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Unread 10-06-2014, 10:49 PM   #1
95YJLS
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1995 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Amarillo, TX
Posts: 50
Project RedJeep - the 5.3 YJ

The history of my YJ:

Back in 1996, Dad needed a new vehicle, and he wanted something to tackle the sometimes rough Rocky Mountain roads during deer & elk season. We found ourselves at the local Jeep dealership test driving TJs and YJs. We drove away in a barebones red YJ with a 2.5L four-banger, the AX-5 manual trans, a cassette player/radio, and no A/C. I was 12 years old, and at the time didn't really appreciate the YJ - the TJ had the better back seat by far, which was all I would see for two more years.

Fast forward to 1998 archery season. It was time to learn to drive, with a standard transmission on mild to moderate difficulty mountain trails. After beating each other up over a few weeks, the YJ and I reached an understanding, and even started to grow on each other.

Fast forward again to 2002. I'm in my last year of high school, and I've been accepted to college up in the Denver/Boulder area. Dad gave me a choice: I could buy the Jeep from him, or he would help me buy a '72 Olds Cutlass Convertible. As much as I would've liked to have that Olds, the Jeep and I already had a relationship. I bought the Jeep for $1. I still think I made the right decision to this day. A 70's rear-wheel drive car wouldn't have survived 5 winters in Denver unwrecked, much less with intact wheel wells.

Over the next several years, the Red YJ has been on many adventures.
-Prowling the mountain trails in the Rockies in low range to scout for deer & elk, and deliver hunters in the wee hours of the morning to their scouted territory
-A summer road trip from Denver to San Diego - through northern Arizona - with no AC. The seat covers never smelled the same after that.
-Wheeling with a bunch of brand new rented TJs in the Durango area with my best friend from high school. He'd just graduated the Naval Academy and was on his way to the Marines. Red YJ had no problem keeping up with the newly minted jarheads.
-Moving from Denver to Texas
-The final adventure in the stock configuration was cruising around farm roads chasing feral hogs with semi-autos, picking up tumble weeds in the undercarriage.

Here it was on that final adventure:


I love my Red YJ. When I die, I would like my body to be placed in the driver seat, steering wheel locked, top off. I want the Jeep packed with kindling, and for us to be rolled down a hill and a flaming arrow shot into the back to set us alight for a hybrid Viking/Jeeper funeral.

Now that the nostalgia is out of the way, here are my planned upgrades to get the Jeep ready for some more adventures:
- 2.5" Old Man Emu lift (done)
- Track Bar delete (done)
- 5.3 LM7 + AX-15 swap (35%)
- JB Conversions Super Short SYE (done, not installed yet)
- Taurus 2-speed E-fan (70%)
- Full doors rust repairs (0%)
- Custom dash & custom gauges (10%)
- Headlight circuit rewiring & headlight upgrade - seriously, the stock lights are slightly worse than two oil lamps out front. (0%)
- New paint: epoxy primer, red basecoat, UV resist clearcoat (0%)
- Bedliner in the tub and on the frame over epoxy primer (0%)
- Ford 8.8" rear end and locker (0%)
- Interior restoration - seat covers, sound bar, security box (0%)
- Who knows what else

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Unread 10-06-2014, 11:35 PM   #2
95YJLS
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1995 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Amarillo, TX
Posts: 50
2.5" OME Lift - Completed

Update 10/13/14: Added more specifics on parts & lift height

For my lift, I went all Old Man Emu parts, sourced individually through Quadretec (Free Shipping ) - springs, shocks, and bushings. I kept stock shackles & the sway bar, but deleted the track bars. I selected this lift for the reputation it has for excellent ride quality.

Specifically I went with:
OME Heavy Load Front Springs - CS014F
OME Medium Load Rear Springs - CS036R
OME Standard Bushing Kit - OMESB57
OME Nitrocharger Front Shock - 60098
OME Nitrocharger Rear Shock - 60099

I skipped the steering stabilizer on the opinions of many who believe it's just a bandaid for poor alignment. I also skipped the t-case drop on account of my SYE.

The front bolts all came out easily enough with some persuasion from the impact wrench. The rear bolts were another story. One of the rear spring eye bolts was totally seized and had to be cut out, and the rear trackbar was totally seized in place, even after several days of PB Blaster soaking into the bolts.

