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View Full Version : Need advice on a small tire adventure-focused suspension rebuild


streetpirate
August 4th, 2017, 20:24
Hi Naxja
It's been a long time.
I've had my xj since 2003. First car. Lots of adventures and added 160k to the odo.
I've decided that I will never regear from 3.55, never get more serious about tackling double black diamond trails at ohv parks and never bounce off rocks in the garden.
I'm currently plenty capable to get anywhere I desire as an adventure rig, and always surprised (and surprising others) when I have done trail runs.


This is getting long-winded...
I want to not feel like I am in a paint shaker on rough, washboarded, rocky roads when I am trying to get to sweet camping spots.

current setup:
rear is hd offroad shackle relocation, 1.5" shackles, stock leaves with an extra xj main with the spring eyes cut off. Poly (part of the problem) bushings in the springs.
springs are FLAT at ride height, probably getting almost no lift form the extra main, just removing sag.

front had unknown brand adjustable lower ca's, heaim on frame side POLY on axle, stock uppers with POLY on frame-side. 4.0 zj springs with 2" spacer.

bilstein 5100's all around, brand new.

sits at 2.5" front and 2.75 rear measuring from axle centerline to bottom of fender flare. 20" front 19.75 rear


Should I get new stock leafs, and rubber for the uca's? different front springs? different front lca's without the heim and poly? What is the secret to getting a nice, soft ride with my current lift height?
I have the right supporting mods, brake lines, sye, lca's set to give good caster...

streetpirate
August 4th, 2017, 20:26
was going to throw in a picture but photobucket has their new 3rd party thing. '87 4.0 auto, tow package d44, all open (lsd still good at 313k)

Anak
August 4th, 2017, 21:18
My setup is probably not far from yours, lift-wise and objective-wise. I don't have any complaints about my ride quality.

My rear is OME CS033RB springs, rubber bushings in the eyes and factory shackles.

My front is an illegitimate child of unwed parents worth of components, cheap fixed Pro-Comp lowers with squeaky poly bushings, Rough Country adjustable uppers with wannabe Johnny Joints and factory rubber in the axle, and who knows whose coil springs.

For shocks I am running a set of black factory take-offs (JK, non-Rubicon?) that I got off C/L for $10.

Tires are LT235/75r15 BFG trail T/As on factory steelies.

Vehicle is a daily driver and mild trail rig.

It is not as smooth a ride as was my '55 Cadillac, but it is no paint shaker either.

You say the Bilsteins are new... how did it ride before them? Those would be one of my first suspects. Changing rear springs and bushings would be another. I would watch C/L for a set of take-off shocks and try just replacing the bushings in the springs you now have. Neither of those should cost an arm and a leg. Reevaluate after that and decide if it is worth dropping a bit more money on different springs.

RCP Phx
August 4th, 2017, 21:18
I would definitely look into some different control arms, as far as springs I would consider OME for a good ride! Bilstein 5100's can be a little harsh.

comanche91
August 4th, 2017, 21:26
I would definitely look into some different control arms, as far as springs I would consider OME for a good ride! Bilstein 5100's can be a little harsh.

Roger that. Ditch the buckboard Bilsteins and go OME all-around. Bilstein 5100 = never again.

streetpirate
August 15th, 2017, 17:35
My thoughts are stock replacement uppers to get rid of that poly, and maybe new lca's without the stiff bushings and heim/johnny joints. The front does feel like the bigger problem end.

If my leaves are sitting flat, am I getting all my lift from the shackles and relocation? (btw shackles are set to 45 degrees at ride height)
could I get away with a stock replacement leaf? I really don't want to add any inches.

I really don't want to get new shocks again. Previous shocks were the yellow bilstein hd's, and with 80k on them they were still stiffer than the 5100's are. Replacing those would be a last resort.

aside from the poly squeak, the street ride is perfect. I know It's hard to get a small tire rig to float over washboard, But there should be some improvement to be had in the suspension.

Tbone289
August 15th, 2017, 21:00
The 5100's will break in somewhat. It took mine probably 500 miles to smooth out. I put all new springs in at the time as well though, so it was probably a combination of both settling in.

Green XJ Jeep
August 16th, 2017, 07:26
If you are happy with the way the back rides and how it sits now just do the wj upper and lower control arms and some ome shocks.

