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Install sway bar on '81 F150, 2WD?

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Old 01-03-2010, 02:01 AM
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Question Install sway bar on '81 F150, 2WD?

Is it possible to install a sway bar on a 1981 F-150 with two wheel drive and the I-beam suspension? If so, how much of an improvement would I notice, handling wise?

Also, did any F-Series trucks come with a sway bar from the factory?
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Old 01-03-2010, 04:31 AM
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About 83 on ....... could be 84 on when they went quad shock front, sway bars were stock fitment.


P.S. better qualify that was the case with our f100's, didn't see any 150ies in that era I assume its all the same.
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Old 01-03-2010, 05:06 AM
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Well, my F250 (83, 2WD, twin I-Beam) has factory sway bars front & rear, & really does handle well - just sits flat, even going into an unexpected corner far too fast. (Never happens intentionally - I'm 47! )

The 2wd F150 swaybars showing at LMC are different to the F250 ones (& diesel are different again)
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Old 01-03-2010, 10:19 AM
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they make both front and rear sway bars for the f-series. most of them are a pretty simple bolt on affair. a good sway bar will really help reduce the body roll, and if you go through and replace your worn bushings, you'll probably think you're in a whole new truck. well worth it in my opinion.
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Old 01-03-2010, 10:49 PM
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I just robbed the complete front sway bar setup from a junkyard 1980-86 4wd F150/Bronco. Bolted right up to my 2wd 1982 F100. I have noticed trucks that don't have the needed holes in the frontmost crossmember for the swaybar brackets. Most do seem to have the holes though. I lucked out and didn't have to drill for mine-you might. Should be no big deal though.
I liked my front sway bar so much I found a rear bar on a Bronco and added it. Another bolt-on. I can tell you from experience that the bar and brackets from an 8.8 rear won't bolt on to a 9 inch rear. The bars are bent a little different and one for an 8.8 is secured by a couple of "ears" on each side of the differential which don't exist on a 9 inch.
Cornering is a lot more enjoyable and stability when towing something fairly heavy is much improved too.
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Old 01-04-2010, 03:02 AM
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Thanks for all the quick replies!

I'll definitely plan on installing a sway bar (or two). Ken, do you know if an F-250 sway bar will fit a 150? And GypsyR, the crossmember you're referring to is the same one that the I-Beams connect to, correct?

And I do plan to replace all the rubber parts in the front end of my truck, possibly with a polyurethane kit. This could get interesting. lol
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Old 01-04-2010, 10:11 AM
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Related question: I want to add a factory front sway bar to my '82 F100. All of the trucks I have found at the JY with front sway bars have the forged I-beams. My truck has the stamped steel I-beams. The brackets to attach the sway bar link to the I-beams attaches between the coil springs and the I-beams. Will those brackets from the forged I-beams fit onto the sheet metal I-beams, or should I snag the forged I-beams and related parts when I grab the sway bar?
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Old 01-04-2010, 04:20 PM
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Which brings up another question: How can I tell whether my I-beams are stamped or forged?
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Old 01-04-2010, 04:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheKirbyMan View Post
Which brings up another question: How can I tell whether my I-beams are stamped or forged?
The stamped sheet metal I-beams are made from two "C" channel pieces that fit together and are welded.

The forged I-beam is all one piece and the long center part of it is shaped just like an I-beam.
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Old 07-24-2012, 11:16 AM
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Kirby, did you ever complete this project? I am thinking about doing this and want to know if you had any issues. I have a 2wd forged front beams. Do I just rob a 250 sway bar and brackets and bolt it on? Should I grab the 250 springs also? I'm tired of this truck handling like a wet noodle being pushed on a plate. These trucks have these huge heavy front ends and light back ends. Add in the fact that the front sits lower than the back and you have a recipe for disaster if you try towing anything.

I tried towing a car on a dolly once and felt like the dolly was steering the truck from the rear. Very scary. The ball on the bumper sits way too high.

My plan is to level off the truck, add sway bars, and lower the hitch mounting point.
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Old 07-24-2012, 06:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RAY1986F150 View Post
Kirby, did you ever complete this project? I am thinking about doing this and want to know if you had any issues. I have a 2wd forged front beams. Do I just rob a 250 sway bar and brackets and bolt it on? Should I grab the 250 springs also? I'm tired of this truck handling like a wet noodle being pushed on a plate. These trucks have these huge heavy front ends and light back ends. Add in the fact that the front sits lower than the back and you have a recipe for disaster if you try towing anything.

I tried towing a car on a dolly once and felt like the dolly was steering the truck from the rear. Very scary. The ball on the bumper sits way too high.

My plan is to level off the truck, add sway bars, and lower the hitch mounting point.
The '82 Explorer I had didn't wear sway bars, and even with all new bushings, a new steering box (which is why I know the cost and the effort), and an alignment it steered much better but was re-directed by bumps and dips. Dad's truck sports factory sway bars front and rear and even w/o new bushings and steering box it drives better than the Explorer. I'm thinking it is the sway bars.
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Old 07-24-2012, 06:49 PM
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Ray, like Gary said a 150 sway is a good idea.

I would not source a 250 sway. Ken Blythen, who posted above, had a thread yesterday about how much better his 250 rides sans bar. I would suspect the 2/150 bars are different sizes, if not different shape. My 250 is almost painful to ride on in some roads when empty. They were designed with weight in mind. She rides noticeably better with just landscaping tools in the bed, and like an oldsmobile with 3 tons loaded.
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Old 07-24-2012, 07:21 PM
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So guys, thanks for the help. Do all years 1980-1986 f150 have some sway bars? I mean, how do I find a truck that has sway bars? Is their a certain trim level I should be looking for? Is it a simple unbolt/ bolt-on operation?

Okay, so I will add the 150 sway bars. Now what about leveling the truck? I really don't care to raise the front end. So that mean lowering the rear, which helps with my towing issue. However I loose some suspension travel doing this. Is there a shackle kit for this or is there another way?
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Old 07-24-2012, 07:22 PM
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How does the rear sway bar attach? Also, can I grab sway bars off a later model f150? There is a 1990 4x4 parting out in Broken arrow.

Last edited by RAY1986F150; 07-24-2012 at 07:30 PM. Reason: uhhh
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Old 07-25-2012, 04:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RAY1986F150 View Post
So guys, thanks for the help. Do all years 1980-1986 f150 have some sway bars?

Is it a simple unbolt/ bolt-on operation?

Now what about leveling the truck? Is there a shackle kit for this or is there another way?
1. No, they were an option. I don't know regarding the use of the 1990 4x4 bars, on an earlier 4x2 truck.

2. Yes, just spanners (wrenches?) & sockets. But the one complication on the front end, is that you also need the bracket that is installed under the coil spring, to bolt the swaybar to. Non-swaybar trucks don't have the lugs that are on this bracket.

3. Some trucks have blocks under the rear springs which you can remove.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RAY1986F150 View Post
How does the rear sway bar attach?
U-bolts holding brackets & bushings on the axle tubes - these carry the bar; & two links, one each side, that bolt between the chassis rails, & the swaybar ends.

As Dave mentioned, I just removed my bars, both front & rear.
They were part of a Camper Package; removing them has improved the hard ride on rough roads (& even just entering/exiting driveways etc) - a LOT! They were 1" on the front & 1 1/8" on the rear.

But, that's just my F250 experience.......if you get lighter bars on your F150, they might be fine.
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1981, 1996, 2wd, bar, bars, beam, f150, f250, ford, handling, improvement, pickup, suspension, sway, sway bar, twin, two wheel drive

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