99 XJ Daily Driver/Expedition Build - Page 2 - JeepForum.com
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post #16 of 108 Old 11-14-2013, 07:14 PM Thread Starter
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1999 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Orem
Posts: 157
I knew that I needed to fix all of the problems caused by my lift. I did some thinking and was pretty sure that my new found sway was in part caused by my over extended shocks, poorly aligned sway bar links, super worn control arm bushings, and the double spacers I had going on. I knew almost immediately that I wanted to get rid of the double spacers, but I would need to make up for the loss in lift somehow.
I also needed to rid myself of the awful death wobble. This was pretty much caused by all of the things listed above in additional to my old Tie rod ends, old steering stabilizer and old worn tires.
I had done quite a bit of research before hand and decided to go with the V8 ZJ coils, WJ control arms , Bilstein 5100s, and a steering stabilizer.
V8 ZJ Coils: $50 a set.
They are physically the same as the stock XJ coils, but they have a higher spring rate. Stock XJ coils are about 150 and the V8 ZJ coils are about 190. I picked them up at a local Duane's which is a local pull a part(They pull it) for $50.
They installed just like any other coil and they added about 2 inches of lift or more in place of my original springs. I decided to remove the OEM spacer and just use the Teraflex coil spacer which put my at about 3.5 inches of lift over stock.
They do ride harder than the stock coils, but it gives me a sportier on road feel, and they are not too harsh for off road. This makes them excellent for the go fast stuff that I like since they soak it up with ease.

WJ Lower Control Arms: $50 a set.
These are from a 99-04 WJ. There are several reasons people run these. They are significantly stronger than stock since they are boxed steel instead of channel steel. They have a bend in the middle to allow a greater turning radius before rubber with over sized tires and stock backspacing. They have a bushing on one end designed to absorb bumps better and provide a smoother ride.
I wanted them because they were significantly cheaper than new wheels with less backspacing, and i felt better about that than using wheel spacers. Also got these at Duane's.
The install on these was much more labor intensive. The bushings are to wide for the stock XJ mounts on both the axle side and the body side. With a helper spraying water on the bushings the entire time to keep them cool, I ground them down to usable dimensions with a 4.5 disk grinder. Took some trial and error to get them to just the right size, but they went in nice and tight when I was done. Unfortunately I was not planning on a build thread at this time so I have no pictures or me machining them down.
You can see the bend below:

They were worth the install. The arm feels much more solid and stable in corners, the turning radius wasn't any different with my p235s(just wait a post of two) and the overall feel was great. The problem is that with my 3.5 inches of lift they bottom out quickly on the bottom of the shock/control arm mounts to the top of the arm. They only allow about 2 inches of droop. I did not feel comfortable cutting the mount since I wasn't sure if it would loose any structural integrity. Also, the bushings on the lower control arm are not replaceable. You have to buy the WJ arm with both bushings installed which is not cool.

Bilstein 5100s: $340 for all 4
First I wanted to say that these things are amazing. I could end it at that, but I will elaborate.
I was thinking of the OME shocks, but the superior monotube technology, lifetime warranty, the legend that is the 5100, and the non yellow color convinced me otherwise.
I found them cheapest on Newegg, but I have never purchased through them and I wanted someone that would be more familiar with the product. I decided to purchase through OffRoad Warehouse. They were really helpful and price matched the Newegg price which was great. I thought i was only going to be at about 2-3 inches of lift since I had purchased these around the same time as my other lift components.
Part Numbers from Bilstein's site.
Cherokee XJ 84-01 2-3" 2-3" 24-185622 5100 Series 2 24-185639 5100 Series
These things are beautiful. I was more excited about these than any other mod so far even just for the looks. I was only installing the fronts for now since I wasn't ready to tackle the upper mounts in the rear yet.
Install was super easy since I had already disconnected my front shocks a few times for the other mods.

This immediately stiffened up the front and most of the sway I was experiencing in the front was gone. This may have been in part to the WJ control arms installed about the same time.
These shocks did stiffen up the ride, but it just made the Jeep feel more sporty which is great since it is my daily driver when I am not on a motorcycle.

I had plans for the rear that I have been working on for a while that would help the flex so i needed to install a longer rear brake line. I used Dakota Rear Softlines ('95-00) = 6" longer which would allow much more flex from the rear. It installed perfectly after I got the old line off which was kind of a pain since my Jeep was from the north west and had too much rust.

