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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
This lift thread applies to GEN2/ GEN3 AWD vans only (96-05).
See descriptions in BURGUNDY for GEN1 85-95 variants.

Foreword:
Before starting, I must give thanks to our Original Members and Pioneers, without who's hard work and trial-n-error, NONE of this would be possible... thank you for your contribution.

FAQ

What is a 2" Budget Lift?

We are talking about 2" body lift pucks in front. For the rear, the standard shackle extenders will be used. This is by far the cheapest and easiest of all popular lifts. All in this baby runs right about $120 total! If your rubber body spacers are shot, plan on adding another $90 though.

Why the @#$#% would I do this?
As we all know, there are minimal suspension lift kits for these vans because they were never designed to be lifted. That being said, there are commonly 2 schools of thought to get that subframe up in the air… Body Spacers, Torsion Bar Preload, or a combination of both. Here is a side by side comparison:

Torsion Preload:
  • A torsion lift (preloading springs) raises the front end by placing load on the torsion bars, using the adjustment bolts (that are actually designed for minor leveling adjustments), forcing the front end up. This reduces flexibly and travel since you are changing the starting point of those bars. This also results in decreased ride comfort for all the same reasons.
  • Many lifts offer "Reindexed Torsion Keys", which allow you to preload more therefore further reducing flexibility and making it ride like crap and cause accelerated wear on the front axles. You also would need to correct the angles in the front end by flipping the upper control arms ball joints and hope for the best.

Body Spacers:
  • This is a plastic or machined 3" wide puck that you place between the rubber body mount and the subframe that lifts the body up and provides additional body clearance while not affecting the ride quality or suspension travel.
  • This mod requires relocation of the emergency brake cable mount (new bracket or drill existing bracket) and trimming of the lower fan shroud since the subframe and drivetrain will now be sitting lower.

How Long will this take me?
Depends on your experience level, average is a good solid work day.
Of course it all depends on how much other broken/ funky crap or rusted bolts you encounter on the way.

Do I need any special tools or skills to do this?
NOPE! Just what you see here, comfy place to work and a little muscle / patience.


Is there a ton of mods required?
A few, nothing too complicated. In front, drill the e-brake bracket, trim the fan shroud. In the back... one little hole and ya done, not to fret.

What's the 2+1 and 3+1 lift?
The 2+1 lift is waay less evasive and does not require as many mods as the 3+1 and is recommend for beginner to intermediate shade-tree mechanics. The total bill as determined by the WimpTech R&D Team would be under $400 and done in a day.... VERY busy weekend.

Click here to view the 2+1 (3") Lift Thread (Intermediate) ---> viewtopic.php?f=40&t=121937
Click here to view the 3+1 (4") Lift Thread (Advanced)---> viewtopic.php?f=40&t=109802

SHOPPING LIST:
- (Qty 2 total/ 1 kit) Rear shackle extenders, see rear lift section for details. AirBagit / CTS
GEN1 (Fiberglass Leaf) PN:SHA-AS8400B Link: http://a.co/62phR2g
GEN2/3 (Steel Leaf) PN: SHA-AS8400A Link: http://a.co/0mGUrtO

Also available from http://www.metricspecialties.com/ ($30 all in plus shipping)

GEN1 (85-95) VARIANT:
- (Qty 1) Longer steering coupler shaft from GEN2/3 RWD model (Junkyard or JOR) $10


Optional:
  • (Qty 6) Rubber Body Mounts; Link: http://a.co/1hje2Mf (2 of the M14 mounts will have to be drilled larger, or just use your existing metal parts) $90
  • This mod does NOT require new or modified shocks, stock will work just fine. However, whenever replacing shocks, you should make sure all 4 match each other in terms of compression and return rates. Therefore, you should either match models or replace all 4.

TOOLS:
Sockets: 8,10,11,12,13,15,16,17,18,19,21mm
Wrenches: 16,18,21mm
Vice grips
Floor Jack w/ blocks as required
Tall Jack Stands
Beer (as required)

SUPPLIES:
Thread lock
Brake cleaner
WD40
Ratchet strap (opt)

GEN1 VARIANT: JUNKYARD HARVESTING:
- When pulling the steering coupler shaft, get the rubber boot to go with it. This will save you the trouble of having to extend your existing boot. The shaft should be well greased and have almost no play when twisted. Bring a 8mm socket, 11mm wrench and pry bar.



