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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Everyone, what y’all do with your rigs is nothing short of amazing. I don’t expect to do nowhere nears it. What I have is mostly gravel trails to get around on rural property w the majority on pavement. The stock setup has been more than adequate. 93k on the clock and things are feeling a bit mushy. So, like everyone else, it’s time to upgrade a bit and I come to y’all for advice, opinions. Hopefully, there’s enough of you out there that have gone this way that can chime in. So, here are my parameters.

1. I really don’t wont to get into figuring out lift geometry that will affect performance and handling because of big tires.
2. I don’t want to do a chop. Want to keep it stock.
3. I want to lift it but not radically. Lifting desire mostly for appearance as it doesn’t look right in stock configuration.
4. I don’t want to go cheap either and cheat with just spacers.
5. Thinking of 17” inch Steelies for that old school lock, trd pros or 16” bead wheels. Any of these will do. Preferences?
6. When is swapping out the UCA a consideration?
7. Pictures would really help out a lot!

TIA
 

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'08 Sandstorm
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Something like a 2" Old Man Emu lift (it's what we used, so that's why I'm mentioning the brand) is a good choice for a quality basic, no frills kit. No doubt there are others, but this is what we have experience with. I daily drive my '08 as well as get out offroad anywhere from 1-4 times a month and am happy with the way it rides on as well as off road. I used 885/895 springs with their recommended struts/shocks, got almost 3" front/2" rear lift, also installed SPC uca's and along with 285/70-17 AT TA's am more than happy with the results. We'll be putting a Warn 8000 winch along with a Metal Tech Stronghold winch plate (125 lbs? total and is packaged within the original bumper confines) up front in the new year and even if the front was to sag 1/4- 1/2" I don't see it being an issue. If you were to go slightly softer and only got 2" (or a touch more) front and 1" rear lift and stay with stock tire size I think you could probably keep the stock uca's, as the aftermarket arms are (I think) really only necessary for getting back stock caster settings when going to more than 2" lift and 33" tires. Someone please take the time to correct me if I'm wrong here. Btw, I chose the SPC arms because they have higher strength, greasable ball joints instead of 'uniballs', which don't last (so I'm told) more than 2 or 3 of the salt laden winters here in Vancouver BC.

According to this thread- has anyone used OME 884's? 883, 884 and 885 front springs are all the same diameter wire but the 884's are 10 mm taller than 883's and the 885's 10 mm taller again. This thread- OME SUSPENSION KITS: Option Guide also has some information but doesn't have anything for the 894 (softer than the 895?) rear spring- maybe someone who knows can chime in. Hope this helps. Al
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Something like a 2" Old Man Emu lift (it's what we used, so that's why I'm mentioning the brand) is a good choice for a quality basic, no frills kit. No doubt there are others, but this is what we have experience with. I daily drive my '08 as well as get out offroad anywhere from 1-4 times a month and am happy with the way it rides on as well as off road. I used 885/895 springs with their recommended struts/shocks, got almost 3" front/2" rear lift, also installed SPC uca's and along with 285/70-17 AT TA's am more than happy with the results. We'll be putting a Warn 8000 winch along with a Metal Tech Stronghold winch plate (125 lbs? total and is packaged within the original bumper confines) up front in the new year and even if the front was to sag 1/4- 1/2" I don't see it being an issue. If you were to go slightly softer and only got 2" (or a touch more) front and 1" rear lift and stay with stock tire size I think you could probably keep the stock uca's, as the aftermarket arms are (I think) really only necessary for getting back stock caster settings when going to more than 2" lift and 33" tires. Someone please take the time to correct me if I'm wrong here. Btw, I chose the SPC arms because they have higher strength, greasable ball joints instead of 'uniballs', which don't last (so I'm told) more than 2 or 3 of the salt laden winters here in Vancouver BC.

According to this thread- has anyone used OME 884's? 883, 884 and 885 front springs are all the same diameter wire but the 884's are 10 mm taller than 883's and the 885's 10 mm taller again. This thread- OME SUSPENSION KITS: Option Guide also has some information but doesn't have anything for the 894 (softer than the 895?) rear spring- maybe someone who knows can chime in. Hope this helps. Al
AI, that sounds great. Sounds like what I’m looking for. Did u do anything else other than just springs, struts/shocks, UCA? Have any pictures? TIA.
 

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Nomadic,
It's refreshing to hear someone ask logistical questions with a realistic, sensible goal in mind. You stated that your stock setup has been more than adequate for the terrain you drive in. That's good information for making a suspension modification decision. I can answer a couple of your questions, provide some info, and give an opinion. I do not know your level of mechanical knowledge so I'll apologize in advance if my information is to basic.