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post #17 of 108 Old 11-14-2013, 08:11 PM Thread Starter
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1999 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Orem
Posts: 157
Steering Stabilizer: $60 plus shipping which was expensive...
I have been able to fix the excessive sway in the front end, but I was still fighting off the death wobble. It would start to occur around the the 45-50 mph range and I was able to avoid the full death wobble by accelerating or decelerating past that range quickly. Alot of research on the forums said that track bars are usually the main culprit, but I wasn't ready to get one since this was only an intermediate stage for my Jeeps lift. I decided to try a steering stabilizer and I purchased one from Kevin's Offroad. which looks like a generic Rancho. I am not sure if it was really worth it compared to others, but people reported good luck with his stabilizer. The hardware kit provided was completely useless for my Jeep. I have the stock steering so I can only imagine it was a mistake. I was able to scrounge up and extra bushing sleeve from my brothers leftovers when he lifted his ZJ. The kit came with a bunch of shock bushing options so there were tons of sleeves as well. I got it all done up, but I didn't really drive it enough to tell if the death wobble was gone for good.
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post #18 of 108 Old 11-14-2013, 08:22 PM Thread Starter
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1999 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Orem
Posts: 157
Let's talk tires.
I knew that I wanted to end up on 33s, but that they wouldn't fit with my current lift height. So I was browsing for used 31's to hold me over until I was ready for 33s.
I have done a lot of reading on tires, and had it limited down to a few options. For an MT I was really interested in the KM2. It is a really attractive tire that came in a lot of sizes. The reviews on them were almost all positive. They had decent tread life for an MT and didn't make too much road noise.
I was leaning more towards an aggressive AT since most miles would be on the road since it is still a DD. I don't really like the BFG AT and i had some experience with the Duratrac and I was planning on going that route when I could afford them.
Tires: Set of 4 $594
I was browsing my local classifieds(KSL classifieds) and saw a new tire shop (California Tire) located in Orem, UT selling a set of 31X10.5X15 Kelly Safari TSR for $640 with a 10% discount since they wer having thier grand opening sale. This included mounting and balancing, disposing or old tires and lifetime rotations. I did some quick research since I didn't want to buy some POS no name tires. The Kelly brand is owned by GoodYear and the safari is like the off brand Duratrac. Not to many reviews, but the ones I could find all loved the tire. Great tread life, great traction is most conditions. They were more aggressive than the Duratrac and I couldn't pass up the deal.
I called them up and went right down there since they were only 5 minutes away from my house. I was probably one of their first customer since it was actually their first day in business, but they were very friendly and did a good job on the install.

Yes, this is a nickel

When I actually got around to measuring the true diameter when under the weight of the vehicle they were between 30-30.5 inches.

I have been very impressed with these tires. They ride nice once aired down to an appropriate level. They always have traction unless I am trying to spin them out. They look fantastic on my XJ and I have not regretted them once.

Since I have the AX15(manual transmission) my jeep came with 3.07 gears which was already pretty miserable, but with the 31 inch tires it was really awful. This is the biggest reason I was trying to get some performance mods like the injectors, electric fans, and my plan for an exhaust and intake eventually.

I was trying to find some axles out of a 4 banger XJ for the 4.10 ratio, but they don't really exist around here. I did however recently score an old XJ 44 with 3.55s that would help with the ratio and give my a great axle to build from instead of the not as popular 8.25. I had nothing against the 8.25 other than the ratio, but I could not pass up the 44. That has been sitting in my driveway for a while.
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post #19 of 108 Old 11-20-2013, 07:27 AM Thread Starter
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1999 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Orem
Posts: 157
Jumping ahead a little bit, but today I got my build sheet that I requested on Monday. It was really easy to get, You can use this link to submit your request. It was in my inbox Wednesday morning.

Build Sheet:

Thank you for contacting the Jeep Customer Assistance Center.

We are pleased to provide vehicle build information per your request for
your 1999 Jeep Cherokee Sport Utility 4-Door.

