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the88thpianoman 01-26-2009 11:21 PM

The88thpianoman's life lessons and budget build thread
 
Well, I've been thinking about doing one of these for a while. I've had my Jeep over three years and it's been through a lot of changes, some of which I happened to take pictures of. Been here on JF less than a year, so I never really thought to document anything before then. I've been on a college student budget the whole time, and I've gotten pretty creative at times, so I'm mainly creating this thread not only to keep everything in one place for me, but to try to help out the many others on here who are wheeling on a tight budget, so I'll be trying to mostly gear it towards that.

The Jeep is a 2003 that I purchased Dec 31st, 2005 with just over 42k on the clock. By coincidence it was almost EXACTLY 100k less than the Jeep it was replacing, within a couple hundred miles. It was also the only WJ local to me that I could find with the 4.0/242 that I was looking for (this was before I'd heard of craigslist). I never took any pictures stock, but here's the closest I have, after adding a 2" BB and Rancho RSX shocks

http://i287.photobucket.com/albums/l...n/Years114.jpg

Thinking back on it, I'm pretty sure I actually purchased the BB from a RRO ebay auction (:rolleyes::laugh:). The shocks were an amazing deal because I bought them in October, when Monroe does their buy three get one free promo. This also applies to Rancho, and at the time I think it was 4 wheel parts that had the best price on the RSX as well as free shipping. The full set of four cost me $173, and they've held up fantastically.

Probably the first mod I did was the ebay special air intake and TB spacer, before learning that TB spacers were a useless waste of money. The K&N filter was also a waste of money as I've since replaced it with the MUCH better amsoil dry cone filter (thanks, Gabe!:wave:). For a while I ran it with the filter exposed, and it got wet if I splashed up enough water, so a friend and I came up with this solution:

http://i287.photobucket.com/albums/l...an/jeep001.jpg

Basically, we put the stock airbox back in place, and then proceeded to beat the crap out of the back corner of it with a hammer, allowing the air intake to run back in it and protect the cone filter from getting soaked.

http://i287.photobucket.com/albums/l...an/jeep002.jpg
http://i287.photobucket.com/albums/l...an/jeep003.jpg

I'd say it's one of the only mods you can do to a Jeep using nothing but a hammer:laugh: I also noticed a significant difference in power based on outside temp, and realized that the intake pipe was heating up too much. A trip to home depot for some AC duct insulation and aluminum tape solved that nicely. Three layers thick and I can blast the outside with a heat gun and it barely warms up inside.

the88thpianoman 01-26-2009 11:21 PM

So somewhere around this point, I'm asking myself what else is cheap but useful. Well, since most of my trail riding was at night, lights were the obvious answer. I shopped mainly at walmart, since many cheap lights are at least as bright as a couple expensive ones. I also opted for some recovery around that time as well since (like the noob I was) I had wrapped a tow strap around my axles more than once. So I ebayed an aftermarket hitch and some factory tow hooks.

Also notice the mini fog lights mounted to the rear bumper, invaluable for backing up on a trail at night:

http://i287.photobucket.com/albums/l...n/Years069.jpg

These lights across the front bumper put out a surprising amount of light for their very cheap price. I just used self tapping screws directly through the bumper:

http://i287.photobucket.com/albums/l...n/Years090.jpg

Now here's what I was really proud of... With a few bucks worth of steel and aluminum from home depot, I fabbed up a very cheap and effective light bar, threw on a ridiculously cheap pair of lights I got at a tool clearance store, and bam, overhead lighting:

http://i287.photobucket.com/albums/l...n/Years070.jpg

I'll be doing a write up on my newer and cheaper version sometime this week or next. It'll still be just as much of an eyesore, but an extremely cheap and effective eyesore that is less wind resistant than the first version.

Little by little I acquired various stereo components on clearance and such, and eventually was able to put together a decent stereo system. I also picked up a voltage inverter (also on clearance) and decided to permanently wire it into the Jeep and mount it to the passenger kick panel. The power distribution block next to it is also what feeds power to the auxiliary lighting.

http://i287.photobucket.com/albums/l...an/jeep008.jpg

I also found a complete leather interior on ebay for $275 and just couldn't pass it up :drool: Ironically, the Jeep encountered its first cabin flood just a few days later :laugh: Of course, I wasn't laughing at the time...

the88thpianoman 01-26-2009 11:21 PM

Now for the life lessons part... Just about a year ago now, the Jeep had a run in with a couple trees. Should have been WAY more careful with a vehicle I'm still making payments on. Since then my focus has been primarily on restoration more than mods. Here's what it looked like immediately after(:crying:):

http://i287.photobucket.com/albums/l...Image006-1.jpg

The fender was ripped almost completely off (I unbolted it the rest of the way off), and the light bar ended up ripping up the roof rack, tearing the mounting rivets clean out of the body of the Jeep. It was pretty bad. The hood was also dented and it smashed my headlight on that side. The passenger door was also somewhat damaged. Well ****, there was a whole bunch of money I didn't have. It's taken me nearly an entire year now to restore it to what it once was, and I'm still not quite there. There were parts from ebay, a hood from the parts Jeep I stumbled across, some stuff from the junkyard, etc. Once I had all the body parts finally back in place, I was able to save up (mainly from parting out the parts Jeep) and have the body work done. Then I drove around for a few months with bondo before having the paint work done. That parts Jeep (a 2000 4.7/247 limited) turned out to be a wealth of use to me between selling parts that I couldn't use, and harvesting parts I could. I was able to grab upgrades like heated/dimming mirrors and stock trailer hitch/wiring, and replacement parts for the damage mine took, like the roof rack, a headlight, and the front bumper that I'm using now. It was also the starting point for my exhaust upgrade (which I will add some sort of write up about because it deserves its own).

