Putting together my own 2-3" lift

Putting together my own 2-3" lift

Postby Philly758 [OP] » October 30th 2011, 3:22pm

I've always wanted to put a lift on my van, being AWD it only seems to make sense. I don't like how shackle lifts move the rear tire forward in the wheel well, and I've read about several issues related to blocks. So I decided that I want to do a leaf spring lift. I'm thinking S10 leafs will bring my rear up 2-3", then I will install 2" blocks in the front and adjust the torsion keys to my liking.

Here is what I've found so far. I'm sure I could source some cheaper fasteners, but this will work for the first pass at it. Let me know what you think.

Front:
- ZON3296 - 2" Tall x 3" Wide Body Lift Blocks, $3.00/ea x Qty 6 = $18.00 + $12.15 shipping = $30.15 (http://zoneoffroad.com/product-acc?ki=402)
- M12-1.75 x 150mm CL 12.9 DIN 912 Plain Socket Head Cap Screw, $3.92/ea x Qty 4 = $15.68 + $5 shipping guess = $20.68 (http://www.fastenal.com/web/products/detail.ex?sku=39670)
- M14-2.0 x 150mm CL 12.9 DIN 912 Plain Socket Head Cap Screw, $7.44/ea x Qty 2 = $14.88 + $5 shipping guess = $19.88 (http://www.fastenal.com/web/products/detail.ex?sku=39700)

Rear:
- 1995-2004 Chevy / GMC S10, S15 Sonoma Pickup - Leaf Spring (Rear - 3/1 Leaves), $115.95/ea x Qty 2 = $231.90 + $39.39 shipping = $271.29 (http://www.sdtrucksprings.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=8939)... Assuming these leafs will give me the same lift as the Overlandvans.com 95-05 Astro/Safari +3" Spring Pack, 3+1 @ 1350# (http://www.overlandvans.com/0104_suspension.html)

Other:
- Bumper Relocation Bracket, I am planning to modify the existing bracket and not purchase the relocation brackets from Overlandvans.com. When I get a chance I will sketch up what I am planning to do in paint and post it. Worst case is I just move the bracket up, use one bolt and have a friend of mine weld it in place.
- Emergency Brake Cable Bracket, I will drill another hole in the existing bracket and re-use that.
- U-Bolts, will I need new U-Bolts? If so, what size will I need? I would probably just order these - http://www.sdtrucksprings.com/index.php ... ts_id=7488

In total doing the lift this way will cost about $350 with shipping included. I'll be installing everything myself so labor is "free". Any thoughts, comments or suggestions are welcome and always appreciated.

Thanks,
Dan :wave:
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2000 GMC Safari SLE, AWD - 150k+
- Lifted with 22-687 leaf springs and 2" blocks
- Cooper AT3 30x9.5's on Cragar Soft 8's
- Hellwig Rear Sway Bar
- TruCool Trans Cooler
- Corvette Servo
- Moog steering
- Bilstein HD's
- 3.73 G80
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Re: Putting together my own 2-3" lift

Postby Jasen » October 30th 2011, 9:57pm

Have you looked at Lumpy and Shadows lift threads.
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Re: Putting together my own 2-3" lift

Postby Shad0wXCalibur » October 30th 2011, 10:47pm

If you're only going for the 3+1 S10 leaf springs, I would check a junkyard first. You can probably find a pair for really cheap. They're easily identifiable by the huge completely flat overload leaf (which you remove to fit in the factory bracket). My junkyard charges $12 per spring pack. I bought mine brand new because I went straight for the 4+1 S10 springs instead. They rode smoother than the factory springs and increase load capacity and DO fit in the factory bracket once you remove the overload. They give a 4" lift and you could tweak your torsion bars 1" to bring your front lift to a total of 3" if you went the 4+1 route. I'm no expert on the AWD vans so I'm not sure how high you can take the torsion bars without aftermarket keys and such.

