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 brothers 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
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.
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).
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 brothers 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.
held up the u-bolt plates, I worked on getting the u-bolts snug down with some air.
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
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
its 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. Wed just have to wait and see how bad it would be without
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.
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.
Prepping the spring pack.
Where's the GoJo?
One happy camper...