Technical Articles Relating To Off-Road Vehicle Development

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Advanced Frame Works Replacement CJ7 Frame

Published by Trails Less Traveled on April 9th, 2004

 

Advanced Frame Works is making the highest quality replacement Jeep frames currently available. The AFW mandrel bent 2×4” rectangular frame rails are much stronger than the cut & welded frames that competitors are cobbling together. These frames can be custom made to order with any number of options. Shackle reversals, custom motor mounts, shock hoops and built-in body lifts are some of the most common examples. Material choices are either 1/8” or 3/16” and frames can be galvanized or powder-coated.

AFW frames come shipped ready to install, but in our case there was still some work to be done before we could assemble a rolling chassis. We requested to have the motor mount holes, front and rear shock mounts, along with the front leaf spring mounts eliminated. These things would all need to be custom fabricated for our specific project.

We chose the lighter 1/8” frame because it afforded plenty of strength and would save some weight over the 3/16” version. The frame was shipped to us in bare-steel because the additional fabrication would ruin a finish anyway.

A Hanson Enterprises Sierra 42” front bumper was welded into the frame as an anchor point for the TLT shackle reversal. Completing the shackle reversal and installing the suspension and axles provided a platform to start building upon.

Work started on locating the drive-train between the frame-rails once the rolling chassis was assembled. The 5.9L Dodge Magnum engines use mounts that are not found on older versions of the small block. Luckily Mopar includes the older mounting bosses on the new motors as well, so Dodge engines of any vintage can be installed using the older style mounts. TLT designed steel mounting plates for the frame, to work with the motor mounts sold by Schumacher Creative Services.

Schumacher specializes in high quality motor mounts for a variety of Mopar vehicle and engine combinations. In our case, Mr. Schumacher recommended the B/E body small block mounts. They are symmetrical, simple, compact and widely available in rubber, polyurethane and solid types of mounts.

We fabricated a belly pan/skid plate to cover and protect the engine oil pan, the transmission, transfer case and exhaust system. This belly pan bolts to three frame-mounted cross-members and is braced to the engine mounts up front. It is constructed out of AR15 1/8” steel plate and is completely flat; mounted two inches below the bottom edge of the frame rails.

The body was sandwiched in between the frame and the roll cage mounts, and is mounted to the frame rigidly rather than on rubber mounts as engineered by Jeep. The roll cage is anchored to the frame in eight places through the tub. Trail Boss’ insulating rubber mounts and stainless hardware were used to mount the grill and radiator assembly.

We waited to position the shock mounts on the frame until the vehicle was nearly complete so that the shocks could achieve maximum travel without limiting or binding through the suspension cycle. 1.5�x.120” tubing was used to create the mounts and 3/16” plate for the shock mounting tabs. The front shock hoops use a bolt in engine brace to eliminate flexing, while the rear mounts bolt through the body and anchor to the roll cage.
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