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Building a Rear Track Bar and Remounting the Body Tub on Our 2020 Ultimate Adventure Long Range Jeep #UA2020

Part 10: Chris Durham Motorsports 1.25-inch body lift and a custom rear track bar.

Verne SimonsAuthor, Photography

Building an ultimate Adventure Project Vehicle is something that just can't be done in a vacuum, but it is a process that takes lots of sacrifices from lots of sponsor companies and lots of help from industry people. Truth be told, there are a ton of folks who I owe a huge thank-you to, but this year one guy stands out. There is this one guy who is always willing to lend a hand or lend an ear to help with the project, and that is Ultimate Adventure Crony, fabricator extraordinaire, businessman, amazing driver, and our good friend, Chris Durham.

Chris has built a ton of capable, powerful, stable Jeeps and other 4x4s over the years. Chris is quiet, only saying things when asked or when they need to be said, he's filled with 4x4 and automotive experience, and he's smart very smart. This year, during the 2020 Ultimate Adventure Long Range Jeep build, Chris has served as an advisor and has helped make the whole idea come together, first as a sounding board and then by making needed parts that did not yet exist. More on that later, but for now, know we are incredibly thankful for Chris and all his help.

One way we can thank Chris is by pointing out the awesome parts he builds and sells. Truth is, Chris, as part of Chris Durham Motorsports or CDM, will custom build you a one-of-a-kind rig, sell you custom-built aluminum steering parts that won't bend, sell you a high-end, light weight fiberglass hood for your rock crawler, and a ton more. One of the cooler products CDM makes is a kit that converts a Jeep Wrangler JK into a Jeep Gladiator clone. The kit is simple, cost-effective, and looks great (much better than that other company's similar conversion kit, in our opinion).

On the simpler side of what Chris does is a CDM-branded 1.25-inch body lift kit for Jeep TJ/LJ, and as we discovered during the build, that is one part we needed. The body lift allows space for the Offroad Design Magnum Underdrive and Ford NP205, helps with tire clearance, exhaust clearance, and fuel tank clearance, and in general helps the whole project come together. Also, the 2020 Ultimate Adventure Long Range Jeep needs a rear track bar. We thought we could get away with either using an off-the-shelf TJ/LJ rear track bar, or an off-the-shelf unit for the back of a JK, but as it turns out we need one that is right between the two in length. Luckily, a track bar is easy to make with a few parts and tools.

Custom-Built Rear Track Bar

Ideally, we would have built a double triangulated four-link rear suspension with equal length arms. That's not always possible, but we do know what works off-road, and it just so happens that the Skyjacker JK long-arm control arms we have in a four-link set up with a track bar (or Panhard bar), sometimes called a five-link, works pretty well for a road-driven trail rig. Still, we needed that fifth link, or a track bar to keep the rear axle mostly centered under the back of the Jeep. We'd hoped to use off-the-shelf track bars for JKs or TJs from Skyjacker, but the TJ rear track bar was too short and the JK a little bit too long. Our solution was to build one. For that we needed two weld bungs for -inch rod ends, two rod ends, two jam nuts, a length of tubing, and track bar mounts for the frame and axle. Our axle already had a track bar mount, and making a frame side mount was easy using an intelligently cut-up length of trailer hitch stock (2 x 2 x 0.250-wall tubing). Because our Ultimate Dana 60 is such a large axle, we also needed to add a couple bends to the track bar, so we went to a section of 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 rose or plug-welded the threaded inserts into the bent tubing and attached the track bar using the rod ends. 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.

Chris Durham Motorsports 1.25 TJ/LJ Body Lift

To gain a little more space between the frame and body on the 2020 Ultimate Adventure Long Range Jeep, we tapped our buddy Chris Durham's shoulder. He suggested a small body lift made of aluminum pucks he's used on several of his similar builds. It's an old-school trick for building TJs and LJs that used to be very common, but it's not necessarily common anymore. The billet aluminum body pucks require bolts that are 1.25 inches longer than the factory bolts. We assumed the bolts would be metric, but they are standard thread bolts.


Cummins, 800.286.6467, www.cummins.com/engines/repower
Dana, 800.621.8084, spicerparts.com/applications/crateaxle
Falken Tire, www.falkentire.com/
IH Parts America, 530.274.1795, www.ihpartsamerica.com/
Offroad Design, 970.945.7777, www.offroaddesign.com/
onX Offroad, onxmaps.com/offroad-app
Quick Draw Brand, 513.446.9654, quickdrawbrand.com/
Quigley Motor Company, 800.233.9358, quigley4x4.com/
Skyjacker Suspension, 318.388.0816, skyjacker.com/
VooDoo Offroad, 844.866.3661, www.voodoooffroad.com/
Warn Winch, 800.543.9276, www.warn.com/