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1998 Jeep Cherokee XJ: Long Arm...

Front Tires
Harry Wagner | Writer
Posted August 1, 2010

...Of The Law (And The Suspension)

Normally when you see flashing lights in your Jeep's rearview mirror, you know that you can expect a lecture on mudflaps, fender coverage, and side mirrors. Or worse, you'll be getting a ticket. If Geoff Marshall pulls you over in Douglas County, Nevada, and you aren't driving like a blockhead, he probably just wants to check out your Jeep. Geoff has owned five Jeeps in the last ten years, and all of them have been modified to tackle trails like the nearby Rubicon. His last Jeep was a CJ-5 on 42s, but when he found out that his wife Brandy was pregnant with their first child, he traded the CJ for a four-door Cherokee.

After owning a Jeep with a real frame, Geoff knew that his first order of business was strengthening the Unitbody on his '98 XJ. He plated the Unitbody rails with 0.375-wall angle iron that was rosette- and stitch-welded to the Unitbody. A Rubicon Express three-piece crossmember mounted with 3/4-inch bolts provides further rigidity and support. The 2-inch, 0.250-wall chromoly control arms fitted with Rubicon Express Super-Flex joints are mounted to the crossmember, although only one 1.5-inch DOM upper control arm is used. It's mounted on the Rubicon Express axle truss in order to allow greater articulation and less binding. A 1.5-inch DOM track bar is capped with 3/4-inch rod ends and mounts to a Rubicon Express track bar bracket to control lateral axle movement.

Cherokees aren't known for accommodating the largest tires, and most guys run a 4.5-inch lift just to fit 33s. Since Geoff runs 38.5-inch Super Swamper SXs, he needed a whole lot of lift to fit them. The front is lifted 7.5 inches thanks to the Rubicon Express coils, Teraflex coil spacers, and Rancho shocks. Out back, Off Road General Store 10-spring leaf packs are used with 4-inch blocks and Teraflex shackles. "I know that the blocks are hack," Geoff admits, "but they let me match the height of the front end." High on the list of future modifications is a traction bar to help prevent axlewrap, and keep the leaf springs, Doetsch Tech shocks, and rear driveline alive. The leaf springs have been flipped so the centerpin is offset to the rear, resulting in a 113-inch wheelbase that allows Geoff to gobble up steep climbs like doughnuts.

The big rubber is turned by a stock steering box which was drilled and tapped to work with the PSC power steering pump and 8-inch hydraulic cylinder ram. The ram is mounted on the 1.5-inch DOM drag link. A master cylinder from a Ford E-350 van provides additional stopping power for the Swampers.

Hard Facts
Vehicle: '98 Cherokee XJ
Engine: 4.0L I-6
Transmission: AW4 four-speed automatic
Transfer Case: NP231
Suspension: Rubicon Express long-arm (front), Off Road General Store leaf springs (rear)
Axles: '78 F-250 Dana 44 (front), Ford Dana 61 (rear)
Wheels: 15x10 steel US Wheel
Tires: 38.5x14.5-15 Super Swamper TSL/SX
Built For: Family wheeling


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