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BLACK FRIDAY SPECIALS!! You asked, we deliver!Rough Country Lift Kits and Parts!XJ Rail Sale!

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Unread 11-01-2011, 08:57 AM   #1
seraph_rapture
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Just another YJ build

I figured since this project has become something more than I originally anticpiated, the amount of work alone necessitates a project log.

Since I was a kid, I always wanted a Wrangler. I was a child of the 90's and as a teenager I remember seeing the iconic Wrangler everywere. I had a die cast model that the windshield flipped down on, I remember rolling that little red truck around, thinking about how badass it looked. They were in the movies too - one of my favorite shows was MacGuyver. A few episodes showed off his red YJ, and the irony that a man who could make a bomb out of a paper clip and chewing gum drove the most needy vehicle on the planet didn't strike me until I owned one myself. Jurassic Park is still one of my favorite movies of all time and had the coolest of all, even if they were on those banana peel tires.

Still it wasn't until last year that I purchased my first Jeep. I had gotten into sportbikes, fast cars, and moving around the country and hadn't found time to squeeze Jeeps in there. I looked around for a bit before settling on a 1992 Wrangler S for 2500. This was the first 4wd vehicle I'd ever owned, the first truck/suv/whatever you want to classify it as. That being the case, I was ignorent of what trouble spots I to be looking for, what options would be desired, differences in models, etc. etc. A lesson learned, read on!

So here are a few pictures of the Jeep the day I picked it up.











The test drive consisted of me checking to make sure that the 4wd worked and taking a flashlight to look for holes in the frame. As I said I didn't really know what to look for and I made no secrets about that when talking to the guy I bought it from. He seemed honest enough, so I paid him asking price (2500) and drove it home. The gutless 4 banger and soft top combination on the freeway was my first lesson in what can be disappointing in a Jeep, and it rode like a covered wagon, but I was happy with the purchase.

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Unread 11-01-2011, 09:38 AM   #2
seraph_rapture
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Well I drove it for a month or so before the AX5 grenaded. No fault of the guy I bought it from I'm sure, apparently these transmissions are hit or miss and isn't a matter of if they will break, but when. I never wheeled the thing, the transmission just started making a banging noise while in 5th gear on the freeway, and then there was nothing but 4th. No pictures of the work then, but picture me laying on a cold concrete slab in the garage while dropping the trans, installing a used AX5 with 5th gear collar.

I had reservations about replacing a weak transmission with another weak trans, but needed the Jeep running again ASAP because my SRT4 is **** in the snow. It ran like a top all winter and through the summer but driving to work 30 min on the freeway every day with the 4cyl and soft top left something to be desired. In July I scored a deal on a khaki hard top ($100!) which solved much of the wind noise problem but compounded that of not having enough go to use 5th on the freeway. I started looking at solutions and reading up on the Jeep. It seemed that my options were limited to either regearing or an engine swap. I knew that driving on an AX5 was driving on borrowed time and putting money into a weak dana 35 seemed like a bad idea, so an engine swap it was. I started researching which options were best and looking around on the local message board for deals.

I made the mistakes that most people who weren't intimately familiar with Jeeps make. Really, I mean I'm the poster child for this sort of thing. In my mind I thought, "Well, the 4.0L came in the Wrangler so it should be the easiest swap." I read through so many threads that spoke to the contrary, that one engine was basically as hard as another to swap in, that I should go carbed v8 and be done with it. I'm a special snowflake though, and refused to listen. If there's one thing I would go back and change about the whole project, that would be it. Still, the 4.0L is dead nuts reliable.

I asked a buddy of mine if he would be willing to help with the project as he has a garage, driveway, and most of the necessary tools of which I have none. After he gave me the green light I started doing some looking. After a few weeks of searching I found someone parting a 94 XJ with the 4.0 and AW4. The research I had done said that the automatic is better for wheeling as you don't have to have three feet to manage the pedals. He lived about an hour away so we loaded up my buddy John's Jetta TDI with a trailer and headed out to pick it up. I traded a couple handguns for the engine, transmission, transfer case, driveshafts, and wiring/ecu and it was back to his place to start surgery. Here it is all loaded up!

