Project "Tinker Belle" -
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post #1 of 62 Old 12-01-2010, 09:23 PM Thread Starter
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2000 TJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Ladysmith
Posts: 199
Project "Tinker Belle"

Ok after owning this rig for over 3 months now, compiling photos, bruises, and knowhow I have decided to start my own build thread.
As this progresses you will see it really is what "not" to do when buying and modifying a TJ but it and the process are my own.

Without further fanfare here she is...
a 2000 TJ sahara, forest green, with 131K on the clock at time of purchase.

32rh Automatic
Dana 30/35 combo (did not know what to look for for a D44) Lesson learned
307 gears, lesson learned
Just found out the wheels that came on her were the 60th anniversary wheels from a donor rig... They are for sale lol...

I liked the color, and the two tone interior... probably the worst reasons I have ever used to justify the purchase of a vehicle.

Over her life there are plans for:

Armor and Recovery:
DIY front bumper full coverage (I HATE deer)
DIY rear bumper plus tire carrier
DIY skids
DIY sliders
Winch, probably 8500 or larger

33"s DONE!
the proper lift to fit 33s DONE!
regear to something a little more friendly (hmmm 3.73 or 4.10? anyone have any laying around with the carriers lol?) DONE
Axle swap out of a 97TJ 4lung. D30/D35 4.10 gears
Aussie Locker for the front
Ox or other selectable for the rear
Upgrade to a HP30?

mild upgrades from exhaust
chip or stand alone programmer
true CAI likely from the cowl

misc stuff to make the inside wife friendly
added grab handles to make life (entry exit) easier
a stereo system that doesnt sound like it is converting everything to a Nintendo 8bit soundtrack
Soft top (rampage frameless maybe?) and some sort of windjammer to keep the roar to a minimum.

Forward LightingI was wife limited to 4 more lights in addition to factory fogs)
Going to be using those high end HF 100w lights lol
HIDs up front, any recommendations?
Rear floods and whatever else I can come up with to look like a mother ship beckoning its children home.

Last edited by LiftThis; 01-17-2011 at 07:06 PM. Reason: Updating mod list
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post #2 of 62 Old 12-01-2010, 09:37 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Ladysmith
Posts: 199
Day one with "Tink" consisted of it leaving me stranded at the local post office, then at Target because the battery had slid into the fender shorting itself out.
Since I owned it less then 24 hours and had already bought 2 tools and busted one knuckle with it the wife named it "tink" short for Tinkerbell. I protested that my TJ was not going to have a pixie as a mascot.
The verdict was in.... Tinker was because I could forsee a future of wrench turning on this rig... Belle was in memory of old fighter/bomber plans... The pin up idea was born in my head and the wife Photochopped it up for me.

This graffic will replace the Sahara graffic that runs on the side of the cowl.

The last 3 months history of "Tink" can be summed up by this email I just sent the dealership when they asked how much I loved my purchase and to send them my friends and family....
The email is as follows.


Since the purchase of my 2000 Jeep Wrangler Sahara in September things have gone like this.
*The day after my purchase it left me stranded, twice, due to an improperly fastened battery with horrible corrosion on the cables. I fixed this...
*Week one the transmission began to slip when cold...
*Week two the windshield wiper motor died in the middle of a rainstorm some 70 miles from home. I replaced this....
also noticed that the interior flooded everytime it would rain, still unable to find the leak(s)
*Week three I replaced the headlight switch that did not function properly from day 1.
*Week four I replaced the near bald tires that came on the jeep (I was actually aware of this one going in though).
*Week five the dash readouts died... figured out how to fix this as well....
It started to get cold out... and thank God because I was getting tired of bailing out the jeep after every rain. The downside, now the transmission barely engages as all until it reaches full operating temperature. Good times...
*Week six the passenger front blinker goes out... no big deal til I discover it is because the wiring had rotted off the assembly... fixed that.
*Week seven I got sick of not being able to drive the jeep due to terrible transmission behavior. I parked it to fix it. After removing the transmission crossmember skid I discovered that the drivers side frame had rusted completely through.... Nice.
*Week eight to the present day... the jeep sits in the garage while I figure out what to do and save up the money to make it safe to drive again.

I know I purchased this jeep without a warranty, you get what you pay for.
That being said, I traded in to your dealership a 30K car with zero issues for this nightmare.
I do not see myself recommending your dealership in any capacity any time soon. I do not mention them at all, and perhaps that is good, for if I did, I doubt it would be in a positive light.


