i've read a TON of threads on every lift imaginable for a CJ7, pros and cons of each. i've done my homework on steering, driveline, etc. and am comfortable doing what is necessary to make it safe and happy driving. what i'm saying is i'm not asking what lift is best etc. just opinons from happy experience CJ owners...
the PO put on a 2.5 rancho w/ 3/4" body lift many years ago (it's done right!) the pucks are in ok shape still, but the lift is sagged and the 33's just clear for road use. i have some 31's for offroad but next season i want 35's or at minimum 33's offroad...i recently found a good local deal (for Canada) on a BDS 4" system.
so the opinon part: if i happend to go with some 1/2" lift shackles and another 1/2" of body lift now, and keeping the 2.5 sagged rancho to save a bunch of $, will i regret not getting the BDS at a decent price? is there a chance the shocks would fit from the 2.5" lift, saving money there?
i ride a lot of backcountry trails/jeep roads, nothing mad flexy but lots of ruts and water crossings etc. and i daily drive her in the summer as well as highway miles to the trails (regearing in process for that problem)
i know this has been beat to death just from the sheer number of threads i've crawled, but i really appreciate your guys opinions.
You will never get a consensus opinion on what lift brands to buy. Most of the guys who spend the extra $$ on OME, RE, and a few others, are happy with their purchases. BDS seems to fall in the middle of the pack, somewhere.
Also, have you considered what switching to 35"s is going to do your final drive ratios, and overall performance? The overdrive in your T5 will be worthless, your gas mileage will suffer, and you will be testing the outer limits of your factory axles (assuming that's what you have),driveline, and brakes.
Stepping up to 35"s requires a much higher level of modifications than just lifting the Jeep, if you want to do it correctly, and safely.
I have the stock axles other than 1 piece in the rear 20, and I have an appt at the gear shop in a couple weeks for that part (gears seem beyond my tools and experience). I feel the stock axles will stand up ok for my trail running, not a lot of rocks here and the rushed 258 is hardly a monster
I have an AX15 sitting in my garage that needs a rebuild, so probably this winter I'll order some adapters and mount her up
Originally I wanted SOA but after research I don't think it's right for my use. As far as brand, I would only be considering BDS at this point as they are available locally and shipping on anything else would kill my budget. More interested in whether a spring lift is the only good way to go, or whether a small shackle lift/extended body lift is worth saving the money...
Most guys avoid shackle lifts because they change caster angles and makes the handling squirrelly unless it's addressed.
Body lifts are another one that generally get poo-poo'd. They mess with linkages, like the clutch, and they change heights of shifters in relationship to the tub, just to name a few...
If you absolutely have to have 35's, I'd probably go SOA, but I'd upgrade axles, brakes, gears, and make all the necessary driveline and steering modifications, as well. I've said it before, but I think sticking 35"s or larger on a otherwise stock CJ is about the worst thing you can do to one.
I agree with Matt on the fact that 35s are the next tier on changes overall. I also agree that there will never be a consensus on any 'best' set ups. So using that as a jump off, and the fact that yours and mine needs are almost identical, except for the difference in latitude, I can say that some differences are exaggerated on here. Wow I can already hear the hell that just raised! I went from 33's to 35's recently. My mileage went from 18-20mpg to 15-16. This is not all bad and not all attributable to a slightly larger diameter. I also have stock gears which are now requiring more input (read fuel pedal) to get turning. When I regear, and mine is also in the not too distant future, the lower gears will take off of top end speed but will require less engine input due to their increase in torque. I don't expect to get back to my original mileage, but at least I will see more power from the fuel investment. That obviously will lead to more stress on the axles which needs to be addressed. But going back to our needs, is not a huge factor like our rock krawling brethren. Now for the lift portion of this, I have also read the endless threads on this and have come to a conclusion. For what it's worth, I have settled on the bds. Why? I have seen many god regress to include their no questions asked warranty. With the unlimited frustrations of being a cj owner, that is some necessary peace of mind. Also, my po put 7", no typo, 7" shackles on mine. I can account for horse and buggy like handling. Also the added clearance from true suspension rather than shade tree mods to engineering seems safer and higher quality. I don think you are settling by going with bds at all, in fact I think they are an equal player in the lift scene. I only wish I had a local dealer and didn't have to pay shipping! Good luck and now everyone can tear apart all m lengthy post! You guys are the best though!