According to our records, your vehicle was equipped from the factory
with the following:

Sales Code Description
M5 Prem Cloth Hi-Back Bucket Seats
AZ Agate
ADAP Light Group
APAS Monotone Paint
ARWP Sport Decor Group
AWHP Power Equipment Group
AWS Smoker's Group
A19P 4.0L Engine(ERH)/5Sp Man Trans(DDQ)
BASS 124 Amp Alternator
BCDS 500 Amp Maintenance Free Battery
BGAS Power Front Disc/Rear Drum Brakes
CADP High Back Bucket Seats
CBWP Highline Door Trim Panel
CDBS Reclining Front Seats
CFMS Rear Fold w/Removable Cushion Seat
CGGS Traveling Inboard Seat Belt Buckle
CGWS Next Generation Front Air Bags
CKAS Carpets - Floor and Cargo Area
CKNS Cargo Compartment Carpet
CKTS Cargo Tie Down Loops
CKXS Plastic Liftgate Trim Panel
CLEP Front & Rear Floor Mats
CSAP Spare Tire Cover
CSRS Passenger Assist Handles
CSSS Lift Gate Assist Handle
CUFS Full Length Floor Console
CUXP Front & Rear Ash Trays
DBBC All Manual Transmissions
DDQ 5-Speed Manual Transmission
DHNS Command-Trac Part Time 4WD System
DJHS Dana M30/181MM Front Axle
DMMP 3.07 Rear Axle Ratio
DRAS Corporate 8.25 Rear Axle
EAAC All Engines
ERH 4.0L I6 Power Tech Engine
GAL Deep Tint Sunscreen Glass
GBBS Tinted Windshield Glass
GCBS Front Door Tinted Glass
GEEP Deep Tint Sunscreen Liftgate Glass
GFAS Rear Window Defroster
GNAS Rear View Day/Night Mirror
GNCP Sun Visors w/Illum Vanity Mirrors
GTS Power Heated Mirrors, Fold-Away
GVBC All Vehicles W/Power Mirrors
GXMP Remote Keyless Entry
HAAP Air Conditioning
HGDS Deluxe Insulation Group
JAYP Instrument Cluster w/Tach
JBFP Instrument Panel Black Bezel
JCDS 100 MPH Primary Speedometer
JHAS Var Intermittent Windshield Wipers
JHBP Rear Window Wiper/Washer
JJAP Cigar Lighter
JJBS Dual Note Electric Horns
JJJS 12V Auxiliary Power Outlet
JPAP Power Windows
JPBP Power Locks
LAJS Headlamps On Warning Chimes
LAPP Shift Indicator Warning Lamp
LBBP Courtesy Lamps
LCDP Map/Dome Reading Lamps
LDAP Underhood Lamp
LDBP Cargo Compartment Lamp
LHDP Headlamp Off Time Delay
LMAS Halogen Headlamps
MBKP Black Front Bumper End Caps
MBLP Body Color Front Bumper
MBSP Black Rear Bumper End Caps
MBTP Body Color Rear Bumper
MCAS Front Bumper Guards
MDAP Front License Plate Bracket
MFBP Body Color Headlamp Bezels
MFKP Body Color Grille
MHAS Black Windshield Moldings
MMCS Rear Qtr Solid Window Insert
MMGS Belt Moldings
MMKS Body Color Drip Trough Molding
MNAS Black Door Handles
MNNP Body Color License Plate Brow
MWGP Roof Rack
NAA Federal Emissions
NBKS EVAP Control System
NFAS 20 Gallon Fuel Tank
NHM Speed Control
PG8 Forest Green Pearl Coat
QG8S Forest Green Pearl Coat
RAAC All Radio Equipped Vehicles
RAZ AM/FM Cassette Compact Disc Radio
RCRP 4 Speakers
RDDP Fixed Long Mast Antenna
SBAS Power Steering
SCGP Leather Wrapped Steering Wheel
SDAS Normal Duty Suspension
SHAS Front Stabilizer Bar
SHCS Rear Stabilizer Bar
SUAP Tilt Steering Column
TBCS Compact Spare Tire
TBLS Inside Mounted Spare Tire
TRLP P225/75R15 Wrangler RT/S AT Tires
TZAP Goodyear Brand Tires
WJ5P 15X7.0 Full-Face Steel Wheels
WLYC All Steel Wheels
XCYS Upgraded OBD-II Connectors
XJFS Tethered Fuel Filler Cap
YAAS Build To U.S. Mkt. Specifications

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post #20 of 108 Old 11-20-2013, 07:47 AM Thread Starter
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1999 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Orem
Posts: 157
Two things on my build sheet surprised me. I was under the impression that I had an 18 gallon fuel tank. I actually have a 20 gallon tank. This is good, and means that when my Jeep says empty I have 2 extra gallons in there somewhere.(Not going to rely on that). My favorite item is the 124 amp alternator. I had been planning on upgrading when I got extra lights/compressor/winch/other accessories, but I do not think that I will need to at this point unless it actually gives me any trouble will i need to replace it.

