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Old 02-11-2014, 01:29 PM   #1
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ECGS Ford 8.8 Swap with DPG Lift

Here's some background on my project:

I've had my TJ since November 2010, and have wheeled the hell out of it - there isn't a place I've found that I haven't at least attempted... It's been through hell: I've hit multiple deer, turkeys, trees, rocks, and even a black angus cow that was standing in the middle of the road at 12:30am on a night with a new moon. I've rolled it trying to drive over a round bale of hay, and have temporarily laterally disabled it by scraping the tranny skid plate. When I got it, it was bone stock, and had never been taken off road... talk about polar opposites!

Anyway, sometime last July, I started hearing a howling noise coming from the back. I figured that, after 100k miles, the stock U-joints were probably shot, but since I was semi-employmentally and financially challenged, I thought I'd wait until I had the time and money to fix the problem. Around mid-September, the noise was so loud that I was wearing earplugs while driving to and from work. I brought it into a local shop to have them take a look at the rear end, and, without even pulling anything apart, they told me that the rear end was shot, that the bearing had worn out and eaten through the housing, and that I would need to spend $1300 to get the D35 replaced. To make what's turning out to be a long story short, I said screw it, and decided that if I was going to replace the rear end, I was going to do it A: right, and B: in such a way that it wouldn't be too easy for me to break it again.

I parked my Jeep behind my barn, and started saving $$ to start my build. In early January, I ordered an 8.8 from East Coast Gear Supply, spec'd out exactly how I wanted it:
-ECGS C-Clip Eliminator Kit
-AA SYE
-ARB Air Locker
-New Gears (4.10)
-Artec Truss
They told me it would be about a four week wait time, so I moved on to the next part...

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Old 02-11-2014, 02:15 PM   #2
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The next part...

...the LIFT!

I've been planning on a lift for some time; I guess I've been planning it for 3 years, 3 months, now. I've read and re-read every thread and post I could find about different lift options, and about two years ago, thought I had decided on a BDS 3" lift. I didn't have the money at that time, so I stepped back and waited. I did other minor mods/upgrades over the next year and a half, and when I decided to start building what I wanted, went back to the forums. After hearing awesome things, and seeing some really cool setups, I called Dirk at DPG Offroad, which is about 30 min from where I live. Over a few phone calls, I told him what I was thinking about doing, what was in the works, and what my estimated timeline was. After calculating the approximate weight, and considering my needs and usage, he put together a hybrid lift for me - 1.25" JKS Body lift, Brown Dog Motor Mounts, and an OME suspension lift.

The JKS and Brown Dog parts arrived yesterday, and half of the OME parts were just dropped off by FedEx about an hour ago. I've been pleasantly surprised - I placed the order with Dirk last Tuesday, and he said the wait would be about two weeks. He also said the motor mounts might be a little later.

I'll probably start on the body lift this evening, depending on whether I can get an engine hoist or not... I'm going to do the 8.8 swap and the suspension lift at a buddy's shop, as it's usually about 20 degrees outside when I get home. His shop is heated and has a lift. I have a heater too, but it's unpredictable:

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Old 02-11-2014, 02:24 PM   #3
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I realized I've been typing a lot, but with no pictures!!!

Here ya go:





These Brown Dog Motor Mounts FEEL like quality products - they look awesome, too!


Front and Rear Trackbars and Body lift are sitting here, begging to be opened.


Half of my OME stuff... The most exciting part: they sent me a new hat!!
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Old 02-11-2014, 02:25 PM   #4
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Following this one! Be sure to fill in with some pics and specs of other mods!

I just got mine back from having my 8.8 installed.....almost the same build.
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Old 02-11-2014, 03:25 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TXST8tj View Post
I just got mine back from having my 8.8 installed.....almost the same build.
How do you like yours? I can't wait until I get my TJ drivable again - I haven't gone wheeling since August...
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Old 02-12-2014, 08:52 AM   #6
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Well, I didn't have time last night to install the body lift, but I did measure the clearances and ride height for a before/after comparison.

Here's how it sits on the driver's side:







I didn't take pics of the passenger side. I measured it, and for some reason, it sits about an inch lower...
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Old 02-12-2014, 02:48 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samnmax View Post
How do you like yours? I can't wait until I get my TJ drivable again - I haven't gone wheeling since August...
I like the feeling that I can pretty well beat on it with my 35s without too much worry. I have only put about 15 miles on it so far, so only time will tell.
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Old 02-12-2014, 02:55 PM   #8
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The 8.8s are strong little axles. I just broke a shaft though, and what freaked me out is how powdery and... untreated? the metal on the inside is. Broke it in an accident though, not on the trail. You are basically buying the axle I build this past summer, it should serve you well.
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Old 02-14-2014, 09:49 AM   #9
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So everything that I've ordered has come in, with the exception of the parts from ECGS, which are stuck in Atlanta due to weather.

