Upgrade to 3" lift on series 4 GU 4.8 Station Wagon. What do I need?

Kirbster
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Upgrade to 3" lift on series 4 GU 4.8 Station Wagon. What do I need?

Post by Kirbster »

Hi All.

My rear shocks (https://www.robsmagic.com/) have started to leak oil and need to be replaced. If I deflate the airbags in the rear to 1bar, then the Troll sags in the rear when unloaded. At the front I'm running OME including the steering damper. The previous owner had to replace the OME in the rear when it failed on a trip through Kenya, hence the different kit. The shocks are setup for a 2" lift, but the coils were replaced with slightly taller coils so I'm probably running between a 2" and 3" lift. Anyway as you can read I've currently got a real mix of components included in my suspension setup, so a change to a more intentional setup is a good thing.

I'm running 35" Maxxis Razr's with 30mm spacers and I'm getting a bit of rubbing in the rear wheel arch on full flex.

I'm planning on getting all the parts during January 2021 and February 2021 and then hopefully complete the installation in March 2021,

What have I found out about doing the upgrade:
  • I'm leaning towards Bilstein as I have read and heard that they have a good reputation in SA and can build a 3" setup that is serviceable. Their pricing is also good from what I've been told.
  • Rear bumps stops from the LC 80 series will bolt right in and prevent the rear tires rubbing against the body
  • I'm going install drop boxes supplied by Peter Connan and remove the existing caster correction kit and go back to OEM bushes on the radius arm
What I dont know
  • I believe that there are some measurements required to have the shock custom built and these measurements I believe are taken from the vehicle under full flex and full compression. How does one go about getting the correct measurements and what are the points of reference on the vehicle (front and back)?
  • Adjustable panhard rods come highly recommended. Which make is best and where do I order it from?
  • Adjustable sway bar links come highly recommended. Which make is best and where do I order it from?
  • Where is the best place to source 80 series bump stops or is there another alternative for the Patrols that should be considered
  • My rig is pretty heavy and probably runs close to 3T and then I also tow a 1.3T Conqueror Trailer from time-to-time. What is the best spring type to install and do I do the same back and front?
  • My existing airbags work well on the current lift. Is it OK to just use spacers to make them work for the 3" lift?
  • Does anything need to be done about the brake bias bracket since the vehicle will be "taller" than OEM spec and the geometry of the bracket will no longer match the vehicle?
  • Are there any other suspension related bushes, components, etc that should be inspected and replaced?
All input on this topic will be much appreciated.

Cheers
Hugh
- Previous 4x4: 2014 Nissan Pathfinder 2.5 dCI AT. ARB Suspension and ARB Rear Locker.
- Currently Towing: 2017 Conqueror Comfort Trailer with factory mounted bush awning.
- YouTube: "Simple Life Overlanding"

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Peter Connan
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Re: Upgrade to 3" lift on series 4 GU 4.8 Station Wagon. What do I need?

Post by Peter Connan »

Hugh, some general notes from my perspective (some of which is controversial):

With regard to the wheels rubbing inside the wheel arches on full articulation: I would not worry about it, unless that is ripping up either the trim bits under the car or the tires themselves. Yes, fitting longer bump-stops will solve the "problem", but will also reduce the flex unless you really do have the shocks custom-made, in which case higher bump stops can actually gain you some articulation. I don't know about the 80-series bump stops (whether they fit, where to buy and how much longer they are) but I am sure any half-decent sheet metal fabricator could knock up some spacers to go between the standard bump stops and the chassis.

I am not sure where you intend buying the shocks. Mikem up here can custom-make them, and they can custom-make you springs to suit. As you have already stated, the prices are reasonable and the shocks can be serviced and repaired. However, their delivery times on custom products is shocking. It took them way more than 6 months to make me a set of custom shocks, from me taking my vehicle there, doing the measurements and determining the specs to installation. I don't know if something has changed in the mean time, but at that stage, Darryl was relatively un-interested, Ted was snowed under and Barend wasn't technically trained well enough to deal with specifying product. Maybe if he is well enough trained now, it could be much better. I also caught them at a bad time in that they had to import tubes, as they didn't have anything long enough on hand, which took a couple of months.

On the other hand, as far as I understand they do have a "standard" range, which could work and would be a lot quicker to get. Not sure how extensive the range is though.

With regard to adjustable panhard rods, I don't believe they are necessary on a 3" lift, as long as the lift is similar front and rear. Things to keep in mind, firstly, the most critical portion of suspension travel is fully compressed. And at this point, lengthened panhards will make the spring perches not line up properly. It's not the end of the world, but neither is the axles being slightly off-centre from the car at normal ride height. Secondly, if you change the length of the front panhard, you also need to have an adjustable drag link.

