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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It's been a few years since I first decided to do this. It's just taken me this long to finally have the money. Usually something pops up and gets in the way, but since I have all the parts, that shouldn't be an issue this time! lol Well, at least I think I have all the parts. That's why I'm here. I'd like some help going through my parts list to make sure I'm not forgetting anything. I'd hate to have my truck up on jack stands only to find out I have everything apart and need something more major than a bolt or nut.

The plan is to give it a little bit of a lift along with the spring swap, so I am doing a X/Modified-B spring swap with a 2" shackle/hanger kit up front and a 4" block in back. Here's my parts list:

X code front springs - 2 each
Front spring front eye bolts - 2 each
Front spring rear eye bolts - 2 each
Front axle semi-round u-bolts w/washers and nuts - 4 ea
PMF Suspension front 2" shackle/hanger kit with bash bar - 1 kit
B code rear springs - 2 each Will mod them once truck is on the jack stands
Rear spring front eye bolts - 2 each
Rear spring rear eye bolts - 2 each
Spring pack center bolt - 2 each and long enough to accept extra leaves from the mod
4" blocks w/bump stop by ReadyLift - 2 ea
Rear axle u-bolts w/washers and nuts for new spring pack thickness w/4" block - 4 ea
Adjustable track bar - 1 ea
30mm rear sway bar - 1 ea
Bilstein 5100 shocks for 3-6" lift - 4 ea (BTW, I contacted Bilstein direct because there was talk of a certain company getting custom valving for the Excursion, and the rep stated that company ordered the 5100 series, but there was no custom valving, so I feel confident I'm getting the same ride quality so many others were getting)
Front axle bump stops - 2 ea
Rear axle bump stops - 2 ea

In addition to the above, I've also got plenty of penetrating oil spray, some large impact sockets (I think up to 1 1/4" in SAE and 32mm in metric), a propane torch for heating nuts, a 3 foot breaker bar, and a 900 ft-lb impact gun (supposedly, but it didn't take off a frozen nut that I did manage to get off with the breaker bar, so who knows). Hopefully this is all I will need, but figured I'd toss it out there to see what you guys see that I've missed.

Also, this will serve as the mod thread, with pics, as I go through the process. I'll take as many pictures as I can and detail things from start to finish.

Finally, for determining amount of lift later, measurements from the center of the wheel hub to the edge of the wheel well are 22" front and 23 1/4" rear. That's a little lower than I have generally seen in the past, with most folks having 22 1/2 in front and 23 1/2 in back....but I'm not far off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Well, since no one has piped up saying I'm missing a piece or two, I'll take that as an unofficial, "You're good to go". lol Looks like I'll be starting this Thursday night!
 

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Hmm. The block selection might be off. So when you mod the b codes it's going to make it close to 2" taller if I remember correctly. To verify the extra height measure you pack height between the two. I run a 5" block on a 4" lift. Also the excursions need to have tapered blocks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hmm. The block selection might be off. So when you mod the b codes it's going to make it close to 2" taller if I remember correctly. To verify the extra height measure you pack height between the two. I run a 5" block on a 4" lift. Also the excursions need to have tapered blocks.
Yeah, it's a tough call there because you just don't know for sure how much lift the springs alone are going to give. I've read a bout measured distances of 1.75" to 3", all with the same spring code. So, I guess it just depends on how much sag your original spring had. And yup, I knew about tapered going in thankfully. lol
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
And now for the post-op analysis.....a simple "F-THAT!!!" should suffice. lol I sincerely hope no one will be turning to this thread for good pictures or to read a feel-good story, because I don't have any of either. I didn't have time to take pictures, nor did I feel like taking any, because everything that could go wrong did. Murphy was present in a very big way for the rear end. Not quite as much with the front, but enough that I cursed his name. A lot! I love turning wrenches, but after this weekend I'm ready for some time away from the garage.

I'm going to hope that maybe, just maybe, someone else will benefit from reading my woes, because I must have read two dozen different threads on various forums about this swap, and some things were still a surprise. Oh, and some of this doesn't necessarily pertain directly to the X/B swap, but does simply because it's a part I used, or it was an option I chose to add.

