Zook Droop with Team Zuki -- Drew Huber
In the never ending quest for more wheel travel I decided to go all out and install a set of Summit Offroad Missing Links. After talking with Glenn I felt that I could tackle this project on my own, I also knew that Mike from Zuki South was just across town if I ran into problems. So here's the low down on my adventure in suspension modifications.
First off let's cover what your going to need for the Missing Link suspension
Front and rear Missing Link shackles
4 Bumpstops for the Missing Links to rest on when not at droop
Front spring packs from a '76 or later Jeep CJ to be used as rear springs
Spring bushings for the CJ springs
Rear Samurai spring packs to be used as front springs
Modified shock mounts to handle longer shocks
Flat stock to weld in front for the bumpstops
9/16th drill bit for the rear spring perches and top plates
Basic tools (sockets, wrenches, hammer, drill, c-clamps, etc.)
The install can be done by anyone with basic mechanical knowledge, but take note that this is not a bolt on installation. Several things such as the spring packs and rear spring perches must be modified as well as some welding up front for the bumpstops and new upper shock mounts. So with that said, let's get started. First start by jacking up the rear of the Zuk and be sure to use jack stands to secure the vehicle. Remove the tires and lower the axle down so that you can remove the rear springs. Once the springs are removed you are ready to measure and drill the spring perches and top plates. This must be done in order to keep the rear axle from being moved to far rearward since the CJ spring packs are about 3" longer than stock. I was real glad that Mike from Zuki South stopped by just as I was getting started. He helped me get the first side done and from there I took over. We first made a template to use to mark the new center hole on the perches 1" rearward. After marking and double checking the measurements, we used a 9/16th bit to drill the new centering holes. This still moved the axle back quite a bit but didn't cause any problems with clearance of the fuel tank.
Once the perches and top plates are drilled, you are ready to modify the CJ springs. Since I was going to use the rear EMU's up front I removed the 2 bottom overload leafs and added them to the top 3 leafs in the CJ packs. The number and combination of leafs depends on the type springs you plan to run up front. Also if you are using poly bushing for the CJ main leaf you will need to grind the large bushings down so they will fit the forward frame mounts.
Now that the spring packs are done you can proceed to install the Missing Links on the rear. Install the longer set of M/L's on the back with the flat bar on top. Since I still run a stock rear bumper, I had to remove the stock crossbar. The bumpstops mount in the location where the crossbar bolted to the frame and it's necessary to remove the taillights to get access to bolt them up. Once the Missing Links are in place you can install the modified CJ springs using the new centering hole on the spring perch. Tighten all bolts and then remount the tires.
The front install was a little easier since I didn't have to drill the perches. Glenn doesn't recommend moving the front axle that far forward but even with the Calmini Steering Linkage, I didn't have any steering bind up. Just repeat the same steps for the front as you do on the rear except two things. You don't have to drill the perches and the bumpstop mounts have to be either welded to the frame or to an aftermarket bumper. Also you use the shorter M/L's on the front. I will say that having a friend around to help can make the install go much faster. Since I was alone during most of the install, I only removed one side at a time to help hold things in place. If you do it this way, a second floor jack comes in handy so that you can loosen the side your not working on enough that the axle can be moved forward easier. For my front springs I reused the Old Man Emu's I had removed from the rear. Since I had removed the 2 bottom leafs, I added a leaf from a set of front Old Man Emu springs This combination along with the modified CJ packs gave me about the same amount of lift I had with the stock length Old Man Emu lift I had been running.
Since I don't weld I went ahead and remount my tires and loaded the Zuk on the trailer and hauled it over to Zuki South. Mike took over at this point to handle welding in the front bumpstop mounts and new upper shock towers. Mike measured and setup a shock tower that would allow me to run a 9012 shock on the front. He first cut off the old shock towers and front axle bumpstop brackets. Then he welded in a Zuki South shock tower that almost looks like original equipment. Then we chose to weld a piece of flat stock to the frame mounts on my front tube bumper. By welding them to the bumper instead of the frame, he had a lot more area to weld to. In fact, Glenn offers this as an option on the front bumpers he sells. Once everything was welded up and painted, I remounted the tires and the Zuk was ready for the trail.
In summary, Summits Missing Links are well designed and built for durability. They look great and work well. In addition to the steps taken in the above install you will need to add longer brake lines both front and rear which I had already done. You will also need to add longer driveshafts front and rear or use driveline spacers. I already had a Zuki South custom rear driveshaft which is long enough for the added travel. In front I used a 1&1/4" spacer from Summit Offroad. Glenn is now including detailed instructions with the Missing Link kit. They cover the install well and should be followed as written. The Zuk handled well on the street with a softer ride than I expected. From the photos below you can tell it flexes out nicely. I'm still waiting to really give it a good shake down in the woods but I already know I'm getting way more flex than before.
Special thanks to both Glenn and Mike for all the help with the install. Glenn answered all my questions on the phone and without Mike I wouldn't have front shocks! Thanks guys........
Update: At Moab I found out just how well the Missing Links worked, as I pretty much went where ever I wanted. I also found out that I carry to much weight in the rear of the Zuk for the stock CJ springs. I managed to completely destroy 2 sets of main leafs while I was there. I am now running a set of Rancho 2.5" CJ spring packs modified by removing the 2 bottom leafs and adding the overload leaf from the Old Man Emu packs. This set up is a little stiffer than the stock packs but I don't wrap them up, plus I can carry all the spare parts I want. After a couple of trips off road, I can say that this set up seems to be working well.