In addition to the usual collection of wrenches, jacks, jackstands etc...
I made use of 3 jacks plus jackstands. Please remember to chock the wheels when you'r jacking the truck and putting it up on jackstands. Please don't work under a truck supported only by jacks. Please check your jackstands and make sure you're confident in their mechanism. The first ones I bought didn't lock into place with confidence, and I returned them. Finally, please don't rely on ME to tell YOU all the safety precautions YOU ought to be taking. If you're not confident you can do the job safely, seek out more experienced help.
Tie rod end puller. (I think it was a 6128, not sure)
10mm flare wrench for rear brake lines
BFW (big effin' wrench) - and my truck's nearly brand new. For an older truck you'll need penetrant, impact wrench, blow torch, etc...
Haynes/Chiltons shop guide. My pics will help, but you also want this!
part time helper
EDIT: OK, before we start, and while the truck is still at stock ride height, sitting on its wheels (not up on jacks/jackstands) we want to measure the stock driveline length - flange-to-flange, on the top and the bottom.
Here I am measuring the bottom - tape measure positioned at the rear
...and taking the measurement at the front:
Measure the length on the bottom of the shaft, as shown, and on the top (not shown) We're measuring to the nearest 16th of an inch here - and not so interested in the TOTAL length, as we are the DIFFERENCE between the top and bottom. This will make diagnosing and correcting any drivetrain vibrations easier. Unfortunately, I did NOT do this before I started, and I'm having to *guess* that the bottom was 1/16" longer than the top before I started.
Record the measurements, we'll use them later.
Here's what we're installing.
If you want to run new rear brake lines, now's the time. 2014 EDIT: My perspective on elongated brake lines has changed over time.
I found the extra clearance of the longer lines real helpful when installing the new leaf packs, but not enough to make up for the extra work of installing them. And over time I've come to realize that the OME shocks are the thing that limit the maximum droop of the rear axle, and ARB deliberately makes them so that they're NOT ANY LONGER than the stock shocks. So there's really no need to run extended brake lines if you're installing the OME suspension.
Not shown, but you'll need flare wrenches for those brake lines. If you round off an ordinary nut, you can replace it. Round off a brake line flare connector and you're just hosed! Brake line flare nuts are torqued to 11 ft-lbs.
The manual cautions that letting air get into the master cylinder means towing to the dealer. So as soon as I disconnected the old line, I clamped it with a vice grip. I'd like to use a non-destructive technique, but couldn't think of any. (no photo)
Test fit the new lines in the brake line mounting brackets. I tested ONE end in ONE fitting and concluded they would fit, so I installed them in place. Mistake. The other line would NOT fit, even though it looked like it, so I ended up Dremelling out the brackets in place on the frame and axle. Would have been easier to unbolt them, put them on a bench, and fit them.
Shop towels to keep brake fluid from dripping onto axle paint and floor.
One brake line in place - bottom:
One brake line in place - top:
Dremelling out the lower mount bracket. This would be much easier on the bench. Note tape to protect metal brake line end and to keep shavings out of brake line.
Both lines installed. This will give extra clearance when we go to replace the rear shocks and springs, and need to lower the axle to create room to work.
Now bleed the brakes. Not shown in photos. Easiest with a helper. I had my daughter on the brake pedal and my wife watching the master cylinder so that the fluid level never got too low. On ABS/VSC trucks you DO NOT want the fluid to go too low in the master cylinder - the master cylinder must be bled by the dealer if that happens!!
Not everyone knows how to bleed brakes. There are a couple techniques, but this is how I do it.
1. Attach short clear plastic tubing to bleeder valve at the hub. But the other end in a clear bottle with brake fluid.
2. Have an assistant press and hold down the brake pedal to presurize the brake system.
3. Open the bleeder valve - watch it release fluid (probably with bubbles) into the tube, and close the bleeder valve.
4. Have the assistant release the brake pedal and press again, repeating from step 2.
5. Periodically check the master cylinder, adding fluid as necessary. I get a second assistant just to monitor the fluid level there.
