As mentioned before, I needed to give the rear end a little boost now that I have the gas tank skid installed.
I really wanted to add the AAL, the shackles, and then re-use the 2" front spring spacers to level it all out, which would have given me about 3.5-4" total lift. However, once I started looking closer at the shackle bolts, I basically chickened out. Might have to leave that to someone who has the right tools and experience. Since this is a DD, I hate to break something on Sunday and not have a way to fix it.
I took a few weeks to read up on the best way to add the AAL. I added one on an old '93 Chevy K1500 a looooong time ago, but I had help back then. This project would be me doing it solo.
So, one of the tips I read suggested a method which required you to remove the u-bolts and spring clamps, drop most of the leaves down, add the AAL, then re-clamp them all back together, and redo the u-bolts.
Step 1: jack up and secure the Jeep, remove the wheel, then check to make sure the Jeep is REALLY secure. I ended up using several jack stands, a floor jack, a bottle jack, and wheel chocks to keep it from rolling away.
By far, the hardest part of this whole project was getting the stinking u-bolt nuts off. I tried cleaning and oiling the threads, but removing them was incredibly labor intensive, not to mention LOUD. Fingers on the chalkboard amplified to 100db loud.
Finally, I got the bolts off and undid the clamps.
Now to remove the center pin nut. But wait! Get those clamps and clamp it down, just in case.
Then I loosened the clamps little by little until I could make sure all the tension was off the spring. Then it was a matter of jacking the Jeep up a little higher to clear the pin and pull out the leaves.
The AAL became leaf #2.
If you can get ahold of them, get yourself some Teflon pads to go between the springs. I had none, so I used a little bit of grease. Don't ask how many times I've had to add grease between the leaves to keep them from squeaking. But, anyway....
With the leaf pack back up and in place, it's basically a matter of doing everything you did before, but in reverse.
Geez, I sound like one of those poorly written instruction manuals.
I took me about 7-8 hours to do, but I was slow (er, I mean methodical), and took several sanity breaks along the way. Not to mention I have no air compressor, so it was just me doing the one-handed-rowing of the ratchet wrench.
Repeat on the other side.
Oh, and about that "1 step back" part I mentioned in my last post...
It turns out that lifting the rear up a little over an inch played serious havoc with how my exhaust threads between the rear spring and the gas tank skid. Just when I thought I had it figured out too...
After spending another hour trying to bend, adjust, and twist the hangers in a way that would help the pipe clear, I gave in and cut the pipe short.
So far, so good. I'll be replacing the muffler next spring (if it lasts that long) and will have whoever does the work figure out a way to route the pipe without hitting either the skid or the spring. Or maybe I'll keep it the way it is.
Not sure what my deal is - no "after" picture, at least none that I can find right now. I did gain about 1.5" with the AALs, though I suspect it may go down a bit once they settle.
There's a definite rake to the Jeep, but once the snow starts flying I'll have about 120 lbs in the back for traction, and that should level it out a little.
I don't really want to go much higher anyway until I have some new tires lined up. 31s have been my goal from the start, and the addition of the shackles and spacers up front ought to make them look and perform just right. I think.
That "I think" part got me to thinking... Maybe I could find some used tires and try out the size? New BFGs are going to set me back $700+, and I want to see if that's the best size (assuming I'll have a tad more lift than I do now), or if I'll need to step up or down from 31s.
I ended up finding some 31" ProComp ATs with not so much tread on them for really cheap. Picked them up and got them mounted, all for about $100.
Hang on a second... At first glance, it looks like a regular Cherokee - no lift, AT tires. Maybe this is what it should have looked like from the factory?!?
The proof is when you park next to a stocker. Wow, what a difference. No pic of that, since my iPhone takes lousy pics inside a parking garage. But, I think we're on the right track.
By the way, in case you're wondering, I *am* missing a front tow point. I should have mentioned this a few posts back when I talked about doing the Badlands Jeep Jamboree. We got stuck on a steep exit from a creek section and had to be yanked out almost at a 60 degree angle from the exit. Bent the bracket up pretty bad:
I need to order a replacement, just haven't gotten around to it yet.
Here's a video of that same spot. Watch near the end and you'll see SGT_Jeep
's XJ get yanked HARD out. In hindsight we should have figured a better way to get people out of the creek.
YouTube - 2010 Badlands Jeep Jamboree - Trouble climbing out of the creek
Next up: Hey, who peed on the garage floor???