My name is Michael, and I’m addicted to Jeeps. I’ve had a…
’92 YJ – I learned how much I hate mud, how much I hate open differentials, and how much I like cargo space.
’91 XJ – Bought this for $1000 with 75K miles on it. It was originally used in a state park and I bought it from the guy who got it at auction. Learned a ton on this one and wish I could have kept it but life got extremely mobile in the fall of ’07 and I was going to break the bank in fuel, so I had to get a Honda.
’92 XJ – Life became more stationary in ’08 so I found this 5 speed for $800. It was already lifted but was just 2wd and the paint was shot but it was a blast to drive with the manual transmission. New paint and Ravines and this thing had a new lease on life.
’99 WJ – Got this one when I took a new job with a large pay raise. I knew I was going to be doing a lot more driving and my wife and I both were ready for air conditioning. This pic is from the day I brought it home, mismatched tires and all.
Why “4Doors”? I got rid of the YJ when baby #2 was on the way and needed 4 doors. I loved that and decided to change my forum name to celebrate my growing family.
What’s my goal? To have my cake and eat it too. I want a vehicle that is reliable, comfortable, handles good, looks great, and can do several things well. Those things would be to run when I need it to, not be a total gas hog, haul my family as needed, and support my active lifestyle by being able to haul various things such as little league equipment/plants/mulch/camping gear/hunting gear… etc…
Why build a 2wd WJ? Because it’s what I’ve got, that’s why. This is my DD and I live in Florida, so 2wd is usually enough. I pay cash for vehicles and have to search far and wide for the right deal for a clean vehicle, so I wasn’t going to let 2wd stop me when I came across this one.
Furthermore, my beloved wife and I are parents to 6 children (at the time of writing). We have 3 biological (ages 8-6-3) and 3 foster children (ages 2-1-1). Six children under the age of 8. Wouldn’t you need some sort of release??!? To keep my sanity, I turn wrenches, and hey it’s cheaper than therapy!
I love this WJ, as do my wife and kids. They call it the Daddy Jeep, so let’s build this thing.
1999 Laredo, 4.0, 2wd, 3.73 gears, 170K miles when I bought it. Those miles didn’t scare me a bit but the dealer said “It’s got a ton of miles,” so that translated to me getting a really good deal on this one owner vehicle that was very well maintained.
I intended to do very little with this thing in the beginning, so I started with the typical 2” spacer lift from Fat Bob’s Garage, 30” tires, front window tint, and painted cladding. I was happy, everything was great.
My rear main seal went out so I changed it, which I had done on my two XJs as well so that was very familiar territory. I intended to shoot this video for a few old college friends who were interested in what I was doing, but I decided to make it a little more and it has helped a lot of guys, which I’ve been very thankful for.
My muffler was shot so I decided to hack it off and try a straight pipe as I had done on the previous XJs. The stock cat on those were about twice as large as the one on the WJ so they actually sounded nice, but this one was terribly loud with a killer drone at 2000 rpm. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwS9iIx6pUo
After that I did several little things such as water pump and coolant hoses, power steering hose, Akebono brakes up front along with new rotors as well as a full brake job in the rear. I also picked up 5 JK Moabs from a local guy and shoehorned them in with a little trimming of the front bumper cover. They were ok on pavement (scrubbed while turning in reverse) but very limited off road. I quickly took them off until after I lifted it.
Mechanically it was running great, but something kept nagging at me. I just didn’t enjoy driving this vehicle! I didn’t expect it to handle like a sports car but the body roll was just awful to me. Time to get to work.
I replaced shocks in an effort to help. Monroe Sensatracs did nothing to help so I swapped them for Monroe Reflexs. They were much firmer but jarring over bumps. About 6 months later one of the metal boots on the rear rusted and started rattling so I swapped them for Rancho RS5000s. They did well over bumps but aren’t pressurized and did nothing for body roll. Finally I ponied up for Bilstein 5100s and was much happier. In addition I bought a rear Addco anti sway bar and later a front Addco from a JF member. The rear made it stable, the front (which came a few months later) seemed to make it more sporty, but I still wanted more. I knew springs had to be the next step.
Enter the BDS 2” springs. Boasting the stiffest spring rate of any WJ springs I could find, I pulled the trigger and was rewarded beyond anything I could imagine. They were the key to finally being able to corner flat and really enjoy my WJ! I was a happy man, I should have stopped, I should have left well enough alone. But that’s just not the Jeeping way and I’m one curious cat. What if I added these 2” spacers on top of the BDS 2” springs?
I bought a JKS track bar, sway bar end links from Zone Offroad, and an a-arm spacer from a JF member. As soon as they showed up I rolled her into the garage at 2” and rolled it back out at 4”. I was nervous about how top heavy it might feel but I knew I could drop it back down if I didn’t like it and sell the end links and a-arm spacer.
So how well did that work out? Well I knew there was no way I was going back to 2”, that’s how it worked out! A little bumpy on the short arms but surprisingly stable in corners so I knew the BDS springs were up to the task. Beyond that, the look was simply irresistible and I was in love. So what’s next?