6. The idea is to repeat until no bubbles appear in the plastic tube attached to the bleeder valve. I personally go for 50 pumps of the pedal with no bubbles before I consider the job done. I've seen the line flow clear for more than 30 pumps and then another rash of bubbles came out.
There's another bleeding technique where you open - press - close - release. I *always* seemed to get bubbles using this technique and concluded the bleeder valve was letting a little bit of air back into the line when I was doing it this way.
Moving on to the front suspension. Remove front engine water shield. It's only four bolts and removing it's easier than loosening the sway bar with it in place. Not shown in photos.
Remove 4 sway bar mount bolts, and brackets. Keep track of left vs. right mounts!
Disconnect sway bar ends.
Now you want a helper. Those front ABS data lines are delicate. They're not simple 5v/12v DC lines -they carry a digital signal much like your DSL line does. Don't risk pinching them and creating VSC/ABS data errors. Have one helper monitor one end of the sway bar so it doesn't whack/pinch that ABS wire while you manipulate the other to move the sway bar clear of the lower strut. The shop manual doesn't warn about this - but the risk is real.
Sway bar safely out of the way:
Now: there are three ways you can get access to the shock-spring coilover assembly. You can remove the tie-rod end, you can disconnect the lower-control-arm from the spindle, or you can disconnect the upper control arm from the spindle. I personally disconnected the tie-rod end while leaving the upper and lower control arms connected.
I loosened the tie rod end fixation nut because the manual said to, but I don't think doing so is necessary since we're not replacing it, just moving it out of the way.
I used a tie rod end puller to disconnect the tie rod end. This worked REALLY WELL! Kragen rents 'em for free - and I think it's only a $15 tool in any case. No risk of ruining the rubber seal or damaging the threads.
Tie rod disconnected, ready to access the strut.
Remove lower shock mount bolt.
...and 3 upper shock mount nuts. Yeah, don't be loosening that big nut in the middle. But you knew that.
Old vs. new strut. It's much beefier, but not much longer. This is the OME 885 spring, no spacer, but with trim packer on the driver side. If I had it to do again, I'd probably go 884 for a regular cab since it's so light, and after seeing my finished lift height and the final angles on my CV boots.
Put the upper end of the new strut into place and put nuts on loosely to hold it there. Lower end will be hanging down. Now use a crowbar to pry down the lower control arm so the new strut/coilover can be put in place. You've gotta cowboy up for this. I tried having my sons, then my wife, do the prying while I tried to put the strut in place and that DID NOT work. It only worked when I put all my weight on the crowbar to pry the lower control arm down, then my wife could slide the new strut into position. Yeah, this photo's a cheat. We took it AFTER we got the new strut into position, but you can see how we did the prying. Use your brain in figuring out the pry/leverage points. That light skid plate down there is NOT going to hold against the crowbar. Again, be cautious of the ABS data wire.
EDIT: Use caution here!! A couple days later when getting the truck aligned, we discovered this failure in the LCA Pivot.
You're looking at the driver side lower control arm pivot from the back towards the front. It's supposed to be held in place by two little flanges. The one on the left has been flattened, allowing the nut and and alignment ring to drift down and left. (The same problem exists on driver-side-front, but didn't photograph well enough to see.)
No way to know for sure when it happened. But a fair guess seems to be that it might have been when forcing that LCA down with the crowbar. So -- use caution and inspect the LCA pivot point as you're applying that force! Make sure you're not damaging anything when creating space to put the strut into place!
Torque the lower shock bolt to the lower control arm to 61 ft-lbs.
Torque the upper three shock nuts to 47 ft-lbs.
You're changing the truck's ride height by installing the OME kit. The upper-control-arm bushing nut is supposed to be tightened when the truck is sitting on it's weight at it's ride height. So loosen the upper control arm mounting nut now while the truck's up on blocks. When it's resting on it's weight, torque the nut back to 60 ft-lbs.
Anyway -- now do the other side - same as the first side. (no photos)
Remount the tie rod end and torque to 41 ft-lbs.