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post #21 of 108 Old 11-20-2013, 08:29 AM Thread Starter
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1999 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Orem
Posts: 157
When I replaced my control arms I saw how old and worn the old upper control arm bushings were. In my research I learned that the XJ bushings have a 12mm sleeve and a 10 mm bolt. They make up the extra 2 mm with little raised bumps inside the sleeve to hold it tight. This is a terrible design. Once I had mine removed you can take the bolt and it just bounces around inside the bushing. The little raised bumps flatten out and you have about 2mm of movement.

Everyone suggests using WJ upper control arm bushings because the sleeves are dom tubing and have the same outer dimensions and the inner sleeve is a perfect 10mm which fits snug on the bolt. I could not find WJ upper control arm bushings anywhere locally. I checked AutoZone, O'Reilly's, Napa, Pep Boys and none of them had them. I bought through Quadratec since we get free shipping as forum members and the price was decent at about 10 each.

I recommend only doing one control arm at a time or you may find yourself fighting with the axle to get it aligned again ton install them. These bolts were pretty stuck, but with some patience we got them loose. For the body side of the arms I used my 12 ton press to press the bushings out then in which was pretty easy after I cleaned up the arms with my die grinder and wire wheel. A little bit of anti-seize goes a long way in making this easier now and for the next time.

Now it is time for the infamous axle side upper control arm bushings. These give most people a ton of trouble. I have heard of people burning them out, cutting them out, pounding them out, drilling them out, ball joint puller, and other various methods. I have found a way that I prefer and have used several times.

I used my air chisel, but you can use any chisel shaped tool and a hammer with similar results. On each side of the control arm mount I crushed the bushing sleeve in around the entire bushing(where reachable). By compressing this area there is much less pressure holding the bushing into the mount. It then just pops out with a few hits with your favorite hammer. 3 pound sledge worked best for me. Be careful on the passenger side mount when hitting it because it can and will bend if you use to much force when knocking it out.
I again cleaned these up with a wire wheel and applied anti seize to make installation easier.
for the passenger side just carefully tap it into place and mine went in with little issue. I had to brace the mount so that it wouldn't bend since I was hitting it pretty hard trying to get it to seat completely.
The drivers side bushing above the differential was a bit more of a challenge.
After a few designs my father and I made a small press out of some aluminum plates, bolt, nut, washers and small length of tube.

You need to first get the bushing seated in the mount then you take the the first plate with a whole drilled in its center and put the bolt through with a washer. this then goes through the bushing and you attach the other side in reserve order with the nut on last. With this you can tighten and tap with a hammer and it loosens up as the bushing slides into the mount. Repeat this until the bushing is contacting the both plates.
Disassemble and now you put the piece of pipe which is about 1 inch long between the plate and the side of the bushing you are trying to pull through. This allows it to continue being pulled through the mount until seated completely. the pipe must be just large enough to fit the bushing into and small enough to not get caught on the diff housing and miss align itself causing issues. I had an old hammock stand that I cut a length off of and it sit perfectly.
I will get pictures of the tool because it is super helpful for this and makes it so much easier.

The ride was significantly better. All of the little clunks and pops were gone now that the bolts fit perfectly into the bushing sleeve. Even off roading at high speeds the front end is silent which was amazing. the steering felt more solid and there was less sway on the road. If you have not done your upper control arm bushings I highly recommend it.

I had to redo this with my new front axle that I will be getting to soon, and I decided to use ZJ bushings from O'Reilly's since i didn't want to wait for shipping. The are also the exact same diameters as the XJ and WJ bushings with the 10mm inner sleeve. the only difference is that the inner sleeve of rolled instead of DOM tubing. I was worried about that, but it has not been an issue as the bolt is still very snug. O'Reilly's carried clevite rubber bushings which looked and felt like better quality then the Crown bushings available through Quadratec.

