It’s January 2015 and my 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon has 39,000 miles on it. The stock suspension isn’t worn out, I’m just ready for the next phase of my Jeep’s build. That means a lift, a real one. My Teraflex leveling kit has served me well (for the most part). Now my Jeep is getting a big boy lift and new shoes. I researched everything. I looked at BDS, Full Traction, Metalcloak, Teraflex, Off-Road Evolution, Rock Krawler and Currie Enterprises suspension systems. I all but made up my mind on a long arm kit. The performance and ride quality was very appealing. Off-Road Evolution and Rock Krawler were my leading contenders. The install of a long arm kit is no joke, everything gets cut off and new brackets are welded on. This completely changes the geometry of the OEM suspension design. Since my Jeep is, and will continue to be, a daily driver I need to have 100% confidence in my vehicle. I rely on it to commute to and from the office. It also needs to be able to carry my family and I safely at highway speeds. With that in mind, I’m not 100% confident in my ability to install a long arm lift. So, I called Off-Road Evolution (EVO) in Fullerton, California. I also reached out to Rock Krawler in New York. EVO provided a quote for parts and installation. Rock Krawler recommended a shop near me. They didn’t know that the company they recommended was getting out of the installation game. I called several shops in Springfield, MO and the surrounding area. Not one was able to give a reference for an install this involved. A couple of shops said something to the effect, “Joe Bob has a rock bouncer, I’m sure we can handle your project.” They didn’t instill the peace of mind I was looking for. If I lived in SoCal, Utah or Colorado this would be a non issue. I considered shipping my Jeep to a competent installer with a great reputation but was concerned something might need to be adjusted or tweaked after the fact. Would I have to ship it again? That sounds expensive and unnecessary. No doubt a long arm kit could be reliable but without the skill to install it myself I’m left with little options. So, I began to look seriously at nice short arm lifts.
Currie Enterprises has proven itself in the world of off-road racing making quality parts that can survive the Hammers and the most brutal terrain. Their axles are legendary and they invented the Johnny Joint. These end links give 30 degrees of unrestricted movement in any direction, compared to 22 degrees on a common heim joint. They use high density material that is extremely durable and impervious to weather. Many other companies use this exact joint in their system or try to rip off the design. The only gripe some have with Currie is the price tag that comes with the quality. This is my 8th Jeep, I’ve learned along the way it’s better (and often cheaper) to buy a part once. Having to upgrade an “upgrade” is frustrating and sad. Just buy the best part the first time and use it like crazy. This suspension system is CE-9807JCE.
Currie Enterprises Suspension System Components:
- 8 Johnny Joint adjustable control arms (upper and lower short arms–factory length)
- 4 Currie progressively wound coil springs (custom powder-coated to match my Jeep)
- Front urethane Currie bump stop kit
- Rear Currie bump stop spacers
- Rear Currie coil spring retaining kit
- Front Crown D.O.T. approved stainless braided extended brake line kit
- Rear Crown D.O.T. approved stainless braided extended brake line kit
- Currie front trac bar relocation kit
- Currie rear trac bar relocation kit
- Currie Antirock® front sway bar with aluminum arms & aluminum frame brackets
- Currie Antirock® rear sway bar with aluminum arms
- Currie front and rear Johnny Joint adjustable length trac bars
- 4 Bilstein shocks
Many retailers sell this setup, I got my hook up from Casey Currie. He is a really nice guy and a very talented driver. Give him a like on Facebook 🙂
Real ground clearance come from larger tires. The lift just provides clearance for the tires. I elected to go with Nitto Trail Grappler tires (37×12.50 r17). I’ve heard nothing but good things. It’s such an awesome tire that it is often on backorder. This is my first experience with this tire so I’ll have to update you along the way. I checked with several tire shops and online stores to price the tires. To my surprise, walmart.com had the best price and free shipping to my local store. It only took 2 days from the moment I ordered them to when the store had them waiting for me.
The Currie Enterprises Suspension Install
We installed a lot of parts.
Overall, it took 16 hours and a dozen guys. Big shout out to Aaron LaRose and the members of Ozarks Jeep Thing. They worked tirelessly on my Jeep and for little more than beer, chili and donuts. I really appreciate the help. It would have taken me so much longer to do it on my own. Plus, Aaron’s heated shop allowed us to work in comfort while it was wicked cold here in southwest Missouri.
There are a few great write-ups and detailed installs online. Here’s the best one I found on Project-JK. Currie has all the
product installation PDFs on their site (well, they used to). Here’s a PDF of the instructions to install this kit. The only annoying thing is each item is sold as a component, so each part number has its own instructions. I’m sure this was a business decision to allow knowledgable buyers to pick the right setup for their Jeep and instructions that didn’t rely on a particular setup. But it meant I had more than 10 sets of instructions. Overall, the installation went well. Here are a few photos. I’ll call out some thoughts and learnings along the way.
This is the only before photo I have that day. We were eager to get started.
When a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is lifted over 3 inches, the front drive shaft can come into contact with the exhaust. This is especially true when the suspension reaches maximum flex. My OEM drive shaft boot was torn from a previous trip to SMORR so it was on borrowed time. As part of this upgrade, I replaced it with a JE Reel 1350 Drive Shaft. Even though the 1350 is stronger than the stock setup it is smaller in diameter than the double cardan style CV driveshaft. This takes care of any clearance issue with my Jeep’s exhaust.
The short arm lift simply replaces the stock control arms with heavy-duty adjustable versions. The length remains about the same.
Because we are installing a front AntiRock the factory electronic sway bar disconnect is removed. The factory crash bar that provides a little protection for the electronic motor is no longer necessary. So, bring on the cutting wheel.
The new adjustable rear track bar comes with a new bracket that needs to be welded into place. Our resident welding professional, Travis, put his skills to good use. He made quick work of that bracket. A little paint and on we go!
Lunch break. Whoever owns the Jeep, buys lunch. It’s more than fair.
Some tasks require more finesse than others. The rear AntiRock installation called for the hard break lines to be bent, reshaped and ran along the top of the frame and through an access hole to the flexible lines below. No one was excited about this step in the install, so I stepped up and reshaped my first hard brake line. I was extremely careful not kink the line. It was tedious but I was able to accomplish it without incident.
New flexible brake lines were installed on all four corners to account for the added suspension articulation.
I’m not laying down on the job. Well, maybe I am. This was a long day. But, soooo worth it.
Front-end complete. Some of the guys were giving me a hard time about buying this setup for the orange coil springs. Currie coil springs come powder coated black. I had them media blasted and re-powder coated orange. It’s the designer in me, I can’t help myself.
At this point of the install the rear of the Jeep is sitting on its own weight. We started to panic. Aaron’s garage door opening is only 7 feet tall. The top of the Jeep was well above 7 feet. How were we going to get it out of the garage? On a separate note, my garage is also 7 feet tall. I really thought I was going to be able to park it inside. I called my wife and told her, “we might need to buy a new house, our Jeep won’t fit.” She said, “This could be the most expensive Jeep lift ever.” We can worry about that later. Back to the issue at hand. After the front suspension was finished and I was torquing every bolt to spec, the coil springs relaxed and we had a cool inch and a half of clearance. That was a close one.
Going into hour 16 and torquing every bolt. My energy levels were waning.
This is what we like to call a clearance issue. Quick solve? Remove the Rubicon rock rails.
It’s done! I love it. This jeep is probably the biggest two-wheel drive Jeep in the Midwest, not something to brag about. But, it will be a short-lived problem. I’ll install my new front driveshaft very soon. But for the time being, it’s drive-able. Now it’s time to see if it fits in my garage. Wish me luck.