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Unread 06-21-2014, 04:55 PM   #1
arg0413
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1997 TJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Baton Rouge, LOUISIANA
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Alex's '97 TJ Budget Build

I'm on to my second Jeep now (addicted!), and thanks to you guys on Jeep Forum I've learned a ton!! Time for me to give back and document my build on my current 1997 TJ Sport 4.0/AX15 with 30/35 axles and 3.07 gears. My first Jeep I built was a 1976 CJ-7, I still have her and love her but I never liked the road manners of it, So I started looking for a clean TJ with a 4.0 that I am driving as my DD and will build as a capable offroader. I'm going to do this for real cheap too! I bought her Feb 2014 , here's a pic from the original ad and when I first took her home:

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1997 TJ: 4.0/AX15, 4.11/Tru Track & 4340 Shafts in rear (D35) 35" MTR/K
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Unread 06-22-2014, 12:02 PM   #2
arg0413
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The first things to fix are the Blower motor resistor, exhaust header leak, radiator, and that god awful tube bumper!!! The bumper I bought was $200 shipped off Ebay from "E Auto Grills"!!! And the quality and fit is awesome!!!
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1997 TJ: 4.0/AX15, 4.11/Tru Track & 4340 Shafts in rear (D35) 35" MTR/K
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Unread 06-22-2014, 01:01 PM   #3
arg0413
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The plans are as follows: swap out the 3.07 gears for a pair of 4.11 TJ axles I bought off a Jeep forum member, I also got a Detroit Tru Track and 4340 Axle shafts for Cheap to beef up the D35. I'll be installing a ZONE 4.25" combo lift and 33" tires. I was close to doing a lunchbox locker in the front, but I'm leaning towards saving up until I can get a selectable so I don't have to sacrifice my turning radius
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1997 TJ: 4.0/AX15, 4.11/Tru Track & 4340 Shafts in rear (D35) 35" MTR/K
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Unread 06-26-2014, 03:32 PM   #4
arg0413
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The Axles

Here's what I'm working with for axles: 4 cylinder TJ axles with 4.11 gears. I found these on a part out from a Jeep Forum member and he gave me a decent deal on them. The pinions are tight, seals don't leak, internals look great! The Bad: Out of a rusted *** Northern Jeep SO i've been spending what little free time I have stripping everything off these things!! The PO literally lifter up the Jeep with a fork lift and cut them out!!! (wish I had the pic!!) So I get the fun of wrestling the rusty nuts and bolts off! I soaked this thing in Kroil for two weeks before I touched them!! Here's some pics of about what they looked like when I got them, after lots of cold beer and cursing I got them stripped down to the tubs. Rear is getting a Detroit Tru Track and 4340 Chromoly axles, swapping everything off my other axles onto these
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1997 TJ: 4.0/AX15, 4.11/Tru Track & 4340 Shafts in rear (D35) 35" MTR/K
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Unread 06-26-2014, 04:24 PM   #5
arg0413
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I finally finished stripping down those axles the other night!!! With the help of a Metabo to cut off rusted bolts and a BFG they're finally stripped down!!! I also got the old Ball joints pressed out the front axle (Yes I know the press is upside down on the lower ball joint in the picture lol) Drinking and wrenching can slow you down sometimes!!! I got the Tru Track in the rear, just have to set the Back lash into spec. Also got most of the rust off the axles with a wire wheel, wish I would of just dropped them off at a sandblaster when i got them!!! I'm offshore now, stacking up the Jeep fund and I have a busy list when I get back:

-Finish rust removal and cleaning of axles and paint them
-Press in new Spicer Ball joints
-Check/set Backlash on Tru Track in rear
-change axle seals on the rear end

Then I get to pull apart the axles that are currently on my TJ, swap out the steering and brakes, and install my ZONE 3' suspension lift!!!! I'm going to go with 33" Duratracs when I'm done and I'll have a lot of pictures to come with the work!
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1997 TJ: 4.0/AX15, 4.11/Tru Track & 4340 Shafts in rear (D35) 35" MTR/K
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Unread 07-06-2014, 04:46 PM   #6
arg0413
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Axle swap and lift time!!!

finally had a weekend off work and at home!! After fulfilling my family obligations, I got down and dirty with my Jeep Saturday and started to swap out the axles and install my lift! Once I finally finished prepping the axles to swap [I should of had them sandblasted initially] I pulled the brakes and axle shafts off my current axles, removed the control arms and shocks and dropped that bad boy! I stripped it first for several reasons: 1) I used the shafts, unit bearings, breaks, and steering components off my axle because they were in much better shape than the axle I was swapping 2) I was doing an axle swap by myself so the weight loss made a huge difference when I was wrestling the axle out and in!
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1997 TJ: 4.0/AX15, 4.11/Tru Track & 4340 Shafts in rear (D35) 35" MTR/K
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Unread 07-06-2014, 04:52 PM   #7
arg0413
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I pressed in new SPICER ball joints in my D30 I was swapping, finished wire wheeling it and rattle can painting it and she was ready to rock!! to finish my axle and drop the front one out took me 4.5 hours, would of been a lot quicker with help and no hang over!! lol I probably spent 8 hours total in the front and rear axles, stripping them down, fighting off rusted parts, installing a locker, new seals, ball joints, and painting them.. So that was a lot of wasted time in my opinion! If I were to do it over, I would of sandblasted the things before I touched them!! But them great news is all the money I saved is paying for my new set of tires! I didn't finish the front until Sunday morning and didn't want to start on the rear because I had a lot to do before I left town again for work Monday (yeah I work wayyyyyy too damn much) SO hopefully next weekend i'll be off work!!!

