Daily Driver, Go Where I Want To Build

October 2, 2016

Installing the front Savvy mid arms.

Pull the axle.

Cut off the brackets.

Front truss and stiffener.



Lower frame brackets before and after.



Hours and hours later, I got it drivable for the night.

Then a bit of time on the second day to fine tune the lengths.

29+" between the shock mounts at droop. Factory is roughly 24.5". My droop is now limited by the MC front track bar rod end, the driver's side YJ brake line and my AR being stretched flat on the middle setting. There is more room to drop before the arms bind on anything.



Comparison of Savvy front uppers.
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The ride is different. It is better. Less brake dive. The small events are about the same as with factory arms. This matches what Blaine and others say about arm length not having much effect on ride quality. I will agree with this. The biggest change, which corresponds to what I noticed when I put the short Savvy uppers on two years ago was the increased freedom of movement. Now with all the joints being JJs, I notice that the front end isn't being pushed around nearly as much by the axle. The rear end, by comparison, follows the axle. Though it certainly is not bad in that regard. I can't wait to get the rest done.
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Around this time, I noticed that the rod end on my Metalcloak front track bar is developing play. Here is an interesting discussion surrounding that...

jjvw said:
Metalcloak is sending me a new replacement rod end for my front track bar.

bobthetj03 said:
What happened?

jjvw said:
I started a thread "over there" asking how long the MC track bar rod end should reasonably last. Mine is showing wear after 15k miles. Though right now I only feel the looseness with the axle unloaded. Not while driving.
MC saw it and sent me a replacement a couple hours later.

G Beasley said:
Nice to hear about the good service stories.

jjvw said:
It is and I do appreciate it. But is still doesn't change the fact that their rod end isn't lasting very long on my Jeep. I can't expect them to send me a new end every year, nor do I really want to replace it every year. Its funny to me, because I don't really think of myself as being hard on my Jeep. I don't baby it either...
Blaine suggested putting a $50 FK rod end in there. It's a larger, higher quality joint with more surface area. I'm also wondering about putting a JJ on it. I'm looking at both. I am hoping to get my Currie steering installed this weekend, so I will see what kind of clearance issue I might create for myself. I'm still wanting to keep the bump stop to a minimum.

bobthetj03 said:
Why is this particular rod end show signs of premature wear? My JKS TB with JJ end shows no sign of this kind of wear.

Johnny Joints are better. And Metalcloak uses an inexpensive rod end. I'm not the only one to have this piece wear out faster than it probably ought to.

mrblaine;36833065 said:
Those who ignore history tend to repeat it and make the same mistakes. RE made a (likely still does) rod end trackbar. It was fraught with issues due to having a rod end on one end and a bushing on the other. We had issues with the rod ends quite frequently due to the fact that a rod end doesn't function at it's best when moved laterally on the ball. When one uses it in that application, any dirt, grime, or contaminant that can accelerate wear gets on the exposed face of the ball, the movement of the body with the race in it moves to wipe the ball when the suspension moves up and down. As such it is always carrying contamination into the race which can accelerate wear.
The more correct way to run the rod end in this application is with the bolt horizontal which greatly reduces the introduction of contaminates into the bearing surfaces. With the bolt horizontal, the ball just rotates on the race with very little lateral movement and they tend to last longer, much longer. The other issue is the design of the rod end. Correctly to increase longevity, you would want the differential sized shank and body. The 3/4" bore with a 7/8" shank rod ends have much larger bodies which increases the bearing surface area around the ball and they last much longer. It also helps to use the high dollar rod ends like the ones from FK.
I have many of those in use in front track bar applications with horizontal bolts on rigs with very large tires and I don't recall any of them wearing out over the past several years. They are around 50 bucks each so as you can surmise, that they wouldn't be the first choice in an economy trackbar.
jjvw;36833481 said:
I guess my question is one of expectations. I knew going in that the MC track bar rod end would wear out more quickly than other options. I'm just surprised it is happening this quickly.
Wouldn't a Johnny Joint sitting in the vertical position suffer from similar increased wear compared to one in the horizontal position? Perhaps it does, but the larger wear surface places it's life span as a track bar joint on the factory frame mount at a more reasonable level. Is that a fair statement?
mrblaine;36833609 said:
Apples and oranges comparison due to the completely different design between the two. The JJ has a compressed urethane race with a high level of wiping ability to keep contaminates out of the bearing area. That and it isn't a close tolerance bearing like a rod end is and if there is some wear of the ball, the compressed urethane will keep the play minimized. That and the surface of the ball is very hard due to it being case hardened. I've had many JJ's apart and have never seen any wear on the ball. (not saying it hasn't happened, I've just not seen any)
But again, even if it were AS susceptible to the same issues, the huge increase in surface area between the two is one more thing that would make the JJ last much longer in an apples to apples application.
The issue with a normal rod end is once the wear starts and there is any play between the ball and race, it accelerates quickly because there is a hammering effect which adds to the wear and now the gap is bigger which lets in more contaminants.

This is the FK rod end needed to upgrade the Metalcloak front track bar.
FK JMX14T Steel Rod End, 7/8 Inch
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I spent $21 at the junk yard.

