Friday, 18 October 2013

Toyota Hiace Super Custom 4WD - 2" suspension lift mod / wheel arch mod | Blood Red Off Road

As part of the van preparations for my Euro adventure, it was time to do the long dreamt of suspension lift to the van, and to fit bigger, more aggressive off road wheels and tyres - this would greatly increase the off-road capability of the truck, and mean I can get almost anywhere without getting stuck, and enjoy more inaccessible tracks and terrain with greater ground clearance under the axles and gearbox.

I headed down to see Dave at bloodredoffroad.com in Brighouse North Yorkshire to get the job done. From a previous visit, we had realised that the rear shackle bushings would need to be replaced, so had ordered up a replacement set in advance. (As the vehicle was twenty years old, the original bushings and pins could not be removed as they were seized together.) Don't begin this mod unless you have already got a replacement set on standby.


Here's a view of the original rear shackles, with the rear wheel removed..




The first thing to do was to get the rear pins out and clean up the mounting points, ready to receive the new bushings and extended shackles. Not only did this involve a lot of grinding and cutting in areas with poor access, but also the original rubber bushings had to be burnt out with a blow torch - a very time consuming process to say the least. Heres Dave getting to work, cutting off the original pins..




  The next stage of the build was in fabricating new rear shackles with which to achieve the 2 inch lift at the rear of the van. These shackles are not common with the Hilux or other Toyotas so they had to be made to measure. Spraying up the newly made shackles..



  Dave fitting the extended shackles to the mounting points on the van after fitting the new bushings..



  Following this, it was time to lift the front end. On the Hiace this is achieved by cranking up the torsion bars to achieve the desired lift. This can't be overdone as the front suspension arms must be free to move in both directions so they don't top out over rises in the road surface.

It was a busy days work getting to this stage so we decided to call it a day and start again in the morning. My van was still up on the ramps, so there was no option but to sleep in the van right there in the workshop. It turned out to be a very quiet night inside the old building, and the guys kindly refrained from telling me the ghost stories until the next morning. Any spooky sounds during the night, I it down to the cats if seen roaming around during the day, and I had a great nights sleep.

Next morning, now that the lift had been equalised with the rear of the van, the next job was to modify the front wheel arches to fit the tyres. We had already decided to go for the biggest tyres possible to fit on the van, so as to get as much ground clearance as we could, then the tyres could be downsized if there were limits on the steering and bodywork clearance. Dave beginning to cut the wheel arches..



 After much adjustment and metal work, the front arches looked like this..



 I got to work repainting the reworked areas under the arches, whilst Dave worked on the other side of the van. After much trial and error, he had achieved the maximum clearance for the tyres whilst steering possible on this vehicle. The mud-flaps could now be fitted. The max size wheels and tyres fitted were 245/70/16 on 8" rims. The van now looked like this..



 Wheel spin up on the moors...



On Saturday afternoon, Robbie and I set off to off-road test the new set-up up on the moors. Here's a video we shot of the days driving..



As you can see, the van was now very capable off road. Even the track through the bracen field would have been impassable before the mods, as there were some rocks and the surface was angled and slippery. The original tyres would have dug in and spun even in 4WD. The ground clearance was now excellent on the rough tracks too.

There were some issues though - most obviously, the side sliding door only opened about a foot before it hit the rear tyre! There were clearance issues between the front tyres and the wheel arches when on about half-lock. I would have to reach some compromise with my wheels and tyres to overcome these things.

I took a run down to JCS 4x4 Wheels & Tyres in Stapleford on my way south to find a solution. Charlie stocks a full range of off road tyres including B F Goodrich, Cooper, General, Insa & Kumo among others.

After trying out a few combinations of wheel and tyre sizes se ended up with the best compromise - B F Goodrich Mud Terrain, 225/75/16 on 7" steel rims with 0 offset. The door now opens properly, there are no clearance issues, the tyres are quieter, no mud sprays up the side of the van, and it looks great with a bit more arch above the wheel. Good compromise. It would also be possible to fit a 235/70/16 on an alloy 7" rim with a +10 offset to get the clearance for the door if you're interested. 


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2 comments:

  1. howdy, nice lift. Just wondering how the stability and on-road experience altered after the extended shackles were installed. Also did you notice any impact on performance with the gearing?

    Cheers

    Jordan

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  2. Hi Jordan,


    Welcome. The stability was actually improved with this mod, as the bigger wheels & tyres add width to the vehicle - it feels really solid and strong on the road & off. There's no sway or anything like that, contrary to what you might expect.


    Gearing - speedo will now read more accurately than stock. Also mpg is improved with bigger wheels as you cover more ground. Low gears are not noticeably different. In low box 4x4, naturally the tyres come into their own and there is only improvement.


    The only issue is getting the right wheel and tyre sizes or you'll have issues with opening the sliding door. The whole job is also difficult and time consuming, especially getting out the rear bushes, not easy. You need to have replacements ready.


    Chris

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