This upgrade was already on my list since the beginning. The original suspension pack installed by the factory was over 30 years old, therefore lost its flex and lowered the cruiser about 5 cm from its original height. Besides that the driving behavior also changes during that time, in the end the steering tends to react too much on road conditions and curves. It starts to drive a bit nervous and therefore dangerous and exhausting.
There are many options by as many brands available for the more standard versions of the Landcruiser (SWB & LWB) Mostly coming from the US or Australia. Problem is my Landcruiser is a Mid Wheel Based version, and these were never sold to both continents. Result: nothing is available as a standard package. After hours of sourcing the net, talking to my buddies at IH8Mud etc, I realized nobody could give me a straight answer. Some MWB cruisers even had their suspension custom made… ouch, suspension packs are expensive, but that would be an even more expensive solution.
After a while I gathered some information that at least the front packs are the same as the shorter Cruisers from 1979+ like the BJ42. So that one was a save bet. But the rear pack is longer than the BJ42 so buying a complete package was a no go. There was a theory that the rear pack of the LWB BJ45 is the same in length, but has around 11 leaves in the pack, instead of 7 like mine had. So if we would remove a few leaves, we would somewhat end up with a working solution.
I contacted a well known Cruiser garage in the north of the Netherlands (www.pendtrading.nl) and they had years of experience with Land cruiser suspension and customizing them for personal use. They were willing to help me out and ordered a mixed set of front leaves for the bJ42 and rear leaves for the BJ45. Since they have enough stuff in stock, we could always see what shocks would be best while installing.
Because of a tight budget and the high prices of the Old Man Emu Suspensions kits here in the Netherlands (2600 euro) I choose a very good alternative from another Australian brand: Terrain Tamer. They provide even a softer ride than the EMU’s, the price is almost half, while the quality is the same, or maybe even better. Note: I choose a 2″ (5 cm) extra height, this means 2″ extra above stock height, so the difference would be about 10 cm. Adding more height involves some reconsideration, the steering behavior changes drastically, the axles need to be turned a few degrees, otherwise the angle of the propeller shafts is out of limit.. etc etc. So 2″ is fine, no hassle for me. And I think its also in better proportions.
Last Wednesday was D-day. I must admit I was kind of nervous, hoping that the “theory” was right, and I would not end up driving home (2 hours) sad and disappointed.
Fortunately, this Wednesday was superb!
A) Peter, the company owner is a really nice and trustworthy guy, lots of experience and only want you to go when you’re happy.
B) Removing the old suspension was so easy, that we almost couldn’t believe it… normally these suspensions are severely rusted and a pain in the ass to remove.
C) The front pack fitted like a glove, but even better the BJ45 pack for the rear was perfect in size. What was I worrying about all that time???
Peter removed 3 leaves from each pack, if i remember correctly the third from above, and the 2 of the shorter leaves down in the pack, leaving the shortest in its place.
This way the flex was perfect. Maybe a little bit too soft, so instead of adding the Regular Terrain Tamer shocks in the rear, he choose to use the stiffer Old Man Emu Nitro shocks.
For the front leaves, he combined them with the Terrain Tamer shocks, just like the factory setup is supposed to be.
A very important part is the angle of the Shackles, if the angle is not outwards, the leaves are too short and might result in inverting. If the pack is too long the angle is pointed too far out.
Best angle would be something like 10-30 degrees outwards. After installing the leaves on my BJ44, the angle was just perfect (see pics).
I immediately noticed the difference, a lot more stable, more height (looks good!!!) and less irritating driving behavior. I’m happy!!!
The leaves will settle in the next 5000 kilometers, so the suspension will become even better, more flex, softer ride.
At the end of the day I also treated me on a new set of chrome wheel studs, still had the rusted old studs, so got rid of those as well. What a difference that makes!
See the pics for differences in height, and how well the BJ45 pack fits the MWB cruiser.