This is my Jeep 1989 XJ Laredo. It has taken
on the name Flex-J from my club members, because of its ability to out
flex the rest of our club (
Southeast Tennessee Axle Twisters). I
purchased this Jeep in March of 1999, and I have been constantly building
it up since.
Lets start with the lift. The lift on this XJ started out as a 4" Trailmaster lift that was on a previously owned XJ that I bought with the lift on it. At the time I knew pretty much nothing about XJs, and later becoming a member of the XJ-List I came to find out the draw backs of this lift and the "notorious" drop brackets. Now I never really wheeled my first XJ. I was just getting into the sport when it was involved in a front end collision and was totaled. So to make a long story short I went to the salvage yard and pulled all the after market parts and replaced them with stock parts and sold the XJ for salvage. It was a sad day, but soon I would find the XJ you see above.
I took the truck load of parts (mainly a lift kit and tires) and started building my new Rock Crawling XJ. I liked the front springs of the Trailmaster lift so I reused them, but I wanted more then 4" up there so I went in the shop and built some 2" coil spring spacers to get the front up to 6". Now the drop down brackets were destroyed in the wreck and I knew I could not run stock control arms on a 6" lift with much off road success, so I ordered the second generation upper and lower super articulating control arms from Rubicon Express. Now the front end was lifted and ready to go.
Next, I had to get the rear end up to match the front. I have struggled with my rear lift, and I will tell you why. I use this XJ to work out of as well as wheel it. So with this being the case I carry about 400 pounds around in the rear of my XJ on a daily basis. With this much weight it is hard to keep the rear from sagging. I first used the Trail Master Add A Leaves that I had left over from the wrecked XJ. These gave me about 3" of lift. I then made some extended shackles that gave me 1.5" more of lift. I then added a pair of 3 degree 1.5" tapered lift blocks. This lift held up until my second time taking the XJ out on a trail ride and then it sagged a good 1.5". So I went back to the drawing board. I thought about ordering a full 4.5" spring pack, but I just really did not have the money to buy them with all the other stuff I was doing to the XJ at the same time. So I went on a search for a cheaper alternative.
While building the Flex-J I have become very acquainted with the guys who own the local Jeep Dealership here in Lanett, AL (Anderson Motors). anyway back to the point, one day while at the dealer picking up some parts I was looking in an old junk truck they had full of old parts. Low and behold there was an axle with full springs packs bolted to it still just staring me in the face. They looked a lot heavier then my XJ springs and had more arch on them partly due to the fact that they where sprung under. I measured my springs on my XJ then I measured the "mysterious springs" I could not believe it the "mysterious springs" where only 1" longer then my XJ springs, so the haggling starts. I found out the "mysterious springs" where factory springs for a 4x4 Toyota Tacoma, and all they wanted for them was $20.00. So I unbolted them and went home. Now before you get to thinking I just bolted these up to my XJ, well wrong :) I took my XJ spring pack apart and then took apart the Tacoma pack. I looked them all over and started by cutting the eyes off of the Tacoma pack and used the Tacoma main leaf as my new second leaf. I then took the Tacoma's second leaf and put it in as my new third leaf. I then took the XJ's secondary leaf and put it in as the forth leaf, then I added the Trail Master Add A Leaf back into the pack. I then took the XJ's third leaf and used it under the Trail Master Add A Leaf. Now this started looking like a good pack and had a lot of arch to it, but like I said my XJ carriers over 400 pounds on a daily basis and I also pull trailers with it. So I decided to also add the Tacoma's over load leaf to the pack. I thought this would be a good heavy leaf to help fight the axle wrap the lift block tries to introduce. So I bolted it all up, my new leaf spring packs and the lift blocks in conjunction with he lift shackles and lowed the XJ. To my amazement it was perfect. Fully loaded with 400 pounds the Flex-J now stood with 6" in the front and 6.5" in the rear.
Now that we have the lift out of the way, we can take a look at the accessories.