It's cool to see everything I've been dreaming about for the last couple of years starting to materialize!


I finally got into the shop last night to install the body lift and motor mounts.

I started out by doing the body lift - followed the destructions, and got the driver's side done, followed by the passenger side. Installing the spacers on either side was pretty straightforward, the biggest roadblock was putting the bolts back in for the two mounts over the rear axle. Apparently, the threaded holes in the tub move around, and, after trying to jack the body up to an angle that would let me get the bolts started, I lifted the weight off of the mounts, and realigned the hole with a screwdriver.

After finishing the sides, I moved to the front to install the last spacer. As I was jacking up the body, I heard a nasty crunch from in the engine bay. Because I had not yet installed the extended motor mounts, the fan shroud was being lifted, and with a fan blade in the 6:00 position, the plastic shroud snapped. After kicking myself for not realizing that, I dropped the body back down, and moved on to the motor mounts.

Here's a shot of my bassackwards lifting technique for the motor mounts. The engine hoist is being used to lift the front of the Jeep for easier access, while the floor jack is under the oil pan, supporting the engine:


Replacing the motor mounts took about two hours longer than it should have. When I crawled underneath to loosen the bolt/nut on the driver's side, I found that the only deep-well 15mm socket I had was a 12-point, which was not wanting to work. So, after an eventful trip into Walmart and back to get a set of deep-well, 6-point metric sockets (and winding up with enough junk food to last me through the rest of this project), I was able to finally get the driver's side motor mount removed.

Here's a side by side of the stock mounts vs the Brown Dog mounts:


I went ahead and removed the mount and bracket for the driver's side, as there really isn't enough room to get just the mount out without removing things from the engine bay (I should note that the driver's side mount was removed/installed from underneath the Jeep). It really helps to have someone to raise and lower the engine so that you can maneuver the mount/bracket assembly in and out of the micro-sized spot in which it's wedged.

Here's the stock bracket with the new mount:


While the driver's side took about 30-35 minutes to remove and reinstall, the passenger side was much easier, and therefore, much faster. It still took a bit of maneuvering to get the new mount in, but the process only took about 15 minutes.

Here's the stock mount:

Here's the Brown Dog mount:


Once the motor mounts were installed, I checked the cooling fan, and sure enough, it was once again centered in the shroud. Even though the shroud is split, I'm going to leave it until I order my new radiator and electric fan...

Finishing the body lift was simple: I jacked the front of the body up, slid in the spacer, and bolted it in.

As advertised, I got almost exactly 1.25" of lift.
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Old 02-14-2014, 02:08 PM   #10
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Well, I just got really excited....and then let down. The UPS Freight AND the FedEx Freight trucks just showed up at the same time... But neither have my 8.8. I hate waiting for shipping (and weather).
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Old 02-17-2014, 01:12 PM   #11
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So since the weather yesterday was awesome, I decided to go ahead and start on my suspension lift. I was originally going to do the lift and the rear diff install in a pro shop, but I figured, "If I've got the tools, why wait until next weekend?" The install was pretty straightforward, with a couple of snags that I'll get to later.

On a side note, I've been reading MR.CLIFFORD's "Revenge" thread on pirate4x4, and decided to switch from the sorta-okay iPhone pics to much-better-qulaity pics from my Canon. By the way, that build is awesome! I may have to drive the 15 miles into Wichita some weekend and see if I can catch a glimpse of that beauty...

Back to my build...

I started on the passenger side, since the light was better there, and began with unbolting the LCA and the shock.

Here's what I started out with:


Pulling the shock was fairly easy; I haven't had to worry too much about rust, as I've been soaking everything down with PB Blaster for the last few days. The top bolt was a little more of a pain. The whole piston turns when trying to loosen the nut, so you need to hold it in place with something: I used vice grips. The threaded rod wasn't long enough for me to use my new Crafstman Max Axess Socket set, so I was stuck with using an open-end wrench. Once that was off, I installed the new OME shock and bolted it in. Once I got the coil off, and was starting to install the new one, I realized that I should've waited to install the shock until the coil was installed. I only had one spring compressor, so I had to clamp down one side, and then use a pry bar to get the coil seated on the perch. I took a little bit of work, but I managed to get it in.

