Great Build. I did the same with my jeep - new Alpine cda-117 (HU) and the POR-15. I didnt do the Rustoleum top coat. Is that really needed? Mine came out pretty glossy with out it.
I've heard mixed reviews about POR-15, alot of people just seem to throw it on and be fine, others say that it needs alot careful prep and a topcoat. If it's holding up for you, I wouldn't touch it.
As far as whats next, this summer is going to be little things, I'm chasing down squeaks and rattles. Also, I'm going to be installing either a tuffy Center console, or glovebox because I currently don't have any locking places in the jeep. I'll be sure to update this thread when that happens.
So Its been an entire year since this thread had been updated, and alot of stuff has happened since then.
Only a few days after my last post for this thread last year, a microburst (more like a tornado!) came through and pretty much wrecked my house. While everybody was ok, quite a few trees in excess of a hundred feet came tumbling down, and the rest of last summer was spent clearing, chopping and chipping wood for days on end...(its a year later and I'm still not done! But at least all the wood is stacked, in a pile or made into mulch).
Picture of the front of my house
A view trying to look down my driveway
With that *minor* issue taken care of, I was able to actually get some much needed work done to the jeep this summer.
I had always hated leaving my jeep parked somewhere for the knowing that somebody is going to snoop around and snag something out of it. I knew I needed some security in the jeep...I ended up going to tuffy for this matter and snagged a full center console.
This thing is intimidating, the locking mechanism is great and it sounds like your shutting a large safe. At this point, I'm honestly more worried about somebody stealing the entire jeep instead of breaking into this thing, it would probably be much easier!
(note, when installing this 2 piece console, be sure to leave the middle bolts loose until the end, especially before attaching the bolt by the shifter, this makes it a little easier to align and bolt right in!)
Another matter that had been bothering me for awhile was the starter. While It worked 100% of the time, it was incredibly noisy, cranked slow and had been on the jeep for the past 14 years. It was bad enough that people would turn heads. 2 bolts and 2 wires later, my jeep starts on the 2nd crank and sounds healthy!
its a good feeling when your jeep starts up nice, should have done this alot sooner!
The old exhaust hangers were shot, the catalytic converter was starting to rattle, and the bolts from the exhaust manifold to the downpipe were falling apart. Hell, the muffler actually had some wire hangers holding it together, so before the jeep could get inspected, It was time to get an exhaust!
After looking at about a billion sound clips of different setups, and working out a budget I ended up going with a dynomax super turbo muffler, with a magnaflow cat. Upon closer inspection, the exhaust manifold was not stock, (as it probably cracked a long time ago with the previous owner). The PO must have gone to a decent shop, as the header on there now has expansion joints in it (not stock for a 98?).
this was around 4,000 miles ago, and the exhaust is now broken in...It has a nice deep mellow sound, noticeably louder than stock, but isn't as loud as others I've heard. It is not raspy at all, and doesn't drone while cruising on the thruway (holding 2,000-2,300 rpms for hours)
Some say that the tip on this exhaust is too long, but for me, my hitch will hit waay before any part of the tip snags the ground (I don't play on the rocks much....yet)
with the new exhaust(02 sensors too), and my 3.07 gears, I'm now consistently getting 20mpg highway. The jeep was driving great, and I only had one rattle to chase down...ended up being the swaybar link bolt was shot...Grade 8 replacement and its back to handling like a sports car!
For the first time in awhile I could just sit back and drive the thing...It sounded nice, it started up, no noises but the stereo still crankin...good deal!
Whether I was taking it mountainbiking...
....Or grabbing groceries(the tasty kind of course!)
So fast forward to a few days ago...All my road tripping brought the jeep up in miles and I finally hit the 100k mark...And I just didn't have a good feeling about it.
And I was right, because just 200 miles after I took this photo, the jeep wasn't happy with me... As I was accellerating from a stop light, I heard a small creaking sound...Hmmm..wonder what could that be? as I head over a bump, I hear a louder snap right after shifting into second gear...not good!
As I coast over to a parking lot, I don't hear any bad noises, steering is good, brakes are good, transmission is good...What the hell was that noise?
As I go to leave again, I knew right away. It was as if the rear axle was trying to walk out from underneath the jeep!
Grabbing a flashlight and inspecting would later show that the rear drivers side upper control arm bracket came clean off the axle...Another reminder that the rust is back and needs to be dealt with...This time its going to be serious...With the current condition of the axles(knuckles, u joints, 3.07 geaarrrss) I'm actually looking into an axle swap, which I will be starting a new thread about for some much needed questions!!!
Oh...And to top it off, I'm working as much as I can, and I have to be back up at school, 300 miles away, in just 2 weeks...Here we go again!!!
So its been over a month, but I'm finally getting around to updating this thread. I ended up picking up a pair of axles from a 2006 with some nice upgrades on it, the bonus being a D44 with limited slip and 3.73 gears.
My plan of attack was to swap out both axles, but also go to town with the wire wheel and load up on por-15 in places I hadn't reached last time. While it seemed like a straight forward swap, This would be the most wrenching I've ever done.
I had access to jack stands and one floor jack, wrenches and a harbor freight angle grinder...The part that worried me was that I only had a week to complete this while I was also working nights at a restaurant. If its one thing I learned, Getting your hands and arms clean enough to serve food after a whole day of wrenching on the ground is tough!
