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Diesel Master
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I swapped out my Rancho 4" for a Tuff Country (TC) 4". I did this because the Rancho sticks out the front tires an additional 1.5" per side (3" total), while the TC sticks out the front tires 3/8" per side (3/4" total) over the stock front track. Not only could I not drive on wet pavement without covering the side of the truck with gunk with the Rancho, I was constantly "hanging up" and rubbing stuff with the front tires. When driving on rutted dirt roads, the big difference in front vs rear track width made the truck constantly sliding in and out of the ruts.

TC's customer service was great. They were willing to sell me just the front pieces of the kit, which included: sub frame, knuckles, diff mounts, and hardware bags. Because I use Realift T-bar relocators I didn't need TCs T-bar relocation brackets.

If you don't mind the front tires sticking out so much, the Rancho is a little better engineered kit. The Rancho sub frame is 12 lbs heavier. Having said that, the TC sub frame is made out of material that is twice as thick as the truck frame. The truck frame is approx .140" thick where the control arms mount while the TC is .280" thick.

The Rancho lowers the diff 1" less. This is a minor ground clearance issue, since the front diff travels with the front wheels. With the Rancho, the front diff does not stick below the sub frame, but with the TC is does a little.

The Rancho allows the use of the stock aluminum skid plate, though I will be able to mod it to fit the TC. TC says they will have a skid plate soon.

The Rancho uses compression rods, the TC does not. No doubt the compression rods add strength, but I am not sure it is necessary on a 4" kit. Further, the front cross member of the TC sub frame bolts to the front truck cross member, which will help secure it from fore and aft movement. The Rancho only connects via the four factory control arm pivot bolts. Given the Rancho sub frame is so heavy and only attaches to the control arm bolts, perhaps the Rancho sub frame needs the compression rods to avoid stressing the truck frame. In terms of ground clearance, not using compression rods gains about 1.5" in a place where it is needed, but only if you run T-bar relocators like I do.

The TC kit is easier to install because you put the front diff loosely in place first, then bring the sub frame up to it. With the Rancho, you mount the diff in the sub frame first then raise the whole thing into place. With the Rancho you need either two sets of hands and/or two floor jacks. TC recommends two floor jacks but I had no issue using only one by myself.

The Rancho uses the stock yellow jounce stops/aux springs while the TC uses poly bump stops. The TC bump stops don't stay in constant contact with the lower a-arms like the factory units. I don't think there is any affect on ride. I also installed some Energy Suspension poly control arm bushings during the lift swap out. I think these poly bushing make the ride a little "jouncier", but I was able to take that out by softening my front RS 9000Xs by one click. The poly bushing do make the truck a bit more stable feeling.

The Rancho runs the CV axles at a stock angle, the TC--because it lowers the diff an extra inch--runs the CVs horizontal. What this means is with the TC, you can crank the t-bars and inch or two and still have stock or near stock angles. If you are undecided on tire size, his would be an advantage for the TC, because you could have a decent look with either 33s or 35s.

Often guys get 315/75R16s with a 6" lift, and find that even with a chip set at 60-75 HP the gear ratio with the taller tires kills towing performance. So many of the guys drop back to a 285 or 295, but the truck looks funny with a 6" lift and 33" tires. With the TC it will look fine either way. You might also need to add more lift to the rear to run 35s, but that is easy.

I have been running 3.5" in the back and 4" in the front for a while now. This keeps my truck with a slight forward rake and doesn't squat the rear when I load down the back. Most lift kits raise the front the specified amount and then raise the rear 1.5 to 2" less. To me, it makes these trucks look like they are sitting nose up, and I hate that look. My Rancho came with a 2.5" rear block and I added another 1" block on top of that. I have had no issues running this way. In fact, I may get a 4" rear block and run my front at 4.5" with the TC.

I have had no vibration issues in 4 Hi at speeds up to 60 mph. When you tighten up the passenger side diff mounts there should be no stress on the diff at all. In fact, with the passenger side diff mounts loose you should be able to lift up the pass side of the diff and push it into place with it seating fully flush with the truck's diff mount. If you can't do this, then you may have the wrong diff mounts, as is what happened to me at first. When I got the correct mounts it was perfect.

I suppose a perfect solution for me would be to use the Rancho sub-frame and diff mounts, but with the control arm holes moved in to the TC spacing. I'd use the TC knuckles. I would install the Rancho compression rods, but I would change their location so the mount to the top side of the transmission cross member.

My second choice would be to use the entire TC front, but have them make their sub frame so it drops the front diff and inch less and has provision for the factory skid plate.


Pics. Rancho on right, TC on left. TC subframe in front in first pic and in back in second pic.









