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MAJOR SUSPENSION FAIL !! Now what? (old aftermarket)


Shran

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If you are only removing one bracket, you can leave everything on the other side in place. But if you are replacing both brackets then yes you will need to remove both springs.

Personally I think if you're happy with the ride height of your truck, there is no reason to buy new springs. They take 5 minutes to remove/install (maybe more if the bottom retainer is really rusty) so my advise is to stick with what you have and avoid excess expense.

You will need an alignment after you fix your bracket situation... factor in up to about $300 for that. Labor/bushings/etc add up. Hope it will be pretty close, I've gotten away pretty cheap a couple times and other times I've had to throw everything at it.
 


eightynine4x4

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31 x 10.5 x 15
If you are only removing one bracket, you can leave everything on the other side in place. But if you are replacing both brackets then yes you will need to remove both springs.

Personally I think if you're happy with the ride height of your truck, there is no reason to buy new springs. They take 5 minutes to remove/install (maybe more if the bottom retainer is really rusty) so my advise is to stick with what you have and avoid excess expense.

You will need an alignment after you fix your bracket situation... factor in up to about $300 for that. Labor/bushings/etc add up. Hope it will be pretty close, I've gotten away pretty cheap a couple times and other times I've had to throw everything at it.
So you’re saying that as part of the alignment process they replace some bushings in front suspension if the shop thinks they need to be replaced? If so, I’m assuming that only applies to the bushings that are directly handled in the process of aligning.
Maybe I’ll take a look at which ones need to be replaced and attempt some myself to reduce labor cost.
 

Shran

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So there are basically three distinct bushings in the front end:

- Radius arm bushings - two sets of these - these are big round rubber/poly ones at the ends of the radius arms where they bolt to the frame. Easy/cheap to repair yourself and you should since you have it apart. O'Reilly is my source for these, they are usually rubber. I hate the poly ones
- Pivot bushings - two of these, one piece - located at the ends of each axle beam. Look for a bushing where the bolt goes through your drop brackets...that's the one. They are pressed in, kind of a PITA to replace, up to you if you want to... wouldn't hurt... if the rubber is nice and stiff, maybe skip this
- Camber bushings - two, one on each upper ball joint - your alignment shop will replace these during an alignment if necessary with either a fixed degree bushing or an adjustable one. No need to do this one yourself.
 

eightynine4x4

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So there are basically three distinct bushings in the front end:

- Radius arm bushings - two sets of these - these are big round rubber/poly ones at the ends of the radius arms where they bolt to the frame. Easy/cheap to repair yourself and you should since you have it apart. O'Reilly is my source for these, they are usually rubber. I hate the poly ones
- Pivot bushings - two of these, one piece - located at the ends of each axle beam. Look for a bushing where the bolt goes through your drop brackets...that's the one. They are pressed in, kind of a PITA to replace, up to you if you want to... wouldn't hurt... if the rubber is nice and stiff, maybe skip this
- Camber bushings - two, one on each upper ball joint - your alignment shop will replace these during an alignment if necessary with either a fixed degree bushing or an adjustable one. No need to do this one yourself.
This is fantastically helpful. I really appreciate it! I’ll check for the radius arm bushings from oreilly and also will consider the pivot bushings and not worry about the camber bushings.
So you’re saying the first two are NOT automatically replaced during alignment ? If so then I will definitely attempt to replace them both. This truck is very in need of new rubber.
 

Shran

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That is correct... the radius arm bushings are kinda hard to judge by outward appearance, they wear on the inside... so at a glance they may look just fine but are in reality worn out. Unless they're really bad, then it's pretty clear from missing chunks/sagging inside the hole/etc. An alignment tech probably would leave them alone if they don't look trashed. But now is the perfect time to replace them no matter what.

The pivot bushings are not an easy part to replace unless you have the front end apart (which you will.) Again... an alignment guy probably wouldn't bother doing anything with these unless they're really bad.