With regard to sway bar links: I don't think the ability to adjust them is of any use. You may however want to change their length permanently. The problem is that the sway bars themselves are too short. They are just long enough to handle the standard vehicle's articulation. You can make the links a little bit longer, but if you go too far they cause the sway bar to bind on upwards travel, which causes those links to bend like pretzels, or break the sway bar's ends off. If you leave them too short, they can also break the sway bar's ends off. To really fix the problem, you have two choices: either import or have custom-made special longer sway bars (I know Superior Engineering make such), or fit quick-disconnects and disconnect them when doing heavy off-roading.

With regard to spring rates and air bags: if you go for too strong a spring, it will reduce your articulation when the vehicle is un-loaded. But air bags also limit articulation, although I think less so. Whether you can use your existing air bags with the new setup, with or without a spacer will depend on how long there minimum and maximum working lengths are, compared to what your suspension can achieve.

With regard to the bias bracket, it should ideally be lengthened by the change in lift, but I suspect there won't be much difference between 2" and 3". If they were not lengthened to cope with the 2" lift, I think it will make sense to fit a spacer now.

With regard to bushes, I don't think there is anything that needs to be replaced as a result of the lift, however it makes sense to check them carefully and replace any that aren't in good shape, as worn bushes really do have a bad effect on the handling of these cars. Also, when doing the lift make sure they loosen all the bushes, and then tighten them again when the car is standing on it's wheels, so that they are relaxed at standard ride position.

In short, I think you may not be able to get everything organised in one go, the whole job may need to be done in a couple of stages.
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Re: Upgrade to 3" lift on series 4 GU 4.8 Station Wagon. What do I need?

Post by martyn »

Don't forget that the break pipes need to be lengthened as well with more travel.
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Re: Upgrade to 3" lift on series 4 GU 4.8 Station Wagon. What do I need?

Post by graham1 »

Does it HAVE to be 3inch?
On my old diesel I had 35s on a 2 inch lift.
They rubbed on big articulation, but nothing major, just some rubbing.

In terms of suppliers, the folk Peter has mentioned stumbled along with trying to get me a quote on a basic 2inch setup. I got the final quote by the time Terrain Tamer had already delivered the product to me.

So ya, I’d recommend a 2 inch terrain tamer setup

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Re: Upgrade to 3" lift on series 4 GU 4.8 Station Wagon. What do I need?

Post by Peter Connan »

graham1 wrote:
12 Jan 2021 20:50
In terms of suppliers, the folk Peter has mentioned stumbled along with trying to get me a quote on a basic 2inch setup. I got the final quote by the time Terrain Tamer had already delivered the product to me.
I do want to add this:
In terms of any manufacturing endeavor, there is a saying which goes: "Good, fast or cheap. Pick any two..."
I firmly believe the Bilstein shocks are technically better than the Terrain Tamers, for a number of reasons. Firstly, the Bilsteins can be dismantled for service and/or repair. This also means that, if the valving doesn't suit the particular installation and preferences of the user, it can be changed. Also, they are mono-tube rather than twin-tube. This has both advantages and disadvantages (which one needs to understand in order to choose the right technology for the job in hand), but the primary disadvantage of the mono-tube (reduced stroke) can be swopped for a different disadvantage (more cost).

However, with Bilstein you are really getting most of the advantages of the base-line Fox-and-similar shocks at a price similar to the OME's and TJM's. For that type of value, I am prepared to wait, but it does mean one needs to start working on this type of exercise long before the stuff already on one's car is stuffed.

:mytwocents:
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Re: Upgrade to 3" lift on series 4 GU 4.8 Station Wagon. What do I need?

Post by Tinus lotz »

I had a chat with. Darrel from bilstein and they dont want to make 3 inch coils any more . The local quality control is just not lekke . Mabe dobinson or something similar .
If i give them the specks rhey will happily make custom shocks . But if shock is to long or short it will kill itself quickly

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Re: Upgrade to 3" lift on series 4 GU 4.8 Station Wagon. What do I need?

Post by Mad Manny »

Mikem dont make up shocks, they just fit the appropriate length and spec Bilstein.
They can make coils.
Darryl Dockray is .not a fan of big lifts...



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Re: Upgrade to 3" lift on series 4 GU 4.8 Station Wagon. What do I need?

Post by Peter Connan »

Manny, I saw them make up mine...

As for big lifts, neither am I. But what is a big lift?
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Re: Upgrade to 3" lift on series 4 GU 4.8 Station Wagon. What do I need?

Post by Kirbster »

Peter Connan wrote:
12 Jan 2021 14:44
Hugh, some general notes from my perspective (some of which is controversial):

With regard to the wheels rubbing inside the wheel arches on full articulation: I would not worry about it, unless that is ripping up either the trim bits under the car or the tires themselves. Yes, fitting longer bump-stops will solve the "problem", but will also reduce the flex unless you really do have the shocks custom-made, in which case higher bump stops can actually gain you some articulation. I don't know about the 80-series bump stops (whether they fit, where to buy and how much longer they are) but I am sure any half-decent sheet metal fabricator could knock up some spacers to go between the standard bump stops and the chassis.