So, starting with the rear, I read a variety of opinions on how to remove the actual leaf spring from the frame. Some said to remove the shackle from the truck, and others said to leave it on the truck and remove the spring from the shackle. Just my opinion, but if you're doing this with the cab on the frame, you're going to be taking that shackle off. While the shackle to frame bolt was relatively easy to remove, the spring to shackle bolt is not. Not only is it tightened to nearly 200 ft-lbs, but you then have to deal with good factory loc-tite.....and then you have to deal with 15 years or so of galvanic corrosion. I have an impact wrench that will, if I'm not careful, snap a 1/2" diameter bolt (the shank, not the head) without even thinking twice about it. Supposedly it can generate 1000 ft-lbs of force. That wouldn't even budge the nut, even with liquid wrench and a liberal application of the torch. In the end, it took securing the bolt head in a vice, a three foot breaker bar on the nut, liquid wrench, five minutes of a propane torch, and two people pulling with every ounce of effort before it broke free....and when it broke free, it broke hard and fast! We fell and kinda flew across the room. lol It was unreal how difficult it was to remove. Oddly enough, the other side was easy...heated the nut and it came off like it was barely tightened at all.

Next up is the exhaust. I suppose if you have factory exhaust this might not apply to you, but I can't say that for certain. What I can say is that with a 5" exhaust, you're not going to be able to get that new modded B code spring in there. I had to remove my exhaust from the muffler back in order to get the spring in. I have not tried to put it back on yet. On the B codes, there is a very thick bottom leaf which sticks out toward the rear of the truck rather than curving upward with the rest of the pack. That particular leaf winds up in the same space occupied by the exhaust pipe.

Speaking of exhaust pipes, let's move forward really quick to the passenger side front leaf! If you're just doing the spring swap, life will be fine. If, however, you're adding in 2" of lift via a hanger kit, you're going to have to deal with the exhaust pipe being in the way of the bolt holding the shackle to the frame. The driver's side isn't so bad. The front driveshaft is kinda in the way, but you can easily remove it or just jack the front axle up/down to gain clearance. Now, if you have the stock pipe, no biggie. I have the 4" down pipe, transitioning to a 4.5" pipe just after the curve, and then on to the full 5" diameter after that. I just didn't have the clearance. I wasn't about to remove my exhaust just for a single friggen bolt, so I used pry bars, blocks of wood for leverage, and good ol' muscle. I disconnected the pipe from the turbo and basically pushed that sucker up until I could clear that bolt. Took some time and a lot of oomph to get it out of the way.

Ok, back to the rear. I chose Ready-Lift blocks for their reputation and the fact they retained the factory style bump-stop tangs. Their downfall is calculating how much u-bolt is needed. By all accounts, when the B-code is modded, it should be about 1/2" thicker than stock, so a kit designed for an F-250/350 with 4" block should be perfect. Well, it definitely fit. The problem is that no socket I could find (and I went to every store I could imagine in my town) had a deep well socket deep enough. Those bolts stuck up about 3.5" past the nuts. Now, Ready-Lift gets bonus points in my book for having darn good quality bolts. I figured maybe I could cut the bolts down to the length I needed. I went through four Bosch jigsaw blades and there was a only 1/16" deep cut into the side. Nope, that wasn't going to work! lol Luckily, technically I bought P code springs, which are B codes with a top overload spring. I wound up using the spacer which goes between the main pack and that overload spring. I had to trim two notches off (which ate up a dremel cutoff wheel), but it fit perfectly and gave me the right amount so my sockets could reach. Oh, also, test fit your blocks before you try to put it all together. I'm glad I did. I actually had to file the edges of the hole in the block just a bit to get it to fit onto the spring properly.

