Johnny's '95 Grand Cherokee - rebuild and refresh thread -
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Unread 07-06-2014, 08:53 AM   #1
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Johnny's '95 Grand Cherokee - rebuild and refresh thread

Good morning fellow Jeepers!!

I'm recently the proud new owner of my first Jeep. Yup, I'm no longer a Jeep virgin! I'm coming from a Suzuki Samurai (build thread here), that my wife and I decided just wasn't practical for what we wanted to use it for. So, I've been looking at Cherokees for a long time and I found one 750 miles away. I flew out in the AM, getting to it by 4pm. Paid the man, and drove home the same instant. 13hrs later, at 5:30AM... I was home with my new Cherokee!

Already it has quite a bit of work done to it, which is the main reason I picked it up. Lots of the things I'd be doing to it, are already done. So that was a big selling point. For me to start a "build" thread would be near pointless... so, I'm going to start this rebuild/refresh thread. Simply because I need to go through the ZJ with a fine tooth comb, and get it back to where I want it to be.

Some key points right off the bat are; Remove front bumper, Re-wire all accessories, clean up the existing welding, clean up prior cut off suspension parts, rebuild some of the existing mounts under the vehicle, build new rock sliders (into lower body rocker), wire wheel all the underbody rust and repaint, Raptor (bed liner) the lower body panels, Plasti-dip (paint) the upper body, fix sagging doors and cracked body tin, add better off-road lighting (LED and HID), Make and Weld in frame/unibody stiffeners, etc etc

Right off the bat, I've already purchased the CAD drawings from flatland4x4 for my bumper builds. And thanks to this site, repaired my sagging driver/pass doors. As well, have new headlights on their way. In my garage I already have a new high lift jack, rotopac fuel cans/mounts, and other misc items to accessorize the Jeep.

This thread will mostly be for me to keep track, and share with others.

With that, here's the list of what it has already been done or what it is;
1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Limited
Auto trans, 4.0HO I6 w/164K miles on 35" KM2s
NP231 with SYE
Rock Krawler long arm lift
Daystar extended bump stops
K&N Cold air intake
Six states HD Drive shafts
Iron Rock transfer case skid plate
Roof rack
Iron Rock rock sliders
Bushwacker fender flares
Corbeau Baja ultra susp.seats with 8way power adjustment
Under body rock lights
Hella off-road lighting (6 lights)
Teraflex High Steer kit (w/alum links)
Teraflex steering knuckles
Durango steering box upgrade with box brace

New Clutch fan
" Starter motor
" Optima Red top battery
" drag link and tie rod ends
" Spicer ball joints (front axle)

Dana 30 front axle with aftermarket shafts and 760 u-joints
Aussie locker, 4:56 gears, Stainless brake lines

Ford 8.8 rear axle 31 spline with disc brakes and e-brake
Eaton electric locker, 4:56 gears, stainless brake lines, Riddler diff cover
And a couple pictures of where I pulled over on my way home, to take advantage of the view(s);

Last edited by JohnnyAirtime; 07-06-2014 at 10:01 AM..
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Unread 07-06-2014, 09:55 AM   #2
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I drove it home on July 4th, arriving July 5th at 5:30AM.

So the same day I got home, I managed to;
- Pull the front bumper off
- Repair the sagging front doors

The bumper removed;

The door hinge repairs;

The problem (click to view video);



Some welding is needed, due to one of the hinges cracked around door;

Welded, painted and re-installed;

Fixed. Nice and smooth now! (click to view video)

Door jam strikes/latches are also breaking away the door tin. They are cracked in many places, so I'll be welding them up and reinforcing them too (soon). But now my doors shut nice and smooth. No more slamming or having to hold them up while you close them. Ahhh... much better!

... I'm off to weld on another one of my projects (Excursion with new stealth bumpers), and will get back to the ZJ soon... very soon!

Last edited by JohnnyAirtime; 07-06-2014 at 10:08 AM..
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Unread 08-03-2014, 10:53 AM   #3
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Since my last post... I replaced the motor mounts. They were shot, or at least one side was! Here ya go;

A couple weeks ago, I finalized the Flatland4x4 cad drawings with Brad (we adjusted them for my bushwhacker flares - making the bumper wider, etc) I sent them off for water-jet cutting.

