Bleu Belle - 1995 YJ Build -
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  • 1 Post By danno627
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post #1 of 4 Old 08-22-2017, 03:31 PM Thread Starter
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1995 YJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Posts: 7
Bleu Belle - 1995 YJ Build

In 2016, we had a lot going on - new jobs, new schools for the kids, work travel, new family members living close by, some health concerns in the family, new activities/sports with the kiddos, etc. Although there was a lot of good stuff happening and we were generally having lots of fun, it was a bit stressful and I was missing my "Happy Place". I figured out that even though we were very busy, I was missing something that I have always had since I was 14 - a "project" car. Something I could kill some time on, step down into my reptilian brain and turn off my analytical mode, and simply have some fun working on...

Long story short(ish), I decided to sell my newer Toyota Tundra (with mid-travel suspension and a bunch of goodies) and get 2 vehicles instead - one would be an easier-to-commute with daddy wagon/daily driver - and the other would be a toy/project that I could beat up a bit and modify how I wanted (my wife already had a newer plug-in electric and doesn't need to drive any of mine, so I was free to get whatever I thought was a good mix).

I ended up with a low, low mileage 2005 Subaru Outback Sedan and a 1995 YJ. The Subaru, although not the color I would have originally picked (a sort of indescribable tan-ish, gold-ish thing?), was a great deal and works great for daily commuting (taking the kids to school, running to the office, etc.). It's also fantastic in the snow/ice. Even though we live in the Valley of the Sun, we frequent the northern parts of AZ a bit and it's great for short-notice trips. Heck, I even added a hitch and tow a 4x8 utility trailer all over the place.

I did the some wheeling-and-dealing on Turkey Day and picked up the YJ the day after. Here she is on the way home...

It had what I was looking for - mainly the 4.0L and AX15 combo, but also had a lift and some 1990's era Eagle Alloy wheels. Although the body was relatively straight and there was no rust, the frame was tweaked more than I had originally thought it was and it required a frame swap. There was also a handful of odds and ends that needed to be addressed before I could start a true project - namely getting the 1" of caked on mud out of the interior, fixing some minor electrical gremlins and issues (like the ignition switch falling out!), replacing the straight pipe with a cat and muffler, and tuning up the engine for emissions testing. Luckily, everything went super smooth and I ended up finding a frame locally for $250 and the project was officially off and running. I cribbed up the body in the back yard and slid the new frame next to the old frame and swapped everything over...

I used the opportunity to do some upgrades while it was all apart. I started with replacing all the rubber frame bushings with Energy Suspension versions, replaced all the rubber hoses, epoxy painted the frame, replace two loose nutserts in the transmission x-member, added a Daystar 1" Urethane BL, etc.

I also replaced all the leaking gaskets and worn out Duratracs, and added a Ford 8.8, a recently rebuild Dana 30, an Advanced Adapters SYE w/Adams Driveshaft, and a Rough Country X-series 4.5" lift

By May of 2017 I had everything back together and running well. I wasn't happy with how light the front end felt and figured it was because of the 1.5" lift shackles provided in the RC kit. I purchased a set of greaseable 4" shackles from Rubicon Express, plus a set of 5" boomerang shackles for the rear, and ended up running across a installed-but-never-used set of Rubicon Express Extreme 4.5" springs. I traded the guy my Badland 12,000 lb winch for them and ended up swapping the springs and shackles out together. The ride is similar (speaks to the design of the Rough Country springs), but the steering is much better feeling IMO.

Added some Sunfire GT seats, trimmed the fenders and added some TJ flares, and wrapped up some odds and ends. I also regeared the rear to 4.88 to match the front and rebuilt the OEM Track-Loc at the same time.


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post #2 of 4 Old 08-22-2017, 04:01 PM Thread Starter
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1995 YJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Posts: 7
After the regear, I am getting this weird "pulsing" vibration and posted about it on another thread. I went through everything and am still trying to figure it out. I originally thought it was the t-case as I heard some weird noises, kinda like chain slap, coming from underneath during an inspection.

I ended up ordering a rebuild kit off of eBay (BK231J from PowerTrain Parts Warehouse eBay seller). I also sourced a "NP231 Beef Up Kit" from PowerTrainPartsPlus (also eBay). The rebuild kit included all the new bearings, thrust washers, etc. The Beef Up Kit included a 6-pinion planetary, 1-1/4" wide chain and matching front output shaft.


After that checked out, I noticed some clunking - a double-clunk actually - when decelerating and was worried I didn't set the gears up properly the first time around or messed up the Track-Loc rebuild. Turns out the rebuild was fine but I didn't noticed the amount of slop and play between the gears and between the spiders gears and cross pin. I ordered a new TrueTrac to replace the clutch-based Track-Loc and reinstalled...

Was able to get it back together, after dealing with some shipping/packaging issues, without any problems and got a nice pattern and real good backlash. I also replaced the flange and flange adapter with an ECGS 1310 yoke and replaced the crush sleeve with a Richmond solid spacer and shim kit.

So far I'm really happy with the TrueTrac and think it will serve me well when coupled with the Aussie in the front. A PSA - don't drive a manual Jeep with loose fitting flip flops! I was bringing the Jeep back into the garage the other day and had an impromptu function check of the LSD!

