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Discussion Starter #22 (Edited)
Phase II, Ford 8.8 axle assembly install, part 7

So my 8.8 install was partially botched due to the poorly designed Barnes U-bolt plates, and then further exasperated when I decided to replace my ProComp rear 2.5" leaf springs with 4" springs. The 2.5" springs had sagged after 20+ years and after installing the 8.8 the rear end was riding about an inch lower than the front. I'll be adding a big bumper and tire carrier for a 35X12.5 so I figured it's better to have the rear a little higher. 4WheelParts replaced the springs under warranty with the 4" springs so cost was zero. However, I had not anticipated how much the rear was going to get boosted; about 3-4" total. They will settle a little but this still threw off my axle pinion angle and caused vibration. I needed to replace the deformed Barnes U-bolt plates anyway so I resolved to just do the whole thing over again. Barnes sent me some re-designed U-bolt plates (part 5 of this string, above) after I sent them pictures of my deformed ones. I then bought another set of spring perches from them since I was going to re-set the pinion angle. I decided to reinforce the inside of the Barnes U-bolt mounts with some additional welded in 3/16X3/4 strap to give increased lateral rigidity and strength.

I ended up doing this ass-backwards, as I swore I wouldn't. Swapping the springs after I had installed the 8.8 was stupid. Now I probably need to replace my brand new shocks too. That being said, result of the work is a solid improvement. I'm now happy with the whole setup and everything works the way it's supposed to. Only downside other than cost, time, blood, etc? Now I've got to do something about the low-riding front end....

Pic 1: Old, bent Barnes U-bolt mount
Pic 2: Mounts cut off with 4" angle grinder cutoff wheel
Pic 3: New Barnes U-bolt mount tacked on. Note additional reinforcement inside.
Pic 3& 4: New Barnes U-bolt mount installed.
 

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Discussion Starter #23
Phase II, Ford 8.8 axle assembly install, part 8

In part 3 of this Ford 8.8 axle assembly install string, I noted a problem with the cardan on the new driveshaft barely clearing the floor-pan because the Advance Adapters 716007 AX15 conversion (from BA10) mount is too tall. It turns out that the mount itself needs modification to work correctly, and the instructions super-suck. This mount is for the NV3550 and the AX15 but the instructions don't distinguish between the two, and they are different. For some bizzaro reason, AA made this plate just slightly too large to fit the AX15 without the use of some otherwise unnecessary risers/spacers; just enough to cause the cardan to floor-pan interference problem. Basically, they engineered a bad solution to correct the original bad design, which was simply the wrong size of rectangle by about 3/16". This issue has been identified numerous times in reviews of the part on the AA website but nothing changes. Oh, and they make sure you know they won't warranty any of their parts that have been modified.

After figuring this out, I removed the adapter and ground some slots in it to clear a couple of AX15 bolts that were a clearance problem. This allowed me to get rid of the risers which then fixed the driveshaft clearance problem handily.

Pic 1: The AA mount as per the only way to install it without modification. Note the 4 spacers between the green/gray plate and the transmission because of the bolt heads visible in the "tunnel".
Pic 2: The AA mount with the two channels I ground into it to clear the AX15 bolt heads.
Pic 3: AA mount now clears the two AX15 bolt heads.
Pic 4: AA mount flush with the AX15; no more spacers.
Pic 5: AA mount as manufactured. No place for those AX15 bolts...
 

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Discussion Starter #24 (Edited)
Phase II, Ford 8.8 axle assembly install, part 8

This should be the last installment of this 8.8 installation; installing the ARB compressor, ARBCKMA12. This is the mid-level ARB compressor and I think should meet my requirements just fine. Northridge 4X4 had a pretty decent sale on these in July. $248 delivered I believe, which beat everyone else by at least $30-40. Install was straightforward as per the instructions, which are very good. Only real question was where to mount it. I have MetalCloak fenders so that actually made this easier. The aluminum MetalCloaks almost have holes already drilled for these, 2 of the 4 are already in place. Vibration and noise are concerns so I got some plumbers' red gasket rubber to sandwich between the fender and the pump and its backing plate (both sides of the fender). In theory it should reduce noise and vibration. I don't know how effective this is vice other materials or how durable, but it was the only readily available material I could find for the job. I got some Harbor Freight 1/4" plastic loom and ran it the length of the blue ARB air line to the 8.8 just for a little added security. Lots of zip ties and plenty of slack in the rear and all done.

