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Improving YJ approach angle

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Improving YJ approach angle

Post  THOOPY3 on 4/29/2014, 12:59 pm

Looking for some thoughts on improving the approach angle of my YJ going forward. Once again this past weekend I was unable to get up a decent-sized boulder on the run in Mason because my spring shackle gets hung up. Right now on all four corners I'm running roughly 1.25" lift springs and .75" lift shackles (the rear isn't an issue though). The shackles I have on there are roughly 1.5" longer than stock YJ shackles and I believe this is part of my approach issue. This has been an issue I've wanted to address for quite some time.

Since I don't have plans to go any larger than 32" tires moving forward (currently on 31s) something has to change up front to improve the situation. Coil conversion is totally out of the question (though it would be nice) so it must be accomplished with leafs.

I have essentially two options (that I'll lay out here) that I'd like opinions on. #1 is a fairly moderate task (in effort and cost) to take on, but I believe it would definitely make a difference in helping my cause. #2 is a fairly easy task, the problem is I'm unsure if it will completely solve the issues currently at hand, and I'd hate to throw money at the thing only to accomplish nothing. Money isn't a huge problem (though I'm toning down my Jeep spending moving forward), but I do have other more pressing issues that I'd like to take care of also (brakes, steering column bearing, water pump).

Option #1: Wagoneer front spring swap

I've read many threads on other sites about swapping 7-leaf factory-spec Grand Wagoneer front leafs on to the front of the YJ. Stock Waggy springs give 2"+ of lift over factory YJ springs, which would match my current rear setup perfectly. Additionally, YJ springs are roughly 44-45"-ish eye-to-eye with a centered pin, while Wagoneer springs are about 46-47"-ish eye-to-eye with a 2" offset pin. This means that in addition to a 2" lift I could push the axle forward 2" as well. You can retain the stock YJ shackle in this configuration, with the only difference being the shackle's forward-leaning angle being steeper. The shackle would be higher however, not sacrificing clearance. The springs can also be installed in a YJ-factory-spec scenario where the centering pin is in the same location as the stock YJ spring, which still provides 2" of lift but no wheelbase stretch. It also seems to be the consensus that the Waggy spring flex very well under a YJ, so that could be an added bonus.

Here's a link to page that shows the difference in the stock shackle angle before and after the swap: http://www.jeepforum.com/forum/f12/waggy-springs-6-7-leaf-1297877/

This setup would require me to have the front driveshaft lengthened and possibly require me to relocate/extend the front brake lines, though there is debate on both of these requirements (at minimum I would want to lengthen the driveshaft). Stock steering and shock locations can be maintained, which is a huge plus since I don't want to sink tons of cashola into this project. I don't know how much it costs to extend a driveshaft, but a pair of new stock height Waggy springs (bushings included) would run me about $310 to my door. Add in the cost of lengthening and balancing the shaft, and possibly extend brakes lines, and I might be looking at close to $450 total. That's a fair chunk of change.

So, do the ends justify the means in the situation? Would the benefit of pushing the axle forward 2" significantly help my approach angle? Since the springs can be mounted either to provide a stretch or to retain factory wheelbase, should I pull the trigger on the Waggy springs and install them without the stretch and save up for the other modifications?

Option #2: YJ lift springs

This one might seem obvious, but another choice is to install 2-2.5" factory length YJ springs up front with stock shackles. This would also perfectly match the current rear configuration. Since I already have about a 2" lift now, I know I won't have to relocate brake lines. My preferred choice for springs are BDS 2" lift springs for a YJ, which BDS lists as being 43 inches eye-to-eye. Since this is shorter than the factory YJ springs, the stock shackles would be more vertical (not sure if this is good or bad for what I'm trying to accomplish), but the spring should have more arch to it, therefore allowing for a better approach angle. A pair of BDS 2" springs with two sets of bushings would be a little over $280 to my door. Marginal difference in price between the two pairs of springs, but with BDS there is no additional cost for driveshaft work or possible brake modifications.

