A mountain biker's XJ - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 3 Old 11-10-2011, 08:41 PM Thread Starter
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2000 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Denver
Posts: 22
A mountain biker's XJ

I'm guessin' I'm going to be doing enough/have done enough to warrant bragging rights, or more accurately, the desire for feedback.... Enjoy!

I got this 2000 XJ with 124k about 2 months back, balding and cupped tires, blown front speakers/tweeters (still blown) but otherwise, it was fully stock. That needed to change. Before even getting the Jeep I had ooh'd and aw'd all over the interwebs at accessories and things that can be done to these lovelies, all the awesome bumpers, sliders, lights, winches... and of course, lifts. So many options, omg. Trying to find a quality lift or offroad bumper for my '05 Ranger 2wd was either a $600 fabtech lift, or $3k Superlift or something... yeah no. Got stuck a bunch in the snow and couldn't do piddly offroad with that truck so it had to go.

The morning after I bought it, I immediately went to 4 wheel parts for some 245/75r16 Goodyear Duratracs, a hi-lift, and a 16" steelie for a full size spare (had to get rid of the rinky-dinky donut!).

My first "mod" (if you even wanna call it that) was new Sylvania 55w over 35w headlights, I can sort of see better, but I've got plans for more. And also while doing that, took the time to pull off the grill and headlight bezels, sanded 'em down and gave them a nice couple of coats with Rustoleum Bedliner (wouldn't trust it for a truck bed, but for trim paint, it rocks!)

Just after painting the grill, and obviously after the tires

About a month after I got it, my rear brakes went out going down Berthoud into Winter Park. Awesome, $550 repair bill for a whole new brake system on the back end.

At some point, I decided to pull off the air dam and trim up the bumper pieces a bit, I knew I'd hit those parts on rocks anyway, and I wanted the bumper to NOT be the same color as the rest of the Jeep. It may be just me, but I didn't really like everything being the same color on this, and I think the black/dark blue is a pretty rad combo.

Bedlined bumper, anyone?

With these wicked, and fairly larger tires (and saggin' leaf springs) I had some significant fender rubbing pretty much any time I'd compress the suspension, as well as some rubbing on the LCA's. Put some fat washers behind the steering stops for the LCA issue for the time being, and started contemplating trimming my fenders, I've liked the looks of XJ's with trimmed fenders but hadn't really put much thought into it. So I actually did put some thought into it, looked at tons of pictures and decided to go for it. At first I just trimmed the back end to get the rubbing issue solved, and I wanted to figure out a better looking way to fill the gap in the front fenders other than the popular method of using a pool noodle.

I decided to use some 2" thick closed cell insulating foam from Home Depot, some spray foam, and a can of undercoating spray. Trimmed up the front end, and cut the pink foam (painted the back side so I don't see pink) to size, stuffed it into the wells and secured it with spray foam. Followed by a few coats of undercoating spray, one or two with some truck bed liner (which is also what I sprayed the front fenders with) and some satin black enamel. Probably more coats of more stuff than needed, but who cares, it looks clean, keeps the hinges dry, and more importantly to me: it's not a big pocket for air to catch in.

I also figured out that I can use my hi-lift from my bumpers, and more importantly: I discovered how the thing worked.

Just before I did the front fenders, what was a "minor" stalling issue, turned into a big stalling issue, so off to the mechanic I went to find that it was what everyone thought it was: the CPS, as well as a bad battery, bad plugs, and I needed a fresh alignment after I had installed my Rusty's HD tie rod that I had painted bright yellow (I ended up painting it like 5 times because each time I would touch it too soon and it would get messed up).

As it sits now, trimmed fenders and bumpers, tie rod, removed my roof rack, and added a handful of stickers

Future plans include, but are not limited to:
  • Custom front bumper
  • tire carrier, detours, full bumper, not sure yet
  • weld-in rocker replacements/sliders, like EricsXJ, I like the air tank idea too. And shortened doors!
  • PIAA Fogs in the bumper
  • PIAA 510 ATP lights
  • Delta-like light bar in the grill
  • possibly a custom roof rack, olympic top hat style, but not $500
  • 2"/3" OME lift, I'll need to get someone out there to help me install this.
  • eventually fix/upgrade my speakers, tried today, but I'm clueless with how to go about that.
  • OX lockers front and rear
  • CB radio
  • Hella headlight upgrade, with IPF fatboy bulbs and wiring upgrade
  • Airaid filter
  • new control arms
  • adjustable track-bar
  • steering box brace
  • front end skid (got from the JY, need to clean/paint/install)
  • on board air, will probably wait until I do the weld-in rockers so I can make one of them an air tank
  • block heater. because I can. And it's nice to turn the thing on and have hot air!
  • DIY cowl hood
  • full paint job?