I added some boomin' car stereo-style battery terminal clamps that have accommodations for wiring in fairly heavy gauge wire for accessories. These will come in handy down the road for some lights, a winch, and maybe a disco ball and panini press. I think I paid about $20 for these clamps at Autozone for the pair, but you can get them for $10 for the pair online, and in silver rather than cheezy fake gold. I like the ARB compressor. It's very heavy compared to similar-type pumps, and the included wiring harness is very well made, so hopefully that's an indication of quality and durability. Mounting and electrical went without much incident. I will give this and the locker a shake-down soon and post anything significant. As common as these two are I can't imagine there's anything novel I have to add.
 

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Discussion Starter #25
Phase II, Dana 30 axle assembly, part I

Now that my rear axle was complete I needed to re-gear the front to 4.88. Given that the Dana 30 has a far better reputation than the Dana 35, and that the next step up in front axles is an expensive undertaking, I decided to keep the 30. I also decided to do the 30 as a bare-bones re-gear with no upgrades. I'm of the opinion that putting a $900 ARB in a Dana 30 is probably not a good investment, and that most of the other Dana 30 upgrades probably aren't justified. No point in trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Time will tell if the 30 is a sow's ear, but it is what it is for now. All I did was have new gears, bearings and seals installed. I kept the disconnect because it's worked for me so far and been a convenience. Everything on the 30 went as planned, and my axle guy gave me a used ARB cover that was laying around his shop. Looks cool but there's nothing but an open diff under it.
 

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Discussion Starter #26 (Edited)
Phase II, Front suspension, part I

Since I had boosted the rear end up to 4" springs, I had to do the same to the front. My logic on the rear was that I would only gain 1.5" on the rear over my existing 2.5" springs, and that my 8.8 install was accounting for a good portion of my ass-low condition. Well, my 2.5" springs must have been really worn out since I got 3-4" more lift in the rear. I just said screw it and got 4" springs for the front too. Install was a huge pain in the ass. One of my OEM U-bolts broke when I was removing the nut so I got a set of new ones. The extra lift on the track bar also shifted the axle to the driver's side making it a bitch to get the axle seated on the spring locating pins.

I also wanted some sway-bar disconnects. A bunch of research later and I decided on the Rough Country YJ disconnects. I don't know why most disconnects are as expensive as they are, but these were a relative bargain at $80 delivered. Most of the manufacturers seem to ignore the fact that the disconnect itself is only part of the issue to solve. The other part is securing the disconnected sway bar so it isn't flopping around. These have a pretty good solution to that with some bolt-on frame mounts to keep everything in place when disconnected. These are a bargain compared to the competition and actually seem do solve more problems and be more convenient to use than most. They come with a plate that goes under the springs and ties in to the U-bolts. However, in the spirit of the you-have-to-modify-everything-on-a-YJ spirit, these are designed to ensure that there is absolute minimum clearance between the sway bar pin nut and one of the U-bolt nuts. Unless you shorten the pin threads you'll never be able to get a socket on the U-bolt nut. I did shorten the pin threads and just barely got a socket to fit. An impact socket however, will be too thick under any circumstances. 1/8" more clearance would have easily solved this problem. No idea why they designed in this completely unnecessary problem to an otherwise fine product. They must share a design guy with Advance Adapters.

Once I got everything into place and put some tension on the U-bolts, the gap between the two nuts closed and I never could get the socket back on that one of the four U-bolt nuts on each side. I just had to use an open ended wrench on that one nut (driver and passenger sides). This is just piss-poor execution of what is an otherwise seemingly fine design. There is no need for this interference and the plate dimensions easily could have been extended up to 1". 1/4" would have been plenty.

I will post more on this if I have problems with these when they get some real use.

Pic 1: Rough Country disconnects (website pic)
Pic 2: Interference between unmodified sway bar pin and U-bolt nut
Pic 3: Unmodified pin (bottom) vs shortened pin (top)
Pic 3 & 4: Socket just barely slips on after the pin is shortened.
 

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Nice Build!
 

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in the same spirit of jeepdify, that's a spot i'd weld a plain hex on the back side (slightly shorter than a nylock) of the bracket, thread a shallow hex nut on the sway bar pin and thread it in that way.
 

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So just a few additional pics of my NP231 additions. I borrowed these pics from another post because I didn't have the forethought to take pics of mine before I installed them, but these are identical to mine.

1. 6 gear planetary vs 3 gear YJ planetary. Note different gear tooth profiles. Make sure they match...

2. YJ narrow vs wide (Dodge?) wide output shaft sprocket. YJ is polished to interface with the synchro. The wide one used no synchro, hence no polish.

