Re: Installing body lift-help
Glenn Wakefield of Rocky Road Outfitters wrote these directions regarding a homemade 2" body lift for a Samurai:
2" Body Lift
Regarding the 2" homemade body lift I put on; it was a pain in the butt. They’re supposed to be easier than a suspension lift. But I threw my suspension lift on in half the time it took to do this. The 3" body lifts they sell prepackaged might’ve gone quicker, but…I didn’t want that much elevation and the problems that went with it. By staying with only 2" of body lift I was able to cut some costs, say it was homemade (thus boosting my credibility) and avoid some problems.
Although, the steering geometry changes with 2", the changes are not as drastic as must be with a 3" lift. I’ll get into that later. Also, I foresee big problems with the shifting levers if one was to go 3". 2" was doable (biggie size pain in the ass), but any more than that could be trouble (super biggie size).
The first thing to do when installing a homemade lift is make sure you have a spare vehicle to get you to the hardware store, just in case.
Disconnect your different brake line brackets. The parking brake mounting bracket is in the middle of the rear bed, underneath. Disconnect and let it hang, baby. The regular brake lines are mounted on a dual bracket on the passenger side by the battery, unscrew and let hang also. Watch for tight electrical wires (oxygen sensor, etc.). Disconnect your steering column near the u-joint and at the rubber coupler and remove. Disconnect the top of your fuel filler hose, accessed by going inside the protective cover inside the bed. Finally, there are a couple of 1" coolant hoses which go into your firewall. These may have enough “give” to not need to be dealt with. Beware, mine popped off and I had to race for something to hold the flowing coolant!
Start by removing all of the body mount bolts. There are two by the radiator, two under the front and two under the rear of the doors, two in the middle of the rear bed, and two above the rear bumper. When it comes time to start jacking, I found it best to work with one side at a time. Jack one side of the body off of the frame and support it well (you don’t want to lose a hand or fingers if it falls back to the frame). I placed jack stands on top of the tires which held the body up by the wheel wells. Make a couple of trips around the vehicle when jacking it up to make sure nothing is being stretched, tweaked, or broken.
Enter the homemade lift. I used 2" O.D. square tubing cut into 2" long sections; cost: about $5.00. I used new grade 8 bolts, 5/16 x 2 1/2 (get some shorter ones too: 1 1/4" for the front and rears), washers and Nylock nuts; cost: about $6.00. This is really all you “need” to do the lift. Total cost: about $11.00. I bought all new mount bushings from Suzuki since mine were cracked and old; cost: about $50.00. Even if you do a 3" kit, you probably still ought to get new bushings.
Drill your holes straight thru the 2" blocks. The top hole will have to be big enough to fit the head of the 5/16 bolts. You will have to cut the existing studs down. (A way to avoid this hassle is to completely remove the existing studs and install new longer ones). Do one side of the vehicle, then move to the other after having lowered the first side. If you raise the whole thing at once, there is the risk of the body falling sideways, a very bad thing. Keep the square pads you find at contact points around the body. They can be used as shims later. I had to use them on the very front mounts.
After the lift is installed and secure you may think you’re done…you are halfway. You must still deal with the repercussions.
Big fun. First drill out, on both sides, the small white plastic pegs on the slip yoke. Then you’ll need to put a torch on that portion of the column for a few minutes and let the glue cook itself out. After all of the glue has bubbled out of the holes you drilled, a couple raps with the sledge should allow you to slide the length to a custom fit. I didn’t like the angle change with 2" so it must be really severe with 3". Don’t refill the holes with screws unless you want to eat the steering wheel in a collision. I left mine as is and it works fine.
Now you get to deal with the shifters. You’ll notice you can’t get it into four low, which is OK, unless you feel you need four low to have fun “wheeling.” Solve this by cutting the floor of your vehicle on the top side the hump by the transfer case lever. With the rubber boot reinstalled you should be able to get into four low after the cutting. The tranny lever hole needs to be moved to a lower position too. I just repositioned the whole boot and plate assembly about an inch lower on the hump. Everything shifts fine now but you notice a height difference when you drive (this must be worse with a 3" lift). The shifting levers are a potential major drawback of the 3" lift. Have fun trying to get the shifters working normally if you go three inches. Not bloody likely!
Typically both bumpers are a problem with a body lift. The rear is attached to the body so it isn’t a problem. The front will have to be moved up. You should plan on fabricating some homemade brackets to lift the front.
With a 2" lift the stock fuel filler hose will still work (cost savings). Just slide the hose down close to the end of the metal spout on top and you should make it. The parking brake mount bracket should be lowered. I used a couple of spare 2" blocks to shim it down. The dual brake bracket needs to be remounted. Drill new holes at an appropriately lower position. Reattach the coolant hoses, they should reach with the 2" lift (another cost savings).
On the Sami you don’t have to worry about the fan shroud since the radiator and fan are mounted to the body not the frame. I didn’t have any problem with the clutch linkage with the 2" lift. You go 3"…maybe trouble, I just don’t know. Also, consider a custom wheel well spacer to protect the engine compartment from increased vulnerability to road schmutz, plus it’ll just look prettier.
It took me a day to do my homemade lift. The prepackaged one would be quicker on the install but slower on the problem solving. Even though doing it homemade is a hassle, I just see too many potential problems with a 3" body lift. If anyone is thinking of doing a lift like this (good luck) and would like to correspond, feel free to email me. Also, don’t hold me responsible if my periodic senility affected how I recall doing this installation.
87' Samurai, 5.5" SPOA, 31's, 1" shackle lift, Hi-lift jack, everything else bone stock.