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Blue Oval Altitude

Posted in Features on August 24, 2004 Comment (0)
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Contributors: Gabriel Sheffer

You want lift kits for '80-and-newer Ford trucks? There are lots of them. In fact, one of the companies listed here offers 41 of them. So if you're ready to lift your Ford truck, you're in the right place from which to survey all your options. Many of the kits listed here feature similar components.

For example, all the manufacturers to whom we spoke advise giving particular attention to the rig's steering components because bumpsteer is a common side effect of lifting a TTB-equipped Ford. As a result, dropped pitman arms are a common inclusion in many of these larger kits. As with most lifts, new shocks are also often a standard inclusion, as are rear lift blocks, add-a-leaves or new leaf springs. But beware: Many manufacturers omit some key parts, expecting you to fork over a little more for "accessories." Call for more details and don't be afraid to ask questions. Happy lifting, Ford fanatics.


Kits available: 3
What it fits: '97-'03 F-150 (6-inch), '99-'03 F-250/F-350 Super Duty (5 1/2-8-inch)
Inches of lift: 5 1/2, 8
Maximum tire diameter: 35
Kit details: Fabtech's F-150 kits feature a one-piece drop-down steering knuckle and a 1/4-inch-thick high-arched lower control arm crossmember, providing a good deal of ground clearance. The front differential is relocated on the crossmember and protected by an integrated 1/4-inch-thick steel skidplate. Other parts include antiroll-bar link ends, torsion-bar drop-down brackets with crossmember impact struts. The rear of the F-150 is lifted using 3-inch blocks and bumpstop brackets. The company offers two similar kits for the Super Duty. Both the 5 1/2- and 8-inch lifts feature 10-leaf spring packs with nylon glide pads. These systems also include a track-bar bracket, pitman arm and antiroll-bar end links.
Optional accessories: Replacement leaf springs
More info: Fabtech, 4331 Eucalyptus Ave. Chino, CA 91710, 877/432-2832,

BDS Suspension

Kits available: 10
What they fit: '80-'96 F-150/Bronco (2-, 4-, 6-inch), '83-'97 Ranger/'82-'91 Bronco II (4-, 6-inch), '80-'96 F-250 (4-inch), '86-'97 F-350 (4-inch), '99-present F-250/F-350 Super Duty (4-, 6-, 8-inch)
Inches of lift: 2-8
Maximum tire diameter: 30-38
Kit details: For '80-'96 F-150 trucks, you can order 2-, 4-, or 6-inch lift kits. All these come with new coils; and, for lifts of 4 inches or greater, BDS offers an extended radius-arm kit, which includes 46-inch-long radius arms, brackets and tubular side plates. The 2-inch lift includes coils, an alignment cam and four shocks. The 4- and 6-inch kits include those parts plus what the company calls a front box kit-essentially a dropped pitman arm and antiroll-bar drop brackets. This kit lifts the front 4 inches and the rear 2 inches. The front-box kit, in this and other 4-inch-plus sizes, can be swapped for the aforementioned radius-arm kit. The kits for '80-'96 Broncos are the same as those for the F-150, except that these kits keep the Bronco level, front to rear. The '83-'97 Ranger kit comes with coils, radius-arm drop brackets and axle-pivot brackets. A pitman arm, antiroll-bar drop brackets and bumpstop relocation brackets are also included. The 2 1/2-inch lift kits for the '99-'00 Super Duty feature a front shackle hanger kit, an antiroll-bar-link kit and new shocks. When called for, BDS sells its Ford kits with either Glide Ride leaf springs or Pro Ride coil springs. BDS kits are available with rear lift blocks, add-a-leaves and U-bolts or complete replacement leaf springs. Each kit comes with new BDS 500 Series shocks valved specifically to your application.
Optional accessories: Steering stabilizer, alignment cam, front auxiliary shock, bumpstop extension kit, rear 3-inch-block kit, antiroll-bar drop kit.
More info: BDS Suspension, 102 S. Michigan Ave., Coldwater, MI 49036, 517/279-2135,


Kits available: 7
What they fit: '99-'03 Super Duty (2 1/2-, 4-, 6-, 8-inch), '00-'03 Excursion (4-, 6-, 8-inch)
Inches of lift: 2 1/2 - 8
Maximum tire diameter: 33-38 (depending on kit and application)
Kit details: These kits all include leaf springs that provide lift, Revtek shocks, an "installer-friendly" track bar, dropped pitman arm, bumpstops, add-a-leaves, carrier-bearing drop brackets and all necessary hardware. The rear uses five-leaf military-wrapped, progressive-rate leaf springs that include OEM-style bushings.
Optional accessories: Replacement rear springs, dual front shocks, single or dual steering stabilizer.
More info: Revtek Industries, 4288 SE International Way, Portland, OR 97222, 877/LIFT-TOY,

What's TTB?

