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Unread 08-15-2015, 08:54 PM   #1
StealthXJ
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2001 XJ Cherokee 
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Roanoke, Virginia
Posts: 75
Poor Man's XJ Build

Let me start off by saying that I have been on this forum every single day for a few hours each day since I joined, and I am blown away with the wealth of knowledge on here! The more I read and learn, the more I long to be in the garage under and around my Jeep!

I am a 22 year old college student, living on my own and working a good bit. I do not have a ton of play money, but I have been pretty good about not spending a ton... That might start to change! I am starting this thread to simply document what I learn and what I do as I build up my XJ within a very small budget!

My Jeep is a 2001 Patriot Blue Cherokee Sport 4x4. I have already begun to work on some front steering/suspension issues, which I will write more about very soon. Tomorrow I plan to examine my track bar further and possibly replace the bushings, as I have a popping noise coming from the front end when I turn my XJ. I have a feeling that the mounting hole on the lower and possibly the upper bracket could be wallowed out a bit.



Short history on my Cherokee. I bought it about 5 years ago with around 114k miles on it. I had no issues whatsoever until about a year and a half ago when my oil pressure started to drop and the light would pop up. Had it checked, I replaced the oil pressure sending unit, that didn't work, tried different oil, etc... Long story short, I ended up having to completely replace my engine! Parts and labor cost me a total of $3.5k!! Thankfully I have an awesome family that helped me out. Well, this remanufactured engine was apparently not assembled properly, so I had to replace it again... this time, thankfully, it was under warranty. Now the engine has been nothing but good to me! My Cherokee currently sits with about 152k miles on her.

PLANS:
Fix the steering knock in the front
Respray the black trim
Install RC 3" lift and address issues that might come from it
Add new 31" tires
Possibly paint stock wheels graphite
..........

Having such a small budget and using my Cherokee as a daily driver will definitely present some unique challenges, but this is labeled the "Poor Man's XJ Build", is it not? I hope you'll stick around and follow the progress!

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Unread 08-16-2015, 07:11 AM   #2
FairlanePhil
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1999 XJ Cherokee 
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Toledo Ohio
Posts: 2,523
looks really nice. My last xj was Patriot blue. great color
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Unread 08-16-2015, 12:20 PM   #3
WhammyXJ
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1999 XJ Cherokee 
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 173
Very nice pickup! BTW just do you are aware, the 2000-2001 engine have head issues where they crack. My guess is that is what happened to both of your engines. You should research how to fix it next time as there are better heads available!
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Unread 08-16-2015, 03:09 PM   #4
Brookhart63
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1999 XJ Cherokee 
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: in a Cornfield, Iowa
Posts: 1,361
Great looking XJ man. Have you thought about just taking the door plastics off instead of respraying?
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Unread 08-16-2015, 05:15 PM   #5
StealthXJ
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2001 XJ Cherokee 
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Roanoke, Virginia
Posts: 75
Thanks guys, I do love my Jeep! Update coming a little later tonight!

Whamm, actually no. From what I remember, I believe my mechanic told me it was something to do with the bearings in the crankshaft or something. I might actually be completely wrong here. Either way, it had to be rebuilt or replaced. If I had another vehicle I may have tried to rebuild it at the time.

Brookhart, I have considered removing the plastic, but I am not completely sold yet.
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Unread 08-16-2015, 06:43 PM   #6
StealthXJ
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2001 XJ Cherokee 
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Roanoke, Virginia
Posts: 75
I ordered a few Moog parts from Rock Auto to replace my sway bar bushings, sway bar end links, and track bar bushing. Now, I was an idiot and thought that there were two sets of bushings for the track bar, one for both ends, so I orders a two piece poly bushing set and an oem style bushing. I got all of these parts for about $58 without shipping. I could've saved $10 if I did a bit more research and hadn't bought two different kinds of bushings for the track bar!



I decided to tackle the sway bar and end links first. Here are the old end links and sway bar bushings.



I really should have sprayed more PB Blast on the bolts sooner, as it would've made getting the darn nuts off of the end links a lot easier, but I did manage to get everything off. The driver side end link bolt portion snapped off as I was trying to get the nut off. Clearly it was time for a replacement! One thing to note, the passenger side nut that holds the end link on to the frame was an absolute pain to get on and off. There was so much in the way that I could barely get the socket seated on the nut properly. If you are doing this, just take your time and be patient.

Now, onto the finished product!





Before this upgrade I noticed my XJ would chatter randomly while driving, especially when I drove over rough portions on the road. These parts seemed to fix this issue, so I am very pleased!

I had planned on working on my track bar today but I just didn't have everything that I needed. I did, however, get to visually inspect a few more things under my Cherokee. I saw that my track bar itself was moving on the axle side when my Grandpa would turn the wheel. I was actually happy about this, because the bolt itself didn't move at all, which would indicate a wallowed out mounting bracket hole. The frame mounted side of the track bar seems to be in good shape.

In preparation for the track bar job tomorrow I bought a dust cover for the ball joint and a pickle fork. I picked these both up at Advanced Auto for a total of $16. I may or may not need the pickle fork, so that might be returned. I searched and searched for what size castle nut and bolt is on the frame mounted side but couldn't find a thing, so I hope one of these dust covers will work.



Tomorrow morning I am going to a place called Valley Fasteners to see if I can't find a grade 12.9 or at least a 10.9 M10 bolt for the axle mounted side and a new castle nut - if I can figure out the exact size - and cotter pin for the frame side. Hopefully tomorrow the job will be done!
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Unread 08-16-2015, 07:46 PM   #7
xstcopleyx
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1998 XJ Cherokee 
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Frontenac, Minnesota
Posts: 7
In for this build. Just bought my first XJ earlier this week. Won't be building this one as it isn't worth it, but has made me want a cleaner one in the future. I love the Patriot Blue on yours.

