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The 2020 Ultimate Adventure Long Range Jeep #UA2020, Part 3

More suspension, wheels, and tires.

The Ultimate Adventure 2020 Long Range Jeep is a nod to the first mass-produced off-road vehicle that may well have started the whole off-road lifestyle in the '50s and '60s, the World War II jeep. Specifically, the LRJ is a nod to the SAS jeeps used in the North African Campaign of WWII, which encompassed parts of the North Eastern Sahara along the borders of Libya and Egypt. These Jeeps, and the hearty group that staffed them, were off-roading before that was even a thing. Their exploits are those of legend and inspired the Rat Patrol television shows (check YouTube). Their iconic sand-colored paint and stripped-down nature are only part of their unique look. Loads of fuel, ammo, water, and cowl-mounted machine guns make this rag-tag military group stand out as did the strange grille modification that SAS Jeeps received in theater. For reasons we assume are related to airflow, these Jeeps had all but the two center grille slats cut out.

The 2020 UA LRJ is not, however, a pure reproduction of these early Jeeps, but rather a hodgepodge of modern parts that are vetted and darn near bulletproof (figuratively, that is). We detailed the build with images and video clips online in a 26-part series and have now undertaken the task of going a bit deeper into the build showing photos with captions of exactly what's going on. This is mainly so the information can be included in our own print edition of Four Wheeler magazine, but these articles will also be available on FourWheeler.com. This is part three in the detailed installment. Last time we showed you the start of the suspension system, which allowed us to install the Ultimate Dana 60 axles, and the drivetrain comprised of a Cummins R2.8 Crate Engine, an AX-15 transmission from Quadratec with adapters from Quick Draw Brands. From there an Offroad Designs (ORD) Magnum Underdrive feeds extra-low gearing to an ORD-prepped NP205 transfer case. Now with parts, including LeDuc Series coilover shocks from Skyjacker Suspensions combined with a few custom-made bits, we get the suspension nearly done. We also talked a longtime friend, our pal and college roommate, Chadwick Campbell, into mounting up the 5-38/13.50R17 Falken Wildpeak M/Ts on a set of army green powdercoated TR Beadlock wheels. Poor guy did all five tires and wheels in one day. First and last set of beadlock wheels he will mount with any luck.

This time we will show you how the suspension came together with more parts from Skyjacker Suspensions, introduce our wheels and tires from TR Beadlocks, and our tires, a set of 38/13.50R17 Falken Wildpeak M/Ts.

