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torsion twist/shackle lift and trimming how to


Explorer Addict
March 23, 2011
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City, State
Bay Area CA
Year, Model & Trim Level
03 sport trac XLT
this is my write up on how to do a torsion twist/shackle lift on an 01-05 SPORT TRAC and how to trim your wheel wells so that you can fit some serious meats on your wheels. i wanted to get some 33"s on my 15" wheels but my 2003 ST was sitting stock height. i had some 30" mud tires but i was looking for a bit more clearance and to fill in my wheel wells a bit more. now the general rule of thumb with our X's is that you can get away with 31" tires without having to perform a lift, but after that, you will need to do at least a TT/shackle lift to fit anything bigger. for my money, unless you want a really sweet body lift, are mechanically inclined and have the money, room and tools to perform a body lift this is the best way to go. all you will need to spend for the lift is about 80 bucks for the shackles, and 50 bucks to get an alignment after you finished the lift.

things to think about before performing this lift and putting bigger tires/wheels on your rig:
- your truck will ride differently. it wont have the ride and engineering that ford designed it to have once you alter it's height and tires size
- the bigger tires WILL throw off many things on your truck. things like your ABS system, speedometer, and odometer. it can also cause your transmission to act "confused" and not shift as efficiently or smoothly.
- you WILL need to do some trimming on your fender walls and possibly your fenders.
- you will have to think about getting a matching spare to match your bigger wheels, especially if you are running lockers. i am currently having trouble figuring out where i am going to put my now over sized matching spare because it wont fit under the bed.

all of these factors and effects can be remedied, most of which i will also do write ups on. please consider these factors before you do your lift. i really did not want to alter the ride of my truck, but ultimately decided to take the plunge. now to the install...

first things first. MY 2003 SPORT TRAC is a 2WD. because of this, i am able to twist my torsion bolts past two inches of height. if you are running a 4WD, DO NOT twist your front end past 2 inches!!! i wouldn't go over 1.75 inches with a 4WD just to be on the safe side.

other than that, the process for lifting your trac should be the same.

so for my rig, i wanted to do a a 3 inch lift since i was going from 30" tires to 33" tires. if you are running a 4WD, i would suggest going with 32" tires if you dont plan on doing a body lift being that you will only be able to lift your front end via the torsion bolts to 2 inches.

list of materials"
-WARRIOR #153 SHACKLES ($80.00)
- set of 33" goodyear duratrac tires 33" x 12.50 R15 ($650.00)
- ratchet set
- jack stands
- hydraulic lift jack
- bottle jack (the one that comes with your trac)
- hammer
- some assorted screw drivers
- tire iron
- tin snips or a sawzall
- safety glasses
- measuring tape

i started by soaking all of the bolts i would be removing the night before. if you live in an area where it snows, or you get salt on your roads, do this a few times during the week prior to your lift.

this is a picture i took after i did my install to show you where the torsion bolts are under your truck

this is a shot of the stock shackles. they are attached to the leaf springs.

soak all of these bolts with PB blaster or some other type of penetrating spray to make them easier to remove.

now that your bolts have been soaked, you have a cooler full of beers, and you have all of your tools and materials on hand, you are now ready to get your hands dirty. what i did, was i put my stock wheels back on, took my 15" wheels and new 33" tires to the tire shop to get them mounted and balanced. i paid about 80 bucks to get this done. then i started the lift while that was going on.

the first thing you want to do is find a level work area because you will need to take some measurements. park your truck in a level garage or parking area and pull out a measuring tape. measure from the ground to the center top of each wheel well. make sure you get accurate measurements. you will need these to make sure you get the proper height on your torsion twist.

i started on the shackles first. that way, once i had the shackles on, i could twist the torsion bolts to match the front end height with the added height my shackles gave the back end. the torsion twist can be adjusted up and down in height while the shackles are a fixed height, so i did the shackles first.

first slide your jack under your rear diff, and then start lifting your truck. then place a jack stand on the frame toward the rear of the truck, right in front of the rear wheels. then slightly lower the jack thats under the diff so that the truck sits on the jack stands. here's a picture:


while your truck is being supported by the jack stands, you can now raise and lower the rear axle with your jack lift to the height that will make the bolts holding the shackles to the leaf springs easier to pop out.

i popped the bolts holding the stock shackles to the leaf springs (the bottom bolts). you can see in this picture the two nuts to the left. these are the stock shackle bolts. remove the bottom bolt first.

once the nut is off, there will be tension on the leaf spring, slowly lower the lift jack under the differential until you get the leaf spring to not grip the shackle bolt you are trying to remove. that might not make sense, but it will once you are under there. make sure you wear safety glasses whenever you work with tension!

once you get that first bolt off that separates the stock shackle from the leaf spring, it will be easy to get the top bolt off that holds the stock shackle to the frame. it should now look like this:

in this picture, you can see that the stock shackle is off and i have already positioned the stock bottle jack between the frame and the leaf spring. this will allow me to push the leaf spring down and give me the clearance i need to install the new warrior shackle. we will get to this part in a bit.

