I wanted to document my slow buildup on my 98 TJ, before I get started on the details though I need to document how I got here.
Prior to 2006 I bled Ford blue, at that time I had a 96 F150 that I had purchased when it was fairly new. It had just been demoted to third vehicle status and was being preserved for my fifteen year old son who would get his drivers license later that year. He pretty much hated the truck, plus it was a manual and trying to learn both wasn't going well.
While driving past a local GM dealership I saw a used TJ and thought it would be a safe first vehicle. When I asked him the grin on his face told me he liked the idea. We didn't purchase that TJ but found a 99 TJ Sport 4.0 Auto that my F150 was traded in on. Before you say that he should have bought his own I need to let you know I was following family tradition. My Dad bought my first car just as his Dad did, after that you are on your own.
So how does this get to my 98 TJ? The 99 was bought before my son had his Drivers License so it was used by my wife and I for that summer. When it was bought we told our son "The hardtop will rarely come off, the doors will not come off, it will not go off road......" Well, when the weather got warm the hardtop came off and the doors soon followed. We enjoyed driving it so much that when he got his license we suffered withdrawal the next summer as he wanted to drive it!
I should put another short aside in here and let everyone know how much grief I got from my family and friends (except my Dad :cool:), friends, coworkers and strangers asking why I would put a new driver in a Jeep! Before the Jeep was purchased I had found JF and saw pictures of Jeeps that had been in accidents and reports from the owners of how they faired. I can still say that the Jeep has been a very safe first vehicle and has held up remarkably well.
Back to the topic, after he got his license I saw a link for Jeep Jamboree USA and that an event was being held at Land Between the Lakes near us.
Long story short we made a family trip out of it and loved it. All of us took turns driving, here is a pic of my wife in the 99 during that first trip.
At the end of the trail on the last day the trail guide said "Mom drives up this last hill, Trail Guide orders". He knew it was a farily simple climb but hadn't taken the rain that had been falling into account. His plan was to send her up the bypass but it was to slick so she had to take the hard line. She made it up the hill and if there would have been a Jeep dealership at the top of the hill our second Jeep would have been purchased a lot sooner.
The search was on, the idea for "her Jeep", as I like to tell her when it needs something, was to find an inexpensive TJ that we didn't mind taking out on the trails. At that point TJ's were hard to find but shortly after returning from our second Jambore at French Lick IN in October of 2007 I found the 98 on Craigslist. I had been looking for a 4.0 Auto but none were in the price range I was looking for. This one that had been posted for a while and was about 100 miles away from me. The owner was anxious to sell and started slashing the price for a worn top, broken stereo, bald tires, etc. After seeing the Jeep and realizing those items were easily fixed we officially purchased the "Cheap Jeep".
I call it the "Cheap Jeep" for two reasons, first it is a 1998 TJ SE, which means it has the 2.5L 4 Cylinder, 5 Speed Manual, no air conditioning, half doors, basically it was a cheap Jeep. Second, I have always been one to always buy new high dollar parts, the original goal and something I still try to follow was to buy most of the parts from Craigslist or other reselling sites.
So much for the intro, I will try and be as chronologically correct in my upgrades as I can. I haven't done a lot but it has been used well both on and off road.
Once I got the Jeep the first order of business was to fix the radio, the PO told me he "thought" it was a loose wire :laugh: at the time I figured it was trash but I didn't really care. Upon inspection I found the radio had been hooked to an amp and some rear mounted bass speakers. The radio was trashed, so I trashed it.
I knew this Jeep would spend a lot of time topless and doorless so I didn't really want a fancy stereo. Actually I didn't even want cd's as I listen to the radio most of the time. I called a local junkyard and found a factory AM/FM with no aux inputs out of a 98 Dodge Work Van. So on a cold and windy October day I did my first mod to the Jeep. No in progress pics but I can tell you I found fifty or more cigarette butts in my "never smoked in" Jeep.
I did take a completion pic, it looked great but sounded terrible. The factory speakers were trashed. I didn't do any pics but I got new speakers for Christmas and installed them the day after Christmas 2007.
Two good lookin' jeeps man! Anxious to see where you take the se build.
sounds like you've got the bug! put some paint on those chipping side mirrors, it'll look much better :wave:
After the major radio build :rofl: the Jeep was used as a semi daily driver and performed well.
As it came time for the May 2008 LBL Jeep Jamboree I started getting the Jeep ready for it's first wheeling trip. I had noticed an exhaust leak around the manifold. Fearing a cracked manifold I took it to a mechanic friend that does work I'm not able to. Sorry for no pics but he found a hole that had been plugged at the factory that was leaking. He took the plug out, tapped the hole and screwed a replacement plug in. No more leak!
Before the Jeep went to the Jamboree I knew the tires had to be replaced. I wasn't happy with the rims as they stuck out to wide. I had been reading about lockers on JF and had decided to go with cheap tires and a front locker. After some more research I found an usused Aussie locker for sale on JF and picked it up.
I then found some better tires at my mechanic friends shop for not a lot more than the cheap ones I was looking at. On a local Jeep club site I found some rims that I picked up and then found center caps on Ebay.
I had the locker put in at the mechanics shop, I had debated putting it in myself but in the first fifteen minutes he used so many tools that I didn't own it would have been nearly impossible for me. They did the tires at the same time.
A few poser pics after the tires were installed.
I had those tires on my YJ and you will love them. They did great in mud and snow.
This is probably my favorite pic of the Jeep. It's from it's first wheeling trip at the May 2008 LBL Jeep Jamboree. The Jeep being pulled out is my son's Jeep who decided that he could go anywhere I could go..........