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post #3 of 62 Old 12-01-2010, 09:47 PM Thread Starter
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The first thing the wife and I did was pull the hardtop off. In the process we destroyed the weatherstriping that runs along the tub. I honestly think the top had only been off a handfull of times in its life.

So if you think you have a hardtop that has not been off.... Get a new gasketset before you pull yours. This is most likely the reason I have a pool in the rear of the jeep after every rain.
So if the insides are going to get wet, why not take it out in the rain?

70% chance of thunderstorms... hey, babe.. you want to take the jeep out topless?
Answer "sure, why not"
I love this woman...
Holy crap does the air move from rear to front in a topless wrangler! I had more water on the inside of the windshield than outside.

Next off were the doors.
If you have never had your doors off they are a PITA to remove if they have been sitting snug for 10+ years.
after a large amount of penetrating oil and a few encouraging taps from the BFH, off they came. Grease them up well and now they are removable with minimal effort.
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post #4 of 62 Old 12-01-2010, 10:03 PM Thread Starter
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So I purchased "tink" with near bald tires. It was time to get her some new shoes. I knew I wanted to go 33"s and could not see the sense in buying a set of stockers or 31s to just buy another set down the road.
A local jeep guy introduced me to the Wrangler Duratrac.

What a mean looking tire! I did a bit of research on them and immediately liked the M+S rating... the mountain snowflake was just icing on the cake.

I was not worried about a softer sidewall and all the junk I was reading on Tirerack, since I was not putting them on a F350 or something of similar size.
My only fear... chewing the heck out of the tires or my flares running stock dimensions on the driveline til I grabbed a lift.
So I picked up a set of four 33x12.5x15 duratracs from Discount tire. They were looking at me strange when I showed up to have them mounted up without a lift.

Honestly, I had nothing to worry about... yeah I know there is NO room to flex with 33"s on stock geometry but on the highway there are no issues at all. (other than becoming aware of my 307s).

The tires have no rubbing up front lock to lock and do not rub even under heavy breaking. Granted they are mounted on Cragar Soft 8 15 x 10s with 4.5inches of backspacing. This works for me for now. The wife refers to them as my moderately sized tires as I convinced her that 33"s are middle of the road for what people are running...

I think that she is starting to look much better.

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post #5 of 62 Old 12-01-2010, 10:18 PM
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nice TJ man, i would get an OME lift on it to start with lol

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post #6 of 62 Old 12-02-2010, 08:33 PM Thread Starter
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Slipping transmission

Tinks trans has been slipping since the first week in my driveway. I checked the fluid and it looked a little too clean for 131K miles... Yes I am that much of a cynic.
The wife did some research and let me know that a Jeep trans slipping while cold but performing fine while at operating temp could indicate improper fluid.
She was due for a flush anyway (the jeep not the wife) so I set out to make sure it went as smooth as possible.

I had also recently picked up a 1.25" BL and transfercase drop just in case.

First thing I noticed was the lack of a drain plug on the 32rh. How annoying. After some reading about fluid starvation on inclines I decided that a deep trans pan was a good idea. Besides... it already had the drain plug installed.
Thanks to Summit it was at my door in only a few days....


Color match paint my rear end....
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post #7 of 62 Old 12-02-2010, 08:43 PM
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Looks good with the new tires and wheels.

'97 moss green pearlcoat wrangler

It's in the middle of nowhere, only one way to get there, you gotta get a little mud on the tires. - Brad Paisley
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post #8 of 62 Old 12-02-2010, 08:55 PM Thread Starter
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Belly Skid ie Rust sponge

So it is time to remove the bellyskid. Here are a few things I used to help in the process...

Turns out there was about 3/8ths of an inch of scale rust between the skid and the frame. It was originally more of my frame than the skid as evidence by the holes found in the bottom of the paper thin frame rail.

Skid off and start of the cleaning process

Grinding gone wild!

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post #9 of 62 Old 12-02-2010, 09:05 PM Thread Starter
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If you are going to clean up all the big stuff it only makes sense to do the small stuff as well.
All small parts were vibrablasted, dipped, primed, painted and cooked prior to install

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post #10 of 62 Old 12-02-2010, 09:16 PM Thread Starter
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Tuning the 32rh

So I dropped the pan with minimal mess and adjusted the two locations on the trans for the bands...
The front one was a torx fitting for the primary adjuster... hmmm
Even though I do not understand the exact reason behind the method used in the FSM I followed it and the adjustments went well. No more slipping when cold. She shifts like a champ... now to just make it 2 weeks without a catastrophic failure and I should be over the hump lol.
The wife and I pushed a total of 14qts of AFT+4 through the system on a full flush from the passenger side return line. It ran out nice and clean at the end.
Nope that is not a picture of fireworks... it is shiny metal shaving in the bottom of my trans pan!

