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Old 09-24-2019, 10:38 PM
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My wife finally got a jeep, bet it won't stay stock for long!

My wife has wanted a jeep since she began driving. Her parents were not easily sold on the idea, so life goes on. About 8-10yrs ago she began talking about wanting one again. I eventually ran out of excuses so we started looking. We stumbled onto a 2004 TJ Unlimited. My wife drove it and looked me in the eyes and said, "buy me this jeep!" So, I did what any peace loving husband would've done.







Pic from a creek bed in our woods, or the testing grounds as I like to call it!





Yeah, I guess my wife is the coolest girl I know. A jeep and a vette, although on complete opposite ends of the spectrum, they are both built to perform, in their own way. She loves em both!

Next up, some off road jeep trips, and let's begin building that machine!

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Old 09-25-2019, 04:55 PM
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A few days after we bought the jeep, I needed to go outta town for work. That sucked, I wasn't able to properly shakedown the jeep before leaving my wife with it. Fortunately, everything was ok and my wife enjoyed getting to know her newly acquired driver for the next couple of months.

I returned home itching to go somewhere. While away I was researching off road parks and decided on one. We went with another experienced couple and hit the open road, in search of trails!

We had a great time and visited two other neighboring states. The decision to visit one park quickly grew to a couple of parks and some national forest trails. While on one of the trails, I was so enamored with our lil jeep and its stock off road capabilities that I remarked, they're like a donkey, they will fearlessly go just about anywhere! It was at that very moment, that our silver LJ was assigned the moniker, "donkey"
















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Old 09-25-2019, 05:15 PM
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Old 09-25-2019, 05:21 PM
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The probably the easiest, most cost effective way to add performance to a jeep is with swaybar disconnects. It doesn't do a lot, but it will free up a lil more suspension travel.

Baby flex









Well, its something anyway.
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Old 09-25-2019, 09:18 PM   #5
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Life is short. Make memories with the with the Wife and Jeep. As the owner of an '04 LJ, you could not have made a better choice!
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Old 09-26-2019, 06:05 PM
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Agree 100%, life is much too short to not spend time making good memories.

Initially I was looking for a 2006, but I'm glad I bought the 2004 instead.
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Old 09-28-2019, 10:22 AM
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After the disconnects were installed, it was time to try em out. So we got our donkey train together and once again hit the road in search of some offroad fun!













And yes, it made it to the top, but just barely. I can see I have reached the limits of my,,,,,,I mean my wife's jeep. I am in need of parts, and so the journey begins!
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Old 09-28-2019, 10:30 AM   #8
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Awesome!
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Old 09-28-2019, 10:31 AM
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Let's get to the "build" part of the jeep. It was a lot fun stock, and capable for being stock. Since its an Unlimited, it came with a rear D44 limited slip and a front LP30. I spent some time researching and decided that I can get by with a D30 under the front. They're certainly not as bad as people make them out to be.

I went to a boneyard and pulled an HP30 out from under an XJ for $150.

LP - Low Pinion

HP - High Pinion, puts the pinion at the top of the housing for better driveline angles, some added strength because the gears mesh on the "drive side" instead of the "coast side" when going forward and because of this require reverse cut gears.



Used my multi-tool to get the housing off the ground so I could pressure wash it



Cleaned up pretty good, but still needs to be hit with a wire brush before primer and paint



3 coats of primer followed up with 3 coats of flat black





Yeah yeah, I didn't paint the cover, that's for an upcoming post.



Painted and sitting in the sun to dry. Its ready to be built, guess I better get some parts on the way here!
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Old 09-29-2019, 07:21 AM
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Besides terrible fuel mileage and lack of power, TJs are known for a couple of things. One of those things is faded fender flares. The stock flares seem to be superior to the aftermarket offerings, and unfortunately they're quite expensive. I'm not saying that I wouldn't use aftermarket flares, but before I go that route, let's try something.

The stuff is kind of pricey, for no more than you get, but they also claim up to 2yrs. I'll be happy if it lasts a year.



Scrub the plastic, let it dry, wipe down with alcohol and let dry again. I decided to leave the plastics on the car while refinishing them.

