My Other Jeep Is A Jeep: CrawlingForward's Jeep-related Adventures
More of a Jeep-related blog than a technical build thread ("build thread" always implies an end in sight), but plenty of build/wheel/break/educate/upgrade/repeat.
As of June 2012
Drop down under avatar for specs...
Bone stock when I bought it off my brother-and-sister-in-law in fall '08. '95 YJ 2.5L bone stock with 97,000 miles on it. Originally a california and southern vehicle with minimal rust.
Less "wheeled" it, and more used it to get to remote locations I backpacked at:
I kept it stock for the past twoish years until this spring, with the exception of new seat covers, a hilift jack and recovery kit, towhooks, and swaybar discos. Hell, I kept the hardtop on for the first year and a half until I could move out of the city for fear of my softtop getting slashed like all the other ones in my neighborhood.
It was supposed to be just a beater for a couple years until I could afford a nicer car. Then I fell in love with it and now I plan on having a frame-off resto as a retirement project.
Basically just used it as a fun outdoor vehicle that I could learn to wrench on. I was saving up for a ring and then a wedding, so there was almost no funds whatsoever for upgrades. (Especially with the amount of money I was putting into it for small fixes).
Cut to August 2010:
I get married to the love of my life and finally become a DINK (dual income, no kids). Yay! Time for the Jeep to get attention!
Wait...then I bought a motorcycle. Ok, Jeep funds have to wait.
Besides, I love the stock look. It's a sickness, I know, but I do! My worst fear is to become a "Mallcrawler" who just upgrades because that's what you do with Jeeps, right? I want my upgrades to be because I'm like, "****, I really need this thing to perform better in this situation that I frequently encounter". It needs to be a practical build.
So I take it on my first real, organized wheeling trip!
.......Ok, I get it. I need to upgrade.
But the Jeep is my daily driver now! What happens if I break it? Even more accentuating that question, I spent countless time, stress, and ~$1,000 trying to chase down a cold stumbling issue that still hasn't gone away completely, exploding gas lines, failing sensors, cracked manifold gasket, and a bunch of little things malfunctioning. This is my daily driver and my baby. How can I make sure that I don't continue to do damage if something doesn't work right or is partway through a modification?
Answer: Buy another Jeep! The wife decided she wanted to get into the Jeep thing, so we bought her a 2010 JKU Islander Edition!
(I know, I know. I would constantly talk trash about the 4 doors. And an automatic? Not on any Jeep of mine! But we test drove a bunch and this is the one she fell in love with. If I'm going to get her into Jeeping, it has to be *her* decision. And honestly? Now that we have it, I'm so happy she talked me into the Unlimited! Lumber, tires, sheets of plywood, 4 people plus muddy dogs, excessive amounts of ski and camping gear all get tossed in the back on a regular basis. No *way* my YJ or our Mazda 6 could handle any of that. The 4-door has proven it's worth in our household for sure! I'm still not happy about the automatic, but she commutes an hour and a half in Boston with it, so her choice was pretty reasonable.)
Aw crap, now I have car payments. The Jeep funds must wait a little longer.
(Man, I must have typed this post like 5 times with my computer erasing it each time, so I apologize if it becomes lackluster, ha ha)
Ok, so over the winter while I'm saving up funds for a proper buildup, I had a sudden realization that there were a couple other upgrades needed first. This epiphany came as I screeched to a halt just inches from t-boning a fullgrown bull moose on a 50mph curvy backroad in Maine. The only reason I didn't die a grusome early death is because my passenger and I, not 5 minutes before, had been joking about the probability of death by Moose. After sharing a nervous laugh, we proceeded to stare at the road like it was a MagicEye picture. He saw it only milliseconds before I did and even then, it wasn't until we were almost stopped before we could clearly even see what it was because the Jeep's headlights suck so much.