FRONT INSTALL:

TIP: Proactively spray down all the bolts we are removing today with WD40 or similar. This will help the removal process and reduce down time screwing with rusty bolts

Prep:
Remove front bumper cover and subframe, as well as diagonal supports from cover ends.
Trim Lower Fan Shroud:
  • Remove airbox w/ 8mm socket. Remove both upper and lower fan shrouds w/ 10mm socket. The bottom is tricky, be careful I snapped mine, then later just left it out all together).
  • Trim the shroud until it resembles this:





Modify e-brake holder:
- Locate e-brake hanger bracket (near fuel filter, driver's side).


- Use vice grips or similar to secure rear cable just past the adjuster. Use 12mm wrench to loosen (add slack) to the adjuster by turning clockwise.

- Pull apart cables at this junction. Squeeze/ remove retainer clip. Remove 2x 13mm bolts and hanger.


- Drill new hole farther up approx as shown below. Might make it better than this one… oops. Set aside for now.


GEN1 (85-95) VARIANT:

Install Steering Coupler:

  • Set steering wheel to straight forward; secure with bungee down to brake pedal to allow MINOR adjustment (key to ACC position). Thanks TurnNBurn for the tip!
  • Remove 2x 13mm bolts and move fuse box to gain better access to top of boot and upper knuckle.
  • Remove 4x 8mm screws on upper rubber boot, and pull lower boot off gear box (metal flex ring in boot).




(Boot removed)

  • Remove 2x 11mm bolts, remove coupler
  • Install new coupler with boots on (you can compress them together to get to the bolts), top end first, then align to teeth on gear box. Don't let it move more than a tooth or 2 or your wheel will no longer be centered.
  • Secure 2x 11mm bolts with Threadlock; secure boots.



Install Lift:
- Chock front and rear wheels or experience Darwinism first-hand.

- Remove front bumper cladding and metal sub-bumper (4x 15mm bolts)

- Remove body mount bolts x6. Front and rear are 18mm; middle are 21mm.



To lift your van off the sub frame, you can use a few different methods:

1- Lift the front end up by the cross member, then install jack stands under the sides to hold the body up. Then, use the floor jack to lower the subframe down.

2- Use a Hi-lift jack or similar as shown here by ericstg:



3- Position floor jack under front body approx as shown. If using a wood block like this, secure it to the jack to prevent tipping.



- Carefully lift body up off sub frame in small steps. Check for fitment issue or tight wires/ hoses. Stop when you can fit the 2" block on top of the body isolator.
Darwin check... once lifted, use those Jack stands, blocks or what ever and don't rely on just the jack or risk proving Darwin right.
Note: If rubber is badly cracked, smushed or otherwise hosed then consider replacement.



-NOTE: 3" pucks pictured here

  • If pucks are not perpendicular, use ratchet straps or similar on the front of the van to pull it into alignment.
  • Install new bolts through isolators and pucks. Use threadlock and torque to spec, or as hard as you can, don't be Wimpy.

- Lower van, marvel in what you have accomplished… but not for too long, still got crap to do man!

- Reinstall e-brake bracket using new hole. Pry out tangs on the insert as required to secure. Reattach front cable to adjuster as shown in previous step. Adjust e-brake cable as required to ensure brakes aren't dragging and work properly when pedal is depressed.


REAR INSTALL:

  • Jack up rear end using common sense and as mentioned above to gain access. Hi-Lift jack with stands or if you have no budget, wood blocks n jack stands.
  • Remove 2x 21mm rear shackle bolts, adjust jack to relive pressure on the bolts as required... don't drop van or axle on face.
  • Using the appropriate shackle from the parts list, install extender into the top part first (loosely) as shown below. Then, swing it to meet the axle on the bottom most hole for 3" (or other as desired).



- Tighten all bolts and secure with threadlock.

To correct pinion angle and center rear wheel:
  • Move to the forward rear leaf hanger and jack/ support as appropriate.
  • Remove 2x 21mm leaf bolts. and move out of the way.
  • You can either remove the forward hangers to drill or if you are careful, drill in place. DRILL IT STRAIGHT or the gods will punish you.
  • Find center of lower portion (down 1.5 inches down(hole to hole)and centered in the bracket (about 1 inch up from the very bottom) and drill hole as shown here:

- Reinstall forward hanger/ spring into hanger and tighten with threadlock.
astro_1_147.jpg


Front Torsion Bar Adjustment:
If needed to level out your ride, you can make adjustments to the ride height via the torsion bar adjusters. NOTE: If adjusting these, you should go for an immediate alignment or the gods will punish you.

- Locate Torsion bar adjustment bolts x2 in this area:




  • Turn bolts clockwise to increase preload and raise front by ~1". The amount of turns may vary, ~ 6-8 full turns.
  • On a flat(ish) surface, measure between ground an wheel wells as required to ensure both sides are even and the desired height has been achieved.

