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Unread 08-21-2013, 09:18 AM   #1
Henyaman
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1996 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
Posts: 5
Rust and catastrophic failure :(

So long story short, ever since my family and I moved to NC we wanted to get another Jeep for the beaches and some mud trails. She started working recently so figured out second vehicle could be that Jeep! We picked up a beautiful 1996 ZJ Limited, 5.2 w/ LSD and Tow package (110k). Everything was great for the first few days. Changed the diff fluids, tranny fluid, filter, etc... and was ready to go have lunch on a trail! First mild bump and this happens:
failed2.jpeg

If you can't tell from the pic (Funny angle), basically the coil spring perch on the front axle snapped (Drivers side), and the spring came down to the tie rod, where it sits.
Apparently the rust underneath (It was a northern car) was worse than I gave it credit for. It looks like it was recently coated, possibly to help with (Or hide?) the rusting but after scraping to check, most things are in very poor shape.

So, all of that said, we are trying to look on the bright side of this. It gives me a reason to full on rebuild the front and rears and get a nice, mild truck out of this. I have done a ton of searching and setup a parts list. If there is one thing I have learned, its to have a clear goal in mind for a build. I am lucky and am about 15 minutes from East Coast Gear, so I think I will be utilizing some of their offerings for this project.

The goal is to build so that it can handle mild offroad trails, light mudding, and also the beach/sand when we go out there.
Given what I have seen so far, I am hesitant to re-use much of the suspension, it needed replaced anyhow and the rust has me worried.

Here is the list I have so far. Any input is welcome, as well as recommendations for dealing with a fairly rusty unit from a safety perspective. I am trying to keep it reasonable as I will not be doing anything crazy with the truck. Anything else that I should add, etc...

ECGS Dana 30 HP Front 4.10 /w Spartan Locker
ECGS Ford 8.8" Rear 4.10 /w Spartan Locker
RC 4" Series II Suspension
HD Fixed Upper Control Arms (4" kit includes all new arms but these, and mine are crumbling)
Full Poly Bushings kit (Most of the bushings are shot)

Also if there is anything I should plan on, or recommended to replace with the upgrades above (IE drive shafts etc...). My understanding is the ECGS axles and pretty much bolt on, so most of this should be straight forward. (I hope).
Side note I considered getting heavy duty mounts and having them welded, but given the condition of underneath not sure if that is the best of ideas or not. I am not sure of the best way to tell the condition of the axle housing and whether I am better off welding new mounts or replacing.
Thanks!