As for the body lift, there's things that I've not seen mentioned considering how many people do a body lift. I only went 1" and my wheel well liners were pulling on the plastic tabs pretty hard. After I got done with it, I just hammered the tabs back in but on a 2" body lift, you'll have to completely remove the wheel liners before you start and put some new holes in them. You'll also have to cut a big chunk of the lower fan shroud off. Check ALL hoses and wiring. I had to make a few very minor adjustments to a couple of hoses but they should have enough slack. As for the bumper brackets, some people just mount the bottom hole of the brackets to the top hole of the frame. This only leaves 1 bolt holding on the bracket but if you wanted, you could put a couple of small spot welds from the bracket to frame that can be ground off if needed. I think that's about all I can think of for now... good luck!
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Re: Putting together my own 2-3" lift

Postby vangogo » October 31st 2011, 12:10am

Seems like a good plan for the lift =). I did notice that the load rating on those springs is lower than factory Astro springs, just something to note if you plan to tow or haul anything. I did not purchase the bumper kit, and did pretty much the same mods you and shadow wrote, Ive had no issues at all with simple mods to the existing bracket. have fun~
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Re: Putting together my own 2-3" lift

Postby Lumpy » October 31st 2011, 1:25am

I have a set of 2001 S10 3+1 springs. In the test fitting I did a week ago I got exactly 2 inch lift.
I"m not able to comment on their stiffness. I didn't drive with them. Only installed one side for fit.
Didn't install the upper plate.

Let us know, please, how you deal with the plate/mounting situation.

RockAuto has Husky brand U-bolts inexpensive. Look at the various year and style (AWD vs RWD)
Astros and you'll find various lengths. They're all the same size throat and wire diameter.

Another good source for bolts like the ones for the front pucks -
http://www.allensfasteners.com
I have not ordered from them but they have good prices and selection.

I have ordered stuff from ZoneOffroad. They are fast and inexpensive.
I would buy from them again (and probably will). They answer emails quickly
which is one of my acid tests of an online company. I ALWAYS send a question
and see how fast and what kind of response I get. Zone answered the same day
"Hi Craig - Yes, they are 9/16 inch studs and 2 1/2 inches wide".

If I email a question and a company answers "Call us"
I don't do business with them. They're an online company, they should
be able to communicate online. If I'm exchanging measurements and figures,
I want it to be in writing (email) not verbal. Lots of online companies
simply don't answer emails. Or they answer with something stupid like
"I'll have to check". Well then, go check instead of using phrases like
"I'll have to..." Because actually, you don't HAVE to, only if you want my money.
rant-blah blah.

Take pics now, and then, and after then, and at points inbetween.. please.. :banana:


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Re: Putting together my own 2-3" lift

Postby Philly758 [OP] » October 31st 2011, 4:31pm

I've read through both Lumpy and Shadow's long long long threads and have learned quite a bit. I want to for a straight forward lift with no trial and error. This is my daily driver and I am not much of a mechanic or fabricator, so I want just want to unbolt some parts and bolt new ones up. Also, factory quality/finish is important to me no matter what I do to my van. Everything I do I plan on doing once and want it to last for the liftetime of my van (forever).

vangogo - Good call on the load rating of those springs. From what I gather the stock astro/safari rear leafs are rated at 1,410 lbs. Also from what I've dug through the stock size is 2 1/2" wide and 26x28, with 3 1/8" arch, pack thickness 1 9/16". I definitely don't want to reduce the loading of my van and am looking for tighter handling as a result anyways. So that puts the 1,350 lb options out the window, I'm now looking at 1,750 lb leaf springs.

This is what I'm thinking...
# Leaves: 5 (4/1)
Load: 1,750
Pack Thickness: 1-7/8
Arch: 7
Measurements: 2-1/2 Wide 26x28
http://thesuspensionking.com/catalog/pr ... p7tfp5be27

Shadow, this sounds like what you used but removed the overload leaf. Is that correct? In theory this will give me about 3 1/2-4" of lift, based on the arc difference, minus the overload leaf thickness. I assume the the overload does nothing until the leafs are overloaded, so I should maintain the 1,750 lbs rating.

