Questions Or Comments?
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That Deep-Down YJ Bounce
Q: I have a '78 CJ-5 with Rancho 1-inch lift springs (Rancho's replacement springs) and an NP 435 transmission. I want to do a shackle reversal but have a few questions. I heard YJ springs work well on CJs, since they are wider in front, longer overall, and have a softer spring ride. First, how do YJ springs compare to my Rancho Springs in ride quality? Second, would I lose or gain any lift? Finally, would I need to get aftermarket or stock YJ lift springs to preserve my current ride height? With the NP 435, my rear driveshaft is a CV-type shaft, and it is only 12-1/2 inches long. I can't afford anymore lift, but I don't want to lose lift either. I use the Jeep to drive 60 miles a day to work and back and would like a better ride quality than it currently offers. Thanks for the help.
A: Wayne, the YJ spring swap is a common one, and from what we've gathered from those who've done it, it's a good one. In fact, we opted to install YJ springs on our Project All-American flatfender because of such reports. New shackles and bushings will be in order to make the swap on your CJ, but with a shackle reversal kit, you'll be getting into that anyway. Concerning maintaining your current lift height, it's a bit more difficult to say. It depends on a few variables, starting with which aftermarket shackle reversal kit you choose. Some add inches, while others don't. Since we haven't installed all of them firsthand, you'll have to rely on the manufacturers of the kits for that information. As far as the overall height of stock YJ springs as compared to that of your CJ, it will again depend on a few factors, because not all lift manufacturers adhere to the same measurements, and used springs may be sagged. If you're looking for that perfect fit, look into custom springs and have them made exactly how you want them. That should alleviate your driveline length issues as well.
Q: I would like to put a set of reverse Dana 60s under my '76 CJ but don't want to spend $9,000 doing it. I talked to a local junkyard and they said they can supply me with a complete set of Dana 60 axles in good shape. They said they would just unbolt them and I could have the drivelines, tires, rims, and all related parts to go with them for $300.They wanted to know what model I would need. Next, I found a driveline shop here in town that will cut, sleeve, and re-weld the axle tubes on both housings to my specs for $150. Here is where you come in with your expertise. Which Dana 60 should I get? Which vehicle was this original equipment on? Where can I find the specs to cut the tubes to the correct length? What else do I need to ask you before I start this project? Do you have any back issues that address this conversion or know of any other sources? You guys have a great magazine. Keep up the good work.
A: James, it's been our experience that money saved in one respect is essentially money spent in another. Take your $300 mystery Dana 60s, for example. Granted, the $300 selling price is attractive, but how appealing are the countless hours you'll spend breaking these assemblies down and fine-toothing through what will work for you and what won't? Remember, you'll still need ring-and-pinion gears, axleshafts, a rebuild kit (axle seals, gaskets, and so forth), and probably a locker if you're so inclined. And what about the brakes? Will those donor Dana 60 brake assemblies just plug right in to what you're currently set up for on your CJ? Then there are new driveshafts, accurately determining the pinion angles, designing spring perches, and the list goes on. Though we'd like to tell you it's a piece of cake, it simply isn't, particularly if you're attacking said project with nil to no experience with axle building. Concerning specs on axle tube lengths, there's just too much variation in what can be done. Not knowing your driving style or how you want the vehicle to look and perform, we wouldn't want to just throw out some figures and have it not work for you. The best advice we can offer is to track down a good 4x4 shop and bounce a few of your ideas off the local axle guru. You'll be happier in the end and can still avoid that $9,000 price tag you're looking to evade. Good Luck.
Legally Lifting Samurais
I own an '88 Suzuki Samurai that I'm trying to build into a decent woods runner, but I'm not having much luck finding any articles on buildups that don't involve rock climbing. What I'm looking for are tech articles on lifting my Samurai to be functional yet street-legal. Please, don't get me wrong. I do enjoy seeing all the radical rigs made for extreme terrain such as rockcrawling, because they are very capable and very inventive, but that kind of tech doesn't help me with my buildup. Most of my driving/off-roading is going to be mud/sand/hard-packed woods roads. Legally, in the state of New Jersey, I can't do a spring-over-axle conversion or a shackle flip because it would be changing the suspension configuration from the factory, so I'm confused and don't know what my options are (if any) as to what I can and can't do to lift my Samurai (other than body lifts) to be able to fit 32- or 33-inch tires underneath. I respect the opinions of 4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility magazine because this is the only magazine that deals with compact SUVs and their performance. Would it be possible to see some articles on Samurai mud-runners and Samurai tech articles for the non-rockcrawler scene? Thanks for your time and consideration and for putting out a world-class magazine.
We're with you on simply wanting a capable woods-ready vehicle. As rockcrawling becomes more and more extreme, so do the vehicles and the associated modifications. Luckily, it's pretty easy and not too terribly expensive to outfit a semi-stock vehicle such as your Samurai with the components needed to conquer the terrain you desire. You mentioned wanting to fit 31- to 32-inch tires, which, by the way, is pretty tall for the Sami. Most kits available from the aftermarket indicate this as the appropriate size for the lifts offered, with a few calling for 33s. Calmini Manufacturing, (800) 345-3305, www.puresuzuki.com, Trail Tough (877) SUZUKIS (789-8547), www.trailtough.com, and Petroworks, (800) 952-8915, www.petroworks.com, all offer mild to extreme suspension kits and can provide more detailed advice regarding lift options. You are right that most kits offered involve either shackle reversals or spring-over-axle conversions. Check with the United Four Wheel Drive Association at www.ufwda.org for information about lift laws in your region. www.jtoutfitters.com, (336) 591-1108, and Cool Cruisers of Texas, www.coolcruisers.com, (800) 475-4181. Cool Cruisers also offers a helpful FJ40 buyer's guide on its Web site. For more links to FJ40 Web sites, check out the Toyota Land Cruiser Association Web site at www.tlca.org. Good luck, Scott. We hope you find a TLC to give some TLC.