Altrocker1's Patient 98 XJ build..... -
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post #1 of 12 Old 04-12-2011, 08:30 PM Thread Starter
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1998 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Jersey City
Posts: 520
Altrocker1's Patient 98 XJ build.....

So I've had my 98 xj since Feburary of 2004 and i paid $7200 for her with 62,000 on the clock. I traded my 93 country for her because it was getting close to 100k and i was worried about it being high mileage Oh well you live and learn. Now over 7 years later with 227k on the clock and after surviving New York City and Chicago for the last 4.5 years my XJ has come home to Iowa. Its still my DD, but does see its fair share of offroad here are the plans:

Primary uses:
-Daily Driving
-Hunting trips through woods, fields and just about anywhere
-Camping wife likes to get as far into the woods as possible to camp
-Other outdoor destinations (fishing spots, hiking trails, mushroom hunting spots)
-Pulling a small to medium sized boat for hunting and fishing
-Occasional road trip

Current Upgrades/Mods:
-B&M Transmission Supercooler (mounted in line after the radiator)
-3 Row All Metal Radiator (CSF from radiator barn)
-Dynomax Super Turbo Catback
-Magnaflow OEM fit, high flow cat converter
-New downpipe
-Timken Hubs
-New Tranny Mount

Future Plans: in order
-New Manifold (needs one badly)
-Water Pump (sick of remans)
-Motor Mounts
-New Wheels
-3-4.5 inches of lift...i would love to be around 4, but 4.5 is max
-31" tires
-recovery gear
-light armor
-rear locker
-front locker
-roof rack for camping gear

I'm getting started with the main fixes on monday, then its on to bigger and better things. Here is what I have in my posession so far: ( i apologize since some of this was in my post yesterday.)

-New Motor Mounts from Rock auto

-APN header showed up today! something i should have done last fall, but time did not cooperate

-Water pump, valve cover gasket, ofa and thermostat will also a part of Mondays fun filled evening.

More to come very soon...i will post some pics of the lift parts I have after dinner

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post #2 of 12 Old 04-12-2011, 09:00 PM Thread Starter
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1998 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Jersey City
Posts: 520
here are some pics of here from throughout the years...she has been in 4 accidents, lived in 5 states and has been a lot of places most guys wouldn't dare take their stock xj's

in the last couple of weeks when i had a few minutes of free time i did manage to strip all of the plastic off (it was nasty). I was a bit disturbed to find 2 large rust holes in the rear quarters. I cut and folded one of them and will be doing the other probably on thursday. I'm not the biggest fan of the cut and fold look, but it seemed like the easiest choice. I'll snap some pictures of it when I'm working on the other side. Because my hitch has been on for 7 years now, and because I was in a minor rear end collision this fall....I spent today ripping off the bumper and hitch...i should really say cut them off. This is the current state of my trailer hitch

Its still solid despite all of the rust, so I started to clean it up with a flap wheel and a wire brush...however I have 2 problems.

1.) Is there a good method for removing rust on the inside of the reciever, and the main square tubing...then how the heck would you paint it???

2.) because the factory nutstrip SUCKED 7 years ago when i put this is 7 years of road salt worse now. I need a bolt kit for both sides that has the square brackets to hold the bolts as you drop them through the unibody.

Right now I have a factory bumper ready to go back on after i clean it up and paint it...someday i want to get a nice bumper, but alas its pretty far down the list.
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post #3 of 12 Old 04-12-2011, 09:15 PM Thread Starter
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1998 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Jersey City
Posts: 520
i settled on getting soft 8's a while ago and have been waiting for a good deal to come along before i paid full price with shipping. the other day i was at the jy and my buddy called me to tell me there was an xj there that was lifted waiting in the bullpen to be brought out to the yard. i asked the guys when it would come out, and they told me it would be the beginning of this week. so after sneaking a peek at it, i told them i wanted the wheels for sure and possibly some other parts. when i went back yesterday, they picked it up out of the bullpen for me and set it right out in the open for me to tear into it. here are the wheels i got

