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Suspension & Steering - 2001 - 2010 Discuss OEM & aftermarket suspension, lifts, street suspension, air ride suspension, steering components, etc. First through fourth generation.

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Old 07-31-2011, 10:57 AM   #1 (permalink)
DieselDogg
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Adjustable Upper Ball Joints Ė Anyone with lifted / leveled truck should read!

Some of you guys might remember I did a pretty detailed write up on the alignment problem I was having a while back. Basically the issue is that my 6Ē RCD lift makes my front end impossible to align to factory specs because Iím maxed out on adjustment. You can read about it in great detail here: https://www.dieselplace.com/forum/showthread.php?t=410779&highlight=

I set out earlier this year to see if I can figure out a way to fix this problem and I think there is finally a solution!

First, I want to give some background to what I had to go through to end up here. You can skip down to the SOLUTION: part if you donít care to read this background part.

Obviously one of the first places I started was RCD itself. As I expected, their answer to my question of why I canít align my truck to factory specs was vague and useless at best. It was something to the tune of every truck is different, we donít know how itís set up, you are probably over-cranked on torsion bars, etc.

The next place I called was Cognito and I have to admit, they were very patient and attentive and showed genuine interest to want to help. They told me that their UCA would probably help slightly, but not to the point where I could get enough caster to get to factory specs.

My next call was to Nick at Nor Cal trucks for one of their free consultations that they keep promoting here on DP. When I finally got Nick on the phone it was more of the same RCD talk. He basically told me right away that my torsion bars are over cranked. I was really surprised by the immediate diagnosis because he didnít really give me a chance to explain the entire thing and interrupted me mid-sentence to tell me that Iím over-cranked. I guess I was so surprised to hear that kind of talk because they solicit consultations over the phone, but my experience was similar to calling a GM dealer who as we all know would say bring the truck in, we canít tell you what wrong with it over the phone. Basically thatís what Nick told me. He did email me 6 days later and somewhat apologized for not being more helpful.

At this point I was starting to loose enthusiasm, but had one more call to make. When I originally spoke with RCD, they suggested that I call Specialty Products, which I guess means talking to RCD wasnít a complete waste of time since Specialty Products is who came up with a fix.

SOLUTION:
I have never heard of Specialty Products before so I didnít know what to expect. When I first called in, I spoke with Chris Hinds, their Senior Mechanical Engineer. We ended up talking for probably over 30 min. He got on the computer and read my original post and looked at the pictures while we were on the phone. I was pretty impressed that someone would spend that much time listening to my problem and trying to understand it.

For the sake of not making this post any longer, I will spare most of the details of what happened over the course of next 4 months. Basically, Chris said that he believed the knuckle lift is the cause of the problem and the way it could be corrected is with adjustable upper ball joints. Unfortunately Specialty Products didnít make any for the GM trucks Ė until now! Chris said that after looking at my truck and reading my post, there are probably a lot of Chevys out there with lifts / leveling kits that are having the same problem and it probably makes sense for them to develop and make the adjustable ball joints. And they did!

A few days ago I received the first production set of the GM adjustable ball joints. These things look and feel much beefier than stock, which is an upgrade to this front end, but the real benefit I think is that I will finally be able to align my truck and get enough caster out of it to make it track right. The ball joints are also a sealed unit, so there is no need to grease it.

Iím planning on putting these on in the next week or two max, so I will let you guys know how it goes. Iím pretty sure this will be the cure though.

Iím still shocked that Specialty Products would take the time to listen to me and then go and design and make a completely new part to fix the problem. Itís a breath of fresh air to know that there are still people like this out there. Big thanks to Chris and everyone at Specialty Products for making this happen. I know these adjustable ball joints will help a lot of us GM guys.



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File Type: jpg Specialty Products Ball Joint.jpg (91.7 KB, 5540 views)
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Old 07-31-2011, 11:04 AM   #2 (permalink)
DieselDogg
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Installation Instructions

Here is the email from Chris from last week, which will be useful for anyone interested in these ball joints:

"I attached some instructions for you to check out. We have been installing them in position 11 for straight caster with good results. Theyíre tossing your parts out the door this afternoon, so that ought to work out well for you.

Eventually Iíll have a FAQ or Tech Tips published on our website under the 23960 part number too.

Your truck being a knuckle lift will mean you donít get 2.5 deg of caster, but youíll probably get close to 2, which should easily put you within range to adjust it using the stock upper cam bolts."