Cost for cutting $600, cost for material $200. This was for front AND back.

Here's the material, all laid out on the garage floor;

I started with the front, since I had removed the front bumper (and sold it within a few days of posting it). It didn't take me long, as the night prior I had mounted up the two 1/2" thick bumper mounts.

Once I got started, it went pretty fast. I modified some pieces to my liking, whether it was for esthetics or for better bracing. At this point, I had asked for the wheel well area to be a little long or as planned. Knowing I'd be cutting it back to clear my wheel wells and 35" KM2s;

My security cameras caught a lot of the action. Here you can see me welding the end of the bumper where I shortened it up;

The sides came out nice, showing a better angle for tire clearance and matching the wheel well/bushwhacker opening;

I also asked for a "slotted skid plate". But then that got me to thinking and knowing Cherokee's get a little hot when you add winches to the front of the grill. So, why not add more slots (without affecting structural integrity). Here's an almost finished picture;

Once I weld it up and grind some of the welds smooth, I'll be adding round tube grill and headlight protection. From this picture, I still have yet to add some more internal braces;

... from here, I stopped progress and gathered more parts for the next weekend.
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Unread 08-03-2014, 12:11 PM   #4
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Fast forward to this weekend....

I recharged the A/C, and replaced the low and high side pressure switches (clutch cycling switch) as we had a little issue with the A/C clutch turning on/off way too much for the dash a/c setting. At times, it just wouldn't come on... so, no cool air. Too hot and humid right now for no A/C!!

And I was able to replace the ball joints (upper and lower both sides).
In doing so, I wanted a tad more height out of the front. As here, in Cali... we like'em either level, or slightly higher in front. Definitely not "stink bug", as it had sat when I bought it. Come to find out, I measure and it needed a 1.5" to become level. With that, I ordered daystar coil spring spacers.

While it was apart up front I inspected some of the brackets and their welds. UGH! Looked like someone with a stick welder got in there... and slapped some pieces together for this and that. All steel or bracket cuts looked like a gas torch and no grinder ever touched them. More UGH!

So in the little time I had (about 2 hrs before I had to be cleaned up for dinner) I got out the plasma cutter and went to town. Cutting off the grossly welded steel, cleaned up some welds, and put some new welds down with my MIG. I grinded away on the ugly stuff and got most of it taken care of. I'll work on it again when I have more time as there's definitely some eye-sores still present. I know it's all cosmetic, but being I didn't weld it... it has to be fixed to look good too.

Before putting the coil springs back in, I had to touch it all up with a rattle can.... Can't see much (the pan hard bracket still needs some grinding work!), but here ya go;
(steering stabilizer will be remounted, and new brackets made once I get done cleaning up the old location)

Basic wheel well shot;

I pulled it out front (of my neighbors house) and took some pictures to show it's height. I like it much better... even my wife likes it better.

Now... time to get started on the back bumper!!!
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Unread 08-03-2014, 12:14 PM   #5
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To give you an idea of it's size and such... here's a picture of my wife's tahoe and my excursion in front of our house, with the Cherokee in foreground (obviously). All of them on 35" tires;

Rear bumper pictures to come soon... stay tuned.
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Unread 08-03-2014, 10:48 PM   #6
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Took the rear bumper, fuel tank skidplate, and hitch mount off today... and found this;

Right and Left sides of the body, outside of the tail light to corner of body.
Drivers side not as cracked, but it's on it's way.... this ZJ must have been wheeled pretty hard to get these cracks.

More for me to repair, but... no worries, it'll be nice and strong when I'm done with it.

TIME for some FRAME STIFFENERS!!! ...for those who say; "I don't wheel that hard... so, I don't need all that stiffening stuff". Well, best check your body before it turns into that taco bell shell.

Has anyone else seen this in this same area before???
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Unread 08-05-2014, 12:44 AM   #7
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Today (Monday), took some time off work to get further ahead.. and tacked up the rear bumper.

With a few hurdles here and there, I was done for the day a couple hours before dark (which allowed me to put in my new garage door opener - as the old one died a couple weeks ago. I got the new one today via UPS).