 

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Hey afp1,

Real good comparison write up,and pics. I had a Les Schwab shop Install my TC 4" lift and I noticed a little vibration when using 4wd on the highway this winter. Can you tell just by looking if they mounted my diff with the wrong mounts. If I have the wrong mounts should I talk to Tuff Country or the dealer about getting the right ones? Also my 295s throw mud and crud all over the side of my truck, even with Bushwacker Pocket Flares on it. It's a real ***** living on a dirt road especially during winter. Thinking about getting some 8" wheels with 285s for winter and use the 295s for summer.

Thanks
Dennis
 

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very good write up, very interesting
 

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Diesel Master
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Discussion Starter #4
Unfortunately, the Bushwhacker pocket flares only add another 3/4" of coverage over the factory flares. I wish Bushwhacker made pocket flares that extended the length of their cut-outs.

The proper passenger side diff mount should have a "4" and an "F" cut into it. The half moon mount that goes on the diff itself is part number "HDDIFF 01". However, if it is vibrating even with a stress free installation, then TC suggests you have your frnt driveshaft balanced.
 

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Diesel Master
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Discussion Starter #6
I'll have some soon.........
 

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afp1:

Awesome write up, just what I was looking for as I am going back and forth between the two deciding on what to do, thanks !!!

One question I have - I am looking at a 4inch lift, mostly just to increase overall height and for the look. For towing a 5'er, I don't want to run too much height and 'big' tires to try and keep an optimum tow set-up. I was even thinking of just going with 265's.

So with that said, which lift between the two would you think would be best for just a 2inch block in the rear and to de-crank my torsion bars down to 3inches or so in the front?

Thanks !!
 

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Diesel Master
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Discussion Starter #9
Chev,

You can easily clear 265s without any kind of lift.

My bed rails are 58.5" high. I have a 2.5" Rancho rear lift block plus another 1" block which gives me a total of 3.5" in the rear. I am running 295s.

The Tuff Country comes with a 2" block and some poly spacers that raise the rest of the rear springs off the overloads. The Rancho comes with a 2.5" block alone.

My recommendation would be to find out what your bed rail height restriction is for your 5'er, then decide from there.

The Rancho would be a better choice to decrank your t-bars, but it is not worth the expense for a lift if you just want an inch or two.

You can crank your front t-bars 1-2" and adda 1" spacer to the rear springs. You will need to bet some longer front shocks if you do that. A lot of folks have mentioned the Cognito leveling kit and you might look into that. Again, if you don't want that "nose high" look most trucks get when they only level the front, you can add a 1" block to the rear.
 

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I was even thinking of just going with 265's.
If I were you, the smallest I would put on there would be a 285 if you are going to put a 4 inch lift on it. I'm not saying it would look bad with the 265's, but it would look a lot better with a bigger tire. As afp1 said, you can easily clear 265's without a lift. But if that is what you want to do, do it, because it may look great. All that matters is if you like it or not. By the way I love the stance of your truck afp1!
 

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Hey ChevyRacing48 , I just bought a 4" Tuff country lift (5-1-06) I love it . I compaired Rancho , Trailmaster and Tuff country altogether , Tuff country won out . The other manufactors tried to bad mouth them but after reading this web site and looking at this lift in my hands ,Tuff country was put on with rims ($2500) . Be careful tough , the stock rims would not fit over the spindles . Good luck
 

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does the rancho really drop the diff 6" or is it really only 4. I headr its six, but they advertise 4.
IIRC, the Rancho kit drops 4" but they call it a 6" lift. I think you get the extra 2" by cranking the "T" bars. :think:
 

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Diesel Master
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Discussion Starter #17
The Rancho is nominally a 4" lift (depending on who you talk to) and drops the diff around 3.5". However, the Rancho gives you stock CV angles at 4", so cranking to 5-5.5" is fine and it will clear 315s. The Tuff Country 4" has the CVs completely horizontal at 4". At 5" it would probably have stock CV angles.
 

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Diesel Master
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Discussion Starter #18

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Diesel Master
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Discussion Starter #19
Here are the side view pics, as well as pics of the Realift Torsion Bar relocators.

Nothing special in the side view, except that there are no t-bars or t-bar crossmember hanging down under the truck.



Here is even a better view of the clean underside.



Here are Realift T-bar Relocators that get the t-bars back up into the frame.



Here is a close up. This is a very stout unit.

 

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What kind of rims clear the knuckles/spindles. I'm considering a 4" sometime and this looks great. Any idea how muh more than cranked t-bars it gives ya? Mine are 95% cranked up. BTW how much $$$$ for the t-bar relocators?
 
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