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Discussion Starter #1
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 6” RCD lift makes my front end impossible to align to factory specs because I’m maxed out on adjustment. You can read about it in great detail here: http://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 don’t 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 can’t align my truck to factory specs was vague and useless at best. It was something to the tune of every truck is different, we don’t know how it’s 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 didn’t really give me a chance to explain the entire thing and interrupted me mid-sentence to tell me that I’m 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 can’t tell you what wrong with it over the phone. Basically that’s 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 wasn’t 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 didn’t 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 didn’t make any for the GM trucks – 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.

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

I’m 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. It’s 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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Discussion Starter #2
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. They’re tossing your parts out the door this afternoon, so that ought to work out well for you.

Eventually I’ll 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 don’t get 2.5 deg of caster, but you’ll 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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sounds like a great company to deal with, post back with results after installation
 

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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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Discussion Starter #6
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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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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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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Discussion Starter #9
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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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: View attachment Alignment 03.16.11.pdf
After: View attachment 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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do you know when they'll be offering these for sale? my fabtechs doing the same thing on the camber reading, would be nice to fix it and get a little UCA leveling
 

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I am having the identical issues with my 6" RCD... I figured it was just something hinky with my truck. I removed the RCD blocks and put in 2" blocks instead as well as lowered my torsion keys way down which led to a smoother ride but I had tire rubbage. I then went from 35"s to 34"s and tomorrow I will actually be trying out some used 33"s to see how they fit. Your ball joints may be my next purchase. How much did they run you if you don't mind me asking?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I am having the identical issues with my 6" RCD... I figured it was just something hinky with my truck. I removed the RCD blocks and put in 2" blocks instead as well as lowered my torsion keys way down which led to a smoother ride but I had tire rubbage. I then went from 35"s to 34"s and tomorrow I will actually be trying out some used 33"s to see how they fit. Your ball joints may be my next purchase. How much did they run you if you don't mind me asking?
Yeah, I thought the same thing about my truck, but now I'm convinced that it's the lift. I would recommend you check with guys at Speciality Products or check their site for the availability / pricing.

All I have to say is that after driving my truck very short distances in the last 3 days, so far I am very happy with results. I have a 3K round trip coming up in 2 weeks, so this will be real test, but thus far it's awesome.

I will post a pic of them installed a little later today.
 

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bump to a good deed you didnt just settle...
 

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thats great there ought to be a good market for these
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Here are a few pics of these installed.
IMG_4060.jpg

IMG_4058.jpg

IMG_4055.JPG

IMG_4056.jpg
 

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Glad you fixed your problem. I went to their site and checked them out. They have a pretty nice site and what looks to be a very informative installation video/instructions.

http://www.spcalignment.com/component/spc/?task=part_description&pid=23960

They are definitely beefy-looking but for $200 a piece......dayummm! I guess if you're having a problem it's worth the $400 to fix it.
 

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They are definitely beefy-looking but for $200 a piece......dayummm! I guess if you're having a problem it's worth the $400 to fix it.
It's definitely cheaper than a new set of tires.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I know they sell through a number of distributors, so if you are patient you will probably find these at a discount on line at some point. But in all honesty, when I first started to address my problem I was thinking that I don't care how much it costs, I want it fixed. I do lots of long road trips and get a lot of pleasure out of driving. Nothing is more annoying than fighting the road in your $50K+ truck.
 

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I just got another alignment last week and it was the closest they ever got it but my camber is still way out. I read that these ball joints will help caster but my question is will they help camber??
 
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