3. Wide vs YJ front output sprocket. Not much difference...

4. 1" YJ chain vs 1.25" chain

5. YJ OEM output shaft with OEM sprocket and synchro

So apparently YJs had the synchro because of the front axle vacuum disconnect (CAD). Since the TC had to be shifted into 4WD before the vacuum would get around to actuating the axle lock, the front drive shaft was moving at a different speed than the rear, so the two needed to be synchronized to prevent a huge gear shattering clunk. This is of course for shift on the fly. Later vehicles without the axle disconnect didn't need this as the front and rear driveshafts were already synchronized due to the TC being the only disconnect between them.

So to me the obvious question is, can I source a 1.25" NP231 output shaft sprocket that is synchronized? Rumor is YES, but I haven't found one. Next question is can my existing, non-polished/synchronized 1.25 sprocket be machined polished to be compatible with a synchro? ...and would it be worth the effort and $$$? Who knows, but I miss my synchro... It makes the shifting smoother even when parked and eliminates gear rattle from within the TC. Plus, I guess I just like the bronze...
Stole my pictures without reference....... For others looking at this thread or future reference, a one piece axle shaft conversion for the front passenger side negates needing the synchro ring. You can also find the wide chain sprocket that takes the synchro ring from a chevy np231c from an s10 or s10 blazer that had a central axle disconnect axle.
 

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Discussion Starter #30
Stole my pictures without reference....... For others looking at this thread or future reference, a one piece axle shaft conversion for the front passenger side negates needing the synchro ring. You can also find the wide chain sprocket that takes the synchro ring from a chevy np231c from an s10 or s10 blazer that had a central axle disconnect axle.

Boo-hoo. How can somebody bitch about their uncopyrighted pictures that they posted on the internet for public viewing being stolen when someone else uses them, and someone who specifically noted that they had been borrowed? Life is truly cruel.
 

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Discussion Starter #31
Shakedown of the new YJ

I took my newly completed YJ to Northern Arizona for about a month and put it through a pretty vigorous shakedown. At least a thousand off-road miles and twice that on the local highways getting to/from the Grand Canyon and Sedona areas, as well as plenty of terrain in between. Snow, mud, rocks, cinders, dry desert, etc. All in all, I'm very happy with the YJ and it proved both reliable and capable. The 4.2L definitely lost a fair amount of power at 7,000 feet, even after re-jetting the mains. Can't get around thin air without a turbo or EFI I guess.

I learned a little more about confining the scope of my project as I've determined that there are trails I'm happy to turn down; anything with a reasonable likelihood of rolling or tipping the vehicle is out. I can't see ever needing Dana 60's, body roll cages, or tires over 35's, and I'm just fine with that.

Winners & losers:

Winners:
1. Maxxis Trepador 35X12.5R15's. Performed flawlessly at 25 PSI on road and 10-12 PSI off road. Very happy with these.
2. ARB compressor. Used the crap out of this for airing up before getting back on the road. Extremely happy with this setup.
3. Brand X tire deflators. Yes, the cheap brass ones. $17 on Amazon for a six-pack. Worked flawlessly, reliably and conveniently to deflate 4 tires in less than 10 minutes, more like 5. The $100 ones are pointless.
4. 4.88 gearing. Never needed 1st in 4-Low. 2nd did it all in the rough stuff. Always the slowest vehicle on the highway at 65 MPH max though.
5. DirtWorx rear bumper. Really like this thing and the RATTLE-FREE tire carrier at 1/2 the $ of the major brands.
6. Brand X LED headlights for $89 on Amazon. Will see about long term durability but they worked great in the short term.
7. PTUNA phone cradle & wireless charger. It broke, but my easy fix made it BULLETPROOF. Kung Fu grip on phone. Love this thing.
8. Green LED dash lights. Great gauge viz without being blinding at night.
9. YJ OEM heater. Got a lot of use at 0-45°F. No need for mods.

Neutral:
1. Metal Cloak fenders. Fronts are great, but fenders don't keep mud from going into the front windows. Had to make my own add-on mud guard. Rears have clearance issues (rubbing).
2. Pro-Comp 4" lift. Like the lift but the springs are a bit harsh.
3. ARB rear locker. I know, really? I didn't use it much but it definitely locks as advertised. Just didn't need it much under the conditions so I can't swear by it yet. Glad it's there though.
4. My "home" made add-on gas can carrier. Rattles and pinches the soft top. Needs a redesign but will be great afterwards.

