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Unread 08-20-2014, 08:45 PM   #1
The_Dealer
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Fabrication: An alternative to the factory Tri-Link

There's been a bunch of topics coming up about the rear upper bushings and bj, and to be honest, there's not many options. You've gotta choice between OEM Mopar, Moog, and cheap China crap. I've had good luck with the Moog bushings and bj on the stock upper, and besides the Mopar it seems that's the affordable, but yet decent route to take. No matter what, you are still stuck with a horribly designed setup and if lifted will always have issues. In the case of the KJ rear Tri-Link there's only one real solution: Fabrication. I'm starting this thread to serve as an information database to discuss fabricating your own Tri-Link. If you are skeptical about something, let us hear your opinions. If you think it won't last as long as stock, tell us why. Challenging an idea and proposing a new one will help us come up with better alternatives. I know I'm always talking about fab'ing a new Tri-Link. I think in the KJ community, the word fabrication scares the **** out of people. Fab'ing an upper arm isn't near as hard as people may think. Even if you can't weld, you can get everything cut to length, drilled, notched, and ready to go, then have a professional weld it all together. I've even showed a couple of designs to an Offroad shop just to see how much they'd charge to fab one, which was less than $500. Considering the price of a new Mopar one, the price isnt bad for a beefy Tri-Link with rebuildable flex/cartridege joints (Johnny Joint, Duroflex, Ballistic Joint, etc).So for you guys who don't feel comfortable fab'ing your own, you can get one done for you.

The Tri-Link has 2 jobs: center the axle side to side, and hold the pinion angle. That makes it fairly easy to get it right, as both sides will be the same length. Since we will be using flex/cartridge joints, we can use the stock dimensions and copy them. These type joints have a high misalignment, so difference in angle of the Tri-Link between stock and lifted won't put it near its limit of movement. IMO, I wouldn't waste my time with some of the cheaper joints, especially considering the difference in price is minimal. Johnny Joint (JJ), Metalcloak's Duroflex (DF), and Ballistic Joints are my top 3 to use and are the same price. They require very minimal maintenance, will outlast a bushing, and are fully rebuildable. When designing your Tri-Link, use the stock measurement between frame end to frame end, and between frame end to axle end. You measure from center of the bolt hole to center of the bolt hole on the bushings, then center of the bolt hole to center of the bj. I've come up with 2 designs that would work the best, and are simple enough for the average person to fab. I like to use square tubing (.250" wall) since it's easy to get, and usually cheaper than DOM round tube.

The first Tri-Link design will use the stock frame end mounts, and the stock axle end bracket. The frame joints mount like the stock bushings, and the axle end mounts like stock as well. This is an arm from a WJ, but it's stock design is almost identical to the KJ. The difference is the axle end mount, so don't pay any attention to the bracket in the pictures. I believe I came up with 2 of the best methods for attaching the rear joint to the axle bracket. The bj isn't tapered, but instead has a groove machined into the stud for the pinch bolt. Option 1: Take the axle bracket off and weld a nut underneath, then use a bolt to attach the joint to the bracket. You will need to make sure whatever joint you use has the same size bolt hole. Option 2: Use a bolt going down thru the joint with a nut on the bottom, then use a thick washer between the nut and axle bracket. The part of the bolt that goes thru the hole can be machined like the bj stud (or carefully ground down) and the factory pinch bolt used. I like option 1 the best. If anyone has any other ideas I'd like to hear them. Other than fab'ing up a completely new axle bracket, that's about the best I came up with.

Keep in mind, we won't be using this axle bracket.





