By Jon Maib
It took a lot of work to get our Project Vulture setup in time for the Unlimited Off-Road Show,
So we reached out to some friends to help us get it done.

Skyjacker has been in the suspension business for more than 40 years now and we have been running a 6" long arm kit on our '97 TJ for 15 of those years. The Skyjacker kit has never let us down, rides great on the road and works even better off-road, so we wanted to have that same confidence for our Project Vulture. We reached out to Skyjacker and ordered one of their 4-5 in. suspension long arm lift kits with Hydro Shocks (JK40LAK-SX-H). We went with a 4" kit because we wanted to try and keep our center of gravity low. The long arm kit is a complete bolt on kit, but requires you to remove part of the lower control arm mounts on the frame to install. We really like how this kit uses some of the existing mounts to ensure you get solid mounting locations. Baertrax made light work of removing the old suspension and installing this lift. This lift could be installed at home over a weekend, but be ready for cutting mounts and having to remove your gas tank to get the passenger side rear link installed. (We recommend before installing this lift, you use as much gas as you can in order to make removing the gas tank easier). The kit is well designed and installation was straight forward. We will share how this kit works on-road and off-road next month.

Skyjacker recommends changing out your driveshafts with any lift 4" or higher. So instead of trying to maintain the old constant velocity (CV) driveshafts, having them eventually explode on us throwing grease all over the underbelly of the Jeep, we reached out to J.E. Reel Drivelines to get some new 1310 Heavy Duty drive shafts. Like Skyjacker, J.E. Reel has been in business building driveshafts forever and knows what they are doing. Check out our article about them that we did 15 years ago, HERE.

When it comes to tires, we have been using BFG KM2's for several years now. They are pretty quiet on the road and they work extremely well in every terrain from mud to rocks. We have even used these tires on the rocks of Disney Oklahoma which have been known to take large chunks out of tires, but these BFG's fight back and provide you with unmatched grip! We contacted BFG and ordered a set of 37"x12.5 r 17's for Vulture.

Instead of using our old Rockstar 18" wheels, we opted to go for something a little more tough, something that could handle anything we threw at it. Naturally that meant looking into some beadlocks. We have worked with Raceline on a couple of events in the past and they have always been generous to off-road community and we love the look of their wheels. We decided to go with the Raceline Monster beadlocks because they added some flare to our project as well as adding some of that flat black look we love so much. What better combination is there than Racelines and BFG's?

In order to run those BFG 37's KM2's and Raceline wheels, we needed to upgrade our stock 3.21 gears. We ended up with going for Yukon 4.88 gears with a master install kit. We also added a Yukon Zip Locker to our rear Dana 44 to give us better traction off-road. We decided not to add a locker to the front dana 30 at this time because we may be upgrading the axle later on. In order to change out our front gears to 4.88's, we did need to upgrade the carrier. Yukon has been doing gears forever and we know that we can trust them to get us everywhere we want to be.

Once all the upgrades were installed down at Baertrax, they ran the Jeep over for an alignment to ensure the Jeep drove properly. Then, on top of that, because we were so far away from our home and the new Yukon gears needed to have a proper break-in period, Tim from Baertrax was kind enough to trailer Project Vulture home so we could do a proper break-in before having to leave for the Unlimited Off-Road Show. If you need a fantastic shop that will take care of you every step of the way, check out Baertrax in Dallas, TX!