Part III: Suspension Tune-Up
We were amazed to find out that our '51 CJ-3A still had the original springs on it, ones that were worn out and tired of carrying the Jeep around. In fact, the Colonel had a pronounced list to the driver side that we were looking to remedy. We also had mismatched shocks from front to rear, and the 31x10.50R15 tires mounted on '96 Ford Bronco alloys not only rubbed, but just didn't look right on our little flattie.
We decided it was time for a suspension upgrade and turned to one of the most knowledgeable spring experts around, Jeff Crosby of Deaver Spring in Santa Ana, California. After talking to Jeff about the future of this project, including plans to mount a winch and some type of rear tire carrier, we decided to have a custom set of springs made that incorporated a slight lift and the ability to handle the added weight of the winch and tire carrier.
We wanted only the best products for our CJ to go along with the new leaf springs, so we ordered a set of four Bilstein shocks made for the rear of a CJ-5, which turned out to be just about perfect in extended and collapsed lengths on both the front and rear of the Colonel. We also turned to the wheel gurus at Stockton Wheel in Stockton, California, to build us a custom set of their excellent SWS 4x4 Special-22 Series wheels. We chose 15x7s with a 35/8-inch backspacing to prevent rubbing, allowing us to get the most out of our already hampered turning radius. Lastly, BFGoodrich supplied us with some 30x9.50R15 Mud-Terrain T/As, which ended up being a good balance of overall size for trail work and street use.
With parts in hand, we headed over to Deaver Spring for the install.