First off, there are two commonly used terms for suspension modifications. (1) A Lift, which both the front and rear of the vehicle are lifted to a desired height. (2) A Leveling kit, which only the front of the vehicle is lifted a small amount to level the vehicle and eliminate the factory rake. Basic 4x4 101 = To gain ground clearance, taller tires are required to increase clearance between the axles and the ground. To accommodate taller tires, a lift is required to provide clearance between the tires and body parts. Normally suspension height is determined by the tire size that will be used. Once these two factors have been decided, suspension performance is then considered and there are numerous products and brands on the market. I'll assume you're going to stay with a reasonable tire size.

Shocks for your vehicle are manufactured in 2 inch, 2.5 inch diameters and with external reservoirs. The differences are increased oil capacities to help prevent the oil from overheating when the shock piston in undergoing extreme, fast, rapid movement. Note: external reservoirs provide no benefit on pavement.

Lifting the rear of your Cruiser is simple. A taller spring or a spacer however I do not recommend a rear spacer over 1 inch. Forgoing a spacer and using a taller spring is the preferred method. Note: your coil sprung rear axle is centered within the frame by a solid Panhard bar connected at two fixed points on the axle and frame. When lifting the rear suspension the axle will shift to the right. To re-center the rear axle an adjustable Panhard bar is required which allows adjustment to lengthen the bar, re-positioning the axle. Adjustable Panhard bars are reasonably inexpensive.

When purchasing springs you must consider weight. Most aftermarket taller rear springs have a weight rating higher than the stock springs primarily to accommodate heavier loads such as a steel bumper or heavy cargo. If you install a heavier weight rated spring in the rear of your Cruiser without any additional weight added to the vehicle you'll end up with a stiff ride regardless of your shock choice. Bilstein offers a rear spring advertised to produce .9 inches of lift with the same weight rating as factory springs.

The front of your Cruiser uses a Strut in which the spring is seated on the shock forming a single unit. Most aftermarket front suspensions for the FJ are height adjustable either by pre-positioning the spring perch on the shock or by adding preload to the spring by an adjustable collar. Front Struts are offered in 2 and 2.5 inch diameters shocks but be advised that most 2.5 inch systems come with larger outer diameter springs requiring the use of aftermarket Upper Control Arms and a front sway bar relocation kit to clear the larger springs.

Aftermarket Upper Control Arms are only required if; you use large outer diameter springs, or lift the vehicle to a height which puts an extreme angle on the factory upper ball joint, or the lift height makes it impossible to achieve proper Caster adjustment with stock UCA's. I know several guys using front Bilstein 5100's with stock springs, set at 2.5 inches of lift, stock UCA's and running 285/70's. They report no tire rubbing and acceptable wheel alignment.

The most valuable recommendation I can give you is to sit down with pen and paper and formulate a detailed build plan from A to Z. What size tires do you plan to run. Do you need a full lift or a leveling kit. Are you adding any additional weight to the vehicle. Take into consideration that you may in the future want to alter your original build so purchase products that allow for alterations. Case in point, if you later decide on adding aftermarket UCA's you need a wheel off-set of at least (Negative) -12 to prevent the tire sidewall from contacting the UCA's so purchase wheels with this in mind.

You don't have to spend a bucket of money to achieve a lifted, quality ride. My first build was a full Icon system which I regretted and later removed and sold.

Given the mileage of your vehicle you should replace the shocks at all 4 corners even if you decide on just a leveling kit. 1.5 inches of front lift will level your Cruiser. If you raise the front 2.5 inches you'll need 1 inch of lift in the rear to keep it level.

Brands that I would recommend you research are Bilstein, Old Man Emu, and also Fox. For upper control arms, SCP and JBA. Use the manufactures websites and Youtube for information.

I'm attaching photos of my current setup for visual reference.
Front = Bilstein 6112's set at 2.5 inches of lift. JBA UCA's. Sway bar relocation kit.
Rear = Bilstein Springs providing 1 inch of lift. Fox 2.0 Shocks. Adjustable Panhard bar.
Tires = 285/70 17's

I experimented with Bilstein 5100 shocks in the rear but found them to be a bit stiff. The Fox 2.0's combined with the Bilstein springs that have a weight rating of 180 pounds is the perfect setup for me. My current setup provide a very comfortable ride on and off road with good on-pavement handling characteristics.