Tiny little bottle prob has enough to do the flares and steps, maybe the bumper corners if used sparingly. I only did the flares because soon I will be removing the other plastics.



I'm happy with the results, hopefully it'll last a year!

The other thing TJs are known for, rattling seats! Seems like I was scrolling through the gram and I came across what appeared to be a very simple solution. I'm guessing this gentleman prob has a 3d printer at home, and is getting paid, I'm not mad at all!



That's all it is. A very simple solution to an annoying problem



Pull the front bolts to gain access to both sides of the seat



Remove the old plastic bushing, by any means necessary,



to include scratching the seat frame. Replace the old bushings with the above 3 pieces.

Repeat the steps on both sides of both front seats



Use some touch up paint to clean up the scratches and reinstall the front seat bolts.

And thats it, the seats are quiet again!

Now if only the other parts would come in...


Follow up on the flare stuff - save your money, it lasted about 6mo...
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Old 09-29-2019, 07:36 AM   #11
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What tire size will you ultimately go with? This will determine what gears you'll need to order for both rears. Since you have to put gears in the front HP30, now is the time to regear both!
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Old 09-29-2019, 08:51 AM   #12
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Looking good!!

Some of those trails look awfully familiar

Hello from Glenpool (Tulsa)
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Old 09-29-2019, 02:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Offroad1 View Post
What tire size will you ultimately go with? This will determine what gears you'll need to order for both rears. Since you have to put gears in the front HP30, now is the time to regear both!
Gears and tires are coming!

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Looking good!!

Some of those trails look awfully familiar

Hello from Glenpool (Tulsa)
Hello "neighbor"
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Old 09-29-2019, 03:08 PM
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The man in brown stopped by for a visit











This should keep me busy for a min!
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Old 09-30-2019, 01:01 PM
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Let's begin with the sPod.

sPod is circuit protected with low voltage cutoff and provides a very clean install. There is only one small bundle of wires that enter the cab and plugs into the switch box. If youre willing to go the extra mile, unpinning the wires from the plug makes that required hole even smaller! They can be had in different configurations such as, single row LED, dual row LED and several colors.





Very well built. The brains of the operation mounts under the hood in a predetermined location. You basically supply power and ground, and the unit is functional. The row of lugs, plug in the desired components with the corresponding switch number, and that's it!



Yes, the previous owner did conduct a few amateur hour sessions running wires across the firewall. Not as bad as some I have seen, but not up to my level of OCD. sPod will help me clean that mess up



Switch panel in the cab is just as simple. Remove the factory piece between the visors and install the supplied piece. The hardest part was punching a small hole in the firewall to run the wires. I opted to make the hole just under the battery which is plenty high on the firewall and out of sight of my judgemental friends.







I like it!

I only have a couple of complaints and one small critique.

First, the factory trim piece is plastic. The sPod trim piece is very thin metal, and the sun visors rattle on bumpy roads. Anyone that knows me, knows that I spent a fair amount of money and about 50hrs removing all of the rattles from my 2dr Tahoe, because I hate rattles. They really take away from a potentially enjoyable experience.

The openings to snap the visors in, is a tight fit, and opens up to a larger slot once snapped in. I tried shrink wrap on the nubs of the visor, and even a single wrap of electrical tape. Neither worked, and made the nubs to large to pass through the opening. The best I found, place the visor in a more horizontal position, rather than all the way up.

Second thing, the factory trim piece leaves no gaps across the top of the windshield. The factory piece, somehow looks factory. The sPod piece does not. I appreciate the fact that they tried to hide the discrepancy behind the sun visors, but it draws my eyes to it whenever I enter the car. It makes the whole install ugly. Im thinking I may trim the ends off of my factory piece and epoxy them into place.





See the difference??.. This is also where the black wire loom passes. Its not visible in this pic due to this being a test fit/photo shoot, but trust me, that's where it will be.

Finally, my small critique. On the bottom left side of the switch box is a button used to turn on the bottom row of LED lights. Instead of having this button, I would've preferred to have a wire, or a lug to attach a wire that would run from my dash lights on the headlamp switch to the sPod. I will wire that properly to function as factory.

Clean installs and factory integration is the difference in a good build and great build.