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post #22 of 108 Old 11-20-2013, 08:35 AM Thread Starter
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1999 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Orem
Posts: 157
This is going to be a big post since there was a lot of work done.
To sum up I took about a week and I did a lot of rust removal/prevention in the rear, HD Engineering No-Lift Shackle Re-locator brackets,JKS boomerang shackles, tow hitch, gas tank skid, rear Bilstein 5100 shocks.

When I had first bought the XJ I didn't realize how much rust it actually had. There is a whole in the driver side floor board that I would have put my foot through a long time ago if i hadn't started with my floor mats in the front when I bought it. there was a spot of two on my rocker panels, but my under body was pretty coated in rust. Most of it was surface rust, but the rear frame rails where is connects to the bumper mounts was more than that. I couldn't put a hole through it with a hammer and punch, so I knew that it was still structurally safe. I needed to fix this before continuing with my build and what better time than now since I was tearing it all apart anyways.

Tear down:
I had none of this installed so it was pretty easy. I removed the sway bar and brackets completely, disconnected the rear bolt on the leaf springs, bolts holding the shackles into the brackets, dropped the gas tank, removed the rear bumper. My gas tank had about 1 gallon in it so that was super easy. It sat all torn apart for about a week while I worked on it.

Rust Prevention:
I had been planning this for a long time, and I had originally wanted chassis saver, but when I was finally ready to do it i couldn't find a local dealer and could not wait for shipping. I went to Jones Paint and Glass and their resident expert suggested Zero Rust. she had great personal experience with it and highly recommended it. I purchased a quart and 2 spray cans of the black. I also planned on protecting the inside of my frame rails and they sold a kit that fit the aerosol cans that would allow my to stick the tube into the frame rail and the nozzle sprayed 360 degrees and was used for tight spaces like my frame rails.

I took a day or two with 2 4.5 inch grinders with wire wheels removing the rust. It was a lot or work because most of the rust were in the tight corners which was not easy to reach. I am a bit of a perfectionist so I wanted it all gone. Once the rust was removed and I has used my compressor to blow the entire area including the inside of the frame rails clean of dust and debris i used a can of Prep-All to prep the area for paint.

I didn't have a sprayer and I wanted a good thick layer so I brushed on the Zero-Rust and it went on very well. It was quite thick and had a ton of solids which is important for filling in and protecting from future rust. I did two coats on the under body and had a little left out of the quart. I used the two aerosol cans in the frame rails. the tube was about 3-4 feet long and I did entire length of that tube inside of the frame rails from the back of the jeep. I used what little was left in the cans to get the really tight corners the brush couldn't get. Just follow the instructions on the can and it works really well. I then top coated with semi-gloss black Rustomleum to give it a little extra protection and make touch ups easy if ever needed.

I painted from the cross member-ish area that the upper shock mounts are in all the way to the back mounting surface for the bumper. I went all the way from the inside of the rear quarter panel to the other rear quarter panel and got 2 coats on everything. It looked so good painted back there that I didn't actually want to put it back together. I still did though. haha


Cut out buckets for relocation brackets.

Shackle Relocation:
I will be doing a complete write-up on these that I will paste here shortly.

JKS Shackles:
These were always on my list of wants and I decided to install them when I did this whole project. My original shackle angle was vertical. And that was terrible. On the new brackets I used the last whole on the bottom to get the best angle to not loose any lift. These extended shackles did not give my any extra lift. With my corrected shackle angle they kept me right where I was. They were easy enough to install, but they were a bit tight in the relocation brackets, and the way the mounting works with the new brackets made getting them mounted was a tedious process, but it worked.
My old shackle bushings were worn and seized so there was no movement and these made a big difference in stiffness of the rear in a good way. there is little to no sway even with the longer shackles and relocation brackets. The shackle angle being at a 45 degree is fantastic. It takes bumps much more gracefully in the rear than it used to.
The flex with these new brackets and extended shackles is amazing. I had much more flex in the rear right now that I have in the front. I can completely stuff a wheel well with my 31 and it droops really well. If you have rear flex issues then I highly suggest a shackle relocation kit and slightly extended shackles.

