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Stacking OEM lift blocks?


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12 replies to this topic

#1 uncle.stosh

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 08:53 AM

New guy here and new to Subarus.

I just picked up a 91 AWD Wagon for $250 and I am about to put Outback struts on it. I picked them up yesterday for $52 complete.

I know you guys are going to say that it's a bad idea, but was wondering just how bad of an idea it is and why. I'm eventually going to make some nice 2-3 inch spacers for my body lift, but in the mean time I'd like to run two sets of factory Outback spacers.

Right now I'm just looking to get it a little higher for tire clearance and looks. There aren't any plans to really wheel it at the moment.

Any comments or suggestions as to why this wouldn't work? Obviously I'll get some good grade 8 bolts and perhaps even tack the two blocks together if necessary.

Seems like I can't find too much info on lifting these other than this board, and I'd much rather make my own lift as opposed to buying it from someone else. I've been a machinist and fabricator most of my life.

Thanks in advance.

Edited by uncle.stosh, 12 July 2009 - 09:04 AM.


#2 bratman18

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 08:58 AM

I have stacked blocks before with out any issues. But make sure you use grade 8 bolts!!! Also, I hope you intend on spacing the struts down the same amount as the body

#3 uncle.stosh

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 09:03 AM

Thanks for the quick response.

Instead of buying the spacers for the struts, I was going to get two sets of top hats and weld a piece of pipe in between them to make my own spacers.

I can get the top hats for next to nothing.

If I do this, would they need to be welded together so that they are parallel? I seem to remember reading somewhere that it would be better to weld them at a slight angle to help correct camber?

Any thoughts?

It's not that I'm too cheap to buy a lift kit, it's just that I get much more satisfaction out of building things myself. Plus the fact that I don't want to put a ton of money into this toy either.

#4 bratman18

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 09:09 AM

I'm all for making my own stuff!!! Sounds like a cool idea to me. Yes you are supposed to have a 15* angle on it so the camber isn't that bad. But I am running blocks without that and it's fine, but you will see a little more tire wear in the long run. We would all love pics of the project as well!!!

#5 uncle.stosh

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 05:30 PM

Wow, I just got done putting the Outback struts on my wagon and what a PITA the rear's were.

I decided to swap the hats out instead of drilling more holes. That actually went pretty well. I don't have a spring compressor, but I managed to use a pretty nice set of Kant Twist "C" clamps and they worked really well. You really don't need much compression to get the hats off.

Posted Image

I've read that the struts can be installed without the lift blocks, which is what I did for the moment. For the life of me I could not get the lower bolts in the struts. I disconnected the sway bar and no matter what I could not tilt the knuckle in enough to get the upper bolt in.

I finally loosened the rear carriage bolts and it dropped down just enough (along with some serious prying) to finally get the upper bolt in.

In any case, all four are installed and the wagon looks so much better.

Now, I just need to install the OEM Outback lift blocks and see what I can do to move the wheel back so that it's closer to the center of the opening.

Any suggestions on re-centering the wheels? I'm thinking I need some new brackets that will move the lower control arm back an inch or two. Either that or a longer arm.

Pics will follow.

Edited by uncle.stosh, 12 July 2009 - 05:41 PM.


#6 uncle.stosh

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 05:44 PM

Here it is.

Here is what I have invested so far:

$250 purchase price
$30 used front bumper and cover
$20 used grille
$120 (4) like new Goodyear Assurance 205/70 R15 tires and Outback wheels/lug nuts.
$52 (4) used Outback struts
$8 used cargo cover
$5 used cargo all weather mat

Everything was purchased from a local pick and pull. They have TONS of Subarus there.

Posted Image

I didn't know there was a difference between 90-91 and 92-94 before I bought the front bumper and grille. Now I have to find 92-94 fenders, hood and headlights.

As you can see, mine are toast any way.

Edited by uncle.stosh, 12 July 2009 - 05:51 PM.


#7 Greenley

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 09:37 PM

I didn't know there was a difference between 90-91 and 92-94 before I bought the front bumper and grille. Now I have to find 92-94 fenders, hood and headlights.

As you can see, mine are toast any way.


