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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Time to dive into a new build! My previous build, Bruised LJ, was sold off a few years ago. It worked great.. it crawled, it ran fast through the desert, and it was a daily driver. But sometimes you have to make a trade off, so I sold it to eventually help with a down payment on a house. Fast forward a few years, I've got the house, I got married, and now we have a newborn girl. In that time I got an '04 WJ Overland, put a 3" lift and some Bilstein 5100s on it, ran it that way for a short time but got tired of dumping money and time into electronic issues, cooling issues, and eventually a top end rebuild. So I sold it, and got my ZJ.

It's a 1994 Limited 5.2 with the UpCountry package. It was a single owner in Beverly Hills up until 2015 when it was traded into CarMax. They couldn't resell it, so an employee purchased it. He wasn't into Jeeps, so it sat in his driveway for 2 years until I purchased it. I got it in October 2018 with only 61,500 miles and it was PRISTINE.

The goal of this build is to have a clean, well built, reliable Jeep that can do everything the LJ did. It'll be a rock crawler that can handle the desert at higher speeds, and still be a daily driver/camping rig for my family. The name Rockpile was my grandfathers CB handle when he was a trucker back in the day, and he carried that nick name for a long time. It actually came from something very unique, but that's better saved as a campfire story..

If you want to follow on Instagram, it's Rockpile_zj there as well. This thread will have more detail than IG though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Alright so first mods were a simple 2" budget boost (on top of the UpCountry coils, so it sat at a true 3" lift over a stock ZJ) and Bilstein 5100s. It easily cleared the 30x9.5" BFG AT's (that actually measured 29".) After that I got a set of used 32x10.5" off brand all terrains (actually 31") on the same wheels my LJ had, American Racing ATX Chamber Teflon's. The 32's required bumper trimming for daily driving, and needed longer bump stops to stay out of the uncut fenders off road. I did manage to bulge out the fenders in Johnson Valley at KOH in 2019, so they have chipped paint and slight rust on the edge now but they'll get chopped eventually anyways so I wasn't too worried about that.

Yes, the pictures suck. They're being pulled from Instagram for now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
While running it with the BB, I started purchasing parts for a 4.5" short arm lift. Rather than purchasing a full kit, I decided to piece together a somewhat budget friendly but high quality lift myself. I purchased some stuff new, some used, and waited until I had everything to start. I ended up with:
BDS 4.5" Coils - new
Fox 2.0 remote reservoir adjustable shocks - new
Clayton front TB with double shear bracket - new
Rear IRO TB - used
Ironman 4x4 & Rough Country adjustable short arms - used. The PO of these already swapped Currie Johnny Joints into the RC arms, which is the only way to make RC arms reliable in my opinion.. The Ironman 4x4 arms already had JJ's installed. I went through and cleaned up/rebuilt all of the joints. They're all fresh and tight now.
Synergy Steering - purchased from Craigslist but new in box (only cost me $100.. score!), being paired with a Fox steering stabilizer (new).
Front Currie bump stops - had them left over from the previous LJ parts
Rear Daystar 4.5" competition style progressive bump stops - new
33x12.5r15 Goodyear Duratracs - used

I recently started installing the lift. I've got a 5 week old newborn, so I don't get a ton of time to work on the Jeep and progress is a little slow. I'm starting this thread with the lift mostly installed, just a few small things to finish up. I need to set the front pinion & caster, and get the rear bump stops set up, and it'll be back on the road. Here's how it sits now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Quick note on the rear shocks.. Fox doesn't make a 2.0 remote reservoir shock specifically for a ZJ with 4.5" lift. I used part number 985-26-108 for the front and 985-26-052 for the rear. The fronts are application specific, 25.3" extended 15.2" collapsed, 10.1" of travel. The rears are a universal shocks, 25.95" extended, 15.85" collapsed, 10.1" of travel. Everything was bolt on, but the rear uppers needed the metal sleeve removed from the bushing on the shock. The shocks are provided with a 1/2" ID sleeve on the upper bushing, but the rear upper mount on the ZJ is a 5/8" stud. Simply remove the metal sleeve, and run the bushing directly on the stud. I used a Currie Johnny Joint tool I have with a random 1/2" sleeve I had in my spare hardware to press the sleeve out of the bushing.