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Unread 08-21-2013, 09:29 AM   #2
plunges25
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: jacksonville, fl
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I would remove the rust in the least destructive way possible i.e a wire brush before sanding anything to remove all the heavy rust. after the heavy rust is removed look at all the parts and see if there is any pitting (it looks like small holes) on the parts and go for there in reuseing any parts.
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Unread 08-21-2013, 09:37 AM   #3
ZJfamilyfun
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plunges25 View Post
I would remove the rust in the least destructive way possible i.e a wire brush before sanding anything to remove all the heavy rust. after the heavy rust is removed look at all the parts and see if there is any pitting (it looks like small holes) on the parts and go for there in reuseing any parts.
Agreed. Take care of the rust thoroughly! Im from Mich, rust is cancer. If you leave just a little spot......bam! Next summer you'll be back to spuare one, and worse.
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Unread 08-21-2013, 10:37 AM   #4
plunges25
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also i would after all of the rust is removed primer and paint the parts
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Unread 08-21-2013, 06:06 PM   #5
zj97ltd
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Remember too to check out the unibody/frame. If you have rust issues there it might be too far gone.
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Unread 08-21-2013, 06:37 PM   #6
Henyaman
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I will get it up on stands and give it a closer look tomorrow or Friday. It looks like it may have had an undercoat at one point, the parts of the frame I see at the edges actually looked OK. I will scrape some of it off and make sure its sound. I hope my luck isn't THAT bad!
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Unread 08-21-2013, 08:25 PM   #7
dnuccio
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definitely make sure the unibody is not rusty before you start dumping money into it
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Unread 08-21-2013, 11:15 PM   #8
Uniblurb
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In having a 96 4.0 in the salt/rust belt I can relate. If not changing the front axle right away you best check the bracket on the top right side of the axle the lower TB bolt and steering stabilizer attaches to. That's a favorite place for salt/rust to start eating the bracket away where it's welded to the axle. Could also be hidden by the undercoating and scrape it away if saving the axle for the time being. Good luck.
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Unread 08-22-2013, 12:57 AM   #9
zachjf
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I'd poke around and see what the rest of the axle side mounts and frame side mounts look like then either swap a better condition junkyard axle or, if the frame is toast, look at other options.
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Unread 08-22-2013, 08:14 AM   #10
zj97ltd
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These rust posts make me glad I live in FL. Cars here don't rot, they just leak to death and blow up.
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Unread 08-22-2013, 08:52 AM   #11
JeepNicholson
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zj97ltd View Post
These rust posts make me glad I live in FL. Cars here don't rot, they just leak to death and blow up.
And the clear coat gets baked off
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Unread 08-23-2013, 09:22 AM   #12
Henyaman
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I've started hammering and scraping to determine the overall shape. Also working on getting that spring out.
So far the wheel well has some rust that can easiy turn to a hole, but at the frame welds and arm mounts SO FAR looks ok. I will be sanding andwheeling it tonight hpopefully and will post pics. Im hoping to get some feedback if its worth doing both axles, control arms, etc... to make a weekend truck out of. I just want it to be solid if nothing else.
Thanks for all the feedback as well! More pics incoming.

Also, what do you guys recommend, once I have the frame mounts points (Control Arm mounts etc) sanded down to metal, painting the joints with? POR? Rustoleum Hammered maybe?
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Unread 08-24-2013, 02:12 AM   #13
Uniblurb
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The makers of POR-15 recommend using their "Prep-Ready" product for etching the surfaces to be coated and leaving a zinc-phosphate coating to stop rust while having the POR itself adhere better.

http://www.por15.com/PREP-READY-_p_15.html

Here's a non-Jeep video where the guy coated the POR with the Rustoleum Hammered you mentioned. Maybe he's been smelling too many paint fumes since the video becomes pretty shaky? Lol.


You're lucky you don't live in the rust/salt belt and the bottom of my 96 ZJ is really bad where I really need to do the same. No rust through the body yet though. Too late for 93 XJ where the rockers are gone from the middle of the rear doors back and losing some of the unibody integrity/stabilization. Just bought a 2004 4.7 WJ limited and need to stop the bottom from slight rust surfacing everywhere before winter. Loosing proposition up here fighting the rust as long as they apply salt/calcium-chloride to the roads in winter.

BTW, at the welding supply shop I go to they sold me some "Weld-Aid B-100 Brite Zinc Primer" they say you can weld right through. Haven't tried welding right through it yet but have been spotting some real rusted small areas. Not bad priced at Amazon or Walmart for about $7.50/12.5oz spray can.

http://www.weldaid.com/brite-zinc-aerosol/
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96 4.0 ZJ Laredo, 2004 4.7L WJ Limited, 93 4.0 XJ (spare), 96 4.0 XJ (son's)

-Stalling ZJ? 12 things to check before replacing a sensor; the Dirty Dozen
-Crankshaft position sensor multimeter test. & video of testing.
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Unread 08-26-2013, 12:59 PM   #14
Henyaman
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Thanks, that is some great info! I will start cleaning up the frame and post pics as I go. Hopefully most of it is still good enough for a build. (Frame wise)
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Unread 08-27-2013, 01:43 AM   #15
Uniblurb
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YW and no problem. The only place I'm seeing some actual unibody frame deterioration on my 96 is where the AC drain tube dumps out inside the frame itself on the lower passenger side where it's rusting from the inside out. I'm going to have to weld some support metal on it and great design!
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-Stalling ZJ? 12 things to check before replacing a sensor; the Dirty Dozen
-Crankshaft position sensor multimeter test. & video of testing.
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