Doing It The Hard Way - JL Steering Box and a Front Stretch

With all the work you are doing there, did you ever consider going to coilovers? I don’t recall.
 
With all the work you are doing there, did you ever consider going to coilovers? I don’t recall.

Coilovers weren’t in my budget when I started, but if I were to do it all over again I’d definitely go that route. Packaging has been a major pain point and coilovers would have solved all of it easily. Just going to make what I already have work though.
 
I'm planning on re-doing all of the brake lines on the Jeep. Instead of the OEM style brake hoses that go between the frame and the caliper, I'll be running new lines down the upper control arm to a T and then across the axle, like in the rear. What I'm wondering is should I stick with OEM type flare fittings, or would it be best to switch to -3AN lines all around? I guess I'll need 8x 12" flexible braided hoses, one at each wheel and one at each end of the control arms. I know I can get those in -3AN but not sure where to find normal flare type ones.
Are the AN lines DOT legal? Does anyone care? Is Earl's hardware decent? Would appreciate some guidance here.
 
I prefer OE style flare fittings but mostly because I can get source them in a pinch anywhere. Stainless is not fun to flare and a good flaring tool makes all the difference in the world. I had access to the eastwood double flaring tool and it made a huge difference. If you go the an route I'm interested in your results.
 
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Alright so here is what I'm thinking: I'll use the standard (correct me if I'm wrong) inverted flare 3/8-24 tube nuts on all hard lines. I'll get all standard -3AN 12" hoses for anywhere I need movement, and I'll just use adapters where the hard lines meet hoses. From what I understand, I would need male-male AN adapters anyways even if I stuck with all AN stuff, so I'm not really adding more fittings to the mix. I'm not really willing to buy the 37° flaring stuff to make the hard lines myself.

Circuit will look like this, basically same for front and rear:
Hard line master cylinder to firewall > adapter > 12" AN Hose to top of control arm > adapter > Hard line down control arm > adapter > 12" hose to axle > Tee block > Hardline out to each inner C > adapter > 12" hose > banjo adapter at caliper

Tube nuts: https://www.pegasusautoracing.com/productdetails.asp?RecID=32240
Adapters: https://www.pegasusautoracing.com/productdetails.asp?RecID=4187
Hose: https://www.pegasusautoracing.com/productselection.asp?Product=BK3
Tee: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06XT1GRCC?tag=wranglerorg-20

Make sense? Seems like a lot of fittings / points of failure. Maybe just run braided line all the way down the control arms?
 
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Alright so here is what I'm thinking: I'll use the standard (correct me if I'm wrong) inverted flare 3/8-24 tube nuts on all hard lines. I'll get all standard -3AN 12" hoses for anywhere I need movement, and I'll just use adapters where the hard lines meet hoses. From what I understand, I would need male-male AN adapters anyways even if I stuck with all AN stuff, so I'm not really adding more fittings to the mix. I'm not really willing to buy the 37° flaring stuff to make the hard lines myself.

Circuit will look like this, basically same for front and rear:
Hard line master cylinder to firewall > adapter > 12" AN Hose to top of control arm > adapter > Hard line down control arm > adapter > 12" hose to axle > Tee block > Hardline out to each inner C > adapter > 12" hose > banjo adapter at caliper

Tube nuts: https://www.pegasusautoracing.com/productdetails.asp?RecID=32240
Adapters: https://www.pegasusautoracing.com/productdetails.asp?RecID=4187
Hose: https://www.pegasusautoracing.com/productselection.asp?Product=BK3
Tee: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06XT1GRCC?tag=wranglerorg-20

Make sense? Seems like a lot of fittings / points of failure. Maybe just run braided line all the way down the control arms?

For my front setup, I ran hardline from the master/proportion value down to a frame stop I welded on near the upper CA frame mount into an adapter for AN connection. Then ran a braided flex line along the CA to a junction on the front truss. Junction has 2 hardlines connected for each wheel, R/L. Then ran a hose from the hardline stop to the caliper. It's still a couple adapters, but a couple less hoses. Just another way of doing it.
 
