NOTE: This post is lengthy and has MANY pictures.
has just released their new shocks called the 6 Pak shocks.
These are a far and drastic departure from what most any of us have ever had experience with. Thanks to a friend who "tipped" me off about their development as a passing idea I decided to check it out. Long story short I have been very fortunate to have been just a hand full of people who will receive these first as a member of their "pre-release" group. ALL LCG, & HIGHLINE FENDER PEOPLE are going to LOVE these!
These have the longest shock travel relative to compression length for any off road shock ever built in history. They are marketing these as a "coil over alternative". They utilize what they are calling "Floating Shock Body Technology" or FST for short. What this means is you have parallel shafts that extend out from a floating shock body. This is then coupled with dual reservoirs. So these shocks compress and extend from both ends, frame and axle end. Due to the pressurized bodies and reservoirs, the body stays in the center.
They sell these either in kits, or individually IIRC. And before anyone else says it... these are NOT cheap. But they are cheaper than the coil over route if you consider all you would have to do to be able to run coil overs correctly. These will be a stepping stone for me, of sorts. I am sure there will be a day, if I keep it up, that I will do something more along the lines of Murphy, Don, Phillip and what several others have done.
The models offered are as follows:
GC1213 $399 12" stroke: compressed eye to eye 13"/extended eye to eye 25"**
GC1414 $419 14" stroke: compressed eye to eye 14"/extended eye to eye 28"**
GC1615 $439 16" stroke: compressed eye to eye 15"/extended eye to eye 31"**
**Having talked with their lead engineer about their lengths, these shocks actually measure a bit longer since they use rod ends at each end and this also gives you some slight adjustment.
The kit I got is for the 5.5 LA lifts, at this time it is the only kit for the TJ they have available. But there other kits in development and soon to come. So hang tight if you're interested. After MANY, MANY phone conversations with Matson and even a few with Doug a lead engineer at Metalcloak... We settled on their GC1414 shocks for my application. There was temptation to run the GC1615s in the front, but with my lift being a radial arm in the front there was going to be some problems. Regardless I will gain quite a bit from this upgrade! I gain the best of both worlds in both droop and compression and do not have to choose one or the other to sacrifice with these as my shock choice.
So here is what you get and how they come to you:
I have to say, these guys really pack their stuff well! :laugh:
Here is what is inside once unpacked. Basically bolts and two brackets for the front, the shocks, four bar pin eliminators that are front and rear specific, some Blue Ribbon Coalition info, and some MetalCloak decals.
Here is a closer look at the brackets that go on the front and thus creates the shocks upper mount. These are left and right specific also which I will show later. These Brackets are what they sent me FIRST. For my particular application they ended up not working for me. This prompted MetalCloak to create a second upper mount bracket that I will show in a picture later in this write up. But for all intense and purpose, their revised bracket looks more similar to the upper stem-to-eye conversion brackets that several aftermarket companies produce. The bracket you receive with your kit may depend on the suspension you are running, and the lift height.
Here you is a closer look at the four bar pin eliminators. Two that are symmetrical in design for the front, and two for the rear that contain an offset and are right/left specific.
MetalCloak is also starting to produce their own spring sets. These are a little different from the normal coil springs and even the progressive rate springs. Pictured below, you will notice that they look very similar to a progressive rate spring. I needed new springs anyway, so it made sense to just go ahead and give these a try. To the best of my knowledge, no one makes a full set of progressive rate springs for a 5.5 lift. But I do know that Poly/Synergy has some front only spring sets out. With the MetalCloak spring design, the springs are quite a bit longer that my old 5.5 RE springs and that is done on purpose so the spring doesn't unseat (or at least as much) at full droop however this does not add additional lift height. When installed the coils that are closer together will actually sit on top of one another, or collapse. Doug at MetalCloak explained that what this does is maintain your spring rate just as any other lift spring, but in a sense lowers your upper spring mount location. This lessens the springs tendency to want to arch and pop out when fully compressed. The front and rear RE 5.5 springs are in the center with their corresponding counterpart to each side. I can also say that the diameter of the coils of the rear springs is a little smaller than most aftermarket springs I have seen. This also gives you a little more room in and around the area that they install. I did not take any pictures of the spring installation am I going to cover that topic here in this write up. I believe that is pretty basic and straight forward and most of us have done a spring change several times. I will tell you that while I have been able to droop out my axle (front or rear) using stands and a jack in my driveway to remove or re-position my old RE springs I cannot do so with these. Their added length makes it way too difficult. You may also notice that in most all of the subsequent pictures in this write-up these springs are not pictured. The springs were a late arrival and not installed on the jeep till the very end when 98% of everything else was done. But there will be some pictures later with everything installed.
