Category Archives: Suspension

Dual SS (…with tha navigation!)

As promised, I pulled off the Teraflex kit and threw even more parts at my rig!  Say hello to Fortec’s Exclusive (their words) FOX Dual Stabilizer Kit.  The unboxing reveals some really nice welds, good quality bolts/hardware and beautiful powder coating on all the custom made pieces.

DualSS-1

There are really only about 3 steps to the entire install process.  First, attach the center bracket to your axle using the larger U-bolts and nuts.  Do NOT tighten all the way since you’ll be doing some adjustments.

DualSS-2

Before you bolt on the tie-rod brackets, insert a long bolt pointing up into each bracket, and then attach the bracket to each end of your tie rod.  Once again don’t fully tighten b/c you will be doing some fine tuning.

DualSS-3

Unlike me, please insert the blots you see pictured below BEFORE attaching the center bracket on to the axle.

DualSS-4

Slip on the shocks onto the center bolts first, then compress each shock by hand to attach them onto the tie-rod bracket.  As you can see, everything is still a little loose while I check for fitment or clearance issues.

DualSS-5

Once all the bolts are tightened, the shocks line up nicely with one another.
DualSS-6

First Impressions – This kit takes a lot of the play out of the steering wheel and makes those turns feel very nice.  Not even a glimmer of bump steer on a pothole ridden turn at speeds and for that I am happy.  And two Fox shocks up front sure do look pretty!

The Bad – In all the pictures on the fortec site, they have this kit installed on a JK with a high steer set up so clearance isn’t an issue.  If you don’t have a high steer kit, you’ll want to rotate all three brackets back about 18 degrees on the axle/tie rod plane to make sure nothing hits and you still have full lock to lock steering.  The clamps on the tie rod are just begging to get snagged on road debris or a tree stump on the trail.  At this price point, I really expected a proper tie-rod clamp like this one from Rockhard4x4 instead of two u-bolts.  The $100ish kits can get away with that sort of solution, but when you get up to the $300 range the parts need to be a bit nicer to justify the extra cost imho.

It’s on there, it’s working, but you better believe a pair of new tie-rod clamps are on my short short list before I can call this mod completely finished.  And now for the obligatory black & white artsy close up.  Enjoy!

DualSS-7

Nuts & Bolts!

As I wrote in an earlier post, there’s a lot of back and forth discussion on the value of the Grade 8 bolt upgrade for JK suspension components.  Some folks swear by it, others are convinced it’s snake oil.  Me?  I haven’t decided yet but my thinking is if my components can fit a little more snug, why shouldn’t I drop a minimal amount of coin to tighten everything up?  I went with the Synergy f911 hardware kit that comes with bolts for all your lower control arms, track bars, & front frame side track bar bracket.  I don’t have a ton of swapping out steps other than the usual ‘make sure it’s on a level surface, set the brake, & chock the tires.’ One thing that helped me was having my jack under each bolt before I removed it. Both as a safety precaution and to help align the arms back in place. But honestly, some of the bolts holes didn’t need any help lining up.
Synergy-f911-8For me the hardest step was to tighten the bolts to spec while working by myself.  I need two hands for the torque wrench and one or two on the nut to keep it from spinning.  To solve this problem I called on my friend the ratchet strap to give me a little counter leverage.

Synergy-f911-9

And now how about what you’ve really come here for… Pretty picture of Synergy’s F911 Bolt kit!

Synergy-f911-1Synergy-f911-2Synergy-f911-3Synergy-f911-4

The two pictures below show a pair of stock lower control arm bolts and a pair of the Synergy bolts that replaced them.
Synergy-f911-7Synergy-f911-6

When in doubt, Throw more parts at it!

I’ve found a pot hole to run over at high speed and am sad to report that tightening up the front suspension bolts did not fix the problem.  My death wobble remains and it’s just as scary as ever.  After many discussions and a little research, I’ve decided to throw more parts at the problem.  A visual inspection revealed that my stock steering stabilizer has taken a bit of a beating, so I’ve decided to upgrade it with a Fox Racing 2.0 Evolution Steering Stabilizer.  And while I was swapping the steering stabilizer, I picked up TeraFlex‘s Steering Stabilizer Relocation Bracket to rotate the new shock up about 90 degrees to help keep it out of harms way.