So no, definitely not automatically replaced. The camber bushings may not be either, they are not a wear item and if they are degreed appropriately to get your camber within specs, they may not need to be replaced at all. Just have to have it on an alignment rack to see for sure.
 

eightynine4x4

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31 x 10.5 x 15
That is correct... the radius arm bushings are kinda hard to judge by outward appearance, they wear on the inside... so at a glance they may look just fine but are in reality worn out. Unless they're really bad, then it's pretty clear from missing chunks/sagging inside the hole/etc. An alignment tech probably would leave them alone if they don't look trashed. But now is the perfect time to replace them no matter what.

The pivot bushings are not an easy part to replace unless you have the front end apart (which you will.) Again... an alignment guy probably wouldn't bother doing anything with these unless they're really bad.

So no, definitely not automatically replaced. The camber bushings may not be either, they are not a wear item and if they are degreed appropriately to get your camber within specs, they may not need to be replaced at all. Just have to have it on an alignment rack to see for sure.
Got it. I’ll run with all this.

Now that I have this all on the table.. my 31 x 10.5 tires rub on the frame/arms when at full turn. Can’t recall at the moment if it’s the radius arms but i think it is. In any case, is there a turn stop adjustment in these trucks? Didn’t see anything in the Haynes …
 

eightynine4x4

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Just ordered the pair of Tuff brackets from suspension connection. Spoke with them on the phone and they are about two weeks out from receiving the next batch, so hopefully in about 3 weeks they arrive here. Fingers crossed on that. They said supply chain wasn't the reason for delay, just scheduled orders and being sold out. Could have grabbed the similar brand-less ones on eBay but wanted a fully reputable source and quality, given how important this part is for safety and performance.
This gives me time to slowly take things apart, and also I will probably not do a lot at any one time since it's brutal weather lately. It's going to be a bit before i need the new brackets anyways since the brackets installation are the last step before putting it all back together.
First step is frame lifting and jacking, and front wheels removal.
Will post pics as I go here in this thread..
 

eightynine4x4

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Firing back up this project!
Winter weather has subsided enough to make it not hell.
To recap, i'm replacing both drop brackets, both of which ripped to pieces over time. Here is the part i have received: https://www.suspensionconnection.com/20816.html
I also will be deleting the center red bar from my ol Rancho lift. Some have chimed in here saying that this bar puts stress on the brackets and causes these kinds of failures from strain. I can see how the bar really doesn't accomplish anything other than making the truck a little more "rigid" in some opinions.

So I am jacking up the front of truck using the front of frame under radiator area, thinking that will be most out of the way for when i need to gain access from the sides behind each wheel.
I will be loosening the lug nuts, raising it enough to get the wheels off, then taking them off.
Then I'll be going about either removing the springs or just making sure they're not under tension. Will be consulting the Haynes for this.
Once that's all done, I'm ready to move into the brackets.

Two other projects I'm considering attempting while the suspension is opened up:

1. The bushings are probably just old enough to need replacing.

2. One or two of the U-joints in the front axle are making clickity clackity sounds when 4x4 is engaged. Here is a video of me jiggling the beam/bar with my hands: https://www.dropbox.com/s/fvg4dvka7du4tzh/IMG_8193.mov?dl=0

I'd say it has like 1/16th inch of free play. It is more difficult to reach in and test the drivers side to see if it also does this. I'm very much hoping the center U joint doesn't have this issue and that it's just the u-joints on either end, or even better just the passenger side. But if i have so much already taken apart, maybe I should just replace the drivers side as well.

I had discussed it on this thread/page https://www.therangerstation.com/forums/index.php?threads/80s-ranger-4x4-for-the-trails.189969/page-23 but am going to now tie it into this thread here since it's all the same project.
 

eightynine4x4

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31 x 10.5 x 15
Have the wheels off and truck raised and well situated. This sure makes the drop bracket access much less intimidating.
I'm unsure about how the springs are supposed to get less tensioned than this. The suspension is now completely slack and hanging free.