Rear shocks were easy (Bilstein 5100) as was the rear sway bar. Re-installation was a bit of a pain because I had difficulty finding conclusive info on HOW to tighten everything down. When you tighten the shackle to the spring, you're locking it in place, so you could potentially create the wrong pre-load condition. Turns out, leave it all loose until the weight is on the tires and then tighten everything. Why couldn't someone have just said that outright in their tutorials? lol

The front was really easy compared to how difficult people said it would be. Some people said to remove half of the bumper fascia (or something like that), but I found it so much easier just removing two bolts from the sides (1 each) and then the four bolts in front by the tow hooks. Whole thing came off in less than five minutes....just don't forget to disconnect the fog lamps if you have em. I had some problems locating the tranny cooler mounting brackets everyone talked about. Just start moving the flexible rubber shielding around and it will quickly become obvious.

And now for the problem areas. lol Actually, by comparison it wasn't quite as bad. The front spring bolts are loc-tited in place. Use a torch. Use it liberally. Again, one came out easy and the other was a beeotch. Torch, liquid wrench, and a 270lb me sitting on the end of the 3ft breaker bar....bouncing. That's what it took to break it free. lol That's it for now. That's all I've got for removing the front! lol However, installing the lift is another matter.

I chose a PMF Suspension 2" hanger lift kit, with the optional bash bar. First, let me say this stuff is high quality!! Holy crap, I haven't seen welds that good in ages. THICK 1/4" steel. All laser cut and then coated. Coated so well that even after I was pounding on one piece I could barely tell where I had hit it. The biggest issue I have is there was no documentation/instructions. I had to figure it out for myself. I'm sure had i called they would have had something, but maybe not.....I emailed them three times prior to the install and never got a response, so who knows. Honestly, though, it was fairly easy when it came to the spring hangers. Quite obvious where they went and how they went in. I was disappointed they couldn't include the little things, like a bracket to bolt the side of the bumper fascia to. The real difficulty came with the bash bar. It came in three pieces, but no instructions on where it should go or how. After a bit of fiddling and thinking, I realized it just goes between the frame rails using the front spring bolts.....the same bolts I have already inserted. (long, grumpy sigh) Well, I suppose it's not a big deal. How bad could it really be to take them out and then put em back in? Let me tell you, it was BAD!!!! It probably would have been ok if I was just putting a bolt in. A pry bar, centering pin, and a cargo strap to pull it all into alignment, and voila! But, with the bash bar, things are not that simple. It's a sort of box design, with access from only one side. To make matters worse, with all the different coolers and hoses, grommets, etc up front, this damn thing just wouldn't go on straight, or lined up in what would seem like the right way. I had to rotate it, angle it, do a little voodoo, and bribe a leprechaun to get it in place. THREE hours later I finally had the two of them in place. In place! They weren't bolted all the way down and attached with the third piece yet! IMO, for this situation, I would not install it again if I could do it over.

Also, I opted for a Zone Offroad adjustable track arm. That install went well, and I'm hoping the alignment guys will know how to properly utilize it.

So, after all this difficulty, all the griping, complaining, etc, I'm not sure if I'm happy yet or not. First, it actually lifted it more than I wanted. I really have to lift my leg to reach the running board. I'm going to give it a little time to settle before I make final judgement. Second, other than the suspension not bottoming out, I'm not noticing a whole lot of difference.....though I'm still awaiting an alignment, so that may change as well. I AM installing 35's on it today, so that's a bonus! lol However, how I got to that point kinda sucks. I decided I'd take a little trek to the mountains on Sunday. Nothing crazy, just dirt roads and a couple rocky bits here and there. Nothing requiring 4wd. I figured it would help things settle in and show me any obvious weak points. About 25 miles from a paved road I got a flat. First flat I've had actually, and I've owned her for about 5 years. Anyway, I swapped out the tire and brought it to the tire store yesterday. The hole was not able to be patched. He called it a rock tear. Essentially, some sharp as heck rock managed to cut through and puncture the tire (the rock was actually still inside the tire....like in the part where the air goes, not lodged in the tread) and leave a hole so big that a plug and patch wouldn't work. Since the rest of the tires are getting close to their end of life, I figured it was time to increase the tire size as well.

