Installation of a BDS 3.5″ Lift Kit with RS9000 shocks and Rock Equipment accessories on a CJ-5.
After several seasons wheeling on the Skyjacker 2.5″ lift I think I am ready to graduate to something bigger. The Skyjacker system has been extremely durable and flexable. My CJ drove well on and off road, the Skyjacker Hydro shocks absorbed the bumps and the springs just kept flexin’. After adding 33″ rubber to the CJ I started noticing and hearing rubbing coming from the underside of my Jeep. After some investigation I noticed that the rear tires would rub the insides of the fenderwells and the rear edges of the fender opening. This was cured with the wide-track axles and some fender trimming. As always fixing one problem seems to create another, now that I no longer had rubbing in the rear with the addition of the wide-tracks, I now have rubbing in the front. The tires are destroying the insides of my front fenders. Before the wide-tracks the tires would tuck in nicely, but not anymore. To further compound the problem I have noticed that every time I go wheeling I seem to take more stuff, this adds weight to an already heavy Jeep. I think the rear of the Jeep settles about 3/4″ when fully loaded. I am planning to add a winch to the front of the Jeep, I’m sure this will affect ride height also.
I was considering a 4″ lift but I was afraid of the my Jeep’s rear driveshaft being at too much of an angle. I also considered a 1″ body lift but that can bring on it’s own set of problems. I have been hearing good things about the BDS products and did a little investigating. I discovered that BDS makes a 3.5″ Wrangler setup. Needless to say I was interested, and after a little poking around I learned that Mike from OK was already installing one on his CJ. I definitely needed to look into it further, I took a ride to Mike’s and took measurements and lots of mental notes. With a little thought I decided that this would probably work in my case and after a phone call to OK the parts were on their way.
Here is the parts list. All the products are from OK Auto in Stewartsville, NJ.
4 BDS 3.5″ “Glide Ride” Wrangler Springs with urethane bushings
Front and Rear Rock Equipment Upper Spring Mounts
4 Rock Equipment U-bolt Plates with Skid Plates
8 New U-Bolts
8 Greasable Shackle Bolts
Front and Rear Stock Wrangler Shackles
Rancho RS9000 Adjustable Shocks.
A Wrangler’s leaf springs differ from a CJ’s in that the front springs are about 1″ longer and are 2.5″ wide as opposed to a CJ’s 2″ front spring. This requires some work to be done to the front of the CJ to mount new wider upper spring mounts, also wider front u-bolt plates are required due to the wider spring. Rock Equipment makes upper spring mounts and u-bolt plates that make this conversion easier. The upper spring mounts are much stronger that the original wrapped mounts and the u-bolt plates feature a removable skid plate that bolts to the plate from the side, this allows the bottom to be solid with no holes.
Here is a picture of the Jeep, taken spring 2000, right after the wide-track axle install.
The front shackle mounts will need to be relocated about an inch forward. This is due to the Wrangler springs being longer. Also as I mentioned above the Wrangler springs are also wider, this is solved by the Rock Equipment upper shackle mounts.
This is a picture of the location of the stock CJ front upper shackle mount.
Relocation of the mounts is achieved by removing the old mount and grinding out the rivet that attaches the front crossmember. The new shackle mount will use one of the original mount holes and a bolt will be used through the rivet hole. I am sure I am going to have interference from the front bumper mount, I will probably need to fabricate a different bracket.
I picked up the parts from OK Auto, I got everything but the shocks, these will be bought later after the system is installed so that I can measure the Jeep for proper shock length.
Here is a picture of the whole deal.
A close up of the Rock Equipment upper shackle mounts.
A close up of the Rock Equipment u-bolt skid plates.
Other items like Wrangler shackles, bushings, greaseable bolts.
To start out with here are some measurements of my Jeep as it sits before any work has been done. Front 22.5″ to the bottom of the bumper, Rear 27″ to the bottom of the body.