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'68 Jeep J2000 - Project J2008 Part II

Posted in Project Vehicles on June 12, 2008 Comment (0)
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Back in the oct. '07 issue, we introduced you to Jp's newest vehicle. With any project, certain modifications and upgrades take priority. and while we're content to torture the stock 232 engine with sustained 3,000-rpm jaunts, even though it only musters a best oil pressure of 15 psi, one thing that couldn't wait was the suspension.

Aside from a bone-jarring ride, the factory springs contributed little to the truck's ride and handling. in the rear, a set of 5-inch-tall lift blocks had been installed that were so long they overlapped the front and back of the spring perches. up front, some scary-looking 2-inch blocks were wedged between the springs and housing, held in place using the wacky factory-designed, offset-angled u-bolts. The truck wandered down the road, sat nose down, and drove like the axles were solidly welded to the frame. in short, it just wasn't safe.

While most J-Trucks and Cherokees from '74-and-later enjoy a wide selection of suspension lifts, there aren't a lot of options for the earlier '63-'73 fullsize Jeeps. Since many use post-type spring and shackle mounts of varying diameter and different spring-bushing designs, it's hard for suspension companies to stock enough applications to cover them all. See "The eyes have it" sidebar for all the possible applications. The hot swap for the fabrication-inclined is to weld new spring perches and hangers under the framerails that accept either the later FSJ, chevy, or Ford springs.

While we were lining up part numbers to make such a swap happen, we stumbled across hell creek Suspensions. And wouldn't you know it, the company offers lift kits for just about any Jeep made. From early FSJs and Jeepsters to mainstream Wranglers and XJs, the company has an offering. We happily put our welder and plasma cutter down and picked up the phone to order hell creek's 4-inch lift springs for our '68 J2000. Then we placed a call to national Tire & Wheel to have a set of eaton heavy-duty steel wheels built to hold our 33x12.50-15 pro comp all Terrain tires. next time, we'll be addressing the axles.

According to hell creek Suspension's Tom laher, there are at least 13 different combinations of spring eye and bushing types used in FSJs from '63-'73. The company's Web site has a whole section dedicated to the measurements. Whatever you do, make sure you pull your springs off and measure your posts and check your bushing types before you order. We guessed and wound up with a combination that's not supposed to exist, so an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. here's laher's info for how the spring specs measure out and the company's corresponding 4-inch lift spring part number. applications are also available for '74-and-later pickup and Wagoneer/cherokee vehicles.

* 2-inch wide by 44-inch with a 7.8-inch rubber post bushing and a 9.16-inch rubber shackle bushing (pn 44J-478r)

* 2-inch wide by 44-inch with a 7.8-inch brass post bushing and a7.8-inch brass shackle bushing (pn 44J-478B)

* 2 1/2-inch wide by 52-inch with a 7.8-inch rubber post bushing and a 9.16-inch rubber shackle bushing (pn 52J-478r)

* 2 1/2-inch wide by 52-inch with a 1-inch rubber post bushing and a 9.16-inch rubber shackle bushing (pn 52J 410r)

* 2 1/2-inch wide by 52-inch with a 7.8-inch brass post bushing and a 7.8-inch brass shackle bushing (pn 52J-478B)

* 2 1/2-inch wide by 52-inch with a 1-inch brass post bushing and a 7.8-inch brass shackle bushing (pn 52J-410B)

* 2 1/2-inch wide by 26x31-inch (distance from spring eyes to cen-terpin) with a 1-inch rubber post bushing and a 9.16-inch rubber shackle bushing (pn 57J-410r)

* 2 1/2-inch wide by 26x31-inch (distance from spring eyes to centerpin) with a 1-inch brass post bushing and a 7.8-inch brass shackle bushing (pn 57J-410B)

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* 2 1/2--inch wide by 44-inch with a 9.16-inch rubber post bushing and a 9.16-inch rubber shackle bushing (pn eSJ-4F)

* 2 1/2--inch wide by 52-inch with a 7.8-inch rubber post bushing and a 9.16-inch rubber shackle bushing (pn eSJ-478r)

Before the lift, our J2000 drove like it had a rigid suspension-plain and simple. it took a few hundred miles for the hell creek springs to settle in, but once they did, we found the ride to be much softer than stock and really enjoyable. You still know you're driving a highly arched leaf-spring vehicle, but it's definitely no back-cracker. We've hauled several engines in the bed, and can attest the rear springs are capable of holding a load without going to noodles. The pro comp all Terrain tires are as smooth and quiet as a light-truck tire gets. We really dig the rugged look of our 15x8 eaton simulated bead locks, and while the 31.2-inch backspacing is a little hard on the arms while turning with manual steering, they place the wheels and tires correctly in the wheelwells and keep the tires from rubbing the springs at full turn.

One area we neglected to address in this story is the steering. our manual steering box is going to be swapped to a power box from a later FSJ truck down the road, so we didn't bother installing any type of dropped pitman arm to address the drag-link angle. We do experience bumpsteer when we encounter+++ large bumps, but during normal driving, we don't really notice any bad feedback through the wheel. We're told a dropped pitman arm for a '76-and-later cJ with manual steering will work on our box, but we can't confirm it. We'll be adding a 4-inch dropped pitman arm to our power FSJ box when we make the swap in a future issue.

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Sources

National Tire & Wheel
Wheeling, WV
800-847-3287
www.ntwonline.com
Hell Creek Suspensions
hellcreeksuspensions.com

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