Just a bit of debris on the magnet

Skid ready for reinstall

Deep pan on

All buttoned up! Frame rail looks perty again as well...
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post #11 of 62 Old 12-02-2010, 09:25 PM
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I love the clean-up, but I've never seen so much effort put into the stock t-case skid. I hate that draggy pos.

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If anyone is in the York area and wants to go wheeling let me know I'm always down!
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post #12 of 62 Old 12-02-2010, 09:58 PM
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Looks good.

What is this "vibrablasted" thing you talk of. Is that the treatment in the bowl?

New Jeep Project. 2003 TJ... Third time's the Charm.
2005 LJ "Alberta LJ"
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post #13 of 62 Old 12-03-2010, 08:59 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by kyleboender View Post
What is this "vibrablasted" thing you talk of. Is that the treatment in the bowl?
All the small stuff is put into a vibrating tumbler along with whatever media you are going to use. (ceramic chips in this case).
You can add various chemicals depending on what result you are looking for and the condition of the parts you are putting in.
These were only in the machine for about 3.5 hours and came out rather nice.

I ran a tap and die through/over all the hardware as well after it was cleaned up. It is amazing how well a set of cleaned threads work during reassembly.

As far as all the work into the stock skid, it really was about 2 hours of grind and prep. Besides, discovering the holes in the frame has shrunk the list of mods that "Tinker Belle" will get. She has been demoted to a DD that will only see light offroad. (mud, and the occasional pile of rocks).

Now doing things on the cheap, she is getting a RC 3.25 combo lift to clear her 33"s. Yes I know you get what you pay for, I am curious to see just how rough the 2.2s are. The 33" beachballs out on the corners have softened up her ride considerably.
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post #14 of 62 Old 12-09-2010, 10:42 AM Thread Starter
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Steering Wheel

So the Original Owner of Tink had an issue with the top of the steering wheel. He either rubbed it... a lot... or chewed on it while sitting in rush hour traffic. Either way he wore a hole through the leather wrap on the wheel.

Side Note: I have noticed that with the lack of a comfortable elbow rest in a jeep that I also put my hands at the 12 o'clock position while driving. This is not a normal spot for me.

One day the wife and I were out for a drive and I realized I was getting a "look".
"What?" I said
"You need to do something about that steering wheel... I am starting to get jealous."
It would seem that I was "occupied" by the torn leather while driving... huh.
So it was time to fix it so all would be right with the world again.

My cheap fix

The leather cover actually comes off nicely

All stripped off... without the cover it is still comfortable but was a bit thin for my liking. Not to mention some ugly joints in the foam.

Here is the cover after it was stretched to fit. I promptly broke the plastic bands that are supposed to hold it to the wheel.

After a trip to Wally World's makeup and beauty section we scored a green leather cord... Tah Dah!

All done, though I will have to restretch and wrap it this summer after everything settles in.
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post #15 of 62 Old 12-09-2010, 12:13 PM Thread Starter
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Who wants to install a Body Lift!?!

So it was time to install the 1.25 inch Body Lift that came with my Rough Country combo lift.
Step 1. Read your instructions and check your parts to make sure you got everything.
Oops... we didn't even make it past step one....
The kit instructions and list of contents refer to New bumpstops for the front grill area. No bumpstops... but I did get these two interesting metal pieces... hmmm time to call Rough Country. Thanks to the wife for looking up their number for me while I was out in the garage.
One of these things are not like the other...

According to the tech at Rough Country (didnt get his name... shame on me) The little box things replaced the new bumpstops... pictures 5 and 6 show them in the instructions.
Well that is fine and dandy, but the pictures show something similar to what came with your package and only refer to needing to trim "original" plates to get the "new bumpstops" to fit.
The tools needed section of your instructions does not mention a drill. Nor do the instructions mention mounting this metal bracket. Only the removal of the old bumpstop to make way for the new.

Thank you image 7 for showing me how to install the new bumpstop... errr wait, your kit no longer has those, just brackets...

Oh well, onward and upward....
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