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Unread 11-02-2011, 01:25 AM   #1
ShebZJ
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1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
Posts: 46
Shebzj's Build Thread

I have decided it is time to start a build thread. A bit late, but I will get it up to speed quickly. If nothing else, documenting the work along the way seems like it could be satisfying.
I bought my completely stock 1997 Grand Cherokee Laredo 4.0L about 8 years ago and it has been a daily driver until very recently. I had always wanted to do some modifying, but my wife was the principle driver and making it huge didnít seem like a good idea. Once we bought a new car, the ZJ was mine again and it was time to have some fun.



Our first little taste of the back country proved to be very exciting. It was basically logging roads with the occasional washout, but some spectacular views. With well worn BFG ATís, and bone stock other than the 2Ē Budget Boost, we were not going to be getting into anything crazy. Had we broken anything, we would have been stranded since we didnít even have a spare tire or a jack LOL.





Every good build must start somewhere, and in this case it was a Craigslist purchase of some lightly used 15x8 Pro-Comp Rock Crawler wheels. I was so excited that I had them mounted right away on my rather worn 235/75R15 BFG All Terrains. Looks kind of goofy, but oddly I thought it made the jeep look way better.
Next the crappy front plastic bumper cover had to go. It was going to end up scrapped anyways once I started my winch bumper build. Again I think it was a vast improvement and made it look tougher, although my wife hates this look. I think it signifies transition, which is what this build is all about.




I spent some time researching lift kits and decided early on that I didnít want a lift that left the jeep running uncomfortably on the road. That meant a Long Arm kit was in my future. These are not cheap, but I wanted to go this way, so after reading many decent reviews, I ordered up the Rough Country ZJ 4Ē Long Arm Lift Kit from a local vendor. It arrived in two weeks and so began my solo install. Unfortunately I didnít take many pictures during the process. I had installed a 2Ē Budget Boost a few months earlier and I had decided to keep that installed. So with that and the 4Ē lift, 33ís should fit without much trimming. Here the front is installed with the new tires. Rear is stock.

Front done with need tires. Rear still stock


Front and Rear done!


The kit includes almost everything you need with the exception of brake lines and a rear track bar. I ordered some Stainless Extended Brake Lines from Iron Rock Offroad and they look really good. DOT approved too, so that is great. The lift kit uses a drop bracket for the rear track bar which would be fine if it centered the axle, but it is way out, so I have since ordered a new Adjustable Rear Track Bar from Iron Rock Offroad.
As you can see above, i purchased new tires. The worn All Terrains had to go, so I ordered up a set of 33x12.5x15 BFG KM2ís. Wow, now we are getting somewhere. Nothing says attitude like a good set of Mud Tires!

Okay time to break out the forklift and test the flex. I think it is okay for a starting point. I believe the shocks that came with the lift are a little short if you factor in the 2Ē Budget Boost, but i can deal with that for now. Didnít think to flex out the back.




I found some shrubs to drive into!


I will post more soon!

__________________
97 ZJ, 8" total lift on IRO Springs w/RC Long Arms, 33" KM2's, Black Rock Krawlers, KOR Steering Box Brace, IRO HD OTK Steering and Rear Adjustable Track Bar, Custom Bumper, XRC8 Winch, NP231 swap with SYE, 8.8 and Trussed HP D30...both Spartan locked!
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Unread 11-03-2011, 11:12 PM   #2
ShebZJ
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1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
Posts: 46
Decided that if I ever wanted to use my future winch, i better get a decent battery.

Out with the old!


In with the new! Optima Yellowtop with top and side posts. I figure i will eventually use the side posts for the winch cables to try and keep the wiring neat and tidy.



