Big Daddy's Puzzle Build -
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post #1 of 7 Old 10-07-2009, 05:55 PM Thread Starter
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1995 YJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Newfoundland
Posts: 37
Big Daddy's Puzzle Build

I love Jeeps.... love love LOVE Jeeps...

As a kid I had Jeep toys, as a teen I longed for a ride in one, just a ride, with the top down and the wind in my hair ( yes I had hair back then ). As a young adult the opportunity arose for me to actually OWN one and man did I jump at it. In the spring of 1999 I became the very proud owner of a 1993 Jeep YJ. I loved that machine.

I had dreams, boy did I, of the things I was going to do to that Jeep to make it my dream machine. I had actually made a really good start at it. I had a small body lift, was running on nice offset 31's, had side steps and a bunch of other little things. I was just in the midst of planning a suspension lift and a engine swap when the it all came to a rolling, flipping, screeching halt and my Jeep and I became airborne one cold March afternoon in 2001 as a patch of black ice just took it all away.

Luckily I came out of that with nothing more than a few bruises and real heartbreak. So much so, that when the insurance money arrived, I just couldn't bring myself to replace what I had lost and I bought a Toyota 4runner instead. Well, its been several vehicles since the Jeep, as my situations changed so did the machines I drove. I found myself married with a kid, then two kids, and a mini-van. I thought my Jeep dream was done for the future but then something happened that changed all that.

My first son, Gabriel, was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome, which is an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Basically, it means that the planet he lives on, and the one we live on, are slightly different. The laws and conventions we are used to don't apply over there. Through a chain of events, none really relevant to this story, lol, I found myself involved in the Racing4autism Targa project. Next year I will find myself in the ****pit of a 2010 Mustang as co-driver but that's a whole new blog. The idea came to me that it would be nice to have a unique support vehicle, an eye turner on par with the car. When I was talking about it with my lovely wife Dee, she suggested that we look at getting a Jeep and fixing it up. I love my wife did I mention.

So, the plan was hatched. We would look for a Jeep in decent working condition, one we could get for little up front that we could work on and create the vehicle that would be the eye turner we wanted. It also would give me a chance to work one on one with my son, and give him a chance to further develop his already strong interest in cars and all things on 4 tires.

Today the plan has started to take shape.

Well, I just bought a 95 YJ today. Chassis and body seem to be in decent shape and it came with a bunch of extras, a complete 1990 YJ, body and chassis are bad on the 90 but a bunch of parts for stripping, new heater core and blower, an assortment of other mechanical and body parts as well as a new soft top and extra hard top. For the price, not bad at all.

There is a to-do list...

She is NOT staying in 4 wheel drive. Seller states actuator is gone. It may be but could also be a vacumn issue, will have to get a better look at it before I decide. If the actuator on the 1990 is decent I'll see if its a fit, should be.

Computer is acting weird, sometimes she will click and no lights will appear when you turn key. Other times it will start right away. As with the actuator will need to have a closer look to determine exactly what is going on there.

Beyond that everything seems pretty good mechanically.

Body is in very good shape. As good a shape as one can expect from a 15 year old Newfoundland Vehicle. Floors are solid, rockers are solid. There is a spot on the drivers side front fender where latch is bolted that will need to be addressed. May just swap out with 1990 fenders as they surprisingly seem to be in better shape than the 95's

Beyond that there's not much else to do to get this in order.

I will be addressing the existing issues first in order to get the vehicle running correctly before I step up and do other mods.

Mods will be fairly simple to begin with. No major lifts are planned for the immediate future as this vehicle will be a daily driver. I do plan a slight 1"-2" body lift for a little height.

The paint, the paint will eventually tell the tale of this Jeep. The paint, will be a camouflage constructed from puzzle pieces, the international symbol of Autism. It will remind me, and others, that there are people in our lives every day who are trying to find the pieces that fit, that are trying to live in a world that isn't the way they need it to be.

Together, myself, my son, my family and friends, will make this project rock. Please, stay tuned for much fun, much frustration, much success and hopefully, much learning and sharing as this project takes place.


I will post here as work progresses for feedback and advice, which I am sure will be plenty.

Oh, the 95 just has the 2.5 5 speed manual. the 90 has what is supposed to be a running 4.0, may investigate a swap down the road. But as I say, getting this thing running and running well on a solid chassis and solid body is priority number one.

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post #2 of 7 Old 10-09-2009, 04:27 AM Thread Starter
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1995 YJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Newfoundland
Posts: 37
OK, here's the game plan...

First things first, the working bits...

1- Get heater core and blower put in, shiver me timbers!
2- Locate and eliminate that knocking on rough terrain, I don't think its a dwarf in my transfer case, but who knows!!
3- Fix, replace or discard the vacuum actuator. The solution that has been most prescribed by people who wheel is just create a solid axle, one that is locked in all the time. This would be ok I guess, there won't be a ton of HWY travel on this rig, BUT, if I can fix or replace, I will.
4- Seller indicated a problem with the computer in regards to starting, so far, I haven't seen it, if it DOES occur I will trace and fix.
5- Small thing, but given the wind sound on this rig when I drive, I gotta get the stereo fixed lol
6- Another small thing, but the wipers stop at half mast, I think its just a small matter of adjustment, whatever, I gotta fix it, its irksome lol
7- Hand brake is not engaged at all. It depresses but does not engage, found this out the hard way when I engaged it while in neutral and rolled back in my driveway lol. Weirdness at play, brake light goes off, BUT if I press reg brakes all the way to floor, light comes back on. So, investigate, adjust or replace hand brake.
8- 4 wheel drive light is on all the time despite of shift position, could be a connection thing, either way, would like it working.

