SOA suspension 12 years later. What is better now?

tom82cj8

Scrambler Pro
City
Austin
State
TX
#1
So my Scrambler build is 12 years old now. Spent the weekend wheeling with my daughters. Most of the other Jeeps were JKs and TJs. My Scrambler was the tallest Jeep there by a couple of inches. Most were running 35" tires like mine. It occurred to me that my Jeep might wheel better a few inches lower. Currently, I have my suspension setup over the axles with JC Whitney rear CJ 7-leaf springs all around. I have perches on my rear axle that probably add 1". I have shackles that are good for 3/4". I have a 1" body lift. I need to keep the body lift due to my engine/tranny mounts. I can easily lose the shackles. Any suggestions for dropping down some more? I would like to maintain my ability to drop the axles, but stuffing them into my wheel wells isn't really a problem now. I don't even have any bumpstops(I can add some).

If you were building a Scrambler for trails, what suspension would you use today? Is SOA still a preferred lift?

Thanks,
 

LetchcoreCJ7

Legacy Registered User
City
Nashville
State
TN
#2
There is no way around the fact that you need lift on a scrambler to clear 35's due to wheel well size. JK's have a much bigger opening. If you are willing to use bump stops you could run stock YJ rear springs all around. They have less stock lift than your CJ springs. The problem with stock height springs is they often go negative arch. It can reduce the life of a spring. I bet Alcan would make some stock YJ height springs that could handle the trail.

Defiantly re move the 3/4in lift shackles. I have seen guys actually move the spring hangers into the frame to reduce height on SOA.

As far as better than SOA and current suspensions go Coilovers are the thing these days. Axle swaps are everywhere. 35's were big tires 12 years ago.
 

tom82cj8

Scrambler Pro
City
Austin
State
TX
#3
You are right about the wheel wells. I didn't really think about that. The fronts would allow me to drop down, but the rears would be the limiting factor. I can lose the shackles. I might also be able to lose a couple of leafs from the spring packs. I will have to see if there is any room to drop the body, that could be good for another 1". Might be able to get it a couple of inches lower and not lose any flex.
 

LetchcoreCJ7

Legacy Registered User
City
Nashville
State
TN
#4
You are right about the wheel wells. I didn't really think about that. The fronts would allow me to drop down, but the rears would be the limiting factor. I can lose the shackles. I might also be able to lose a couple of leafs from the spring packs. I will have to see if there is any room to drop the body, that could be good for another 1". Might be able to get it a couple of inches lower and not lose any flex.
Most body lifts can be cut to your desired height. Maybe you can take a 1/2in off them and still clear your drivetrain? If you limit the up travel you may not need the shackle lift anymore.

Your thoughts on keeping it as low as possible are right on. On big obstacles the last thing you want is to tip. Also keeping accessory's and equipment as low on the Scrambler as possible helps.
 

SHLTR2

Island Jeeper
LIFETIME
CJ-8.com Member
City
Drummond Island
State
MI
#5
I made 3-part perches like this for my SOA lift - the axle being so close to the spring really helps with axle wrap, too. When you use flat YJ springs with a soft spring rate you need something like that for wrap control. IMG-20130425-00659.jpg
I also moved the front hangers up into the frame, shortened the shackles and wound up having about 3.5" lift for 33's.
 
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SHLTR2

Island Jeeper
LIFETIME
CJ-8.com Member
City
Drummond Island
State
MI
#7
build thread SHLTR2?
I posted some pics last year but never quite got to a "build thread", went wheeling instead. but I can do a short thread on a minimal height SOA. I was concerned more with maximum clearance for deep snow, good on-road manners and a soft ride than a radical high lift.
 

ajmaudio

Basic User
City
nashville
State
tn
#8
I posted some pics last year but never quite got to a "build thread", went wheeling instead. but I can do a short thread on a minimal height SOA. I was concerned more with maximum clearance for deep snow, good on-road manners and a soft ride than a radical high lift.
I would love to see any info on that you'd be willing to post... sooner the better!
 

bigwalton

Picture cravin' AK Postal nut
Staff member
SOA Member
City
Dexter
State
MI
#9
I was going to ask what you have to control axle wrap. The mention of pulling leaves set off alarm bells for me.
 

SHLTR2

Island Jeeper
LIFETIME
CJ-8.com Member
City
Drummond Island
State
MI
#10
:) The leaves were all back in for the trip to Moab - the two short ones in the rear were all that were out. On the front springs, I'd added a full-length leaf from stock rears. We were still overloaded on the road, though; the springs spent time arched backwards. I made extra-long spring perches - 6.5" and that stopped the hopping in deep snow. It seems to me that when the springs are flat (no arch) all is well, but reverse arch makes for roll steering (top heavy anyhow). I ran those trails in Moab with the sway bar still hooked up - had plenty of flex. I was waiting for bouldering to unhook it. I promise this afternoon I'll post some pics - have to gather some some up.
 
