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1987 Jeep Wrangler - 4X Forum

Posted in Features on October 1, 2001
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Fire The Music Editor
Q: Congratulations on an excellent magazine. I sold my Jeep four years ago for economic reasons, but I still read your magazine to keep up on the subject. I am writing about your article, "Mountain Jam" (June '01). You start out by commenting on the Allman Brothers' song, "Mountain Jam," and the fact that they didn't put any words in it. That is because they didn't write the song, Donovan did. They just turned it into a jam song later. It is probably a good thing because the lyrics are very, very cheesy, which the Bronco in the article is definitely not. Keep up the good work.
Ian Hamelin
via e-mail

A: Ian, that's an interesting bit of information. We weren't aware that "Mountain Jam" got its roots from Donovan. Now that we know that there are a few 'wheeling music fans out there, we'll be more careful to ensure that we get all the facts before mentioning any songs. Glad you're reading, Ian. Hope you get yourself back in a Jeep real soon.

231 Or 207?
Q: My '87 Jeep Wrangler is equipped with the 4.2L five-speed drivetrain. I want to install a Low-gear kit in the transfer case. Everything I have read indicates that this model-year Wrangler is equipped with a NP207 case. However, all the ads I have seen for these kits are for the NP231 case, but also state that they will fit '87-and-newer Wranglers. If I do indeed have the NP207 case, will these kits fit my case, or do I need to swap in the NP231 case? If I do have to swap in a later case, what kind of fabrication am I in for as far as crossmembers, adapters, yokes, and so on? I hope you can provide some answers on this problem.
Peter Chesney
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

A: Peter, the good news is that your '87 is most likely equipped with a NP231, not a NP207, seeing as the 231 replaced the 207 for that model-year. You can verify this for certain by looking for the small, circular red tag found at the rear of the case. If you do for some reason find that your T-case is in a fact a 207, a 231 swap is fairly basic since the two T-cases use the same yokes, shifters, and bolt pattern. Just make sure you match the spline counts, and you're in there. We've also heard that some of the 231 kits can be adapted to fit the 207, so check with those companies for more information.

Uplifting Ideas
Q: I have a few questions regarding large tires on a '97 Wrangler. I am looking to put 35- or 36-inch tires on my Jeep and to go with a wider tire. First, how much of a lift do I need to accommodate these tires? Second, I want to go with at least a 12-inch-wide tire, so what is the best tire and rim size combination for me? Third, I really want 35-inch tires, but, after browsing through your magazine, it seems there is a much larger selection of 36-inch tires. Which would you recommend? I do the bulk of my driving in snowy and icy conditions but occasionally off-road in slightly muddy terrain, so I want an all-terrain tire. Lastly, I have been looking at 4-inch lift kits, and I notice the prices range from $289 to as much as $1,300. I can afford anything in that range, but I really do not know what to look for or what is good. Can you recommend a lift kit for me?
Chuck
Dublin, California

A: Chuck, while we'd like to tell you exactly what lift to buy for your Wrangler, we've yet to test every one available and don't feel we could objectively say which one is truly the best. What we can tell you, however, is the different options available. For the most part, lift prices vary according to what's included in each kit. Most inexpensive kits are simply body lift blocks that allow the use of larger tires. Suspension lifts, however, raise the entire vehicle up to allow ample space for a larger tire in addition to giving it the space to move up and down within the wheelwell, therefore increasing overall vehicle articulation. Traditionally, the higher you go, the more money you'll spend. This is because as you change the geometry of the suspension, it's necessary to adapt the geometry of the steering components to maintain the overall on- and off-road driving characteristics. Many lift companies will include these items in the cost of the lift, while others offer them as optional, though suggested, equipment. Optional items normally include front and rear antisway bar quick disconnects, steering correction components, extended brake lines, replacement parts as opposed to lowering brackets, and bushing kits. Shocks will also alter lift price by anywhere from $100 to $200. Concerning the size lift you mentioned, Off Road General Store in Laguna Hills, California, www.offroadgs.com, (949) 770-9300, suggests using at least a 5-1/2-inch to 6-inch lift to accommodate 35- or 36-inch tires. As for running 12-inch-wide tires, you should be able to run this setup as long as you stick to an 8- or 10-inch rim to avoid any unnecessary axle and steering component stress.

