SKY Manufacturing Traction Barwith Bill Johnston
When I was younger, I ran muscle cars. The power they produced required a traction aid to keep the springs from twisting into a pretzel. Who would have thought that a Suzuki could be capable of doing the same thing? As we add a bit of horsepower to the drive train and then stick large soft compound ('grippy') tires underneath, something is going to show the strain. Usually, that two inch lift you just installed seems to disappear after the first hard core trail ride when the springs take on weird shapes that were not meant to hold up the vehicle. Time for a traction aid that will take that destructive twisting force away from the spring while allowing for articulation and ground clearance. Tall order? Well, we found something that fits that need exactly! The SKY Manufacturing Traction Bar allows for articulation while keeping the integrity of the spring packs in check.
When bolting in the forward cross member, we noticed the shackle tube would come into contact with the stock exhaust. No problem. Take a look at the photo to the left and you will see where we simply moved the hanger bolt to the opposite side of the hanger bracket. It shifted the exhaust over about two inches. When reattaching the exhaust flange, we also flipped the flange bolts to face the opposite direction and it left plenty of 'wiggle' room. Look closely at the photo on the right and you will notice that the spring pack isn't exactly stock. You will also notice that despite the extra leaves installed in the pack, it has an obvious 'bow' in the wrong direction. This is what happens when you don't have a proper traction aid. This photo was taken during the initial fitting of the parts, the spring pack was re-arched before the final assembly was done. It is important to have the spring packs in good condition before the final welding of the axle brackets. The geometry will change if you neglect to do so. As you can see, the laser cut components are built to take the punishment. But when you have the axle brackets welded to the axle make sure it is done by an experienced professional. One bracket gets welded to the thicker 'center' section, but the outer (tire side) bracket gets welded to the thinner Suzuki axle tube. It can be done correctly and yield a strong weld, but putting too much heat to the axle tube can compromise the integrity of the tube and lead to metal failure. Don't take a chance, have it done right the first time. The problem with conventional traction bars, often seen at the drag strip, is that they usually hang too low and don't allow horizontal flex. That is where one end of the axle lifts as the tire drives over a boulder and the other end of the axle droops as the opposite tire follows the lower terrain. Here you can see the articulation that was retained after installation. I was quite surprised at the flexibility of the design. After checking to make sure everything worked in the driveway, we took the Zook up to Las Cruces to give it a real world thrashing. Not only did it do it's job flawlessly, but it also protected the drive shaft a few times as we felt it riding over boulders that could have caused expensive damage to a stock rear drive shaft. The traction bar will be available through: Northcoast Off-road, Roadless Gear, Rocky-Road Outfitters, and through direct sales on their own web site.
SKY Manufacturing 541-736-3743 (phone hours are currently 10am to 1pm, WDT)http://www.sky-manufacturing.com SkyMfg1@aol.com