Needless to say, as soon as I got home I ordered Sylvania Silverstars and a pair of 300w KC Daylighters. Like I said, this build is going to follow the "man, I totally should have had this sooner" philosophy. I was actually very proud of my Daylighters installation. It was my first ever electrical work and I think I did a pretty damn good job. Did it proper with neat wiring, proper conduit wrapping, cleanly wrapped joints, firewall boots and everything! I have no pictures of it yet, but I'll get some soon, I promise! Those things are amazing! Super aptly named!
Edit: No pictures of the wiring, but here are the mounted lights (off) with one Sylvania Silverstar (left) and one stock light (right). It's hard to tell, but there's a bit of a difference in color temperature that makes a decent difference at night.
They're currently just mounted to the plastic facer on the bumper until I decide what I permanently want to do in terms of a bumper. I would love to mount them to the bumper themselves, but that makes them stick out, which is a problem considering how many snowbanks I love to plow into. Perhaps I'll move them sometime soon.
Luckily that expense came out of my Christmas bonus, so it didn't set back the Jeep fund! So when March finally came around, I had done all the research I needed to get this build started *right*. Over the two years I've been stalking this site, I've decided that my rig was going to be a pizza cutter. Not only do I love the look, but since my rig is not only a daily driver, but does more expedition and trailheads than extreme rock crawling, it's a much more practical appropriate approach (the non-mall crawler philosophy again). Also, I've found my favorite proportion of capability without being excessive is in the 32" range. After a *lot* of research, the best tire size for what I was looking for was 235/85/16. It's a very popular size on ExPo, but rarely mentioned on Jeepforum and prettymuch *never* on Wranglers. Any ideas why? My best guess is it's a combination of pizza cutters being less popular and 16" wheels being less popular/harder to find tires for.
In any case, 32"x9.5" was my goal. In order to make that possible, I was going to need at least 2.5" of lift, probably 3ish. I decided not to supplement a suspension lift with a body lift because a) I don't like the idea or look of body lifts b) If I decide I want to go bigger later or need a bit more clearance, it leaves that option open.
I originally was going to get an RE 2.5" but they "reorganized" so that option was out. Lucky for me, though, because Mean Max, among others, convinced me to go with a BDS 2" with a the 1" shackle lift they recommend to clear the military wrap. Got a great deal and it came super fast!
Before *anything* though, I promised my wife the first major mod I would do was add a full sport-cage. Of course I went with the RockHard4x4 cage. Sanded, primed, and hammered blacked it. Good easy install. No pictures of that either yet, but I promise I'll edit it with one when I take it, ha ha.
Edit: Picture of the cage:
Next came the actual lift install! I had a hot rod for about an hour and a half, ha ha. The install actually went pretty smoothly, thanks to a friend who, while being a Corvette guy, has served as an amazing mentor and source of inspiration and information about all things Jeep and automotive. Thanks Andy!:cheers2:
Awesome, now I'm lifted, but uhhhhhhhhyeah.....a shackle lift increases pinion angle, plus we had to use 4* shims to keep the centering pins from bottoming out on the axle so uhhhhhhyeah. This was my driveshaft angles, ha ha
Anything over 30 mph felt like driving over rumble strips. I had to drive home over 30 miles on the highway at 30mph with the hazards on the whole way.
Looks like time for an SYE!
I ordered my Slip Yoke Eliminator conversion and double cardan driveshaft through Tom Woods and spent the next 3 weeks reading and rereading every tutorial I could find, going over and over the tools list to make sure I had everything I was going to need.
This is where the 3rd vehicle paid off. The YJ got to wait in the driveway for the 3 weeks until I had all the parts and time that I needed, just getting moved once a week to keep from getting flat spots. When the time came, I limped it over to my father-in-law's side yard and went to work. An afternoon later, I had a successfully installed slip yoke eliminator and new driveshaft!
