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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone!
I've been poking around in here for a while trying to learn and absorb all the info here. I have a 94 Sami completely stock. I'll tell you what I'd like, and how I'd like to use the truck and maybe someone can point me in the best direction as to what I'll need to get there.
I want this to be a DD as it should do better on gas than my current DD. I'd like to do a suspension lift and although I don't know what the lowest height available in all the kits is, I'm thinking I probably don't want to go higher than 4". Or if someone has pics of their truck with more than 4", then I can decide if I do want to go taller. I would like the ability to go out in the mud if I'm in a situation where the local river floods but I won't get stuck in the mud--not looking to have a crawler or a complete mud bogger. I just want to be able to get out of the mud if I find myself in it. I know very little about which is better, SPOA, or the other types that I've seen mentioned here. I'm not looking, for the time being, to swap out axles to Toyota or springs to Jeep, etc., I just want to work with what I have and add to it. Oh, also I obviously would want larger tires.
I don't know if that helps at all, or if it's too much info. I'm just looking to find out what is the diff between all the different style lifts, which is more suitable to what I want to do with the truck, and what else I'll need eventually as far as steering changes and any other changes that will have to be addressed by a suspension lift.
I'm going to have questions, too. Very mechanically inclined but have never taken on a project like this before so I might not be familiar with terminology specific to the Samurai, etc.
Thanks guys, and if you need more info from me about this truck just ask.
 

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lifted DD Samurai

About the lowest SPOA you can get is 4.5". Any lower and there isn't much metal left in the center of the perches.

A couple of things to consider -from a guy who has pretty much what you want:

An Over The Top (OTT) steering system. Suspension-lifting a Samurai will cause bumpsteer (Ack's FAQ: Bumpsteer Explained). A Z-bar or Z-link will not fix bumpsteer. Such an animal will keep your draglink from getting tangled up with your springs, but an OTT will also do that. Naturally, an OTT system is more expensive - but you get more value and safety for your money.

30" tires. Not too big, not too small. I run BFG AT/KOs. plenty-wide, grippy, very little rubbing (especially if you can find a set of early Ford Bronco aftermarket wagon wheels!) and not too heavy or expensive.

4.625 or 5.125 ring and pinions. These are harvested from the FRONT axle of a tracker or sidekick. Lots of folks will debate this - Ring and pinion gears versus transfer case gears. I went with the R&Ps and got good results.

The only other thing that I might suggest is a 1.6 engine. That's quite an upgrade! If you can't handle that quite yet, then a Thorley (or similar) header for your 1.3 engine and a 2-inch exhaust system will help pep up that 1.3. Bonus - if you upgrade to a 1.6 8-valve later, you can keep the Thorley and exhaust as it will fit on the 8-valve head!



Here is a picture of my '88 Samurai equipped as describe above:


A lot of search keywords lurk in the above post - keywords that can be used in the Ack's FAQ Search Engine to expand your knowledge!

I hope that this helps!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Ack. I like the height of yours right there. So is yours 4.5", or no? And I might be mixing up things here and not understanding what is or isn't related, but is an SPOA a totally different type than a reverse shackle? Just curious which you recommend. It seems like most folks have the SPOA but I'm curious what the diff is between the two. (Maybe one is better for crawling or mud bogging?)
And I don't mean to ask questions that have been answered 100 times because I have read A LOT of stuff here, I guess I just don't get some of it and what purposes each have. Without rehashing stuff you've probably answered many times, if I was to do the SPOA, what else is pretty necessary to make it work well, and safely, or that has to be added or changed? (i.e. driveshaft spacers, etc.)
I like the look of yours--height, tires, etc. That's pretty much what I want, just didn't know till you answered me what all I need to get there. And with your set up, will my stock gears work for now till I get to changing to R&P? Any comment on which lockers you recommend?
Lastly, with all this in mind I'd love to know who you, or others recommend buying all this from, one brand over another, etc.
Thanks
 

