OldBuzzard's 2005 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

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OldBuzzard

OldBuzzard

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San Denver, Colofornia
Rear Control Arms and Bushings

With an expected 2" or less of lift, this LJ should not need adjustable control arms, driveline angles should be okay. I removed a lower control arm and checked the bushings. They look very weathered.
Rear_Lower_CA_driver_02.jpg


But how do they feel? I grabbed a stout rod and stuck it through the bushings and flexed them a little. Not terrible, but a bit mushy.
Rear_CA_01.jpg


I bought a new set of Moog rear control arms from Amazon, two RK640734 (lower) and two RK620246 (upper):
Rear_CA_02.jpg


I did the same flex test as above on the new control arms. Much firmer. Yes, this upgrade was needed.

Installation was surprisingly easy. Remove the bolts, and they drop right out.
Rear_CA_03.jpg


And I added sway bar bushings, Moog K3160 (probably didn't need new ones, but I only want to do all of this once):
Rear_Sway_Bush_01.jpg
 
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OldBuzzard

OldBuzzard

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Rear Bump Stop Extensions

I looked at the price of bump stop extensions, and decided to make my own. I turned 2" aluminum round on a lathe, 1.5" long.

Rear_Bump_Ext_01.jpg


With some longer bolts from the hardware store, they look like this:

Rear_Bump_Ext_02.jpg


Installed:

Rear_Bump_Ext_03.jpg


Since the shocks are the limiting factor for where the bump stops are placed, I installed them and jacked the axle up. The bump cups touch the lower spring perch pad just as the shocks compress fully.

Rear_Bump_Ext_04.jpg
 
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OldBuzzard

OldBuzzard

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While I was working on this, I got tired of stretching the diff breather hose when I dropped the axle. So I pulled it out and left it on the floor.

Rear_Diff_Vent_01.jpg


When I was finished, I rerouted the hose slightly, giving it a little extra travel for axle drop. I zip-tied it to the fuel lines above the gas tank (and the Air Lift hoses in the photo).

Rear_Diff_Vent_02.jpg


I zip tied it to the gas filler pipe too, so it can't escape.

Rear_Diff_Vent_03.jpg
 
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OldBuzzard

OldBuzzard

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Rear OME Spring Installation

The axle dropped far enough that it was easy to set the rear springs in place without much fuss. I placed the "A" (taller) spring on the driver side, per the OME instructions. (But the passenger side sits low, and after talking with @bobthetj03, I'll probably switch them later.)

Rear_OME_Spring_01.jpg


I did not re-install the Air Lift balloons, I just sealed the air lines. I'll see if I need them in the spring when I start pulling the trailer again. Probably will.
 
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OldBuzzard

OldBuzzard

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Rear Track Bar and Sway Bar Links

I checked the OEM track bar bushings. They're a little weathered, but not very bad. I stuck a rod through the bushings and twisted the rubber, and it's still tight and firm. So this stock track bar is fine. Instead of doing the trigonometry, I'll just try it to see how much axle offset it gives at the new ride height.

Rear_Track_01.jpg


Rear_Track_02.jpg


With the axle extended downward, the track bar hits the bracket, stopping further downward travel. I cut out this small section of the bracket, as recommended by some track bar manufacturers. I was a little hesitant to cut into this bracket, but then I realized that this thing still has more metal and is stronger than most of the bolt-on extenders.

Rear_Track_03.jpg


Rear_Track_04.jpg


Now the track bar clears, and allows the axle to descend just a little farther. You can see the little mark on the track bar where it had been hitting the bracket.

Rear_Track_05.jpg


However, at the original ride height the axle was centered in the frame within 1/16". But at the new lifted ride height, it's about 1/4" de-centered (sticks out passenger side about 1/2"). So I ordered a JKS OGS151 adjustable rear track bar.

The original sway bar links are too short, as expected, running into the e-brake cables when the axle drops to its lowest point. I looked at various products, and at options for building my own. I ordered a set of JKS 2942 adjustable rear sway bar links.

Rear_Links_01.jpg


It looks like the rear lift will be in the neighborhood of 2 inches, but the front end is still sitting down on the original springs, so things in the rear will shift a little with the front lift.
 
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OldBuzzard

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Rear Track Bar and Sway Bar Links: Part 2

I'm using this quick, simple tool to check the axle centering.

Track_Width_Tool_01.jpg


Track_Width_Tool_04.jpg


The axles weren't perfectly centered from the factory, but at least they both were offset slightly toward the driver side, so the Jeep drove straight. When the Jeep is lifted, the axles go in opposite directions. Lifted, the rear axle was just over 1/2" farther out the passenger side.