I still need to cut the wheel well area back (see black sharpie marks)... and get the hitch material (local metal yard had "hitch material", which it was... but not correct. It wasn't reamed so nothing fit in the tube!! Good thing I checked before I welded it in!!!).

Here's where it sits as of tonight;

... this coming weekend, I'll get more time to work on and finish the front and back. Then hopefully get'em Raptor'd (bed liner material) on Monday AM, before I head off for work. We'll see... lots to do!!
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Unread 08-19-2014, 08:29 AM   #8
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Getting closer to a more "finished" product;

Removed the Conferr rack and had it sandblasted. I'll be welding on some light tabs, and cutting some old stock off that's not needed. Also making a tire hold down, etc. That's next weekend.

Last week/weekend I was able to clean up the exterior, tape it all off and spray some Raptor in a Charcoal color. With the bumpers going to be black, and other trim it's a nice contrast. Of course, I took off some body parts to make it easier. But what I should have done, is take off both of the lower door plastics. I only did one side, as I didn't want to break any tabs off the other side (like I did on the driver's side). So I just taped it off.

I used an orbital for most all of it. But I should have used my hand and some 100grit for the corners or where it's hard to get access with a 5" pad. I did so around the door handles and such, but should have EVERYWHERE! Otherwise, the raptor will peal a bit when pulling tape;

Before sanding;
(Paint doesn't look too bad in pictures, yet it looked rattle canned on the top and there was some rust here and there. It was time for a new look)

After most of the sanding, and before I washed it;

The next day, it was grueling. Super hot outside, and I had to tape it all up. What a CHORE!!! I seriously hate taping, and when I was just about done masking it all off... some of the tape was pealing (from the heat). I proceeded anyway. And sprayed it curbside;

I went through 1gal of Raptor on the first coat;

And the second coat, another 3 quarts. However, I should now roll the hood as it came out too coarse. I'm afraid mud and dirt will stick like glue and be too hard to get out/off. I must have sprayed it too light, and didn't lay down enough material.

I had pulled the bumpers to finish them up too... but, only got to the front thus far;

With the body done, I worked on finish welding the front bumper (and in the meantime, forgot to weld on my light tabs), grinding all the exterior welds and spraying it with Raptor in Black. Put it back on, the very same day (I've also sprayed the side moulding black in this picture). I have yet to spray the trim pieces and the bushwhacker flares, and then reinstall them;

Yesterday, I cut off the bent tubing on the rock rail/sliders and took the time to repair some rocker panel damage (apparently, from before the rock rails were added). I repaired the damage, and will spray the rockers with black raptor. The new rail tubing (once completed) will get black rattle can for easy touch ups (as they will get abused - but hopefully not bent with proper bracing);
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Unread 08-25-2014, 07:59 AM   #9
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This last weekend, I was able to knock out some more of the project...

I built a gas tank skid plate.
I actually cheated, and used the stock thin skid plate as a form, and simply added 3/16" plate to the entire thing. Didn't take me very long, but I also didn't get too detailed with it either. I wanted something to protect, and being it's under the Cherokee I wasn't worried about 'pretty'.

The side towards the axle;

And towards the rear bumper;

And after I just sprayed it with Raptor;

I was also able to get my rear bumper done. The design of the rear bumper allowed for a large access panel on the top. It made it easy to get to the hitch pin, and you could actually store things in the bumper (tow strap, etc). But, I abandoned that idea due to the complexity of making a removable or hinged panel. I knew I'd never use it to store anything, let alone the 10 different ways I came up with to make it convenient access just weren't "convenient". So, I made it so I could access the hitch pin from underneath. Again... I won't be towing with it, so it's just a formality really.

I also had noted that I had to trim off some of the bumper that encroached into the rear wheel well. We had made the cad file show it a bit wider, and longer to give me this ability. I had also extended the bumper an inch away from the body, which helped with the wheel well ... but, it still needed a trim to be perfect;

Once done welding inside and out, and grinded... Here it is after being coated;

I just love the texture of this stuff:

I was also able to roll the lower rocker panels with Raptor, and get them done so I can now build the rock rails. Those should be quick and easy, and I'll rattle can them as I know they'll be used and ABUSED! I want easy touch ups, and Raptor isn't "easy" to blend or touch up. Simply due to the fact of mixing and the waste created if not all used.

