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Round #2

Next on the list, with the front track bar out of the way, was the rear track bar.  I had the gotten the newly designed rear bracket from RE when I got the adjustable track bar and was looking forward to the improved gas tank skid clearance that it was supposed to provide.


Here is a photo of the new RE bracket and the Tera bracket that I've been using on my 2T lift.  As you can see, the RE bracket is angled more.  From what I have read, this was done to help prevent binding by the track bar ( thus limiting flex) and also to help the track bar better clear the gas tank.  You will see in a little bit that RE hasn't gotten the fit for this new bracket down correctly.

Since I was putting the track bar on before I started the rest of the lift, I did this one in a slightly different fashion than when I did the Tera bracket.  Please note that I am removing the Tera bracket in this write-up, so it does differ slightly from the instructions (poor as they are) that RE supplies with the bracket (there were no instructions with the track bar).  


I jacked up each side of Lady and put jack stands under the frame, a few inches behind the rear edge of the transfer case skid plate.  I then placed the floor jack under the rear diff housing and jacked it up just till there was a little bit of pressure being applied.  I did this to provide me with another source of holding the vehicle securely in position.  The jack is merely acting as a safety backup to the jack stands.  Be sure to always use adequately sized jack stands when working on your vehicle in this fashion.  It is not safe to only use the jack to support the entire vehicle while you work on it.  Also, do not use cement blocks as jack stands.  They can easily crumbled and leave you pinned under the vehicle.  Once secured in place, Alan handed me the impact wrench and I proceeded to remove the lug nuts and then the tires.

In the above photo, I have already removed both of the bolts at each end of the track bar, and removed the track bar from the vehicle. I have also removed the lower shock mounting bolt so as to get a bit more room around the bracket area.  Had this been done during a regular lift install, I would have also pulled the springs and the sway bar links so as to have more elbow room.  You can see the upper pair of holes in Tera bracket where the track bar was installed.  The remaining three bolts holding the Tera bracket to the axle bracket were removed.


Here is a photo of the RE bracket after it has been put in place.  The main 1/2" bolt and associated spacer have been put in place and tightened so as to get a good fit between the RE bracket and the axle bracket.  The 5/16" bolt hole that attaches from the bottom  of the bracket did NOT match up with the Tera bracket hole, so I drilled a new one and installed the bolt and nut and tightened them securely as well.  (This is not the fault of either Tera or RE.)

What upsets me the most is the poor fit, circled in yellow, of the RE bracket.  The RE bracket should be contacting the axle bracket at this point.  Instead of a nice flush fit, which the Tera bracket provided me, there is almost a 1/4" gap as you can see in the above picture.  This gap has nothing to do with the fact that I had a Tera bracket previously installed.  The RE bracket is properly centered on the 1/2" bolt that goes through the original hole that the factory track bar was bolted into.  That part of the bracket, and the lower section, lines up just fine.  This is simply a case of VERY POOR quality control on the part of RE.  Very sad.

As I had nothing to slide under the bracket to fill this gap, I went ahead and installed the track bar.  I will be filling that gap with something (not sure yet) so that it does not cause undue stress on the bracket and the bolt that goes through that part of the bracket will have something to clamp tightly onto.


Here is the business end of the heim joint installed in the track bar bracket.  Although it looks as though the Torx bolt will hit the gas tank skid, it is only because of the angle at which the picture was taken.  I am going to reverse the direction of the bolt, just to be safe, but it has been that way for the past 18 months without ever contact the gas tank skid.  The fact that this part of the bracket is angled more forward (away from the gas tank skid) gives it even more clearance.  However, since I am going to be installing adjustable control arms on the rear axle, it makes sense to turn the bolt around just to be safe.

Note:  February 22, 2000 - I called RE today and spoke in length to Marty.  He acknowledged that they have had this problem in the past. Marty stated that two different hole patterns seems to be used during the '98 TJ era which causes this to occur. He said that by '99, DC stopped doing it. (figures!)  He made provisions to send me "the other" hole patterned bracket and then realized that they only had this alternate pattern available for the 1603 version bracket (the older version).  Since I have the newer 1602 bracket (with the changed angle), he said he would take an undrilled bracket and have the holes drilled in it to match my needs. I hope my verbal description was accurate enough.  They took the necessary info needed to ship me the bracket. With luck, it won't take too long. I did confirm that the bracket I have installed now could be used as is with a few washers shimmed under until the new bracket arrives.

March 3, 2001 - The new bracket from RE did in fact arrive in a few days (it really smelled of new paint....so I was pretty sure it was "fresh" off the assembly line) and I had a chance to try it out today while putting in the rest of the lift.


You can see the new bracket in place.  They did indeed get this one right.  The 1/2" main hole is drilled 1/4" higher up the bracket, which causes the bracket to sit 1/4" lower on the factory bracket.  I slipped the 1/2" bolt in place, put the 5/16" bolt up from the bottom, and then drilled a new hole for the top 5/16" bolt.  After I put the top bolt in place and started the nut on it (pretty tight in that little space if you got big fingers), it was easy to snug them all down a bit at a time and the bracket just wrapped itself around the factory mount.  Thank you RE for making this right for me!


More of Round #2



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