More Flex For A Stock Zuk!
<font color=red>[Disclaimer: This isn't a recommendation, just my experience I thought I would share!]</font color=red>
I recently purchased a stock '87 Samurai. The only non-stock mods were 235s on stock rims and a very large aluminum (thick) front bumper.
I also own a '77 Jeep CJ5 that ramps 1250 on a 20 degree ramp. I'm used to having a flexy rig that can traverse most obsticles without the need for lockers because of it's ability to keep all four tires on the ground most of the time.
Now that I am intimately aware of the benefit of a rig that can articulate very well, my plan of attack for the Zuk is to make it flex as much as I can for as little money as possible. Also, because I have spent a number of years learning proper driving technique with open diffs, and have recently become familiar with driving with a front locker, I will probably weld the front (Fozzy Locker) sooner than later.
Since I have very little funds to put into a 4x4 (or anything else for that matter), I will be making most of the modifications myself and will not be buying pre-made products.
So to start off here's what I have done so far:
The first thing I did was to put the Zuk's drivers side tire up on a large rock to see what the flex was like. Terrible! I then removed the sway-bar thinking that this would help (seems to make a very noticeable difference on a YJ for example). I didn't notice much difference if at all.
I took the Zuk out for a run in the local hills......lots of rocks to play on, and lots of dirt, not much mud (I don't like mud much). The little stock Zuk on mild tread (235s 8psi, mild rubbing at full compression) did very well......maybe a little better than I had expected, but not a big surprise since previously seeing a friends stock Zuk perform. I did have some minor problems here and there, but nothing major (picking good lines is very important).
I then went about thinking of ways to free up the suspension a bit (for FREE). The first things I thought about was overloaders, shackle bolt torque, spring clamps and bumpstops. I wanted to know what was holding up the front with the sway-bar now gone. As it turns out the bumpstops were the culprits. I removed the front stops in about 15 minutes. It took me a lot longer to do the rears because they are held in place by the U-bolts. I also wanted to take the overloaders out, but I ran into a couple bolts that were not going to make things easy. I decided to leave the overloaders for now because I would be pulling the springs out and replacing them with either CJ or Pony springs soon enough. I also opened the spring clamps up so they pointed straight up and a little away from the springs.
Once I had removed all the bumpstops, I re-torqued all the shackle bolt nuts and the spring mount nuts. I went with 20 ft.lbs and 40 ft.lbs respectfully (I now check these regularly). I then went back to the same rock I had originally tested the Zuk on, and it did much better. I was getting almost 2" (guess) more axle movement in the front and in the rear. Combined, this made a big difference in overall articulation!
I took the Zuk out on the same trails as last time and added a few slightly tougher trails, and played a little harder on some of the side trail deversions. The difference was very noticeable. I was pretty pleased with the amount of extra flex I gained for a days worth of fooling around under the Zuk, and at no expense to my pocketbook.
Like I said at the beginning, this isn't an instruction manual. If you decide to do this sort of thing yourself you have to think about it carefully and decide whether it works for you or not.
I had some major tire rubbing on the inside of the wheel wells after doing this. This chewed my 235s up a bit. As far as I'm concerned this is just more siping for better traction [img]/wwwthreads_images/icons/crazy.gif[/img], you might not feel the same way! I plan on loosing the 235s soon and replacing them with my 31s that are on the Jeep as soon as I do a lift. I'm also going to pound out the ridge that is in the wheel wells that cuts into the tires. I may even take my cutting tools to the fenders.
The stock length shocks may bottom out or over extend and could get damaged with the increased flex. Again, I could care less! When I do the lift, I will be loosing the shocks, mounting Ford truck shock towers in the front, and cutting holes in the rear to accomodate extended shock mounts (then fab metal covers with access holes covered with a rubber plug).
The driveshafts may also get over extended or over compressed and damage the t-case etc. I haven't had this problem yet, but it's something to think about!
So although it works for me, there are other things to take into consideration......and everyone is different!
Stay tuned for my new web page......building a Zuk on a budget!
'77 CJ5 Fozzy Locker
20 degree RTI 1250
'87 Samurai Stock (for now)