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waterpoloman13

5-lug AND air suspension swap - 87 XT Turbo

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Hi everyone

Relatively new here, but I've been studying the forum for a few weeks now (still a noob, but I really try to use the search button and read up before I ask stupid questions... try being the key word Haha) Picked up an 87 XT turbo with the 5mt and fulltime AWD for free from a buddy of mine last week.

Air suspension is shot, hasn't run in a few years due to a fuel pump, needs new tires and fresh fluids, but overall clean and complete. Rockers are mostly toast, but other than that rust is pretty minimal. 

This week I had the luck of finding a 2000 RS for free, no engine or tranny, and interior is shot,  but all axles shafts, rear end, drive shaft, suspension etc... so I've decided to 5-lug swap and swap out the air suspension at the same time. 

From what I've read it's bolt in with some slight modification needed on the front strut braces and the rear ea top hats need to be used. Axles are all 25 spline and interchangeable as well. I'm planning on rereading the 5 lug thread again, and this is mostly for documentation, but anything I'm missing so far? Will be stripping the RS this weekend.

Long term goals include an EJ20xx build and swap to push 300-350 hp and auto x with some track days mixed in. But that's at least a few months out. 

Thanks in advance for following along and for your input and tips. 

 

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Almost nothing from the rear will work (without considerable fabrication). Take a peek under the back of each car, the suspension design is about as different as it's possible to be.

 

You can ream out the ball joint hole in the control arm, and use the whole front knuckle/strut/axle/brake assembly, you'll need the shorter EA81 tie rod ends to get the toe anywhere near zero.

You will still need XT6 (or reproduction) rear hubs. At that point, you could use the RS rear brakes by redrilling the backing plate. the rear knuckles, strut, axles, etc. will be of no value to you.

Edited by Numbchux
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2 hours ago, Numbchux said:

Almost nothing from the rear will work (without considerable fabrication). Take a peek under the back of each car, the suspension design is about as different as it's possible to be.

 

You can ream out the ball joint hole in the control arm, and use the whole front knuckle/strut/axle/brake assembly, you'll need the shorter EA81 tie rod ends to get the toe anywhere near zero.

You will still need XT6 (or reproduction) rear hubs. At that point, you could use the RS rear brakes by redrilling the backing plate. the rear knuckles, strut, axles, etc. will be of no value to you.

Thanks a ton for these details. So definitely need to pick up some front ea81 tie rod ends and xt6 rear hubs. Hadn't had a chance to get under them both yet since I just got the donor late last night, so this is good info. 

Edited by waterpoloman13
typo

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So the strut needs to be from an XT6 4WD model for the rear to replace the air suspension, correct? Or move to a full coilover setup and use the EA82 tophat as was mentioned in the USRM?

3. If you plan on running an Impreza coilover setup, it'll bolt into the front with the strut tower mod listed in #2 but the rear is totally different EA82 vs. Impreza. The rear will fit nonetheless BUT you HAVE to use the original EA82 tophats in the rear. I have yet to do this portion of the conversion and I have only read that it would work so I have not yet found out myself if it does or not.

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20 minutes ago, waterpoloman13 said:

So the strut needs to be from an XT6 4WD model for the rear to replace the air suspension, correct? Or move to a full coilover setup and use the EA82 tophat as was mentioned in the USRM?

No.  You don't need to use any XT6 struts.  All XT6 AWD struts are air suspension, not what you're after here. 
Also make sure you're not confusing "5 lug swap" with "suspension swap" - those are two different things and the options are not the same.  The thread title is about 5 lug and now you're mentioning struts. You need to be clear or nothing will make any sense.  "I want to XYZ...."

87 XT Rear struts:
Any Rear EA82 or Rear XT6 FWD complete strut assemblies will swap into yours, they're all interchangeable.  The complete thing bolts right in, direct swap.
The rear of the car will sit at varying heights depending on the model and FWD/AWD.

People have installed newer style 00+ Legacy/Outback rear struts into EA82's as well.  You use rear EA82 top mounts on the 00+ Outback rear struts and they can fit into the EA82. 
I think people have reported the strut rod breaking when doing this....but I'm uncertain...there's a thread or two where people have talked about it. 

But remember - none of this applies to 5 lug swaps - that's a different question.  You don't want any rear EA82, FWD XT6, nor EJ stuff for a rear 5 lug swap, so none of the above applies.  You mentinoed struts so the above info only applies to struts, not lug pattern/wheel hub considerations. 

Edited by idosubaru
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Thanks for the insight idosubaru. I guess I started spreading out the discussion on multiple subjects without realizing it was a huge difference in topics. Edited the title for clarity.

Over the next few weeks I am trying to do both the 5-lug swap and the air suspension swap at or around the same time. 

