Mighty Mo and Friends

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Shackle Reversal on a CJ2A


What caused me to think about a shackle reversal and suspension lift?

.I had taken Mighty Mo to the 2001 Pocono Jeep Jamboree and was having a great time. We, Mo and I, had taken the 'Money' trail the first day, we now know why it is called 'Money', and had successfully negotiated most of the obstacles when I noticed a 90 bend in the left front spring. Both of the wrap leaves were bent at 90. Evidently we had hit a very stubborn rock or something. I decided I could not straighten the spring at the Jamboree. He was still negotiating the trails so continue we did. About 9:00 am the next day the spring broke off completely. It lay right in the rear spring pivot hanger and seemed to be staying there. We continued, but by 1:00 pm the spring was working its way to the inside of the hanger. As we were about 1/4 mile from a road, I decided this was a good place to exit the trail.

Upon returning home from the Jeep Jamboree, I went looking for a replacement spring. It turned out the front springs were not CJ2A, but heavy duty 12 leaf CJ6. The local spring shop could order me one but the cost was $225. They had one on stock with fewer leaves for $125 and suggested I take leaves out of the one on the other side to make up the difference. I wanted matched springs so modifying a spring to make it close was not an acceptable option.

I started to search for other options. A quick review of the catalogs I have, revealed 4WD Hardware had a 2 1/2" lift kit from SuperLift for a CJ2A for $350. That was for 4 new springs, bushings and u-bolts. It seemed the time was right for a lift kit.

Ok the lift kit is my best option. But wait a minute, the CJ2A front springs are shorter than the ones I have and I don't want to bend any more springs on rocks. To mount the CJ2A springs on the front I must move the front spring hanger and maybe a shackle reversal will help with the rock problem

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Why do a shackle reversal?

When the original extended shackles hit the rock or whatever, the shackle allowed the spring to move backwards. This bent the spring as mentioned above in 'How this happened'. If the rock had hit the spring hanger pivot rather than the shackle, the spring would not have moved backwards. The spring hanger and frame would take up the force of the encounter with an immovable object. These are much more suited to dealing with chance encounters.

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If this is so great, why didn't Willys reverse the shackles originally?

It has been suggested that cost was the main reason. I believe the main reason is to keep the vehicle center of gravity as low as possible while providing a steep approach angle. The center of gravity of a vehicle as narrow as the CJ2A needs to be kept low for side to side stability. A steep approach angle will aid in off road maneuverability. It turns out that Willys actually did make Jeeps with reversed shackles. Bob W. at Willys Tech provided this showing the M38A1 front suspension.

The M38A1 and the civilian version early CJ5 actually did have a reversed shackle. This design is what I used in designing my own version.

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Copyright Richard N. Meagley Sr.
Last revised: May 25, 2007.