the Colorado K5 test Blazer seeing more and more extreme trails as well
as 172,000 miles on the odometer, it was way over due for some much
needed suspension help. One of the first suspension items to be
addressed was the rear 4" lift blocks, with such a great kit
offered by Offroad Design to eliminate blocks, the question was, why
were we still using lift blocks? Hey, they served their purpose, but it was time to do it right, the ORD brackets bolt to the frame in the factory
spring hanger holes and "flip" the factory tension shackle over to a compression shackle.
The kit nets four inches of lift so they allow you to use stock springs for a 4" lift, 2
inchers for a six inch lift and so on. Eliminating lift blocks helps reduce axle wrap and using
flatter springs generally gives better ride quality and suspension flexibility. This kit is
extremely durable with fully welded, ¼" gusseted brackets and all grade 8
mounting hardware. ORD even moved the mounting point forward to give
a better shackle angle.
As with so many upgrades, it is
often a good time to look at related parts, you know the ones, the parts
that you have to take off in order to get to the parts you are
upgrading, we've all been there. For our project Blazer we decided while
we had the rear suspension apart to go ahead and upgrade the factory
rubber bushings to ORD's greasable suspension bushings that consist of grooved polyurethane, drilled bolts with grease
zerks, and drilled sleeves. For extra articulation the overload
springs will be flipped as well as new spring center bolts installed.
While the fuel tank is out the factory
in-tank fuel pump will be replaced with a high-flow unit from Walbro.
|Fully Welded, ¼"
|| ORD's Greasable
a massive shop (OK, just my garage) available to us as well as a virtual
plethora of tools (most of them borrowed), and a 12 pack of Mountain
Dew, a friend and I began the task of upgrading the rear suspension on
If your flip kit is replacing a stock lift, be sure to get extended brake lines, longer shocks, new locking
nuts for the u-bolts and anything else that may be required. If blocks are coming off in favor
of the flip, as was in our case, you will need new u-bolts which ORD also carries. Also keep in mind
that drive shaft and exhaust modifications may be necessary.
|Exhaust Pipe Ran
||Exhaust Pipe Cut
for Spring Removal
The next thing to consider is safety, always wear protective clothing, gloves and safety
glasses. An extra set of jack stands is
good to have for backup, as well as an extra floor jack.
If you are working on a Blazer/Jimmy or Suburban, the fuel tank will
need to be removed to allow access to the inside frame rails where the
new brackets will be bolted. If you are working on a truck you can skip this step.
The best way to remove the fuel tank is empty, so a little planning here
will save you the hassle of dropping a full tank. You may be able to make enough room simply by hinging the tank around the
front mounts but we found it easier to go ahead and remove the tank
fully to get it out of our way.
|Rear of Frame on
||Extra Floor Jacks
After the tank has been removed, the next step is to raise the rear of the frame
on jack stands, since the frame had to be raised fairly high we utilized
a couple of sturdy retaining wall bricks underneath the jack stands to
obtain the desired amount of lift we needed. The best location for the
jack stands to support the frame is toward the rear of the vehicle. We
used a floor jack under each side of the axle to remove the rear tires.
At this point we removed the u-bolts and lowered the axle to the floor
so we could remove the blocks. Because we decided to upgrade the old
worn out rubber bushings with ORD's greasable units, we found it easier
to first remove the main spring bolt and then the rear shackle with
spring still attached could be moved forward to allow enough room for
the shackle bolt to be removed. While we had the leaf springs off, we
went ahead and flipped the overload spring on each side for further
articulation and replaced the center pins, they were found to be badly
rusted and about ready to break, the 4" blocks were also rusted to
the springs and had to be pounded off with a large hammer. At this point
we drilled out the old rubber bushings and fitted the springs with our
new greasable ones.
during Center Pin Removal
||Old 4" Lift
Now comes the real fun, the removal of the 12 factory rivets that hold
the stock shackle in place, at this point it is a good idea to bribe a
buddy to come over and help speed things up. There are
several methods to removing the rivets, an air chisel will cut the heads off or
they can be ground with a grinder, drilled out or even cut with a torch. If anyone chooses to do this
with a torch, please
remember to check for the wires on the other side,
roasting your taillight wiring would be
bad enough without burning up your truck! Always check the inside of the frame
rail. I had heard of someone starting his boots on fire with the torch
method so a friend and I decided to tag team the rivets, one with a
drill and the other with a die grinder. Even with help, this part of the
project took some time as all 12 rivet heads had to be either drilled or
grinded off and the shanks driven out.
At some point
before you install the flip kit, the factory shackles will need to be
removed from the hangers, this sounds easy enough but they are often
rusted so bad that it is near imposable to get them out, at this point
the factory shackle and hangers were taken down to a local parts store
to be pressed out while I waited in air conditioned comfort, hey -
someone has to support the local parts house.
After the rivets were removed, the frame holes were then enlarged a little to accept the
new 7/16 bolts. The frame was then cleaned up with a wire brush to remove
10 years of rust and grime, next
a good coat of rust preventive paint was used to protect
the area. After the paint dried, we installed the brackets
and used the provided grade 8 bolts with one washer on each side and the
pinch lock nuts. The bolts are then tightened to 45 lbs.
|Bracket Holes are
Enlarged to Accept 7/16 Bolts
||Install ORD Flip
with Provided Grade 8 Bolts
it is time to install the ORD shackle flip brackets, the first thing you will notice is that there's two different shackle flip brackets. Since the
brackets are designed to move your shackle mounting point forward for the proper shackle
angle, it is important that the brackets go on the correct side. The angled gussets go the rear
and the shackle hanger should be towards the front. The shackle is installed with the closed side forward and the springs are bolted back up.
Take a few minutes here to make sure all bolts have been tightened. The
axle was still sitting on our two floor jacks, so the axle was raised up
to the springs and the new shorter u-bolts were installed without the
old 4" lift blocks. If you are lifting your vehicle for the first
time you will not have to do this step. After the wheels are installed
the fuel tank needs to be put back in place, simply install in reverse
order of removal. The last step is to grease the new bushings and take
it for a test spin.
Because project "UAV"
had 4" lift blocks prior to
the installation of the flip
kit, the transfer case had
already been dropped to allow
for the proper transfer case to
rear pinion angle which meant
nothing further had to be done.
If you are installing the flip
for a first time lift, the axle pinion angle
will have to be measured and compared with the
t-case, vibration could
result if the angle does not match within 2
Currently, ORD carries the Flip Kit
in 2.5" and 4"
versions for 67-98 GM applications. They are presently working on applications for
other makes and models. If you have a Ford or Dodge, keep checking back.
ORD also carries stock length u-bolts for flip kit installations that are replacing lift blocks.
Flipped for Extra Articulation
||Flexin in Moab,
A week after the install, I had the privilege of testing this new setup
in Moab with Steve Watson from Offroad Design, and let me tell you, it
worked flawlessly. There were no vibrations at all, and the extra
flex gained from flipping the overload springs with the new
greasable bushings were evident off road with and added benefit of eliminating axle
wrap. I was very impressed with the quality of the shackle flip as
well as the greasable bushings, all the holes in the flip kit lined up
perfectly and the new bushings dropped into place. Keep in mind
this is a big job, but in the end you will be vary happy with the end
result. - Steve Fox