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Maximized - Letters - October 2011

Questions. Answers. Letters.

Max Fish
Oct 1, 2011
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Photo 2/2   |   maximized Letters October 2011 1997 Ford Ranger Too Sloww
Now, I’m a little old-school here, and well, sometimes back in the day it was just easier and cheaper to pull out a leaf or two from the rear leaf pack and cut front coils to drop our trucks a few inches. I was surprised to find on a few forums that guys are still doing this! Now I understand that times are tough and money is tight, but looking back, I would have scraped and saved to afford brand-new static-drop parts if they were readily available like they are now. Can you please take a minute to explain why guys should avoid doing this, especially if they are looking for good ride quality. Thanks in advance for the lesson!
Gerry Davis
Yuma, AZ

This is a sore subject for me, Gerry. I have been preaching for years to properly design your custom suspension only to have my words questioned or even ignored. Presumably because the vast majority of people don’t actually care how their vehicle is lowered, instead they only care that it is lowered. So to beat this proverbial dead and rotting horse once again will most likely make little difference. I will however take this opportunity to touch on a few particulars of backyard lowering that I think are generally misunderstood or ignored, the biggest thing being what happens when you cut coils. To explain this one, let’s imagine that a coil spring is just a long bar of steel. The thicker the bar is the more weight it will take to bend and thinner it is the less weight it will take. Simple enough, right? On that same subject we all can understand that the longer the bar is, the less weight it will take to bend the bar and the shorter it is the more weight it will take. So realizing this, you can understand that when you cut coils off of your spring, the spring will all of a sudden have a higher spring rate and be stiffer. This isn’t always a bad thing because it can work to your advantage if only a small amount is removed, but when you get too aggressive this can lead to a very undesirable ride. And at some point, the spring can be so short that it will fall out of its pocket when you hit a bump too hard. This is a prime example of how wrong the idea of “if a little bit is good then a lot must be better” mentality is. This same idea works for removing leaf springs to get lower as well. The progressively shorter springs are there for a reason and removing a leaf or two to lower your truck isn’t horrible, but getting rid of too many springs can become scary because you just keep raising the stress your leafs see, and they can and will fail eventually. This is why lowering spring packs will still have several leafs. Obviously I can’t preach how a small amount of backyard lowering is bad because it really is OK within reason, but the folks who are pushing the limits of factory parts are just asking for trouble. Be it poor handling, ride quality, prematurely worn parts, or worst case, a completely unsafe vehicle. It’s up to you to decide what is unsafe because the suspension police have not been assembled just yet.
Hi there,
I know that you probably get tired of questions from all of us guys asking amateur questions, but it’s way better than listening to “that” guy on the forums online. I really like Rangers, but hearing how hard they are to get down on the ground kind of scared me from trying to buy one. If the old Courier trucks are easier to work on, I would love one of those too. Do both have the same type of suspension? I’m just wondering because I’ve always been around Ford cars since my dad has always been into them, but my friends all have minitrucks. If I’m going to build one, I want mine to be wearing a Ford badge. Plus, that might help in getting my dad to help out with the funding, haha! Thanks for the help, Max!
John Pearson

Well John, you have somehow picked the one minitruck out there that has the wildest suspension design change throughout its lifespan to ask how hard they are to get on the ground. Without knowing what year Ranger you are asking about I can only assume that the I-beam years are what you are concerned about because they are certainly the hardest to lay out. And your second choice of the Courier isn’t really my go-to truck for ease of lowering either, simply because the availability of aftermarket parts is slim. If this is your first truck and you just gotta own a Blue Oval, then I would suggest the ’98-and-newer body style. Ford switched over to a much more traditional A-arm front suspension and lowering parts are far more accessible than the earlier Ranger or the Courier, but if you want an earlier truck I would say that the Courier would be an easier build because of the A-arm front suspension as well. Happy hunting!
- OF


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