From Overhaul to Overkill. The Ballad of a TJ
The Jeep Today
-RC 2.5" lift with 2.2 performance shocks
-31x10.5" BFG A/Ts
This thread is being started as a way to better organize my ideas and plans, and to also get input and opinions as needed. It will also be a good way for me to see where I started, where I'm at, and what the future might hold. Thanks in advanced for reading.
The Jeep is a 2000 Wrangler Sport. Born in September of 1999, She's clad in Patriot Blue with a 4.0L making the power and a 32rh making the go. Out back she packing a Dana 44 with 3.73s and a Trac-Loc. She started and lived her life in the comfort and sunny leisure of southern California until her original owners decided to trade her in at a Toyota dealership in 2008. That's where I found her, alone and trapped in a sea of hybrids. Too put it mildly, it was love at first sight. She had everything I wanted, was unmolested, and had lower miles(70K) to boot. So, I did what any 19 year old with a new job looking for their first vehicle would do. Got my Dad to cosign a loan and bought it! That is were the madness and addiction begins.
The Madn...er, build:
Initially there was no plan other than to drive and enjoy, any modifications would be made as required. That's how it was for a few months. But as I started to wheel and explore the deserts of SoCal, I started to see the need and benefits of a lift and larger tires after constantly dragging and scraping my lower control arm brackets, transfer case skid, and gas tank skid on rocks.
Now for some shameless self promotion. A short video of me and a buddy wheeling stock back in 09.(sorry for the poor quality, not sure why my Dad uploaded at such a low res:nuts:)
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Some exploration of Big Bear while stock
Joshua Tree exploration
Joshua Tree. My preferred stompin' ground
Caught in the act!
Some fellow Jeepers on the trail
So, after some research here and abroad, I decided my first big modification would be a Rough Country 2.5" lift with their 2.2 performance shocks. Now I know there are many people out there that dislike RC and their lifts, But I have so far enjoyed my lift and RC's excellent customer service. So much so I recently purchased another of their small lifts for my new to me 04 Sliverado.
Another short video. This one of the lift install.
<iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/ael96vVKYLU" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" width="560"></iframe>
Shortly after installing the the lift I scored 5 31x10.5 BFG A/Ts mounted on canyons off my friends Jeep for nothing more than my 5 30x9.5 tires mounted on canyons plus 200 dollars. Not to shabby.
Some Red Rock Canyon State Park exploration after lift and tires. "Magnificent Desolation"
From there I continued to wheel and explore the many national and state parks that SoCal has to offer. But by now the addiction had truly set in and I was looking to the future, trying to figure out what to do next to make my Jeep an even more capable desert explorer. Sadly this pursuit was cut short in the summer of 2010. New orders had come in and I was on my way to a two year tour on Okinawa, Japan. Sadly the Jeep would be unable to accompany me and instead would be driven to Connecticut and left in the trusted care of my parents.
The Jeep at a buddy's house just before I left.
Now, two years later, I'm back state side and ready to pick up were I left off. Sadly it was immediately obvious that two Connecticut winters had not been kind to this California girl. Surface rust had taken hold on portions of the frame, transfer case skid, gas tank skid, door handles, and several brackets. The fenders, hard top, and various other plastic trim pieces had also faded. The biggest blow however came from the bubbling and peeling clear coat on the hood an cowl. Seeing that was a hard pill to swallow. Rust can be busted and plastic restored, but paint and body work is a whole different level and quite expensive to get done right. Needless to say the jury is still out on how this will be corrected.
The Jeep when I returned.
So my first order of business was to start restoring her good looks to there former glory. I started this process with new fender flares and side view mirrors, and by scrubbing the hard top with Magic Erasers and water. I also got new door handles, but was unable to install them before winter set in.
Some action/adventure shoots in the local state forest
If I only had a snorkel...
Next on the list was a basic tune up/ mini-overhaul. This was accomplished with new spark plugs, O2 sensors, oil change, air filter, and a full dis-assembly and cleaning of the throttle body. Needless to say she now purrs like a new born kitten.
Everything required to keep an aging 4.0 happy
Which brings us to the present. Since I now live in CT my plans for a dedicated desert explorer are invalid, but I would like to still build it as an expedition/overland style Jeep for possible use here in New England. But mainly for a hopeful return to the deserts of the west sometime in the near future.
Build Break Down
-RC 2.5" lift with 2.2 shocks
-31x10.5 BFG A/T
Stage 1 will keep the RC springs and basically replace everything else in the suspension, bust all the rust on the frame and axles, and rebuild/upgrade the brakes front and rear.
The list so far for stage 1:
-Drag link and tie rod - Awaiting Installation
-Ball joints - Awaiting Installation
-Sye and cv shaft - Awaiting Installation
-Control arms - Awaiting Installation
-Front and rear track bars - Front Awaiting Installation, Rear on Back Order
-CV track bar bracket - Awaiting Installation
-Front and rear extended sway bar links - Awaiting Installation
-New shocks - On Order
-Front and rear brakes - Awaiting Installation
-Body lift - Awaiting Installation
-MML - Awaiting Installation
-33" tires - Awaiting Installation
-Wheels - Awaiting Installation
-High clearance trans and engine skid combo - Awaiting Installation
-High clearance GTS - Awaiting Installation
-Cable Shifter - Awaiting Installation
-Assorted bushings - Awaiting Installation
-Destroy all rust - In Progress
Stage 2's focus will most likely be based around larger tires and axle upgrades, along with some additional armor.
