Here are a few of our past projects... Let us know what you think.
JK Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited WJ Project WK Project Ultimate ZJ
2007 Jeep Wrangler JK Rubicon Unlimited
We finally got our hands on a JK, and it was the 4-door Unlimited Rubicon
version no less. The owner was looking for a 3" suspension lift for the Jeep, enough to fit 35" tires in the future.
He was also looking for a little extra performance in the form of an Airaid Intake system. After discussing options
to fit his needs and driving habits, the owner decided on the Black Diamond 3" JK suspension system. This system
includes four new coil springs, pre-set to prevent fatigue and sporting a higher spring rate to handle the extra weight
of the 4-door Unlimited. Four Black Diamond AT shocks are included, as are front and rear brake hose relocation
brackets and provisions to relocate the e-brake cables. The kit comes with extended polyurethane bump stops to
control compression, and front lower control arm alignment cams to correct the caster angle. In a clever bit of engineering,
Black Diamond includes new front swaybar links with OEM-style greasable upper joints, but the kit utilizes the OEM front links
by installing them on the rear swaybar. Not only are they the perfect length to accommodate the 3" lift, but doing so
keeps the cost of the kit down - cool. A new adjustable front track bar is included, as is a beefy rear track
bar relocation bracket. We feel this complete kit is one of the best values on the market.
Okay, before we get to the installation, we'll give you our impression
and opinions on the new JK. (Hey, it is our web site after all... ;-) First off, we love the 4-door option. We
still dig the classic lines and maneuverability of the 2-door, but the dimensions of the Unlimited are just
about perfect from a utility standpoint. (This is what the Cherokee XJ should have become in 2002!) From underneath,
with the JK on the vehicle lift, it became very clear that 1) Jeep listened to customer feedback, which paraphrased was "Don't mess
with a good thing!" and 2) the engineering team took the outstanding TJ platform and evolved it to the next level.
The frame is super stout, the control arms are very beefy, and the vital
components are tucked up out of the way for maximum clearance. It takes a little getting used to the gas tank being
where the muffler should be, and vice versa. However, we were very impressed with the heft and design of the gas
tank skidplate. We like the fact that even base JKs get the NV241 transfer-case, the rear Dana 35 received
upgraded axle shafts and flanged style axles, and we love the NSG370 6-speed manual transmission. The engine compartment
still has plenty of room to work in, and the suspension design is very familiar. We still mourn the death of the
inline six, but the 3.8L V6 has decent low-end torque and a strong mid-range with the Rubicon's 4.10 axle gears;
with higher gearing we think the 4-door would feel a bit underpowered. The ride quality is outstanding, and
we were very surprised at how quiet the interior was at speed; with the softop in place we expected the large expanse
of fabric to flap and shudder at speed. The interior is a great step forward - very comfortable but still
retaining the ruggedness to stand up to the rigors of toplessness. The inclusion of electronic "nanny"
systems (ABS, ESP, BLD, ERM, etc.) and the drive-by-wire throttle is a little daunting at first, but since
Jeep thoughtfully provided Full-On, Partial-On, and Off settings, and since the systems are specifically programmed for
4-low operation we think these are valuable additions (just be prepared to spend a couple hours learning to configure
the system for your driving style).
Having owned an '03 Rubicon, the 4.0:1 transfer-case gears and the operation
of the locking differentials was familiar. One of our favorite new features is the electronic disconnecting front swaybar
that first appeared on the Dodge PowerWagon; this is a great functional feature that increases front suspension travel by
28% when disconnected. Things we don't like? Some of the interior ergonomics are a little awkward, such as the
door handles and placement of a few dash controls. And the flimsy plastic on the bumpers and the cheesy plastic front
"skidplate" make you ask "Why bother?" But overall, the JK retains all the characteristics that have been essential
to Jeep for over 65 years, and improves upon them with the addition of new comfort, utility, and safety features.
As we unpacked the Black Diamond kit, it was apparent that the component quality remains
very high as we've come to expect. The kit is also very complete and leaves nothing unattended. Installation
of the new springs and shocks is very straightforward, and the same goes for the new adjustable front trackbar.
The trackbar installation should be completed with the vehicle on the ground as a last step; the weight of the vehicle on
the suspension will help to center the axle. The brake line relocation brackets provide plenty of length for suspension droop. Although
the instructions direct you to reroute the e-brake cables below a crossmember and reuse the OEM bracket, we chose to
fabricate a drop bracket to fit in the stock location. This allowed for plenty of length to accommodate the lift
but kept the cables up high out of the way of trail obstacles. Although the kit is advertised as no cut/no
drill, it is necessary to drill one hole for the rear track bar relocation bracket - not a big deal. Overall, this is
one of the easier lift kits to install.
The on-road ride and handling of the Black Diamond suspension is an improvement on the already
stellar OEM characteristics. The ride is slightly firmer which will better control the larger tires to be added
later. One interesting development occurred on our initial test drive: even though we didn't install larger tires
with the lift, the electronic systems were confused by the installation of the suspension lift. While driving around
long sweeping curves, the message center would flash as the various systems would engage and ABS would kick in to decrease speed
at individual wheels. This continued for about 12-15 miles, at which time the computer finally relaxed and all returned
to normal. Before installing the lift we took measurements from the center of the wheel to the bottom of the fender
flare and found the Jeep to have pretty decent rake, being a full inch higher in the rear than the front. This particular
Jeep had a factory tow package which could account for this. With the new lift installed, the front and rear measurements
were within a 1/4" of each other and the JK was much more level.
