Thursday, December 31, 2009

Installing a 1" TeraFlex Rear Coil Spacers

After installing the ExpeditionOne rear bumper w/tire and carrier, my Jeep started to sag in the rear.  This was expected since I added over 200 LBS back there ;-)  To level it out, I needed to add about 1" of lift to the rear.  I did this by installing TeraFlex 1" Coil Spacers with integrated spring retainers.

The trackbar and suspension is already setup on my Jeep, so I was able to do this project without pulling the entire rear end apart.  I used jacks, stands and coil spring compressors to save me time.  This is basically the same process that would be used if installing a leveling kit. 

The first part of the project is jacking up the Jeep and securing it on stands.  Having a tall jack makes this job easier.  If you can get it high enough, you can do this project without removing the tires.  

Stock Jeep Spacer above coil

After securing the body of the Jeep on jack stands, I kept the axle fully compressed with a jack on the center gear housing (pumpkin).  This helps keep the springs compressed as much as possible making the spring compressing job a bit quicker.  I then installed spring compressors on opposite sides of the spring and slowly tightened them in evenly alternating sides.

NOTE:  It is very important to go slow and keep the sides even.  The springs hold substantial energy and can kill you or significantly damage the Jeep if a compressor slips off or breaks.  

Spring compressor on Coil

Stock coil spacer removed

The next step is to remove the coil from the axle, install the 1" TeraFlex spacer in the stock location and reinstall the coil by slowly releasing tension from the spring compressor on both sides evenly.

I started on the drivers side and then worked to the passenger side.  The only difference is the fuel tank is somewhat in the way on the passenger side, which made it a bit more challenging to compress the spring.

Before spacer height 39"

After TeraFlex 1" Spacer Install - 40"

Spring spacers are the quickest and easiest way to add .5" to 2.75" of lift to a Jeep.  The only thing to be cautious of is shifting the axle to body alignment.  The best way to address axle alignment is by installing adjustable front and rear trackbars.

The final product is just a slightly forward stance (rake).  The front is 1/4" lower than the rear.  I prefer a bit of a rake in the Jeep.  I tow a heavy trailer and it keeps the Jeep level when I load it up in the rear.  It also helps with on-road stability by shifting some of the weight forward on the front wheels.   

Installing a TeraFlex Steering Stabilizer

Larger tires have a tendency to wonder around on the road and can cause bump steer when on the trail.  This ia a quick and easy fix.  Just have to install a heavy duty front stabilizer shock.  This is a simple project -- two 18MM bolts need to be removed and a new shock installed.  I chose TeraFlex to keep my suspension with the same company in case I ever have issues, but there are many after market options out there.

Original Steering Stabilizer

TeraFlex Steering Stabilizer

This is about as easy as it gets.  When I get a bit more time, I will be installing a Woods Steering Stabilizer Relocation bracket.  This will move the shock above the trackbar giving it a bit more protection from the trail.  

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Installing a PIAA 400hz/500hz Sports Horn on Jeep JK Wrangler Unlimited

Living in Chicago I find it necessary to use my horn more than I'd like.  Cars pull out in front of me, people walk in the middle of the street like it's their back yard, etc.  Sadly, when I honk at them they either ignore me or laugh at my big bad Jeep that sounds like a Scooter.  I have been emasculated for the last time.  I'm installing a real horn!

When researching horns I found that there's not as much out there as I expected.  There are a ton of air horns and cheap after market horns, but most won't fit in the tight space under the hood or aren't attention getting.  I decided to go with a PIAA Sports Horn.  They have two different versions.  The lower pitched 400hz/500hz and the high pitched 500hz/600hz.  I listened to as many sound clips as I could find online and decided to go with the low pitched horn.  It has a deep full note that sounds more masculine.  The high pitched horn seems to be more appropriate for a Porsche or sports car.

The stock horn is located on the drivers side just behind the headlight.  It is held on with one torx screw.

After dismounting the horn you'll find two wires connected to it.  The black one is negative and the yellow/brown is positive.

NOTE: the OEM and PIAA horns are not polarity specific.  You can wire them either way and it will work fine.  However, Air Horns and some other after market horns may be.  Read the directions! 

