This article originally appeared in the June 2021 issue.
And here we are, on to a big lift kit upgrade on our F350 Soup Build as our latest project truck rolls on. We figured it was time to kick our off-road adventures up a notch, so we added the BDS Suspension Coilover 4-Link 4-inch lift kit on our Power Stroke. This kit brings tried-and-true stability, strength and caster control over factory radius arm setups.
The 4-link brackets are built from 1/4-inch steel, they key off the factory frame bracket and transmission cross member for extra strength, and they utilize heavy-wall 2-inch control arms to correctly position the front axle. The included FOX coilovers also work perfectly for the heavy weight of the 6.7L Power Stroke, and FOX 2.0 IFP performance gas shocks further enhance dampening for a smooth ride on any terrain. With this kit, we’ll be ready for anything. For the installation we returned to our friends at PowerTech Diesel in Idaho Falls, Idaho, where technician Jordan Johnson did the install.
Step 1: Remove Stock Suspension
Jordan jacked up the front end of the F350 with the axle sitting on jack stands. After taking off the wheels and brake line brackets, he began the project by unbolting and removing all the old suspension components, starting with the sway bar and its brackets, followed by the shocks, springs, bump stops, drag link and track bar bracket. With those, he also removed the top spring baskets on both sides of the truck, as they were to be replaced with the new BDS ones.
Step 2: Install Baskets
In preparation for the new upper basket for the spring on the driver’s side, Jordan dismounted the ABS module and wiring, moving it away so he wouldn’t penetrate the module when drilling mounting holes in the frame. He positioned the basket so he could mark the holes for drilling. Once that was done, Jordan drilled the holes. He used a smaller drill bit to start the holes (as they start more easily with a fine point) and then used a larger one to finish. With the holes carved out, he inserted a stud into each of them to smooth it out. Some paint was peeled off from cutting off the old basket, so Jordan spray-painted the surrounding frame area before bolting the basket to the holes. After that, the lower basket was installed, replacing the old one. This entire process was then repeated for the passenger side.
Step 3: Drop Brackets
With the baskets taken care of, Jordan shifted his focus onto the radius arms. He removed the driver side radius arm along with the adjacent skid plate; with it off, he installed the drop bracket for the new four-link radius arm that was to take the old arm’s place and help lift the truck. Before bolting in the bracket, he installed shims between the rear of the bracket and the part of the truck’s frame where it was mounted to provide a buffer between the two. The truck needed to be jacked up slightly so the bracket bolt holes could be aligned. This same process for installing the drop bracket was repeated for the passenger side after removing that side’s radius arm.
Step 4: New Radius Arms
Jordan took the new radius arms out of the box and began assembling them. He then mounted one of the upper (short) arms on the driver side and inserted the bolts in the holes where appropriate without tightening them.
“I leave the bolts loose until all the parts are in place when I can,” says Jordan. “The parts need to establish their position and I want to leave room for error in case adjustments need to be made.” With the new arm in place, he uncoupled the drive shaft from the axle before continuing radius arm work, as it would get in the way. Next, he bolted in one of the lower (long) arms on the driver side. This process was repeated on the passenger side.
Step 5: Coilovers
Next, Jordan began to put in the new coilovers, starting with the one on the passenger side. In doing that, he mounted the top bolts and aligned the shock’s bottom holes. He lowered the lift, pushed the bottom of the shock into the basket, inserted the bolt into the hole and then tightened the nut on it. He repeated the process for the driver side after re-affixing the upper mounting basket there.
Step 6: Extend Front End Components
The steering column also needed height compensation for the new lift, so Jordan removed the old Pitman arm drop, replacing it with the new one. He then reconnected the Pitman arm and drag link. The track bar also needed to be compensated, so he installed a new, larger mounting bracket, tightening up five bolts on it. The sway bar then had its lifting blocks installed before being put back together. The track bar subsequently was reassembled. With all other suspension components in place on the front end, Jordan installed the bump stops with the new extensions to compensate for height difference.
Step 7: Install Front Shocks & Stabilizers
After tightening up bolts around the coilovers, it was time to install the IFP shocks. Before affixing the shocks to the wheel wells, Jordan used a vise grip to push the bushings into the shocks’ bottom mount holes. He then bolted in the driver side shock followed by the one for the passenger side. With those installed, he raised up the truck to install the steering stabilizers. He began that by mounting and installing the brackets for them on the center and ends of the axles. After inserting the bushings into the ends of the stabilizers with the vise grip, Jordan installed the stabilizers by pushing them to align the bolt holes with the brackets.
Step 8: Replace Brake Line Mounting Brackets
The front end was now mostly complete, except new brake line mounting brackets needed to be installed to compensate for the height difference. Jordan simply remounted the lines in the new brackets after bolting them on, though he had to cut off the old ones. In cutting the old brackets off, he was careful not to cut the lines themselves. He repainted the surrounding area after the pneumatic cutter left a mark with its sparks. With that done, the front end was ready to go back together, so Jordan lowered the lift and put the front wheels back on.
Step 9: Replace Rear Suspension Blocks & Shocks
It was time to start working on the rear end, so Jordan raised the lift and put the rear axle on a jack stand. For each wheel, he removed the old rear suspension blocks and replaced them with the new larger ones. He adjusted the lift as needed to get the new, larger U-bolts on, along with the bottom brackets to hold everything in place. When that was finished, Jordan lowered the lift and put in the new rear FOX shocks.
Step 10: Install Rear Traction Bars
Jordan then started putting the two rear traction bars together. In getting them ready for installation, he cut off the skid plate to clear for the large bars. On the driver side of the frame, he drilled holes for the bars’ pivot points. With the holes carved out, the driver side bar was ready to be installed, so Jordan connected the lower ends to the brackets on the bottom of the lifting blocks and then bolted the pivot points into the holes on the frame. The process was repeated for the passenger side.
Step 11: Tightening Up
With the rear end finished, Jordan tightened up and torqued to specification all the bolts around the entire suspension and re-mounted the ABS box. He then tightened and torqued the lug nuts on the wheels where appropriate. All that was left to do was add grease to the new suspension through the zerk fittings, which Jordan did with a grease pump. The installation of the BDS lift kit was now complete.