Superlift's 73-93 Dodge 5"
Straight axle, leaf sprung
trucks are about as easy to lift as you can get. You simply
remove the old springs and install new ones, right? What about
the steering? The brake lines? Shocks? Driveshafts? What
springs do you use and why? I guess it's not quite that simple
When we started Project
Powerwagon we had a few goals in mind. We wanted a
truck that we could drive several hundred miles to an event
and then be able to derby the thing on the trails with the
best of them. Is that too much to ask? The answer is no, it's
not too much to ask. It just takes the right suspension to do
it. It has to have the right amount of lift but while keeping
a low center of gravity. You have to be able to clear a 35"
tire and have the flex to use it, but without being too soft
to handle a mountain road or two. It sounds like a tough order
to fill but we found exactly what we were looking for in the
Superlift 5" suspension.
This suspension is not the
Superide suspension that Superlift offers for some of their
newer kits but is the older technology leaf spring. That just
means that they are a little stiffer than some of the newer
stuff that is out there. That was OK with us because we were
going to be carrying a lot of gear in this truck and didn't
want too soft a ride. That is one of the compromises we made
that took something away from the trail performance but if you
can't get the truck TO the trails who cares how it handles ON
the trails. Our first ramp attempt only netted us a 455 RTI
but that was with a brand new suspension. After it breaks in a
bit it should improve a little. Also this truck has a 115
wheelbase so that doesn't help. Still we had hoped for more.
Keep an eye out for future articles about how we improved it's
trail manners. Now on to the install and
||It sounds overly
simplistic but the first thing you do to install new
leaf springs is jack up the truck and put it on jack
stands. Remember that the new springs are much bigger
than the ones on there now so you will need to get as
much air under the truck as possible before you start.
Just make sure that it's safe before you remove the
| We started with the
front-end first. It should be the hardest and we wanted
to get it out of the way. Remove the swaybar, shocks,
draglink and driveshaft. You will need to address the
brake line before you start so you don't kill them when
you drop the axle. A simple way to get the extra
clearance you need out of the front line is to rotate
the bracket on the crossmember to face down. Be very
careful as you bend the hard line or you'll crimp it.
Then you'll be in big trouble. This should give you
enough slack. Then it's time to place a floor jack under
the axle to catch it as you loosen the u-bolts. Start
with one side at a time.|
|| With the u-bolts off and the axle
lowered out of the way you can now remove the front and
rear bolts on the old springs. If these are original you
will have a nasty time ahead of you here! Ours had been
out a few times so they popped right out. You will need
to remove the upper bolt on the shackle and on a
Dodge remember which way the shackle was facing
when you pulled it out. It's that way for a
||Dodge did a very bad
thing in the mid 70's. It started using studs in the
place of one of the U-bolts on the front end. While this
might be OK for a stock truck, it sure makes it hard to
install a bigger spring pack. Getting these studs out is
a bear!!!!!! New, longer studs come with the lift and
must be installed. To remove the old studs you will need
to weld the old nuts to them and pull them out. Their is
no better way so don't kid yourself and think that a
pair of Vice-Grips is going to get the job done. Weld
the nuts and be done! The welder will come in handy
||Now it's time to install
the new spring. Lube the bushings with a good silicone
grease or I like anti-seize. It seems to work quite well
and doesn't come off too easily. Whatever you use, use a
lot! That's what keeps the suspension moving! Install
the spring in the frame and then raise the axle to meet
it's new friend. Getting it to line up can be a pain and
we have been known to use a come-along to help pull the
axle one way or the other and it works great! Doing one
side at a time is the real key to making it as easy as
possible. When you have the center-pin in the hole of
the axle pad install the new u-bolts and snug them down.
Wait to torque them until later. Repeat on the other
|Now it's time to hook
everything back up. The steering will have to be
corrected with this kit and new shocks are needed.
Superlift has everything you will need. They also have a
1" driveshaft spacer so that you won't need to get a new
driveshaft made. Ours were 21 years old so we went ahead
and had Drivelines Inc. in Irvine build us new
We are using double shock
hoops on this truck and Superlift sent these shock to
fit it. They are a very nice shock and the ride is
fantastic. These Made in the USA shocks really give you
a smooth ride while still allowing plenty of flex.
Another thing you can see in this picture is the Borgeson
steering shaft. What a world of difference this
makes! If you haven't gotten one yet, get one! This
truck went from scary to wonderful and it only took
about 15 minutes to install. Best thing you could ever
do for your Dodge, trust me!
With everything hooked up
you can now torque the U-bolts to spec. Put the tires
back on and take the truck off the jack stands. It's
time for the
||The rear should be
easier. No steering! Wrong, it took us 3 times longer to
do the rear than the front. Here's why. The idiots at
the factory thought (I use the term loosely) that it
would be a great idea to install the rear spring bolts
from the inside of the frame instead of the outside (see
arrow). Their must be some logic there, but not much.