With these shocks, I've got about 5" of uptravel in the front and 5.5" in the rear. It'll be balanced well for crawling and whoops.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The Daystar 4.5" progressive rear bump stops and Fox steering stabilizer came in today. Since my rear axle can't be centered at full bump due to the lift height and control arm length, I'm going to make a bracket that mounts into the stock bumpstop location and moves the bumpstops back enough to contact the axle, hopefully without contacting the track bar on the passenger side. It should work well enough until I make the move to long arms.

I tried to get the rear axle centered at full bump, but since I'm currently on adjustable short arms, the axle was too far forward at ride height. I had to push the axle back enough that I could set the correct pinion angle, but that means my axle is too far back at full bump to contact the bumpstops in the stock location. This height is pushing the max limit for adjustable control arms.. I'll have to keep an eye on the mounts but with the Johnny Joints on the arms, I'm hoping there will be enough misalignment to not twist the mounts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Anyone using Metalcloak Durosprings? Seems like an easy way to get a softer, progressive bumpstop, but they look like they’re maybe too soft. I plan on doing a lot of higher speed desert running too, and they look like they’d pack up and not rebound quick enough for my application. Anyone that’s using them able to chime in?
 

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Anyone using Metalcloak Durosprings? Seems like an easy way to get a softer, progressive bumpstop, but they look like they're maybe too soft. I plan on doing a lot of higher speed desert running too, and they look like they'd pack up and not rebound quick enough for my application. Anyone that's using them able to chime in?
So based on your intended usage, I would think the Sumo springs may be a better fit. They also offer a heavy duty version. They have been used on the border patrol Jeeps. I haven't done enough testing on high speed stuff to see if one is better than the other.

The MC ones feel harder in your hand but I would almost guess that the sumo springs may offer more progressive compression. This is slow speed compression of the sumo spring at full stuff on my 2 door JK. If i was doing high speed driving I would probably add another 1" spacer below.

Good YT video on the MC ones:

Link to sumo springs: https://www.supersprings.com/jeep/
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
So based on your intended usage, I would think the Sumo springs may be a better fit. They also offer a heavy duty version. They have been used on the border patrol Jeeps. I haven't done enough testing on high speed stuff to see if one is better than the other.

The MC ones feel harder in your hand but I would almost guess that the sumo springs may offer more progressive compression. This is slow speed compression of the sumo spring at full stuff on my 2 door JK. If i was doing high speed driving I would probably add another 1" spacer below.

Good YT video on the MC ones:

Link to sumo springs: https://www.supersprings.com/jeep/
Interesting, I might try the Sumo Springs up front. I found a few threads on NAXJA and some other sites talking about how underrated they are.. may need to change that.

Have you ran the Sumo Springs, or just the MC Durospring? The MetalCloak ones seem to be pretty soft, more of a cushion when dropping down ledges while crawling.
 

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Interesting, I might try the Sumo Springs up front. I found a few threads on NAXJA and some other sites talking about how underrated they are.. may need to change that.

Have you ran the Sumo Springs, or just the MC Durospring? The MetalCloak ones seem to be pretty soft, more of a cushion when dropping down ledges while crawling.
I'm currently running the Sumo Springs at the moment. I really think I should add 2" to my bump stops front and rear just so I can actually compare the 2 brands. My suspension and setup on my JK is not typical and I have enough room for uptravel where I start getting into coil bind. Here is a picture of the front Sumo Spring with no front coil springs on my JK; it looks like it compresses to just under 2". I know this doesn't compare to the force when traveling fast but they do seem to work well for the price.BrianBrian,
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Alright so updates are slow because I have a 3 month old, but here’s a little bit of what I’ve been working on.

I started measuring for the rear Daystar bump stops. They’re 4.5” tall and compress to about 3-3.5” under full bump. With my setup, they would require a 3” mount on the drivers side and 3.5” on the passenger side. The idea was to use a 2” section of 3x8” rectangular steel for the drivers side, and a notched 8” section of 2x3” rectangular on the passenger side, with the stock 1/2” bumpstop spacer. The passenger side mount would need to be notched to clear the rear trackbar mount. The steel yard by me only had 3x6” rectangular so I got a 2” section of that to use for measuring, which is why the mounting plates hang off the edge in the pics.

The bumpstops and mounting plates are 2” wide and fit VERY tight between the coils and upper control arm mounts, but they fit. I got everything measured and was ready to start buying the steel to make the mounts but changed my mind and decided to run Prothanes front and rear instead. More on that next..