Where Have All The Land Cruisers Gone?
Q: In the last few letters, I've seen several letters written to you by dissatisfied readers complaining about the proliferation of Jeep pictures, editorial content, and advertising in the pages of this magazine. This really bothers me. First of all, I applaud your efforts to include negative as well as positive comments in this section. Most magazines only publish the good stuff. And secondly, I would like to address your detractors. For more than 12 years I have been a Toyota Land Cruiser owner and enthusiast, as well as a dedicated four-wheeler and avid reader of 4x4 magazines. Sadly, most 'Cruiserheads such as myself are usually forced to look elsewhere to find 'Cruiser-specific content such as Australian and Venezuelan magazines. Other than the occasional article, most of the commercial 4x4 magazines routinely ignore the Land Cruiser community, despite the fact that it involves one of the biggest, most organized, and certainly enthusiastic group of four-wheelers. Of the Big Three, yours is the only publication that consistently features well-researched articles about the Toyota Land Cruisers, and your efforts have not gone unnoticed. We understand that there are many more Jeeps on the trails than there are 'Cruisers and that demographics must play a role in your editorial content. I have no problem with that, plus I enjoy the articles about Jeeps, Broncos, Scouts, and other vehicles that you feature. It is obvious that you are out on the trails enjoying them as much as we do and that is what really matters to me. On behalf of myself, the Toyota Land Cruiser Association, and the entire Land Cruiser community, thank you for the recognition and coverage you have given our vehicles, trail rides, and events. I look forward to all your future issues and may we meet on the trails.
Henry Cubillan
Glendale, Arizona

A: Henry, you're more timely with your letter than you could imagine, since we just completed an FJ40 History and Builder's Guide for the Sept. '01 issue. We also had an FJ40 'Cruiser slated to go on the cover of this month's issue, but it fell through at the last minute, so you'll have to accept one more Jeep for the time being. Many thanks for your continued support and that of the Land Cruiser Association and community. We'll continue our efforts to bring you the best 4x4 tech and event coverage and to do our best in branching out now and again to give the others guys their due. Thanks for the kind words, Henry. We'll keep our eyes out for you.

Lifting Comanches
Q: I own a '91 Jeep Comanche. I have just recently started getting involved with four-wheeling, and I have to say thank you; your magazine has helped me out tremendously. In the June '01 issue, I read about the 6-inch lift kit for the XJ from Tera Manufacturing. I want to do something like this to my ride and have been told that kits for the XJ will fit the Comanche. Is this true? If not, can you recommend a similar lift kit that will fit? Also, will I be able to run 33x12.50 tires with a 6-inch lift without much fender trimming?
Myron King
Sacramento, California

A: Myron, this is an interesting question due to a few different schools of thought regarding the Comanche-to-Cherokee lift kit compatibility. According to Tera Manufacturing, its 6-inch kit won't fit because of differences in the subframe. But that's also because the kit wasn't designed for the Comanche, and who would want to sell the wrong part for the wrong vehicle? Off Road General Store in Laguna Hills, California, tells us that it offers a 5-inch kit for the Cherokees that will lift the front of a Comanche, but says you'll need a custom shackle flip to match the rear to it. Also, the company has found that Comanches varied quite a bit in ride height through the years, so how much lift you actually achieve depends on your year of vehicle. Rubicon Express [(916) 858-8575, www.rubiconexpress.com] offers its 5-1/2-inch Cherokee kit that's said to fit Comanches, but you'll need to set up a springover axle in the rear to match it. Both of these companies say 33x12.50s will fit under these circumstances. For shorter lifts to accommodate as big as 31-inch tires, you can look to Skyjacker, Superlift, Trail Master, and Rancho, all of which offer Jeep Comanche kits ranging from 1 to 4 inches

Body Lifts For Grands? Yeah, Right
Editor's Note: Well, here we are again, eating crow over a lapse in brain function. We've received multitudes of letters and e-mails over the last month or so, berating us for a remark in the Jun. 2001 4xForum, regarding fitting larger tires on Grand Cherokees. Much to our disappointment, we advised Adrian of Logan, Utah, to use a small body lift to help clear those heftier meats. Before you start into us, no, we aren't complete idiots, and yes, we know that the Grand Cherokee is a unibody design and impossible to lift using a body lift. Many, many apologies to anyone offended by the remark, especially to those Grand owners who've been tirelessly searching for a body lift, and possibly getting laughed at in the process. One good thing did come out of the mishap, however. We've come to the realization that Grand Cherokee owners are a force to be reckoned with and are ready to demand the respect they deserve. So, look out Grandys, because we're fixing to show you how to break some stuff. Lastly, many of the e-mails and letters suggested a better lift combo to clear 33-inch tires on a Grand. Six inches of lift can be achieved using a 4-1/2-inch lift mated to adjustable control arms. Minor fender trimming on the bottom front edge of the front bumper fascia is all that's necessary to keep rubbing to a minimum. Sorry for the mistake, people, and thanks for keeping us on our toes.

Questions or comments?
Write to us at 4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility, 774 S. Placentia Ave., Placentia, CA 92870, christianl@mcmullenargus.com.

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