Newbie: SOA advice?
I am the proud new owner of my first Jeep, a 1979 CJ-5. It is surely a heap of rust and will cost me a fortune to make how I want it, but I love it for it's fun and its promise of hours of tinkering. I'm not new to wrenches, but am new to 4WDs, and wanted to come to the different internet forums on Jeeps for advice and the wisdom of those who have done things right or wrong before me.
Aside from rust in the tub and a couple body mounts, I have few complaints. It has a strong 304 and has already recieved some lift and has 33x12.5 on it. I don't know how to tell what the lift amount was, but there is plenty of room with the 33s, so assume it to be 4" or so.
That lift, however, is where my problems lie. I am pretty sure that everything was done in the front for steering to account for the lift as there is nothing hitting and it steers okay (except needs tie-rod ends and bushings) and the front seems to handle okay, so I probably won't mess with the front too much, as it drives fine.
The rear, though, needs some changes. The springs are WAY too stiff, and make even the tiniest speed bump at even 2-3 mph feel like my spine has been crushed, as if maybe the axle were welded to the frame. I imagine this was older lift springs with a wider arch and very stiff to keep the frame up high, but allows for no bumps. It is way to rigid and has no flex. This just doesn't seem like what an all-terrain vehicle should be about. Small dips or potholes shouldn't hurt that bad... SOOOO... it has to change.
So here are my questions (finally). First, how do I figure out what the lift amount in my CJ is? I can measure the distance between spring perch and frame, but need a stock comparison. Then if it is 4" or so (as suspected) then I should get about the same height out of a SOA setup with stock YJ springs, right? I have a friend with a Wrangler and assume the springs will be about the same (almost flat) and could compare from there with the bow of those springs.
Again, remember I am just talking about swapping the rear to SOA and stock springs, while leaving front with present "lift springs" and all. If I keep the same (or approximate) overall lift by trading the rear lift springs for SOA and stock springs, will everything else pretty much be the same? Will the added flex allow for problems in drivetrain alignment that was not apparent in such a rigid setup as now? I will try to get pics soon with the wheel off and the axle on jackstand to show the difference in weight-on-wheels and no-weight-on-wheel, but not much variance.
Thanks for any suggestions. I appreciate any help or advice you can offer.
Well 1st, welcome and congrats on the cj. Post some pic's and we can help ya out a bit more. As for the SOA in the rear, you also need to think about some sort of traction bar back there, or when you do go offroad bad things will happen. Do the schackles look to be stock or after market.. either way are they real long or short? How about the shocks.. good condition or junk? CJ-5 can be a great trail jeep or driver.. my guess is that your ride issues are a combination stiff springs and bad shocks..
The springs are definitely not stock. I would have to assume they are about 4" because it has 33s with no problems and a stock body mount height. Also, I bet the shocks are probably poor, too. But I think the main problem is that the springs are very very stiff, and with max weight on wheels or all weight off wheels only shows about 1 inch of change in spring height. Furthermore, with one rear wheel 11-12" off ground, the other wheel does not get traction. No articulation whatsoever.
My first idea was to go to stock springs and get my lift from a SOA setup instead, hoping to keep same overall height, but with stock ride. Since then I have heard that axle wrap and wheel hop can be a serious concern. I now think that the way to go may be to just go with a better design lift spring (4" SuperLift SoftRides?) and hope to see a change in ride quality and flex.
My only problem now is to figure out what my present lift is, since I don't want to change the front out (seems to ride fine) at the moment. I wish I knew what the distance between frame and axle was on stock CJ springs for comparison, but so far cannot find a resource for that. If anyone knows, please post?
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