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99 Outback build / advice wanted


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#1 pontoontodd

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 07:34 PM

I got this 99 Outback about six months ago for a three day off road trip in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  We did about 480 miles off pavement over three days.

 

Pix of it next to my 96 Impreza with city boy tires:

 

DSCF0278s.jpg

 

215 75 15 Hankook Dynapro MTs and Forester steel wheels ($20 each on ebay) on the Outback and slightly oversized BFG winter slaloms on the Impreza:

 

DSCF0285s.jpg

 

This was the only mod on both cars before the trip:

 

DSCF0274s.jpg

 

DSCF0275s.jpg

 

Video from the trip:

 

 

 

 



#2 pontoontodd

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 07:40 PM

Both cars held up well, we did break the Outback's front swaybar and at least one of its springs.  Three of the springs were broken when we got home, we probably started with at least one broken.  The rear struts had minimal damping when we started and none when we were finished.  As you can see, one of the strut cartridges is completely separated from the tube. 

 

DSCF0291s.jpg

 

 

 

DSCF0292s.jpg

 

 

Before I had been inspired by this forum I just got a set of new springs from the dealer (not wanting to break used springs later) and KYB struts for the rear from Rock Auto.

 

One front CV was clicking badly and the same wheel bearing was very loose.  Put a FWD Impreza axle in as a replacement, direct fit but bigger CVs:

 

DSCF0295s.jpg

 

The oil pan guard was beat so I upgraded it:

 

DSCF0493s.jpg

 

DSCF0497s.jpg

 

DSCF0498s.jpg


Edited by pontoontodd, 10 March 2014 - 07:45 PM.


#3 pontoontodd

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 07:43 PM

Later in the year we went to some off road parks.  We'd taken the Impreza before and were blown away by where it could go, the Outback was also impressive.

 



#4 pontoontodd

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 07:54 PM

After those experiences, I decided I wanted a fabricated front bumper to protect the lights and so we could take down larger trees, especially since the stock bumper is plastic/fiberglass.

 

Stock bumper for reference:

 

DSCF0604s.jpg

 

Very convenient bumper mounting on these cars, bolted plates on to the end of the frame to start:

 

DSCF0610s.jpg

 

Used a piece of 4" square tubing as the main beam, if I did it again I'd go with 3" square.

 

DSCF0611s.jpg

 

Again, this is to get around/over trees, hence the slight V shape.

 

DSCF0614s.jpg

 

I wanted to be able to put the bumper cover back on, otherwise I would have had it hang farther outside of the lights.

 

DSCF0620s.jpg

 

DSCF0621s.jpg

 

DSCF0622s.jpg



#5 pontoontodd

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 07:59 PM

The oil pan guard was again bashed in so I added 1/8" 4130 plate to the bottom of it:

 

DSCF0706s.jpg

 

The oil pan was also dented in badly enough by this point the pickup was starting to rub on the inside of it.  That can't be good for flow.

Not too hard to remove, lift the engine a bit and get out the u-joint for the 10mm socket.

 

DSCF0701s.jpg

 

I propped the pan rail up on the bricks in the background and hammered it back out.

 

DSCF0703s.jpg

 

I finally realized the gas tanks on both cars were getting beat so I added to this guard I'd made for the Outback earlier:

 

DSCF0721s.jpg

 

DSCF0722s.jpg

 

Far from pretty but should keep the gas tank from being completely destroyed.



#6 pontoontodd

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 08:02 PM

I knew the LR wheelwell was bad, didn't know it was this bad until I pulled out the carpeting.  There must have been a 3/4" gap most of the way around the wheelwell/strut tower.  I'd consider adding a rear strut tower brace to these cars before a front brace.

 

DSCF0710s.jpg

 

Tried to get it down to bare steel and pushed it back in place with a bottle jack:

 

DSCF0712s.jpg

 

DSCF0717s.jpg


Edited by pontoontodd, 10 March 2014 - 08:03 PM.


#7 pontoontodd

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 08:05 PM

Then I made a 1.5" lift kit, it seemed like that's about all the stock suspension would do without binding.

 

DSCF0704s.jpg

 

DSCF0719s.jpg

 

DSCF0724s.jpg

 

Took it out in the snow recently:

 


Edited by pontoontodd, 10 March 2014 - 08:06 PM.


