Driver comfort

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Dec 18, 2002
Dallas, TX
A couple of months ago I installed new CCOT (made by BDS)leaf springs and Rancho 6000 shocks in my '76 FJ 40. But it's still a bear to drive even on paved roads. If I drive for more than about 30 minutes, I end up with a back ache that lasts for 3 or 4 days. What can I do to make it more comfortable? I've got 33" tires that I keep at the right inflation or slightly lower.
I'm thinking about getting new seats or at least one for the drivers side, and have looked at SOR, Man-A-Fre, etc. The only trouble is, they're pretty expensive, and I don't want to throw money at a problem if it's not going to fix it. Then again, what's my back worth? If I really knew that a $500 - $800 investment (per pair) would fix things I'd start saving for it. Alternatively, I could put used seats in, and I've taken a tape measure to a junk yard looking for some, but it's kind of a waste of time if you don't know what you're looking for. Does anybody have any suggestions as to what would be the best thing to do to make my truck more user friendly? I've restored it to near stock, and use it for mild off-road driving on hunting and fishing trips. I've got some old frames I could take the rails from to attach to salvaged seats. It'd be nice to find some seats that had adjustable lumbar support as I'm 6'4" and few seats match the contours of my back.
I had a similar problem that I cured with the advice of a chiropractor friend. I was having to lift my feet above a normal height to get on my pedals. The strain was hurting my back. I thought it sounded kinda stupid but I went wheeling with a pillow as a "lift kit" and it worked. I raised my seat. I have since installed a slightly smaller steering wheel to regain some of the lap room but I don't recommend this unless you have power steering. If you are just to tall to be comforable sitting that close to the roof do like 78 One owner did and move the seat back a few inches with modified mounts in addition to raising it an inch.
i had the same problem in my 45 and raised my drivers seat 3/4 of an inch. so much better know.if only i could get that death wobble figured out ???
This might sound stupid, but it seems like my old 76 seats sat higher than my 79 seats. Could this be possible? I know the tub was redesigned, I also drove an 82 my parents had back in the day that felt the same. I've often thought about rasing the seats a bit in my 79. Whats the process? Just get longer bolts and put some kind of spacer in there?
I raised and moved back my seats because I was tall, not because of my back, however, I do find a bonus is it feels good on my back. To do this I got some metal stock (angle iron) from home depot and made a day of cutting and drilling until I got it right. I had to make the brackets anyway because I wasn't using original seats. Before buying new I'l certainly take a stroll in the junk yard ... how about some nice Lexus seats.
apparently volvo seats with seat heaters fit well
I'll definitely consider Volvo or Lexus seats. Thanks for the suggestions. My wife used to have a Volvo station wagon, and those heated seats were pretty nice on cold mornings. Don't get too many of those here in the Lone Star State, though.
I just mentioned my height, because I thought that adjustable lumbar might help. But truly, it seems to be something in the vehicle itself. I notice that when I drive down a concrete highway for example that every joint makes the truck kind of lurch forward slamming the back of the seat into my back. It's not real noticable while driving unless your looking for it, but it's later when I get the back ache.
I'm really kinda confused about suspension systems. Some things I read say that shackle reversal makes the truck stop lurching like that, such as the post on this website on shackle reversals. Other things say it makes only a slight difference. Then there's shocks and springs. Did I make a huge mistake not getting the Old Man Emu suspension? Even though it was about half the cost to put in the BDS springs and Rancho shocks it was still a pretty significant investment but it's almost like they don't do anything they're supposed to, ie, ABSORB the shocks. I read a previous post about breaking in the springs, and thought about jacking up the truck and setting it down on one side onto concrete blocks for a day, and then doing that to the other side. Would that help?
One other thing I'm investigating, is that the previous owner took the body off for repainting it and the frame. It doesn't appear that it's mounted back to the frame correctly. It looks like they just put some homemade hunks of thick rubber between the body and frame. They don't look anything like the mounts I've seen in the Man-A-Fre catalogue. Would that cause some problems with driver comfort?
Woody recommended this in another post just awhile ago. Park your truck for a couple of hours in a ditch with opposite corners fully flexed. Then switch it around so the other two corners are flexed. Go back and forth for a couple of days.

