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Old 10-13-2017, 12:09 PM   #1
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E150 rear lift: U-bolt questions

So I picked up an '01 E150 conversion van, which sits perfectly level... until you load it with a week's worth of gear for 2 people; no bueno for mild high-clearance driving that I tend to do on every trip. It already sits pretty low as it is, and I intend to lift it a couple of inches in the future, but for an upcoming trip I want to just put 2" blocks in the rear for more of a pickup stance...

I can't seem to source 3 1/4" u-bolts for my 8.8 anywhere locally, especially in the length I need, and there are no E150 specific applications online (just various years F150 with 8.8 axles) so I have a few questions for those that have lifted your vans, before I order the wrong thing, with no time to return/reorder:

1) If you ordered online, what did you use? The Pro Comp 50438 kit looks like the best option I've found, but the spec's that I'm finding for it are conflicting, particularly on length; I'm seeing anywhere from 11" to 16". My concern is a) there not being deep enough thread for 2" blocks (IOW, the nut might reach the bottom of the treads before tightening down), and b) the exposed thread above the nut being too tall for a deep socket.

2) What is the actual bolt dia? I can't find this spec anywhere, and the 3rd party bolts for 8.8 applications range from 1/2", 9/16", 5/8". Measured with calipers, my threads measure right at 1/2", with the smooth shaft just under 1/2", but the nut is 15/16", which suggests a 5/8" bolt...

3) 1/2 x 3 1/8 x 10"+ bolts are plentiful locally, and I've read where people used bolts that were undersized by 1/8", but just hammered them in place... anyone here done this?

Open to other ideas as well...
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Old 10-13-2017, 02:49 PM   #2
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I've not raised an E150, but I have some U-bolt experience on several past projects.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gotdurt View Post
What is the actual bolt dia? I can't find this spec anywhere, and the 3rd party bolts for 8.8 applications range from 1/2", 9/16", 5/8". Measured with calipers, my threads measure right at 1/2",
If you measured the inside of the nut and got 1/2" (or .515"), it's likely you have 9/16-18 (or 9/16 NF) u-bolts. The better thing to measure is the male threads of the u bolts, over the peaks with your calipers. If they measure .494"ish, then you've got 1/2-20 (or 1/2 NF), if .619"ish, you've got 5/8-18 (5/8 NF) u-bolts.

see chart:
Tap and Drill Size Chart - American Fastener Technologies Corporation

The threads on U-bolts are often 'rolled' instead of cut, that is, they start with undersize rod, then use a special forming die that essentially forges the grooves and peaks for a stronger thread. Sizing is measured over the threaded section, so if you U-bolt's male threads measure .495" or so, you have 1/2" (and likely 20 TPI "Threads Per Inch" pitch) Designated 1/2-20. If the new u-bolts threads are rolled, you can't simply cut more threads with a die as needed, as you'd have a weak thread with too small a profile (missing the peaks).

Automotive u-bolts are often sold by "2-3" lift" or "4-5" lift. So long as the threads fully engage. Usually too long for a deep socket, like you said. Too much sticking out? Runn the nuts up snug, then cut off the excess with a 4" makita grinder fitted with a 4" cut-off wheel. or a sawzall.

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Originally Posted by gotdurt View Post
3) 1/2 x 3 1/8 x 10"+ bolts are plentiful locally, and I've read where people used bolts that were undersized by 1/8", but just hammered them in place... anyone here done this?
Automotive U bolts are hardened to grade 5 or grade 8, and formed over a mandrel. If it were me, I wouldn't hammer-form an undersize U bolt into place. It's seems everytime I try something like this, the u bolt spreads so far I can't get the threaded end past the plates. Then I try to squeez the ends together, and bugger up the threads. There's too much riding on this hardware to not have it be 'right'. That housing diameter can't be uncommon, I would just get the correct ones, overnight if you have to, and be done with it. Most 4x4 offroad shops have all the common sizes, ARB, Procomp, etc.

