FJ40 Lift Kits and Installation - Skyjacker 2 1/2" Kit for FJ40

When I was researching lift kits for my FJ40, I found a lot of information online from fellow cruiser owners that helped me make my decision. I thought I'd return the favor and post some information and installation tips for those who care to read about it. Seems like some guy on PBS used to say "The more you read, the more you know!" (not that this page is packed with useful information) If you don't care to read about it, feel free to hit your browser's "Back" button at any time. 

Disclaimer: I am not, nor do I claim to be an auto mechanic. I just consider myself fairly handy and I had some great help. Thanks Zach, Spence and Josh. If you don't know how to use a socket set, you may want to reconsider tackling this yourself. Unless you can milk an experienced buddy for all he's worth. The following Information is based on personal experiences. I do not intentionally endorse the mentioned products. For complaints send me email.

 

fj40 with 2 1/2" lift kit installed.


Why I chose the Lift I did:

I researched lifts for nearly a year before purchasing, mostly because I wasn't sure what I wanted yet. Most people will tell you 4" is the only way to go. I'm not sure I agree. It just depends on what you plan on using your cruiser for. In my case, its my daily driver and since its over 20 yrs old, the springs were shot. I wanted to replace the springs and wanted a little larger tire. A 2 1/2" lift gave me the look I wanted with a little more clearance. I just thought 4" was too much for me(although going from old springs gave me over 3" of lift). But its great for a lot of people. If you do go with a 4" lift, keep in mind you will beed to purchase and extended brake line for the rear.

Why Skyjacker? I had the following brands as my top picks: MAF Safari Lift, Skyjacker, BDS, Pinnacle Engineering and Old Man Emu. The reason they were at the top of my list was because of the feedback I received from various FJ40 forums. I got the most feedback on Old Man Emu and Skyjacker. Old Man Emu is apparently the best, but also twice the cost of the others. Skyjacker and the other brands were similar in cost but I found a place that shipped the Skyjacker free of charge, which saved me an additional $125 or so. Since I'm a tight wad, and the reviews on the Skyjacker were similar and sometimes better than the others - it seemed like a good purchase.


What came in the Skyjacker kit?
Two front spring packs, two rear spring packs, four Eliminator shocks, four shock boots,16 poly bushings, new ubolts and nuts. Oh, and some religeous paraphanilia from Skyjacker, which was a good read. The kit also came with installation instructions, and a nice yellow warning sticker for you to place whereever you like.

Other items you will need: 8 more bushings for the frame side of the shackles. You can get these at any of the popular online Landcruiser supply houses. Read more before ordering these bushings, as you may want to get some other items along with them.

 


Other Items I would recommend:

- You may as well replace your shackles while you are at it. I used my old stock ones that were in fairly decent shape, but you have to be careful when beating them off of the old springs so that you don't damage the threads or shackles themselves. I had to doctor up a couple of shackles that we had damaged threads on when removing them.
-I really wish I had replaced my spring pins as well. They were the most difficult to remove and we nearly damaged them trying to get them out. I would have just taken a grinder to them and replaced them had I had some pins. It would have saved me alot of time trying to get the old ones out. I'll bet 1/3 of our time was spent trying to get those pins out without causing damage.
- If you cruiser has the infamous lean to the right, I'd fix it while your there. I had a shim made and was going to install it. Someone on one of the forums said, "just install the lift first and see if it corrects the problem." It didn't, I wish I had installed the shim while I was in there. Now I have to take it apart again to get the lean fixed. If you don't know what Im talking about here, refer to the article on correcting the cruiser lean at CCOT.
- You may also want to replace your brake line with an extended one. They are fairly inexpensive and at full articulation it will be tight on a 2 1/2" lift. You'll definately need one with a 4" lift.

Items Needed

- Some Tunes - Genre is pretty much up to you.
- Some help. I lucked out with a few brothers with cruiser experience. Their help was invaluable.
- Some comfortable clothing, Cotton maybe a cotton poly mixture. Pecentages of one or the other fiber is not important. Just be comfortable as you'll be under the vehicle for a while.
- Some refreshing beverages. Preferably non alcoholic- unless you're the guy I see at the grocery store headed hunting with a dozen buddies, each with a 24 pack in one hand and a firearm in the other. If you feel comfortable intoxicated and handling a firearm, you'll probably be comfortable under a heavy vehichle, using grinders and torches by the gas tank with impaired judgement.
- some clean concrete to work on is always nice. You may want to throw down a tarp or something as it gets quite messy.
- Bottle of fast orange and some rags.