I'm kinda rambling at this point, but I'll come back with an actual measured height difference soon (wanted to give it a week before I measure), and I will post my impressions once the alignment gets done today.
 

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So how did blocks work? Are you pretty level? On the rear spring pack you can remove the bottom leaf and install the ex bottom leaf to clear the exhaust.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
So how did blocks work? Are you pretty level? On the rear spring pack you can remove the bottom leaf and install the ex bottom leaf to clear the exhaust.
I took a few steps back and looked at the truck. Something didn't quite look right. Didn't have the right stance. So, I measured and found some horrible results...horrible as in not what I expected at all. Measuring at the exact same spot, from center of hub to bottom of wheel well, I get 27.25 at the front and 26.5 at the rear. That calculates out to 5.25" increase in the front and 3.25 increase in the rear. Hmmmmm.....I used a 2" lift in the front and a 4" block vs stock 2" block in the rear, so if I remove the 2" addition all the way around, the springs alone netted me 3.25 in the front and 1.25 in the rear. And yes, this is with a modded B code. My guess is that I just wasn't sagging as badly in the rear, combined with getting a B-code spring that was perhaps a little more worn out that I wanted.

So, the question is how should I remedy this? I think I should adjust it until it looks like it has the right stance. Figuring out how much of a change that is will be difficult. But, do I decrease the front, increase the rear, a combination? ugh
 

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So how does it ride? Is the front to stiff?

Jack the rear end up by the hitch 2" and see how it looks.

You could swap out to some u or v codes up front for a softer ride and it should come down a little. Remove the hanger lift will drop you down to. Or new rear blocks. It depends on if you want it higher or lower.
 

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I'll chime in, as I did the 1st V Code, B Code swap like 15 years ago and posted it on The Diesel Stop .com. My original thread is 1,000's of pages. I was upset my 01 F250 (which I still have) rode better than my 2002 Excursion (which I also still have)

B Codes on the Excursion is better, I've since pulled them off and went "C" Codes from a Dually. The ride is amazing as well as better ride height.

I've now put 4 sets of C Codes on Excursions. as I now have a v10 we call sasquatch. The rear floats much better than ever. Problem is, once I started this B Code swap fad, it's been stuck there, when the much better solution is C Codes.

Good luck.
 

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On my 03 I have v’s and modded b’s. On my 05 I have x’s and modded c’s from Ats spring, I like the set up on the 05 so much better, that I’m gonna swap to the x’s and modded c’s on the 03 soon!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Sorry for the lack of updates. I have been chasing a noise which was driving me crazy, and making me paranoid that I didn't tighten something correctly. Every time I would hit a bump either at an angle or with the tires hitting it at different times, I would get a metal on metal noise, and what seemed like a little excessive rocking. Well, yesterday I finally figured it out. Long story short, when I did the install I had to remove the exhaust from the back of the muffler all the way to the tail pipe. This removed two hangers. I guess that was enough to make the rest of the exhaust move a bit because it was loose, and the remaining hanger was pounding against the frame every time I hit a bump. I still need to realign things a bit to be happy, but just installing the hanger on the back of the muffler solved the problem.

This also made me realize the excessive rocking was all in my head. It was the banging hanger which kept hitting the rail repeatedly which was tricking my brain into thinking the truck was rocking. lol

Now then, to address a couple questions. The front end rides great. It's probably a hair too firm, but I think dropping to the V or W codes would be too much of a drop. I'll take these any day. As for the rear end, I think it could be a hair stiffer. So, yeah, C codes might have been the way to go. Rather than buy some C codes, I think I'm going to do an additional mod. From what I was reading, a C code is a B code which has a little more of a bend, plus an additional leaf spring on the bottom. I'm thinking I might install that additional spring and see how she rides. The spring itself will give me 1/2" of height, plus a little more due to the curve and extra weight rating. After it has settled in I will check ride height and go from there....but I'm thinking adding one more inch of block, in addition to this leaf, will finally put it where I want it.

