I'll start by stating what I'm trying to accomplish and why.
I'm starting off with a '97 TJ sport that I've had since new and has grown with me over the years. It's in pretty good shape as it's rarely been winter driven and has been garage kept most of it's life, and at only 115000 km still has lots of life left. It's currently sitting on a set of 35's with 3" springs and 1" body lift. It still has the stock axles, Dana 44/30 combo, but they are running 4.56 gears with a zip locker in the front and an OX in back. It's running the stock 4.0 but with a swapped in NV3550 and a 231 with a slip yoke eliminator.
When I bought the Jeep I was much younger, single, and just wanted a fun vehicle. Fast forward 16 years and I've aged some (havn't we all), have a wife and 2 boys that love to wheel, but are getting bigger by the day (the boys not the wife). We love wheeling as a family but we're outgrowing the Jeep. I thought about going to a Cherokee or Grand, but like having the removable top. Looked at selling this and getting and TJ unlimited, but I'd lose too much money for the difference. So I started researching doing a stretch, and found a couple of others that had done similar projects, including one other on this forum. Then this summer I found a TJ unlimited back half with rollbar at Davey's Jeep in Clevland for $300 and took a day trip down there to pick it up. While I was there I went over to 4wd hardware just down the road and picked up a Bestop TJ unlimited soft top, that was $850, but unlimited soft tops are near impossible to find used, so... They've been mostly sitting in my garage now for the summer as we've been wheeling, except for removing some excess pieces of the unlimited that I won't be needing and unbolting the roll bar and pulling out the wiring. After getting back from wheeling at the end of September, and not having any other plans until the spring I decided it was time to start, so I removed the spare, hi-lift, tools and the right side corner/wheel flare and mocked it up on the body to see where things would need to get mounted and how it would look.
as you can see the unlimited was hit and it folded in the front, this has to be cut out
Mocking up my TJ corners
This is a filler piece for my Swag tailgate conversion, maybe I should just weld it to the corner this time, and tie it all together
Let me know what you think...
For anyone that doesn't know the 6 comes from the CJ6 which was a long wheelbase version of the CJ5 and the TealJ, well I think looking at my Jeep it's obvious where that's coming from.
Discovered there is a difference in how the tailgate hinge is held to the body, the weld nuts (which I knocked off) are from the unlimited body, while the plate is from the original TJ, this left more wiggle room to adjust the hinges, also note above that the body on the unlimited has a divot between the hinge bolts on the body while the TJ's is flat (see next pic)
also found some mud in the body supports, when I pulled out the rear wheel liners, this will have to get cleaned out, and I'll have to figure out a way to keep it from getting in again, if possible
Got a bit more work done, drilled the holes for the corner, tacked on the filler plate, welded the weld nuts back in, cut out the fender to match the corner, drilled out the side marker hole and filled in some holes in the rear box section, it's not sealed, but this should help reduce what gets in.
Used a hole saw almost the right size
Then a carbide burr to clean up the hole to size
Finally a test fit
Next the filler plate
I'll finish weld it and smooth it when I take the corner off again
Then on to cutting the excess material
Add a couple welds to the brace, sorry about the bad pic
Fill in the holes in the box section, not the nicest, but should do the trick
Got a couple things done, didn't have a lot of time, but that's the way it goes.
Cut out the hole for the LED tail light, started with a jig saw, but that didn't work too will, so ended up using a body saw, it took time because my compressor was not happy with how much air it uses, then cleaned it up again with a carbide burr.
Then the test fit, if anything it's a little loose, but it won't fall out.
Next I fit the right side latch for the tailgate in place, I think I'll weld this one in too, but need to make sure the tailgate is in the proper position first
Got the other corner taken off the Jeep and mocked it and the tailgate into final position.
Put in the filler plate and backing plates for the hinges.
Cut the left side light holes. Fuel filler hole had to be moved back 5 inches. A bunch of supports had to be cut out in the fender well, hopefully the corners will keep everything from flexing too much. With some better metal blades my jigsaw was actually the easiest way to cut the holes and fender, makes pretty clean cuts so there isn't too much cleanup afterwards.