#8 monstaru

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 08:16 PM

The only thing I see you need advice on is running over things that grow naturally from the ground. Public land or not, probably should not broadcast that for green type people to read. It gives us wheelers a worse name than we already have.
Nice dyna pro's. I miss mine.
cheers

#9 pontoontodd

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 08:17 PM

So, here's the real reason for posting.  Where should I go with this car?  More lift?  Bigger tires?  Welded/LSD rear?  Low range box?  I would like more capability but really don't want to sacrifice reliability.  This forum is a bad influence.

 

Also, if you want to throw out advice it might help me solve some problems I still have:

 

When the engine gets wet, like going through deep water or pressure washing it, it runs very rough for 5-20 minutes.  The check engine light never comes on so I assume it's burned out.  I've tried lightly spraying water on it in the dark and it seemed like the driver's side plug wires were arcing to the head so I replaced those.  Didn't solve the problem, got the codes scanned at the parts store, they sad bad crank and cam sensors.  Replaced those, still runs rough when wet.  Here's the really weird part.  When driving in the rain, it runs fine until it gets up to temp.  Then it will stall.  You can restart it but it runs rough indefinitely.  As soon as you shut it off and restart it, it runs fine for the rest of the drive.  What is the best code reader for these cars?  Should I check something else?  Once it warms up a bit more here I will go back to dumping water on it in my driveway to try to narrow down the source of the problem.

 

There is a horrible whining noise which has steadily gotten worse since I bought the car.  When I bought it the noise sounded like the rear end whining and the previous owner made some mention of replacing it.  The noise is now so loud you can't tell where it's coming from.  It is worst when cruising at a steady speed.  Under load (acceleration or engine braking) it goes away.  Plan on getting it off the ground and running it soon to try to figure out where it's coming from.



#10 pontoontodd

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 08:19 PM

We're just driving on old logging roads that don't get used often enough to stay clear of brush, not blazing new trails.

 

The only thing I see you need advice on is running over things that grow naturally from the ground. Public land or not, probably should not broadcast that for green type people to read. It gives us wheelers a worse name than we already have.
Nice dyna pro's. I miss mine.
cheers


Edited by pontoontodd, 10 March 2014 - 08:20 PM.


#11 monstaru

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 08:58 PM

We're just driving on old logging roads that don't get used often enough to stay clear of brush, not blazing new trails.




You know that because you were there. They DON'T believe that's what you were doing even if it is the truth.
I am just trying to help our community. And stating things like that in public domain is just dumb. I have driven on old logging roads too. But I don't talk about it on the interwebs :) Just saying, don't take it like chastising. Take it like a bro giving ya the cut throat when your about to tell your ol'lady something you really shouldna :lol: 

Now that the business is out of the way.
Clearance that spoob, take your swaybars off , trim your inner fender down. Add the support between the rear struts by mounting your HI-Lift there. It will fit perfect.
I think that a wagon could do with some weight dispersal via sawzall but a guy can only really do that by enclosing with fiberglass, super thin steel, or plastic : unless he lives in the desert that is. :)
 It is really nice to have excellent seats , and belts.
cheers


Edited by monstaru, 10 March 2014 - 08:59 PM.


#12 Uberoo

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 12:50 PM

So, here's the real reason for posting.  Where should I go with this car?  More lift?  Bigger tires?  Welded/LSD rear?  Low range box?  I would like more capability but really don't want to sacrifice reliability.  This forum is a bad influence.

 

More lift allows bigger tires which gives you more ground clearance.More ground clearance means you don't bash your oil pan and gas tank as much.A welded rear gives twice as much traction offroad because an open diff is 1 wheel drive and it always sends power to the tire with the LEAST traction.An LSD still allows some speed difference but it will try to provide the rear tires with the same power,Works well on the street but not as well offroad.


Edited by Uberoo, 12 March 2014 - 12:56 PM.


#13 pontoontodd

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 01:25 PM

More lift allows bigger tires which gives you more ground clearance.More ground clearance means you don't bash your oil pan and gas tank as much.A welded rear gives twice as much traction offroad because an open diff is 1 wheel drive and it always sends power to the tire with the LEAST traction.An LSD still allows some speed difference but it will try to provide the rear tires with the same power,Works well on the street but not as well offroad.

