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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Here's the process, broken down in sections, to acheive a 2.5" lift as shown:

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Finshed Project running BFG A/T KO size LT225/75/16.
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Section 1, Parts and Tools

Parts:

4ea - 1.25" Front Spacers, Urethane,
2ea - 1.5" Rear Spacers, 6061-T6 Aluminum, Custom
10ea - 10mm x 1.5 x 80mm grade 12.9 Studs, Custom
10ea - 10mm x 1.5 Nylok Nuts
2ea - Rear Upper Arms, Adjustable, +6/-4 degrees, Specialty Products
2ea - Front Pinch Bolts, Service Reduced Shank, OE, Honda P/N 90188-S6M-Z01, Majestic P/N 589470
10ea - 10mm or 7/16 Flat Washer, >.05" Thickness
Lithium Grease, Marine Grade

Tools:

Floor Jack
Bottle Jack
3 Jack Stands
1/2" Breaker Bar
3/8" Ratchet
1/4" Ratchet
Arbor Press with Rotating Stage
10mm & 12mm 1/4" sockets
12" 1/4" Extension
12mm, 14mm, 17mm 3/8" Sockets
14mm, 17mm, 19mm, 22mm 1/2" Deep Sockets
XXL Screw driver, Flat Head
Strut Spring Compressor
3lb Sledge
Needle nose pliars
17mm box wrench
14mm box wrench
6mm Allen wrench

P.S. I'll edit this list as I remember things.

Section 2, Front Lift

1) Support car on Jack Stands. Remove wheels.
2) Disconnect brake line and ABS (if equipped) brackets from strut.
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3) Disconnect Steering Tie Rod End. Remove the cotter pin and 12mm nut. Use a 3lb sledge to "coax" the rod end out of its tapered seat on the steering arm.
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Note: This is a good time to evaluate the condition of your tie rod ends and replace them as necessary since you'll be realigning your car when all of this is over. The boots on mine were cracked so I swapped them out for new. They are ~$30ea at Majestic.

4)Remove the 2 pinch bolts and flange nuts mating the strut to the knuckle. I used a 1/2" Breaker with a 19mm socket and a 1/2 Ratchet with a 22mm socket.
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5) Remove the 3 10mm flange nuts holding the top plate of the strut to the body. These are accessed through the engine compartment. Pull the strut out.
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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Front Lift - Part 2

6) With the first strut removed, repeat the process for the other side.

7) Using a good strut spring compressor, begin the disassembly of the front struts.
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NOTE: I used The Strutter 2 compressor, It is really a great tool and is available from Cornwell Tools. (as luck would have it, it was the August monthly special @ $35.) This compressor is not nearly as sketchy as others I have used in the past, notably loaners from Kragen and such.

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8) With the spring compressed enough to remove the load from the top plate, begin strut disassembly:
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9) The bearing plate needs to be lubed with a marine-grade lithium grease. It was obvious that much of the factory applied grease had long since dissipated. This surely leads to premature wear and I suspect it to be cause of the creaking noises when turning that others have described often here.
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10) Next, press out the OE top studs to make way for the new extended studs:
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11) Here is a comparison of the OE stud (far right), vs largest 10mm stud available commercially, vs 10mm x 1.5 Bolt, vs Custom 80mm Blue Stud:
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12) Next up is to press in the extended studs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Front Lift, Part 3

Extended studs pressed in:
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13) The front urethane spacers had to be modified as they're actually for an F-150/Expedition.
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14) Strut going back together:
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Note: There is a very specific way that the strut is to go back together. The service manual provides great detail on this and should be referenced. Putting the components back together is made easier by the factory assembly marks (blue paint visible), compression indents in the lower spring perch created by the end of the coil, and alignment markings stamped into the top perch and bearing plate.


15) Here is the completed strut assy with both urethane spacers 5stacked and ready to be re-installed in the E. Notice 80mm is the ideal length for the studs and lube oozing from the re-greased top plate.
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16) Re-install the assy using the special service bolts shown below. These bolts will provide 30' of negative camber adjustment thanks to their reduced shank diameter of 14.68mm, down from 15.88mm.
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17) Reassembly included the addition of new tie rod ends, as discussed earlier. NOTE: Be sure to use a new cotter pin on the flange nut.
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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Rear Lift - Part 1

The front is done, the rear is next.

