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Height and Ride Adjustable Front Shocks

Discussion in '5 Lug' started by Rola2010, Apr 19, 2021.

  1. Apr 19, 2021 at 8:04 PM
    #1
    Rola2010

    Rola2010 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    I’m sure I’m not the first to do this, but I haven’t seen this documented before - it’s a mostly plug and play way to install height and ride adjustable coilover shocks for the 2nd Gen 5-lug. This gives you the option of vastly improved and adjustable front shocks from an otherwise limited selection of non-adjustable shocks, without the extra expense of buying or having to custom fabricate coilover top mounts.

    For more info on coilovers for the 5-lug, have a look here. I'll just be covering how I installed the shocks without the coilover top mounts.

    Again, this works with the stock 5-lug spring or other compatible spring (X-Runner, etc). You’ll need:
    • Your shock of choice with eyelet bottoms and stud tops. I ordered a set of Viking Coilover shocks with poly bushed bottoms and stud tops. It came with an adapter similar to the one sold by QA1 that screws on to the strut rod. If you use shocks from another manufacturer you’ll have to confirm the adapters will fit on the strut rod.

    • Some miscellaneous parts from the local hardware store.
    The SOS spring perch fits on the pigtail end of the spring and gives it a flat bottom to sit properly on the flat adjusting nut (inverted). These are shorter XR springs in the pic which I used to test fit, which explains the extra length below the lock nut on the shock body. You could crank the adjusting nut a little more than 1" higher than this before the top of the perch begins to extend over the top of the shock body.

    IMG_3446.jpg

    The perch adds just about 3/4” to the height of the spring (my stock spring is about 11.5”; ended up about 12.25” with the perch).
    IMG_3481.jpg

    As mentioned, the adjusting nut is inverted so the collar that the thrust bearings are meant to go over are no longer there since the nut is flipped. You can either buy a set of smaller radius thrust bearings and washers, or fill the space between the shock and the thrust bearings. I chose the latter and dremeled a nylon washer to fit. Washer has an inner diameter just over 2” and outer diameter just under 2.5”, and thickness about ⅛” to match the bearings.

    IMG_3467.jpg

    Assembled unit next to stock spring and XR Bilstein. Notice how much the stock spring has to be compressed to fit in the Bilstein, which is why I am not an advocate of that combo. The coilover set up is about 1/2” taller. By the way, the coilover is just snug with negligible preload, and there’s about 2” of thread below the lower lock nut.

    IMG_3483.jpg

    Notes and Considerations:
    The lower shock eyelet will not fit into the DJM lower control arm without modification (the shock mount on the lower control arm is too tall for the shock eyelet to align). I decided to ditch the DJM lower control arm and use a stock refreshed one, and everything fit fine.

    Ironically, the stock upper control arm runs really close to the SOS perch on full extension, even with the recommended “clocking.” I didn't like how close it was so I kept the wider DJM upper control arm. Ball joint seem to be at appropriate angles, despite the arms being mismatched.

    IMG_3513.jpg

    I mentioned earlier how I test fit the shorter XR spring and it seems like it could work on this shock, so there is the possibility of using a shorter spring that is different than the recommended length to achieve your goals. However, I'm no expert so I can't say if actual is the same as theoretical, plus this does not take into account any fitment or other issues you may encounter. Do your research, and be responsible for your own truck and your own decisions.

    As far as results go, with the adjusting nut just hand tightened (negligible preload), I ended up a little lower than I wanted to be, but I have plenty of thread above to work with, and with the adjustability the truck rides nice; really happy with the results so far.

    Anyhow, hope this helps someone wanting to make some suspension changes. Let me know if you have any questions.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2021
  2. Apr 19, 2021 at 10:48 PM
    #2
    hemitruk

    hemitruk Old man , young boi truk

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    Nice work :thumbsup:
     
  3. Apr 20, 2021 at 12:45 AM
    #3
    BananaMan

    BananaMan Well-Known Member

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    Nicely done, glad to see some innovation for our trucks!
     
  4. Apr 20, 2021 at 2:00 PM
    #4
    Rola2010

    Rola2010 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Thanks! My goal was to get the front sitting just below 17" hub to fender, and right now, with the adjusting nut only hand tightened before install (negligible preload), it sits at about 16.25", so I am sure I can get to my desired height. Plus now I can adjust each side individually to address the infamous "Tacoma lean."