Another question... Will I be able to use the stock u-bolts/clamps on my axle if I do this? If there is a small difference in thickness (probably thicker) will this matter?

Clearly I have no idea what I am talking about, thats why I'm here... :confused:
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- Lifted with 22-687 leaf springs and 2" blocks
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- Hellwig Rear Sway Bar
- TruCool Trans Cooler
- Corvette Servo
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- Bilstein HD's
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Re: Putting together my own 2-3" lift

Postby Bread Van » October 31st 2011, 4:59pm

Good work, keep us posted on what you finally do. I'm following this thread because I'm curious about bolt on options for the rear end lift, I also don't want to fabricate anything.

What are the "issues" you found related to blocks?
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Re: Putting together my own 2-3" lift

Postby Philly758 [OP] » October 31st 2011, 5:29pm

This is how I plan to handle the bumper relocation on the cheap. Its basically a piece of flat stock, cut to length, with 3 holes drilled in it. You will need 4 of them, one for each side of the bracket. You will need 8 short nuts/bolts to pinch the bracket to the bumper brack/frame. You will probably need 4 washers for the lower part of the bracket so it sits flush. Should be solid, keep it from rotating and require no welding. What do you think?

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- Hellwig Rear Sway Bar
- TruCool Trans Cooler
- Corvette Servo
- Moog steering
- Bilstein HD's
- 3.73 G80
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Re: Putting together my own 2-3" lift

Postby Lumpy » October 31st 2011, 9:03pm

Philly758 wrote:

Another question... Will I be able to use the stock u-bolts/clamps on my axle if I do this? If there is a small difference in thickness (probably thicker) will this matter?



You may be able to use the same SIZE U bolts. But all the leaf experts always recommend
using NEW U bolts any time you remove the old ones. Has to do with the threads being
rolled instead of cut. I'm not sure exactly what "rolled threads" means. But in any case,
U bolts are only like five or ten bucks for the pair you'll need and new nuts/washers
come with them. Rockauto has them.

You can probably make a close estimate as to what length U bolts you'll need.
Crawl under there now and measure the thickness of the leaf pack you have.
Also measure how much U bolt thread is sticking up proud from the nut on the top.

Then measure or look up the thickness of the new, replacement leaf pack. If it's
the same or only a quarter inch thicker, you may be just fine. Whatever amount of
thread you have showing now is approx how much thicker you can go without using
longer U bolts. But again, U bolts are cheap and available everywhere.

I'd be more concerned with the inboard mount. If those bolts aren't long enough,
you can't just slip them out and replace them. You have to grind out the existing
welded in bolts. And you can't use a U bolt on the inboard side without a lot of
grinding away of the perch mount.

The stock U bolts on most* steel springed Astros are
1/2" diam x 2 3/4" axle opening x 3 1/2" Length* - 3/4" nut
OR
7/16" diam x 2 3/4" axle opening x 3 1/2" Length* - 3/4" nut


*Length varies, I"ve found, between some AWD vs 2WD vans.
Example -
96 Chev Astro 2WD - U bolt length = 2 3/4 inch (five dollars each at RockAuto)
96 Chev Astro AWD - U bolt length = 8 inch (six dollars each at RockAuto)


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Re: Putting together my own 2-3" lift

Postby Shad0wXCalibur » October 31st 2011, 9:18pm

If you want straight up bolt-off, bolt-on, Philly, those 4+1 will allow the factory clamp to tighten to the axle completely once you remove the +1 overload leaf. This will have no effect on your lift. I did this and went up exactly 4". Hope that helps.

