Half-Ton/Full-width ZJ Build - JeepForum.com
Search  
Sign Up   Today's Posts
User: Pass: Remember?
Advertise Here
Jeep Home Jeep Forum Jeep Classifieds Jeep Registry JeepSpace Jeep Reviews Jeep Gallery Jeep Clubs Jeep Groups Jeep Videos Jeep Events Jeep Articles
Go Back JeepForum.com > General Jeep Forums > Jeep Builds > Half-Ton/Full-width ZJ Build

FS: Jeep Fog Light LED Bulbs! Several Brightness Options! Stainless Steel Door Hinge PinsPoly Door Hinge Bushings

Reply
Unread 07-11-2014, 11:59 AM   #1
OWSIN
Registered User
1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Moncton, NB
Posts: 45
Half-Ton/Full-width ZJ Build

Here's the build for my 1997 Grand Cherokee Limited V8. The previous owner had owned it for the last 10 years, and drove it strictly on the street. Only 190k (Km) on it, and never even had a hitch installed. I figure this was a good base to start with! Picked it up back in October.

The plan for this build:
  • Long arms
  • Full-width axles
  • 37's or bigger

... But I also needed something to drive through the winter that year, so it basically went through two stages of modification. Initial build for winter duty, then full tear-down build in the Spring of 2014.

Since this build is essentially "done" now, I'm going to backtrack and post a little about what I did to it every day or two to bring it up to current day. Enjoy!

The day I picked it up! Of course it was a two hour drive home, and the rear caliper stuck on the highway... Minor detail, quick pit stop to make sure nothing was on fire, then hammer down!




Edit July 14/14: This is basically how it sits now. The build thread is slowly getting up to date.




Last edited by OWSIN; 07-11-2014 at 12:18 PM..
OWSIN is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 07-11-2014, 12:06 PM   #2
OWSIN
Registered User
1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Moncton, NB
Posts: 45
As soon as it landed at the house, it was parked in the garage. I only ever drove it in stock form once, the day I brought it home. Once safely nestled in the garage, I treated it to everyone's favorite, Rough Country! Haha... It seemed like a fairly comprehensive kit, and I'd be changing most of it anyways down the road, so for the price, I figured I would give it a shot. It's their 4" Long-arm kit, and I added 1" spacers to give it a little extra boost.




First things first, since it had no hitch or hooks, had to get on that. Found some hooks and threw them on!




Also picked up a nice set of 33x12.5 MTR's on wheels for 200$, including a spare Mickey Thompson. This build is off to a good start!




A little TV magic and the lift is on! (I won't bore you with the install of a basic lift kit)



OWSIN is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 07-11-2014, 12:16 PM   #3
OWSIN
Registered User
1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Moncton, NB
Posts: 45
Sunroof mechanism broken and glass stuck open? No problem, gut the interior and bolt a piece of steel over the hole! I admit, I could have got pretty with it, welded it in and tried to make the hole disappear, but hey. This got the job done with little mess. A hearty dose of Urethane makes sure I don't get any leaks. Panel was made of either 12 or 14ga steel (it was a handout from a buddy of mine at a steel shop), which I shot with a coat of bedliner. I made a quick template in CAD for the size of the panel/spacing of the holes, and traced it out. Used yellow Grade 8 bolts to go with the yellow/gold trim on the Limited.

This now brings us to sometime in November 2013. I'll leave off here for today and pick it up in a few days!





OWSIN is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 07-12-2014, 07:27 AM   #4
OWSIN
Registered User
1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Moncton, NB
Posts: 45
I wheeled the Jeep on stock axles and 33's a few times throughout the winter and into Spring, but caught the full-width bug from a buddy of mine and his ZJ, and started building up my parts mountain for my swap.




I picked up the same axles as the ZJ above, a matching set from a 2nd Gen Dodge Ram 1500: A disconnect D44 front and Chrysler 9.25" rear. Not your typical axles for a swap.




