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Unread 08-05-2014, 07:54 PM   #1
thevanillaninja
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2002 WJ 
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Base Kodiak, AK
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Cheap Jeep Story - Kodiak, AK

First off, let me introduce myself.This is my first build thread and I think my only vehicle(s) worthy of one. I'll explain that part later.

I'm active duty Coast Guard with a few years in. Diesel mechanic by trade; currently in charge of a small fleet of gas outboards. I've spent most of my time on the East Coast growing up and then with the Coast Guard, so when I got orders to Kodiak, Alaska, my wants and needs changed quite a bit from the 2010 diesel Jetta I was driving. I went looking for the safest, most capable (stock) Jeep I could find that fit a car seat easily. I ended up with a 2002 Grand Cherokee Overland, V8, limited slips... all that jazz. My wife pretty much claimed that, but it's OK since I ride my bike to work (3/4 of a mile when you live on base!) It's also fine with me because I'm admittedly cheap, which will play out in this build.

So I came across this sad little Cherokee for sale on the Lemon Lot and the guy wanted $1400 for it. Way too much in the lower 48, but Kodiak has it's own inflation since it's so expensive to get anything shipped here (we're an island, after all.) I talked to the wife a few days about it, she was cool if I could get him down a bit, so I called him and waited a few days to hear back. He works on planes and probably flies on them from time to time, so I was ok with that. Jeep wasn't going anywhere anyways. I could tell through some time I spent on the wet grass the basics of the thing - 1989 Laredo, 4.0, aw4, 242, and 3.55s.







A few days later he calls me back and I took it for a drive; the advertised "knock" was more like a DAK DAK DAK DAK DAK DAK DAK that echoed off the buildings. Said he had replaced the oil pump, injectors, did a tune-up, it had a newer battery, the trans shifted great and it ran awesome, so I was sold at the right price. I talked him down to $500 and we went to ATM and traded cash for title, and I brought the little one home.




Did a little driving it around to get a feel for how everything was, and a few days later was going on an extended drive in to work in the morning to at least get the coolant temperature up. I was about half a mile from the shop when the DAK DAK turned into ka-tang, ka-tang, da-da-da, all the sounds of a connecting rod cap letting go. I drove back to the shop on 5 cylinders (maybe 4?) and parked in front of the bay door in time for the last of the 4 quarts to come spilling out. Shut it off and drug it inside for tear-down. I might have put thirty miles on the rig, but I pretty much expected that to happen.





Kodiak, as it turns out, is known as the place "where Cherokees come to die." There's got to be at least two XJs for every person on the island. I've been to the junkyard to look at what they have offered and there were a couple of choices, from a ZJ to a freshly wrecked XJ. It's a pretty small island, and the guy running the salvage yard has the only one here so he actually charges to drop vehicles off there, and charges for parts he has on hand. I didn't feel like going through the hassle of pulling an engine in the scrap heap, so to the internets I went. Nobody really uses Craigslist here, there are a few Facebook pages that are used instead, but I figured I'd give a try to posting an ad on the old CL anyways.

I got an email from a guy and all it says is, "I have a Jeep for sale, $100." and the phone number is posted. I emailed him back asking the basics and that leads to a few minutes later. On on of the FB pages there's a hideous Jruck that gets posted for sale, for a single $100 bill. Get a hold of the guy about 8:30 that night which is less than 30 minutes after it was posted, and asked him what transfer case was in it. Didn't know. Does it have manual or power windows? Don't know, I only bought it for the wheels and tires that were on it. So I said whatever comes with it, consider it sold. Went to look at it and man... this thing has been well used. Cut the back out, puttied it behind the seat, and rolled on bedliner in the hatch area. It's got some ridiculous lift on it, with stacked blocks in the back and 235's. Good news is it's got a 4oh, AX15, 231 and a 44 with a receiver. Awesome! Parts alone are worth way more than the Benny I gave him.