With everything installed on the passenger side, I moved around to the driver's side.



Pretty much the same thing as the other side, except that the bolt on top of the shock was so rusted over, the nut wouldn't come off... I tried heating it up with a propane torch, and using the wire wheel on my dremel to break the crap loose, but all I managed to do was set the plastic inner wheel wells on fire. The bolt was thick enough that my bolt cutters wouldn't work, so after yelling at it for a few minutes, I pulled out the sawzall: no problems anymore!

Pulling the coil on this side was much easier with the shock removed, but still would've been better if I had two spring compressors.







Now all I need to do in the front is install the JKS Track Bar. I'm going to wait on the rear until I get my 8.8 in, since it doesn't make sense to install it, then turn around and remove it...

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Old 02-17-2014, 01:37 PM   #12
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Sub'd. Looking good!
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Old 02-18-2014, 12:00 PM   #13
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My 8.8 didn't show up yesterday (I called ECGS yesterday morning and they said it was scheduled for delivery), but I understand that freight shipping is harder to track than the standard stuff.

I did manage to get some smaller, yet important projects done: I installed the compressor for the ARB Locker in the 8.8, and installed a hidden pseudo-kill switch.

Installing the compressor was easy - there have been enough threads and how-to articles online, and I simply read through a number of them and made my own system.

I installed the compressor in the second battery tray. Now, for some reason, my TJ doesn't have the actual tray bolted to the mounts (maybe this is standard?), so I grabbed some excess sheet metal from a guitar amp that I built last summer, and made my own tray.



This allowed me to bolt the compressor right to the tray, and give me the ability to install/remove it by just pulling the four bolts for the battery tray. Since the air lines, solenoids, and other parts come with the locker (which is installed in my 8.8, which hasn't shown up yet), I ran the wiring and installed the main switch, and will be able to easily add the remaining pieces when they arrive.

I cut out holes for the switches in the placeholder for the ash tray, but if I ever upgrade the front axle, and add an ARB there, I'll have to relocate the switches to a larger area.



I didn't really notice all of the dirt until I looked at the pics... I'd clean it up, but since I drive mostly on dirt roads, and am usually topless, why bother?

Ever since I watched Back to the Future II, I've always wanted to say, "Nobody can start this car (Jeep) but me..." Now I realize that, by explaining my modification online, that becomes a false statement, but I think it's an awesome mod, and, if I may say so myself, the placement is ingenious.

So anyway, I wanted to install a kill switch, but after much thought (~2.5 minutes) I decided to go with a way to keep a signal from reaching the starter, and thus keeping the Jeep from starting unless you know how.

On a run to radio shack, I picked up some momentary push-button switches, and came back home to pull the dash apart. (On a side note, one of my side jobs is installing and removing "Smart Start" breathalyzer devices for cars, so I'm really familiar with wiring directly to the ignition harness.) I tracked down the starter wire, to the right of the steering column, and hacked the sucker in two.



Now beyond this point, I forgot to take any pictures, but I'll add them later...

I used crimp on quick disconnects on the starter wire, so that I'd be able to remove the switch and reattach the wires, just in case the switch goes bad. Using some 14 gauge wire, I soldered in the switch, and connected everything together. Voila! Works like a charm! I'll post a picture of the mounting location when I get a chance.

Hopefully the 8.8 will get in today, so keep your fingers crossed!
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Old 02-18-2014, 12:57 PM   #14
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maybe I missed it, but did you increase your bump stops?

nice build by the way....
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Old 02-18-2014, 02:52 PM   #15
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maybe I missed it, but did you increase your bump stops?

nice build by the way....
No, I was actually just wondering if someone would notice that... The lift kit is intended (as far as I know) for people wanting to run 33"-35" tires with the stock fenders. I'll be ordering and installing Poison Spyder DeFenders here in the next couple of weeks, so that will increase my upper limits quite a bit. I also plan on running 32" tires max. Right now I'm running 31" Dunflops, and since the tread is still good, I'm going to wait on new tires for a while. I will be installing the extended bump stops in the rear, but more on that later. I may get to wheeling and find out that I do need the front bumpstops extended, and if that happens, it's no big deal to install them later (now that I've picked up a second spring compressor).