The axles were stripped of any brackets, and I started piecing together everything I would need for the swap, with a couple orders through TMR Customs, and many visits to the local parts store.







OWSIN is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 07-12-2014, 08:28 AM   #5
OWSIN
Registered User
1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Moncton, NB
Posts: 45
I bought a new set of 17x9" Steelies and then went on the hunt for some used tires to at least get the project rolling. I wanted somewhere around a 37", but found a set of well used 38x14.5 KM2's and picked them up for 200$. Now I've got something to get the project rolling.





OWSIN is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 07-12-2014, 08:50 AM   #6
OWSIN
Registered User
1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Moncton, NB
Posts: 45
Started by stripping out the rear axle. I'm not sure whose cat that is under the Jeep, but he visits me often in the garage, you'll see him in a lot of pictures.




Dana 44a for sale! Funnily enough, I actually traded a guy the stock rear axle for a brand new in box 20" LED Lightbar. I think I got a good deal.




It's going to go pretty fast now. Axle was set under the Jeep at approximate ride height, centered, plumb bobbed, etc. and then all brackets were tacked in place. A lot of brackets had to be modified since the 9.25" has a very large tube diameter, 3.5" at its widest point, and necks down to 3" at the bearings.




Axle was pulled for finish welding, and shot with some paint. I had a buddy of mine who's a welder by trade do all the welding, these are some pretty critical parts that I don't trust my mediocre welding skills on.




One quick shot from underneath with the axle installed.




How it sits under its own weight with the 38's in the rear.

OWSIN is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 07-14-2014, 10:45 AM   #7
OWSIN
Registered User
1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Moncton, NB
Posts: 45
Another speedy update. Front axle was stripped out, and new CAD D44 slid into place. Brackets tacked on, then removed and finish welded. A truss was built out of 3/8"x3" stock, and wrap-around bushing tabs mounted for the uppers. Steering was buttoned up using 1-ton tie rod ends, and mounted over the knuckle. All upper/lower ball joints, brake rotors, pads, calipers and unit bearings were replaced as well, and new Spicer U-joints.







OWSIN is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 07-14-2014, 10:55 AM   #8
OWSIN
Registered User
1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Moncton, NB
Posts: 45
The transfer case was swapped from a 249 to a 231. My 231 had the long input shaft, and my 249 had the medium, so I opted just to lob 0.700" off the input shaft and bolt it in. Front driveshaft needed about 2-3" removed to fit, and combination U-joints used to match the Jeep shaft to the Dodge yoke. The rear driveshaft worked un-modified, but again needing a combo U-joint.





The rear brakes then needed some attention. Universal 3" axle-tube disc conversion brackets were used (From TMR Customs), along with late 70's Chev/Jeep calipers (RC4071 and RC4072). For rotors, I had '98 Dodge Ram rotors machined to fit over the hub of the 9.25" (Only had to take off 1/8" in radius out of the center opening). Brake hoses were '74 Blazer front caliper flex lines. A larger master cylinder from a '99 Ram was used to keep up with the fluid demand of the larger brakes.





OWSIN is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 07-14-2014, 11:06 AM   #9
OWSIN
Registered User
1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Moncton, NB
Posts: 45
After everything was double checked and tight, it was taken for its first spin around the block! Transfer case linkage was slightly out of adjustment and popping out, minor detail. Rubbing was definitely an issue, it was taken back to the garage and more metal taken out of the front and rear fender wells. Everything was completely "Finished" at 2am on a Saturday morning. And it was taken on a 12-hour trail ride at 10am the same Saturday. It performed almost flawlessly! Very happy with the way it turned out this far.





OWSIN is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 07-14-2014, 07:40 PM   #10
CNTLOSE
Registered User
1996 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Posts: 58
Looks nice!
__________________
1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee...Rubicon Express 2" BB, RE Shocks, M/T Classic II w/ 30x9.5" Falken AT Tires
CNTLOSE is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 07-15-2014, 08:05 AM   #11
OWSIN
Registered User
1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Moncton, NB
Posts: 45
Thanks CNTLOSE!