Napa has a great selection of high quality pre-flared lines in many lengths. I would check that section and see what you find. I bet you could make exactly what you want with all standard fittings eliminating the adapters.

https://www.napaonline.com/en/search?text=universal brake line&referer=v2

I see a wide variety of tube nuts at Napa which is good to know about, but their hose selection is pretty limited, at least locally. Crazy prices too, like 3-4x elsewhere. $40 for a non braided rubber hose? Ouch.

For my front setup, I ran hardline from the master/proportion value down to a frame stop I welded on near the upper CA frame mount into an adapter for AN connection. Then ran a braided flex line along the CA to a junction on the front truss. Junction has 2 hardlines connected for each wheel, R/L. Then ran a hose from the hardline stop to the caliper. It's still a couple adapters, but a couple less hoses. Just another way of doing it.

Yeah that's my alternative idea. You're only gaining like 4 extra feet of hose in the system overall going that route, but get to ditch like 12 connection points. The drawback I guess is you have different hoses at that point so you can't just have one 12" hose as a spare. I don't know how much that really matters, or how much the extra hose length in the system matters either.

Is a brake system with 12 feet of braided hose and 20 feet of hard line going to feel any different than a system with 16 feet of braided hose and 16 feet of hard line? Doubt it, but I really don't know.

I'll keep digging into it but I'm starting to think adding AN into the mix might not be the right call. Maybe just need to find the right off the shelf hose like Fluxor suggested.
 
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Decided to switch gears and do some easier tasks this week, so I cleaned up and painted the knuckles. Got the hole for the steering stabilizer drilled too. I had to swap the bushings in the stabilizer end for end to keep the body of the shock away from the spring.

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I'm using Steel-It alkyd primer and top coat. I'm just brushing it on from a quart can, the spray cans are too pricey for me.

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Wasn't happy with how some of my welds looked on my modified knuckle, so I ground them smooth and ran a few more passes in some areas. So much for an easy task, that ended up being a lot of grinding.

I will say though, I got some 60 grit 3M cubitron sanding belts for the finger sander and wow, that stuff removes material 3x faster and the belts last 3x longer than the bargain stuff. Totally worth the cost IMO.


Had a slight casualty with my trusty free sander, new crimp terminal and it was back in service!

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Got some brake stuff on the way too. Decided to stay away from AN lines and will keep everything 3/8"-24 inverted flare. At worst, I'll have to get two custom lines for the control arms, but I'm still looking for any off the shelf stuff that could work. Maybe a clutch line or something would fit the bill.
 
Got my pitman arm finished up, minus paint. Tapered insert from TMR welded in and one more plate added up top to fill up space. My welds are getting a little better, at least the easy ones.

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It always amazes me how quickly these spiral flute step bits can turn steel into chips, maybe faster than anything I own. Chips that are quite annoying to clean up I might add. Don't vacuum these, they get stuck in the corrugated hose and cause a very hard to remove blockage...

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Threw the knuckle and caliper on to try and figure out the brake hose. I bought one on amazon with just a straight banjo but kind of spaced and forgot the bleed screw goes on top, not below. No way of making that work, its either gonna hit stuff or hang really low, so that will be going back. Factory JK style lines with the right angle banjo block would work but they are a bit too long and might be hard to keep away from the wheel. Still searching for a solution there. I'm kind of surprised how much the caliper intrudes in the shock mount area, must be a real pain working with factory TJ width axles.

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I also got some wheel alignment thingies from TMR to make the $20 shipping for the $12 TRE insert hurt less. Sanded them with an orbital and 36 grit paper and sprayed it with some old yellow metalcast paint, basically tinted clear coat. Not a huge fan of the color but they turned out alright.

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What amp welder do you have? Did you pre and post heat the pitman arm when welding it?

It’s a 140A Lincoln welder, only works on 120v. Pretty underpowered and I preheat most of the time anything thicker than 1/4”. Not much control either, just wire feed 1-10 and power levels A-D. It sticks stuff together but hard to get it just right.
 
Decided to tackle a simple task today, just extract a broken bolt is all. IDK why my lower fender support bracket bolts look like this on both sides, the rest of the bolts on the Jeep are pretty much fine.

