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Long Arm Lifts vs. Short Arm Lifts

TJDon

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To say the similar, but turn it on its head... I'll ask if MC has made actual meaningful improvements to the already available bolt on long arm kits. The alleged improvements in ride quality are already a well trodden and tired debate. I already asked what problem the Lock N Load solved compared to other TJ radius arm kits. To address another comment... does anyone know how much, if any, bump stop extension is required to prevent diff cover/track bar interference. Those are tech questions and the answers are what they are.

If there is a problem with this thread, it is the unsolicited advice and guidance on how to spend this free contest money (raises hand). We already know where TJDon will be spent this contest money and we also know that he will listen to his long time friends at Metalcloak.

Haha. Not necessarily. After reading the thoughts on people’s opinions about short vs long arm I have been reading and deciding which would be better for my purpose. I do want and will wheel the rubicon and other like trails, but my Jeep is set up mostly for long drives and “over landing” I don’t want a huge lift but want enough to get me through without issues or fighting the rig where I want to go.
I have spent A LOT of time in both short and long arm set ups. And I will testify that long arm is most certainly easier to ride in for everyday use. I get that long arm can be a pita when climbing and unloading suspension. And long arm has benefits to rock crawling also. I’ll make a decision that best suits my needs between both styles.


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Jerry Bransford

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I have spent A LOT of time in both short and long arm set ups. And I will testify that long arm is most certainly easier to ride in for everyday use.
Funny, so have I spent a LOT of time with short and long arm suspensions that I personally owned and my personal opinion is that my previous TJ's long-arm suspension rode no better than my current short-arm suspension does.

Long-arm suspension manufacturers keep pushing that short arms ride stiffly but that phenomena could only possibly be true with a taller than normally installed short-arm suspension lift. It's simply not true with commonly installed short-arms suspension lift heights like up to 4". Short arm angles are simply not steep enough to cause a stiff ride with 3" or 4" suspension heights.

If someone with a 4" suspension lift has a stiff ride, it's not caused by the control arm angles. All the blame for a stiff ride with even that much height could only be caused by the shock absorbers or over-inflated tires. Short arm angles with reasonable/commonly installed heights simply aren't stiff enough to be the cause of a stiff ride.

These are my Currie short arms with my 4" suspension lift height. Any unbiased observer with a little common sense can see the arm angles with a 4" lift are just not steep enough to cause a stiff ride.

Am I moaning that my current short arms make my TJ ride worse than my previous long-arm suspension did? Does it ride worse? Nope. Does my current short-arm 4" suspension ride so well that even my Lexus-driving wife volunteered that she thought it rode nicely? Yes. :roto2palm:

Front.jpg
Rear.jpg
 
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jjvw

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A section of another thread got moved over here. (Good decision, Chris!)

Let's talk more about the radius arm configuration that many long arm kits come with, such as Rubicon Express, Rough County, Metalcloak, and even the much loved Nth Degree.

Why a radius arm? Why not a radius arm?
 
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mrblaine

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A section of another thread got moved over here. (Good decision, Chris!)

Let's talk more about the radius arm configuration that many long arm kits come with, such as Rubicon Express, Rough County, Metalcloak, and even the much loved Nth Degree.

Why a radius arm? Why not a radius arm?
The why is packaging. If you run a 36" long arm in the front and try match an upper to it lengthwise, you wind up with an upper control arm mount roughly in a location that the driver can set his left foot on it after you cut a hole in the tub. If you don't want to do that, then you can run shortened uppers and deal with that bad geometry and lots of caster change. If you don't like that, then you run a radius arm that controls pinion angle with a short upper down to the main arm. Correctly though, it is not a true radius arm, a true radius arm has both short ends fixed with no allowable rotation around the long axis of the lower.

Correctly, RC, Nth, and RE run some version of a wristed radius arm in that as the axle articulates the bind trying to twist the tubes out of the pumpkin is alleviated by the use of limited movement Clevite style bushings. They are located in the axle and at the juncture of the short arm to long arm connection. When the axle is articulated, the short arm forces the long arm to rotate around its long axis slightly and relieves the bind. Simple, effective, cheap.