I found the front bolt of the battery hold down completely sieze. Forced it and now it just spins in the hole. I will need to remove the battery soon and cut it out. Currently the battery is reasonably tight using the back bolt but not good enough. I kind of think the hold down looks crappy anyways, so i will try and find something better soon.
__________________
97 ZJ, 8" total lift on IRO Springs w/RC Long Arms, 33" KM2's, Black Rock Krawlers, KOR Steering Box Brace, IRO HD OTK Steering and Rear Adjustable Track Bar, Custom Bumper, XRC8 Winch, NP231 swap with SYE, 8.8 and Trussed HP D30...both Spartan locked!
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Unread 11-03-2011, 11:38 PM   #3
ShebZJ
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
Posts: 46
My 4.0L ZJ has the weakest looking steering components. The tierod is tiny and the draglink is not much better. Without very much effort, I can bend the tierod a significant amount, so with the extra stresses on things, I decided I needed a better system. After much research, i chose the Iron Rock Offroad, Over-the-Knuckle Heavy Duty Steering Conversion. Straight forward to install with no modifications necessary, i think it was a great choice. I replaced the steering stabilizer while i was at it, although i am not sure that was an upgrade. I had an Old Man Emu stabilizer which is well reviewed and worked fine but i figured getting it off would be impossible.

The now garbage old stuff!


The new stuff. IRO OTK. Serious beef!


I must say this. You need to REALLY/SERIOUSLY tighten the clamps, especially the ones on the Draglink where it connects to the Pitman. I used all of my considerable strength with a 1/2 ratchet and torqued that thing and it still came loose after a short test drive. I broke out the 1/2 Impact gun and tightened it until i thought it might break. So far so good.

I got the 1/2" kit but they do offer a larger, stronger kit (I think it is 5/8"). I believe you have to drill out the knuckles, and I really didn't want to get into that.

I need to take more photo's during these upgrades. Sorry about the lack of steps etc. I now have tons of respect for the guys that document each step for us all to follow. I am going to try and be better now that I have started this thread. Most of this work was done before i started.
__________________
97 ZJ, 8" total lift on IRO Springs w/RC Long Arms, 33" KM2's, Black Rock Krawlers, KOR Steering Box Brace, IRO HD OTK Steering and Rear Adjustable Track Bar, Custom Bumper, XRC8 Winch, NP231 swap with SYE, 8.8 and Trussed HP D30...both Spartan locked!
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Unread 11-04-2011, 12:10 AM   #4
ShebZJ
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1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
Posts: 46
Since installing the lift, the ZJ drives like crap. All over the road. I figured the caster was out so without having any idea what I was doing, started messing with the adjustable uppers. Essentially I rotated the pinion upwards until i thought the angle looked good. Apparently i went way, way to far. Drives worse and every little bump caused a bad noise from the drivers front area. Jacked it and went looking fro the problem.



Hmm, well that spring doesn't looks so right. That is the passenger side!


Drivers side is worse!


You can see in the pictures how close the swaybar is to the spring on the drivers side. Under a small amount of compression, it hits.


Under closer inspection, the spring is also hitting the track bar drop bracket.


It is clear to me now that the pinion angle is way to high, thus rotating the spring perches so far that the spring looks like it wants to pop out the front. An easy fix with the correct tools.

So off to the local parts store for the tool i should have bought before i started messing with it. Angle finder to the rescue.


30 minutes later, I have it looking way better. You will have to take my word for it, I forgot to take pictures. After driving it around a little, the problem is solved. It is now set a 4 degree's negative. I wasn't sure where the most accurate spot to take the measurement was but i read that many used the top of the upper ball joint, so that is what i did. No idea what the optimal pinion angle is for a ZJ, but for now it works.
__________________
97 ZJ, 8" total lift on IRO Springs w/RC Long Arms, 33" KM2's, Black Rock Krawlers, KOR Steering Box Brace, IRO HD OTK Steering and Rear Adjustable Track Bar, Custom Bumper, XRC8 Winch, NP231 swap with SYE, 8.8 and Trussed HP D30...both Spartan locked!
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Unread 11-04-2011, 12:47 AM   #5
ShebZJ
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1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
Posts: 46
New steering on, and other work done, it is time for more forklift flexing! We fisrt tried two forklifts, but that didn't seem all that impressive. Atleast the Jeep looks level.








I think the weather is rolling in


Screw that, let's flex out the back! i hadn't done that before.












From these tests, i can confirm the need to change a few things.

1) I need to move the front diff forward 1/2" and see if that clears. Tires are hitting the back of the fender well when fully flexed. I really don't want to have to trim that.

2) The rear tires are hitting the fender wells, mostly on the front side. I am not sure i want to move the rear diff back more in fear of developing vibes due to the driveshaft being overextended. Not sure what to do here.