Tried a few days later to get it to start up, but the Radio Shack special alarm system has me getting flustered. Eventually get it to turn over and over when I cross the terminals on the starter, but can never get it to fire. Called the guy and he says that you have to push the button on the dash and jam in the rod on the column (yeah, he just busted out the ignition, but again I don't care.) Eventually after dumping some ether down the throttle body we get it to fire. Runs like a champ, but can't get it to grab a gear. Paid $4.50 for a bottle of Wal-Mart brake fluid from the nearest gas station, run it to the master cylinder but still can't get any clutch action. Looked underneath and got a face full of (at least clean) brake fluid. Ok, this hydraulic system is FUBAR, I'll just tow it home. Called the one and only U-Haul guy on the island and towed it home for a grand investment of $155, not counting all the change and spare fuses I've yet to go through inside.





We get the engine pulled in a day, I had tried for 6 hours total time and we were close to it, but we ended up pulling the whole trans and transfer case too because I couldn't get those damned E12 bolts off no matter how hard I tried, but I sure am getting good at pulling four liters out now. So I've got this shell of a nasty XJ I don't want so I post on the book of face that I'm parting it out. Gave out the specs and got a few hits, but the one guy that was real serious wanted that 44. We settled on $150 (rusty with 3.07s) that he was going to pull as well as put something under to keep it off the ground. Awesome, free engine now!





Now I'm at the refresh and refit of the drivetrain. I'm keeping the auto, 242, and 30/35 because they're in there and cost nothing. In the theme of keeping costs low, I did a compression test on the new engine before pulling it and it turned out good, so here's to hoping oil pressure is decent. If not, I'll do bearings but in the mean time..... nope.

Luckily I shouldn't have to go to Napa for much since I've got two mostly whole XJs to pull from. All I need to pay in is a manifold gasket (87 was cracked, had to pull it off to swap for the 89.. which is less cracked) and a valve cover gasket as well as fluids. As for the want list.. I've got a guy willing to sell me a set of 32/11.50s that have what he says is 200 miles on them but we're working on a price. I'm looking at how much lift I want to do, versus how much I want to cut. There isn't that much rust total on this thing except for the fenders that are falling off and the rockers that got foamed.







I think that's it for now.... will update as progress, well, progresses.

TCO tallies:
$500 blue XJ
$100 white XJ
$600 32/11.50/15 Coopers on 4.5BS 5 spokes
$55 U-haul tow bar
$1255

Income:
$150 he-pulled it D44

TCO: (16Aug2014)
$1105


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02 Overland
89 XJ 4.0/aw4/242 // 87 Parts XJ
01 WR250 // 10 Sportsman 400HO
MK2 USCG, Kodiak, AK

Last edited by thevanillaninja; 08-17-2014 at 11:08 AM.. Reason: math $$
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Unread 08-05-2014, 10:33 PM   #2
98TJcomeonuh
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This sounds like its gonna be a good one! Wish I could find a xj for $500, then another for $100. Why didn't you keep the d44?
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Unread 08-06-2014, 01:49 AM   #3
thevanillaninja
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 98TJcomeonuh View Post
This sounds like its gonna be a good one! Wish I could find a xj for $500, then another for $100. Why didn't you keep the d44?
98TJ,
Thanks for the input. I didn't feel like the money to invest in the 44 for a regear and new carrier would be worth it. My ultimate goal is to make money after driving this thing for three years, but I know that's rare. So, to drive and wheel it for a few years and sell it on before I leave the island is going to be my challenge. I'd be happy to break even, so we'll see if that happens. One guarantee is that I'm not leaving the island with this pig.

