2003 F350 Suspension Recommendations

Scwatts01

New member
Hello, I am purchasing a 2003 F350 with the 7.3 diesel to be used on a multi year trip through the Americas with a slide-in camper. The plan is to have a custom flatbed with storage boxes made by Bowen Customs and adding a Northstar 850sc popup on the back. I am looking for recommendations on suspension upgrades currently and so far from what i'm reading the Icon suspension seems like the best option I have found and we are planning to do a 4" lift with leaf springs and shocks. I have also read about their shocks not lasting a long time which concerns me on a long trip where parts have limited availability. Do you have any other recommendations for shocks for this model? Really want something than can handle a lot of washboard gravel roads and have excellent reliability!

Also, If you have any input on wheel and tire choices that would be awesome! Planning to go with 35's but not sure about wheel sizes, widths, etc.
 

tookstar154

Observer
I've got a BDS 2" leveling kit on my 2001 F350. Stock rear springs. Custom valved 2.0's in all 4 corners. The shocks are good for about 25,000-30,000 miles before needing a rebuild. I'd like to go to 2.5's to help with dampening, but it wasn't in the budget at the time. I'll do it someday, but 2.0's work well for me for now. I also have a set of Sumo-Spring's in the rear to help with load and that made a huge difference when driving down the road fully loaded going to the races.

Accutune Offroad in El Cajon is very knowledgeable, and that's who did my shocks. I'm on 35x12.5x17 on 17' Pro Comp 69 series wheels. Not sure what the backspacing is, but it works well. Pretty much flush with the fender. Slight rub on full lock on the front leaf spring, but not near the rub I had when I had 315's on the stock 16" wheels.

My suggestion is to find a lift that will fit within your price range. If I were to do it, I'd probably go with a 4" either from BDS or Icon, and budget in custom leaf packs front and rear for whatever the final weight of your truck is going to be. I know you can get over the counter leaf packs that will do the job, but from what I've heard having a custom pack from Deaver or Atlas really does wonders.
 

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Superduty

Adventurer
Not sure how much money you are planning on investing into the truck. I recently converted my 99 to an 08 front axle and 15 rear axle. The front coils and 05+ front end result in a better turning radius. I also installed the longer 2011+ rear springs. For springs I have installed Carli front coils and Deaver rear springs. For shocks I have Fox 2.5s from Accutune on order (plan on waiting a long time, unless they have what you need in stock). For now I am running some Carli 2.0s in the rear and Icon in the front. The ride is markedly better than it was with the leaf springs.

If you are keeping the leafs, you can't beat Deaver springs. They are custom and will build them to your specs.
 

eyemgh

Well-known member
I have a new SD, also waiting for a Bowen bed and a Hallmark camper. I went with a Carli pintop/Deaver leaf setup, on 35s. That said, the most I’ll get off the beaten path is Baja.

If you are going to be way off the radar, you might consider a reduction in performance, for increased serviceability and parts availability. I don’t know about your F350, but 35s fit fine in mine bone stock. If it were me, I’d leave it stock, but with new shocks (if they aren’t), add a Deaver custom pack, and call it good. How many people in Guatemala can re-valve or replace Kings or Fox shocks? It’s way more likely that you’ll find Bilsteins, KYBs or Ranchos.

Sounds like a cool build and a fun trip!
 

Skinhyfish

Observer
Hello, I am purchasing a 2003 F350 with the 7.3 diesel to be used on a multi year trip through the Americas with a slide-in camper. The plan is to have a custom flatbed with storage boxes made by Bowen Customs and adding a Northstar 850sc popup on the back. I am looking for recommendations on suspension upgrades currently and so far from what i'm reading the Icon suspension seems like the best option I have found and we are planning to do a 4" lift with leaf springs and shocks. I have also read about their shocks not lasting a long time which concerns me on a long trip where parts have limited availability. Do you have any other recommendations for shocks for this model? Really want something than can handle a lot of washboard gravel roads and have excellent reliability!

