Like the start of many build threads before, I'm declaring the start of my own after lurking and reading through a great many inspiring builds. Like many other owners and posters in this forum, I began my Jeep ownership with very little automotive knowledge. I co-purchased my 88 sahara yj back in the summer of 99 after a day long marathon of test drives across the state of PA. The deal was that if I made eagle scout, my parents would help fund a Jeep purchase. At the time, I had no idea what I was looking at. Just that i wanted a 4 wheel drive, a soft top, and a stick shift. Back then I was 17 and the only thing I knew about cars was how to put gas in them.
Anyways, after watching autotrader like a hawk (heh) for weeks, I came up with a list of about 6 yj's within a few hours drive. My dad and I set out a the butt crack of dawn and made a loop around PA to look at about 6 yjs. Knowing nothing about Jeeps, I was unable to distinguish the difference between the 4.0 and fuel injection and the 4.2 and the carb. Long story short, we test drove a 91 4.0 sahara that had a funny noise in the rearend, passed that up, and chose an 88 sahara with the 4.2. In hindsite, I wish I would have just picked up that 91. However, with everything I have done and learned with the 88, it was worth it.
I didn't think of taking any pics the day I picked the jeep up. Our super jeep marathon of a day was almost 20 hours long, and the very next day we were traveling from PA to Georgia for a national rifle match. A week later, I got back and began going through the Jeep. I couldn't drive a stick shift at all, but I managed to figure it out within a few stalls and squeals. The very first thing I replaced was the rusty stock yj steel wheels with some progressive alum spinny type thingers. I also put some bumper end caps (I know, I know)and fog lights on it, gave it a good wash and cleaned all the stank from the po out of it. And believe me, there was lots of stank. This is what it looked like then.
After owning my Jeep for a few months, some issues started to rear their ugly head. Unknown to me, the peugot tranny was bleh and starting to have issues, the carb was angry at life, and I had no idea there were upgrades to those. I had the tranny rebuilt and after getting that bill, I decided to start learning how to work on things myself. It started to become obvious that if I was going to keep this Jeep and have it get me around semi-reliably, I'd have to learn how to maintain it and keep it running. Very early on, the Jeep seemed to catch on to this and started presenting me with all kinds of oppurtunities to learn. In the first 6 months of having it, the tranny, starter, ecu, coil, alt, 9 fuses from shoddy wiring, fanclutch, fuel pump, valvecover, cluctch, and power steering pump all went bad. Like catastrophic failure bad. I bought a few repair manuals and went to town. Other than the the tranny build, I read and learned how to do everyhing else myself.
Fast forward about 2 years and into college and that's about when I started hitting a few trails with some friends. The trails were pretty tame, mainly marked Forestry service trails with a few rocks and mud puddles here and there. It quickly became apparent that my old stock suspension was sagging really bad. The springs were inverted and allowing my 30x9.50 tires to rub the flares and sheet metal without too much effort. About that same time I found some jeep sites online and did a little research and decided to go with a BDS 2 inch lift and boomerang shackles. Even with liberal amounts of PB blaster, torching and impact tools, it took a solid week of spring break to put the lift on. Thanks to living in the rust belt, everything was stuck on. This was the end result:
With the new lift and tires (bfg at's) I began to wheel more and more. I joined a local club and was going out every few weeks. Eventually, I began finding the week links of the almost stock setup. The carb was terrible at everything. Cold starts, stoping at intersections, slight hills, big hills, you name it. I also blew up the tail shaft and driveshaft on the tcase, toasted an axle shaft, constantly fought with the front axle disconnect, and got hung up on the tcase skid with the tcase drop on more than one occassion. I began looking into ways to help remedy all these problems.
First up was the carb. The driveablity really hit rock bottom when it needed 2 people to get it started. From the forums, I learned about the mc2100 swap and got rid of the stock carter. The driveline angle was semi taken care of with a motor mount and body lift. I got rid of the tcase drop and have decent driveline angles with a 1" mml and a 3" body lift that my friend and I went in together on and cut and half so we each netted 1.5". I'm not a big fan of body lifts at all and didn't want to go above .5", but I needed more room for tire clearance. Later on this 1.5" body lift was beneficial in other ways.