Passenger
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Driver
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Got the one stuck bolt out without much hassle, definitely not factory (top)
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I thought I'd just weld a nut to the broken stud and spin it right off. Haha, nope!

After a few nuts failed I ran out of exposed stud, so I drilled the bolt out all the way through, tried a cheap ass extractor bit, which broke off inside the bolt instantly, drilled that out with the step bit, couldn't tell what was bolt and what was nut anymore and just removed the whole thing with a hole saw.
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Yeah got a bit carried away with this one. I'll just make a nut plate and patch it up though. Problem for future me.
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I noticed the bracket had some spray foam stuck between it and the body. Should I put something on there when I put it back on?
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Got the track bar bracket burned in. I went ahead and pulled the axle for easier access. Removed the ball joints and preheated the surrounding area to around 400F which took a lot from my little propane torch. While I was at it, I burned in the coil seats too. I also ran more weld passes on the LCA brackets and UCA truss. I wasn't really happy with how the first welds looked as far as penetration.
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Masked off the diff cover and sprayed some steel-it up under the truss where it would be hard to reach with a brush, as well as under the coil seats,
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Next, I tackled the lower shock mounts. I had an idea to use the left over pieces from the shock towers as extension pieces, and I think it worked out great.
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I ground the welds smooth on the exterior so it looks cleaner, but the inside still has a nice fat weld for strength. All the edges got a deep chamfer before welding too.

Getting it mounted up straight and level needed some creativity.
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Make the noise!
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I think I'll put some kind of brace/gusset in here, maybe between the bottom edge of the coil seat and the top edge of the inboard side of the shock bracket. It just doesn't look super strong as it sits.
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I'll also tie in the back edge of the coil seat to the top of the shock bracket here. Speaking of gussets, the track bar bracket is getting another one to the top of the inner C as well.
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Feels like things are coming along!
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Wanted to throw the axle back in before burning in the towers and brackets to double check that everything still cleared on both sides. I had only checked the driver side before. Kind of a pain in the ass to get the shock bolts in with the spacers while lining everything up. Probably wouldn't be so hard with the correct 1/2" thick spacers instead of the included 3/8" ones and washers. Anyone know where to get those for less than... 9 DOLLARS EACH!?

Full droop
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Angle of the passenger shock at full droop (due to the trackbar arc shifting the axle driver)
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Driver side angle
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At ride height. Confirmed axle was centered, then measured the angle of the shocks again and they are exactly the same here, which confirms my towers are positioned correctly.
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Full stuff, still clears everything on both sides. We're good to burn in! Getting a little tricky to use these ratchet straps to lift the axle up.
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Hopefully I've guesstimated my caster angle correctly, changing it would have a pretty exaggerated effect on my lower shock mount's vertical position with them cantilevered out so far.
 
Got the lower mounts fully welded on, lots of preheat. Pretty happy with these welds actually.
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I decided not to put any extra bracing or gussets underneath simply because I don't think they are necessary. There is a direct load path from the LCA bracket through the shock mount and up to the coil bucket now, and there are as many inches of weld on that side as there would be if it were welded to the tube. And even though the other side has a butt welded plate, even if I'm only getting 80% of the original strength through the welded section, it's still 3/16 plate. Sure, there is more leverage on the bracket, but I think the thing is pretty overkill as it is.


Now what I've been trying to avoid, I needed to get the grille out of my way.
Support the hood using garage rafters:
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Disconnect the AC lines:
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Two bolts later and it is free.
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That took like 5 minutes at most. Not doing that sooner is probably my biggest regret so far in this project. There is so much easy access to everything now. All because I didn't want to waste a bee fart of R134a. :rolleyes:
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Ok... why did I need the grille gone?
This is why:
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I welded up my old drag link to the under side of the frame to both keep the frame rails from springing in or out, and also to retain a centerline datum.

This is the idea:
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I'm going to mount the frame 1.25" higher. That amount specifically to eliminate the front body lift pucks, but really the point was to keep the frame closer to the full 4" height in the spot where I had to notch it out to clear the steering linkages. I was worried about how much material I had removed. Also, with the frame detached now, I can weld in internal fish plates to further support the weakened area. Regardless, I do feel like an insane person. :LOL: