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


eightynine4x4

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I had a Rancho lift once myself.
Finally ordered the correct 2” drop bracket and will install when it arrives. Could be a month or so.

I measured using my uninstalled 4” drivers side bracket and compared to old one installed on truck, and indeed i have a 2.5” Rancho lift. So I’ll still need to adjust the 2” bracket by 0.5” using the cam bolt, which I also measured as being possible with them. Bascially I think that’s the limit. 0.5” in either direction from center.

Anyways I was working under truck and noticed that the Rancho radium arms might be a little beefier than the ones you’re referring to. Maybe they evolved their reinforcement a bit as the product lived. Here is a pic of mine below. Cosmetics aside, ie the paint peel and surface rust, it looks like the engineered transition from the strong boxy section to the tubular section is a more extended and I guess “stress distributed” than the drawings you made. It’s not atotally burly as the Super Lift one you compared it to, but still it looks less like there’s a single weak spot where the crack would build. That’s the optimistic take on it anyways. I could be wrong.

But I’m replacing both drop brackets, which is obviously the weakest point of this Rancho system. I’m also going to replace the radius arm bushing and axle pivot bushings. I know the latter can be a beast but I’ll figure it out. I want to take care of as much cost as I can in my own before taking it in for a real alignment.

IMG_1774.jpeg
 


4x4junkie

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Yours look the same as mine (other than the grease and missing paint). Those were just impromptu freehand drawings from some almost 30 years ago... I don't declare myself to be an artist lol.

This is the only (sorta halfway decent but not very decent) pic of the Rancho arms I had. The driverside arm in this pic was a replacement arm... Although you can't tell in the pic, it is bent in that area. It caused a fairly hard pull to the right due to the resulting change of the caster angle. You can also see where I had to modify it for (stock!) tire/wheel clearance (and yet it still rubbed). It was just a shitty design all around.

D35vsD44.jpg


But yea, put a gusset or two (or some ¼" steel plating) in that area on the driverside radius arm that runs from the flat plate section down along the tube for a good 5 or 6 inches, and you should be fine. :icon_thumby:
 

eightynine4x4

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Yours look the same as mine (other than the grease and missing paint). Those were just impromptu freehand drawings from some almost 30 years ago... I don't declare myself to be an artist lol.

This is the only (sorta halfway decent but not very decent) pic of the Rancho arms I had. The driverside arm in this pic was a replacement arm... Although you can't tell in the pic, it is bent in that area. It caused a fairly hard pull to the right due to the resulting change of the caster angle. You can also see where I had to modify it for (stock!) tire/wheel clearance (and yet it still rubbed). It was just a shitty design all around.

View attachment 91662

But yea, put a gusset or two (or some ¼" steel plating) in that area on the driverside radius arm that runs from the flat plate section down along the tube for a good 5 or 6 inches, and you should be fine. :icon_thumby:
Gotcha. Ok I see. Well if I were maybe wanting to replace them instead of improve them, are there any aftermarket sets I can buy that fit and also don’t have the stupid tire rub? Or is my only option custom…
 

4x4junkie

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You would have to find arms that closely match the overall length of yours (that or plan on relocating your RA brackets on the frame... IIRC there wasn't much room to move them backward before running into the transmission crossmember, so you wouldn't want arms that are longer). I don't know the length of the Rancho arms offhand, however I can tell you Superlift arms would be too long (though Superlift did at some point redesign their arms with sturdier axle mounting ears).
For me, it would be easiest to just go custom and make my own (which is what I did when I built my BII). Do you have a good 220V welder?
 

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.
Any pointers for choosing rubber radius arm bushings on ORelliy as mentioned? My truck is an 89 with Rancho extended radius arms. Will of course be able to measure my bushings when they’re out but it would be great to order them and have them in hand for the work.
Apparently this pair below fits an 89. Are stock radius arm bushings the same sizing as aftermarket bushings typically?

 

Shran

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Yep those bushings should be fine.
 

eightynine4x4

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Thanks!

As for the axle pivot bushings.. I’m unsure what format is best to buy them in. Seems like some come preassembled or some require assembly. Or maybe they all require the same assembly and the pics shown are just different ?
Only wondering about this becuse I know it can be a nightmare to get these bushings in. Trying to order what the easiest install is..



Also this is kinda crazy but I just finally noticed that my Rancho aftermarket crossmember is not doing anything anymore since I deleted the infamous center bar last year. Hadn’t even thought about it till now. So it goes from frame rail to frame rail, and that’s it. Center used to connect to center bar connecting to one drop bracket. So, is it typical for suspension lifts to include a crossmember here, just for strength / stability overall? Of so I’ll leave it in. Or should I consider this crossmember to be useless now and delete it?

IMG_1917.jpeg
 

eightynine4x4

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31 x 10.5 x 15
Another question..
Since I’m dealing with aftermarket radius arms, its not clear from the shop manual what kind of access I have to changing the radius arm bushings. In shop manual it mentions needing to loosen and compress the shock in order to free things up.
But these radius brackets are very accessible, sitting right there. So I’m kinda thinking i could maybe just unbolt the brackets themselves and do the bushings. Im of course planning to do this while the truck suspension is apart and floating, so I’m hoping the lack of tension will allow me to undo those brackets and the radius arms won’t be under force and will be easy to reposition back into the brackets when I’m done with bushings.

