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140,000 Suspension is shot, what to do next?


MaicoDoug

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Hello all you ranger aficionados......

I am finally tired of beating my head (and body) riding in my newly acquired FX4/II. Before I surrender my truck to the 4WP salesman & techs, I wanted to know if I have a chance in attempting to save this truck from shaking itself apart. I do most of my own work, much more than "bolt-on" upgrades.

Being an off-road suspension junkie in the 2 wheel universe, 4 wheels and torsion bars are a new thing for me. I want a smooooth ride. Currently, running over a 2 inch deep pot hole shakes my fillings loose. The truck has 140,000 miles of active suspension wear & tear. I could replace the leaf springs in the rear & replace the twisted up torsion bars in front, adding some quality shocks. That would cost big bucks, and this should be my focus doing what the dealer would do. But having an R&D background, and using the words "coil over", where the heck does this leave me? I could have a fab'er bend up some brackets...

The old owner has already done some front end bolt-on beautification here & there. I'm not into all that JC Whitney stuff, I just want the suspension to work as good or better than stock. I may simply get some front shocks and hope for the best.

At sometime someone had installed an extra leaf in the rear which now has added a bunch of lift in the rear. This combined with the almost flat leaf springs. In the front I have temporally raised the front torsion bars to the maximum to see if their is a chance in seeing some sort of leveling. The front is still ~Apx 2-3 inches short. I believe this front has been slammed by the rear being way up in the air for a long time placing too much weight on those tired front torsion bars over a long time.

I could do the coil over mods and have a bunch of $$ in it, but it would receive the upgrades that it needs & it would ride very nice. It does need some suspension updates at least to address the rake (stance) and the ride quality, not to mention the ball joints, bushings, etc.

I'd be happy with 2-3 inch suspension/body lift. No steering-drive shaft mods.

Anyway this is just another thread to find out what the word on the trail is. And I appreciate your thoughts very much.

In compliance with the YELLOW reduction act, I am willing to remove the one yellow shock. Maybe more later.

-Doug
 
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Ranger850

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Not sure how familiar you are with Rangers, but, they are notorious for the "nose dive" look. I have a 2001 Ranger Edge and simply removed the blocks and got shorter "U" bolts on the rear axle to get mine so sit level. I think I did some torsion bar adjustments as well, to get it to sit level.
 

MaicoDoug

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thx for your reply,

R850, yes the 2 inch blocks are indeed sitting there with the bottom out tang still intact. Will take a picture & post. One good thing about having my front torsion bars so high, the rear now does something, and front is super smooth with no travel hardly at all.

Ranger Rake, exactly. All Fords have the tail end way up in the air. Finally, recently I have witnessed some Ford trim styles coming off the new car lot "leveled". It all comes down to a raked truck is for work & a leveled truck is for off-road & pleasure. But I will work between those lines as most of us already do.

Don't know if I will remove the 2 inch block in the rear yet. It does have that huge bottom out tang that meets the frame mounted rubber bumper. I may want to investigate an alternate way to keep a bottom out feature.

Thx for you reply - Doug
 

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MaicoDoug

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The camo wrap is coming I promise
 

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Rear of the truck higher than the front has nothing to do with the load on the tires at each end, or the ride quality. The additional added leaf in the springpack.... now THAT is almost certainly contributing to the bone-jarring ride, because it increases the spring rate. Too harsh = too high of a spring rate. Too 'squishy' = too low of a spring rate, or badly worn out shocks. Or both.

You can make the ride a tad firmer with shocks, but not much. However, worn out shocks can make it a LOT worse. But if you aren't getting lots of rebound that never seems to end, shocks are not the problem.

I don't have a great deal of experience with torsion bars (last had them on a 96 Exploder and it rode fine). However, it was set up from the get-go to have a good ride, not be a work truck. If the jarring is bad when the front wheels hit a pothole, then I'd say the problem is likely the spring rate on the torsion bars, or just running out of travel and hitting the bumpstops. The other thing about torsion bars, they may not have anywhere as much travel as springs. "May" being the key word, as every suspension design can be slightly different. I'm thinking, though, that torsion bars are a constant rate, whereas coils springs can be a variable rate... emphasis on 'can'.

Another thought is that by cranking the torsion bars so that the truck sits higher, you've gained uptravel (wheel going up), but lost downtravel. Running out of downtravel should be a minor 'bump'.... running out of uptravel and hitting the bumpstops, is a major, bonejarring bump if you hit the bumpstop hard enough.

The additional leaf in the rear will probably be enough to prevent the truck from every bottoming out, if you are running on pavement and empty. Some trucks (mine) have the bumpstop where it will make contact with the top of the spring pack. So maybe that is an option to convert to that style, if you still want a bumpstop in the back. Just a thought.
 
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rusty ol ranger

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Replace the shocks, remove the add a leaf, and set the torsion bars back to stock setting and see where youre at.
 

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I agree with Rusty. Cranked t-bars are known to make the ride rough. The additional leaf isn’t helping.

