Project Pieces and Parts - Suspension
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by: Terry L. Howe
Frame and suspension
Since this project is called "Pieces and Parts", you can't expect
anything to be normal and this is true for the suspension. The
suspension is not radical, but it is practical and should perform
The first thing I wanted to do was convert from the U shaped
shackles used on flat fenders to the more rugged H shaped after
market shackles used in late CJs. I happened to have some shackle
hangers from my '81 CJ-7. The front was about the right width,
but the rear was 1/2" too wide. I trimmed off a 1/4" from either
side of the rear shackle hanger with a circular saw and a metal
cutting blade. I removed the old shackle hangers and drilled
holes for the new ones. Soon the shackle hangers were bolted in
Since the narrowed rear shackle hanger was now the same width
as the front, so I ordered two sets of bushings and two sets of
heavy duty shackles for the front of an '81 CJ-7. The bushings
fit perfectly in the shackle hangers, but they too big in diameter
for the springs. Someone on the Jeep Tech list suggested I machine
them down a bit with a bench grinder. My buddy Sean Lazzelle
was over helping me out, so he ground them all down so they
would fit in the springs. The springs I am using are 2" lift
springs I bought used from Top Truck Challenge contender Tim
Welden. They look virtually brand new.
Rear shock mount welded on
The fixed spring hangers also had to be modified. The flat
fender had greasable bolts on the fixed spring hangers and one of
them was badly damaged. Rather than finding replacements, I
drilled out the spring hangers and spring bushings for a 5/8"
bolt. The springs had some poly bushings in them which I opted
Since I was swapping a 44 in the rear, I had to dig up some
u-bolt plates. Local Jeep parts wheeler and dealer Tom Hackle
gave me some u-bolt plates for free from a early 70s CJ-5, but
one of the shock mounts was badly damaged. I tried to fix it, but
it was a lost cause. I cut off both shock hangers and welded
some cheap $5 Con-Fer shock mounts on the axle tubes. To
save some cash, I used some used shocks in the rear.
In the front I used some CJ-7 u-bolt plates for the Dana 30.
I bought some good shocks for the front end and bolted everything
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