I have had the Bilsteins in the front for a while, but I finally got around to the rear while i had it torn apart. As expected the upper shock mount bolts broke every time. Luckily I had planned for this and already had my grade 8 bolts, nuts, and lock washers ready. I used my air hammer to pound the little buggers out and then we put the bolts in from the inside. This made it much easier to simply hold a wrench on the bolt and tighten the nut until it was tight with the lock washer.
These shocks are amazing! The eliminated my excessive sway in the front and now in the rear as well. I am unable to tell that I removed my sway bar, and the shocks are super smooth, but still sporty feeling at the same time. If you are on the fence about shocks and can afford the 5100s I would recommend it without a doubt. If you want to ride like a Cadillac/boat then these are not the shocks for you, they are stiffer and sportier feeling and you will not like them. Other than that they will be my shock of choice.

Rear Hitch and Gas Tank Skid:
I got the rear hitch at U-Haul and the rear skid at the junk yard at the same time I picked up the front a while back. I did not want to use the universal install blocks that the hitch comes with so I got the nut strips from the dealer ship. Much more expensive that i would have liked, but I feel better about them. Lining up the holes from the frame rail, shackle relocation brackets, skid plate, and hitch was a bit of a joke. I had to open up some holes a bit more, and used some pry bars to get everything aligned one bolt at a time. It was a pain in pretty much everything, but after it was all installed it looked, felt, and drove fantastic.

I think that it stiffened up the rear with the hitch, and I felt good knowing I finally had a rear recovery point, and my gas tank was now protected. This was a huge project, and looking back I loved all of it. Pictures tonight when I get home.

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post #23 of 108 Old 11-20-2013, 12:32 PM Thread Starter
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1999 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Orem
Posts: 157
I parked at home for the night and when I take my dog out I realize that my Jeep has decided to spew coolant all over the ground. I diluted it and washed it away to protect any animals in my neighborhood. I went inside and started reading up on radiators. Very few radiators had consistently positive reviews, and the 2-3 cores would be too thick to fit with my fans. I decided to go with a stock replacement from Autozone. It had good reviews, it was for a great price, and had a lifetime warranty. Radiators are so easy to change that I didn't care if it only lasted a year at a time, but I figured that my stock one lasted at least 10 years that this should last a good long time too.
I decided to do the water pump and thermostat at the same time. I had never had a heating issue before as long as I turned my fans on when I wasn't moving, but I like to be thorough. I got the water pump and fail safe thermostat at AutoZone as well.
I ran some coolant system cleaner through for a day or two which helped remove a lot of deposits.
the work is really easy, and can be done with very simple tools. Filled with 50/50 and it has been great ever since. Runs a few degrees cooler than before which is also like, and it only gets hot when I leave my fans off when I am not moving.
This did happen once and the fail safe thermostat failed open. I replaced it again and I have still never had an issue.

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post #24 of 108 Old 11-20-2013, 07:09 PM
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1999 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Knoxville
Posts: 11
I'm watching this one. Amazing attention to detail and some very cool mods. Can't wait to see where you go as my XJ is very similar to yours (99 Sport, AX15, 3.55 gear swapped) even though you appear to have cruise control which is crazy rare.

Did you ever score a trackbar or are you still using the OEM unit? I have some death wobble too and I'm looking to get a IRO Double Shear Track bar pretty soon.

99 XJ Sport - 4.0, AX15, NP231 (Current)
98 XJ Classic - 4.0, AW4, NP231 (Former)
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post #25 of 108 Old 11-20-2013, 08:16 PM Thread Starter
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1999 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Orem
Posts: 157
Thanks Battle, I appreciate the feedback. You are the first to respond or ask any questions which means I am really excited that someone is interested. I am about to get to my 3.55 swap in the next few posts. Yeah, I bought it with cruise control, but I don't really use it. I did not notice it on the build thread, so it may have been added after the fact. I am still using my OEM track bar, but I am looking at that as my next upgrade. Axle is still so close to center that I haven't noticed, but I still want a double shear unit.

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post #26 of 108 Old 11-20-2013, 08:41 PM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Orem
Posts: 157
It is brake time!
When I moved to 31 inch tires I felt a serious loss in braking power in addition to the lack of get up and go. I had gotten used to it, but I wanted to make some upgrades soon. I dream about the Vanco brake set up or the WJ steering that comes with the upgraded brakes as well. These are far off for now. I think I replaced my pads when I bought it, but I don't remember for sure. I do know that I checked them and they had tons of life left.
I had searched for preferred brake pads, but there wasn't to much info out there. I decided to get the heaviest duty brake pads available au my local Autozone. They have the Severe Duty Pads for about $50 a set with a life time warranty(yes, they wear out and I get a new set). I cannot complain about brakes for life for only $50.

