Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Mounting the Lower Control Arms

While I'm not purposefully planning to rock climb or get into situations where I have to tax the Land Cruiser platform, I have been planning for potential situations that may or might occur and looking for options, individually or in combination, that will enable safe passage from point A to point B. One of these things happens to be ground clearance.

I've previously installed an Old Man Emu 2.5" lift kit that included torsion bars, springs and shocks, as well as, changed tire sizes from stock to NITTO 285/75R16 and added Slee Off-road underbelly armor for some protection even with the modest lift change. Couple this with the higher ARB bullbar winch bumper on the front and Slee Off-Road bumper on the back and the attack vectors are improved to see rubber before it sees metal. However, I still had something bugging me which was the fact that my lower control arms would theoretically hit an object before the tire had a chance to sort it out. So, after a bunch of research I ended up purchasing a set of 80 & 100 Series Heavy-Duty High Clearance Lower Control Arms from Wild West Off-Road and installed them shortly thereafter with the help of another friend who rebuilds cars from the chassis up.

We went to a local DIY shop that is a proper rejiggered garage complete with lifts and such. I don't mind being on a crawler underneath the truck. It was a pleasure to stand up under the truck and work on things, however. With the right tools and setting, things go more quickly. Friends help.

The old 100-series bolts came out pretty easily, as did the original lower control arms. I took a few pictures of the comparative old and new bolts and control arms. The stock stuff was, and has historically been, pretty sturdy. However, the new arms and bolts are actually designed for an 80-series, are thicker, change the attack angle and have thicker, beefier bolts. I was curious if there would be enough metal at the mount points to handle the new bolts and arms. After bring under there, I think we're pretty solid. Were I going to purposefully rock climb and get crazy I may consider beefing up the body mounts.

Old bolts and arms were taken out first. Then we had to drill out the holes to take the bigger bolts from 3/8" to 5/8". It may actually have been metric come to think of it, but we used English anyway since that was what we had in our hands at the time. We alternated contextually between a step drill and straight heavy duty drill bit. No problem on the drill-outs. We dry-mounted to see if it all fit and we were good to go. I greased the bolts and bushing sleeves, we put the accompanying washers on either side of the rear bushings as instructed, mounted the front points and then rear points without much effort. We did use a persuasive rubber hammer a few times, but nothing out of the ordinary. After all was said and done, we gunned them tight, made sure the rear wheels were tight as well, dropped the lift and put it out on the parking lot to check for anything silly. After that I S-curved a bit to re-adjust the suspension and help it settle and went back to work. Overall, due to have an air compression issue with the lift that first had to be reconciled, we were in and out in sub-two hours.

There are a number of comparative pictures below showing new and old arms, new and old bolts, mounts points before drill-out and after everything is mounted on the rack and on the ground. Overall, I'm pretty pleased with a) the new lower control arms themselves and b) the ease of the swap-out.

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