Ford first introduced what it called Twin Traction Beam (TTB) front suspension systems on the F-150, F-250 and Bronco in 1980. The TTB system uses coil springs and radius arms like its predecessor, but instead of a solid front axle, the TTB system uses a two-piece axle assembly connected to the frame by pivot brackets. The shorter link is on the passenger side, while the longer driver-side link houses the differential. This arrangement allows each axle half to travel independently of the other, thus offering more travel to the wheels. The most common complaint about Ford's TTB system was that the front wheels needed alignment more frequently than solid axles. Lifted rigs can be even worse, and in extreme cases, alignment can be much more difficult to accomplish than with other designs.

Usually lifting a TTB Ford creates negative caster and positive camber. Camber is the outward (positive) or inward (negative) tilt of the tires as viewed from the front. Caster is the angle of the steering pivot, measured in degrees, when viewed from the side of the vehicle. Generally, when lifting a TTB 2 inches or less, caster change is minimal, and camber can be corrected using adjustable camber bushings. When lifting more than 2 inches, lowering the axle halves at their frame attachment points restores camber, and spacing the radius arms down from the frame restores caster. Sometimes you may still have to replace the factory camber bushings to precisely set camber.

The standard approach to lifting Ford TTB rigs is to use drop-down pivot brackets on the radius arms for lifts of 4 inches or less. But a common problem that arises under serious off-highway use is that the brackets can tear out of the frame. Also, because of different camber arcs due to the drop brackets, steering geometry is greatly affected and can cause the steering box to loosen or crack the mounting points. To correct this, you've got to drop your steering system as well. A dropped pitman arm will partially correct the problem and many larger lift kits include pitman arms. These move the pivot point back.

One company, Autofab, modifies the beam housing and relocates the ball joint outward, allowing the beam pivot brackets to remain stock. According to Autofab, this design offers more ground clearance down the center of the vehicle. The company also uses larger coils and tube-type radius arms mounted at three points in the beam for extra strength. This lets you use the factory pivot brackets and steering geometry so that no dropped pitman arm is required. Finally, Autofab also employs a stronger pivot bracket that is moved inboard to make room for bigger tires.

Whatever approach you take to lifting a TTB Ford, be aware that you're about to embark on an anything-but-standard lift. Prepare to befriend your local wheel alignment specialist. You're about to get a lot closer to him.

Donahoe Racing

Kits available: 8
What they fit: '99-'03 F-250/F-350 Super Duty (2-, 3-, 4-, 4 1/2-, 6-, 8-, 10 1/2-, 12 1/2-inch)
Inches of lift: 2 - 12 1/2
Maximum tire diameter: 34-39 1/2 (depending on kit and application)Kit details: Donahoe Racing uses a stage system that increases lift with larger coils and spring hangers. Starting with its 2-inch leveling kit, Donahoe offers eight lift kits for the Super Duty. The leveling kit features a 2-inch-lift spring-hanger kit and four shocks. The 4 1/2-inch Edge Plush Ride system includes reinforced front-spring hangers, shackles and blocks with rear U-bolts to clear 35-inch tires. A panhard-rod drop bracket, pitman arm, extended antiroll-bar links and polyurethane bumpstops are also included in the kit. The kit is designed to retain the factory front suspension and steering geometry. The 8-, 10 1/2- and 12 1/2-inch systems do not include shocks; Donahoe recommends use of race shocks like Fox or Bilstein with these systems. The 10 1/2-inch kit combines Donahoe's 4 1/2-inch spring-hanger kit with springs from the 6-inch lift. The 12 1/2-inch kit features 8-inch springs and 4 1/2-inch hanger kit. In addition, Donahoe is developing an adjustable lift kit for '97-'03 F-150s which should be available later this spring.
Optional accessories: Adjustable panhard rod, traction bars, dual front shock mounts, shocks, mini front spring pack, carrier-bearing drop kit.
More info: Donahoe Racing, 2841 E. White Star, Unit E, Anaheim, CA 92806, 714/632-3033,


