Should I "upgrade" from the OME J lift to something else? (1 Viewer)

Joe Link

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I'm currently in the middle of a bunch of work on my 1996 FZJ80 which includes refreshing the suspension. I purchased the vehicle in 2011 with the OME J lift installed (850J/863J, L shocks, stabilizer, OME caster bushings). I installed 1" poly spacers up front to help with the stinkbug look back in 2013, but I've made no other changes. I'm not sure how many miles are on the lift, but the rig currently has 260k, most of the suspension bushings are in very poor condition, and the vehicle handles like crap.

The rig is my daily driver during the winter, so on-road handling is very important. Most off-road activity consists of overlanding with medium difficulty obstacles mixed in, but eventually I'd like to run the Rubicon/Moab/etc. When the current 33's wear out I'll be upgrading to tires in the 35's-37's range. Current accessories include an ARB front bumper with an S9000 winch, MetalTech sliders, a Kaymar rear tire carrier with a 255/85R16 spare, and roughly 100lbs of gear in it. I'm planning on adding a roof rack as well as a rear bumper with dual swing-outs.

Along with the bushing replacements I'll also be installing 2" MetalTech coil spacers (for leveling), MetalTech 3.5* caster plates (removing the OME bushings), and Man-A-Fre swaybar drops (front and rear). Not knowing how many miles are on the current lift, I purchased brand new OME J springs, OME L shocks, and an OME stabilizer (around $800) to replace the old stuff. I don't know a lot about suspension, so I'm not sure if you can 'feel' when springs or shocks are worn out, but I was surprised when I removed the old springs and shocks and they didn't feel much different than their new replacements. While I'm positive that replacing the bushings (I'm replacing ALL of them) is going to make a dramatic difference, I'm wondering if maybe I should look at other suspension setups to improve on-road and off-road performance.

- I've been reading everything I can on here and it seems like people who have made the switch to other setups haven't regretted it. I think a progressive or dual-rate spring might be better for my use (versus linear springs like the OME's).
- I like what I'm hearing about the Slinky setup, but ~$2,500 for springs and monotube shocks seems very steep (MetalTech sells the full remote-reservoir ICON stage 3 kit for ~$2,900).
- I've also heard good things about the ICON stage 1 kit (~$1,650), and I like that the shocks are rebuildable/revalveable.
- Ironman is another option, and their complete 4" kit is currently on sale for $1,919. Their kit includes adjustable panhard bars (which I don't have but may need) and other stuff which I already have and could sell to recoup some $$$ (swaybar drops, extended brake lines, caster plates).
- Also hear good things about Slee and Dobinson's. Hate the color of the Dobinson's springs, but I suppose they can be painted?
- I'm not opposed to upgrading just the springs or just the shocks.
- I'd like to be able to run 37's with little to no cutting/trimming.

Those who have experience with OME J lifts as well as other setups, do you think it's worth the extra time/money/hassle to upgrade from OME to something else?
 

Bludozer

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I'm currently in the middle of a bunch of work on my 1996 FZJ80 which includes refreshing the suspension. I purchased the vehicle in 2011 with the OME J lift installed (850J/863J, L shocks, stabilizer, OME caster bushings). I installed 1" poly spacers up front to help with the stinkbug look back in 2013, but I've made no other changes. I'm not sure how many miles are on the lift, but the rig currently has 260k, most of the suspension bushings are in very poor condition, and the vehicle handles like crap.

The rig is my daily driver during the winter, so on-road handling is very important. Most off-road activity consists of overlanding with medium difficulty obstacles mixed in, but eventually I'd like to run the Rubicon/Moab/etc. When the current 33's wear out I'll be upgrading to tires in the 35's-37's range. Current accessories include an ARB front bumper with an S9000 winch, MetalTech sliders, a Kaymar rear tire carrier with a 255/85R16 spare, and roughly 100lbs of gear in it. I'm planning on adding a roof rack as well as a rear bumper with dual swing-outs.

Along with the bushing replacements I'll also be installing 2" MetalTech coil spacers (for leveling), MetalTech 3.5* caster plates (removing the OME bushings), and Man-A-Fre swaybar drops (front and rear). Not knowing how many miles are on the current lift, I purchased brand new OME J springs, OME L shocks, and an OME stabilizer (around $800) to replace the old stuff. I don't know a lot about suspension, so I'm not sure if you can 'feel' when springs or shocks are worn out, but I was surprised when I removed the old springs and shocks and they didn't feel much different than their new replacements. While I'm positive that replacing the bushings (I'm replacing ALL of them) is going to make a dramatic difference, I'm wondering if maybe I should look at other suspension setups to improve on-road and off-road performance.

