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Lifting 2wd Extended Cab Pickup

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Old 04-29-2017, 11:46 AM   #1
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Lifting 2wd Extended Cab Pickup

Hello all, first time post, long time lurker here. I always enjoy doing write ups on my various projects, whether I end up sharing them or not, but this one seemed like a good one to share considering the trouble I had finding a straight forward guide to what I wanted to accomplish. I have a '92 Toyota Pickup Extended Cab 22re which my grandpa bought new off the lot. About 5 years ago he gifted it to me since he could no longer drive, and has since passed away. He loved this truck and kept it in stellar condition, with only 96k miles on it in 2012, and keeping it going has been my way of keeping his memory alive. Enough of that sappy stuff though, I would like to share my experiences with trying to lift this truck. When starting out, I had a couple goals in mind. 1) Make this truck more capable off road, 2) Make this truck more capable in the snow, 3) make this truck look better. As much as I love it, the stock 3rd gen 2wd pickup just looks dinky. I could haul enough to make it a useful truck (used it for my lawn business for a few years) but not without resting on the rear axle bumpers, and bottoming out at every bump. First I looked into body lifts but decided the cons outweighed the pros and it wouldn't necessarily get me what I wanted. I then came across the miracle ball joint spacers, and the ever praised Add-a-Leaf. This seemed like what I wanted but without many pictures of extended cab pickups on the internet I wasn't entirely sure they would do what I wanted. So before I get too far I'll show some pictures.

This is bone stock

This is after installing my Bigfoot 235 75 15 Tires on 15" Jeep Rims 5x4.5 Pattern

This is with Cranked Tbars, 1.5"BJ Spacers, Add A Leaf, and 235 75 15s' as she sits now.

My first impression after doing these things are that I got more than the advertised 1.5-2.5" lift in the back, I'd say close to 3.5", and not nearly as much in the front even with cranking Tbars (I got the cheap ebay BJ Spacers and they were only 1.25"). So I think before too long I'll try to hunt down some larger diameter Tbars to make up for the difference but it is just fine for now.

Here is my cost list:
1.5" BJ Spacers and UCA Brackets - $65
Pro Comp AAL - $40
5 used A/T Tires on Rims (50% Tread) - $180

So for under $300 I got a much more capable and better looking truck, which I'd say is a steal.

I have a few concerns/plans for the future:
1) Over-sized torsion bars to level out the front
2) Get a front end alignment (not too worried about uneven wear on the tires since they were used and I plan to replace them before too long)
3) potentially go for shackles and spindles to get another inch or two of lift (I'll wait until I decide if I do this step before I get new shocks, they are fairly maxed out right now but driveable at least with 120lbs of sand in the back)
4) When I do get new tires, I might upgrade to 30" or 31" at which time I would need to re-gear the differential to either 4.10 or 4.56 (advise on this would be appreciated as well!)

I'm waiting until my summer internship starts and I have some disposable income, seeing as I'm looking at close to another $1000 if I decide to do shackles and spindles as well as new tires for winter...which I'm totally willing to spend when I have it! A couple other improvements I plan to do to the interior are some sound dampening foam on the doors/firewall, maybe thermal insulation on the floor under carpet, tinting the windows to keep the interior cool (on a side note I found a guy who refilled my freon and my A/C is good as new for $20, but shhh), I have a decent sound system (added 5 1/4" speakers in the rear cargo areas as much as I enjoyed having those for junk speakers trump, and a 10" sub behind the drivers seat, aftermarket jvc head unit) but I would love to cut holes for 6.5" speakers in the doors, hopefully a component system with tweeters up top for dat clarity. I'd like a tachometer and oil pressure, but eh we will see, and some leds in the footwells. I think I'll remove the lower front bumper too and throw some little fog lights on there for fun as well.

Anyways here are some pics from my install with a couple tips and tricks from my experience.

BJ Spacers:
There was some spring action when I unbolted the ball joint bolts.
I had to use some clamps and strategically placed jacks to get everything to line up when installing the new bj spacers. I got the upper control arm brackets too but I didn't realize I needed extra hardware to install them so this is how they currently sit, I'll get around to it eventually...
Basically just jack up the front end, and put a jack stand under the hub and unbolt. Not much to it.

