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Unread 10-02-2009, 02:28 AM   #1
lvum4x4
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Bentley Project (WJ) Build Thread

Trail and Wheeling Pictures:
Cleghorn
Cleghorn in the Snow
100's MC Hare & Hound - Johnson Valley, CA
King of the Hammers 2010 - Johnson Valley, CA
Big Bear - Gold Mountain in the Snow
Calico Ghost Town - Odessa Canyon
Pioneertown/Bigbear

Build - Table of Contents:
Engine/HID Conversion/Lightbar (This post; just scroll down...)
Foglight HID conversion/Bumper & Winch/Intake-Exhaust/Suspension
Long Arms/Brakes/Wheels & Tires/Fender Flares/Rock Sliders
License Plate for your winch
Lightbar Wiring
Soundclip of the Exhaust System
Recovery Tools/Upgrades
Stereo/Backup Camera
Onboard Air (10# - CO2)
Door Spotlights/Tailgate lights
Window Regulator Repair (right rear door) ** FREE FIX! **


I'm sure every build has a story and this one is no different so here goes ...I was looking for a side-by-side, Yamaha Rhino or some other kind of 4x4 toy that we could take out to the desert. That way I can hop on the bike and not feel guilty for leaving the girls back at camp stuck in a motor home all weekend. Well, interestingly a Rhino seemed to be as or more expensive than a used Grand Cherokee? I found this Grand Cherokee Ltd for $4000.00 and the cheapest Rhino I could find (at the time) was over $6000.00 so I felt like the best bang for my buck was to buy the Jeep? I love it when you feel real smart and end up being really dumb ...well maybe not? Maybe I am being a little hard on myself but I ended up loosing the motor within 500 miles of buying the Grand and couldnít help but to wonder if it was a sign I should have chosen the Rhino?

Anyway, long story short - I figured that I had a pretty big decision to make with regard to the Grand; it was either going to go to the junk yard and get parted out or I was going to spend way too much $$ to save it from a certain death. Luckily for the Grand, I decided to dive-in head first and build up a custom ride for the desert trips. I bought a new motor and figured that it just didnít make any sense to invest a ton of money on a new motor for a "stock" Jeep so that led to a few other modifications to help me justify the investment. So with that mindset the Bentley Project was born.


OK, Here we go

Bone stock as purchased for $4000.00, a 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee Ltd with 117k miles.





and here is the current pic (will be updated regularly as changes permit).













Here is a link to the technical specifications if you are not interested in the build process

OK, on to the build...

So now I have a $4000.00 Jeep that needs a motor. Unfortunately, the 4.7L V8 for the Grand Cherokee was going cost more than what I paid for the Jeep so I can see a lot of these going to the junkyard if there is not a lot of personal love for the vehicle. It is no wonder that the Jeep Grand Cherokee was in the top 5 vehicles turned in for the governments "cash for clunkers" program. After I did a little research, I came to the conclusion that the difference between a used motor and a remanufactured motor is too close to NOT get the remanufactured motor (usually about a $1500.00 difference and somewhere around 50K miles so is 50k miles worth an extra $1500.00?). I decided to contact ATK motors and get a renam. long block shipped out in preparation for my new project.

Since I was going to replace the motor, I wanted to replace anything the motor depended on like the radiator, water pump, hoses, O2 sensors, etc... so I ended up with a fresh power plant that would last a long time without having to worry about reliability. The motor swap is not really that bad, just take your time and pay attention to what you are doing. The best advice I can give anyone about any part of this project is 'TAKE YOUR TIME'. Donít be afraid to put down the tools when you start getting tired or frustrated, sometimes knowing when to quit will save you lots of $$ and time. Come back fresh and things seem to work out great most of the time.

There is a special tool that you can buy to help remove the motor (Here is a link for more information). It basically helps balance the motor and holds it without worrying about bending studs, etc... I highly recommend it as there are many opportunities to damage things removing and re-installing the motor so "Work smart, not hard!". One thing that has come up repeatedly during this project is the fact that "having the right tools, takes all the frustration out of the job and saves tons of time and money".







