Well after weeks of driving around with a god awful clatter and *thunking* sound coming from the back end, I finally had a friend help me track down the exact source of the noise. Turned out to be my right rear shock. Totally blown, and in dire need of replacement.
I had originally thought it was the rear lift gate, and after buying new bumpstops at the stealership, and installing those, the noise was still there. In fact it just got worse over the next couple weeks. Well I've been shopping around for lifts, and i'm going to end up (eventually) with a 3.5" with full leaf packs and of course new shocks all around. But i've been waiting on a couple pay checks, and my tax return to make it happen. In the mean time, and more for safety's sake and my own peace of mind than anything, i decided to just swap out the old OEM shocks for something of equal value, ($24ea at Nappa.) I also knew I was going to throw in some Bar Pin Eliminators at the same time, so I picked up some JKS Rear Upper BPE's from one of my local 4WD shops- Central 4WD. Got 'em for $40 out the door!
Below I'll detail how it all went.
So I began the install around 2:30, 2 days of PB Blasting everything to hopefully avoid the dreaded rear upper shock bolts breaking. FAT CHANCE!!!! ALL FOUR snapped right off. Lowers came off no problem, but I know there was a good chance the uppers were going to snap, and shure enuff, they all did. Luckily I did my homework and read a thread on how to circumvent this issue. I simply drilled out the old bolts - had to use a good high speed carbide drill bit - and knock out the old welded nuts on the chassis.
Easy enuff, just took alot of elbow grease and a good corded drill to get thru the bolts, and a hammer and punch did the rest.
Here's a shot of the old shocks compared to the new ones. Nothing special, but as you can see the OEM's were just toast.
Once I got the old ones out and the holes drilled, it was off to the parts store to get the RIGHT hardware. I had originally picked up some 7/16" grade 8 bolts, but those were WAY too fat to fit in thru the JKS BPE's. Ended up going with 5/16"x2" grade 8, a larger washer on top to keep the head from coming thru the holes I drilled, then a smaller washer and a lock washer for the bottom side of the BPE's. Got back and started to set everything up.
The trick to getting the new bolts thru the drilled holes is to use a length of thin wire to fish them thru the triangular access holes that are directly in front of the shock locations. Not alot of room but its not that far to fish. Just make sure the wire is wrapped around the bottom of the bolts real good.
It's actually pretty easy to do. Here's a shot of one done already and me fishing the second one thru:
And VOILA!! -out comes the bolt.
Once that was done, it was time to extract the bar pins from the new shocks, WHAT A PAIN IN THE A**!!!
But a little more PB Blaster, some vice work, and a good pickle fork used for ball joints and they came out:
Once those were out it was time to got the BPE's on them. That went fairly smooth. Just lubed up the shaft (lol), stuck the base in the vice, and while rotating the shock back & forth with one hand I pressed down with the other to get it to seat. Then simply placed the other end of the BPE on and used the vice to clamp them down, then hammered down the set pin. TA-DA!!!
....yes I know the holes are 90deg from where they should be, but that was easily remedied.
Once the shocks were ready, they simply slipped over the bolts that were hanging thru the holes, I placed the lower end over the bottom mount, that kept the whole assembly in place while i put on the washers and the nuts. Tightening them down requires you to get an open ended wrench in thru that triangular opening to keep the bolt from spinning. Not as necessary as it sounds. Didnt need to do it on a couple of them. Torqued it all down real good. And I WAS DONE!!!! ----only FIVE HOURS LATER!
Another shot of the shocks installed with the JKS Bar Pin Eliminators:
I highly recommend this method for anyone installing rear shocks and end up snapping bolts. Dont be a idiot and start cutting up the floor of your jeep to try to do this form the top. The most difficult part was the drilling. But with the right tools, and enough preparation this isn't that bad of a job. And its all ready to go when I order my lift kit with new shocks in the upcoming weeks. I will document that process as well and I'll be sure to include lots of pics. Thanks for looking, and as always, i appreciate any feed back.