A coat of PB Blaster and an impact wrench made short work of the front U-bolts. Since the Land Cruiser has a front sway bar, the axle will still be connected to the truck when the leaf springs are removed, but it's a good idea to use a jack to help support the axle weight whenever possible. Before we removed the leaf springs, additional jackstands were placed under the axletubes. Detaching the springs will release the axle from your truck, so make sure it is secure and that none of your body parts are in danger of being squashed if it slams to the ground. On our project truck, the sway bar (which Fred hates), keeps the front axle from falling to the ground, but you should still keep your body out of the way at all times. After you remove all the old bushings, you will have a truck with NO front suspension. Good thing you checked your new kit for all the parts that are supposed to be included.
There is a major difference between the stock leaf springs (with an add-a-leaf) and the Old Man Emu rear spring pack. The OME medium heavy-duty leaves have a lot more arch, yet should provide a smoother ride. The rubber bushing on the new spring pack was snagged from the stock leaves. Another time bandit appeared when we realized the new rear leaves weren't identical. One had a code that ended in an "A" and the other was a "B." Not willing to proceed in the wrong direction, we scanned the Internet until we determined with this OME kit, the "A" always goes on the driver side for American Land Cruisers. OK, back to work.
Once the shackles and other mounting parts were assembled, we lightly greased the pivot points in the bushings to help ease our installation. With the leaves lifted into place, we hand-tightened the bolts in the shackles to allow for some wiggle room during the installation of the U-bolts and the shocks. Once the spring plates were attached, we could reinstall the shocks. After those were connected, we tightened all the bolts using a torque wrench to match the specifications required by OME. We got out the gun and filled the greaseable parts of the suspension for a nice, quiet ride for many years to come. It's not a bad idea to loosen the shackle bolts, then retorque them to spec once your truck is back on the ground.
After the suspension lift was installed, the rear tires were more than 7 inches from the fenders. The front tires gained a small amount of distance from the wheelwells and now have more than 6 inches of space. Visually, the change in ride height was immediately noticeable. The rear jumped up by about 311/42 inches, and the front gained almost an inch. There is now a slight rake to the truck's stance which will be helpful when the FJ-60 is full of camping gear and a 175-pound Mastiff. On-road performance is much smoother than before and more predictable. Plus, the front tires don't rub on the fenders or any of the steering components.
With the OME lift installed, we took the Land Cruiser to Hungry Valley SRVA for some test runs. In addition to lots of added travel for the rear wheels, the front tires were much less likely to strike the truck body. High-speed whoops are no longer a dash-rattling experience. The OME suspension soaks up many bumps that would have been transferred directly to passengers' spines with the old suspension setup. The Land Cruiser is much more fun off-road with the new suspension. For video of the FJ-60 in action, go to www.4wheeloffroad.com.