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SHLTR2

Island Jeeper
LIFETIME
CJ-8.com Member
City
Drummond Island
State
MI
#11
In the house for a sec... I'll elaborate further on a seperate thread - I made the suspension to have limited flex upwards, like 1.5" in the front (not a high-speed desert racer) but plenty of droop to keep the tires in contact with the ground. So, when making a hard (emergency) turn on the road, the bump stops come into play and stop most of the dive or roll. Otherwise, it is wicked soft and might be too crazy to drive on the interstate. As it is, I can go around the sharp bends here locally as good as or better than my pickup, with the same decent ride. The long perches mentioned above (6.5") work well with the flat springs and limited upward travel, and don't restrict downward droop.
 
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bigwalton

Picture cravin' AK Postal nut
Staff member
SOA Member
City
Dexter
State
MI
#12
I was actually talking to Tom about his mention of removing leaves but this is all good info :)
 

YJ-8

Basic User
City
Austin
State
TX
#13
Hello, I remember seeing a build thread on your Scrambler years ago, It may be what planted the seed for me to build mine. Beautiful Truck.

From my research most leaf sprung trail jeeps are being built SUA or going straight to links. A few years back SOA was the dream, but today is seems the time to do it correct is better spent running links. You can also go back to SUA run hi-line fenders and stay as low/stable as you like.

Since you are already SOA, you may want to talk to Alcan, I hear they can do great things with leafs otherwise you may be in for a complete redesign. To answer your question-- For Trails I would want links with coil over$$$$. Is SOA still preferred-- IMO No, too many issues and typically have high COG's for what they are (but if I recall yours is done right so it may not be so clear cut)

I just built my YJ-8 with 3.5" SUA springs, TJ flares and am clearing 35's. I expect it to be on the road in another 2-3 months and since I am in Austin, you are welcome to go for a ride/ take a look to compare.

YJ-8
 

SHLTR2

Island Jeeper
LIFETIME
CJ-8.com Member
City
Drummond Island
State
MI
#15
Hello, I remember seeing a build thread on your Scrambler years ago, It may be what planted the seed for me to build mine. Beautiful Truck.

From my research most leaf sprung trail jeeps are being built SUA or going straight to links. A few years back SOA was the dream, but today is seems the time to do it correct is better spent running links. You can also go back to SUA run hi-line fenders and stay as low/stable as you like.

Since you are already SOA, you may want to talk to Alcan, I hear they can do great things with leafs otherwise you may be in for a complete redesign. To answer your question-- For Trails I would want links with coil over$$$$. Is SOA still preferred-- IMO No, too many issues and typically have high COG's for what they are (but if I recall yours is done right so it may not be so clear cut)

I just built my YJ-8 with 3.5" SUA springs, TJ flares and am clearing 35's. I expect it to be on the road in another 2-3 months and since I am in Austin, you are welcome to go for a ride/ take a look to compare.

YJ-8
Well said! I may be changing my mind now on my current project - I was getting all set up to do SOA again depsite all the effort involved but I think you have done that idea in. :)
 

AK-RWC

Legacy Registered User
SOA Member
City
south central
State
AK
#16
Up here, water crossings require height. I was clearing 35"s with extreme trimming in a CJ-7 on stock springs. It did great everywhere I had it on the east coast, but as soon as I came home, I was wet and water-logged constantly. After a near hydro-lock and an actual hydro-lock, I knew SOA was in my future. So for the Scrambler build, I went SOA with 2.5" YJ lift springs in anticipation of clearing 38"-40" tires. I haven't bought the tires yet, and the Jeep looks undersized with the 35"s. That being said, I'm still not usually the tallest vehicle that shows up for a run, and even just last weekend, I had water over the rockers that nearly splashed over the doorsill. SOA isn't entirely dead.
 

SHLTR2

Island Jeeper
LIFETIME
CJ-8.com Member
City
Drummond Island
State
MI
#17
The Jeep or the tires look undersized? If you want height, SOA is the way, for sure!
 

jeepnick

Legacy Registered User
City
pittsburgh
State
pa
#18
I've run coilovers, oris, coil spring, spring under and over
Currently spring over with tired leafs that need replaced
A properly tuned suspension is always best regardless of what it is
A buddy if mine has an 88 Yj spring under on 36's with like 500k miles on it
He goes everywhere, places I couldn't when I was on 42inch sticky krawlers and ori's
He blows everyone's mind when they watch him
 

SHLTR2

Island Jeeper
LIFETIME
CJ-8.com Member
City
Drummond Island
State
MI
#19
A properly tuned suspension is always best regardless of what it is
A buddy if mine has an 88 Yj spring under on 36's with like 500k miles on it
He goes everywhere, places I couldn't when I was on 42inch sticky krawlers and ori's
He blows everyone's mind when they watch him
Sounds like case6688 in his near-stocker in Moab...
 
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