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Unread 08-27-2014, 12:33 PM   #1
PA_LJ
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1999 TJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: York, PA
Posts: 294
Rusty Nuts...a study in self discovery.

This will likely be more of a blog than a build off...feel free to post..ask questions.,, pm me if you like.

As it sat the day I bought it July 2014...1999 Jeep Wrangler Sport 118k miles





This was a craigslist buy and was represented by the PO as being in excellent condition and well maintained.

I have come to learn otherwise.

Just within the first test drive several issues were uncovered but I wasnt detered and talked the seller down to $5800. I feel I made out pretty well here...id looked at several true rust buckets with frame or body rot..too many miles or various other issues. I was pleased with the condition of the frame and body and with the right owner this thing has huge potential. Its still to be determined if im the right man for the job but for now im going to pretend as though I know what im doing.

Wont you join me on this fantastical journey?

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Unread 08-29-2014, 08:42 AM   #2
PA_LJ
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So a little background before we get started...

I have previously owned two other jeeps. My first jeep purchased was a 1993 Wrangler with 156k miles, a 4cyl, 5.5 inches of lift and a surprisingly rust free frame and body in December 2007. Just a couple days after my eldest son was born. I loved it, my wife HATED it. I added a posi lok and tublined the jeep with a roll on kit. A winch, hi lift, cut off the track bars. Pretty mild stuff. I may have some pictures of it somewhere ill add at a later time.

Eventually this jeep was sold for down money on a house in 2009. I was heartbroken.

In mid 2010 the search for a newer jeep began in earnest. My wife had hated the YJ so badly that she refused to let me buy a pile of junk. We compromised on a 2006 LJ with 20k miles sitting stock at a local Kia dealership. I was in love. After a few mild mods and a couple wheeling trips I developed the laughing monkey and after much fighting with the dealership over my warranty did an OPDA mod with forum member willydigger's help.













Unfortunately the damage had been done to my confidence in the LJ as a daily driver...my wife was pregnant again and due in just a few months. We discussed at length our options and ended up trading down to a sedan in late May 2011 (our other DD is a gas hog Durango) for the economy and for a proper warranty.

Sometimes things happen in certain ways for a reason I guess because my wife who was terribly sick through her 2nd pregnancy (a total 180 from our first experience) and ended up spending the summer (teachers have off summers) laid up on the couch getting IV nutrition ended up being induced in mid August 2011. We celebrated the birth of our second son...then the wheels fell off.
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Unread 08-29-2014, 09:33 AM   #3
PA_LJ
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This next part is sad...

A month and a day from one of the happiest days of my life I experienced the worst, and my life hasnt been the same since. My eldest son was diagnosed with Leukemia..cancer. My heart was broken.


(8/2011)


(31 days later)

I dont want to speak much about this particular journey here because, for me, it is brutal and painful and dark and there are other better places on the web to learn about and explore pediatric cancer. I would be glad to answer questions in PM's or whatever, I just dont want to clutter up JF with infinite sadness.

I can tell you our treatment plan was successful, my son is in remission and will complete his three years of chemotherapy in November 14. It is a day our entire family looks forward to.


(My boys at PA Jeep Show 2013)

Im not much of a religious man but I thank god for Hershey Medical Center, Penn State and THON and the Four Diamonds ORG for everything from treatment to support. We were/are in good hands.
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Unread 08-30-2014, 06:02 AM   #4
PA_LJ
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So now that we know a little more about the past we can get back to the current Jeep...

This build in some ways is for my eldest son. His fight has opened my eyes to many of my own shortcomings. I realized that I have not learned many true skills throughout my life and I found that this disappoints me. I have found that I dont ask enough questions, that the natural curiosity of my youth has been replaced by a fear of being proven wrong. Ive changed my oil once. I did my first brake job in July. I built a deck (more on that later). I guess the point is up until this year ive avoided doing things that are hard or time consuming and I feel like somethings missing. Call it an early mid life crisis I guess.

Now I have this blank canvas infront of me and I can do with it as I please.

Id like to compile my experiences here as a bit of an idiots guide to learning how to Jeep. It seems like there is so much general knowledge that just keeps getting rehashed and beaten to death. I dont know if anyone will read this but at least I can say that I put my first hand experiences out there for public consumption.
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Unread 08-30-2014, 06:19 AM   #5
PA_LJ
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So I drove an hour and a half west on a July afternoon prepared to see this excellently maintained jeep.

