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Old 10-20-2013, 11:53 AM   #1
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Help me decide between SOA or BDS 3.5 lift for my application..

Hey i have a completely stock 4.0 5 speed YJ (3:07 gears) that i use as my daily driver and im looking to lift it. I don't do much wheeling (just some light stuff here and there). This is my main vehicle so drivability at highway speeds and decent MPG is important to me. Right now im getting 17-20 which is nice. My budget for this lift is $3500 less would be nice if possible

I was set on the bds 3.5 lift with 5/8 MOORE shackles and 33s. For the regear issue i was gonna get some 2.5 yj front and rear axles with the 4:10 gears and just swap them in with the lift and call it a day. I was thinking of the 8.8 swap but im not sure how much is involved in that... im not the greatest welder ether.

But then i saw the SOA which uses stock springs and all i could think about is how much money ide save no having to buy a lift. But it seems to me you have to run at least 35" with a SOA right?...which means regearing to 4:56 which costs money. I really didn't want more than 33's but if SOA is cheeper i suppose i could do it. But this option requires welding as well if im not mistaken. But i could learn to weld better as i do have a welder.

But how practical is a SOA rig for daily driving?

So basically any advice would be appreciated...ill be doing all the work myself but need to know which is better...cheeper...and easiest for the backyard mechanic with decent skills.

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Old 10-20-2013, 12:10 PM   #2
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I have a 4" lift on my 95 and mine is a dd. If I or when I do it again I will do SOA. You get better flex out of the suspension. But all require welding even with bolt on kits and SYE, but this is a perfect time to do the 8.8 swap I did mine for about $350. And yes most likely look funny without 35" tires. The BDS 3.5" will be just about bolt on and depending on your Jeep you might be able to get away with a TC drop and stock driveshaft (I did) or just do SYE. For both lifts brake lines and shocks are a must to replace since you'll need longer brake lines. There is probably other things I'm missing but others will chime in and help out.

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Old 10-20-2013, 12:15 PM   #3
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I think staying spring under would be best for you. SOA is not cheaper in any way. You will need high steer/crossover steering, a traction bar, SYE, and a new driveshaft. And it will be tippy compared to a 3.5" spring under lift.

With spring under, you can use stock steering and most likely stock driveshafts. And all parts will be bolt on if you don't do the 8.8. But I would do the 8.8 if I was you. Cheap insurance. Spring under is way easier and cheaper, and probably better as a daily driver, especially at highway speeds.
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Old 10-20-2013, 12:36 PM   #4
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I forgot to mention i was gonna get an sye and longer rear drive shaft. So for the 8.8 swap i would just have to weld on brackets and get disk brake calipers? I have a harbor freight flux welder so not sure if it could handle it.
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Old 10-20-2013, 02:25 PM   #5
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I agree with yj fanatic. SOA can be one of the most expensive lifts actually depending on how involved you want to get. Some say you don't need high steering, sye, and all of the other stuff but you can depending on your set up since each set up is different. Plus you may need extended brake lines.

Soa will require welding too. Soa with stock springs gives you about 5.5 inches. So you have even a taller non aerodynamic brick. You don't have to have 35's, I see 33's and they look good to me.

Having said all of that, I have soa, 35's, and 4.56 gears, and mine is a daily driver. It drives nicely, for a leaf spring vehicle. We can't compare mpg though since I have a way different set up.

Another thought about a lifted jeep is height. Mine sits at 6'10". The parking garage at work is 6'8". I have to park outside.

Good luck either way, but I think the spring under lift is the way to go for what you want.
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Old 10-20-2013, 03:03 PM   #6
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I forgot to mention i was gonna get an sye and longer rear drive shaft. So for the 8.8 swap i would just have to weld on brackets and get disk brake calipers? I have a harbor freight flux welder so not sure if it could handle it.
You would need to weld on perches, get brake lines to fit, and get the flange for the u-joint. It's not bad at all. The hardest part is setting pinion angle.

The spring under setup I would recommend is the Rubicon Express 4.5" kit. Its known to flex well, and its not a bad ride. You could get the kit, SYE, driveshaft, extended brake lines, and the 8.8 for I'd say under $2k. And that setup will do what you want very well.
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Old 10-20-2013, 03:33 PM   #7
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I forgot to mention i was gonna get an sye and longer rear drive shaft. So for the 8.8 swap i would just have to weld on brackets and get disk brake calipers? I have a harbor freight flux welder so not sure if it could handle it.
If you get a 96 or newer 8.8 out of an explorer it will be set up with disc brakes. I got mine for $75.00...