Kits available: 41
What they fit: '83-'97 Ranger and Bronco II (111/42-, 4-, 6-, 8-inch), '90-'94 Explorer (1 1/2- and 4-inch), '97-'02 F-150 (6-inch), '80-'96 F-150 (1 1/2-, 4-, 6-, 8-inch), '80-'96 Bronco (1 1/2-, 4-, 6-, 8-inch), '00-'02 Excursion (2 1/2-, 4-, 6-inch), '99-'02 F-250 (2-, 4-, 6-, 8-inch), '87-'98 F-250 [TTB] (1 1/2-, 4-, 6-inch), '80-'86 F-250 [TTB] (1 1/2-, 4-, 6-, 8-inch), '80-'85 F-350 (1 1/2-, 4-, 6-inch), '86-'98 F-350 (1 1/2-, 2-, 4-, 6-, 8-inch), '99-'02 F-350 (2-, 4-, 6-, 8-inch)
Inches of lift: 1 1/2-8
Maximum tire diameter: 32-38 (depending on kit and application)
Kit details: The Ranger/Bronco II kit, like most of Skyjacker's Ford suspension systems, is available in a Class I or Class II assembly. Class II kits are more stout, usually featuring longer radius arms. Class I kits use heavy-duty brackets instead. The Ranger 2-inch kit has front leveling coils. Skyjacker also offers 4-, 6-, and 8-inch kits for these vehicles. The Class II kit comes with a front axle-pivot bracket and a dropped pitman arm. Rear blocks or complete rear springs are available for the 4- and 6-inch kits. Skyjacker's '80-'96 F-150 kits feature axle-pivot brackets for the TTB, radius-arm brackets and replacement leaf springs. The Class II kit includes extended radius arms, pitman arm, a one-piece four-point skidplate, Softride Hydro shocks and bushings. Super Duty/Excursion kits were designed for V-8, V-10 or diesel applications. These feature front and rear antiroll-bar links, extended brake lines, replacement springs, an "Extreme Drop" pitman arm and relocating brackets for the track-bar axle and frame mounts.
Optional accessories: Triple shock setup, dual-inline steering stabilizer, lateral strut bars, Softride Hydro or Nitro shocks.
More info: Skyjacker, Dept. FW, P.O. Box 1678, West Monroe, LA 71294-1678, 318/388-0816,


Kits available: 5
What they fit: '81-'93 F-150/Bronco (3-, 4-inch), '97 Excursion (4-inch), '97-'01 F-150 (4-inch), '97-'02 Expedition (4-inch), '99-'02 F-250/F-350 Super Duty (4-inch)
Inches of lift: 3-4
Maximum tire diameter: 33-35 (depending on kit and application)Kit details: Rancho offers two similar packages for '81-'96 F-150s and Broncos. The Sports System includes coil springs, pivot brackets and a dropped pitman arm. Rear blocks are included with this kit. The Performance System adds extended radius arms and a rear add-a-leaf. Depending on the application, these lifts will elevate your rig either 3 or 4 inches. Late-model Expeditions and F-150s are approached differently. These kits replace the OE steering knuckle with a heavy-duty cast knuckle. Other parts include a fully welded cradle-style subframe and torsion-bar crossmember relocation brackets. The Super Duty lifts include new leaf springs front and rear, a panhard-rod relocation bracket, extended brake lines and a dropped pitman arm. A 4-inch Excursion lift is also available by combining four separate Rancho kits, including front and rear leaf springs, front bracketry and shocks.
Optional accessories: Add-a-leaf, shocks, steering stabilizers.
More info: Rancho, 1 International Dr., Monroe, MI 48161, 734/384-7804,


