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Discussion Starter #1
I posted a bit about this in rants and raves, because this really SUCKED! lol I have a friend/co-worker of sorts who is the Fire Chief in Atlanta....that's Atlanta, Idaho, not Georgia. It's a tiny, self-sufficient community that takes several hours to reach from the nearest civilization, and it's all by dirt road. Anyway, last year he bought a 2003 Excursion (unbeknownst to me) and his wife has been complaining about the bumps in the road ever since. A few months back he drove it down for a meeting and we got to talking about it. Then he says he'd like to have it set up like "that Excursion over there!" and pointed right to mine. I laughed, because he didn't know it was mine. I told him I might be able to help him out, and then we laid out a plan.

So, here's where the rant comes in. I did not know this, but his truck was owned previously by only one person, and that person lived in Alaska. It had 16 or so years of rust from all the road salt. Well, I wouldn't say rust. This was something different, because it was more like a permanent loc-tite than rust. I used PB Blaster, WD-40, Liquid Wrench, some CMC, and I even pulled out the propane torch. Nope. Some things absolutely refused to budge. Others moved a couple of turns and then seized. I cut off quite a few items because it was impossible to remove them conventionally. But, even with all the issues, I still got some pictures, and can hopefully help someone else with certain areas of the swap.

The front end was surprisingly easy and rust free...at least as far as the springs and spring bolts go. Jacked up the truck until the front tires were off the ground and the front suspension was fully extended, then I jacked it up another 6 inches for good measure since I expected about a 5-6 inch increase in height. Heavy duty jack stands on the frame just behind where the front springs attach. Remove the bumper and then remove the bash bar which is bolted onto the front spring mounts.

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Next, I disconnected the sway bar from the axle, unbolted one side of the track bar, and then, after placing smaller jack stands underneath the axle, removed the u-bolts.

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I opted to leave the drag link attached to the pitman arm, just so there was something to prevent a complete fall if a catastrophe occurred. Use the propane on the front nut for a bit and it should come right off. This one did, even with all the rust. In the back, if you are just swapping the spring, pull only the lower bolt, again with using heat on the nut. In my case, though, Cheryl (the name of his Excursion) was getting a spring swap and a hanger lift, so for me things went a little differently. On one side I removed the front spring bolt because it came right out. On the other side, the nut came right off, but that bolt was NOT coming out. It had frozen to the metal sleeve inside the rubber bushing. Well, because I had to remove the spring hangers anyway, I just left it in. In the back, as seen in the pic above, I did not touch the lower bolt, and instead only removed the top bolt which attaches the hanger. The problem here is there is a body mount bolt which sticks down and gets in your way if you are using any kind of deep well socket. It looks like there is clearance in the pic, but there's not. So, just use a regular depth 24mm socket and then a short extension.

For most, getting the springs off would be those two bolts plus the u-bolts. For me, since I had to leave one front bolt in-place, I now have to remove the front hanger, while the spring is still in place. There are two bolts on the side attaching it to the frame....

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There are also three bolts on the front of the hanger which actually also attach the tow rings to the frame, and two more bolts on the back side.

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The problem with those back two is the spring is directly below them. Yes, you can get a ratchet in there, and that might be ok with a pristine bolt, but on ol' Cheryl and her bucket of rust, that just wasn't going to cut it. The outermost bolt wasn't too bad. Use a swivel and a long extension, and the impact gun takes it right off. The inside bolt, on the other hand, not quite so easy. If you're taking this off without the spring, access isn't an issue. If you find yourself in this spot, remove all other bolts first, and then loosen the last bolt on the back side as much as you can with a ratchet until you can lean that spring a little bit over to the side. Once I was able to do that, I could push the spring towards the outside of the truck, and gain direct access to the bolt from below. Took a bit, but the impact gun got it off eventually.

To give you an idea of what kind of rust we're talking about, and why even impact guns took a while, here are a couple pics. First is the frame where the front hanger was. Lots of rust in the exposed areas. Second pic is one of the tow hooks. Those nuts are welded on and I broke it off. Yeah, I was using a bit of oomph, but she just wasn't moving otherwise! lol I did get it off eventually, so no need to cut.

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Once everything was cleaned off, it was time to remove the pitman arm and track bar mount to put in a 5" drop arm and 5" dropped mount. Pitman arm was the usual level of difficulty. The mount, though, was another matter. The crossmember bolt and one of the frame bolts came right off. The other bolt, though, did not. The nut broke free from the removable mounting bracket, so the bolt just spun free. That was another thing to cut off. Just replaced everything with some grade 8, 1/2" bolts, washers, and lock washers.

Oh, besides the rust, everything was coated in about 2 inches of dirt and mud. Considering he lives off-road, this is not surprising. This doesn't look like much in the below pic, but there is about 1-1.5 inches of dirt on this.
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Moving on, here's the front with the springs and hangers removed....though the track bar mount still has to go.

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This is the original hanger now that it's removed from the frame. Note that on the left is the captive nut that a bumper support bracket gets bolted to.

