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Old 12-19-2008, 03:24 PM   #1
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Finally! After months of careful research, I pulled the trigger on a suspension lift back in October. Then, work got in the way, like it tends to, and the lift sat in my garage for a couple of months until I could take some leave for the holidays and get the damn thing installed.

First, about the setup I chose. I've spent the better part of two or three years looking at different suspension lifts, getting opinions, etc., and what I began to notice was that most of the IFS systems for our trucks are remarkably similar. Aside from slight differences in bracket design, many companies seemed to be using nearly identical knuckles and major cross members. Even the welds looked suspiciously alike. Could it be that multiple companies source some of their parts from the same manufacturer? Hmmmm...more on that later. I figured that I didn't need to spend around $2,000 for a kit that wasn't much different from a $1200 one. I wasn't interested in paying for middlemen, name recognition, or flashy advertising. So, I opted for the X-Lift by Rough Country and bought it from Duane at 3rd Strike ( http://3rdstrike.biz/cart/index.php?main_page=product_i...00185c88b7ed15471e 8d ).

Now, the key to any good suspension is the choice of shocks. Most lift companies ship their standard kits with garbage shocks. You know, the ones with the plain white shock bodies and stickers corresponding to the lift brand? Yeah, they're crap. The companies all want you to upgrade to their "performance" line for a few more bills. In some cases, like Skyjacker, their base level shocks are hydraulic junk and their top end ones are nothing more than nitrogen-charged plain white monotubes. Nothing special about them at all, other than the price increase. There was no way I was going to pay a premium for shocks that were far worse than the ones I already had. Also, I couldn't afford and didn't really need reservoir shocks, so I opted for the best bang-for-the-buck monotubes around: Bilstein 5100 series. I spent plenty of time on the phone talking to the guys at Bilstein to figure out which front shocks would work the best. We narrowed it down to two model #'s (one used by RCD and one by Superlift). RCD used a proprietary valving in a shock body that couldn't be re-valved, but the Superlift one had valving similar to the 5125 I already had, only it was capable of handling a higher spring rate. Plus, it was able to be revalved, so if I didn't like the ride, Bilstein would be able to adjust it for a modest fee. The back shocks were an easy choice (same valving as my old Bilsteins, only with 4" more travel). Top Gun Customz has a four shock package deal for Bilstein 5100's and they were very accommodating when I asked to substitute the Superlift-specific Bilstein part number instead of the RCD one they normally use, and they through the 14.4mm bushing and sleeves in for free ( http://www.topguncustomz.com/Store/G...view=193071926 )

Another place most of the lift kit companies skimp is on the back end. They throw in a pair of 2-3" cast-iron blocks as a cheap, easy way to level the truck without altering the OEM ride quality. The emphasis is on cheap and easy, not performance. The problem is that the more distance you put between the axle and the leaf springs, the more axlewrap and wheel hop you're going to get. The other common option is an add-a-leaf, which tends to stiffen the rear leaf pack, leading to a harsh ride. There are progressive mini leaf-packs designed by KORE and a few other high-end desert racing companies, but these are set up for 2500 and 3500 trucks, not 1/2-tons. Only Skyjacker offers full replacement "Softride" leaf springs, but they lift the rear 5" (a little too high to maintain the level look). The only solution I was going to be satisfied with was a custom set of rear leaf springs. After a little more research, I called Jeff Crosby at Deaver Springs ( http://www.deaverspring.com/contact.html ). I gave him my truck specs and he was able to hook me up with a pair of their 10-leaf progressive springs with 4" of lift built in. The benefits of their design is a more supple ride, increased articulation, and little to no axlewrap. NOTE: if you want to see what severe axlewrap is like, go test-drive the new F-150 (wheel-hop galore).

Well, I've got to go feed my children now, so the install details will have to wait a bit. For now, I'll include before and after pics.