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Thanks Ack. I like the height of yours right there. So is yours 4.5", or no? And I might be mixing up things here and not understanding what is or isn't related, but is an SPOA a totally different type than a reverse shackle? Just curious which you recommend. It seems like most folks have the SPOA but I'm curious what the diff is between the two. (Maybe one is better for crawling or mud bogging?)
And I don't mean to ask questions that have been answered 100 times because I have read A LOT of stuff here, I guess I just don't get some of it and what purposes each have. Without rehashing stuff you've probably answered many times, if I was to do the SPOA, what else is pretty necessary to make it work well, and safely, or that has to be added or changed? (i.e. driveshaft spacers, etc.)
I like the look of yours--height, tires, etc. That's pretty much what I want, just didn't know till you answered me what all I need to get there. And with your set up, will my stock gears work for now till I get to changing to R&P? Any comment on which lockers you recommend?
Lastly, with all this in mind I'd love to know who you, or others recommend buying all this from, one brand over another, etc.
Thanks
A shackle reverse lift may be cheaper, but it can really screw up the Caster on your front axle making the truck hard to steer. Extended shackles are just as bad since they create lateral movement on the axle (side-to-side) because of leverage created with the extended distance between the upper and lower shackle bushings - plus they can screw up Caster, too.

Things that you'll need with a SPOA:

extended brakelines

Longer shocks and probably new shock mounts (shock mounts usually come with the SPOA kit).

Driveshaft spacers (or even better, driveshaft extender)

A "Z"-style draglink. A better solution would be an Over The Top (OTT) steering kit. The reason being that a SPOA lift (or any suspension lift for that matter) will cause "bumpsteer". See Ack's FAQ: Bumpsteer Explained for more info. I lived with bumpsteer for 7 years on my DD truck, but I would not recommend that you do the same!!


IMPORTANT NOTE: Whichever SPOA kit that you buy, ALWAYS install the perches so that the spring face of the new perch is EXACTLY opposite and parallel to the spring face of the OEM perch! tring to "make things work better by pointing the differential towards the transfer case will actually make things worse! Follow the manufacturer's installation instructons to the LETTER!

Stock gears with 30" tires and a 1.3 engine may leave you less than pleased with DD performance. fifth gear will be seldom used. Using smaller tires for now will ease your fifth gear "pain".

My SPOA was made by Breeze Industies in Canada. There are several other manufacturers out there. The BEST place to go for a complete SPOA package at this time is LowRangeOffroad.com. Sean and his gang sell just about all the major aftermarket product lines and provides good service after the sale!

I built my truck over a period of 7 years. I endured bumpsteer and no fifth gear and built my truck without deficit spending. Hopefully you can put money into your truck fast enough (or have patience like I did...) that you will get the best end results before you give up and move on to some other hobby.

I'm going to bed now...

I hope that this helps!
 

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Okay, this is what I can tell you about my experience. The quickest and cheapest way to lift a Sammy is the SPOA. I did mine at home and spent $20.00!! The only thing I bought was the new spring perches that i welded on myself. There was some mods to shock mount/U-bolt plate but not much. I used heavy duty trailer spring perches instead of buying prefabbed bolt on units. (7000lb axle rated, more than adaquate!)If you cannot weld then the bolt on jobs from rocky road outfitters would be better. The other thing you need is a Z-link, again go to rocky road. This lift will allow room for 31's and if you don't go wide you can get away with a modest backspace rim or weel spacer to keep from rubbing. I ran mine without for a while but you have to be carefull not to turn all the way to the stops. Do not be fooled by the shacle reverse setup. Your axle position allows for spring compression in one direction and if you swap that and do not compensate for it you can tear up your body! Some kits are better than others I am sure. I got 4 inches of lift out of my home grown SPOA and drive it to work now and then but it is not a daily driver. The Larger tires do make a difference in gearing and I am looking to to change transfer case gears to compensate. For what you want, don't go too crazy with gonzo mods. Keep it simple and you will be happier. If I can figure how to get pics on here I will share some of my ride. By the way, BFG All Terrain are kick ass daily driver tieres! You will never wear them down, the weather check will get them first. Good Luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks luckyduck, more good info. I don't weld but would have a certified welder do whatever welding needs to be done and I think I'd prefer a welded set up over a bolt on. Just feels more secure to me. As far as gearing changes go, here's my ignorance--I thought it was the rear and fronts that were changed out. I didn't know it was also the transfer case gears. Or is it front & rear differentials AND the transfer case that need to changed out to compensate for larger tires?
Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #9
That's also right along the lines of the look I want. Not overly large tires, perfect look to the height. Good looking truck you have there.
Thanks a lot grats!
 

