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DpDave 05-10-2013 04:14 PM

Third Monkey YJ overbuild
Hi everybody. So, I decided to go ahead and start a build thread, since I was sitting around bored on a Friday afternoon. Hopefully I will be as faithful as some of the other folks on here about updating it. Also, I would really appreciate any and all feedback and ideas along the way.

I am planning a pretty in depth overhaul, and I do have a bit of a mental image of where I want to wind up. So, onward with that idea... My mental imagery seems to be a bit "flexible"

What I have now...

A 1991 Jeep YJ Wrangler, with the (very) Low Output 2.5 liter 4 banger and an AX-5 trans, coupled to an NP-231 transfer case. The frame looked pretty solid as I looked it over, but I'll not be totally stunned to find some issues there. The body is rough, plenty of the factory rust issues. I understand that was not an actual factory option, it was in fact standard. The Jeep also came with a hard top, in very good shape, and the factory seats, which are not.

Current modifications:

As I bought it, the springs are over the axles, giving plenty of lift for the 33's on it now. Fortunately, they are pretty well worn, so I'll have a good justification to go to 35's in the near future. Looks like there is adequate room for them to fit under the fenders as well. I haven't yet had an opportunity to have a good hard look underneath to see what is there, so that is one of my first missions next week. Then add those results to the growing list of things to do. I have managed to yank the hard top off, and the back seat out. I have no plans of using either one, so if anybody is looking for such things, let me know.

Mission Statement:

So, what am I looking for from this vehicle? Well, first and foremost, a daily driver Hahaha (when it's not broken), to keep the around town and short trip mileage off my shiny new big truck. The big shiny truck will be dragging this thing around on a trailer... Also, I was a bit bored, and wanted a toy to play with. This should fit the bill nicely. Lastly, it will of course, be used offroad, primarily in sunny Florida. As what we call a mountain qualifies in many states as a mild hill, I will not be pursuing the radical suspension flexibility that a lot of guys are chasing. Just don't need it around here, we have mostly trails and mud. But dear God, do we have mud...

Near term projects (next 28 days or so):

1) New engine. I drove the thing home, and honestly, it was pretty gutless, as well as deafening. I suspect the exhaust is in need of some help. If I can get it sealed up fast and dirty, I will, otherwise it's either live with it, or just not run it for a while.
2) Body work. Like I said before, the body is pretty rough. I'll need to pick up a few things at Harbor Freight anyway, so an el-cheapo flux core mig can join the list. It won't be enough for some of the other heavy jobs I have coming, but should work to glue new metal where the holes are. I also want to get the body in primer, and the inside of the tub rolled out with Monstaliner. I've had some good reports about that, so I'll give it a shot.

Longer term projects:

1) New engine and trans. It's going to take a bit to get the cash back to pick up the rest of the stuff I need to complete this swap out. I'll have the engine built shortly, but then still need to buy a new transmission, and cooling system, not to mention all the adapters. I'm inclined to stay with a manual 5-speed, but am considering switching to an automatic.
2) Interior. Once the new powerplant is in place, I'll be itching to drive it, so along the way, I'll try to knock out some of the little by products. Such things as a new set of gauges, seats and all the little odds and ends. Also, eventually, I'll want to get rid of the "sport-bar" and install a real roll cage. How nasty I get with that is not certain yet, but I did used to race circle track cars, and have been known to go for overkill.
3) Bodywork. At some point I'll have to figure out a paint scheme. I'm seriously considering either all black, inside and out, or a military green or sand body paint with black trim.

That's about it for now. Once I get back to my own laptop later on, I'll see if I can make a few photos go from my phone to this thread.

Again, I value any and everybodies input and ideas. I've already picked up a few good ones just surfing these build threads.

Wow... having read this over, it's amazing how fast the priorities change, and a project can just spin right out of control!

DpDave 05-18-2013 06:59 PM

OK... not much of an update, but I wanted to get a little info out. Got home Thursday, and found 5 boxes of parts waiting for me. Like Christmas in May! Unfortunately 2 more boxes are backordered, and they are the ones I really need. One is the bed cover from Bestop, and the other being engine goodies that I am kinda stopped with out.