================================================== =======


Now that I have a fresh power plant, I can move on to some of the more "fun" modifications so I started with the easy stuff (HID lighting).

I started with the headlamps, fog lights and light bar...

I decided to convert the high, low and fog lights to 8000K HID's. I understand that you get the most lumens at 4300K but I wanted the blue tint and I felt like I would more than make up for any lumen loss by the added color when I add the light bar.

The WJ really doesnít have a lot of room in the engine compartment for the ballasts so I highly recommend you find a "slim" ballast conversion if possible. Unfortunately, I purchased the "thick" ones and had to get a little more creative in terms of finding a location for them. If you find the smaller ones, this may make things a little easier. I mainly posted this up for anyone looking for ideas on where to place your ballasts. I am sure that are many places you can mount them, my goal what to keep it simple and clean. I hope it helps anyone else about to make the switch.

Things to consider with regard to placement were heat/ventilation and exposure (water) so I decided to mount my high/low ballast directly behind the headlights and inside the headlight bay. This was a very easy install that most anyone should be able to complete in about 45 min. You will need some long zip ties, a drill, and a 9/32 socket. Some light kits come with factory connectors and this just saves even more time (the model I used and vendor are listed below).

Step 1:
Remove the set screw located on the top of the headlamp assembly for both headlights.

Step 2: lightly work the headlights out from the socket; you need to use a little force but not much. You will be dislocating a couple of ball/socket guide pins on each side. Once you have the headlight out, reference the fifth picture below and drill a couple of holes big enough for a long zip tie (I had the ballasts in place and mocked up). It wonít look like you will have room inside the headlamp cavity but there is a small step below the headlamp that will clear the bottom ballast with no problem.





I found that it was helpful to bend the zip tie in various locations to help get the other end up through the hole. I was able to get one finger under there and help guide it through with little effort.



Step 3:
Zip tie both ballasts nice and tight and run your wires accordingly and your final product should look like this. I figure I should not have any water problems as long as I keep the headlights out of the water.





Step 4:
Repeat; Both sides are exactly the same.





I purchased mine from HIDkit.com for $79.99 a set (three sets; hi/low/fog) and they came with factory connectors which was nice but I would have liked to have found thinner ballasts. They come in 3k, 5k, 6k, 8k and 10k so you can use the temperature that fits your preference. You will want the 9006 series for the Low beams and the 9005 for the high beams. I believe the fog lights use 9005 as well but I have not done them yet. I am waiting on an Iceland Off-road bumper and it has different fog lamps so I ordered the HID kit for them.


================================================== ===================================


Ok, so now on to the light bar...

This was a tough decision as there are so many options but I felt this was one area where I had the best chance to give my Jeep something unique in terms of style and technology. There are lots of round/square light setups out there but I have not seen any Jeeps with this LED setup and once I had a chance to read up on it, it was an easy sell. If you are about to build a light bar, do your homework and get whatever product fits your demands - I ended up with the Rigid Industries "Edge" LED light bar.





Here is a picture from the Rigid Industries gallery; I canít wait to see one on a WJ...



This is the Rigid Industries 40" Edge lightbar. Average HID lights put out anywhere from 2400 - 3200 Lu (lumens) depending on the color you choose and Rigid claims this light bar spreads over 14,525 lumens and will draw only 12 amps so I cant wait to give it a try... They are not cheap but are about as bad a$$ as it gets in my opinion. I will post up some final pics once it is mounted and fired up.

Here are some specs from their site:

General Specs:

93% Optical Efficiency
Shockproof
No Vibration
Fully Dimmable
80 LED's with 50,000+ Hour Life Span
Easy Two Wire Installation
12.67 Amps
152.04 watts
14,525 Lumens

I fabricated a bar mount using some 1/4 aluminum bar stock. It was a simple mount using extended versions of the primary bolts that hold on the luggage rack. It was a little tricky coming up with a security solution but I found some one-way security bolts that should make it much more time consuming to get it off (if they still want the light to work) but I hope I never have to find out. Here are some shots...