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Unread 11-01-2011, 09:42 AM   #3
seraph_rapture
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Originally Posted by Anticanman View Post
Are those covers on the bumperettes?
They are, I think the brand stamped on them is Steel Horse if I remember correctly.
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Unread 11-01-2011, 10:09 AM   #4
seraph_rapture
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So we set to work. The first thing to come off was the skid plate and once it did it quickly became obvious that there was going to be a bit of work to do as it came to rust. You can see that it's pretty plain that cancer had gone all the way through the skid, especially where the transmission mount bolts. This one obviously wasn't going to be useable so it went into the scrap bin (which would quickly fill as the project continued). Here's what it looked like after a number of Michigan winters, thanks road salt.





We started messing around with disconnecting the harness and vacuum system before realizing that the entire front clip could come off making the whole job a lot easier. We left the fenders on at this point. Here's John manhandling something or other. Look at the pure joy on his face at killing a Jeep. As you could probably guess, he's a Toyota (4runner) guy. I will continue to point out areas where he makes fun of my "gay" Jeep throughout the project.



We had to drive an hour to pick up his engine hoist from his friend's place, so progress was slow. While he messed with that, I set to disconnecting the drive shafts. The whole idea of drive shafts is weird to me, as I'm used to FWD cars with their cv shafts and no axle in the rear. The engine was unbolted and we pulled the engine, transmission, and transfer case all as one unit. We had forgotten to pick up the chains when we grabbed the hoist, so we ended up pulling it using ratchet straps. As with so many things in this project I do not recommend doing as I do, it certainly wasn't the safest way to do things, but it's what we did. Note the sawzall, this was the easiest way to remove many things that were seized with years of rust and to cut that unruly exhaust.




The new drivetrain is primed and ready to go balanced precariously on logs and 4x4's next to his brother's shiny new FZ6. Remember what I said about not doing as I do? Luckily this didn't bite us in the ***.



Annnd it's out. A little tugging and pulling, twisting and prying helped it to clear the axle and firewall. I won't lie, I was a little frightened of the whole assembly hanging from that nylon strap. What I didn't think about was the difference in weight between the old setup and new, this was nothing.

The unspoken agreement was that I would supply the beer. I had optimistically slated a full week for the project from start to finish, as I had taken the time off from work to get it done. Perhaps that would have been sufficient if I wasn't constantly revising the plan, buying new parts, and we weren't working at a casual pace. As it stands now I'm into month two and there is still a lot of work to be done. I did a good job of keeping us in beer for the first month or so, and we were well into our first 30 of Natural Ice at this point. You can tell because John is so amenable to sawzalling the motor mounts off the frame to be repositioned, something he certainly would have made me do if he weren't drunk.



Here's the result. Obviously it isn't an exact science. Note the safety glasses on the fender, rather than on his face. I lol'd.

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Unread 11-01-2011, 10:47 AM   #5
seraph_rapture
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With the mounts out, it was time to test fit the new setup. In and out, in and out was the theme here. In order to know where the mounts were going to sit on the frame we had to mock it up, then lower it to make sure that we had enough contact between the now smaller engine mounts and the frame so he could build it up with weld. We messed with that for a few hours, trying to get everything at the right angle. Here's a shot of where it sits while we try to get everything set.



Dangly XJ harness that I will come to hate so much. Seriously. More about this later.