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Re: Putting together my own 2-3" lift

Postby Philly758 [OP] » November 1st 2011, 2:19pm

Hmmmm direct bolt-on, 4" lift, excuse for new shocks... :orcs-cheers:

You did a 4" rear and 1" front, right? How does this rake effect the handling? I tried doing a google search for rake/handling and all I find are civic forums, I don't trust those. I'd probably stick with a 2" front for a little rake and minimal modifications.
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Re: Putting together my own 2-3" lift

Postby Shad0wXCalibur » November 1st 2011, 6:49pm

For the front, I put in new coils that gave about 2" lift then added 1" body spacers for a combined 3". It seems to handle fine. Not any worse than when it was close to the ground.
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Re: Putting together my own 2-3" lift

Postby Philly758 [OP] » November 2nd 2011, 1:53am

Aaaah that makes more sense. I kept seeing you post that you did 1" blocks and was thinking that was one hell of a rake. Didn't know you did coils too.

I thought it looked like the van I went to look at today!
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- TruCool Trans Cooler
- Corvette Servo
- Moog steering
- Bilstein HD's
- 3.73 G80
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Re: Putting together my own 2-3" lift

Postby Shad0wXCalibur » November 2nd 2011, 3:14am

Wow. What's up with that van? :lol:

This pic does a decent job of showing how my van actually sits in person.
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Re: Putting together my own 2-3" lift

Postby Jasen » November 2nd 2011, 4:05am

Philly758 wrote:Aaaah that makes more sense. I kept seeing you post that you did 1" blocks and was thinking that was one hell of a rake. Didn't know you did coils too.

I thought it looked like the van I went to look at today!
[ http://img269.imageshack.us/img269/2731/065424.jpg ]


That's what Metro transits public access wheel chair Chrysler vans look like, seriously.
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Re: Putting together my own 2-3" lift

Postby Philly758 [OP] » November 2nd 2011, 4:31am

It was an odd looking van, but nothing I couldn't fix... except for the asking price.
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2000 GMC Safari SLE, AWD - 150k+
- Lifted with 22-687 leaf springs and 2" blocks
- Cooper AT3 30x9.5's on Cragar Soft 8's
- Hellwig Rear Sway Bar
- TruCool Trans Cooler
- Corvette Servo
- Moog steering
- Bilstein HD's
- 3.73 G80
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Re: Putting together my own 2-3" lift

Postby Shad0wXCalibur » November 6th 2011, 11:21pm

How far are you into this? Decided for sure what parts you're getting and how much you're gonna lift the front/rear? I love a good lift thread :lol:
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Re: Putting together my own 2-3" lift

Postby Philly758 [OP] » November 7th 2011, 2:14am

Ever since my buddy offered me free leafs he has laying around, I'm in less of a rush to order parts. I want to see if I can build a pack with those parts, if it stiffens up the rear end and raises a bit I'll be happy. I want to see where the rear end sits and figure out the front from there. If I can get away with just adjusting the torsion keys I'll do that. If I need more lift, I'll put blocks in the front, probably 2" ones.

Are there any negative effects related to cranking up the torsion keys (alignment, etc)? How much lift should I be able to get out of this?

Also, any comments on the way I plan to mount my bumper? I've never had my bumper off to look at the bracket, I'm basing this idea on pictures I've seen.
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Re: Putting together my own 2-3" lift

Postby Lumpy » November 7th 2011, 2:22am

I don't know much at all about tortion bars...

Cranking tortion bars will increase stiffness.
Body pucks will not.

Cranking will not require eBrake, steering shaft, fan shroud, bumper attention.
Body pucks _might_.

Lifting the body will allow you the sudden and marvelous ability to reach engine
components (like air cleaner in mine) that you previously had to remove
the dog house for.

Body lift is dead simple. Perhaps tortion bars are as well.I wouldn't know
what one even looked like.

Your van is pretty new. You could conceivably dial in your T bars to whatever
spot you liked. Then put them back where they were or change them to another
setting if you wanted. That seems pretty ideal. Reversable lift.


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Re: Putting together my own 2-3" lift

Postby Shad0wXCalibur » November 7th 2011, 2:40am

I would do the 2" blocks first then adjust the torsion bars if you need more lift but only up to 1" or so. The higher you crank the bars, the stiffer it will be, harder it will be to get aligned, and the CV axles will wear out at a faster rate the more your crank them but only 1" should avoid the problems and ride only a little stiffer.
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