Glad to know I'm doing well with $600 between two XJs..I thought so, but like my dad always told me, "Something's only worth what someone is willing to pay for it."
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02 Overland
89 XJ 4.0/aw4/242 // 87 Parts XJ
01 WR250 // 10 Sportsman 400HO
MK2 USCG, Kodiak, AK

Last edited by thevanillaninja; 08-06-2014 at 09:38 AM.. Reason: autocorrect
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Unread 08-06-2014, 08:22 AM   #4
dhasch16
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I'm in Erie, pa which is usually battling anchorage, AK for the title of snowiest city in north America, what kind of tires are you running up there?
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Unread 08-06-2014, 09:59 AM   #5
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Looking forward to your progress!
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Unread 08-06-2014, 05:15 PM   #6
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Following!! AK!!
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Unread 08-06-2014, 10:10 PM   #7
thevanillaninja
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Today was a big step forward - got the transmission and transfer case (aw4, 242 if you forgot) back in. The biggest problem I'm running into other than time to get work done, is that I'm doing all my work at my work - a 5000 sqft or so building that we store campers and boats in. There's plenty of room to do the work, along with all the tools one would ever need, but my boss (boss' boss, actually) said no personal projects can stay in the shop over 24 hours at a time. We've compromised with the Jeep sitting outside, all my parts sitting inside on pallets, and I drag the shell inside when I go to get to work. Not a big deal, but takes time to drag it inside every time I get a chance to throw a few wrenches at it.

First thing I gotta say is, if you haven't pulled a trans and put it back in yet - make sure you've got the crossmember on and the trans sitting on a transmission jack BEFORE you roll it under. What a pain in the ahss. Everything went pretty well all told - had a helper today so that was real nice. He's not a mechanic per se, but willing to help and a good tool monkey. Came up with some creative ideas that I sure hadn't thought of.


Started by cleaning up the crossmember.. somebody used to live down a dirt road (in Kodiak??!)



That should gain me some MPGs..



Should have put it on the jack by this point.



Eventually got it under.



Yay!




Here's the donor Jeep we're working with - hundred bucks. Really! I actually had to pay for that thing..



Going to go parts shopping soon. Need a few gaskets for the engine as well as hex head bolts to replace those STUPID E12 bolts, but after another weekend (mine are Tuesday and Wednesday) I should have the engine in. Another weekend after that of cussing at it I should have it running. I know something is going to come up, it always does. But here's to being a running, driving Jeep again in a few more days.

I've got a few more weeks until the rainy season starts, then the cold sets in after that. Hopefully I can fit in Jeep time between real job, side job, fishing, family, anything else that comes up.
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89 XJ 4.0/aw4/242 // 87 Parts XJ
01 WR250 // 10 Sportsman 400HO
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Unread 08-06-2014, 10:17 PM   #8
thevanillaninja
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dhasch16 View Post
I'm in Erie, pa which is usually battling anchorage, AK for the title of snowiest city in north America, what kind of tires are you running up there?
Kodiak doesn't get that much snow from what I've heard - having the island climate it's a mix of snow that melts, freezes overnight, and keeps building on itself. I've seen a lot of different choices of tires. The blue jeep has BFG Winter non-studded tires that look pretty decent. I hope to get some change from them, since they're basically new and 235's. The white Jeep has studded Hankooks on it that look pretty decent for the snow and ice. Tons of siping as well as the studs should do the trick.

Thanks for the follow MPjeeper and CNTLOSE. Means I actually have to keep working on this thing if people are watching.
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Unread 08-07-2014, 12:59 AM   #9
thevanillaninja
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Ok, so for those that have never lived OCONUS (Outside the CONtinental US) "Free Shipping" is not that at all. Even Alaska, the 49th state to be added to the Union in 1959, it is nowhere near free. There are a few options, and even fewer options when you're on an island. Postal Service I've seen about $50 for a tire, or $28 for a $3 gasket from RockAuto. So you have to be smart.. there is the "slow boat" where you ship to the cargo freight company in Tacoma, who puts in on a vessel for an eventual arrival in Kodiak. Not a bad option, just certainly not "2 day free overnight." Amazon Prime is free, just 5 days to Anchorage, then another 2-3 to Kodiak. So a lot of stuff is going to be Prime'd to me. Note: Not everything on Amazon is available for that option. Changes a lot....

So, future plans for the XJ as of now..