All that said, I'm very happy with the product and functionality. If I had it to do again, I'd buy another one! I don't want this to sound like a poor review, it is a very nice product.

I guess I've dragged my feet long enough, time to build some diffs.
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Old 10-01-2019, 10:29 AM
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So let's get the front diff built. I went to the bone yard and picked this HP30 up, pulled it from a 96XJ. Its a direct bolt in!



Here's the parts we'll be working with today.





Revolution Gear and Axle makes a great product. These particular axles are American made, sourced from American steel and have a lifetime warranty. Of course they cost a lil more, but I like doing jobs one time.



I chose to go with a 5.13 gear. Revolution is the only company that offers a warranty on 5.13 gears for the D30. Most other manufacturers offer warranty up to 4.88. Revolution is able to warranty these gears because they changed the way they mesh and cut the pinion gear with the same amount of teeth as others use for the 4.88s.

Tiny lil pinion gear!



While everything is apart, might as well replace the ball joints and unit bearings.

Not sure if I have a pic, but I also purchased Timken master rebuild kits for the front and rear, new bearings, races, seal and shims.



I decided on OX lockers, front and rear. As far as I'm concerned, for this application, there's only 3 choices.

Eaton E lockers are electric/magnetic. You have to run a wire through the diff housing to supply power to the unit, I didn't really like the idea of that. The main reason I didn't go with Eaton though, when changing directions, forward to reverse or reverse to forward, the locker actually unlocks due to its design. I didn't like that. If I want to be locked up, I want to be locked up, period. Although its not a great distance that must be travelled to unlock and relock, maybe a 1/3 of a turn of the tire, its simply not what I wanted.

ARB is locked when you tell it to lock. Its very dependable and very strong. Drawbacks, you must run onboard air, which I'm not necessarily opposed to, you must run air lines from the compressor to the diff, you must drill a hole in the housing to get the air in there, and there are o-ring seals to deal with. Having owned a trucking company, and been forced to chase air leaks on the trucks, I didn't want to experience those frustrations again.

So, I opted for the Ox. It has a locking ring like the ARB, instead of the pins of the Eaton and it is also very strong and reliable. Some of the earlier units did suffer from cable problems, due to this being a mechanically engaged locker, but I believe those issues have since been remedied. They can be had in manual, air or electric actuation. Electric it is!



Oh yeah, this is why I didn't paint the stock cover.

Because the locker is cable operated, they provide a cast iron cover, not having to buy a more durable cover for the other two listed options is an added bonus. Where the cable enters the cover is completely sealed from the diff. If there were to be a mishap, such as the cable coming out, the oil should stay in the housing. They also send you a "drive away lock." The drive away lock is a fail safe in the event that you have some kind of cable malfunction. Simply remove the cable from the housing, screw in the lock, can continue with the diff locked up. Once off the trail, you can remove the lock and drive home with an open diff.



Diff gaskets, I bought a Lube Locker gasket. These can be reused over and over. No silicone to deal with and no paper gaskets getting torn if you have to pull the cover.



Now that we've gone over the parts, I loaded up and went to a friends shop for a little assistance. Ive never built a front diff, and its been some time since building a rear diff. Like I said, I like doing jobs once, and this type of job is a walk in the park for my friend.



To keep us safe while pulling bearings, I ordered this bearing puller. Anyone that's seen a bearing come apart knows its no joke.

With any luck at all, I'll be able to use this tool when I replace the bearings on my flail mower!

I don't have any pictures of this procedure, but its something I learned years ago from an old school hotrod guy for setting up diffs on race cars. If you can remove the old carrier bearings without damaging them, which you can with the proper tool, you can use them for setting up the shims. Once the bearing has been removed, use a flapper to remove enough material from the inside of the bearing so that it'll slide on and off of the carrier and pinion. This keeps you from pressing your new bearings on and off while trying to figure out the shimming situation. When you get your backlash and gear mesh set the way you want it, pull off the old bearings, press on the new bearings, and complete the installation. Genius!

I get everything put together and run into a problem. The new axles are big, and the joints are big, too big it seems! In fact, the u-joints in the axles are now larger than the u-joints in the driveshafts...who woulda thought??..





Heres a bad pic of the stock axle in the housing





See the problem...

