Lessons learned from my YJ build
Well first off I want to thank everyone for all of the advice and help they gave me on my project.
My YJ build started this fall when my clutch started slipping and my BA 10 transmission started making a pretty bad whining/knocking noise. My choices came down to rebuild the BA 10 (not even worth it), or upgrade to an AX 15. Upgrade time it is!
Tax season rolls around and I start searching ebay, craigslist, etc. and find a used AX 15 (suppposedly off a 93) with NP231 and driveshafts listed on ebay for $800.00. Thinking I have found the score of the century I get it. This was the first lesson I learned. Shipping big parts is expensive, look local first!! If you have can't find local and have to get parts shipped to you, you can save hundreds by having the parts delivered to a local freight terminal such as yellow freight.
The same online vendor who got me the AX 15 also secured me a Ford 8.8 and after paying $300.00 shipping, both were on the way (again I could have saved considerably by going to get them at the terminal instead of having them delivered to my home). In the meantime I picked up an SYE on Ebay from teamwrangler for $167.00.
The parts arrived (by now its April) and I detached the tranny and transfer case to install the SYE. This is when I started noticing a problem with the stuff I bought used. The 231 looked like the tailcone seal had recently been replaced and there was still oil residue all over it. After taking it apart, my fears were confirmed. The shift pads had melted (likely do to lack of oil)and there were plastic parts throughout the case. Well I ordered the pick up filter and shift pads and sat around waiting for them. A week later they arrived and I finished tearing down my case. This is where I learned my second big lesson. Do not order parts until you have thoroughly checked the whole thing! If I had taken the time to look farther I would have found that the aluminum case had deep heat cracks and the planetary gear was grinding, basically the tcase overheated badly from losing oil and was junk. So I salvaged the 23 spline input gear, which was still good, to use in my current tcase and slid the used ebay transfer case under my bench.
In the meantime I had been looking around for a lift kit (wanted to put the kit on to have easier access for the tranny swap) and I found a 4" RE standard kit at 4wd hardware on sale for $125.00 off! I always wanted a RE kit so I ordered it and then waited. Well the kit was backordered (shocks were out of stock) so 3 weeks after I ordered the kit it ships! This is where I found out another valuable lesson. Print your original invoices! Between the time I ordered the kit and the time it shipped the sale was over, and since 4wd charges at the time of shipment, you guessed it, they charged me the full amount! Well I called and told them what happened and the first thing they asked for was if I had a copy of my invoice, like a rookie parts buyer I had never printed it and could not find a copy in my e-mail. They mostly honored the price, but I only got $90.00 off not the full $125.00. Another costly lesson learned.
Well the lift kit finally arrived and I am off to put it on the Jeep. I bought a pitman arm puller, a tie rod puller, pilot bearing puller,and other tools to do the job. This is another lesson learned. For tools you are unlikely to use again, most auto parts stores will loan them to you! You pay for the tool up front and then bring it back when you are done and the money is credited back to you.
Well the kit goes in and it is time to pull my old transmission. It comes out without a hitch and I take off the 231, tear it down, swap in the 23 spline input, install the SYE, attach it to the transmission, and in she goes! Here comes another lesson learned, test your parts before installing them!!!!! The transmission did not have fifth gear, if I had checked it I would have found that out before installing it!!! This ties into another lesson learned, buy used parts carefully or locally. My $800.00 (plus shipping) was a waste, all I used off the ebay transmission/NP231 was a bellhousing, shifter, reverse sensor, and 23 spline input. Very expensive lesson learned! Hopefully the 8.8 turns out better.
After the used tranny turned out to be junk, I was tempted to do Cash for Clunkers, but sanity prevailed and I found a rebuilt trans for $745.00 from smartpartsauto.com with a 12 month warrantee. Well I place the order and I have to admit the company was very pleasant to deal with. The transmission arrived quickly and the paperwork was all pre filled out for the core return. Very nice job! The AX 15 install went fine and my Jeep was up and running again! As a side note, I found a CV driveshaft locally for $235.00 that was very well made as well.
During the install I learned another valuable lesson, the pilot bushing from pre 93 AX 15s is the same as my 1987 BA 10 (I think .590), but the later models all have a larger ID pilot bushing .750. Do not install the pilot bushing until you know the diameter you need!! I tried to get a jump on the install and put the pilot in, thinking my rebuilt tranny would be the same as my used one that had been damaged during removal.
Well that is about it, the lessons I learned were mostly due to impatience and being in a hurry to get the job done. If I had taken the time to thoroughly research and look over everything before I bought it, would have saved me considerably! I hope that if you took the time to read this you got something out of it. The most valuable lesson when working on a jeep..patience!!
87 YJ 4.2L, Weber 32/36, rear bumper tire carrier, nutter bypass, RE 4 inch lift, SYE, AX 15, lined the body tub
"Baby when you said you wanted a project jeep I expected you to spend a lot of money on it" <---Worlds best wife!!!