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Rproject 02-28-2014 06:44 PM

Rproject's official "sideways" build thread
While looking through photos today, I couldn't believe how far our '87 has come in the 2 years we've had it, so I decided to make a build thread. I'm calling this the "sideways" build thread because, to the untrained eye, the changes are not dramatic, but to someone who knows, it's substantial.

May 2012: The arrival

This Wrangler has spent it's entire life in Illinois and is RUST FREE! The PO put it in the garage every November and didn't pull it out until April except for blue bird days.

Items to note:
3" body lift
Painted marker lights

Rproject 02-28-2014 06:57 PM

As soon as we got home, I had to start tearing into it. Of course, I had to take the top off - and drop the windshield. :D

The first REAL order of business was Heruclining the interior. I went with Herculiner for a couple reasons: Reputation, history in the industry, my wife found a deal online that saved me 60+%. ;)

Everything came out. Including the roll bar. This was my first taste of just how much of a cream puff this rig was going to be. Not a single ounce of PB Blaster or power tools were required to remove the interior.

I sanded, used Scotch Brite pads and scuff wheels to rough up the surface. The work light was used to find any bright spots before laying down the liner.

Very happy with the results.

If I could, I would have left the roll bar off. Really like the look.

Rproject 02-28-2014 07:10 PM

Maintenance first!!!

After the first rain, I realized rather quickly that the cowl seal needed to be replaced.

Here's what the windshield channel looked like when we went to replace the seal.

Rproject 02-28-2014 07:14 PM

As fluid changes and other basic maintenance items were completed, it was time to start looking at how Trail Ready this old rig was. While inspecting the rear bumper, we realized that the PO had only secured the bumper with 4 bolts, and they were 3/8" grade 5, not 1/2" grade 8!!! Also, there was only 1 support per side.

Off to my buddy the welder, mechanic, extraordinaire for a little reinforcing.

2 c-channels were added to allow all 8 bolt locations to be used

As well as a pair of 15,000 lb rated d-rings

We did find that in 1987, the factory reinforced the corner mount locations for increased rigidity. :-)

Rproject 02-28-2014 07:18 PM


Oh what a decision. Tires, tires, tires. So many options, so many uses classes. In the end, I decided on a quiet street mannered tire that would still give solid off road performance: Yokohama Geolander AT/S in 31x10.5".

Why? Because I didn't want a loud MT tire and I have been running the Geolanders on my wife's Durango for years without any issues. They bite well in the winter and wear very very slowly.

It may not seem like a huge upgrade to go from 30x9.5's to 31x10.5's, but it really changed the handling and stance of the vehicle.

Rproject 02-28-2014 07:23 PM

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As summer began to wane in 2012, it was time to start working on the lift. After months and months and months of research, I finally landed on OME. I looked at Rancho, BDS, Zone, Rugged Ridge, OME, Rubicon Express, and several others. At the end of the day it came down to comfort and flexibility over price. It's a decision I have ZERO regrets about to this day.

A 2.5" suspension lift WITH 3" body lift. What was I thinking?!?!?!!!!!

The tools shown here are ALL of the tools required to install my lift. Notice any "traditional" lift installation tools missing? ;)

Rproject 02-28-2014 07:31 PM

A few notes on body lifts:

1. I used to HATE them and thought they were the gateway drug to REAL lifts
2. I still hate any body lift 2" or over
3. A 1-1.5" body lift creates many benefits for servicing and cleaning.
4. A body lift will allow your suspension to flex a little more
5. If you're removing an existing body lift --- CHECK EVERYTHING to make sure the body will go back down without any impediments.

Our body lift removal turned into a body lift reduction. I decided to trim the lift pucks in half creating a 1.5" body lift. I tested the bolts with a 1/2" socket wrench and 2' helper bar to see which ones were going to give me a fit when trying to pull the lift. Drum roll please ........................... none of them proved to need more than the 1/2" socket in order to be removed. I know, don't hate me, it's a cream puff!

Now for the Oh S*** moment. When the body came down, there was a THUNK/CRACK sound. I had NO clue what had just happened until I walked around front. The steering shaft was frozen solid and did not slip shorter as the body came down. Instead it forced its way straight through the head of the gear box and blew every seal in the steering box. DOH!!!!

