Well-Traveled: Andy Bornschein’s rear-coilover 1968 Jeepster CommandoPosted in Features on July 6, 2016
Suspensionally speaking, most people focus more on the front than the rear. All kinds of conversions have happened in the forward end, including shackle reversals, coil conversions, and various multi-shock setups. The rear suspension is often a stepchild to the front: slap blocks and/or add-a-leaves back there and call it good.
Andy Bornschein took a different approach to building his ’68 Jeepster’s suspension. He got a good deal on a set of 16-inch-travel Fox coilovers and decided to build a suspension around them. But instead of putting them in the front, Bornshein decided to keep the leaf springs to help limit bodyroll during cornering. “No trailer-queening and no sway bars,” he says.
With the coilovers pegged for the rear, Bornschein tore into the Jeepster a few months after buying it. He and his son began by fully boxing the OEM frame and adding two extra crossmembers for rigidity and component support. Bornschein also sourced Dana 60 axles prior to adding the lift. The front is from a ’93 Dodge pickup, and the rear is from an earlier Ford truck. Both have Sierra Gear & Axle chromoly ’shafts and 5.13 gears. Components from Dave’s Customs Unlimited were used throughout the chassis/suspension build, including rear axle brackets to adapt stock Chevy 3/4-ton calipers, suspension mounts, and steering-linkage ends.
Bornschein calls himself “Jeep-poor” because he also owns a stock ’71 Commando, a ’99 TJ, and a ’13 Grand Cherokee. By doing the work at home with his son’s help over the course of about six years, he created this capable Jeep on 40s that can comfortably accommodate four at an estimated cost of about $35,000.
“I can go anywhere I want,” he says modestly. “We go on a run about every other weekend—21 Road, Pritchett Canyon, Upper Helldorado. It rides like a Cadillac. My goal is to do the Rubicon next year.”
A heavy hauler by trade, Andy Bornschein incorporated many heavyweight concepts into his ’68 Jeepster. These include 1-ton axles and race-inspired shocks.
Fox shocks combine with custom front Alcan Spring leaf packs that have military-wrapped main leaves and boomerang shackles. Bornschein did a spring-over conversion, yielding about 7 inches of lift. The setup offers extra wheel travel while limiting bodyroll during cornering. Extended-length Earl’s brake hoses help accommodate the extra wheel travel.
The rear multi-link coilover system was executed using parts from Dave’s Customs Unlimited. A Ford Dana 60 is the foundation, and it has 5.13:1 gears, Sierra Gear & Axle chromoly axleshafts, Eaton Detroit Locker, and Dave’s Customs caliper brackets to accommodate Chevy 3/4-ton disc brakes. The remote-mount B&M cooler for the TH400 transmission is also visible, as is the custom 3-inch body lift. Up front is a Dodge Dana 60 axle, and it has an Eaton Detroit Sof Locker, Sierra chromoly ’shafts, and 5.13:1 gears.
The Fox 2.0 Factory Series remote-reservoir coilovers were added to give impressive rear travel. Dave’s Customs universal hoops accommodate the longest-possible coilovers.
The frame was fully boxed prior to the axle swap and suspension work. In the process, two extra crossmembers were added, including this transfer case support. The Dana 20 transfer case was upgraded with a TeraFlex Low20 3.15:1 low-gear kit and a 32-spline Advance Adapters output shaft. Tom Wood’s driveshafts turn the axles.
Power comes from a junkyard-sourced Chevy 350ci V-8 that has been upgraded with Howell EFI. Bornschein also upgraded the engine’s valvetrain with an RV cam, roller rockers, and double springs. Fuel is housed in a Dave’s Customs 20-gallon fuel tank. Underhood accessories and dress-ups sourced from Summit Racing include the 100-amp chromed alternator. Other upgrades include an X2 Power AGM battery and a Be Cool radiator.
Much of the interior retains the original charm, thanks in part to the OE gauge cluster. Modern amenities include Corbeau seats, a Flaming River steering wheel, Sony head unit, and auxiliary Auto Meter gauges. Bornschein sprayed the tub’s inner surfaces with DIY Al’s Liner material and made his own rollcage from 1 1/2-inch-diameter, 0.120-wall DOM tubing.
Tools and trail gear are well organized behind the rear seat. A Hi-Lift jack is stored on the wheel tubs, and other necessities fit below.
Bornschein fabricated his own bumpers, adding a receiver to the rear and a mounting plate for the Smittybilt 8,000-pound winch to the front. He shot the paint himself.
At A Glance
Vehicle: ’68 Jeepster Commando
Owner: Andy & Shauna Bornschein
Stomping grounds: Fruita, Colorado
Build time: 6 years
Engine: Chevy 350ci V-8, Howell EFI, Melling oil pump, Summit alternator, Be Cool radiator, shorty headers, MagnaFlow muffler
Transfer case: Dana 20, TeraFlex Low20 low range gear kit, Advance Adapters 32-spline output shaft
Low range ratio: 3.15:1
Crawl ratio: 40.1:1
Front axle/differential: Dodge Dana 60, 5.13 gears, Sierra Gear & Axle chromoly ’shafts/Eaton Detroit Sof Locker
Rear axle/differential: Ford Dana 60, 5.13 gears, Sierra Gear & Axle chromoly ’shafts/Eaton Detroit Locker
Front: Custom Alcan Spring leaves with military wraps, Fox remote-reservoir shocks
Rear: Custom four-link, Fox remote-reservoir coilovers
Steering: Homemade linkage
Tires: 40x13.50R17LT Goodyear Wrangler MT/R with Kevlar
Wheels: 17-in Raceline beadlock
Armor: Homemade bumpers, rollcage
Cool stuff: Smittybilt XRC 8 winch, synthetic winch rope, Corbeau Baja RS seats, Flaming River steering wheel, Auto Meter gauges, Dave’s Customs 20-gal fuel tank