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post #1 of 9 Old 06-16-2013, 01:31 AM Thread Starter
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Newb seeking info and opinions

Hello all. This would be my first post on this forum so please, be gentle. Anyway, I'm am a motor head. I'm into bikes, cars and trucks. I have wanted to get into wheeling for a long time but never bit the bullet. An opportunity presented itself recently and I need to gather some data before pulling the trigger. I'm open to opinions, options and info that could be useful.

The deal: I own a 1966 Dodge Coronet 500 with a transplanted 383 big block. It's a project car but runs and drives. It's for sale but not advertised. I have many plans for it but no place to work on it. It's been sitting around for the last few years, only getting driven occasionally in the summer.

I was offered a 1992 Cherokee (pic bellow) in trade for it. I went to look at it today and it is trail rig despite the owner saying it's streetable. I'll give the specs as best I can remember. I don't speak Jeep or 4x4 fluently so please forgive me.

The Cherokee is lifted 6" or so (rough county kit), has a long arm kit installed, front skid plate, winch with cab only controls, a HO engine out of a '94 Jeep, aux lights all on relays, dual electric fans, front axle is a Dana 30, can't remember what the rear is but it's stock-ish, rock guards, newer 33/11.5/15 Super Swampers, all ignition components mounted in the glove box, long rear shocks with top mounts in cab, fuel filter relocated in cab, dual battery set up with batteries in cab, the pinion yolk has been modified to prevent the u-joint bearings from spitting out the sides and the rear diff is welded essentially making it spooled. The body is pretty beat up but all the glass is in it and all the doors open and shut with no problems.

Here's my dilemma:
I am looking for a rig that is actually streetable and will have no problems hitting some trails. I'm not looking for a beauty queen cuz I don't wanna get all butt hurt every time I put a dent in it. I believe this thing is not street ready due to the tires and rear axle. The axle being welded will either cause shafts to break or destroy the tires on the pavement. I don't have a trailer or my own to haul it to/from the trails in my area and they're about 30-45 minutes away, some of it highway. I also don't like the welded gears. I 'm not a fan of that unless it's in a derby car. I feel with swapping tires and putting in a locker, this thing will be better suited for occasional street driving.

Since I'm in new territory I would very much appreciate any advice, opinions or whatever you got to assist me. I've looked at tires and wheels (I'd like black wheels like the AR767's and maybe a set of Nankang mudstars), but need some guidance on the rear axle. Is it better to swap out the whole axle with a stronger unit? What unit should I go with? If I keep the current axle and swap the carrier gears, should I install a locker or will a posi-track limited slip unit be fine? If I do this trade, how much am I gonna need to pull out of my wallet to get this thing safely on the street? I'm not looking to make this a daily driver.

Again, I would like to here what you folks think. Thanks.

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post #2 of 9 Old 06-16-2013, 06:48 AM
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I always recommend building your own rig. When you buy a rig that's done, you don't know entirely what's been done. Building your own is also more expensive. It simply comes down to whether you get excited when you're looking at it. If you're anxious for the deal, do it!

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post #3 of 9 Old 06-17-2013, 11:08 AM
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I tend to agree with S8NNG8 and like to build my own rig. However if you want to make a quick entry into wheeling the white jeep in the pictures could be the way to go. It really wouldn't take much to get yourself a stock xj and build it like that one, and at least you will know all of its quirks. In the end it all comes down to what makes you happy. If you like that jeep go for it. If it were me I would buy stock and start building!
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post #4 of 9 Old 06-17-2013, 01:06 PM Thread Starter
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Both good points. Ideally I would like to build my own rig. I really don't care for getting a used vehicle of any type because of the mysteries a previous owner may have installed. This thing has the potential to have a lot of them.

This rig is a long way from where I'd want it to be so there's lots of room for building what I want. I see it as the hard stuff like suspension and engine are done.

I'm looking for suggestions on whether it's better to swap the rear axle completely or do the gears. If I swap the whole thing, what's the best "upgrade" that will go right in without having to modify a ton of stuff?

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post #5 of 9 Old 06-17-2013, 01:49 PM
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Depends on rather you want to wheel right now, or have a stocker that you upgrade as you wheel.
Making it streetable wouldnt be too complicated, sounds like you need a rearend swap. The only way id put just put gears in it is if its a dana 44. They are rare and highly prized for strenght. If its a dana 35 or 8.25 they are easy to find and swap, if its a welded dana 35 in it now its a ticking timebomb on the street and has to go asap. Swap in a 8.25 its plenty strong for 33s.
I wouldn't try to put the other "upgrades" back to stock, too much work. I dont know why you think super swampers arnt streetable, they do just fine as long as it isnt a daily driver, because they wear out fast, just like any mud tire.
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post #6 of 9 Old 06-17-2013, 02:01 PM Thread Starter
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I want to swap tires so I don't destroy a prefectly good set of $2000 mud tires. I have Trail grapplers on my truck and am about 25K miles into them and have had no issues with them. They are wearing very well for how I drive and I know they will preform off road if I ever go there (2500 diesel pick up, not really for wheeling). It's about 45 minutes via highway/black top to my nearest trails and I don't want to have to buy a trailer to haul the Jeep to the trail head. Tires aren't really my issue, the rear end is. Thanks for the recommendations. I am fairly certain the read is a D35. I know the front it a D30 and that with 33's it's at the limit of it's preformance. It front diff is also open. I've been told that a locker in a D30 will wear it out and break fast.

I'll look into a chry 8.25. D44 probably out of my price range.
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post #7 of 9 Old 06-17-2013, 06:07 PM
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One can certainly buy an already built XJ cheaper than building one from scratch. The key is in being able to tell if the XJ in consideration is a well done build.


"You can set my jeep on fire and roll it down a hill,
But I still wouldn't trade it for a Coupe DeVille."

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post #8 of 9 Old 06-17-2013, 06:34 PM
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If you can't look at aftermarket parts and decide if they're in good shape, been abused, installed correctly, ect then your judgement on a stock vehicle probably isn't any better. There are a lot of great deals out there that will save you money on having parts already installed that you're going to buy anyway and there's nothing wrong with buying a partially built vehicle.

Building your own rig from the ground up is a good feeling, but it fades over time and the more you Jeeps you buy and build up. I've been around Jeeps since I could walk and helped family friend restore and build everything from old Willys to Scramblers to MJs. I wouldn't hesitate at all to buy something partially built to save a ton of money in the long run. In the end you're always going to change things to make it your own.

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post #9 of 9 Old 06-19-2013, 01:50 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks to all who have chimed in on this. There has been much good advice and food for thought given. I am going to forego this trade since the XJ isn't quite what I'm looking for right now and will cost more then I'm willing to spend at the moment to get it there. Thanks again.
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