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Installing A Skyjacker Class I Suspension Kit

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Based on Skyjacker's 1983 - 1997 Ranger/Bronco II Class I Suspension Lift

 
This page discusses the Front & Rear Installation, Pitman Arms, Trouble Shooting, and Alignments.

Also read the Class II instruction page and compare the instructions for other methods and tips.

This page is based on Skyjacker's Class I Suspension lift and uses their instructional page as a reference.  This page is to give the Ranger owner an idea of what is involved in installing the kit and is not meant to be a replacement for any instructions that comes with the Skyjacker kit.  This page has information added that is not on the Skyjacker instruction sheets for Class I kits.


Tools Required

  • Grinder or Drill, punch & hammer to remove rivets

  • An assortment of metric and standard sockets

  • (Rangers use metric nuts and bolts)

  • 28mm socket for the bolt at the rear of the radius arm and for the springs

  • Socket extensions and ratchets

  • Assorted wrenches

  • Blocks and floor jack

  • Puller for pitman arm

  • Fork for removing the ball joint stud from the pitman arm


Begin Installation


1)  Make sure to park the vehicle on a level concrete surface.  Many times a vehicle is unlevel from side to side (Even when brand new), but usually not noticed until modifying the suspension with a lift kit which makes it more noticeable.  If the vehicle is unlevel beforehand it will also be after the lift is installed.  Using a measuring tape, measure the front an rear (both sides) from the ground up to the center of the fender opening above each axle.  Record the information in the following manner:

Before

  • Driver Side, Front:__________ Rear:_____________

  • Passenger Side, Front:_____________ Rear:____________

After

  • Driver Side, Front:__________ Rear:_____________

  • Passenger Side, Front:_____________ Rear:____________


Front Installation:

2)  Raise the front of the vehicle and support it securely with jack stands under the frame behind the front springs and block the rear wheels.  Remove the tires and shocks.  Mark the front driveshaft and yoke for proper alignment, and remove the front driveshaft.  Failure to place the driveshaft back on in the same position may cause a driveline vibration.  Tape the front u-joint caps to keep them from falling off.  Hang the driveshaft up out of the way to prevent damage.  Remove the brake lines from the calipers and hang them as high as  possible to prevent the fluid from coming out.  Save the crush washers if the original lines are going to be reused.  Cover the open end of the brake lines and calipers to prevent contamination.  Now remove the drag link assembly from the pitman arm and lower the assembly down.  If your vehicle has a front anti-sway bar, loosen the brackets that hold it to the frame.  For more information on the drag link and pitman arm, go to the pitman arm section further down in this page.

3)  With a floor jack under the radius arm center cross member and with light pressure applied, remove the 2 bolts and 2 rivets from the radius arm at the frame on each side of the cross member.  Block up cross member and remove the jack.  Rivets can be removed by drilling them out or grinding off the head and using a punch to remove them.

4)  Place one floor jack under the the right axle housing between the coil spring and the center hinge bracket. With light pressure applied from the jacks, remove the lower retaining nut and washer at the bottom of the coil spring.  This can be done by running an extension down through the coil and using a 26 mm. socket.  Lower the jack down and remove the coil spring.  The coil will come out at the top by twisting it.  It may also be necessary to loosen the 2 bolts on the bottom shock bracket.  Repeat on the other side.

5)  Unbolt the center hinge bracket from the left (front) axle beam.  Lower the axle beam down, remove the upper bolts from the bracket and discard the bracket (save the original bolts).

6)  Remove the axle beam bolt from the right hinge bracket.  Remove the two rivets from the bottom of the center hinge bracket so that the axle beam can be lowered down.  Knock the rivets out of the frame.  (Note: This bracket is not removed from the cross member.  The new bracket will bolt to the bottom of this existing bracket.)

7)  To install the new left (front) axle beam bracket, the original bolts will be re-used in the original locations. Start all the bolts first, then tighten all of them.  Swing up the axle beam, install the original hinge bolt and tighten.  (Note: Use top hole for 4-inch kits or the bottom hole for 6-inch kits.)

8)  To install the new right axle beam bracket, follow step (A) for kits with Skyjacker's heavy duty cast steel direct replacement bracket or (B) for kits with the standard/economy extension bracket.

  • A)  Start the 1/2" X 1-1/2" bolts through the bracket and cross member so that the washers and nuts will be on the cross member side next to the front bumper.  Swing up the axle beam and install new 9/16" X 3-1/2" bolt.  (Note: Use top hole for 4-inch kits or bottom hole for 6-inch kits.) Tighten all the bolts.

  • (B)  Using the 7/16" X 1-1/2" bolts, install the new flat extension bracket on the crossmember where the factory bracket was originally.  Then install the factory bracket onto the bottom of the extension bracket.  Swing up the axle beam and install using the original bolt.  Tighten all the bolts.

9)  Install the new radius arm brackets and bolt the original brackets to the new ones (7/16" X 1-1/2").  Use one washer under each bolt head and one against the nut.  (Note:  If using optional heavy duty cast steel replacement bracket, only install with the washer against the nut.  Do not install a washer against the bolt head.)  Tighten all the bolts.

10)  With a jack under the coil spring, install the new spring and shock and tighten the 2 bolts on the bottom shock bracket.  Repeat on the other side.  Be sure all nuts and bolts are tight.  Reinstall the brake lines and bleed the brakes.  Ensure the the brake lines are long enough and were either relocated, or replaced with longer lines if needed.  Install the tires and lower the vehicle to the ground.