Ironically though, the last time I did this I put my Jack stands directly on those radius brackets to support the truck. So if I want to change the bushings while doing this I have to find different spots for the Jack stands.

And for this reason I’m considering putting the pair of stands under that red crossmember. That way the stands will be completely away from any parts I’m working on. Trouble is, im not even certain about the strength of that cross member? Can it really support the weight on stands? No idea! Seems pretty risky. The round shape also scare the crap out of me, depending on the stand potentially slipping out sideways.
 

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There is no point in keeping that crossmember there anymore. Doesn't hurt anything to leave it though.

Changing the pivot bushings is easiest with the axle beams completely removed from the truck. I would not even try to change those in the truck... there is just too much going on there and it's difficult to support everything and work under it safely. While you're doing those, just swap the radius arm bushings at the same time since it's all taken apart.
 

4x4junkie

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Do you offroad much? If so, I'd probably say leave that crossmember in place since it could potentially prevent a rock from smashing out your transmission pan or your Y-pipe. Even better would be to fab up a skidplate that connects between that member and your transmission member for more protection.
 

eightynine4x4

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Do you offroad much? If so, I'd probably say leave that crossmember in place since it could potentially prevent a rock from smashing out your transmission pan or your Y-pipe. Even better would be to fab up a skidplate that connects between that member and your transmission member for more protection.
Great call! Yeah I’ll leave it in. I could also remove it and design to it. I plan on doing some off roading occasionally so will plan a skid plate around this bar. Thanks for the idea! I’m actually getting started with welding this summer.

Anybody ever jacked up the front of truck by putting stands under the engine crossmember? Or somewhere else up front that’s not pertaining to the axles? I’m still trying to suss out a safe way to have it on stands and retain complete access to radius arms.
 

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Great call! Yeah I’ll leave it in. I could also remove it and design to it. I plan on doing some off roading occasionally so will plan a skid plate around this bar. Thanks for the idea! I’m actually getting started with welding this summer.

Anybody ever jacked up the front of truck by putting stands under the engine crossmember? Or somewhere else up front that’s not pertaining to the axles? I’m still trying to suss out a safe way to have it on stands and retain complete access to radius arms.
I had a homemade sawhorse (made by me) that was designed to hold up to 1,000 lbs. I jacked the front of the truck up and slid it under the front frame horns... or bumper. It's been so long I don't remember if the bumper was on or off. The saw horse was made of cedar 4"x4" fence post and legs the same. The joinery was similar to post and beam house. I was a little nervous at first but it never creaked or shifted.
I'll see if I can get a pic.
 

eightynine4x4

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31 x 10.5 x 15
I had a homemade sawhorse (made by me) that was designed to hold up to 1,000 lbs. I jacked the front of the truck up and slid it under the front frame horns... or bumper. It's been so long I don't remember if the bumper was on or off. The saw horse was made of cedar 4"x4" fence post and legs the same. The joinery was similar to post and beam house. I was a little nervous at first but it never creaked or shifted.
I'll see if I can get a pic.
Wood!!! I’d be terrified haha.
Another thought.. is it safe to Jack these 4x4 trucks up by the front diff? I know it’s not centered but would work logistically still. But is the front diff as sturdy and burly as the rear diff? Rear diff connects directly to axle where as front diff is sorta floating within the shaft/axle system. So maybe it’s not such a good idea and could bend something somewhere?
 

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Wood!!! I’d be terrified haha.
Another thought.. is it safe to Jack these 4x4 trucks up by the front diff? I know it’s not centered but would work logistically still. But is the front diff as sturdy and burly as the rear diff? Rear diff connects directly to axle where as front diff is sorta floating within the shaft/axle system. So maybe it’s not such a good idea and could bend something somewhere?
The front axle is a 2 piece system. 4x4 is called a TTB : Twin Traction Beam. The 2wd is called TIB: Twin Indepent Beam.
I have jacked up the front of the truck by using a short piece of 4x4 on top of a floor jack, placing the 4x4 on a slight angle to catch both beams at the same time. It can be a little tricky getting it placed correct but it works to get the truck and axles up. Be careful when placing axle stands under the axles because there WILL be a side load as the axle come back to horizontal. I normally only use this method to change tires (no jack stands). Never work under it this way. If I'm going to place jack stands under the axles I do one side at a time trying to get the jack as close to the outside as I can while still leaving room for the jackstand close to the wheel.
 

eightynine4x4

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31 x 10.5 x 15
Thanks everyone, I think I’m going to skip on *planning* to do the pivot bushings unless I determine they’re in horrible shape. I’ll get it propped up using the safest stand points I know of, directly on the frame at the radius brackets, and as soon as I get to the step of taking out pivot bolts I will have the view of the pivot pushings I need to assess them. Not wanting to take the axles completely out right now but maybe I’ll get motivated, or I’ll need to.
And as for the radius arm bushings, it’s starting to seem like I can do those after all this, or any time, just by having truck parked straight but still on the ground, simply by undoing the brackets from frame and that opens up the bushings for work and I can reseat them without tension or fuss. I hope I’m correct!
Anyways I just want to stick with the safest Jack stand points that I have at my disposal.
 

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