SteeringStabilizer1
But why stop there?  To continue my shopping spree, I ordered the f911 hardware kit from Synergy Suspension.  There’s quite a bit of back and forth online and amongst my Jeep group as to whether there’s any value to the grade 8 bolt upgrade, but if there’s even a little play in the steering components that I can tighten up, then I’ll call this kit worth the cost.

SteeringStabilizer2
Replacing a steering stabilizer is a whopping two bolts and install of the shock relocation bracket is pretty straight forward as well.  You want to start by removing the old steering stabilizer bolts, there’s one on each end.  At that point you should have the steering stabilizer off and a loose bracket on your tie rod that you can’t quite pull off.  It looks something like this guy below…

SteeringStabilizer3
The Teraflex instructions tell you to use a larger pry bar and pray it apart.  I spent quite a few minutes prying and swearing at that damn bracket with little to no progress.  In the end, I grabbed two adjustable wrenches and clamped them on to the ends.  The small wrench (attached to one end) pressed against the frame while I was able to easily pry open the other end using the larger wrench applying more force using leverage.  Trust me on this one, just use the wrenches and skip the pry bar for this step.

SteeringStabilizer4
Just in case you can’t figure out what to do with the long bolt that came with the kit, it replaces your stock track bar bolt using the OEM nut.  If you are on level ground and the axle is in jack stands, you can probably pull your old bolt and squeeze in the new one with out the need to realign anything.  Make sure to tighten that bolt down pretty snug since it’s holding both your steering stabilizer and the track bar in place.

SteeringStabilizer5
All that’s left to do is measure the distance of the shock extended and compressed.  There’s a 7.125″ travel to the shock, so you’ll want to mount the clamp on the tie rod at the midpoint when the wheels are straight which is 3.5625″.  Just like the instructions say, don’t fully attach the shock to the track bar bolt until the very end as you need to compress the shock a bit to get it to attach.  It’s much easier to do with the clamp already attached on the tie rod.  Tighten down both ends and stand back to admire your handy work!

SteeringStabilizer6
The shock looks very nice and it’s really eating up a ton of bumps to smooth out my steering wheel.  That’s good since that’s what I bought it to do.  The bad… this Fox shock is pressurized which means it’s natural state is that it wants to stay extended.  That’s a fantastic trait for a shock that you’d use for your suspension because the weight of the vehicle will center it.  That same trait is terrible for a steering stabilizer since the shock is constantly trying to extend itself.  This over correction manifests as a steady pull on the steering wheel to the left no matter how dead on your alignment is.  This shock would be great in a dual steering stabilizer set up so that they can push against each other, but as a single shock… I’m afraid this guy is coming off the rig and back to the store.  The folks at Teraflex actually confirmed that they used to have this issue with Fox shocks but it has since been cleared up if I use Fox’s 980-986 steering stabilizer.  While tempting, if I’m gonna pull parts off of a fresh install and to redo it, I think I’m gonna pony up the extra coin and go for a dual steering stabilizer kit.  Stay tuned sports fans!

And now Deep Thoughts, about the RKSJK3501

I’ve got a little more than 500 miles on my lift thus far, all city/highway/towing, and have had absolutely no problems. The ride is just as comfortable as stock and I know this to be true b/c the wife said the ride feels about the same after going for a drive. The handling is also about the same despite the added ride height. I haven’t had a chance to get it off road yet, so I can’t speak for the flex and articulation, but hopefully that’ll happen sooner than later. One nice side effect of having a lift is how easy it is to get under the Jeep to check bolts or tighten or adjust things. No need to jack it up for simple jobs, just set the parking break, put it in gear, and get to it! The only thing that feels different is the way the wind hits me on the highway. But that could have simply been the combination of a really windy day and my awesome coefficient of drag that resembles a bath tub in a wind tunnel.

Since doing my own lift (with lots of experienced help!), I’ve worked on another RK kit as well as a boutique brand lift and I must say the RK parts in the other lift also went on incredibly easily and painlessly. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this lift kit due to its ease of install, Rock Krawlers responsive customer service, parts interchangeability and comfortable over all ride. Again, I haven’t had it off road yet but kits identical like mine have done rather well in that department on my friends rigs.