Remount and reattach the stabilizer bar to the steering knuckle. Use a helper again on positioning the sway bar, watching out for those ABS wires again. Bar to frame: 30 ft-lbs, Stabilizer bar to steering knuckle: 52 ft-lbs.
New strut in place.
Now remount front skid/splash plate with 4 bolts (not shown)
Moving on to the rear. On the surface, it appears simpler, fewer things to unbolt and move. But, the leaf is actively resisting you, so there's more grunting and swearing on the back. I took fewer pics here, since it was less confusing, but harder. You've already replaced those rear brake lines, haven't you? That extra axle clearance is nice to have.
Old vs. new leaf pack:
AUGUST 2014 EDIT: If you want to install the Dakar Add-A-Leaf into the pack - skip to the end of this post (not the end of the whole thread) for a series of pictures showing the add-a-leaf install. For me, it was fine to begin with but over time I added a high clearance bumper with tire gate, mounted my winch in the back of the bed for storage, and started carrying a heavy load of tools and spare gasoline. Once all that was accumulated, it was time to go back and insert the extra leaf.
Jack up rear under rear diff, place jackstands. Leave jack under the rear diff to support the axle, since you're removing it's support! (no photos)
Remove old shock and leaf spring from one side (no photo)
Put the new bushing set into the new leaf spring. Use that grease/slippery stuff they give you. Removing the old factory bushingn is usually destructive. I didn't try it - left the factory bushings in place on the factory leafs. Then move the factory hanger from the old to the new leaf. No need to keep track of right left since we're doing one leaf at a time, leaving the other one mounted to stabilize the rear axle. (no photo)
Position the new leaf pack in place on the axle, sliding axle pin into leaf pack center hole. Drill out the bump stop to accept the longer leaf pack center bolt. Take care not to let that heavy leaf spring squash/pinch the delicate ABS signal wire. (no photo)
EDIT - having done this a few times, I now find it easier NOT to set the leaf pin into the axle at this time. I do that last now.
Now, get ready to put that front leaf bolt in place. But wait! The leaf mount hole DOES NOT line up with frame mount point. You can just push it into place with your hands, right? EDIT: Yes you can - if you've not put the axle pin in place yet.
Maybe YOU can. Didn't work for me. I set up the factory jack for extra leverage, and jacked down on the spring while jacking UP on the wheel hub to squeeeze out the spring and force the mounting hole forwards into position:
Remember, as you're jacking the spring/hub/diff up and down to manipulate the spring into position, keep an eye on those brake lines and don't let the axle stretch them out too far.
Same drill more or less in the back at the hanger: - EDIT - AND again, this step is easier if the axle pin's not in place.
EDIT 2014 Now that those are in place, you can set the leaf pin into the axle. You may need to jack the differential up or down a bit to get the right height, and you'll probably need to use a bit of force to move the axle forward. I find this much easier than the techniques I used when I first did the install and wrote this post.
Put the forward mount and hanger bolts and nuts on but just finger tight for now. They need to be tightened when the truck's sitting on it's weight, not when it's up on jacks.
Now put on the new U bolts supplied with your leafs. The factory ones are NOT long enough. The ones wheelers sells are a royal pain to work with - I don't know if they coated them after cutting the threads or what, but threading them was like threading nuts onto the worst galled-seawater-immersed-boat-trailer-hub-lugs I've ever had the displeasure to work with. Anyhow, these you can tighten now. Measure and alternate the tightening of the nuts evenly, just like the lugs on your wheels, so the pressure's even. (no photo) The factory U-bolts are torqued to 37 ft-lbs. Those OME U-bolts are massive, as are the springs, so that doesn't seem enough to me. Apply additional torque as you think wise, but in any case I wouldn't go past the 89 lbs for the leaf springs themselves.
Mount the nitrocharger shock. The bottom mount is wider than the factory mounting point, so you'll need to "persuade" it open with the crowbar again. It's easier to open it too far and let the bolt/nut close it up again when you tighten it into position. (no photo) Torque the lower mount bolt to the axle 74 ft-lbs (big bolt!) and to the frame 15 ft-lbs. (little bolt.)