What I have in the works/on the way:
  • Detours Class 3 Recovery for the hitch have arrived, awaiting time to install, should be nice, and allow recovery possibilities without needing to remove my Thule bike rack
  • organization box/system for the rear cargo area, including 2 side boxes around the wheel wells, a covered area for my tire and a compartment for tools/parts/whatever else might fit in it.
  • strip down and remove the rust spots on my roof, spray with bedliner, let cure thoroughly, maybe paint everything from the gutters up with some gloss white enamel with the overall goal to resist denting from hail, deaden sound in general, and gloss white to keep heat down in the summer because this puppy is parked outside 24/7.
  • custom front bumper, file is being converted to a CNC readable CAD file now, getting steel soon, and hope to have it tacked together if not completed by the end of the weekend. Powdercoating shortly after.

Hold on tight, this is gonna be an adventure.

capturecolorado is offline  
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post #2 of 3 Old 11-10-2011, 08:43 PM Thread Starter
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2000 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Denver
Posts: 22
I finally got around to installing my FM overrider that I bought like 2 months before buying the Jeep. I had installed http://www.amazon.com/Scosche-FM-MOD02-Universal-Modulator-Satellite/dp/B001QBG614/ref=dp_cp_ob_e_title_1 in my Ranger (because that was the only option I found at the time) and, frankly, loved it. It worked better and was a lot cleaner than the cigarette-lighter transmitters, and allows the strongest signal be transmitted to the radio. That was dandy and all, but it was simple and didn't offer any kind of gain adjustment (so as usual with headphone-jack transmitters, your iPod/mp3 needs to be at approx. 80-85% volume, making it quieter than other channels).

So I did a little more hunting this time, and for $12 more, you can get http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002IY598O which not only offers gain, but also includes a cleaner mounting switch and (I just love it) a factory-looking audio input, which I imagine can be bought, but it's dandy.

Best of all, if you use iPod's, you have two options: the 3.5mm factory-mount audio jack, or an iPod dock, allowing you to charge as well as play your music (even better sound quality, because you have no need to lower your volume).

I decided I wanted to be able to have both options, because not all of my friends have iPod's for their mp3 players, and I often let them DJ, sometimes I might want to use my phone or while hanging out, plug my laptop in and watch a movie, or hook up a 2-way jack into the iPod and run one to the stereo, and one to an external PA speaker that I don't yet have. I concluded that I would use 2 single-male-to-dual-female RCA Y-splitters at the unit, labeling each with tape, so that I can plug in both the iPod dock bit and the 3.5mm bit, and BAM! Unlimited options........

It's kind of hard to tell what's going on here, but basically the unit itself is the little silver box kind of centered in the frame, with the 2 RCA splitters coming out of it, zip-tied to the antenna cable running through there, and both the iPod cable setup and 3.5 setup are plugged into the Y-splitters, the 3.5 cord is 6' long, so there was a LOT extra, but I only had like 8" of distance to cover, so I wound all that extra up and zip-tied it up into a little empty space there on the left section of the frame. This picture was taken with the glove compartment removed looking up. there's the perfect-sized blank space under the airbag stuff, and above whatever that plastic stuff is.

For the power, I tapped into the ignition-powered cigarette lighter, so that I never need to fret about forgetting to turn it off (I did that a lot in the Ranger), and then I ran the power/switch/antenna cables through the small gap behind the dash to the radio.

The install out really clean, despite the fact that when I went to test the switch, I had hit the rear wiper switch, and didn't realize it, so I was turning the on/off switch to on at the EXACT time that the wiper would move.

That happened, so I paused. Flipped the switch again. Rear wiper moved, again.


I looked at the wiring, there's NO WAY I accidentally tapped into the wiper's cables. Checked the switch and ohhhhhhhhhh. Moment of idiocy.

All you can see:

I'm really happy with this, the thickness of the iPod dock cable is almost twice what the USB cords are, and all the rest of the cables are pretty beef, there are 2 inline fuses for the system, one for the iPod, and one for the unit itself from the power.

That, and I also completely lack the verbal creativity for subject lines and titles.

Peace out, yo.
capturecolorado is offline  
post #3 of 3 Old 11-10-2011, 08:56 PM Thread Starter
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2000 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Denver
Posts: 22

Here's a quick rundown on my process with this:
1) researched and designed...for hours. Designed, deleted, redesigned, deleted, repeat.

2) Build foam-core mockup, discovered what I needed to change, took changes into account, got better measurements and...

3) REdesign. Again. But with more accurate everything, it's ready to go.

4) File prep for CNC Plasma cutting (in progress)

5) Cut. Weld. Grind. Make purty.

6) Drop off at my favorite local powdercoater to be made real purty.

7) Install, and smile like a fat kid in a candy store.

I also took a bit of time to think about a quick way to add some rocker protection until I get to do the boat sides. I really like the look of Hanson's sliders, but can't find sh*tworth of info on them, so I just guessed how they'd go on, and figured hey... I'll bolt on some 3/16" steel welded into a dandy shape and that will help protect a bit, and look unique.

Last but not least... The delivery fairy came today!
Hella H4 upgrades (I plan on doing comparison photos with my cheap replacements now), BlueSea fuse panel and an ANL inline fuse holder for the power-in to the panel. WOO!
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