I've had a few members asking me about my "TJ6", so I'm gonna paste in the build we did on my TJ this past spring. Thought some folks around here may find this interesting.
I had decided after Moab last year that I wanted to stretch the TJ's wheelbase to wheel a bit better for my taste. I seemed to be just shy of making some of the obstacles that my friends in LJ's and XJ's were laughing at. Being all locked up, and similar to the XJ in suspension (save for rear leafs, where I should be better than them), most of the photo's and video's suggested that my wheelbase was just not as well suited for certain very steep obstacles. This is of course subject to personal opinion and preference, but I wanted more.
I began shopping for stretch kits. Kits that move the reer axle back up to 7", a new fuel cell, genright style stretch wheelwell crusher corners, would net me 7", 1/2 of my fuel capacity and cost anywhere from $3-$4,000. During my search I came across a frame stretch idea, that would net me a JK unlt wheelbase, a better departure angle, and a full size fuel tank. the cost and benefits seemed an obvious plus. the labour.... well, thats the fun part right?
So with a fridge full of motivation, and a good friend who is a ticketed body man and welder, we went to work.
[quote author=El Camino link=topic=4497.msg61642#msg61642 date=1271212159]
Some pics of preliminaries. Flare and gas filler removed, Im having aluminum crusher type panels to cover the 15" gap from the stretch. Here is the template I cut from corrugated plastic board that I dropped off at the fabricators today. Panels will be powder coated and bolted over the top of the existing rear quarters, similar to a poison spider or genright corner.
[quote author=El Camino link=topic=4497.msg63107#msg63107 date=1271906413]
In order for the frame stretch to be done properly, we are copying the Brute mfg way of frame extending for their pickup conversion kit. The donor frame sections came from a wrecked TJ with front end damage, which left the rear sections nice and undamaged. The steel will be the same composition and strength. This will make everything work well, and flex together, though any flex is very unlikely. spent the day building the 15" frame extensions and sleeves. Lots of time and work involved.
I got the roll bar cut and removed, as well a bunch of the incidentals, like removing the E brake system, wiring, heat shield, Flares etc. Not too many pics worth posting, But we made good progress. Back to work tomorrow.
Welded some scrap tube to tub so it stays where it supposed to be when it goes back in. Drilled pilot holes from seam inside tub, and used tape to get the line right
Measured 10 or 20 times and taped off cut lines. It gets tight between the wheel well and the pillar, so no room for error in this cut. We did a good job. You can see the pilot holes drilled in this pic where we lined up on the body seam for the outside cut.
Derek wanted to see cutting, so I took this action shot. ;D
the official split of the tub.
Here is a good shot of how the tub was cut level. This will maximize the floor space in the TJ6
By the end of the day, had the driveshaft out, exhaust cut, brake and fuel lines, electrical etc all severed.
Removed the remaining body mounts to raise the body away from the frame a bit more for convenience. This mount was removed and will be replaced after the new pieces are in. This is where the major surgery will take place.
[quote author=El Camino link=topic=4497.msg63652#msg63652 date=1272178357]
Cut body mount off and cleaned up frame.
Here we put some square tube across the frame, framing the cut line, to keep everything where it should be when the frame is chopped, and to assist in realigning it all when it goes back together. Rod had an old trailer dolly leg that he tacked on to wheel the back half around on. I'm thinking of leaving it on afterwards for gaining breakover clearance 8)
Off with her ***. No going back now.
[quote author=El Camino link=topic=4497.msg64158#msg64158 date=1272428879]
Final preps before connection.
Like a glove !!!
I wish I could say this was hard, but Rodnik finessed these sleeves so they fit like a condom. We pushed it together by hand rolling the tires, and used the little lightweight straps for the last inch or 2 at most. We were hard pressed to make any adjustments at all. It was dead on square. Thanks to all the tedious measuring before we made any cuts. It was worth it today though. Got it clamped down, couple tiny taps here and there and shazam !. gonna add a few more clamps and knowing Rod, we'll measure 10 more times, then burn it home tomorrow. Then on to the body work, hook up fuel and brakes, send the driveshaft off.....
[quote author=El Camino link=topic=4497.msg64375#msg64375 date=1272517858]
Have Nearly doubled the estimated time. We figured we could pull it off in 4 days. Been 7 now. Still on budget. There hasn't been any unexpected expenses so far.
I will do a breakdown of man hours and expenses, but no point until the project is finished.
So, on with the update for today. We got lots done. Obviously the frame was the most time consuming part of the build so far, consisting of about 3 whole days focus.
I got at it early and finished cleaning up the frame welds and removing the cross braces that we zapped to the frame rails.
Put a new (to me) muffler in.
Rod burned on the body mounts to match up with the original threads on the body. Using weld through primer on all the bits's.
