NAXJA Forums -::- North American XJ Association  

Go Back   NAXJA Forums -::- North American XJ Association > NAXJA Unibody Jeep Technical Forums > Jeep Cherokee XJ (1984 - 2001) > Modified Tech Discussion
HOME Member FAQ Sponsor Info Rules Bylaws E-Mail

Modified Tech Discussion Forum for Tech related discussion for Modified XJ's and MJ's.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old April 10th, 2008, 02:01
KG6ZJM KG6ZJM is offline
NAXJA Forum User
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: San Jose, CA
Posts: 28
TNT Customs long arm and frame stiffener install

The story:
My poor heep has seen many revisions of its suspension in the 6 years I've owned it. Starting with my custom sway bar discos, moving on to a 2.5" budget boost, up to 3.5" to clear 31s, new lower arms, booster springs and blocks to push up to 4.5" to clear the 32" MTRs and all the driveline mods that go along with it. In January the blocks decided that they were going to walk out from under the rear springs. Luckily I caught it before it actually spat one of them out. The solution to this problem was a set of 4.5" Rubicon Express rear leafs hooked up to my 1" drop shackles netting me 6.5" in the rear. I know the math doesn't work out, but Rubicons springs seem to be a little under rated. The problem was that now the a$$ end sat way up in the air. I knew that I was going to have to lift the front, but I figured it could wait. Well, I kept driving it and soon started noticing some new clunking noises from the front end. I shook the tires and realized that i had killed all 4 poly bushings on the lower arms, as well as 2 of the rubber bushings on the stock upper arms, and this was allowing the axle to move around almost 3/4" back and forth. Time to fix it, but as I always say, why fix it when you can upgrade it?

The reasoning:
I've wanted a long arm set up for several years now. I didn't really know why, I just thought it was awesome and the flex was amazing! After discovering that my front end needed some major attention I began to actually look into the long arm kits and what it is that they do. Turns out that they do a lot more than just give you tons of flex and look freakin' sweet. There is a ton of geometry that gets adjusted with these kits, and this does things like improve on road handling as well as correct wheel base and pinion angles. I looked at several kits including Rubicon, rock-krawler, Claytons offroad and TNT customs. It came down to Claytons or TNT due to the thicker materials as well as recommendations from other wheelers. I chose the TNT kit because of the relatively simple install, the beefy skid/crosmember, and the bent arm design, a feature unique to TNT, which gives you several inches of clearance that straight arms don't allow.

The install:
I know, blah blah blah, talk talk talk where the he!! are the pictures???? Well here they are. (Finally, Geeze!:asshat

I ordered the upgrade kit because I already had the brake lines, sway bar links, etc. So I got the belly pan, arms, hardware kit, springs, and a drop pitman arm. I also ordered the weld on frame stiffeners as part of the kit. They are the only part on this install that required any welding, everything else is 100% bolt on.

The belly pan/crossmember/Tcase skid.


Upper arms:


Lower arms:


Control arms painted:


Belly pan painted:


The next day the magical brown truck of happiness brought me the frame stiffeners so it was time to get those installed.

First all the undercoating/paint/rust/crap had to be ground off the frame:


I decided to use rosette welds as well as stitch welds to hold the reinforcements to the unibody, so I had our friend Kevin drill several 1/2" holes for the plug welds. Someday I hope to own a drill press with that many features!




Once prepped, you form the stiffeners to the unibody rail with a floor jack:




All ready to weld up!


Burn it home!


All done!

What i don't have pictures of is the upper stitch welds on that side and the paint.

Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old April 10th, 2008, 02:02
KG6ZJM KG6ZJM is offline
NAXJA Forum User
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: San Jose, CA
Posts: 28
Re: TNT Customs long arm and frame stiffener install

With the frame all reinforced, it was time to install the belly pan.



You can see the old crossmember under there along with the complete lack of protection.


And me practicing "Jeep Yoga" Let me tell you it is a pain in the ass to drill 6 13/16" holes through a half inch of steel while laying on your back.


We didn't really get any pics of bolting it up, but basically once you drill the holes, you just insert the crush sleeves, hoist the thing up there, and tighten it down.

Just a photo of the old suspension before we removed it.


The next day we got to installing the arms. First step, remove the old lower arms.


