Devious Customs Installs a 6-inch Fabtech lift on a 2001 Ford Excursion
The Biggest Gets Bigger
The Ford Excursion was only around in the Blue Oval lineup for a total of six years here in the States, and during that time, it really didn’t make that big of impact in the SUV market. However, it did make a bit of a splash on the custom scene. They were so few and far between their appearances on the showgrounds caused onlookers to stop and stare. Despite a short lifespan and poor sales, what the Excursion did have was the heart and soul of an F-250 with four real doors, gobs of interior space, and the distinction of being the biggest SUV ever produced. It was also a pretty solid off-road performer, thanks to its elevated stock ride height and a good crop of powerful engines to choose from.
The Excursion merged good looks with a powerful engine, and Devious Customs in Riverside, California, recently picked up a used one intending on putting their custom stamp on it. The crew invited Truckin over to the shop to see this project in progress. It had already received a Third Generation Super Duty front-end swap (that you will be reading about in an upcoming issue). Devious was in the process of fitting new lights and had temporarily installed the bumper to give this house-on-wheels the approximate look it was going to take when all was said and done. One large piece of that puzzle was to get the SUV up to a respectable height and give it a new set of rolling stock, while finalizing the body, engine, and interior. They made a call to Fabtech Motorsports in Chino, California, to get the I-beam equipped 2WD Excursion some much needed height. A 6-inch I-Beam lift kit was finally settled upon to give it some altitude but not lift it sky high. It was also slated to get a set of tough, yet tasteful, 20x10 SOTA Offroad AWOL wheels with an equally beefy set of 37x12.50R20 General Grabber Red Letter tires that would add a few more inches to the final tally.
The installation went as smoothly as could be, which is usually the case with tried-and-true Fabtech products. So travel with us to Devious Customs in Riverside to see how we transformed this ’01 Excursion with a Fabtech lift, SOTA Offroad wheels, and General Tires.
1. Our Fabtech 2WD 6-inch performance lift kit used a combination of I-beam drop brackets, front coil springs, drop pitman arm, sway bar drop brackets, front and rear performance shocks, and a rear block kit. The drop brackets for the I-beams were extremely robust and solid, giving us the confidence to put them onto our heavy Excursion with no second thoughts. As an added bonus, they came with two mounting points for the beams to adjust the height, if needed.
2. These hefty tubular radius arms were part of the kit. They provide additional strength over the stock units with increased caster and an offset designed for greater tire clearance. These will replace the stock set and are built to be abused. The pivot ends will receive polyurethane bushings and a crush sleeve (center), as well as zerk fittings for easy greasing in the future.
3. By the time we got to Devious Customs in Riverside, this set of Gloss Black and machined 20x10 SOTA Offroad AWOL and 37x12.50R20 General Grabber Red Letter tires had already been mounted at a local tire shop and were ready to go.
4. Here, shop foreman Jeff removed all four tires in preparation to install the Fabtech 6-inch lift. We will be tackling the front first, but as of now, these stock wheels would be headed for the scrap pile.
5. In order to remove the coil springs, we had to remove the small bracket at the very top. We buzzed that out and were powerless to stop the bracket from falling into the center of the coil. We fished it out and continued.
6. Our Fabtech kit was came with a set of longer Stealth shock absorbers designed specifically for this lift. We removed the lower bolt of the stock front shock and motivated it off with our trusty pry bar. When the new radius arms are installed, they will offer a new mounting point for the lower shock bolt.
7. The upper mounting point for the shock was a little more difficult, requiring the use of a ratchet with a wrench to remove it. With the upper and lower bolts removed, the shock fell right out and was sent to the scrap pile with a swift kick.
8. An upper and lower bolt and nut held the coil spring in place. We held the nut with a wrench and buzzed the bolt out with an impact. We slid the coil out of its mounting position. It was also destined for the scrapheap; the kit came with replacements.
9. With the coil and shock removed, it gave us better access to the pitman arm. We loosened and removed the arm, and replaced it with the new one from the kit. Loosening was easy, but removal took the use of a pitman arm puller. We slipped on the puller, hit it with the impact, and the arm came right off.
10. The new drop pitman arm was installed, and once again, we had a functional steering system.
11. These 6-inch drop brackets were installed where the old sway bar mounts had been and mounted the bar to its new lower position to match the rest of the kit. The sway bar ends would later be mounted into the original factory location.
12. We had removed the I-beam brackets from the driver and the passenger sides and compared the Fabtech brackets to the stockers. We immediately noticed just how different they were from the factory brackets, not just in size but in construction. These hefty buggers were solid 1/4-inch welded plate and big enough that they came in their own box.
13. Here, we installed the new drop down I-beam brackets. It was slow going at it, because they are tucked up together, and the driver’s side is next to the oil pan. So, we got out our wrenches and used human power to install it.
