By Jon Maib
If you haven't read my article about refreshing a 24 year old Skyjacker suspension, check that out HERE. After the refresh of the suspension, it was time to put it to work and see what 24 years of technology advancement looked like.

We loaded the Jeep up on a friend's trailer and headed out to Hot Springs Off-Road Park in Arkansas where we were meeting up with some Jeep clubs to wheel the park. This was my first time headed out to Hot Springs to wheel, so I was naturally excited to see what the park could throw at the me and the new suspension. Arriving at this park, you will see that it is well put together, registration / entry is easy and the staff there is very helpful ensuring you have everything you need.

Luckily for us, it was the perfect wheeling weather; starting off cool in the morning and working its way up to warm, allowing Jeepers to pull tops and doors off to enjoy the day. I was feeling lazy and just decided to pull doors off for the weekend and not worry about the top.

As is standard in Jeep off-road meet ups, we gathered, aired down our tires, disconnected sway bars for those that needed to, ensured radios were working and on the right channel and then splitting up into smaller groups headed to tackle different difficulty of trails. I jumped in with the group that started out hitting some of the Jeep badge trails for those that were new to the park and wanted to run them to possibly get their badge. As we began to head up the hill on a dirt road, I immediately noticed 2 things about the upgraded Skyjacker suspension. First, the shocks and springs were absorbing so much more of the bumps, dips and rocks than before and second, my heim joints, which are a mix of original (24 year old heims) and some that have been replaced with sub par (cheap) replacements; all need to be replaced as they have play in them and rattle a lot (next on the upgrade list). But honestly, despite the rattle of my heim joints, this upgraded suspension is really smooth.

Our TJ is still running its stock Dana 30 front axle, the rear has been upgraded to a Ford 8.8 axle and has a Skyjacker long arm kit, so it's still sitting at stock length and width and even with that, this Jeep is very stable with this 6" suspension and really handled everything I threw at it at Hot Springs. With the new dual rate springs, they tend to be a bit taller than the old suspension that had sagged a bit, but even still, there was no rubbing that was noticeable and the springs and shocks just tucked up under the fenders and dropped perfectly until fully extended.

After hitting some of the badge trails, we stopped for lunch. I decided that I was going to cook chili dogs on the intake manifold so I had some good hot food for lunch. After lunch it was time to turn up the trail levels and really put the suspension to the test. When I originally built this rig 24 years ago, I was living in California and we enjoyed going out to Johnson Valley and doing rock crawling. Since moving to Texas, we don't have a ton of rock places close by, so when we arrived at one of the trails at Hot Springs and it was just a ravine filled with different sized boulders, I was excited. Crawling the wet rocks in the ravine, the tires traversed over top with a satisfying crunching noise as the rocks compressed against each other while the suspension worked slowly up and down to conquer one rock at a time, keeping all 4 of the tires clawing forward. It was like being at home; the Jeep working perfectly, was in its element and the suspension making light work of whatever obstacle was under it. It was rock heaven.

After we got to the top, I exclaimed to the group that it was one of the best trails I have been on in a long time. To which, one of the group members stated, "if you like that, I have a better one for you". We left from that trail and headed over to a trail called Greg's Rocks. Let me just tell you, Greg has some great rocks! Larger rocks, harder lines and it finishes with a giant lip that you can try or take a bypass. We were on day 2 and the new suspension was doing amazing, in fact, so well, I was feeling confident about its (and my) abilities and decided to try and tackle the giant lip at the top. Got the Jeep lined up and started to crawl up; as the front tires began to crest the top, the Jeep began to get a bit tippy. It was decided that if I were to continue, we would throw a line on the front just to keep it down. With the line attached the crawl up continued, and as the transmission reached an extreme angle, it struggled a bit to get the tires spinning, slowly adding additional gas, the transmission finally decided to spool up and shot the Jeep up, causing it to leap to the passenger side, losing any good line to get up the rock face. We decided to back the Jeep out, however it was put into another tippy situation, so we threw an additional strap on the side and I backed the Jeep out. Even though I didn't make it, was awesome to see how flawlessly the suspension worked during this climb.

Sometime between that experience and the end of the day, I began hearing a clunk in the front of the Jeep. After a closer inspection, discovered that I busted the passenger side axle / u-joint marking the end of wheeling the Jeep. Overall the new suspension was amazing and I'm glad we were able to upgrade. We have been running Skyjacker suspensions for over 2 decades now and I plan to continue for many more because it simply continues to work perfectly. If you are looking for a refresh to your suspension or looking to put a lift on your rig for the first time, check out Skyjacker Suspensions. They have suspensions for new and older Jeeps, and even for the new Ford Bronco!