    In the interest of sharing more info, here's a better pic of the XR spring mounted on the shock - maybe not quite an inch of shock body above the perch (as mentioned earlier), but there is still thread to go up and preload the spring some, so they could work. If I liked the ride of these springs and wanted to go lower (both of which I did not), I would have got the next shorter shock, and this spring and perch would match perfectly.
    IMG_3445.jpg

    Total height of XR spring and perch.
    IMG_3451.jpg

    On that note I ran across QA1’s Front Pro Coil Shock System springs which are offered in a 10” length with appropriate spring rates, that have a 4.1” ID flat top and a 2.5” ID flat bottom (the stock springs have an ID of about 4.5”.) The 4.1” ID spring top should just fit over the stock spring hat (diameter of spring retainer on top hat is just about 4”).
    IMG_3509.jpg

    However, I’m not 100% sure it will sit flush, as the base of the spring retainer is rounded and larger than 4.1”. Plus I'm not sure if it's okay for the spring to be touching the retainer all the time.

    IMG_3510.jpg

    The benefit of using these springs means you would not need the SOS perch and the adjusting nut will be mounted right side up (so you wouldn't need to make a nylon spacer like I did for the thrust bearings). Only reason I didn’t investigate this route further is I already have two sets of springs, wanted to go higher than where I was, and didn't need the added cost. If you plan to buy new springs anyhow (or want stiffer ones), these may be worth a look.
     
  5. Apr 27, 2021 at 3:37 AM
    #5
    Hayrider

    Hayrider Over the hill & going down fast...

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    :ohsnap: I bet you are the first one to try this. Actually very smart thinking if I may say so‼️
    I really like using OEM parts and I must say I really think this looks better than what I have below. The photo below is with 10” springs. I have 12” springs 500 in/lbs springs and I feel they are still a bit stiff.

    I have a few questions. Let me try to write this so you understand my questions.

    1. I’m guessing the spring perch from SOS will not fit over the lip of the top adjusting locking nut you have turned upside down? *I hope you have something between the treads on the coilover shock and the spring perch.* I know they are both aluminum but you could easily damage the treads on the shock body. And please use liberal amounts of anti-seize on the treads‼️ Trust me you do NOT want the threads to galled together.

    2. May I ask what front shocks / part number shocks are you using in the photo? I changed from the QA1’s to Vikings because Viking had front and rear shocks with better lengths. The front Viking’s I’m running now are C208. I’m actually running two different length shocks on the rear. As I’m having the DJM notches welded in the rear so I needed shorter rear shocks also. The left rear shock is just about a 1/2” shorter. My front tires are 235/50-19’s / 28.25” tires and they just rub the top of the fender liner when it bottoms out.
    I’m trying to sell the URD system because I really want to have an alloy block 5.3 LSx installed in this truck.

    35918EFC-77CC-4986-8AA3-6EC61870783F.jpg
    430B4A6C-B30E-43B1-B7CE-2978CAE7760E.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2021
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  6. Apr 27, 2021 at 1:14 PM
    #6
    Rola2010

    Rola2010 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Thanks! I haven't seen it documented, but in my emails with Tom from SOS, he mentioned other customers have done similar, so there are definitely other examples out there.

    Yes, you're correct - the spring perch will not fit over the top adjusting nut, so I had to flip it to give the perch a flat surface to sit on. I do not have anything between the threads on the shock body and the perch. However, the perch is just 2.04" in diameter (according to Tom) so the gap between them is pretty small - I suppose I could put a sleeve in between, but since it would have to be really thin, I'm more afraid of it getting bound up in the adjusting threads of the shock body. My plan has always been to "set it and forget it" once I got it where I wanted, so for me I think it's okay to leave it as is since I probably won't be messing with it anymore. I did use a liberal amount of anti-seize on all contact surfaces (adjusting threads, thrust bearings, washers, perches), and as anti-seize often does, it pretty much got on everything else, haha.

    I bought the C210 (17.33" Extended, 11.57" Collapsed, PN C209, Uses 12" Springs), and I'm on XR wheels and tires (255/45-R18) - I think my wheels are a bit smaller diameter than yours. My current ride height (hub to fender) is about 17" at the front and 18" at the rear (on a full tank of gas) and so far (a few hundred miles in) I haven't had any rubbing issues. I am planning to change the bump stops to shorter ones - I don't think I've been bottoming out but the stock ones are a bit close and I'd prefer to have a little more clearance. I'll update if any rubbing issues come up once I have them changed.
     
  7. Apr 27, 2021 at 7:57 PM
    #7
    Hayrider

    Hayrider Over the hill & going down fast...