Not to worry! Chuck the bolts up in the lathe, make a couple of passes, and all is well. Its custom!

Those bolts were ugly anyway, and needed to be painted.



Much better!

Well, that's all for this installment of the wife's jeep not staying stock for long.
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Old 10-02-2019, 02:25 PM   #17
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Awesome job so far and all good parts! Something to keep in mind about the Revolution front axles. They work fine with the stock lower ball joint, i.e. the one without a grease fitting. However, when you have to replace the lower ball joint make sure that you use the same type. If you put a lower ball joint in with a greasable zerk fitting, the larger stub shaft ears and u-joint won't clear the fitting. I found this out the hard way!
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Old 10-02-2019, 03:25 PM
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Good looking out!! Thank you for the heads up on that.
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Old 10-02-2019, 04:16 PM
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Next up, rebuild the rear diff.

Since this is an Unlimited Wrangler, it came factory with a D44 rear, 3.73 gears and a limited slip carrier. All that I'll keep though, is just the bare housing.

Rear diffs are easier to deal with than the front. Strip it down, knock out the races, rebuild with Timken, and reassemble with the new parts.



Matching rear axles. I decided to keep the factory spline count on the front and rear axles. Being 4340 chromoly, the chances of "me" having problems are pretty slim. However, in the unlikely event that I do experience a failure, I can swap the broken shaft for a factory spare until I can get a replacement shipped to me.




Rear diff back together with good axles, bearings and locker. The locking ring is what slides over locking up the carrier, essentially making it a spool.





Button it all up and let's go feel the mighty torque of the 4.0! In order to run JK Rubicon wheels, or any JK wheels on a TJ, an adapter is required to go from 5-4.5 to 5-5, and change the backspacing. Adapters have never been an issue for me though, just buy good ones that are hub centric and wheel centric. I have em on the jeep, Fleetwood and my lowrider dually.



Hmmm, speedometer is way off now. 25mph swing, was 5mph off before the gear swap.

If I have to crawl under the car to fix the speedometer then I might as well run the cable for the front locker.





Cable seems well built and is very rigid.

I bought the cable much longer than most, since I'm going to mount the electric actuators on the shovel (factory T-case skid)





I like the reflective paint on the cover. Its rumored, on a calm clear night, when someone engages an ox locker, you can hear the whispers ox ox ox ox....



Route the cable along the control arm. Since its on a pivot point, I won't have to worry about excess cable for suspension droop.

Speaking of control arms, jeep came with Rubicon Express upper and lower adjustable arms. RE wouldn't have been my first choice, but I'm happy they're on there and I'll run em until they're no good or I can justify new ones.





Run down the frame rail in the extra factory clips




I love it when a plan comes together!



Yep, it'll be safe up there





Oh yeah, the new black parts on the T-case, just what I needed to fix my speedometer

I guess I failed to take pics of wiring up the front locker. Rest assured, it was a clean job, with wire loom routed in a factory manner down the frame rail, up the toe-board and across the firewall into the sPod under the hood.



Now that I have an operational switch, I changed the plain boring rocker to a custom rocker from OTRATTW.

More rockers to come!
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Old 10-04-2019, 10:04 AM   #20
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Great build you and the wife have going!!
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Old 10-04-2019, 02:39 PM
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Thank you! Even though the jeep isn't really the coolest car we have, somehow it is. Lol

I was cleaning the jeep after some off-road fun, and noticed the PO stitched together one of the door limiting straps.



I added that to the list of things to do. You can prob imagine what happened, yep, it broke before I was able to address the issue. Fortunately I was at home when it broke and didn't have to worry about the door swinging into a parked car, and I was able to catch it before it swung into the pass fender.

I used a couple of zip ties as a temporary fix. After a day or two of researching and shopping around, I decided I wouldn't pay the premium for a plain ol factory, or generic strap.

Since I'm a crafty, do it yourself kind of guy with a knowledge of knots, I placed an order. Within a few days a box of goods was delivered.



Yeah yeah, I know, that's prob more than what is required to make door limiting straps.



Ordered a tying jig too!

Now that I have the essentials, you guessed it, I spent some time in my shop, being a knotty boy.

....see what I did there..