Eventually, I found a set of 32x11.50 bfg mt's online with some rockcrawler wheels for a good price. Soon after picking those up, I grabbed some tj flares and installed those as well for some extra clearance. I had to get rid of the stock sahara side step molding, and eventually installed some of the early rocker guards from AtoZ fab. I got the square tubing to be different from my roommate with the round steps. I'll add some pics of this stage once I hunt them down from a seperate computer. Soon after getting all of this, I mad a few trips to Raush Creek as it's only 2 hours away.
After driving on the highway to Raush a few times, I was on the hunt for better power out of the 4.2. The mc2100 helped, but I was still dropping down to 50mph or so while out and about. Gearing be damned, I started looking into mods for the 4.2. I picked up a 4.0 head ,and a banks header and put them on. I also went to a high flow cat and flowmaster exhaust. It's not obnoxiously loud, but it's there. Both of those seemed to help out a bit. A few weeks after that and I read about the nutter bypass. By far, that was the biggest perfomance upgrade to my engine. Pics of all of this to come at some point.
Eventually I got to the point where I was getting pretty confident with what I was able to tackle mechanically. Whatever broke on the jeep, I was usually able to look up online and in the repair book and was able to fix it. The pride of being able to do this stuff myself was really starting to get to me, and quite frankly, it becomes addicting. Here starts the point where I start doing stuff just to be able to do it, and because I find it fun.
I never hated the square headlights. I liked them, they fit the jeep. However, I LOVED the look of a cj grill and lights. A few of my friends had yj's, and they benefitted from me getting the first jeep out of all of us. I was able to recommend getting a 91 4.0 or newer and not dealing with the carb and ba10 tranny. I was slightly jealous. I also wanted to be different and ended up sourcing a cj grill and hood. I've caught some flak from other guys for replacing the square headlights with round. I don't really care. I love the cj look. I ended up keeping the yj front fenders, but only because i trimmed them up to be flat fenders. If you cut off the front overhang, you can pull the fenders flush to the grill and for the most part it lines up. Also, at this point I decided that the peeling and fading stock paint was beyond saving, and I ended up repainting the entire Jeep myself in a dark gray Ford color. Lots of sanding and painting later, I ended up with this.
The Jeep stayed in that state for a few months as I drove it almost daily and wheeled it a few times. After about 6 months, I took a job several hours away and could only take one vehicle, and the jeep didn't make the cut. I ended up moving and taking my lame chevy blazer and parked the jeep at my parents house. It was pretty much a jeeping hiatus. I hated it, and went into severe withdrawl. The jeep sat outside behind a woodpile for over 2 years. Unregistered, uninspected, and sad, I'd try to come home every few weeks and fire it up and move it around to keep it from growing into part of the terrain. Eventually, things went to crap for both me and the jeep. I ran into some health problems and ended up moving back. The jeep had some health problems of it's own. The main problem was that the engine started knocking really bad. I first noticed it on one of my last trips to Rausch Creek. Out on the highway and climbing hills it begain to make a metal clanging noise. Not good. Eventually, it got to sounding like someone was hitting a hammer in the block while it was running, and there as pretty much no power whatsoever. To top it off, one day while brushing snow off the Jeep, I put my brush through the body below the driver's door. The body rot finally made it the whole way through. I could also see several hole developing on the frame.
Once I found the bad metal, I decided to cut it out and replace it right away. Things don't always go to plan. I ended up cutting the rust out, then everything came to a halt as I got really sick health wise. I ended up just tossing primer on the open Jeep wounds to keep the fresh cuts from rusting and putting bricks in the holes to keep the local wildlife out. It sat like that for almost 2 more years til i got around to fixing it. Once I finally started feeling a little better, I decided that to boost my own morale, I should get the Jeep going again. I was all ready to get it patched up when I was moving it around the driveway when the engine finally gave up. The knocking turned into grinding, which turn into squealing and shaking which turned into silence. It was dead. Between the locked up engine, the rusty frame, the holes in the body, and the medical bills, I almost gave in and parted it out. I had a craigslist ad ready to go when a good friend of mine called and said he had a fresh 4.2 for sale. It was a daunting project in my mind, but also a glimmer of hope. I decided to go for it. I had him bring the engine over last summer and with some solid online reading and some borrowed tools, I set to work. Both the jeep and myself were due for some surgery.