I didn't get a photos yet, but I will on Monday when I start work on building the engine. Most of the top end is still enroute, but I can at least get the block cleaned up and painted, and get the bottom end back in, and the cam installed and degreed. Once that last box filters in, I can whack the top end on, and bask in it's horsepowery goodness!

Also on the slate for Monday is to have a good look underneath at the SOA lift, and see how dangerously it was done, and figure out what the rubbing is when the engine is idling. That done, I may stick a tag on it and go for a spin. I did buy the thing to drive around in, remember?

No promises, but I will try and update and post some photos Monday at some point.

DpDave 06-04-2013 07:53 PM

Well, the Monday photos didn't happen, obviously. Turned out there wasn't much to see anyway.

All my pieces and parts are finally in, so work can begin in earnest. Big Brown Santa brought the last bunch of goodies today. It was very nice to see them...

I did have a good look around, and amazingly, everything was put together pretty well, so I got the tag stuck on and headed for a trail ride with about 30 other Jeeps. It turned out to be a good day, despite not being able to get the front end to pull. wound up riding with the trail leader, and saw what a well built Jeep could do. All the time kind of hating mine for sitting on the side of the trail, not able to hack it. That always takes a bit of the shine off things.

I did find the strange noises, turns out the muffler was in an advanced stage of decomposition. We stuck a cheap glasspack on the end of the pipe, and it sounded like a 4 cylinder Jeep again.

Found a fellow who wants the 2.5 Ultra Low Power engine, so that's coming out on Thursday, along with the AX-5 and NP-231. After looking around, and talking to some folks around the house, I have made the executive decision to go a bit deeper into this than originally planned, and swap out to 1 ton gear throughout. I might have found a Dana 60 front and rear, if the guy will sell it to me. Oddly, he has come up with an agreeable price, but hasn't decided if he wants to sell them at all. I'll see if I can tempt him with a large stack of $20 bills next month. I do have a buildable TH 400, so that's a start.

Not much else going right now, so hopefully another update in a few days.

DpDave 06-04-2013 07:55 PM

Oh, a question if anybody cares to offer an opinion...

When I do stick the 1 ton axles under this thing, would you stick with the SOA, or go back under the axles, and use a regular lift?

DpDave 06-24-2013 08:51 PM

Still not a lot going on, but I did make some pictures of the new engine. Still not positive what I'll be looking at for power numbers, but may have a good estimation that in the next week or so.

The engine pulling never happened, something to do with torrential downpours and tropical storms. Guy still wants it, so July it comes out. Might have someone who will give me a few bucks for the trans and X-fer case... between the 2, it'll just about buy the front and rear axles.

That's it for now, I'll scribble something again when something happens.

A table full of horsepower awesomesauce...

Top end goes together...

All mocked up... Still some work to do next time I'm home, and more parts to have sent in, mostly small stuff, but also building the transmission.

DpDave 06-28-2013 10:22 PM

Well, there is a short update, and sooner than I had expected. I located in these very forum posts, a Dana 60 front end, 14 bolt rear, and an NP208 transfer case. Thanks again to Paradismtnman for your help with this.

Can't wait to get them in my hot little hands, and let the real fun start.

Kraxen 06-28-2013 10:35 PM

Ill be following this build. Thats a nice engine your building! And to answer your question about SOA or SUA. I say stick with the SOA.

DpDave 06-29-2013 08:28 PM

Thanks, Kraxen, I appreciate the input. I had posted in the tech forum with the same question, and that was overwhelmingly the response. What really decided me was when someone pointed out that the axles will slide over stuff better without the bolts sticking down. Also, since the Heep is already set up and working that way, there really is no reason to change. Mostly I was wondering if there was a real drawback to the SOA.

stratostix 06-29-2013 08:42 PM


Originally Posted by DpDave
Thanks, Kraxen, I appreciate the input. I had posted in the tech forum with the same question, and that was overwhelmingly the response. What really decided me was when someone pointed out that the axles will slide over stuff better without the bolts sticking down. Also, since the Heep is already set up and working that way, there really is no reason to change. Mostly I was wondering if there was a real drawback to the SOA.

