Badtux the Snarky Penguin

In a time of chimpanzees, I was a penguin.

Religious fundamentalists are motivated by the sneaking suspicion that someone, somewhere, is having fun -- and that this must be stopped.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Project Silver Demon

As long time readers know, a silver demon forced me to buy it back in December. It's been four months now, so it's time to farkle the thing. I just finished installing a CB radio with a Firestick antenna (which I mounted on top of the 3rd brake light over the spare tire), wiring up an auxiliary fuse block under the driver's side dashboard for that and for the rear power outlet (once I find it in my electrical junk box, I bought it for another vehicle and never installed it on that one!). So now for the fun parts:
  • 2" Rubicon Express budget boost -- spring spacers, shocks, and bump stop extensions. I already killed the OEM shocks, which are truly aweful and just did not stand up to washboarded fire roads (they puked their oil out and have mostly quit working -- sheesh, American quality at its best!). This will get the belly "shovel" 2 inches further off the ground as well as replace those piece of crap Chrysler shocks that I killed. $230 for shocks and spacers.
  • Because I have to take the front swaybar links off anyhow to get the springs out so I can put the spacers on top, JKS front swaybar disconnects -- useful in certain offroad situations to help keep both front tires planted on the ground. $130.
  • 32"x11.50 B.F. Goodrich AT KO (All Terrain) tires. These are the big ticket item, $145 apiece (!!!) plus mounting and balancing. I already shredded the sidewalls on the piece of crap Goodyear tires that came with my Jeep. These have much tougher sidewalls and will add another inch of clearance under my pumpkins and under my Jeep.
  • Cragar Soft 8 steel wheels. These have a slightly different offset than the OEM wheels so that I can fit the wider tires without hitting the shock tower at the rear or rubbing the sway bar at full turn on the front, and are much sturdier than the P.O.S. OEM cast aluminum wheels, which would shatter if a rock ever hit them. $35 apiece.
  • Aussie Locker "lunchbox" locker for the Dana D30 front axle. This gives more traction when offroad in 4x4 mode, but is utterly invisible when onroad in 2 wheel drive mode. Combined with the limited-slip in the rear axle, I get the best of both worlds -- good on-road handling and good off-road traction. $230.
All of this is chosen to preserve handling stability on-road (the wider tires and wider-offset wheels have the effect of widening the track, thus keeping the Jeep stable even though it's going to be 3" higher off the ground) while improving offroad capability. The bottom of my Jeep wouldn't have its current assortment of gashes and scrapes if it was 3" higher (heh! Famous last words!). But the folks running 35" tires and 5" lifts and such will just sneer at my little Jeep. Let them sneer. At least I won't flip over on my side turning into my driveway like their over-tall unstable heeps will!

Of course, to pay for this, I'll have to ride my motorcycle to work for the next six months so that I can save money by getting 50mpg (at $3.30/gallon 50mpg vs. 15mpg adds up, sigh!). Oh, the lengths to which a penguin will go to have a comfortable ride along forest roads and desert trails!

Oh - I'm doing all the wrenching on this myself (except mounting and balancing the tires of course, that's what tire stores were invented for). What, you think I'd let some heathen touch my silver demon to do something like this?! Sheesh! Greasy flippers are a small price to pay for knowing that the job was done right by someone who cares!

- Badtux the Greasy-flippered Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 3/21/2007 12:15:00 AM  


I am impressed that you solo are doing all this upgrading. Except for the tires, I grasped very little of what you were trying to tell me. My ignorance does serve to make the operation very intriguing, mysterious, and complex.
# posted by K. Ron Silkwood : 21/3/07 1:24 AM  

You did remember [1] to correct the speedometer when you went with the larger tires, didn't you?

[1] Yeah, I know that's so obvious it's obvious, but I thought I'd ask, just to make sure.

# posted by Anonymous : 21/3/07 8:09 AM  

I don't have the tires on yet, Dave. This has to be done in the following order due to simple physical restrictions:

1. Lift + swaybar disconnects.
2. Tires

The lunchbox can be done at any time during all this, but I can't stuff the bigger tires under the fender before I get the lift on to make room for them!

Anyhow, once I get the tires on, yes, I'll re-gear the speedo. Because of the peculiar combination of axles and transmissions on this Jeep I'll need to take the old speedo gear out first to find out how many teeth it has on it tho before I can order one that is 6.25% different (there's a chart out there on the Internets but it isn't quite right for my Jeep, but once I know the base gear I can correct it). It's a lot easier to do that once my Jeep is higher :-).

Oh, the "lunchbox" locker can be done at any time during all of this. It's a major production in and of itself depending upon whether my differential requires removing the carrier or not (I hope not, but Dana 30's are not known for being spacious, and I do have 3.73 gearing stuffed in there). If there's enough room with the carrier in, I can just slide out the driver's side axle enough to make room to tke the spider gears out and pop the spider gear replacement "lunchbox" in. Otherwise I'll have to slide both axle shafts out (i.e. take off both tires, both brake calipers, unbolt the retainer sleeves on both sides, and carefully slide them out through the axle tubes). But because a "lunchbox" retains the stock carrier, there isn't the major setup required of lockers that replace the stock carrier with one of their own. The stock carrier is more durable than the axle shafts on a Dana 30 axle, so that's not going to be an issue in the field.

And k.ron, five months ago all of this would have been intriguing, mysterious, and complex to me too. I just do my research very, VERY well. Isn't that obvious? :-).

- Badtux the Wrenchin' Penguin
PS: No, I am *not* going to mount a wench on this thing. The place to mount a wench is the bedroom, you sicko!
# posted by BadTux : 21/3/07 9:29 AM  

The bottom of my Jeep wouldn't have its current assortment of gashes and scrapes if it was 3" higher (heh! Famous last words!). experience is that I just think I can drive over larger objects, so not much changes in that particular area...

Shame you weren't seduced by a Rubicon with Dana 44's. That would have saved you the trouble of installing a front locker on your own. Still, it looks like its going to be a rig the likes of which my little '99 SE can only dream of being...
# posted by Jack K. : 21/3/07 10:20 AM  

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