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Unread 11-18-2011, 03:24 PM   #1
dmgiff
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What I learned while 4-linking

So I started out with an RC 4" X-Flex lift about two years or so ago. Since I do not desire to beat a dead horse, I won't go into its shortcomings here. A friend has been telling me for a year how I should triangulate the uppers and get rid of the rear track bar. So I finally decided to pull the trigger.

I began procuring parts. I started with Gen-Right combination frame-side brackets. Lowers are angled out about ten degrees and uppers are angled in about 25 degrees if I remember right. I bought their lower shock mounts (the expensive ones) and their coil spring relocation kit. Also got axle side lower mounts from them. I bought the Savvy/Currie aluminum arms with stars in my eyes. The number one selling point for me besides the obvious splendiferousness of aluminum was the right hand thread on one side and left hand on the other. Doesn't get any easier than that, right?

I planned to employ a rear axle bridge given to me by my friend who cut it off his Jeep when he did a rear stretch. It is made by Rock Slide Engineering out of Logan, Utah. I really liked the design, though in hindsight, it may or may not be a stellar design and I will probably have to box it in soon.

All of these purchases were made before using the four-link calculator on the assumption that Gen-Right knows what they are doing and I'm sticking with short arms, so shouldn't have to make any huge changes, right? Wrong.

1. First thing I learned was it is not nearly as tedious or difficult to cut all the stock mounts off as I had originally thought it would be. Angle grinder, thin cutting disc, BFH and a torch took me one afternoon.

I cut the upper control arm mounts off the axle, lowers off the axle, lower track bar mount off the axle, upper track bar mount off the frame, upper coil mounts off the frame, and frame side upper and lower control arm mounts. Cake.

After grinding everything smooth, I started mocking up my stuff. Tacked the axle bridge first after some redesign to the bridge. Then I mocked up the lower control arms, saw where they pointed to on both the axle and the frame and tacked my lower axle mounts on along with the gorgeous Gen-Right combination brackets on the frame. This is where it gets interesting. Due to my lack of preparation, I did not realize until now that my Gen-Right brackets pointed the upper control arms about 7" further out toward the ends of the axle then my bridge mounts were placed. So, the way I saw it, my options were to cut the bridge up, order new upper control arm mounts and weld them to the bridge where the Gen-Right brackets pointed them to. Or.... Wait for it.... the other option was to move the Gen-Right bracket 6"-8" forward so the upper control arm mount pointed directly at the mount on the axle bridge. This would mean my sensational Currie-Savvy lowers will no longer work.

2. Second thing I learned.... don't buy or make lower control arms without first doing all the calculations, trigonometry, geometry, algebra etc to ensure all the crap you purchased will work together.

Long story short, I ended up deciding, after talking to Imped over the phone on a Sunday afternoon during an Indianapolis Colts game, to move the Gen-Right brackets.... I think his exact words were "No, I don't think you'll have any problem at all moving the axle side uppers out that far... but then again, a MID-ARM SETUP WOULD BE PRETTY COOL, TOO."

So I scrapped my Savvy/Currie lowers, planned to use the JJ ends and ordered up some new 1 3/4" 7075 aluminum arms from Ballistic Fab. My conversation with Ballistic Fab went something like this... "I want aluminum lower control arms. I want them. I'm using JOHNNIE JOINT ENDS. Make them 19" long. Bye."

$300 later, I got my arms in the mail. Almost three weeks later, by the way... Finally get time to go thread my beautiful Johnnie Joints into the rods at around midnight last Friday night and what do I find? Well, I'll tell you... the JJ's go about 1.65" into the arms. Then they stop. So I take the JJ out and look at the threads. What did I see, you ask? Well, I saw the thread went a little over 1.5" into the links. What does this mean? Well, I'll tell you. It means two things. It means my arms will be three inches too long. It also means I was a moron for thinking aluminum was cool and I needed it.