I did have to make one very simple mod for passengers such as my wife or my mom…

HelpingStep

This is working great for now and I hope it continues to do so until I can figure out my rocksliders/sidesteps situation. There are just too many great options out there at to choose from at the moment.

That’s a huuuuuge b!tch!

It’s been pointed out to me that I say many of the mods I do are a big deal. And they are, each and everyone is important. Unless you have a bottomless bank account combined with infinite free time, you should give everything you put on your Jeep some thought. Then let’s call this series of mods THE BIG DEAL. Suspension work is one of the pinnacle changes that affects so many aspects of your rig that it almost requires its own category of ‘This is Kind of a Big Deal’.

Criteria

  • 2.5” – 3.5” Kit
  • Completely bolt on, no cutting or welding
  • Good off road articulation
  • Excellent on-road manners
  • Larger manufacturers only (I don’t want to deal with the inconsistency that can often come from a boutique shop and customer service is frequently a crapshoot)

Companies

  • AEV – Good company and well priced kits (b/c you reuse many stock components), but I hate their geometry correction bracket. It’s like lifting your Jeep however many inches just to stick something hanging down a few at the same time?
  • Bilstein – I’ve had suspension components from this company before and never been disappointed. They are like the loaded Accord V6 of the shock world imho.
  • Full Traction – I don’t know anyone running their products, and they do their lifts in even numbers. 3.0 instead of 3.5, etc. The products look pretty solid though.
  • Fox Racing – Their shocks look awesome, but that cost sure can add up fast!
  • King Off-Road Shocks – As much as I LOVE over kill, their products are just way more than I need…. For now! =)
  • MOPAR – Well engineered, but incredibly over priced when compared to other companies on the market.
  • Old Man Emu – After the headache I had with my rear bumper, I’m just not ready to trust an ARB company with my suspension components.
  • Rock Krawler Suspension – A big guy in JK lift the market. Their suspension kits are all upgradeable from one to the next and their lower control arms have a high clearance design.
  • Rubicon Express – I’ve had suspension parts from them and been very happy with all of it. Everything on my TJ was from RE.
  • Skyjacker & Rancho – I know folks that have used SkyJacker & Rancho, but their products just aren’t for me.
  • Teraflex – A contender. I’ve had positive experiences with their products, the price is competitive, and a few friends happily run TF springs.

After hours and hours (and hours!) of research, discussions, and heated arguments, I called Mr. K and threw my credit card down (twice!) on a 3.5” Mid Arm Flex kit from Rock Krawler with Bilstein 5100’s at all four corners. This kit met all of my requirements and the Black Friday deals really helped with the final tab. If you are looking for a big purchase like suspension parts or bumpers or tire carriers, the deals around Black Friday really are quite fantastic.

The kit arrives in what looks to be 5 or 6 boxes and on this day, I’m really glad I got home first. I could already see the disapproving look on the wife’s face as she lugs “more crap for the damn Jeep” in the house. Her words, not mine. The goodies all loaded up in the Jeep, I head up to my buddies house for a long day of wrenching. This is probably a good time to give a shout out and huge thank you to NBruno & JKMadness. Thank you both for your patience, instruction, space, and patience (yeah, it needed to be listed twice).

RKParts

Yeah, I think I’m at the right place!

JeepMecca

As usual, let’s cue the music (a fantastic Pandora techno station today, what a nice surprise!) and set to work.

RKUnboxing

Dropping the tombstone so we can get to everything. This is much easier with floor jacks to support the weight. 

Tombstone

The Exhaust spacers slip in right here with 2 bolts for each side. Remember, they are two different sizes so make sure you know which goes where.

TFSpacers

The Jeep is on Jack stands, the tires are off, and the axle has a dedicated floor jack to help it move around to fit in the larger springs and new shocks.

StockShocks

Ooooh… Shiny!

BilsteinRearShocks

The rear end is on the ground. This is the first time seeing the new height… that b!tch is huuuuge!

OnTheGround

And now, let’s knock out the fronts.

FrontShocks

Look ma, I know how to bleed the brake lines!

BrakeLine

Toss the wheels/tires back on, dump the jack stands and you are ready to go! I hope to have some nice comparison pix of stock vs. spacers vs. lifted in the coming weeks.

Lifted