I designed the rear spacers and had them CNC'd out of 6061-T6 aluminum, then anodized black. The final design incorporates an o-ring and compensates for the downward shift of the strut to provide an OE-like seal at the rear body opening (upper strut perch). Initially, I tackled this project hoping to source everything off-the-shelf. The front spacers fit the bill, sort-of, after modification. These will ultimately go away and be replaced with T6 customs, like the rears. Initially, I was planning on using one urethane spacer (1.25" thick) for each front strut, and designed the rear spacer to be 1.5" thick - in order to provide a .25" accomodation for the rear swing-out tire carrier that is coming next. I figured having a full sized spare hanging off the back would compress the rear spings that extra quarter inch. However, the 1.5" thickness translated into a 3.5" lift due to the bizzare geometry of the rear suspension. Doubling up on the front spacers, brought things close, but the rear is still higher. My thoughts at this point are that the adjustable rear arms will bring the camber more nuetral from positive and the rear may drop some once everything is aligned properly. I'll probably model the rear suspension in 3D and determine precisely what spacer height equates to what lift height. I'll report more on this later.

Here's a comparison shot of the one urethane front spacer vs one T6 rear spacer....
Rectangle


..and another of the two rear spacers:
Close-up Trunk Tree Branch Plant


So let's begin:

1) Jack up your E via the center of the rear sub-frame and support it on jack stands at the jack points left and right (just forward of the rear wheel wells), chock the front wheels, remove the rear wheels.

2) Remove sway bar bracket on the side on which you are working (2 12mm bolts).

3) (Left side) Remove the 3 10mm bolts holding the EVAP canister. Use a 1/4" drive with an extension. You need to swing this out of the way to remove the left rear strut.
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4) Disconnect brake line bracket (12mm socket) and ABS bracket from upper arm (if equipped). Use needle nose pliars to release the ABS braket clips.

5) Disconnect the upper arm from the rear hub. Jack up on the lower arm/strut mount to facilitate this as necessary.
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6)Remove rear strut. Access the two top mounting bolts via the hatch in the rear seat area. Seat needs to be flipped up to do this. Use a 14mm deep socket, extension, and 1/2 drive to remove the 2 flange nuts.
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7) Now remove the lower flange bolt and pull the strut out.

Strut perch looking up from below with the strut removed:
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With the strut out, you can begin the pulling the strut on the other side.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Rear Lift - Part 2

At this point, both rear struts are removed. Like with the fronts, the rears needed to be disassembled so that the OE studs could be pressed out and the extended studs pressed in.

9) Strut in compressor:
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10) Once pressure is off the top plate, remove it using a 14mm box wrench and 6mm allen wrench:
Rotary tool


11) Rear strut diassembled:
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12) Press out the OE studs and press in the extended studs:


13) Rear top plate with new studs:
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14) Strut reassembled with spacer installed:
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Next up - rear strut/spacer assy gets installed in the E - now things get interesting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Rear Lift - Part 3

Now the newly extended strut assemblies need to get back in. The trick here is to drop the lower arm to gain clearance.

15) Raise the side you are working on by placing the floor jack under the lower arm/lower strut mount.
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With the E raised, place a jack stand under the jack point at the center of the rear sub-frame and remove the jack stand that is forward of the wheel well on the side you are working - you'll need this area free.

16) Remove the two 17mm bolts that secure the lower arm bracket to the body. You can relieve some stress on the bracket by using the floor and/or bottle jack.
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The picture above illustrates the lower arm having been dropped to allow installation of the strut assy. Note that I did not move the jack stand - this technique evolved over time. You want to get that thing out of your way - trust me. Not having it there will make things go much more smoothly when you reinstall the lower arm.

17) At this point, you want to install the adjustable upper arms. Really straight forward here, two bolts to deal with. More detail on the arms further down in the thread.
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18) With the lower arm out of the way, you can insert the top of the spacer up into its perch. Ideally, you'll have someone nearby to hold it up while you start the lock nuts from the top-side cargo area.