- I've been reading everything I can on here and it seems like people who have made the switch to other setups haven't regretted it. I think a progressive or dual-rate spring might be better for my use (versus linear springs like the OME's).
- I like what I'm hearing about the Slinky setup, but ~$2,500 for springs and monotube shocks seems very steep (MetalTech sells the full remote-reservoir ICON stage 3 kit for ~$2,900).
- I've also heard good things about the ICON stage 1 kit (~$1,650), and I like that the shocks are rebuildable/revalveable.
- Ironman is another option, and their complete 4" kit is currently on sale for $1,919. Their kit includes adjustable panhard bars (which I don't have but may need) and other stuff which I already have and could sell to recoup some $$$ (swaybar drops, extended brake lines, caster plates).
- Also hear good things about Slee and Dobinson's. Hate the color of the Dobinson's springs, but I suppose they can be painted?
- I'm not opposed to upgrading just the springs or just the shocks.
- I'd like to be able to run 37's with little to no cutting/trimming.

Those who have experience with OME J lifts as well as other setups, do you think it's worth the extra time/money/hassle to upgrade from OME to something else?
You're allover the map. You need to firmly decide on what your goals are for the truck "when my 33s wear out, maybe 35s or 37s, I do mostly overlanding but want to run the rubicon, I also DD the truck, I want to run 37s without trimming, etc. etc." There is no suspension set up that will make sense for all of that.

Some general info -- there is nothing particularly wrong with OME, they used to be essentially the only ones in the game. Now there is a lot of competition and much of it is a pretty significant improvement. Figure out your budget and what you are going to use the truck for and the decision will be narrowed down for you drastically.
 
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I'm not knocking OME. But I bought an 80 with J springs (unknown age) and after a few years it started to lean quite a bit. I switched to Dobinsons 3 inch (flexy in rear) and the ride is much better and still run 35s with no rubbing, wheeling hard. Sits level. I kept the L shocks, way more flex. I lost about an inch of height which helped the castor (bushings only). I was at about 4 inches lift in the front and 5 in the rear, now a little over 3" in the front and a pinch over 4" in rear (Labs 4x4, tire inside). I should mention, tube bumper front and M800 winch. Flexes way more!
20190525_185518.jpg
 

Tank5

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I bought my 80 with ome j spings, sport shocks, and castor bushings. It didn't handle great but wasn't bad. It had some float feeling to it if you had to respond quickly with the steering. I noticed all the swaybar bushings were shot too.

I just installed 4" medium Slee springs with their castor arms and new oem bushings, new oem sway bar bushings, and fox 2.0 shocks. With this lift I also had to add landtank extended rear lower control arms, delta rear panhard bracket, Dobinson front adjustable panhard, Slee extended brake lines, and extend the diff breather lines.

I have only driven it about 12 miles on two trips so far and it drives much nicer. The steering is very tight and I don't have the float feeling any more. I am still waiting for the adustable front panhard to arrive but the rest is all in place. I gained about an inch in height all the way around.

I am running 37s which is why I went with the 4". I still have yet to test it all so take my experience for what little it is.

If you don't do anything else I would suggest replacing all of your oem link and swaybar bushings. I bet it will improve your handling some.
 
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If you don't do anything else I would suggest replacing all of your oem link and swaybar bushings. I bet it will improve your handling some.

I was just going to suggest this. The poor handling is going to persist no matter how much money you throw at new springs/shocks, if your bushings are the root cause.
 

LINUS

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Another thought above just swapping in new bushings (but most are ~25yo by now, so yeah - never hurts) :

What kind of pinion angle do you have up front?

If you don’t know, do you have a DC driveshaft in there?(that’ll generally say what kind of correction is in there)

What exactly does ‘handle like crap’ mean?
Wandering?
Too stiff?
Twitchy steering character?

Define it.

Then, like @Bludozer said - pick a tire size, then run enough lift for that.

There was way too many rabbit trails for me to keep up with too. You gotta decide tire size. Start there.
 
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Following this thread now, as I’m looking to make a change from a similar set up. I’m running J springs and L shocks with 30mm spacers you front. Seem to clear 37s ok and only have minimal rubbing at full flex on the bump stops (extended). I’m pretty happy with the rear but feel like the front could sit a little higher and be more balanced. I’ve been looking at Dobinsons and they recommended one of their linear front springs as a good replacement for the Js while retaining the OME L shocks that I just bought. Ideally I think I want to go with their progressive 4” springs and a set of their shocks to match travel, but I just bought these and hate to ditch them after spending the money...
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Like @LINUS said, more details would help. And why, in your opinion, it handles like crap.