I am not sure where you intend buying the shocks. Mikem up here can custom-make them, and they can custom-make you springs to suit. As you have already stated, the prices are reasonable and the shocks can be serviced and repaired. However, their delivery times on custom products is shocking. It took them way more than 6 months to make me a set of custom shocks, from me taking my vehicle there, doing the measurements and determining the specs to installation. I don't know if something has changed in the mean time, but at that stage, Darryl was relatively un-interested, Ted was snowed under and Barend wasn't technically trained well enough to deal with specifying product. Maybe if he is well enough trained now, it could be much better. I also caught them at a bad time in that they had to import tubes, as they didn't have anything long enough on hand, which took a couple of months.

On the other hand, as far as I understand they do have a "standard" range, which could work and would be a lot quicker to get. Not sure how extensive the range is though.

With regard to adjustable panhard rods, I don't believe they are necessary on a 3" lift, as long as the lift is similar front and rear. Things to keep in mind, firstly, the most critical portion of suspension travel is fully compressed. And at this point, lengthened panhards will make the spring perches not line up properly. It's not the end of the world, but neither is the axles being slightly off-centre from the car at normal ride height. Secondly, if you change the length of the front panhard, you also need to have an adjustable drag link.

With regard to sway bar links: I don't think the ability to adjust them is of any use. You may however want to change their length permanently. The problem is that the sway bars themselves are too short. They are just long enough to handle the standard vehicle's articulation. You can make the links a little bit longer, but if you go too far they cause the sway bar to bind on upwards travel, which causes those links to bend like pretzels, or break the sway bar's ends off. If you leave them too short, they can also break the sway bar's ends off. To really fix the problem, you have two choices: either import or have custom-made special longer sway bars (I know Superior Engineering make such), or fit quick-disconnects and disconnect them when doing heavy off-roading.

With regard to spring rates and air bags: if you go for too strong a spring, it will reduce your articulation when the vehicle is un-loaded. But air bags also limit articulation, although I think less so. Whether you can use your existing air bags with the new setup, with or without a spacer will depend on how long there minimum and maximum working lengths are, compared to what your suspension can achieve.

With regard to the bias bracket, it should ideally be lengthened by the change in lift, but I suspect there won't be much difference between 2" and 3". If they were not lengthened to cope with the 2" lift, I think it will make sense to fit a spacer now.

With regard to bushes, I don't think there is anything that needs to be replaced as a result of the lift, however it makes sense to check them carefully and replace any that aren't in good shape, as worn bushes really do have a bad effect on the handling of these cars. Also, when doing the lift make sure they loosen all the bushes, and then tighten them again when the car is standing on it's wheels, so that they are relaxed at standard ride position.

In short, I think you may not be able to get everything organised in one go, the whole job may need to be done in a couple of stages.
Thanks Pete. I really appreciate your feedback on this topic and taking the time to respond in such detail. It's good to know that a realistic expectation of the duration will be one that is based on months and not days :-)
- Previous 4x4: 2014 Nissan Pathfinder 2.5 dCI AT. ARB Suspension and ARB Rear Locker.
- Currently Towing: 2017 Conqueror Comfort Trailer with factory mounted bush awning.
- YouTube: "Simple Life Overlanding"

Kirbster
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Re: Upgrade to 3" lift on series 4 GU 4.8 Station Wagon. What do I need?

Post by Kirbster »

graham1 wrote:
12 Jan 2021 20:50
Does it HAVE to be 3inch?
On my old diesel I had 35s on a 2 inch lift.
They rubbed on big articulation, but nothing major, just some rubbing.

In terms of suppliers, the folk Peter has mentioned stumbled along with trying to get me a quote on a basic 2inch setup. I got the final quote by the time Terrain Tamer had already delivered the product to me.

So ya, I’d recommend a 2 inch terrain tamer setup
Graham, you ask a good question there. No, I don't NEED to go to 3" and since I started this journey and chatting to people the one message that is starting to come through is that the "new train of thought" when it comes to tires and lifts is that the smaller the lift with the biggest of tires is better than the biggest of tires with the tallest lift. I'm an overland tourer and not a grade 5 4x4 kind of guy, so "horses for courses" I guess. So, I could very well stay on the approx 2" lift that I have at the moment and just replace the shocks, which I have to do in any case because they current ones are approaching end of life or are starting to leak. I will still move over to the drop boxes to improve the quality of the drive.
- Previous 4x4: 2014 Nissan Pathfinder 2.5 dCI AT. ARB Suspension and ARB Rear Locker.
- Currently Towing: 2017 Conqueror Comfort Trailer with factory mounted bush awning.
- YouTube: "Simple Life Overlanding"

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