3) Rear bumper has got to go. Tires only slightly touch, but i suspect that while moving, that slight touch might catch a lug and rip the thing right off. Might be a blessing actually.

Okay more to come.
__________________
97 ZJ, 8" total lift on IRO Springs w/RC Long Arms, 33" KM2's, Black Rock Krawlers, KOR Steering Box Brace, IRO HD OTK Steering and Rear Adjustable Track Bar, Custom Bumper, XRC8 Winch, NP231 swap with SYE, 8.8 and Trussed HP D30...both Spartan locked!
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Unread 11-04-2011, 01:00 AM   #6
ShebZJ
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1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
Posts: 46
Mostly caught up now. So things are going to get posted a little slower.

Got a couple exciting things happening tomorrow.

1) I am picking up my Iron Rock Offroad Adjustable Rear Track Bar from the local shipping place. The RC lift comes with a rear drop bracket and utilizes the factory track bar. I would not mind this if the axle was centered, but it isn't.
2) D-ring tabs and other fabrication stuff is ready for pickup. Picked up all that stuff from Ballistic Fabrication. I can finally get the front bumper off to powdercoat once those are welded on. (Bumper build post will be coming down the road).
3) Got a buddy and a trailer setup for tomorrow. Heading down to the local pick-a-part place and trying to get a HP Dana 30 from a 1995-2000 XJ, and a Ford 8.8 from a 1995-2000 Explorer. Wonder if they will let me bring in the gas powered air compressor i borrowed. I sure hope so. Fingers crossed they have what i seek!
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97 ZJ, 8" total lift on IRO Springs w/RC Long Arms, 33" KM2's, Black Rock Krawlers, KOR Steering Box Brace, IRO HD OTK Steering and Rear Adjustable Track Bar, Custom Bumper, XRC8 Winch, NP231 swap with SYE, 8.8 and Trussed HP D30...both Spartan locked!
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Unread 11-12-2012, 06:59 PM   #7
ShebZJ
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1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
Posts: 46
I started a winch bumper build around the same time that I ordered my lift. There are several people that have made this same bumper from the Google sketch-up plans that are floating around. I have made a few minor changes, but nothing too dramatic. The plans donít include the winch mount, so that has to be fabricated. I should point out that i am not a fabricator, but i have access to a very good welder and have moderate skills. Anyone should be able to do this with the plans.

I located a laser cutting place and sent the plans over to them and within a few days, received my perfectly cut pieces. $160 for 3/16Ē steel total investment seems decent to me. At this point, it was time to start tacking it all together.

A quick test fitting, while tacked together


All welded and being preped for painting




Final results:







I should point out that i picked up a Smittybilt XRC8 Winch from 4WD.com. $283 with free shipping can't be beat. (shipped to border). If i find in the future that i am actually using the winch regularly, i will upgrade. For now the piece-of-mind from the cheapo will suffice.

[cheers]
__________________
97 ZJ, 8" total lift on IRO Springs w/RC Long Arms, 33" KM2's, Black Rock Krawlers, KOR Steering Box Brace, IRO HD OTK Steering and Rear Adjustable Track Bar, Custom Bumper, XRC8 Winch, NP231 swap with SYE, 8.8 and Trussed HP D30...both Spartan locked!
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Unread 11-12-2012, 07:02 PM   #8
ShebZJ
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
Posts: 46
I have wanted to paint the cladding on my Laredo for years but never had the guts. Since I have been working so much on it, I figured it was time to get it done. Since mounting the front bumper, I thought it just looked way goofy with the black front bumper and the fading plastic color on the sides and back. I plan to build my own rear bumper, but until then i figured it needed to be painted.

Before shots:



After:



[cheers]
__________________
97 ZJ, 8" total lift on IRO Springs w/RC Long Arms, 33" KM2's, Black Rock Krawlers, KOR Steering Box Brace, IRO HD OTK Steering and Rear Adjustable Track Bar, Custom Bumper, XRC8 Winch, NP231 swap with SYE, 8.8 and Trussed HP D30...both Spartan locked!
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Unread 11-12-2012, 07:07 PM   #9
ShebZJ
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
Posts: 46
Been working on the Sliders. Getting there. Here is one tacked together. I still need to figure out how i want to do the mounting. there are a few options.