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File Type: pdf Install Instructions - Upper Ball Joints.pdf (208.0 KB, 531 views)
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Old 07-31-2011, 12:04 PM   #3 (permalink)
moop
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sounds like a great company to deal with, post back with results after installation
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Old 07-31-2011, 02:28 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Wow those look serious. I might pick those up even if i don't need them just b/c they look so beefy hah.
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Old 07-31-2011, 06:07 PM   #5 (permalink)
Jason_2500
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Isn't the moral of the story is to just buy a lift that works the first time? Sorry that it didn't work out for you and I'm not trying to be a dick, your not going to throw away the whole lift and start again but really this should be a warning to stay away from RCD or get a true 6" lift.
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Old 08-01-2011, 08:54 PM   #6 (permalink)
DieselDogg
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason_2500 View Post
Isn't the moral of the story is to just buy a lift that works the first time? Sorry that it didn't work out for you and I'm not trying to be a dick, your not going to throw away the whole lift and start again but really this should be a warning to stay away from RCD or get a true 6" lift.
I couldn't agree more with the point you are making. I doubt anyone wants to buy a lift or anything else for that matter that doesn't work as advertised. However, you are assuming that everyone knows exactly how the product will perform once they buy it.

Many members on this site will tell you that RCD is one of the better lifts out there. I'm not an engineer nor a mechanic, but I've had this lift on for 6 yrs / 80K miles and have had no problems with it. It rides great and it's dependable. The only gripe I've had is that I can't get enough caster out of it and my guess is that I'm in a small minority of their customers that notice that to be a problem.

If someone were to ask me if RCD is a good lift I would say that in my opinion it is, minus the alignment issue. Now that there is a relatively inexpensive fix that is actually an improvement over the stock joint, this lift could be improved to the point where it's awesome.

One thing that you said that I am curious about is what is a "true 6" lift", since you are obviously implying that RCD is not a true 6" lift.
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Old 08-02-2011, 12:00 AM   #7 (permalink)
Jason_2500
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Does RCD drop the front diff a full 6"? A true 6" lift wouldn't require any tbar cranking above stock. Like Cognitos 7" lift, delivers a full 7" of lift. Or how your RCD gives a full 4" of lift, is what I am gathering from your story.
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Old 08-04-2011, 01:14 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason_2500 View Post
Does RCD drop the front diff a full 6"? A true 6" lift wouldn't require any tbar cranking above stock. Like Cognitos 7" lift, delivers a full 7" of lift. Or how your RCD gives a full 4" of lift, is what I am gathering from your story.
RCD drops the diff 4.5" and gives your truck 5.5" of lift. I had an RCD on my truck and the only complaint I had was the front tracking was a bit too much for my liking, otherwise I had no problems whatsoever. It is a well engineered kit. My Cognito gave me more problems than my RCD. I think some problems that people have with their lift kits is they try to get more than the manufactured height which leads to more grief because some kits are not designed to be lifted higher. JMHO.
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Old 08-06-2011, 05:51 PM   #9 (permalink)
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The thing is that I can't align my truck properly regardless of how the T bars are cranked. I went as far as lowering my truck to the point where the front axles were completely parallel with the ground and still was not within the factory spec on the caster / camber.

I don't want this thread to turn to lift kit discussion though. I've been paying a lot of attention to lifted trucks ever since I've set out to fix mine and I see a lot of trucks with the alignment cams all the way to the end of adjustment.

I would guess that the leveled trucks are having the same problem. I would be curious to hear from the leveled guys about their alignment.

Plan on doing my install next weekend. Can't wait.
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Old 08-20-2011, 10:13 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Finally got around to installing the new UBJs. The results are as promised! I gained 2 deg of caster. I lifted my truck when I bought it new in 05 and have never seen all alignment specs green! I think I'm going to frame this alignment sheet.

Before: Alignment 03.16.11.pdf
After: Alignment 08.19.11.pdf

In addition to more caster, I noticed that these BJ's are taller and make the upper control arm sit higher than before. This is probably an added bonus for the leveled trucks since it raises the UCA's off the frame stop and increase the travel down. Not sure how much I gained here because I didn't measure how it was originally, but I would guess I have about 1/2 inch more travel down between UCA and frame stop.

I've never done this before, but the whole thing was pretty easy. Took about 4 hours, but really probably more of a 2.5 hour job if you know what you are doing.

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