After testing and tuning it for a little while, I decided it was time to mount the lightbar. I initially cut the plastic bumper cover and mounted it using metal tabs welded to the crossmember, but never wired it up. I decided to build a new bumper for it instead. I'll post a few pics here from the bumper build, but the full album can be viewed here. That link also contains a set of plans for anyone who cares to build the same one.


How I originally mounted the bar. It wasn't a bad look, but wouldn't be very rugged.



Started by tracing my tow-hook brackets onto some 2x5" tubing, and cutting it to fit inside the frame rail, nuts welded on the inside.




Then welded those brackets to a length of 2x6" tubing for the main rail.




Side wings were added. I wanted 2x8", but since the steel place didn't have any at the time, had to weld two pieces of 2x5" together to make up the height. Bottom shows how I planned to cut the bottom of the wings, and bevel the top edges where they stick up.




Cut, beveled, and most of the welds smoothed so far.




Headlight returns added, all welding finished and smoothed, getting it ready for paint.




Primed, bedlined, and mounted my LED lightbar on it. I originally had planned on adding a small stinger to help protect the light a little bit, but skipped it at the time. I may add something in the near future since the light is almost flush with the front of the bumper tube.

OWSIN is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 07-17-2014, 05:52 AM   #12
OWSIN
Registered User
1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Moncton, NB
Posts: 45
This build thread is basically up to date now, so anything posted beyond this point will be current!

I found a set of 3rd gen Ram wheels with half decent 265/70/17's on them for 80$ so I decided to pick them up. I may use them as highway tires to go on some out-of-town events, since I have no trailer to haul the Jeep around, and long highway drives on the 38's just doesn't seem like much fun for me or my wallet.






A buddy of mine also found me a set of Iceland Offroad flares that I picked up for 100$, just need to find a way to mount them since all the mounting bolts had broken off.

OWSIN is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 07-21-2014, 07:46 AM   #13
OWSIN
Registered User
1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Moncton, NB
Posts: 45
Went on a Chrysler sponsored run yesterday, nothing too crazy, a few steep rocky inclines and washout sections. Popped a coil out of the rear going through one washout, which reminded me how I really need to start working on rock rails and a rear bumper to give me some jacking points. Didn't take many pictures on the run itself since it's hard to do that and drive at the same time, but here's a few of us back at the dealership afterwards. I won a booster pack on the raffle, so that's not bad!

So next on my to-do list is definitely cut out the rockers and replace with some steel tubing. The next run is the first weekend of August, and it's out of town with more rocky terrain than we have here, so I've got some prep to do!

OWSIN is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 08-06-2014, 07:01 AM   #14
OWSIN
Registered User
1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Moncton, NB
Posts: 45
Cut out my rockers and replaced them with 3x5x3/16" tubing to get ready for a run out of town. Went fairly smooth except for all the spray foam that was inside. I plan on adding a round tube step to the side of these some day.





OWSIN is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 08-06-2014, 07:49 AM   #15
OWSIN
Registered User
1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Moncton, NB
Posts: 45
Was on a two-day run over the weekend, about an hour and a half out of town. Had a really great time with a lot of new people, played on some new terrain and partied hard with the locals.

First day out I twisted a front driveshaft, had to make it out in 2wd, which was fun on a mix of wet rock and swampy areas. Got the shaft replaced that night and was able to get a full day in on Sunday. Managed to break my bumper against a tree, broke a tail light, pushed in the rear fender a bit, bent some shock mounts, etc... Overall a great weekend!







OWSIN is offline   Reply With Quote




Jeep, Wrangler, Cherokee, Grand Cherokee, and other models are copyrighted and trademarked to Jeep/Chrysler Corporation. JeepForum.com is not in any way associated with Jeep or the Chrysler Corp.