By Jon Maib
After getting 'Project Oh Deer' up and running, it was time to tackle the suspension, brakes and steering components. The previous owner decided to start installing 2" leaf springs on the Jeep. Apparently, he got the first spring on and decided that he was done for the day. It was still missing nuts on the springs bolts and the sway bar. A closer inspection of the rest of the suspension and it was obvious that it all just needed to be replaced with new equipment. Originally, I thought I wanted to keep this Jeep as stock as possible, but after contemplating it for a bit, I decided to do more of a resto-mod with a small lift and larger than stock tires. I reached out to Superlift to discuss their lifts for the CJ7. Superlift has been designing and manufacturing suspension components since the 1970's, so they are well versed in lift kits for older Jeeps. They offer 2 size of lifts for the CJ7, a 2.5" and a 4" lift kit. Based on what I am wanting to do with this Jeep, the 2.5" seemed to be the best fit. Their kits come with the leaf springs, new shocks and replacement u-bolts. In my discussion with Superlift, they also recommended that I go with their BulletProof brake hoses. These hoses are a stainless steel braided hose with a Kevlar inner bladder, so these things are tough and will replace the rotted rubber lines currently on the Jeep. I also had them throw in some black shock boots so I can have that retro 80's look!

Installing a spring lift, shocks and brake lines should really only take about a day to install, but I wanted to go through the axles while I had them out and be sure nothing needed to be replaced and I also wanted to clean the years of mud and grime off them. Sadly, cleaning and replacing parts took much longer than I had anticipated. There was so much dried mud and grime on these axles, it took forever to get them all cleaned up and looking pretty. When I did come across a part that needed replacement, I had to wait for the part to arrive as most were not available at the local auto store, so it took longer than expected to get this lift installed.

I started with the rear axle as it seemed it would be easier than the front and would take me less time. After pulling the rear tires off and removing the drums off the rear brakes, I was delighted to learn that someone upgraded the Model 20 axles to the one piece Yukon axles (which makes this axle MUCH stronger). I removed the drum brake components and removed the axle from the Jeep. I found I needed to replace the rear pinion seal as it was leaking pretty badly. I cleaned up the axle and installed the new 2.5" Superlift springs and the BulletProof rear brake line. I also replaced the spring shackles and all the rubber bushings at the same time. With the axle cleaned up and painted, the install of the new Superlift springs, shocks and brake line was a breeze.

With the rear completed, it was time to tackle the front. This took much longer as I had to wait forever for different parts to be delivered; that combined with cleaning the grime off, then the holidays hit and my schedule just got busy. The front axle needed every bushing (including sway bar bushings) to be replaced. I took the wheel bearings apart, cleaned them and found that whoever put these back together did it incorrectly and they were missing parts. One of the hub assemblies had also been abused by someone installing the hub incorrectly, so needed to order a new hub assembly. The brakes were pretty warn as well, so new pads and rotors were purchased. Once I had all the parts ordered, I got to cleaning up the axle, repainted it and began putting it back together. The Superlift springs, shocks and new BulletProof brake lines were simple to install. (Just a note, be sure you put your brake calipers on correctly – BLEEDER VALVE UP - or you will never be able to bleed your brakes – don't ask me how I know this). It was satisfying to drop 'Oh Deer' onto all fours for the first time in what seemed to be months. I was able to remove all the questionable suspension components and now know it was done correctly with quality suspension parts and that no nuts or bolts were missing. The Jeep sits perfect now, exactly where I feel it should be with its 31" tires, which will be replaced soon with newer rubber.

With the new Superlift suspension installed, the Jeep up and running, it was time to take it for a spin around the block and see how the new suspension rode. Having only a brief history of driving this Jeep with its mismatched suspension, I can tell you with certainty that this Jeep rides so much smoother on this 2.5" Superlift suspension. I honestly forgot how fairly smooth a good leaf sprung Jeep can be. Small bumps in the road were absorbed by this suspension and larger bumps smoothed out as well. Superlift helped us remove a lot of the 'Oh Deer' from the suspension and it now sits level and drives smooth, I'm ready to get this out on the road and trails now. Have a bit more that needs to be done to get it registered and past inspection, but I am now one step closer with a suspension I know I can trust.