3-4" lift - $150 4.5" RE coils on Amazon Prime
$?? Some sort of bastard pack for the rear

32" Coopers - Looking to make a deal with Fred, who currently is in no hurry to sell them

4" Off-road lights - $30 already purchased Cheapo Walmart brand, going on eventually

Roof rack - White Cherokee has a Yakima? rack on it, want a basket on top - Walmart has a 44x35 for $115. Looking for cheaper options, or bigger/better

2x6 rocker sliders - need to cut out the rusty rockers, source 2x6x? and find someone who can/learn to myself weld them in

Put manual windows from white Jeep on blue Jeep - change the whole door? Colors don't match, not that I care much. Or is it easier to pull the guts out and swap that? I know most people want power windows, I have nothing but trouble from them. Note - 3 of 4 on Blue Betty don't work. 4 of 4 on Betsy White do - guess which one has what kind of windows....

Still have to decide on which wheels to keep - I have the ones I like on the blue Cherokee, the other ones I like a little less on the white Cherokee, and the same ones as those with more backspacing Fred is willing to sell me. Decisions, decisions....

/bed time
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89 XJ 4.0/aw4/242 // 87 Parts XJ
01 WR250 // 10 Sportsman 400HO
MK2 USCG, Kodiak, AK
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Unread 08-07-2014, 07:50 PM   #10
thevanillaninja
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Got told this morning that we were getting a surprise visit by the old man - the base CO that is - so everything got pushed into corners and hidden in lockers. Had to move my 4 cylinder 4.0, ax15 and 231 to the auto hobby shop to get it out of the way. Ended up hiding my good engine on a pallet under some stuff, as well as a quad that's being worked on too. Oh, military life...
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Unread 08-17-2014, 12:45 AM   #11
thevanillaninja
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Late getting back to the party... my own party.

Plans are still on-going for the cheap Jeep. However, I feel slightly out-of-character, because I've officially spent more money on wheels and tires than I spent on the initial purchase of the vehicle. However, when we're talking about a $500 Jeep with 32's in the future... it's understandable. Right?

I made a deal with this guy on base (civilian contractor here) that says he put these wheels and tires on his wife's XJ and she didn't like that they rubbed from time to time. They've got maybe 200 miles on them.. I can't find anything wrong with them. Still have incredible tread, they're balanced, and haven't a hint of dry rot. I got the 4.5" BS wheels with the deal, so $600 dollars across two months' paychecks and they're mine. He gave me the first one on good will, the 2nd one on half payment, and I get the other two when we're all paid up. It all sounds like a fair deal to me.

I was planning engine work this past week, but life, as always, got in the way. For better and worse. Let me say, I've always wanted a dirt bike. I used to ride with a friend when I was 16 or so, but that was a LONG time ago. It's been awhile. A long while. A deal popped up on a 2001 WR250 that I thought I would fall in love with. Called the guy, it's not street legal in AK, so I would have to call him back after I figured out if I could make it so. Did some research, it's possible, but I'm still not sure.

The other side of this deal with my wife is, if I get to buy a dirt bike I have to buy her a quad. I think this is awesome because I've found a bike that I want and it's going to take some time to find her a quad that's a decent deal in good shape. WRONG! I end up finding this Polaris that I like, that's a fair deal, and I get first dibs on it. Go to check it out the first day I have off work and I can't find anything wrong with it to talk him down. First owner was his dad, who passed it down to him so long as he's on the island, but he's moving back to Minnesota so he's selling his toys. Essentially, first owner. It's got 2100 miles on it, he can tell me most of it's history.. I'm sold. I pay the man and I'm on my way.

Few minutes later...
A guy from work I took with me that knows more about quads had nothing bad to say about it, so after striking a deal with the seller, I took my second opinion to the only toy dealership/shop on the island so he can pick up some parts for his Rancher. Sure enough, there's a WR in the back of a truck across the lot. I jump out of the Jeep to take a look at it, and I run inside (it's been raining the last four days, there's not much malingering outside) and ask who owns the WR in the back of the Chevy. Ends up being the mechanic at the shop, who also has one in the back that a customer is selling. He tells me I can sit on it, get a feel for it.. and I fell in love.