here is a picture of the stock shackles compared to the warrior 153 shackle. the stock shackle on my ST measured 7.5" in length. the warrior 153 shackle measures 10.75" in length and is a lot beefier than the stock shackles.


after you pull the shackle off, the leaf spring will want to bend upward toward the frame. many people have talked about doing this in other how to's and it really is a great tip. use your supplied bottle jack and position it between your leaf spring and the frame. just pull down a bit on the leaf spring and get that bottle jack placed securely between the spring and the frame. here is a picture of what it looks like;

now you can jack up the bottle jack and it will give you the spacing you need to install your new warrior shackle. just play with the height of how much you jack the bottle jack, and the jack under the diff, and you should be able to get just the right amount of spacing to install your new shackle. bolt the top part of the shackle to the frame first so it hangs, then you can adjust the height of the leaf spring with the bottle jack until it lines up with your hanging shackle. this is what it looks like when its in.

i used a little thread locker on the bolts i used on the shackles. the right leaf spring is a little harder to get the bottle jack under because of the exhaust pipe, so if you have a stock pipe, you will have to place the bottle jack a little bit forward. here's a pic:

now you should have your new shackles properly installed. check everything and make sure all looks secure and proper one more time or even twice more, remove the bottle jack, raise the jack under the diff and then pull your jack stands. drop your diff and check out your handy work. you should notice a significant difference in the height of your rear end.

now it's on to the torsion twist. the torsion twist is actually pretty damn easy. you will need a 13mm socket and a ratchet or breaker bar.

with your front fender heights already measured you simply lift up your front end with the jack until the wheels are airborne. place a few jack stands underneath for safety and find the torsion bolts. here's a picture of where they are:

the bolt in the middle is the one you will be twisting. here are afew more pictures:


this is what your stock height front end on a 2WD will look like before the twist. the control arms will be at the same angle ( close to 180 degrees) with the frame.

once the truck is lifted and safely under jack stands, start twisting your first bolt. to raise it, turn clockwise. using my ratchet, i did quarter turns and counted. every four 1/4 turns equaled one complete turn of the torsion bolt. i would think that everyone's truck will be different in terms of how many times you will have to turn to get the height you want. to get my front end up 3 inches it took me 12 complete turns clockwise of the torsion bolt. i still felt like i had a little more thread to work with but 3" was plenty for fitting my new tires.

make sure you finish the second torsion bolt, drop the truck and re-measure your fender heights. if you dont get the height you need, just raise the truck and do it again counting the turns you perform to each torsion bolt. remember, if you are a 4WD DO NOT GO PAST 2 INCHES!!!! i went 3" because mine is 2WD and doesnt have CV's i have to worry about tearing up.

once you get your truck to the height you need, do a second check to make sure everything is proper drop it down, park it in somewhere bright and look again. take another measurement of all four corners and make sure you got the heights you need in each well to fit your new tires.

the way my lift turned out, i was able to get my front end pretty damn close to the same height as my rear end, and enough clearance to fit my new 33" tires. my truck leans a 1/4" lower on the left because of the gas tank though but it isn't noticeable. here is a picture of my truck lifted but with the stock wheels on:


here are the height measurements of my wheel wells to the ground before and after the lift with my stock wheels on:

before: after:
front left: 33 7/8" 36 1/2"
front right: 34 1/2/" 37"
rear left: 35 3/4" 38"
rear right: 36 1/4" 38"

after my lift was good and solid and all my measurements were taken, i used the trip back to the tire shop to pick up my wheels as a good opportunity to settle my truck out a little bit. paid 80 bucks and was on my way back home. here's a pic of them next to my stock wheels. you can see why you need the lift.

after i slapped the new wheels on, then i started to gameplan the trimming.

trimming will be different for everyone's truck and set up. use this as a guideline to get an idea and tips on how you can get yours trimmed.

i asked around and the guys i talked to say they used a sawzall or recip. saw. i didnt have access to one at the time of my install. what i did use that i had onhand were a set of tin snips. im actually glad i used tin snips because i was able to make very precise cuts.

the first thing i did was draw out on the plastic fender covers with a permanent marker where i thought i would need to trim. then i would make my cuts with the tin snips. here's a pic:


what i did for the rear wells was i made a crescent shaped cut along the rear of the cover, then followed the line on the cover that goes straight up. i made a cut up the line and did the same torward the front. then i was able to fold the slack on the plastic up on top of the actualk frame of the truck. i noticed there was a little hole on the frame, so i drilled a small hole on the plastic and then zip tied the cover to the frame. i hope these pictures help:




the front wells are a lot harder to trim. you can basically use the same tin snips and marker, this time, you will have to turn the wheel each way and make your markings then. this will enable you to know where your new tires will touch the walls. here's a picture:

where i ended up trimming on the front end was on the bottom corner of the front of the well (pictured), and then toward the rear of the well that is in front of where the doors sit. sorry, i dont have more pictures, the trimming will take a few days and multiple tries to get right. im still workng kinks out of my trim job. i will post more pictures in this post once i get my trimming the way i want it.

so here are a few pictures of my truck after this install:





after i threw the 33" tires on, i gained an additional inch of height to my previous measurements.

just want to thank all the guys who helped me with all my questions while i was doing research on this project, especially shooterdude, rebel, and the rest of the ST guys.

if i left anything out, or if you can add any good tips please do! let me know if you have any questions.

thanks guys

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Good write up, why'd you use the factory bolts on the shackles? They came with bolts and nuts right?