Repeat on the other side, and lower the car onto its wheels. It's the gangly teen look - suspension stretched out, but not "filled in" yet with larger meatier tires.
Now that the truck's sitting on its own weight, and after you've bounced the front and rear shocks a few times, tighten up the upper control arm bolt and rear leaf hanger bolts and leaf bolts you left loose earlier.
Front Upper-control-arm to frame: 85 ft-lbs.
Rear leaf hanger, shackle, and leaf bolts (3 each side): 89 ft-lbs.
Clean up and throw back an adult beverage. Start to finish took me about two full days, doing the work pretty much all myself with occasional moments of help as I mentioned. I work methodically and cautiously. You most likely work faster than me.
A final look at those inner and outer CV boot angles:
EDIT: diagnosing driveline vibration. Now, I had some driveline vibes in the low teens, from 25-30mph, from 55-60mph. I measured the driveline flange distance and got 51&5/8" TOP and 51&1/2" BOTTOM - so the top is 1/8" longer than the bottom - DIFFERENCE of +1/8" top to bottom. We want to get back to the original stock measurement DIFFERENCE (you measured it before, right ;-) or back to a difference of 0" or maybe -1/16" (bottom 1/16" longer than top)
I put in a 4 degree shim and got new measurements of 52&1/4" TOP and 52&7/16" BOTTOM for a total difference of -3/16" -- TOO MUCH negative difference. No surprise that on test driving, I've still got driveline vibes - at a slightly different sound and slightly different speed. Remember, we're only interested in top to bottom differences, but note how that little 4 degree shim made a 3/4" total difference in driveline length!!
I'll order a 2 degree shim to split the difference, and that should get me back to zero. or -1/16"
EDIT: I put in the 2 degree shim and it did get my top and bottom flange distances to within 1/16 of one another. 51&3/4" on top 51&13/16" on the bottom. That took care of my vibe from 25 to 30. But I still have the "big truck" hum from about 55 to 60mph. Nothing shakes - it's just audible. Knowing that the drive line angle is out of spec for what Dana recommends, and the vibes are a side effect of operating out of range, I'm calling it good. The alternative would be to order up a custom CV joint driveshaft, and the problem just isn't bothersome enough to justify that trouble and expense.
AUGUST 2014 EDIT - when I put in the Add-a-leaf, I took out and left out those 2 degree shims. I don't find they made any material/significant benefit (nor did they hurt anything) but they pushed the pinion on the diff down a tiny bit and I got tired of having repeated discussions with folks who were convinced I "had the shims in backwards."
Ever since the install, my driver side coil has been striking the sway bar on extreme extension, as after going over the far side of a speed bump. OME is not "supposed" to do that - it's supposed to clear. Nevertheless, mine hits. So I ordered a Toytec swaybar relocate and installed it as follows: really easy - hardly worth showing 3 pics for. Piece of cake. Don't remove the wheels, don't disconnect the sway bar ends. Do take off the front splash guard.
Add the relocate:
Bolt it back on. Thats it.
AUGUST 2014 EDIT: Installing the Add-A-Leaf into the Dakar Leaf Pack:
Removed the Dakar leaf pack:
You can remove the bolts on the "military wrap" easily, but ONE of them requires you to relieve the tension with a C Clamp. This is a 6" clamp.
You can just remove the nut on the center pin bolt with no clamp. It'll unload gradually.
New leaf in front of the unloaded pack. Where does it go?
Well, it's easy. You can't miss it. Just keep pulling leaves off the top until you come to the first one that's smaller than the new add-a-leaf and stop there before removing it. There is a front/back direction to the leaves and it's obvious, as long as you remember to check and don't just slam it in there.
Stack em up and put the nut back on. Again no clamp required. You want it tight but not nuclear. There's no torque spec and it's only a 14mm nut - a strong guy could easily overtorque and shear it off.
But you do need the C Clamp for that middle wrap again.
And, ready to install or re-install: