Extended Front Shock Towers
After having a standard SPOA for the last three years and constantly reading and hearing about the great suspension flex and everyday ride people are getting out of their Zuks using the missing link suspension, I finally decided to take the plunge. Getting missing link shackles was easy. Locating jeep CJ springs was pretty easy also. However, the biggest problem proved to be what to do about those wimpy front shock towers. Rocky Road sells some bolt-on towers; ZukiSouth sells their own version (but pricey). As having to redo the suspension on the Zuk again proved to be an expensive endeavor in itself, the most logical choice was to either make a set or find something less expensive. In comes Petroworks; while talking with Rudy one day he tells me that they are using Ford Ranger front shock towers. They sell them for about $30 a pair and you decide on how to modify and mount them. That was my answer.
Tools and partsAir cutter, plasma cutter, acetylene torch or saws-all
Welder or drill and bolts
Miscellaneous wrenches and sockets
To accomplish the install one needs to remove the old shock towers and bump stops from the front of the vehicle. You will--of course--have to remove your front wheels and your old shocks. Now enter the fun part. To get the old shock towers and bump stops off you will have to cut them off somehow. I am spoiled and own a plasma cutter so I just cut them off with that. For those of you unfortunate enough not to have one, you could use an acetylene torch, air cutter or saws-all, it boils down to whatever you have available. Torching is definitely the least painless option after the plasma cutter.
Once the old stuff is removed you can grind down any remaining metal and get a nice smooth working area to mount your shock towers on. The Ford shock towers are quite long and don't fit perfectly in the Zuk wheel wells, so you will have to decide on how much tower you really want, cause you will have to cut them to get them to fit into your wheel wells. You could just cut your fender wells out and have the towers stand up into the engine compartment. I decided to mount the towers inside the wheel wells without cutting my fenders, so I had to remove about four inches from the bottom of each tower.
I mounted the towers in each well with a C-clamp and checked the placement. The object is to get the tower centered over your lower shock-mount pin to avoid any shock binding and to maximize your shock travel. Once I found that sweet spot I tack welded the towers in place, checked the placement again, then welded the towers in.
Once you have your new towers in you will find that your old shocks will not fit and you will be set on a quest to find new shocks. This will vary on the suspension setup that you have (SPOA, SPOA with missing link, shackle reversal) and what kind of springs you are using. A ramp or something that can help you see your articulation helps here so you can measure your flex and have some solid numbers to tell your shock supplier. I chose the Rancho RS9000 part number 9012 (the longest they make), since I am running missing links with Jeep CJ springs in the rear and Zuk rear springs in the front.
You may run into brake line problems, as I did. Petroworks sells longer brake lines (along with most of the other companies out there). I chose to make my own and got the components from Earl's Brake Components. Neat little place--wish they had them on the east coast.
When all is said and done, I am able to get one of the front tires 38" off the ground before a rear tire lifts. On the trail it is awesome and ride quality is outstanding, a little scary at first, but definitely an improvement.