I don’t know if the shocks in this thing were original, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were. It’s floppy and wallowy, heaves forward between shifts, and dives badly under braking. New KYBs were cheap from RockAuto, and are the best thing you can get for these trucks without going all out with Bilsteins or Old Man Emu. I looked up the procedure for replacing the shocks in my Haynes manual, and it looked very simple. I didn’t want to do it in my fairly busy back alley, and luckily my girlfriend’s parents were fine with me working behind their house.
Note, you’ll need a good supply of swear words to do this job.
My girlfriend: “ How long do you think it’ll take?”
Me: “Oh I dunno, probably 2 hours or so, assuming nothing really goes wrong.”
After thinking the stock jack was broken, figuring out it was actually working fine, and discovering I needed a big block of wood to get enough height to get it high enough on the jack stand.
Wheel off, lots of penetrating fluid, and a breaker bar for the lower two bolts. The top one can only fit a wrench, and you need to hold the shock with visegrips to stop it spinning.
Very very blown old shock and a lovely new KYB, shipped uncompressed for god knows what reason. So the next step is to compress the shock yourself, and make a strap out of zip ties to hold it.
Now all you have to do is bolt it in place, which requires very little maneuvering.
Now do the same on the other side
I saved the rears for last because I assumed they’d be a bit easier than the fronts. That was a very wrong assumption.
So after you realize you can’t jack from the axle housing if you want to put a jack stand under the axle housing, take the wheel off and revel in the beautiful drum brake. Then you notice that the nuts you need to undo are on the other side of the frame from you, and this would be a lot easier if you had a hoist.
Lots of penetrating fluid. These ones will need a breaker bar. I don’t have more pictures of the old rears coming out because I was too busy swearing. The lower mounts were rusty and thr shocks needed to be hammered off. I filed them down so the new ones would slide on easier, but that’s guaranteed to suck when the life of these KYBs is over.
The right rear sucks even more than the left, you have very little room to move the ratchet, even less with the breaker bar, and the gas tank seam is right where your knuckles end up as you loosen/tighten the upper bolt. I reccomend putting a rag over your hand to avoid cuts. But after that terribleness, you’re done! Wheel back on, and you’re good to go.
It feels much tighter and more stable now, shifting is easier without the rocking forward and back, stopping is more confidence-inspiring, and corners can be taken without it heeling over like....like a tall 4x4 with blown shocks. Left turns are still weird because of the broken sway bar bracket, but that’s next on my list of things to fix/replace.
So yeah, it took 6 hours, and many swear words, but it was worth it for how much better it drives. A little bouncy, but so much more stable, not floppy at all. It feels good to do something to one of my vehicles again, I haven’t really worked on anything in quite a while. Makes me want to do more, like maybe a Weber conversion.....