I end up calling the guy that I had been questioning earlier that was selling his. He says I can look at it that night, so I go and have a looksie. Turns out he's a Jeep guy as well as a dual sport guy, but he was rebuilding a Cherokee as well as DD'ing a TJ that his wife just ripped a new fender flare off of.. which of course, you can't buy just one of. He's pissed... but what can you do? He's got a newer Suzuki DR that's street legal so this WR he doesn't want to get rid of but doesn't ride enough, plus he's tired of the kick start. Everything sounds awesome to me.. so we struck up a deal. I got a good deal off of him, without him losing too much money, and we're both happy - he's got money for the Jeeps, I've got a dual sport. Awesome.

That's been my past week - didn't have much time for the XJ but I did get my I/E manifold from the store. Next weekend (Tuesday.. Wednesday maybe?) it's going on the engine and very soon that engine is going in the Cheepokee. I promise!

Now, pictures like everyone likes.........









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02 Overland
89 XJ 4.0/aw4/242 // 87 Parts XJ
01 WR250 // 10 Sportsman 400HO
MK2 USCG, Kodiak, AK

Last edited by thevanillaninja; 08-18-2014 at 01:46 AM.. Reason: pic fix
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Unread 08-24-2014, 05:08 PM   #12
MOBBiN
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Following this as well. I've never been to kodiak, yet. It looks rainy
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Unread 08-24-2014, 07:11 PM   #13
91AzXJ
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Nice thread! Those flares on the donor vehicle are worth a couple hundred $'s so don't go giving them away!
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Unread Today, 07:43 PM   #14
thevanillaninja
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MOBBiN View Post
Following this as well. I've never been to kodiak, yet. It looks rainy
Thanks. It can be, but I don't think it's that awful. We sort of have all the kinds of rain - the one I'm used to from Florida, rainshine, the one that you'd think of from London or Seattle, the always raining kind of rain, and anything in between. But there's been more nice days than nasty days that I can count. Everyone works around the rain here, in the truest respect. We wheel in the rain, moms walk their babies in the rain, we still bike to work in the rain, and obviously, fishing's better when it rains.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 91AzXJ
Nice thread! Those flares on the donor vehicle are worth a couple hundred $'s so don't go giving them away!
It would be great if I had them all, but I'm missing just the one that sits on the rear pax door, so I have 7/8 of a set. I'm sure they're still worth pieces prices, but I'm not expecting too much from them.


Got some work in recently but got flustered and quit, as spending 2 hours on removing one part can really piss you off. Getting the engine from the manual donor prepped to put in the automatic keeper I have to remove the pilot bearing but I had a feeling it would be a ***** and half. It was worse! I don't have a great puller to use, so I tried a few tricks. Grease and a bolt, nope. Bread and a bolt, no. I have never felt dumber than when I was shoving wheat bread into my engine.

I've decided that I'm going to get a guy on base to weld up my exhaust manifold instead of replacing it since the crack isn't that bad, and it's only on number 6 which I guess is pretty common. He'll do it for free so that's awesome.

Also, I've paid off those wheels and tires. Sweet! My Jeep isn't running (or have an engine in it) but I've bought wheels and tires (and through the donor vehicle, a lift.) Needless to say this isn't my wife's favorite vehicle, but in order to get it running I need time to work on it. Between all my other hobbies, fishing, family, and the like.. well, this winter once outside activities discontinue she'll get a lot more attention.


Who the hell shoves bread into an engine? Me, apparently.



After hours banging on a bolt with grease then bread behind it, all I got out was the cage.

I give up for now.
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89 XJ 4.0/aw4/242 // 87 Parts XJ
01 WR250 // 10 Sportsman 400HO
MK2 USCG, Kodiak, AK
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