MY 87 YJ MODS AND UPGRADES

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Boomerang Shackles

 Since I had installed Waggy front springs in the rear of my Jeep, every time I hit even a small bump , my springs slam into my frame crossmember.  Since the Waggy springs are an inch or so longer, the rear spring eye pretty much rests against the frame.

I spent a long time looking at different brands and sizes.  A lot of boomerang shackles come complete with hardware and bushings.  The problem is, I don’t want Poly bushings.  Poly bushings were designed to last longer and resist chemicals, which is a good thing.  Poly bushings were also designed to help cornering ability in sports cars.  They do this by NOT FLEXING and not having a “spongy” feel.  I do not see this as a good thing in a Jeep where I want flexing .

I found guys on Ebay selling just the side plates for $25, which is fine, I can find my own bushings and hardware.  I finally settled on some from Rough Country for $60 something.  I don’t think there was some overwhelming reason that I chose them – they were powder coated, came with all the hardware (I figured by the time I sourced all the hardware, I would spend $25 to $30 anyways) and WITHOUT  Poly bushings.

Next was to find some rubber OEM type bushings (easier said than done).  I found J.C. Whitney to be a good source for these basic little parts.  I purchased the two piece rubber bushings (8 of them).  Notice the new bushings are longer than the stock ones, so I ended up cutting a little off.  Make sure you triple check the length.  My old bushings, as you can see, were in pretty good shape, but the new ones are a little over dollar.  I couldn’t justify being that cheap.

      The bad thing is that when I put the Waggy springs in, I used press in bushings  (like the ones to the left).  Soon you will see why this was not the best choice at the time.  Please keep in mind that on the Waggy springs, the spring’s eyes are different sizes . I believe one of them is 1 and 1/4 and the other is 1 and  1/2  inches.  On my YJ, I have the rear spring installed so the axle is in the stock location.  I do plan someday to turn them around and move my rear axle back an inch or so, but not at this time.  Because my springs are installed the way they are, the bushings in the rear of the springs are the stock 1 and 1/4  inch diameter.

First, I jacked up the rear of the Jeep using the gas tank skid plate.  You can jack from the frame also, just don’t jack from the axle.  If you jack from under the axle, it will put pressure on the shackle bolts.

Next, I removed the shackle bolts on the right side.  I was lucky because they came loose no problem (most likely because I put anti-seize on them when I installed the Waggy springs).  The only bolt that was a pain was the upper one on the right side.  They must install them before the gas tank skid plate at the factory.  The only way this bolt will come out is to cut it out.  After loosening the nut some, I pushed the bolt towards the skid plate and chose my weapon (in this case, a sawzall).

Then I had to remove the old bushings.  I pulled out one side from the frame, then used a socket extension and a hammer to tap the other one out.  I cleaned up the hole with a wire brush after removing the bushing.

Now back to my pressed in leaf spring bushing dilemma….

One of the most unpleasant times I have had working on the Jeep was when I removed the old bushings in the Waggy springs.  Now I have heard of people torching them out, then using a hacksaw to cut the metal sleeve left in the spring eye.  I’ve tried this method…Not looking for that fun again.  Besides, I don’t have access to a torch at this time.  I also tried the method of driving a screwdriver into the opening at the end of the spring where it curls around to make the spring eye.  It did open up the eye a little, but not enough to loosen the bushing.  I then had a crazy idea… I wondered if a ball joint press could be used to press out the bushing.  As it turned out, the passthrough hole in the ball joint press was EXACTLY the right size.  The inner diameter is 1 and 1/2 inches and matches up perfectly with the leaf spring eye.  I used a 22mm impact socket to press the bushing through (the 22mm socket is perfect, or maybe too perfect..).  The socket has the be pressed all the way through or it will get stuck inside the spring eye.  This method worked pretty well over all once I got all the pieces lined up.

As I mentioned before, the new bushings were a little long.  I ended up trimming maybe about 1/4 inch off each one after measuring and checking them about 5 times.  I just slid one into each side of the hole in the frame, then pushed the metal sleeve through, making sure it was centered.

After cleaning out the inside of the spring eye, I started to assemble the shackles.  They came with the center bolt already attached, so I had to loosen it to fit everything together.  I lubed up the heavy-duty bolts that pass through the shackles and bushing sleeves with anti-seize and assembled all the pieces.

On the rear of a Jeep, the long end goes up and the shackle points to the front.  DO NOT crank down on the bolts yet.  Just tighten them so they are not loose.  After they are assembled,  I set the jeep on the ground, then stood in the back and jumped up and down to settle the springs.  I torqued the center bolt to 65 foot pounds (I might remove them in the future) and then torqued the end bolts to 40 foot pounds.  The instructions say to torque them to about twice that, but after a lot of research, most people say 40 foot pounds is better.

Overall I am happy with the boomerang shackles.  There is much more flex, and my springs don’t slam into the rear cross member of my frame anymore.


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