I found a Dodge Ram Dana 44 front diff cover to go on my rear. For those who don't know yet, the Dodge version has a slightly higher fill plug which helps us with a raised pinion. And they look to be a hair thicker at a full 1/8".


Then I grabbed a full set of visors and windshield frame trim pieces from a wrecked '97 TJ.

I don't know if there is any merit to this idea, but I eventually would like to beef up the roll cage. Most likely with the Poison Spyder kit. The late-TJ's have a full plastic trim piece surrounding the windshield. When and if I add the front hoop, I think it might look less cluttered and more appropriate to have the bare bones early style visors and exposed windshield frame. Who knows. I have it if I want it...
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I'm not a fan of the MCE's, or any flat fender for that matter, but they do provide an option I guess.
I'm not a fan of the MCE's, or any flat fender for that matter, but they do provide an option I guess.

If it wasn't for that extra bit of up travel they can provide, I would prefer to stay with the factory fenders. There is a guy about 45 minutes east of me that recently installed a set on his TJ with 35s. I need to set up a visit so I can finally see what they look like.
I asked this question quite a while ago, but it still stands as I recreate this thread. What do you think?
Anyone have any thoughts on MCE fenders? Just thinking about the future. I don't want Metalcloaks. PSC High Line DeFenders would be very nice, but I have so much stuffed onto my inner fenders that losing that space would be difficult.

MCE offers the same/similar small uptravel gains as MC

Thoughts? Feelings?
View attachment 35949

For most people they love or hate MC, but the bottom line is they do give you the clearance and uptravel. If that's your ultimate goal they are a logical choice. I think they can be made to look good if you body match the fender and satin black the flare.

JCR Hi Lines might be another option. Although you might not get the coverage your looking for with a DD. EDIT: I just re-visited them. They look good, gotta cut the hood though. But they do give you plenty of coverage IMHO. A real option for someone with your skills who can do some cutting...

An AEV Highline Kit would be ideal, if you could ever find one and fork out the cash.

If I were doing it I would go with the MC. But I realize at that point people are going to love or hate my Jeep. It's almost too bold of a change. But for my build, function wins out over form almost every time. So I wouldn't hesitate if I wanted 35's and had $2K. Think about that uptravel man!
Metalcloak or Modern Classic Enterprises?

Metalcloak is an absolute no for me. :)

Real high lines would be great, but I have so much stuff added to my fenders inside the engine bay. I don't want to deal with it all.
Here is my front fender dilemma, without ruining what hasn't been posted yet.

With my 33's, my bump stops are extended 1.375" to keep my tires out of the steel fenders at full flex. I do not include the flexible flares when figuring this stuff. Full bump on both sides doesn't require as much. If the fenders weren't in the way of articulation (allowing the tires to rise above the hood line), I could have less bump stop and more up travel. If I move up to 35's with stock fenders, I would need about an inch more bump stop extension. Without fenders, I could keep the extension about where it is currently and maintain my current up travel.

MCE (like Metalcloak) allows the tire to rise above the hood line at full flex by removing the stock fender. Both can allow for less bump stop than a rig with factory fenders. Most do not seem to understand that nuance, but that is what is going on. Metalcloak goes a bit further than MCE by replacing the entire wheel well with one that has more room on the back side. For 35's, I don't think this is useful. And I don't believe that 37s belong on stock axles and a stock wheelbase.

I don't want to get into too much of a Metalcloak critique right now, but this hints at some of the reasons I do not care for what they offer.
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In order for me to install the rear arms, I need to figure out the exhaust. The new rear passenger upper arm needs to go right where the factory muffler is. I'm no exhaust expert, but I am going to figure something out.

For no good reason, I started with a Flowmaster something. I also decide that since I am needing to re-route all of the exhaust, I might as well replace the 120k mile cats. For the front mini cats, I got a Magnaflow. The third cat is a Walker.

With the cats in place, I decide that the best course of action is to try moving the muffler and third cat forward. The muffler will live next to the transfer case.

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For me, it just comes down to the fact that I like the factory look of TJ fenders. The flat fenders just looks like an add on and doesn't blend in with the rest of the jeep. Just my opinion, so take it as such. I totally get the advantages of having more up travel and less bump stop. Just that 90% of the time my TJ is a street queen, so those advantages off road doesn't mean as much as it would for you. You get to play more than I do.
I definitely agree on the aesthetics. Up travel is something i'll be talking more about as we get closer to today. The Jeep is primarily a daily driver. I haven't made it off road since the last round of shock work, but the up travel on the street is delightful. I see a way to get more and I have a bit of a hard time not going after it.
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December 4, 2016

Currie steering is finally in. The Crown HD steering was in worse shape than I realized. And I added some caster back in, so the Jeep drives really well again. It always surprises me how worn parts and poor handling creep up on you.

The one minor problem with the Currie steering is that it really is designed for a minimum 4" lift. I am just below that and I can't quite shorten the drag link enough to fully center the steering wheel.

I keep trying to stay away from 4" of lift, but I am just creeping closer and closer to it.
I am wandering through the junk yard one day and I spot a unicorn!


These are OEM hood louvers with drip pans from a 98 Hemi Grand Cherokee! One year only!! $20!!!