I set the JKS adjustable rear track bar to about 1/4" longer than the original track bar, and installed it. Back on the ground, the axle was still about 1/16" too far to the right. I pulled the track bar out and lengthened it one more turn (at 14 threads per inch). With it all back together, the axle is perfectly centered.

JKS_Rear_Track_01.jpg


JKS_Rear_Track_02.jpg


The original rear sway bar links are 7" eye-to-eye. The JKS instructions say to make the new links 7" for 0" to 2" lift, but that leaves you with the same too-short links you already have. That might work for up to a 1" lift. This Jeep needs at least a 1.5" extended length to clear the e-brake lines. The JKS 2" to 4" lift length is 8-3/4", which is what I chose. I cut about 7/8" off of each end of the 9" rods, making a 7-3/16" rod. Assembled everything with blue 242 Loctite. The links are exactly 8-3/4" eye-to-eye.

I greased the shank bolts and the inside and ends of the rubber bushings (recommended by JKS). Installed, they clear the e-brake lines, and have plenty of room for the full axle travel.

JKS_Rear_Link_01.jpg


JKS_Rear_Link_02.jpg


JKS_Rear_Link_03.jpg


That completes the rear mods, with just over 2" of lift.
 
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OldBuzzard

OldBuzzard

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It's no fun to grease yourself up every time you reach under the front end. So I stopped in the middle of the front lift job and cleaned all of the grease-able joints. I used a small screwdriver and a plastic tool to scrape off the bulk of the gunk, and then used paint thinner on paper towels to finish up.

Cleaning_01.jpg


It took a couple hours, but it's so much nicer to work on now.

Cleaning_02.jpg
 
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OldBuzzard

OldBuzzard

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With the Jeep up on blocks, the front axle comes down to a hard stop about an inch before the B8516 shocks are fully extended. The OEM sway bar links are stopping it.

Front_Up.jpg


Links_Hanging.jpg


With those disconnected, the axle comes down to a stop when the shocks are fully extended, with a small push. Good, the track bar is near its limit, but nothing else is hanging it up, and those links will be replaced.
 
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OldBuzzard

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First thing for the front end, I needed to see how much lift the OME springs would give for later suspension cycling and choosing bump stop height. By disconnecting the shocks and tilting the axle, I was able to remove the stock springs.

But to get the longer OME springs in, I had to disconnect the track bar, and the brake hose hangers, and the diff vent hose, and the driveshaft, and the drag link. Even then I had to crowbar the new springs into place. Then I discovered that the lower control arms were hitting their own brackets.

Control_Arm_Limit.jpg


Removing the axle-end LCA bolts finally let the axle drop down far enough for easy spring swapping (supported, of course, or it can drop far enough to break your brake hoses).

Axle_Fully_Down.jpg


The later model TJs used bolts with thick circular washers instead of cam bolts and washers, for a centered caster adjustment. I suppose this was because pinion angle takes precedence over caster, and non-Jeep-4WD alignment techs just read their instruments and tweak the caster, never considering pinion angle at all. Youtube will show it in action. You can add cam bolts if needed, but make sure your alignment person (might be you) knows the rules. I'm learning them as I go.

With the new OME springs in place, and sitting on the tires again, the front lift appears to be a hair over one inch higher than stock. That surprised me, since these "2-inch lift" springs should have no problem with my stock LJ, where most of the extra weight from the extended length and hardtop are over the rear axle. And the front bumper is stock, with no winch. So I guess that more of the LJ weight is up front than I had thought. I wish I knew the weight of each corner. Someone needs to invent a $10 pocket scale which can handle 1500 lbs. Well, okay, later I'll want to add spring spacers to bring it up a little more.
 
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OldBuzzard

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With the springs back out, and the control arms and shocks reattached, I did some suspension cycling. With the axle jacked up and both shocks fully compressed, there is a 3/8" bump stop gap (passenger side) and 1/2"+ on the driver side. So it needs a minimum of 1/2" bump stop extension for the shocks.

Bump_Front_Shock.jpg


With the tires installed and the axle jacked up to full shock compression, the tire sits about 1/4" up in the fender flare. It spins freely when straight, touches nothing. I can turn tires lock to lock and they still spin freely, with at least a 1/2" gap to all Jeep parts. But the sway bar links are hanging down out of the way. They will probably be a problem later.

With one tire tucked up in the flare, and the other tire removed so that side of the axle can hang down to the shock stop, the tucked tire spins when straight, but a small turn either way makes it rub the flare badly. With the tucked tire dropped to 1-1/2" bump gap, it just clears the fender flare when turned either way. So it needs a minimum of 1-1/2" bump stop extension for the fender flares.

