How's it going everyone, Carter here from BDS Suspension. I hi-jacked BDS Tech's account and thought I'd introduce a new project we started working on recently. Many of your know us for our high quality, American made suspension lifts and accessories for popular trucks and Jeeps backed with the industry's only no fine print warranty. This year we are the official suspension for the 2013 Ultimate Adventure hosted by Petersen's 4Wheel & Off-Road Magazine and with that comes the need for a trail rig to take on the trip. We've build plenty of TJs, JKs, and XJs over the years and thought it was time to show the KJ some love. This build was one even we were skeptical about, but we wanted to see if we could turn 1st Gen Liberty into a capable dual purpose rig that can cruise the highway and take on some tough trails. We currently offer a mild 2'' lift kit for the KJ, but this project will require something a bit more custom than a simple bolt on kit.
The problem we've seen with most KJs is due to the small fenders, you need to go sky high to clear a 35''+ tire. Our plan is to build a low slung KJ on 40'' tires with minimal lift. We picked up an '05 Liberty CRD and plan to overhaul it over the next 2-3 months as time allows in the R&D shop. There's a lot up in the air at this point, but the guys started on the tear down to see the bones of this rig. Basic plans include a SAS, multi-link suspension with Fox coilovers, stubby bumper with recessed winch, full internal cage, plenty of body mods, engine tuning, and 40''+ tires on beadlock wheels. We'll be posting photos, videos, and writeups throughout the build primarily on the BDS Blog http://bds-suspension.com/blog/?cat=393 as well as posting on the BDS Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/BDSSuspensions, YouTube page http://www.youtube.com/user/bdssuspension, and on a couple forums. Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks as this project starts to take shape.
To get you up to speed on the build progress so far, here's a recap of the videos: Project Intro:
Here's some photos as the build has started to come together over the last 3 weeks. Lots of parts are on the way, we'll keep you updated on the progress. Can we turn a soccer mom KJ intro something cool, stay tuned and find out...
Since the last update, our mighty little Project KJ went on a diet shedding excess unibody and a bulky fuel tank as the guys prep for mounting the new steering, suspension, axles and 40” tires. After stripping down the front bumper support, inner fenders and firewall, we made progress towards our small lift/big tire goal. The stripped unibody looks very similar to a frame rail allowing us to tie in the cage, suspension mounts, and mount a steering box up front. Our plan is to run a OE style box with hydro assist for easy turning in precarious situations offroad. Which steering box setup will best suit the build and our limited space constraints… stay tuned for more information as we figure that out.
For axles, we wanted to go with an attainable axle and show it can be built to handle some abuse. We picked up a set of JK Rubicon Dana 44s and are in the process of bulking them up. After cutting off the brackets, the axles received an outer sleeve and brackets were tacked in place as we figure out the suspension geometry. The JK 44s have a WMS of 65”, 3” wider than the KJ (and TJs) 62” width. This additional width will help give us additional room to mount the coil-overs, steering, and allow the 40s to turn lock-to-lock. The housing on the front D44 fits tightly between the engine and “frame” rail at full compression making it ideal for us to achieve a low center of gravity. There is a slight interference with the mechanical fan, which will be resolved by swapping to an electric unit.
In the rear, the unibody has been cut to roughly the shape we need to extend the wheelbase and clear the 40s with minimal lift. The rear corner is an important structural part of the KJ’s unibody so rather than hack it up and potentially tweak the body, we are moving to the interior as we mock up the cage to provide additional support and rigidity. We’ll have more on the cage as the guys build it into the little KJ. Stay tuned for more as the guys continue to turn this little Liberty into an ultra cool low-slung trail buggy to take on the Petersen’s 4Wheel & Off-Road Ultimate Adventure 2013.
So the build is coming right along, but the guys down in R&D keep getting sidetracked working on new product development projects rather than turning this KJ into a cool trail rig. At this point we've sourced some parts and have continued prepping the cab, cage and suspension. We have a PSC JK box and cylinder assist on order along with a set the new 40'' Nitto Trail Grappler DOT tires, 17x10 B.A.D. beadlocks, and 14'' Fox Racing 2.5 remote coilovers. Here's a few pictures from in the shop earlier today...
After a few weeks getting sidetracked on new product development projects, the crew down at BDS’s R&D shop found some time to continue working on our project Liberty. The biggest change, the top is gone. We did this for a few reasons, it allows us to storage a fullsize 40” spare tire and gear, makes the cage much more accessible so we can tie it into the rest of the unibody, and it just looks cool in my opinion. At this point its just a rough cut, we still plan to cut a bit more before closign the cab back off for a weather tight seal (hopefully).
Another challenge is the steering. Ditching the factory rack-and-pinion steering rack in favor traditional steering box will allow us improved clearance will tie to our Liberty’s new JK axles. After some investigation, we went with PSC Motorsports‘s JK steering box with cylinder assist to help turn the 40×13.50 Nitto Trail Grappler DOT tires on 17×10 B.A.D. beadlocks that we have on order. PSC got the parts right out to us and after a quick test fit it appears the steering box will mount on the unibody and steering linkage without to much struggle. Radiator will likely need to be swapped to eliminate the interference between the steering box and radiator outlet hose.
At this point the cage work is continuing, steering box is being prepped, suspension linkage is being mocked up and Fox 14” remote C/O are on order. Plenty more body mods are over the next couple weeks. Stay tuned for updates as Project KJ starts taking shape.
Now that the roof is off, the guys have gotten busy working on the rest of the cage. Radiator is removed and hopefully steering will be going in first of next week. Also in the front, we've cut out the obtrusive lower corner of the floor/firewall on each size and fill panels are going in to net us extra clearance for the tires at full stuff and turning. It was surprising how much dead space they took up from the factory.
One thing we're still deciding on is what's the best option for mounting a fullsize spare. We don't want to stick it off the back like a Wrangler and we don't want it to half-hazzardly strap it to the roof. At this point we're looking at options to get it inside behind the rear seats so it's easily accessible but still gives the driver a line of sight out the back window. It's times like this we wish we didn't have 40s.
Anyways, just a quick update on the progress, let us know what's on your mind...
At this point the guys down in the BDS R&D shop are making progress on the Liberty. Cage is in and they've been going through finish welded all the seams. 1-3/4" x .120 wall DOM tubing was used to secure the passenger compartment and extends forward into the engine bay to reinforce the frontend integrity now that the unibody and IFS subframe have been scrapped. Front and rear coil-over mounts are being built in as we'll as we await the arrival of our new 14" Fox 2.5 remote C/O and Fox 2.0 bumps any day now. Our PSC JK steering box is mounted to the front "framerail" after taking the time to sleeve and plate the unibody. The OE steering shaft linkage bolted right up and won't require much further modification. We'll have more on this in our next post/video update.
Our wheels made it in from B.A.D. Wheels. They are a 17x10 with 3.5" backspacing to get our desired stance and allow a bit more room for the suspension/steering components. They feature several cool design features for safety and rapid air deflation. For now we're mounted them to a set of 40" Maxxis Trepador radials to continue mocking up the rig. We've got a set of the brand spankin' new 40x13.50x17 DOT approved Nitto Trail Grapplers on order with expected arrival at the first of June. We'll have a closer look at the wheels and tires at that time.
For now enjoy a few pictures I grabbed while down at the shop today. As parts arrive we'll see a quick transformation as this rig gets closer to being mobile again. Stay tuned for more and let us know what you think so far...