Rob Mayercik
August 16th, 2017, 12:37
Is it possible to just retrofit rubber bushings into the UCAs you have now?

PhotographerMike
August 16th, 2017, 14:46
Air down a bit and pick the right speed?
I driven long flat Death Valley washboard roads and going down to 20+ lbs. makes things much more manageable for us.
I have a decent air compressor that connects directly to the battery that keeps the refill time reasonable without investing in O.B.A.
One time at the "race track" in D.V. there was a new well built Rubicon (bumpers, winch, small lift, sliders, etc.). The owner complained about the rough road and I asked if he aired down. "No I'm new to this Jeep stuff."
Mike

Green XJ Jeep
August 16th, 2017, 15:08
Air down a bit and pick the right speed?
I driven long flat Death Valley washboard roads and going down to 20+ lbs. makes things much more manageable for us.
I have a decent air compressor that connects directly to the battery that keeps the refill time reasonable without investing in O.B.A.
One time at the "race track" in D.V. there was a new well built Rubicon (bumpers, winch, small lift, sliders, etc.). The owner complained about the rough road and I asked if he aired down. "No I'm new to this Jeep stuff."
Mike
Depending on the tire you might want to go lower than that. On my 30x9.50x15 km2's I run 20 for daily driving and drop to 10-15 for trails. But km2's have unbelievably stiff sidewalls.

Voteban
August 17th, 2017, 18:39
Airing down your tires is the key. I have a broken back, and I cannot comfortably drive my Jeep off-road at street pressure. With 33x12.5r15 Yokohama Geolandar I run 26psi on the street and drop to 12-15 off-road depending on terrain. You do need to be able to put air back in the tires, I have a 12v Viair that is rated for 100% cycle duty. It's hardmounted in my rear quarter with a 2 gallon aluminum tank and a pressure switch.

My front 3 link (thanks again Cal) and squishy RE springs do help with the nice ride quality. I currently have crappy Pro Comp white bodies, I'm saving up for some some nicer Bilsteins, my Jeep is still very cushy. But, I'm at 4"ish of lift, my other XJ on stock HD springs with some poly bushings rides nice too.

streetpirate
August 18th, 2017, 19:09
Is it possible to just retrofit rubber bushings into the UCAs you have now?

yes, and I have a press but new uca's are $30 each and pressing new shells into stamped U-channel might be a PITA.

I know tire pressure is king. I usually run 25-28 and drop to 12-15 offroad which makes a huge difference.

Guess I'll just stop being lazy and air down for the rough stuff, and work on replacing the poly with rubber. I need to measure my lca's, I remember when I set them up I was running a bit longer than the "reccomended length chart" for my lift to get to 7* caster.

Rob Mayercik
August 19th, 2017, 15:59
Unless this truck will never leave smooth roads again, I'd say don't bother with stock XJ Lower Control Arms - I bent a stock LCA into a WJ-style in only one or two wheeling trips. Shockingly, it still rode normally and tracked straight, but I was a bit nervous driving it until I got it swapped out.

Now I'm running JKS adjustable lowers with rubber in both ends, and Clayton adjustable uppers (won them in a raffle) with johnny joints at the frame end and the original rubber at the axle. With OME springs front/rear and Skyjacker shocks, it rides pretty nice for a solid-axle rig.

Got a 4x4 shop around near you? You can probably get a couple of lightly-used stock UCAs from their take-off pile for even less than $30 each - TJs use the same arms up front, and the shop's probably got a pile of them in the corner from guys upgrading to heavier-duty stuff. Call around and see if one of them has any good ones in their junk pile that they'd be willing to let go. You can always

But definitely keep the lowers and switch the poly to rubber, then give it a go - you might find that's enough and you don't have to mess with the heims.

Evan03
August 20th, 2017, 08:21
http://www.rocky-road.com/old-man-emu-xj-cherokee.html


Ill 3rd or 4th old man emu springs.

I wouldnt mess with putring to much money in after market control arms. Put new bushings in what you have.

However control arm drop brackets on frame side will do incredible things gor your ride. At just shy of 3" of lift i think drop brackets will have your arms sitting right about level.

Id probly do drop brackets first. They will com0letly change everthing