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    Hmmm...
    I know you have the front fully assembled but *I* would take it apart and have the bottom .500” of the spring perch machine out to 2.5” ID. Then you can flip the lock nut over and use the thrust washers.
    That would definitely save the spring perch from moving over and rubbing against the treads on the shock body. I rather be safe than sorry.

    I must say thanks for going out on a limb and trying this. I must admit I thought it but I didn’t think about the spring perch from the SOS drop kit. Sad too because the SOS kit was the first I used to lower the Tacoma.

    May I ask if you can take photos from the side and another of the coilover how you have it setup now. My front shocks are 16.25 ext & 11.00 collapse. So they maybe to short to use the OEM springs.

    Oh, Tom has the front bumpstops you need.
     
  8. Apr 28, 2021 at 12:54 PM
    #8
    Rola2010

    Rola2010 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    I thought about doing that as well, but I currently don't know anyone who has a machine shop who can do it. If I can find someone I may opt to do that in the future.

    When you say "side," this is the profile of the truck or side of the whole assembly? I'll try to grab pictures next time I am under the truck.

    It looks like from the pic you have enough threads on the shock body to accommodate the longer stock spring and perch, and in theory if you tried them with the 12" springs they would likely fit, unless they were at the very end of the shock body threads (you'll need an additional 3/4" thread due to the inverted adjusting nut and the perch). Do you still have your old SOS perches and springs to test fit?
     
  9. Apr 28, 2021 at 1:56 PM
    #9
    Hayrider

    Hayrider Over the hill & going down fast...

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    Just a side photo of the truck and photos of the front coilover/shock & spring.

    I measured my ride hight (center of the hub/wheel to the top of the arch of the fender) and the best I could get was 16.25” it may not look like it because the size of the 235 & 245/50-19’s on 19x8 & 8.5 wheels.

    The shocks caled for either 10” or 12” springs and for some reason I ordered 10” springs. I have 12” springs in 3 different weights. I haven’t had time to change out a test the different springs yet. I have two Tacoma project trucks I’m trying to work on but I’m in a holding pattern now because I need to wait for someone to do there thing before I can move forward.

    If I do the SOS perches I will definitely get them machined! But the perches are $110 plus then I need to get them machine out. I’m looking for another welder to fabricate some top mounts also. I found a place that can water cut 1/4” plate for the top mounts. But doing two at a time is not cheap. I had a fabricator all setup to make all the top mounts I could sell but everyone backed out when it came time to pay for the mounts @ $200 powder coated ready to install.
    I sold the Bilstein’s and the kit for cheap a long time ago. Hindsight I should have just sold the shocks.

    Looks like we have the same setup with the suspension it’s just the shock mounting is different. As crude as the upper A arms are there’s no way I would use their lower arms. I rather use the lower A arm spacers. But I’m not going any lower.
     
  10. Apr 29, 2021 at 2:04 PM
    #10
    Rola2010

    Rola2010 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    IMG_3526.jpg

    Here's a side view picture. I'll try to get more pics of the set up when I'm under the car next.
     
  11. Apr 29, 2021 at 2:40 PM
    #11
    Hayrider

    Hayrider Over the hill & going down fast...

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    Damn I really need to install the white handles setting in the truck for I don’t know how many months now! The X-runner wheels look great! Nice clean Tacoma! Tasteful!
    Also just an FYI the SOS spring perch stiffens the spring rate by a good amount.
    A shorter spring is stiffer than a longer spring. The perch “coil binds” the spring at least the last 3/4 of a coil at the bottom of the spring. This stiffens the spring/spring rate.
    Research “coil bind suspension” and you will see...

    * EDIT * Still waiting for photos of the front shock / coilover’s!
    I like to see so I can figure out if my shorter fronts would work‼️
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2021
  12. May 14, 2021 at 4:32 PM
    #12
    Rola2010

    Rola2010 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, have had other non-Tacoma projects to handle in the past few weekends. I plan to be working on the truck this weekend and will try to grab some shots while I am under there.
     
  13. May 16, 2021 at 8:42 PM
    #13
    Rola2010

    Rola2010 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Here you go:
    B35235B0-06BB-4744-81D9-1A300632EC01.jpg B2D61398-6E4A-4175-A95B-1EFF58BB7CCE.jpg
     
  14. May 16, 2021 at 9:08 PM
    #14
    Hayrider

    Hayrider Over the hill & going down fast...

