GOOD LOOKS, MAXIMUM TRACTION

Adding 2.5 Inches of Lift and a 4-Link to a ’10 Super Duty

Diesel enthusiasts are primarily interested in adding two things to their trucks: bigger wheels and tires, and more power. Show and go. Looks alone won’t satisfy their needs. It’ll have to back up its aggressive stance with a powerful punch, and vice versa. With the power side of the equation taken care of thanks to a 300-hp Hot Damn tune upload to his 6.4L, Jim Ellenberg decided his ’10 F-250 could use a new look—one that entailed 35-inch tread mounted on 20 x 10-inch wheels.

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To fit the new rolling stock under his immaculate, low-mile Super Duty, Ellenberg knew he would have to lift the truck. In an industry chock-full of reputable lift kit manufacturers, he went with a company that’s known for building high-quality lifts that perform exactly as advertised: Icon Vehicle Dynamics. In particular, one of Icon’s Stage 4 2.5-inch suspension systems would be installed—complete with dual-rate coil springs, matched tuned performance shocks, dual steering stabilizers and an adjustable track bar.

As icing on the cake, as well as a means of making sure the near 600 hp making it to wheels never unsettles the front axle in four-wheel drive, Icon’s front 4-link system was also ordered. With the truck dropped off just south of the small town of Alexander, Illinois, the folks at Flynn’s Shop set to work bolting everything together. To find out why Icon’s products are often considered some of the best in the industry, read on for all the details of this 2.5-inch Stage 4 lift and 4-link system.

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Laid out in front of us, the parts list for the install was extensive—so extensive that every suspension component but the factory rear leaf springs would be replaced. Here you’re looking at the major pieces of two Icon Vehicle Dynamics systems: the Stage 4 version of the company’s 2.5-inch suspension lift and the front 4-link system.

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With the Super Duty positioned on a two-post lift, sent airborn, and a 1-ton jack placed underneath the differential, the guys at Flynn’s dug into the project by tackling the rear suspension portion of the install first. But before they could go about removing the factory U-bolts (which would be replaced), the truck’s One Up Offroad traction bars had to be disconnected from their corresponding axle mounts.

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The 5/8-inch U-bolts that hold the One Up Offroad front-of-axle traction bar mounts in place were loosened and the mounts themselves were removed. Then the nuts on the factory 5/8-inch leaf spring U-bolts were broken free and the U-bolts were pulled, followed by the factory lift blocks.

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To drop the axle enough to install the 4-inch lift block on the passenger side, the factory Rancho shock had to be unbolted from the axle. And prior to finagling the new 4-inch blocks into place, the guys at Flynn’s cleaned up the leaf spring mounting plates with a wire brush and some compressed air.

Diesel enthusiasts are primarily interested in adding two things to their trucks: bigger wheels and tires, and more power.

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To level the truck from front to back, Icon offers 4-inch fabricated lift blocks as an add-on option (at a cost of $251.88) specifically for F-250 models, which leave the factory with 2-inch blocks. Correct-length, 2.0 series piggyback reservoir shocks are also supplied to accommodate the height difference.

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With the taller lift blocks in the mix, Icon supplies longer 5/8-inch diameter U-bolts, which measure 15 inches in length. The supplied U-bolt nuts would eventually be torqued to 170 ft-lb.

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Icon’s vehicle-specific (VS) 2.0 aluminum series remote reservoir shocks are nitrogen-charged and feature polyurethane bushings, zinc-plated sleeves, and forged-steel mounting stems. Premium-grade 5WT shock oil is also utilized for consistent suspension damping across a wide temperature range. For noise-free operation, each shock makes use of a nitrite rubber top-out bumper as well.

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The factory rear shocks (which had seen better days and were no longer performing effectively) were pulled and replaced with the supplied 2.0 series piggyback reservoir units from Icon. For proper securing of the reservoir to the shock tube (not to mention a little dress-up), the company’s optional 6061 billet-aluminum shock clamps were employed rather than traditional hose clamps.

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Once the Icon shocks were bolted in place of the factory units (shown), the One Up Offroad traction bar mounts were reinstalled on the axle, albeit with a slightly different orientation due to the taller 4-inch lift blocks now being part of the equation. We’ll also note that to keep the traction bars from binding up their fasteners weren’t fully tightened until the truck was back on the ground and sitting at its usual ride height.

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Moving on to the front end, the folks at Flynn’s removed the front wheels and tires, re-positioned the 1-ton jack under the front differential, disconnected the ABS sensors, and dislodged their respective lines from the radius arms. Then the brake lines were detached from the coil spring mounting pads, the differential vent tube was pulled, and the sway bar was loosened and tilted upward.

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Breaking out a 1 3/16-inch socket and 1 1/4-inch wrench, the track bar bolt was broken loose from the driver side of the truck. Then the track bar was freed from the axle end and the ball joint was inspected for signs of wear. A worn-out track bar ball joint is a major contributor to death wobble on the ’08-10 Fords, not to mention on virtually any straight-axle truck. Fortunately, this one was still in great shape.

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Salty Illinois winters had done a number on the truck’s original mounting hardware for the shocks, and the guys at Flynn’s had no other choice but to cut the top bolts off to remove them. If you’re wondering why the truck left Louisville packing Ranchos, it’s because they were included in the FX4 package, along with additional skid plates, and a few other upgrades.