Looks like its gonna be a very cool build. As far as SOA vs SUA , there are drawbacks to both. It all depends on the type of wheeling ull be doing. If doing steep stuff i wouldve said go SUA. SOA can give trouble with wheel hoppin and axle wrap if its not set up properly. Btw, when going SUA, u can always get/make a Ubolt flip kit to gain clearance.
I personally came real close to going SOA recently but decided against it. I'll be linking it soon enough anyways. Anyways, just my 2 cents.

DpDave 06-29-2013 08:50 PM

Thanks for that Stratostix... if I end up with axle wrap and wheel hop issues, (which are related as I recall from the old drag racing days; one leads to the other) I'll attack that. Wheel hop isn't hard to cure, but doing it over the axle might be a challenge.

DpDave 07-04-2013 01:11 PM

So I was a bit worried about the NP208 transfer case, (not crazy about the aluminum case, even if I have had good luck with them in the past). I also understand that a SYE is not available for the Chevy version, so I had a browse through Craigslist, and tripped over an old NP205. Happy to find it still for sale, I made a quick deal with the current owner, and will pick it up next week sometime. These 205's are as close to bulletproof as it gets, so I might not even worry about finding a spare right away!

Anybody looking for an NP208?

Also, managed to get another batch of engine pieces ordered, so they should be waiting for me when I get home, and I can finish putting that together. Starting to think about building an engine stand so I can fire the thing up... I'm itching to hear it run!

trailrider787 07-08-2013 11:44 AM

Looks good man. Definitely will need some new beefier axles with that motor. I don't think you said what it was though? I'm assuming a GM crate 350 from what it looks like in the pictures?

As far as axles and suspension, I would stay spring over. I have spring under and will probably go spring over or link setup in the far future. Dana 44's would probably be all you would need for 35's and the mud. But if you can get 60's for cheap go for it. Looks like you may need to trim those rear corners out though, and have you verified it it has a traction bar? With a V8 it will probably make wet noodles out of those springs with a spring over.

DpDave 07-08-2013 01:40 PM

Hey, thanks... it's getting there slowly.

The engine is far from a crate, I hot the short block out of a buddies old circle track car. Steel crank, stock rods with ARP bolts and flat top pistons. I'm not too worried about the stock rods, as I don't plan to twist it past about 6500 RPM. The good stuff is in the top end; Comp Cams roller stick, with, obviously roller lifters and rockers, then Brodix heads and intake. I have a Demon carb for it, but may try borrowing another buddies Predator if need be. It's all fired through an MSD 6AL ignition into an MSD billet distributor. I'd love to find an engine dyno to see what it's actually making for horsepower.

The 44's would probably be adequate for the setup with 35's, but I know me too well, so for the money I went with the 1 ton stuff. I'm already thinking of going to 36's or 37's. I will for sure stay SOA, and maybe add a couple of inches. As far as I know those are the stock springs with 22 years and 120k+ miles on them. Not sure yet what I'm going to do for a traction bar, but I'm sure I'll need something. I'm familiar with doing that sort of thing from the drag racing days, but may have to put some thought into stopping the spring wrap while not losing ground clearance and articulation.

Looks like a d30/35 set will be available in the near future, and not verified yet, but should have 4.10 gears in them.

trailrider787 07-08-2013 02:39 PM

Take a look at the rubicon express SOA 1.5" springs, I've heard goo things. I did the d30/d35 with 4.10's for the short run. Throw some lunchbox lockers in there for cheap and you got something to hold you over.

The motor sounds like its gonna be a beast...keep up the good work!

DpDave 07-08-2013 03:06 PM

That's about what I was looking at was 1.5" or a max of 2.5". I think 35's would actually fit as it sits, but not have a lot of room. Another couple inches of lift and some judicious carving, 36's or 37's should be fine. I really don't want to jack the thing up in the air too far, I'm old and fat, so not much of a mountain climber any more... lol

I can't wait to hear the engine run... it's gonna be my favorite little thumping car alarm setter offer.

The time now is 03:30 PM.

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