If you have replaced brake pads... Well it is really easy. Support Jeep, take off tire, remove caliper with two bolts, un-clip pads, compress piston, then reverse.

They made a huge difference in the front. I could quite easily skid the front tires on a very grippy rough road. The problem was that the rear was no longer up to par. I had replaced the rear shoes before when I first bought my XJ, but the small drums don't produce to much braking power.
Luckily I had my dana 44 waiting for a brake rebuild.

I have wanted disk brakes in the rear for a long time. I was going to go with an 8.8 that had disk brakes, but I do not have fabrication equipment or skills(yet). I want to learn to weld, and I may have the opportunity to learn soon.

I found an XJ 44 on my local classifieds site (KSL.com) for about 400-500. I picked it up and got it for $300 several months ago. I had cleaned it up using a 4.5 in grinder and some wire brushes and then painted it flat black with Rustoleum in a can. I did not take any pictures of it before install, but you have seen a few pics with it installed above. I will post more soon.

Now that I had a 44 and was just about ready to install it I had to decide on brakes. Disks swaps were pretty doable, and not terribly expensive, but the only benefits are the cool factor, easier maintenance, and self cleaning. When drums are set up properly they brake extremely well, so i didn't use that as a reason to go with disks.
I did decide on rebuilding the drums since i could have completely new everything for a lot less than a disk swap.

Below is the parts list for my drum rebuild for Autozone:

Part - Price - Part Number
Brake Shoes - 25/set - 481
Brake Drum - 60/each - 8838
Brake Kit - 12/set - H7149
Brake Kit2 - 10/Each - H2515
Cylinder - 11/each - 33627

Rebuild drums is a bit of an art. I have learned from trial an error and this set up was pretty easy to install.

I was not ready to install the 44 at this time since I didn't have a front axle with the right gearing.

To add some excitement I had decided to paint my drums and calipers red. I have not done the calipers, but I have painted the drums. I think it looks awesome.

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post #27 of 108 Old 11-21-2013, 09:36 AM Thread Starter
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1999 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Orem
Posts: 157

I have been on 31s with 3.07 gearing for a while now and it is pretty miserable. I don't like how much work the clutch has to do, and my shift points are all messed up since I have to rev higher in each gear to make up for the larger tires. I really wanted to jump to 4.10 gears, but as I stated earlier, finding axles out of a 4 cylinder XJ has been impossible.

The XJ 44 i picked up had 3.54 gearing, so I decided that my best bet for now would be to just pick up a front axle from an automatic 6 cylinder with
3.55 gears to match my Dana 44. You wouldn't think this would be to hard since it was the most common axle in the XJ, but it took me months to find a decent axle.

I ended up finding one on KSL.com(local classifieds) for a much better deal than any others I had seen. I picked it up for $250 and I am so glad that I did. It had new u-joints, good axle seals, new unit bearings, and the gears/oil inside was really clean. I took the wire wheels to it on my grinder and cleaned it up good like the 44. Gave it a few coats of flat black and it was almost ready to install.

I had just did the upper control arm bushings on my other axle and I was not going to try to salvage those so I picked up a set of ZJ upper control arms bushings for O'Reilly's and installed them per my steps above.

Once the bushings were installed I was ready to install the new axle, but I had to remove the old one first. Taking out the front axle is easy if you are not replacing the steering as well. Always use
Disconnect the following:
Tie rod ends at the steering knuckles
Upper control arms
Lower control arms
remove calipers
Spring retainers
Sway bar links

I think that was it.

Installing the new axle was a little more tricky because you have to get everything realigned, but it is still pretty simple. I do highly recommend having another person or two to assist with this.

I bolted it all back up and in the process i installed my extended front bump stops i got from Quadratec. Since I left the steering intact I didn't need to adjust anything in that department which was nice. The axle drove well, and after adjusting the little guard for the disk brakes there were no unusual noises.

when working I realized that my sway bar bushings were more than shot, they were falling apart. I have had good luck with O'Reilly's carrying quality bushings and they had Moog sway bar bushings. My XJ has the 25mm/1 inch sway bar and they carry a life time warranty which is great. They were poly so they should be mush more solid.

Super easy to install the sway bar bushings since I already had the sway bar off. They fit perfectly, and look really cool.

