So back in May '12, I picked up a 2003 WJ Overland 4.7L HO V8 and QuadraDrive to replace my trusty old '92 Nissan Pathfinder SE-V6 4x4. I picked it up from a friend with about 89,000 miles on it back in 2002 and sold it a couple months ago with 240,000 trouble free miles on the clock.
And here's the new WJ in the driveway. Sorry for the crappy quality, but they're just quick phone shots.
When I was looking for a new rig to build, my only requirements initially were comfort and solid axles front and rear. I started doing some research online and just sort of gravitated towards Jeep, no matter how I tried to fight it. (I was a die-hard Nissan guy for many years, so Jeep was always the dark side for me.) After looking and looking, I finally settled on the WJ and soon located one up in Dallas, so off I went on a weekend road trip and came home with this beauty.
The build plans started weeks before I actually bought the Jeep, but it took me until a couple months later before I finally settled on the Clayton long arm kit rather than a simpler (and cheaper) bolt-on lift. Ended up just diving in and going all-out from the get-go since I was pretty sure I'd "out grow" a cheaper kit. I got with Kolak and he helped me get everything picked out and ordered and this morning, Brown Santa dropped off the final pieces for the first stage of my most likely undending build!
Unboxed everything and did a quick inventory to make sure everything was there.
Terraflex 4.5" springs
New spring isolators all around
JKS Adjustable Track-Bar
JKS Front Quick Disco's
Terraflex (I think) Extended Rear Swaybar Links
Heavy duty steering stabilizer (not sure what brand, doesn't say on the box. Was white, I painted it black)
IRO Front Lower Spring Retainers
IRO Front Upper Spring Retainers
Magnaflow high-flow cat
Flowmaster Super 44 (might end up being too loud for me, but we'll see)
285/70/17 BFG KM2's (had them on my Pathfinder as well and loved them)
Eagle Alloy Series 185 17x9 w/ 4.625" backspacing
I think I remembered everything. Right now it's just a bunch of boxes of parts. I'm trying to line up some local Jeepers to help me with the install since I don't have access to a welder or any welding skills if I did, but hopefully I can get cracking on it very soon. I also just picked up a Hitachi angle-grinder and a bunch of cut-off discs so I can go ahead and trim my fenders. I'm going to trim them pretty aggressively so I can keep my bumpstops as short as possible, but we'll see how well that actually works.
Stay tuned for updates! Hopefully they'll be coming very soon!
Copied and pasted from one of my other threads to get everything in one place...
Thought I'd post up what I came up with to mount my amps out of the way. I considered mounting them on the back of the rear seats like they were in my old Pathfinder, but then you can't just fold the seats down and load it up. I also thought about putting them under the back seats, but they kick out a pretty good amount of heat, so I didn't want them enclosed like that. I have no use for a CD changer since I use my phone and ipod for all my music and I don't even think I could hook it up to my Pioneer DEH-80PRS anyway. So, on to the build.
I took the cd changer out and to my surprise, my JL Audio 300/2 and 300/4 fit very nicely into the location, and there were already recessed mounting bolts for a bracket to use. The question, though, was how to easily and cheaply make a bracket that could utilize those bolts.
After a lot of pondering how I was going to do it, I decided to just get some wood and start cutting, figuring it out along the way. I got some basic measurements and went to town on a sheet of 1/2" oak and came up with this shape that fit very neatly into the location.
To get the arc for the wheel well, I just eyeballed it and cut a sheet of paper with an arc I thought would fit well and lucked out on the first try. So I traced the arc on the wood and used a scroll saw to make the cut. The bracket, which I thought would be the hardest part, ended up being the easiest. I just bent the cd changer bracket flat and mounted it to the back of the sheet of oak. To accurately figure out where to mount the bracket on the back of the wood I just cut a rectangular sheet of cardboard slightly taller than the wood, pressed it up against the bolts so they punched holes in it, then used that as a template to drill the holes in the wood.