Here she is with the old axle out!
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1997 TJ: 4.0/AX15, 4.11/Tru Track & 4340 Shafts in rear (D35) 35" MTR/K
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Unread 07-12-2014, 02:54 PM   #8
arg0413
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Well I got back in from Memphis late Wednesday night and got off Friday to finish my Jeep!!! Came out great!! I love the way it looks and the way it rides! I am currently having an odd vibration than hits right at 40MPH, shakes violently and immediately goes away.. very odd, and i'll report my finding once I diagnose it. The rear was real easy to swap in, I bolted in the shocks to center it then hold it in place, then I bolted in the UCA , followed by the LCA. I then unbolted my shocks from the axles, and set the springs in and bolted the shocks back in, easy as pie! I did have a big problem with my rear track bar: I used the relocation bracket and if I could actually bolt in my Track bar, my axles would be out of center by 1.4". From what I understand, this is uncommon.. I didn't' have an adjustable track bar, so fortunately my best friend was helping me and he's an engineer, and a great fabricator, this is what he came up with to center my rear and keep everything buttoned up:

Cut the Track bar in Half (after careful measurement and drilled a hole for alignment marks)


Cut some DOM tubing in half to make extensions with:


It needed an 1.4" extension to be perfectly centered:


Finished product! TIG welded together and solid as a rock!


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Unread 07-12-2014, 09:57 PM   #9
arg0413
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I had no problems with the front, redrilled a hole per the instructions 3/4" , once I put the Jeep down on the ground just had to wiggle the steering wheel and it lined back up, axle was centered perfect!! SO what's the finished product look like?!?!

Here it is with the ZONE 4.25" combo lift, and Interco M16 31x10.50r15 (they measure about the size of 32s actually)
Side note: I did use a 1" spacer on the front to make her level


Here's some flex shots, she can go a lot further, but I was limited to the Jack




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Unread 07-16-2014, 12:28 PM   #10
arg0413
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Results:

I got my tires put on, After LOTS of research I went with the MT/R Kevlar, and I'm very happy with the results!! They are shockingly quiet, ride nice, kick butt off road , and can last over 40K miles! I went with 35s, and these 35s are MASSIVE! I like the look though!







Next I'll have to change that ball joint to get my caster correct, get some Sway Bar quick disconnects and take her off road!!!!!

4.11 and 35s really aren't bad, off course if you have the option to regear I would recommend 4.88 so you have more power but hey it's way better than 3.07 and 31s I had before!

Installing a Zone 4.25" combo lift is a piece of cake and you don't need a spring compressor. If your Jeep isn't rusted up, and you have the right tools it can definitely be done in an afternoon no problem. Swapping axles, well don't do that by yourself like me if you have a time constraint! lol
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1997 TJ: 4.0/AX15, 4.11/Tru Track & 4340 Shafts in rear (D35) 35" MTR/K
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Unread 08-12-2014, 11:14 PM   #11
arg0413
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Fine Tuning and full flexing!!!!

Well I got time off and got use of my buddies lift and shop this afternoon so I could put in my +1.5 offset ball joint and install my bump stops. And Drink some cold beers and cut up!

Got her on the lift and broke her down and got the top ball joint out in 30min!


Here you can see the offset on the new ball joint it pushes it 1.5 degrees out:


SO do 35s clear with the ZONE 4.25" lift and the 2" bump stop extensions the kit comes with?!?! YES!!!!!






The tires don't hit the tab that comes down between the front fenders and the fenders flare! However, the edge of the front fender flare slightly rubs, I'm planning on taking an 1" off of them for clearance and looks, I could get away with only a 1/2" though!

Does everything work the way it should offroad? I had the opportunity to put it in the mud tonight and the did great! I'm going to do some real off roading this weekend hopefully!


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1997 TJ: 4.0/AX15, 4.11/Tru Track & 4340 Shafts in rear (D35) 35" MTR/K
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Unread 08-19-2014, 03:04 PM   #12
arg0413
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Offset Ball joint and 500 Mile Update

After installing my offset ball joint to correct my camber problem, I started to get Death Wobble again and it didn't quite drive the same. I had the chance to take her back to the alignment shop and it turned out the toe was all screwed up on the wheel I installed the offset ball joint! Drives perfect now and I got a print out confirming everything is good now

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1997 TJ: 4.0/AX15, 4.11/Tru Track & 4340 Shafts in rear (D35) 35" MTR/K
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Unread 08-20-2014, 11:05 AM   #13
JeepaholicNinja
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Nice! 35s in the first page haha.
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Unread 08-20-2014, 11:19 AM   #14
arg0413
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeepaholicNinja View Post
Nice! 35s in the first page haha.
Thanks! I bought this Jeep in February and told myself I'm just going to keep it stock and use it for the street... Well you see how long that lasted! Lol
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Unread 08-20-2014, 11:52 AM   #15
JeepaholicNinja
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Yeah haha. Sadly mine hasn't really been wheeling other than to hunting and fishing spots and my family bought it like a year and a half or 2 years ago...I figure maybe after I replace the stock leaf springs (cherokee) so I know they won't break in half, and then I'll go haha.
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