June 13, 2012 - After spending a good amount of time stressing the suspension issue - I've decided to go ahead and replace everything with an OME complete kit. Ordered the "light" kit from Cruiser Outfitters and Kurt says everything should arrive on Friday.
Will be great to pull all that old PO miss-matched stuff off. I put together a high tech height gage to check out before/after. Any advice, things to watch for, etc. appreciated - never done this before.
Also want to pick up 5 tires. What can I do on tires (conservative) for around $1k that will work well and still look good with this OME lift? Thinking BFG, 31x10.50R15, Mud-Terrain T/A KM2 Tire (or maybe All-Terrain) - appropriate? Mud-Terrain seems extreme for around town but the reality is the truck probably won't be driven that much - so it doesn't really need to be too practical.
BFG 33 x 10.50 KM2 MUDs... Heaven!?
Free axle - waiting for UPS. This seems to work - small stands in front, larger stands on frame and the jack keeping the diff from rotating down.
iphone photo - please excuse the quality.
Trying to work that 1st spring into place. I thought it was hard to remove the old stuff and easier to install the new - not my experience so far . . .
I the plus (+) always goes on the driver's side? Each front spring has a plus. For the rear springs I have a plus and a minus.
The longer end of the spring (distance to center pin) is always on the shackle - the short end goes to the static pin?
The bushings don't get grease on the OD - press fit area?
I expected those weird "triangle-type" shackles from OME - instead I got something more simple looking (which I like)? Have they changed the design?
Spring advice and Info from Jim Beach in Alberta:
"Like greek said put the fixed end on first. Then put the U-bolts on semi tight. Do both sides and leave the shackles till last. Then take the jack stands out and let the front end spring hanger sit on the spring eyes without the shackles on. (The whole weight of the front end is sitting on the wheels with no shackles) Then take jack and lift at each frame rail at the bumper attachment, jack it up enough to get the spacing between the front spring eye and the front spring mount eye the same as the centre to centre distance of your shackle.Then you can insert the front pins.
The back install is the same, fixed end first.
Like your shackles compared to the triangle ones, looks more like stock. If I was in HMB I would be coming over to help you."
At this point I have the 2 front springs hanging, shackles and fixed pins installed, but for the life of me can't get the center-pins to line up on the spring perches - they're about an 1"-1.5" off to the back. If I could move the whole front axel an inch toward the rear everything would line up.
On the 1st spring I tried any number of assembly variations - even had the front shackle and center pin installed with U-bolts and still couldn't get the right distance (fixed mount to center pin). Funny thing is, it all looks right - if the spring was compressed and the pin in the hole I think the shackle would have the proper angle, etc. And don't lifts often change the wheel/axel location in the wheel well a bit. How much can the front axel/dive shaft/diff move?
"Drive Shaft - did you take the front drive shaft off? Sometimes there is enough grease in the slip spline to not let the driveshaft collapse easily so it forces the whole axle forward. This may be your lost inch. Not real important it goes on exactly as it came off. Needs to be in phase with the two eyes of the joints on each end lined up 0-----0.
If the slip joint has never been a part it is correct from the factory.
I usually mark them with a center pop on the DS flange and the TC flange. On the 1/4" wide lip around the outside of the flange.
Two pops for the TC and one pop for the pinion flange end.
If they where ever removed and installed incorrectly, the slip joint goes to the TC flange ends on the front and back DS's"
Dropped the drive shaft and everything lined up just fine.
Got all the springs on, weight down and everything with the exception of fixed shackle location bolts (see below) torqued. Torqued the main spring perches to 95 ft-lbs at this point - check them again later.
Truck seems to be at about the same height as before in the rear, with the front being a little higher. Note in the before photo (old springs) there are jack stands at the front frame. So I think as soon as everything settles it should be a bit lower than the old setup. Interesting that the "plus" spring shackle has not moved as much as the minus. Not much weight on the rear at this point - not even shocks.
What's with those "location" bolts on the fixed shackle (see photo #3)? Weird kind of self-tapping bolt that seems to hit the spring. I stripped one already and wondering if I should just replace them with a shorter bolt of some kind? I'll try to Heli-coil the stripped thread.
Decided to stop being so conservative with the tire thing. BFG 33 x 10.5, Mud KM2s - they sure look big to me. Picked up 5 and the guy was really helpful and seemed to be worried about the balancing and getting everything right.
Decided to just clean the wheels, leave the patina and do nothing paint-wise on the rims right now. I think that's some original gray left on that front wheel in the 1st photo.
Now I'm higher - about 2.5 inches. Doesn't this tire still look correctly positioned considering no weight and the new springs not broken in? They almost look like they might hit the outside fender on a hard bounce.
Before and after above - with nothing broken in.
Tall tire height view.