Losers:
1. 4.2L gas mileage. 10-12 MPG at 5,000-7,000 feet. Definitely needed to carry extra gas on my longer trips.
2. 4.2L power output on highway, cold startups, choke, fast idle, etc.
3. Midwest Specialties (Quadratec) hood lock. F this thing. Can't remove the key when unlocked. Junked it. Will spend 5X more for a good one.
4. Lack of tie-downs in the YJ cargo deck. Lots of bouncing of tools.
5. Quadratop soft top. Driver window zipper seized. Very cold!
 

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I have a 4.2 and don't experience any power issues. I live at 6500 feet. I'm running the non-stepper Carter carb and a HEI distributor.
I get a bit over 10MPG, but I'm running 31" tires with 3:07 gears. I'm looking for a deal on 4:10 axles. re-gearing should improve my mileage.

Your rig looks like a real capable rig. Thanks for the good, neutral and loser report.

Good luck, L.M.
 

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Discussion Starter #33
Metal Cloak fenders

I bought these to accommodate the 35" tires I was planning to install with the 2.5" lift I already had. Metal Cloak claimed (Summer 2018) that the arched front fenders would accommodate 37" tires with a 2.5" lift, which they probably would. They have since rescinded the claim about 37s and revised it down to 35s. I'm pretty sure they made the same claim about 37s on a 2.5" lift for the rears when I bought these in Summer of 2018, but they now claim only 35"s with 2" of lift. All of the Metal Cloak stuff is very well made with good stainless hardware (anti-seize included!), good instructions, and nice fit and finish.

The fronts are great and provide absolutely unobstructed tire movement in all directions. The aluminum inner wheel well is a nice surface for mounting accessories and an improvement over stock in my opinion. I have experienced zero problems with the front units, with one exception: mud protection. I have 35" tires and did not expect factory-like mud protection from these aftermarket fenders with 4" flares. However, I was surprised at the volume and frequency of thick, chunky, gooey clods hitting my elbow and being flung into my window. Wider flares wouldn't make any difference as most of the offending material is being flung from the bottom of the tire past the tapered bottom of the flares. If I had the Metal Cloak rocker guards they probably would have caught a lot of this mud. I made my own add-on mud guard which mounts to the door and took care of about 95% of the big stuff. Mud flinging aside, I'm very happy with the fronts.

The rears are a bit more problematic. I got the "mod cut" rear mounts with 4" flares. The current website claim that 35s will fit under them with a 2" lift is true so long as that vehicle never moves, and/or has REALLY long bump stops to eliminate ANY spring compression. They may be OK for a street cruiser but won't be any good under even mild off-road conditions with 35s and only 2" of lift. I think they specify '2" BL'; body lift I assume. I don't see what difference it would make between a body and suspension lift for fender clearance. I have a 4" lift and was getting PLENTY of tire to fender contact at the rear of the wheel wells. I added +1" rear shackles for 5" total lift, which improved, but did not eliminate, the rubbing. I will add some longer bump-stops and may get some higher lift springs to gain another 1-2" of lift in the rear just to solve this issue. The Metal Cloak design squeezes pretty much every possible bit of tire clearance out of the YJ tub, so they can't redesign to get more. They reached the capability limit of the YJ tub.

All in all, I really like the Metal Cloaks. However, they are not anywhere remotely close to cheap and I am disappointed in the clearance issue on the rear which is contrary to the website claims. Metal Cloak did ping me for some feedback on my purchase and I provided the above info. No response.
 

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Very nice update. I'm glad you were able to get out and enjoy your YJ... a lot. Are you rubbing in the front of the rear tire? I assume as much. Could you drill another hole in the spring perch to move the axle back a half inch or so?
 

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Boo-hoo. How can somebody bitch about their uncopyrighted pictures that they posted on the internet for public viewing being stolen when someone else uses them, and someone who specifically noted that they had been borrowed? Life is truly cruel.
Wow, no need to be a dick. It was more meant as a joke because all these new forum members stealing photos from older forum users. I've noticed that heavily lately, I was mostly just adding information to future users if you didn't read my entire post.

Losers:
1. 4.2L gas mileage. 10-12 MPG at 5,000-7,000 feet. Definitely needed to carry extra gas on my longer trips.
2. 4.2L power output on highway, cold startups, choke, fast idle, etc.!
I hated my 4.2l, that's reason number 1 for my current v8 swap. The 4.2l will not make good power with any carburetor, distributors, tbi etc (I tried them all). You can swap in a jeep 4.0l out of a cherokee or use a jeep 4.0l head and mpfi on your 4.2l block and get into reasonable power. Here's a link if you're curious: Jeep 4.0l head and efi on 4.2l block
 

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Discussion Starter #36
Wow, no need to be a dick. It was more meant as a joke because all these new forum members stealing photos from older forum users. I've noticed that heavily lately, I was mostly just adding information to future users if you didn't read my entire post.

