Installing the Rocky Road Outfitters extended front shock towers
After installing a set of missing links on the front of "Figmo's Folly" (a 1987 Samurai with SPOA) it was soon apparent to me that my front shocks were no longer going to be long enough to allow for all this new articulation I had just acquired. Also, the current distance between my upper and lower shock mounts was not big enough to even fit a long travel shock under there. Putting a shock capable of extending that far would mean that the shock would be so long - there would be no room for it to compress under load. Since my lower mounts where already as low as I cared to take them (welded to the bottom spring perches) - my only option was to extend the upper shock mounts up higher. On doing a little research, I decided on the Rocky Road Outfitters (RRO) extended front shock towers. My decision was based on the fact that I had very little experience doing this sort of thing and from past dealings with RRO - I knew I could count on their instructions to be helpful and their kits to be complete and well constructed. The kit consists of the following: Two new shock towers (complete with shock mounting bolts/washers/sleeves) 6 tower mounting bolts (with lock nuts/washers/sleeves) complete instructions Note that this kit will also convert the stock upper shock mounts for the Samurai from female to male - so be sure when you order your new shocks you order shocks with an eye hole type mount on BOTH ends. The first step was to remove the stock shock towers. The instructions say to use a sawzall but I opted to go ahead and use a cutting torch. WARNING: if you decide to go the cutting torch route like me, be very careful. Remember - this is dangerously close to your frame. Also, I carefully inspected the area above the shock mounts and used a heat shield to protect any wires or fuel lines from the excessive heat that would be generated. When you make your cut (however you decide to cut it), remember that you do not need to remove the entire shock mount from the frame. You can leave the backing of the stock mount attached to the frame and just cut the sides and the top off. Then take a grinder and grind the cuts flush with the backing. All you are trying to do here is create a flat surface to mount your new towers to. This picture shows what the installation looked like just after the cut. Circle "A" shows the stock tower that I cut off just laying on the spring. Circle "B" shows how I left the stock shock mount backing attached to the frame and just cut the sides and top. After grinding my cuts flush, I used a C-clamp to temporarily hold the new towers in place while I lined everything up. Mount them with the shock bolts pointing towards the rear of the vehicle. At this point I was caught in a "Catch 22". My old shocks were not long enough (even fully extended) to hold up there to line everything up. And I could not order my new shocks until I was sure what length I needed (which I couldn't do until after my new towers were installed). So I improvised and used a 2x2 piece of lumber as my "imaginary shock".
Holding my piece of wood up, I was able to position the tower so that it looked like a real shock would clear any obstacles. I tried to keep the angle of the shock as vertical as I could. Then with my tower clamped in place I took a center punch and marked the frame for drilling the holes. NOTE: be very careful when aligning the drivers side shock tower. There is a motor mount on the other side of the frame and you must be sure that your holes will not emerge in the middle of a weld for this mount. To get the placement I wanted - I ended up drilling a different hole through my new shock towers in order to come out in the inside of this motor mount. I couldn't get the placement just right for the factory hole. The bolts you will be using include a center sleeve. This is to keep your frame from crushing as you tighten the bolts up. When drilling the holes, first drill a 3/8" hole completely through both sides of the frame. Then come back and drill a 9/16" hole through just one side of the frame (so you can slide your sleeves in). Be sure to have good sharp bits (I just went out and bought new ones to be sure) and use plenty of cutting oil. Also, when inserting your sleeves - be careful not to drop them inside the frame. If you do you will never get them out and you will have to learn to live with that annoying new rattle forever. Just always keep the bolts in place when inserting the sleeves and you should be fine.That's pretty much all there is to it. Pictured is the completed install on the driver side. I ended up aligning both sides so they were pretty close to the factory bump stop and that looks like the best place to mount them. Also, you can see where I relocated the left hand hole on the new shock mount so that it was higher up and cleared my motor mount better. The passenger side did not have any obstacles behind it. Total install time was about 3 hours. I'd say this project could be accomplished by just about anybody with moderate mechanical skills. If you can cut (either with a torch or a saw) and drill metal - then this project should be a breeze for you. And let me tell ya - it is worth it. I can now accommodate the longest Doetsch Tech shock they make and my missing links can do their thing without hindrance from a short shock. If you have any questions on this install, feel free to email me. -Figmo