Also, you want to make sure to use brand new extra tall hardened nuts, that you buy with the u-bolts. Not hardware store standard height nuts, or soft steel hardware store coupler nuts.
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Old 10-13-2017, 04:07 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomsBeast View Post
If you measured the inside of the nut and got 1/2" (or .515"), it's likely you have 9/16-18 (or 9/16 NF) u-bolts. The better thing to measure is the male threads of the u bolts, over the peaks with your calipers. If they measure .494"ish, then you've got 1/2-20 (or 1/2 NF), if .619"ish, you've got 5/8-18 (5/8 NF) u-bolts.
Yep, the measured .5 is the outer diameter of the bolt, so I would have assumed that it would be a 1/2" bolt, except that the nut is 15/16" instead of the expected 3/4, but I suppose they could ultimately use whatever hex size they want, it just bucks what I'm accustomed to.

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Originally Posted by TomsBeast View Post
Automotive u-bolts are often sold by "2-3" lift" or "4-5" lift.
I've actually only seen them listed that way a few times, but that's also in relation to the intended application; different vehicle apps are showing different lengths for a given axle and lift, probably due to differences in perch heights, spring pack thicknesses, etc. Of course, there are no specific applications for these vans, so I kinda have to wing it, and thus the actual dimensions are important, but as mentioned before, I'm seeing too many inconsistencies there.

For example, just for the Pro Comp 50438 kit specifically:

This one states 2.5" lift, at 16" long (not a likely combination):
http://www.autopartswarehouse.com/sk.../E3758305.html
This says 4-6" lift, at 16" (makes more sense), but Q&A below states 12-13" lengths, with varied/conflicting block height claims:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...D29A2ZFU&psc=1
And then there's Summit, spec'ing 10.62" (this would be ideal), but no claim to lift amount:
https://www.summitracing.com/parts/exp-50438


Quote:
Automotive U bolts are hardened to grade 5 or grade 8, and formed over a mandrel. If it were me, I wouldn't hammer-form an undersize U bolt into place. It's seems everytime I try something like this, the u bolt spreads so far I can't get the threaded end past the plates. Then I try to squeez the ends together, and bugger up the threads.
I was thinking I'd use a screw-type C-clamp to squeeze them, but of course sometimes these ideas don't work as well as one would expect, so that would be my biggest concern.

Quote:
That housing diameter can't be uncommon, I would just get the correct ones, overnight if you have to, and be done with it. Most 4x4 offroad shops have all the common sizes, ARB, Procomp, etc.
I have found 3.25" universal bolts locally, just none long enough. I'm just reluctant to start ordering parts that aren't specifically designed for my application, because it could easily become mail-order trial and error...

Quote:
Also, you want to make sure to use brand new extra tall hardened nuts, that you buy with the u-bolts. Not hardware store standard height nuts, or soft steel hardware store coupler nuts.
So far, all kits I've found come with nuts and washers, so that shouldn't be an issue.

But yea, the short of it: no one makes a lift bolt kit (or block kit, for that matter, but that's a challenge that I can deal with) specifically for the vans, and there's no F150 cross-over reference for what will fit.

So, my hope is that someone has done this already and will say, "here's what I used, and it worked", or "I tried this and the sky fell"...
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Old 10-13-2017, 06:08 PM   #4
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How to measure for new Ubolts Let Us Measure Your Springs & U-Bolts in Auburn, WA

Or, contact Jeremy at WeldTecdesigns, he should have a lift kit www.weldtecdesigns.com
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Old 10-14-2017, 07:47 AM   #5
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Or just contact a local spring shop that has a machine to build custom U-bolts. My town has one. They run about $50. Where are you located?
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Old 10-14-2017, 08:26 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arctictraveller View Post
Or, contact Jeremy at WeldTecdesigns, he should have a lift kit www.weldtecdesigns.com
This will be a temporary set-up, so I don't want to spend too much right now; I already have 2.5x2 blocks that I got from a friend. When I finally do the front 2" lift, I'd get a 3-4" for the rear.


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Or just contact a local spring shop that has a machine to build custom U-bolts. My town has one. They run about $50. Where are you located?
The closest one that I am aware of is almost an hour away in Austin, and is closed weekends (only open normal office hours); I probably won't be getting that way during those times within the next month.
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