Door straps built! Since 1100lbs of force will likely not be exerted on the doors, I wont have to worry about them breaking anytime soon.

My wife isn't the tallest person in the world either, she would appreciate some help getting into the jeep.





So I tied some grab handles, and ordered some baby shackles from amazon. Don't let their size fool ya though, they have a 300lb working load with a 1200lb break load.



I not only have enough 550 cord to lift the jeep off the ground, I also have about a 100ft of cord and 8 baby shackles at my disposal if/when the zombie apocalypse occurs.



Because variety is the spice of life, and I do have some extra cord, I began tying some other variations!

Life is good
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Old 10-04-2019, 08:40 PM   #22
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nice start to a good build, addictive reading

one thing I would suggest doing on that 4.0 (just like I have done on a few friends' XJs) is upgrade the fuel injectors to the 12 hole units to better atomize the fuel going in, will help burn more efficiently as your driving....just a thought, even the 6 hole ones will be better then the single hole units on the 4.0 (if still stock)
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Old 10-04-2019, 10:43 PM
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I have heard about those! No doubt the 4.0 is down on power and efficiency
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Old 10-05-2019, 11:35 AM
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I guess its time for tires. Sometimes buying mainstream well known products is the way to go, other times not. Application will always dictate the direction I go. I spent some time researching tires. Of course there's KO2, KO3, coopers, swampers, stickys, etc.

A few people I follow on YouTube and the Gram are using, and having good luck with a relatively new tire. The parent company Tireco, based out of Cali has been around since the early 70s. 3-4yrs ago, they produced a tire called the Milestar Patagonia MT.

After reading the reviews and seeing them perform, thats what I ordered. They're also priced below what their mainstream competitors are.



That's a load of tires! Bought 11 new tires and brought 22 home, in total lol. That dually had some E range mud tires on it. I have hated em since day one. While picking up the jeep tires, I had some new highway tires put on the dually. I couldn't be happier with how much quieter the truck is!

Anyway...



Jeep tires!

Look at them things!



Left is the BFGs that were on the jeep when we bought it. They measure about 32x10R17

The Milestar are also a metric size, like the BFGs, and measure 35x12.50R17, A bit of a difference.

Looks like I need to get started on the suspension now
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Old 10-07-2019, 08:11 PM
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Suspension time!

First up, Currie RockJock trackbars. The factory bars are small, aren't very articulate, and the bushings are probably worn out.



Rebuildable JohnnyJoints will allow the suspension to flex. Its also nice to have the ability to center the diffs under the car.





Currie 4in progressive rate springs. Since its an "LJ" I chose to go with HD rear springs which are a 1/2in taller with a little higher spring rate. HD springs will help manage any extra weight I decide to put in/on the jeep







The new springs look much more than 4in next to the springs I removed. Since they're progressive rate, Currie makes them long which will prevent them from becoming unseated during full suspension droop.

Big tires and big suspension, a steering upgrade is also in order.





Currie Ultimate Steering Kit. Currie draglink with Savvy solid aluminum tie rod. This is essentially a 1 ton steering that is virtually indestructible. You can actually jack up the front of the jeep with tie rod and it'll snap back into place once back on the ground.
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Old 10-09-2019, 08:08 PM
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Shocks that will be used!



The old shocks are extended all the way, the new shocks still have the bands on em but are capable of 10in of travel.

Also needed some of these for the rear sway bar



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Old 10-14-2019, 02:09 PM
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Everything has gone fairly smoothly with this build. One small snag, broke a bolt removing a rear shock.



Mild inconvenience. Soaked it, still couldn't easy out it. So I slowly drilled it, stepping up in size. Once it was out, cut some threads and was good to go. I've spared no expense on anti-seize!

Fox is very clever and effectively marketing their product. Normal shocks, the rod attaches to the top with the body at the bottom. Fox wants the world to see their great products, and have flipped the shocks over. I'm not mad!



Anyone ever wonder what does the fox say?? Google it and find out.

Big chunky steering



Also installed some longer SS brake lines. The factory lines and sway bar links weren't close.



Last but not least



I like it!

Stay tuned for more
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Old 10-16-2019, 05:13 PM
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Next project









See what's about to happen?!?

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