Here's the rest of the YJ harness that I won't be using lying in my fan shroud. I cut the YJ harness about a foot after the bulkhead and will be tying it into the XJ engine harness. As advised I left the headlight side of the harness intact. Wiring this thing was such a pain in the ***, you have no idea. Definitely the most challenging part of the whole project. None of the YJ harness matches the XJ harness, so it was a matter of finding pinouts that were mostly correct and tracing wires to the under hood fuse panel. Honestly it was mostly a matter of guess and check. All we have done so far is the 5 to fire, which took forever to get right. It was satisfying to hear it fire up after hours upon hours of work trying to get the wiring figured out. That still means we have all the accessory wiring to figure out though, and I've put that off because I dread thinking about it so much.



Removing the fender flares required the use of the sawzall to get through rusted fasteners and stubborn plastic mounts. Once they were removed the extent of the rust became apparent. What was once covered with red duct tape reared its ugly head. The fender was bad, but the side panels were worse. You can see the chrome rocker 'guard' in this pic hiding that hole.



Here's another, better pic of the chrome. Telltale wavy bump spells out your destruction and future consternation. What a pain in the *** this stuff was to remove. It was held on by 3m double sided tape, but tape that was about 8 inches wide. Heating it up with a heat gun didn't do much good, nor did aircraft paint stripper. We must have tried about 6 different chemicals to help take that **** off, but it was stubborn. Finally a combination of oven cleaner (odd, huh?) and a scraper along with about an hour of hard scraping labor saw it removed, along with a good deal of paint. The chrome quickly went into the garbage.



Next came the pedal assembly. This was easily one of most annoying parts of the project so far. I was confused, and this made for a great deal more work and wasted time than I would have liked. I mistakenly assumed that the pedal assembly would need to be swapped to an automatic assembly, so I crawled underneath and started unbolting things. Removing the pedal assembly required removal of a number of hard to get to nuts and bolts, the brake and clutch master cyl, and unbolting the steering column. After taking all that out I went to bolt in the XJ auto pedal assembly and guess what? It doesn't fit. Hours worth of work for nothing. In the end I ended up cutting the clutch pedal arm off way up at the top, cut off the brake pedal and welded on the larger ATX brake pedal. All of this could have been done in the Jeep, saving hours worth of work. What's worse - when I moved the steering column I thought we messed up something with the ignition, so we had to tear into that as well. What a pain in the ***. Lots of pictures, which usually means I'm taking time off of the project so I don't beat something with a wrench.




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Unread 11-01-2011, 11:10 AM   #6
seraph_rapture
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With that worked out, John finished the motor mounts. Here is his not so pretty drunken weld. I covered it with POR 15 to pretty it up, but more importantly to keep the thing from rusting back up. You'll also notice some new brake lines - the stock ones were rusted pretty much through, so it was necessary to replace them. The frame is still rusty and ugly, that will change.



Just another picture of shiny new brake lines going to the junction.



I tried to stay on top of having parts ordered so that they would be ready when we needed them instead of having to wait on things. This didn't always end up being the case, but Jeeperz Creeperz was very good about getting my SYE to me quickly, and the sale they were having on them couldn't be beat. About 180 shipped to my door if I remember correctly. My plan was to do a 4 inch lift (Rough Country) so I figured I had better do the SYE while I was in there. John took care of swapping everything, as he is much more mechanically inclined than I am, especially when it comes to things incorporating small parts like snap rings and important tolerances. Here's the shiny new SYE installed on the NP231.



Sidebar - Here's where the plan started to go to hell. It always happens this way, with every build I have ever done. Originally I was going to swap the 2.5 for the 4.0 and be done with it. Then I thought that I might as well swap the rear axle if I ever plan to take it off road, as the Dana 35 wouldn't hold up. That meant that I needed to start looking for a Ford 8.8. The stock Dana 30 seems stout enough, so no plans to swap that. Well if I'm doing an axle swap, I'm going to lock it. So I picked up an Aussie locker for the rear. That done, I started thinking forward to wheeling. Obviously the 30 inch mall terrains weren't going to cut it, even with the 2 inches of body lift that came on it. I wanted to fit 33's, so I started looking at lift kits. Rough Country had 4" lift for around $400, but in all the research I did the consensus was that the kit was crap. BDS seemed to have a good kit, but I didn't want to drop a thousand dollars. So I started to look at SOA.