Before:
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File Type: jpg DC_FCII_side.jpg (270.3 KB, 731 views)

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'03 Black SLT QC SWB 4x4 Off-Road-- Rough Country X-Lift -- Deaver progressive leaf springs w/ 4" lift -- Fox 2.0 Reservoir Shocks -- CST Upper Control Arms -- KORE CVs -- 35 x 12.50 Toyo OC AT2s on 17 x 9 Moab STRs -- AirAid CAI -- Comp 260 cam -- Manley springs & retainers -- Stu's Custom Pushrods -- JBA Cat-4ward mids -- Borla cat-back exhaust -- Dana S60 -- 4.56 Yukons -- Superchips / Diablosport Stack-- Mark VIII e-fan -- 8.2mm Taylors

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Old 12-19-2008, 03:25 PM   #2
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After:

There's a little rake to it, but I haven't adjusted the torsion bar keys at all yet, so I've got plenty of room for a little more height up front. More to follow. (Please disregard the dirt, I tilled the yard in preparation for re-seeding).
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'03 Black SLT QC SWB 4x4 Off-Road-- Rough Country X-Lift -- Deaver progressive leaf springs w/ 4" lift -- Fox 2.0 Reservoir Shocks -- CST Upper Control Arms -- KORE CVs -- 35 x 12.50 Toyo OC AT2s on 17 x 9 Moab STRs -- AirAid CAI -- Comp 260 cam -- Manley springs & retainers -- Stu's Custom Pushrods -- JBA Cat-4ward mids -- Borla cat-back exhaust -- Dana S60 -- 4.56 Yukons -- Superchips / Diablosport Stack-- Mark VIII e-fan -- 8.2mm Taylors

"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last." - Sir Winston Churchill

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Old 12-19-2008, 03:28 PM   #3
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Looks good!!
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Old 12-19-2008, 05:00 PM   #4
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Love the new stance,looks great
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Old 12-19-2008, 08:06 PM   #5
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Thanks! I've received a number of compliments from friends and other folks around here. I love the way it looks now.

I think the valving on the front shocks may be a little too high, as it can get a little skittish over expansion joints in sweeping curves (bridges, exit ramps, etc). However, it can eat big and small bumps straight on without a fuss. It's not anywhere close to the way it was stock, and it could just be that the front end's center of gravity is now 6" higher than it was before, but the old Bilsteins were a bit softer. I'll have to drive it for a while longer before making a final decision on revalving.

The new rear leafs are phenomenal. I will often only feel a bump as the front end rolls over it, but then nothing but a muted thump from the back. It definitely doesn't hop around like it used to over speed bumps and I can feel the truck squat a little when I hit the gas from a stop. I'll have to do some WOT runs to see how well the back end stays planted.

We accidentally tore the ball-joint boots on an upper control arm and a tie rod while removing the knuckles, so the next day I decided to replace both upper A-arms and tie rods with Moog parts. Man, what a difference in quality! The Moog control arms are cast iron instead of aluminum and the tie rods are actually serviceable (zircs!). Both parts are considerably beefier than stock, with higher quality ball joints, which is nice (the stock aluminum a-arms are pretty flimsy and have been known to bend and crack on the trail). Once I was done, I drove the truck immediately to a nearby Tread Quarters to get it realigned. It was a good thing since they determined that the total toe was out by nearly two degrees.

Tomorrow I'm going to get back under the truck and replace the brake lines with the longer braided stainless steel ones I bought from slvrmagnum (the stockers are maxed out at full droop - not good). I'll take some more photos of everything during the process.
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'03 Black SLT QC SWB 4x4 Off-Road-- Rough Country X-Lift -- Deaver progressive leaf springs w/ 4" lift -- Fox 2.0 Reservoir Shocks -- CST Upper Control Arms -- KORE CVs -- 35 x 12.50 Toyo OC AT2s on 17 x 9 Moab STRs -- AirAid CAI -- Comp 260 cam -- Manley springs & retainers -- Stu's Custom Pushrods -- JBA Cat-4ward mids -- Borla cat-back exhaust -- Dana S60 -- 4.56 Yukons -- Superchips / Diablosport Stack-- Mark VIII e-fan -- 8.2mm Taylors

"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last." - Sir Winston Churchill

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Old 12-19-2008, 08:45 PM   #6
 
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LOOKS GREAT.
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Old 12-20-2008, 09:28 AM   #7
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looks great freeze! ?
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Old 12-20-2008, 10:04 AM   #8
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Very nice Freeze! You took researching lift kits to a whole new level!
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Old 12-20-2008, 10:50 AM   #9
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Old 12-20-2008, 04:10 PM   #10
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Looks great Freeze! From desert runner to mountain climber!

Lookin' forward to seeing it after final adjustments!
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