Oh, I also got a drop pitman arm because the shop said they weren't happy with how much thread engagement I had on the steering linkage. When doing the alignment, they had to "split the difference" between the adjustable track arm and the steering. But, that's what I get for expecting a 4" lift and winding up with a 5 1/4 instead. lol

One final thing.....does anyone know the CORRECT part number for the 30mm rear sway bar? I ordered one from a junk yard and I got this itty bitty 5/8" thing. I could have returned it and swapped it for a different one, but I would have to pay return shipping. So, I tried a different yard. This time I made certain I was ordering the right thing. Instead I received a FRONT sway bar! They said I could return it, but again I would have to pay shipping. These things aren't cheap to ship! lol So, I want to try it with a part number if possible. I'd get one locally, but so far I have struck out on the 30mm.
 

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I have the small sway bar on our ex, came right from a superduty and fit well. The front superduty sway bar links work perfectly as rear sway bar links with the 4-5" of lift.
Let me know if you find out the info on the 30mm unit, that would be a nice upgrade for a lifted Ex!

Our ex is sitting about 1/2"- 1" lower in the rear, I'm thinking shackle to raise it up a bit or maybe just airbags for when shes hauling and leave it as is.......
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Still no luck on the proper part number....though I haven't been search religiously. lol

So, I know I'm going to look like an idiot to those who know what they're doing, but maybe someone else will read this and be saved the hassle I just went through. Well, I mentioned I bought a drop pitman arm in my last post. Getting to it was easy enough. Finding a puller that fits was a whole other matter. Luckily Auto Zone (I try to avoid them when I can) actually had one which fit. It's an adjustable arm style though, since nothing else was big enough. No biggie, except even when I tightened the adjusting bolts REALLY tight, the damn arms were bending!!! Two hours, several readjustments of the arms, numerous cuss words, and a little bit of propane later, she finally came off. I've taken off quite a few pitman arms in the past, and this one was a doozy! However, that bit was just for amusement. The lesson I learned is to research stuff even if you think you know what you're doing based on the stories from others. I installed the 4.5" drop arm, reinstalled the track bar bracket and the adjustable track arm, and backed down the driveway....only to realize I could only steer about 1/2 wheel turn to the left. At first I thought I must have done something really stupid like install the arm in the wrong spot, or turned the wheel while the arm was disconnected. Got underneath there and realized the arm was hitting the track bar bracket. A quick five minute google search and I found out that if you install a drop arm, you have to install a track bar drop bracket with a similar amount of drop!! In all of my reading I have never seen someone write that. So, (and this is said jokingly) to those who never mentioned that people would need a drop bracket for the track bar when installing a drop pitman arm, you're an arsehole and should be ashamed of yourself!! And to those who DID mention that, and I just glossed over your sage words of advice, then I'M the arsehole and should be ashamed of myself!! hehehehe *sigh* I guess we live and learn. I've installed drop arms in the past, but those older trucks I used to work on "back in the day" didn't have track bars, so I never encountered any problems. I cussed a bunch, kicked myself, took off the drop arm, reinstalled to stock one, and I'm now waiting for the drop bracket to arrive.

Someone please learn from my mistake! Make my misery worth it!!!! lol
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
On another note, I can definitely tell you that the bump steer with a 5 1/4" lift with no drop pitman arm/other steering fixes isn't so bad, but it's not good either. I'm looking forward to having the correct geometry.

I finally went offroad with it the other day and OMFG it is beyond belief the amount of improvement there is! First, no more bottoming out of the front suspension on the tiniest rock. lol I wasn't mudding or doing anything severe...just some two-track trail riding on a trail which had some considerable dips, ruts, etc. We're talking some which are probably 2 feet of difference between one wheel and the rest. She handled em all with grace and dignity and I never once felt like I was approaching the limits of the suspension. Very satisfied.