Also, If you have any input on wheel and tire choices that would be awesome! Planning to go with 35's but not sure about wheel sizes, widths, etc.
you already purchase this truck?
 

cobro92

Active member
Not sure how much money you are planning on investing into the truck. I recently converted my 99 to an 08 front axle and 15 rear axle. The front coils and 05+ front end result in a better turning radius. I also installed the longer 2011+ rear springs. For springs I have installed Carli front coils and Deaver rear springs. For shocks I have Fox 2.5s from Accutune on order (plan on waiting a long time, unless they have what you need in stock). For now I am running some Carli 2.0s in the rear and Icon in the front. The ride is markedly better than it was with the leaf springs.

If you are keeping the leafs, you can't beat Deaver springs. They are custom and will build them to your specs.
Yeah OP if you can afford it (or if you are handy and can do it yourself) the axle swap is the way to go. Many many benefits. Not just the turning radius, but bigger brakes and massively improved ride.

I see some donor trucks in my area with blown 6.4s that can be had for under 3k. Selling the interior alone would pay for that and you could keep the entire axle and suspension setup for free.


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Skinhyfish

Observer
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just did a custom 4in.. can walk you through choices and needs for lift….. but I am going to probably sell this if interested. Truck is regeared with4.30 gears. Perfect for your slide in
 

Scwatts01

New member
Yeah OP if you can afford it (or if you are handy and can do it yourself) the axle swap is the way to go. Many many benefits. Not just the turning radius, but bigger brakes and massively improved ride.

I see some donor trucks in my area with blown 6.4s that can be had for under 3k. Selling the interior alone would pay for that and you could keep the entire axle and suspension setup for free.


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That job would be pretty over my head but I'm sure there is someone around me that can do it! Any idea how much it would cost to do the swap?
 

cobro92

Active member
That job would be pretty over my head but I'm sure there is someone around me that can do it! Any idea how much it would cost to do the swap?
It’s not cheap. I’d say 10k minimum with parts and labor from a reputable shop.


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Regcabguy

Expedition Leader
I'd consider a 2" if it's it out there. The flatbed's going to considerably raise the center of gravity already.
I'd keep the leaf style front. The coils and mono-arms do yield a 5.5' reduction in turning radius in all configurations but dang that's a lot of money. I was at Carli a long time ago when he was doing a conversion on an Excursion. He explained the pluses and minuses.
 

eyemgh

Well-known member
I'd consider a 2" if it's it out there. The flatbed's going to considerably raise the center of gravity already.
I'd keep the leaf style front. The coils and mono-arms do yield a 5.5' reduction in turning radius in all configurations but dang that's a lot of money. I was at Carli a long time ago when he was doing a conversion on an Excursion. He explained the pluses and minuses.
It depends on the flatbed design. If the OP is getting the Bowen I’m getting, the COG and bed height are the same as stock. It’s not flat. The center is standard bed height and the area over the wheel wells is 5” higher. It’s really a bed replacement as opposed to a flatbed. The trade off is that the boxes are shorter. For most of us, that’s a great trade to make for a slide in. I think it’s going to change the industry.
 

DirtWhiskey

Western Dirt Rat
Not sure how much money you are planning on investing into the truck. I recently converted my 99 to an 08 front axle and 15 rear axle. The front coils and 05+ front end result in a better turning radius. I also installed the longer 2011+ rear springs. For springs I have installed Carli front coils and Deaver rear springs. For shocks I have Fox 2.5s from Accutune on order (plan on waiting a long time, unless they have what you need in stock). For now I am running some Carli 2.0s in the rear and Icon in the front. The ride is markedly better than it was with the leaf springs.

If you are keeping the leafs, you can't beat Deaver springs. They are custom and will build them to your specs.
Agreed. These swaps are becoming more popular and are pretty straight forward. Did the same on my 2001 SD F450. Bought a donor 2006 F550 and had my shop do most of the work. S110 rear with Super 60 front (true wide track). Regeared to 5.38 front and back. Extremely tight radius now. But in my case it's pretty well given you go to super singles. Mine are buckstops. Biggest drawback is the move to military tires. MPT81s are loud, the rubber is soft but they air down well. I was all in $10k for just the swap with the donor truck. It's the extras that get you. Plan on hydro ram or at least custom Lee upgraded steering (the path I went). Stabilizers, upgraded track bar, drop brackets, lockers, good shocks etc.

Left the factory 2006 coil spring and removed a leaf on each rear. Rides nice with some weight on the back. Total lift is 1.5" in the front and 2" in the back.
 

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