Tech Tips

Inexpensive Lift Alternative
Here's an inexpensive alternative to those $700 lifts that cost me less than $120 including pittman arm. It involves a front shackle reversal and lift block in the rear, if you have access to a small welder and drill press you can build this as well.

1. move your shackles to the rear of your front springs use the stock rear mounts.

2. using 1/4" by 4" steel plate, manufacture dropped front mounts for your springs since the front frame horns on FSJ's changed over the years you will have to figure the specifics of your rig on your own. but what I did on my 78 was to locate the plate so that it was flush with the front of the frame as well as the top of the shackle mount. I drilled a 9/16 hole for a bolt through the original mount and plate, then I drilled a 9/16 hole 5 1/2 inches lower and an inch forward of the top hole. (you want at least a 3/4 inch of material around the hole) these measurements keep the original u-joint angle almost at the original, and allow for correct shackle movement. the actual length would be twice the center to center shackle length, but this in my opinion puts to much stress on the frame and mounts.

3. measure the distance between the inner front shackle mounts, and cut a piece of either 2" round or square heavy wall pipe or tubing a 1/2 inch shorter than this measurment.

4. measure the inner width of your spring mounts and cut two pieces of tubing to fit in them.

5. if you want a "cleaner" installation shape your new mounts with a taper facing towards the rear, remember keep at least 3/4 inch of material around the lower bolt hole. round the corners etc.

6. Attach your new front mounts with a 9/16 bolt thorough the original bolt holes for the shackles. place the two pieces of tubing that you cut between the original shackle mounts to keep them from collapsing when you tighten the bolts. the bolts should run through the tubing.

7. Square the new mounts with the front of the frame, and each other (a piece of all-thread run through all four lower holes works to keep them aligned)

8. Place the piece of tubing that you cut a 1/2 short between the inner plates of the new mounts.

9. Cut two pieces of 1/4 " by 4" steel to go down the front of the new mounts from the top to about level with the lower bolts ( you might want to mock this all up with cardboard if your having trouble picturing all this....) the object is to really keep the new mounts square and strong...

10. now tack weld the center piece with enough clearance between the bolt heads to be able to tighten them, then tack weld the front plates to the new extended frame mounts. your tack welds should be strong enough that you can remove the whole two new front mounts, and cross member as a single assembly and weld the whole thing up on your bench. after welding the entire sub-assembly go to step

11. Re-attach the entire assembly to the original front mounts using 9/16 th bolts in the upper holes along with the inner spacers, and square it up again. now weld the assemly in place. be aware of your welding skills as you are now welding on high carbon frame material, as the 9/16 bolts will stay in place you only need a couple inches of bead on each side to keep the new mounts from becoming shackles themselves...

12. Attach the front of the springs through the lower holes

13. you should now have springs mounted 5 1/2" lower and 1" forward of the original upper shackle holes, (use about six to seven washers to make up the difference in spring width versus new inner mount width, you'll see what I mean) and using stock shackles and original mounts at the rear of the spring.

14. you've now raised the front of your truck 2" or 3" and can match that in the rear with inexpensive lift blocks.(about $50 for blocks and bolts)

15. A dropped pitman arm, longer shocks and brake lines are now probably in order so you may want to have these ahead of time or plan around them ( the rear brake line is usually easy to lower for instance)

16. For an additional couple of inches of lift, you can re-arch your stock springs and get it level from front to back and side to side to boot....cost about $30 a spring. end result for a half day of work you and a few dollars in material you can get a lift and shackle reversal all in one and retain much of your stock ride

The end price for all this:

  • steel $20
  • shocks $120 to $240
  • pitman arm $50
  • rear blocks $50 or common in junk yards
  • for less brake lines (find a longer stock line from a different vehicle) and save over the after market ones...
  • re-arch if you want it $150)

I did this on my Cherokee and am very happy with the results