Long-Arm Jeep TJ Suspension With a Twist

    Some Disassembly Is Required

    Stuart A. BourdonPhotographer, Writer

    There are numerous ways to go when lifting a Jeep TJ, but choosing a long-arm system is the preferred method if you are putting more than a couple inches of air underneath that short wheelbase of your 1997-to-2006 Jeep Wrangler. Since we wanted 4 to 5 inches of lift to easily clear 37-inch tires, our attention settled on one of the long-arm suspension systems from MetalCloak. But before you go any further, let’s be perfectly clear—you will have to cut, drill, and weld to successfully install the MetalCloak Lock-N-Load Long-Arm 4.5-inch RockSport Suspension System.

    We didn’t go full-tilt boogie with shocks, but we did find what we were searching for in the MetalCloak Lock-N-Load Long-Arm 4.5-inch RockSport Suspension System. The dampers included with our kit were MetalCloak’s very respectable RockSport twin-tube, gas-charged, long-travel shocks. Optional were the MetalCloak 6Pak shocks with a floating body and dual opposing, gas-charged reservoir design. It can be had in various stroke lengths; but the 13-incher has a compressed size eye to eye of 12 1/4 inches and an extended length eye to eye of 25 1/4 inches. They were awesome, but they were also more than the budget allowed.

    In addition, the suspension package offers the company’s Lock-N-Load radius arm, dual-rate coil springs, Duroflex bushings in its control arms, and Durotrak bushings in its track bars. Very little of the factory hardware will be reused; MetalCloak includes all the necessary (and upgraded) hardware for the installation of its suspension systems. The front suspension system not only provides full adjustment of front axle pinion angle and caster, but the internal spring of the Lock-N-Load (on the passenger front corner) can also be unlocked to help provide greater front axle articulation off-road. Front and rear control arms for the system are made of 2-inch od x 0.25-inch-wall 4130 chromoly DOM that’s been gold zinc chromate plated. Duroflex and Durotrak are MetalCloak’s names for its flex joints that allow for greater articulation than standard joints. The company’s True Dual Rate coil springs, specifically designed for the front and rear, were part of our suspension package.

    Because we were removing the entire undercarriage of the Jeep TJ so it could be replaced by the MetalCloak system, we figured this would be a good time to upgrade a few other connected components at the same time. A pair of G2 Core 44 axles loaded with 5.13 Eaton ELockers were ordered up, EBC 3GD Series dimpled and slotted rotors and EBC Extra Duty pads in the factory calipers made a big difference up front, and a Currie Enterprises Currectlync steering system ties things up nicely. All three manufacturers came through with high-quality equipment and detailed step-by-step instructions, which made our job much easier. We don’t have the room to show you all of those steps, but to help you better understand what to expect, we have covered the most important and relevant aspects of installing these components.

    These views of the front and rear ends reveal the fully installed and ready-to-romp MetalCloak Lock-N-Load Long-Arm RockSport suspension system that’s now a part of our 1997 Jeep TJ Wrangler. While this is definitely a full two-day project if you have help and all the parts and tools you need, it can be done in your home garage.

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