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How To Kill A Ford Raptor Suspension…

Posted in How To: Suspension Brakes on November 4, 2013 Comment (0)
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How To Kill A Ford Raptor Suspension…

Ford's F-150 is not only one of the most popular trucks of all time, it's one of the most popular vehicles (including cars, trucks, and SUVs) of all time. With so many 2004-and-newer F-150s on the road and in the marketplace, it makes a lot of sense to buy and build an F-150 for the dirt.

Ford's SVT Raptor is based on the F-150 platform, but unlike the standard truck it's an exclusive and pricey machine. The Raptor hit dealer lots during the 2010 model year, so secondhand Raptors aren't exactly plentiful just yet.

In the interest of pinching pennies, we wanted to see how possible it was to snap up a standard F-150, build it, and end up with something roundly superior to a Raptor. Can you kill a Raptor with a standard-issue F-150? We hoped so, but when you break it down feature for feature the Raptor becomes more and more of a bargain. How's that? Ford imbued the Raptor with Off-Road Mode. While Off-Road Mode is engaged, the ABS system is shut off, the AdvanceTrac RSC (roll stability control), and traction control are also completely shut off, giving you total control of your truck in the dirt. Anyone who's tried to stop quickly in the dirt only to have the ABS system kick on and diminish braking power knows ABS can actually be dangerous when you're off-roading.

The Raptor's Off-Road Mode is more than just an off switch for the vehicle's electronic babysitting mechanisms. In this mode, the driver can lock and unlock the Raptor's electronic locking rear differential, which lives inside a special Raptor rear axle that is wider and stronger than a standard F-150 rear axle.

Camburg’s Raptor-length control arms won’t kill a Raptor suspension in terms of travel (since they’re the stock Raptor length) but they’ll kill the stock Raptor control arms in terms of durability. The stock Raptor lower control arms are made from cast aluminum. Since lower control arms often take rock hits, we’d rather have lower control arms made from steel. You can bolt these control arms to a stock F-150 and increase track width as well as suspension travel. Retain four-wheel drive by using a custom Camburg axleshaft and stock CV’s (2004 to ’08) or by using Raptor CV shaft assemblies (’09 and newer). Another ’09-and-newer CV shaft option is to use custom orange-booted RCV shafts. Camburg’s Raptor-length control arms won’t kill a Raptor suspension in terms of travel (since they’re the stock Raptor length) but they’ll kill the stock Raptor control arms in terms of durability. The stock Raptor lower control arms are made from cast aluminum. Since lower control arms often take rock hits, we’d rather have lower control arms made from steel. You can bolt these control arms to a stock F-150 and increase track width as well as suspension travel. Retain four-wheel drive by using a custom Camburg axleshaft and stock CV’s (2004 to ’08) or by using Raptor CV shaft assemblies (’09 and newer). Another ’09-and-newer CV shaft option is to use custom orange-booted RCV shafts.

Not only is the Raptor equipped with a locking rear differential, Raptors 2012 and newer also feature a Torsen limited-slip front differential. Side note: All Raptors are 4x4s. The Raptor's Off-Road Mode, traction-enhancing front and rear differentials, and wider (and stronger) rear axle make the total Raptor package very, very hard to beat in a cost-effective manner. By the time you figure out how to add these features to a standard F-150 and do it in a way that doesn't upset the electronics, you'll save time and sanity by shelling out for a real Raptor.

There is, however, one area where a standard F-150 can completely kill a Raptor: suspension performance. Several suspension systems on the market will fit a standard F-150 and, when installed, create a suspension system much better than a stock Raptor suspension. Because the F-150 and the Raptor share the same front suspension pivot points, suspension that fits an F-150 will also fit a Raptor, and vice versa.

The Raptor's front and rear suspension travel numbers are 11.2 and 12 inches, respectively. Custom Raptor-specific internal bypass shocks are impressive performers and arguably the best dampers ever bolted to a truck at the factory, but they're no match for a 2.5-inch diameter coilover working with either a hydraulic bumpstop or a 2.5 bypass shock. Add in a set of longer, stronger A-arms to your F-150 and you're well beyond the Raptor's 11.2 inches of front suspension travel.

Camburg’s Raptor-length control arms won’t kill a Raptor suspension in terms of travel (since they’re the stock Raptor length) but they’ll kill the stock Raptor control arms in terms of durability. The stock Raptor lower control arms are made from cast aluminum. Since lower control arms often take rock hits, we’d rather have lower control arms made from steel. You can bolt these control arms to a stock F-150 and increase track width as well as suspension travel. Retain four-wheel drive by using a custom Camburg axleshaft and stock CV’s (2004 to ’08) or by using Raptor CV shaft assemblies (’09 and newer). Another ’09-and-newer CV shaft option is to use custom orange-booted RCV shafts. Camburg’s Raptor-length control arms won’t kill a Raptor suspension in terms of travel (since they’re the stock Raptor length) but they’ll kill the stock Raptor control arms in terms of durability. The stock Raptor lower control arms are made from cast aluminum. Since lower control arms often take rock hits, we’d rather have lower control arms made from steel. You can bolt these control arms to a stock F-150 and increase track width as well as suspension travel. Retain four-wheel drive by using a custom Camburg axleshaft and stock CV’s (2004 to ’08) or by using Raptor CV shaft assemblies (’09 and newer). Another ’09-and-newer CV shaft option is to use custom orange-booted RCV shafts.

