Why are we lifting a van?
Well we want to do some driving on Forest dirt roads as well as the beach and through the mountains all year round. More ground clearance will stop us from bottoming out on rocks and debris on the often unmaintained roads and trails. For this we'll need some larger tyres with more aggressive All Terrain tread. To fit larger tyres into the wheel wells we need to raise the van up.
The lift at the front was achieved using some 2" frame spacers and 2" longer bolts (from Fastenal). While I was in there I also replaced the body bushings with some new Prothane 7-108 polyurethane parts as the old ones had done about 135,000 miles and could use freshening up, we were in there anyway and didn't fancy jacking the body off the frame again.
We had to stack the jack on layers of wood and breeze blocks to get the height required to lift the body off the van. We loosened all 6 body bolts, we than jacked up one side of the van, working from front to back we pulled out the old bushings, cleaned up the cups, and then reinstalled the new bushings along with the spacers and the longer bolts. We used some thread lock when we inserted the new bolts. This part was pretty scary as we'd never done anything like this before. One side done we were more confident on the other.
After a few hundred miles our bolts had loosened a bit as everything settled, so make sure to go back and torque those body bolts back to spec, don't quote me but I believe it to be 66lb/ft for the front and back, and 144lb/ft for the middle.
For the rear I was initially going to go with shackles from www.airbagit.com, I bought them and was attempting to remove the rear spring bolts but they had seized inside the spring bushings, we beat, bashed and blazed with heat but the bolt wouldn't budge. I weighed up taking it to a shop and have them do it or just buying Chevy S-10 springs which have a 4" taller arch to them. There were a couple of other factors that went into this decision, some shackle users experience vibrations and have to correct the axle angle with shims, I didn't want to risk that so I decided to go with the springs in the end. But I still needed to get those spring bolts out. I bought 4 heavy duty metal cutting blades for the sawzal, It turned out I needed to cut 3 of the 4 bolts out and of course I didn't have enough cutting blades, they go blunt pretty quick cutting through these hardened steel bolts. Back to Ace for some more, I hate shopping there, way overpriced.
So I had the passenger side spring out and unbolted from the axle. I loosely bolted the new taller spring down to the axle, I then attempted to bolt in the spring at the front, but oh no! Another problem. The bolts that I received with the springs were a different diameter than the Astro bolts, the new ones were too thick. I ordered the ones that were suggested on the page thinking they were sized for the springs, it turns out they're not. They were S-10 spring bolts. So back to the store I go, no luck at ACE, so a 40 minute drive later I find a temporary solution at Menards until I can order the right ones.
So back under the van, I bolt the front of the spring in first. You do the front first because the rear shackle gives you a bit of play and makes it slightly easier to fit the bolt through the spring with the extra arch in the spring. (This was something I found out the hard way). So with a lot of fiddling, jacking up, jacking down, up, down, using crow bars for leverage, the wife for an extra pair of hands, twisting, contortion and a stroke of luck, we managed to get the bolt in. I then tightened the spring down to the axle and tightened all bolts. The passenger side was now raised and man did it look high!
The driver side went a little smoother after learning from the mistakes of the other side as well as having more room to work without the exhaust in the way.
So I ordered the correct bolts this time. To swap them out I didn't want the spring to move when I pulled the existing bolts out. I had my wife help me here, we needed to use a crow bar and other leverage tools to make sure the spring didn't move. I hammered the old bolt out and quickly replaced with the correct bolt that had been pre-greased by us earlier (not the thread). All in all, it could have gone worse.
Once again, most of the photos were lost. Here's what we do have.