Portal To More Performance
Q I have an '03 Jeep Rubicon that finally has lost its daily driver status. I am just like everyone else when it comes to money that is thrown into a pit known as Jeep. I have completed several upgrades to my Jeep but have yet to add any lift.
My question comes in response to the Mopar portal axles that have been seen on the Immortal concept Jeep ("Big Bad Jeeps," Aug. '10 ). I was wondering if it would be better to buy a quality lift kit or wait until the portal axles are ready. I understand that the axles would be more expensive, but is it a better purchase due to the added strength and ground clearance? I thought that I could sell the factory axles on my Jeep to help with the cost of the portal axles, but the cost will still be high. I looked at the Rubicon Express suspension lifts due to their reputation for quality and could make a purchase for approximately $3,000. That price is a far cry from two new axles, with locking diffs. I trust that you can help me with a decision that focuses on the cost-to-benefit ratio of the two options I have discussed.
P.S. I am a longtime reader and look forward to your magazine every month. I just purchased a Chevy Colorado with the 5.3L V-8 and look forward to seeing one in your mag that someone has built. Thanks again for the great work.
A The AxleTech Portals (248.637.6310, www.motorsports.axletech.com) are one of my favorite products, but I believe swapping axles with these portals boxes will cost you more than six times the cost of a new lift kit. However, they do multiply your axle gearing by 1.5 and offer 5 inches of ground clearance. I know there are people working on making a bolt-in JK axle with these portals, but even so, it will take some fabrication to make the JK-style axles work under your TJ. That being said, these portals on a Dana 60 will give your TJ ground clearance and strength unlike any bolt-on lift kit on the market.
Another interesting tidbit is that there are rumored to be some smaller Dana 44-appropriate portal boxes in the works from AxleTech, with a possible prototype revealed next month. But I know there are Dana 60 AxleTech portals available now.
Lastly, we have a feature coming up on a very cool Chevy Colorado. Here is a sneak peek.
Bomber gas route?
Q I have a question about the Ultimate Adventure CJ-17. How did you guys route the fuel lines? I have a YJ that I'm doing a similar swap on, and when running two catalytic converters, there isn't much room where the stock fuel lines were run.
A We ran soft fuel line from Summit Racing Equipment (www.summitracing.com) down along the top of the driver-side frame. The hose is sheathed in a spark-resistant high-temperature orange fiberglass sleeving from McMaster-Carr (www.mcmaster.com). We mounted the fuel filter/regulator on top of the frame inside the driver's rear wheelwell.
Nuts, I'm Confused
Q Pictured is a situation that I got myself into last weekend. After ratcheting on a come-along for a few hours I decided it was time to get a functional winch. I've had a Warn 8274 for years, but last year my house burned down and took my Z-71 with it. The truck was a complete loss, but the winch was still in one piece. After going through something like that, do you think it would be worth trying to rebuild that winch? I know it got hot, but the internals look pretty good. The motor, solenoids, and wiring would all have to be replaced, but it would still be cheaper than buying a whole new winch.
If I do have to get a new winch, there is a huge difference in price depending on what kind you get. Just looking online you can get a 10K for $400, a 9.5K for $700, and a 9K for between $1,000 and $1,300. Then there are places that have 8,000-pound winches for $350. When looking for a new winch, is it all just a motor and gears, or are you going to get what you pay for? Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.