The factory Raptor rear suspension is a similar story: Raptor-specific Fox internal bypass shocks combined with spring-over leaf springs designed to carry loads or tow trailers if need be. Increased rear suspension travel (on a Raptor or an F-150) can be had by using a custom spring-under Deaver leaf pack in concert with long-stroke, 2.5-inch (or larger) diameter bypass shocks connected to a custom bedcage.

Food for thought: Many Raptor owners have realized the limitations of their factory suspensions and swapped them out for longer-travel stuff. You can upgrade a standard F-150 by swapping secondhand Raptor suspension onto it.

What follows is a collection of Raptor-killing suspensions for both two- and four-wheel drive F-150s, model years 2004 and newer. (Even though Ford revised the F-150 for the 2009 model year, many suspension parts will fit all the model years 2004 and newer.) With upgraded suspension on your F-150 you can pass up a Raptor in the rough. Just be careful of your ABS when you hit the brakes.

Camburg’s Raptor-length control arms won’t kill a Raptor suspension in terms of travel (since they’re the stock Raptor length) but they’ll kill the stock Raptor control arms in terms of durability. The stock Raptor lower control arms are made from cast aluminum. Since lower control arms often take rock hits, we’d rather have lower control arms made from steel. You can bolt these control arms to a stock F-150 and increase track width as well as suspension travel. Retain four-wheel drive by using a custom Camburg axleshaft and stock CV’s (2004 to ’08) or by using Raptor CV shaft assemblies (’09 and newer). Another ’09-and-newer CV shaft option is to use custom orange-booted RCV shafts. Camburg’s Raptor-length control arms won’t kill a Raptor suspension in terms of travel (since they’re the stock Raptor length) but they’ll kill the stock Raptor control arms in terms of durability. The stock Raptor lower control arms are made from cast aluminum. Since lower control arms often take rock hits, we’d rather have lower control arms made from steel. You can bolt these control arms to a stock F-150 and increase track width as well as suspension travel. Retain four-wheel drive by using a custom Camburg axleshaft and stock CV’s (2004 to ’08) or by using Raptor CV shaft assemblies (’09 and newer). Another ’09-and-newer CV shaft option is to use custom orange-booted RCV shafts.
JD Fabrication makes long-travel suspension kits for both two- and four-wheel drive F-150s. This red 4x4 model was given a full ’cage and a full leather interior to complement the suspension performance. JD Fabrication makes long-travel suspension kits for both two- and four-wheel drive F-150s. This red 4x4 model was given a full ’cage and a full leather interior to complement the suspension performance.
The replacement upper and lower control arms increase track width by 4 inches per side. Up to 14 inches of wheel travel are possible, and you can run up to 37-inch tires as long as you also run wider fiberglass front fenders. JD’s F-150 long-travel system uses billet aluminum control arms where they belong: on top. The replacement upper and lower control arms increase track width by 4 inches per side. Up to 14 inches of wheel travel are possible, and you can run up to 37-inch tires as long as you also run wider fiberglass front fenders. JD’s F-150 long-travel system uses billet aluminum control arms where they belong: on top.
KMC’s 2007 F-150 uses a Camburg 2WD race kit to soak up the rough and complement its XD 123 Bully beadlock wheels. KMC’s 2007 F-150 uses a Camburg 2WD race kit to soak up the rough and complement its XD 123 Bully beadlock wheels.
The Camburg system includes upper and lower control arms, as well as custom-fabricated steering knuckles (a.k.a. spindles) that incorporate added lift height that increases ground clearance. Without needing to worry about CV joint life as you would with a 4x4 you can go for more suspension travel. This kit delivers up to 18 inches of wheel travel. The Camburg system includes upper and lower control arms, as well as custom-fabricated steering knuckles (a.k.a. spindles) that incorporate added lift height that increases ground clearance. Without needing to worry about CV joint life as you would with a 4x4 you can go for more suspension travel. This kit delivers up to 18 inches of wheel travel.
This simple combination of spring-over Deaver leaf packs and Bilstein bypass shocks works quite well, and was easier and quicker to install than a spring-under conversion. Spring-under provides more bump travel and less axle wrap compared to spring-over. Spring-under or spring-over, Deaver can create the leaf pack you need. Custom leaf packs and long-stroke shocks can provide around 19 inches of travel. This simple combination of spring-over Deaver leaf packs and Bilstein bypass shocks works quite well, and was easier and quicker to install than a spring-under conversion. Spring-under provides more bump travel and less axle wrap compared to spring-over. Spring-under or spring-over, Deaver can create the leaf pack you need. Custom leaf packs and long-stroke shocks can provide around 19 inches of travel.