The easiest way to understand the effectiveness of the design is to understand the passenger side mount on a TJ front axle. It is poorly braces formed sheet metal with an open front design. If there were any binding not alleviated by the bushings, every RE owner would be replacing that mount in short order due to the flexing of it front to rear that would rip it off the axle tube or at a minimum collapse it closed at the front edges. They survive quite well with very little if any binding.
 

jjvw

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....
In no way put on a front radius arm. It is a lazy answer to put long arms on, and your front geometry suffers. Climbing ability is terrible, the front lifts away unless you make the radius arm like 15 feet long. ....


Single mounting point at the frame, spits into separation at the axle. No separate upper arms. Ford and Dodge trucks are like this. Fords have done this for a LONG time. But they are very flat and quite long.

...But there is no counter acting force keeping from traction from pushing the front end up on climbs. Think full extension when you don't want it to. RE came up with it for easy install, and tons of flex. But they forgot the whole "proper geometry" thing, ...

I'm interested in the comments about the front climbing ability, the front lifting to full extension, counter force, etc. How much of this is the front radius arms and how much might be attributed to the rear squatting hard on a climb causing the Jeep to want to fall over backwards?
 

jjvw

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....

The easiest way to understand the effectiveness of the design is to understand the passenger side mount on a TJ front axle. It is poorly braces formed sheet metal with an open front design. If there were any binding not alleviated by the bushings, every RE owner would be replacing that mount in short order due to the flexing of it front to rear that would rip it off the axle tube or at a minimum collapse it closed at the front edges. They survive quite well with very little if any binding.

There must have been a time in the earlier days of designing high travel, high flexing linked suspensions when tearing the mounts on a radius arm was a problem to be solved. But at least by the early days of the TJ, several companies figured this out with the wristed design and the appropriate bushings.
 

Fouledplugs

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How did a celebratory "I just won $5K in parts from Metalcloak" turn into just another knee jerk "Metalcloak is sh*t" thread?

I don't own any Metalcloak products, but I have encountered many jeepers who do on the trails in NorCal. The comments I have heard from them are positive. None have castigated their Metalcloak products or lamented that they should have listened to Jerry Bransford. Most would probably respond, "Who is Jerry Bransford?"

I'm going to keep an open mind until (1) someone who actually owns a Metalcloak suspension articulates reasons for making a different choice, or (2) both forum members who design and/or build TJ/LJ suspensions as a profession have weighed in on the subject.
 

AndyG

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I love the two hump versus 1 hump camel debate....I wanted both good road manners and off road capability. My O3 is the only TJ I have owned. I have had 7 Jeeps.

The Coil spring brand is unknown , likely skyjacker crap, the rough country long arms use Oem 1 ton dodge control arm bushings . Think about that . Bushings for an 8500-9500lb truck on a Jeep. I picked the arms for that reason.

It has 33” Ko 2 tires on real bead locks and Rancho 5000x shocks.

Bear in mind it was so bad when I got it I could have used rebar and muffler clamps for control arms and made it better.

It is so good now I’m scared to touch it. It is smooth as glass. It hooks up. Every Jeep owner who drives it just shakes their head.


I contend, to a degree, that control arms are just metal rods ...it’s the bushings , the track bars, the condition of the suspension components ,the shocks and springs, the tire type and pressure, and the know how to make it all work that produce a great lifted Jeep. And I’m not saying I have that know how, but I know someone who does , and many of you have it or know who does .

I realize that I’m not giving the control arms much glory, and I know they establish the basic geometry, and there is importance in that.


In California carpenters like worm drive saws, in the east , they use sidewinders. Both can help build a great house, but it takes knowledge, skill and other good materials, as well as experience and design , to make it come together.
 
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Chris

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In California carpenters like worm drive saws, in the east , they use sidewinders.

