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Installing a Pro Comp Lift, Wheels & Tires on our 1986 CJ-7

Jeep CJ-7 Build Basics: Part Two- Updating the Suspension at 4 Wheel Parts

When we introduced you to our latest Jeep project, we gave you a little backstory about how we got our hands on this CJ-7 and showed you some of the major areas that needed attention to get this one back on the road. In fact, we're going to hit almost all of the top 10 weak areas you will find on the CJs. But because we're going to keep this one pretty simple, some of our solutions might seem tame compared to what you are used to seeing on these pages. Case in point, our suspension.

First off, you're probably wondering why we chose to start with the suspension when we showed you some much more pressing matters that we need to attend to, but we were going to get to it anyway and sometimes that's just the way things work out, schedule-wise. Also, while we're aware of all the possibilities to make the CJ chassis bulletproof, this particular Jeep will only see mild trail use, so we're going for tried and true, basic upgrades here. You will also see that as the build progresses, we revisit a few things under the tub that you might think we're overlooking.

We decided to contact Pro Comp for some one-stop shopping. We decided on their basic 3-inch lift leaf springs for front and rear and their MX-6 adjustable monotube shocks. This would get the stance looking the way we wanted it, and it would also get rid of a lot of the squeaks and rattles underneath, making it easier to find the rest. The wheels and tires also came from Pro Comp. Just like everything else on the Jeep, we wanted a slightly updated classic look, so we went for the tried and true Series 5045 in satin black with 17-by-9 sizing and picked out the Pro Comp A/T Sport in LT285/70R17 sizing. Because the Jeep was not yet much of a driver, we scheduled some shop time at 4 Wheel Parts in Santa Ana, California, right down the street from our office and rolled over without issue. We knocked out the whole job in about half a day, and our CJ-7 looked and drove about 1,000 times better. It was just the motivation we needed to continue to get this little Jeep back into fighting condition. Stay tuned!

Before- Most people like to at least upgrade to a 33-inch tire on their CJs, but the tired stock suspension with only a shackle lift wasn't cutting it for these worn-out 33s. The tires had actually eaten away a section of the fender flares.
The Pro Comp three-inch lift spring kit comes with everything to get the new leaf springs bolted up, including new U-bolts and the proper shims so you don't have weird vibrations down the road.
Pro Comp's MX-6 adjustable monotube shocks have a ton of technology built into them. They are a worthy upgrade to this modest build of ours. And we'll be able to dial them in later for street driving or rough terrain. We picked up a fresh steering stabilizer kit as well.
What is more classic than an eight-hole alloy wheel? The Pro Comp 5045 is a slightly updated version of the original style with it's simulated beadlocks, satin black finish, and 17-by-9 sizing. They are exactly what this Jeep needs. We even got one to hang of the rear.
The Pro Comp A/T Sport tires in LT285/70R17 will be another great update to the Jeep. Gone are the ultra-wide, ultra-worn out, and ultra-noisy mud terrains. In their place will be an appropriately sized tire with excellent road manners, but it still has plenty of bite on the dirt.
We showed up to 4 Wheel Parts in Santa Ana bright and early with our '86 CJ-7, ready to take the first step in getting back on the road. The 4WP crew wasted no time getting it on the lift and losing the old rolling stock.
We jumped right into disassembly by placing jacks under the front axle and breaking loose the front U-bolts.
Next, we removed the sway bar end link bolts.
We also removed the dilapidated steering stabilizer.
At this point, we were clear to remove the mounting bolts that attach the stock leaf springs to the rear hanger and front shackle.
No sooner was the first leaf out than the Pro Comp leaf was being bolted back in its place. First, we attached it to our existing Con-Ferr shackle.
Then we raised it up into the factory rear hanger.
From there, each bolt was tightened down accordingly.
Before we mounted the axle back up, we removed the crusty shocks from the lower mounts.
With the axle dropped down on the Pro Comp leaf spring, the new U-bolts are dropped into place and the factory spring plate slid right up over them.
The new hardware was then cranked down tight. We went over everything with a torque wrench later before the Jeep hit the ground. Also, check out that steering stabilizer mount that fits in between the axle and shim.
In order to make the other side even (because it wasn't before), we fabbed up a piece of steel the same thickness with the mounting bracket and the specs of the shim.
Then we locked the axle down to the other leaf spring.
We reattached the Sway bar end links to the spring plates next.
The new steering stabilizer was bolted into place next.
Now we removed the old shock from the upper mount.
Before we mounted up the MX-6 front shocks, we pressed the correctly sized steel sleeves into the bushings.
Then we bolted the new shocks into place.
And with that, the front end is done—for now. A few more items will be revisited in the future.
Moving to the rear half of the Jeep, we buzzed off the lower shock mounts, then disassembled the factory U-bolts.
Then we detached both ends of the leaf springs from the hanger and shackle.
The Pro Comp leaf springs were bolted right back up into place using the stock hardware.
We locked down the new springs before moving forward.
The shims were fit between the axles and springs before the new U-bolts were dropped into place and everything was torqued down.
We bolted up the MX-6 shocks next, starting with the bottom mounts.
Then we snugged up the top mounts. The lift was now complete, but we still needed some new rolling stock.
The 4 Wheel Parts crew mounted up the Pro Comp tire and wheel combo in a matter of minutes.
And after a few more minutes, all five balanced out perfectly.
Our metric "not quite 33" was almost identical in height to the beat-up 33. But the width, offset, and tread pattern of our new combo will do wonders for the drivability of this CJ-7.
Finally, we bolted up the Pro Comp setup to the Jeep.
Instead of leaving off the center cap up front, we cut the center out with an air saw.
We bolted up the modifies front caps and the first chapter of this build was complete.
We still have a very long way to go with this CJ-7, but we were already liking the new look and stance. It's just the motivation we need to jump into this build with both feet. Stay tuned!

Source Box:

4 Wheel Parts
877.474.4821
www.4wp.com

Pro Comp
800.776.0767
procompusa.com