Pics show driver and passenger side, and the shock at full bump. The shocks have a 1/2” rubber “bumpstop” on the shaft and these were measured out to stop uptravel right as the shock body contacts that bump. That gives me an additional 1/2” of protection from bottoming out the shock.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
So I decided to change plans and run Prothane coil inserts front and rear. I bought the longest ones available (10.5” long, 8 rings) since you can cut them down to the right length for your application. I ran them on my LJ and they worked great, one of my favorite mods. They act as a poor man’s air bump and give a good progressive feel to the suspension. They don’t affect articulation, and you can also drill some 1/2” holes in them to soften them up if you need to. They’re intended to just float inside the coil, but I did have issues with them wedging themselves onto the upper coil retainer post. I’m thinking I can fab up a piece of 1.5” OD tube welded to a 3” circular plate to insert into the top of the Prothane. I can then drill a hole in the top of that plate to let air escape, but keep the hole smaller than the post so it doesn’t wedge itself onto the post.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I just found these that may work to cap the Prothane. I ordered one, figured it’s worth a shot for $15. 1.5” barbed adapter with a 2” flange on top. I figure the barbed adapter might help keep it in the Prothane a little better, and the flanged top will prevent the rear upper coil post from penetrating the Prothane and getting it wedged on. I’m playing around with a few different ideas so we’ll see where it goes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I think these will work out well! I ordered 3 more today. It’s actually a part for brewery equipment, so it’s all stainless steel. It’s a 2” Tri Clamp to 1.5” Hose fitting. The only downside I can see is that they’ll be noisy on the rear when they tap the upper coil retainer post, but I can address that later if I need to. The fronts will be quiet because I’m still running the stock rubber bump stop with the Prothane.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Got the rear suspension done today, other than fine tuning the prothanes. Just need to set the front pinion angle and caster, install the Synergy steering and Fox stabilizer, and put some new Black Magic Brakes pads and rotors on, and it’ll be ready for a test drive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The suspension is all buttoned up and ready for a test drive and some bump stop trimming. I put on new Black Magic Brakes pads and rotors. This is the 3rd Jeep I’ve ran these brakes on, I love them. They’re a good upgrade to the stock brakes for bigger tires.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I had a seized rear rotor so I let it sit with some PB Blaster overnight and “tapped” it with a BFH this morning and it popped right off.

Pulled the old pads out, and noticed that the piston is cracked. Gotta replace this before I can finish the brakes.. so close to being done and of course the last one had to give me issues!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Still waiting on the caliper piston to arrive, so I focused on the steering over the weekend.

My plan for this Jeep is ultra-reliability and strength on a budget. A lot of my parts have been purchased through Craigslist, OfferUp, or Facebook marketplace. If it wasn’t bought new, it gets a full rebuild/clean up. I scored this Synergy kit for only $100, brand new in the box from Craigslist. I purchased the recommend Fox stabilizer to go with it. It’s a Y-link steering kit and the tie rod and drag link can be adjusted while on the vehicle. All of the joints can be replaced, but you do need to use Synergy’s TRE’s since they’re tapered to fit the stock knuckles. This is an easy bolt on install, you don’t need to drill out the knuckles. It’s beefy, it’ll be a lot stronger than stock. I’ll update on the steering characteristics later.

One issue I ran into is that the Fox stabilizer’s eyelet mount is too large for the stabilizer bracket on the axle. I notched the top of it with a Dremel, it cycles fine now. Easy fix.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I ended up replacing both rear calipers. Took it for a quick test drive to break in the new pads and rotors. The caster is a bit off, causing some wandering. I kind of expected that, I got it “close enough.” I’ll let the alignment shop take over from here. Other than that, it drives great up to 50mph, didn’t get it any higher yet. I had to put my 31” tires back on for the test drive, need to do some more trimming to fit the 33’s. She’s back to being a daily driver though!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
That is one good looking ZJ! I have always had a soft spot for ZJs and this one is no exception. That interior is MINT!!
Thank you! This one is a unicorn.. super clean and LOW miles. I love having a pristine 27 year old vehicle to work on. It makes things so much easier and motivates me to keep it in good shape. This isn't going to be a hacked together, beat up build. But it will be ultra reliable and capable :2thumbsup:
 
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