Project BRYJ gets more clearance with a 1" Body Lift, coil spacers, and TJ flares
|[an error occurred while processing this directive]||Short Cuts|
By: Bryan Archambeault - 8/2001
|Air line relocated|
Since I installed the Pro-Comp Coil Conversion Suspension on my YJ, it has always seemed to be a little low in the rear. Especially when loaded down with a lot of gear for an extended trail run. I attempted to fix this last year by installing Air Bags in my rear coils. That definitely helped, but I'm still having trouble with the way I installed the bags. They are meant to be installed with the air line coming in from the bottom of the coil, but I cannot do that with the way the bottom brackets of the Pro-Comp suspension are designed. With the air line coming in from the top at the angle I installed them, they keep getting pinched off during articulation, thus making them kind of useless as I can't inflate and deflate them as needed. During the installation of the body lift and rear coil spacers, I moved the line to a different position, but I'm not sure this will work either. I like the new position of the line, but I think I need a more rigid air line that won't pinch so easily.
At any rate, I needed a more reliable solution to my sagging rear and fender flare rubbing problems. I decided to install a 1" body lift, some rear flares from a TJ, and some rear coil spacers. I also figured that if I was going to do a body lift, I might as well replace the stock body mounts at the same time. So, I shopped around a little and ended up getting a Performance Accessories YJ 1" Body Lift, a set of Energy Suspension YJ body mounts, and two TeraFlex 3/4" TJ/XJ/ZJ coil spacers. I purchased them from OffroadWarehouse.com, mainly because they were the only online store I could find that had all three of the specific brand of items that I wanted on their web page. :-) I went with the Performance Accessories and Energy Suspension kits purely on word-of-mouth from others who have installed these kits and were very happy with how complete they were.
|Body mount instructions and a removed body mount. The metal sleeve in the mount is reused with the new mounts.|
Body Lift Install
The first problem I encountered was when I looked at the box that the body lift came in. It was labeled a 2" body lift. I opened the box and the instructions were for a 2" or 3" kit. However, all the pucks where 1" high, and all the parts were for the 1" kit. Guess they ran out of 1" kit boxes. Oh well. I knew from talking to others that the installation of a 1" kit is pretty straightforward, so I decided to proceed and call Performance Accessories and have them fax me the 1" instructions if I felt I needed them. I began by loosening all the existing body mount bolts. The instructions say to start in the back and work forward, and to only lift the body enough to put the lift puck in. So, I had to try to figure out how I was going to raise the body at each point. I did not have any 2x4's, and I was too lazy to go find or buy one, so I decided to use my jack and a jack stand. The stand fit perfectly over the round part of the jack and worked great for the middle and front mounts. However, the jack stand would not extend enough for the rear mounts. So, I put the stand on The Jack Stand Extender (tm), which is a just bunch of 2x4's nailed together. This worked, but I would not recommend it to anyone as it's not the safest thing to do. After figuring out what I was going to use to lift the body, I actually had to lift it at each point a little more than 1" in order to have enough room to remove the existing body mounts and install the new ones. Each of the stock body mounts has a sleeve in it that must be removed and reused with the new mounts. The body mount kit does not include new bolts, but it does include new washers. However, the body lift kit does include new 1" longer bolts, so I did not have to reuse the stock bolts.
|Kids, don't try this at home. This is probably not safe.||A close-up of the body lifted enough to remove the mount||The first mount and lift puck installed|
There are 11 total body mounts on the YJ. One in the front, 3 on each side in the middle, 1 on each side in the rear behind the gas tank, and 1 on each side in the rear near the bumper. After I did the first one in the rear corner, I next tried to do the one in the rear behind the gas tank. However, I could not get my jack stand contraption to fit anywhere near this mount to raise the body. So, I did all the mounts and pucks except for the one in the front and the 2 behind the gas tank. Then, I undid the 2 in the rear near the bumper and lifted the bumper with a hi-lift jack. This lifted the body enough for me to get at the ones behind the gas tank. I then turned my attention towards the front mount. As I started to lift it up, I noticed that it was getting harder to lift. I looked closer and saw that the body mount was hitting the rail that runs behind the front bumper that holds the front brake lines. So, I removed the brake lines from the rail (they just snap in to plastic holders), and then removed the rail from the frame. This allowed me to raise the front of the body enough to get the new mount and lift puck in. However, I could not reinstall the brake line rail without some help from a friend. And, it's no longer straight as it has to go over the newly raised body mount. The instructions do not mention this. Another issue is the my FourXDoctor BodyGuard nerf bars no longer sit nice and tight up against the body. There is now a 1" gap there. I thought I would have a problem with this, but I actually like the way it looks, mainly because it hides the gap between the body and the frame as seen from the sides.