In the (albeit, light) reading on the forums I was originally planning to do the suspension first since it was shot, then the 5 lug later, but came across the 2000 RS for free and thought I could get a decent amount of parts to work from it and do it all at once for both the 5 lug and the suspension. Finding that a little more reading is in order to get it all sorted and make sure i have the right parts for it all though. In any case, appreciate all the detailed responses.

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1 hour ago, waterpoloman13 said:

So the strut needs to be from an XT6 4WD model for the rear to replace the air suspension, correct? Or move to a full coilover setup and use the EA82 tophat as was mentioned in the USRM?

3. If you plan on running an Impreza coilover setup, it'll bolt into the front with the strut tower mod listed in #2 but the rear is totally different EA82 vs. Impreza. The rear will fit nonetheless BUT you HAVE to use the original EA82 tophats in the rear. I have yet to do this portion of the conversion and I have only read that it would work so I have not yet found out myself if it does or not.

 

4WD XT6s all have air suspension as well. You can use the whole rear shock/spring/mount from a 4WD EA82. It'll be a little on the tall side, but it's a nice bolt-in swap (so will the stock struts/springs from the RS in the front). FWD parts will bolt in, but are much longer (will lift the rear)

If you want to run full coilovers, like this:

F-07-BR-Subaru-outback-bc-coilovers-1_10

The best fit is something for the '00-'09 Legacy. But be prepared to spend $1k for cheap ones (and really not necessary unless you're going REALLY hard, in which case be prepared to spend several grand for something decent).

Edited by Numbchux
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1 hour ago, idosubaru said:

No.  You don't need to use any XT6 struts.  All XT6 AWD struts are air suspension, not what you're after here. 
Also make sure you're not confusing "5 lug swap" with "suspension swap" - those are two different things and the options are not the same.  The thread title is about 5 lug and now you're mentioning struts. You need to be clear or nothing will make any sense.  "I want to XYZ...."

87 XT Rear struts:
Any Rear EA82 or Rear XT6 FWD complete strut assemblies will swap into yours, they're all interchangeable.  The complete thing bolts right in, direct swap.
The rear of the car will sit at varying heights depending on the model and FWD/AWD.

People have installed newer style 00+ Legacy/Outback rear struts into EA82's as well.  You use rear EA82 top mounts on the 00+ Outback rear struts and they can fit into the EA82. 
I think people have reported the strut rod breaking when doing this....but I'm uncertain...there's a thread or two where people have talked about it. 

But remember - none of this applies to 5 lug swaps - that's a different question.  You don't want any rear EA82, FWD XT6, nor EJ stuff for a rear 5 lug swap, so none of the above applies.  You mentinoed struts so the above info only applies to struts, not lug pattern/wheel hub considerations. 

Yep, stock rear EJ multilink rear shocks can be made to work without too much difficulty, but they are not setup to use a bushing where the shock rod goes into the mount, and the EA rear suspension swing arm pulls the shock bottom longitudinally too much for that. WJM and I both broke a shock. Not ideal. The NA miata ('92-'98ish) shocks are very similar, without a bushing on the top, but the NB ones ('98ish-'05ish) do have the bushing, and are almost a direct replacement, only using a different diameter spring (have to run coilover sleeves).

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12 minutes ago, waterpoloman13 said:

Thanks for the insight idosubaru. I guess I started spreading out the discussion on multiple subjects without realizing it was a huge difference in topics. Edited the title for clarity.

Over the next few weeks I am trying to do both the 5-lug swap and the air suspension swap at or around the same time. 

In the (albeit, light) reading on the forums I was originally planning to do the suspension first since it was shot, then the 5 lug later, but came across the 2000 RS for free and thought I could get a decent amount of parts to work from it and do it all at once for both the 5 lug and the suspension. Finding that a little more reading is in order to get it all sorted and make sure i have the right parts for it all though. In any case, appreciate all the detailed responses.

5-lug swap requires changing the front struts anyway, it only makes sense to discuss it at the same time, as the shock/strut selection will be dependent on the 5-lug setup. It makes the most sense to do the job at the same time, as the only extra component of the project then is swapping rear shocks, which would be easier with the brakes apart anyway. HOWEVER, if you need to get the suspension sorted out, you might want separate that, as finding XT6 rear hubs is not easy even if you're willing to pay for them.

 

Looks like you're reading the write-ups on the USRM, which is awesome. I feel like some of these questions would be clearer with what I've compiled here in the FAQ, check it out.

The last link in that post shows someone putting modified-Macpherson rear suspension (like what you've got in the RS) under a Brat (EA81, very similar to EA82, except the EA81 uses torsion bars instead of coil springs). It's a huge job...

 

 

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26 minutes ago, Numbchux said:

and the EA rear suspension swing arm pulls the shock bottom longitudinally too much for that

Ah right - that's the first i've heard of a causative reason, excellent, makes perfect sense. 