Would these more arched springs along with the shorter factory shackles improve my approach angle? Obviously there will still certainly be situations where the spring might contact obstacles first, but at present the Jeep is stopped dead in its tracks in situations like that because so much of the shackle gets caught up. Since I have no plans for slapping on any mondo tires, I won't have the benefit of gaining a better approach angle or front-end clearance in that fashion.

I look forward to opinions and insights from you guys.
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Re: Improving YJ approach angle

Post  nnovickzj on 4/29/2014, 2:30 pm

you were barely hitting it on that boulder id say less than 1/2 inch so either one of those options would have got it up there also if its not your dd i would look into a shackle reversal
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Re: Improving YJ approach angle

Post  dongalonga on 4/29/2014, 2:42 pm

I know you said no but coilovers or sell it to your dad and get an LJ. We can be trail buddies for life  Twisted Evil 
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Re: Improving YJ approach angle

Post  Mark on 4/29/2014, 2:59 pm

A set of boomerang shackles, 33 INCH TIRES and a set of 3 1/2 inch BDS military wrap springs like the set in my yj is the way to go with out breaking the bank.
You can look at mine if it helps you make a decision.
Mark,
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Re: Improving YJ approach angle

Post  THOOPY3 on 4/29/2014, 3:09 pm

nnovickzj wrote:you were barely hitting it on that boulder id say less than 1/2 inch so either one of those options would have got it up there also if its not your dd i would look into a shackle reversal

That's encouraging at least. I thought about a shackle reversal awhile back, but then started looking more into them and read how they can negatively affect trail performance. Most say the reversal is actually best for an around town driver (which for me it is), as apparently it makes road bumps smoother.

dongalonga wrote:I know you said no but coilovers or sell it to your dad and get an LJ. We can be trail buddies for life

If only, to all of those things. I'd say a few mores years working in the real world and I should be able to comfortably pull off buying a vehicle made sometime in this millennium. And let's be honest, there's a reason why we're shopping around for YJs under a grand that need work. Hint: it's not for the thrill of the hunt.
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Re: Improving YJ approach angle

Post  Rob Cote on 4/29/2014, 3:24 pm

portal axles and 44s  Twisted Evil 
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Re: Improving YJ approach angle

Post  THOOPY3 on 4/29/2014, 3:24 pm

Mark wrote:A set of boomerang shackles, 33 INCH TIRES and a set of 3 1/2 inch BDS military wrap springs like the set in my yj is the way to go with out breaking the bank.
You can look at mine if it helps you make a decision.
Mark,

The shackles on there now are actually boomerang, which like I said before works great in the back but causes these issues up front. As she stands right now, I could probably run 33s if I went ahead and trimmed and installed TJ flares, but then we're getting into re-gearing and steering upgrades (not to mention putting my D35 in a permanent state of terror) that I can't justify on this Jeep. All of that will be done to the next one, which more and more looks like it will be an LJ as Shaun's mentioned. That platform simply fits my needs better. I remember seeing a photo of your YJ on 31s Mark and it did have a nice stance. If I could go back and talk to 2010 T.J. that's the direction I would have gone in.

I would be absolutely ecstatic if I was to get another two years out of this Jeep, which in my heart and my head I know is well within reason, but the more I take her off road the more time and old age is going to catch up to her. If she was just a pavement pounder then maybe I'd go crazy, but rust (which is already a major issue) and other things are only going to get worse. Between runs with the club and my love of camping, she gets used plenty and it's gonna start to show more and more.

