So, back in March I bought a 97 TJ Sahara up in New Jersey. Being a southern boy, I didn't know how bad the rust belt really was. The body and interior was in such good shape, that I didn't pay enough attention to the frame. Got it home and started inspecting everything- turns out I was lucky to have made it safely home from Jersey-a six hour drive on crumbling leaky brake lines! The frame was shot and had been previously repaired but needed replacement. Yes, I am dumb, no need to dwell on my mistake ha. Anyways, instead of getting mad and trying to take it back to the small time crooked dealer, I saw an opportunity to build it! Here it is in stock form.
Last edited by marktj97; 07-15-2014 at 01:42 PM..
Reason: Title change
I started scouring the area for a used frame in good shape. Finally settled on a 99 frame at a junkyard for $600 bucks, ouch! Mind you this is MD and everything is about double what it should be. Anyways, the frame had some surface rust but no rot. I was trying to decide what coating to use and almost ordered POR-15, when someone recommended powder coat. I know how most people here feel about powdercoating- chips- cracks, hard to fix, but I got an amazing deal so I did it! Local metal shop,Triton Metals, quoted me $300 to sandblast and powdercoat, I dropped it off minutes later ha. Got it back in 1 day! Very impressed!
Last edited by marktj97; 08-19-2012 at 07:30 AM..
Reason: forgot to add info
Now it was time to get the old frame off. I have never done anything of this magnitude on a vehicle, but it wasn't that bad. The worst part was fighting all the rusted bolts. I quickly realized this was going to be more than just a frame swap, pretty much everything needed to be replaced from brake lines, axles, control arms, body mounts ect. But I had actually planned on upgrading most of that anyways, maybe just not all at once haha.
RC 2.5" coils= cheap
3/4" coil spacer up front
1.25" JKS BL
Skycrapper Hydro Shocks
New factory Body Mounts
HD steering(zj tie rod) Lots of factory replacement parts!
1" Brown Dog MML ( recently sold these... more to come on that)
285/75r16 Kumho KL71 MTs
Mamba 16" MR-1 ( Moab copy) Black
Ford 8.8, 3.73 LSD from 2000 Explorer. Welded up by ECGS
Still looking for a HP Dana 30 with 3.73s to match.(3.07 up front now). If I can't find one Im gonna just run 2wd for a while, and regear what I have to 4.88 f/r.( 35s will be in future plans)
New brake lines all around- pre bent kit from Classic tube
UCF ultra high clearance Skid- should be here next week!
Rokmen HD rear upper adjustable control arm- shipped
Novak cable shifter kit- shipped
Will be ordering JB sye and TW driveshaft soon.
After lots of thinking I ordered the following:
AA dodge v8 motor mounts ?!!!
1997 Dodge 1500 5.2l 98k on the way
I have the wiring harness and ECM from a 97 5sp. - No SKIM according to dealer. Will be doing the wiring myself with an electrician buddy of mine.
I'll be getting a bellhousing from a 3.9l dodge to mate the engine to my AX-15.
Well I'm probably forgetting some stuff but I'll be updating as I go.
Currently the new frame is bare, just sitting on jack stands. I went through and did axle seals/bearings on the 8.8 yesterday along with new parking brake shoes and discs. So it should be about ready to go in. Started cutting off 4.0l mounts, need more cutting wheels! Lots of work ahead but it is gonna be an exciting build, for me anyways- hope you like it too ha. Ill try to take as many pictures as I can. Thanks for reading.
Heres one of the 8.8 before brackets and paint. Ill have to take a pic of it now, looks real nice- painted with Chassis Saver.
Hey, Im sorry, I meant "new to me" frame! I forgot to Paste that paragraph in, fixed it now. I got it at a junkyard here in MD it is from a 99 wrangler. Depending on your location, you should be able to find one cheaper. I did price brand new frames, looking at at least 2 grand! Used works for me ha
Hey thanks man. Its been fun and im learning a whole lot. As far as pulling the body there are several ways to do it but the engine hoist method worked well for me. As you can see in the pics i used a tow strap wrapped under the tub. It was not really stable so have a few buddies to stabilize. One note on steering- before disconnecting the upper shaft from the column, secure the steering wheel to avoid damaging the clockspring
You can use bungees or rope but i found the seatbelt to work well. Other than that just check and double check for any binding as you come up. Let me know if you have any other questions, and good luck.
Well I received my 5.2l motor last week and cannot wait to get it goin! In the mean time I also got my Rokmen rear upper control arms, UCF skid, 8.8 basically done and tires and wheels mounted. I threw everything together today just to get a feel for how it will look and wow! I was hoping not to have to get wheel spacers but with 5" backspacing on the rims, its close. Again everything is just temp installed with no springs in, couldn't find anyone to help today ha. Still need bumpstops, brake hoses, sye, driveshaft, trackbar and the list goes on! Not to mention all the crap the new to me motor needs, flywheel, clutch, accesories, wiring harness. Dang, this is going slow but I really don't want to half *** anything, so I will continue to pour money into this thing ha. Might take longer but in the end I know I will be satisfied with how everything works.
Made some progress today, it rolls! Just put my d30 with 3.07s back in for now and temp installed my tires. Rolled her out in the driveway for some fresh air. Hope to get the body on tomorrow! Still have alot to do but i have some cool parts on the way.(sye, brake hoses, new nutserts thanks blaine, and a psc hood louver!) The bad news is my new ufc skid wont quite bolt up right, suspect a tweaked frame! I am putting the body on mainly to see how it lines up. Ill post more pics when i get that done, wish me luck...
Great build I'm really diggin this one. This is why I park my TJ in the winter...I HATE road salt!
Ha yeah it will stay in the garage in the winter after all this work.
In other news found a hp dana 30 with 3.73s to match my 8.8 for $175! Going to pick up Sunday! Body is going on in a few hours hope it lines up with frame if not its to the frame straightener boooo!
Ok, been busy but I have made some progress sort of.
I went and drove 3 hours to get the HP Dana 30 with 3.73s, I get there and start inspecting it, pull the cover and notice the freaking thing is 3.55!
The guy didn't know what he had apparently, but after coming that far I talked him down to 100 bucks and loaded it in the truck. I'll get around to regearing it later anyways. Its from a 95 xj, pretty clean, no rust.
Back at home I put the body on the rolling chassis to see how things were going to line up. I was still worried cause my belly up skid didnt line up.
Well the body bolts seem to line up somehow but of course I spun some of the nuts in the tub. Also found the torque box supports to be completely rusted out, I could poke through them with my fingers in places. So welded reinforcements on the pass side, drivers side is too far gone. Found out that Classic Enterprises makes replacement channels and ordered the drivers side,$125!
Heres some pics with the body on and PSC hood louver in work I love that thing ha.
Jeep is sitting way high right now, should settle when I put engine/trans and gas tank on.