was very careful)
 












So Epic! Still drooling...!!!
 






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