Shock Absorbers | OME Leaf Springs | Overall
Ride and Performance
springs were long overdue.
Of course, better
shocks only satiate a fella for so long, and soon the need to improve
other suspension aspects creeps into an idle mind. Usually, this
means lift and articulation. As independent front suspension (IFS)
rigs, Isuzus in stock form are blessed with good road manners and
limited trail potential. The simplest way to address the need for
improving the suspension's trail performance, following the upgrade
to better shocks, is with a bit of lift.
I had added
Calmini torsion bars (as well as having tried simply cranking up
the stock bars) and shackles. With time, I even went up to their
full 3" lift, thus reaching the maximum suspension lift offered
by any manufacturer. Despite the good flex in that lift, its reliance
upon a pair of add-a-leafs in the rear meant that overall ride quality
suffered. It also could not handle the kind of gross vehicle weight
that accompanied a family of 5, plus the packed USA VenturCraft
trailer. The rig's 150,000+ miles also meant the original leaves
had seen better days.
For a long while,
I had considered having custom leaf packs made up by an experienced
outfit like National Spring. I had also pondered finding low mileage
leaves off of a junked Trooper. Neither option was particularly
appealing, whether because of expense or because of little improvement
in overall ride quality. Fortunately, I had read numerous reviews
of Old Man Emu suspensions over the years. ARB-USA, is a mere 5
hours from me and I decided to pay them a visit.
the Old Man Emu shocks was like finding the Holy Grail.
When I went
to visit the ARB warehouse in Seattle, I planned on talking with
Jim Jackson, ARB-USA's President, about how the OME springs might
help my situation. After some discussion (including a look at his
restored Land Rover), Jim pointed me to Buddy King. Hearing Buddy's
description of the springs coupled with testimonies from Seattleite
and fellow Trooper owner Jeff Kavanaugh, convinced me of the Aussie
As with the
choice of shocks, the spring options for the Trooper were also diverse.
OME offers three springs packs, depending upon the load that you
plan to carry. The three models -RDI, II, III - allow the individual
to figure in vehicle weights, including normal and peak loads. Each
differs from the next higher model by one leaf and a corresponding
300 kilos (about 660 lbs). Based upon our truck's weight (5200lb
w/ full tank and driver) we opted for the RDII.
If you've installed
add-a-leaves and shocks before, then you'll find nothing new with
swapping in the OME products. If it's your first time and you're
feeling a bit uneasy, you may want to have a manual such as those
offered by Haynes or Chilton's. You'll also want to have the appropriate
jack(s), jack stands, miscellaneous tools, and about 4 hours to
do the job.
springs and shocks should handle the load of the Isuzu better
than any previous setup.
shocks will be the easiest part (I was too anxious to wait and changed
mine at the hotel parking lot in Seattle). The one quirk I found
was that the model #N65 Nitrocharger shocks that we opted for, which
are meant for an FJ80 Land Cruiser, required a small bit of grinding
on the upper shock tower. This was a small price to pay for shocks
that otherwise matched so well. No such fine-tuning was necessary
in the front, though, where the stiffest OME shock for the Trooper,
model #N50, fit perfectly.
of Land Cruiser shocks pointed out an unusual quirk of his company;
performance is what matters, not what an application guide says.
We went round and round in the discussion that eventually lead to
the choice of the #N65, discussing usage, loads carried, vehicle
weight, shock travel lengths, current ride qualities, and lift plans.
I was, frankly, amazed to see the lack of a cut-n-dry answer to
"which shock should I use".
The net result
was that I came away with a fuller appreciation for how seriously
OME takes fine-tuning suspensions. I was to witness that again as
I spent a few hours with Buddy as he spent his Saturday fiddling
with the donor Amigo (courtesy of Isuzu) on which he was experimenting
with countless suspension setups to dial in that suspension.
Emu greasable springs feature military wraps for strength.
of the OME commitment to quality came in the visual inspection and
ride quality of the new suspension. A cutaway view of popular shocks,
including the Nitrochargers, revealed the heft of the Aussie shocks'
construction. Not only do they feature a massive 18mm shaft, but
they utilize steel sleeves to protect against rocks. Their internal
workings also reveal much about the OME philosophy to dampening
the off-road jitters. OME shocks, unlike most competitors, utilize
a twin tube, low-pressure gas cylinder. They also feature Teflon-banded
pistons, further increasing their responsiveness and long service
The OME springs
were similarly impressive. Jet black from their last bath (in a
special paint dipping Down Under), and weighing fully 10% more than
the factory springs with add-a-leaves, the springs feature several
features that catch the perceptive eye. First, they feature military
wraps. This means that where the first spring curves around the
bushing for bolting to the frame/shackle, it wraps at full thickness
completely around, ensuring greater strength and durability. Next,
the springs' #2 spring extends out and over the latter bushing eye.
Here again, the spring's strength is heightened as stresses are
spread over the bolt point and not just short of them. Finally,
the leaves are separated by greaseable Teflon friction disks, and
kept in place by stout bolt-up leaf hangers. All this, plus the
leaves' finish and high quality urethane bushings made for an easy
Ride and Performance --->>>