But hey, if she makes it to 2017 she's a damn antique and I can save some money on insurance and show up to car shows and confuse the shit out of people.
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Re: Improving YJ approach angle

Post  nnovickzj on 4/29/2014, 5:18 pm

i think your best bet is option 2 wheelbase stretch would be nice but i think unnecessary for your build and would lead to much more downtime i say get the springs and stock size shackles throw them on and don't over complicate it. that will raise the shackle ends up which at least for that rock would have been more than enough
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Re: Improving YJ approach angle

Post  Mark on 4/29/2014, 5:48 pm

The boomerang shackles don't cause issues, they keep the shackle from hitting the bottom of the rear bumper, and that gives you more articulation.
The spring eye is in the same spot front or rear with or with out boomerang shackles.
The lower spring eye will be in the same spot no matter how long the shackles are, it's the jeep that lifts up,, unless you get new springs with a different arch to them! Otherwise the lower eye will be at same height..
You need 3 1/2 inch lift springs, angle spring wedges in rear (maybe), Also a set of 33's, a drive shaft and SYE, and you'll be rolling over some rocks..
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Re: Improving YJ approach angle

Post  Mark on 4/30/2014, 3:24 pm

With the 3 1/2 in lift BDS springs in my YJ and 5/8 lift shackles I have a measurement at the center of the front lower spring shackle eye  bolt of about 19 inches to ground with 31 inch tires.
What do you get for a measurement TJ ?
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Re: Improving YJ approach angle

Post  THOOPY3 on 4/30/2014, 3:47 pm

Mark wrote:The lower spring eye will be in the same spot no matter how long the shackles are, it's the jeep that lifts up,, unless you get new springs with a different arch to them!  Otherwise the lower eye will be at same height..

This. Currently the springs I have on there are relatively flat and not very stiff. I'm willing to bet they've settled a fair amount and that the shackles are doing most of the lifting. I bought them and the shackles as a kit from Crown as a cheap way to gain some room for 31s, which has worked out very well except for when I approach tough obstacles. They're great on the street, but that is do to their softness (no complaints though because the inverted factory ones rode like a brick missing a wheel). Most of the time I can just choose a different line and be on my merry way, but driving around stuff defeats the purpose of doing all this work to it.

If I had stiffer springs then maybe the shackle wouldn't hang down as far, but I have to disagree and say that in my situation the shackles are definitely part of the problem. I'm at work right now, but afterwards I'll grab my tape measure and see what my ground to lower shackle eye bolt clearance is. Who knows, maybe I'm wrong and it will be the same as the 18" you got mark. Just from photos I can tell the BDS springs have much more arch than my current ones so I'm inclined to think they will help things. Plus the longer shackles do annoying things to my steering that I wouldn't mind being rid of.

EDIT: I think no matter what your spring eye will be higher Mark because you have 3.5" springs, so me measuring my clearance might be a bad comparison for this. All that will mostly accomplish is telling me I need a bigger lift. Shocked
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Re: Improving YJ approach angle

Post  Mark on 4/30/2014, 5:08 pm

There is no way what so ever that the shackles are an issue as far as spring eye height, think about it,,
The spring eye will stay exactly where it is and the jeep itself goes up when you add longer shackles, which in turn gives you more frame to ground clearance.
Don't forget that you are not changing the weight on the springs with longer shackles so the eye stays where it is with or without longer shackles. jUST sAY'IN.
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Re: Improving YJ approach angle

Post  nnovickzj on 4/30/2014, 8:26 pm

Mark wrote:There is no way what so ever that the shackles are an issue as far as spring eye height, think about it,,
The spring eye will stay exactly where it is and the jeep itself goes up when you add longer shackles, which in turn gives you more frame to ground clearance.
Don't forget that you are not changing the weight on the springs with longer shackles so the eye stays where it is with or without longer shackles. jUST sAY'IN.
but if you add higher springs and get rid of the shackles with the purpose of staying level with the back your shackle end will be higher
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Re: Improving YJ approach angle