IMG_7315.jpeg
IMG_7322.jpeg
IMG_7324.jpeg
 

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I’m thinking to avoid rubbing, 175. I think I start running into trouble at 185, no?
285/70/17’s in a modest style tire (BFG AT KO2) will go on a 3 inch lift, no spacers, stock rims, no body mount chop needed. If you go with a 275, I believe most only come in load rating E, which may or may not influence your decision. Pretty big weight difference between C and E, all else being equal. 2 inch lift and what the above poster said is good advice! Have fun
Jeff
 

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rear spring spacers and bilstein 5100's up front
 

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'08 Sandstorm
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@Nomadic- Just what I described. We're in the process of building some sliders but they're not finished yet. I don't seem to have any pics of it since the suspension work and tires- my oldest's been doing all the picture taking and (for some reason) is a little reluctant to share (I'm really not sure why but he keeps putting off uploading them into the computer). I'll take a pic of it on the street tomorrow. What I can show you-
one of our recent adventures. I'm the somewhat pudgy balding guy in the denim jacket. If you like it at all please subscribe to Scott's Youtube channel.
 

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When upgrading the front shocks and springs I put my Bilsteins both on the 3rd notch raising it to 1.25"...however I swear I see the driver side lean..

QUESTION: would you raise the driver's side by one notch more than the passenger side to compensate for driver side lean?
Or is it not a good idea to have the two front shocks set at different heights?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
ALB, watching FJs slowly traverse the land with that music in the background is epic. Instead of a National Geographic on deer migration or a documentary on the wagon trail westward, it’s 4x4’s as they make their yearly pilgrimage to Mecca. Or something to that effect. Subscribe? You bet. Good stuff. I have thought about the OME setup as a Stage 1 option to get a bit of a lift. But, the results as to what that actually looks given the exact wheel and tire combination I’m looking for has been spotty. My searching hasn’t always been rewarded with exact picture confirmation. And so searching and the time I spend searching makes me feel a bit OCD.

Speaking of epic, Olangopo2, wow. That comment was epic as well. Thank you, very much. I appreciate you approaching the topic at hand somewhat systematically so that others who are new to things can learn. Thanks Doc. Often, I’ll watch videos and they’ll communicate language that assumes the viewers know what their talking about. Well, guess what, 10% do, but they’ll have lost a good portion of their audience that don’t. So, kudos for being thorough and taking the time to explain. It’s what makes this forum and the people who participate in it so valuable.

I know it’s a lot of work on these threads trying to help people sort things out. Especially if people vacillate and are unclear specifically as to what they want. Quite honestly, with what’s going on in this crazy world, I really don’t want to spend a whole lot of time trying to figure this out. I’d like to say I’ve got more pressing things to do. And, I do. But, I must say, at the same time, it is quite fun. I just wish it wasn’t so painful.

Ok, so here are a couple of pictures we can talk to. Maybe this will confirm what has been previously recommended by Olongopa2 and ALB.

Exhibit 1 and 2 (Sand and Black Cherry). Both wearing steel wheels. Outside of the front bumpers, the stance looks exactly the same. I really really like these setup’s given my parameters per my initial post. Olongapo2, is yours the same? Can’t tell because of ur wheels. But, given that the rims in these pictures are 17 inch rims, will both your suggestions achieve this look?

Exhibit 2, voodoo blue. Stock 17 rims but the lift is much much higher than from what I can see in Exhibit 1. That is not what I am trying to achieve. I don’t need this much lift.

Hopefully, y’all know where I’m going and this isn’t driving u crazy. If so, my apologies in advance. I’m thankful for ur comments and much further along than I was before.
 

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Another thing...steel wheels are a downgrade from the OEM aluminum. I’d be very reluctant about putting on a heavier, lower performance wheel for aesthetics. But the steel does have a cool old school look!
Especially wheels, directly affects handling (unsprung weight) and gas mileage.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Another thing...steel wheels are a downgrade from the OEM aluminum. I’d be very reluctant about putting on a heavier, lower performance wheel for aesthetics. But the steel does have a cool old school look!
Especially wheels, directly affects handling (unsprung weight) and gas mileage.
Excellent point. Noted. Thx.
 

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1552 makes an aluminum “Steelie”


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro
 

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@Nomadic- Glad you liked Scott's work- that's only his 3rd video and they were all shot with his Samsung phone. He got a Gopro for Christmas so he's just itching to get out, but the FJ needs some TLC at the moment- diff, tc and trans fluids changed and the sliders finished up/painted and installed before we go out again. Btw- we built our own sliders- my good friend (more like partner in crime in most things!) Gerry bent the outer tubes and and nephew Marc welded them up- I did most of the fitting work.
1149241
1149250
1149251
 

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Nomadic,
It's refreshing to hear someone ask logistical questions with a realistic, sensible goal in mind. You stated that your stock setup has been more than adequate for the terrain you drive in. That's good information for making a suspension modification decision. I can answer a couple of your questions, provide some info, and give an opinion. I do not know your level of mechanical knowledge so I'll apologize in advance if my information is to basic.