Thanks to everyone who has been following this! I'll have another update in an hour or so...
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Old 02-18-2014, 03:38 PM   #16
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So right before lunch, the Saia truck showed up with something for me:

I had to open it (just a little bit) to make sure it was mine...


Of course, I used my lunch hour to run it home, park the pickup in the barn, and snap a few pictures (okay, so it was more like a lunch hour and fifteen minutes).

A heavy-duty Solid diff cover:


Yukon 4340 Chromoly 31 Spline shafts:


New calipers, pads, e-brake shoes, and rotors:


And an awesome Artec Truss for maximum strength:


Currie Upper Control Arms, sitting on top of the 4.10 gears for the front Dana 30:


The Advance Adapters Slip Yoke Eliminator:


I didn't have time to open the boxes and look through all the goodies that are still hidden from my eyes, but I'll definitely get to it after work!!
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Old 02-18-2014, 03:54 PM   #17
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The lift kit is intended (as far as I know) for people wanting to run 33"-35" tires with the stock fenders. I'll be ordering and installing Poison Spyder DeFenders here in the next couple of weeks, so that will increase my upper limits quite a bit.
I just got off the phone with Dirk from DPG, I called him about ordering some adjustable control arms to go with the Currie's I go with the 8.8. I asked him what he thought of my plans regarding the bump stops. He clued me into the fact that, without the bump stops installed, the shocks will become the bump stops when they bottom out. That, along with over-compression on my springs, will really cut down on the life of the components. So now it looks like I'll be pulling the coils and installing the bump stops!

Now I know
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Old 02-18-2014, 06:37 PM   #18
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I'm kinda in the same boat. I have been waiting on funds to get the lift I want. Nice to see its worth the wait. Everything looks good!
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Old 02-18-2014, 06:50 PM   #19
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I just got off the phone with Dirk from DPG, I called him about ordering some adjustable control arms to go with the Currie's I go with the 8.8. I asked him what he thought of my plans regarding the bump stops. He clued me into the fact that, without the bump stops installed, the shocks will become the bump stops when they bottom out. That, along with over-compression on my springs, will really cut down on the life of the components. So now it looks like I'll be pulling the coils and installing the bump stops!

Now I know
I was just about to recommend you to pull the coils to bump stop....

again nice build!
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Old 02-19-2014, 11:15 AM   #20
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Nice components!
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Old 02-19-2014, 12:39 PM   #21
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Thanks for all of the props!

I sat around for about an hour last night, just looking at that beautiful ECGS 8.8... I think I'm in love! So at about 7:00, I ran into Atwoods and pickup up a new pair of coveralls, and came back home to get down to the nitty gritty: pulling out the D35.

For the most part, it was easier than I thought it would be. Since I've been soaking most everything with PB Blaster, the bolts didn't give me too much trouble, with the exception of the upper bolts for the shocks. I tried removing them on the passenger side, only to have both bolts snap - I'm still trying to decide how best to get the busted bolts out. With the shock on the driver's side, I went ahead and left it bolted to the frame, and simply disconnected it from the axle bracket. I'll pull the inner wheel liners out today and figure out how best to get it removed without breaking any more bolts.

Here's everything disconnected on the driver's side:


I picked up some new, extended reach jack stands, which allowed me to raise the body/frame until the coils just slid off. I'm hoping to do basically the same thing with the installation of the new coils (I've had enough of dealing with spring compressors, and I still have to remove the front coils to install the bump stops).

Once I had gotten everything loose, I put the floor jack back under the axle, lifted it off the jack stands, and lowered it to the ground...or at least, I attempted to. I managed to forget to unbolt the track bar! So a little turning of the ratchet wrench, with a 55 Torx bit, I got the track bar unhooked from the axle, and pulled the whole assembly out. I left the control arms on, as I figured it would be easier to transfer them to the 8.8 out from under the Jeep. That, plus I'm replacing the UCAs in the rear. When I called DPG yesterday, Dirk gave me a very tempting offer on new JKS control arms for the rest of the rear, along with the front. I may take him up on the offer when I get my next paycheck...

Removing the stock track bar from the frame was a total PITA .

The bushings have gotten so filled with crap, and the rubber has solidified, that it took a buddy and me 45 minutes to get the bolt out. The nut came off the end no problem, but that bolt was tighter than a gnat's ass.

We did finally manage to get everything loose (except the driver's side shock).


The side-by-side difference between the two rear-ends is amazing!


I'll be working on removing the busted bolts, swaybar links, and the last shock this afternoon... Wish me luck!