The engine swap was going well. I wanted some color in the engine bay for some shiggles, and painted the new engine red. It helps it go faster. The entire swap took much longer than anticipated, and I made a big mess of things. Apparently you can drain all the oil and coolant out of an engine, but the second you set it down anywhere that you don't want it to make a mess it will throw up atleast another quart of everything. Between the stupid heat and humidity (I'm a wuss in the heat), and being sick, the whole swap took about 2 months of tinkering and putzing around. Part of it was because that even though both engines were 4.2's, they were several years apart and were set up with differnt belt systems. At some point the PO tossed in a different engine with a serp set up, and the one I got from my friend had a v belt setup. I wanted to toss my ac system since it didn't work anyways, and went with the vbelt stuff. Between the brackets and fiddling and sourcing belts, I wasted alot of time. At the end of summer, I finally got it all pieced together and the moment of truth finally arrived. It was time to fire it up.
The intial firing was quite scary. In my head I kept thinking of all the things I could have forgot, and I kept picturing pistons and stuff exploding through the block and hood. All of which was unreasonable, but still. It was quite a project for me. I finally got to turning it over with alot of anticipation. Weeks of sweat and work finally coming to an end. I turned the key and the engine turned over and *CLANG CLANG CLANG* metal on metal and it sounded terrible! I thought I was done. After I stopped flipping out, I started looking around. Here all it was was the fan just slightly out round from sitting in the part cart, and it was just barely making contact with another pulley. I bent it back, fabbed up a little spacer to help the clearance out and fired it up. It ran like a beast. After tightening some hose clamps, setting the timing and adjusting the idle, it ran awesome. It was a great feeling knowing that I had accomplished something that seemed so major. All in all, it wasn't that bad at all. The swap was mainly just a dance of moving some big things, swapping some hoses and keeping track of nuts and bolts. The 4.2 is pretty simple with it's lack of connections and other parts.
Next up was the rust repair. I had pretty bad frame rust around the gas tank and rear shackle hangers. Not to mention the big gopher hole under the drivers door. I don't have a welder or a good shop to cut or fab heavier metal stuff, so it took a little bit to get my stuff together. I ended up getting some pre fabbed frame plates and having a friend weld those on for me after I cleaned everything up. The frame was solid once again. However, even though the jeep frame was solid, before I could get to the body work, I had to have some major surgery on myself and was sidelined for a few weeks. Once I was able to start working on things again, it was the middle of winter and way too cold out for me to bother working on anything. Like I said earlier about the heat, I'm also a wuss with the sub 20* temps. Once spring hit though, I pounced on the sheetmetal and got to patching. I ended up using this little project of patching the hole in the body and floor to learn how to weld. It was awesome and quite addicting. I now have a welder of my own on it's way with visions of making bumpers and fenders myself. After I got that patched up, the jeep passed inspection and I was back in business.
I haven't been feeling all that well the last few weeks, and everything ground to a halt once I got this thing back on the road. I spent a few weeks driving around locally, and then got brave one weekend and took it out of my 15 mile comfort radius of the home base. I went about 70 miles and camping. All went well on the trip up, all loaded up with gear and cruisng along the hiway at 70mph.
The problems started that next day when the temp was up around 90 and I started to drive back home. About 5 minutes away from camp, the engine just sputtered out and died while pulling a hill. Just shut off. I stopped along the road for a bit and monkeyed with some stuff under the hood and managed to get rolling again, but only for like a minute before I lost all power and coasted to a stop again. I finally managed to pull into a biker bar in the middle of nowhere, thinking I had an overheating/vapor lock issue. I tried to reroute some fuel lines and let it cool off for a while before eventually making it back to camp, stalling out about 3 more times along the way. I got to camp and called it quits, it would no longer restart.
I came home in another car, all defeated and started thinking about what it could be. I was all ready to go back with fresh gas, heat shields for the fuel line in various places, spare carb gaskets, extra fuel pump, clothespins, and a different coil. After trying everything I had, we ended up just trailering it home. Couldn't get it to run more than idle for a few seconds.