For my part, I doubt your springs are worn out. OME springs are really stout and built to carry weight. They don't really sag over time like the stockers unless they're being overloaded. But there is a good chance you need shocks.

Dual rate or progressive rate springs generally help with ride quality, but not handling so much, although plenty of the dual rate springs handle well no doubt. (I define handling as how responsive the truck is at turn-in and mid-corner, generally on pavement or at speeds above 30mph, and you could lump steering slop or lack thereof in there too). The real purpose of dual rate is to thread the needle between ride, handling and load carrying. But if you like the "ride" (i.e. cushiness, softness, firmness, behavior over bumps), then new springs probably won't improve the handling unless you're just really heavy and the J's can't keep up. There's my random conjecture based on incomplete information :flipoff2:
 
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Don't change things now for something you "may do" in the future. Right now, the thing handles poorly. That's what needs to be addressed. I'd be looking at the bushings and the amount of castor.

If / when you put on the 37's and change what role the vehicle is fulfilling in your life, that is the time to revisit the suspension and see if it's time for a change.
 

Joe Link

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I appreciate the replies guys. You're absolutely right in that I need to be more specific, both with my goals and what I dislike about the way it handles. It's been a few months since I've driven it so I can't honestly answer in detail.

Thanks to your feedback I've decided to proceed with replacing all the bushings, re-install the old OME shocks and springs along with OEM control arm bushings and caster plates, then see how I like it. If I don't like it, I'll proceed from there with more details for you guys. I know for a fact that the new bushings are going to make a world of difference, many of them were badly cracked and basically doing nothing. The sway bar bushings fell apart in my hands. Not sure if it means anything at all, but I compared the old OME springs to the new ones I have and they're the same exact height.
 
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I appreciate the replies guys. You're absolutely right in that I need to be more specific, both with my goals and what I dislike about the way it handles. It's been a few months since I've driven it so I can't honestly answer in detail.

Thanks to your feedback I've decided to proceed with replacing all the bushings, re-install the old OME shocks and springs along with OEM control arm bushings and caster plates, then see how I like it. If I don't like it, I'll proceed from there with more details for you guys. I know for a fact that the new bushings are going to make a world of difference, many of them were badly cracked and basically doing nothing. The sway bar bushings fell apart in my hands. Not sure if it means anything at all, but I compared the old OME springs to the new ones I have and they're the same exact height.
Depending on the age, mileage, and usage of the truck with the current setup, I'd be inclined to change only the shocks to improve the ride. It is known that the OME shocks tend to fail earlier than others.

The system I purchased (used) included the much stiffer version of the shocks and I got it used because that version of shock makes it ride harsh, more like a truck.

I carry a lot of tools and crap ALL the time, so a harsher ride does not bother me.

Go to the Cruiser Outfitters website and look through their suspension items and maybe even call and talk to their guys. EXTREMELY helpful at getting to the root of your issue. They can tell you the differences between suspensions and brands and types.
 

Joe Link

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That's what I'm leaning toward, just changing the shocks. MetalTech sells some 2" ICON's which are about $40 more per shock than the OME's that are rebuildable which seem like a good option.
 

Delta VS

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That's what I'm leaning toward, just changing the shocks. MetalTech sells some 2" ICON's which are about $40 more per shock than the OME's that are rebuildable which seem like a good option.
The 2” dia Icon shocks are rebuildable (and therefore tunable), but the drivability will be similar to an OME Nitrocharger/gas strut style shock. They will need to be rebuilt about the same time you’d need to replace gas struts, but if you are handy you can do the work yourself and have a set of shocks “for life”, so to speak. Rebuilding a set of those would be about 30-50$ in parts or so, max.

If you spend the money and go with the 2.5” diameter remote shocks, that is where you’ll find a significant improvement in drivability, especially at higher speeds on rougher roads.

Happy to discuss on the phone if you want.
 

Box Rocket

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Having come from 15+ years of running the OME J setup and now running a Slinky setup I can tell you that there is a HUGE difference in handling, ride quality and control, especially at higher speeds on rough roads. If that's the type of "overlanding" you do, a Slinky kit will completely change your experience. Speeds where you feel like you're pushing your limits with the OME setup will feel downright slow with a Slinky setup. The control and stability at those speeds is dramatically improved, even with the 2.0 smooth body shocks.