The later Rangers came with a smaller axle block. So, that might be an avenue you want to explore. They are about an inch shorter than the the axle blocks that came in the Rangers before 2008.

Also, what psi are you running your tires at? Too much pressure will make the ride more rough as well.
 
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MaicoDoug

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Thanks guys for your replies.

Hey Mike, Thanks for you well detailed reply. as you already know when the in the factory setup and after 140kmi, the worn down front torsion bars are not allowing the centerline of the axle to rest at the factory height, thus placing more of an initial rate of rise in the spring rate before becoming linear as (all springs are). There is an initial progressive rating on most springs through 0% travel to 15% on linear wound steel, then it's all linear rebound pressure through the rest of the travel, except if more than one spring is used in series or the winding is not linear. And you know, you brought a very important point also, I may have actually have bottomed out. Also during another test, there was significant travel in a known dip across ~10' section, I was going about 15mph and unexpected rebound, big rebound has sold me about the front shocks being shot. Yea, after all this initial checking out of the truck's ride, I did crank it all all the way up to measure the difference between the front & rear. After this, it did not crash like it did (through now that I am 200% pothole gun shy). The guy who owned this before NEVER cleaned the inside windshield. After 2 cleanings, it's more dirty than before! I'm still mak'in mud.

Rusty: Thanks for the tuning advice. Agreed, the both of you are saying. It's time to return the bars back to their original height & get some decent shocks & remove that add a leaf and at least get the rear end a little lower. The leaf spring ends are about 1 inch higher than the axle.

Sandman: 32psi cold. You know, maybe I'll experiment with a temporary 1" block. If I like it, I'll saw the 2" block in half and hopefully keep the bump-stop hanger. Sound good on paper, right? May need to close the now open box if I saw it in half, I'll see & report back w/ some pics maybe.

Haha, "bone jarring" exactly. I will report back as soon as I pay the dentist off.

Guys 'yall give some gentle, & general direction. I don't expect a caddy ride, just want to put my toe in the water here, as my last Ranger was 2wd & I gotta get a clue about where I should start first & what my expectations are.

-Doug
 

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Just a thought - I don't know where torsion bars should be, in terms of travel, when they are at rest. With (potential) uptravel exactly the same a (potential) downtravel? Or a different ratio? Hopefully someone can chime in. Uptravel should be easy to measure at rest (distance to bumpstops), then downtravel, guess you lift the truck with a jack and see how much the wheels drop (relative to the bumpstops)?

A worn out torsion bar could be making you hit the bumpstops too soon, but I don't know if torsion bars wear out. I do know, from personal experience, that the factory leaf springs can be killed by .... let's just say ..... loading over the recommended amount, multiple times (AHEM). So now I've got an amalgamation of springs in the rear, which ride kinda rough, but I kept the original coils (with 2" spacers) in the front, and I'm pretty sure neither end of the truck has ever bottomed out.

That may not help a lot, but if you can check the distance to the bumpstops in the front, with the truck having no load on it, someone can probably compare that to theirs and tell you if the torsion bars are shot.
 

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Someone posted up the builder numbers for the correct ride height in the front and rear but I don't remember where as in what thread. What I did when I replaced my T-Bars and rear springs was to drop the front 1.5" lower than what the ride height is at the back. From what I remember, that was pretty close to what the builder specs were. Each side has to be done individually so you don't end up with a negative lean on the driver's side due to the driver and fuel tank all being on that side.

As far as cutting the axle blocks. I suppose you could do that but the back side of the blocks are hollow. So, there may be some issues getting that to work.

Here is an picture of what I'm talking about. The one on the left is the factory axle block out of my 2011. The one on the right is an axle block from a 4X4 Ranger built before 2008. No, I no longer have the blocks. There is also a hollow in the top for the spring bolt to nest and lock into when putting the axle, block, and spring together.

 

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for the best ride quality set ride height for shocks at mid travel.
if the bars are cranked to raise the truck the shocks are limited in their down travel.
that means when hitting a 4" hole, instead of just the wheel dropping 4" the wheel only goes as far as the
already extended shock goes, then the front of the truck drops the difference.
a thicker sway bar worsens ride harshness.
I once had a 1-1/4" bar from Sport Trac on my 2000 Ranger, the ride was really rough.

for new parts the ride height is 4.5" , worn parts 4.1"

the height is measured from a line thru the center of the control arm bolts to a line between the lower tip of the steering knuckle
next to the ball joint stud.
I'm having trouble loading the pic, maybe later.
 
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MaicoDoug

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Thanks all. Exceeding expectations yoos guyz!

PJT; I'm going to get my 6" steel rule and report back in just a bit.
 

MaicoDoug

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Look at what ebay has.....https://www.ebay.com/itm/Coilovers-Suspension-for-Ford-Mustang-Convertible-Sedan-05-14-24-Ways-Adj-Damper/173684308701?epid=24022392671&hash=item2870643add:g:SBAAAOSwE51akPe-

Now to check & adjust mt T-Bars to the correct ride height!

- Doug
 


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