Long story short, over the next 3 weeks I found 2 problems... first was that my ecm was shot... again. 3rd one since having the jeep. It was ok until it got hot. I wanted a new ignition anyways, so I bought a MSD box. I had some summit cash or whatever and got a nice deal on it. Ran pretty good for a while. A few days later, I was on the way to see a movie when the engine bogged down and eventually died. I could get it to run, but not very long. Eventually I found that if filled the carb bowl up, it would run a bit, then die. I'd open the carb back up and the bowl was completely dry. I got a new fuel filter and tossed that on, and it ran ok for a bit, but started bogging down again. I got curious and decided to cut the old filter open. I did so and this stuff that looked just like snot came out. The filter was full of goop. I pulled my fuel pump off the block, and found more goop. Not good.
I dreaded doing it, but I dropped the tank and pulled out the fuel pick up... and I kid you not, the little filterscreen thinger at the bottom was totally encased in hardened goop. It looked like that bug encased in amber they got the DNA from on Jurassic Park, it was that bad. So I found where all the goop was coming from. Back when I had my tank out to do the frame patching, I noticed my gasket for the fuel pickup was cracking. I knew not to use any old sealant to seal it as gas might touch it, so I specifically bought sealant that was compatible with gasoline. Apparently, the package lied. I used a generous amount when sealing it, and after a few months the gas ate away at it enough and with the heat, it turned to gel and made it's way into the tank.
After several hours of my arm being in the gas tank with paper towels, a new pickup screen, some new gasline, new fuel pump, fuel filter and a carb rebuild, it's running like a champ.
Since it was running good, I tried to make it look better by touching up some of the paint. I made it worse. It seems that I can make it run good, or look good, but not both at the same time.
When I put the cj grill and hood on, I painted the whole jeep with Duplicolor Perfect Match spray paint. It was a decent 10 foot paint job, and I was pretty satisfied with it. Much better than the peeling sahara paint. The hood needed touched up and I tried to repaint it. It looked pretty nice until I wetsanded it. Even using 1500 grit was too much, and with it being spray paint, the paint was too thin. A few extra rubs here and there and I burned through to the primer, or in some place you could see the sanding lines. A few weeks later, I tried again. I used more paint, and it turned out pretty good.... until I took it outside and put it back on the jeep. After and afternoon in the sun, the gray paint turned all chalky and white. It looks like someone had a chalkboard eraser fight on the hood. That was the last straw with that paint. That's how it sits now, since I dont want to spend another dime on spraypaint.
(I'll toss some pics here once the battery charges)
Anywho, I've been rambling on and making huge blocks of words with little to no pics or plans...
Here are my intended plans for the next few months depending on how the craigslist sales go and what deals I can scrounge up.
-Tube Fenders front and Rear
Haven't decided on a company yet, still researching
-CJ Tailgate conversion
Have the tailgate, need some hinges and some weatherstripping
I'm 85% sure I'm going Rescue Green, just need to source the paint. I went to a local paint place, and they wanted around 1000 bucks just for the paint. I'm not sure I want to drop that much money on paint when I'll be grinding my way through brush and tree limbs. The other option is to do a gloss black rustoleum roll on paint job.
-Chassis Saver or Por15 the frame
I may take the body off and have it painted seperate while I do the frame. I have limited space up here though.
-New tires and wheels
I want taller tires, but a bit narrower. Something like a 33x10.50 or 34x10.50 or something close to that in metric. Still undecided on wheels, but I'm leaning towards some moabs or ravines painted a gunmetal color to go with the rescue green or black
These bestop seats are really hard, and every little bump on my rusted together spring packs gets sent right up to my butt and gut.
-Some sort of front cage addition
-tj Roll bar conversion with safari top and wrap around windjammer
I'm going to nab a d30 out of a 4cyl, and an 8.8 with 4.10s. There are several of each around here.
I really want to try my hand at making a bumper, or atleast a brushguard or something.
Hopefully since I know have all this written down, I can knock most of that list out by Christmas, and have a solid DD and weekend wheeler.
I've had this jeep for just about 15 years to the day now and haven't updated this thread in almost 3 years. After reading through what I have written a few years ago I have decided that this needs less words and more pics. Here's a teaser while I get this caught up to present over the next few days.