Kits available: 13
What they fit: '80-'98 F-250/F-350 (4-inch), '83-'97 Ranger and Bronco II (2-, 4-inch), '91-'94 Explorer (4-inch), '97-newer F-150 (4-, 5-inch), '99-newer F-250/F-350 (2-, 4-, 6-, 8-inch), '80-'96 F-150/Bronco (2-, 4-, 6-inch)
Inches of lift: 2-8
Maximum tire diameter: 32-38
Kit details: Superlift's TTB lift kits start with pre-set coil springs. Axle-pivot brackets are then used to lower the factory axle halves to correct wheel camber. Cast-iron replacement radius-arm brackets position the axle front to rear. They also lower the factory radius arms and maintain caster. These kits also come with a dropped pitman arm to help retain steering angles. The kit for '97-and-newer F-150s uses a full-length crossmember assembly to drop the lower control arm 411/42 inches. Superlift supplies a nodular iron-knuckle assembly with a raised tie-rod attachment point, allowing all angles to remain within factory specs. A centerlink connects the knuckles to the factory steering and pitman arm. The diff is lowered 4 1/2 inches. The kit comes with longer brake hoses and Superlift's Superide shocks. Superlift's Superide Select springs offer Ford '99-and-newer F-250/F-350s 2, 4, 6, and 8 inches of lift. Utilizing a 9- or 10-leaf pack (depending on your application), these springs feature anti-friction pads and military-wrapped eyelets. The 2-inch kit comes with new front leaf springs, a track-bar bracket and relocation brackets for the front compression travel-stops. The 4-inch lift gets those parts plus longer front antiroll-bar links and a rear add-a-leaf. For 6 inches of lift a dropped pitman arm is added to the kit and 2 1/2-inch rear lift blocks and an add-a-leaf. Finally, the 8-inch system includes front brake hose relocation hardware, relocation brackets for the rear compression stops and 4-inch blocks and add-a-leaves for the rear. All of these systems include Superide shock absorbers.
Optional accessories: Radius-arm upgrades, dual front shock kit, steering stabilizers, body lifts, U-bolt kits.
More info: Superlift, 300 Huey Lenard Loop Rd., West Monroe, LA 71292, 800/551-4955,


Kits available: 3
What they fit: '83-'97 Ranger, '80-'96 F-150/Bronco, '90-'94 Explorer
Inches of lift: 4
Maximum tire diameter: 31-33
Kit details: Here's an approach that's unique to Autofab. These guys focus on wheel travel rather than height. First, they trade you their modified beam housings in exchange for your factory housing. All kits include tubular, race-style radius arms and fabricated pivots. Lift comes courtesy of custom coil buckets with longer shocks. The kit also includes crossmember components that fit between the radius-arm pivots and a removable engine crossbar is mounted between the shock hoops. Autofab's 4-inch-lift kit for the '83-'97 Ranger provides 16 inches of front wheel travel. The Bronco/F-150 16-inch wheel-travel kit was developed for dual shocks at each wheel. Featuring custom-fabricated coil buckets with shock hoops and removable crossbar, these setups are available for Fox, Bilstein, Sway-A-Way, Rancho and Doetsch Tech shocks. The kits for '80-'96 F-150 and Bronco with TTB feature tubular radius arms with three-point mounting to the traction beam and come with shocks and limiting-strap mounts. Specially designed offset pivot brackets move the pivot point inboard for better tire clearance. This move also corrects the bushing angle for longer radius arms. A front-diff skidplate, limiting straps and bumpstops are included with all long-travel kits.
Optional accessories: Optional spherical rod-end mounting, coil-spring adjusters, custom radius arm pivot brackets, coil-spring compression inserts.
More info: Autofab, 10996 North Woodside Ave., Santee, CA 92071, 619/562-1740,

Explorer Pro Comp

Kits available: 3
What they fit: '99-'03 Super Duty/'00-'02 Excursion (6 1/2-inch), '97-'03 F-150/Expedition/seven-lug F-250 (4-inch), '82-'96 F-150/Bronco (4-6-inch)
Inches of lift: 4-6 1/2
Maximum tire diameter: 33-37 (depending on kit and application)
Kit details: Kits for the late-model Super Duty include progressive multi-leaf springs and pro-rise bushings, four ES3000 shocks, track-bar relocation brackets and a drop pitman arm. Explorer's 4-inch lift for '97-'02 F-150s and 7-lug F-250s makes room for 33- to 35-inch tires. This kit features welded lower control-arm drops and crossmembers, replacement ductile-iron spindles and crossmember compression struts. The '82-'96 F-150 kit features new radius arms, pre-stressed coils and a drop pitman arm. All kits use either add-a-leaves and/or a lift block to provide rear lift.
Optional accessories: MX-6 shocks, lift blocks, U-bolts, add-a-leaf.
More info: Explorer Pro Comp, 2360 Boswell Rd., Chula Vista, CA 91914, (619) 216-1444,

