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I just finished installing the Vancompass front & rear lift kits - my local tire shop did the work.

Here are some before & after photos. Its more noticeable in person - hard to show in photos.

Great kit - and the alignment adjustments were minimal before/after.

I'm still running the stock tires: 225/75/16. I plan to upgrade them next year - likely to 245/70/16. The before pictures are my snow tires.
 

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I ordered one of the Russian spacer lifts off eBay. Will post photos once it arrives and I finish the install.

I'll be running Michelin Defender 245/75R6's
 

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russian lift spacers

So I ordered myself up a pair of russian spacers on ebay and they have arrived. I looked over the intructions from van compass for their product and figure that these spacers should install in aproximately the same maner. Can anyone who has used the russian spacers confirm this? I'm having my local mechanic install the spacers. I turn a wrench on my VW's but this project looks like it takes quite a bit of the front suspension apart which makes me nervous. Frankly, it makes me nervous to have my mechanic do it. Anyone who has used these spacers imput would be appreciated?
 

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Just finished installing the Van Compass front lift today. Got exactly 1.5" lift, as advertised.
This is not a job for the faint hearted, although any competent mechanic with the right tools can do it.

The two most difficult parts: First, removing the calipers - no kidding. They are mounted to the steering knuckles with 12mm fine thread allen bolts that have some serious thread locking fluid applied. Fortunately I have a set of Snap-on allen wrenches and the 14mm one was able to withstand the 12" cheater I had to use. I doubt a chinesium allen wrench would have survived. It's tight quarters and the wrench/cheater can only swing about 1/6th turn. That's a lot of strenuous effort to remove a bolt, and there are 2 per side. I got a 1/2" drive 14mm allen socket (?) before attacking the other side. So don't try this job without a proper 14mm allen wrench.

Second, after hanging the strut-with-spacer from the chassis and getting it and the drive axle engaged in the steering knuckle (not too bad), the real wrestling match begins. Levering the a-arm downward while compressing the strut upward to get the ball joint stud into its hole in the a-arm is quite difficult. I used coil spring compressors to reduce the effort, but it was still a bear. There might have been some cursing.

Don't be surprised if either axle pops out of its inner spline during the wrestling match, but you can pop them right back in. The driver's side will spill gear oil if it pops out.

Oh, and installing that last T25 screw into its hole in the right front corner of the glovebox also brought out some colorful language.

I did one side at a time, on a lift. First side took about 6 hours, with a good helper. Second side about 4. Next time I could do both in a day.
 

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I have the 40mm Russian spacers installed by my friend who is a mechanic, and I helped do some prying. Pretty simple job for him and it took about 2 hours. We did have to make a run to the hardware store for replacement bolts as the ones that came with the kit were either too short or too long, I can't remember. Very happy with the results, and I had it aligned afterwards to make sure everything was golden.
 

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russian spacers

good to hear that it only took about 2 hours to install your spacers. did you do install in a similar maner to vancompass spacers? I imagine process is almost identical just different spacers. ? I have the spacers but am still on the fence on having it done. I just see complications and problems if everything is not put back just right.... Is the 1.5" worth the possiblity of disaster later? Still on the fence. I have a guy who says he can do it for me but I'm not sure I trust him to do job right.
 

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So, after installing the VC lift I took the van to Les Schwab to have the toe-in adjusted, per VC's suggestion. Of course, they did a complete alignment inspection and informed me that I had to "take the van back to ProMaster" because the caster and camber were off and the only way to adjust it was to move the front sub-frame. Apparently that requires unbolting the engine and supporting it a special fixture (which only the dealers have) while the adjustment is made! They also said the rear alignment is off, which they also couldn't fix. After all that they refused to adjust the toe-in (which was off) because "if we can't do the complete job we won't do any part of it". Arrrgh. I have an appointment with a different shop on Monday to get the toe adjusted. Stay tuned.

On a different note, the van now has a definite shudder on moderate acceleration between 5 & 15 mph, or so. It is a bit worse if turning while accelerating. Feels like rear tire imbalance as I can feel it in the seat, but not in the steering wheel. I got all 4 tires rebalanced, but no improvement. I fear the additional u-joint angularity from the lift is causing this, although VC claims the u-joints remain within safe working limits. I believe I've read all the posts from those who have installed the VC lift, with no mention of this issue. Anybody?
 

