Installing Sonoran Steel Shackle Hangers & Warn Hitch Receiver
By: Bob_98SR5
Date: 8/17/03
Application: 1998 4Runner SR5

Tools & Supplies

Socket wrench with 17mm socket and extension
220 grit sandpaper
"Metal Etch" - a paint prep fluid
Crescent wrenches (2)
Breaker bar
Primer (black)
Black spray paint
Jack stands
Mini-sledge hammer (3lb is good enough)

Sonoran Steel Shackle Hangers
¾” 20mm bow shackles (McMaster part #3663T44 @ $13.02)
½” Rubber washers (4)
Industrial-size black zip ties (2)
Warn Hitch Receiver Shackle Hanger
Hitch Receiver Pin (locking or non-locking---your choice)

Obligatory Disclaimer
I am providing this write up for illustrative purposes only. Perform at your own risk. Any mods (including this one) you perform on your vehicle is your responsibility. Furthermore, commercial use of this write up is prohibited---all images and text are property of Linking or copying any portion of this write up will result in legal action as well as the undying scorn from members of the online Toyota 4Runner community. You've been warned.

9/1/05: Sonoran Steel still produces these shackle hangers.
9/4/03: Added Warn Rear Hitch Receiver to my tow hitch. Added Step 4.

I received the Sonoran Steel Shackle Hangers through a trade for my used front shocks and coils with Steve Schaefer. These little guys are heavy---they weigh 4.5lbs each. Pictures don’t do it justice; they are very stout and well manufactured. After Pismo 4RJ, I’m glad I got these shackles instead of the bumpstops. I’ll get more mileage out of these.

Step 1: Painting the Shackle Hangers
I decided to paint the Sonoran Steel Shackles because I wanted to protect the steel as well as improve the appearance of the shackles. If you do not want to, skip this step and move onto Step 2.

After removing each of the brass nuts/bolts out of the shackle hangers with two crescent wrenches, take some 220-grit sandpaper and roughly sand down the shackle hangers. Next, use “Metal Etch” to get off all the grime and oils off the metal. Run it under clean water and let it air dry.

A brass bolt reinforces the Sonoran Steel shackle hanger. Note the dimensions for the shackle hangers when you purchase your bow shackles   Here's a bare, sanded shackle hanger ready for paint etching, priming and painting

After letting it air dry, spray all the parts down with some flat black colored primer. Allow it to dry for 15 minutes for each side. Next, spray down the shackle hangers with flat black colored spray paint. Allow each side to dry for 1 hour before handling and installing the nuts and bolts.

Here is the shackle hanger primed. So far, so good.   Here is the shackle hanger painted. Looks even better in person.

Step 2: Removing Existing Hardware – Front Tow Hook and Tie Down Plate
Using your breaker bar and 17mm socket with extension, unfasten the combined stock tow hook and tie down plate from the front passenger side of your 4runner. These bolts are considerably longer than the bolts holding the front tie down plate. Take all of this to the rear driver’s side of your 4runner. You’ll use everything later.

Next, remove the solitary tie down plate from the front driver’s side. Leave the short bolts up in the front. You will use these later too.

Remove bolts (A) with an extended 17mm socket and a breaker bar   Remove bolts (B) with an extended 17mm socket and a breaker bar

In the rear of your 4runner, you will have two tie down plates fastened to your 4runner or fastened onto your tow hitch. If you have a tow hitch like me, you’ll have to support the driver’s side tow hitch with a jack stand while you remove the tie down plate. To continue, place your jack stand under the driver’s side tow hitch to support the weight of the tow hitch. Then remove the two short 17mm bolts w/ your extended socket wrench. Take these short bolts you removed from the tie down plates to the front passenger’s side of your 4runner.

Next, take the tow hook/tie down plate combo and the longer bolts (that came from the front passenger side---above) and fasten these parts on the rear driver’s side of your tow hitch.