Tell me about it. I tried to figure out which one would be better to purchase, and basically it just came down to which coast you were on, east or west. Haha!
 

Blackjack

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The old Nth Degree short arm kits came with a jig for drilling and lowering the lower control arms. It is certainly something that can be eyeballed. I don't recall if anything was done to the uppers.

I imagine there would be some benefit to the geometry, but at the expense of clearance at the lower arm. It may not be physically possible, but the vertical separation at the frame should not exceed the separation at the axle.

It would be interesting to know why drilling the mounts never caught on outside the Nth kit.

The jig lowered the frame side lower arm mount by 1 1/8 inches and raised the axle side by 1 5/8. This just barely shows the bottom of the control arm bushing ring at the frame and you can cut off 1 1/2 or so on the axle side bracket. For those that did not run the stinger (torque arm) the upper control arm on the axle side had brackets that raised the mount up about 3 1/4 inches IIRC. The gyro joint short arm lowered the frame side of the lower arm by 1 3/4 inches vs the 1 1/8 of the redrill. And the frame side of the upper arm was moved down by 2 1/4 -2 1/2 if memory serves me. I think the reason the redrill did not catch on is that a lot of people thought you had to run the stinger and Jim did not push his standard short arm stuff as much as I think he could. I am sure I am one of the only people to be running what Jim called the Handling Improvement Kit.
 

jjvw

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I love the two hump versus 1 hump camel debate....I wanted both good road manners and off road capability. My O3 is the only TJ I have owned. I have had 7 Jeeps.

The Coil spring brand is unknown , likely skyjacker crap, the rough country long arms use Oem 1 ton dodge control arm bushings . Think about that . Bushings for an 8500-9500lb truck on a Jeep. I picked the arms for that reason.

It has 33” Ko 2 tires on real bead locks and Rancho 5000x shocks.

Bear in mind it was so bad when I got it I could have used rebar and muffler clamps for control arms and made it better.

It is so good now I’m scared to touch it. It is smooth as glass. It hooks up. Every Jeep owner who drives it just shakes their head.


I contend, to a degree, that control arms are just metal rods ...it’s the bushings , the track bars, the condition of the suspension components ,the shocks and springs, the tire type and pressure, and the know how to make it all work that produce a great lifted Jeep. And I’m not saying I have that know how, but I know someone who does , and many of you have it or know who does .

I realize that I’m not giving the control arms much glory, and I know they establish the basic geometry, and there is importance in that.
....

How the bushings/joints may or may not contribute to the behaviors of the Jeep is a different discussion. The control arm mounting locations do have very real consequences to the function of the suspension. I've seen it and I've experienced it.
 
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Stox5225

Stox5225

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How the bushings/joints may or may not contribute to the behaviors of the Jeep is a different discussion.

It may be, but I say we have it. Then have Chris come in here and pretty up/simplify the thread one day haha.


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mrblaine

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Tell me about it. I tried to figure out which one would be better to purchase, and basically it just came down to which coast you were on, east or west. Haha!
It is regional until you try both side x side and it also depends on if you are right handed or left handed and you cut a lot of roofs and stairs. I've used worm drives from Skil, Bosch, Makita, and one more that I don't recall the brand of. I have a couple of sidewinders and I've used them from smallish to monster beam saws from Makita along with a few trailer mounted radial arm saws swinging 24" blades.

You get to use and try a bunch of different saws when you spend several years as the saw man building custom homes. I cut all the studs, fire blocks, vent blocks headers, king studs, trimmers, and beams for the homes we built.

After we finished the framing, we set up a mill in the garage and I ran the table saw for the cabinets we built. In and amongst that, I built the door jambs and prehung all the interior doors for the finish carpenters.

I currently own 2 sidewinders, 1 compound radial arm chop saw, 1 regular chop saw, 4 jigsaws, 4 worm-drives, and a couple more oddball saws.

If you told me I had to get rid of everything but 1 saw, I would keep the worm drive.