I took this opportunity to install the JKS Quicker(not really) disconnects I had bought again from KSL for $35.00. They did not come with the pins for the quick part of the disconnect, but I was able to find an extra bushing sleeve I had laying around to get it to fit snugly on the stock pin and then I just bolted it down.
My old links were 3-4 inches to short due to my lift. I did have to collapse the JKS disconnects as far as they would go since they were probably for the larger lift size. They were still connected to the sway bar he included so I just used that bar and installation was really easy.

I now had everything put back together and ready to drive to work the next day, but due to my different gear ratios I completely removed the front drive shaft until I could install the 44 in the rear.

I took it for another drive with all of my anti sway mechanisms in place and it was ridiculous! I love how solid the front of my jeep feels! I could not believe that I never checked the sway bar bushings. I was also annoyed at myself for taking so long to install the disconnects. After some fun(possibly unsafe) swerving in the parking lot I went home satisfied.

I didn't have much more work to do on the front end for a while so I decided it was time to re-install my front skid as well. I had had it on before, but it is really a hassle to take it on and off when I need to work on the front end. I got it all bolted up and it looks and feels fantastic!

The next day when I was driving around I noticed that I was hitting my extended bump stops on everything... It was terrible. I had to drive slowly until I got around to cutting them. I used a Sawzall and cut about 1.5 inches off and they were just a bit longer than stock. Still hit them on moderate bumps. It is terrible. I need to cut more off, but I have not gotten around to it yet.

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kevinofhardy is offline  
post #28 of 108 Old 11-22-2013, 07:09 AM
Registered User
1998 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Coon Creek (near Big Ugly)
Posts: 455
hopefully subscribed. thanks!

'bout all I know... minin' coal.
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post #29 of 108 Old 11-22-2013, 12:05 PM Thread Starter
Registered User
1999 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Orem
Posts: 157
Thanks for Subscribing! It is exciting to know that people are interested. If anyone has any questions about additional details or pictures requests, suggestions, or anything just let me know. I love my Jeep and talking about it, but I am not sure what you may want more info on. I have few friends, so I check this almost daily. haha

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post #30 of 108 Old 11-22-2013, 12:28 PM Thread Starter
Registered User
1999 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Orem
Posts: 157
I don't like only having 2 wheel drive, so I wanted to get the Dana 44 in ASAP. the 8.25 has a 3 inch axle tube and no auto parts or hardware stores had them in that size so I went to my local Six States and had them bend me up a set. I got 9/16 inch which is as thick as I could do without opening up the brackets on the jeep. They were about $50 with all hardware. I had a bit or a negative rake(taller in front(think that is right)) and I wanted to even out the rear. So I stopped by Ultimate 4X4 in my city and picked up a set of lift blocks. I wanted only an inch, but they only had 1.5 inches. They were also a solid block of aluminum, and not hollow on the inside like many lift blocks are. This made me feel better about having lift blocks for now.

It was dark and raining outside, but I really wanted to get this done. I jacked up the jeep and put it on jack stands. Remembered to block the front tires when it tried to roll down the driveway...
It is really ridiculously easy to remove a rear axle so here are my steps.
Support properly
Take off tires
Disconnect shocks
disconnect drive line
disconnect brake line
disconnect breather tube
disconnect e brakes(only difficult part because it was old, rusty and covered in mud. )
remove u-bolts
The axle is no longer attached to the jeep. Pull it out and set the new 44 under and start reversing the previous steps with the lift block under the leafs.

It all went together really easily except for the parking brake. On my jeep the parking break adjuster is on the drivers side. this means that the longer e brake cable is on the passenger side. On the dana 44 the longer one was on the driver side. This caused the lines to not work in their current position. I zip tied them to the axle since it was to dark and late to fix it.

I have still not fixed that yet. I think that may be my project today, but it involves disassembling the entire brake drum on each side to swap those darn cables. I drive a manual, so not having an e brake has been kind of annoying.

I filled it with some 95w gear oil and have been driving on it since.

I did reconnect the front drive line so I had my 4 wheel drive back.

So the gearing feels amazing compared to my 3.07 ratio. It feels much more like stock when I had the 235s but even a bit deeper which is nice. I did notice while turning that I had a slight noise that I think is a wheel bearing. I have bought the parts, but I have not installed the new seals and bearings yet.

( I will get to the exhaust soon.)

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