OK...so I'm slowly but surely converting all of my friends to Jeepers. My buddy's Toyota just took a crap so I helped him find a 97 XJ with a 4.0L at 121,000 miles for $700. Engine, transmission, transfer case are all original and in good shape mechanically. U-joints look good. Interior is very nice apart from the dash radio/HVAC bezel and controls missing. Needs a little exhaust work. He's selling his car for as much as he can get out of it and fixing up this heep as his daily driver.
The problem is rust....rockers are shot and the front D30 HP has a broken driver's side lower control arm bracket. The rest of the brackets are junk too from rust and salt. It broke when the P.O. had to hit the brakes "really really f-in hard to avoid hitting some moron" who I guess pulled out right in front of him. He drove it the rest of the 2 blocks home but did not have money to fix it or any tools/shop space to do the work himself...hence the sale. Was his DD for a couple years and kept up on basic maint. My friend is not concerned with aesthetics as long as the heep is mechanically sound and legal with all lights. He eventually wants to lift it and make it a backup vehicle and trail rig. That narrows the "to do" list considerably for me in the present scenario.
So as far as I can tell, I have basically two options...1) drop the axle and slap a fresh(er) one in, or 2) drop the axle and have the brackets re-welded then re-install.
Obviously this ain't my first rodeo here, gents. I'd just like to hear your opinions here. On top of your opinions, I would not mind seeing confirmation that I'm on the right track here as I'm more familiar with TJ's. Of course, they are really not that different but I'm inclined to accept free, more knowledgable advice when I can.
I'm looking for a high pinion Dana 30 with 3.55 gears (I think this is the correct ratio for this Jeep) on CL, JF.com classifieds, and local junkyards/partouts. They are more scarce than the TJ D30 variety, but I have some good leads. So...
1) Are there any other axles that will work, like the LP D30 or 4.0 Grand Chero D30 (if they won't, why)?
2) Are there any major changes to this axle over the years or things specific to these Cherokee's I should be on the look out for?
3) What year ranges should work for my application?
(pictures to come)