Black Diamond

Kits available: 11
What they fit: '80-'96 F-150/Bronco (2-, 4-, 6-inch), '80-'98 F-250/F-350 (4-inch), '83-'97 Ranger (2- and 4-inch), '91-'94 Explorer (4-inch), '99-'03 F-250/F-350 Super Duty (2-, 4-, 6-, 8-inch)
Inches of lift: 2-8
Maximum tire diameter: 33-38 (depending on kit and application)Kit details: Lifting Ford's TTB-equipped vehicles requires paying special attention to front-suspension camber. Black Diamond's kits use axle-pivot brackets that lower the factory axle halves and feature adjustable camber bushings to correct camber angle. The company recommends a pitman arm for kits more than 4 inches tall. On '80-'98 F-250s, leaf springs are used in place of coils. Rear lift is achieved through lift blocks, add-a-leaves or new, replacement springs. Kits for late-model F-250 and F-350 Super Dutys, meanwhile, feature a nine- or 10-pack leaf spring up front. Over-compression is prevented with a new track-bar bracket and front compression travel-stop relocation brackets. Longer radius arms are added to the 4-inch kit, a new pitman arm and add-a-leaves (for the rear) complete the 6-inch kit. The 8-inch lift includes those components, plus relocation brackets for the rear compression stops, front brake hose relocation hardware and 4-inch blocks plus rear add-a-leaves.Optional accessories: Adjustable track bars, extended-length rubber brake hoses, add-a-leaves, body lifts, steering stabilizers, dual-shock kits and an assortment of corrective steering parts.
More info: Black Diamond, 274 Huey Lenard Loop Rd., West Monroe, LA 71292, 866/680-6666,

Full Traction

Kits available: 3
What they fit: F-250/F-350 Super Duty and 4WD Excursion
Inches of lift: 4, 6, 8
Maximum tire diameter: 33-39 (depending on kit and application)
Kit details: Full-Traction Suspension kits include three-way adjustable front track-bar relocation brackets, drop pitman arm, center-carrier support spacer, antiroll-bar end links, front and rear shocks, front urethane bumpstops and rear springs or lift blocks. The company offers front multileaf progressive-rate leaf springs for increased payload capacity. Other features include nylon anti-friction pads and double military-wrapped spring eyes. Pre-installed OEM-style rubber vulcanized bushings also included. All components come powdercoated with plated hardware.
Optional accessories: Dual steering stabilizer, dual shock hoop, 9-way adjustable shocks
More info: Full Traction, 6951 McDivitt Dr., Bakersfield, CA 93313, 800/255-6464,


Kits available: 4
What it fits: '97-'03 F-150 (5-inch), '99-'03 F-250/F-350 (4-, 6-inch), '99-'02 Ranger
Inches of lift: 4-6
Kit details: RCD's Ford kits each include either Bilstein monotube gas shocks or zinc-plated 5100 Series monotube gas shocks. The 5-inch kit for the late-model F-150 features a replacement cast-iron steering knuckle, a heavy-duty two-piece lower subframe assembly, polished stainless steel anti-compression struts and zinc-plated billet steel antisway bar links. According to RCD this kit will require no driveshaft modifications. For late-model Super Dutys, RCD offers two sizes, a 4-inch or 6-inch lift kit. These include two replacement leaf springs that feature nylon anti-friction pads and military wrap eyelets. Other components included for the Super Duty are a 3/8-inch track-bar relocation bracket, extended antiroll-bar relocation brackets and a dropped pitman arm. Rear lift is achieved using lift blocks with a factory-style bumpstop wing. The Ranger kit replaces the factory torsion bar system with Bilstein coilover shock absorbers. The complete system includes replacement steering knuckles, a two-piece lower subframe assembly, antiroll-bar links and anti-compression struts. RCD says this kit retains the OE steering parts, so no drop-down steering components are used.
Optional accessories: Front multi-shock system, skidplates, rear traction arm system, front light bar hoop, shackle leveling kit.
More info: RCD, 3552 Fowler Canyon Rd., Jamul, CA 91935, 619/588-4723,