Last edited by lvum4x4; 04-20-2010 at 08:24 PM..
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Unread 10-02-2009, 02:30 AM   #2
lvum4x4
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So, now we are on to the fog lamps; since my fog lamps are actually part of a new bumper this will also include the bumper. I pretty much modeled my project after the Iceland Off-road WJ package. I liked the way they looked and also like the idea of using a complete package so I ordered all the Iceland components for the WJ.

The Iceland Off-road bumper is a nice looking bumper, I decided to save some weight and go with the fiberglass version but you can get steel versions if you prefer. I went with the winch mount bumper since I planned on having some recovery options should I ever need them. Below is the HID conversion for the Iceland bumper. I wanted to document the ballast placement for anyone interested in the same setup. Remember, I am not a professional, just an enthusiast so I am sure there may be better ways/places to mount things but this is how I did it (right or wrong) so try not to flame.

Depending on the HID kit you purchase, you may have different mounting options/hardware to work with so your system will likely vary. This is just meant to give you some suggestions (you may find a better place so stay open minded). I highly recommend you find the small ballast kits if possible, unfortunately I had already purchased the thick ballasts so thin ones will just give you more placement options. I wanted the ballasts to be as high as possible in case I get into any deep water. Right in front of the frame rails seems to work perfectly.

The hardware that came with mine had a long tab on the top so I bent it over so it would hang off the frame so that the bottom hole lined up in a good place to mount a screw, then drilled holes and screwed the ballasts down tight (I didnít like the looseness of the hardware so I zip tied them just to keep them from rattling around).











OK, so basically that takes care of that side so repeat in the same location on the other and it should look something like below. This is probably a good time to talk about winches. I decided to get the MileMarker 9500si winch just because I consider it "middle of the road" in terms of cost and performance. Installation is super easy and not much to write up there but you are dealing with large battery cables so make sure everything is routed nicely and not going to short out anywhere over time. Any short circuit with this gauge wiring and you are certain to have a bad fire so be careful.




OK, so now with the bumper on...







...with just the headlights and fogs...





With all lights on....





As for the installation of the bumper, I am not going to focus too much on it but I will say that all of us have a certain amount of "do-it-yourself" skill and of course it will be different with everyone. I consider a self-installation of the Iceland bumper and fender flares to be a pretty ambitious goal even for the well seasoned mechanic. This is of course just my opinion but I think that bodywork is just plain different than turning a wrench; lines have to meet up just right, surfaces need proper preparation/shaping/etc... and I think bodywork guys really do have their own level of skill mastery that doesnít necessarily cross over from the mechanic's lineage? My advice? If you are a perfectionist, plan accordingly and have a professional body guy do your work. Unfortunately, this means that your budget will need to be MUCH bigger than the numbers you will initially see on the websites where you buy your body panels so be warned. I was quoted almost $2000.00 to install and paint my $500.00 flares and that is just the flares... I made a custom license plate holder to fit over the fairlead (Click here, if want to jump to the post).

Anyway, I had already run over-budget twice now and was pretty much forced to do all my own bodywork so there are plenty of little areas that could have been done better but I tried to have realistic expectations and was not trying to achieve professional results so this is why I am not going to go into too much detail about my installation (I really donít think my work is good enough to show off) but I will say this.

Donít think that the Iceland components come ready to install. They are raw fiberglass and not perfect fitting for every vehicle. Plan on shaping, tweaking, or whatever other magic tricks you have in your arsenal to get things to line up when installing. The winch plate and bumper brackets are 1/4" steel plate and the tolerances are very tight, if anything is a little bit off you are going to have a hard time getting everything to line up properly. I am going to write off most of my alignment issues to my inexperience or possibly a tweaked uni-body but be aware if you are thinking about doing this yourself. It is a lot of work and the more time and attention you pay to detail; the better the final job is going to look.


================================================== =======

Ok, moving on ...since I had a fresh motor it seemed like a good time to work on the respiratory system. I ordered a BBK 70mm ported throttle body, a K&N FIPK Cold air intake and the Kolak 3" Cat-back exhaust system and the SuperChips programmer. I went with the Magnaflow performance cat and the Flowmaster 50 series muffler and four brand new Mopar O2 sensors.



Here is the Kolak exhaust system, Nick is a great guy and will be very helpful so I highly recommend him.