they have some minor surface rust that i want to clean off of them. Then I will give them a fresh coat of paint. They are in great shape other than that...$50 for all 4! 15 x 8 4" bs

i have to get the tires dismounted, but i already sold the 2 good tires (had to pay 20 bucks for the tires that came with them). I got $55 bucks out of the tires so that actually will come out to be a final cost of $20-25 for the wheels once I pay for dismounting
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post #4 of 12 Old 04-16-2011, 12:12 PM Thread Starter
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1998 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Jersey City
Posts: 520
got some work done on the wheels...crappy weather has forced me to stay inside with the doors shut so i haven't been able to grind the 2nd leaf pack. so i started working on the wheels. for the most part they were in pretty good shape....

the biggest rusty spots were on the welds on the back sides of the wheels. i was able to squeeze my dremmel in there with a wire brush and get them pretty clean and shiny

then after the rust was all cleaned up, i used some fine steel wool to scuff the finish a little bit. there is still a little rust dust on the inside in the pic, but you get the idea

for the next step, (no pics yet) i'm using some self etching metal primer to coat the spots where they are down to bare metal. after that i am using some satin black rustoleum to recoat them...then i'm goning to use the matte clear coat to seal them. my buddy recommended using the painters touch style rustoleum anyone know the difference?

Anyways, not too exciting but its going to get there soon. i know my wife wants all the parts out of the garage soon so she can park there again!
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post #5 of 12 Old 04-18-2011, 07:03 AM Thread Starter
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1998 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Jersey City
Posts: 520
started working in the engine valve cover off and discovered the valves actually look pretty darn good for having 227k! so thats good news. couldn't get the manifold of because i was working at a buddies and i forgot my fuel line disconnects...and the t60 that we had was too wide to take off the ofa, so we got a few things taken off and got the new water pump, inlet tube, and thermostat are some pics.

all labeled up and ready to come apart

heres a shot of the valves...a little sludgy, but nothing bent and everything looks pretty good! the new fel pro goes on tomorrow.

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post #6 of 12 Old 05-25-2011, 06:59 PM Thread Starter
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1998 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Jersey City
Posts: 520
a couple of updates and new pics...i stripped the axles down to the knuckles and got prepped to install the new steering and balljoints.

finally got around to installing the new ball joints yesterday (ball joints and tie rod were priority before finishing the lift). wound up getting spicers and thankfully the old ones came out easy and the new ones went in even easier.

next you can kind of see it in the picture above, but while i had everything apart i started working on installing new swaybar components. i put in new poly swaybar bushings and installed the hitch pins that will be the basis of my homebrew disco system. you can see the pin better in the pic below. man, it was a PITA getting the old swaybar mounting bolts out of the axle. i wound up grinding them off and drilling them out with 4 different sized bits until i ended up with the new hole size needed for my hitch pins.

the wheel side of the pins may need to be ground down a rubbed the inside of the rim at full lock...though i'm not super concerned about it since it just barely touches it and my new rims are 4" bs versus the stock bs.

i also pressed the sleeves into the wj rear swaybar links that i am using for my new swaybar links once it is lifted. these sleeves slide perfectly over the hitchpins i bought with no slop. i'm hoping since the pins are grade 8 hardware, they should last a lot longer than the clevis pins a lot of people use. here is the bushing sleeves i found

then it was time to install my sexy new steering setup...i installed a moog draglink, sleeve and outer end from a v8 zj. its a little long since the two ends are almost touching in the sleeve but when i lift it, it will work out perfectly. i wound up getting a heck of a the draglink new on ebay for $40 shipped and the outer end and sleeve i got on advanced auto for the $35 off an $85 purchase so it wound up being almost half off for both of them. then a buddy of mine hooked me up with a new moog zj tie rod, sleeve and outer end for $100. all in total the new setup of all moog parts set me back less than $180 bucks. i used the rough country steering stabilizer i bought at the junkyard for $3 bucks. here are some pics...they're a little dark, but you get the idea