As the weather begins to cool down, I have some other things to address and figure out.
  • Completely eliminate this pulsing vibration - probably going to try a JB Conversions SS SYE and single-Cardan shaft
  • New roll bar padding Done!
  • New bikini top (while keeping an eye out for full doors and hardtop) Done!
  • Speakers Done!
  • New seatbelts
  • BedRug or vinyl floor covering
  • Alarm with shock-sensors
  • Gauge Works door panels

I'm trying to keep my schedule somewhat open and actually get out and ride some trails this fall/winter, but I do have some plans on things that I'd like to get done before the spring rolls around:
  • Gas tank skid
  • Sliders
  • New AGM battery and battery/power cables
  • Warn V10RS
  • Fix tailgate pins
  • Add tire carrier or Bestop Gate Carrier Done!
  • UCF Extra Clearance Belly Skid
  • MORE rear shock extensions
  • Reupholster all seats to match

My plans for next summer are somewhat in the air. My goal was to rebuild the 4.0L into a stroker because it had an annoying tick. Well I think it was simply due to old oil and gunk build up, because now it runs super smooth and is quiet as a mouse (seriously, after replacing the cracked exhaust header it was like a new vehicle on the highway!). I may put off the stroker in favor of a 5.3LS swap instead. I haven't decided on either path yet- I really like the sound and power potential of the LS, but a stroker 4.0L is easy, cheap, offers sufficient power, and allow easy conversion to Air Conditioning (hey, it's the desert and we want to be able to taking this camping/fishing instead of the Subaru, so A/C is a must!).

I also haven't decided what I want to do with the front. I know a lot of people successfully wheel the D30 on 35" tires without issue, but then there are plenty of guys who break D44's on 35" tires, so I'm not sure what route I am going to go down.

I'd also like to remove the 4.5" Rubicon Express lift, in preparation of 35" tires, b/c I don't think it will fit in the garage after the tire change. I am thinking a 2.5" OME lift + my current 1" body lift and trimmer fenders should fit the 33" tires without issue (I am running RE extended bumpstops). I figured when these wear out, I'd get a set of Metalcloak fenders and squeeze 35" M/T's in there. This is somewhat low on my list as I need to focus on getting a top and A/C before the worst of the heat hits next summer (and camping season starts!).

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Last edited by pc1p; 09-12-2017 at 08:14 AM. Reason: Added Link to Pulsing Vibe issue, updated status of some of the to-do's
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post #3 of 4 Old 09-08-2017, 06:18 PM Thread Starter
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1995 YJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Posts: 7
Had a busy week on the road with a short-notice CalARP audit with Alameda County... it threw me off my game as we had a ton of work to get done in a short amount of time, but it all paid off with a successful visit with zero findings


While on the road, I saw that Amazon had listed the Rampage roll bar covers for $6.00 off and the Pavement Ends bikini cover was also on sale ($4 cheaper than normal). I figured the $10 savings was a good a time as any to buy and everything was waiting for me by the time I got home. Install took just a few minutes, which was a lot faster than I had planned, even considering I had to cut a few holes to make the forward bars and sound bar fit. Overall I'm impressed with the Rampage kit - I would put it on par in terms of fit and quality (appearance at least) with the $150 Bestop kit I was checking out at 4WP.

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The good luck train continued through the week's end as well - I found a CJ7 hardtop (barter for some AR stuff), sold my used Track-Lok for what I was asking for, and picked up a lightly used Bestop tire carrier. It needs to be painted and the side window reinstalled, but for about $250 in trade value, it is a good deal in my books. It has some weird antenna/light adapter installed on the roof that will need some holes patched, but it looks solid enough and I like the "utilitarian" look of the CJ top vs the YJ top (I prefer no wipers, etc... at least here in AZ).


I wanted to make sure that I wasn't going to get any rattles or unexpected "openings", so I took the Jeep for a short trip to the utility road near my house. Looks like I'm going to need to work on getting some more travel out of the these shocks and maybe those MORE shock extensions are in my future sooner rather than later. I'm a few inches off the bump stops (and I'm running the Rubicon Express extended stops) and appear to be bottoming out my shocks. I need to find a better place to test these, but I have no doubt that my goal of trying to keep the shock bottoms out of the rocks is costing me travel here. Not an "urgent" matter, considering all the other work I still need to do, but something that will be looked at this winter.


BTW, the TrueTrac works well and I was able to dig out of this sandy ditch with just a blip of the throttle (in 2WD).


The tire carrier was tucked away with a bumper + hitch sale. It wasn't even advertised as a Bestop carrier but having been looking at the Bestop one for awhile, I immediately recognized it and made an offer that was quickly accepted. It was lightly used but missing the hardware (got misplaced during a move by the original owner). I went with zinc coated grade 8 hardware all around and it was still a cheap $14 cost. I later found that it was missing two of the backing plates and the owner could only locate the upper (and most important one). I ended up making a beefier version of the lower backing plate with some 1/4" flat stock I had on my shelf.

Overall I am very happy with the Bestop carrier. It hugs the tire much closer to the tailgate than every other bumper+carrier I've seen on the market, by several inches at least. I also like the fact that it looks stock and opens together with the tailgate. It is rated for a 35" tire and 200 lbs, but I'm nearly 310 lbs and I rested my entire weight on it and it didn't even budge, so I have little doubt that this will hold up for a long time.

I also appreciate the fact that I can continue to use my Smittybilt Classic rear bumper (also a CL find!). I know people give Smittybilt a hard time (Sh*ttybilt!), and even I too was looking at what other options are out there (Warn and RockHard are the replacements I was considering), but both the front and rear classics are probably the best looking YJ bumpers on the market IMO, and the Class III rated hitch built into the rear is a nice touch. I don't intend to haul too much with my YJ, but it's nice to know that I can comply with DOT regulations and have a hitch with rated chain hooks built right in. Truth be told, the powder coating is nice with none of the common issues I've heard on Amazon/Quadratec/etc such as flaking or lack of color uniformity. Mine has nice, even looking welds that passed the visual muster of my welding buddy, and should hold up to some moderate to heavy wheeling with ease.

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post #4 of 4 Old 09-10-2017, 07:33 AM
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1991 YJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Cumberland
Posts: 204
Looks really sharp!

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