How to Convert from SOA to SUA??? - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 26 Old 05-16-2020, 12:02 AM Thread Starter
RGIII4505
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1976 CJ5 
 
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How to Convert from SOA to SUA???

Alright so, let me preface this with, I work overseas and haven’t been home in a while and I haven’t owned the Jeep very long. And in complete honesty, I really didn’t pay much attention to my suspension when I bought the Jeep. I had my wife send me some pics yesterday because I have been getting ready to order wheels and tires so they will be there when I am able to get back stateside. Well, that’s when I finally paid attention and realized I have a SOA lift. I am new to Jeeps and honestly I have just felt like “this is how an old CJ5 rides”. So my question is, what all would I have to do to revert back to a SUA kit? Would it be worth it to go back to SUA? This will be a primarily road Jeep. I do want a little lift, but definitely don’t need as much as I currently have. I just need to be able to clear 33” 12.5”. Any advice SUA conversion details would be greatly appreciated.
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post #2 of 26 Old 05-16-2020, 08:16 AM
StoneTower
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You are talking about ride. How does it steer? If done properly, there is nothing wrong with SOA. Some auto manufactures use to build their vehicles that way.

Maybe you could drive someone's SUA CJ5 and compare them.

Switching back involves welding spring pads on the axels and usually involves grinding the old ones off. I have seen some SUA to SOA conversions where people just leave the old spring pad. You will also likely have to change the pitman arm on the steering box. There may be other steering linkages you have to mess with to get everything set up correctly. You will also have to mess with your shock mounts and probably your shock lengths.

You may want to measure the front spring (actual spring itself) width. A CJ spring in the front is 1-1/2" and a YJ spring conversion is 2". Some say the YJ rides better and it is generally considered an upgrade. I cannot tell what you have without more pictures.

If it is not broken, do not fix it. After you go through all the work, you may realize that you have not gained much if anything and your pocketbook is a lot lighter unless you can do all the work yourself.

FYI...My Jeep is SUA with BDS 4" lift springs. It is set up this way because it came this way from the PO and running a Scout II Dana 44 in the front makes SOA or a YJ spring conversion very difficult.

Good luck.
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post #3 of 26 Old 05-16-2020, 09:57 AM Thread Starter
RGIII4505
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Honestly, I was only thinking I needed to revert back to SUA due to the horror stories I keep reading about SOA and guys saying it's dangerous on the road and unstable, etc etc. To me, it's a little stiff on the ride, but not terrible. Now, I will say if you are going down the road at say 45-50 mph and hit a decent bump in road or like the transition to going onto a bridge, you better hold the wheel tight or it will jerk pretty bad. The steering is a little loose feeling, but I am about to replace all the steering components soon anyway when I convert to power steering. The lift is a little high in my opinion, but I can live with that as well. If the SOA is perfectly fine, then I would just assume let it ride as is.
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post #4 of 26 Old 05-16-2020, 10:32 AM
StoneTower
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Let others chime in on the SOA but you may benefit from a steering stabilizer. Many people have SOA and really like it and they can probably help you fine tune your suspension. Something that is very important whether you have SOA or SUA is having the drag link parallel with the tie rod and the ground. Take a few pictures and post them so people can help you out. If the draglink is not parallel, when you hit a bump the drag link with steer the Jeep for you as the suspension compresses or extends.
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post #5 of 26 Old 05-16-2020, 11:06 AM
KevinCJ7Jeep
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I have a CJ7 with SOA and 40” tires. My neighbor has driven it and says it steers better than his TJ.
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post #6 of 26 Old 05-16-2020, 12:58 PM
Fourtrail
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Need a picture of the draglink. Springover on a narrow trac normally means a 'Z' bar drag link and yeah tge bumpsteer is horrible. Can be fixed with a pass side flat top knuckle and high steer.
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post #7 of 26 Old 05-16-2020, 07:10 PM
stripperguy
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I did a SOA on my CJ5 and it rides and drives like any car with a short wheelbase.
The ride is supple, the steering is stable, no steering damper required. The YJ springs I used are 2-1/2" wide, so lateral stability is much improved over the stock CJ springs. Oh, and I run 35-12.50's.

BUT...I also paid very close attention to my caster angle, and I made some hi-steer arms using D44 knuckles. I have 12" of travel at every wheel too. Pretty sure a Z-shaped drag link is not a solution, a drop pitman can be. It's the angle between joints on the drag link, relative to the tie rod joints that matters.

I would say, done properly, a SOA is an improvement in every sense over stock CJ suspension/steering.

1977 CJ5 is a CJ build ever really done?
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2005 TJ also gone
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post #8 of 26 Old 05-17-2020, 12:32 AM Thread Starter
RGIII4505
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stripperguy View Post
I did a SOA on my CJ5 and it rides and drives like any car with a short wheelbase.
The ride is supple, the steering is stable, no steering damper required. The YJ springs I used are 2" wide, so lateral stability is much improved over the stock CJ springs. Oh, and I run 35-12.50's.

BUT...I also paid very close attention to my caster angle, and I made some hi-steer arms using D44 knuckles. I have 12" of travel at every wheel too. Pretty sure a Z-shaped drag link is not a solution, a drop pitman can be. It's the angle between joints on the drag link, relative to the tie rod joints that matters.