Click on the thumbnail pictures for more details. With the extra clearance and some 35"
tires, this JK Rubicon Unlimited could tackle the toughest trails across the country!
OVO Grand Cherokee WJ: Trail Luxury
We started with a 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo with a 4.0L
engine, automatic transmission, and an NV242 Selec-Trac transfer-case. Wanting a one of a kind WJ with lots of trail
capability, we started putting together our wish list. When we were finished, we had a stack of stout parts to transform
this humble SUV into a head-turning trail Jeep with comfort and capability in equal measure. The key components
were as follows:
Rocky Road Outfitters 2" coil spacer lift with Doetsch Tech shocks
JKS Adjustable Front Track Bar
JKS Adjustable Front Swaybar Disconnects
Mopar gas tank and transfer-case skidplates
Eagle Alloys Simulated Beadlock wheels, size 16x7" 5 on
5" bolt pattern
Cooper Discoverer STT tires, size 245/75R16LT
ARB Bull Bar Front Bumper
Tabor 9000 winch with roller fairlead
Custom 4x4 Fabrication Rear Bumper with Swing-Out Spare Tire
K&N Air Filter
Hesco Throttle Body Spacer
Gibson Cat-Back Exhaust System
Superlift Tru-Speed Calibrator
So how did it turn out? Check out the photos and see for
yourself. Any take-aways from the project build up? Yes.
We found that the addition of the ARB front bumper and the Tabor
winch (approximately 200 lbs.) caused the stock front springs to sag a little too much, so we replaced them with a set of
higher spring rate 2" coils from Rusty's Off Road and replaced our 2" front spacers with a 1" set. This restored
our level stance and supported the extra weight much more comfortably. With the installation of the front and rear bumpers,
the light gray side cladding looked a little odd, so we removed the lower rocker panel cover, then sanded and prepped the
remaining side cladding. We used an adhesion promoter for a strong bond followed by a bumper coating with flex
agent, and topped it off with Duplicolor spray on truck bed coating.
In the end we were extremely pleased with the results, and feel
we nailed the perfect balance of off-road ability and daily driver comfort.
We recently completed a serious trail build on a '93 Grand Cherokee ZJ. It
was a Grand Cherokee Limited with a 5.2L V8, 4-speed automatic, and the NP249 Quadra-Trac transfer-case.
The owner wanted something with a little more comfort than the CJ-6 he had 'wheeled for years, but he didn't want
to give up any trail ability. Since he already owned the ZJ, his plan started forming. The heart and
soul of the build-up was a Kevin's Off Road 7" Long Arm suspension system. This is a phenomenal long-arm suspension
that provides incredible articulation with excellent on-road manners and comfort. Installation of the kit, however,
is not to be taken lightly - as with any quality long-arm suspension, it's very intense and involves cutting, welding,
and more welding. Even with a fully eqipped shop and years of experience, it took a longer than anticipated (Thanks,
Ed, for your unending patience!) The new suspension made room for 35" Super Swampers on 15" black simulated beadlock
Obviously, the tire size necessitated some additional drivetrain beef and lower gears, so we installed
a Superior Super 35 kit in the rear with upgraded 30-spline axle shafts and an Auburn ECTED locker. The ECTED is
a state of the art locking differential that engages with the flip of a button; when it's disengaged, it operates as a progressive
limited-slip differential. With the upgraded shafts addressed, the other axle concern with 35" tires was the thin
D35 axle tubes that tend to flex under hard trail use. Fortunately, the KOR long-arm kit converts the rear 4-link suspension
to a 3-link setup with a triangulated upper arm. This necessitates the installation of Kevin's beefy axle truss; it
gets welded into the original upper control arm brackets and significantly strengthens the axle tubes by tying them together.
Superior 4.56 gears were then installed front and rear to keep the engine in its powerband and the crawl ratio low.
Finishing off the drivetrain mods was a set of heavy duty front and rear CV driveshafts from Tom Wood's.
While we were under the Jeep, we replaced the catalytic converter and installed a Flowmaster muffler
with mandrel bent tailpipe. For a little extra suspension flex on the trail we installed a set of JKS Adjustable Swaybar
Disconnects, along with a heavy-duty JKS Adjustable Front Trackbar to cure any "death-wobble".
The final result was a Jeep ZJ with a lot of attitude, and the ability to back it up. Check out
the pictures and let us know what you think.
Grand Cherokee WK: The New Kid Gets a Lift
Okay, even though the Grand Cherokee WK has been out now for a couple of
years, we'd bet that you haven't seen many around that are modified. So when we recently got the chance to get our hands
on an '05 WK, we were pretty excited with the opportunity.
Grocery getter, you say? Mall crawler? With the new Grand Cherokee,
a little apparently goes a long way. After giving the customer some recommendations, he decided on a 2.25" lift kit
from Rocky Road Outfitters. This kit includes front steel spacers for the coilover shock setup, along with rear polyurethane
coil spring spacers and Doetsch Tech rear shocks. This may seem pretty mild, but this amount of lift totally transformed
the look of the Jeep and provided some much needed clearance. This made room for 265/70R17LT BFGoodrich All-Terrain
T/A KO tires on 17x7.5" MB Motoring Alloy Wheels.
To add a little spice to the WK's performance, we added a K&N air filter
and a Magnaflow cat-back stainless exhaust system. Take a look at the pics and you'll be amazed at the difference a
few well chosen modifications can make...