With no time to waste, I parked the jeep and got to work removing the old parts, starting with the rear axle
with the axle removed, it was easy to see why the bracket had just ripped off...
The northeast is not kind, and the rust was bad!
It was at this point I realized that the hard brake lines weren't in much better shape, and just the act of removing them from the plastic clips made the brittle lines snap. I hopped online and ordered a set of pre-bent hard lines from classic tube, hoping they would make it to my front door in time.
After cleaning up the new to me D44, I had help from my dad maneuvering the axle into place...This would be tricky with only person, unless you have two floor jacks, so grab a friend or two. One person can wiggle and move the axle while the other is trying to get the bolt through the arms.. Once you get a couple of control arms on the rest is easy.
I put some grade 8 bolts on wherever I needed to replace, including the diff covers. While grade 8 is overkill for the diff cover, I did it for aesthetics and the off chance I get the diff hung up, just be sure to not over torque the diff bolts!
With everything (sans brakes) reconnected, I filled up the diff (Lubelocker re-usable seals are awesome!), gave it a few spins by hand and then let the jeep idle in gear.... Everything was good, until I noticed a little bit of wobble on the drivers side axleshaft.
I was pretty pissed at the time, but The seller was great, and made things right. Besides, the jeep wasn't going anywhere until the brake lines arrived, so another call to Qtech, and some expedited shipping later, I had a new axleshaft with seals and bearings on its way.
With the rear end mostly done, I had to get started on the front. The rust on these knuckles always made me cringe, and a new front end would make the front solid again.
The worst part about pulling the front off was getting the lower control arms off on the axle side....I ended up just unbolting the frame side, at which time help had arrived!
With them working on getting the control arms back..I set off to wirewheel all the mounts and any part of the frame I had missed the year before. Followed by a nice coat of the por 15 again to dry overnight...
As far as the lower control arm bolts go..I ended up grabbing the angle grinder and went to town with a cutoff wheel.
It was now wednesday, and I was getting nervous that the brakelines wouldn't be made and shipped in time, thankfully I was wrong. Since I didn't have any help availible to maneuver the front axle into place until the afternoon, I Started off the day with a little bit of wirewheeling...
I will be looking into wheels and tires probably next summer, but these needed a little attention now so that they didn't continue to rust out.
I was pleasently surprised when both a Fedex and Ups truck showed up at the same time...
I now had everything I needed to finish the jeep(or so I had thought). While I was having alot of fun, and learning even more, I still had to get the work done and I only a few days left. On top of that, I needed to get the new axleshaft set up(bearing pressed on) so that I could get the rear end all squared away.
Time not on my side, I set to work replacing all the hard brakelines..
Soo Shiny!!!!!! Classic tube did a great job bending these, there were only a few bends that were off a little, but this was easily corrected...
I had also made the decision to do a full brake overhaul, since I was going to have to pull the rear axleshaft (very easy to do on a Rear D44!), a brake job wouldn't be out of the way. There were alot of firsts for me during this week, and rebuilding a drum brake is no exception.
Help arrived shortly after, and the brakes would have to wait until the next day...It was finally time to get the front axle back in.
Both axles looked great all cleaned up!
While the front axle came with a few goodies (raised swaybar brackets for a Tie rod flip!) I didn't have enough clearence with the stock wheels to clear a tie rod flip. To fix this, i just had to tap out the insert and flip it so the tapered bolt on the tierod would be returned to the stock position. down the road I'll grab some larger diameter wheels and flip the tierod for moaarr clearrance!
With both axles in place, I was starting to get a second wind... The list of things to do was getting smaller, and the end of the work was approaching..
After making yet another trip to the hardware store, and only one more day left until i was supposed to leave for school, I set off replacing the axle shaft and tackling the brakes.
to help keep me organized when pulling the parts off the drum brakes, I used a plastic cover I had laying around as a reference point to the axleshaft flange, and this made it easy to remember where the parts go..
With the new axleshaft in place, and the brakes reassembled, I moved to the front
*I used grade 8 bolts (fine threaded) for my wheel bolts, I was told they are only different because of the height of the head, and since I wasn't running ABS and have drum brakes, I had plenty of clearance...also Be sure to get the correct red Locktite to secure these to the flange!
Even though the seller had included some calipers, i decided to just grab a new set, but I did salvage the speed-bleeders
All that remained was to adjust the drum brakes and parking brake, and then get to bleeding the system... It ended up taking me 3 tries to bleed the brakes, because for some reason i was getting air in the front lines...as it turns out I have the calipers on the wrong side, and the bleeded screws weren't on top....Doh! After everything checked out, and all bolts were double checked, the jeep was put back on all fours and taken for a drive...
The new gear ratio felt great, the axles were solid, brakes had no problem locking up all 4 and I was happy as could be. Exhausted but releived, All I had to do now was pack for school and hope it would make the 300 mile drive before I could get an alignment done!
In the end, there never was a dull moment. There was always "just one more" trip to the hardware store, or some bolt that decided it wasn't going to turn. It really was a crazy adventure, I felt as if i was stuck on a reality tv show. Everything is still holding up great, and I finally have piece of mind with the rust. I learned a ton and feel much more confident wrenching. Thanks!
I could not have done this without the support of family and friends...Whether its making sure I could get a quick dinner in before work, or turning wrenches, I couldn't have done it without them.