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TO BE CONTINUED, because I can only attache ten files at a time. lol
 

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Discussion Starter #2
The new PMF front hanger installed. This is 1/4" powder coated steel. Some heavy duty stuff! Well built and designed. However, note that there is no spot for the bumper support bracket to bolt to....nor does the bash bar have a mounting point. So those items will need to be removed.

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Real quick, a little about the front springs. Rather than trying to source good, used springs, he wanted to try buying some replacement items from SD Truck Springs. These seem well built as well, and after doing some measuring, have definitely provided the same amount of lift as the X codes I got for my Excursion. They ride nice too. Long term report will have to wait, obviously.

Here are some pics of the front assembled and with new shocks/steering damper, to include new, stainless braided, extended brake lines. I also extended his vacuum lines for the auto-lock 4wd.

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There was less than an inch of clearance between the front bump stop and the axle before this swap. Here's what he has now.
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Since I touched on the front springs, he wanted to do the same with the rear end. These are also from SD Truck Springs. These are C codes, and I modified them by using the bottom couple of leafs from his old springs. The details on this are all over the net.

Stock C code
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After adding the two leafs and the spacers.
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Unfortunately, I wasn't clear enough with what I told him to order, and he also got the upper "helper" springs. For those who do not know, you do not need these on an Excursion, and if you use em, they will likely cause damage, because they are designed to impact a perch when under a heavy load. Since there are no perches on an Excursion, they just might go into the body instead.
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SIGH I had written this next bit out already, and the system hiccuped, and I lost it all! Grrrrrrr I'm going to make it a little less wordy, because I don't feel like typing it all over again. lol

The basic swap out is easy enough. Lift truck, put jack stands under the frame, remove tires and lower the axle. Place more stands under the axle and remove u-bolts. In my case, I lifted the truck an additional 5 or so inches to make room for the extra height the C codes and 4" block would add. I did not have t disconnect the sway bar, but I did remove the shocks first. As for the springs themselves, heat the nuts and remove the bolts. However, on the rear shackle, you cannot remove the spring bolt because it is blocked by the frame. Instead, just remove the nut on that top bolt and then remove the lower shackle bolt to remove the whole assembly. That is how it should go for most everyone else. Not for me. Alaska crept up on me again! The top bolts were easy to loosen, and moved freely. The bottom bolts were frozen hard. We're talking I had to remove the rear bumper and place a 4 foot extension onto my 2 foot breaker bar, and it still wasn't moving with all 250 pounds of me bouncing on it. Using some ingenuity I managed to get the nut off, but that bolt was frozen in the metal sleeve inside the bushing. My only option was to cut it out. I don't own an oxy-acetylene torch, nor does anyone I know. My 4 inch cutoff wheel is too big for that small area. My only option was a dremel tool with 1.25 inch cutoff wheels. Oh, let me tell you, that was fun! (insert sarcasm here) I spent two days getting those springs off. Probably about six hours of cutting, six hours of trying conventional means, and the other 3-4 hours each day cussing, searching the internet for ideas, or just taking a break so I didn't kill someone.

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Also, I had to cut off the tops of the u-bolts. The kit is intended for a 250/350 with the helper spring and 1 inch spacer. I was smart and at least kept the bolts cool so as to not impact their heat treatment. Here's a terrible pic....phone just wouldn't focus on the bolts.

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Everything else that anyone else would encounter went well. However, because he opted for the little bit of additional height, we decided he should also get the extended break lines. The problem I ran into was the hard lines would unscrew no problem, but the nut was frozen to the line itself! After much thought, I decided to remove the soft line from the hard line, and then unscrew the hard line from the distribution block. Unconventional , but it worked. lol I don't have much from the rear end, but here are the remainder of the pics. Maybe one day I will actually take all the pics I should!

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Oh, a couple more things. First one, I think this truck was definitely ran HARD at some point, and probably ran low on coolant, because while it is hard to tell from the pic, the o-rings on the EGR valve are actually melted. He now has a delete.

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Second, the previous owner did head studs and a Mishimoto coolant filter. However, I don't think the Ford Gold coolant was ever changed, and the filter was probably left on and got clogged, because this is what the coolant looked like. Yes, it was definitely the Gold, because the color was correct when looking at tiny amounts. I replaced his filter, did a full flush, and he now has red EC-1 coolant.

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That looks like a painful amount of rust! I'm prepping up to do a PMF RSK on my 96 F-250, so this was an interesting read for me. Curious about the SD Truck springs. The lift springs I bought from them kinda suck, but with the RSK I'd be doing "factory" SD springs, so maybe they ride better because they are not lift springs? I'd certainly be interested to hear how the ride quality is with the SD Truck springs and how they last.
 

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Well I can only give a comparison to mine, which uses OEM springs on the swap. Brand new, they ride a hair stiffer than mine do, but mine were taken from an '06, so they had a few miles on em. The front feel like they may be almost progressive. I don't know how to explain it, but they move a little bit more than mine do at first, and then they stiffen up quickly. There is a small gap between the two leaves, so I'm thinking that's a built-in feature to allow a softer ride for the first inch or so of travel, and then provide the full support of both springs.

