Zorba's JeepThe inexpensive Rancho shocks are almost universally recommended by just about everyone on the TJ forum, although there are some who prefer Bilstein 5100s. I tend towards liking Bilsteins myself, as I have them on the old Mercedes and prefer a firmer, "European" ride - but after much thought and discussion, I went with the Ranchos. You can get better shocks for the TJ than the Ranchos, but they are SIGNIFICANTLY more money.
New Rancho shocks, the recommended shock on the TJ forum.
They are also known for crappy paint, so I repainted them!
Original, OEM front shock.
OEM and new Rancho comparison. Accordion boot in place.
Lower front shock mount. Rusty.
In the middle of painting and priming - see text.
New shock in place, driver's side.
As seen from outside.
Holding shock compressed for installation - see text.
Passenger side shock in place.
They are, however, noted for having a sub-optimal paint job out of the box, a lot of guys recommend a repaint to avoid quick rust - so I did! I think they came out pretty nice. A lot of the guys on the forum do NOT like the accordion boots on these - but I figured I'd give them a try and see if there's any moisture buildup under them. They'd be easy enough to remove if need be.
Although this Jeep doesn't have a lot of rust overall, there are portions of the lower suspension that have certainly do have their share of it. So I'm gradually priming, and painting rusty stuff as I encounter it.
Lastly, the front shocks are shipped with a retaining strap - that I had to remove in order to paint them. So I improvised with some tye-wraps to be able to get them installed. They're much "stronger" than the worn out originals!
This job was a pain in the ass. The upper rear shock bolts on these TJs are notorious for breaking off. Passenger side broke both, driver's side both came out OK. So the next couple of weeks involved cutting/grinding with a "Dremel", beating on things with a BFH, and drilling the damn bolts out. All because Jeep had to "do it this way" and couldn't even be bothered to put some damn "Never-Seeze" on the bolts! GRRRRRRRRRR....
Heavily rusted OEM rear shocks, shown with new Rancho.
Passenger side upper rear shock bolts broke. Here's the remains of one of them...
... after drilling through it.
Drilled out and painted passenger side rear upper shock mount. See text.
Modified (straight) and as supplied (angled) XJ shock flag nut assemblies. See text.
Flag nut assembly partially visible...
... part of its handle.
Passenger side bolted up to flag nut assembly. 5/16" bolts with ½" heads.
There it is!
Decided to replace the M8-1.25 hardware with new (13mm heads).
Not completely in focus, but there it is - driver's side using original welded-in-place nuts.
Another view of the passenger's side...
And the driver's side...
The pictured flag nut assembly is actually made for an XJ (Cherokee), but works just FINE on a TJ once you straighten out the angle as shown. The included bolts were too short because this assembly is sitting on top of the stock, but drilled out, welded in place nuts, so I simply used longer ones. The flag nut assembly was easy to install once the original bolts were out of the way. Of course, the driver's side install was even easier because I didn't need to use the flag nut assembly there!
Thank Goddess this job is done! Sorry about the rather poor pix - very difficult to photograph stuff in the tight quarters!
Read on for the next part!
Out of stock EVERYWHERE for months, I was able to FINALLY source new H&R springs!