By: Jeff Yokomura - 3/2001
|Revolver Shackles were originally designed and made by Metal Made Rite. Like their name the shackles are able to extend and twist.|
|Here you can see the Revolver shackles in action. Notice that the shackle is not fully extended.|
This is the first part of a two-part review since there is so much to say about Revolver Shackles. We know there are many unanswered questions people have and we will try answer them. We'll show you everything from installation to how the Revolvers perform on and off the pavement. The Revolver shackles were originally built by Metal Made Rite. In 2000, Metal Made Rite teamed up with Tera Manufacturing, Inc. which significantly reduced the cost to manufacture the shackles and allowed Tera to pass the savings on to the consumer. That's you. Since then, Revolver shackles have been popping up everywhere.
The project Jeep we started off with had about 3 1/2" of lift from the leaf springs and 1 1/2" from the Con-Ferr lift shackles. The original shackles had been removed years before. Because the original shackles were removed, installing the Revolvers was made easier. The bolts on the original shackles were from the inside, before the gas tank is dropped in, so they are harder to remove. With the aftermarket shackles, we installed the bolts from the outside to allow easier access to them. Before ordering the shackles, we got in contact with Curt Hildebrand, owner of Metal Made Rite and asked him a few general questions. It must be said that the customer service at Metal Made Rite was outstanding. Curt replied to emails even on weekends; sometimes within a few hours. Tracey, who also works at Metal Made Rite, was able to fill in when Curt wasn't there. Together they were able to fill our order and answer our questions.
The stock shackles are 4" from eye-to-eye. The Revolvers are 4-1/2" from eye-to-eye. So, we lost about an inch of height. Metal Made Rite is still able to make custom shackles for some applications for an added cost. 5 1/4", or 6 1/2" instead of 4 1/2" for XJ's and 5" or 5 1/2" for YJ's and CJ's. After looking over some pictures of Curt's Revolver YJ and talking to him, we also decided to also go with a rear limiting strap. He uses one on the front and rear of this Jeep. The limiting strap uses the differential cover bolts secure the lower half. Curt assured us that, "the part of the limiting strap that attaches to the diff. cover is metal and the strap attaches to that bracket below the diff bolts, we have never had any damage accrue to those bolts." We were sure we wouldn't have any problems after seeing what Curt has taken the Revolver YJ through during a ARCA competition. The limiting strap will also help prevent the rear driveshaft from binding and falling out. Our project Jeep still has the stock slip-yoke, so this will prevent any unfortunate accidents.
|The Revolvers only have about 1/4" lift built into them.|
|Originally, we had used Con-Ferr 1-1/4" lift shackles.|
Now it's time to get down and dirty. The only tools we used were a bottle jack, a adjustable jaw wrench, ratchet, an assortment of sockets and maybe a hammer or two. We placed the bottle jack between the leaf spring and frame to relieve the tension the leaf spring may be under. We could have jacked up the rear with a floor jack and used jack stands to support the frame. Once the tension from the leaf spring was off the shackle we removed the bolts from the shackles. With age and rust, the bolts can be a problem to remove. It's always a good idea to spray the bolts down with some type of penetrating oil beforehand. Since we were doing this on the driveway, we had to deal with the weather and clouds were moving in. The bolts needed some coaxing to come out, so we ended up using a couple of techniques: hammering and prying. If you have the original shackles, it may be a bigger hassle to fish the bolts out. It also helped that we did a test fit of the shackle a few weeks before. One of the first problems we encountered during the test fit was that the shackle wouldn't clear the exhaust hanger. Tera didn't send any thing else other than the shackles and the instructions. We contacted Curt and was able to get a exhaust hanger adapter while he was working on the limiting strap. The other option was to bend the stock hanger out of the way. The pieces that Curt sent were a 3" section of rubber hose and a new plate that holds the bushing in place. The rubber hose slips over the hanger on the tail pipe and the bracket sandwiches it in place. The only problem we see with it is that our exhaust tip now hangs down a little further then we'd like it to be. One way to fix that is to remove the tip all together or cut the tip off and weld it on straight. We'll probably go back and see about raising it with a thicker bushing. In most installations you can re-use your stock bolts. Metal Made Rite, L.L.C. does offer greasable bolts if customers choose to replace their bolts (rusty or not), however, it is not mandatory that they be replaced. We ran out to the hardware store and bought eight 4 1/2" long bolts and nylon lock nuts. Since the pivot bolt on the Revolvers were grade 5, we bought more grade 5 bolts.
