lolitsdaelan's "I have no idea what I'm doing" build thread ('99 TJ)
As the title implies, I have zero experience working on Jeeps, and more or less autos in general. However, after a trip to Silver Lake Dunes up in Michigan this past summer, I was set on getting a Jeep and building it up. Fast forward a few months of shopping around, and I ended up with a '99 TJ Sport in desert sand pearl...
The PO had a RC BB on it, as well as the stock JK wheels (using an adapter). Other than that, the Jeep was bone stock. Immediately I started building a list of all the mods I wanted. A nice big lift, 33s, recovery equipment, armor, etc... The list went on. Thankfully, I had a moment of clarity and realized that I had no idea why I wanted those modifications other than they looked cool. I also had no idea what went in to doing such modifications. Transfer-case drop? SYE? I had produced a list of things I knew nothing about. It was about this time that I met Imped, who luckily for me lives a short drive away. He gave the Jeep a quick look over and put many misconceptions I had to rest. Since then, I've been a bit more methodical about the whole process, and I'm trying to stick to the more necessary upgrades before I start adding the visual upgrades. Although, I'm sure I'll sprinkle in some 'fluff' upgrades just to keep myself happy :)
- Remove BB and put in 2.5" springs (Front springs installed, awaiting rear)
- 33s (Purchased ProComp 7069s, waiting on purchase of 33x10.5r15 BFG A/T KO)
- Metalcloak arched tube fenders
- Shocks (Bilstein 5100s installed!)
- Whatever it takes to tighten up the front end...
- New track barI realize it's a short list, but after two off road trips, I don't feel that I need anything too hardcore. With 2" BB and 31s, I tackled just about every obstacle I wanted to, and only got stuck when I dug the diff in.
- Currie Antirock
- Armor (yes I know that's vague)
- Adjustable control arms? Creeping it's way into stage 1...
These are items that would simply enhance the Jeep experience, and are likely things that I won't truly "need". They are also still somewhat fuzzy areas to me, more reading to do!
- Speaker upgrade (Complete!)
- Sub/amplifier install (Initial wiring and testing complete, need to mount)
- Tailgate table (Complete!)
- Flush tailights
- JK style front turn signals
I'm a bit late starting this thread, so the next few posts are a quick recap of whats been done so far...
One of the first things I noticed (other than how different a Jeep drives compared to a VW) is how bad the audio setup was. I'm not an audiophile by any means, but I can appreciate a nice sounding system. After some reading I saw that 6.5"s can fit right into the sound bar holes. I picked up a pair of Infinity Reference speakers and quickly found that there was no way I was going to fit the speakers in. I removed the soundbar, and had to line up the speakers with the holes, and drill new mounting holes. Nothing major, but a bit of a hassle.
I reinstalled the sound bar, and was still very disappointed with the quality of the sound. I grabbed an old blanket, cut it into pieces, and stuffed the soundbar in order to dampen the tinny-ness. Surprisingly enough, not only did it reduce the piercing high end, but added a bit of bass as well!
The soundbar speakers were Rockfor Fosgates, and I had read that with a specialty bracket, will fit in place of the dash speakers. I found the bracket dimensions online and attempted to make my own with some materials I had sitting around. I had NO IDEA how these were supposed to fit. The speaker wouldn't even begin to fit! Not ready to give up, I went jigsaw crazy and hacked away until I had brackets that would work. Here's the end result...
With both sets of speakers upgraded, it's got some decent sound coming out of it! However, anything over 40 or so, and the noise of the Jeep really drowns out the lows/mids :(. Looking to the future, I think I'll eventually pick up an all-in-one sub enclosure and either mount it under the driver seat or possibly in the center console...
ROUGH COUNTRY 2.5" PROGRESSIVE SPRINGS:
Whilst discussing lifts with Imped, I quickly realized that anything much over my BB was going to cause me headaches that I wasn't ready for. He happened to have a set of 2.5" Rough Country springs that he used to run that were just taking up space. I took the Jeep over and we got to work. As I should have expected, the job was not nearly as easy as we would of liked. Many rusty/stubborn bolts stood in the way. As seen below, some excessive force was needed...
A few hours later, we ended up calling it a night after installing the front springs. Rear springs to come...
On the horizon at this point is the completion of the RC spring install, replacing the stock shocks with Bilstein 5100s, replacing the obviously busted transmission mount (rattles when under heavy torque conditions), and diagnosing my new found death wobble. Took it out for my first ever offroading excursion and since then, I've experienced a wicked wobble twice after hitting a bump at high speeds. Though discouraging, I'm excited to really get underneath it and start poking around!
Pic from my first time off the pavement...