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If you have the money to spend on a propper reverse shackle kit, then that is what I would recommend. Don't try to home-brew one unless you have a lot of fabrication skills and know what you're doing. If you get a well put together shackle reverse system that's designed for your rig then it's not a problem. The kit's contain the necessary components to keep your caster angle and your geometry correct. There are people that try to just bolt the front eye up to the existing shackle mount and put the shackle on the back for a quick and dirty poor man's shackle reverse. That won't work unless you change your caster angle and your steering geometry and it requires some research and knowledge to do it right. (hence the reason for buying the kit) Shackle reverse will allow you to have a 2 or 3 inch spring under axle lift without re-arching your springs or using lift springs, and without a wobbly extended length shakle.
The drive shaft travel is actually only a couple inches in either direction between extended and compressed. It sits about 1 inch past stock location with a 2 inch lift. Mine has a 5 inch lift and sits about 2 inches past stock location. I used a drive shaft spacer to close that gap back up a little and make sure it doesn't seperate when fully drooped. (happened once when I broke the shock mounts off a jump and the rebound completely unloaded the front end)
Spring under is more stable than spring over and a shackle reverse is the most stable spring under lift that you can do with stock length springs. Down side is the price of a well put together kit.
 

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Thanks luckyduck, more good info. I don't weld but would have a certified welder do whatever welding needs to be done and I think I'd prefer a welded set up over a bolt on. Just feels more secure to me. As far as gearing changes go, here's my ignorance--I thought it was the rear and fronts that were changed out. I didn't know it was also the transfer case gears. Or is it front & rear differentials AND the transfer case that need to changed out to compensate for larger tires?
Thanks
Samurai are unique in that both front and rear drive shafts power out of the transfer case. Take a look underneith and you will find an intermediate shaft that runs from transmission to tranfer case and then one shaft to front and one to rear axle. This settup allows for changes in the trans case ratios to apply to both axles. One tear down, one rebuild instead of two if you do your axles and you have to do both axles if you go that rout or you will crater one the first time you lock the hubs! You can change gears in transfer and axles if you want but there are gear kits available to go so low with just the tranfer I don't see why anyone would go to the added expense or work unless you ha d a donor set of gears. Anyway, that's the long and the short of gears, hope it clears things up a bit.
 

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ring and pinion gears versus transfer case gears

To further clarify nmluckyduck's post:

You can change the transfer case gears. Samurai aftermarket vendors sell a wide variety of transfer case gear ratios. You tear down the easy-to-remove transfer case and install a new set of gears while rebuilding it. A search for transfer case at Ack's FAQ will be helpful to you.

You can change the differential gears on BOTH axles with one of several lower ring and pinion sets available from the FRONT axle of any 91-98 Sidekick or Tracker. Poking around Ack's FAQ with the search string of differential will reveal what gear ratios are available. I used 4.625.

Which gearing should you choose?

Ring and pinion:
Pro-
Gearing is done at a point closest to the load. This reduces stress on more driveline components than a transfer case gear reduction.

Con-
requires rebuilding both differentials. The ring and pinion gears have to be "set up" by someone with a familiarity with differentials or a quick learner. You have to find matching FRONT AXLE ring and pinions from two vehicles. The rear differential is much larger as are the ring and pinion gears inside it. They will not fit in a Samurai differential. An inexpensive "can" adapter must be purchased for this swap.

Transfer case gearing:
Pro-
easy to install/rebuild a transfer case with lower-range aftermarket gears.

Con-
Gearing is done at the output of the transmission. This does not reduce stress on driveline components between the transfer case output and the wheels.

I went with the ring and pinion gearing change because I wanted my drivetrain to last longer. It was difficult to do but I like the results. I have fifth gear back as a useful gearing. that's my opinion on the subject. You may find that transfer case gearing is the way to go for your situation.

For more help in deciding which gear ratio to select (differenital OR transfer case) , try playing with the gear calculator at Ack's FAQ. It has nearly all of the common transfer case and differential gearing ratios available for plugging in. You can also apply different tire sizes and look at resulting ground speeds at various engine RPMs. Tip: plug in an engine RPM value from 3300 to 4000 to get an idea of where the most torque is being produced at a particular speed and gear ratio.

I hope that this helps!
 

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another pro of t-case gearing is that you can set up different ratios for high and low range reduction. I.E. You can lower your high range say %18 to get back use of your 5th gear and accomodate your larger tires for highway driving, but put %160 reduction on your low range gears for a more serious offroad torque.

When you change your differential gears, you change both high and low range equally.
 
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