Earning an engineering degree one CJ7 hiccup at a time
I have to agree with Matt & Vin, but you need to be honest with yourself here.
1st- What percent of the time do you REALLY need the ground clearance/35" tires your setting out to get?
Is it the cool factor or really for the trails you hit?
2nd- Your so close on budget, that if you snap an axle (or some such, related to the mods) your gonna break
the bank. You'll have to continue with mods until stuff stops breaking.....which you won't have the funds for(?)
My 85 CJ-7 has a Skyjacker 4", with Currie shackles, longer Rancho shocks, 1" t-case drop, all done by the PO.
I'm running 31" and can barely use 4th gear, but hey, it's my ice cream getter and beach buggy. I'm not deep in
the woods/rocks & ruts.
FWIW, it's NOT a DD...I only have a bikini for it, and yeah, it rides like crap.....but that's not the point. (wait,
what is the point?)
i don't NEED 35's...at all. they are part of my end goal, which i'm in no huge rush to get to. i have no problems at all sitting on 33's till i delve into the magic world of SOA (which is my ultimate end goal) but to do it properly isn't on my plate right now. but...i do want more lift right now to clear the 33's properly, i'm pretty adamant about that LOL. the BDS 4" is in my budget with a bit left over for potential problems (i.e. driveline) although i don't anticipate huge issues with a reasonable SUA. in fact i'm pretty convinced i can get a reasonably safe DD/weekend warrior with a 4" lift and some steering work. when i say DD it's not because i need it, i have another vehicle...but summers are short here and i like driving the jeep
i'm new to CJ's but not to jeeps, i've had TJ, XJ, ZJ. i've overbuilt one (XJ, massive driveline issues amongst others LOL but great learning) and stayed moderate with the rest, but we all have different needs, and desires...i know where i want to go with this project.
What about an add-a-leaf to clear your 33s until you have the money to do it all up right. I think its only 100 for a pair so for 200 bucks your 2.5 lift will return to normal-ish. And without the need to do anything else.
Me im in the process of installing 4" lift wagoneer fronts on all 4 for a wheelbase stretch and 5-6" of lift. I broke my rear so its a 9" now and im just waiting for the right dana 44 front to roll its self in my garage. Then ill make custom outboard rear shock mounts and do a high steer then ill be ready for 35s or maybe 38s.
Ive had a 2.5 bds in good shape for 2 years and its cleared 33 tsls just fine. until i put em on my 360 cj5 and started really working them.
The Last Great American Hero... the demi-god... to which speed means freedom of the soul.
When I bought my '78 CJ7, it had a 4" suspension lift with 35's. The springs were a little saggy but the tires simply didn't clear well. Any spring flex and the tires would rub somewhere, not to mention the difficulty getting jeep to move, even with a 304. Additionally, in 4x4 low, the vehicle liked moving a little too fast for solid off road control forcing me to bounce over obstacles when I would have preferred to creep. I fixed the gimpy springs retaining the 4" lift but went down a tire size to 33's and am happier with the asphalt ride, the slightly improved power, and especially, the ability to drive slower in low range, both from smaller tires but also the ability to maintain a lower engine RPM from having to push a smaller diameter tire. I have stock gearing and solid rear axles in the facory housings, and haven't damaged any drive line components from moderate rocks (generally less than 2' tall) and climbs that strain the tires traction. My decision was more about handling and performance than fear of braking stuff. IMO, CJ's require most of a 4" lift to adequately mange 33" tires and the engine/drive trains, without mods, really don't manage larger tires well either. I can see larger tires in muddy areas where clearance is desired, but on trails, the tiny wheelbase offers all kinds of clearance already. Soft/weak springs, wonky bushings and tall tires make for an unpredictable ride. On a short wheelbase vehicle, things can get out of hand quickly. I would go with a suspension lift so the undercarriage stays tight and controlled for highway handling, tires no larger than 33's and polyurethane bushings to knock the vibration down. Actually, that's what I did and it works for me.