Axle_Tilt_01.jpg


Axle_Tilt_02.jpg


But at that height it rubs hard on the spring tower when turned sharply.

Spring_Tower.jpg


Lowering that side to a 3-7/8" bump gap, the tire just kisses the spring tower. Okay, now I know the limits, but I certainly don't want to add 4 inches of bump stop. That reduces articulation too much. The spring tower is rounded and smooth where the tire touches it. And the only time that would happen is when the axle is at an extreme tilt and the tire is sharply turned. I seldom find myself going over 90 MPH in that situation. After cycling the suspension some more, and watching where the tire touches that spring tower, I decided to allow some rubbing. I'll be going very slowly, over boulders, turning sharply, and I'll know it when the tire starts to rub — there will be resistance, and noise. I don't want to set the turn limiters for this special situation, which would limit turn radius on daily driving unnecessarily. And I don't want to limit axle travel that much. I could get wheels with less backspacing, but that costs money and changes my fender flare bump stop situation. I'll compromise by using a 2" bump stop extension.
 
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OldBuzzard

OldBuzzard

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I bought a 12-pack of hockey pucks on Amazon. Using two for each side, I drilled them and recessed the top ones for the bolt head on a lathe. That hard rubber machines nicely if you go slow at it. Too fast, and the rubber will flex and grab and the puck may go flying. Mine didn't fly, but they tried to get out of the chuck.

Pucks_01.jpg


I drilled and tapped (5/16-18) the spring pads on the lower perches. I cleaned the holes with paint thinner and Brakleen because I'll be using Loctite.

Spring_Pad.jpg


While I was cycling the suspension, I experimented with the jounce bumpers. The rubber feels very tough, but even in this static test it compresses a lot. With a hard hit, there is no doubt that the metal cup will contact the lower bump stop.

Jounce_01.jpg


Jounce_02.jpg


I installed the springs, and then the pucks, with new 2-1/2" bolts and large washers, with blue 242 Loctite, snugging them down by hand, and a wee bit more, not terribly tight (the rubber would just collapse).

Pucks_02.jpg
 
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OldBuzzard

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The OME springs come with tags marked A and B, with a longer A spring, intended for the driver side. But after a short conversation with @bobthetj03, I decided to put the longer spring on the passenger side, which tends to sit lower on this Jeep. I'll want to go back and swap the rear springs too, to lift that low passenger side rear corner.
 
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OldBuzzard

OldBuzzard

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I replaced the front control arms with new Moog parts, one at a time. The front springs sit a couple of inches forward over the axle, tending to tilt it. That makes it a battle to get the CA bolts in place. Crowbars or an extra jack or a ratchet strap can help. While tightening the lower CA bolts, laying under the Jeep in an awkward position, pulling on the torque wrench at 130 ft lbs, I only slugged myself in the face once when the socket slipped. A good day.

I checked the upper axle bushings while I had the upper control arms off. I had intended to replace them, but they can be a pain. The original bushings looked good, with very little weathering. A big screwdriver through them can twist the rubber, but they feel good and snug. So I left the original ones in place.

Front_CA_Bushings.jpg


Front_CA_01.jpg
 
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OldBuzzard

OldBuzzard

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I bolted everything back together, keeping the original track bar and sway bar links for now (both are on order). A quick measurement shows the front is up about 1-1/16" and the rear is up about 2-1/8". The shovel came up 1-1/2 inches, a Very Good Thing.

Lifted_OME_Springs_Only.jpg


I put off checking the caster and pinion angle and axle centering with this low lift. I'll look at those after I lift the front some more.

I don't like that much rake. The front will need spacers (ordered) to finish the lift, but at least I can drive it again, after it's been up on blocks for several weeks. It's my only vehicle. My wife has a car, but she's out shopping in it 9 days a week.
 
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OldBuzzard

OldBuzzard

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I installed a Savvy cable shifter for the transfer case. My original shifter was fine, but I plan on installing a UCF no-body-lift transfer case skid, which would alter the linkage angles. A cable shifter should make that go better. And besides, everybody says a cable shifter is wonderful even without other alterations.

A typical Savvy box (minus packing paper): high quality parts, no instructions, no Savvy sticker for your Jeep or garage wall.

Savvy_Shifter_01.jpg


There are installation videos on Youtube for Savvy and Novak and junkier brands. A few are well done, many are really lousy. The Novak installation is almost identical to Savvy, and I found more Novak videos than Savvy. And this link helped:

Savvy transfer case shifter cable install?

Removing the old shifter takes a while, but installation is pretty easy. I dropped the skid, but left the front driveshaft in place. The driveshaft wasn't in the way for wrenching, but was for photos. The hard part was getting to the nuts in the tight spots. And those pesky little plastic clips. I wish I had thought of the channel-locks with a socket trick.