|A close-up of how I raised the body for the middle mounts||A shot of two of the completed middle mounts and pucks||I now have a gap between my Body Guards and the body|
After installing the front mount and puck, I took a look at my fan to see how the fan shroud clearance looked. It wasn't a pretty sight. I had lost about half of the bottom of my shroud at some point during my Jeep's life, and as I looked up from under the Jeep, I saw that one of the blades was poking out and hanging down further than the shroud. Time to install the radiator drop down brackets. This was by far the toughest part of the install, for no other reason that the 3 bolts on each side that hold the radiator to the body are extremely tough to get to. This is real knuckle scraping territory here. After fighting with the radiator and getting the 6 brackets on, I noticed that there are two rubber spacers on the right and left side of the front that were now 1" off the frame. I looked in the instructions, and it mentions that there should be two blocks that you weld on the frame under these spacers. My kit had no such blocks. I guess I'll have to call Performance Accessories and see if I can get some. Or, just make them myself (like that's going to happen).
|Lifting the front, I ran into a little problem with the brake line rail||Oh, so that's why they include drop brackets for the radiator...||How should I fill in this gap?|
|Coil spacer installed|
Coil Spacer Install
The coil spacers that I bought are made for the TJ/XJ/ZJ application. My coils are the same size, but they are mounted in a totally different way. The coil "screws" into the upper mounting bracket, and is held on the lower mounting bracket by an aluminum puck that has a retaining washer on top. The puck keeps the coil from moving around from side to side and front to back, and the washer keeps the coil from coming off during articulation. The puck is about 2 1/2" in diameter, but the hole in the TJ/XJ/ZJ spacer is about 1 1/2". I went to my buddy Jess and asked him if I could use his drill press to make the hole bigger. He told me that it would be difficult to get the blade centered and suggested we go to his shop and use his lathe. How could I argue? So, he proceeded to cut out the middle of the spacers so that the puck would fit through. I bought some heavy duty washers that were about 2 1/2" in diameter to put under the pucks to raise them enough so that the retaining washer would be above the bottom turn of the coils.
The hardest part of this installation was getting the coils removed and getting them reinstalled with the coil spacers. I really had to make the axle droop to stretch the coil out enough so I could "unscrew" it from the upper bracket. In doing this, I found that my emergency brake cables are my limiting factor in the rear. I will be able to take care of that with some cables from an XJ. I also relearned that safety is a must when doing suspension work, and to make sure that you've got jack stands ready in position under the frame. In attempting to get enough droop, I had to use a hi-lift jack to raise the rear. The hi-lift jack is a great tool, but it's not very stable. I assumed that since my vehicle was in gear and I had my emergency bakes on, that it wouldn't go anywhere. Well, when your rear tires are removed, being in gear and having the emergency brakes on don't do you much good. I was not in 4 wheel drive, and I did not have my front hubs locked, so my front wheels began to roll, and the hi-lift became unstable and came flying out, and my Jeep came down with a huge crash! Fortunately, I had jack stands under the frame in the rear, and it was just a lot of noise. But it could have been a lot worse. Hopefully I finally learned my lesson this time.
TJ Rear Fender Flare Install
Inspired by Randy Wheeler's article and Larry Soo's article on swapping in TJ flares on your YJ, I bought some used rear TJ flares so that I could be part of the cool group as well. Actually, I did it because I got tired of listening to the sound of my tires rubbing on the YJ flares. With the addition of the body lift and the coil spacers, I probably didn't have to add the TJ flares, but I think they look better, they are more rigid, and they just offer more room than the YJ flares. The installation went pretty much as Randy and Larry describe. The only difference is that I only did the rear flares. I was not having any rubbing problems in the front, so I really didn't see any reason to do that swap.
I am extremely happy with how everything turned out. Both the Performance Accessories body lift and Energy Suspension body mount kits were totally complete. I did not have to modify anything or buy anything extra. The materials were of high quality and the instructions were adequate, though the Performance Accessories instructions could have been infinitely more useful if they had included pictures and/or illustrations (well, and of course if I'd had the correct instructions to begin with. :-)) The TeraFlex coil spacers fit perfectly (with a little help from the lathe), and the TJ flares really finish it off nicely. At the beginning this project, with the flares removed, I had 8" of clearance from the top of my rear tire to the bottom of the wheel well. After the body lift it was 9", after the coil spacer it was 10", and after the TJ flares it was 11". Measuring from the top of the tire diagonally to the rear corner, the clearance went from about 3" to about 5". So, I'm pretty confident that I won't be hearing that awful rubbing noise anymore.