I kind of went spend happy for a couple months and ordered the bolt on Iron Rock Offroad long arm kit. Installation was straightforward and went surprisingly quickly. The ride was amazing. Combine BDS springs with 4” Bilstein shocks from Kolak and IRO long arms and I can’t believe a solid axle vehicle can ride like this one does. It is smooth, corners well, and is very solid all around.
Most recently were the JCR Offroad Stage 2 rock sliders. Rock sliders on a 2wd in Florida?? Yep, and here’s why. Call me a mall crawler, poser-iffic, whatever you would like, but at 4” with 32” tires I need step rails! I’m only 5’10” and my kids are with me a lot, so I needed a step. I tried some Aries step bars that are like Westin bars but absolutely hated them and sent then back right away. I wanted something that tucked close to the body and these JCR Stage 2 sliders definitely do just that. In addition I can’t help but think I gained some side impact protection.
Here's a rough cell pic that I just remembered I had, and again I'll get better shots when I return from vacation.
So what’s next? I’ve ordered a MiniMax front recovery system from Fawkes Offroad and look forward to that coming in. I also expect to have a roof rack before too long to assist with camping. I was thinking towards an OX locker but now am leaning more towards a Detroit True Trac. I was interested in 4.56 gears but that is on the back burner for now. Gotta get tires asap! Right now I'm really leaning towards the General Grabber AT2 in 265-70-17.
Beyond that, I’m sourcing parts for a 4wd conversion.
I'm on vacation right now but I'll get up to date pics when I return home.
I can’t believe a solid axle vehicle can ride like this one does.
I know what you mean. I drove my buddy's Land Rover Disco 1 the other day. The suspension on those has massively long cast iron and tubular arms, even though it's lifted 3" on 32s it rides extremely smooth. Plus making this lovely irrelevant comment allows me to subscribe to your build thread!
I just placed an order for a Rola roof basket. My wife's brother has an XJ and we are planning to start taking all our boys camping and both agreed that roof baskets would be a big bonus. This one seems to get good reviews for the price and that website gives free shipping, so at $144 they have the best price. Special thanks to 04dubjay for finding that website.
One negative comment I've read is that because it actually comes in two halves, water can get into the seam and rust it from the inside out. I'm going to use silicone to seal that up when I assemble it and I probably won't leave it in place all the time so I don't think it will give me any trouble.
To compliment my Fawkes MiniMax front recovery system that I ordered (Kris Fox is such a great guy), I found these 7 ton shackles for $15.25 each with free shipping. I know I'll get a couple for the shackle tabs but then I'll probably order one or two larger ones later on to use for tree straps, etc... Very excited to find this deal.
Subbed! Ride is looking good. They grow up so fast:
Thanks man, and yes, this one has grown up fast! I remember agonizing with my YJ because there was so much I wanted to do to it but we were doing good just to put food on the table back then, but 8 years later I've got the money to enjoy a little on the side. When I bought this WJ my wife said, "Ok, I like it, but I don't think you'll like it long term because it doesn't look tough like your other Jeeps have." After the 4" lift and Moabs she said, "Woah, that thing is sexy!"
Just got a call from the website I ordered the rack from, ecustomhitch.com, to tell me the Rola is on back order and they wouldn't have it until May 9 and wanted to know how I wanted to proceed. Super nice lady and I was shocked that they would call about a delay of just 9 days, so I've got to give them credit for their honesty and customer service. I can wait, no big deal.
Richard is your garage door shorter than average? It surprises me that you wouldn't be able to roll in. Our other vehicle is a Yukon XL so it gets to sleep inside and there is not enough space for both, but I guess I should check anyway since I do roll the WJ in to work on it sometimes. Check out how jrogers mounted his, he says it sits about 2" lower and it looks great.
And yeah, I can hardly wait for the MM to get here!
Yeah, it's super short. I measure out 80" to the bottom of the door when rolled up. When I put my camping chairs on the OE rack it was close enough I had to unload them in the driveway instead. My best estimate on the top of my rack now is 75".
Oh, just saw the link to Jrogers' rack mount. That would work! Removing the cross bars and mounting it to the rails themselves... brilliant! I'm so on it. One more thing to add to the summer "must do" list....
I think his mounts look so much cleaner and I've got to think it would be more sturdy and capable than using the factory cross bars. I swapped PMs (lol) with him yesterday about how he attached his brackets to the rack because it looked like he must have welded plates to the bottom of the rack but I didn't read that in the description. He confirmed that he did weld the plates but felt like it could be done without. I see several possibilities for making it work without drilling into the bottom tube because I definitely would not want to do that and open it up to potential for rust. I think making use of u-bolts would allow you to clamp the lower bar to your brackets, it's just a matter of deciding if you want the bracket to curl around the bar or curl underneath the bar or whatever. If I make those brackets then I'm pretty much committing to leaving the rack on permanently. From what I read online, since it is a low profile design there really isn't much of a penalty in mpg or wind noise, and the wind deflector actually adds to both substantially (with an empty basket for DD).