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The first thing to do was to pull the wheels off of the TJ. Blaine put a pair of jack stands under the rear bumper and we adjusted them so that once the wheels were off and the bumper was resting on the jack stands, the bumper was once again sitting at ride height.
We started at the bottom and worked our way up. First would be the lower shock mount. Here is the existing shock mount (with extenders on it) and next to it is the lower control arm bracket. My bracket has been boxed in and a skid plate put on the back of it. Since some type of bracket had to be fabbed for mounting the shock, Blaine decided to use this skid plate as a mounting surface for the bracket. He has done several of these mods and normally would fab a bracket to be welded directly onto the axle tube. So, some slight alterations were done to accommodate my different setup.
OK, we had an idea of what the lower bracket would be so Blaine decided to make some extra room down there. With plasma cutter in hand, he made short work of the factory shock mounts. Never again would they be the source of getting hung up on a rock! Both sides were removed with just a couple minutes effort.
I should comment here about the optimum shock mounting angle. Obviously, the method by which the lower shock mount is attached to the axle will also determine the upper shock mount location at the frame. With the axle sitting at ride height (remember, we already have the frame sitting at ride height), one would want the shock to be nearly perpendicular to the lower control arm. As the axle travels upwards and downwards from this position, the shock will have maximum effect on the axle. Moving the shock away from this 90 degree position will decrease the shock's efficiency. So....knowing this, we want to make the lower mount to accommodate the preferred perpendicular mounting angle (at normal ride height). At the same time, we need to keep an eye on where the upper mount will be situated in the frame.
Blaine made a number of measurements with me holding the shock
in position (~90 degrees to the control arm) so he could determine the angle
needed for the bracket. He cut a piece of square tubing at this angle to
be used as the mounting bracket. We drilled a hole into the bracket and
bolted the shock pin into position.
Blaine tack welded the nut into position on three sides.
If I bend a pin at some point, it should be pretty easy for me to unscrew it and
put in a new one.
Well, we thought we had it all just right but we forgot about one thing. When the axle was cycled through its full range, the shock body was going to hit the new lower mounting bracket. Blaine is marking the bracket for the necessary clearancing cut that he later did on the chop saw. Remember, this project is as much of a fab project as it is a Jeep modification.....these things are going to happen.
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