Can't go wrong with an AWD wagon for that price.

#8 Gloyale

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 11:17 AM

Any suggestions on re-centering the wheels? I'm thinking I need some new brackets that will move the lower control arm back an inch or two. Either that or a longer arm.


I think you mean the trailing arm. But anyhow, you need to use the outback trailing arm mounting bracket.

Or alternatly, put 1-1/2 in. blocks under the stock brackets.

BTW, using high grade bolts isn't the best idea with the lift. You are better off having a bolt break than having the captive nuts in the body ripped out.

Don't bother with the crossmember spacers unless you are lifting the car further. With just OB struts you are fine without them and will LOSE clearance if you install them.

#9 bratman18

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 03:17 PM

BTW, using high grade bolts isn't the best idea with the lift. You are better off having a bolt break than having the captive nuts in the body ripped out.


I wasn't talking about any spots with captive nuts. He was talking about stacking the crossmember spacers so I was talking about the through bolts, but you're right about ones with captive nuts!!!

#10 uncle.stosh

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 06:42 PM

I think you mean the trailing arm. But anyhow, you need to use the outback trailing arm mounting bracket.

Or alternatly, put 1-1/2 in. blocks under the stock brackets.

BTW, using high grade bolts isn't the best idea with the lift. You are better off having a bolt break than having the captive nuts in the body ripped out.

Don't bother with the crossmember spacers unless you are lifting the car further. With just OB struts you are fine without them and will LOSE clearance if you install them.


Yeah, I saw that last night after I searched some more. I was looking at the trailing arm brackets today on an Outback. I'm heading back tomorrow to grab them along with the stock crossmember spacers.

And, why would I loose lift by installing them? I would think that the height would stay the same only I would have better CV angles and they would help move the springs away from the body a little. They were really tight getting the struts in without the spacers because of the angle of the knuckle.

I'm guessing that there are 2 in the front and 2 in the rear plus the carrier bearing? Any other spacers that I'll need while I'm there?

I may or may not use them. If I don't, I will use them as a template so that I an make my own out of 3 1/2" x 1/4 steel square stock for more lift. Of course in conjunction with some strut spacers too.

Edited by uncle.stosh, 13 July 2009 - 06:45 PM.


#11 Gloyale

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 12:12 AM

And, why would I loose lift by installing them? I would think that the height would stay the same only I would have better CV angles and they would help move the springs away from the body a little. They were really tight getting the struts in without the spacers because of the angle of the knuckle.


The strut height determines where the body of the car rides. If you space the subframe away from the body (1-1/4") you are actually *dropping* the subframe. You're engine, trans, and rear diff will all be closer to the ground than they otherwise would be without the spacers.

I'm guessing that there are 2 in the front and 2 in the rear plus the carrier bearing? Any other spacers that I'll need while I'm there?


There is no spacers on the Carrier bearing, it has a different tab setup on it for the drop. You'd have to swap drivelines, or swap the carrier onto yours.

Also, If you add the spacer to the front subframe, you must also install the rear mount for the control arm. The outback ones are spaced down to match the subframe blocks.

I may or may not use them. If I don't, I will use them as a template so that I an make my own out of 3 1/2" x 1/4 steel square stock for more lift. Of course in conjunction with some strut spacers too.


They are great for that.

#12 The Scooby

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 05:14 PM

i would not use grade 8 bolts, they will just snap where grade 5 or 6 will bend and you can still get home.

i used grade 5 when i put the OEM lift blocks form a outback on the front X-member on my MY86 wagon and have yet to have any problems.

they use the spacers on the front and rear X-members. but also the front tie bar that bolts to the rear diff and then T-'s to the outrigger has spacers there as well and the outrigger brackets are dropped to acomidate.

#13 Gloyale

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 11:12 AM

they use the spacers on the front and rear X-members. but also the front tie bar that bolts to the rear diff and then T-'s to the outrigger has spacers there as well and the outrigger brackets are dropped to acomidate.


Yeah, but you really don't need those. Leave that bar up in place, there is no need to drop it unless you are going 4" lift or more(NOT including strut lift) and then only drop it an inch or two.




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