For what it's worth, I may also just replace the rotors/hubs and pads. The hubs don't spin nearly as freely as I was expecting, almost like the brake pads are constantly rubbing. It takes two hands and some force to spin them. I've had no concerns about the quality of braking though. It's been performing just fine, no noises and no instability. Maybe it's just corrosion buildup rubbing against pads.


74539
 

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Have the wheels off and truck raised and well situated. This sure makes the drop bracket access much less intimidating.
I'm unsure about how the springs are supposed to get less tensioned than this. The suspension is now completely slack and hanging free.

For what it's worth, I may also just replace the rotors/hubs and pads. The hubs don't spin nearly as freely as I was expecting, almost like the brake pads are constantly rubbing. It takes two hands and some force to spin them. I've had no concerns about the quality of braking though. It's been performing just fine, no noises and no instability. Maybe it's just corrosion buildup rubbing against pads.


View attachment 74539
There is bind in the rubber bushings, the shock may prevent more droop, and the brake line, but basically that's it until you remove the spring.
 

eightynine4x4

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4WD
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2.5" Suspension
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31 x 10.5 x 15
There is bind in the rubber bushings, the shock may prevent more droop, and the brake line, but basically that's it until you remove the spring.
So for replacing the drop brackets, removing the springs is crucial? Or is it just making things easier?
I can tell that the bolts at the bottom of springs will be difficult since they are caked in rust/oxidation and have lost some of the hex shape. Might be easier to just leave the rest of this stuff in tact. But, maybe it’ll be down right impossible to line up the drop bracket holes while under any tension from springs..
 

alwaysFlOoReD

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I'm not sure. You could try to install the brackets first and see what happens. Might be easier to bolt the brackets to the beams first then push into place on the frame.... not much time wasted in trying. And mean while make sure you have a heat source for the nuts if you decide to take out the springs. Pretty sure the factory uses locktight on those.
 

eightynine4x4

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2.5" Suspension
Tire Size
31 x 10.5 x 15
I'm not sure. You could try to install the brackets first and see what happens. Might be easier to bolt the brackets to the beams first then push into place on the frame.... not much time wasted in trying. And mean while make sure you have a heat source for the nuts if you decide to take out the springs. Pretty sure the factory uses locktight on those.
According to the instructions, linked here, they don't mention anything about removing springs but they do instruct to support both twin eye beams with jacks. There's no mention of height adjustment using these jacks, just support, but i like the fact that in addition to providing support i'd be able to raise or lower the eye beams if some fine adjustment is needed during install. So i'll just roll with this instead of opening up a can of worms regarding springs and shocks and all their hardwares. When i got the truck, the front driver shock, which was completely disconnected up top, was a 3 hour project to reconnect itself due to aging hardware. Surely the previous owner had bailed at that step during some attempt to do something to the truck.

At this point i am hoping that the hard work of drilling/de-riveting was already done by previous Rancho install and that these new brackets will just require unbolting and rebolting, but we'll see. I'm sure something will not line up somewhere and at the very least others have already mentioned the idea of using slightly small bolts if necessary. I may choose to just expand a hole or two instead of that though, rather than have an imperfect sizing be permanent. Fingers crossed.

I also have the task of deleting the center bar from Rancho lift. I'm just not sure how much tension it is under right now, so will proceed with caution. Probably it's best to wait to do that until both old drop brackets are removed since i think the bar will then be floating free on the drop bracket end of things.
 

eightynine4x4

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2.5" Suspension
Tire Size
31 x 10.5 x 15
Got the center bar out and also the bulk of the broken drop bracket out, minus a few small fragment pieces that are still bolted on.
I also finally realized that it’s only the one drop bracket that busted. The other one is completely in tact so I may choose to delay replacing that for when I do the brakes and rotors up front. That should happen soon. This week is pretty nuts so trying to get the truck operational at least. But i may try loosening the bolts of second drop bracket and if they come out ok then maybe I’ll go ahead and replace that one now too.
74620
 

eightynine4x4

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31 x 10.5 x 15
The rest of the dead bracket is off.
On to inspect fitment of new part..

74665
 

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