Boxed ends. 30 degree angle. (i tried 45 degree and it didn't look right on the ZJ.


Tacked together. Round stock is angled up 30 degree's.



__________________
97 ZJ, 8" total lift on IRO Springs w/RC Long Arms, 33" KM2's, Black Rock Krawlers, KOR Steering Box Brace, IRO HD OTK Steering and Rear Adjustable Track Bar, Custom Bumper, XRC8 Winch, NP231 swap with SYE, 8.8 and Trussed HP D30...both Spartan locked!
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Unread 11-12-2012, 07:09 PM   #10
ShebZJ
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
Posts: 46
Sliders are done finally.

Here is the last test fitting.




Painted and installed. Lower cladding removed.




You can see some screw holes where the cladding was removed that i hate to look at. I am going to try and find something to fill those, plugs or something.

You will notice that the paint used does not look totally black. It is called black, but it is the Tremclad Hammered Finish and sort of turns out a bit graphite colored. I don't mind it, but takes away from the stealth look a bit.

[cheers]
__________________
97 ZJ, 8" total lift on IRO Springs w/RC Long Arms, 33" KM2's, Black Rock Krawlers, KOR Steering Box Brace, IRO HD OTK Steering and Rear Adjustable Track Bar, Custom Bumper, XRC8 Winch, NP231 swap with SYE, 8.8 and Trussed HP D30...both Spartan locked!
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Unread 11-12-2012, 07:13 PM   #11
ShebZJ
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1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
Posts: 46
I figured I was long past due for an update on my build.

So a while ago i was snow wheeling and a buddy slid into me hard. He hit my front wheel so no body damage but something was wierd with the steering. After a lot of messing around I found the problem. Iron Rock uses heim joints instead of tre's because of this they include tapered sleeves that you need to use in the Pitman Arm and knuckles. The sleeve in my Pitman was basically pulverized to dust. Because of this i highly recommend using the upgrade kit that requires drilling the Pitman and Knuckles and eliminates the need for the sleeves.

Sleeves


IRO steering system


Installed a cheap Ebay air intake. Seems to work well.


Installed 4" HID lights to the bumper. Xmas 2011 present from Wifey


Switch installed for HID's


Installed Surco Rack with Hilift jack. Xmas deal (2011) with free shipping from Amazon.com, pretty good deal i thought.



HP Dana 30 and Ford 8.8 are still sitting there waiting for me to get off my *** and get fabricating. God i am lazy lol...Oh and sorry i always post so many pics. I learned long ago that people like pics so i post lots.

[cheers]
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97 ZJ, 8" total lift on IRO Springs w/RC Long Arms, 33" KM2's, Black Rock Krawlers, KOR Steering Box Brace, IRO HD OTK Steering and Rear Adjustable Track Bar, Custom Bumper, XRC8 Winch, NP231 swap with SYE, 8.8 and Trussed HP D30...both Spartan locked!
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Unread 11-12-2012, 07:15 PM   #12
ShebZJ
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
Posts: 46
Simple project. I hated having my license plate zap-strapped to my fairlead so time to make a simple bracket.

Bought a couple packs of Maglite clips


Got a 3/16" piece of aluminum. A friend owns of fab shop and specializes in aluminum welding and my company does a ton of business there so got it for free.

Marked, drilled and counter sunk the hardware.


Clip mocked up


Test fitting. Stainless bolts installed



Drilled and tapped the bolts for the plate. Stainless so no rusting in the future.



With 4 clips, this thing is on there tight. I have to pull hard to get it off. I assume it will loosen up over time but i will monitor it. You'll perhaps notice the extra holes at the top of the bracket. i stalled a nut and bolt and these will be used to install a restraining wire just incase it happens to come loose. Might offer some theft deterrance as well.

Well that's it. Simple, fun and easy little project that anyone can do.

__________________
97 ZJ, 8" total lift on IRO Springs w/RC Long Arms, 33" KM2's, Black Rock Krawlers, KOR Steering Box Brace, IRO HD OTK Steering and Rear Adjustable Track Bar, Custom Bumper, XRC8 Winch, NP231 swap with SYE, 8.8 and Trussed HP D30...both Spartan locked!
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Unread 11-12-2012, 07:17 PM   #13
ShebZJ
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Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
Posts: 46
Finally got started on the Ford 8.8 i got a while back. Pulled it from a 97 Ford Explorer for $100 and has 4.11 with an open carrier.

