DIY Jeep CJ-7 Shackle Reversal


Jeep PictureA stock CJ7 doesn't track on the road well. It wanders and takes bumps badly. Most of this can be attributed to the way the leaf springs are mounted. With the shackles on the front and the solid mount on the rear of the front end it makes the front take bumps badly on the highway. The easiest thing to do about it is flip the direction of the leaf springs.

Jack up and support the front end solidly on the frame leaving the wheels just a half inch off the ground. Having the front end way up in the air might make some things easier but you will have to deal with lifting the front axle up if you don't have it close to the ground. First thing is to get the U-bolts off the axle. Unless they have just been installed they probably will not come off without breaking and it is easier to just cut them off and get new ones. I would leave the wheels and tires on the axle, there is no real need to take them off. Once you get the U-bolts out you need to take the springs off. These bolts will also be pretty hard to remove and might need cut off. Once the springs are off measure. the distance between the shackle hanger and the solid hanger. Measure both sides and make sure you have them right and can consistently measure that number. If you get them off when welding the rear back on it will be a huge pain getting it right later.

Jeep Front spring hangerThe next step is cut the rivets holding the solid hangers in place being careful not to damage the hangers. Do the same with the shackle hangers but sometimes the bolts will come out easily on them if they are bolted. Now just get the solid hangers and on the front there is a hole right at the front of the frame rail that the bumper mounts to. That hole is where you put a new bolt in and bolt the hanger in place using it. You might need to cut a bit off the bumper to make room depending on the type of bumper you have. Once you have both sides bolted up Weld down the sides of it to make it strong, the one bolt is not enough to hold it in place it needs welded. On mine I had to cut a bit of the brush guard to clear the hanger as well.

Jeep Front shackle hangerNow on the shackle hangers measure from the solid hangers on the front and position the hangers in the right place and tack weld them in place strong enough to hold them on. On one side put a spring back on temporarily, I just used screwdrivers through the bolt holes to hold it in place. Make sure the shackles are lined up about right and everything looks square then weld them on solid. On the hangers you should be careful and weld slowly since the rubber bushing inside the hanger can not be removed usually and you don't want to burn it up. Weld a small amount then go to the other side and weld some on it. Let them cool and keep the bushings in good shape. Once you have them welded you can reinstall the springs and put your new U-bolts on.

Jeep Front pinon angleThe only problems with doing this is now the pinion angle is a bit worse unless you use some wedge blocks to angle it back up to the proper angle. In the picture you can see the pinion is basically flat. The U-joint will not last long driving on the street like this so if you have a full time 4wd transfer case then you must get some angled shims and angle the pinion back up to the proper angle. On a part time 4wd with manual hubs the front differential really doesn't turn enough to worry about it. I have used this setup for years on my Jeep and have never had any issues but I do not run in 4wd on the street so it would take many years to wear that U-joint out just using it for offroading and pulling stuff. The Jeep tracks way better and I can actually drive it without having to constantly correct it's direction. This change should be similar on most leaf spring Jeeps but I make no guarantees it will work for anyone, make sure of what you are doing and your welding ability before doing this or you could lose your front end while driving down the road so if you get killed from not doing a good job don't blame me.