I had a 3.5 inch lift and with 1 inch trimmed off the fenders and the flares moved up it was perfect for 31s. Quite a bit of flex with no sway or track bars too. I got 19 mpg in my auto with that set up and 3.55s.
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Old 10-20-2013, 05:06 PM   #8
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I have SOA, plus 1 on shackles and 32s at the moment. I have 11 inches of clearance between untrimmed fender and tire. I do plan on 35s, but that after I wear out the 32s and get my Mercedes diesel.

high steer kit could / would improve ANY JEEP out there, but its not a must. By skipping it, you save around $500 and a few afternoons. A dropped pitman arm works just fine. Your steering in ANY jeep is at risk when wheeling without the high steer kit.

my jeep does sit higher, and harder for my kids to get into, but that part of the fun as well. And such, it is more top heavy on turns. ITS A JEEP NOT A RACECAR drive accordingly.

8.8 is a wonderful upgrade, I did mine same time as the SOA.

Basicly, all, in all, it comes down to YOUR preferences. I like more clearance between tire and fender......I want the ability to get there if I choose to. No, I usually don't push it that hard but my main goal is a setup for the Mercedes diesel and Im setting my jeep up as such. Diesel with the 35s run 3.07 gears just fine.
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Old 10-20-2013, 05:17 PM   #9
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The harbor freight flux core welder would burn the perches on ect if your confident in your welding ability. But setting up a proper SOA lift will cost you more then what people lead you to believe. It does take abit of fab work. My SOA lift granted i used aftermarket springs cost me around $2500 not including lockers/gearing. Only used aftermarket springs cause I bent three stock springs. But if you do decide SOA lift 33's dont look bad on a SOA lift.

But IMO I say stick to your first idea with the BDS lift, shackles and 33's that will look good, give you a good ride and adding the 2.5L YJ axles will give you the gearing needed for 33's. I wouldn't worry about the 8.8 upgrade since you said it it will be your daily driver. The Dana 35 will do fine for wheeling if your the full throttle wheeler type.
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Old 10-20-2013, 08:26 PM   #10
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Not trying to hijack the thread here. But I have to say OregonPlinker I think you've stolen my jeep. ( Sorry I don't have any pics of it grey from the side yet). Right down to the wheels.
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Old 10-20-2013, 09:02 PM   #11
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You would need to weld on perches, get brake lines to fit, and get the flange for the u-joint. It's not bad at all. The hardest part is setting pinion angle.