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Lift kits - na, NO way! Just asking for problems. I know, I know they look so "cool" and you can use oversized tires and climb big rocks with a single bound, but NO! ;)
 

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I'm glad I read this thread. I have been considering the 1.5" lift up front, but now I believe I'll just leave it as-is and just be more careful off-pavement.


John
 

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So, after installing the VC lift I took the van to Les Schwab to have the toe-in adjusted, per VC's suggestion. Of course, they did a complete alignment inspection and informed me that I had to "take the van back to ProMaster" because the caster and camber were off and the only way to adjust it was to move the front sub-frame. Apparently that requires unbolting the engine and supporting it a special fixture (which only the dealers have) while the adjustment is made! They also said the rear alignment is off, which they also couldn't fix. After all that they refused to adjust the toe-in (which was off) because "if we can't do the complete job we won't do any part of it". Arrrgh. I have an appointment with a different shop on Monday to get the toe adjusted. Stay tuned.

On a different note, the van now has a definite shudder on moderate acceleration between 5 & 15 mph, or so. It is a bit worse if turning while accelerating. Feels like rear tire imbalance as I can feel it in the seat, but not in the steering wheel. I got all 4 tires rebalanced, but no improvement. I fear the additional u-joint angularity from the lift is causing this, although VC claims the u-joints remain within safe working limits. I believe I've read all the posts from those who have installed the VC lift, with no mention of this issue. Anybody?
What U-joint are you thinking has an issue. Do you mean the CV joints? Im pretty sure it's not enough of a change in the angle to cause an issue. Lots and lots of people have done the spacer installs without CV joint issues. Also you can't adjust the camber by moving the subframe, and if there was a change in castor it would not be adjustable anyway. A more competent shop would be able to get it where it should be.
 

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I'm glad I read this thread. I have been considering the 1.5" lift up front, but now I believe I'll just leave it as-is and just be more careful off-pavement.


John
Excellent thinking John! Lift kits are nothing more than "window dressing" on a Promaster (although no one who has actually done it will want to admit) IMHO ;)

I have driven my Promaster over some of the roughest, rockiest trails you could imagine and NEVER (let me repeat - NEVER) had any clearance problems. It's throwing money out the window, nothing more.

PS - this is my own personal opinion, of course - others may and will disagree (vehemently) ;)
 

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Yes KOV we think you are wrong again.

BTW, Steve who was the origional owner of “The Backroader” now owned by Nebulight took that van ANYWHERE. I spent an evening looking at his pictures from the Baja. He had no lift. He had essentially no clearance issues. Stuck on the beach- yup. Failed to climb a steep dirt road- yup. Cleared rocks and Caleche in the road, Yup, no problem gringo!

Oh I guess it makes KOV right..... I hate it when that happens! It is for looks. I didn’t like the a$$ up look so I pulled the second leaf and you know I have’t had any clearance issues yet and I go where I want!
 

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Well the first issue is the rear clearance. And if you haven’t had an issue with that then you aren’t trying hard enough. Then the front. If you don’t think an extra 2-4 inches isn’t a benefit that’s cool. I have the marks on my oil pan and been stuck because of the rear beam to prove that to some of us it is. But not needed for most people on this forum I’m sure. I hope company’s keep building cool new off-road orientated stuff.
 

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I keep real 4WD rigs for that stuff.
 

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I can live in that. It has a raised platform bed with sliding drawers below for gear, storage under the folded rear seats to. It has done all the logging roads near where I lived in Vermont's North East Kingdom and central NH as well as about 20 El Camino del Diablo trips and the west side of the Pinacate in Mexico as a sampler. It knows its way around bad roads in it’s 235,000 miles. I spend 3-12 days at a time in places most people have never heard of. You have to have another vehicle with you or sooner or later you will die in the desert. (Tim- rest in peace buddy.)
 

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Having another vehicle with you is always good backcountry advice.


I generally use the next-best thing on my motorcycle trips, which is a SPOT Tracker. If nothing else, the people back home can see where I am on a map. If I'm in trouble, I'll push the button.



John
 

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+1 On Spot tracker. Simple but effective.
My 159 Hi Top has been on more dirt road than most of the 4x4's around here. I'm careful and realistic about were I drive and have never scraped my stock level front end. Even with stock tires and wheels.
 
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