The BBK throttle body was supposed to be 70mm but my dial caliper read almost 75mm? I double checked the stock TB with the same dial caliper and it read an expected 68mm so I can not explain why it appears to be so oversized but who is complaining...



After removing the old IAC, I can understand why so many people experience idle problems when I saw how dirty it was but the old motor did have 117K miles on it so I cleaned it up and installed it into the new Throttle body.



Throttle body installed - It is a very easy installation so I did not go into too much detail on that.



I finally finished up everything under the hood.



Here is a link to a sound clip if you are interested in what it all sounds like. I did the best I could with video but it sounds good on my computer.




================================================== ======


Ok, on to the suspension...

I decided to go with a 4" TeraFlex system with Long Arms. You will hear a lot of opinions on lift kits so this is just my opinion again but I did some research and figure the TeraFlex kit is a nice kit but it does have its weakness so I tried to address them specifically by ordering JKS adjustable upper control arms and a JKS adjustable Trackbar. This way I could abandon the drop-pitman arm and also included a OME Heavy Duty Steering Stabilizer. Suspension components are just one of many micro-sciences engineered into the Jeep, it seems that almost anything you want to modify has a lot of inter-dependencies so be careful and use proper planning before you start changing things. It is very easy to end up going down a road that you could have avoided with proper planning.


Ok, enough of the chat ...letís get to the pics...




Seemed to be the perfect time to replace the upper control arm bushings...






Had the old Control Arm mounts cut off and everything cleaned up...




Last edited by lvum4x4; 03-05-2010 at 02:29 PM..
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Unread 10-02-2009, 02:30 AM   #3
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Had some fresh mounts installed for the Long Arms...







================================================== ========



OK, with the TeraFlex Long arm kit on, I decided to freshen up the brakes for the new shoes ...so I purchased some cross-drilled/slotted rotors and tried to clean up the brake calipers.



Decided to go with the BFG KM2's on Race line Renegade 5 wheels (285/70R/17) I wanted a good tire and after a little research it seemed universally accepted that you can not go wrong with this tire configuration and I had plans for the Iceland Flares which meant I shouldnít have to worry too much about trimming.





On to the Flares ...oh where to begin? I am going to back-track here to my original bumper comment and try not to go into too much detail as I am not sure my experience will help anyone. I donít recommend that the "average Joe" try to install these themselves if they want it to look right and there are lots of opportunities to have problems. I was pretty hard on myself because I wanted every line to be perfect so I just donít see the average guy getting this right the first time and without the proper knowledge and tools.

I will say this though ...the front is fairly easy since they are one piece of metal but I highly recommend you spend some time sanding/shaping so that each piece lays down nicely to each fender. Some will fit pretty well out of the box and others will need a lot of shaping so be realistic with your expectations and if you want a perfect job, take it to a professional. If you were to walk around my Jeep with a magnifying glass, you will find lots of what I like to call "Character" (mistakes) but I set certain standards in the beginning and knew it would not be perfect. I accepted that before I started. I purchased a swivel head shear but ended up using a cutoff wheel for most of the cutting. All the cutting and grinding is a very dirty job so you want to try and complete as much of this as you can on one session to minimize the cleanup. I will also add that the mounting studs for the flares are only held in by fiberglass and if you fail to shape the flare properly it is easy to pull too much pressure on one or more studs which can pull them out of the flare (this happened to me so I learned the hard way but with proper shaping/clearancing and some epoxy, everything lined up fine). I soon realized that you do not need a lot of pressure to hold them on, just even tension all the way around and that required me to custom shape a few of the molded sections so that the flare seated evenly all the way around before I tried tightening them up. It is really just common sense so again, take your time and double-check yourself before tightening things down and never over-tighten. You will have to modify/fabricate all the wheel well liners to work with the new larger area around the tire. I managed slightly modify both the front and back well enough that you dont really notice. Of course, I could not get it as good as I wanted but I was still happy with the results.

Iceland does not give any kind of detailed installation instructions, just a CD with some pictures so be ready for that as well. You should be well versed in metal fabrication if you are going to pull this off with clean lines. Again, I am not going to go into full detail as I donít believe my work is good enough to help others. If you are going to do an install like this, feel free to PM me and I will try to help where I can but I dont feel qualified to write up a full "how to".