|We used the bottle jack to support the weight of the Jeep while installing the Revolvers||Because we had aftermarket shackles, it made removing them a lot easier.||Another view of the leaf springs without the shackle.||The exhaust hanger had to be modified to give the Revolver enough clearance.|
With the shackles removed, it still might be difficult to get the Revolver into position. We bolted it to the leaf spring and then lowered the jack to let the weight of the Jeep to get the shackle into position. Some pounding with a dead blow hammer worked well too. The driver side was pretty much the same thing minus the exhaust hanger. Once the other Revolver was in place we made sure to torque all the bolts. Since we used locking nuts on the bolts we only torqued the shackles down to about 45 lbs-ft. This allows the shackles to move without binding against the bushings. In the instructions, they mention that we might have to extend the emergency brake cable to allow the axle to drop. We didn't have to do this. When we replaced the rear axle with a Cherokee Dana 44 we also used the longer emergency brake cable that came with it. The Cherokee emergency brake cable is more than long enough to allow the differential to drop. Another option is to drill a hole lower down in the bracket up on the frame where the cables come together. There is enough room there to put a hole lower down on the bracket which should allow for more drop.
The shocks and the brake line will be the limiting factor now. From some basic tests, our shocks were about 4" too short. So, we'll have to buy some new shocks soon. Metal Made Rite has a new product called the "Rear Shock Mounting System" (R.S.M.S), for YJ's.
"The RSMS will accommodate up to a 12" travel shock. By moving the shocks inward the shock will not have to work as hard to achieve the same distance as a vertical shock would. There are three mounting holes which oblige shocks traveling in a cantilever position. The the cantilever position, the shocks dampen both lateral and vertical motion. The holes are set for an 8", 10", or 12" travel shock. Therefore, for some individuals, their gain may be as much as 4" depending on what the "stock" shocks would allow."
Metal Made Rite also sells a bolt-on shock extender which allows you to use a shock 3" longer than stock. To be able to use the longest shock possible you could use either product with the Revolvers. We haven't decided which way we'll go at this point. Although, we'd like to be able to use a long travel shock in the future.
|Looking up from the differential to the cross member where the limiting strap will go.||A close-up look of the limiting strap from a similar position.||The slack in the limiting strap allows the differential to cycle freely for every day driving.||Here is yet another shot of our Dana 44 with some new additions. The differential guard is from FourXDoctor.|
Now, to help control the Revolvers we installed the Metal Made Rite rear limiting strap. This will prevent both shackles from opening up at the same time and dropping the rear axle too far. Installing it was a snap. Using a 1/2" socket, we removed the three upper bolts on the differential cover. Then we bolted the lower bracket of the limiting strap to it. The upper strap mount bolts onto the cross member which is also shared by the gas tank skid plate. All the bolts are reused to keep things simple. Installing the limiting strap took only a couple minutes and was much easier than installing the shackles. Metal Made Rite also has limiting straps for Dana 35c applications.
Next time, we will address more of the technical aspects of the Revolver shackles. We'll focus on many of the questions people have on the on-road performance with Revolver shackles. We'll do some tests with some emergency braking, lane changes and bumps. Hopefully, we'll also have some more flexing pictures.
|Revolver Shackles lowered the rear end slightly but the results still leave plenty of clearance for the 35" MTR's|