Being that I had a welder (John) it seemed like a good idea. Reusing the stock leaf springs would keep costs down, so I should be able to get everything together for around $300. Which would have been true, had I not thought about the details. More reading said that the stock leaves wouldn't last long before sagging, which should be expected from springs that are 20 years old. That meant that I needed to look at replacement springs as well. So the ordering started. I ended up with the longest shocks I could find from Skyjacker's scratch and dent section of the website, OME 2.5 springs (36r all the way around), new U bolts, perches, drop pitman arm, etc. etc. The costs started adding up.

I was able to recoop some of the cost by selling the things I wouldn't be using - the old engine, transmission, transfer case, D35, stock leaf springs. That helped, but the whole bit still put me way over budget. Enough of the sidebar, lets get back to the pictures. I'll try to work things in as they come.

I found the Ford 8.8 an hour or so away (everything is an hour away!) for $250 from a guy who seems to pull these things for a living. Honestly, his garage had about 20 of them in it, hung on a rack that it looked like he had fabbed up. Everything seemed to check out, and it was complete save for e brake shoes and hardware. We stuffed it into the back of John's Jetta and it was back to the ranch.
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Unread 11-01-2011, 11:37 AM   #7
lovett86
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sounds like its comiing along alright so far, gonna be killer when your done, did the 8.8 come from a ranger?
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Unread 11-01-2011, 11:51 AM   #8
seraph_rapture
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With the rear end back and cleaned up, we set to installing the Aussie. It was pretty painless, aside from the dowel pins and springs which were a bit of a challenge. All the tolerances looked good thankfully, so it was fairly straightforward. It's pretty covered with super blue grease in the picture, I may have been a little overzealous. I thought I would never get the smell of gear oil off my hands, that fishy smell is awful. Some people say to save the spider gears, I sold mine. To each their own.



Now I moved on to the track and sway bars. I fully intended to unbolt them and keep them around, but the bolts were stubborn. I was more stubborn. Honestly I was tired of PB Blastering and heating the hell out of fasteners with no result. Out came the sawzall and the track bars and sway were liberated from their iron prisons. No turning back now I guess.



Now came the most frustrating (or second, I'm not sure) part of the entire project. Think for a moment, can you guess what it is? I'll give you a hint, it involves me beating on the underside of my jeep with a 6lb mallet, liberal use of PB Blaster and Mapp gas, an air hammer and chisel, along with the liberal use of pejoritives and colorful adjectives. If you said spring bolts and bushings, you win!! Even remembering gets me pissed off. For those of you who haven't dealt with them before, you can't understand the frustation, but I'll try to explain. The bolts holding the leaf springs to the frame use a metal sleeve inside a rubber bushing inside the eye of the spring held together by a nut and bolt. Sounds simple, right? Here's the thing. Over time that metal bushing seizes to the bolt, which means that now that unit is one piece. No amount of hammering, cursing, spraying, or heating is going to separate them or come between their endless love. They won't be cajoled or enticed. Brute force and surgery are your only hope. While I'm on the subject of springs and before I forget, what idiot thought that putting the bolt head between the frame and the gas tank on the rear shackles was a good idea? I would love to slap him or her right in the face. Keep your sawzall handy for that little gem.

But honestly, the shackle bolts were nothing compared to those frame bolts. I spent two whole days removing those two bolts. Trying to melt the rubber mount with the mapp gas didn't work, the rubber just laughed at me. The air hammer did a great job of mushrooming the bolt but nothing else. The rubber did act like a great cushion though, so you couldn't get a dead blow on the bolt with the mallet to work. Finally I gave up, pulled out the sawzall and angle grinder with a cutoff disc, and set to work. A combination of the two was necessary, as it was all but impossible to get the disk between the bushing and the bracket in order to cut without messing up the bracket. I honestly considered cutting through the bracket entirely and just welding it back on, I was so pissed. A few cutting discs later, I managed to get through enough of the bolt that I could finangle the leaf down and out, with the broken bolt still seized inside. The springs went to the new owner just like that, honestly I'm not sure how he could have gotten them out short of sticking them in a fire overnight.