Built a new cross support and added 2 body mounts to help tighten everything up in the new gap, and to make the new floor sturdy and secure. More pics on this when we install it.
Threw the tub back on for the mock up, and Rod started working his magic. Having a professional body man on scene is a definite plus for a project like this. I would have done it completely different, and wrong. Everything is lining up spot on. the body will be exactly 15" longer than stock TJ, to fit a LJ top of some kind down the road.
The gig is almost up. Jeep "should" be rolling today. It's all together. Driveshaft is back. Finishing up the body panels, roll bar, brake lines today.
New body mounts installed to support span.
Center floor section
Right side floor panel
welded in, floor done
Had a couple extra body lift spacers laying around from something. Needed to fill the gap where we added the new mounts. Went old school redneck and found some old hockey pucks.
The inside panels.
Drilled out the spot welds and separated the belt rails from the side pieces.
Rodnik likes things to fit perfectly.
Got the brake line, fuel line and electrical back in this morning. Fuel line leaks like a sieve. The one connection is good. the other one I cut and flanged 3 times and cant get it to stop leaking. I've pretty much run out of line. I can maybe make one more cut but my confidence is getting low that this will work. Not sure of solution other than replacing the whole line at this point. Any ideas would be appreciated.
Fitting roll bar sections.
I've come up with an idea for the fuel filler. The black steel ring is a light mounting bracket for a 4" round light. You can see that the original fuel surround uses a 5.5" hole for the plastic insert. I used the light mount as a template, reducing the size of the opening by 1.5" for a future highline fender mod. I moved the opening up and away as far as I could from where the flare will be. I will then use a rubber 4" light grommet, and I will mount the stock insert from the inside of the panel rather than from the outside. This should make a clean smaller filler opening.
Here's a couple pics of the mostly finished build. What I have left to do is to sand down some of the floor and paint it. Install the seats, console, driveshaft, grind down the roll bar welds and shoot some paint on them. Also need to drop the panels off for powdercoat. Oh and fix the leaky fuel line, and bleed the brakes. paint the frame. All little stuff, but time consuming when you work out of town.
Here's a few pics of the way its almost gonna look. The aluminum panels will be red to match the paint. Otherwise here she sits.
Sits a bit high in the back. Once the bumper and spare are back on and i get some gas back in it, it'll drop down an inch and level out
Here's a comparison between the LJ and the TJ departure angle. Its not exactly a good comparison, cause i need to attach the rear bumper to mine which is the same as Justins. I will try to set up another pic then.
Looking at all the numbers, for those who asked. Here is a basic breakdown of the cost involved.
Frame rails $100 (cut from scrap frame at Gary's Auto wrecking)
side top rails $75 (also from Gary's)
Side Aluminum panels $75 ( metal fab shop cut to basic 22 x 54 )
Floor steel $30 (same as above )
Brake and fuel line's + fittings $30
flare tool $30
misc supplies $250 (primer, paint, sealer, Undercoat, etc)
discs and cutting wheels $60
Jig Saw blades $15
wiring and electrical fittings $10
Argon gas $80
Total cash output = $905.00
I may be forgetting something, maybe Rod can chime in if he remembers.
you could also count on spending more on body filler and sand paper and chemicals that Rod had on hand. Also the tube for the roll bar we had on hand. Also had a couple spare body mounts and spacers. I picked up a bunch of free square metal tube on a job site that was necessary as well. Probly $100 worth. The list of tools required is quite substantial as well. we used a 110, and a 220 welder, sanders, drills, die grinders, punches, an air jig saw was very handy, but you could use a quality electric one. 4 or 5 different grinders, a bench grinder for sharpening drill bits etc. A quality heavy duty vice, a sheet metal bender. Rod has a multitude of fancy tools that weren't necessary, but came in very handy
The time in would probably be close to 200 hours if i were to add up all the man hours in on the build.
Having a ticketed welder/auto body tech to buddy up with is a definite plus on something like this. the frame obviously being the biggest part of the job, required a lot of finesse, but is definitely doable. the project took a bit longer than originally expected. because the frame is not perfectly uniform rectangle, I don't really see a way around doing it the way we did. I originally thought we could pre build the frame extensions, but Rod disagreed and was right in the end. Each of the 8 openings were slightly different, if even by 100's of an inch, but enough that each sleeve had to be ground to a precise fit. you could build the sleeves before hand to fit in the extensions and then finesse them into the frame cuts. this would be a good preparation, other than the fact that you wouldn't have the benefit of being able to make the slightest mistake when cutting the frame, if you had already committed to an exactly 15" section.
I have lots more pictures if anyone wants to see specifics. I'll post up some finals when the panels are painted.
There is a thread on Jeepforum where some dudes are nice enough to photoshop pretty much anything you request. I asked for black and red panels. I thing the red by far looks the best. I like the stock look.