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Old 12-05-2016, 03:11 PM   #1
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Rear Sway Bar with a Lift Kit?

General Question --

Once a lift kit is installed onto an 2WD (or 4WD) E-series van, is it a fairly straightforward thing to install a rear sway bar?

Since all the bushings in the front sway bar were just freshened, I'd really like to round out the stability of the now-a-bit-taller rig by adding a rear sway bar to match as well. Hellwig sells a rear sway bar that seems to get pretty good reviews, but I can't determine yet if it will only fit on a stock-ride-height E-series van.....does anyone know if the added height (from the lift) creates any sway-bar installation challenges?

FYI:
My rear lift has been accomplished by a combination of lift blocks (3 inch) and also adding a leaf to each rear spring pack.

Thanks!!!!

(With either 2WD or 4WD, I'm going to assume the answer to this will be equally applicable.)
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Old 12-05-2016, 03:22 PM   #2
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The Hellwig end-links are actually a little too long for a stock 2WD. It's perfect on mine, which is about 3" higher than stock using 2 more leaves and airbags. You'll probably be ok, but at worst can you buy 2 more bolts and cut some pipe down to function as the sleeve. They are super basic end-links, so they are also super easy to modify.
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Old 12-05-2016, 03:38 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carringb View Post
The Hellwig end-links are actually a little too long for a stock 2WD. It's perfect on mine, which is about 3" higher than stock using 2 more leaves and airbags. You'll probably be ok, but at worst can you buy 2 more bolts and cut some pipe down to function as the sleeve. They are super basic end-links, so they are also super easy to modify.
Nice! Very cool.

Btw, I'm still trying to locate a decent .pdf file of some sort (or perhaps somebody's webpage with a step-by-step installation how-to) so I can bet a better sense of how everything attaches between the frame and the rear axle.

I'm going to assume that the farther "down" the rear axle drops with a lift kit, the longer that the sway-bar end-links will have to get. Am I understanding you correctly when you mention cutting pipe down to make a sleeve, that you're referring to the part that acts as the end-links?

While I'm asking questions:
Curious how a rear sway-bar affects overall suspension articulation, as well. It's well-known that hardcore lifted-Jeep guys disconnect their sway bars when they're off-road (in order to free up the suspension to better articulate diagonally), but I've never run across any mention of SMB / Econoline guys doing anything like that with their lifted rigs. Wondered if its kind of a non-issue with our heavy vans.

Thanks again!
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Old 12-05-2016, 04:27 PM   #4
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It goes top to bottom:

Bolt / bushing / L-bracket(to frame) / bushing / sleeve / bushing / sway-bar / bushing / nut.

It really is just a long bolt. It looks curved on mine because I drug it over a rock. It should be straight. And as you can see, my sway-bar is level with my mild-lift. And yes.... much beyond that, more height would need a longer end-link (bolt and sleeve). My guess is up to a 4" lift is probably ok with the hardware included. But it will depend on actual ride-height too. Mine is a little on the portly side.
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Old 12-05-2016, 06:16 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carringb View Post
It goes top to bottom:

Bolt / bushing / L-bracket(to frame) / bushing / sleeve / bushing / sway-bar / bushing / nut.

It really is just a long bolt. It looks curved on mine because I drug it over a rock. It should be straight. And as you can see, my sway-bar is level with my mild-lift. And yes.... much beyond that, more height would need a longer end-link (bolt and sleeve). My guess is up to a 4" lift is probably ok with the hardware included. But it will depend on actual ride-height too. Mine is a little on the portly side.
Hey, just curious ----

If those "end link" components (the steel pipe with the long bolt run through them) were to be made intentionally shorter, would the whole thing still work fine?

Seems like (at least for driving off-road) it would be ideal to "tuck" the lowest point of those end links further upward/closer to the bottom of the van, so as to avoid catching them on a rock like you did. (Shorter end links = forward-reaching ends of the sway bar assembly would be rotated a bit further upward, entire sway bar rotated slightly in its mounts)

Does that make any sense?

I'm still visually sorting this out.
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Old 12-05-2016, 06:54 PM   #6
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If your looking for install instructions and possibly a video take a look at Etrailer.com. They usually have links to instructions and often a install video for most products.
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Old 12-05-2016, 07:57 PM   #7
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You could probably shorten it a little, but not too much. Too much will cause some binding, and also the higher the ends of the bar are, the lower the "hoop" is around the diff. Really, its way less likely to hang up on stuff that you'd think looking at it. I've done way more running board damage than sway bar damage.
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Old 12-05-2016, 09:30 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carringb View Post
You could probably shorten it a little, but not too much. Too much will cause some binding, and also the higher the ends of the bar are, the lower the "hoop" is around the diff. Really, its way less likely to hang up on stuff that you'd think looking at it. I've done way more running board damage than sway bar damage.
Ok cool, gotcha.
I can see (looking at your photo a second time now) that the bottom of the sway bar end-link on the passenger-side is a lot more "tucked up and out of harm's way" than the closer-to-the-camera driver's-side one first appears.

(Also --- thanks TeleSteve, that etrailer.com how-to video suggestion was spot-on....found a pretty descriptive video for installation on a Ford E450 RV Chassis. Etrailer.com sells a "Blue Ox" and "Roadmaster" brand sway bar, both appear similar enough in construction/design to the Hellwig brand to understand how they all install/reside underneath the axle.)

So now....with the (rear sway-bar) + (rear lift) technical details addressed.....what still remains is the overall "rear-sway-bar philosophical question".....

Q: How many of you guys with "high lifted" (4 to 6 inch lift) SMB's (2WD or 4WD) are running rear sway bars?

It seems that with the higher center-of-gravity of a lifted van, a rear sway bar would become even more desirable for stability.
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Old 12-06-2016, 07:12 AM   #9
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My van is lifted a bit over 5". I installed a bar last summer in an attempt to get rid of the soft feel I was getting when loaded. It was an improvement. In order for me to get rid of most of that softness, I also added rear wheel spacers to better line up the rear wheels with the front.
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Old 12-06-2016, 08:01 AM   #10
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EB vans most definitely need a rear sway bar IMO. At least if they have any sort of interior build-out, or haul anything. Stock, the roll stiffness is biased way too much to the front. So, besides feeling less secure (i.e. more body roll, plus some bump steer from body roll), they will lift an inside front tire, on pavement, under extreme maneuvering. Notice the Transit vans all have rear sway bars now on the extended models at least. With tall vans, having a rear sway bar could mean the difference between sliding, and tipping-over.

Ideally, your sway stiffness bias should match your weight bias pretty close. A lighter RB van probably doesn't need a rear sway most of the time, because it still gets enough roll stiffness from the springs.

Off-road, too much roll stiffness can cause a wheel to lift, and will make the ride less pleasant. You'll feel individual bumps more as a wheel rolls over it, and it can make washboards worse. One more side affect is the extra roll stiffness can make is more likely for the rear end to break lose on slippery surfaces, especially if you have a locker or limited slip. But it's mostly a nil issue for me since my weight bias is so rearward (empty I'm at 5k rear, 3500 front.... loading I'm close to 8k rear 4k front)

That all said.... you can reduce some of those affects just by dropping your tire pressure off-road. I've thought about building end link disconnects for my rear sway bar, and eventually decided I wouldn't use them enough to be worth the hassle.
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