I'm not very good at the whole build thread thing, but several people have asked for me to do one, so here it goes. Basically it will amount to a few pictures. Let me know if you want more info or detailed pics on things.
Here is the back story on my 97 TJ, and yes. It is still my daily driver.
I have been into Jeeps and wheelin' since I was a wee lad. My dad has always had a Jeep and I was always his go-fer growing up. I bought (paid cash) the Jeep at the end of my junior year of high school in May of '07. It was a mess when I bought it. The previous owner had...well...found a little jump. He showed me a pic. The Jeep was seriously like 7 or 8 feet up. I wasn't too concerned about it though. It would make a great summer project and the frame was straight. And there was no rust. Period. I got it ready to go to Moab by doing some basic maintenance and taking out D30 #1 that was so happy to come out and 3 weeks later the Jeep went on its maiden voyage. And all the bugs came out. Mostly just ghosts from the jump. One of the MORE bombproof motor mounts broke on Gold Bar Rim and the tranny mount let go going through Golden Crack. Oh well. Got it fixed and the upgrades began as funds would allow. This Jeep was my responsibility. Not Dad's.
A Ford 8.8 almost immediately followed the purchase of the Jeep and an SYE at the same time. Not long after that, I found a 241 out of a Rubicon for $700. The case only had 3000 miles on it. Score.
Next came suspension attention. I was fighting the death wobbles pretty bad. I couldn't get it to go away. I took it to a "reputable" 4WD shop in Salt Lake. Their advanced solution was to throw on another steering stabilizer below the axle tube. So, way too much money later, I drove my "cured" Jeep home and got the wobble on the way there. They wouldn't do anything, so I cut my losses, bit the bullet and started to seriously research lifts. My fab skills were severely limited back then, but I settled on (in my opinion) is the best lift on the market for a TJ. The TeraFlex Pro LCG. Aside from the tune-able geometry, I chose it because I could buy the system in pieces as my poor high school student budget would allow.
In the mean time, I drove the thing everyday and wheeled it at least every couple weeks. The Jeep came with a pop-right in the front and with the limited slip in the rear of the 8.8, it went just about everywhere I dared to go. I finished piecing the LCG together about a year after I bought it. I also built some rock sliders for it. By this point I had some 35" MTRs and the Jeep worked well. I left it alone for a few years. But the itch to build came back.
I picked up a set of Rokmen tube fenders and installed them. That is where the name Bill comes from. My dad and I were standing on the garage steps admiring our handy work, when all of a sudden he says, "Hey, nice duck bill."
"Your hood looks like a duck bill."
And there you have it folks. It only took about 5 years, but my Jeep got a name. Bill. It stuck. It is perfect.
I made the mistake of driving my little brother's TJ that had a 4.7 out of a Grand in it. Uh oh. V8 sound and power took hold. I started collecting parts, doing research and saving money to buy more parts. About a year later, in fact about a year ago from now, I tore into my Jeep and passed the point of no return. 6 weeks from the day I backed the Jeep into the garage, I pulled it out with a 5.3 installed. Talk about a project. It was a learning experience for sure. I will also point out, that at this point in time, I am pursuing a mechanical engineering degree and only worked on the Jeep on weekends because it was waay to hectic during the week between homework and working 30+ hours. Jeeps are cool. But school is to expensive to get behind in. And I'm still in school. And still working.
In all the years I had the 8.8, I never had a problem with it. Well, except for that one time the cross pin slid out a bit. Weird. See pics below. A couple years after I installed it, I regeared it and put a Detroit in it. It worked great. But I could not keep my D30 together. I must have gone through 10 sets of axle shafts. The ears would stretch out, the u joint caps would work their way loose and then the shaft would explode. I thought about putting in a 44, but it has the same u joint. Not much of an upgrade in my eyes. Plus now I had 350 hp of awesomeness to play with. It was time to get rid of my car axles and get big boy truck axles.
I picked up a tear drop D60 out of a 99 E350. Full float, large bore spindles, factory disc brakes, 3 5/8" axle tubes....the list goes on and on of why it is so awesome. Oh. and I got it for $45 at a PicknPull half off weekend sale. I geared it to 4.56, threw in a 35 spline Yukon Zip locker and a pair of Yukon's 35 spline 4340 chromo shafts. I set up the brackets, built my truss it was ready to bolt in.
Because I got the rear so cheap, I decided to build a killer front end. I measured and re-measured and then measured probably 10 more times and thought about the front end a lot. The 78-79 Ford 60 would not work. The pumpkin was too centered. The 80s to early 90s Ford 60 wouldn't work either. The pumpkin was too far to the left. I wanted to keep my Jeep as low as possible. My saggy 3" lift didn't want to get any taller. I finally discovered the perfect 60 for me. A Chevy 60. One problem. It is a passenger drop. Well, I found one, gutted it for the shafts, spindles, brakes, etc and had a custom TeraFlex CRD 60 built to Chevy 60 spec, with the diff on the right...er left side. The axle housing was built using 3" .5 wall DOM for the tubes and Reid Racing inner Cs and outer knuckles. I had TeraFlex put on control arm mounts and I did the rest in my driveway. I also threw in a Zip Locker, Yukon's hardcore hubs and 35 spline outers. The axle worked out perfectly. The pumpkin tucks up between the engine and the frame beautifully!
That pretty well catches you up to speed on the ole Bill. It is not finished yet. I have some big plans for the summer. But I'm going to play my cards close to my chest until that is done. Should be pretty legit when it is done. I'm sure there is a ton of stuff I'm forgetting. Actually I know there is. But that is ok. Ask and you shall receive. To all you younger guys out there...work your butt off and buy your own Jeep. It is pretty gratifying to have something that is yours that can take up so much of your time and paycheck(s)! But be smart when you build it too. Don't be afraid to try something yourself! I always figured if I got in over my head I could always throw it on a trailer and take it somewhere...I think I had to do that once. Maybe twice. And one was for exhaust after the 5.3 swap. No way in heck I was going to try and butcher that!
Thanks for looking. Hopefully some of this rambling and random pics can help somebody out.
Now. Onto the pics.