So I left off a few years ago with a new to me engine and some ok body work done to patch up some rocker rust. After getting the goo situation in my fuel straightened out, I ended up driving it around for a good solid 6 months or so as a daily driver and a wheeler. It did pretty good for what it was. The 3.07's were killing me on the trails though. I ended up being a trail guide at a local event and managed to keep the jeep running long enough to get through the preruns and the actual run itself. The event was really really fun.
I didn't have a working camera at the time so the pics are pretty slim pickings. But I do have a few shots as proof that I do infact drive it out of the driveway and off pavement. Just a few here and there. I also ended up having to mainly take bypasses and just stick to the little stuff. My driveshaft yokes and ujoints were on their last legs amongst having carb issues and wiring issues start up again so I was pretty much not all that adventurous.
After the event weekend, I drove the jeep one more time on a scenic ride through some forest roads. It kept popping fuses on the way home, developed some gnarly vibes and a pretty crazy squeal. I parked it with full intentions of fixing these issues over the winter months but once again I moved a way for a bit and couldn't take the jeep with me so it just sat nearly 2 years again. The cycles of driving it hard and then letting it sit for a few years were pretty rough on it. It did end up providing a nice habitat for the local chipmunk population though, so that was nice for them.
Fast forward to around March of last year (13) and I start going into jeep withdraw. I end up back in the area and can start working on it once again. I started gathering parts to take care of the issues it had when I parked it. First up was finding the deathsqueal from the front. Turns out my water pump grenading. Ended up pulling that. While pulling the pump, I found a real soft spot in my radiator... with my thumb. It was super brittle where I put my thumb through it and while I was upset at breaking even more things, I ended up figuring it was a good thing I did it in the driveway and not out on the trail somewhere. I have no idea how it was even holding any fluid in it was so brittle.
I eventually ended up replacing the radiator and while I waited for that to come in I decided to rework how I had the radiator mounted. I have a cj grill and yj radiator and ended up going with another yj radiator. When I mounted the radiator, I took the time to make much better mounts instead of these stupid hokey wing tab things I had used before. This also pulled the radiator flush to the grill and overall looked a lot better than the way I had the old one. I don't have any pics of this
Next up was my electrical issues. A quick replacement of the turn signal switch/mechanism in the steering column cleared that right up. I also no longer lose my right brake light after using my right turn signal anymore. After like 10 years, I finally fixed that stupid quirk!
Driveline stuff was next. I had funny vibes from my wallowed out yoke on my d35. My tcase cone was actually cracked and my driveshaft ujoints had dust instead of bearings. After searching around for a while I finally found a good deal on an 8.8 and d30 with 4.10 gears. I added in an sye and driveshaft. The parts gathering and parts prepping took a few months here. Some of my health issues cropped up again and that pretty much cuts my motivation and jeep time down. Bleh. Regardless, this past January I had everything for the axle swap gathered and time to put them in. Even had access to a hoist and that made things sooo much better.
Once again, lack of pics. Right after this project I ended up getting a new phone so the picture situation will vastly improve.
I went with the ruff stuff axle perches and ubolts/plates along with some eastcoast parts for fresh brakes and whatnot.
I got my sye and driveshaft from adam's driveshaft. It also turns out that I never took any pics of that yet. I'll nab a few this week.
After my new axles went in, I passed inspection and was able to start driving it around towards the end of March.
I put around 25 miles or so on it before I began having issues with it stalling out while cruising. Frustrating issues. Ended up with more gunk and debris getting into my gas tank which resulted in my replacing all of my fuel lines and rebuilding my carb. That was a long 2 weeks tracking that down.
Finally got warm enough to swap out the hardtop with the softtop and I trusted it enough to go for a longer ride on some state forest roads.
It was really good to be back out in the woods. Even passed a few other jeeps out and about.
