b00m's JK-to-TJ axle swap... swap when you can't weld - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 23 Old 08-24-2017, 01:27 PM Thread Starter
b00mb00m
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I'm making this single thread separate from my future build thread to try to get all the details here specific for the JK to TJ axle swap that many are interested in.


Reason for swap:
Wanted wider track width, bigger brakes, and 5.13+ gear ratio to turn 35's with 42RLE. I didn't realize i should've gone with 5.32, i thought 5.13 was the general recommendation for 35's and 42RLE. 5.13's are bearable but should've gone deeper especially since it wouldn't have costed anymore.


Overall cost:
Neighborhood of 10K.


TJ components re-used:
Rear trackbar, Rear brake-line (extended), TJ pitman arm, rear sway bar, LJ front drive-shaft, all adjustable upper and lower control arms (metalcloak).


Axles:
New JK Dana Ultimate 44. Ordered from ECGS with 5.13, rubicon locker, Tj brackets, arctec raised front trackbar mount, C's clocked from dana for extra caster. $4000.
New ECGS 489 rear with JK backing plate 5.13 gears and ox locker. Had to do my own welding for e-brake cable bracket. Those small brackets and the mudflap mounts were my only welding on this project (thats the extent of my welding skills). Cost 3400. Came with e-brake parts installed on backing plate.


Reason for new axles:
The 3k-4K per axle was a thousand more than it was going to cost for brackets, lockers and gears anyhow and this allowed me to do more of the setup myself. Since i was doing this as part of a wrecked rebuild it wasn't driveable until I at least put a rear axle in. Axles came with spring seats clocked for correct amount of lift. Could get the c's already clocked for better castor / no driveline vib.


Parts:
I got the knuckles and front and rear brakes super cheap off of craigslist. Used 2dr JK e-brake cables with LJ oem bracket.


Front trackbar:
Used synergy front frame side trackbar mount. Arctec raised mount on axle. Synergy dual durometer bushing on axle side, Ruffstuff heim on frame side. trackbar did require bend to clear diff cover. Note the RS trackbar kit did not come with the right misalignment spacers for the 1.5" bracket. Trackbar length ~ 28.5".


Front drag link:
Ruff stuff drag link kit. First round of TRE's from ruff stuff failed in a week. Replaced high misalignment with Moog ES2026R. instead of bending the draglink we used a Ruffstuff offset TRE, ES23434 (same as done by MCE fenders build).
Went with OEM configuration of under the knuckle mount for drag link due to using arctec axle bracket and for less complication on the sway bar mounts.
Drag link length ~ 37.25".


Stabilizer:
Used OME stabilizer with Synergy 1.625" attach bracket. Spacers on OME were too small for 1/2 bolt that came with synergy so had to buy different spacers from ace hardware. Mounted to lower trackbar hole on axle.


Tie Rod:
Went with steersmarts yeti tie rod due to its ability to fit within 16" rims. I have 16" rims with 4.75" backspace (from memory) and they cleared.


Swaybars:
Front used anti-rock. ECGS installed arctec sway bar mounts and they worked out with the under mount drag link but had to shorten the sway bar links. Rear: at first i though the LJ oem wouldn't work so i bought a Hellwig. It fit great but it's too stiff IMO. Severely limited rear suspension travel. Switched back to OEM.


Installation:
I was able to complete the rear axle install myself, wired up Ox airlocker (solenoid actuated), routed and installed parking brakes (they hold great now even on incline), hawk brake pads and centric rotors. This allowed me to hire a fabricator to install the front and fab the steering. I drove the rig about 30 miles with the stock D30 and 31's on the front and Jk D44 and 35's on the back. Fought death wobble the whole way. Cost me around $1500 for fab work and install on the custom steering. Yes it has bump steer. yes it has compromises. It had death wobble but that was attributed to the TRE's and haven't had it since swapping them out.


Braking:
The Jk brakes are great! I have steel armor all the way around the rig stops well IMO. I have no other data points, the pedal is definitely squishy but stops faster than my Taco.

Turning:
There is full lock to lock turning capability with tj pitman arm.
Hope this is useful for those looking to swap in the future. Yes you could've done D60's but i didn't want that big and won't be going larger than 35's. I think they're a great LJ axle and in the future i could see myself redoing the trackbar when i do a coilover swap and get rid of bumpsteer. It's good for now. This swap was a big component of an even much larger project as i was rebuilding an entire jeep at the same time. I made compromises but I'm satisfied with the result for time being. Can't wait to get it in the dirt after gear break in time.

Wanted to say thank you to all the folks who donated knowledge during my extensive research phase. Imped's build is the model steering IMO but I got scared away by needed all custom control arms. This is my first straight axle ever, I have learned so much and look forward to improving the build as I get more experience. Project ended up costing way more than planned FYI but you already knew that.

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post #2 of 23 Old 08-24-2017, 01:40 PM
Deuxlatch
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I am jealous. Although the mud flaps........lets just say they at least need the chrome naked woman emblem on them. Just sayin

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"If you ain't the lead dog the scenery never changes"
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post #3 of 23 Old 08-24-2017, 01:46 PM Thread Starter
b00mb00m
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Originally Posted by Deuxlatch View Post
I am jealous. Although the mud flaps........lets just say they at least need the chrome naked woman emblem on them. Just sayin
I got kids got be PG
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post #4 of 23 Old 08-24-2017, 02:10 PM
Deuxlatch
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That'll work!!!