Here's the hardware from the front of your 4Runner. Take part group (A) to the rear driver's side for mounting. Leave bolts from part group (B) at the front driver's side for mounting of new shackle hangers.   Here's a pic of the tow hook/tie down hardware combination mounted on the tow hitch on the rear driver's side. Take the bolts that were removed from the tie down hook here to the front passenger's side

Step 3: Mounting the Sonoran Steel Shackle Hangers
Steve Schaefer of Sonoran Steel says that “You may need to bend the very top of the factory skid plate” to ensure a good fit. I did and it was fun! I took my 3lb mini-sledge hammer and bashed away (with a little care, of course). You don't have to bend it too much. Test fit until you can see the mounting holes lined up with the existing frame threads. Next, take the short 17mm bolts and mount the shackles to your 4runner.

It's clobberin' time! Use your mini-sledge to bend/bash this part of your skid plate inwards. Test fit the shackle hangers and bash as necessary   Here's a pic of a shackle hanger mounted. Make sure the brass nut is located on the inside.

For the shackles themselves, thread the rubber washers and shackle screw pin through the bow shackle and through the shackle hanger eyelet. Tighten down the screw pin. The rubber washers will prevent the side-to-side clanking sound. Finally for security’s sake, secure the bow shackles down with a industrial-sized black zip tie and cut the end. Repeat for the other side.


Here's the McMaster Bow Shackle. I purchased the rubber washers separately.

  Insert two rubber washers (R) and secure with zip tie (Z).

A good tip is to keep a 5 or 6 inch bolt in your vehicle to assist you in tightening down and removing your screw pins.

Step 4: Warn Hitch Receiver Shackle Hanger
For the Warn Hitch Receiver Shackle Hanger, follow Step 1 above to prime and paint these parts. For vanity's sake, I also painted the shackle pin with red paint. However, the paint easily chips off, given the significant amount of metal-to-metal contact, so decide whether or not if its worth your time.


My primed and painted Warn Hitch Receiver Shackle Hanger

  Here's a shot of the Warn Hitch Receiver Shackle Hanger mounted in the hitch receiver itself

Of note, the Warn Shackle shackle pin has a significantly smaller eyelet. I may replace it with another McMaster D-shackle for this reason alone. In anycase, remove your existing hitch receiver cover, insert the hitch receiver shackle hanger, line up the holes and insert/lock your hitch pin. For the WHRSH, there was no room to use a rubber washer as the tolerace was fairly tight.

Here are some larger pictures of both the Sonoran Steel and Warn shackle hanger systems.

The paint on the rear shackle hangers and pins wear off pretty quickly. It is my opinion now that painting it is not worth the effort. However, painting the Sonoran Steel shackle hangers are a must since it comes in bare metal and will rust if they are not painted.

A Note About Shackles
This is one of those things where you don’t expect to spend a lot of time researching. But alas, there is more to know about shackles than you think. Prices range from $5 to $35 (each) for a single bow shackle! For an easy-to-read breakdown, check out the following graphic (condensed) taken from the McMaster-Carr website below:

I selected the Galvanized Alloy Steel bow shackle, part #3663T44 (1). Galvanized Steel (2) had a lower load limit
as did the Type 316 Stainless Steel (3). Oh, McMaster's is a great company to do business with---outstanding
customer service.

There are three things you need to know before buying your shackles. First, you have to make sure you’re buying the right size. Second, there are different types of ways the shackles are secured. Lastly, there are also different kinds of metals with different rated load limits.

For the Sonoran Steel shackle hangers, the width of the shackle hanger itself (A) is 1" wide. The diameter of the shackle eyelet (B) is also 1". Thus, I needed to select a shackle whose width is greater than 1" (1 1/4") and whose shackle bolt diameter is smaller than 1" (7/8").

Next, it was a matter of picking the most secure method of attachment. The "Screw Pin" is obviously the superior choice as the other choices are secured by flimsier cotter-type or locking pins. Not good.

Finally, the work load limit is determined by the metal composition. Galvanized Alloy Steel is the best choice here with a 14,000lb load limit vs. 9,500 and 8,000 for the Galvanized Steel and Type 316 Stainless Steel, respectively.


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