Post  Mark on 4/30/2014, 11:05 pm

YES,The shackle end/spring eye bolt will be higher if you have a set of lift springs, But i would leave the shackles as they lift the frame and bumper height
I have a friend that has a 6 cylinder 89 YJ with 3 1/2 inch BDS springs and 5/8 lift shackles front and rear with 33's on it.
It sits level and rides great.
I have a 4 cylinder 91 YJ with exact same set up and it too sits and rides great.
I also have a 4 inch plus lift in my TJ but that's a completely different animal and there is no comparison
when it comes to approaching boulders,,  the TJ is awesome.
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Re: Improving YJ approach angle

Post  THOOPY3 on 5/1/2014, 10:00 am

No doubt that coils would certainly help things, but buying a different Jeep is out for now. The next one will probably be riding on coils in one way or another (TJ, LJ, Cherokee).

Anyway, I took the measurements Mark, and my spring eye bolt on the shackle end has about 15" of ground clearance, and it's more like 14" from the ground to the bottom of the spring. This is significantly below the 18" you have.

The problem with lift shackles is that it takes twice as much length for the shackle to lift the Jeep. So right now, my lift shackles are 1-2" longer than stock, but only provide .5-1" of additional height lift over stock shackles. By using a spring with a bigger arch, this same lift can be accomplished with the stock shackles because the lift does not only occur at the shackle end, but instead it runs the entire length of the spring. I do understand your point Mark and I think it mostly holds true, but your BDS springs are probably much stiffer and have more arch than the ones I run, which in fairness weren't designed exclusively for off road abuse.

The short of it: springs with more arch won't be as flat at the shackle end, and thus won't hang down as far as the ones I currently have, which should help the Jeep to "glide" (loose definition of the term) over obstacles as opposed to getting totally stopped by them as it does now. If leafs helped win the war then I can make them work for me.
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Re: Improving YJ approach angle

Post  nnovickzj on 5/1/2014, 1:25 pm

i think he just doesnt understand your only getting front springs and want to be level with the back still what your doing makes complete sense
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Re: Improving YJ approach angle

Post  Mark on 5/1/2014, 2:01 pm

I don't understand ?? Maybe there is too much book smarts here and not enough hands on. I know a hell of alot more than most about jeeps believe me.
You can do a set of front springs only but the thing won't be right with 2 different spring rates, etc. why in the first place would you do a half a lift.,, you need all 4 springs and call it a day, whats the big deal with the decision ? so run stock shackles, but they are cheezy.

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Re: Improving YJ approach angle

Post  THOOPY3 on 5/1/2014, 2:52 pm

I'm not questioning anyone's knowledge, just looking for input, and I appreciate all of it. You have a very good point about the different spring rates Mark, and that's something I hadn't considered. I know you have a lot more experience with this stuff than I do, and I think we were just on different pages.

I have a situation now where I'm not happy with the setup in the front end, but don't have a problem out back. I know it's a bit unorthodox to only want to change out things on one end, but this is a live and learn type of situation, and I can fully admit I probably should have gone with only a spring lift instead of the spring/larger shackle configuration when I chose the lift. I'm quite pleased with the performance and ride of the springs, but now that I'm getting into more challenging situations that require more front end clearance, the setup no longer suit my needs.

I am unwilling to invest in a SYE/CV shaft for this Jeep, so switching to a full set of larger (>2") springs out back is not an option. This is why I trimmed and put TJ flares out back; I prefer to keep it low to minimize driveshaft angles and center of gravity. Cost is also a consideration because I don't want to invest in rear springs when what I have on there now work great. Honestly I could put 33s on the thing as it sits now to help with the approach angle, but it wouldn't get out of its own way and things would start snapping left and right.