The 2nd design is prolly going to be the best way IMO. A crossmember is bolted to the factory mounts, and bushings are used on the frame end, which are mounted so the bushing pivots. You want to try to make your mounts as close to the width as the stock Tri-Link if possible. Any type bushing can be used, a TJ rear UCA Clevite would work good. This is also on a WJ, but still the same principle. The owner wanted to fix the downfalls of the IRO Tri-Link. The bushings at the crossmember will transfer less NVH than running 3 flex/cartridge joints. The travel is a more natural movement for a rubber/poly bushing, so it wouldn't suffer from the issues of the factory bushings. An added bonus of using a crossmember for a mount is it will tie in the factory frame mounts, and help stiffen the rear subframe. For the guys that care more about longevity, and log more road miles than offroad miles, this would be a good way to go.




I put in alot of time with the Tri-Link(s) I've been working on, and alot of fitting and recording dimensions. I don't have one fully completed, but have a non adjustable 1.25" square .120" wall with JJ'S tacked and ready for me to finish welding. I decided to go a different way and go adjustable, and all I'm waiting on is my stuff from Metalcloak to get here (should be friday).

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Unread 08-21-2014, 03:30 AM   #2
RockRollin
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Nice work. I'm really liking the 2nd design. That overcomes many of the road blocks that I've run into on the mock up.
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Unread 08-21-2014, 07:25 AM   #3
remmons
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Glad to see that you've created a new thread on this. You can bet that we will be following along on this project. As we have discussed in another thread, the factory KJ cross-link isn't necessarily up to par. Maybe it was when it was first new, but like all things, they begin to break down over time. Combined with wear, rust, and suspension lift, this creates additional stress to the UBJ and bushings. Your solution just may be what is needed to address a problem that may become more prevalent as our rigs are getting older.
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Unread 08-21-2014, 05:03 PM   #4
The_Dealer
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I don't think even the factory piece is up to par for a stock rig, once you add a lift, more unsprung weight (heavier tires), and longer travel shocks...all hell breaks loose. I have been lucky with my rig I guess, the stock Tri-Link lasted 195k miles, and I have around 10k lifted miles on Moog parts without a problem. When I first planned to lift my rig, I immediately decided to come up with something that's a little better. I wanted something simple, not made like a Coke can, and something reliable with offroad use. During my searches I didn't find much useful information or ideas, but I did find that the WJ design is almost exactly like the KJ, and there was more information available. I was very surprised there wasn't anything available for the KJ, even though there isn't a big aftermarket for us.

Kinda off the subject, but I didn't like the lowers either. I'm not sure what's up with the slotted bushings, or what Jeep had in mind when coming up with that one. Maybe it was to make money at the parts counter, I dunno. I decided to do something with those as well. I went with JK Metalcloak lower arms, which are a more mid-length style arm. They adjust to 23" fully extended, compared to the 19" of the TJ arms. I'm cutting off the stock lca mounts, and welding new ones farther farward. I'm planning on running them at 21", with the tire centered in the wheel well for my current lift. That will give me plenty of adjustability, and should work well with my fab'd Tri-Link. The lowers and my Duroflex joints will be here tomorrow. I'll add more later when I have a little more time.
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Unread 08-22-2014, 09:40 AM   #5
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Very nice work… Using the Metalcloak Duraflex Joints is what will make this work with ease and still have rigidity. The Duraflex Joints are awesome. I used 16 of these on my build. They will flex crazy and return true without fail. They are rebuildable also… Good Job Dealer….
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Unread 08-22-2014, 10:24 AM   #6
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Thanks, yea I have all MC arms on my LJ. I swear the Duroflex is the best thing since sliced bread. I like the fact it has the NVH of a bushing but flex of a cartridge joint. It's also self centering, which is cool too. I checked the tracking on my order from MC, it's out to be delivered. I'm excited
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Unread 08-23-2014, 10:30 AM   #7
remmons
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Dealer View Post
They adjust to 23" fully extended, compared to the 19" of the TJ arms. I'm cutting off the stock lca mounts, and welding new ones farther farward.
Good idea. By extending the lengths this will reduce the angles, thus creating less stress on the components while improving their performance, and this will also reduce the ride harshness when hitting a bump or dip and also when on a rough road..
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Unread 08-23-2014, 12:33 PM   #8
The_Dealer
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It's also changes the axles arc of travel, and combined with the fab'd Tri-Link helps keep the pinion angle from changing as much throughout the range of travel. I got a little accomplished this morning, but had to knock of early. It was flat out too hot and humid to be wrenching, I'll pick back up later in the day. I took some of these with my phone, so sorry for the quality.

