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1949 2WD Willys Pickup - Wicked Willys: Part 6

On Her Wheels…For A Few

Verne SimonsPhotographer, Writer

Last time in Wicked Willys Part 5, we hinted at the fact that the big Jeep was finally sitting on its tires and wheels. That was true for a while, but it isn’t any more. Why? Well, we had to make sure the suspension was going to flex the way we thought it would before finalizing (and fully welding) important suspension parts like the track-bar mounts, steering, and more. That meant using an engine hoist, chains, and a jack to cycle the front suspension with one side resting metal-to-metal on one bumpstop, while the other side is drooped out the maximum length of the shock.

We then checked for interference and turned the big 42-inch BFG KX tires on TrailReady beadlocks from steering stop to steering stop, noted what hit and what was close, and moved on to the other side. If something hit hard and caused lots of interference, we would have had to change plans and move things around. It’s a good idea to do this before fully burning everything together or you may end up wasting time, resources, and money removing well-attached parts. Once done, we pulled the front tires and wheels and removed the front axle so we could run it back over to Rob Bonney Fab in Peoria, Arizona. While there, Rob Bonney himself made us a few parts and finished TIG welding our axle brackets to our old GM Dana 60 front axle.

Another benefit of cycling the suspension and taking some measurements was that we were finally able to get some coil springs and shocks ordered so that the big Jeep can soon cruise down the road and trail. To help deal with the extra weight of our Willys (remember that we are going to be using TJ coils and shock mounting locations, but a big-block V-8, 1-ton axles, extra body armor, and some great big ol’ tires), we contacted our friends down under at Old Man Emu by ARB. The setup allowed us to assemble a suspension system piecemeal with a mix of springs and shocks to help deal with the added weight, low stance, and longer wheelbase. To do this we ordered a pair of ZJ front coils and LJ rear coils both of which have higher spring rates than their TJ counterparts. Add in some Old Man Emu (OME) shocks and our suspension will be nearly complete. Check it out.