This may not seem like a big deal to a lot of guys, but to me, this was *huge*. This was, by far, the most technical automotive work I've done to date. Two years ago when I first bought the Jeep, I had to have someone hand-hold me through changing the oil. The biggest part, though, was the fact that I did it *all by myself*. Normally I have someone helping me, or standing by in case I need help, or has all sorts of fancy tools in case something doesn't go as planned. Not this time. It was just me, and even when the kit didn't have the speedometer gear retainer rings , I drove all around town on a sunday afternoon until I found an appropriately sized snapring that I could use (at Lowes of all places). And aside from incorrectly clocking the speedometer the first time, all went pretty smoothly. So I was pretty damn proud of myself.:2thumbsup:
Anyhow, so this is my new rear driveshaft setup! I think my pinion angle is good, but if anyone disagrees, please let me know! I still have to take exact measurements.
Looks like you are having fun with your jeep that is for sure...Keep up the good work. Adding things as you need them is always a good way to upgrade. When ever I go wheeling I always find the weak spot and make an upgrade there.
Also no pics of the finished product?
Finally! It was time for new wheels and tires.
Like I said before 235/85/16 is not a hugely popular size and to find a wheel that that was 16" but still was only 6-7" wide is not as common. To make matters difficult, I had decided on getting alloy wheels to help my poor little 4-banger with the rotational weight. To make things more difficult, my love of stock kicked in and I would accept nothing but an Jeep OEM wheel. I know. I like making things hard on myself, but I make sure I get things the way I want! :brickwall
Long before I even ordered the lift I did *tons* of research on OEM bolt patterns and backspacing and wheel depth and weight and models, etc. etc. and while I found a ton of OEM wheels that fit from Rangers, Pilots, F-150s, etc., the final Jeep candidates ended up being ones from either a Liberty, Compas, Patriot, XJ or ZJ. Wrangler 16" wheels were too wide. I had a couple leads on ZJ rims, but after photoshopping on, only the XJ or very similar Liberty wheels would do.
After a lot of time and stalking on ebay, I decided that not only did I prefer the XJ wheels, but they were also cheaper and more abundant, so I made my purchases and soon had 5 of these babies sitting in the workshop.
After a ton of further research, I had decided that BF Goodrich All-Terrains were both my favorite in looks and no one had anything but wonderful comments about them, so that decision was made. Unfortunately, they discontinued the size and most local tire places wouldn't even try to find them for me! Luckily, I DiscountTire.com still had them in stock. So a few clicks later and I had 5 on my way to my door.
DiscountTire.com, btw. Awesome! Super cheap, very cheap (if not free) shipping, offers tire insurance, and delivery was TWO DAYS! Awesomeawsomeawesome. Not sure if related to them, but the UPS guy actually called me up to ask what time I'd be home so he could drop them off. Whathe...? I've *never* had that happen. AWESOME!:2thumbsup:
So a quick trip to Sears and I had them all mounted and balanced! (Got there in the back of the JK, incidentally. Five 32" tires plus five 16" rims. Lets see my YJ or our Mazda try that, ha ha. The JKU is very quickly proving it's worth in our household.)
Here's the comparison between the old&busted and the new hotness:
And finally, all the tires on and the YJ is officially back in business!!!!!
So yeah...that's where it stands now. I've got plenty other plans, but I need to give the bank accounts a little time to recover from the shock. Little by little, do what's absolutely necessary, and do it *right*. That's going to be the philosophy that drives this build.
Upcoming plans include:
RockHard4x4 swingout tire carrier (Btw, how come no one mentioned that anything over 31" means you can't open your hardtop on your stock tire carrier? Ha ha, WTF? That would have been good to know. Ah well, it was in the plans for my poor sagging tailgate all along, now it's just easier to convince the wife.)