Initially we wanted to try to use at least part of the factory TJ shock and spring mount, but we quickly realized that our plans wouldn't work. Out came the plasma cutter, and the factory parts were hacked off in favor of some shock hoops we had in mind. This shot also gives a great view of the track bar mount we made from a rectangular piece of steel. We used an off-the-shelf adjustable JK front track bar from Skyjacker (PN: JKFTBA717, $113.31).
Next we used our tubing bender to bend up some hoops for the front shocks. We used 1 0.120-wall DOM steel tubing. Eventually these hoops will have a crossbar running between them side to side to help alleviate the rotational forces the Skyjacker front JK LeDuc Series coilovers would exert when the Jeep is on its full weight.
Here the first shock hoop is heavy tack-welded in place to test fit. Take note of the temporary crossbar we welded between the framerails, right and left, to keep things in place.
Our upper shock mounts are these cool tabs with a 90-dgeree bend in them. The tabs came from our local sand-sports parts store, Foddrill Motorsports in Peoria, Arizona. We tack welded them in place to cycle everything in case we had to move them forward or backward on the hoop, or to rotate the position, which would effectively change the amount of up-and-down travel a touch.
The machined sleeve bolted in place between the two tabs is slightly wider than the shock mount with misalignment washers and has been turned down in a lathe for trueness. The spacer is about .05 to .06 wider than the shock mount. This is because the gap between the tabs will shrink when welded to the shock hoops the tabs will draw in, and the extra space will allow the shock to slide into place without a battle. As said, we will also add a piece of tubing between the right and left tabs on the shock hoops.
These Skyjacker LeDuc Series shocks, undressed here for mockup, are 2.0 remote reservoir shocks with special valving chosen by none other than Kurt LeDuc. The shocks are a dual-rate coil setup with 12 inches of travel. We've had pretty good luck running the 200 over 350 rate coils with these shocks on recent UA cars, but they also can be revalved or you can easily change coil rates to fine-tune the suspension. The remote reservoirs will be mounted to the shock hoops using the included isolators and band clamps.
The rear shock hoops follow a similar pattern, but the upper shock mounting will be different. The hoops themselves will sit outside the Jeep's tub, but holes will have to be cut for clearance and, again, to tie the right and left shock hoops together. To mount we will use two tabs dropping down from the center of the hoop with a steel sleeve between them.
Here's another look at the hoops and the shock mounts heavy-tacked in place.
With the hoops tacked in place and the wheels installed to check for clearance, we cycled the suspension with the undressed Rear JK Skyjacker LeDuc Series coilovers. We left one coil spring in place on the shock, again, to check for clearance as the suspension cycles. The axle will move slightly different once we install the track bar (more on that later), but for now we must work with what we have.
The upper shock mount will have a tab added over the top of the shock to put the upper mount in double-shear. Like the front shock hoops, these rear hoops will also have a tube running between the two hoops, right to left, again to help with the rotational forces, the shocks will load the hoops with. These forces will push the hoops together on compression and tug them apart during droop.
We'd hoped to take the easy route like the front and use an off-the-shelf JK or TJ rear track bar, but we couldn't make it work. The TJ track bar was too short, and the JK track bar too long. So, we had to bend up our own rear track bar using some 1.5 x 0.250-wall DOM tubing we had. We could probably have gotten away with 1.5 x 0.120-wall DOM if the track bar was straight, but adding bends adds weak points that can bend farther when side-loaded on the trail.
We used a -inch FK rod-end on the frame side and a barrel rod-end with a poly bushing on the axle side. That will give us some vibration absorption and keep the track bar from flopping around.
The bend in the track bar was necessary to clear the cast steel diff cover of our rear Ultimate Dana 60 axle.
We rose or plug-welded the threaded inserts into the bent tubing and attached the track bar using the rod ends. The rod ends have a 3/4-inch shank. We were able to source them locally with misalignment washers (for the rod end), jam nuts, and threaded inserts. A good online off-road shop should be able to set you up with all these parts, but you might have to call and talk to a person to make sure everything will work. They will want to know the inside diameter of the tubing you are using.
Our excuse is that sometimes decent folks do bad things, and honestly, we feel more than a bit dirty for subjecting our longtime friend Chadwick "Chad" Campbell to the hardship that is mounting five 38-inch tires on five beadlock wheels. Still Chad wanted to help, and he sure did. He's a machine, and we can't thank him enough. Chad and his beautiful wife Elana are the program directors for ACEing Autism Phoenix, and we bet he would love a mention for the organization in the magazine and online. Thanks, Chad!
Mounting tires on beadlock wheels is a process and requires paying close attention to several steps. We'd planned on helping Chad, and maybe we did a little by sharing tips and tricks on how to get the job done. But Chad did almost all the heavy lifting. One tip that makes a sometimes-frustrating part of mounting tires on beadlocks easier is to use a rubber mallet to open the tire's outer bead a touch so it slides over the beadlock's shoulder. Just hit the tire's sidewall at a bit of an angle where the bead hasn't seated on the wheel's shoulder.
These powdercoated wheels from TR Beadlocks are nothing short of a work of art. The installation instructions directed us (Chad, really) to add some thread antiseize compound to each of the 5/16 Grade-8 bolts. By the end of the day, poor Chad looked like he'd tried out for the part of the tinman in The Wizard of OZ. Seriously, though, the antiseize helps protect the threads on the wheels and bolts. Each bolt was methodologically torqued to spec by the amazing Chadwick.
In hindsight, the army green powdercoat on the TR beadlocks looks a bit odd with the formerly red paint that the Jeep LJ tub we used had. Something of a slightly deranged Christmas theme, perhaps. The contrast will pop when the car is in final paint and has the Ultimate Adventure Sponsor stencils in place trust us.

 

Sources:

Falken Tire, falkentire.com/

IH Parts America, 530.274.1795, ihpartsamerica.com/

Offroad Design, 970.945.7777, offroaddesign.com/

Quick Draw Brand, 513.446.9654, quickdrawbrand.com/

Skyjacker Suspension, 318.388.0816, skyjacker.com/

VooDoo Offroad, 844.866.3661, voodoooffroad.com/

Warn Industries, 800.543.9276, warn.com/

 

Other Sources:

TailReady Beadlocks, 360.503.1901, trbeadlocks.com

Quadratec, 800.745.6037, quadratec.com