You live near Imped.....It's over for you bud! J/K, Congrat's on getting started on your journey into what turns out to be for most... a lifelong obsession.
Hah, he's on another level! All I can try to do is soak up as much knowledge as I can :)
Slow moving so far, didn't have a full appreciation for the cost of these things! In the meantime, trying to do some small upkeep work. Currently attempting to replace the nutserts for my skidplate, and what an awful experience it has been so far. Three bolts had to be cut out with the cutting wheel, which I got a bit overzealous with and now have a few knicks in the frame :(.
Also didn't notice how hot was finger was getting until it was too late...
I picked up a set of new nutserts from mrblaine, and sadly, failed on my first attempt. I'm not sure what went wrong, but the nutsert ended up stripping (I think). I'm going to chock it up to manufacturing tolerances, gotta be a bad nutsert somewhere, right? The rain in the midwest is keeping me from trying the others, hopefully will have an update this weekend!
Late update, but I managed to install the other 5 nutserts, and only 1 didn't spin. So, at this point, I'm taking the blame. Not sure what I did wrong :(. I used a jack and a BB puck to wedge a wrench against the Jeep itself, allowing me to put a whole lotta OOMPH into it.
I was able to reattach the skid despite the majority of the nutserts still spinning (I'm aware of how unsafe this was) and drive it over to a buddies house. We welded them in place, and the skid is now nice and tight! I'm hoping the transmission mount stays good for some time, as I do not want to deal with this issue ever again :(
Between getting a portable LP grill for my birthday and the nice weather, I was itching to find a way to combine the Jeep and grilling. A quick trip to the hardware store and I wound up with a nice little fold-out tailgate table! I drilled some hinges right into the tailgate and mounted up a piece of plywood.
I drilled screws underneath the for the mounting straps (twine atm :() and looped them around the tire bumpers on the back. I wasn't sure how the straps would fit, which is why I went with twine at first. Now that I have a feel for it, I'll do some measuring and grab some lightweight chain from the hardware store. Until then, the twine held up well!
Well, I've been have some death wobble issues, and after looking over my front end a good number of times, the track bar seemed to be the only culprit. The bar was stock, meaning it still had the torx bolt :(, and sure enough, it wouldn't budge. I soaked it in PB blaster for a few days, and gave it another go. One slip, and it was stripped!
Now... I'm not proud of what I did next, and I prefer not to go into detail. Long story short, I got mad, went a little trigger happy with the grinder, and here's what I've got...
I have no idea what I was thinking, but it's what happened.
So moving on to the frame side, I rented a pickel fork from AutoZone and attempted to free the bar (removed the cotter pin and nut of course). Not sure how, but I snapped the pickel fork... :brickwall. I'm really not good at this...
After cooling off for a day, I got a sawzall from a buddy, and was able to squeeze between the mount and the bushing and get that sucker out of there... (you'll also notice just how crazy I went with the grinder) http://i.imgur.com/4Ta1In9.jpg
Some of you friendly forum people pointed out that simply smacking the frame side mount with a hammer can pop it out, and sure enough on swing #3, out it came...
Both sides out, but I'm not in the clear yet. There was enough of the bolt still in the nut that I couldn't get the tab out of the mount enclosure...
I tried the sawzall, but with nothing to hold the tab in place, it just bounced around. I decided to see if I could bend it in a way that would give it room to slide out, and in that process I found the sweet spot, allowing it to drop out with little effort.
Once the tab was out, it was fairly easy to get the new bar in. Torqued the bolts down and gave it a test drive. No death wobble! I went shooting over some railroad tracks/potholes that caused it before, and the Jeep stayed true!
Let's just hope it stays that way...
I think that's the overall theme of this Jeep. Not to be great, but to be not bad :laugh:
Had a caliper seize up and my soft top ripped.
Well, death wobble reared its ugly head again this morning...
Back to square one!
Rear shocks installed after itching for some wrenching. Lucked out and didn't strip/snap any of the upper bolts as some have reported doing. Thank god! It really seems like any issue that I can encounter, I do. I suppose 140k in the salt/snow will do that... I really had no appreciation for how tough the shocks would be to depress once I was underneath the Jeep with the tops installed. It probably took 10-15 minutes of excruciating effort to just get the bottoms to sit correctly. After that, a quick turn of the wrench and I was done.
The quality of the ride was a vast improvement over the stock shocks! I can now go over bumps/potholes without the entire Jeep swaying from side to side!
No pictures at the moment, slipped my mind to snap a few while putting them in. With the nice weather on the horizon and the arrival of my tonneau cover, I should have plenty of time to spend working on it.
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