The jeep looks great sitting. But a test drive reveals a nasty shudder in 1st 2nd and reverse, scary bump steer, a general wander all over the roadway and some driveline vibes, the tires were heavily worn with the driver front being severely cupped. The engine bay is coated in old oil, there is oil on the transfer case housing, fresh oil on the oil pan and bellhousing. Every joint in the steering looked visibly worn out.

I guessed wrongly that the shudder in gear was a motor or trans mount.

I took the jeep to a local mechanic who I somewhat trust and he did a general inspection and power washed the engine bay then added a uv oil additive to try and source the leak. His comprehensive list confirmed the steering TREs were worn out as well that my clutch was slipping. That shudder turned out to be clutch chatter.

So the first order of business was to get the jeep into my garage and remove the steering...heres the old stuff, note the bolt on track bar bracket and drop pitman arm, both no no's given my current setup.



Steering geometry is all borked up...
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Unread 08-30-2014, 06:50 AM   #6
PA_LJ
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So I stripped all that junk out...and to quote Lonely Island..."I threw it on the ground"


So by this point all of my components have arrived.

ZJ tie rod upgrade, moog TRE's, new drag link, a stock pitman arm, and last but not least a Metalcloak adjustable track bar. I also received a set of 4 33x10.50x15 BFG MTs from Amazon.

I had rented a tie rod puller kit to remove the steering which included a pitman arm puller, I used this to remove the drop pitman arm. The large nut on the pitman arm shaft can be removed with a 33mm socket (easier) or adjustable wrench (harder and could damage nut). I heard horror stories about the whole removal process here so I prepared for the worst but in just a few minutes time I had the nut off and got to work eith the pitman arm puller.


You can see here the drop arm is snug up against the steering gear box, there is an oil seal here as well.

I could not fit the pitman arm puller into the remaining space without damaging the oil seal. I was able to fit the TRE puller in here which is not ideal but it got the arm started enough to switch back to the proper puller. On my last crank the TRE puller shifted and snapped its bearing retainer shaft. Good thing for lifetime warranty rental tools. With my effort on my breaker bar I eased the pitman arm off. This was a much simpler process for me than I was expecting.

The stock height arm reinstalls pretty simply, once engaged on the splined shaft use the nut and lock washer to snug the arm back into place. Torqued to 180ft lbs. I could only get mine back on so far and I assumed I had done something wrong.



Per mrblaine the steering shaft is tapered and the arm can only be pressed on so far before it cannot travel any further along the shaft. I purchased an omix-ada direct OE replacement, I have roughly 3/8" of shaft remaining. How one arm fits in relation to another is not a thing, they will only seat as far on the taper as they will allow. A true stock arm would be a better "fit" in this case and should be used if possible. The concensus is that my arm will work fine as it is so I will run it and see how it feels. I may readdress the arm at a later time if it becomes a concern.


Apparently I did a terrible job taking progress pics but needless to say I plunged ahead and got everything back into place.


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Unread 08-30-2014, 04:30 PM   #7
PA_LJ
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Theres not much to say about the tie rod and drag link. It really is self explanatory. I have a new steering stabilizer to install that is not shown, everything is just finger tight for now because I wanted to double check torque specs before cranking everything down.

As for the MC trackbar...



My only real complaint is a lack of instructions. The actual installation of this part is a no brainer but for the true amatuer a good set of instructions with images is a nice safety blanket when permanently modifying an important suspension component. I was able to source the install instructions by going into the lift kit instructions and checking the corresponding page. I will have to do the same when I drill and tap the spring perches for the MC Bump stop extensions.

I did my drilling with the steering components uninstalled, this gave me plenty of access at the axle and frame.

I drilled the axle end mount out at 9/16 per the instructions.



MC includes a solid capture nut to access the rear slot of the mount closest to the axle as you can see above.

Many have noted that drilling metal is a bit of an art, I have never done much modification when installing previous parts so this was a challenge for me. I took some advice and with liberal cutting oil and a variable speed drill I only got hung up a few times. When that bit grabs be prepared, it will snap your hand over and try to break your wrist or worse if you have a weak grip...padded gloves are helpful to protect ur hands against vehicle parts.

At the frame end we use a 5/8 bit. This took a long time. Slow steady pressure, moderate speed and more cutting oil helps. I made sure to have my safety glasses on here and even threw a painters mask on as I was laying almost under the mount. You will rain hot metal shavings all over the place, long sleeves and gloves are in order here. I did end up with a couple metal splinters, one in the crook of my arm and on my stomach of all places as I rolled around on the garage floor like a land whale.