Lessons learned:
- Murder those trackbars first thing, they make things difficult when trying to get the axle seated properly on the springs.
- Don't spend too much time trying to avoid cutting. If that bolt won't come loose, grab the cutoff wheel and show it who is in charge.
- If you use the OME bushings, the new sleeve and the fatter bushings are for the rear spring frame mounts. ARB expected us to either buy separate or reuse the shackle bushing sleeves. The four smaller bushings are for the shackles. I used the standard bushings and greased liberally with white lithium grease.
- You will save time just buying all new hardware before starting the lift. I tried to retain all my existing hardware for reuse except the U-bolts. This cost me a lot of time.

If you buy all new hardware, you will want:
- Shackle bolts, nuts, & washers X 8
- Shackle bushing sleeves X 8
- Spring-eye to frame bolts, nuts, & washers X 4
- Front and rear U-bolts

The stock spring bolts are:
Shackles: 1/2" X 4 1/2" Fine Thread Phosphate Coated Grade 8 Shoulder Bolts
Spring-Eye to frame: 9/16" X 4 1/2" Fine Thread Phosphate Coated Grade 8 Shoulder bolts

If anybody has found phosphate shoulder bolts in 9/16" please let me know. Everywhere I've looked only carries standard yellow zinc wash Grade 8, which I'm not crazy about.

Here it is with the rear lift installed, but the trackbar still in. It's supported by the frame with the axle hanging at max travel. Notice how the axle is crooked and pulled to the driver's side. This is what the track bar does - it binds your leaf springs.


Here it is before the lift for comparison, all full of tumbleweeds from the hog hunt:


And here it is with the lift installed:


I took it out for a low-speed drive and took it over some decent bumps and dips. It rides SOOOO much better than I ever remember.

Total Lift over the tired stock suspension: 2 1/8" Front, 3 7/8" Rear.
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Unread 10-07-2014, 11:27 AM   #3
Randonexplosion
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1988 YJ Wrangler 
 
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Location: Cortez, Colorado
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Cool to see that you spent some time in my area.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 95YJLS View Post
I love my Red YJ. When I die, I would like my body to be placed in the driver seat, steering wheel locked, top off. I want the Jeep packed with kindling, and for us to be rolled down a hill and a flaming arrow shot into the back to set us alight for a hybrid Viking/Jeeper funeral.


Curious to see how the ax15 holds up behind the 5.3
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Unread 10-07-2014, 11:47 AM   #4
rckchucker
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1997 TJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Sandy, UT
Posts: 303
Been running an AX15 behind my 5.3 for 2 and half years now. I beat it like it owes me money and I have not had a single issue.
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Unread 10-07-2014, 07:23 PM   #5
95YJLS
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1995 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Amarillo, TX
Posts: 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Randonexplosion View Post
Curious to see how the ax15 holds up behind the 5.3
We'll see. If it doesn't last, I'll keep the bellhousing/clutch setup and get a rebuild through Marlin Crawler or a brand new one through Rockland Standard Gear or Novak. According to the lore floating around the internet, new manufacture & Marlin rebuilds use brand new R-series internals and has successfully held up to engines making 450ft-lbs of torque. I can't vouch for the truthfulness of any of this, as it's hearsay from various other boards.

I got the recently rebuilt AX-15 + NP231J from a guy parting out a '94 XJ for $500 (for both trans and t-case). I figured what the heck, saves me $180 to buy a new input gear for my 4-cyl t-case, and I'll probably get a few hundred back for a core refund if I have to buy a rebuilt/new one.
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Unread 10-07-2014, 07:26 PM   #6
95YJLS
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1995 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Amarillo, TX
Posts: 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by rckchucker View Post
Been running an AX15 behind my 5.3 for 2 and half years now. I beat it like it owes me money and I have not had a single issue.
Good to hear that! How did you adapt yours? I went with the Novak kit to adapt the AMC bellhousing to the GM engine. I weighed this against adapting the trans to a GM bellhousing with Novak, or going with the custom bellhousing from Advanced Adapters.
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Unread 10-07-2014, 08:04 PM   #7
95YJLS
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1995 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Amarillo, TX
Posts: 50
5.3 Challenge #1 - VSS (warning, contains hazardous levels of nerd)

VSS always seems to be a bump in the road on 5.3 builds. Most people who keep the factory automatic that came on the engine go with the Advance Adapters kit to get transmission output shaft RPM in the PCM to fool it when in low-range so it shifts correctly, and they take the t-case speed sensor to their gauge. This works fine for those builds, but I still need VSS for a variety of other reasons (like Idle Air Control) with my manual trans.