Also, yesterday I had to go save my ex and the fam while they were on a trip to a medieval combat event. They were stopping for ice about 20 miles away when the dreaded no hot start syndrome hit at a stop light. Just not enough pressure at idle to keep her running. It was 100 degrees yesterday, so there was no waiting for a couple hours to restart it. Besides, they were pulling an 8,000 pound trailer, so I don't think the engine would have been able to compensate with oil that thin had they been able to restart. Anyway, the point is that I towed their trailer the next 20 miles with the five of em packed into my Ex. I'll say that I don't like the shifting with my new 35's on her. I much prefer the 33's for that. However, the suspension was absolutely divine!!! I could probably use just a hair more rear spring (that leaf to turn em into C codes is on the way), but otherwise it towed like a dream. Handling was great, bumps weren't really felt, steering was smooth....I just can't believe the difference.

Overall, this is the best mod (other than bulletproofing my engine) that I have done to my truck, and I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone with an Ex!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Another update.....

I had to go tow my ex's 250 back home yesterday. It's about 125 miles on the interstate with some decent hills. A few of em have the 3rd lane for semis because they can't maintain speed going up the hill. Anyway, yeah, definitely not a fan of 35" tires while towing. Just puts all the torque at the wrong spots. Maybe a tranny tune would help with that? Not sure. However, that's not what we're here for. We're talking about the springs.

Well, first of all, let me apologize for the pics. I would normally embed them into the thread so they appear nice and large, but I'm having problems with my file sharing service. Nothing will upload. So, you'll have to deal with the forum built-in pics. Sorry.

As for the tow home, yup, I definitely could have used a little more rear spring. However, in this case I don't know how much difference it would have made, because the trailer I loaded the 250 onto was a heavy beast as is. With the length of the truck and trailer, I had to have the 250 loaded pretty close to the front, adding a LOT to the tongue weight. I'm sure I was over the recommended amount, but I didn't really have much choice. Everything felt good, though. No uneven feel to it, no harshness to the bumps in the road, etc. Even with an overloaded tongue weight, she handled great. Tow weight was up there, but wasn't excessive.

First pic is of normal ride height and stance....the trailer isn't connected yet, it's just resting over the ball. Also, still need to add the extra leaves to get proper stance. Second pic is to show how much the rear end squatted with that trailer hooked up. If I towed with tongue weights that heavy normally, I would definitely invest in some air bags. lol
 

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Looks good. I have a set of add a leafs that I would let go cheap if your interested. I'll have to look at my rear sway bar and let you know what size it is.
 

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Also I never really liked 35" tires. They just put you in a weird rpm range to stay in the turbo. I actually prefer 37's over 35's.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I had already ordered the leafs, otherwise I might have taken you up on the offer. 37's over 35 huh? What's the difference? Are you always "into the turbo" so you're not lagging behind, or what?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Figured I'd show everyone what the fit is like with a drop arm and a stock bracket.










 

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I'm still reading your install, but the rear spring nut that fought you, let me guess it was on the exhaust side of things? They are always a PITA
I fought like heck with that bolt also, however I did not remove the shackles from the truck, just the springs.

back to reading

I have 5" exhaust I did not have to touch it during the lift install? Wild....I guess its because I did not remove shackles or hangers

Heat is the key to getting the leaf spring bolts out, heat the crap out of the nut and if you have to hit the bolt with ice....then jump on the breaker bar, once they break loose they will come off with one hand. The nice part about replacing the leaf springs is if you have to cut the bolt out no harm no foul...just have to get new bolts. Or uyou can always torch the rubber bushings, that is always fun makes a huge stinky mess. Lucky for me I did not have to do either, just use the torch on a couple of the nuts

Thanks for sharing! You may consider a trac bar drop bracket for the front with that much lift?
I used the Zone adjustable trac bar also, nice unit for $100!!

Keep it up! We are ery happy with our 6" spring lift and 37" tires.....I'm planning to re visit the rear and get rid of the stacked blocks......but for now its working great! U bolts, I ALWAYS lift the truck first then measure for U bolts and get them made up in town...saves headaches later. Unless of course your lift comes with the correct ones to start with. Our lift I put together with a combo of craigslist and Amazon...with lot and lots of research from the forums, especially here on PSN!!

Fight on!!!!!!
 
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