WOW!! Look at how clean the bottom of your truck is!! There's hardly any rust at all!!


rebel - it came with bolts, but they looked kind of cheap and the stock bolts looked stronger. if you think its worth switching out, let me know.

mwweimer - thanks, thats how it goes out here in sunny ca! i can find snow by driving east for 2 hours, but fortunately where i live it is pretty mild weather year round. living in the bay area is awesome, i highly recommend it!

if anyone wants to add to this write up, please do, and if you have any questions, just hit me up.

Good job man. I suggest that a bigger floor jack would be a good investment though. You will probably break it if you try the same thing on the front end. I had one of those same jacks and it struggled to even lift the rear end. I have a 3 ton harbor freight jack, its like twice as big and 3 times as heavy and gets the job done. Plus, it's handle makes for a good "motivator" if your breaker bar isn't cutting it and you need more leverage.

cluster - ive been patiently trolling craigslist for the right one with the right price to come along! i also have a highlift jack that is awesome, but as of right now, i cant use it to lift my front end because i dont have a good tow point yet. im looking for a grill guard or bull bar that might have those little notches in them so i can use my high lift jack for that. ive already used it a few times while getting my rear end stuck while off road. i know its a no-no, but ive hooked my high lift into my trailer hitch a few times to get my rear wheels out of a few jams.

Craigslist, good idea. I went to harbor freight to buy the orange 3 ton that costs $80 or $90. When I got there I didn't see any so I asked a girl about it and she said they didn't sell it anymore. Not trusting her word I asked a guy and he said they had one left in the stock room but the box was damaged and it was the last one because it's been discontinued. He went to go check what the price would be....$35. I got it in a heartbeat.

Hey Clusterpup

I have a 04 4x4 Sport Trac and want to do the TT and Shackles on mine. How much crank did you get on the TT? 1 3/4? How is everything holding up, did it tear up anything?

Thank You!!

Thank's Lono! What a great post. Man, I had a bunch of questions about a lift for my Trac and you answered them. Thank's Buddy!!!:salute:


Forgot to ask in the last reply, Do you still have the old wheels (rims)????
And if you do, Do you want to sell them??
Thank's (grt) 2004 2wd. :thumbsup:

REDDAWG - i got 3 inches of lift on my front end by twisting my torsion bolts. WARNING! you are 4WD, so dont twist them higher than 2 inches! that can cause major problems with your CV's. everything is holding up great so far, i think my upper ball joints will need to be replaced sometime by the end of the year though. the problems that started to show up (which i expected would happen) are all related to the larger tires throwing off my speedo. because my speedo has been off by 3-4 MPH, my tranny has been shifting late, and my ABS light got tripped. i tested them out, and it feels like they are kicking in, but the light somehow got tripped and now i need to get it reset along with my speedo recalibrated.

shooter - thanks bro, and thanks for hooking me up with all the info. im still perfecting my trimming, still get a little rubbing, but hopefully i get it perfect.

GRT - thanks, if you ever have any questions or run into any issues doing yours, just message me and i might be able to help you. as for my stock wheels, somemone just paid me 500 bucks today for them so sorry they are gone!

gman - i dont plan on removing these shackles any time soon, and i just had this weird worry that somehow i might pop the bolts loose out in the middle of nowhere so i put some one. maybe a useless move i guess.

That was a very helpful write up and hopefully soon enough ill be right there with you

Definitely will, buying the tires in the next couple weeks. Other than that i got everything else.


Thanks. I will definitely stay below 2 inches. I still have to order my warrior shackles. Another Trac Brother said he went with the autozone shackles and got 2 inches from them and he has done some mudding and they are holding up fine. Will see I guess. Thanks again.

brent - sounds good, cant wait for the pics

dawg - i was told by one of the sport trac yodas (midnight rebel) that the shackles from autozone are for hot rodders looking to slap fatter rear treads on and that they arent designed to hold up to serious off roading so maybe you might want to mention it to your buddy. i went to amazon to buy my war 153 shackles, and i got them for 79 bucks, no tax and free shipping. cant wait to see more pics of beefed up sport tracs! if you ever decide to take the plunge and throw on some lockers i did a how to on that for sport tracs too. its the best mod ive ever spent money on hands down. i wouldnt even take my 2WD trac into the dirt without them. my trac with lockers kills it harder in the dirt in most cases than my old 4x4 rodeo which i love. its that big a difference.

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After a lot of research, I've actually been thinking about going back to my stock shackles. As soon as I get my next modification finished, I'll know whether it will be easy to do. If so, they're gone. I definitely wouldn't go with any other brand than Warrior, though.