Once those things are addressed its time to move on to the other items

1- Start to clean up, repair, patch and fill the areas that need it. So far I have only identified one spot that will require possible cut and sheet metal, rest should do fine with scrape, sand and fill.
2- Attach the stock tire carrier and remove tire from roll cage.
3- try to adjust drivers side door so it is more flush to frame, right now it catches on hardtop on open and close.
4- get up in under, clean, sand and try to apply rust paint to chassis and belly as much as possible.
5- Paint, going to rattle can it for now. Here's the paint scheme overlaid on another jeep. The puzzle piece camo will come later and will be on the green areas, I think it should look a-ok!

And then its the down the road stuff. I want to get a little lift under this girl, nothing big, she is not, nor will she ever be an extreme off road machine. But I figure a 1' body lift and another inch of so from an extra spring would be nice. At the same time I want to install a better shock than the stock ones that are in it. I do believe they may even be the originals if that's even possible! And of course, new rubber on black offset rim, nothing big, 31's are about as big as I would want to go, if that even.

Annnnnd that's about it for this Jeep. Now none of this will be done quickly. I am a complete and utter newb when it comes to things mechanical and bodywork is something I have NO experience in. I want to try and do as much of this myself as I can, though I imagine I will also be relying heavily on the aide and advice of others. It will be a ton of fun for Gabe and I and I am sure all who are involved!

Sorry about the lack of pics though, my camera is busted and it'll be two weeks before I can replace it! Trust me though, once the pics start coming , there will be no end!

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post #3 of 7 Old 10-09-2009, 08:57 AM
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1988 YJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Calgary, AB
Posts: 6,879
Sounds like a sweet-plan.

The 4-wheel-drive light. Vacuum-hose not hooked up right (check the switch on the firewall near the battery).

Take-out the actuator from the front-axle (vacuum controled) and put in a cable-controlled unit:

Skip the body-lift - do a suspension-lift first. The springs on the 1995 are probably sagged out from many years of use.

The 1990 - probably the 4.2 I6 engine and not the 4.0 I6 engine. If there is a carb on it then it is the 4.2L.

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post #4 of 7 Old 10-09-2009, 09:05 AM Thread Starter
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1995 YJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Newfoundland
Posts: 37
Awesome NaeKid...

I'll check the Vac hose shortly

The actuator issue will be resolved with the cable contolled unit as you suggest ( a local friend suggested the same ) or just fixing removing it altogether and either bolting or welding into lock position.

You are 100% correct about the spring, I just managed to get my garage cleared enough to make room for the Jeep and the first thing I noticed was the springs are almost straight.

I'll have to check the 1990 when I get her towed down, was just going on what the previous owner said and to be honest had no more than a cursory look at it.

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post #5 of 7 Old 10-09-2009, 09:10 AM
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1994 YJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: State College
Posts: 277
sounds really good, interested in the paint job, sounds like a challenge but i think it will look great

/l ,[____],
l---L []lllllll[]-

Bacon is meat candy!

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post #6 of 7 Old 11-11-2009, 10:35 AM Thread Starter
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1995 YJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Newfoundland
Posts: 37
whew, been a busy couple of weeks....

Here's where we are right now....

1-heater core and blower motor replaced
2- two new cheapo aftermarket rear shocks, the old ones were BADLY busted, soon to be new all the way around.
3- body mounts replaced
4- New sheet metal cut and welded in floor
5- hand brake cables replaced, the ones that were on her weren't even for a YJ, go figure
6- Bad spot on rear where body is mounted repaired
7- rear brakes repaired
8- New oil pan installed
9- Manifold repaired
10- New length of pipe in exhaust
11- New tie-rods in
12- New fenders reader to be installed
13- floor rubberized
14- stock carrier installed
15- body prep started for eventual paint.

Here's the short term

1- New shocks all around,
2- New air filter
3- change out seats
4- finish prep and paint

Long term-

1- small amount of lift
2- 31's
3- custom front and rear bumpers
4- would LOVE to swap out YJ dash for a CJ dash

I'm sure there's more, but thats about it for

Will post some pics of the sorry looking l'il Red soon...
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post #7 of 7 Old 11-11-2009, 02:36 PM Thread Starter
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1995 YJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Newfoundland
Posts: 37
Here are some pics.... you can't see whats been done structurally and mechanically here, but its gives you an indication of my starting point...

some surface rust, nothing too serious, the two fenders are shot to heck near the tie downs, and the doors, which aren't the right ones for this Jeep anyway are bad. I do have two new fenders and two doors in excellent shape to replace those parts.

She will be going into the shed next weekend for paint, want to get it on there before the snow sticks and the salt starts flying.

Here's a couple of more

Nuthing too sexy right now, but it'll come
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