All of us here at 4X4REVIEW are fortunate enough to have come in contact with a few great companies in the offroad industry. One such company is Offroad Design located in Carbondale, Co. We first met the owner Stephen Watson back in November of 1998 at the SEMA show in Las Vegas. Since then, we have had the pleasure of wheelin with him at Easter Jeep Safari 1999 and installing some of the many trick parts he has to offer for the full size Chevy guys. We first reviewed his Sway Bar Correction/Disconnect Kit in late 1998. This now leads us to another product review out of the Offroad Design stables- The Heavy Duty Front Shackle Kit.
With Moab approaching, I thought to myself, there couldn’t be a better test than the difficult trails of Moab, Utah. I called Stephen, and he was all for the test and the challenge. He shipped us a set of shackles, which included new polyurethane bushings, and upgraded ½” grade 8 greasable bolts. The shackle plates themselves are much stronger at twice the thickness of stock shackle plates-3/8″ thick! The shackle plates are gold zinc plated and are also an extra ½” longer in length to help with lift springs from coming in contact with the frame on full compression, and minimizing the pinion and castor angles that may cause driveshaft bind and wandering on the highway. The kit covers truck years 73 through 87 and full size Blazers through 1991. From my personal experience with this product in Moab, I was thrilled with the results and outcome.
|First step was to set the e-brake and jack up the front of the truck. We found it easier to have two people do this install just for the extra set of hands. Next, remove the splash shields behind both front inner fender wells, if you still have them, this makes it easier to get to the top shackle bolt. We then placed a small floor jack under the spring pack to relieve the tension off of the shackle. Next, we loosened the bolts on the shackle and carefully removed them. You will know how much pressure to put on the spring pack by how hard it is to remove the shackle bolts.|
|After the bolts are removed, the next step is to remove the upper rubber or poly bushings. This is where the second set of hands comes in handy, no pun intended. Clean the sleeve in the frame thoroughly of any dirt or rust that may be in there. Once the sleeve is clean, apply a liberal amount of grease before installing the new poly bushings. We then moved on to the spring pack. We removed the old bolt sleeve because of the new and larger ½” greasable bolts that are supplied in the kit and instead of buying new poly bushings for the springs, we took a small hack saw blade and made six cuts or “flutes” in the bushing so the grease can make its way throughout.|
| After all the new bolt sleeves and poly bushings were in place, it was time to install the new shackle plates and ½” bolts. This was a snap. We torqued to spec, but making sure that the bolts were not too tight to cause the poly bushings to bind. And that’s it!
This was a pretty smooth installation and as already mentioned, provided great results. Overall, we have always been more than happy with the great products that Off Road Design makes, we think you will be too.
|Read along with our install of yet another trick product from Offroad Design and see just how easy it is to make suspension improvements with the help of a very affordable product like this one.||Off Road Design
0100 Arapahoe Lane
Carbondale, CO 81623
Phone: (970) 945-7777
Fax: (970) 945-8389
|NOTE: All ratings on a scale of 1 to 4 with flat tires equal to a half.|
|Ease of Install||Not too bad, took about 1/2 an hour.|
|Ease of Use||Install, drive, and go|
|Durability||With the added thickness of the plates, I don’t think durability will be an issue.|
|Appearance||The zinc plating sets it off nice|
|Drivability||Improved alignment angles and less steering bind sure made a big difference.|
|Price in comparison to related products||What related products? The Offroad Design guys did a great job on this product. Only $55.00 for this kit.|
|Was it worth it???||You bet. better travel, and added strength|
|Tools Required||3/4, 11/16 wrench and socket, medium sized hammer and grease.|
|Editors Notes||As I have already mentioned, this company is great to deal with. They are true professionals and most important, they enjoy going out and testing what they build and sell…TS|