Mini Trip Report coming! Since I'm not doing much in the way of "building", I guess this is now a "wheeling" thread.
Fortune Creek Trail 4WD301 07/02/2011
Airing down at the start of FS 4330
Tailgunner on FS 4330, AKA "DustFest 2011"
The lower half of the trail, it's considerably more washed out than last year.
Water crossing...the Montero did pretty well for most of the day despite being stock/open/open.
WJ in the water.
Our group taking a break in the creek bed
The trail goes on
Yeah... that's a tree and a half!
Tree removal in progress. It required 3 chainsaws, 2 winches, 3 snatch blocks, and claimed the lives of two tree straps.
Getting around the tree. We all made it without hitting, except for one fellow with a JK-U that tagged it with a rear fender (plastic).
Onward to another stream crossing
Stopped by 2-3 feet of semi-melted snow on a tight, off-camber trail.
On the way back, I went from tailgunner to trail leader.
Anyway, it was fun and little carnage, just more scratches and the skid plates did their job. I'm trying to get one of my photographer friends out there to get the whole group with some high-quality images.
Well... my Rough Country sway bar disconnects are cursed. They are all kinds of clunking/rattling at the bottom bushing, much worse than the little noises that my JKS discos made.
Part of the issue is that the metal sleeves that go where the original end links went have collapsed. Part of the issue is that they are not sitting vertically, so the load on the bushing causes it to move around. Part of the issue is that the bushings themselves are getting sloppy. Part of the issue is that they are just too long and the load on the sway bar is very high, putting more load on the end links than they were intended to see.
So, I'm running disconnected for the moment as I can't stand the clunking. What I had thought was a bad steering box or intermediate shaft (they have slight play) was actually these stupid end links. I am going to get new bushings from RC (again) and re-work them so that the design doesn't suck so bad. I used to be a machinist and I also manufactured aftermarket parts (including sway bar end links) for almost 4 years, so I should be able to improve them a bit. I only wish I had access to all the machinery from my former life.
Stay posted for how I either improve or destroy a set of RC end links.
Well, I finished a couple projects this weekend, time for a build thread update!
First, about those Rough Country quick disconnects. They were clunking quite a bit, about every 2-3 seconds on normal smooth roads, and quite loudly on even small bumps. I got in there to find that the aluminum sleeves in the axle mount had collapsed so the mounting posts were loose and rattling around. Why they used a thin aluminum roll sleeve here instead of steel, I don't know. Since I didn't have any suitable steel, I used a box of M12 washers and stacked washers to make this piece solid.
In addition, the RC QDs are designed "For 3-6" lift" but I feel they are just too long to work well with the 3" lift I have. The sway bar was sitting at a 50-60º angle which means that as the axle travels up, the sway bar rotates forward and limits vertical motion. The result was a rougher ride and limited up-travel. Cornering was fairly flat but body roll was not linear, almost as if you were hitting the bump stops during normal cornering.
The solution is to make the end links shorter. I measured out where they needed to be to put the sway bar at a 30º angle, used a 1/2-20 Die to cut new threads, cut it off, and reinstalled. In the process, I had to relocate the mounting of the RC QDs to the outside of the sway bar, closer to the tire. This means they can rub slightly at full lock (my JKS end links did the same). I also found out that the sway bar is not centered on the body (but it should be) and this is contributing to the rubbing. The way I set it up will load the bar back to center as it travels, it's very hard to slide it sideways by hand.
Here's a couple pics of the process:
RC quick disconnect in the process of cutting new threads. I used a cheezy breaker bar through the bushing as my die wrench and held the die in the vice. I found that gear oil makes a GREAT cutting fluid.
Comparo of the original length to the correct length
That's a lot of threading
Collapsed roll sleeves. A fine example of Rough Country's poor design and low quality.
Final install. This is with the washers in place of the aluminum sleeves, relocated the mounting to the outside edge of the sway bar/axle (same location as JKS), and the shortened end link. I also added a couple washers between the ball-jointed end and the sway bar. This places the disconnect a nice, vertical angle, no funky load on the bushing or ball joint. Lastly, I adjusted the lengths so that the sway bar was not preloaded, making it easy to dis/re-connect.
End result: Perfect. The ride quality is great on bumps, the body roll is linear and controlled, they disconnect easily, and the clunking is gone. The only issue is a slight rub at full lock that should get better as the sway bar re-centers. I may go with small (10mm) wheel spacers in the future.
As you know, I installed the Warn Front Receiver hitch with a multi-mount winch. Unfortunately, this required removing the tow hooks, so there was no point to pull from when all you need is a quick tug. Having a winch is nice, but slow for simple recoveries.
The winch mount had a 5/8" hole drilled in it to mount a shackle, but it was too far back. Plus, a 5/8" shackle doesn't have a large enough neck to fit on 2" box tubing! Add in that a 5/8 pin shackle is only good for about 6000lbs of pull, and it would sit at a funny angle, could pinch a strap. Also, 5/8" shackles aren't big enough to accommodate a heavy strap, I've had trouble with even 3/4" shackles.
So, I went to the local hardware store and picked up the biggest shackle they had. It's a 1" shackle with a 1-1/8" pin, 17000lb WLL, and 1-3/4" neck. So I decided I could grind a little out of the neck and fit it over a 2" box. Yes, this will reduce the load rating of the shackle.... but since it's massively oversized anyway, I am not worried about strength. I am sure that the hitch pin would shear before the shackle breaks.
It took more than 2 hours of grinding to take 1/8" of each side of the shackle neck. Forged steel, go figure! I then marked it out, used a 1-1/8" hole saw, and cut out two holes for it to pass through. I also had my buddy TIG-weld in a reinforcement brace under the box tubing since the holes were a little low.
Wheeling/camping trip this weekend! Fortune Creek, one of my favorite places around. We did the 4W301 and 4W304 trails, camped at Lake Gallagher overnight, and came home. Everything went well, both the WJ and my buddy's Discovery did great. I'm continuing to be impressed by the VariLoks and the Goodyear Wrangler Silent Armor. Places where I used to need several runs or lots of speed in the ZJ are much easier to just crawl right up in the WJ. No drama, no wheelspin, just progress. I have yet to be in situation where I was wanting more traction. Due to the heavy load of camping gear, I only went down to 20psi this time around. The hydraulic fan was working overtime as temps got as high as 95ºF!
Sadly, I've got mostly Disco pics from my own camera, waiting on Aaron's pics and vids to post more WJ content.
Also, testament to ride quality with Bilsteins/BDS springs... my daughter slept for roughly 4 hours worth of trail time. Yeah, it was bouncy, but not harsh enough to wake her up! :-P