with Bill Johnston
High Clearance Trans Mount
Upgrades are designed out of a need to improve actual performance of a particular vehicle component group. This is what separates an upgrade from a decorative bolt-on. The High Clearance Trans Mount (HCTM) is an upgrade that has been needed for a long time. The installation time is about 45 minutes, and that includes pulling out the tools and putting them away again.
Why would we need such a bracket? Take a look at the front driveshaft on the left. This is a high clearance KAD shaft built by Arizona Drivelines. This shaft is designed to have a thinner top end, so it doesn't contact the cross member as easily as a stock unit. But in the picture you can clearly see the wear marks where this zook has flexed enough to push this limit. The cross member has a shelf (seen in the picture to the right) that the transmission mount bolts to. This shelf is in the way when removing and replacing the transmission. The HCTM is a fully bolt on upgrade designed to solve both of these problems while still providing a reliable platform to support the transmission. For the installation, you first should support the transmission before removing the original rear mount. The Samurai has a safety cross member (round tube style located near the engine) that will hold the weight of the transmission off the ground, but you need to relieve the pressure on the rear mount bolts for removal. There are four bolts attaching the rear mount to the transmission and two bolts holding the rear of the mount to the cross member shelf. You can also see in the picture where the shelf had previously been trimmed to make it easier for transmission changes. The rear mount is then removed and then replaced with the HCTM top plate and a pair of rubber mounts (actually stock transfer case mounts). When purchasing the HCTM from Rock 4xFabrication, you have the option of omitting the cost of the rubber mounts if you have some spares in the garage. I (personally) would include the mounts as they are handy to have as spares anyway... The original bolts are very long because of the thickness of the stock rear mount. We used shorter bolts to mount the new top plate so that we didn't bottom out and break something while applying torque during installation. Placing the main cross member in place will show you just where the frame retainer brackets need to go. The heat shield on the drivers side must be removed and trimmed to allow the frame retainer bracket bolt to slide past. The brackets leave enough room to allow the fluid lines to pass without incident. The main cross member bolts to the frame retainer on both ends. Assemble the brackets, but don't tighten anything down until you have made sure everything is lined up and is not contacting anything besides the frame. Once everything is set the way you like it, tighten the nuts and bolts starting from the center (rubber mounts). Continue to the outer brackets. This installation can be done in two segments. The next segment will show how to strengthen the end of the original cross member that serves as a forward mount for the transfer case. This will allow us to trim and remove the original cross member without endangering the transfer case. Until then, we have trimmed back the original transmission mounting shelf with a sawzall.