Project MJ Update VI: Suspension, Coilovers, Steering, Brakes, More Paint
The 2011 Ultimate Adventure starts this weekend, and although we’re unable to disclose the location, it’s a full day’s drive and then some to make it to check-in and tech inspection from the Zone R&D Shop in Coldwater, Michigan. While many of the attendees are currently in route to the rendezvous, the crew from Zone has been working overtime to get this Jeep fully prepped for the rigors this trip demand. With paint and graphics complete, a big sense of accomplishment started to set in, followed by panic as there are so many loose ends to finish up still. Yesterday was the day Murphy came and laid down the law on us, and laid it hard. From not being able to mount brakes, to our plasma table breaking after 7-years of faithful service, bumpers warping during welding causing tweaked fitment, leaky fuel lines, custom rear window fitment issues, a defective radiator, hot & humid temps not allowing paint to dry, and on and on. After a 17 hour work day and the whole team working their asses off, most of the issues had been resolved and progress was made on the MJ. The Zone custom 4-link long arm front/triangulated 4-link long arm rear is fully built and received a couple fresh coats of paint before getting reinstalled. The custom 1-Ton steering was bent to clear the BlueTorch Fab diff cover, radiator was replaced with a newer model, custom K&N intake was mounted, battery cables were run to the engine, the Warn Air Power VTC compressor was plumbed, and the bumpers, roll cage, and bed underside were painted. Finally the Fox Racing 14” front/14” rear remote reservoir coilovers made their way onto the rig along with the new Fox Racing bump stops.
As for the thorn in our sides all day, the brakes. The J8 axles we purchased 2nd hand were complete, other than some parts that were swapped along the way. Essentially the front is an overbuilt JK Dana 44 with 1/2-ton brakes and 5 on 5.5 hubs which aren’t largely sold in the USA. We weren’t able to match up calipers that would clear the larger hubs as well as fit on the diameter of rotors and clear the Inner Air Lock internal beadlock valve stem. After multiple trips to the parts store trying CJ rotors, Dodge 1500 rotors from various years, factory JK hubs, calipers off multiple trucks including the Zone 1/2-ton Silverado show truck, and calls to our contacts at Mopar and Dynatrac, our engineers decided to make brackets to adapt/space the new brake calipers to the desired location using our 2008 1/2-Ton Silverado brake calipers. After that debacle was resolved, we ran the brakelines and the finally dropped the truck down on the ground with the coilovers holding up the truck for the first time.
Today is a big day for us and the whole crew needs to be on their “A” Game to get this thing done at a reasonable hour if not tonight, at some point tomorrow so the guys can hit the road and make tracks (treading lightly of course). Stay posted for short updates later today leading up to arriving at the start of the UA and full overview of the Jeep Comanche MJ after we get back from the trip.