Project Jeep CJ-7
3 1/2″ BDS Suspension Lift
After the Leaf Spring Mounting system was fabricated and installed, the next step was to install the new BDS 3.5″ Suspension, Jeep Wrangler YJ Leaf Springs. Wrangler YJ Springs? Yes, YJ springs. YJ because the front springs of a YJ are 2 1/2 inches wide as opposed to the stock 2 inch width of a CJ front spring. 2 1/2 inch width will provide better stability on and off road. Plus the extra weight of the AMC V8 360 will need stronger springs to handle the weight. Later I bought 2nd a pair of front springs with the 5 leaves in the pack and installed them in the rear, replacing the BDS rear springs. This was due to the weight of the Jeep flattening the rear springs. Now my Jeep probably weights a little more than the average CJ-7 due to the tub and the extra steel welded in and my rear tire carrier. The 4 leaf packs are probably fine for the average CJ-7. You don’t want the rear too stiff but for me it worked out great.
Items purchased for this job:
- BDS 3.5″ Glide-Ride Leaf Springs–Complete with anti-friction pads, bolt style leaf alignment clamps, full military wrap, and roll painted leafs.
- Urethane Shackle Bushing Kit
- New U-bolts to accommodate the Dana 44 Axle tub diameter
- Greasable Shackle Bolts
- Stock YJ Shackles
- A Pair of new rear Rock Equipment Rock Mount heavy duty cast frame mounted leaf spring / shackle assembly hangers. Cheap enough not to fabricate my own.
Why a BDS Suspension? A few reasons. One, I knew a few people who have installed and are using a BDS suspension system on their CJ Jeep and they really like the ride on and offroad. Second, BDS was one of the few companies that produced a double military wrap type spring. What that means is that the second leaf in the pack wraps around the first (top) leaf at each end. That provides some security that if a top spring breaks, the second leaf will keep spring pack attached to the bushing bolt rather than detaching from the frame. Another reason was the warranty BDS offers:
“No Fine Print Warranty. This unique warranty proves our commitment to the quality and reliability of every product we make. If you are the original purchaser of any BDS product and it breaks, we will give you a new part. Period.”
The details of the installation of the BDS suspension is pretty simple since they are being installed on just a CJ-7 frame without the complications of a drive train, brake lines or anything else to get in the way.
Basically there were 4 springs with two greasable shackle bolts per spring. First I pressed the blue urethane shackle bushings into the springs. A light coat of white grease spread over the bushing and in the spring hole helped them to slip together. I used a vice to press the pair of bushings together into the spring. Then I pressed the shackle bushing tube into the urethane shackle bushing.
The next step was to mount the fixed side of the spring to the frame, leaving the shackle side of the spring hang. I also bolted the shackles up to the new spring hangers but only the upper bolt leaving the shackles dangling. The new Rock Equipment shackle assembly hangers were also installed. All bolts were grade 8 hardware.
The axles were then rolled in on a dolly under the frame and over the pair of springs (front and back axles one at a time). The springs were lifted with a small floor jack to raise the axle and spring up to meet the shackle. Then the lower shackle bolt was installed.
At this time I made up a set of u-bolt plates that eventually were built into U-bolt plates with lower skid plates. See this page for more details on the U-bolt Plates with skid protection
Once the springs were installed along with the prepped Dana 44 Axles, work could then begin on getting the drive train ready for installation.
Below are some pictures of the installed springs on the custom spring mounts
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