Trail and Wheeling Pictures:
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
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
Soundclip of the Exhaust System
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 couldn’t 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 didn’t 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'. Don’t 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 doesn’t 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).
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 won’t 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.
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.
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 can’t 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:
93% Optical Efficiency
80 LED's with 50,000+ Hour Life Span
Easy Two Wire Installation
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...