I'm quite content with the Jeep overall, and am just trying to improve upon my only problem spot, which is approaching steep obstacles. I know the thing will never climb itself up a wall, but I'm frustrated that I get hung up on things that I know it should be able to overcome. This isn't just a one-time occurrence either, but is something that I've come across quite a few times since I put the lift on and is something I didn't think through at that point. Again, live and learn.
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Re: Improving YJ approach angle

Post  nnovickzj on 5/1/2014, 3:10 pm

im not trying to fight with you the op whats more front shackle clearance with the same amount of lift. and most vehicles have very different springs front and rear. I'm not saying you don't know your stuff but your not understanding what he wants he want to stay the same lift but have it in the spring not the shackle. he doesn't want more lift he just wants more effective lift. once again not saying your wrong just that you aren't answering his question.


so once again different spring rates wont cause baby Jesus to die and your plan on stock size shackles with springs to make up the difference will work granted its not ideal having one set of old springs and one new. my jeep has 250# springs front and 190# rear and it drives fine
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Re: Improving YJ approach angle

Post  Mark on 5/1/2014, 3:25 pm

That's just it,, you do not get more lower spring eye / shackle to ground clearance unless you change the springs and that's what i have been saying, regardless of what shackles you use.
I didn't realize that you don't want more lift.
Using old springs for something that you are a bit rough on isn't really the best combo.
TJ why don't you want a SYE? it's easy to install and not very expensive.

http://www.adamsdriveshaftoffroad.com/sye-kits-and-packages/sye-kit-and-1310-cv-driveshaft-package/

Not a bad price and i know that Ryan, myself and others have purchased from Adams.
Pull the T Case and i'll show you how to install it.
You can also do it while the T Case is still in the jeep.
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Re: Improving YJ approach angle

Post  THOOPY3 on 5/1/2014, 3:56 pm

That is actually a pretty decent price for a shaft and the SYE, I just don't think it's necessary since I don't have plans to go much bigger than I am now. Like I mentioned before, the clock on this Jeep is ticking down and I'm trying to be reasonable about the money I throw at it, so I'm really just trying to get by with what I have now.

I'm saving up for the purchase and eventual upgrading (like a SYE) of a rig that is a better starting platform. I've come to terms with the fact that this just isn't that rig. I had budgeted out putting an 8.8 on it, re-gearing to 4.88s, and eventually slapping some 33s on there, but the more I thought on it the more I realized it's just not practical because of the unavoidable issues it's going to have in short time. My rockers are already junk, my driver floor has had a plate on it for years, the floor under both front seat mounts is beginning to rot, and the front fenders will be rotted through soon, so eventually there's going to come a time when even I think it'll be unsafe to drive the thing. The frame is in pretty good shape considering it's 22 years old and been in at least two front end accidents, but I know it's on borrowed time and that eventually it's going to give up fighting the good fight. She's been damn good to me, but soon enough she'll be a parts vehicle and live on that way.
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Re: Improving YJ approach angle

Post  Mark on 5/1/2014, 4:30 pm

Yeah, that's not a bad price and i'll bet someone else has same stuff for even less if you do some searching.
I hear ya all the way over here !  Get what you can for fun out of it and upgrade someday sounds like a plan. cheers 
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Re: Improving YJ approach angle

Post  dongalonga on 5/1/2014, 4:37 pm

Honestly TJ, just be happy where you are. I wouldn't dump another penny in that rig. You have done just fine on your current setup. I know you want to be able to run all of the trail, but it isn't worth the investment on that rig. Enjoy it on the trails you can do for now and save those pennies for your next rig.
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Re: Improving YJ approach angle

Post  nnovickzj on 5/1/2014, 5:46 pm

Mark wrote:I didn't realize that you don't want more lift.

that what i meant by not understanding not that you dont know about jeeps
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Re: Improving YJ approach angle

Post  Jake on 5/1/2014, 8:09 pm

Lift springs and shorter shackles sounds like a good plan. Just a thought on the sye/CV sitch, could you not do a hack n tap ($100 ish) pick up a jy Cherokee front shaft ($50 ish) and have it shortened by Montrose or some other drive line shop (<$100 I think?). Still might not be worth it but just a thought.
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