The trip was so much fun and we all had a great time. We drove almost every trail that was even remotely doable and it took about a day. There is the back 40 section of the ranch we missed out on due to not knowing it was back there but it leaves something for next time.
After this trip I really have a better idea of what I would like to do with this thing. The front springs are toast and after the winch and bumper there is only about 3" of up travel. The weight of the tube fenders, bumper and winch is just too much for the springs. A progressive rate coil is fine for a lighter front end but with added weight of all the steel they aren't cutting it. I planned on swapping in other springs already but sfter the trip I changed my mind on what springs that will be. I have had OME, RE, and ProCrap on past jeeps. The OME while they ride good and overall are a great spring but I think they might be just s little too short. The PRoCrap is just that not even an option. The RE to me is an excellent spring. Ive had many sets either on my jeep or one of the many jeeps in the family. They are very tall at first and give well over the stated lift but after the first good twisty wheeling trip they tend to settle in and they continue to more over time. At this point in the front Im going to run 3.5" RE springs and the same in the back if I can locate a set. I think once they have settled, accounting for the extra weight of 3/16" plate armor on the whole back end and heavy front bumper and winch, it will end up close to 2.5-3" over stock especially loaded up with people and trail stuff.
Also as mentioned before I think I know how to raise the tcase and skid up another inch but thats honestly s little lower on my list than skidding up other things that need one all together.
Gas tank, steering box and new engine skid are going to have to happen soon. The engine skid caved on this trip. I think it lived a very hard life prior to me and i just finished it off. However the mounts all still look good so for the most part i just need to replicate whats there. I may go ahead and just integrate the steering box skid into the front bumper but I have yet to really look at it too closely yet. The gas tank shouldn't be too bad 3/16" plate with angle around the perimeter to stiffen it and mount it to the frame.
That is all i know for now I know the taller springs will atleast at first take it out of the LCG range but with all the added weight i think it will settle right back into it.
The only real breakage was a stub shaft on a friends YJ a D60 chromoly 35 spline shaft. Lets just say he took the hard line on something I could even try. I also peeled the bottom of the diff cover off but I fixed that by grinding off the bottom edge up past the bottom of the diff and bevelled so it wouldn't be able to catch on it anymore.
There is lots of loose and worn out steering and heim joints but once again I think I just finished them off the PO wheeled this think hard and I expected some well worn parts.
Well tonight was a very productive night me and some buddies mounted new buckets in the front of the jeep and put the 3.5" RE springs in the front and the jeep now sits exactly level according to the angle finder.
Short version of the seat story is I was given a set of late 90's/ early 00's camaro front seats. We adapted them to fit the factory TJ seat brackets so the slide and fold forward action still works. They are very comfortable and compared to factory they feel great. We used 2x2 square tubing to raise and adapt the seats to the TJ seat mounts. They are only about 1" over stock seat height which is ok with me. The swap was easy but involved. I'll post some drawings of the layout we didn't get any kind of good pics of it but I can use CAD and draw it up. It is way easy just time consuming and accurate hole placement. Here is a before and after.
Nothing real exciting been fixing things like new battery and cables and what not no real chance to fab anything since I've been working 55-60 hr weeks. But things are looking up I've been working really hard to get a new piece of machinery in and I think it'll help me out all the fab projects I need to knock out!
A messer Titan II Plasma cutting system with a hypertherm 260 hi def cutter! I've already made too many new tow hooks
Got to work on the fenders a little bit. I'm stripping all the bondo seams and replacing them with a fully welded, ground and sanded seam. Lots of the bondo has cracked out and let water and rust into places I don't want it. I completed about 2' of weld, grind, and sanding on the front passenger fender and most of the welding on the back passenger fender. I plan to paint only the flare portion black on each fender I like the blue on most of the jeep but the flares are going black.
I ordered new lower heims and misalignment spacers for the rear lower links. I haven't removed the old ones yet but the slop seems to be coming from where the misalignment spacers insert into the joint. A combination of worn out holes in the heim and wallowed out holes in the spacers. Tomorrow I'm going to pick up new steering tie rod ends and a the steering box end of the drag link. I already replaced the one on the axle end of the drag link.
I must say ruff stuff rocks as far as filling an order goes. I ordered over the weekend late at night and got my parts by Wednesday. Three day turn around is fine by me. I've got part of my parts geek order but it was just the struts for my wife's trailblazer. The tie rod ends are still not here but they came from a different place. Hopefully I'll have a good jeep/trailblazer day and get it all done with some help from friends persuaded by free food.
I took about 30 minutes tonight and swapped out the old heims in the rear lower control arms with new ones. No real reason for pictures or anything I guess. It did seem to fix the big clunk on acceleration. The old heims probably would've lasted longer but they were packed mud. They feel like there's sand paper in the joint and the spacers are frozen in place. Next up tie rod ends and drag link ends.
Short update if anybody is still reading this. Ive had an incessant leak tcase leak and it evaded me until today. I originally thought I over filled the tcase and it was coming out the vent. That wasn't case so I kept an eye on it but with all the skid plates it was running onto there and flinging all over the place when I would drive making it practically impossible to trace. I finally had a thought that didn't occur right away because you can't normally do this but removed all the skids(the one I have has a crossmember under it) and drive to the carwash cleaned the entire underside and then parked it in the drive way. Without the skids blocking the way straight to the ground I found the leak under the rear out put but not on the shaft. It had been leaking from the speedo seal. It was loose divi tighten it up and pretty sure that fixed it. The rear cap for the front shaft on the case also leaks ever so slightly but I'm not sure what's involved in pulling it and resealing it. I've got a wheeling trip in Jan to Las Cruces planned and the skids will all be done and steering upgraded by then. I'll post as I go in all of that.
Cliff notes: fixed leaky tcase at the speedo socket.
Will start on new engine skid, gas tank skid and steering box skid to be done before mid Jan. and new steering box and rod ends before then also.