Preliminary stage 2:
-Front locker and rear LSD
-Front and rear bumpers
Now none of this is set in stone. Chances are priorities will change and things will be shifted around/added as required as my knowledge increases and I learn more about wheeling and exploring opportunities in the New England area.
Looks like it was left in the sun to die. :rofl:
Good pick up. And love the preferred stompin' grounds of Joshua Tree.
Sure does look that way doesn't it? I know for a fact that it wasn't though considering the number of pictures I got of my parents driving it topless in the summer or parking it on snow piles in the winter. Their hooked. :rofl:
Jeep thoughts of the day:
While doing further research on possible upgrades/replacements for my lp 30 front axle, my curiosity got the better of me. So I went out and checked the front axle on my Dads 96 Cherokee. This is what greeted me :shhh:
Jeep thoughts of the day:
After much research and deliberation on the subject of replacement ball joints and steering, I have decided on Spicer ball joints and the Currie Currectlync steering. Once I order and get the parts I'll post up some pictures and installation notes.
Jeep thoughts of the day:
After alot of reading I've come to the conclusion that I have three options when it comes to my front axle and building to possibly run 35s in the distant future:
LP D30: My current axle and the weakest of the three choices, It would be the cheapest to build since I already have it.
HP D30: Would be stronger than my current lp d30 and a better complement to my d44 rear. It would also give me better clearance up front which is a big plus. ECGS sells them and for around $2100 I can get one already set up with 4.10s and and an Eaton E-Locker.
LP D44: Only real advantage over the hp d30 is a larger ring gear that lets you run gears in the 5.XX range(which I have no reason to), but at a loss of clearance. This axle is also harder to find and cost a premium.
The question is, what to do?
I just pulled a HP 30 out of a 92 Cherokee in the junkyard. Already had 4.10 gears, which I'm running with 35's, and got it for $180. It was a vacuum disconnect, which some guys put their tj D30 solid shafts in or what I did was make a posi lock out of the vacuum system. So far been very happy with the setup and the way it performs. I would def scour the junkyards rather than pay a premium from ECGS.
Searching junk yards is another option for getting a hp d30, I just need to find a proper pick and pull here in CT. :thumbsup: Now if I could only get away with swapping my lp d30 for the hp d30 in my Dads XJ while he's gone the weekend... :D
To get a HPD30 you are going to need to find a 4 banger Cherokee. I believe you need a 97-2000 to get the upgraded U joints. Pretty rare axle, and yards that know what they are charge quite a bit more. You may also look on craigslist or local jeep forums to find a geared and locked axle. They usually are pretty reasonable.
Not a huge fan of craglist but I do look from time to time, I've also been hawking the classifieds here waiting for something to pop up near me. I'm not in any big hurry though, it's going to be awhile before I re-gear. Doesn't hurt to start looking early though. :D
Jeep thoughts of the day:
Now that I have the parts for phase 1 on the way, it's time to focus on picking parts for phase 2. The center pieces of phase 2 are going to be the control arms and track bars. Now the track bars in my opinion are a no brainier, Currie front and rear.
The control arms are a different story. There are many choices out there, but the only real choices seem to be Currie, Savvy/Currie, Rokmen, Clayton, and Metal Cloak. I'm torn mainly between Rokmen, Savvy, and have a mild interest in Metal Cloak. The Rokmen and Savvy arms seem to have the same design with the differences being in the arm material, although the Savvy arms come with new hardware which is a bonus. I find the Metal Cloak arms interesting because of the joints, which have been getting alot of positive feed back lately. Not a fan of the design though which seems to be a step back compared to the Rokmen and Savvy arms, but its not a deal breaker.
You are doing a good job man, researching it all out, making some good choices. Nice work! My only little tid bit to add.... and this is not a popular suggestion (mine usually won't be), but I'll throw it out there anyways. At your lift height do you think you actually NEED aftermarket track bars? That's a lotta dough you could spend on another area. I personally.... have stock OEM, track bars front and rear. The front has been redrilled one inch to the drivers side, and the rear has a common relocation bracket that you would probably use anyways with an aftermarket one. I only bring this up to add simplicity to the build, and to save you money that you could put into something that would actually be of more benefit during your style of wheeling.
You really can't go wrong with any of those control arms you listed, you're going to happy as heck to get any of them. I'd go Metalcloak! Take a chance, try something new! I know I want to try some duroflex.
Enjoying reading your story. Sorry that your jeep had to see the cold climate. But i am sure she s happy you are back! Be safe. Thank you for your service
Actually I think you only get 14... but whatever... they expensive when you buy a bunch.
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