The holes you see cut in the wood are to access the 4 bolts to secure the bracket to the vehicle. The rest of the holes are to run the wires for the amp to keep everything clean and have as little wire showing as possible. Here is a picture of the wood with bracket in place to take some more measurements for the second amp mount.
I got lazy and didn't take any pictures of the steps for the second amp mount, but it's just a 3" block with another small piece of wood to mount the second amp on. This is the finished product rattle canned black.
Mocked up with the top amp to show how it sits and the clearance between the second mount.
Here's the finished product in the Jeep.
It does stick out just a little further than I had planned, but it was necessary because each amp is just a hair over 2.5" thick.
Let me know what y'all think. I'm extremely happy with how it turned out. Especially since this is the first custom build I've ever done.
So today I bit the bullet and started trimming my front fenders. Snapped some pictures of the process as I went. Started like this (obviously).
I taped off the line I wanted to cut. I didn't want to bother with rolling the front fenders, so I just cut where I wanted them to be.
First time ever using an angle grinder, too so I was extra nervous about that. The grinder cuts like butter with a cutoff wheel, but it still wasn't the prettiest or straightest of cuts due to inexperience. The curves were kinda challenging for me. Had to do quite a bit of touch up with a grinder wheel, then deburr with the dremel.
As you can see, the curve isn't perfect and its' still just a little uneven, but I think after I hit it with some Mopar touch-up paint and get the door trim on it, it'll look much better. Here's what I cut off. Took off quite a bit.
Here's the driver's side done.
Put the front bumper fascia back up and taped a line to cut to match the new fender line.
Used tin snips and a sanding block to clean it up afterwards. Passenger side turned out pretty nice. I took it off a little higher than most when I cut the fog lights out so I ended up having to use a coping saw to cut the foam behind the bumper.
The driver's side was a different story. I taped the line I wanted to cut, then like a moron, cut the wrong side of the tape. It's hard to tell in this picture, but the bumper fascia ends about an inch before the fender. Doh! Oh well, I'm planning on replacing it with an LSR front bumper in about 6-9 months, so I guess I can live with it until then. Still pretty mad at myself, though. I got in a hurry with the fascia. Live and learn, I guess.
I've been neglecting this build thread for a long time. I'm going to try and migrate as much as I can from the other forum I'm on. If stuff sounds out of place it's because I'm trying to edit out the posts and comments asking questions and whatnot on the other forum.
Here's the passenger side with both new tires/wheels.
Here's a closeup of the front. I trimmed a bit more off of that stuff in the front, but I need to clean it up a bit. I was running out of time last night, so I did kind of a rush job. I'll pull it back off and finish it up and bed line the wheel wells today or tomorrow.
And here's the rear. The bumper fascia I didn't even have to pull off to trim, just taped a line and used tin snips. In the front, I just pulled the end cap off the sliders and did a little bit with a hammer. It's still pretty close. I'm going to set up some blocks or something to run it up on to see if I'll have any problems with normal DD duty.
Haven't updated this thing in a while, but I haven't really done much to it since I put the tires on, either. Just minor stuff like replacing hood and rear hatch lift struts, ZJ washer bottle relocate (got one with the low fluid sensor, which turned out to be a huge PITA), replaced the rear wiper arm because that plastic piece that guides it onto the stop block was broken, and ditched my HID's for HIR headlights. I got pulled over for having HID's in stock housings (no ticket), but I figured I might as well go ahead and make her legal. I like the way the stock housings look, so I didn't want to change them out for projectors, plus the passenger side HID was flickering anyway.
I hammered those pinch welds in the front wheel wells as much as I could with my little 3.5lb sledge, but it still rubs if I turn more than about 3/4 lock either direction, much worse in reverse. I need a bigger hammer! It's knocked a few chunks out of the outer tread blocks, but nothing worth worrying about. They'll get chunked out way worse when I start hitting some rocks.
