97 Wrangler 5.3L
Time to document my build, I had a thread going but it was very slow and non despcriptive.
Bought a completely stock 97 wrangler with 55,000 miles for 6k.
First thing to go was the motor
Next was the transmission, transfercase, and a few other things and then its time to start putting the new motor in
First thing was too grind off the old motor mounts and start to get the new ones in place, I got my new motor mounts from novak and the instructions showed me exactly where to place the new ones, very handy. Tacked the new mounts in and its time for a test fit.
After about 3 hours of playing with it the motor was in place. Now comes the hard part. I decided to use the AX15 transmission so I ordered the conversion kit from advanced adapters along with a new slave cylinder part# 716213, clutch kit, flywheel, throwout bearing part# n1430 and a few other odds and ends. I got the transmission completely assembled with new bellhousing and transfercase bolted on. For the flywheel I got a 168T when I needed a 153T by mistake. First problem was that I needed new bolts to get the flywheel to bolt to the motor. They were 11mm bolts and no one anywhere stocked them, and the ones from the old automatic flywheel were too short for the manual flywheel. I ended up having a machine shop custom make them for me. So finally I got the transmission mated to the engine.
The transmission ended up being about 3 inches farther forward then stock so a little modification was in order
Up next was the wiring. Not nearly as hard as I thought it would be. Most of my time was spent doing research. It ended up being, power to the pcm, fuel injectors and spark plug wires were the only ones I touched. I am still using the stock gauges so I left the jeep pcm in there. Heres the mess i used to try and get it working before anything was set in stone.
Got it to turn over but it would not start. Turned out to be the VSS. Put the jeep on the trailer and brought it to get the VSS disabled and a few tuning modifications. And she lives! Finished up other small things like heater hoses, clutch lines, clean up the wiring, exhaust, driveshafts, and so on. Couple days later:
I ended up putting just short of $3k in the swap for everything. I ended up selling the old drivetrain and other parts for about $2500, So I only about $500 out of my pocket.
Next up is paint, the reason I got the jeep so cheap was because its whole life it sat on a military base soaking up the florida sun and bubbling up the clear coat. So it needed a paint job. I wasn't too worried about paint cause I knew I had a lot of plans that would involve things being re painted. I used single stage paint from a local store. Much cheaper and easier.
I also came across a set of decent wheels on craigslist. I also threw on a body lift. This is where my penny pinching came in great. I had 2 skateboards collecting dust and Meijer had one for nice and jeep giving me 12 wheels. Made a trip out to lowes to get some bolts and $25 later I have a body lift that uses the same material as a normal one. I also found some time to throw on a 2" budget boost.
This is how it sat for about 6 months. Did some local wheeling, went to the dunes quite a bit and also played with some mud.
Next up was a real lift. I got some 3" rustys coils and shocks as a gift so it was time to raise it up a bit. I ended up needing to drop the skid plate so I took some 1" square tubing and drilled a couple holes in it and made my driveline angles happy. I also found some time to throw on thrush glass packs.
Over the next couple of months I built a front bumper, put some lights, painted my rims, sold the 30" tires and put some 32's I had laying around on
Then the dana 35 finally went boom. Time for an 8.8. Went to the junkyard and picked one up with 30,000 miles on it. First thing was ripping the old one out. Then on too the 8.8. Started off by grinding everything off and stripping all the guts out of it. I ordered the TJ bracket kit from Iron Rock offroad and got on my way with welding everything on. I found it was best to put the axles right next to each other to make sure everything was semi close. Lots of leveling, measuring, and thinking later the brackets are tacked on.
Next up was to put the guts back in. I got 4.10 gears to match the front, new bearings, races, and all new brake components. Got everything in with the help of my dad and uncle and now it was time to make sure everything was gunna work so I put it under the jeep to test fit everything:
Well everything fit so time to do some welding:
Threw a coat of paint on, finished up all the brake work and in it goes!
I also came across a steal on some 33's so new tires got put on as soon as she got back on the road
Thats pretty much how it sits now.
But thats not where it stops. I started getting involved with a local club and ill be doing a lot more wheeling in the upcoming months so its time for more upgrades. First on the list is Rokmen fenders. Hopefully I will be getting my tax returns back soon and those will be ordered. Once those are in place I will be putting stock shocks and springs back in. I also started fabricating a transmission mount that in preparation for a semi-flat skid. Once funds build up again corner guards will be put on order.
Rokmen high lines are ordered! Spring break starts next week so a lot of work will get done hopefully
So do all your factory gauges work? and how did you get them to work with the 5.3? I think I saw your last thread and I'm very interested in doing this swap sometime soon and if I can figure it out and have it installed for around 3k I'll be totally happy with that. And how did you use the chevy harness? were there any hang ups or things that were tricky to figure out?
Awesome... my plans include a 5.3. You make it look easy and cheap!
JeepBro- All my guages but the tach work. All the guages are still powered by the jeep pcm. For the temp, I took the jeep sensor and tapped it into the heater hose, oil pressure I took the jeep sensor, and made an adapter to go into the 5.3 block. The rest have nothing to do with the motor. As far as wiring goes I found write ups on pretty much everything. The only hang up was the VSS. The computer thought it was getting hot wired so it wouldnt let the motor run. Got the VSS deleted from the computer and it fired right up.
Kodiak- Thanks, but it wasn't quite as cheap as anticipated, and definitely not easy
These will happen in the next month hopefully:
-Rokmen high lines are ordered so that's up next. -I got 8 rough country control arms I got for dirt cheap that I'm thinking seriously about throwing on
-low profile tranny mount is halfway fabricated
-stock coil springs
Once I start working again in the summer I plan on getting
-full corner guards
-4 link the rear
Hopefully that answers your question haha
Sounds like a solid plan other than the RC arms...
I agree 100% but for the price I got them I couldnt turn it down. Until I get some money for my 4 link this summer I don't see why not considering mine are stock right now
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