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Adventure Bound Part 2

Posted in How To: Suspension Brakes on January 9, 2017
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As we explained last issue, the owner of this truck wants to get into adventure off-road touring, and he figures that this 2008 Ford F150 is a perfect vehicle to do it in. The 4x4 equipped Ford full size truck may not fit on all of the trails back east, but for the wild west, with its more open terrain and fire roads, it can be a great choice.

A stock F150 4x4 is not a bad vehicle, but to make it more able to handle extreme terrain, a host of upgrades have been made to it. Last issue, we covered the installation of the Baja Kits Long Travel Prerunner system and King Shocks’ “Raptor Performance Series” 3.0 reservoir-equipped coil over shocks to the front end.

According to Jordon Brenthel, “With this Baja Kit system, your stock F150 suspension is upgraded to outperform the capabilities of the Ford Raptor.” The Baja Kits Long Travel Prerunner kit added two-inches of width per side and upped the wheel travel to nearly 12-inches. The Baja Kits Long Travel Pre Runner kit is configurable to use the single King 3.0 coil over, but a 3.0 bypass shock can also be added as well. Curtis Zamora at Rite Performance did the install work and went so far as to install the new Deaver leaf springs in the rear end, but it was just the beginning for the rear suspension.

From their Raptor Performance Series, the King Shocks Bypass units are part of their OEM bolt-on packages that turn stock trucks into high-performance, off-road capable rigs. They are as tough as Baja and work great right out of the box, but they will be tuned to work precisely as this owner needs.

And for what this owner has in mind for his Effie, that’s what he needs. He says that this isn’t a race truck nor a rock crawler; he doesn’t see ever getting over 60mph on a trail nor will he ever enter a WeRock race. No, he wanted a “chase truck” in that he wanted to chase fun. He wants a very efficient dual sport that will be capable, tough and hopefully will get him to the finish. Wherever that may be.

Where the stock leaf pack is made up of four leafs and requires a block to mount it to the axle housing, the Deaver Springs unit is made up of 9 separate leaf springs. Deaver uses the various springs to tune the suspension specifically for you and your truck. They will quiz you when you order the springs as to what you see yourself doing with the truck. If you want to go really fast, they can build a pack for that. Or as in this case, if you want supple at 35mpg while weighted down with camping gear, they will tailor the spring to your needs. By using so many leaf springs two things happen; one is that the spring has a very progressive feel, and two is that the mounting block needed with the stock leaf pack is not needed with the Deaver unit, thus eliminating a possible weak link.

Speaking of eliminating weak links, RPG Offroad is known for their killer Raptors, but they make a lot of pieces that you may not think of at first. A couple of them are their rear shock mount upgrades. Made from Chromolly, these pieces replace the stock mild steel shock mounts with ones that are way stronger and made specifically to take a pounding without distorting like the stock ones are known to do. They require that the stock mounts be removed and the new RPG units welded on. That’s where crew at RPG comes in as they did the work.

Deaver Springs have been building leaf packs for over 100 years, and in that time their products have won every major off-road race. These leafs were specifically built with this F150 in mind in that they utilize multiple leafs of varying stiffness for a progressive feel, have military grade wrapped ends, Poly anti-friction pads, diamond cut ends and heavy-duty bolt through retaining clips and best of all, they’re made in the USA.

They also added a pair of their shackles to the Deaver spring. The Deaver raised the rearend, and was a little higher than the owner wanted, so a 2-inch longer RPG shackle was installed. The longer shackle actually lowers the rear end, and the RPG guys did that install too.

As we mentioned last issue, BFGoodrich KO2 tires and Pro Comp wheels were also added to the mix because both companies and products are proven to be both tough as nails and great performers.

Now that the install are complete, Zamora will be tuning the King shocks to do what this owner is looking for, which is everything from plonking up and down rocky hills to pushing it a little over fast but bumpy desert terrain. The King Shocks are more than up to the task as their reliability and proven performance will be invaluable when halfway between New Mexico and the Canadian border.

This series of installs were specifically designed to work in conjunction with one another and to make the Ford tough and responsive. The result is that this Ford F150 should not only have no problem with handling the roads and trails the owner envisions he will soon be driving on, and baring a massive driver error, will get him over the hump and back to civilization with nothing more than a smile on his face.

