Suspension Part 1: Long Vs. Short Arms
As any project build goes, plans and parts change as quickly as minds do, as newer technology is always rolling down the turnpike! Our scratch-built Scrambler started a number of years ago when 35-inch tires were considered big and custom short-arm suspensions were hot. Suspension technology has definitely evolved since then, and 40-inch tires are now as common as 31s were back in the early '80s.
Since we'll be running 37- to 42-inch tires on our CJ-8, we needed a suspension that would offer better performance and more articulation than a standard short-arm system. Once a link-style Jeep suspension lift goes over 4 inches and 37-inch or taller tires are used, a long-arm suspension is a better choice for off-road performance. When properly designed, the lesser angle of the long-arm suspension provides a smoother ride, improved handling, better transfer of power to the ground, and less bumpsteer. The suspension can also greatly increase articulation and wheel travel, so the CJ will be more stable on the trail and highway. Increased wheel travel and articulation also mean more tire contact with the ground and better traction.
We've been working with Mel Wade at Off-Road Evolution in Fullerton, California, on our CJ-8. While we still have a long way to go before the rig is complete, it's getting close. We picked up a really trick Tera Flex Pro-LCG long-arm kit for a TJ. Since we are modifying it for the CJ-8, we headed to ORE and started cutting, grinding, and welding with the expert help of Mel and his crew. In a future issue, we'll talk about standard shocks versus coilovers, and we'll set the Scrambler up with an outboard coilover conversion in the rear, and a fresh set of coilovers up front.