Tools Required/Recommended

- 19 MM Socket to remove ubolts.
- 17 MM socket for shackles, pins and shocks.
- 22 MM Deep Socket for New Ubolts. It needs to be a deep socket as the new ubolts are extra long.
- Breaker Bar
- Torque Wrench. Couldn't find the recomendation for this but a fellow FJ40 owner trold me 80 lbs.
- Jack Stands
- Floor Jack
- Can of WD40 or the like.
- Blow Torch. You may have to heat up the bushings on some of the pins or shackles to get the pins out.
- Large screw driver or large punch for prying and pounding things out.
- Small Sledge Hammer
- A pnuematic wrench is recommended for time savings. I snagged one at Walmart for $27 'cause I figured I may use it for something else in the future. It isn't the highest quality, but as much as I'll use it, It'll do.

Installing The Lift
First I took pictures of my FJ40 from the front and back, just for reference of what it was like before. Then I measured from the front fender to the ground on both sides. And the rear bumper on both sides. Before the lift I had 1" of lean from left to right; right being the low side - typical in US cruisers. I also measured the clearance from the tire to the top of the wheel well. These measurements are not neccessary. I was just curious what the total lift was.

For several days before installing your lift, dowse all the bolts you intend on removing with WD40 or the like. I did this and had no problems getting any of the bolts off.

Start on the front. Using the floor jack, lift the vehicle and place on jack stands so that there is not tension on the springs. Locate the jack stands just behind where the spring attaches to the frame. Guesstimate and lift it high enough that you'll be able to put the tires on after the lift is installed. Also, if you can lift it high enough, you'll be able to fit an impact wrench beneath the ubolts to tighten them. Don't lift it too high or it will get unstable. Once you have it on the stands. Support the axle with your floor jack. Remove the shackles, remove the ubolts, the shocks and then the spring pin. I had no problems removing anything other than the spring pins. I wish I had purchased new pins so that I could just cut and remove the old ones rather than trying to slavage them. I spent probably 1/3 of my time trying to get the pins out undamaged. The bushings on my pins had become attached to the pins. To get them out I had to melt the rubber with a blow torch, then work the pin twisting it back and forth until it came out.

 

After you have removed everything, you have the hard part done. Attach your new springs to the frame first. Lube up your bushings, spring pin and leaf spring really well and install it. You may not want to tighten it completely so that you'll have a bit of play in it when getting the other components into position.

When installing your springs, be sure you are putting them in the right place. A new kit should come labelled. As you can see in this picture there is a label indicating wether or not it is the front or rear spring. The spring pack has a bolt slightly off center that holds all of the springs together. The longer end (from the bolt to the spring eye) should be mounted on the shackle side, short side mounted towards the frame. If you are mounting a used lift kit. I beleive the rear springs are generally arched more than the front. You can see this in the picture above as the rear springs are identified.

Once you have attached your spring to the frame, install the shackle side. Do the same on the other side of the vehicle. Once both springs are installed, Lower the axle onto the springs, align the spring bolt into the spring perch hole. Now attach the ubolts and plate. Make sure you are replacing the Ubolt plate in the right position so that you can attach your shocks. Tighten your Ubolts and torque them. I couldn't find the recommendation for torquing the ubolts, but a fellow cruiser owner mentioned they should be at 80lbs.

 

You may or may not need to cut off your ubolts. You may even want to once your lift is completed just so you have an inch more clearance. They are a little long as you can see to the left.

I had to cut two bolts on the passenger side because the bolts were too long for the deep socket I was using. One of the ubolts is extra long because it mounts a little higher on the axles than the others. Not sure why they sent ubolts that are so long, but thats what I got. Make sure you won't be taking the ubolts off in the near future to install a shim or whatever, because once you cut them you can''t re-thread a nut on them.

After you are done with the front, the back is the same. It'll go faster, because you've done it once. When doing the rear, you may need to remove or reposition the exhaust as it may be in the way. Also, be careful when moving your axle around. I nearly dropped mine too much and ripped the brake line off.

Now your done. Hit the hills and break the lift in.

My opinion of the new lift: It's a little stiffer than I thought, but it's new. I need to break it in. It rides better than before the lift. That may be because my springs and shocks were both really old and used. Though the lift was 2.5" I got over 3" in the back because of the condition of my old springs. Steering is pretty close to the same as before the lift, still a bit squirrely like most cruisers; but I have done nothing to improve it and its over 20 yrs old.

My regrets: I wish I would have installed the shims while I was at it to remove the lean. It still leans 1" lower on the right. I wish I would have installed new shackles and new spring pins, mostly because it would have saved me a bunch of time, and it is unlikely I will take it all apart to replace them now unless I have to. I was lucky mine were in fairly decent shape.

Before

After

These after photos are with the 2 1/2" lift, stock shackles and (soon to be replaced) soccer mom Michelins. A little body work and repaint where the diamond plate was and it'll be pretty nice.

Not the best pic below, but it'll give you an idea.



Updated Pic with 33x9.5 and a little tlc/rust removal.