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post #5 of 23 Old 08-24-2017, 05:23 PM
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looks good bud! now go beat on it

2006 LJR...the madness begins again
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post #6 of 23 Old 08-24-2017, 08:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by b00mb00m View Post
Wanted to say thank you to all the folks who donated knowledge during my extensive research phase. Imped's build is the model steering IMO but I got scared away by needed all custom control arms.

Control arms and my steering are not related at all. You could've done similar steering without going to custom control arms/mounts. But it would've cost you more and required much more fab/welding work. Thanks for the kind words.

OlllllllO

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post #7 of 23 Old 08-24-2017, 10:20 PM Thread Starter
b00mb00m
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Imped View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by b00mb00m View Post
Wanted to say thank you to all the folks who donated knowledge during my extensive research phase. Imped's build is the model steering IMO but I got scared away by needed all custom control arms.

Control arms and my steering are not related at all. You could've done similar steering without going to custom control arms/mounts. But it would've cost you more and required much more fab/welding work. Thanks for the kind words.
I wanted to run the tb all the way to the c but I would've had to push the springs back on the axle thus moving the axle forward and I don't think I had that much adjustment in my metal cloak CA's. Maybe I misunderstood the results of putting tha springs nearer to center on the axle.
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post #8 of 23 Old 08-24-2017, 11:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by b00mb00m View Post
I wanted to run the tb all the way to the c but I would've had to push the springs back on the axle thus moving the axle forward and I don't think I had that much adjustment in my metal cloak CA's. Maybe I misunderstood the results of putting tha springs nearer to center on the axle.

OK, you're right there. That would've moved your axle forward about 1.5" and you probably don't have that much adjustment in your arms.


But on that note, slightly longer arms are a heck of a lot easier and cheaper than going back in and completely redesigning the steering, coil mounts, etc. If you were going to ever build the steering the way you wanted to, that would have been the time to do it.

OlllllllO

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post #9 of 23 Old 08-25-2017, 03:56 AM
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I'm still waiting on my set from ECGS. I hope they clocked my Cs correctly like I asked for a 4" lift with tt.

Building the right way for 37s.
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post #10 of 23 Old 08-25-2017, 06:44 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by toximus View Post
I'm still waiting on my set from ECGS. I hope they clocked my Cs correctly like I asked for a 4" lift with tt.
they supposedly put 12deg pinion separation haven't checked it. I'll say it feels like it could use more caster, still need to get an alignment check. Dealing with ECGS, I wasn't overall Impressed with quality. Rear track bar bracket was .2" wider than it should've been. The used Wrong axle tube part number (luckily I caught from email) and it initially had no c clocking. They also wanted to initially put my track bar mount in stock TJ location. Communication was non existent.
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post #11 of 23 Old 08-25-2017, 12:33 PM
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Nice write up Boom Boom, is your driver side of the tie rod flipped, or wouldn't the 16s allow that?
Also, this doesn't seem to have left a great track bar location, but I can understand why it ended up there. I measured a few aftermarket arms when I did the TB on the inner C thing, and couldn't find a set that would extend the axle forward enough when centering the spring buckets. You kinda build the whole front around the trackbar, or you don't.


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post #12 of 23 Old 08-25-2017, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by b00mb00m View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by toximus View Post
I'm still waiting on my set from ECGS. I hope they clocked my Cs correctly like I asked for a 4" lift with tt.
they supposedly put 12deg pinion separation haven't checked it. I'll say it feels like it could use more caster, still need to get an alignment check. Dealing with ECGS, I wasn't overall Impressed with quality. Rear track bar bracket was .2" wider than it should've been. The used Wrong axle tube part number (luckily I caught from email) and it initially had no c clocking. They also wanted to initially put my track bar mount in stock TJ location. Communication was non existent.
Communication has been quick for me if I ask a question or send a specific request, but I haven't received any detailed technical information or part numbers. Hopefully they send pictures and a part list before shipping or something so I can verify?

Building the right way for 37s.
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post #13 of 23 Old 08-25-2017, 01:51 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben View Post
Nice write up Boom Boom, is your driver side of the tie rod flipped, or wouldn't the 16s allow that?
Also, this doesn't seem to have left a great track bar location, but I can understand why it ended up there. I measured a few aftermarket arms when I did the TB on the inner C thing, and couldn't find a set that would extend the axle forward enough when centering the spring buckets. You kinda build the whole front around the trackbar, or you don't.
Tie rod on both sides is in stock jk location (under). I never heard of anyone flipping just the driver side of the tie rod, room is definitely tight with 16"s and the larger tierod end.

That's a good description you have to build around the track bar.
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post #14 of 23 Old 08-25-2017, 01:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by b00mb00m View Post
Tie rod on both sides is in stock jk location (under). I never heard of anyone flipping just the driver side of the tie rod, room is definitely tight with 16"s and the larger tierod end.
Can't speak to what JK guys do, but for TJ setups flipping only driver's side of tie rod is pretty common. But with inverted Y you actually get a lot of benefit from the flip. Inverted T or knuckle to knuckle would seem different.
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post #15 of 23 Old 08-26-2017, 12:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben View Post
Nice write up Boom Boom, is your driver side of the tie rod flipped, or wouldn't the 16s allow that?
These are JK knuckles, not TJ. Totally different story.

The JK steering setup is a "crossover" design, meaning that the drag link and tie rod connect to their own arms on the knuckles. Take a look at some pictures to understand why there is no "driver side flip" under these conditions.

He's running stock JK knuckles. If you want improved tie rod clearance, along with flatter drag link and track bar angles, JK-specific Reid knuckles are how you achieve it. But again, that's something you either do from the start or cut a lot of welds to make right on the do-over.

OlllllllO

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