 

39 minutes ago, waterpoloman13 said:

Over the next few weeks I am trying to do both the 5-lug swap and the air suspension swap at or around the same time. 

 

Nice to swap EJ knuckles and struts at the same time. You can get XT6 bolts to go through the EJ knuckles and EJ struts but they can be tight and I've had to pound them through with a huge hammer and damage the threads.  Sometimes I have had to do that and others times I haven't, don't know what the difference is but if you just swap the EJ knuckles and struts at the same time you won't have that issue. 

Sometimes it helps to do this depending how you're doing the conversion, this can get you by for quite some time.  Sometimes the airstruts will hold air,  it's often a weak compressor or orings that are leaking.  I add  Tee fitting and just fill them manually after disconnecting them from the vehicles control/air supply system. 

Take the front passengers side air line and run it between the rear passengers side and rear drivers side struts (the front passengesrs side air line is long and easily accessible for removal) and install a Tee fitting in it so you can fill them both with any old compressor.  
NAPA sells air line Tee fittings. 

You can do the same thing to the front as well - add Tee fittings between the solenoid and front struts and air them up.  Unplug the solenoid electrical connector so it stays "closed" and doesn't open/let air out (assuming the solenoid doesn't leak).  

Edited by idosubaru
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5 minutes ago, idosubaru said:

Ah right - that's the first i've heard of a causative reason, excellent, makes perfect sense. 

 

 

Nice to swap EJ knuckles and struts at the same time. You can get XT6 bolts to go through the EJ knuckles and EJ struts but they can be tight and I've had to pound them through with a huge hammer and damage the threads.  Sometimes I have had to do that and others times I haven't, don't know what the difference is but if you just swap the EJ knuckles and struts at the same time you won't have that issue. 

Sometimes it helps to do this depending how you're doing the conversion, this can get you by for quite some time.  Sometimes the airstruts will hold air,  it's often a weak compressor or orings that are leaking.  I add  Tee fitting and just fill them manually after disconnecting them from the vehicles control/air supply system. 

Take the front passengers side air line and run it between the rear passengers side and rear drivers side struts (the front passengesrs side air line is long and easily accessible for removal) and install a Tee fitting in it so you can fill them both with any old compressor.  
NAPA sells air line Tee fittings. 

You can do the same thing to the front as well - add Tee fittings between the solenoid and front struts and air them up.  Unplug the solenoid electrical connector so it stays "closed" and doesn't open/let air out (assuming the solenoid doesn't leak).  

I haven't looked yet at actually troubleshooting the air struts. Currently I know they aren't holding air, and that the compressor turns on. As it eventually will be a track car, i figured I'd just skip the troubleshooting and go straight to getting the car on struts/springs

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27 minutes ago, Numbchux said:

5-lug swap requires changing the front struts anyway, it only makes sense to discuss it at the same time, as the shock/strut selection will be dependent on the 5-lug setup. It makes the most sense to do the job at the same time, as the only extra component of the project then is swapping rear shocks, which would be easier with the brakes apart anyway. HOWEVER, if you need to get the suspension sorted out, you might want separate that, as finding XT6 rear hubs is not easy even if you're willing to pay for them.

 

Looks like you're reading the write-ups on the USRM, which is awesome. I feel like some of these questions would be clearer with what I've compiled here in the FAQ, check it out.

The last link in that post shows someone putting modified-Macpherson rear suspension (like what you've got in the RS) under a Brat (EA81, very similar to EA82, except the EA81 uses torsion bars instead of coil springs). It's a huge job...

 

 

Wow, yeah, definitely not up for that rear Macpherson swap...yet...haha.

So from what i'm understanding (after much clarification here and reading some more on the FAQ), the front's should be mostly plug and play for both the 5-lug and suspension (with some reaming and slight modifications, and grabbing the EA81 tie rod ends for toe).

Rear 5-lug: from the 5 lug swap link in the FAQ, the only parts that will work are XT6 4WD? And from my searching online for replacements, best place to probably find most of that is the junk yard. How does anyone even get this done with parts being so scarce? :P

Rear suspension: NB Miata fronts (don't need 4" lift...) with coilover sleeves, or just the stock EA82 4x4/AWD (as per ruparts in the below thread, the 2wd EA82 stuff will also raise the car 3-4"), or 2wd XT6 rears, right?

 

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2 hours ago, waterpoloman13 said:

Wow, yeah, definitely not up for that rear Macpherson swap...yet...haha.

So from what i'm understanding (after much clarification here and reading some more on the FAQ), the front's should be mostly plug and play for both the 5-lug and suspension (with some reaming and slight modifications, and grabbing the EA81 tie rod ends for toe).