At 2-inches longer than stock, the RPG Shackle kit will lower the rearend a full inch. It’s made of Chromoly steel and features Poly Bushings. It’s also way tougher than the stock shackle, so it is a win-win for this F150.
The RPG Upper Shock Mount is the cure for bent stock mounts. Made from Chromoly steel, this unit is actually one for the Raptor, but with slight modifications will fit on the F150, and be way stronger than stock.
The RPG Lower Shock Mount is the second piece of the shock-mounting upgrade. It too is made from Chromoly, it way stronger than the stock piece, and made to go the long haul.
The rear suspension upgrade began with an RPG Bump Stop mount that holds a King Shocks Air Bump. This piece strengthened the frame as well as providing that extra bit of plush when needed. The stock leaf pack and Bilstein shocks are there, but not for long.
The block is stock, and it too will be gone soon as the Deaver pack is much thicker than stock.
Curtis Zamora of Rite Performance installed the Baja Kits front end and King Shocks, and did the initial installation of the Deaver Springs spring pack.
The leading, driver side pivot is the only problem to this whole install, but it’s a doozy. The bolt was fed from the inside out at the factory; and then the tank was installed. That means to get the bolt out, you have to loosen and move the tank over a bit. Make sure that the tank is empty as possible when you do this. When empty, it’s a pain but not too bad really. Full and you’ll be in for a rough time.
There are two straps that hold the tank in. With a floor jack proving some so support, the straps are loosened and the tank is slid out of the way enough to get the bolt out. Then the tank is put back in, and the job of removing the leaf pack can continue. Thanks Ford.
The pack is removed.
A quick comparison of the Deaver unit and the stock one shows that the Deaver unit has twice as many leafs as the stocker and a much more pronounced bend.
A little is taken off the one offending bolt prior to it being reinstalled. It only require taking a couple of inches off the end for it to fit with the fuel tank in place.
The new Deaver spring pack is installed.
Note that due to the added thickness of the Deaver unit, the spacer block is not used.
With that, the Deaver springs are in, though note that the stock rear shackle is still in place. With the King Bypass shock installed, the first step of the rear suspension upgrade is complete.
The new BFGoodrich KO2 tires and Pro Comp “Rockwell” wheels are installed. This paring will give the Ford a toughness that will make tire or wheel problems nearly unthinkable. We’ve had a lot of BFGoodrich A/T tires and never had a problem either off-road or on, and the Pro Comp wheels are not only attractive, they are made for hard off-road driving.
After a short trip to Laguna Niguel and RPG Offroad, the rest of the upgrade can be done. They will strengthen the upper and lower shock mount, and add a longer shackle, which will remove an inch of height from the back end. Good thing too as it had a slight stink bug thing going for it. Measurements are taken off the stock upper mount to determine where the new RPG unit will be placed.
A plasma cutter and a cut-off wheel equipped pneumatic angle grinder are used to remove the stock mount.
Care is taken to grind the tube clean of all remaining metal bracket and old welds.
The protruding tube is larger on the F150 than it is on the Raptor, so the mount is cut and welded on.
After some touch up paint, the upper mount is on.
The stock lower shock mount may be fine for normal driving, but is not a match for any hard off-roading, so it’s going away.
As with the upper, the combination of the plasma cutter and cutting wheel makes quick work of removing the lower shock mount.
Not only is the RPG unit thicker, made from Chromoly and not mild steel, it doesn’t have any holes (necessary for the stamping process).
A tight fit is imperative, so careful grinding is necessary to remove any bits left over from the removal of the stock unit.
A level/angle gauge is used to position the new RPG mount at exactly the same angle as the stock unit was positioned.
The RPG unit is fully welded on.
We’re going over the install process quickly, but know that careful measurement were taken to perfectly position the new unit exactly where the stock unit was located.
A coat of black paint is applied. With that, the mounts are done. The difference in strength between the stock units and the new RPG mounts is major, and one that the owner wanted to make sure happened before he tries a 500 mile, rock and rut strewn trail. We can’t blame him.
The Poly bushing for the RPG shackle are lubed up and installed.
With the truck safely up on jack stands, the rearend held up with a floor jack, the shackles are replaced one side at a time. Note that thread-locking compound is applied to the threads of the mounting hardware.
We know it sounds wrong, but longer shackles actually lower the bed height. It was needed as the Deaver springs raise the back end slightly, so the added 2-inches of shackle brings the bed back down to an acceptable place.
The heart of the rear suspension is the King Bypass shock. A 3.0 model, it has near infinite adjustability and is as tough as Baja itself. The shocks will be tuned by Curtis Zamora of Rite Performance under a variety of conditions, so stay tuned for that story!
Now the complete suspension install is truly finished. This Ford now has all of the pieces needed for it to perform off-road at a very high level, and it is as strong as an 8.8 is going to be. The front suspension and rear suspension mods are some that a will give the truck all the wheel travel and action that this Ford will ever need, and be as tough as the owner could ever want.

Sources

BFGoodrich
877-788-8899
www.bfgoodrichtires.com
King
Garden Grove, CA 92840
714-530-8701
www.kingshocks.com
Deaver Suspension
Santa Ana, CA 92701
714-542-3703
www.deaverspring.com
Pro Comp USA
Compton, CA 90220
800-776-0767
http://www.procompusa.com
Baja Kits
949-566-8615
http://www.bajakits.com
Rite Performance
909-525-0300
https://www.facebook.com/RitePerformance
RPG Off-Road
866-691-7750
rpgoffroad.com

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