Next step, cut off the old lower control arm mounts. Theres no going back now!




Then you remove the upper control arms, track bar, steering, shocks, and springs. Here's a comparison of the old spring with the coil spacer, and the new 6.5" RE springs.


At this point we ran into a problem. We had to get the steering disconnected from the pitman arm in order to get the drivers side spring installed, but there was no way to fit a puller up on top of the arm. I had a new pitman arm anyways, so we figured we'd just pull that off first. We tried my 2 arm puller, and it wouldn't budge. I heated it as much as I could with my propane torch. No dice. We bent my 2 arm, so we got my friends 3 arm puller and tried that. Still nothing. I even busted out the welder and ran a bead around the outside of the arm to heat it up red hot to try and break the bond. It finally popped off after a lot of persuasion.


We spent way too many hours on that though, and had to call it a night. Here was our progress on night 2.




The next morning I got the other spring in:


The pitman arms. You can see what I had to do to the old one to get it off.


Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old April 10th, 2008, 02:02
KG6ZJM KG6ZJM is offline
NAXJA Forum User
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: San Jose, CA
Posts: 28
Re: TNT Customs long arm and frame stiffener install

Everything installed, axle at full droop. Yeah, I'm going to need limiting straps.






Some high-lift flex pictures. I'm almost clearing the wheel well now!




The results:
I love the way that tis suspension rides. It just sucks up bumps and feels almost like the stock ride, just a lot higher. Even curbs and parking blocks seem to disappear into the suspension. I did the first 20 miles of freeway test at 55mph behind a milk truck in the right lane, and even though that lane is all torn up from the trucks, it is now tolerable in the jeep. Steve and I took it out and threw it around a bit, just to see how it would react to abrupt maneuvers and panic stops. I haven't thrown the jeep around like that in years, and it feels better than ever. Also, the tires don't rub on the arms anymore, so i got my turn radius back! I can u-turn on a 2 lane residential street! I would recommend this kit to anybody!!!
http://www.tntcustoms.com
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old April 10th, 2008, 05:48
NCCherokee's Avatar
NCCherokee NCCherokee is offline
NAXJA Forum User
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Anderson, SC
Posts: 751
Re: TNT Customs long arm and frame stiffener install

2 things, are you going to be getting longer brakelines, or are you planning on running limit straps short enough to prevent tearing them out?

2nd, rock krawler also has bent arms, which are also solid stock, so the bent feature isn't unique to TNT.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old April 10th, 2008, 06:04
fubar XJ's Avatar
fubar XJ fubar XJ is offline
NAXJA Forum User
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Bothell, WA
Posts: 2,278
Re: TNT Customs long arm and frame stiffener install

Nice write-up, good info regarding the TNT kit. I agree with the quality of handling regarding a top-shelf LA kit as opposed to short-arm bastard-ish kits, it's nice to not have to worry about it riding like it's on a bumpy rail.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old April 10th, 2008, 07:39
CaliGold CaliGold is offline
NAXJA Forum User
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Granada Hills, CA
Posts: 226
Re: TNT Customs long arm and frame stiffener install

Safety glasses for Kevin on the mill ! When I was a machinist, it was so drilled into me (the safety glasses thing) by my foreman that it seems wierd not to wear it when on the machines.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old April 10th, 2008, 07:57
Rasty1 Rasty1 is offline
NAXJA Forum User
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Shingle Springs, CA
Posts: 79
Re: TNT Customs long arm and frame stiffener install

Quote:
Originally Posted by NCCherokee
2 things, are you going to be getting longer brakelines, or are you planning on running limit straps short enough to prevent tearing them out?

2nd, rock krawler also has bent arms, which are also solid stock, so the bent feature isn't unique to TNT.
I don't post on here much but read it all the time, so when I see a write up like this I got to give the guy a big thank you for taking all the time to post up and write up the project.
Your observations (criticism) is taken but man for crying out loud give the guy a big thanks for doing what he did first.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old April 10th, 2008, 07:58
Rasty1 Rasty1 is offline
NAXJA Forum User
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Shingle Springs, CA
Posts: 79
Re: TNT Customs long arm and frame stiffener install

Great write up and thanks for taking the time to do it! Great pics that answer a lot of questions.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old April 10th, 2008, 08:57
tcm glx's Avatar
tcm glx tcm glx is offline
NAXJA Member #1033
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Riverside California
Posts: 5,622
Re: TNT Customs long arm and frame stiffener install