In my mind, the "right" way to do this is to go with the GM speed sensor short-shaft SYE kit from JB Conversions. That way, I can take an accurate speed into the GM PCM, and use the PCM speedo output to drive my gauge.

The first issue that stumped me: this kit uses the S10 VSS, is that VSS the same as the VSS that came in '02 LM7 equipped pickups/SUVs? The vauge consensus from the few discussions on this was "probably not."

So I deployed science against the problem! I purchased a used S10 VSS and a reman '02 Silverado VSS, and did some measurements.

First, I measured resistance:

S10 Sensor - Note the thin sensor end and the fat metal housing & metal threads.



Silverado Sensor - Note the fatter sensor end and entirely plastic body.


1.45 k-ohm vs 1.42 k-ohm ~2% difference, well within manufacturing tolerances for most electrical components.

Next measurement voltage & waveform on the multimeter & oscilloscope (local garage sales - you never know what you'll find, or if you'll ever use it). I chucked the tone wheel up into my drill and varied the speed.

S10 sensor


Silverado sensor


Both sensors had similar sinusoidal waveforms (as opposed to Chrysler sensors, which are square wave). I don't remember the readings & don't have photos, but I believe the voltage output from the sensor ranged from 0.5V to 5V from lowest speed of the drill to highest. I do remember it was the same for both sensors.

Same resistance. Same waveform. Same voltage output under the same conditions. Same sensor.

The JB Conversions tone ring is 40-tooth just like the stock GM tone ring. I don't know if this will work for certain, but the science says it should.
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Unread 10-07-2014, 08:40 PM   #8
95YJLS
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1995 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Amarillo, TX
Posts: 50
JB Conversions SYE - Completed

With the VSS question settled with a 97% consensus among peer-reviewed journals, I proceeded to tear down and clean the t-case.

Tear down:




Looks like I have the wide bearing journal input gear, which won't swap into the 231 behind my AX-5 Oh well.


Cleaning:


Gears moved to the new short shaft:


Reassembly:


Tone ring installed:


Test assembly (most complete pic I have, doesn't look much different with the knuckle and liquid gasket on it):
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Unread 10-08-2014, 06:09 AM   #9
ki4cye
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1990 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Moultrie, Georgia
Posts: 222
I have been beating on my ax15 behind a 5.7 for several years now and have had no issues with mine. It has a lot of miles on it and you can feel some wear in some of the sync rings but it's still running great
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Unread 10-08-2014, 10:03 PM   #10
95YJLS
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1995 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Amarillo, TX
Posts: 50
The Story Behind My Engine

So this is my new engine on the day I bought it:


The story behind this engine: there was a train car full of brand new 5.3L crate engines headed for the GM factory. The train derailed, GM took their insurance claim, and the insurance company auctioned the whole car. Several local shops and junkyards went in on the car together and sold off the engines. Not sure if this is true, but it's what I was told.

From what I can tell this is a new or remanufactured 99-02 LM7 5.3L Gas engine. I would guess it was a crate engine for GM/Chevy service centers to use as a replacement. Either that, or there is a factory in Mexico still making 99-02 year model Silverados and the train was headed there. Crate engines usually run upwards of $3000, and I got this one for $1500, so I felt like I did pretty good there.

I'll be honest, crate engines are kind of a pain in the butt to track down accessories, brackets, idlers, PCM etc. Even getting a good deal on the engine, buying crate will probably end up adding around $2000 to the project vs. a junkyard engine pulled with wiring harness and PCM together. Not to mention all the extra time spent looking up stuff that would have been bolted to a junkyard engine. On the plus side, doing all that research I learned a lot about this particular engine.