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Old 02-19-2014, 12:49 PM   #22
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I almost forgot - one of the other pains in the removal was the e-brake lines, where they connect to the splitter. After trying to get them to slide out with a pair of pliers, I finally did what I should've done in the first place...grab the dremel... Not really - I checked WF for advice. I can't remember where I found it, but a 13mm box end wrench over each of the e-brake lines presses the clips in enough that you can wiggle the lines right out... If I had check the WF first, I would've saved myself about 20 minutes. Thanks Wrangler Forum!!
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Old 02-19-2014, 02:19 PM   #23
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I almost forgot - one of the other pains in the removal was the e-brake lines, where they connect to the splitter. After trying to get them to slide out with a pair of pliers, I finally did what I should've done in the first place...grab the dremel... Not really - I checked WF for advice. I can't remember where I found it, but a 13mm box end wrench over each of the e-brake lines presses the clips in enough that you can wiggle the lines right out... If I had check the WF first, I would've saved myself about 20 minutes. Thanks Wrangler Forum!!
This annoyed me too but even w the trick it took me a while. You're well on your way. Bolting the rear axle back in wont take you long at all.
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Old 02-19-2014, 03:55 PM   #24
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You're well on your way. Bolting the rear axle back in wont take you long at all.
I'm almost ready to bolt in the axle, but I can't for the life of me get the broken bolts out, I picked up an extractor set, plus some new steel bits and a tap, but nothing's working yet...
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2003 TJ Sahara with 31" Dunflop Mud Rovers, Ford 8.8 Rear diff with ARB locker, 3.5" DPG Ultimate Lifts.
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Old 02-19-2014, 04:38 PM   #25
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I'm flummoxed!!!...
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Old 02-19-2014, 05:24 PM   #26
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Is there anyone in the Wichita area that would be interested in giving me a hand? Dinner/beer on me...
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2003 TJ Sahara with 31" Dunflop Mud Rovers, Ford 8.8 Rear diff with ARB locker, 3.5" DPG Ultimate Lifts.
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Old 02-19-2014, 05:33 PM   #27
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I just put in an ECGS 8.8 in my YJ and love it. They do a helluva job on them don't they? I just didn't have the time to build one myself. I also have OME suspension. 2 years and it works just as well as the day I bought it. (Only I have slightly different springs than you.:P) Keep after the build! It looks great!
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Old 02-19-2014, 05:38 PM   #28
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I just put in an ECGS 8.8 in my YJ and love it. They do a helluva job on them don't they? I just didn't have the time to build one myself. I also have OME suspension. 2 years and it works just as well as the day I bought it. (Only I have slightly different springs than you.:P) Keep after the build! It looks great!
Every time I look at that 8.8, my eyes glaze over and I start thinking about wheeling again... I originally considered building one myself, but for one, I don't have the fab skills, and for two, they gave me everything I was looking for (except a low price tag). I've been working on these bolts for about two hours now, but am trying not to admit defeat!
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2003 TJ Sahara with 31" Dunflop Mud Rovers, Ford 8.8 Rear diff with ARB locker, 3.5" DPG Ultimate Lifts.
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Old 02-19-2014, 05:51 PM   #29
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Every time I look at that 8.8, my eyes glaze over and I start thinking about wheeling again... I originally considered building one myself, but for one, I don't have the fab skills, and for two, they gave me everything I was looking for (except a low price tag). I've been working on these bolts for about two hours now, but am trying not to admit defeat!
Yeah, it costs but it is drool worthy. If I had fabbed it it would not have been. Lol.

Did they warn you about not trying to fill your 8.8 thorough the diff cover fill plug but to use the one on the back by the yoke?

I didn't know it had one on the back and it was very useful once I figured it out since they seal the plug in on the Solid cover. (also have one of those.)
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Old 02-19-2014, 06:01 PM   #30
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Did they warn you about not trying to fill your 8.8 thorough the diff cover fill plug but to use the one on the back by the yoke? I didn't know it had one on the back and it was very useful once I figured it out since they seal the plug in on the Solid cover. (also have one of those.)
Yeah, there is a note with the build sheet explaining that. I also read it somewhere on their site. But I didn't plan on putting oil in it anyway; I ran my D35 for a month without hardly any!

.......hmmmm, maybe THAT'S why I was having problems...

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2003 TJ Sahara with 31" Dunflop Mud Rovers, Ford 8.8 Rear diff with ARB locker, 3.5" DPG Ultimate Lifts.
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