The plan is:
Remove all old bracketry, axles, brakes etc
Send out for sandblasting
Weld tubes to center section
Weld on Iron Rock Offroad bracket kit for ZJ (after setting pinion angle)
Truss? Not sure what to do here. I will need to think on that
Prime and Paint
Get the 4.56 gears setup and installed along with master install kit.
Spartan Locker installed in carrier
install complete new brakes (calipers/rotors/pads/shoes/overhaul kit
etc, etc, etc....forgetting stuff lol

Kinda rusty looking, but easily cleaned up


Thought it was a good time to finally pull the cover and see what is happening inside. Looks good actually. Pulled the brake lines and calipers while i was at it.



Started stripping it down. Torched the brackets down some making sure not to hit the tubes.


Lots of grinding and flap wheeling and looks like this.


Fought with the rotors. Finally got them off, axles pulled and hopefully ready to sandblast the entire thing. I wondered why there was little diff fluid. Driver side axle seal obviously gone since the whole caliper drum was full of fluid!


[cheers]
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97 ZJ, 8" total lift on IRO Springs w/RC Long Arms, 33" KM2's, Black Rock Krawlers, KOR Steering Box Brace, IRO HD OTK Steering and Rear Adjustable Track Bar, Custom Bumper, XRC8 Winch, NP231 swap with SYE, 8.8 and Trussed HP D30...both Spartan locked!
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Unread 11-12-2012, 07:19 PM   #14
ShebZJ
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1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
Posts: 46
Progress on the 8.8 project.

painted, brackets welded.


Gears installed. 4.56 and a Spartan Locker but no pics of that.


Before and after. Sandblasted and painted. I know i know, gold lol. i liked the contrast!


Brakes coming together. Shoes for the e-brake.


I forgot how time consuming posting was. i will finish posting the diff build tomorrow and get onto other stuff. [cheers]
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97 ZJ, 8" total lift on IRO Springs w/RC Long Arms, 33" KM2's, Black Rock Krawlers, KOR Steering Box Brace, IRO HD OTK Steering and Rear Adjustable Track Bar, Custom Bumper, XRC8 Winch, NP231 swap with SYE, 8.8 and Trussed HP D30...both Spartan locked!
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Unread 11-12-2012, 07:23 PM   #15
ShebZJ
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
Posts: 46
Well i can't find the rest of my pics from the diff build, so i guess i will post the completed diff as it sits today waiting to be installed. All new brakes and parts. All that left to do is run brake lines and install. Once the dana 30 is done, i will get this in.






Did some other work lately.

Replaced my cracked header. Old OE header


New stainless aftermarket unit. Thanks Ebay!


Side by side comparison. Totally different design.


Intake and exhaust removed. Intake ports looked skanky so i cleaned them, but didnt get before and after, sorry.


My impression is that there has been no performance benefit, but replacing the gaskets and getting rid of the cracked and notoriously crappy factory unit was a good idea. Time will tell whether this replacement also cracks.

I replaced the factory fuel pump and filters located in the tank, and the filter/regulator located on the top of the tank. This was a pain as the bolts holding the tank were stubborn, but was a worthwhile venture. I got to cleanout the tank of some debris and can now be assured that fuel filters should be good for many years.

Old filters and pump.


New filters and pump. Ebay failed me. Pump was correct, but filters totally wrong. Thanks to a local club member for supplying the proper ones and getting the project rolling.


Myth: smaller tires will help you at emissions testing. I borrowed these goofy looking tires from my buddy and took it through testing again. Almost exactly the same readings! Don't waste your time like i did.

Thats all for now
__________________
97 ZJ, 8" total lift on IRO Springs w/RC Long Arms, 33" KM2's, Black Rock Krawlers, KOR Steering Box Brace, IRO HD OTK Steering and Rear Adjustable Track Bar, Custom Bumper, XRC8 Winch, NP231 swap with SYE, 8.8 and Trussed HP D30...both Spartan locked!
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