He forgot I had a locker and he didn't :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:
In case your wondering, this was the first hole so I hadn't gotten muddy yet before he was stuck!
In 2009 during a trip to some private land (authorized use) I got in a little over my head with the Jeep. Both rockers got bent and I nearly rolled it a few times. The only thing that stopped it one time was the roll bar hit a tree, afterwards I enjoyed telling non Jeep people "I fell off a rock and almost rolled it, but fortunately I hit a tree!"
Nothing serious but I decided to cover some of the damage and add a little protection. I got a set of Savvy sliders and put on it. I painted them with black primer which looks great in these pics but didn't hold up well over the winter. One of my next projects is repainting them and some other parts back to black.
You can also see my doorless mirrors in these pics, a pair of CJ mirrors from Quadratec with a bolt through the door hinge. Works pretty good, I need to shorten the mirror arms so they don't vibrate as much.
Latest update, I now have full doors!
I should have taken some before pics, they were kinda sad looking. Btw, these were another Craigslist find! My Dad took on the repaint project.
You would have never guessed these were Patriot Blue originally......
Door panels go on tonight, mirrors are on order.
A little kudos to my Dad. He is retired and I work a crazy hour job. He's painted as a hobby / side job / part time business since the 1950's. He helps me out on projects like this so they get done on a reasonable schedule. I can paint but it has been a few years.
Here is a pic of his personal project. My Mom's Dad bought it new in 48. My Mom bought it from her Mom as my Dad's 40th anniversary present. He did a nearly frame off resto on it when he retired. This was the second time he painted it, the first time was for Grandpa back in the 60's.......
And the engine, he is especially particular about his engines.
We are now a three Jeep family.
Traded in our Milan for this the other day. The idea started as a two door X for me to replace the white TJ in a few years. Ended up being a four door Sport for her. This one will be a mall krawler for a while as it is our primary transportation.
It's been a while since I've updated this. Thought I'd post a few recent pics of it.
I thought the radio had went out late last year so I picked up one off of Craigslist. Turns out the antenna cable was to short. I picked up a longer cable and installed the new radio anyway as it was a better one.
Found some Canyon rims on Craigslist a few weeks ago. Put them on with the junk tires that came on them just to see what they looked like. It's headed to the tire shop on Monday to have my tires put on these rims.
Quick update on the build status. My plan was to do a body lift, tummy tuck, sye this year and then pick up a Dana 44 next year with a locker.
I purchased a "Dirty Belly" flat skid from a local fab shop, Dirty Fab, but before I picked up the rest of the parts we had a three day power outage. Afterwards most of my build budget for this year went to a generator.
I had been looking for a Dana 44 locally without success until one of the guys in my Jeep club parted out his XJ. I picked up both the HP30 and the Dana 44 he had in it. I'll need to regear them and put TJ brackets and a locker on the D44. The D44 has a mini spool right now.
Here they sit in my garage, the axles wrapped in plastic are spare D35s.
The eventual goal is a 1" BL and 2" BB. The BL will allow my to put in my flat skid along with a SYE. I plan to regear to 4.88s for 33s, which will put the 4 cylinder back into a stock overall gear ratio.
I want a selectable locker in the rear and whatever the budget allows for the front. We will have to see what next years budget allows.
For the rest of this year I'm going to spend some time cleaning up the interior and painting the bumpers and sliders. Going topless for six months a year has really taken it's toll.
Took the Jeeps wheeling last weekend. Some friends of ours that hadn't been Jeeping in several years had been wanting to go. Loaded up the Jeeps and went down to Turkey Bay last Saturday.
It rained, hailed, thundered and lightened all the way down there. We kept an eye on the radar and it looked like it would clear about the time we got to the park. Sure enough just as soon as we pulled in the lot the rain stopped.
We weren't sure how much we were going to do so we left the swaybars connected. Turns out the park was in great shape, still several trees down from the recent storms but the trails were perfect after the rain. No dust and just a little slick on top of the clay.
Our friends had never been to a OHV park, mainly some mine roads around home when they had permission back years ago. The yellow access roads at LBL were primarily they type of stuff they had wheeled. When we got to some orange and blue they were very surprised.
Not a lot of pics, except for the highlight of our day. I just about put the Jeep on it's spare tire. My locked front went over a step and my open rear caught on the left rear. The Jeep went left and ended up with the right front tire a few inches in the air. My son and his friend pushed it down and then I backed up and hit a berm which sort of anchored it. I couldn't go forward as the right front couldn't articulate enough to get to the ground (remember not disconnecting?).
This is after I stuck the rear in a berm to anchor it.
We got everyone unloaded and then my son went to climb the hill using another line to pull me out. He ended up getting hung at the bottom of the hill. We ended up using nearly all 100' of cable on his winch plus a snatch block and two tow straps to pull we out. Then he had to winch himself up the hill.
Probably nothing extreme for a lot of you but this was the first time we were in a situation we could tip one over when we were out by ourselves. It was also the first time both of us were stuck at the same time. We could have winched him up the hill first but we were concerned my Jeep might roll down the hill so we decided to take care of it first.
We had to pull cable a few more times before we left. But it was a fun day.
To sum up the day:
If you can drive a Jeep with no A/C 100+ miles one way in rain, hail and lightening to wheel for five hours. During which you nearly flip it and can still say you had a great day. You must be a Jeeper. :2thumbsup:
It's Christmas in May! UPS just left a big package I had to unwrap outside!
Pulled the trigger on an East Coast Gear Supply 8.8. Had it built with a Detroit Locker and 4.10 gearing for now.
Now to get the garage cleared out so I can put it in!
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