I hated my 4.2l, that's reason number 1 for my current v8 swap. The 4.2l will not make good power with any carburetor, distributors, tbi etc (I tried them all). You can swap in a jeep 4.0l out of a cherokee or use a jeep 4.0l head and mpfi on your 4.2l block and get into reasonable power. Here's a link if you're curious: Jeep 4.0l head and efi on 4.2l block
Sorry for the response. I'm all on board for sarcasm but unfortunately the typed medium doesn't always transmit it effectively. I probably over-reacted on that one because I took it at face value. Lesson learned...
 

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great build and love the winner-loser portion.

I have the 4.0 and can see the mpg's will be a problem on the trail with my set up as well..... For sure will need to have extra gas on board.
 

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Discussion Starter #38
Very nice update. I'm glad you were able to get out and enjoy your YJ... a lot. Are you rubbing in the front of the rear tire? I assume as much. Could you drill another hole in the spring perch to move the axle back a half inch or so?
I'm afraid moving the axle rearward would only exasperate the problem as all of the rubbing takes place in the rear of the fender well. As the leaf spring compresses, the rear shackle allows it to swing the axle in a rearward arc. Likewise, a shackle reversal setup would just reverse the problem and make them rub in the front of the wheel well, although I don't think there is such a thing as a rear shackle reversal kit because that would just be stupid. Coil springs would eliminate the lateral axle travel and limit the axle movement to only vertical, which would also help, but that's a bridge too far for my scope. "Archier" springs with more lift, and/or a body lift seem to be the only solution short of a spring over conversion, which is just more lift. The +1" shackles made enough of an improvement that I'm inclined to seek a solution through more lift and new bump stops rather than just about anything else.

I think a 1" body lift may be the place to start. I hate body lifts but hopefully 1" isn't very noticeable and won't require any other mods. Between that and about 1" higher springs I think I will solve this problem.
 

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I suggest staying away from body lifts, they cause more problems than they're worth and make your ride more jaring. The best thing for the long run would be spring over axle with stock springs and a traction bar or 5" springs of good quality. I can speak highly of bds springs as they much nicer than most other brands I've experienced except for rubicon express which is similar quality. You should be able to sell your current springs to at least recover some $$$$$
 
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Great update @LMNOP686 !!

It's interesting to hear your experience about the rear MC's. Some time ago I contacted MC and asked them which rear flares to get - the YJ or the TJ since my tub has been trimmed to TJ size. They were very adamant about getting the YJ-specific mounting rail though I have been hesitant to order them. Your update is giving me reason to delay that purchase even more until I speak to them about this issue and perhaps get another sales person's opinion on the matter. My tub is trimmed to the exact shape of a TJ tub and I'm right against the seam weld on the rear of the wheelwell.

Regarding the body lift vs suspension lift, recall that a body lift raises the body in relation to the frame and thus, the bump stops. With a suspension lift on the other hand, it doesn't matter if you have a 2" springs or 6" springs, your axle comes up to the same location (the bump stop) regardless. As a result, taller tires will come higher and into the body unless you adjust bumpstops accordingly. That being said, I'm shocked that even with 4" springs you're still hitting the rears. I'm on 4" springs as well (though I do have 1" BL) but have a lot of room in the rear before hitting the TJ flares (trimmed to TJ sized opening).

A 1" BL (get the bushing style lift rather than the "puck style" lift) will raise the body up 1" which is essentially the same as lowering your bumpstop 1". Depending on backspacing and overall fit, it sounds like you may indeed need to lower your bumpstops some (but obviously check first). I used the Rubicon Express extended bumpstops and have really liked them so far. They are tunable as well, allowing use of generic 3/8" stud bump pads as needed. When you go with the 1" BL, it's a good time to get a 1" MML as well, since it will save you from having to trim the fan shroud and will help with rear driveshaft angle. It looks like you already have the BDO mounts, which will make the BL easier...

To this day, I don't get why people ooh-ahh over the 4.2L. My real-world experience with them is fairly limited (driven plenty but never owned one longer than a few weeks), but I've never been impressed with usable street power and certainly even the most hardcore 4.2L fanboys have experienced the same issues as you have (though some refuse to admit it). I'd go as far to say that I'd be more inclined to V8 swap a 4.2L than I would a 2.5L EFI...
 
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