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Techline - May 2014

Posted in How To: Tech Qa on April 8, 2014
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Bead Assist
In the February ’14 issue you wrote an article about DOT-compliant beadlocks “Beadlock Assist Device.” You list that the approved tire size is up to 42 inches. Is this from the manufacturer or a magazine recommendation? Also, according to the company’s website, the B in B.A.D. Wheels stands for bead, not beadlock.
Frederick K.
Via email

I was fortunate to get my hands on one of the first sets of B.A.D. Wheel’s Eklipse 17 beadlocks ( Along with the wheels came early literature about the product, which listed a recommended max-tire-size of 42 inches. This was simply because the American-based company had spent time rigorously testing up to that particular tire size. For the 2013 Top Truck Challenge, competitor’s Justin Middleton and Paul Boundy both ran B.A.D.’s Eklipse 17 beadlock wheel. Middleton’s orange and white Blazer was fitted with 44-inch Boggers and Boundy’s exocaged Chevy Silverado sported 49-inch IROKs. I contacted B.A.D. Wheels recently and was told that the new literature no longer limits the Eklipse 17 to a 42-inch tire. As for the B in B.A.D., you are correct. B.A.D. is short for Bead Assist Device.

CV Solution
I’ve heard that the stock Birfield joint in a Toyota solid front axle is weak, yet I’ve only broke one. Why then is a CV-style axle considered an upgrade for most steering axles as they appear to be made very similar to a Birfield?
Mike Lawless
Via email

The Toyota Birfields were a very smart design and something that even the military had its own version of in the 2½-ton Rockwell front axle. The advantage of the CV-style joint is in how it cycles when compared to a traditional U-joint. As a U-joint pivots, the wheel speed fluctuates and can induce a whipping or binding action. This is the U-joint’s weakest position and where the CV-joint stands out from the pack. Since the CV-joint retains a constant speed (hence the constant velocity title) it not only turns smoother, but maintains strength throughout the range of motion.

The drawback of the stock Birfield joint has less to do with the design and more to do with the material composition. Most of the early factory-produced CV-style joints were cast. This casting process made them more susceptible to cracking and failure. Unlike a U-joint-equipped steering shaft, once the CV housing or bell was broken; there was no easy way to repair it. The draw of modern CV-style axle is that they combine the intelligent design with high-strength materials.

Companies such as RCV Performance ( use a durable chromoly steel and a unique heavy-duty joint design that allows for 45 degrees of motion. As CV-joint technology advances, we continue to see improvements in the joints at an OEM and aftermarket level. They are even replacing driveline U-joints in some late-model SUVs.

Pro Cruiser
I have a ’14 Toyota FJ Cruiser. What’s your take on the Pro Comp 3-inch suspension kit? I wanna run 33-inch-tall tires and also have a functional vehicle that can work off-road.
Shawn Sarnik

Pro Comp Suspension ( is one of the most established aftermarket companies in existence today. I’ve installed and tested a variety of the company’s products over the years with excellent results, but unfortunately, I haven’t driven a FJ Cruiser equipped with the specific system you are after. Judging from the components listed, it appears as though the Pro Comp kit is on par component-wise with other available 3-inch lifts and has a great price point. Depending on your wheel backspacing, you should have no trouble running a 33-inch-tall tire.

Long Range
I own an ’04 Ford Ranger 4x4 XLT and I really want to get a lift kit for it. A six-inch kit would be great. The problem is, every time I visit a place that does lift kits in my area they can’t find any Ranger suspension lifts after around the year 1997 or so. I was wondering if you could point me to the right place as to how I can achieve this goal.
Angel Perez

The aftermarket suspension support is more limited for your Ranger. The tallest suspension lift I came across was a 4-inch from Superlift ( (part#K358). Another option, albeit expensive, would be to look at a long-travel suspension kit from Dixon Brothers Racing ( The Dixon Brothers kit is designed for those looking to go fast in the desert, as the front portion of the kit provides an impressive 14 inches of vertical wheeltravel.

Tow Ratings
Why are the tow ratings always lower for 4x4s than 4x2s?
James R. Johnson Jr.

There is a variety of factors that determine a vehicles tow rating, but the mystery behind the 4x4 versus 4x2 is easy to solve. Since the tow rating takes into account the entire weight of a vehicle, and given that a 4x4 is equipped with more drivetrain items (front differential, transfer case, front driveshaft, and so on), it’s a heavier platform. This added weight detracts from the towing figures. The tow rating is adjusted accordingly based on the GCWR of a particular model 4x4.

As a side note, starting at the end of 2013, OEMs have agreed to a SAE standard for which all tow ratings will be based from. This is a big deal. This move to the SAE standard will provide the consumer with the most reliable way to compare apples to apples when looking at tow figures. It will also keep the OEMs a bit more honest when touting those impressive towing figures.

