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Montaska 08-25-2012 09:18 AM

Montaska's Build Thread
This build is dead! Check out my JK build!

I used to have a 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee when I was stationed in Alaska with the Army. It was a great Jeep and made the trip from Fairbanks, AK down to Bozeman, MT without any issues. About 5 months after getting here, it started to die in traffic. I took it to the Stealership and they said the CEL code could be a multitude of things, and the only way for them to know for sure was for it to 'completely die' whatever that means. I needed a reliable vehicle to make the 4 hour commutes to my cabin, and the 6 hour commutes to my parents, so I cut my losses and traded it in for a 2006 Subaru Impreza 2.5i (aka 'Slowbaru'). Although the Impreza is an outstanding car for the snow and ice, it obviously lacks hauling capabilities and the ability to go over crappy terrain to get to good hiking spots. And thus, the 1997 ZJ was purchased. I probably paid a little more than I should for a vehicle with so many issues, but it's a project Jeep and I knew I'd be throwing money at it. I figure someday every part but the chassis will have been replaced.

I used to do some fairly basic bolt on stuff to my 2002 Mitsubishi Eclipse and 1972 Alfa Romeo while I was in high school, but I didn't really get into working on larger vehicles until I had the 'privilege' of riding around in this and working on it for 5 years:


I figured I will update this first post with what all has been replaced.

Updated 3/13/2013

- Tie-Rod, drag link, ends.
- Front swaybar end links
- Track bar
- Rear swaybar & endlink bushings
- Steering gearbox
- Unique black steel wheels
- 30" Yokohama AT/S tires
- Battery
- Battery cables
- Kenwood head unit
- JVC Speakers
- Rancho RS5000 Shocks
- Sparkplugs
- Subwoofer
- Rancho Steering Stabilizer
- Lower Control Arms
- 1.5" Wheel Spacers


- New brakes
- Kolak 3" Exhaust
- White Monstaline hood, bumpers, and cladding.
- Roof rack (
- 3.5" Lift
- Protofab Front Bumper
- Protofab Rear Bumper

Day I got it

Most current exterior image

Cheers :cheers2:

sskilla 08-25-2012 09:29 AM

if its in the budget go for the adjustable if you plan to lift higher then 2".

so far what you're talkin about is pretty much bolt on, but dont wait to do an alignment if you plan on driving it.

align it after you modify anything in the front steering or suspension system. dont want to stumble into DW.

you can do a home job alignment with a tape measure, 1/8th toed in in the front.

good luck man

Montaska 08-25-2012 11:51 AM

Sweet, thanks for the info! I have to wait a little while for my school refund check to come back until I can order the parts. Right now I'm looking for little things to fix in the mean time. I replaced the blown hatch shocks and may debadge it. May also Plastidip the ugly wood interior trim.

For wheels I'm thinking about getting a set of Cragar Black Soft 8's and then a set of 30" Big O Bigfoot Tires. I want 31" but I heard they rub, and I don't have the equipment to trim it, right now. Hopefully the wheels, tires, and steering junk will be ready to go by October!

Montaska 09-07-2012 01:40 PM

Well, while the Jeep is in the garage waiting for me to get the money to order the parts (view the fiasco here:, I've decided to do what I can while it's immobile.

I ordered a bunch of stuff to paint the rock chips and fender skid that the PO had done. While I'm waiting on the paint I've marked the small chips with blue painters tape so I don't overlook it.

Today I went ahead and started to debadge the Jeep. I'm going to have a black/white theme so the gold just doesn't fit. I also need to figure out how I'm going to get rid of the ugly pinstripe... probably paint as it seems painted on. Ideas?

Jerbear0612 09-07-2012 04:39 PM

Dang your jeeps clean!

Myusername1674 09-08-2012 06:03 AM

I have a black zj with gold pinstrip, I thhhink if you heat up the strip enough it'll peal off, like with a blow dryer. OR just white pinstrip over it. I did that with the black.

denk72 09-08-2012 09:41 AM

Look on youtube on how to remove painted on pinstripes. I took mine off my zj cause i was doing the black and white too so the gold had to go. It works but it takes forever.

Montaska 09-09-2012 01:39 PM

Thanks for the replies. I'm going to go to O'Reilly's tomorrow and pick up a pin-stripe removal wheel.