 

First, let me say that I'm a big fan of spools/welded diffs and lifted subes with big tires look cool and perform well off road.  Where is the point that you start breaking rear axles, gears, etc?  There really aren't a lot of extreme trails in the midwest, even at offroad parks.  As you can see in the videos, we've only gotten stuck in soft mud a few times.  When we've been high centered it's an easy matter of pushing the car off.  How much of a lift/bigger tires would I need to get through deep/soft mud?  I can see the rear LSD/spool helping in those situations.  Also, we usually drive these cars hundreds of miles to get to where we're off roading, so I don't want to make the on road handling terrible or wear out tires and CVs every year.  The welded rear might not be too bad since the outback is mainly either driven on highways or offroad, not a lot of city driving.  I know it's always a compromise, just trying to find out what you think the best compromise is.


Edited by pontoontodd, 12 March 2014 - 01:26 PM.


#14 Uberoo

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 04:00 PM

axles break when: axle angle is far too steep and CV binds up, OR when the boots get torn and the mud/sand/silt etc destroys the CV, OR when the tires rub/bind against the sheet metal.

 

#2 is cured by maintenance #3 is cured by more lift #1 is cured by less suspension lift and more body lift.



#15 pontoontodd

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 07:29 PM

Any idea how much suspension lift is safe for a 99 OB?  I've got 1.5" strut lift now with the intention of removing it if I start going through CVs this summer.

 

How streetable is the welded diff?


Edited by pontoontodd, 12 March 2014 - 07:34 PM.


#16 Vegablade

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 11:13 PM

Now im not an expert, especially on newer rigs but I don't believe 1.5" of lift which have a huge impact on CV life.  I am 2" over stock on my axles and they seem to last for a decent amount of time for the conditions.

 

As for a welded diff i ran one for about 8000 miles with my 27" tires and only replaced two, one with a bad boot and one that separated from dropping a tire.  I have run the same welded diff with my now 235/75/15 (29") tires for maybe 1500 miles and have broken one diff stub, and im not even sure when it happened.  Just make your turns a little wider and be aware of the extra stress on dry pavement.  I will say the traction advantage is huge and was easily noticed when the stub was broken and make things a lot easier offroad once fixed.



#17 Uberoo

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 01:02 AM

IIRC EA81 can run 1" suspension lift,EA82 can run 2" and EJ can run 3" of suspension lift.The most common lift for EJ stuff is 5-6" with 3" from forester struts and the rest body lift.



#18 Gloyale

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 11:45 AM

I personally wouldn't run a welded diff on a street car at all.

 

I run one in my wheeler, but I pull one or both rear axles for road travel.  And that is not really an easy option on EJ cars espescially newer with" female" diff type.

 

 

You could though mount a second E-brake handle, and seperate the cables run one to each handle it's mechanical manual traction control!!!



#19 legacygt4

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 12:14 PM

I have pretty much the same amount of lift as you with tires that are a little smaller.  1.5in in my experience is as tall as you can go with out dropping the sub-frame and rear diff on an Outback, if you want to keep good alignment angles for the highway, and you will find when the suspension is hanging all the way down your cv axles are close to binding. Looks like you are on the right track though, I like you fuel tank guard and I see you discovered why the front bumper must go. As for the other stuff it depends on the level of comfort you want out of the car, mine is still my daily driver until I get another one so a welded diff wont work for me. I would like to have 4 to 6 in of lift eventually because I do some wheeling with my buddy's that have Toyota trucks and Jeeps and I can usually keep up pretty good but I have to use momentum a lot more than they do, so the Outback can take some hard hits. If I had more lift and lo range gearing it wouldn't be as much of an issue.


Edited by legacygt4, 13 March 2014 - 12:14 PM.


#20 pontoontodd

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 01:51 PM

Wow, thanks for all the feedback.  It's good to hear what your experiences actually are with lifts, welded diffs, etc rather than the usual "it should do this."

 

You could though mount a second E-brake handle, and seperate the cables run one to each handle it's mechanical manual traction control!!!

 

We were actually just discussing that last night.  I would probably use it more as a turning brake on a buggy, but it would be helpful if one rear was up in the air.  The Outback definitely does not oversteer like my Impreza so it'd help get around turns.  Like anything else, it's been done:

http://www.subaruout...control-tm.html

There are various suggestions of making it push/pull or left/right rather than twin stick but I think it'd do it the way he did but handles farther apart.