Features:
Iron Block
Cable throttle
No EGR
Fuel pressure regulated at the rail
Water Pump
Alternator & Power Steering Pump bracket

Had to find part numbers for & buy separately:
Alternator
Power Steering Pump & Pulley
Idler wheel
Starter Motor
A/C Compressor & mounting bracket
Bolts to mount all of these

Of course, after buying just about everything but the bolts over a few months, I found this truck-style 5.3 accessory drive kit for outfitting crate engines:
http://paceperformance.com/i-1165435...-lc9-5-3l.html

I spent about twice that for a mix of reman/new OEM and aftermarket parts. Hopefully that's the most expensive lesson I learn through the course of my build.
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Unread 10-08-2014, 10:44 PM   #11
95YJLS
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1995 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Amarillo, TX
Posts: 50
Adapting the 5.3 to the AX-15

To adapt my engine to my transmission, I used the GM block to AMC bellhousing kit for Novak:
http://www.novak-adapt.com/catalog/a...15/kit_375.htm

Other parts I bought through Novak for this phase of the project:
Pilot bushing
3/4" Slave cylinder (will get to this later when I go into clutch geometry)
GM 11" clutch kit
Custom flywheel
Adjustable throwout bearing

I ground out the slots in my clutch fork to mount the Novak AMC-style adjustable throwout bearing:



I took my clutch pressure plate and flywheel to a local shop for balancing. Here they are with some ARP pressure plate bolts ready to go on the engine:


Here's the adapter plate & flywheel installed, and the pressure plate bolts receiving their final torque-down:


This adapter went on nice and snug, and the instructions were good for highlighting potential pitfalls. +1 for Novak there.

Note the roll of blue painter's tape and the little ring sticking out from the fingers of the pressure plate. That ring is the clutch alignment tool. The one that came with the clutch kit didn't fit my pilot bushing (it's smaller). So I ordered one through Quadratec that was supposed to be specific for the AX-15. I figured, hey it's only a few dollars, I'll just get the right one. Well, it was the exact same thing as what I already had Solution: wrap the nub in painter's tape until it fits snug.

Here's the engine and transmission bolted up:
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Unread 10-09-2014, 06:29 PM   #12
Scott_A
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1979 CJ7 
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Lebanon, NH
Posts: 8
Awesome project! I'm interested to see anything you have to say about the clutch linkage and adjustments.
It's neat how much history you have with this jeep. Please document and update this project all the way through.
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Unread 10-09-2014, 11:25 PM   #13
rckchucker
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1997 TJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Sandy, UT
Posts: 303
I used Novak's GMAX15 kit. I wasn't super keen on the idea of the adapter ring like you did. I'm sure it will work fine, but I opted to run a GM bellhousing. Everything has worked well for me. But like all good things, sometimes they need to get better. The 5.3 is coming out and going up for sale. I picked up a 6.0 for a smokin deal a few weeks ago. Its going to get a cam, and some head work and I'll more than likely bump the compression a touch as well. The AX15 is going away too. It won't be able to handle the built 6.0's power. Got me a better trans coming...don't worry though, its still a 5 speed. I'll row through my gears til the day I die.
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Unread 10-10-2014, 03:03 PM   #14
95YJLS
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1995 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Amarillo, TX
Posts: 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by rckchucker View Post
I used Novak's GMAX15 kit. I wasn't super keen on the idea of the adapter ring like you did. I'm sure it will work fine, but I opted to run a GM bellhousing. Everything has worked well for me. But like all good things, sometimes they need to get better. The 5.3 is coming out and going up for sale. I picked up a 6.0 for a smokin deal a few weeks ago. Its going to get a cam, and some head work and I'll more than likely bump the compression a touch as well. The AX15 is going away too. It won't be able to handle the built 6.0's power. Got me a better trans coming...don't worry though, its still a 5 speed. I'll row through my gears til the day I die.
Sounds like you have a horsepower addiction

The ultimate deciding factor for me was my used AX-15. If it croaks, I wanted to be able to swap in a brand new one without messing with the adapter kit.

What manual are you moving to for the built 6.0L? It doesn't seem like there are a lot of options anymore, everything that still comes with a manual is a small car with a transaxle

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott_A View Post
Awesome project! I'm interested to see anything you have to say about the clutch linkage and adjustments.
It's neat how much history you have with this jeep. Please document and update this project all the way through.
Thanks! I intend to document the whole project, and do a technical post on clutch geometry. I'm still catching up posting photos of the things I've already finished.
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Unread 10-11-2014, 06:45 PM   #15
ssyj94
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1994 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: new york
Posts: 917
Cool build ive been tossing around doing a 5.3 swap in my yj and am looking forward to seeing how the ax15 holds up.
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