I still haven't gotten the Clayton's kit installed yet. Been trying to line up someone local to do the welding for me since I don't have the skills or equipment to do it myself. That hasn't worked out, so I got a quote from a shop back in my hometown. He said they've done tons of Clayton kits on Wranglers and even one on a WJ, so I trust them to get everything positioned and welded on the right way. He only quoted me about $100 to weld the crossmember, control arm mounts, and unibody stiffening rails on, so I'm going to make an appointment to get that stuff done while I'm home on Christmas leave. I'll either go ahead and bolt everything on while I'm in Lufkin or wait until I get back here to the Corpus Christi area and have some other Jeepers help me bolt everything up and get it adjusted right. Gonna read over the instructions a bunch of times and see if it's something I want to attempt with just me and a friend in the garage. Only thing I won't be able to do after that is tack weld those axle-side control arm spacers, but I figure I could just drive it the 5 or so miles from the house to the shop to have them tack those for me real quick.
So after 13.5 grueling hours, the Clayton lift is on! With the 4.5" springs and new isolators, I think I got more like 5.5" of lift out of it, but I'm sure the springs will settle a little. It's super squirrely on the highway right now and there are definitely some new vibes, but I don't know if those are from the tires/axles not being perfectly aligned or from the driveshaft. I've got a lot more work to do measuring everything out again and readjusting the control arms and track bar to get everything perfect: a process I am not looking forward to at all. But at least that giant pile of parts finally made their way from my garage and closet to on the Jeep where they belong! I didn't get a ton of pics, but I'll post the few that I did.
Front control arms, springs, shocks, etc out. Those lower spring perches are gonna need some attention. Hopefully they last until I can swap in new axles, though.
Skip forward many hours and here's Vinnie taking a turn with the angle grinder. He's much faster than I am and we were all getting tired and ready to be done:
I didn't take any more pictures after that because we were just focused on getting it done so we could all go home. We started around 9am and didn't get the last bolt tightened until about 1:30am. I snapped the after pictures this afternoon.
As you can see, the front axle isn't centered, although it's not as bad as it looks in the picture because of the angle.
Just for fun, after using the Jeep to move some stuff around in the back yard, I ran it up on the pile of dirt that the previous renters left behind and discovered that the front doesn't flex very well at all with the sway bar connected. Haha. I didn't bother disconnecting it, just wanted to run it up a little to check rear tire clearance. The rear flexes pretty well now that the rear sway bar is history.
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Rear fenders definitely need to be trimmed. Only touching the front of the wheel well, though. Not as much as I would have thought.
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I could have run it up higher, but with the front connected and only 2 wheel drive (still no front DS), I didn't want to push it too much. This was just on a whim since it was right there. I don't have the front spring retainers in, yet either, and I didn't want to puke a spring.
Took a short trip down to the bay this evening before sunset. The wind today was absolutely nuts. 35 gusting 50 kts (about 60mph). Kicked up a TON of dust and sand, so the skyline was brown all day. Made for a pretty cool sunset and a few good pics. Unfortunately, all I had was my phone, but they turned out ok.
I shamelessly stole theksmith's idea for the swaybar disconnect holders. Pretty simple but very practical mod. Thanks for posting the parts list, K! I get bored and antsy if I don't have something to work on or upgrade on the dub.
Got a couple more pics while I was down at the bay fishing. Thought they turned out pretty well.
Finally broke down and put some club logos on her, too. I was hesitant, but I like the way they look. Still nice and simple looking. They're still trying to talk me into a windshield banner, too, but I'm not sure about that.
Going on a camping trip in mid April and am going to need all the cargo room I can get. So, once again, I took a page from K's book and did the rear seat mod. Super easy to do, took less than an hour and only about $15. I bought a 21/64" drill bit, but found it had a good bit of play with the 5/16" pins, so I used a 5/16" drill bit from the last 3 hinges and it came out great! Thanks, theksmith, for yet another brilliant idea!
Excuse the dirty floors. Haven't vacuumed them in a while and I've been spending a lot of time at the beach lately.
Our local Jeep club took a weekend trip down Padre Island National Seashore 60 miles down the beach. Found some cool driftwood to flex on. Forgot to disconnect my front swaybar before I popped up on it, but was still fairly impressed with what I got out of it.