Wrap Up

- Install bumper relocation brackets
WimpTech solution can be found here: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=100130
- Reinstall front bumper support or other bumper solution. Note: If reusing stock bumper cover, trimming will be required to ensure clearance with larger tires.

Go over everything:
  • Bolts torqued down
  • Wires and hoses have proper strain relief
  • Tools removed
  • No extra parts/ bolts, besides the 6 body mount bolts of course
  • Plan on getting an alignment ASAP

Note: recheck torque on body spacer and leaf bolts after about 100 miles to ensure nothing came loose.

Crack open frosty beverage of choice… you did it.

For additional information and background on lifts, see AstroWill's site here:
https://sites.google.com/site/astrosafa ... safari-van
 

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Thanks!

I just finished (mostly) doing this yesterday. The middle (14mm x 140mm) body puck bolt that I got from Tacoma Screw used a 7/8" socket. I think that's a 22 mm socket.

On my van, once I got the subframe separated by 2" on the front-most spacer, the middle and rear spacers had much more space. No need to crank anything past 2".

60 pounds torque on 12mm bolts and 100 pounds on middle 14mm bolt.
 

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Just did my third AWD 2" body lift.
Got complacent because this was my third time, so I ju mst.went for it,
BUT,
I shoulda re-read these instructions first.
(;-{(
Everything went easy peasy. I had all the new parts (blocks and bolts) and even had a few extra used rubbers in good conditon that were sitting on the ground at the wreckers.
Unfortunately, when doing the left side I forgot to unbolt the parkng brake bracket first. So of course the front part of the cable got between the sub-frame during the jacking, and kinked.
@$/^&*(
Oh well ...
free labor is some times worth less than you pay for it.
My van is a 2005, with discs at the rear, and the rear brakes needed some repairs any how, especially the parking brake parts. I just need to add the price of a new cable to the crest of the bill ( Rear backing plates are rusted out and one sidevofvthe P-brake needed a new cable.
 

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Interestingly ...
Most sources say the 2plus1 lift is suitable for a maximum 29" sized tire.
Hmmmm?
My last build,
exact same 2" body lift,
I was running 235/75/R15 LT DURATRACS on a 6000 lb rig that DID get into some rough stuff occasionally.

But on this latest build, a 2005, I test fitted a set of 30" tall ( measured ... new specs call for 30.5") used 245/75/R16 LT tires on the factory CHEV SIX BOLT ALLOY rims and they seem good to go. After some pretty simple cut and bash with an angle grinder and the BFNN HAMMER, at full lock, I am 1/2" away from the FRAME and just clearing the sway bar. These rims are 16x7 with FIVE.five inches of backspacing. The only possible points of interference are at the frame and the sway bar. Using rims with less back space seems to open up the possibility of even larger tires with the standard 2plus1 lift.

It is not the height that limits tire size at the front, it is rubbing up against the frame or the sway bar ...which can be controlled by using narrower tires and less back space.

Any one else running larger than 30" tires with the 2plus1 lift??
PS: Even though height of the wheel well openings does not seem to limit tire size, I plan.on RADIUSING the fenders by cutting along the crescent shaped flare around the openings. This opens up the bottom sections, especially needed at the rear. I did this radius mod on my 99 build and it was quick and easy. I used plastic garden edging material for the trim, and it looks good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well, apples and oranges with your old van since one is a 15" and the other is a 16" on metric tire sizing. I run the same size on my 3+1 lift (245/75/16) and even I get rub AFTER chopping n bashing. Biggest point of rub is the foot wells in front. The BatVan (GEN3) ran 235/75/16 and I got a ton of rub too. Trying to put that tire in with only a 2" lift just aint gonna work very well my friend, especially when you add a bunch of weight and start flexing over things.
Stock wheels have about 4" of back spacing and the rims you mentioned are 5" so I can't help but think that is part of the problem.
 

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Thanks for the support!

Lift: Well, I will start with the 2" lift tomorrow morning and see where it goes. It should be okay with some TLC in a form of a hammer.
Wheels: I can replace the 15" x 8" with 15" x 7" if needed and that should help. I had a good deal on my wheel / tires but I followed the saleman's recommendations.
Website: Indeed, it is very limited search engine. Is it why there is a $Donate tab? ;-) IMHO, It does need a Classified or For Sale section.

The van looks so cool with these wheels, worth trying to fit all. I will definitively post the results for whoever might want to upgrade their ride.
 

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Done. 2" spacers in front, shackles in rear for almost 3" lift. I haven't touched the torsion bars as the front end was already higher. The van is leveled and my 15" x 8" wheels with 235/75-15 tires are no longer rubbing but it is a tight fit with the -19mm offset (even after some bumper trimming, hammering, and disassembling the bumper / grille 3x!)

