I've been running a Skyjacker Softride 4" suspension lift for 16 months. I installed in February of '98. In July, I added 2" extended rear shackles to bring the rear up some more (it sat rear-low). It still sat rear low.

Recently I broke the driver's side spring perch off the axle housing in the rear, and just welded it back in place as-is for a temp fix.. but rebroke it a week later. Since the axle needed to come out for a proper weld, why put it back in as-is?

I started with some materials. A set of '73 Scout II non-HD rear leaf springs. These were pretty well "shot" - I traded a kid my old XLC rear springs for his shot springs.. he got quite a bit of "lift" from 'em!.

I then picked up a 2.75" hole-saw, 9/16" drill bit, some 3/8" center pins, 6 new spring bushings, a couple feet of 2x2x1/4 box tubing, and a few feet of 2"x1/4" strap, along with some 5" wide by 3/8" strap.

I put the 2x2 tube into my drill press and chucked up the holesaw. I ran the hole saw such that it just barely cleared the 1/4" wall of the tubing on one side. It nearly perfectly cut a semi-circle in the box tubing. I had to stop halfway through to get rid of the half-moon piece "dangling" via my 4" grinder - the hole saw wasn't deep enough to cut the whole thing in one pass.

I made two cuts. I then put the 2x2 into my chop saw and cut the two semi-circles into approximately 5" lengths.. about an inch of overhang on either end past the semi-circle.

I put the new perches back into the drill press and put a hole in the center, and a hole 7/8" forward of center. I used the 9/16 bit for this.

I then cut some 2x2 squares and capped the forward end of the new perches, and then some 2"x5"x1/4 strap was used to cap the rearward side. I drilled one end for 7/16" first, and welded it such that the long piece would stick out on the "inboard" side of the perch - this was to be a shock mount. I really wanted 2.5x1x1/4 angle, but didn't have any handy.

I ground the top of the perch smooth with the disc grinder.

Grabbed some of the 5" wide 3/8" strap and cut it to the rough size of the stock U-bolt plates. I then put it in the drill press and used the OE U-bolt plates as a template. I put the center-pin hole 7/8 forward of center. I used the 9/16 bit, but it was too small. I need to get a 5/8 or 11/16" bit to re-drill.

Made new rear shackles from 2"x1/4" strap, about 4.5 or 5" long, with 3" center to center for the 7/16 holes.

Primered and painted the shackles n' U-bolt plates while I did other things.

I removed the bushings from the '73 springs. A 3/8 bolt on one side, and a deepwell socket on the other, and add an impact wrench to the mix. Pretty easy to pull the center sleeve out. I then ran a 1/2" drill bit around the outside of the bushing, between it and the steel outer sleeve, loosened it up, then drove it out. The sleeve came out with the help of an air chisel. Some were easier than others.

I C-clamped the springs, pulled the center pin, enlarged the hole to 3/8, put the new pin in, then moved the clamps just outside of the shortest leaf. I then removed the center pin, pulled the smallest leaf, and reinstall the center pin. I now have 3 leaves in my rear spring pack. I did this because the small leaf provides (in a spring over) 1/4" or so of lift just from the leaf thickness itself, plus whatever arch it has. I was trying to keep the lift as low as possible.

Jacked the Scout up, put the frame on jack stands (as high as they'd go) and pull the tires off the rear axle. Pulled the axle shafts and pulled the drum backing plates off, then reinstalled axle shafts (I did this to use tires to roll it around.. hindsight, it's light enough to carry, leave the 'shafts out). Disconnected shocks and U-bolts and then fought the rear shackles and bolts for quite some time. I hate that task.

Finally got the shackles off, springs dropped, and dragged the axle housing out and over to some jack stands (OK, some logs) and set it down. Finished pulling the springs and tossed aside.

I then put my magnetic angle finder on the one remaining OE perch (and found it was bent). I used a small floor jack under the pinion to rock the housing until the perch was on the bottom and at 0-degrees (actually, I welded up some holes in the housing from material the spring perch took with it when it broke first). With the stock perch at 0-deg, I placed my new perch right above it, moved the magnetic angle finder to the new perch, and found 0 degrees. On the Scout II, you can also check that the side of the perch is 10.5" from the side of the differential case.

With it at zero, both top and bottom (and directly above), I fired up the welder and tacked the new perch in place. Clean up the slag, and start to do the welding. I'm not an expert welder yet, so I took many passes and did my best. I was comforted by the much larger surface area of my new perches vs. the OE. I felt the axle housing from time to time, and when it started getting hot and the heat was moving towards a seal, I stopped, and moved to the other side, and attached the other perch (again, 10.5 from the center section, and 0 degrees matching the 0 of the stock perch and the 0 of the new perch on the passenger side). I would make one bead on one perch, then another bead on the opposite, until both were getting hot. I stopped.

While letting the housing cool, I put the new bushings in the '73 springs and installed 'em with the new shackles into my '77. By the time that was done, the housing had cooled. I rotated it some more and eventually flipped the housing over to weld the underside of the perches (again, I'm still new at this, so flat, horizontal stuff is much nicer).

With the welding done, I drug the housing back to the Scout, and shot a quick coat of primer and then black over the new perches (it was getting quite late, and I wanted DONE so I could measure for the driveshaft).

Paint dried some, I drug the axle back into place, used a floor jack to lift it and have the center bolt engage the forward hole in the perch (to move the axle housing itself back 7/8"), installed U-bolts and plates (and found the center pin hole was too small). I then pulled my axle shafts back out, put the brakes back on, reinstalled the axle shaft, drum, and tire, jacked it up again, pulled the jack stands, and set it down on the 33x12.50s. I then attached the shocks to their new mounts, and tidied things up before attempting to attach the rear driveshaft. No go. I measured 41.75" center to center (cap to cap) and wrote that number down to give to the driveline shop when they retube my driveshaft in the next day.

I measured 7.5" from the top of the rear axle housing to the bump stop bracket when I started. When I finished, it was 8.5".. so over the 4" springs and 2" shackles, I gained 1" of lift, but a lot of under-axle clearance.

My shocks may be too long when compressed - the lower shock mount has moved up a few inches (no longer UNDER the axle), so it might be a bit close. I may relocate the upper shock mount inboard a little bit and run the shocks at more of an angle so they don't bottom out. I need to find out still. If I were doing this from scratch, I'd measure for the shocks when I was done and order 'em, but I already had the shocks from the 4" lift kit.

I measured 4.5" of clearance on the rear axle with my stock XLC springs.. so I now have a true 4" of lift in the rear. Others have said you'd get 5 or 5.5" of lift, but the shot '73 springs, pulling the smallest leaf, and the low profile perches helped keep the lift down to match the 4" front.

I don't know if 7/8 was the right amount to move the axle. I'll find out when I start twisting the Scout up again. I'm going to clearance the front of the wheel well for more tire clearance.

Standing back, it sure looks better.. a lot like the day I still had 31s and went to the 2" shackles.

I'll add more pictures and details as I get 'em developed.. plus a "Hey, it's done and I'm driving it" report.


Copyright 1999, Tom Mandera, TMComputers