Sweet write up...i did the same kit and I am also extremely pleased with it!
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old April 10th, 2008, 09:47
BIGSLVRXJ BIGSLVRXJ is offline
NAXJA Forum User
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Des Moines, Iowa
Posts: 4,639
Re: TNT Customs long arm and frame stiffener install

Thanks for the awesome write-up. I plan to be doing the TNT longarm kit in the near future to my 1990 XJ and a lot of your info will be very valuable. You rock!
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old April 10th, 2008, 09:53
muduck18's Avatar
muduck18 muduck18 is offline
NAXJA Forum User
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Geigertown, PA
Posts: 2,560
Re: TNT Customs long arm and frame stiffener install

Great write up.
Got any pictures of it on flat ground?
I have the 4.5in RE springs in the back plus the RE1.75 shackle
and 4.5 in RE coils + 2in block in the front.. How do the 6.5 RE springs level with the back?
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old April 10th, 2008, 17:19
KG6ZJM KG6ZJM is offline
NAXJA Forum User
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: San Jose, CA
Posts: 28
Re: TNT Customs long arm and frame stiffener install

Thanks for all the positive responses. I thought somebody was going to notice that tight little brake line. That was actually the result of a trail repair after i sheered off one of my extended Rubicon lines in Death Valley. We has to limp the jeep out with just the e-brake to stop, and leave it at our camp spot while we took a second rig into Nevada to find a stock brake line to get me home. I have swapped in a new brake line there.

Second, I was unaware that rock krawler used a bent arm system. Is it part of their 3link setup? I didn't really want a 3link, so i didn't spend much time looking into them...

I agree that kevin should have been wearing safety glasses, and i honestly didn't even notice till just now that he wasn't. huh.

I don't have any pictures of it sitting flat yet, nor any pics of the custom swaybar endlinks we had to fab up. I will try to take some today if I get a chance. The swaybar was a must for my on-road, because we took it out for a test drive, and its so flexy that if i cornered hard it would lean over enough to unload the inside rear wheel and I'd loose traction. It also hooked into corners real bad. As for the springs, they level quite nice with my rear. I'm running the 4.5" rear leafs and a set of MJ shackles which give me about another inch. I have noticed that the Rubicon leafs gave me more like 5-6" depending on the weight in the back. With just my spare and my toolbox back there it is level enough for me!
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old April 10th, 2008, 19:41
KG6ZJM KG6ZJM is offline
NAXJA Forum User
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: San Jose, CA
Posts: 28
Re: TNT Customs long arm and frame stiffener install

I sot a few pics of it sitting flat for y'all!





Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old April 10th, 2008, 20:07
muduck18's Avatar
muduck18 muduck18 is offline
NAXJA Forum User
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Geigertown, PA
Posts: 2,560
Re: TNT Customs long arm and frame stiffener install

thank you very much
that looks sweet.
No doubt now. I am doing that to My 96 when i get done building the wifes 98 up...
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old April 10th, 2008, 20:10
sjkimmel99's Avatar
sjkimmel99 sjkimmel99 is offline
NAXJA Forum User
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Phoenix, Az
Posts: 587
Re: TNT Customs long arm and frame stiffener install

Thanks for the write-up and pictures! Did you stich weld the top edge of the frame stiffeners? It's kind of hard to see in the pic of the finished rosette welds (or is that after the rosette welds and before welding the edges?)

Thanks again.
Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
TNT frame stiffener thickness? Jeff 98XJ WI Modified Tech Discussion 6 March 28th, 2007 18:34
Rockkrawler long arms and frame stiffener 00XJFAN Modified Tech Discussion 2 December 8th, 2006 19:59
anyone have a decent installed pic of T&T customs unibody stiffener tanman2003 Modified Tech Discussion 3 August 1st, 2006 16:00
New T&T Customs Frame Stiffeners Jeepdogrob SoCal For Sale 4 June 20th, 2006 15:57
Is a frame stiffener ever overkill? jmsull Modified Tech Discussion 6 March 29th, 2006 06:31


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 06:39.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
NAXJA and NAXJA logo's Copyright NAXJA. All content/images Copyright NAXJA 1999-2014