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    Thanks! I like to see it loaded!
    Also you need to go get two washers for one for either side at the bottom of the shock.
    With aluminum body shocks you absolutely don’t want ANY side load on the shocks i.e. the shock shift and or seals. Sorry but I can not stress enough because they aren’t designed for a DD duties.
    I went to the dealer to purchase two more washers like the OE one you moved to the inside and I used a piece of 1.250 x .125 aluminum strap to mount the brake line to. Washer on one side, aluminum strap on the other in between the LCA mount. I mounted the shock at the top then raise the LCA up to the bottom of the shock to see where it hung down. I was lucky it was right in the center of the two tabs/LCA mount. But you should see where the bottom of the shock hangs. Sorry just trying to save you an early rebuild.
     
  15. May 18, 2021 at 10:37 AM
    #15
    Rola2010

    Rola2010 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Can’t really see it in the pictures, but I have four washers on the lower shock mount - two on the outside of the mount and two on the inside of the mount. The lower eyelet is a bit narrower than the shock mount so the washers were necessary to remove any side to side play.
     
  16. May 18, 2021 at 1:56 PM
    #16
    Hayrider

    Hayrider Over the hill & going down fast...

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    Ok, you should have enough washers / spacers so the bottom of the shock fits fairly snug.
    May I ask how much more threads do you think are left to go up?
    And any reason you didn’t use the rubber dust boot? I’m really considering going this route but I need to purchase new stem ends @ $25 each, the SOS spring perches @ $118, then machining of the perches @ I have know idea.
     
  17. May 19, 2021 at 1:57 PM
    #17
    Rola2010

    Rola2010 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Right now I have just under 3" of thread below the locking nut. I think the adjusting/locking nut assembly is around 0.5", and total threading on the shock body is just under 6" - so I should have another 2" of threading above the adjusting nut.

    Forgot to add that I didn't use the rubber dust boot because I didn't like the way it looked.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2021
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  18. May 20, 2021 at 6:38 PM
    #18
    jsheets1

    jsheets1 Well-Known Member

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    In your opinion, if I wanted to go this exact route to lift my truck, How long of shocks (full extension) would I need if yours (17.33") at their highest setting, or close to, have lowered the truck?
     
  19. May 20, 2021 at 8:46 PM
    #19
    Hayrider

    Hayrider Over the hill & going down fast...

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    Jsheets1,
    Just an FYI if you want to raise the front going with a 12x2.5” coilover spring/s is your best bet!
    But remember you can only go so high before you will need new upper control arms.
    I found a shop that still makes long travel front suspension for 5 lugs but it’s not going to be cheap!
     
  20. May 21, 2021 at 12:56 AM
    #20
    Rola2010

    Rola2010 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Shocks typically come with a recommended spring length (these recommend a 12" spring) and while you could put a shorter than recommended spring on that shock (next longer shock recommends 14" spring), you'll more than likely be at the top of the threads on the shock body, and the distance may not be enough to preload the spring to where you won't lose any height once it's installed, so it's questionable as to whether a longer shock with a shorter than recommended spring will be higher than a shorter, fully extended shock with the same spring.

    I pondered something similar as I have a set of XR springs (which are about 2" shorter) that I wanted to give a try on these shocks. But in my test fit of the XR springs with no preload, I have less than an inch of thread at the top of the shock body left, so even with the adjusting nut cranked all the way to the top (which I also am not comfortable with), I'm almost certain once mounted it will still be lower than where I currently sit, and since I'm at the top of the adjusting nut, I can't go any higher. Way too much work for "maybe."

    The short answer is that it's probably safest to go with a shock that matches the spring length, and since 5-lugs don't have much choice in terms of spring length, you may be limited to the same shock length as well.

    I will say this - when I used to jack the car up with the XR Bilsteins, the front wheels would have to be about 2+" off the ground before I could squeeze the jackstands under the frame. Now, the wheels are actually still on the ground when I can fit the jackstands under the frame, so there still is some height on the shocks that I'm not using. I'm a bit lower than stock and I have about 2" of threading to go up on each side - I'm pretty sure if I were to crank them up to the top of the thread it would actually be a bit higher than stock, but I'm not sure if this takes the shock out of its designed working range, and there may be a point before that where the shock is fully extended and turning the adjusting nut higher will only compress the spring further. This also does not consider the clearance or fitment issues Hayrider mentioned.

    I've read that some guys use spacers for the front of 5-lugs to lift it, so perhaps a combination of this and the spacer will give you the height you need.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2021
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