XJ Arms
First off, I love the magazine. I read it cover to cover every month, so keep up the great work! I am building a ’00 Jeep Cherokee XJ for my wife and kids to ride in. It is going to have high-pinion Dana 44 front soon and is currently running a Chrysler 8.25 in the rear. It is not going to be a hardcore wheeler, just something capable-ish, safe, and reliable for the family. I am also a member of the Oregon division of Wheelin’ With Warriors, and often have disabled veterans and their families ride with us. So, minimal trail issues would be nice as these events can be 70-plus vehicles in length.

I would prefer not to be “that guy” who breaks down and holds everyone up. It will see a fair amount of expeditionary use as we go on weeklong ghost town runs. Sometimes the roads/trails can be less than predictable or non-existent. It also has to have decent road manners, as it will see a fair amount of pavement going to and from these adventures. I plan on running aggressive 35-inch all-terrain tires and trimming the fenders to accommodate the larger tires.

Here is my question. I am torn between various 4 to 61⁄2-inch long-arm Y-link, three-link, or radius arm lifts. I would prefer to have as low of center of gravity as is within reason and some belly armor as well for peace of mind. So, the suspension will need to accommodate subframe connectors and skids. I could fabricate these things, but that would not be my first choice because this rig will need to be safe at speed for everyone. Brand names aside (or not, if one stands tall amongst the others), what setup would you suggest for the intended uses of this vehicle?
Jakob Belles
Via email

I am a big advocate of the Cherokee platform. It is one of the most affordable and builder-friendly platforms to be had. In terms of suspension systems, you are correct; there is an overwhelming amount of long- and short-arm lifts. You can run 35-inch tires with a 4½-inch long-arm, but you will need to do a fair amount of fender trimming. I would strongly recommend installing bumpstops as well to help keep the suspension in check. The Jeep shown was called Project Shoehorn XJ in our sister magazine Jp. It is an ’01 Cherokee fitted with a 4.5-inch BDS Suspension ( long-arm and 35-inch-tall tires.

If you plan to outfit the Jeep with lots of armor (bumpers, sliders, roof rack, and so on) you may need to add taller springs, spacers, and/or shackles out back to keep the Jeep level and at the desired lift height. There are so many unibody stiffeners and sliders on the market, it’s nearly impossible to list which ones do and don’t work with the available long-arm kits. The good news is that it won’t take much adjustment to merge them all together. As far as front link types are concerned, I like four-link (with a track bar) front suspensions.

The big advantage of a four-link over a radius arm setup is that you reduce bind as the axle articulates. This means the suspension can cycle more freely, essentially reducing wear on the suspension components. You can also get this same free-flowing movement from a three-link, but I like my links to come in pairs. For most companies, the radius-style long-arm is simply easier to package and works fine for the average wheeler’s needs. Companies such as Clayton Off-Road Manufacturing ( and Rubicon Express ( both offer excellent long-arm suspension kits that use radius-style front control arms.

I am fan of the BDS Suspension 4.5- and 6.5-inch long-arm as those kits use a front four-link. If you do decide to go with BDS, I would upgrade from the single-shear track bar that comes with the 4.5-inch kit to a more heavy-duty dual-shear adjustable track bar and bracket (this is included with the 6.5 kit). BDS also offers a transfer case skidplate that attaches to the company’s long-arm crossmember. Ultimately, any of the three aforementioned systems would work well for your needs.

Beadlock Balance
First off, great job with the magazine. I get it every month and have learned a lot from the tech articles. After years of running 35s, I am finally making the move up to 38s on my Land Cruiser. Along with the new tires, I am getting a set of beadlock wheels. My question is about balancing. Is it worth spending the money to have them balanced or is it pointless? I drive my Cruiser on the road every couple of days to and from work (around a 20-mile commute), but other than that, it gets trailered to the trail.
Cameron Bowers
Via email

Balancing your beadlocks is well worth the small cost involved. I have had a few wheel and tire combos that were shaky and obnoxious without being balanced, but completely fine once they had some weight added from the balancer. If you are driving your Cruiser on the road with any regularity, it will simply make it that much better.

24 to 14
I just purchased an ’84 military pickup that has a 24-volt electrical system. I would like to install a few accessories (mainly an electric fan and some fog lights). Can I just run the power leads off of one battery? Or is there a better way?
Aaron J.
Via email

The safest way to run 12-volt electronics on a 24-volt truck is to purchase a 24- to 12-volt power converter. Companies such as Samlex America ( can provide you with what you are looking for. Running your 12-volt accessories from one battery will lead to an uneven drain, which can ultimately harm both batteries.

Ranger Bumper
I have an ’04 Ford Ranger that I would like to put a heavy-duty bumper on. Most companies I have found only offer bumpers for fullsize trucks. Do you have an idea on where I could get one?
Taylor Bingham
Via email

Check out Iron Bull Bumpers ( Iron Bull offers a heavy-duty plate-steel front winch bumper along with a plate-steel rear bumper.

Where To Write
Address your correspondence to: Four Wheeler, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245 or send an email to All letters become the property of Four Wheeler, and we reserve the right to edit them for length, accuracy, and clarity. The editorial department can also be reached through the website at Due to the volume of mail, electronic and otherwise, we cannot respond to every reader, but we do read everything.

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