You see, when you need to remove them you will have to
drop the gas tank to do it! Make sure it's empty before
you start this and read your service manual for specific
instructions. We are going to gloss over this in the
interest of time but you will be there for quite a while
fighting with the tank. Might be a good reason to have a
shop do it, just a thought.
With the tank out you can
now remove the spring bolts. First you will need to
remove the U-bolts and shocks. Also it a good idea to
remove the rear brake line so you don't rip it off. Plan
on a new, longer rear line. There is no good way to do
it otherwise. Besides, isn't that thing getting a little
old to put all your faith
||With everything ready to
go back in it's finally time to re-install. Put the new
springs in place and put the bolts back in from the
outside this time. Then you can raise the axle back up
to the springs and put your new U-bolts on. The kit
doesn't come with them but plan on replacing them. I
love to use an impact wrench to snug everything up but
don't forget the torque wrench too. It's important to
get the bolt just tight enough without getting them too
|We had to adjust our ride
height as the new springs were far too tall to use the
factory blocks. These springs are prefect for running no
block at all but we wanted to try something else instead
so we used a 2" block in place of the stock 3" and are
using a longer rear shackle to try and give us more
travel. Using non-factory blocks is a problem on these
Dodges as the factory spring pads are curved for some
reason. The factory blocks have little feet on them to
match but the aftermarket ones don't. You will have to
carve out a small area in the center of the block or
replace the spring pads to remove the axle wrap caused
by this curve. We carved the blocks and then added these
longer shackles. You will also have to add a shim to get
the driveshaft back in alignment. Those rear shackles
really rotate the housing.
One problem with running
the longer shackles, no one makes them for a Dodge like
this. That means we had to use a Chevy part. Chevy's run
smaller spring bolts so you have to hog out the upper
holes a little and remove the sleeve in the lower
bushings. This seems to work fine and we are happy with
it so far. The reason we wanted to try this was to help
with rear suspension travel. The longer shackles give
you more leverage and allow more travel, in theory.
After installing them we gained 4" of rear travel over
the new springs and stock shackles. Seems to be working!
After a good trail trashing we'll give you an
|| The last thing to do is put the new
Superlift Hydro Shocks on and get the gas tank back in.
Torque the U-bolts to spec and take 'er for a test
drive! After a few miles it's a must to re-torque
everything and double check all your work. The rear
shocks Superlift sent us are super long. These come in
handy on a Dodge. No more limits here! The measure over
34" and have enough travel for all but the serious
racers out there. We are also very happy with the ride
these shocks have given us. They are even better than
some other shocks that we have
We wanted to get this truck
ready for the Dodge City, USA event in March. Because of that
we took a few short-cuts and side roads to completing this
truck. We had planned on a pair of Dana 60's being installed
in it but that was delayed a bit so the stock D44 / 9 1/4"
combo is still there. That meant that we needed to get the
steering corrected in the mean time. We borrowed a steering
arm but it's not compatible with this lift. We had a nasty
amount of bump-steer because of it. If you are going to keep
the Dana 44 front axle, use the Superlift steering parts. They
also have the right parts for our Dana 60 swap that is coming
before too long. Stay tuned for that.
The other problem we had was
with the front bushings. We have already had to pull the
springs back out (350 mile later) to replace them. Seems our
front springs had a sharp edge in the spring eye that cut the
bushings and spit them out. We took a file and smoothed this
edge off and installed new bushings. The rear bushings are
Superlift bushings and there was one problem. You can't run
the sleeve in the bushing with the stock size spring bolts.
You DO NOT want to run a smaller bolt as this it what holds
the whole truck up. The only other choice seems to be to run
the poly bushings without the sleeve in there. Not a great
plan but it works.
Our impression of this lift so
far is that it's a little stiffer than some but very capable.
The rear shackles gave us a ton of flex out back and the
fronts are doing pretty well. After fixing that problem with
the spring eye up front we have to say that there have been no
more problems. One very interesting thing about Dodges. When
you lift them no two come out the same. Our truck sits lower
than a truck with the same lift. I had a 4" lift on there
before and it sat lower than the exact same 4" lift on another
truck too. They all seem to come out different and that's why
there are no hard and fast rules about tire size. With our 35"
Goodyear MT/R's we are going to have to cut the fenders for
clearance. I have seen other Dodges with a 4" lift run 35's no
problem. I have also seen 6" kits with nasty tire rub. What
I'm trying to say is your results can and probably will vary.
Experiment with what works for you, cut a little, install a 1"
body lift (never more than that on a Dodge!!!), or whatever it
takes to get your truck the way you want it. When you are done
you will be the only guy on your block with anything like it.
That's what's so great about an old Dodge, they are so unique.
Won't see another one quite like it.
Thanks for all the help