all in all the steering feels SO much better. it needs an alignment, and has a mild wobble which is being caused either by my factory control arm bushings with 228K on them or my passenger front tire which it looks like may have thrown a weight. its nice to have tight steering again though!
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post #7 of 12 Old 06-20-2011, 06:53 PM Thread Starter
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1998 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Jersey City
Posts: 520
finally some real progress! got the lift on and things are looking pretty good, so here are the pics i know you're all dying to see (that was a joke since i'm sure no one is following this build besides me)...anyway, here are some recent pics. i did a cut and fold on the rear quarters a while back. im not a huge fan of that look, but my rear quarters were super rusty when i removed my bumper caps. it turned out alright and i am going to put some bedliner on the bottoms of them when i have some more free did make getting to the shackle bolts a breeze though!

since i was needing my springs to be around 3.5-4" i picked up these tj coils on ebay for 70 bucks plus shipping! they are tj 4.5" so i'm hoping they will be just about right for what i need.

now all i needed was a track bar, so i started my lift and put an iro trackbar on order...i went with the bigger of the two since my minimum net lift was going to be 3.5" which i believe the bar is for 3.5"-8" due to a lot of rain it was hard to get things done fast, but it gave me time to do other projects. i rebuilt this driveshaft that a buddy of mine gave me with some spicer 1310 u joints that i picked up for $6.50 each! it was a sweet score

here is where i started out front:

and the rear:

here's a recap of what i put on:
31" adventuro MT's found on CL
cragar soft 8's 4" BS (junkyard find)
RE 4.5" TJ front coils (ebay)
RE superflex adjustable UCAs (forum classifieds)
RE superflex LCAs from CL
WJ swaybar links (junkyard find)
Sway bar link brackets (junkyard find)
clevis pin& tractor hitchpin's (tractor supply)
Energy suspension poly bushings (forum classifieds)
black diamond 3-4" lift shocks (forum classifieds)
rear BPE's (forum classifieds)
s10 bastard pack (junkyard find)
mj shackle (forum classifieds)
IRO trackbar...purchased new

every thing came off...well...with difficulty. but it did come off. i had to wrench the front leaf spring bolts off as far as i could, then cut them on both sides with a sawzall since the bolt was frozen in the bushing sleeve. i mistakenly cut one bolt head off too short and had to jb weld a screwdriver to it to twist it out. i tried notching it and turning it out, but the threads wouldn't grab so i needed some pressure to get it out. this was my other casualty:

the only other tricky spot was getting the uca bolts off that are in the frame of the nuts on the back side stripped so i had to grind it out and punch it out with a hammer and a punch...luckily it wasn't frozen into the sleeve. it was pretty tight and it was a pita to get any leverage there with the oil pan right in the way.

here is the front waiting for the trackbar

another view

my home made discos work the pic the top is a bolt, but i actually found a grade 8 clevis pin that was long enough that fits easily in the top hole
and the tractor pin is on the bottom....i had to drill out the mounting hole, but that wasn't too bad.

for the back...i took the leafs apart and took them to a truck shop to have the bushings pressed out..i did all of the other bushings my are the bushings i replaced:

Leaf spring, both sides
shackle bushing
axle side uca bushings
swaybar bushings

here are the leaves with the eyes pressed out ready to be sanded and painted

here is the shackle angle i ended up with...this is with the xj main leaf...s10 main, s10 second and s10 over load. i chose the mj shackle because it gives a little dog leg without a lot of lift. here is the pic:

i also bought leaf spring insulator pads for 3 bucks each and put them in the leafs that had holes in them already...pretty flexy and quiet

and here is the finished product...4"+ in front 4" in the looks a little funky in the pic because our driveway slopes down, but there will be more pics to come! it actually sits pretty level when the ground underneath it is level. i judge that by the body lines and the roof, since the rear fender sits 1/2" lower from the factory

initial handles pretty well. no DW thanks to the IRO trackbar. there are very minor drive line vibes, but i have a HNT SYE on the way. in fact, i'm pretty amazed at the lack of vibes, but i'm going to install the sye in case i ever do go up to 5.5" the tires i bought are loud...TOO loud...i'm going to try to trade them for something else. i also think that even though things are pretty level, the front springs feel a little stiff...i'm not sure what the difference would be between tj 4.5's and xj 3.5's, but im going to do some research...
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post #8 of 12 Old 06-20-2011, 08:18 PM
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Looking good! The front stiffness might be because the TJ springs are meant for the TJ which has a chassis, thus the spring rate could be stiffer?

