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.
$500 blue XJ
$100 white XJ
$55 U-haul tow bar
$100 water pump, thermostat, VC gasket, motor mounts
$35 Fel-Pro awesome valve cover gasket
$15 Victor Reinz oil pan gasket
$8 Motorad 195* T-stat
$26 Anchor motor mounts
$21 GMB water pump
$55 Napa timing set
$21 Napa timing set gaskets
$2 Napa T-stat gasket
$21 Rotella 15W-40 (1g, 1qt)
$16 Prestone coolant gallon
$4 new engine to trans bolts (no more e-bolts!)
$3 distilled water
$7 three thermostat gaskets (to make sure I get it right)
$40 exhaust parts - 3ft 2 1/4, a clamp, a hanger, a slip joint
$40 vacuum harness
$172 complete brakes f&r
$5 warranty battery swap
$30 2 u-joints, 1 wheel bearing
$90 spacer/shackle lift
$7 upper shackle bolt
$60 wheel bearing
$40 rear axle u-bolts
$30 bravada springs
$4 grade 8 leaf pins
$600 32/11.50/15 Cooper Radials on 5-spoke wheels
-$45 O2 sensor
$21 coolant temp sensor
$9 oil pressure sender
$40 ZJ V8 tie rod, spare MAP sensor, water neck, nozzle squirters
$7 tie rod end
$35 track bar
$39 master cylinder
$54 brake calipers
$9 brake hose
$3 bleeder screws
$150 he-pulled it D44
$40 driver's seat
$150 BFG Winter 235s
TCO: $1866 USD (31Mar17)