14. Jackstands were placed under each spindle on either side of the truck, and we were ready to remove the bolt from the radius arm pivot on the narrow end of the arm. Here, we removed the bolt to free it from its mounting point, which is our first step to removing the arm and replacing it with the new one from the kit.
15. With the pivot freed up, we turned our attention to the radius arm mount (connected to the I-beam) and quickly buzzed it out using a wrench and impact combo. Once free, we removed it and were one step closer to completing our lift.
16. Although similar in length, the factory arm and the Fabtech arm are obviously different. The Fabtech arm was constructed from tubular steel and had a much steeper angle to provide a little more lift. The factory arms were kicked into the scrapheap. We were going to make some metal recycler very happy today!
17. The pivots of the new radius arms received two polyurethane bushings and a metal sleeve. We greased up both the sleeve and the bushings with the provided grease packets and still had to use our green hammer to motivate the two to seat properly. With that, we were ready to install our radius arms on either side using the factory hardware for the I-beam mount and new hardware from the kit for the pivot mount.
18. Jeff hoisted up the radius arm into position and we installed it on the I-beam mount. We reused the factory mounting hardware and were able to buzz it down with our impact in no time.
19. Next to be bolted in were the Fabtech Radius arm pivot bolt, which went in without issue. Both of the arm’s pivot bolts must be checked and retightened once the truck is back on its own legs. The I-beam pivots need to be checked, as well.
20. With the arm solidly in place, we installed these delicate zerk fittings to the pivot end to grease the bushings in the future. Since we greased the bushings on the way in, we believed there was sufficient lubrication until the break-in time had been reached. After a few hundred miles, check all the hardware and use new grease to keep everything nice and slick.
21. Now that the I-beams and radius arms were locked down, we re-installed the sway bar onto the new drop down brackets. We dropped the sway bar endlinks over their mounting point under the coil spring, to be tightened up later when the coil is installed. Here, we mounted up the sway bar to the 6-inch drop down brackets made from the same beefy 1/4-inch plate as the I-beam brackets.
22. As part of the kit, these extended coil springs were going to replace the factory springs. We mounted them up with little resistance, although, we had to pull down the radius arm, the I-beam, and the spindle connection about an inch to get the coil to sit right.
23. We carefully aligned the coil at its bottom mounting point, just above the sway bar endlink, and tightened up the bolt that held the two in place. Just like the removal, we used human power; no amount of wobbly extensions would hit the bolt properly.
24. With the coil spring seated properly and tightened down, all that was left was to re-install the retainer bracket that we removed at the beginning of this process. That was buzzed in quickly with another impact.
25. Last on our front suspension rebuild list was installing the Fabtech Stealth shocks included in the kit. The radius arm had a horizontal mounting point where the stock location had been, and we fit the upper with the provided rubber bushings and bolted the shock into its upper and lower mounting point. With both shocks bolted in, we had finished our front suspension upgrade!
26. All that was left was to remove the old alignment cam from the top of the spindle and drop in the new 3.125-degree Fabtech cam from the kit. The old cam did not give up its hold so easy. We had to use a flat, round-nosed chisel and a series of strategic hammer strikes to remove it. There is a way to make in-shop adjustments using the cam, but we’ll let the alignment shop handle that.
27. With the front suspension all dialed in, we turned our attention to the rear. We were going to install new shocks and new lift blocks that were part of the kit, so we first supported the real axle with two jackstands. Then, we set to work unbolting the rear shocks and removed them.
28. To get the new lift blocks in, we had to unbolt the leaf pack and remove the U-bolts. We tossed the old set and pulled out the new U-bolts from the Fabtech kit.
29. With the leaf pack free, we dropped the axle using a few turns of the jackstands and installed the new lift blocks. We had to enlist another member of the Devious crew because the axle wanted to rotate when it was freed up. We had to carefully align the lift block on the perch and make sure the alignment pin went into the hole on the bottom leaf.
30. With the axle, lift block, and leafs properly mated, we slipped on the U-bolts and tightened them down. Jeff liked to be a bit hands-on in certain cases, and after using the impact, he made sure the U-bolts were good and tight with this huge ratchet.
31. The rear Stealth shocks were installed without a hitch and bolted down. Our Fabtech lift install was nearing the end!
32. All we had to do now was mount up these SOTA wheels shod with General tires. When the Excursion was back on the ground, we checked all the hardware and went back to tighten the I-beam pivot bolts. When this project gets a few more miles on the odometer, the Devious crew will go back and check that all the hardware is holding fast and grease up the radius arms.
33. The Devious Excursion project had made one more leap to being done! The Fabtech 6-inch lift brought it up to a respectable height and the 22x10 SOTA Offroad AWOL wheels and 37x12.50R20 General Grabber Red Letter tires fit the wheelwells without any cutting or modification. This is an ongoing project from Devious Customs, so we’ll check in later to see its progress, but for now it’s ready to prowl the mean streets and trails of the Inland Empire.