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Unread 08-16-2015, 08:05 PM   #8
StealthXJ
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2001 XJ Cherokee 
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Roanoke, Virginia
Posts: 75
Hey man, what year did you buy? Welcome to the family! Hey, you can always make improvements to what you have little by little. Thank you for the compliment!
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Unread 08-16-2015, 08:48 PM   #9
xstcopleyx
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1998 XJ Cherokee 
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Frontenac, Minnesota
Posts: 7
98 sport. Bought it off a family friend to get me back and forth from College. Good engine, but it is rusted out badly. I plan on finding a better shell next year.

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Last edited by xstcopleyx; 08-16-2015 at 10:14 PM..
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Unread 08-17-2015, 07:53 PM   #10
StealthXJ
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2001 XJ Cherokee 
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Roanoke, Virginia
Posts: 75
Today I tackled my popping issue, which meant overhauling the track bar. Quick note: PB Blast and a wire brush do wonders when it comes to removing the track bar!

Lifted in the air with stands on both the lower control arms, which allowed the suspension to fall some, I removed the axle side bolt and nut. Moving to the frame side proved to take a lot longer and a lot more effort, however, I have some helpful tips so it doesn't have to take someone else attempting this near as long.

TIPS:
  • Remove left wheel
  • Use PB Blast at least a day in advance
  • Use a wire brush to remove rust
  • A $10 pickle fork (tie-rod remover) and a big hammer are your friends

To remove the 3/4" slotted nut, first straighten the cotter pin then pull it out. Keep this nut! Now, thread the pickle fork between the sway bar end links and coil and place it on the joint. Hammer the end of the fork as hard as you can until the ball joint and stud release. Now, I opted to completely cut off the dust cover to give me a little more room, but this isn't entirely necessary.

My bushing set was so stuck that I had to use a press to remove it. Thankfully at my grandparent's, where I was working, there is a mechanic friend who rents out a portion of my Papa's garage. He was very kind as to let me use his press, which did the trick in getting the bushing out! Here is the old bushing.



After cleaning the housing for the bushing I greased it up and the new Moog two-piece bushing set and installed it. This step was pretty straight forward, as I just used some force to get the bushings started then used a rubber mallet to seat them properly.

INSTALL:

On the stud and ball joint I applied some more grease then placed the 1/2" dust cover on the stud. From there it was just a matter of tightening the old slotted nut. I learned that a castle nut is taller than a slotted nut from the fastener store guy this morning. I bought both just to make sure, as one was course thread and one was fine thread. The original nut is actually a slotted nut and has fine threads. Well, the new slotted nut only came in course threads, so naturally I stayed with the original nut. I found torque specs here:

http://www.torkspec.com/torkspecmm.aspx?KI=270

Per this page, hopefully it is correct, I torqued the nut to 62 ft. lbs.

Moving onto the axle side, I lowered my Jeep back onto the wheels, lined up the holes and pushed the new grade 8 7/16" bolt through, with washers on both ends. Tightening up the new bolt and screw was a little harder without the original plate that holds the welded nut on, but I did eventually get it tight. I couldn't get an open end wrench on the nut and I couldn't keep the closed end on or it would've gotten stuck, which actually happened, so this was tricky. I ended up using the closed end 11/16" wrench for a while, then I found a perfect sized allen key to wedge between the bracket and nut. This kept the nut still while I torqued the bolt. Somehow the torque wrench got bumped from where I had it, so I ended up going past the 74 ft. lbs. that was recommended. Hopefully I didn't go too far past this mark.

FINAL PRODUCT:





I immediately took it for a drive, after checking underneath for movement when the wheel turned. It drove so much better!! No more clunks or pops when turning or hitting something!! I am absolutely elated!!!!
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Unread 08-17-2015, 08:09 PM   #11
xstcopleyx
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1998 XJ Cherokee 
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Frontenac, Minnesota
Posts: 7
Looks good man. Good job figuring it all out the right way.

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Unread 08-18-2015, 07:29 PM   #12
StealthXJ
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2001 XJ Cherokee 
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Roanoke, Virginia
Posts: 75
Quick update:

Since I bought the Jeep the driver's side door has popped and made other noises, so I decided to fix this. I bought a replacement for $40 and the door check pins for $3 from Rock Auto again. I should be tackling this over the weekend!
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Unread 08-18-2015, 07:32 PM   #13
xstcopleyx
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1998 XJ Cherokee 
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Frontenac, Minnesota
Posts: 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by StealthXJ View Post
Quick update:

Since I bought the Jeep the driver's side door has popped and made other noises, so I decided to fix this. I bought a replacement for $40 and the door check pins for $3 from Rock Auto again. I should be tackling this over the weekend!
In for Pics of the work
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Unread 08-19-2015, 03:01 PM   #14
Amesbear
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1996 XJ Cherokee 
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Ames, Iowa
Posts: 171
Love the thread so far! That body color is awesome! Changing out the check pins is an easy replacement. I used a vice grip to squeeze them enough to get them in. Check out my XJ thread for some more info or ideas.
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Unread 08-19-2015, 05:26 PM   #15
StealthXJ
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2001 XJ Cherokee 
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Roanoke, Virginia
Posts: 75
Hey man, thank you! I am actually replacing the entire door check assembly. I already tried just the pin over a year ago.
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