I should be able to mount up the skid and bumper tonight, or tomorrow. I'll snap some pictures once I've done so, as it'll be a more complete rig (from the exterior) at that point.

I also ditched re-using my Conferr rack (the one that came with the Cherokee). I had it sand blasted, and it's just not in the best shape. Once I get done welding, repairing, and painting... I'll have more into it then I could have just bought a new Rola rack. So, that's what I did. I opted to buy a Rola, and will add some mounts (quick fists) to it for axe, shovel, and hi-lift jack (And for the hi-lift, I actually bought one of the gun (looking) cases from Jackguard. Daniel Clayton talked to me on the phone about his product, and was very helpful (I ask a lot of questions)! I'll also weld on some tabs for my 30" LED light bar, and rear LED back up light. Of course, I'll touch up the welds with rattle can, but I'll be far ahead in the game going this route. And, I'll have a more modern looking rack once done.

The Conferr rack however, does have a GREAT mounting system. Which I might incorporate into my Rola. We'll see when the time comes. Which is next weekend (as I get all my parts in this week)!

... anyone want to buy a Conferr rack?!
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Unread 08-25-2014, 08:14 AM   #10
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This week and weekend... my to do list, and parts list coming in... is the following;

Receive the following parts;
- LED 30" bar
- XCR 9500lb winch
- Rola Rack w/18" extension
- Alum tubing clamps

And modify in the following;
- Rola Rack - add light tabs, tire mount, hi-lift mount, axe/shovel mounts, CB/HAM 'mag' antenna mount plates
- Mount front LED bar on bumper hoop - using aluminum tubing clamps
- Build rock rails, and paint

... then, I'll be able to go enjoy the Cherokee for awhile. And eventually, work on the interior and to build a cage to protect the Mrs and Me.

Pictures coming!!
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Unread 08-25-2014, 11:52 PM   #11
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Well... Had a half day at work today, which put me home by about 3pm. Time to change clothes, and get to work!

I was off to a good start;
I had sprayed the bumper and skid too late the other night. And... well... the night air and it's moisture turned the black coating a bit grey and dull. So right away today when I got home, I re-sprayed the bumper and skid entirely. They look much better... however can't go back on until I repair the body cracking. Keep reading...

Once I was done re-spraying, I was able to get both sides of the rock sliders completed and painted (rattle can);
(stronger then the previous ones I cut off, that were severely bent and unsupported);

And while I was working on the last rock rail, I got a delivery;

Done with the rock sliders... I started working on the body cracks. I was 'stitch' or 'spot' welding the cracks... and, just about that time, my welder stopped feeding wire (MIG). Not sure what happened, but the motor that drives a pair of wheels isn't working. Ultimately, the wheels aren't spinning or pushing wire. SOOooooo.... that stopped my progression of welding up the cracked body panels behind the rear bumper. I was trying to get that done, so I could remount my rear bumper and gas tank skid tomorrow night.

It wasn't time for bed just yet, so... I at least got the winch installed (even though the bolts had to be put in by my wife and her small hands - love that woman!). And I got it all done except the connections to the battery. I need to replace the existing battery terminals as they're somewhat rigged (by previous owner). I've got the parts, but it was dark by now and time to wash up and head inside.

I also received my frame stiffeners and my front inner wheel well stiffeners on Saturday. And they're still sitting on the garage floor waiting to be welded in. Yet, that will of course have to wait. It's not effecting anything just yet, so they are on the back burner. Maybe this weekend I can work on them (if the welder's up and working).

So tomorrow, I'll call MillerWelders and see if I can get an idea where to start troubleshooting. I'm hoping it's an easy fix, and not too costly. I'm trying to get it all back together so I can take it out wheeling on Sunday. Nothing crazy, as I've not articulated the suspension enough to get the proper measurements for bump stops and limiting straps. That was to come when I also took the rig to a 'race team' shop to have them give me ideas on the driveline vibration, and a possible remedy. Hmmm... tomorrow is a telling day. I hope for good news.
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