Gene is taking it back to Atlanta this weekend, and will be traveling over some nasty terrain. I will share his insights when he lets me know.
 

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Forgot to mention....while this has nothing to do with the spring swap, he also wanted to get a built-in charger setup like I have, since most of his driving is low miles, with multiple starts, which kills his batteries, so I figured I'd show that as well. Also forgot to post the pic of his truck when done. It looks like the back end is a hair lower, but that's just the camera angle. Everything measured out with the back being 1/8" higher than the front.


Here's the Noco charger tucked away behind the grill.Fits great with just a little trimming.

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Rather than having the charger's power cord dangling like the block heater, he wanted a power port setup similar to mine. Since I was doing the charger, it made sense to put this block heater cord there as well. The bottom is for the charger and the top is for the heater. I figure if he can't remember which is which, he might be able to remember heat rises, so the heater is up top. lol He originally wanted just one cord, and I was going to try using a thermostatically controlled plug on the back side for the heater, but none of the ones I found would turn on and off at the temps desired.

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And finally, the side view.

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Well I can only give a comparison to mine, which uses OEM springs on the swap. Brand new, they ride a hair stiffer than mine do, but mine were taken from an '06, so they had a few miles on em. The front feel like they may be almost progressive. I don't know how to explain it, but they move a little bit more than mine do at first, and then they stiffen up quickly. There is a small gap between the two leaves, so I'm thinking that's a built-in feature to allow a softer ride for the first inch or so of travel, and then provide the full support of both springs.

Gene is taking it back to Atlanta this weekend, and will be traveling over some nasty terrain. I will share his insights when he lets me know.
Great! Looking forward to seeing what you write up about it.

Also, those power ports look great. I need to get one; not a fan of my cord just hanging.
 

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Yes there's rust behind the brackets. But the rest looks like layers and layers of some sort of undercoating/rust protection.

Sent from my SM-G988U using Tapatalk
 

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Yes there's rust behind the brackets. But the rest looks like layers and layers of some sort of undercoating/rust protection.

Sent from my SM-G988U using Tapatalk
Oh don't get me wrong. Yes, this truck was definitely treated with some sort of undercoating. Actually, from what I peeled off the old shackles, I think there was two layers. But, in a lot of places, the rust still seeped under it, and in places the coating couldn't get to, the rust was really pervasive. She's not a rust bucket by any means. Just saying where the rust hit, it hit it in just the right way to make my life hell. lol
 

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For the past 6-10 years (depending where at in state) they have been using a de-icer on the roads up here that sprays up and coats the undercarriage like molasses. It is some nasty stuff and eats exhaust pipes and mufflers like crazy as it seems to bake on with the heat. Borough/road maintenance techs say it even eats the stainless clamps on many buses and maintenance vehicles.
My 2000 had sat for 3 years and only had 150k on it so wasn’t bad, but the more miles they have and those nearer to Anchorage are pretty bad.
I did the same with my cord but it’s in the bumper as I only put one hook back in.
 

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Pretty good idea if you don't use the tow hooks.

Great! Looking forward to seeing what you write up about it.

Also, those power ports look great. I need to get one; not a fan of my cord just hanging.
Gene drove it up Friday and has been using daily to get a feel for her. He said he's quite happy with the ride. It's not as harsh as the original springs (probably because they were beyond worn out) and they have plenty of flex when going off road. Granted, this is rather short term, but he's happy. I drove for a bit on em (highway and a little off road) and think they are definitely comparable to the OEM B/C codes. The only thing I would change is the rear height...needs about an inch or two extra. Also, I can say when towing I wasn't a huge fan of the used OEM, so I added an add-a-leaf to both get my truck the extra height and stiffer rear. Worked for both and it tows much better now.....so who knows, I may be installing an add-a-leaf for him too. lol
 

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Pretty good idea if you don't use the tow hooks.



Gene drove it up Friday and has been using daily to get a feel for her. He said he's quite happy with the ride. It's not as harsh as the original springs (probably because they were beyond worn out) and they have plenty of flex when going off road. Granted, this is rather short term, but he's happy. I drove for a bit on em (highway and a little off road) and think they are definitely comparable to the OEM B/C codes. The only thing I would change is the rear height...needs about an inch or two extra. Also, I can say when towing I wasn't a huge fan of the used OEM, so I added an add-a-leaf to both get my truck the extra height and stiffer rear. Worked for both and it tows much better now.....so who knows, I may be installing an add-a-leaf for him too. lol
Thanks for the update! Hopefully I'll be starting my RSK and SD springs in a week or three. A nicer ride sure would be nice.

I run airbags on the rear for extra load. I pull a 12k tongue-pull trailer, but the weight distribution hitch works pretty well and don't really need the air bags for that. It's nice to air them down to get a nice ride unloaded, but sucks that they limit suspension travel. On the fence about getting rid of them and going with overload springs. Might just try some new OEM rear SD springs and see how that feels first.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Keep us posted by creating a new thread in the projects forum. I'm curious to see how well the RSK kit works. I will say I'm definitely a fan of their product quality. Heavy duty doesn't even begin to describe it, so I'm hoping the kit will treat you right.
 
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