Because I'm cheap, and because I don't lose to inanimate objects easily, I decided that I was going to win against the steering shaft. It was coming apart, it was going to get lubricated, and it was going back in the Wrangler!!!

After some work, it finally came apart.

Rproject 02-28-2014 07:34 PM

NOW it's ready for the trails!!

I'd taken it out a few times to some local, private, land with owner permission, to test it out a few times. It did well. Not as well before the tires and lift, but well. The biggest problem was the carb.

Oh the carb saga!!! That will be the next installment of "The Sideways Build"

Rproject 03-01-2014 08:14 AM

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The great carb saga.

After wheeling our new rig a few times stock and a handful of times post lift, it became blatantly apparent that the Carter BBD does not like steep downhills. Every time the nose of the Wrangler was pointed down, the Jeep would sputter and stall. Not the most ideal situation to be in while on the trails.

Back to the research library ( After multiple positive reviews the decision was made to go with the Motorcraft 2150 available on Ebay for around $300.

Now, keep in mind, I'm a shade tree mechanic at best and a hack at worst. The inside of an engine bay is about as familiar to me as performing intestinal surgery. BUT, with the resources available here and the instructions provided with the carb, I was able to change from the BBD to the 2150 in roughly 4 hours!!!

This is a very valuable project and the best $300 I ever put into my rig.

jorhay 03-01-2014 05:26 PM

Looks like a nice ride and some worthwhile wrenching!

Rproject 03-20-2014 07:50 AM

The sideways build - body armor edition.

After wheeling the summer away, fall settled in and it was time to start looking at winter upgrades. Knowing that the challenges and adventures scheduled for 2013 were going to be bigger and more dynamic, body armor was definitely in order and so the research began. Price, quality, ease of doing business were all considerations. The eventual winner, for me, was A To Z Fabrication out of Pennsylvania. Zach is great to work with, makes some DAMN good product, and is a small shop so the money's not going to a conglomerate.

The new slides required trimming of the fender flares for a clean look. I'm all about the finished product and believe just because it's done at home doesn't mean it has to look like it was done at home.

Rproject 03-20-2014 07:54 AM

Fast forward to summer of 2013.

The Wrangler has a name. Not given by me, and not universally accepted, but the local group I wheel with has penned him (and me for that matter) "Grandpa".

Now, what you need to know is that the group I wheel with has 450+ members, about 100 active members and is 90+% JK's and JKU's. The first time they saw me and my rig they all kind of snickered and made a few snide remarks. A few hours later EVERY one of them were behind me as we went down the trails. Not because they figured if I could make it they could, but because they kept taking the wrong lines and asked me to show them how to hit the obstacles and NOT rev the rig up to 7k RPM. LOL

Oh, did I not mention that I got new seats? How silly of me. Great back story. A guy a few towns over was working on a multi-year build. Bought all kinds of stuff on the front end, including seats. When he got to the seat installation part of the project he couldn't get them to work. The seats would go in, but since he didn't have a tilt column, he couldn't fit. He the seats to me for a ridiculous price. Saw the guy on the trails a couple months later. He walked up to me and in a snide voice asked, "so, how did those seats work out for you?" figuring I would have the same problem he did. I said, "just fine". He looked in my rig and said, "F***, you have a tilt column" and walked away. LOL

Rproject 03-20-2014 08:08 AM

The great locker debate.

Front, Rear, air, E, automatic, Detroit, OX, ............. the list is virtually endless as are the opinions. I spent months and months reading, researching, pulling my hair out, making more grey hairs and basically going batty trying to figure out what to do. After what seemed like an eternity, the decision was made ....................... Aussie up front.

The installation went pretty well, except for a brain failure on my part. A buddy came over, slapped me upside the head, and everything was together in a matter of a couple hours. Total project time was under 6 hours, including brain failure.

The video below was from the first test. The obstacle is about 7' tall and quite the incline. Most of the guys who try this area, ...... well, I'll just let the locker speak for itself.

jred 03-30-2014 10:26 AM

Good job, great story!

Rproject 03-31-2014 06:45 AM


Originally Posted by jred (Post 21707361)
Good job, great story!

Thank you.

There's still a few more chapters I need to include to bring it current. It's been a fun journey so far.

The time now is 06:00 AM.

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