Kits available: 1
What it fits: '99-'03 Super Duty F-250/F-350
Inches of lift: 2 1/2
Maximum tire diameter: 34
Kit details: Jack-It has a complete 2 1/2-inch Super Duty leveling kit. The Premium Package includes progressive front leaf packs, an adjustable track bar, front and rear heavy-duty shocks, a heavy-duty steering stabilizer, front U-bolts, center-pin bolts and hardware. The pictured kit is for the '00-and-newer F-350 Super Duty (gas or diesel). Kits are also available for the F-250. They are identical to the F-350 kit but they include rear add-a-leaves.
Optional accessories: Dual steering stabilizer, shocks, adjustable track bar.
More info: Jack-It, 1812 West 3500 South, No. 1, West Valley City, UT 84119, 888/4-JACKIT,

James Duff

Kits available: 4 sizes in three stages
What they fit: '83-'97 Ranger, '84-'90 Bronco II/'91-'94 Explorer (2-, 3-, 3 1/2-, 3 1/2+ body lift)
Inches of lift: 2-5 1/2
Maximum tire diameter: 31-34 (depending on kit and application)
Kit details: Bronco specialist James Duff uses a stage system so that each phase can be transformed into the next by adding the additional components without purchasing a completely new system each time you want to upgrade. Entry-level kits feature progressive-rate springs and 70/30 auto-adjust shocks, axle-pivot drop brackets, radius-arm drop brackets, radius-arm bushings, add-a-leaves (or 1-inch blocks for the Ranger SuperCab), rear-axle U-bolts, polyurethane coil pads, leveling spacer and lift shackles (for the Explorer only). Stage 2 kits feature dual shocks and long-link radius arms that replace the drop brackets from Stage 1. Stage 3 adds leaf springs. For more clearance, kits can be ordered with a 2-inch body lift. In addition, some applications incorporate flares to cover large tires.
Optional accessories: Extended brake lines, extended e-brake cables, drop pitman arm, tubular radius arms with rod-end pivots, heavy-duty transmission crossmember, long-travel shock mounts and extended heavy-duty driveshafts.
More info: James Duff, 261340 Hwy 101, Sequim, WA 98382, 360/683-2160,

Tuff Country

Kits available: 4
What they fit: '80-'97 F-250 (4-inch), '81-'96 F-150/Bronco (4-inch), '99-'02 Super Duty (211/42-, 5-inch)
Inches of lift: 211/42-5
Maximum tire diameter: 31-36 (depending on kit and application)
Kit details: Tuff Country kits feature axle-pivot brackets that use a camber adjustable bolt. This bolt allows 2 1/2 degrees of positive or negative camber to make wheel alignment easier. For early F-250s, Tuff Country kits feature front leaf springs, the axle-pivot brackets with adjustment bolts, antiroll-bar drop brackets, relocating brackets for the brake line and a 4-inch block and add-a-leaves for the rear. The 4-inch kit for F-150s/Broncos has front coil springs, radius-arm brackets and extended radius arms, the axle-pivot bracket with camber bolt, antiroll-bar drop brackets and rear add-a-leaves. The 2 1/2-inch kit Tuff Country developed for '99-'02 Super Duty is a leveling kit, so it uses leaf packs that are added to the front leaf springs. Extended U-bolts and an upper track-bar relocating bracket are also included. According to the company, you can retain your factory shocks with this kit. Tuff Country's other kit for the Super Duty is a 5-inch-lift kit that gets its height courtesy of EZ Ride front leaf springs. Other components include a track-bar relocating bracket with a camber adjustment bolt, antiroll-bar end links, brake-line relocating brackets and, for the rear, 5 1/2-inch blocks and add-a-leaves.
Optional accessories: Ladder bars, daul or triple shock hoop
More info: Tuff Country, 4165 W. Nike Dr., Salt Lake City, UT 84088, 800/288-2190,


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