If you've read this far, I applaud you. In the next few days/couple weeks I'll be adding write ups for my next light bar, the very budget friendly exhaust upgrade I'm now running, and a number of other cheap upgrades and mods to get the most out of your Jeep on even a college student budget.

CaribouLouWJ 01-26-2009 11:25 PM

DAMN, how the hell did you rip the fender like that? How fast were you going??

the88thpianoman 01-26-2009 11:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CaribouLouWJ (Post 6442909)
DAMN, how the hell did you rip the fender like that? How fast were you going??

Not very fast, but it started out on road, slid on sand, went into a ditch, and caught the very tip of the fender on the tree. It had to have been lined up absolutely perfectly to achieve peeling off the fender like that.

CaribouLouWJ 01-26-2009 11:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the88thpianoman (Post 6442914)
Not very fast, but it started out on road, slid on sand, went into a ditch, and caught the very tip of the fender on the tree. It had to have been lined up absolutely perfectly to achieve peeling off the fender like that.

Woah, that's crazy.....Glad you're ok man.

the88thpianoman 01-26-2009 11:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CaribouLouWJ (Post 6442967)
Woah, that's crazy.....Glad you're ok man.

Thanks! It's almost funny looking back on how it all played out... but only because it ultimately led to the Jeep being even better than it was before. Or at least it's almost there, anyways. I'll be adding that bit to this thread tomorrow:D

CaribouLouWJ 01-26-2009 11:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the88thpianoman (Post 6442990)
Thanks! It's almost funny looking back on how it all played out... but only because it ultimately led to the Jeep being even better than it was before. Or at least it's almost there, anyways. I'll be adding that bit to this thread tomorrow:D

What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger :cheers2:

Ridin' Around 01-27-2009 06:12 AM

1 Attachment(s)
I think we need to get you a Pre-Filter for that thing as well! Nice pictures! Click Here for the prefilter link.

the88thpianoman 01-27-2009 04:32 PM

Very budget friendly exhaust
 
Posting this up now that I took a video clip and some pictures today. I wanted my Jeep to have a little (or a lot) more growl to it than the nearly silent 4.0 stock exhaust. I sourced a super 40 and a magnaflow hi flow cat, both 2.5", which totaled around $140 shipped, and there are many cheaper mufflers available as well, like thrush. But the bulk of the cost of any aftermarket exhaust is in the tailpipe. Which makes sense considering it is a long, completely solid, custom routed piece of pipe. But those of us with the 4.0 looking to upgrade to a 2.5" don't necessarily have to shell out that kind of money when Jeep has already supplied us with a high quality 2.5" tailpipe on every stock 4.7 WJ.

I think this looks great, and it works perfectly.

http://i287.photobucket.com/albums/l...n/DSCN0087.jpg

http://i287.photobucket.com/albums/l...n/DSCN0088.jpg

http://i287.photobucket.com/albums/l...n/DSCN0089.jpg

http://i287.photobucket.com/albums/l...n/DSCN0086.jpg

I think it is 2001 and up WJ's that all have the precats and four O2 sensors. The precats make the exhaust a little more restrictive right out of the header, and so this set up is a little less loud than it would be without them. I'll soon be replacing the stock precats with higher flowing magnaflow precats, and will redo this video then, but in the meantime, this is what it sounds like:

http://i287.photobucket.com/albums/l...h_DSCN0083.jpg

It's nice and aggressive, almost no highway drone up to 70-75 mph, and isn't very loud in the interior if I have the windows up. I was worried that I might get sick of it after a while, but it's been over a month and a half, and I still love it. The true test was that it did not get annoying when driving over 600 miles in a single day.

EisBlade 01-28-2009 09:31 AM

Major kudos! Thanks for taking the time to write this all up and compliment it all with pictures as well. A great resource for others in the future, for sure. Keep the posts coming! :cheers2:

spife7980 01-28-2009 09:58 AM

nice muffler :p

any story behind this exhaust system:shhh:;)

tennesseewj 01-28-2009 11:06 AM

Good move swapping from the aftermarket hitch to the Mopar one. Looks much better. :thumbsup:

-Shoey- 01-28-2009 12:32 PM

The exhaust sounds great, nice build thread too! :thumbsup:

StrokedWJ 01-28-2009 01:24 PM

Good idea on the 4.7 tail pipe. I had one of those "well duh, why didn't I think of that?!" moments.

If you don't mind saying, how much did it cost you and where did you get it from?


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