Rear suspension travel is easy to increase as long as you’re willing to sacrifice bed space. You don’t have to give up the whole bed the way KMC did, but at the very least you’ll need to run a simple bedcage to provide upper mounts for through-the-bed shocks. If you insist on keeping your entire bed floor intact you can, but you’ll need cantilever-activated shocks to achieve true long travel. Cantilever shock systems can take lots of R&D to work properly, which is why almost everyone goes for a bedcage and simple shock mounting. Rear suspension travel is easy to increase as long as you’re willing to sacrifice bed space. You don’t have to give up the whole bed the way KMC did, but at the very least you’ll need to run a simple bedcage to provide upper mounts for through-the-bed shocks. If you insist on keeping your entire bed floor intact you can, but you’ll need cantilever-activated shocks to achieve true long travel. Cantilever shock systems can take lots of R&D to work properly, which is why almost everyone goes for a bedcage and simple shock mounting.
Brenthel’s 2WD long-travel kit is seen on the Bink Designs F-150 in this story’s lead photo. The Brenthel long-travel system cycles 18 inches and increases track width by 5 inches per side. Brenthel’s 2WD long-travel kit is seen on the Bink Designs F-150 in this story’s lead photo. The Brenthel long-travel system cycles 18 inches and increases track width by 5 inches per side.
A fully fabricated steering knuckle replaces the stock item, and the upper and lower control arms are both made using boxed plate. A fully fabricated steering knuckle replaces the stock item, and the upper and lower control arms are both made using boxed plate.
Big travel and 4x4 can play nice together if you’re using an HNM Racing Design long-travel suspension. This kit uses fully fabricated upper and lower control arms and a fabricated steering knuckle. The factory coilover bucket must be deleted in order to mount the long-stroke shocks that maximize wheel travel. Big travel and 4x4 can play nice together if you’re using an HNM Racing Design long-travel suspension. This kit uses fully fabricated upper and lower control arms and a fabricated steering knuckle. The factory coilover bucket must be deleted in order to mount the long-stroke shocks that maximize wheel travel.
As such, the upper control arm mounts (which are tied into the factory coilover bucket) are re-created from scratch. This particular truck is a real Raptor that was built in stages after the owner realized he wanted more performance than the stock Raptor could deliver. As such, the upper control arm mounts (which are tied into the factory coilover bucket) are re-created from scratch. This particular truck is a real Raptor that was built in stages after the owner realized he wanted more performance than the stock Raptor could deliver.
When you’re going with longer control arms and bigger tires, the stock fenders have to go. You need the extra tire coverage and larger wheel openings that only off-road fiberglass can deliver. The one-piece clips shown here are from Fiberwerx. Bink’s F-150 uses an 2009 conversion clip. When you’re going with longer control arms and bigger tires, the stock fenders have to go. You need the extra tire coverage and larger wheel openings that only off-road fiberglass can deliver. The one-piece clips shown here are from Fiberwerx. Bink’s F-150 uses an 2009 conversion clip.
While the HM Racing Designs-built Raptor appropriately uses Raptor ’glass that’s wider than stock. While the HM Racing Designs-built Raptor appropriately uses Raptor ’glass that’s wider than stock.
Our favorite mounting method for a one-piece clip is with hinges, so the clip can tilt forward instead of needing to be lifted off by two or more people. In our biased (yet informed) opinion, one-person engine access is a must. Our favorite mounting method for a one-piece clip is with hinges, so the clip can tilt forward instead of needing to be lifted off by two or more people. In our biased (yet informed) opinion, one-person engine access is a must.
Big tires put big stress on CV joints. RCV CV shaft assemblies allow more angle than stock, are stronger than stock, and can be ordered in stock or wider-than-stock configurations. They’re available for 2009-and-newer F-150s or ’10-and-newer Raptors. They’re available directly from RCV or through Camburg. Big tires put big stress on CV joints. RCV CV shaft assemblies allow more angle than stock, are stronger than stock, and can be ordered in stock or wider-than-stock configurations. They’re available for 2009-and-newer F-150s or ’10-and-newer Raptors. They’re available directly from RCV or through Camburg.

Sources

Camburg Engineering
Huntington Beach, CA 92647
714-848-8880
http://www.camburg.com
Fiberwerx Offroad Fiberglass
Santee, CA 92071
619-654-4451
http://www.fiberwerx.com
Deaver Spring
Santa Ana, CA 92701
714-542-3703
http://www.deaverspring.com
JD Fabrication
Escondido, CA 92029
1-760-740-0442
www.jdfabrication.com
RCV Performance Products (axles)
www.rcvperformance.com
Brenthel Industries
949-642-3003
www.brenthelindustries.com
HM Racing Design
951-304-3132
www.hmracingdesign.com

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