Lift, Extra Wheel Travel, and a Better Ride With a Bolt-On Part?Posted in How To on May 1, 2000
A bolt-on part that provides lift, extra wheel travel, and a better ride sounds like something out of a fairy tale. Well, you can pinch yourselfthis isnt a dream. Unlike the intricately fabricated buggy-spring suspensions commonly found on vehicles in the Southwest, Mountain Off-Road Enterprises (M.O.R.E.) has designed a system that bolts onto your CJ or YJ Jeep.
What is a buggy spring and where did the idea come from? Most horse-drawn wagons of the 1800s had no suspension. The bumps in the road surface went directly through the wood and metal wheels into the chassis of the wagon, providing a horrible ride (and you thought your 1-ton was bad). Springs were added to the passenger seat to make the ride more bearable. These springs were similar to leaf springs, but they were sort of almond-shaped, like taking two leaf springs and stacking them on top of one another at the eyes. This design was also used as true axle-suspension on the more posh wagons, or buggies as they were called.
Modern-day buggy springs dont quite look or work the same as their early brethren, but neither do our wagons. The new generation sits bottomed out under normal circumstances. However, when the axle drops, the buggy-spring stretches its legs and offers additional droop. M.O.R.E. added a shackle reversal to the kit to provide a better ride, and the subsequent design adds a 1-inch lift to the front of the vehicle. Perfect for those saggy front ends weighted down by custom bumpers and winches. However, the kit is recommended for off-road use only.
We headed to the local 4 Wheel Parts Performance Center in San Marcos, California, and had Jethro Collins install M.O.R.E.s buggy spring kit on our YJ so we too could enjoy the same custom suspension the early settlers had.
Once installed we found that the YJ handled much better on the road than before. The steering was crisper, and the suspension absorbed more of the bumps. However, when we disconnected the sway bars the YJ wallowed like a ship on a stormy sea, making for spooky handling at high speeds. Off-road the buggy-springs allowed some additional droop but not as much as we had hoped. We believe the reason for this is because we used stock springs (which are soft), along with stock wheels and tires (which are relatively lightweight and narrow).
The spring rate of the buggy leaf appears to be greater than that of our stock springs, allowing our springs to do almost all the flexing. Firmer lift springs would allow the buggy leaf to pull down further. Also, wider tires and wheels will place more leverage on the springs, allowing more flex from the leaf springs and the buggy leaf.