The spring under setup I would recommend is the Rubicon Express 4.5" kit. Its known to flex well, and its not a bad ride. You could get the kit, SYE, driveshaft, extended brake lines, and the 8.8 for I'd say under $2k. And that setup will do what you want very well.
First off thank you for the advice. Second do you think the rubicon express is better than the BDS? BDS has a no questions asked lifetime warranty on all its parts which was the main selling point for me...i was battling between the RE and the BDS.
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Old 10-20-2013, 09:57 PM   #12
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Not trying to hijack the thread here. But I have to say OregonPlinker I think you've stolen my jeep. ( Sorry I don't have any pics of it grey from the side yet). Right down to the wheels.
Hahaha I dont see a lot of grey jeeps. I really like the grey and black though.
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Old 10-20-2013, 11:14 PM   #13
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First off thank you for the advice. Second do you think the rubicon express is better than the BDS? BDS has a no questions asked lifetime warranty on all its parts which was the main selling point for me...i was battling between the RE and the BDS.
I'm honestly not sure if one is better than the other. They are both well regarded. But if you were planning on 3.5" with 5/8" shackles, why not step up to a 4.5" spring? You are going to want the extra height if you go to 33s. 4" is the recommended minimum for 33s, there is still some rubbing. But there might not be with 4.5", even less if you throw shackles on top of that.
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Old 10-21-2013, 12:45 AM   #14
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I'm honestly not sure if one is better than the other. They are both well regarded. But if you were planning on 3.5" with 5/8" shackles, why not step up to a 4.5" spring? You are going to want the extra height if you go to 33s. 4" is the recommended minimum for 33s, there is still some rubbing. But there might not be with 4.5", even less if you throw shackles on top of that.
Well that's true. What about the bds 5"? It's marginally more expensive than the 4.5. Do you think that will look silly with 33s? I can't seem to find pics with that set up.
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Old 10-21-2013, 08:46 AM   #15
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The 5" is 1/2" shorter than the average SOA you were thinking about. You could find some SOA jeeps with 33s. In my opinion, it looks fine.
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Old 10-21-2013, 09:11 AM   #16
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many prices have been quoted in this thread for soa..I have done soa lifts for over 30 years on my jeeps and have only spent a small fraction of those prices..of course,I do all my own fabing so I have more time involved but a lot less cash.here is my old working on the farm and fetching parts yj..it is soa with 33's..body is rough but it rides and handles great..
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Old 10-21-2013, 09:51 AM   #17
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I'm honestly not sure if one is better than the other. They are both well regarded. But if you were planning on 3.5" with 5/8" shackles, why not step up to a 4.5" spring? You are going to want the extra height if you go to 33s. 4" is the recommended minimum for 33s, there is still some rubbing. But there might not be with 4.5", even less if you throw shackles on top of that.
The rubicon 4.5" extreme duty comes with 5" shackles for .5" of lift.
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Old 10-21-2013, 02:46 PM   #18
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The rubicon 4.5" extreme duty comes with 5" shackles for .5" of lift.
I didn't know that. That's probably the way I would go. I've heard great things about them.
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Old 10-21-2013, 11:04 PM   #19
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Your situation seems more suited for a good SUA kit, although personally I prefer a well done SOA if I was building it for myself.

I would caution you, or anybody else for that matter, about buying/installing a set of used axles that are a minimum of 18 years old. What I mean by that is - they should be thoroughly inspected before buying them.

If the rotors, calipers, drums, shoes, seals, outer bearings, unit bearings, balljoints, tie rod holes for the knuckles, carrier bearings, pinion bearings, yokes, side and spider gears, diff gears etc have issues, it could turn into a real headache. Yes, you could get lucky, but use caution and be prudent along the way so that you hopefully avoid buying a set of lemons.

Also, if your Jeep has ABS and you want to keep it - there's another item of concern for the donor axles.

Ensure the vacuum disco (CAD) system functions or is compatible with your system since they are not all the same.
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Old 10-22-2013, 11:16 AM   #20
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I have the BDS 3.5" with the extended shackles that they offer with that lift and I run 33s with a 3.73 geared 8.8 rear axle with SYE and tom wood's CV drive shaft. I get 17-19 mpg depending on how hard I get on the I6...
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Old 10-22-2013, 11:17 AM   #21
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Guess I should add that I LOVE BDS!!!!! And wouldn't go back. Ask away if you have any questions for me.
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Old 10-22-2013, 03:14 PM   #22
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Just did this 4" rough country lift it was 500$ from amazon and was a breeze to do. It rides great and I have Goodyear 33x12.5x15 on aluminum 10" 3"backspacing and no rub. I got 1400$ in tires and rims and a third of that in lift but it's defiantly the way to go all my stock components stayed in place so I didn't butcher the jeep. I can always reverse if I wanted to swap out the lift to another YJ! Food for thought. Good luck!
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Old 10-22-2013, 04:46 PM   #23
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Guess I should add that I LOVE BDS!!!!! And wouldn't go back. Ask away if you have any questions for me.
Ahh good to hear! Hows the flex? and did you remove your track bars?

So i pretty much decided on the bds 5" with 33s. Gonna get a Dana 30 in 4:10 and I'm pretty sure I'm gonna do the 8.8 swap. There are quite a few 8.8 with 4:10s in my area.

Im a little worried about the 8.8 though cause I've never had to do fab work like that. I have a little 90 amp harbor freight flux welder so i don't know if its up to the task. Plus I'm not sure how to get the pinion angler perfect either...from what I've read running a sye affects the proper setting?

Im guessing ill need to extend my brake lines too right?
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Old 10-22-2013, 04:58 PM   #24
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I seriously doubt a 90 amp welder is going to be up to the task for anything on your vehicle. The flex is ok for me but I don't crawl. The only Fabin I had to do on mine was one 3/8 inch hole I had to drill

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