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Old 02-10-2010, 11:51 PM   #1
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Bus Suspension Lift

Bus suspension lift. Has anyone ever done a suspension lift on a bus? I was considering a 4" lift in order to provide clearance to reduce the wheel well 'bumps' in the interior. It would also allow extra height for underbody storage boxes and such. The bus I have has leaf springs on all four corners. Would it be as simple as lift blocks between the axles and springs, or would I need different front end parts?
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Old 02-11-2010, 11:00 AM   #2
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Re: Bus Suspension Lift

While that Swamp Bus would be really fun, it is probably not the best for traveling. Not to mention being too wide to be legal with those tires on it. Fun though!
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Old 02-11-2010, 12:52 PM   #3
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Re: Bus Suspension Lift

yea but it would be great in all that albertain MUSKEG lots of work money and time to do this correctly,the blocks are the cheap answer not the correct one! Or is it all that snow you need to clear? timbuk
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Old 02-11-2010, 02:34 PM   #4
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Re: Bus Suspension Lift

Lift blocks are illegal front and rear in some states and illegal in nearly all states in the front. The exception would be if you could find zero rate springs which are essentially a block that the center pin runs through. There is a reason for this and it has to do with the tremendous forces the blocks will see under cornering, especially if braking at the same time.

Aside from the legality issues, there are certain practical problems. Addressing the braking system should be pretty straight forward, but I don't know what you'll do about steering. Nearly every bus I've seen uses push-pull steering. Your drag link is not going to reach the steering arm from the pitman arm most likely after you do the lift. People that build offroad rigs running Chevy or Toyota solid axle stuff run into this same problem. You can build a bent (drop) drag link that will compensate for the height and the angularity on the rod ends, but it doesn't fix geometry. I doesn't matter what happens between the two points...if the pitman arm and the steering arm are at different heights you will have a shortened turning radius to one side and lengthened to the other. Raising the steering arm mounting point will correct this, but you run into strength and clearance issues.

The other big problem I forsee is the angularity on the rear driveshaft. The angles on the shafts, especially multipiece shafts that utilize carrier bearings, are precisely calculated. If you lower the rear pinion without lowering the carrier bearings a calculated amount you are going to get vibrations. This sounds neither cheap nor easy to figure out if you ask me.

Have you measured to see just how much room you have? I know a few people on this board have simply cut the existing tubs out and built shorter ones when they determined there was excessive clearance. You could try coupling this with lower profile tires and I bet you could get where you want. Of course lower profile tires are going to decrease your max speed...
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Old 02-11-2010, 08:26 PM   #5
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Re: Bus Suspension Lift

Suspension lift is probably not the way to go from the sounds of things. Body lift....on the other hand....would just make me want to lower the floor back down to get more headroom. I will probably just leave things the way they are and cut the wheel wells down a few inches because I have a LOT of room from the top of the tire to the top of the wheel well...about 8 inches!!! I will measure the distance from the axle to the bump stop and see how much actual travel to expect to need...assuming there is bump stops or other suspension limiter on a bus.
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Old 02-11-2010, 09:54 PM   #6
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Re: Bus Suspension Lift

Yeah...I will probably leave well-enough alone and just deal with the wheel wells. I may just have to bend over a little. I am not planning on full-timing in this bus anyways...at least I hope not!
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Old 02-12-2010, 12:20 AM   #7
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Re: Bus Suspension Lift

A body lift places spacers between the body and the frame. It's a cheap, albeit involved, way to gain lift. I actually prefer this method on trucks with IFS for exactly the reason Smitty pointed out...the center of gravity. You will often hear the flatbiller bros talking about how much better a suspension lift is on their 2008 Chevy half ton, but the truth of the matter is that it weakens the integrity of the suspension, does nothing to improve suspension performance unless you get a high dollar kit, and it raises the COG significantly more than a body lift because it raises all the heavy stuff...the engine, transmission, frame, etc. Body lifts do have to deal with higher shear loads on the body mounting bolts, but grade 8 bolts take care of this.

I think you're wise to work around it. Don't forget what I said about lowering the wheel wells as well. Take it from a guy that's driven his bus down some awful stuff...the suspension really doesn't have much of any up travel to worry about. Even if you leave it...you're not giving up much space so long as you do as the rest of us have done and place beds, a closet, utility room, whatever, above them.
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