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With the shocks removed, the axle was slightly lowered via Flynn’s 1-ton transmission jack and the factory coil springs were pulled. In this side-by-side comparison with the stock coil spring, you can see how the Icon lift adds 2.5 inches of ride height. The combination of these dual-rate coil springs paired with Icon’s matched tuned performance shocks provides a very noticeable improvement in ride quality—on-road or off.

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While it’s not 100-percent necessary, moving the steering stabilizer and drag link out of the way allowed the steering knuckles to be turned (as needed) for better access to the radius arm bolts at the axle. After sticking an impact on the two bolts that secure the driver-side radius arm to the front axle, the guys at Flynn’s had it out of the way in no time.

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Shifting their attention to installing the 4-link system, the Flynn’s crew began the process of removing the driver-side radius arm. After the rear (frame-mounted) radius arm bolt was pulled, the factory steering stabilizer and drag link were broken free from the truck and swiveled forward. To keep the axle from basically being completely separated from the truck during the 4-link install, the guys at Flynn’s opted to tackle one side at a time.

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Icon’s 4-link system for the ’05-10 Super Duty entails beefy, 2-inch upper and lower links, ¼-inch frame brackets, and on-truck adjustability thanks to an innovative pinch bolt housing setup. The purpose of the 4-link kit is to eliminate front axle wrap (accomplished by loading the top arm while essentially pulling in the bottom one), to keep the front wheels from breaking traction while off-road or during boosted four-wheel-drive launches, and improve both articulation and steering characteristics. Instead of relying on a large radius arm bushing at the frame, a spherical bearing heim joint is used. This greatly decreases deflection and improves the truck’s overall handling.

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The Icon 4-link frame brackets were installed using pre-existing holes in the bottom of the frame rails and with the supplied Grade 8 mounting hardware. In total, four 7/16-inch bolts hold each bracket to the frame, while two ¾-inch bolts secure the front of the frame bracket to the factory radius arm frame mount. We were pleasantly surprised to find that Icon incorporates nuts into the frame brackets to accept the ¾-inch bolts.

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It was an extremely tight fit installing the top links of the 4-link system. Specifically, the axle mount end of the top link required a bit of muscle before the heim joint could be aligned with the bolt holes in both the Icon frame bracket and the factory radius arm frame mount.

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When it came time to install the lower driver-side link, the decision to perform the work one side at a time paid off. By only removing the lower factory radius arm bolt on the passenger side, the axle was able to be twisted slightly without the axle moving forward. This proved to be the perfect trick, as it allowed the driver-side lower link to match up with its respective mounting hole.

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Here you can see Icon’s patented pinch bolt housing, which allows the length of the lower links to be adjusted as needed for alignment purposes. To lock the selected length of the link in place, each 12-point, 3/8-inch bolt is cinched down by alternately tightening each fastener to 35 ft-lb.

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Because the frame ends of the links all make use of heim joints, all fasteners at the frame (links, frame bracket) could be tightened up via impact. But due to the front connection points making use of the factory radius arm bushings, the guys at Flynn’s waited until the truck was back on the ground before tightening them up completely.

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A nice touch on the Icon 4-link system is its ability to accommodate the ABS sensor wires. A port exists on the top side of each upper link to accept the factory plastic retaining clip on the ABS line (shown). In addition, a welded-on tab farther down the upper link provides a convenient anchor point for the ABS wire via zip-tie.

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With the 4-link system in place, it was time to install the new dual-rate coil springs. Once the factory rubber isolators were swapped onto the new springs each unit was set in place in the truck’s coil buckets.

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Next, the front 2.0 aluminum series remote reservoir shocks were installed. A shock stem bushing kit was supplied for each shock, and once the reservoirs were mounted the guys at Flynn’s checked to make sure the wheels and tires cleared them with the steering wheel turned to full lock.

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An adjustable track bar is included with Icon’s 2.5-inch suspension lift system, and it too makes use of a heim joint rod end. Compatible with trucks running zero to 5.5 inches of lift, it allows you to fine-tune the location of the front axle. The ball joint end would be torqued to 184 ft-lb, while the heim joint rod end bolt would receive 406 ft-lb.

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After the sway bar had been reattached, the guys at Flynn’s moved on to the last order of business: the dual steering stabilizer system. Per Icon’s instructions, the factory steering stabilizer was disconnected from the drag link and discarded. Then the center bracket was attached to the front diff cover using two supplied (longer) 3/8-inch flange bolts. The passenger side of the center bracket attaches to the axle tube via a 7/16-inch U-bolt (shown).

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Once the supplied billet-aluminum clamps were tightened to the tie rod assembly, the nitrogen-filled steering stabilizer shocks were compressed and installed. Then the wheels and tires were bolted on, the truck was lowered, everything was tightened up, and we took the finished product in for an alignment at nearby York Tire in Jacksonville, Illinois.

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Speaking of the finished product, the truck sits more than 2 inches higher, rides better, never breaks traction in four-wheel drive, and no cutting, drilling, or welding was required to make it all happen. Behind the wheel the steering feels considerably tighter, there is virtually zero bump steer, and body roll (namely in turns) has been drastically reduced. The thing rides and handles like a completely different truck.


SOURCES

Flynn’s Shop
217.478.3811

Icon Vehicle Dynamics
951.689.4266
IconVehicleDynamics.com

One Up Offroad
888.9866.387
OneUpOffroad.com

York Tire
217.245.1530