We were extremely excited when Off Road Unlimited said they wanted to send us their reverse shackle kit for the F350. We knew how much this kit will improve ride handling, stability and steering performance. In order to save time, we began prepping the frame so that when the kit arrived, we could begin the installation.
The first task was to remove the factory front shackle brackets that are riveted inside of the frame rail just behind the bumper mount. We chose to use a grinder instead of a torch to minimize the amount of heat exposure to the frame and to minimize the amount of damage to the black imron paint.
We started taking down the heads of all of the rivets from the inside. The bottom rivet that holds the front clip mount had to be ground from the outside of the frame due to space constrictions. Once all of the rivets on both frame rails were reduced, we used an OTC ten ton porta-power with the spreader jaws inserted between the frame and the inside of the shackle bracket. Much to our surprise, the spreader did not seem to budge. We scratched our heads and then decided to use a really big hammer. With the pressure from the spreader and some heavy blows from a three pound hammer, the bracket began to budge. After several more blows and increasing the pressure of the spreader, the bracket finally gave and fell to the ground.
Our next move was to just use a hammer and force the rivets from the frame, or so we thought. We found that the rivets had bulged between the frame and the brackets making it impossible to just hammer them out. So much for protecting the paint job. We then used the grinder and took down the heads of all of the rivets remaining from the outside of the frame. Now, using a hammer and a punch, we were able to pop out the rest of the rivets.
Since this is going to be a show truck, we now had to deal with the rust that had been hidden behind the shackle brackets and the body mounts. A few minutes with a portable sandblaster took care of the problem. The last step in the preparation of the chassis was to brush on a coat of primer to keep the bare metal from rusting until the ORU brackets and shackles are installed. Then we will brush on a new coat of imron paint making for a seamless installation.