Being one of the very first people to get these, I didn't have any instructions. But the install is pretty basic and straight forward. I also have the guys at MetalCloak on the phone any time I needed them. In the future, they will have instructions available via their website, where they place ALL their instructions.
**This should go without saying, but you might want to coat everything in antisieze. If you wheel and work on your own junk, you know that this is important. Hiem joints LOVE to seize up at the threaded section.**
First I installed the upper brackets into the OE shock mounts. These brackets are driver/passenger specific. Each bracket is angled to fit the contours of the OE upper shock mount.
Here you see the passenger side bracket and how it is angled:
Here is the driver side, NOTE how they are angled differently!
I started with the passenger side, you install the bolt in the top of the bracket through the OE upper shock stem hole. Tighten this down so that it holds the bracket in place, you can see the top bolt I am referring to in pictures up above. Next you will need to drill some 1/2" holes for the bolts that install on the side of the bracket (bolts are parallel to ground). The top bolt MAY already be there for you from the factory, but on some models you will need to take a die grinder or dremel tool and "elongate" the existing hole so that the bolt for the bracket will pass through. Here is a picture to aid in visualizing this. You cannot see the bolt in the top that is holding things in place while I drill and ensure that the other two bolts will go in correctly. When you drill or grind, watch out for the brake line that is routed behind the OE shock tower.
Earlier I said that I did not use the brackets that I just showed and demonstrated to you. The reason I did not use these is because during the final testing we picked (for instance) the rear driver side tire up with a forklift to see how things compressed/drooped... the front passenger side tire would rub the upper portion of the shock body if you were trying to turn the jeep to the right. My track bar was off by .25", but this was not going to cure the issue. A quick call to Doug and they went to work right away to try and duplicate the issue on their test TJ. The result was MetalCloak making me a new upper shock mounting bracket for the front. My apologies for not snapping a picture of these prior to them being installed. But you can get the general idea from the picture below. They are similar in design (still different though) to the conversion brackets many other companies make that will allow you to convert from the OEM stem style mount in the front to a traditional eye mount as found on many style shocks. This solved all my clearance issues along with re-positioning the front shock bodies to angle toward the spring a little.
After I had the top bracket is installed and you have everything tightened down, I then moved on to the lower bar pin eliminator for the front.
These eliminators are symmetrical and do not have a left or right designation. The installation of these are pretty basic so I am not going to go into that. Once the eliminator is put inside the shock's hiem joint and the eliminator's bolts are tightened things should look as this:
At this point it is important to note a few things. Now is the time to ensure that the hiem joints at the top and bottom of the shock you are installing are set to the same length. on a TJ you want the two reservoirs (the 2 red tubes) to be on the outside, away from the frame. The final position of the shock may have to be determined after you test the flex of the jeep to ensure nothing contacts the tires particularly if you are running a very aggressive tire with side biters like my Nitto MGs. Next you will be installing the shocks upper hiem joint/mount into the gold bracket you installed earlier. If you have ever dealt with gas pressurized shocks before, you are fully aware that this can be a task. I don't have any tips for this, it helps if you have a strong friend to help out while you slide the bolt in through the hiem joint. In the process of doing all this you want to make sure that you also orientate the supplied misalignment spacers the correct way. When you are done the upper mount and shock hiem should look like this:
How it looks with the first upper shock mount...
And again, how it looks with their revised upper front mount....
To finish up the installation of the front shocks you now need to orientate the hiem joints in a manner that it keeps the shock body from flopping around left and right. To lock the shock in place, regardless of its location, you will turn the hiem joints at the top and bottom in opposite directions so that it cancels their ability to swivel left or right. You secure this location through the jam nut. Notice in the pictures up above that the hiem joints pictured in the upper shock mounts are turned differently than the hiem joints pictured in the lower BPEs, this is why. You will also have to do this on the rear shocks and I will cover that later.