Savvy_Shifter_02.jpg


Savvy_Shifter_03.jpg


Savvy_Shifter_04.jpg


Adjustment takes a little work, but isn't bad. Read this:
Savvy shifter adjustment
Listen to mrblaine. He knows a thing or two about Savvy shifters.

Mine gave a somewhat more positive feel when shifting, a little less sloppiness than the old linkage. Many reports talk about how easy shifting is, with one or two fingers. Mine still requires a firmer grip than that. There is no binding, and I have it adjusted with a little play at each end, so the TC is going fully into each position. But it's not a two finger shift, which may be a good thing. It shouldn't get accidentally bumped easily.
 
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OldBuzzard

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Front Spacers

The OME #2932 springs only brought the front up one inch, so I installed a set of StreetRays 1" aluminum spacers on the front to bring the lift up higher.

https://www.streetrays.com

Spacer_01.jpg


Spacer_02.jpg


Spacer_03.jpg


I set the toe-in and centered the steering wheel using the method shown here:
https://wranglertjforum.com/threads/how-to-align-your-jeep-wrangler-tj.85/

Setting_Toe-In.jpg


That leveled it, getting rid of the rake. Final lift is 2" in front, and just a bit over 2" in back (depending on gasoline load, tools, etc, of course).

Lifted_2_inches.jpg


I used the original track bar. The front axle is offset toward to driver side by 1/4" (sticks out the driver side 1/2" farther than the passenger side). After reading some other threads here, and asking some questions, it's probably not worth the cost and the potential interference problems to install an adjustable front track bar just to move the axle over 1/4".
 
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OldBuzzard

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As near as I can measure (on the upper ball joints), the front caster is still about 7°, right where it should be. There is really not a good place to measure this angle. On the ball joint, you have to align the angle finder straight with the brake rotor, or you'll get a bad reading. I tried it with a socket on top of the ball joint too, and got the same reading.

Check_Caster_02.jpg


The front pinion angle (measured at the flats on either side of the diff cover) is 6°, and driveshaft angle is 5°, within 1° of each other. I think that's a little better than it was at stock height, but my "before" measurements were a little dicey. I don't get any funny vibrations, as expected with this low lift.
 
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OldBuzzard

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I installed a set of JKS p/n 2000 Quicker Disconnect adjustable front sway bar links. I set them to the maximum length of 9-3/8" for my 2" lift. With that length, they placed the sway bar at 7° which is within the 5° to 15° range wanted, but not the ideal 10°.

JKS_Sway_Bar_Links.jpg


When I greased them, I learned about the infamous JKS no-check-ball grease zerks with the squirting grease. And about how they will grease you up every time you connect or disconnect them. If I had known this, I would have looked for a different brand. But these will do.
 
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OME Springs A vs B Side

Back when I installed the OME springs, I looked for info on which side the 'A' and 'B' springs should go on. The first several tidbits I came across said that the 'A' (longer) springs should go on the driver side. So I installed the rear springs that way, 'A' on the left.

By the time I got to work on the front end, I had found statements which said the "driver" side was on the right, because these springs were designed and made in Australia, along with the documentation (which I couldn't find). So I installed the front springs that way, 'A' on the right, and decided to swap the rear springs at some future date.

As it turns out, both of those ideas were, at best, unclear and incomplete. I found TurboTJ's thread OME springs A and B sides where skrelnik provides the official ARB statement, which gives unclear driver/passenger info. But then says that you'll have to install, measure, and then swap the springs around until you get it level. Ok, so there is no official correct placement of the springs.

And then there is ejay's Why would my passenger side lean an inch? thread where mrblaine explains why the right rear spring sags. Aha! Now it makes sense.

So I swapped the rear springs, placing the 'A' (longest) rear spring at the right, to compensate for that tendency to sag at that corner. With both 'A' springs on the right, that side sits about 1/8" higher at the front, and about 1/4" higher at the rear. That's closer to level than the original 16 year old springs were, and it should not sag that corner quite as fast as the original springs. Maybe.
 
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With the short 2 inch lift, it still handles and steers well (for a Wrangler, not a Lamborghini), like it did at the factory ride height. Sometimes, even a small change in steering geometry can cause problems, but fortunately this one didn't have any trouble. It's still fairly close to stock, with 31 inch tires, and factory 5.5 inch backspaced wheels, and new control arms all around, and good balljoints and steering joints.

It may not handle like a Lamborghini, but at least the Wrangler beats it on gas mileage (a very rare phenomenon). Their website says "Fuel consumption combined: 10 mpg". Suddenly I feel ever so slightly better.
 
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