I didnt realize how big the bj stud was, which could be an issue when trying to go the easy way and bolt the joint to the stock mount. However, I came up with some more ideas. I'll elaborate on those later.

Checking out the mount to get some ideas.

Hopefully the next time this thing comes out, it will be for good.

The more I look at the stock mounts, the more I'm glad I decided to use a crossmember to help stiffen things up. These things are thin

My buddy has taken on the job of taking progress pics, and making sure I'm always holding a beer. Got the crossmember end bushing housings welded on my tube for the TJ Clevite rubber bushings. It's no longer a stack of metal.


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Unread 08-23-2014, 01:46 PM   #9
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I've settled for the new JBA Tri- link extension for now. It relieves a lot of pressure on the bushings from being lifted. In fact the rear of my liberty went up a good 1/2" after unbolting the Tri-link from the diff.

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Unread 08-23-2014, 06:04 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John317 View Post
I've settled for the new JBA Tri- link extension for now. It relieves a lot of pressure on the bushings from being lifted. In fact the rear of my liberty went up a good 1/2" after unbolting the Tri-link from the diff.

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It'll run for now John, well until I get what you saw at my place working good
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Unread 08-23-2014, 09:38 PM   #11
The_Dealer
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QUOTE="John317;25086842"]I've settled for the new JBA Tri- link extension for now. It relieves a lot of pressure on the bushings from being lifted. In fact the rear of my liberty went up a good 1/2" after unbolting the Tri-link from the diff.

OIIIIIO Sent from my iPhone using JeepForum[/QUOTE]

It's definitely better than not having one, that's for sure. The metal piece on my bushings is actually slightly bent on the rear side from the bushing being maxed out all the time. I'm only running OME 947's in the rear with no extra isolators. I couldn't imagine how bad it would be with 3.5-4"

TomMudd, what do you have at your place that you are trying to get working good? You must have a little project going?

I got a little more fab'ing done after it cooled off some. At one point the thermometer in my shop read 112*, and that's with a big exhaust fan and a shop fan circulating air. Add a welding helmet, gloves, and sleeves, and it was miserable. I got my center tube cut/notched and the threaded bung welded on. This is the piece that both sides of the Tri-Link will be be to, and has a single adjustable joint. I stopped there until I figure out how I'm going to mount it to the axle. The 7/8" hole for the bj stud is going to be an issue when trying to bolt it into the stock bracket. My buddy went for a beer run, and somehow came back with a factory axle mount. I didn't even want to know. If I have to fab up a new axle mount, I have something to duplicate or modify

Not wanting to weld the DF housing on yet, I started to figure out where my new LCA mounts needed to be. I'm not going lower, so I want to extend the JK arms as much as possible but still have some adjustability in case I need it. I came up with 21.5" for the length being the ideal setup. I want to get rid of as much of that stock mount as possible by cutting right up to the bottom of the "frame", then arching up to stay above the recessed area of the stock mount.

I went with the front JK lowers because they are longer than the rears, and they are angled to help clear the tire when turning. I'm going to try to do my lca mounts inside the frame for better ground clearance. I'm pretty confident I can get it to work, and can even angle the mounts a little if need be.
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Unread 08-23-2014, 10:24 PM   #12
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Some DOM tube, a Pipe bender, 4-Weld bungs, 4-Metal Cloak Duraflex Joints. Make what you want….
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Unread 08-24-2014, 03:15 PM   #13
remmons
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Looking good!

I'm so jealous of your welding skills. I think that it might be because I need a new (bigger) welder.
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