Lift Kit Op­tions for a TJ

A Ter­aFlex long-arm is one way

Jp Magazine - - Ta­ble Of Con­tents - By Bruce W. Smith jped­i­tor@jp­ Pho­tog­ra­phy: Bruce W. Smith

TJ own­ers love the quick steer­ing and ex­cel­lent ma­neu­ver­abil­ity of their short-

wheel­base Jeeps in tight spa­ces, al­low­ing them to eas­ily dart in and out of crowded park­ing spa­ces in the ’burbs or weave

We take a 2006 TJ Un­lim­ited to the next level of per­for­mance with a Ter­aFlex En­duro LCG Long Flexarm sus­pen­sion sys­tem

through tight trails in the boonies. The ride and han­dling of these coil-sprung mod­els, of­fered from 1997-2006, es­tab­lished a new era for Wran­glers, and made them a highly sought-after model by those who pre­ferred ma­neu­ver­abil­ity over four doors.

The TJ’s coil-spring sus­pen­sion also made it eas­ier to main­tain the ride and han­dling when it came time to slip taller tires un­der­neath for greater ground clear­ance. This is ex­actly what a cus­tomer of Dunks Per­for­mance was look­ing for when he rolled into the shop in a 2006 TJ Un­lim­ited Rubicon, or “LJ” as they are af­fec­tion­ately known. (The LJ’s wheel­base is 103 inches, 10 inches longer than the TJ.)

This par­tic­u­lar LJ had been set up with a 4-inch lift when it was new. Now, more than a decade and 60,000 miles of on- and off-road miles later, it was over­due for an up­grade in sus­pen­sion parts and tech­nol­ogy. A lot of re­search led the cus­tomer to choose a 4-inch Ter­aFlex En­duro LCG Long Flexarm sus­pen­sion sys­tem with­out shocks to con­tinue us­ing the Fox 2.0 re­mote-reser­voir units he al­ready had.

The En­duro kit in­cor­po­rates long lower con­trol arms made from heavy-duty, 13⁄4-inch DOM tub­ing for both front and rear, and new up­pers for the rear while re­tain­ing the stock up­per arms. The kit also in­cludes the Ter­aFlex Belly Up skid­plate to beef up pro­tec­tion with­out block­ing ac­cess to the trans­fer case. The Rubicon model also re­quired a new air com­pres­sor mount­ing plate that bolted to the Belly Up. When the kit is in­stalled it gives the same ground clear­ance as one would get with more tra­di­tional 6-inch lifts.

We fol­lowed Casey Cas­tle, the lead tech at Dunks, as he in­stalled the kit from start to fin­ish. The job isn’t for the faint of heart or the typ­i­cal drive­way DIYer. Ter­aFlex says in­stal­la­tion time by a shop ex­pe­ri­enced with such sus­pen­sion work takes 13 hours, with a cou­ple of those spent cut­ting off the OE lower con­trol arm brack­ets, grind­ing the frame, and weld­ing on the new lower con­trol arm brack­ets. The job also re­quires a fron­tend align­ment, which was also han­dled at Dunks’ shop. Two days after rolling into the shop, this Rubicon LJ hit the street with state-of-the-art sus­pen­sion ca­pa­ble of de­liv­er­ing many years of ex­cep­tional high­way/off-road ride and han­dling.

Ter­aFlex pro­vides a well-de­signed lower con­trol arm bracket that wraps around the fram­erail

WhenTer­aFlex says its sus­pen­sion kit is “fully in­clu­sive and func­tional”, it means it

Here is Dave Diens’ ’06 Wran­gler LJ be­fore the 12-year-old 4-inch lift was re­placed by a mod­ern Ter­aFlex En­duro LCG Long Flexarm sys­tem.

The Ter­aFlex sus­pen­sion kit comes with wellil­lus­trated in­struc­tions for ev­ery as­pect of the in­stal­la­tion, so there are very few ques­tions that arise as to what goes where.

There are many ways to re­move the lower con­trol arm mount­ing brack­ets. Cas­tle’s pre­ferred method is with a plasma cut­ter. He keeps the tip par­al­lel to the frame and cuts down­ward through the fac­tory welds so the frame it­self isn’t dam­aged. It’s al­most like run­ning a fil­let knife along a fish’s back­bone.