First off, there are two commonly used terms for suspension modifications. (1) A Lift, which both the front and rear of the vehicle are lifted to a desired height. (2) A Leveling kit, which only the front of the vehicle is lifted a small amount to level the vehicle and eliminate the factory rake. Basic 4x4 101 = To gain ground clearance, taller tires are required to increase clearance between the axles and the ground. To accommodate taller tires, a lift is required to provide clearance between the tires and body parts. Normally suspension height is determined by the tire size that will be used. Once these two factors have been decided, suspension performance is then considered and there are numerous products and brands on the market. I'll assume you're going to stay with a reasonable tire size.

Shocks for your vehicle are manufactured in 2 inch, 2.5 inch diameters and with external reservoirs. The differences are increased oil capacities to help prevent the oil from overheating when the shock piston in undergoing extreme, fast, rapid movement. Note: external reservoirs provide no benefit on pavement.

Lifting the rear of your Cruiser is simple. A taller spring or a spacer however I do not recommend a rear spacer over 1 inch. Forgoing a spacer and using a taller spring is the preferred method. Note: your coil sprung rear axle is centered within the frame by a solid Panhard bar connected at two fixed points on the axle and frame. When lifting the rear suspension the axle will shift to the right. To re-center the rear axle an adjustable Panhard bar is required which allows adjustment to lengthen the bar, re-positioning the axle. Adjustable Panhard bars are reasonably inexpensive.

When purchasing springs you must consider weight. Most aftermarket taller rear springs have a weight rating higher than the stock springs primarily to accommodate heavier loads such as a steel bumper or heavy cargo. If you install a heavier weight rated spring in the rear of your Cruiser without any additional weight added to the vehicle you'll end up with a stiff ride regardless of your shock choice. Bilstein offers a rear spring advertised to produce .9 inches of lift with the same weight rating as factory springs.

The front of your Cruiser uses a Strut in which the spring is seated on the shock forming a single unit. Most aftermarket front suspensions for the FJ are height adjustable either by pre-positioning the spring perch on the shock or by adding preload to the spring by an adjustable collar. Front Struts are offered in 2 and 2.5 inch diameters shocks but be advised that most 2.5 inch systems come with larger outer diameter springs requiring the use of aftermarket Upper Control Arms and a front sway bar relocation kit to clear the larger springs.

Aftermarket Upper Control Arms are only required if; you use large outer diameter springs, or lift the vehicle to a height which puts an extreme angle on the factory upper ball joint, or the lift height makes it impossible to achieve proper Caster adjustment with stock UCA's. I know several guys using front Bilstein 5100's with stock springs, set at 2.5 inches of lift, stock UCA's and running 285/70's. They report no tire rubbing and acceptable wheel alignment.

The most valuable recommendation I can give you is to sit down with pen and paper and formulate a detailed build plan from A to Z. What size tires do you plan to run. Do you need a full lift or a leveling kit. Are you adding any additional weight to the vehicle. Take into consideration that you may in the future want to alter your original build so purchase products that allow for alterations. Case in point, if you later decide on adding aftermarket UCA's you need a wheel off-set of at least (Negative) -12 to prevent the tire sidewall from contacting the UCA's so purchase wheels with this in mind.

You don't have to spend a bucket of money to achieve a lifted, quality ride. My first build was a full Icon system which I regretted and later removed and sold.

Given the mileage of your vehicle you should replace the shocks at all 4 corners even if you decide on just a leveling kit. 1.5 inches of front lift will level your Cruiser. If you raise the front 2.5 inches you'll need 1 inch of lift in the rear to keep it level.

Brands that I would recommend you research are Bilstein, Old Man Emu, and also Fox. For upper control arms, SCP and JBA. Use the manufactures websites and Youtube for information.

I'm attaching photos of my current setup for visual reference.
Front = Bilstein 6112's set at 2.5 inches of lift. JBA UCA's. Sway bar relocation kit.
Rear = Bilstein Springs providing 1 inch of lift. Fox 2.0 Shocks. Adjustable Panhard bar.
Tires = 285/70 17's

I experimented with Bilstein 5100 shocks in the rear but found them to be a bit stiff. The Fox 2.0's combined with the Bilstein springs that have a weight rating of 180 pounds is the perfect setup for me. My current setup provide a very comfortable ride on and off road with good on-pavement handling characteristics.


View attachment 1149190 View attachment 1149191 View attachment 1149192
And as mentioned don't forget the adjustable rear panhard bar to center the rear axle under the frame. Bilstein 5100 shocks are too stiff, I know. Eventually all the pieces mentioned by Nomadic should be upgraded. And finally a real 4x4 alignment has to be done to get all geometries corrected.

Thinking about how you want your truck to ride: Stay away from anything that says "RACE" on it. You want low maintenance, not maximum air time!
 
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