19) With the top of the strut secure, it's time to shift attention to the bottom attachment point. This is tricky. You need to manipulate the lower arm using the jacks. Get out your XXL flat head and use it to manipulate the strut. This BFSD is key, as illustrated in the pictures that follow:

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Use the screw driver to line things up:
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Once things are lined up, reinstall the flange bolt.

20) With the strut secure and in place, reinstall the lower arm. Jack up the lower arm, get the outboard bolt started, then use a 17mm box wrench and start the inboard bolt.

Here's the rear arm reinstalled:
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21) Next up - tires, alignment, cam bolts, upper arm detail, and some clearance issues to resolve.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Baby's got a new pair of shoes, and arms, and cam bolts, and and alignment, and.....

The arms came in on Friday - finally.

With them I ordered front cam bolts as well - just in case the Special Service Bolts weren't enough to reign in the front camber.
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The arms are really nice- stout and well made. There are even nifty relocation brackets for the ABS holders, which are great in concept but fall short in execution.
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Here's a shot of the cam bolts.
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Notice the lobe on the shaft. This is what provides the adjustment. The problem was that the lobe was too big and wouldn't fit into the knuckle. A short turn on the grinding wheel solve the problem however.

With the cam bolts in the upper position, service bolts in the lower, and the adjustable arms in and eyballed to approx zero degrees camber, the E took a trip over to the Tire Shop for some BFG KOs and an alignment. Side note: BFG A/Ts were actually my second tire choice. Wrangler Silent Armors were the first. I know the Wrangler HPs take a lot of heat with E owners, and perhaps rightfully so, but the Silent Armors are amazing tires - take very little weight, ride great, and are very quiet. Unfortunately, Goodyear was out of stock in the 225/75 size so BFG got the nod.

But I'm happy none-the-less:
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The lift actually makes the normally massive (for the E) 225/75's look sort of small.

Here is a breakdown of the alignment numbers:
(to be inserted)

As you [will] see, I just eeked by in spec at the front: 0.5 degrees positive camber both left and right.

The drive home presented a new challenge.
 

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Excellent work and presentation!

Looking forward to the rest of the story. Also, a few of us may want to buy some rear spacers from your machine shop. I hope they still have the pattern.

Thanks!
 

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Sparman

Again very nice job. I am curious how much torque was applied to the three strut mounting bolts when the front strut was re-attaced to the body. Typically these bolts use very low torque numbers because they are just assuring the strut stay nested snugly in its perch.

However the addition of two spacers (front) and subsequent elongation of these bolts means they will now be stressed beyond the original design consideration. Because there is no upper control arm in the E, the strut must be able to withstand not only the up / down motion, but also twisting forces from steering and lateral pull/push from say bouncing off rocks / potholes or taking corners at speed. Due to lengthening, the normal forces experienced by the strut will now be magnified (lever effect). Therefore the strut - spacer - spacer sandwich will require that the bolts honding everything in place must be sufficiently tight (very, very tight I assume) to prevent these forces from allowing movement of this assembly. Of course this also raises the question if the sheetmetal stock mounting perch is able to withstand the additional forces also. If just the slightest looseness or movement develops, it will then just be a matter of time until something breaks. If the E did have a upper control arms like the Ford F-150 you said the spacers were originally designed for, then this would not be of concern.

So I am guessing you must have used more than 20 ft pounds of torque during reassembly, which is generally the amount applied to strut mount bolts if my memory is correct (dont have the manual for the E so I am not exaclty sure of the specific value). The spacers are now becoming an extension of the car body / strut perch, so they should be attached with 100 ft pounds or more IMHO (of course the bolts must be able to withstand this). Even so, this may end up being the achilles heel of the suspension set up. I think the single spacer used for the rear will not be a problem.

Hindsight is 20/20 of course but I think a better design would be to use "nested" / interlocking spacers to help deal with the lateral / twisting forces. I am not trying to be critical here, just doing a little FMEA. You obviously have done a very impressive job of blazing a trail for the elusive "lifted E"". :D
 
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