On MLK Day the fine folks for whom I work were closed but, as it turns out, Southern Offroad
were on the job. After sleeping late & paying a few bills I headed their way and picked up the BDS 2" lift I've been saving my pennies for. It sat in my garage for the rest of the week but after my son's basketball game Saturday afternoon I headed over to Jerry's Garage
& we broke out the tools.
Jerry was recovering from the flu or strep or something similarly evil so he wasn't in any good shape to be wielding power tools. Being two years my senior, therefore, he assumed a mentor role and proceeded to instruct me in the best course of action. Thus armed with tools, leadership and a good dose of common sense I dug into the lift.
I should point out now that this was my first excursion into this type of exercise. Those of you who are similarly new may recognize the anxiety I felt over pulling important parts off of my daily driver. While a healthy fear will (generally) keep you from doing anything stupid, it shouldn't stop you from taking on this particular job. There's little room for error & plenty of time to fix any mistakes along the way if you start early. I wouldn't, for instance, do it on a Sunday afternoon if you have to be at work early Monday. We started around 3PM and I got home about 11PM because we took a couple of detours early in the process and didn't get in a hurry anywhere along the way.
So... we started on the passenger front corner. That one took us about two hours. (I'll read this a few months from now and be embarrassed over that admission...) Here's a hint: place your coil spring compressors nuts up and shaft down with one in front & one in back as close to 180* apart as possible. We wasted most of the two hours trying different configurations until we realized this one was optimal. This is the formula we finally settled on as ideal:
- remove the shock
- disconnect the sway bar at the axle end to give yourself more room around the front spring compressor
- place your coil spring compressors nuts up and shaft down with one in front & one in back as close to 180* apart as possible
- have two sockets handy, one for each compressor, because one *will* get stuck
After that, just crank down on 'em until you can work the coil out. If you have help, have them push down on the axle a bit and that's a couple of inches you won't have to compress. Once you have enough compression pull the coil out over the brake line (carefully) and towards you.
Once the coil is out and before you remove the compressors, measure the height you have. That's your target for the new spring. Now move the compressors off of the old and onto the new. We were able get the the new ones in with a little less compression because, by now, we were getting better at forcing the axle down for clearance.
If you have a new steering stabilizer install it before you install the new coil. You'll have more room this way. If you have a pitman puller it will make the process easier.
Once the stabilizer is in place and the coil has been seated pull the compressors off. Lifting the axle to compress the coil will make this easier and you won't have to back the compressors off quite so much. When that's done you're ready to install the shock. Follow the instructions & all will be well. You can reconnect the sway bar anywhere between removing the compressors & installing the shock. Just be sure you have everything back in place before putting the wheel back on.
As I said, the first corner took us a couple of hours. From what we learned there we were able to blow through the driver's front corner in about a half-hour. Without the axle end of the trackbar in the way here we had a lot more room and didn't need to disconnect the swaybar. We also made better use of the floor jack to make the coil compression easier.
- remove shock
- compress & remove coil
- compress & install coil
- install shock
With the front wrapped up we moved on to the back where we spent 45 & 30 minutes respectively. We were already on the driver's side so we started there. You'll notice a notch in the front of the bottom coil bucket. This is where the shaft of the front compressor will go. Again, nuts up & shaft down... The back one will pretend the shaft is going to hit the bucket but if you catch the right pair of coils it will angle out just enough to clear. You can also use the floor jack creatively if it gets wedged. On the first corner we removed the sway bar for that extra bit of clearance but it really wasn't necessary. We skipped that on the last corner with no ill effects.
With everything buttoned back up and torqued to spec (and then some in a few cases) we took a quick shakedown drive around the block. Before starting we had both driven roughly the same route to get that last minute feel for things. The shakedown didn't introduce any new moans, groans, rattles, clanks or vibrations. To be honest, I was concerned about driveline vibes that I've heard others experience. I think the longer rear shaft on the LJ eliminates those headaches or, at least, it did in my case. Everything is nice & tight and it rides much better. Before the lift it was annoyingly bouncy in some situations on my daily drive. It still bounces but now it snaps back into place and settles down rather than going on about things. Now it feels like a Jeep *should* feel.
Some statistics for those who find such things interesting:
The front shocks range is 16.5" to 25.5" measured eye-to-top
The rear shocks are 13.625" to 21.75" eye-to-eye
I gained exactly 2.5" of clearance at all four corners putting the top of the stock bumper at 26.5" and the bottom of the rear corners at 24.625.
Now that I have the tires out of the flares I'm back to the small things I've been putting off. The next major surgery will likely be a tummy tuck and probably include a small body lift, upper (and maybe lower) control arms and perhaps new driveshafts. The "maybe" and "perhaps" depend on how tucked we can get. After that I plan to settle down again for a while and slowly upgrade things for the day the 32's are replaced with 35's. No worries & no hurries, there's plenty of life left in the 'Brick and I'm content to take my time and enjoy the journey.
I don't have a photo from immediately before but here's what he looked like just after getting the 32" KM2's:
and here's what he looks like now:
These aren't the greatest shots (an iPhone in a dimly lit garage) but they give you an idea of the difference between the old and new gear: