So, you have a truck riding on leaf springs front and rear, and you want to add a suspension kit, but you don't want to pay someone else to do it? Don't be scared. It's not as hard as you might think. All you need are the right parts, the correct tools, your buddies, and a clear plan of attack. Here's how two lift-kit rookies were able to raise an FJ-60 in a weekend (read this, and you should be able to do it in one Saturday).
Our project truck is an '85 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ-60 that was bought with a suspension lift that included aftermarket shocks and add-a-leaves in the original spring packs. Its performance off-road is admirable, but a recent trip to Truckhaven Hills near the Salton Sea proved that the tires were rubbing too much, and the sagging suspension resulted in one "stuck" that required a yank from a nice guy in a Jeep. A consultation with Editor Rick Pw revealed the existing kit was hot poop about 20 years ago. Not bad, but it looked like nothing had been replaced in the suspension setup since the late '80's. The springs were flat from wear, allowing the 33-inch tires to rub in the wheelwells and leave cuts in the sidewalls. The ride suggested the shocks were no longer hot-just poop. Rick was kind enough to volunteer Tech Editor Fred Williams to help two Web guys install the Old Man Emu kit during a weekend at the Warehome while he worked on his '86 Toyota Project Clampy.
When shopping for a suspension kit designed for an FJ-60 Land Cruiser, it's almost impossible to ignore Old Man Emu parts. OME stands out because its kit is specially designed for the Cruiser. It includes greaseable shackles and is extensively tested off-road, keeping performance (and comfort) in mind. We chose a medium-duty setup because it allows a lot of camping gear to be carried in the back, but doesn't require modifications to the driveshafts or the steering system (our project truck already had stainless steel braided extended brake lines).
The Old Man Emu kit we ordered came with Nitrocharger shocks, greaseable anti-inversion shackles, polyurethane bushings, new U-bolts, and new leaf-spring packs. We chose a medium-duty kit because the Land Cruiser will be carrying lots of heavy camping gear along with a very large dog on most off-road trips. Before going to the Warehome we inspected all the parts received in the mail to make sure everything had arrived. Just like Santa, we checked our list twice, 'cause nothing is worse than giving the school bully a Red Ryder BB gun, or removing your daily driver's suspension and finding out you don't have the right parts to get it rolling again. Just think about how many times you get the wrong parts on your hamburger. That really sucks, but it doesn't leave you stranded. Make sure you have all the tools needed for the entire project, plus another working vehicle at your disposal-unless you enjoy walking four miles to the nearest auto shop, or running to get there before the doors close for the night.