Dunks Per­for­mance’s lead fab­ri­ca­tor, Casey Cas­tle, stripped out the front steer­ing, dis­con­nected brake lines, and re­moved the con­trol arms in prepa­ra­tion for drop­ping out the Rubicon LJ’s Dana 44 axle as­sem­bly.

After we’d re­moved the LJ’s front lower con­trol arm mounts, the ar­eas they were re­moved from were ground smooth in prepa­ra­tion for in­stalling the new Ter­aFlex brack­ets.

In­stal­la­tion of the En­duro kit re­quired lift­ing the en­gine enough to slide in 5⁄8-inch pow­der­coated spac­ers be­tween the en­gine mounts and the frame pedestals that help align the drive­shaft an­gles. We had to ream out the hole in the frame mount to get the shoul­dered align­ment nut to fit.

The best way to in­stall the Ter­aFlex rear con­trol arms is to do one side while leav­ing the stock (or ex­ist­ing) con­trol arms con­nected on the op­po­site side. This keeps the axle­hous­ing in the proper lo­ca­tion and con­nected to the ve­hi­cle, speed­ing up the in­stal­la­tion process.

A cou­ple min­utes with the grinder was all that was needed to prep the frame. The cleaner the frame, the bet­ter the welds.

There are no mea­sure­ments in the in­struc­tions for where the new mount­ing bracket plate is lo­cated, other than rear bolt hole should be lined up with the rear mount­ing hole for the fac­tory trans­fer case skid­plate. We used the OE skid­plate spac­ers and bolts to hold the bracket, and then po­si­tioned the bracket so the front end of the plate was 3 inches from the next hole in the bot­tom of the fram­erail.

Ter­aFlex pro­vides a well-de­signed lower con­trol arm bracket that wraps around the fram­erail and is welded in place. Casey used a white marker to trace its out­line for grind­ing where the welds will be lo­cated.

With the bracket in place, Casey welded it up. He made stitch welds along both sides, and then gave the area a good coat­ing of rust-in­hibit­ing paint while the area was still warm. The same steps were re­peated on the pas­sen­ger side.

The rear mount­ing brack­ets for the lower con­trol arms are also re­moved. Note how the welds are cut with the flame of the arc point­ing down and par­al­lel with the fram­erail. An air chisel or grinder can also be used, but it takes much less time with a plasma cut­ter.

Jp Pro Tip: Put heavy mask­ing tape around all the shock shafts so they are not pit­ted or dam­aged by fly­ing molten metal dur­ing the cut­ting, grind­ing, and weld­ing on the fram­erails.

We re­tained the Fox 2.0 re­mote-reser­voir front shocks that were al­ready on this LJ, but re­placed the old brake lines with the stain­less ones in­cluded in the Ter­aFlex kit.

The last step of the in­stal­la­tion was the fron­tend align­ment, which MacFar­land eas­ily han­dled us­ing a laser align­ment sys­tem one bay over from where the lift was in­stalled.

The heavy-duty Ter­aFlex Belly Up skid­plate adds an­other 2 inches of ground clear­ance un­der the trans­fer case and sub­stan­tially more pro­tec­tion to the un­der­belly. The new skid­plate also negates hav­ing to hack up the fac­tory skid­plate and al­lows full travel of the longer lower con­trol arms.

Richard MacFar­land, the align­ment spe­cial­ist at Dunks Per­for­mance, ad­justs the Ter­aFlex rear con­trol arms so that the pin­ion an­gle is about 1 de­gree less than the drive­shaft an­gle to pre­vent un­wanted vi­bra­tions while driv­ing on the high­way.

The En­duro LCG Sus­pen­sion Sys­tem uses the same lower con­trol arms and brack­ets as the Pro LCG Sus­pen­sion Sys­tem, but it re­tains the fac­tory up­per con­trol arm mount­ing points and the fac­tory front up­per con­trol arms.

On this long-wheel­base Rubicon TJ lift kit, Ter­aFlex in­cludes a spe­cial skid/mount­ing plate for the so­le­noid as­sem­bly that con­trols the lock­ers in the Dana 44s. The mount bolts to the Belly Up skid­plate.

When Ter­aFlex says its sus­pen­sion kit is “fully in­clu­sive and func­tional,” it means it—right down to the brake line brack­ets that are on the rear up­per con­trol arms.

Jp Pro Tip: When you in­stall the tie rod, con­nect the axle as­sem­bly end first, then do the pit­man arm. Do­ing it the other way will create a lot of has­sle try­ing to get the bolt to line up with the mount­ing hole.

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