Rear 5-lug: from the 5 lug swap link in the FAQ, the only parts that will work are XT6 4WD? And from my searching online for replacements, best place to probably find most of that is the junk yard. How does anyone even get this done with parts being so scarce? :P

Rear suspension: NB Miata fronts (don't need 4" lift...) with coilover sleeves, or just the stock EA82 4x4/AWD (as per ruparts in the below thread, the 2wd EA82 stuff will also raise the car 3-4"), or 2wd XT6 rears, right?

 

Yea, you're pretty much right on.

Miata rear shocks are about 4" shorter. You'll probably want those if this is a pavement pounder.

I *think* XT6 FWD rear shocks are still quite a bit longer, like the 4-cylinder ones. So you probably don't want that.

 

 

As for getting the XT6 hubs. Basically your best bet is the marketplace here and/or Subaruxt.com. There was a company in Australia that made 5-lug kits for several years (Crossbred performance) but they stopped several years ago. There was also a private guy in australia who had a couple runs of them made fairly recently, but I think they got snatched up. And I think I remember him posting that his professional situation changed and he probably won't be having any more made.

 

 

Edited by Numbchux
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Yeah what he said is right - the FWD XT6 rear struts are a good bit on the tall side, they're not short. 

Do you need EA81 tie rod ends...you could also use XT6 tie rod ends I think right?  I'm about to install EJ knuckles on my XT6 and I don't think I need to change the tie rods?

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12 hours ago, idosubaru said:

Yeah what he said is right - the FWD XT6 rear struts are a good bit on the tall side, they're not short. 

Do you need EA81 tie rod ends...you could also use XT6 tie rod ends I think right?  I'm about to install EJ knuckles on my XT6 and I don't think I need to change the tie rods?

Reading up on the 5-lug and the USRM most have suggested just going to the ea81 tie rod ends. They are off the shelf parts, thankfully, so I think i'll just go grab them from the shop and be done with it.

Found a local guy here that had xt6 hubs :) I'll be grabbing them early next week for $100. Seemed reasonable since the reproductions are running about 300 shipped.

I think i'll be grabbing NB struts and a set of coilover sleeves for the rear as well until I move to a full coilovers setup  - not until i'm ready for the EJ20xx swap probably.

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15 hours ago, idosubaru said:

Yeah what he said is right - the FWD XT6 rear struts are a good bit on the tall side, they're not short. 

Do you need EA81 tie rod ends...you could also use XT6 tie rod ends I think right?  I'm about to install EJ knuckles on my XT6 and I don't think I need to change the tie rods?

IIRC XT6 TREs are the same as early EJ, which are on the long side with EJ knuckles (The TRE tab on the knuckle is shaped differently on the EJ knuckles than XT6, this gives a shorter steering arm, which is what improves the Ackerman Angle). WJM cut and shortened the EJ ones. EA81 are shorter, but with the larger stud. EA82 are also short enough, but use a narrower stud, which will put excess stress on the knuckle (I ran them for awhile, and they seemed to work, but it didn't take long before I had some crazy play in them).

 

2 hours ago, waterpoloman13 said:

Reading up on the 5-lug and the USRM most have suggested just going to the ea81 tie rod ends. They are off the shelf parts, thankfully, so I think i'll just go grab them from the shop and be done with it.

Found a local guy here that had xt6 hubs :) I'll be grabbing them early next week for $100. Seemed reasonable since the reproductions are running about 300 shipped.

I think i'll be grabbing NB struts and a set of coilover sleeves for the rear as well until I move to a full coilovers setup  - not until i'm ready for the EJ20xx swap probably.

That's a deal on the hubs, grab them for sure.

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Well, didn't pay attention to hunting for sleeves before, and realized it's slightly out of the budget for now. I'll order some 4wd GL struts for now and probably jump to full coilovers after the winter. Seems like I can grab a set of the Teins that SuberDave used for just under 1k (https://www.proimporttuners.com/parts/2006-subaru/legacy-tein-flex-z-full-coilovers.html)

Will take some pics this weekend of the strip and any install I get to.

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Started to strip the EJ, but didn't get very far. Turned my attention to trying to get the XT running, only to find 5 gallons of red fuel in the tank and a rusted tank. So i'll be grabbing a new tank and sending unit this week along with the XT6 hubs. EA82 4wd rear struts are going to be ordered as well.

Hopefully more progress this week and over this coming weekend.

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11 minutes ago, carfreak85 said:

Agricultural diesel, or rusty fuel?

Rusty fuel. The tank is pretty bad, though no holes, and the sending unit was locked up with rust.

I have the receipt from NAPA for the fuel pump, so i'll be grabbing a fresh one of those as well as a new fuel filter probably.

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12 hours ago, idosubaru said:

Ah - good job catching that. 

Do the injectors need somehow tested or cleaned as well? 

Not sure how to test them. I'm hoping between the pump and the filter the majority of the gunk was strained, and I can just add some cleaner to a few tanks to take care of what might've gotten through

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