I would say, done properly, a SOA is an improvement in every sense over stock CJ suspension/steering.
I hate to sound like a complete idiot here. But I’m very new to this CJ life. I hear a lot of folks mentioning “caster angle” in reference to lifts. My apologies for my stupidity here, but how exactly would I go about checking that? This was all done by the previous owner to my knowledge. I honestly bought it while I was on one of my leaves from overseas and I haven’t really gone through it to see exactly what all I have. I have just added an HEI distributor, replaced plugs and wires, water pump and otherwise just drove it around town while I’m on leave. I’ve been making a list of all of the things I want to upgrade whenever I can finally get back stateside, but I’ve sort of hit the brakes now that I’ve discovered I have this SOA lift that I’m not very familiar with.

Basically I guess what I’m asking is what all do I need to inspect and measure/gauge, etc etc to make sure this SOA is good to go so that I can stop stressing over it and carry on with my other upgrade projects?
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post #9 of 26 Old 05-17-2020, 12:49 AM Thread Starter
RGIII4505
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This is about the best photo I have at the moment. I’ll have my wife take and send me some more detailed pics today.
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post #10 of 26 Old 05-31-2020, 05:47 AM Thread Starter
RGIII4505
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fourtrail View Post
Need a picture of the draglink. Springover on a narrow trac normally means a 'Z' bar drag link and yeah tge bumpsteer is horrible. Can be fixed with a pass side flat top knuckle and high steer.



I have added some more photos below showing the draglink, drop pitman arm etc, etc. Also, another issue I just observed is my shocks are mounted at a really strong angle and are attached to the front of the leaf spring top plate, is that normal??


***I apologize but I have no idea why the photos are flipped and I cannot rotate them for some reason.***
Attached Thumbnails
Drag Link 1.jpg   Drag Link 2.jpg   Drag Link 3.jpg   Drag Link 4.jpg  
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post #11 of 26 Old 05-31-2020, 09:31 AM
StoneTower
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Your pitman arm angle does not look bad. You have a dropped pitman arm which is good for your setup.

Your front shocks do not look that good. The angle looks strange, and I am wondering of they are compressed to the point where you have no upward travel. It looks like when the suspension would travel up, the shock would just lay more flat rather than compressing and dampening the suspension.
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post #12 of 26 Old 05-31-2020, 02:27 PM Thread Starter
RGIII4505
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StoneTower View Post
Your pitman arm angle does not look bad. You have a dropped pitman arm which is good for your setup.

Your front shocks do not look that good. The angle looks strange, and I am wondering of they are compressed to the point where you have no upward travel. It looks like when the suspension would travel up, the shock would just lay more flat rather than compressing and dampening the suspension.
Yes, the shocks seem very odd to me with the angle and the location. What it appears to me that the PO May have done was use the same spring plates that were originally under the axle and should have flipped them so that the lower shock mount should be towards the rear to straighten up the shock. I wouldn’t doubt if those shocks weren’t doing anything to benefit the ride. It feels really stiff when hitting even a small bump in the road. And the springs only have 4 leafs, so I would assume it should be a much softer ride than it is. I might add, the springs are 2” wide, I don’t believe that’s factory is it?
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post #13 of 26 Old 05-31-2020, 02:46 PM
StoneTower
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An easy fix if you have a welder is to weld a stout piece of steel on the shock side of the spring hanger that points down along side the spring. You could use 3/8 plate or something. You can then tap the plate and thread in a shock stud.

You may want to replace the stock spring plate with a piece of 3/8" plate while you are at it and make the whole thing out of 3/8 plate. It should be easy to make as you have the stock spring plates to use a templates for the holes you need to drill.

Here is an example where the shock was moved from the axle to the spring plate. This is a SUA so the bracket is reversed but you get the idea. The picture with the shock is the passenger's side the picture of the painted bracket is the driver' side.

Good luck.
Attached Thumbnails
20200126_153721.jpg   20200126_153852.jpg  
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post #14 of 26 Old 05-31-2020, 08:43 PM
Fourtrail
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Stock flat springs with a drop pitman arm, so no 'Z' link so that is good. Looks like spring plates that are not for both shock and sway bar. With the large/small ubolt on the pass side, you can't flip sides to move the shock to a vertical position. You can get the dual pin sway bar plates and correct the shock angle. The 2" wide spring is factory. All you should need to go back to sua is new ubolts and a perch for tge drivers side spring. Match the angle of the new perch to the cast perch and fine tune your caster with shims.

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post #15 of 26 Old 05-31-2020, 10:09 PM Thread Starter
RGIII4505
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StoneTower View Post
An easy fix if you have a welder is to weld a stout piece of steel on the shock side of the spring hanger that points down along side the spring. You could use 3/8 plate or something. You can then tap the plate and thread in a shock stud.

You may want to replace the stock spring plate with a piece of 3/8" plate while you are at it and make the whole thing out of 3/8 plate. It should be easy to make as you have the stock spring plates to use a templates for the holes you need to drill.

Here is an example where the shock was moved from the axle to the spring plate. This is a SUA so the bracket is reversed but you get the idea. The picture with the shock is the passenger's side the picture of the painted bracket is the driver' side.

Good luck.
Awesome info!! I really do appreciate it!!
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