Mounting up the Iceland Rock Sliders was probably the easiest job out of everything but I did have a problem with the bolt heads hitting the bottom of the drivers side door so I chose to abandon those and get some counter sunk SS screws and the problem was resolved. These are very tough and I recommend that you get some primer on them right away as mine started to rust almost immediately and I had more prep work because of it.








Flares starting to come together, still need to finish up the rear...







...and finally got the rear fender wells cut and prep'd. That is a dirty job! You will have to get the seams welded up before you can finish up, then seal them up you are ready for paint. ...this was the first time I have tried to do my own body/paint so try to be kind? There are areas with imperfections and the color match is not exact but it seemed good enough for a desert rig.









So, finally a finished product:


I did everything myself so again, there is a lot of "character" (imperfections) but for a do-it-yourselfer, I am happy... I will continue to add to this build as the Jeep evolves but the next write up will be for the light bar wiring and strobe light installation. I will also try to get a high quality sound clip linked for the people curious about the exhaust. I am sure there will always be something on the build list but this project is considered complete (at least with respect to how I envisioned it).








Last edited by lvum4x4; 10-06-2009 at 08:36 PM..
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Unread 10-02-2009, 02:51 AM   #4
Jones
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Very impressive build, I enjoyed reading through it.
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Unread 10-02-2009, 03:34 AM   #5
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i am in love with your wj. i have to say that bumper is my favorite bemper for the wj that is available. every jeep has character mine has it on every single panel. and every single piece of the underside and interior
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Western Mass 4x4 KEVIN'S OFF ROAD IRON ROCK OFFROAD

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You'll learn a lot. I didn't know anything when I first joined this site either. (not sure if that's changed at all :laugh:)
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Unread 10-02-2009, 04:36 AM   #6
j_dennis13
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nice man! how far does that light light up? I like that idea.
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Unread 10-02-2009, 07:30 AM   #7
techRob
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that thing looks like a tank. very cool!
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Unread 10-02-2009, 08:41 AM   #8
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That thing looks awsome, love the sliders, nice stance for sure, keep it up!! .
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Unread 10-02-2009, 11:48 AM   #9
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am i the only one that finds it strange that teraflex makes their CAs with a flex joint on the axle side and a rubber bushing on the body side, all other companies do the opposite of that. lvum4x4, at first i thought your CAs were on backwards but i checked out teraflex's install instructions and you have them on right.
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Unread 10-02-2009, 11:49 AM   #10
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Nice rig you got there, I'd like to see night pictures of your light output with everything on..
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Unread 10-02-2009, 11:50 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sandman View Post
at first i thought your CAs were on backwards but i checked out teraflex's install instructions and you have them on right.
I am glad to hear that, I would feel pretty silly if they were wrong. I can say that the ride is very nice and plush. I have no problems with DW or rough ride. I am very happy with the way to drives. Now, I need to get it in the dirt and see how it feels.
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Unread 10-02-2009, 12:19 PM   #12
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Wow man, awesome build, and a great read. When the 285's wear out go for some 35's!
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Unread 10-02-2009, 12:54 PM   #13
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Wow! I like everything but the chrome wheels . . . I would've done AEV's or something similar in a painted finish, but it's not my dub haha. Looks really good though, arguably one of the better builds on here.
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Unread 10-02-2009, 01:04 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by squashman702 View Post
Wow! I like everything but the chrome wheels . . . I would've done AEV's or something similar in a painted finish, but it's not my dub haha. Looks really good though, arguably one of the better builds on here.
yea, the chrome was not my first choice but it was an easy one when you considered my other choices (black, polished alum, or chrome). I felt like the black robbed the wheels of their cool lines and anyone who has every had the pleasure of working with "mother's" wheel polish on aluminum wheels will understand why I went with chrome; its called "Windex"!
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Unread 10-02-2009, 02:18 PM   #15
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Amazing jeep, im so jealous. Just curious as to where in SoCal you are? I just assumed I had best looking dub around here, but you got me beat by a long shot. Just wait till I get back from deployment!!!
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