In other news, the paint and stuff I ordered should be here by Friday, so next weekend will be devoted to painting!

Edit: Picked up the wheel, but my cordless drill doesn't have enough juice or RPMs for the wheel to work. Looks like I'll be going to Lowes and getting a corded drill.

Montaska 09-14-2012 01:30 PM

Paint Day!

Well, my painting supplies from Automotive Touchup arrived, today.


First Coat:

Tough Gouge:


Everything cost me about $100, but honestly I didn't even end up using the giant thing of Bondo that I ordered (I did everything with the touchup tube I bought). I'm still doing the left side where the PO hit a barricade or something, and am also doing the clear coat. For my first time doing this, I think I did a pretty good job. It doesn't have to be perfect, since it is a ZJ, but I was tired of the unsightly rust spots. I also touched up the mirrors where there were a lot of pinholes.

My biggest issue was that I forgot to 'blend' the paint instead of masking it off. Fortunately I caught it in time and was able to still blend.

Overall I am 100% satisfied with the spray-can autopaint from Automotive Touchup and am going to order another can to do my daily driver Impreza.

New steering stuff comes Monday. Something was drop shipped but Morris 4x4 didn't tell me what so I guess I'll find out if I can do most of it on Monday, or if a major component is coming seperately.

Montaska 09-17-2012 06:33 PM

Tie-Rods showed up, today, so I've started the work. I got all the nuts off the old tie-rods, but am having a hell of a time getting them off. 15 years will do that. So the bolts are soaking in WD-40 and tomorrow I will see if O'Reileys has that thingiemajig to pry them off.

No word on the track bar or sway-bar end links.

Jeep also wont start, now. Battery is likely dead from having the door open so long to fix the handle, but I'll take it down to O'Reileys sometime this weekend and have them check it out. Not in a rush as the Jeep will be garaged until the sway bar end links and track bar come in, anyway.

My new electric impact wrench is sweet, though :D

Montaska 09-18-2012 07:32 PM

Well, I used the pitman arm remover from O'Reily's and got everything off. Went to bolt up my new tie rods and... It's for RHD. I have to call Morris4x4 in the morning and see if they'll give me a refund. They should considering it didn't specify that it was for RHD. Bummerito! Oh well, this will give me time to do the swaybar end links and track bar.

Edit: Contacted Morris4x4 and they are paying for me to ship the wrong part back and they will ship me the new part. Impressed with their customer service.

Edit again: Upon installing the swaybar end links... they're for the Cherokee. Morris4x4 has too many items screwed up on their website.

Montaska 10-04-2012 01:59 PM

Alright, it's been a long and annoying journey but I'm proud to say the steering install is complete, as my new swaybar end links arrived, today. I've ordered 30" AT/S tires and 15" black Cragar wheels that should be here in about a week.

There's no power to the Jeep, however. No lights come on, nothing. Even though my voltage meter has the battery in the yellow, I think the battery is just dead. I'm going to go get a battery charger, tonight, and charge it up. I can't really drive the Jeep a whole lot until I get everything aligned when my new tires and wheels come in. At least I can back it out of the garage, so my girlfriend can park in there and keep her SUV warm.

Myusername1674 10-29-2012 09:22 AM

Looking good man! I look forward to watching this build, hope you get it up and running soon!

Montaska 10-29-2012 01:11 PM

Thanks. I'll snap a picture later of it with the new wheels and tires. Had to trim the bumper a little bit but they fit. I've been driving it around a little bit and so far so good. The steering is a little sloppy so I ordered a new steering box (mine was toast and wouldn't adjust) that should be here this week. I also have new swaybar bushings and rear swaybar endlinks coming in that I'll throw on, and new speakers & headunit also should arrive today.

I need to order wheel spacers as my 30" tires rub on my control arm, but I'm unsure of what to get so that will be later on down the road lol.

So, here is what my plans are for the future:

- Spidertrax Wheel spacers
- Bilstein 5100 Shocks
- Iron Rock Off Road 3" Exhaust
- Rebuild transmission
- Rebuild engine
- Take off gold pinstripe

Montaska 10-29-2012 01:57 PM

The time now is 09:09 PM.

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