At this point the front fenders have been trimmed, plastic on lower doors was removed and sprayed with rattle can bedliner, and I was playing around in a little spot by my house. The XJ's first "flex" shots....hahahahaha
Oh, and I picked up a Lincoln Mig 120 welder with cart and gas bottle off of CL. I had previously picked up a cheapo HF welder, but when I got the deal on this one I sold it at a yard sale. So, the plan was to weld my new floor pans in with my new welder. Seeing as I STILL have not taught myself how to weld? Yeah, that never happened. The temp "floor" ended up getting wet and drooping down onto the exhaust. I was on the way to work one day and it smelled like someone was toasting marshmellows. I pulled over real quick into an Auto Zone parking lot, lifted the back seat up and yep.....FIRE! I pulled the flaming cardboard out, threw it onto the ground, and stomped it out. Two ladies saw me and brought me a just of water they had in their car to help me out I went in and immediately bought a fire extinguisher to keep in the Jeep. Needless to say this literally lit a fire under my *** to get the floor fixed sooner than later.
Also, sometime before April I went ahead and fixed some of the dents on the doors, hatch, and front driver's side corner. After doing the bodywork I decided to take the bedliner all the way up to the pinstripe under the door handles. I dig the look and it makes touch ups real easy. I'm overdue for the whole thing to be redone. I'll knock that out this Spring when it warms up. I also installed a Nate's 4x4 recessed winch bumper. Another JF member had picked it up for a friend when he bought his and his buddy decided he didn't want it. He gave me a great deal on it and met me halfway between Charlotte and Hope Mills, NC. Great guy!
I also picked up a cheap HF trailer, which I used to pick up my new toy. That bike has yet to be on the road but I'm hoping to have it rideable by this Spring.
So, instead of welding in the new floor pans I used some sealant and self tapping sheet metal screws. Ghetto? Maybe, but it has held up so far and better than holes in the floor. I wish I had more pics of the prep, but...... I don't, so deal with it.
I decided to spray a product called lizard skin, which has ceramic particles in it to dissipate the heat. I guess it works....but not as helpful as a heat shield. After the lizard skin I sprayed the U-POL rapter. I had sprayed the raptor liner in the TJ when I got it. I love the product. Not sure I'd bother with the lizard skin in the future though.
Pics in the previous post were just of the lizard skin. This is after the Raptor Liner was sprayed over top of it. Also, the muffler that I had installed right after buying the XJ has already rusted out. What kind of CRAP is that?
So, my steering was all jacked up. It was hard for me to keep the XJ on the road after hitting the slightest bump. I was planning on taking the XJ on it's first offroad trip. Not really a trip.....just playing at a little local spot, but I still wanted to make sure everything was good, so I took it to a local shop. I had the ball joints and a few u-joints replaced as well as some new Mickey Thompson MTZ's installed. I LOVE my MTZ's. I'm wishing I would have just picked up 35's at the time instead of 33's, but ....... I'll live. I'll probably be sticking with the 33's until they are bald and THEN bump up to 35's.
Ok, so sometime in January 2011 I started off for work and heard a horendous THUNK and then grinding coming from the front end. Someone suggested a pinion bearing, so I replaced the outer pinion bearing. I was trying to avoid digging into the diff, because up to this point I had never even popped a diff cover off and I was intimidated. Not sure why, but I was.
Since the XJ was my daily driver I couldn't afford to have it down for long at all, so I started scouring CL for another one I could pick up as cheap as possible. Well, I stumbled on to a '99 Durango with a 5.9L V8 and leather seats and couldn't pass it up. I got it for $2100 and the guy delivered it to my door. It needed front rotors and pads, but that was too easy. I knocked that out about 2 hours after he dropped it off. Here it is......
With the "dingo" as the daily driver and me not knowing what was wrong with the XJ I just kind of stalled out for a few months. The XJ sat in the garage until around April.
I also ended up losing my job in March 2011. I needed to find a job quick, so I signed up to go overseas AGAIN. That would make my 4th deployment in 8 years. It ended up being for 9 months (June 2011 - March 2012). The deployment was split between Iraq and Afghanistan with a 3 week vacation in between, so I did 4.5 months in each country. So, I've now been to Iraq 3 times and Afghanistan twice. I don't care to ever visit either country or anywhere in that corner of the world ever again.
I really wanted to get the XJ up and running before deploying and to get at least one more wheeling trip in. So, off came the diff cover and look what I found!
Yep, that is one JACKED up inner pinion bearing and a jagged *** oil slinger. I already had a full install kit with all bearings, so I borrowed a press and got to work. This didn't look so hard after all. Just a little research and I was good to go. I wanted to go wheeling the next day with a couple of guys, so I was on a time crunch. I just replaced the pinion bearings as quick as I could and got it back on the road. I think I took it for a test run an hour or two before taking off to meet them. Who needs sleep, right? Good news....all noise was gone and I was back in business.
I was pretty bummed that some of those pics didn't come out. That was actually the most I've challenged my XJ to date. It still wasn't anything crazy, but remember.....I spend most of my time with my XJ in the garage up on jack stands. SOME day I'll get to really wheel this thing. At least that's the plan anyway.
What I did take away from that outing was that I wanted lockers. So, I jumped online that night and ordered a Spartan locker for the front and a Lockright for the rear.
Since I was in such a hurry the week before to get the Jeep rolling again I only replaced the pinion bearings. So, while I had the diff apart again I went ahead and slapped new carrier bearings in along with the Spartan locker.
I never did get around to installing the lockright in the rear. Actually I have it sitting out in the garage still in the box. It is for sale if anyone wants that and/or my 8.25. I have all new brakes still in the boxes and packages for the 8.25 too.
Not sure which trip these were from. I THINK this was the one and only trip out with the Spartan installed. It performed GREAT! One of the best mods to the XJ with the stock axles.
Anyway, I had to included these pics.... I love my wheeling companions.
Black Hound Mutt - Sadie... she is a little ball of anxiety
Fatty Retriever/Lab - Duke... He is the biggest wuss in the world. He loves going on trips, because he wants to be wherever the destination is, but he HATES the actual trip there. He shakes the entire time. He isn't the biggest fan of wheeling. He loves running around when I have the Jeep parked though.
Tan Shepherd/Dane - Levi... He is my insane one. He can't get enough of ALL of it. He loves being by my side no matter where I am or what I'm doing. He "helps" me wrench on the Jeep, loves wheeling..... he is my buddy. Don't know what I'd do without him.