Project Pieces and Parts - Suspension
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by: Terry L. Howe

Frame ans suspension
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 well.

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 place.

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 welded on
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 to keep.

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 together.


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