Add a Leaf:

My biggest piece of advice is to go buy 10 bottles of PB Blaster (this is sarcasm, one is fine) and soak your U bolts as many times as possible before this. I cannot overstate how difficult I found removing them to be (let it be noted this truck was mainly driven in Missouri, rust belt) and without air tools you will need a breaker bar and patience. I am a pretty capable 21 yr old and this was the kind of thing where every time you turn the bolt you're giving it everything you've got until it comes off. Once you get them off, I recommend making a nice bath of PB blaster and just let those puppies soak while you finish the install. Going back on was 100x better after that, and using a scotch-brite pad to clean up the threads. Also you don't have to thread them on as far because you have made the leaf pack thicker.
Also don't forget to take your shock off the lower mount!
It doesn't hurt to take a brush/scotch-brite pad to any metal surfaces either.

This is what holds the spring pack together nicely, directly after the U bolt comes off. I was looking all over for a screw holding the two far pieces (left on top, right on bottom) but I just pried them apart with a flathead to expose the bolt.
Throw some c clamps on just so there are no surprises when taking apart the pack. When getting the springs to drop down, I just whacked it from the top with a hammer while the axle was jacked up, it clangs right down.
After you take the bolt out, you can spread the c clamps out to put on the add a leaf. The little nubs at the ends should keep it from falling apart without clamps.
Fun fact, the new bolt was about an inch longer than shown, and I had to cut it down twice, once to get it in, the gap was just shorter, and once after threading the nut. slowly clamp it together using the bolt to guide it and not by tightening the nut cause you'll strip it out. once you get it clamped tighten up the nut and reassemble. For me, my U bolts were just long enough that I could reuse the stock ones, but it was tight.
The difference is quite startling I would say! In a good way.
So I guess I'll go through a couple things I would have done differently/ tips and tricks from this whole process that I wish I would have known.

1) As I mentioned, PB Blaster will be your friend. Soak everything 2 or 3 times before starting.
2) Don't have a good picture of it but I used a ratcheting cargo strap at one point when I was lowering the axle back onto the springs to pull it toward the cab. This was necessary to line up the bolt and the hole for the bolt to set up. You could probably muscle it into place but straps make it a whole lot easier.
3) I assumed this whole thing would take about 3-4 hours but instead took 6-7 hours because of the U bolts. I would have allotted a day so I wasn't rushed, and I think I missed a good opportunity to clean up the springs/differential/frame and throw a coat of paint on it for rust protection. I still might do this eventually but I would want to take everything apart and paint it separately before reassembly. If I do any other lift I'll probably do it then.
4) Expect to crank your T bars and expect it to not be level without some heavier duty torsion bars in place. For another time.
5) I'd recommend having at least two jacks and a jack stand for this, you could get away with one jack stand and one jack, but it was nice to have two.
6) It is recommended to get an alignment after doing front end work, but since I'm not quite finished yet I'll wait and suffer the consequences.
7) Your shocks will still fit, but will probably be maxed out in the back, I used 120lbs of sand to get some pressure off until I replace them.

This is a good Saturday kind of thing and like I said, the lift itself was only about $100 if you shop smart. I'm all for name brand parts but on a budget, sorry it's just not worth it to pay more for a piece of metal (I'm sure some will disagree). Like I have said, this is not a pre-runner build (yet) and I'm not going to be jumping or anything.

In my mind this project had a few key phases. Phase 1, was to get the tires/wheels. Phase 2, was to put on the lift and drive it for a while. Phase 3, will be final touches, whether that means getting longer shocks and torsion bars or shackles and spindles, basically wait until I figure things out before dropping the rest of the money. This is an ongoing project and I'll hope to keep you all updated. Unfortunately I've gotten bitten by the lift bug, and I'm afraid it won't be easy to stop (especially when I have money to spend on it). I think it's important to throw a little disclaimer that my long term plan is to do an SAS and convert to 4x4 so I'm not trying to drop too much money on things that won't carry over, but even if I only use this stuff for a year or two I think it will be worth it. My .02.

I hope you've enjoyed this write up and you can see my truck in action as well as a little installation slideshow in the video I posted to YouTube. This forum has helped me so much and I hope I can give back to the community a little bit. Enjoy!

Calahantheman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-03-2017, 10:12 AM   #2
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I have an 87 xtra cab and just installed BJ spacers. Did you leave the stock shocks or opt for lifted shocks?
Daniel Honeycutt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-03-2017, 10:20 AM   #3
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At first I left the shocks stock, but the rear end kept maxing out so I went with some T100 rear shocks (same mounting system, about 3" longer) which were stiffer and it's great. Up front I still have the stock size because the bump stops keep them from fully extending. If I went with some low profile bump stops, I would get longer extension front shocks but for now they seem ok.
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