Finally, victory! With those out, I could sand and paint the frame. I was going to POR15 the whole thing, until I realized how expensive a quart of that stuff is. Honestly it's like liquid gold. It is tough though, I found from where I had painted with the tiny can John had lying around. Rustoleum however, is only 8 bucks a quart. So Rustoleum flat black it is! I figure if it doesn't hold up well I can always recover it. As for taking off the rust, I found these sanding flap discs for the angle grinder that worked amazing. I thin I used 40 grit, and it took the frame down to bare metal in less than a second. I didn't take the whole frame to bare metal, just enough of the flaky rust off that I felt confident the Rustoleum would adhere. Pics of the completed frame.




The boomerang shackles I ordered came in, so while I was waiting for springs I thought I would throw those on. 5/8 if I remember correctly, and from a vendor on Jeepforum. I didn't realize that I had the rears on backward until after taking this picture. Be sure to remember to torque the nuts, 45lb shackle to spring, 60lb spring to frame.




I got the TC mounted and had John fab up a TC drop by welding some box tubing onto the stock XJ crossmember. I didn't realize I was going to have to use this until later into the project. I fully intended on using a stock YJ skid albeit with modifications for the clocked XJ TC. Coming from a manual to an automatic meant that mounting locations were different, and much of it had to be cut out to clear the transmission pan and TC. In the end we ended up using the XJ crossmember instead, I'm unsure if I'm going to put a flat belly pan on or leave the crossmember as it is. Opinions are appreciated.

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Unread 11-01-2011, 01:38 PM   #9
seraph_rapture
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I originally thought that the shocks I ordered were all eyelet type, which necessitated the use of pin to eye adapters. I bought these beefy units to do the job, then found out that Skyjacker sent me two pin type and two eyelet type. I may need to switch to them in the future, as the front shocks I have are about an inch too short. For now I'm going to use a turnbuckle and threaded rod to span the gap. The shocks were intended for 6 inches of lift...I may have gone a bit over that. We'll see how they work out, I may be ordering new ones in the near future if these blow apart.



At this point I am at a bit of a standstill. I ordered a set of OME 2.5" springs online from HotJeepParts.com without looking at any reviews as they were about $25 cheaper than Quadratech. What a headache that was, a valuable lesson learned. Order placed on Monday, was told via email that they would have them from the factory in a few business days and then would mail them to me from that point. Assumed I would have them by Friday. Two weeks later, still no springs. A bunch of back and forth with them, so I cancel the order and place one with Quadratech. Q-tech gets the springs to me in 3 days. The first company then mails them, threatens not to refund me, have to file a paypal claim, etc. etc. All that for a set of these. Worth it in the end I suppose, but what a hassle. Finally got my money back a month later and the springs I needed. Let that be lesson to the rest of you, spend the extra $20 and order from a reputable company. Added about three weeks to my project.



Fronts and rears installed! Progress!



Now that the springs are fitted we can get back to work. The next step is getting the 8.8 mocked up so we can set the driveline angle and weld perches. Here's the perches zip tied to the springs and the pumpkin angled toward the SYE. As you can see I already had John weld the axle tubes so they won't spin out of the carrier. The axle will have to come back out, but now that the perches are tack welded into place we can do that.



Since it's a shame to put a rusty rear end under those shiny new springs, I suppose I'd better wheel it off and paint it!



Here's the finished work of the day. The rear end is up, welded, angle set, and bolted to the springs. For the first time in a long time it's back on a rear end (albeit on jack stands).