11)  When installing a 6-inch lift on Bronco II models, install the sway bar lowering brackets at this time.  Otherwise, tighten the bracket (Loosened in step #2)  that holds the sway bar to the frame if so equipped. (A sway bar lowering kit is available from Skyjacker - Part #SBL40)  Tighten sway bar.


Rear Installation:


12)  Raise the rear and support it securely with jack stands and block the front wheels.  Remove the tires, shocks, and U-bolts.  (Caution:  The rear axle will now be free to move so support securely with a floor jack.) "Systems" with rear springs, continue with step 12, otherwise go to step #13.

13)  New Spring Installation:  Remove the original springs from the vehicle.  Install the new springs with the long end of the spring towards the rear bumper.  (Note: On springs with a bottom degree shim, thick end of shim must also be towards the rear bumper.)


Rangers:

2-Inch SYSTEMS with rear springs #FR34: Remove the factory blocks and install the springs directly on top of the axle.

4-Inch SYSTEMS with rear springs # FR34: Install springs on top of factory blocks.  (Some models may sit high in the rear as it did from the factory.  If so, the factory blocks may be removed to lower the rear if desired.)

6-Inch SYSTEMS with new rear springs #FR34: Install springs on top of the original blocks.  (If you have the optional rear springs #FR36, remove the factory blocks and install springs on top of the axle.)


Bronco II:

4-Inch SYSTEMS with rear springs #FR34: Install springs on top of the original factory wedge.

6-Inch SYSTEMS with rear springs #FR36: Install springs on top of the original factory wedge.

14)  Block Installation:  

  • Ranger models - Install the spacer blocks, tall end toward the rear bumper, between the springs and the original blocks.  (This means the new block will be installed on top of the original block.) 

  • Bronco II models - Install the spacer blocks, tall end toward the rear bumper, between the springs and the original factory wedge. Using the floor jack, raise the axle up to the rear springs.  Be sure the tie bolts and block pins all align in the proper holes.


15)  Install and torque the new U-bolts to 85ft. lbs.  Install the rear shock absorbers, tires, and remove the jack stands, and lower the vehicle  The rear installation is now complete.

Note: After driving the first 50 miles, re-torque ALL nuts, bolts and ESPECIALLY U-BOLTS.  Torque again for another 100 miles and then check periodically thereafter.

Pitman Arm

Removal:

To remove the pitman arm you need to remove the cotter pin and nut from the drag link ball stud at the pitman arm.  Remove the drag link ball stud from the pitman arm using a pitman arm removal tool.  Remove the pitman arm retaining nut and washer.  This can be very difficult.  If you don't have an impact wrench, you can use a large pipe slipped over a breaking bar to get enough leverage to remove the nut.  Remove the pitman arm from the steering gear sector shaft using a pulling tool that can be rented at most auto parts stores or tool rental places.

Installation:

Installation is the reverse of the removal procedure.  Torque the pitman arm attaching washer and nut to 170-230 ft. lbs.  Torque the drag link ball stud nut to 50-70 ft. lbs. and install a new cotter pin.

Trouble Shooting:

Upon completion of installing the entire lift (front & rear), if the vehicle appears to sit un-level then go to step#1 and record the AFTER measurements to verify the amount of lift obtained at each point.  If the vehicle does sit un-level and it did not sit un-level in step #1, the following can be checked:

1)  Be sure all of the polyurethane bushings were greased well so that they will not restrict the springs movement.

2)  Check the condition of the shackle bushings in the frame (if not replaced with new ones) to be sure they are not worn, and if so, replace them with new polyurethane bushings.

3)  Check the body bushings between the frame and the body to be sure they are not showing wear.  If so, Skyjacker offers replacement polyurethane kits.

4)  In order to be sure that the bushings are not restricting the spring from being at the correct ride height, loosen (do not remove) the spring eye bolts.  Then stand on the bumpers and bounce the vehicle up and down vigorously to free up the bushings and then retighten the spring eye bolts.

Notes:

To help correct steering angles on lifted vehicles, drop pitman arm #FA400 is recommended.

(Power steering only)

On models equipped with rear carrier bearing, it may be required to lower the carrier bearing after the installation of this kit.

All Ford front suspensions require front end alignments after suspension changes are made.  Your local front end shop can do this.  Toe-in and camber adjustment is required.  If needed, camber bushings are available directly from Skyjacker.

 

Vehicle:     

Year

Part #

Description

Bronco II 

1983 - 1990

1035H

0 - 3-1/8 Degree adjustable camber/caster shim

Ranger

1983 - 1989

1035H       

0 - 3-1/8 Degree adjustable camber/caster shim

Ranger 

1989.5 - 1997 

1039H 

0 - 2 Degree adjustable camber/caster shim

Be sure and have the front end alignment checked periodically by a professional for your safety and longer tire life.

Notice:

Re-torque ALL nuts, bolts and especially the U-bolts after the first 50 miles, again after another 100 miles.  Check periodically thereafter.  Check driveshafts to be sure there is proper length.  Check brake line length; it may be necessary to re-route the original lines or replace them with new longer Skyjacker replacement stainless steel lines.

Note: This write-up suggests to use the top hole in the drop bracket for a 4-inch lift, and the bottom hole for a 6-inch lift. When The Ranger Station put a 6-inch Class II lift on our 1996 Ford Ranger and took it in for an alignment, the alignment shop had difficulties and had us move the axle beams up to the top hole.

 

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