Got the soft top, speaker bar, rear roll bar crossbar, and front seatbelts off the Jeep with help from my 6 year old. I also cut all the wires running to the back in the body, will need to splice those into the harness that's on the new tub. I'll have to label them all as I'm guessing the wiring colours changed between my '97 and the '05 body that I have (luckily it included the rear harness with a generous portion of wire)
Put some primer on the all the cuts and other areas, need to pick up some gloss black for the outside where is sticks out from the corner guards.
I also spent some time on figuring out where to cut the corners and how the filler piece (15" long) is going to to go in. Will need to figure out the best way to cut the existing corner so my line is as straight as possible, may try the jigsaw as the width of the cut isn't that wide and if I clamp a peice of angle iron on it should stay fairly straight. Could always use a cut off wheel on the 7" angle grinder too, but that thing is a little harder to keep straight.
Let me kow what you think and if you have any suggestions, I'm sure I'll make some mistakes along the way, but I'm trying to go slow and steady and think everything through before I do it. I want to build my Jeep not destroy it.
Got a few more things done in the last few days.
Picked up some front arms and springs from the guys over at AEV, they are getting out of TJ stuff, so some things are on sale. Although I didn't need new front springs or to go long arm in the front, I couldn't pass up a good deal, and I needed the new rear springs with the extra weight out back.
Marked where to cut the rear corners to add in the extension.
Got the old roll bar out.
Jeep's looking kind of naked now.
Also started work on moving my old rear seat frame in to the new tub, no pics yet, but it's going to be a fair bit of work.
Got some more done.
Worked on getting the captains chairs into the back, including modifying the seat frame I'd made for the '97.
Started my mounting the frame, needed all new holes because of the different rear seat mounting between the early and later TJ's.
Then I had to do some body massaging to get the seats to fit.
The seat frame also needed some massaging.
Including welding in a new support plate to fill the cut out piece.
Should end up something like this.
While I was there I had to make some new seat belt anchors as the old ones were not in the right place anymore, I ended up getting them painted, siliconed in place and then adding a rivet to keep them from moving.
So finished some little things on the unlimited tub.
Finished mounting the seats.
Then I took everything apart again and removed the tie down loops in the floor and welded up the holes, along with a bunch of other screw holes that someone had put in the floor for something or other.
Put some primer on the welds after grinding them smooth
As you can see a lot more storage room, 9" more, as I gave the kids 6" more leg room
I then started work on the old tub, I centre punched, drilled and used a spot weld cutter to remove the floor welds
Then I marked the edge of the B-pillar and drilled some small holes to mark the edge, this is where I'll make the cut in the body, I'll do final trimming later
Taped up the sides and marked where the initial cuts are going
Yeah, I like the seats too, they are my original front seats, I put ZJ leather seats in the front for me and the Mrs. I wanted something with better head support for the kids, and these fit, with a little work.
Thanks for the comments, but no it'll look like an LJ with a stretched wheelbase by the time it's done.
Just starting to prep a few things before the cutting of the frame. Got the body lifted up off the frame about 6" so I could work on the frame easier. Marked my cut locations and made some marks and measurements to make sure everything goes back together straight. Removed the rear body mount on the side of the frame as it's right where I need to cut.
Tacked a brace across the back half of the frame too, to make sure it stays straight.
Also removed the fuel tank, fuel and electrical lines on the left frame rail, rear tires, muffler (what a pain) and the skid plate to make access a little easier and to not damage anything.
Need to figure out the best way to extend the fuel line too. I'm thinking of trying to find a longer flexible piece that goes between the tank and frame, the current one is 16" long and has 5/16" female quick connects on both ends, so I need one that's 31" long. Anyone know where I can get a line with the quick connects made?
Need to get the steel for the sleeves and plates in the next couple of days, the frame measured 4"x2.5" and is about .150" thick, although it's a little hard to get a precise number until I cut it and clean it up.
Alright got a few things done and found some new issues too.
Removed the rear axle and discovered the BDS upperlinks need to be rebuilt, not too bad considering I'm not using them again, and then cut the frame.
Found a tonne of mud in the frame, not sure how to prevent that or make it easier to clean up.
Cut off the upper and lower control arm brackets and discovered a few issues, so I'll have to pick up some plate to fix that with (the frame's been flipped upside down).