Project Built to Cruise

Page 5


Previous Update

It's been a few weeks since I put the long arms on the front of the LJ.  You can definitely tell the difference between the long and short arms.  On the road the direction of the Jeep is no longer dictated by the bumps in the road, were the rig used to bounce along it now rides smooth as glass and is easily driven one handed.  The same goes for unpaved roads, the rate of travel is only limited by how much of a bump the shocks can absorb. Speaking of which I really need to do something about the rear bump stops as they don't seem to work and the rig bottoms out hard on the rear shocks.  I also think the rear shocks could be valved a little harder (Bilstein 5100's), I doubt the weight of the long hardtop was take into account and the valving is really for a standard TJ.

I have also been happy with the performance of the MT MTZ's I put on the Jeep a few weeks back.  After last weekend I even got to try them out in snow and they worked great in everything but the really deep powdery stuff.  On the wetter snow I could easily move forward at a steady pace and as long as I didn't spin the tires forward momentum was maintained.  In the deeper powder the rig felt a little underpowered so I dropped it into low range.  I suppose this means the tires were digging well.

With the front suspension working good I took a look at the rear suspension.  The 4.5" lift springs put the rear lower control arms at a really steep angle even at rest (I measured roughly 23 degrees).  This steep angle is part of the reason TJ's tend to pick the front tires on climbs. Obviously longer control arms in the rear would greatly reduce the angles just like the front but until I can come up with a budget long arm kit for the rear I had another temporary solution.  A friend had mentioned re-drilling the stock control arm mounts and after some examination it looks like you could easily re-drill both the axle and frame end control arm mounts to reduce the angles on the arms.

Unfortunately I couldn't see a way to get a drill in to put a new set of holes on the axle brackets without pulling the rear axles out.  The frame end brackets were anther story, I didn't even have to pull the tires off to get a drill in position.  Before pulling the control arm off I used a string and a pen to mark the arc the control arm would travel in from the axle bracket.  I then marked the hole position so the nut flange was flush with the bottom of the bracket.  From there I drilled a 9/16 diameter hole thru both walls.  This was also a good time to do some maintenance on the control arm flex joints, I tightened and greased them after discovering they were dry and loose.

Here is the finished position of the lower control arm.  This new hole reduced the angle of the rear links by 5 degrees.  I also chose to weld a hardened washer to the control arm bracket under the nut to give it some more meat for the threads of the bolt to ride on. 

I should mention I did have to trim the bracket at the outer corner for control arm clearance.  Also, if you do one side at a time you don't even have to jack up or support the jeep.   

Time will tell how much a difference this small change makes but right off the bat I did notice that when I hit the gas from a stop the Jeep didn't seem to torque over as much as it did before the change.  If I ever throw some upgraded axles in the rear D44 I will re-drill the axle brackets.

I am starting to wonder if TerraFlex did any sort of product testing on their high steer kit.  I managed to bend the drag link by just driving my Jeep around on unimproved roads.  It bent about 8 inches from the pitman arm and validates my concerns that 6061 is not strong enough for steering linkages.  I have sleeved the drag link just like I did the tie rod so bending should not be an issue.

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