So I call Ballistic and tell them politely that the arms they sent me are not threaded deep enough for JJs. Guy says, "Well, you can just cut the shanks on your JJs. That's what most guys do." I say "But I don't want to cut the shanks." "Partially because that was the whole point to have that adjustability built in and I would not have any adjustability if I cut them and secondly why are they only threaded 1.5" when that would be the mininimum amount of thread I would want in there since the shanks are 1" in diameter." Then I ask the guy why they weren't threaded deeper since I told them they would be for Johnnie Joints. Guy says... I swear, he says this... "I don't know... umm, it's just really hard to thread aluminum deeper than that."

Disgusted, I thank him and terminate the conversation deciding immediately that I will build my own arms out of chromoly like the uppers.

3. I learned that if I'm going to foollishly throw money at something because it's cool, at least specify exactly what I want with the vendor since the vendor may or may not care what you are actually using the cool widget for.

Okay, where were we.... oh yeah, so this last Monday, I go to Nevada Off-Road Buggy and find some rod inserts (left hand and right hand) for some 1 3/4" .120 DOM I have laying around. Flame away. I know they aren't big enough. Yes, I know they aren't thick enough. It is temporary. I am going to use .250 wall 2", but want to get it running again, so .120 it is for now.

I lamented my woes to the old guy at Nevada Off-Road Buggy and guess what he told me that the guy at Ballistic Fab didn't? He said, "Well, they threaded them for Rod-Ends. They don't make Rod-Ends longer than 1.5." For all I know, I could have been talking to the janitor at Ballistic, but who cares. I now know that if I'm going to have machine work done, I need to be clear and probably get it in writing exactly what I'm wanting.

The only part of the project that went completely without a hitch is the upper spring relocation parts and the lower control arm tabs.

So, that's about it for now. Tired of typing and this is long. I uploaded a few lame pictures. Photobucket is down right now, but I do have some better ones on there. I will attach them when it comes back up. The last picture is the new lowers I built out of the .120 wall.

That is all.

photo.jpg   photo-2.jpg   photo-3.jpg   photo-4.jpg  
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Unread 11-18-2011, 03:49 PM   #2
joshr1987
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Yeah man that sounds rough. Looks like it turned out pretty nice though. What length did your uppers end up at? I'm at the research stage for my 4 link build now. So this has been very informative for me.

I was also wondering what kind of welder you are using?

Thanks
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Unread 11-18-2011, 04:00 PM   #3
TJ02Gopher
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Why don't you have the aluminum arms cut down to the correct leangth and have them redrilled and tapped? Gotta be cheaper than buying all new DOM.
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Unread 11-18-2011, 04:02 PM   #4
dmgiff
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I knew someone would ask me the lengths... My lowers are (I think) 23" eye to eye. My uppers are around 28" or so, but the actual "X" dimension for the 4-link calculator is about 24" I think. I will grab my notebook tonight and post up the real numbers. 7.5" (I think) vertical separation at the axle and about 4" or so at the frame. Anti-squat in the middle setting is around 85%... again... I think. Anti-Squat numbers if I remember correctly range from 70-ish % to 105%. I found my AS numbers got better the lower I could get the axle side upper mounts. I lowered the bridge about an inch or so down closer to the axle. Made a huge difference with the numbers. But as Imped will tell you, the numbers are theoretical unless you know exactly what the COG is. I used the top bolt of my bellhousing... so it's probably close, but not exact. Spend time with the 4-link calc and know what every dimension means and what it means to change the dimensions, but you will have to remain flexible due to some things which cannot be changed. Anyway.... back on topic...

My welder is a Lincoln 187. 220 volts of steel-melting goodness.
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Unread 11-18-2011, 04:07 PM   #5
dmgiff
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TJ02Gopher View Post
Why don't you have the aluminum arms cut down to the correct leangth and have them redrilled and tapped? Gotta be cheaper than buying all new DOM.
I may do that, but one of the reasons is because I wanted the JJs threaded in as far as I could get them for the added strength. If I cut them down, there will be almost 2" of JJ shaft showing. Not crazy about that. Another reason is because the .120 wall DOM I used was given to me by a friend. And another reason is I have some Clayton .250 wall square lowers that another friend gave me. So I plan to cut those down to the 19" length I need and weld in some inserts. The square tube is cool. Different. And the last reason I can think of right now is that I may end up using the Ballistic aluminum links on the front. Totally unknown though because I have no idea what I will be doing with the front.