Another issue I encountered that doesnt seem to be covered anywhere is that to drill out the axle mount I had to insert my bit through the outer hole I just enlarged, when my bit grabbed on the inner hole it cut into the enlarged outter hole making it larger yet. This happened to a lesser degree at the frame end and I feel like the slight wobble of the chuck at speed wallows out the hole you are opening. I really took my time with this and tried to ensure that I was straight flat and level as I bored through thr mount. The instructions say these holes should be a snug fit. Hand tight I have very little movement at either end of the bar so once I crank everything down maybe it will be ok but it is a concern that despite my best efforts I may have over enlarged those holes.

The axle end can be repaired with a washer welded in if it would become wallowed, fyi.
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Unread 09-03-2014, 12:49 AM   #8
PA_LJ
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Over the last couple days snatching a few minutes here and there in the garage I got one lower control arm cut out. Im kinda stalled waiting for replacement bolts for the arms. I ordered MrBlaines magic JJ washers and they showed up today but I didnt plan ahead when cutting the bolts for the arms and those can't be easily sourced locally. Blaine sent me a new set but they didnt get in with my washers so hopefully they will show up sometime before friday...

Speaking of friday...the adventure will begin with replacing my clutch...pics to come...
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Unread 09-04-2014, 11:16 PM   #9
Leffnasty
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I just wanted to give you some applause for your life story that you posted up here. One of my best friends was diagnosed with leukemia a few years back and it just now getting over it. I'm glad that you've kept your head up and persevered.

Looking forward to following your build.. Like everyone else, just wrenchin' and living the dream
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Unread 09-05-2014, 11:34 AM   #10
Eman1980
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Subbed! Do you have a general direction you are headed with this rig? Expo or wheeler or DD? Maybe you said already and I'm just bad at reading
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Unread 09-05-2014, 11:43 AM   #11
Tovino11B
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Your tale has me enthralled. Followed.
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Unread 09-05-2014, 07:41 PM   #12
PA_LJ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eman1980 View Post
Subbed! Do you have a general direction you are headed with this rig? Expo or wheeler or DD? Maybe you said already and I'm just bad at reading
I plan to wheel it. This will be pretty mild compared to the direction alot of people have taken. At this point my focus is just on cleaning up 15 years of neglect and PO mistakes. I hope to learn some things along the way, id like to learn to weld and fabricate and such. My hope also was to create a build that covers some basic maintenance items because I found when searching the forums theres a hundred threads for every one and not all of them provide good accurate information for the newbie shade tree mechanic...
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Unread 09-05-2014, 07:55 PM   #13
gst95dsm
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Right on man, I'm going to try and follow this build. As a father my heart sunk reading your son's story, and I wish you and your's all the best dealing with all that. Looks like you're off to a good start. That steering geometry was horrid! I bet that thing drives like a new jeep with new tires, and the steering sorted out. Keep up the good work..... and when you decide to start going off the deep end start reading my build.
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Unread 09-05-2014, 08:00 PM   #14
Jeff88
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I will be following, seems to be more to this than a standard Jeep build, and that is cool.
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Unread 09-05-2014, 08:25 PM   #15
PA_LJ
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So today was the start of my clutch job...I got a good start, moving pretty slow and methodical. I found an issue at the transfer case that is gonna slow things down and ill have to decide how to proceed. I took some pics...will get some more as things move along.

I got the jeep up in the air with 6 ton stands front and rear...



Disconnected the battery...

Got to working on the transfer case skid. I really expected a hard time with the skid. I got to work cranking the skid bolts to frame with a 3/4 socket and my 2 foot breaker bar. Cranked all 5...yes 5. One is missing from the PO. None of them seemed to move well and they were making a torque-like pinging sound, similar to when u crank down your lug nuts. Not sure what that noise is or a better way to describe it. I figured it was the welds giving way on nutserts. Switchrd to my air impact at 120 psi...laid it on the first bolt and after a few seconds of wide open pounding, much to my surprise, the bolt started to spin out. I repeated the process on the other bolts. Prior to this I had used a 13mm socket on my breaker and electric impact to pull the nuts off the trans mount where they bolt to the center of the skid.







Once I dropped the skid I found this nonsense on the transfer case... http://www.jeepforum.com/forum/f9/sa...-pics-2691626/

I will have to replace one nutsert...thank you PO. Also I plan to use a flap disk and clean up the surface rust on the frame and on the skid before putting it all back together...

Passenger Side Frame - with broken bolt remaining in nutsert.


Driver Side Frame -


Unbolted the rear driveshaft with a 8mm ratchet, cut the zip tie at the TC and slipped the DS off...

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