Rancho In-Cab Control

Nov. 01, 2005 By ORC STAFF
The installed, in-cab end of the kit

This is a complete kit from Rancho to add in-cab control to your adjustable RS-9000 shocks. It consists of the parts listed at left, and a complete set of instructions for installation and assembly.

All the parts appear to be well-made and with the exception of a single missing airline cap, my kit was complete. Rancho includes extra o-rings in the kit as the o-rings for the airlines are very small and easily dropped. The compressor is housed in a black plastic case that has rubber mounting cushions (to reduce noise and vibration)where the mounting screws are located. There are also rubber grommets where the wiring and air connection penetrate and a reasonably tight seal between the two halves of the case.

Rancho includes a mounting plate for on- or under- dash mounting that holds the setting indicator gauge (which is back-lit) and the two actuators (one electrical, momentary-on pushbutton to activate the compressor and a push-button bleed valve). I elected to in-dash mount my gauge and buttons since there's not a lot of room on top of or under the dash in the Samurai. It would be nice if Rancho included a list of drill sizes for in-dash mounting, but it wasn't hard to determine what was necessary by simply matching up bits with the parts until I found ones of the right sizes. You'll need a fair amount of room behind the buttons and gauge as you've got to clear not only the parts themselves but the airline and wiring as well. To install the gauge and the buttons, I drilled the appropriate sized holes in the dash and then mounted the provided parts.

You'll also need to mount both the compressor and the air manifold. Although I mounted mine under the hood, you could conceivably mount either or both wherever you find room for them. There's plenty of airline provided for hook-up. Neither the compressor nor the manifold has any special mounting requirements, save protecting them from exposure to excessive heat and making sure you have sufficient access for wiring and for running the airlines.

Rancho provides all the hardware necessary for installation, including mounting screws for the compressor and new Allen screws for mounting the air connectors on the shocks themselves. They even include the correct sized Allen wrench for removing the control knobs on the shocks and replacing them with the air connectors.

Installation of the air connectors for the shocks isn't difficult, but may require dismounting of the shocks if you're doing this sometime after the shocks were installed as I did. I was able to mount the front connectors with the shocks on the vehicle but not the rear ones.

Wiring is simple, you need only run the end of one of the wires from the switch through the firewall (assuming you mount the compressor under the hood, as I did) and plug it into the connector in the wiring from the compressor. Power is gained through the other portion of the wiring from the switch via a little adapter (one provided for each of the usual vehicle fuse types -- either the glass type or the GM style) that plugs into a fuse socket "underneath" one end of an already existing fuse. There's separate wiring for the gauge lamp.

Running the airline took some thought, but also was not difficult. Run airlines away from heat sources and with sufficient slack to allow for flex of the suspension. Since the lines feed the "tops" of the shocks, you've only got to allow enough slack for the angular motion of the shock, as the body and shock tops move together.

Rancho includes plenty of tie-wraps to keep everything fastened down, and with a little thought, you can run lots of the lines in bundles to keep everything neat and easy to follow. I started at the "unit" end of each run and ran back to the manifold, allowing enough excess line at the manifold end to make sure I'd make my connection with no problems. Be advised that you want to ensure that the lines won't be subject to kinking, abrasion from other parts, or road hazards that could block or cut the line.

Operation is simple: push the red button to actuate the shocks to the desired continuously variable "ride" position. Push the black button (actually a bleed valve) to reduce pressure in the lines allowing the shock actuators to switch back to a softer ride. The gauge indicates "preset" positions 1 through 5 in large, easily read numbers.

This kit made a big change in how I use my shocks. I change the ride now depending on road conditions, trail conditions, or simply how I want the truck to "feel" at any given time, without having to climb out and muck around underneath the vehicle. This is definitely a worthwhile addition to any RS-9000 installation.

--Scott Gomez


Off-Road.com Newsletter
Join our Weekly Newsletter to get the latest off-road news, reviews, events, and alerts!