The new axles were working out really well. Going from 3.07's to 4.10's was super nice. I did have some driveline vibes at 55mph and over though. Turns out I was dumb and used the wrong method to determine my pinion angle when the new perches were welded on to the 8.8. I'll end up redoing some of the rear suspension at some point so for now some shims work
I continued to drive it throughout summer until I got fed up with getting wet every time it rained. It was also raining a lot. Water was coming in all around my windshield seal with enough pressure that it was hitting me in the face. My feet were also getting soaked anytime I took a turn. I figured the cowl seal was looking old and ratty so I ordered one and decided it was time to fold the windshield down and tackle any other leaks I came across. I had tried to fold my windshield down before several years ago but the hinges wouldn't budge. I saw they had little holes in each hinge and put a bunch of liquid wrench in each one several times a day for almost a week. I had a friend come up that weekend and we tore into it. With some careful persuasion and convincing, we got it down.
Other than the exterior, the rubber cowl seal was in really good condition. The metal in the cowl area was also still solid and covered in factory paint. I was astonished. We decided to keep taking things apart in the cowl and the dash to source more leaks. We had everything removed except the hvac system and I could see water stains on the firewall coming from behind it. We undid the lower and upper tubes and we found the problem.
The plastic was melted at one point and someone had tried to just put fiberglass patch panels on the inside. Argh. They did a terrible job at patching any of the holes except for the actual cowl vent drain. I couldn't believe it. Found a used one on ebay for a couple bucks. I'll clean it up and use the old one for something fun involving ammunition.
At this point the inside of my jeep was pretty empty, so after some thinking I decided to strip the rest of it down. I've been wanting to repaint both the interior and exterior for a while, with it this far apart it would be a good time to do it.
Started by removing the rollbar to windshield bars. We kept hitting our heads on them. I had to grind flat sides into the torx bolts that held them on because, well, because they were torx and were stripping out. A big adjustable wrench took them right out after they were cut.
Also need to fill in some holes on the firewall. You can see my hackjob of one of my first ever mods of getting a bigger heater blower motor. 15 years ago I got impatient with a sawzall.
After taking out pretty much everything but the steering wheel and the roll bar I found some rust poking through the old herculiner in a few places. The worst being around the driver's seat mounts.
Had to drive over from one end of the lot to the other to get in range of the air compressor to get the rollbar out. Don't mind the artsy fartsy facial expression. Some animal was running in the woods up the hill right as the photo was snapped.
The torx were stubborn, go figure. Ended up only getting a few out the right way and had to do some drilling and grinding on the rest.
Planning to use monstaliner so the herculiner needs to come out. They don't get along. I also wanted to find what else the herc was hiding. A combination of a wire wheel brush for my grinder and paint stripper for the places the grinder couldn't reach ended up being about the best method. We tried a heatgun and scraping and some other things but the wire wheel was about the most effective.
The wire wheel ends up making a huge mess and a big cloud of fine black dust so make sure if you do this you wear a mask and earplugs. The stripper ate up the herc really well and it would fall or peel right off.
This was pretty time consuming, took several hours to take it down to primer/bare metal. I just finished wheeling the back. The front was already stripped. The herc you see is just from the fallout cloud of stripping the back.
Started cuttting some patch panels to weld in. My gaps were pretty big on some of these so a few got redone.
I'm not very good at welding and I'm pretty much using a little harbor freight fluxcore welder that was won at a raffle so my patches are not even close to pretty.
I tried tacking my way around and moving to various pieces to allow the metal to cool. The floor was very easy to burn through.
Picked up an old CJ tailgate a few years back. It had several layers of paint on it. It's been sitting in my shed waiting for me to get to it.
Little bit of rust around the hinges, will take care of that before final painting.
Was trying out some different colors. I think this was rustoleoum satin almond or sand or something, I can't remember. I ended up not liking the paint at all.
It sat like that in my shed for another few months. Today i finally got around to mounting it. I ended up dropping my gas tank to get my rear bumper off and to get to some more wiring so it was a perfect time to get to the backside of the tub where the hinges go. I had previously mounted some 2 inch flush reverse lights right where the hinges mount to the tub so I made a plate that will match my corner armor. Also made some backing plates to go on the inside of the hinge mounts and the inside of the bolts that hold the trampstamp plate on.
For the inside I found some mystery square tube in my shed and used those to make the latch brackets and to hold mount the tailgate cables. Will try to weld those in tomorrow with a few more patches on the floor and fix up the rear frame area where my bumper hid things.
That about catches me up for now, I still have a long ways to go. Hopefully I get everything prepped and ready in the next few days and I can start monstalining things when the weather cooperates.