I forgot to add that I am using brand new Currie Progressive 4" springs. Rears are installed and I will be putting in the fronts in a couple weeks after I get it rolling again. I also have a brand new Currie front Track Bar so I can ditch the RC crappy bracket-moved-forward-so-it-hits-your-tie-rod setup.
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Unread 11-18-2011, 04:14 PM   #6
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You did a lot better job at cutting off the factory brackets and coil spring mounts than most of the builds I've seen, congrats! I hope you get everything all worked out withought any more expensive surprises!
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Unread 11-18-2011, 04:19 PM   #7
dmgiff
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Necromancer_tat View Post
You did a lot better job at cutting off the factory brackets and coil spring mounts than most of the builds I've seen, congrats! I hope you get everything all worked out withought any more expensive surprises!

Thanks, I'm a little OCD about that kind of stuff. I want it to look factory and can't stand hack-jobs.
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Unread 11-18-2011, 04:37 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmgiff View Post
Thanks, I'm a little OCD about that kind of stuff. I want it to look factory and can't stand hack-jobs.
I don't like hack jobs either... the previous owners of my TJ were complete morons, and i was dumb enough to end up owning it... so instead of building it I've spent most of my money redoing all the stuff they did wrong...
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Unread 11-18-2011, 06:22 PM   #9
Dogman
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Most use PVC to mock everything up and then make the arms once you know the final length. Sorry to hear about your troubles but I'm sure it will be well worth the effort. Thanks for posting up for those of us that plan on doing this in the future.
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Unread 11-18-2011, 06:24 PM   #10
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Also, at least you didn't burn everything in like some guys do (you didn't right?)
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Unread 11-18-2011, 07:08 PM   #11
dmgiff
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Yeah, I had considered using PVC, but in my ignorance, I had intended to build the entire system around the Currie/savvy arms, so I never really planned to do the PVC thing. And no, I was smart enough to tack everything nice and solid so I could cycle the suspension every which way, then did my permanent welds after I was satisfied. May the Lord Almighty help me if I should ever have to remove these brackets. I fear they would be much more difficult than the stock stuff.
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Unread 11-18-2011, 07:24 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmgiff View Post
Thanks, I'm a little OCD about that kind of stuff. I want it to look factory and can't stand hack-jobs.
I can tell.
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Unread 11-19-2011, 12:15 AM   #13
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I'm 4 linking my tj right now as well with a 3 link in front. I've read a lot, seen a lot and talked to a lot of people with Rigs I know work. What I came to the conclusion of is use the calc for reference but with the stock tj frame you have to pretty much try and fit things where you can and go from there. I know many people who use the poly brackets frameside, they were made for tj frame in the first place and they will do you fine. The axle is pretty easy to set up. I picked the length arms I wanted and built it from there. I plugged my numbers in the calc and came up with what I was happy with and I'm making my brackets fit from there. You should be fine as long as you remember that. When getting into it all it gets overwhelming but it's really not that difficult.

I've wheeled with Chris Durham who has built many impressive jeeps and he told me the same thing when I talked to him about his turbo jeep, He made it fit then worked from there.
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Unread 11-19-2011, 12:34 AM   #14
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like the above...i played with a calc and i came to the conclusion that it was useless for me. i could relate to none of the figures that were spat out. if you are seriously going to use it you really need a baseline of experience first in order to relate to it. just being able to define the terms isnt good enough you have to generally know what a percentage of squat feels like and so on. i was doing my first link/coil conversion so no real world experience. i played it conservative and didnt try to invent something on my first effort. just get a baseline to work from.
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Unread 01-05-2012, 05:01 PM   #15
dmgiff
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Here are a few pictures I have been meaning to put up forever. As of two nights ago, I finally received my Fox Remote Reservoir shocks and they are now on the Jeep instead of the FOA's pictured.
photo.jpg   photo-2.jpg   photo-3.jpg   photo-4.jpg   photo-5.jpg  

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