There are a number of kits out there you can choose from but if you really want the best ride and performance, the Slinky kits are well worth the money IMO. All of the Slinky shocks (Icon shocks built to Slinky kit specs) are rebuildable as has been mentioned. It has also been mentioned that you'll see a more dramatic increase in performance when stepping up to the 2.5 remote reservoir adjustable shocks. Don't bother with the 2.5 remote reservoir Icon shocks that don't have the adjustable compression valve. Without the adjustability all you are gaining is increased oil volume to help the shocks stay cooler longer. The adjustability makes all the difference. Just so you know, the Stage 1 smooth body Slinky shocks are the equivalent of a stiffness setting of 4 on the adjustable shocks, which are adjustable from 1-10, 1=soft, 10=firm. I ran the stage 1 Slinky kit for a year and really enjoyed it before upgrading to the Stage 4's. But I found that the improved control etc that allowed for faster driving caused me to overrun the 2.0 shocks pretty regularly. They are really best suited for lighter built 80s. If you have a truck that has a good amount of additional accessory weight the larger adjustable shocks are much nicer and worth every penny. But even if you can only afford the stage1 kit, it will be a really nice upgrade from what you're used to.

in terms of springs, my OME J springs would sag noticeably when I was loaded for a trip. The Slinky springs handle the weight much better and don't sag. I've added quite a bit more weight since installing the Slinky kit and ride height has changed less than 1/4", and they ride much smoother IMO. I've had a number of people with OME setups ride with me over the past few years and they all comment on the smooth ride compared to their OME setups.

Again, there are a number of kits out there for every budget so do what works best for you and your situation, but I haven't found a setup I like as much a full Slinky kit. Feel free to PM if you have specific questions I can answer.
 

LINUS

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+1 to @BILT4ME ’s advice.

Nitro shocks are my least favorite & while I still have “L” Nitros in my 80, I will probably go Fox when I do work more on the 80.
If I decide to start garaging & turbo it, then both better brakes and probably Icon’s will go in.
(Have a set of FR coilover Icons for the Tundra to install, they & the billet UCA’s are worth the $$)

—If you wait for Black Friday or maybe Labor Day, you can catch decent discounts on Icon.
I’m waiting until Black Fri to buy my RR Icons for the Tundra.

HTH
 

Joe Link

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Having come from 15+ years of running the OME J setup and now running a Slinky setup I can tell you that there is a HUGE difference in handling, ride quality and control, especially at higher speeds on rough roads. If that's the type of "overlanding" you do, a Slinky kit will completely change your experience. Speeds where you feel like you're pushing your limits with the OME setup will feel downright slow with a Slinky setup. The control and stability at those speeds is dramatically improved, even with the 2.0 smooth body shocks.

There are a number of kits out there you can choose from but if you really want the best ride and performance, the Slinky kits are well worth the money IMO. All of the Slinky shocks (Icon shocks built to Slinky kit specs) are rebuildable as has been mentioned. It has also been mentioned that you'll see a more dramatic increase in performance when stepping up to the 2.5 remote reservoir adjustable shocks. Don't bother with the 2.5 remote reservoir Icon shocks that don't have the adjustable compression valve. Without the adjustability all you are gaining is increased oil volume to help the shocks stay cooler longer. The adjustability makes all the difference. Just so you know, the Stage 1 smooth body Slinky shocks are the equivalent of a stiffness setting of 4 on the adjustable shocks, which are adjustable from 1-10, 1=soft, 10=firm. I ran the stage 1 Slinky kit for a year and really enjoyed it before upgrading to the Stage 4's. But I found that the improved control etc that allowed for faster driving caused me to overrun the 2.0 shocks pretty regularly. They are really best suited for lighter built 80s. If you have a truck that has a good amount of additional accessory weight the larger adjustable shocks are much nicer and worth every penny. But even if you can only afford the stage1 kit, it will be a really nice upgrade from what you're used to.

in terms of springs, my OME J springs would sag noticeably when I was loaded for a trip. The Slinky springs handle the weight much better and don't sag. I've added quite a bit more weight since installing the Slinky kit and ride height has changed less than 1/4", and they ride much smoother IMO. I've had a number of people with OME setups ride with me over the past few years and they all comment on the smooth ride compared to their OME setups.

Again, there are a number of kits out there for every budget so do what works best for you and your situation, but I haven't found a setup I like as much a full Slinky kit. Feel free to PM if you have specific questions I can answer.

I appreciate the info. If I could justify it I'd definitely go Slinky remote res, but that money is probably better spent elsewhere as most of the stuff we do around here are tight trails at ~10mph. The stage 1 is still an option though.
 

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