And now the front is in!



Now we're on to drive shafts. I'm using an XJ front on my rear and it needs to be shortened considerably. I want to say the new length is about 18". For the front I'll be reusing the stock driveshaft but it will need to be lengthened about 12 inches. Luckily I was able to use the cut section of the rear to sleeve the front to get the length, and fill the front with oil to balance it. I did run into a bit of a snag - the Ford u-joint size is larger than the Jeep, so I'll have to find an adapter u joint at the auto store. Here's the progress on the shafts.






And here is where it stands as of today! More work this afternoon but there probably won't be an update for a few days, though I'll try to check in to answer any questions or comments. Thanks for hanging in there, there's still a bunch to do.

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Unread 11-01-2011, 01:45 PM   #10
seraph_rapture
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Thanks to whoever purchased my membership, it was very unexpected and very much appreciated!

Also I'm an idiot, I didn't realize there was a build section until I posted (which I thought was weird) so if someone could move this for me that would be great.
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Unread 11-01-2011, 03:22 PM   #11
Aerythus
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Looks good! What are your plans for body cancer?
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Unread 11-01-2011, 06:20 PM   #12
AaronJ
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Originally Posted by seraph_rapture View Post
Thanks to whoever purchased my membership, it was very unexpected and very much appreciated!

Also I'm an idiot, I didn't realize there was a build section until I posted (which I thought was weird) so if someone could move this for me that would be great.
Plenty of people put their builds here. Up to you if you want it elsewhere of course.

I also bought a red '92 Wrangler S last year and got to work on the lift/body/engine swap. I'm a bit further ahead of you but that's mostly because mine was completely rust free. I cringe looking at the work you guys up north have to do.

Oh, and you got that membership because you are putting up a great build thread. Well written, entertaining to read, and lots of photos.

Maybe I missed it but what all do you still plan to do with the Jeep?
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Unread 11-01-2011, 07:09 PM   #13
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fantastic read. thanks and keep it up
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Unread 11-02-2011, 11:19 AM   #14
seraph_rapture
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Originally Posted by Aerythus View Post
Looks good! What are your plans for body cancer?
I've already picked up sheet metal, still have to cut out the trouble spots and weld it in. Body work is last on the list, but something I look forward to as it means I'll be nearing completion.
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Unread 11-02-2011, 11:25 AM   #15
seraph_rapture
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Originally Posted by AaronJ View Post
Plenty of people put their builds here. Up to you if you want it elsewhere of course.

I also bought a red '92 Wrangler S last year and got to work on the lift/body/engine swap. I'm a bit further ahead of you but that's mostly because mine was completely rust free. I cringe looking at the work you guys up north have to do.

Oh, and you got that membership because you are putting up a great build thread. Well written, entertaining to read, and lots of photos.

Maybe I missed it but what all do you still plan to do with the Jeep?
Thanks! Still lots to do.

All the accessory wiring needs to be tied together between the harnesses, which I expect to take at least a few days. Also need to wire the automatic's computer into the YJ harness.

The e-brakes have to be connected to the 8.8 somehow, I'm sure someone has already come up with a solution that we can use.

The brake hard lines in the back need to be replaced as I broke at least one of the YJ lines when disconnecting fittings.

I need to pick up longer soft lines as I'm sure even relocating the stock rubber won't allow me to use them. I need to flex it out first to see what I'm looking at.

Need to pick up 35's. The 30" tires on there aren't going to do the trick.

All the trouble spots of rust on it need to be cut out and have new sheet metal welded in. I hate body work, but it has to be done. The whole thing will be getting painted Amber Fire when its finished.

The rear hatch needs to be fixed, the T handle rusted and snapped off when I turned it, as did most of the screws when I tried to remove them.

Still need to work up Tcase linkage, the XJ stuff isn't going to work.

I'm sure there's more I'm forgetting, but this is the off the top of my head list.
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