The fronts went pretty fairly. There was a learning curve involved with taking out the old ones; it took me perhaps twice as long to do the first one as the second, because on the second one I knew what I was doing.
The problem was the top nut: it rusted to the shaft, and although there's a handy little flat on top for holding the shaft while you turn the nut, there's no room to get a second tool in there; it's under the master cylinder on that side.
So after using vice grips on the shaft in the fenderwell, and getting it MOSTLY off, I couldn't get that top nut any further. I tried cutting it with the cutoff tool, but--same story--couldn't get the right angle on the thing due to the master cylinder. No matter how tight the vice grips were on the shaft, it would still turn.
Then it hit me: I could take the die grinder and grind a flat onto the shock absorber shaft. That would keep the shaft from turning!
...and it did, quite nicely. The top nut came off easily after that.
So all I had to do was repeat that process on the passenger side, and I was done with the fronts in a relatively short order. When I went to pry it out of its lower pocket the thing hissed at me (though part of that was probably due to the flat in the shaft) and when I turned it over and leaned on it to see how it was, the dang thing collapsed easily, didn't rebound, and leaked.
"No, that one didn't need replacing!" I said sarcastically. "It'll last another 100,000 miles!"
Then I turned my attention to the rear.
The bottom shock bolts came off easily. Too easily.
The tops? You'd think the tops would be fine, but hell no. I broke one off right away, so what did I do? Why, I promptly broke the other one off too instead of stopping right the hell where I was and taking it to a shop.
And did the same on the passenger side, figuring, "WTF, it's a broken bolt. Buy new ones and a tap, drill them out, tap, presto!"
It was getting later, and when I checked the time I saw that it was 5:30, so I kitted up and rode the motorcycle to the hardware store. Got the bolts, got the tap, then rode back.
Finished drilling, then applied oil to the tap and began tapping the hole. And in the process of tapping the very first hole that I'd drilled, the f-ing tap broke.
1) Don't decide to replace suspension components the Saturday before you start a new job.
2) When you break one bolt and it's the Saturday before you start a new job STOP DOING ANYTHING.
3) When tapping a hole with a cheap tap (ie one that doesn't cost at least $25) you must not attempt to tap the hole as if you were using an industrial-quality tap. Advance it a quarter turn, back off half a turn, screw it back in that half-turn and advance another quarter-turn, etc. (On the job in Rantoul, I used industrial-quality taps and had no trouble.)
4) As Og pointed out, "Whoever thought it would be a smart idea to have a stamped steel bracket with a welded nut on top ought to have his head jammed up Oprah's ass for a week." Particularly when it's exposed to water, dirt, and road salt. (The nut on the stamped steel bracket, not Oprah's ass or the jerk's head.)
5) I have good friends and family.
...that last because my uncle will give me a ride to work on Monday (if I need it) and Og has offered to help me try to get at least one shock absorber on the truck tomorrow, so I can at least drive it to and from work before taking it to a shop to get the other side dealt with.
One other thing. Recall here I couldn't find the 1/2" wrench? I found it today. It was laying on the front skid plate, the one that protects the radiator and the front of the engine.
It's been laying there for NEARLY TWO YEARS.
You'd think that after I've been driving the thing all over hell and gone for 22 months, somewhere along the way it would have fallen off; but no, it was right there next to the lip of the skid plate the entire time. WTF.