I drive an Orange.
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post #9 of 12 Old 06-20-2011, 09:51 PM Thread Starter
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1998 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Jersey City
Posts: 520
yeah...i've been trying to find the spring rate comparison between the two, but i cant find any info on their spring rates...any one know where i can find it???
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post #10 of 12 Old 06-22-2011, 08:38 PM Thread Starter
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1998 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Jersey City
Posts: 520
got my bumpy ride problem were inflated too heavy from the tire shop. i actually think the tj coils are a lower spring rate than the xj superflex coils. i got took my discos off after work (went in and out in less than a minute combined!) and took her out back to flex on the loading dock. i could have gone farther if the railing wouldn't have stopped me, but i also am putting front bpe's in to give some more shock length. i've got plenty of tire clearance, so overall i'm pretty happy. cant wait to get recovery points in so i can wheel it for real again

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post #11 of 12 Old 07-14-2011, 09:36 PM Thread Starter
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1998 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Jersey City
Posts: 520
just a few quick updates...

after driving a little bit here and there the last couple of weeks, i actually shortened my trac bar a little after measuring and finding out that my axle was a little long to the passenger side. as long as it settles fine, i'm going to locktite in place as i don't plan on going any higher anytime soon. my lift has settled to about 4.25" in the front and just over 3.75" in the back. I may actually go up to the JKS boomerang shackle once i have a little extra cash to throw away and i should be just about level.

next issue was to try to shorten my uppers a bit (re adustables) to correct my caster, however after getting one of them adjusted, the other was completely stuck! the jam nut broke free easily, but the joint side will not spin at all. i tried putting it in a vice and turning it with a long screwdriver in the hole...right now its soaking in some pb blaster and i'm going to take it to my buddy's shop to see if they can get it free.

the last project for the day is the one that has been worrying my for a while. i installed my hack n tap sye this evening...since my xj is my dd, i was REALLY nervous about messing something up. i started by marking off with tape and then starting the jeep and putting it in reverse and letting the transfer case do the work while i held the grinder as steady as possible...this method works super turning back now!

then i carefully marked the center and used a center punch to start the hole. before i center punched it, i put the jeep in reverse again and looked at the mark i made with a grease pencil. i figured if the hole was off center, it would be easy to see when it was spinning...i actually got it right the first time. i then used 3 different sized split point bits and lots of oil to get to the right sized hole, and tapped it carefully. i breathed easily now that the hard part was was then i realized that the hole in the yoke was actually off center! i bought the dirbound offroad kit off of ebay, and i guess you get what you pay for! i got it for $100 so I was not sure what to expect. the yoke looks good, but the hole actually wasn't perfectly round and there were burrs hanging off the hole. i reamed the hole out (it was probably less than 1/16" off) with my dremmel and i was back in business. pic is blurry, but here is the installed yoke.

here is the refreshed front drive shaft in place

and the back

despite the small hole problem, it looks like its going to work great! once the uca is back in place, she is going for a test drive to the tire shop. i have a set of bfg a/t's to replace the tires i currently have...they're not perfect, but they will last for a little while. after that, its going for an alignment!

next on the list:
-install my extended rear brake line
-pull a rear bumper bracket from the jy and install
-bore out the extra TB i picked up and install it
-install the set of tow hook brackets i just picked up
-wheelin for real!
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post #12 of 12 Old 07-14-2011, 11:14 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2011
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Posts: 48
Wow, looks great! I'm digging those homebrew discos, those are pretty slick. Nice build!
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