Rock Krawler

 

Installation Notes

Installation began by removing the stock center skid plate.  Per the instructions you need to grind down the weld bungs on the frame that the skid plate bolts into in order to make room for the new frame brackets to fit.

Note #1:  DON'T grind the bungs all the way to the frame!  You must leave the welds intact so as to keep the bungs in place.  If you grind all the way to the frame the bungs will come loose inside the frame.  You need the bungs so that you can bolt the center mount brackets in place.

We Installed the frame brackets using the stock skid plate bolts per the instructions.  This insures proper placement and alignment no matter if you decide to bolt or weld the mounts in place.  We chose to weld the brackets as it was easier however we chose not to do the welding until the very end so as to make sure that everything was assembled correctly before making anything permanent.

We also chose not to install the center skid plate yet as we knew we would have to remove the transfer case to do a SYE conversion.  However this may present a dilemma if you don't have enough jack stands to go around as one is needed to hold up the transmission and T-case which is usually the job of the center skid plate.

Note #2:  The instructions fail to mention that you must remove the transmission mount bracket from the stock center skid plate on certain model year TJs.  The bracket is held in place by 4 small carriage bolts if your Jeep is equiped with this. Install the bracket on the new skid plate in the same orientation as it came off the stock skid.

For the most part the rest of the front end installation was straight forward. The upper control arm mount on the driver side (right above the differential) needs to have the bushing removed so that it can be rebuilt into a ball joint. This took us a long time to accomplish as the bushing is in there tight! There is a tool available to remove this bushing but we chose to do it the hard way by drilling holes through the rubber bushing all around it's circumferance and then beating it out.   As for the drop pitman arm, if you have never removed a pitman arm before, do yourself a favor and just go buy the correct puller, any auto parts store should stock them. If when tightening the puller down you get to a point where it just wont go any farther and the arm hasn't yet come loose you can do two things. 1. Use a torch to heat the pitman arm, do not point the flame up into the steering box as there are seals around the shaft you could melt. 2. A blow or two to the puller nut with a hammer in a lot of cases will cause the arm to pop right off, be sure to cover the nut with an impact socket so as not to screw it up.

We then moved to the back end of the Jeep.

At the time we purchased our kit there was an option for either long rear upper control arms or short.  The difference is that the long arms attach to the mounting brackets in the center of the Jeep along with all the other control arms and they also interfere with the stock exhaust system, which means removing the CAT back exhaust.  Since aftermarket CAT back exhaust systems are made to follow the same routing as the factory system, your fancy and expensive CAT back kit will more than likely just have to go in the dump.

The shorter rear upper arms utilize the stock factory upper mounts on the frame and are not supposed to get in the way of the exhaust system.  As we write this RK is in the process of phasing out "options" so that the kit is only the best of the best so I would expect in the future that all the kits will come with the long uppers (as they provide better articulation to the rear axle).  Be prepared to take your Jeep to an experienced shop for the exhaust work.  We used Exhaust Pros on Canyon Rd. in Puyallup.  As they are Jeepers' themselves and they do all the exhaust work for the local 4x4 shop that installs the RK kits, they really know what they are doing,  we highly recommend them!

Finally, the instructions state that you must cut off a little material from the back of the lower spring buckets to gain clearance for the shocks.  Rear shocks are also supposed to be installed upside down.  We did not like this option and decided to use a shock relocation kit from another company.  There are several choices out there for these kits and it is a better solution than cutting.  However if you are on a tight budget then a shock relocation kit might not be an option you can use, so cutting is mandatory.

Shocks:  We went with RKs own shocks for our kit as there is limited choices out there for kits that are over 5" of lift.  I have to say that I agree with several of the other people I have talked to that use the RK shocks that they are valved a bit harshly and provide for a stiff ride.  The rear shocks seem to be the worst and we are still not ruling out using a set of Bilsteins back there.

Page 3:  Conclusions