You're working your new stiff springs in. Might soften them some.

Also, the Volvo seats are not direct bolt in, but oh man are they sweet. (I think it was Gumby or Junk or one of the other grizzled veterans here that has them. A million thanks to you!) I finally found a pair in a 740 GSL and brought them home for $50. (I've been looking for used seats for months.) I went through the same gyrations as many others. I'm tall (6'3") so the first thing I did was move the stock seats up about 1 1/4". This allowed them to slide back much further and I was pretty comfortable. No longer felt like my ankles would break from bending back so far all the time. Knees no longer wedged between the wheel and shifter and door. All around better ergos. But the duct tape holding them together was melting in the sun and I was walking around all day with glue on my ass.

The Volvo seats are taller so I had to go back to stock height, with a couple of bracket mods since the spacing is different. Even then they were so tall I was staring at the top of the windshield whenever I went up even a slight incline, and I couldn't see traffic lights or low flying magpies or anything else up there. So I cut the stock brackets down another inch and a half and they are pretty good. They still slide back far enough for good leg room.

Leather, lumbar support, firm. The driver's side cushion tilts to give adjustable thigh support. A great solution.

Still, I had my rear springs re-arched last year. The guy added a leaf without asking and they are plenty stiff. Even with good seats the ride is ROUGH. I think your best bet is to soften the springs or replace them with softer ones. Just what you wanted to hear, right?
Run air pressure a little low, shocks won't help stiffness, you need to break in your springs. My 4" lift skyjackers were ridiculously stiff until I got to flex them out well. THey are 4 months old and still breaking in. Larger, softer tires help soften the ride as well, my ride signficantly improved with my 33" TSL's vs 31" Yokohama Super Diggers. Also helps to run little skinnier rims, (about 4" difference) seems to let the tires bulge a little more on bumps without having to run at a low pressure inducing tire wear and sore arms (I have manual steering).

Edit: also look into removing a leaf from the spring pack, a buddy with a SOR 2.5 inch lift had to do this and it helped significantly, people with OME have had to do this as well. If they get too soft you can always throw the extra leaf back on and they should be just right. Shameless has has problems with an excessively bouncy ride on his BJ, and has OME and has already removed a leaf and is thinking about removing another, I for one do not think OME leafs are all they are cracked up to be, although take my comment for what its worth as I have never owned a set, for that much money they should ride like coils, and that ain't never gonna happen.
I have 4 stock height FJ80 springs sitting in my garage...

coil over anyone? 8)
What tire pressure are you running? Every time I've had the tires balanced and rotated (for free-thanks Big O) the've alway over inflated them to 45-50 lbs. I usually run mine at about 28-31 lbs. Huge difference in ride quality even with my OME lift, over inflated felt like I had been beat up.
I have this as a question, too. OEM pressure recommendations for the vehicle for normal driving (not crawling in sand) is about 27 lbs. But those were different times and different tires. Probably not radials, but maybe. So what IS proper street pressure for today's tires on this vehicle?
I run my km's at 28lbs and might drop them down around 24-25 lbs after reading this. My 4" lift has softened some since the install but racks my back on every bump I hit and after day of riding I feel the effects the next day :p
it says it on the sidewall of the tyre,

and in australia usually on a placard on the door or in the glovebox. but i go off the tyre as my placard dissapeared
[quote author=bad_religion_au link=board=1;threadid=5785;start=msg46545#msg46545 date=1065021508]
it says it on the sidewall of the tyre,

and in australia usually on a placard on the door or in the glovebox. but i go off the tyre as my placard dissapeared

That's just it. Big difference between tire sidewall and vehicle manufacturer recommendations.
be a real man and drive at the max pressure :) feels good to have manly stiff suspension and no sidewall flex. makes anyone macho. also infertile, but that's natural selection for you :)

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