RockHard4x4 rock sliders
RockHard4x4 full width front angled hoop bumper (can you tell I love these guys products? I do a ton of research, and every time these guys end up on top)
Some kind of winch (still researching) with synthetic line
Poison Spyder hoop-to-windshield cage upgrade
RockHard4x4 floor and frame cage tie-ins
Eventual plans (as necessitated) include:
Chromoly c-clip eliminator rear axle upgrade
Front and Rear Ox lockers
Like I said, this will probably end up as more of a blog than a build thread, but I'll try and keep it interesting, Jeep-relevant, and with lots of pictures! Thanks for taking the time to read. All of you have been a huge source of help and inspiration!:cheers2:
Thanks for taking the time to read it! I know I tend to be pretty verbose, ha ha.
I love the YJ, it looks like it is in really great shape! Good luck on the build!
Oh man those wheels are awesome they are my favorite XJ wheels...I want a set for my XJ but its not in the budget right now. They look good on a YJ also.
Ok, so here's my latest question with the build:
What the heck PSI are my tires supposed to be at?
I got them mounted and balanced without the tire place ever seeing the vehicle (although they did have it on file, I suppose) and they put them at 33psi. I left it there for a while, but then figured I should find out what the actual should be.
I found a calculation online (curb weight divided by 4, divided by max tire weight and take that percentage. That is the percentage of the max PSI you should use.) which led me to believe it should be ~26PSI. (4,000lbs/4=1,000/3042lbs=33%x80PSI=~26PSI)
So I did that and got a much softer ride, but I wanted to make sure so I went online and Googled it to find what other people had. I couldn't find any for Wranglers, mostly just LandRovers and Rangers, but they were all running close to 45PSI. WTF? That's super high! I checked their vehicle weight and it's not *that* far above mine.
So now I'm totally confused and I decide to do the chalk test. But no matter what the PSI, it wears off evenly. WTF? I even used white-out to have a slower wearing marker, and *still* got inconclusive results. If anything, it suggested that even 26PSI was overfilled.
I called my little brother (who is a mechanic and a tire nerd) and he told me to just use 35PSI to start (better over than under, I guess) and see how it wears, using a tread gauge to measure and adjust accordingly. Very confusing though.
Does anyone have any better thoughts/suggestions/answers?
I run 35...anywhere between 32 and 35 depending on what kinda ride you want.
Top is off! Damn, she's purdy.
Also, bought another motorcyle...Jeep funds must wait.
Next step once the bank recovers is definitely going to be a regear to 4.88s. The 2.5 with 4.10s is *abysmal* on the highway. Not too bad around town, but forget 5th gear and I feel like I'm beating up my motor every time I try and go above 50. It sucks.
Next up after that will be the swing out rear gate. My poor gate is suffering under the weight of the spare, and I don't dare put my bike on until the weight is off of it.
I actually did it a while ago, but never got to put any pictures up. The Pioneer CD player had crapped out, and I could still use a radio transmitter to listen to Pandora, but the CD player had crapped out and I really wanted an AUX input.
The new setup!
(Just your standard Sony $79 system out of Quadratech. I did all the wiring for the harness myself though, correct the first try! Since I've never done anything eletrical before, I was pretty proud of myself)
Another little thing I made that I forgot to mention: I junkyarded a couple of lap belts from an XJ by breaking the tab so I could put a caribeaner into the attatchment loop. So now when I roll the seat forward to put them in the back, I just use the existing seatbelt attatchments to keep them safe.
And if they're in the front seat, even with no doors, I can strap them in tight (and I usually add redundancy with a leash tied to the seat) and ride happily along! It's especially nice because I can adjust the length according to the dog. Bean is all the way in, Letzty gets a bit more, and friend's dogs who sometimes ride with us get their own length! (I have a spare webbing harness in the seatback at all times)
I intend on sewing an elastic bypass as well, so there's a little bit of stretch before the static seatbelt kicks in!
(And yes, Bean totally has an official Jeep harness, ha ha)
Nice to see someone take their time and upgrade what they need as they learn they need it. You've got a solid looking Jeep. I look forward to seeing how it progresses. Thanks for sharing your "slow-build-blog-thing"!:thumbsup:
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