 

1.5in in my experience is as tall as you can go with out dropping the sub-frame and rear diff on an Outback, if you want to keep good alignment angles for the highway, and you will find when the suspension is hanging all the way down your cv axles are close to binding. Looks like you are on the right track though, I like you fuel tank guard and I see you discovered why the front bumper must go. As for the other stuff it depends on the level of comfort you want out of the car, mine is still my daily driver until I get another one so a welded diff wont work for me. I would like to have 4 to 6 in of lift eventually because I do some wheeling with my buddy's that have Toyota trucks and Jeeps and I can usually keep up pretty good but I have to use momentum a lot more than they do, so the Outback can take some hard hits. If I had more lift and lo range gearing it wouldn't be as much of an issue.

 

It also looked to me like 1.5" was all the Outback would take in the rear without binding at full droop.

You are right about most Jeep and truck guys.  First, they usually don't ride as well as a Subaru so they tend to go slower.  Second, like you say, you have to use momentum in a mostly stock Subaru where they can creep.  We have been on a trail ride with some Jeeps that was painful.  It took about 2 hours to cover what would normally take us 20-30 minutes.  We basically had to start and stop a lot in order to hit things with speed and not burn up the clutch.

 

I think there are two different approaches.  One is to turn the Subaru into a Jeep with a big lift, tires, low range, welded diff, maybe even solid rear axle.  That is cool, don't get me wrong.  Maybe out west it is the only way to go.  Here in the midwest there just aren't that many trails covered in giant rocks like Dusy Ershim.

 

My philosophy is to just go faster.  It's more fun and you get to see a lot more in a given amount of time.  Most of the trails around here you're more limited by the ride quality at speed holding you back, or maybe concern for denting a wheel.  I've been thinking more along the lines of a long travel suspension.  I have an off road racing background and could design and build the parts, I just have to see how much travel we could really get out of a Subaru, if we could get decent geometry, and whether it's worth the time and money.  One of my friends who has a lot of rally/off road experience and I were discussing it last night and our thought is:

Throw away the struts.

Mount an upper control arm to the subframe mount.  The balljoint axis at the outer end of this arm would be oriented front-back to allow max vertical travel.  The cutting brakes would help make up for the limited steering angle.

Bolt a mount for that balljoint where the strut would go on the top of the spindle.

Upper shock mount would be where the strut normally mounts to the body, it could even go up through the strut hole some if needed.  Easier to get at the shock bolt that way too.  Lower shock mount probably on the upper arm.

I think if you even increased from the stock travel of 7" (??) to 10" with well tuned shocks and springs, you could really eat up some terrain.

 

 

Again, of course it's been done before, this is ROUGHLY the concept:

http://www.ultimates...one-conversion/

 

As this thread points out, you could possibly have some kind of pivoting rear subframe for more articulation or just go to a solid rear axle:

http://www.ultimates...-travel-subaru/

 

I've also got an idea for easily adjustable ride height.


Edited by pontoontodd, 13 March 2014 - 01:53 PM.


#21 pontoontodd

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 02:25 PM

I think bump travel would be limited by tire/wheel wheel clearance but these axles might allow more droop travel:

http://www.ultimates...else-seen-this/


Edited by pontoontodd, 13 March 2014 - 02:28 PM.


#22 NorthCoast

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 09:36 AM

I'm just going to put this here to give you something to think about...

 

IMAG0137_zps6cbb5c7b.jpg



#23 ivans imports

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 10:11 AM

Try a flat oil pan from 89-92 ej2.2 will give you more room Also if you use 07 and up water pump hose comes off the front instead of bottom gives you more room to



#24 pontoontodd

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 10:29 AM

I'm just going to put this here to give you something to think about...

 

IMAG0137_zps6cbb5c7b.jpg

 

Now we're talking!  Any more pix/build thread/travel #'s?



#25 pontoontodd

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 10:30 AM

Try a flat oil pan from 89-92 ej2.2 will give you more room Also if you use 07 and up water pump hose comes off the front instead of bottom gives you more room to

 

Is the 92- oil pan lower capacity?  Do you have to use the older pickup tube also?

 

Thanks for the tip on the water pump, wish I'd known that when I did the timing belt on the Impreza.






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