Since the PIAA horn is a set of two, I had to create a jumper wire to accommodate the connections to the second horn.  The easiest way to do this is with wire-tap connectors that are available at Radio Shack

The next step is to crimp insulated spade connectors on the other end of the wire that are also available at Radio Shack.  The horns will be mounted somewhat close, so the wire only needs to be about 8" in length.

Space is limited in a Jeep.  It is especially difficult to mount anything under the hood that will be off-road worthy and maintain the stock look. Fortunately I found a lower bolt that holds a probe of some-sort.  I used that location to mount the 500Hz horn.  The install is simple.  Remove the bolt, connect the original wires to the horn, and put it back together. 

The 400Hz horn will not re-mount in the OEM location.  The horn is a bit too big.  I was able to use the bolt that mounts the remote start hood safety switch.

Pictures don't do this install justice.  I created this YouTube video that has sound clips of the original Jeep JK Wrangler horn and the PIAA horn.  Can you hear me now? ;-)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Installing TeraFlex LCA on Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

After I lifted my Jeep and put larger tires on it, she started wondering around a bit on the highway.  It wasn't terrible, but it is annoying on long trips.  Everything in the suspension of a vehicle is connected.  When you change one thing it changes something else.  When I lifted the suspension it changed the angle of the front drive shaft, which changed its caster setting from the stock 4.2 degrees to about 3 deg.

The folks in-the-know in the Jeep Mod community recommend that a lifted Jeep should have a caster of somewhere between 5-7 degrees.  To adjust this setting you have to lengthen the front Lower control arm or shorten the upper arm.  The Wrangler has a fixed length LCA, so I bought a set of TeraFlex Lower Control Arms from Northridge 4x4.  

The project is fairly straightforward.  There's 2 nut/bolts that need to be removed from each side.  The tires do not need to be removed.

Stock LCA w/Nut

The nuts are very tight.  I needed a breaker bar and a good ratchet to remove them.  You can also use an impact wrench.

Most write-ups seem to start with the passenger side, but I don't think it matters much.  The key is to do one side at a time.

After removing one of the LCA's the next step is to figure out what TF LCA goes on which side and to set the length.  Laying the stock LCA just removed next to the TF bars helps orientate them. When installed, the TeraFlex logo is right side up and closer to the rear of the bar.

After figuring out what bar will be replacing the one you removed, you need to set the length.  Most folks recommend 3/8" longer than stock, which is 23" eye-to-eye.  23" will yield about a 5.5-6 degree caster on most mildly lifted Wrangler's.  

Installation is the reverse of removal.  I installed the rear end of the bar first, slipped the bolt through (do not install nut) and then I put in the front.  I found that putting some weight back on the tire helped align the holes. 

It's important to leave the nuts and bolts lose until you are happy with the final adjustments and the weight of the Jeep is on its tires.  The bolts need to be torqued at 125 Ft Lbs.  This is a lot more torque than one would think.  It is critical that you do not skip this step.  Lose suspension components lead to the notorious death wobble.

After getting it back together I have about 6 degrees of caster.  I'm going to drive it awhile letting the suspension settle in and check it again. If necessary, I can increase the angle by lengthening the bar (turning the ball to the left).  Or decrease the angle by shortening the bar (turning the ball to the right). 

The final step is to tighten the Jam Nuts and to re-torque all bolts to 125 Ft. Lbs.  Then grease all fittings with a high-quality grease. 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Installing an ExpeditionOne Rear Bumper

After upgrading my wheels to 35", my spare didn't fit on the tailgate.  I had to upgrade to a bumper that would support a tire carrier.  I wanted a bumper that looked and functioned similar to stock, but not made out of cheap plastic ;)  I decided on the ExpeditionOne Rear Bumper with Tire Carrier.  The fit and finish of their parts is superb and they have an ingenious articulating system that moves the tire carrier when the rear door is opened/closed. 

Unfortunately my camera battery was almost dead when I installed the bumper, so I only got a few pics.

Tire Articulating Arm

Camera Mount

Bumper w/Tire Mounted

Sorry I didn't have more pics of the install; however, ExpeditionOne put together an excellent YouTube video that shows how to install the bumper.  Here's the video:

Here's the link to the Installation Instructions.