Following instructions and advices from the fine Gentlemen participating in this conversation, it was quite easy. I did run into few issues that may have been covered by other members:

-Steering shaft boot became too short after installing the extender. Solution: a mountain bike tire tube and few zip ties wrapped around the gap.
-Air intake / filter box could barely re-attach to the flexible coupling. Solution: force it in place, it should be fine.
-Lower radiator hose and brake booster pulled towards the fan. Solution(s): some bending and zip ties.
-Potential induced vibration from the rear driveshaft. Solution: 2 degree shims if needed, easy fix.

Very happy with the results overall, the van looks soooooooooo much better than the uninteresting stock look (no offenses). It took me about 6 hours at a very relax pace (why stressing?) to do all that in a driveway with basic tools. I spent the most time on the fan shroud and steering shaft issues.

My advice to you: DO IT!!!! 2"+1" is easy, cheap, minimally invasive, and will make your van looking better while still driving like a regular one (almost!)

Photos coming soon
 

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Updates on my previous 2" lift review

Sorry for the delay Wimptech. Got busy with life and the Astro started protesting its mods...

After the wheel alignment and finally driving the van around, the Astro decided to protest its mutilations. The front wheels are seriously rubbing on the frame joint inside the well despite hammering these really good. Similar issues with the rear wheels, mostly the left one, rubbing in the front of the well. The rear end itself dropped by almost an 1" once everything settle down and the only option seems to be removing the plastic lower panels... Not ready for that. A regular Astro should not have these issues, but the LS and LT package come with the painted rock panels attached inside the wells. I will stubbornly stick to my 2" lift instead of 3" as I am not ready for the extras involved. I really like the "just lifted enough to look good" type of look.

Conclusions / solutions:

-My 15" x 8" wheels with -19mm offset are the root cause of my problems as they extend too far out. I may swap the 8" wide/-19mm offset to 7" wide/-6mm offset which should give me that precious 1" needed (and also prevent the side door to rub on my tire!) I did not realize how tight the wheels are in their wells. Hope this save somebody a headache!
-The rear shackles (AKA ladders in certain part of the continent) acted more like a patch. I think that the OEM leaf springs need to be replaced to do it right. The S-15 lift/upgrade should give me the extra lift needed, more stability (despite not being a problem yet), and help with any extra load.
-Engine: I may remove the air filter box and replace it with a K&N style washable cone filter. TBD.
-Note: I do appreciate to have more room to work around the upper engine section :)

Ending quote: "Never give up on your dreams" (if lifting a 19 years old van is one of them!) lol
 

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changing out the width (or the offset for that matter) is not going to change your rubbing problems. Quite frankly, you picked to big of a tire for the lift you decided to go with.

If you want. you can try redrilling the rear spring hangers like I did to try and recenter your axle.





 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
^^^THAT^^^

Please let us know how it goes, but that should fix all that ails you. If the rear is rubbing when you take off from a stop, your springs are likely just too tired and should be replaced. Good time to go with the S10 spring and 2+1 lift!
 

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Well, two years after buying the parts, I finally got around to lifting the van. Had a couple of friends over to help/be on hand for moral support/possible emergency services calls, and overall it went pretty well.

A couple of minor snags:

First, one of the leaf spring bolts in back was totally seized to the inner bushing sleeve. Luckily, I hadn't planned to replace them yet, but did have the poly bushings on hand. We used a gear puller to press the bushing/bolt out, mangled the old shackle in the process but whatever, zipped the bushing/bolt apart with the angle grinder, then pressed the rest out. I pried the leftover rubber out bit by bit with a screwdriver. I thought the old bushing would have an outer sleeve too (?) but it didn't seem too and the poly went in nicely. I used a 1/2-inch bolt as a placeholder for now - going to order a real bolt from McMaster today - I think it's M14 x 110.

Second snag - the parking brake adjuster/bolt was totally seized up and the long adjusting bolt snapped, even after much patience and many applications of Kroil. Oh well. Anyone know of a write-up on replacing the rear cable? I'll keep poking around. I see the equalizer/adjuster part on RockAuto, but don't see a rear cable that looks right. I have a drum brake service kit laying around as well, so should probably do that too sometime soon.

Here are my before/after measurements, at the top of the wheel wells (and before any torsion bar tweaking):

(DF, PF, DR, PR)

Before 29.00, 29.00, 29.75, 30.75
After 31.50, 31.75, 31.50, 31.75

Here are a couple of photos. Thanks, as always, to everyone here for pioneering this stuff and writing it up so clearly. Pretty fun way to spend a Sunday.


 
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