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  Project CJ-7

Jeep Project CJ-7

An ongoing Budgeted Rebuild/Build up of a Rock Crawling Machine.

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Suspension Lift Installations and Reviews





      Carl's Project '85 CJ-7
Black Diamond Suspension Lift

  Black Diamond Advanced Terrain Suspensions

Laying out the parts
On a cold and raining Saturday morning in February, my friend Ralph and I began the job of lifting my 85-CJ7 with a 3" Black Diamond Suspension and 1 ½" shackles by Warrior Products that were purchased from Quadratec in West Chester, PA.

Thankfully we were able to use my brother’s garage for some cover from the elements with a concrete floor to work on.  The most important thing to me was that we both left the garage when the job was done with all of our appendages and walking out under our own power.  With that in mind it was time to have some fun.

Prep for the Job...

We prepared for the job starting the weekend before by making up a checklist of various items including tools that were not at the garage.  We had a good selection of air tools that made the job much easier there but some items we knew we needed were good jack stands, hydraulic floor jacks, a gear puller, good lighting, a camera and our Craftsman tool sets. 

All of the bolt that would be removed were hit with penetrating oil a week before too.

Another thing we thought would be nice to know were the before and after measurements.  

measure-bfore-frnt-s.jpg (8412 bytes)       measure-bfore-s.jpg (8412 bytes)


Securing the Vehicle

After backing the CJ into the garage I put the jeep in 1st gear an put the parking brake on, then started out by lifting the back of the Jeep with a floor jack and securing a set of heavy-duty jack stands under the frame. We also put another pair of jack-stands under the frame just for security reasons (you can never be too safe).

Cutting the u-boltsDig In

First we took off the shocks. We kept the hardware since the new shocks didn't have replacement bolts.  Then we took off both the rear tires and started to try to loosen the u-bolts but the driver-side u-bolts were beaten and bashed at the heads so they had to be cut off. Fortunately for us, my brother’s air-tools were sitting in the garage corner just waiting for us to call on. We pulled out the grinder and proceeded to cut the u-bolts off with a bang. The first one that I cut flew off with a bang because there was no support under the springs and because of the tension. We then moved a floor jack under the springs to get some weight off and cut the rest safely. We did one side at a time to keep the axle up in the jeep without having to drop it out.

We removed the small bolts that held on the brake lines to the axles, then we took off the original shackles on the back of the springs with a little bit of coaxing by a hammer and loosened the front of the springs. Then we lowered the floor jack and took out and removed the original leaf spring pack. With the new Black Diamond Spring Pack resting on a short step ladder we greased up all the new bushings and attached the Warrior Products Shackles to the back of the springs.  We attached the shackles to the frame out back and then attached the front of the springs to spring mount.  While Ralph held up the u-bolt plates, I worked on getting the u-bolts snug down with some air.

Installing the Rear Springs

installing the rear springs

Then we tightened all the nuts and bolts in the back of the jeep to the proper torque specifications and put the brake lines back on the axle. Since the new springs were arched more than the old ones, we noticed that without the weight of the jeep on the springs the back main brake line was stretched to the max.  Not good but not a big deal at this point since the only way it was maxed was if both rear wheels were arched hard.  I did not have a new longer brake line on hand so that is the next job to partake before any serious offroading.  While working on the rear axle though it was important to keep the tension off the brake line so we kept a jack under it at all times.

Shock Treatment

After the springs were in we put the Black Diamond stickers and boots on the shocks and attached them.  We then put the wheels back on and jacked the back of the jeep up to get the jack stands out and lowered the jeep. When the jeep was on it’s own weight, we noticed a considerable height change, (which was good for me). We also noticed that the back brake line was relaxed again when all the weight is on the wheels and axle.

The suspension lift did not come with shims to change the angle of the driveshafts but we noticed that the angle was altered slightly when we dropped the axle down on the new springs. Probably what would change the angle more than the new springs would be the longer shackles which may throw the angle off a few degrees.  If it does, we figured it will be noticed by a vibration as the speed changes due to the different angles of the two rear u-joints (in 2wd).   The instructions that came with the lift did not address the angle although recent reading about vibration in one of the 4x4 mags talked about this. Without actually measuring it we could only notice if the angle has changed when it would be driven. If both of the u-joint angles don't match, the jeep will vibrate when doing over 30 - 40 M.P.H. and could result in breaking the u-joints or just a plain annoyance. We’d just have to wait and see how bad it would be without shims.

Then we had to make sure that the jeep would fit out of the garage, luckily it did with out modifying the door (which we dicussed). We turned it around so the front of the jeep would face forward in the garage.

Installing the front springsThe front end was pretty simular to the rear except for the addition of the pitman arm swap, and the sway bar arms exchanged.  To make access to everything easier we removed the sway bar and using a gear puller we popped the ends off and attached the replacement arms on the ended.  Everything went smooth except the pitman arm removal.  The gear puller just wasn't strong enough and bent under the pressure.  We left the original pitman on at this point and I actually removed it the following weekend with a large fork.  Probably not the best way to remove it but it worked.  A hydraulic press or stronger puller may be out there that would do a finer job.  As with the rear we did one spring at a time.  Then the shock went on, the sway bar went on and we did some minor adjusting with the Rancho Steering stabilizers.  We were done before we knew it.   It was also 6 p.m. in the evening.  Including the cleanup the entire job took the two of us about 8 1/2 hours with a lunch break.  Air tools helped speed the job some although the tough bolts need some peruasion with the 3 foot pipe.  One item we did not use that came with the lift were the bump-stop drops that actually limit suspension travel.  They may be fine for the highway but not for the trail.   I'll take that extra travel, thank you very much.


Stepping back and looking at the Jeep was impressive.  The new stance of the Jeep gave it about an additional 4 inches of lift in the fenders and just as much clearance at the skide plate.  Items on the list to complement the new lift include longer break lines front & rear as well as swap bar disconnects.  Also due to the shackle and the total of 4 inches of lift the u-joint angles are off from their counterparts.  Shims, probably, 4 degrees, will be added soon.  During the week with the original pitman arm some serious bump-steer was noticed.  After swapping the pitman arm most of the bumpsteer was eliminated.

Review on the trails will be coming as soon as the Jeep sees some action.   Hopefully sooner rather than later.  On the road though the Jeep handles better with the polyurethine bushings and the new springs and looking over the traffic certainly is a plus.

Work area

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 Front After lift

Post install


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Prepping the spring pack.

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A couple of Grease Monkeys

Where's the GoJo?

Here's one Happy Camper

One happy camper...

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