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Unread 02-23-2013, 09:57 AM   #1
Shobes
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2003 TJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: South Lyon, Mi
Posts: 400
TJ Rubi on 9s - Learning the hard way

About a year ago I got pulled into the Jeep world in a in a big way. I bought the Rubi in 2003 when it first came out, drove it as my primary for 5 years and then parked it so I could get a daily driver and build the Jeep on my own schedule.

It just never happened, I dove into my job, got married, got a house, got a few dogs....then in fall 2011 I discovered the silver lake sand dunes which was amazing. Time to revamp my 3.5" rubicon express lift that I installed on a college budget (at the time I wanted the more aggressive stance and cheap ground clearance)...it was riding like crap and controlling it on the dunes was chancy.

I started a long time ago with the 3.5" lift (which probably netted me about 4.5-5"), trail master polyurethane front lower control arms to set my caster (I had death wobble bad after the lift, these resolved it), drop pitman, drop stock TC skid, BDS shocks, and rear upper adjustables to set pinion angle.

My immediate response was to buy Rubicon express monotubes (valved and rebranded Bilstein 5100s), new stabilizer and new front hub assemblies. From here things just went downhill!

Table of contents (I will try to be good about filling this in but no guarantees):
p.1 - Dealing with my old rear shocks, body lift, tummy tuck, u-joints.
p.x




Hopefully I'll help somebody out the way that many of you helped me out.
-Jeff

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Unread 02-23-2013, 09:58 AM   #2
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I removed my rear shocks and found out what many have before me....the bolts are crap. My dad's comments (a 30+ year mechanic): "you broke all of them? So you broke the first one and then what...just broke the second, the thrird and then the fourth? Did you use heat? Why not?" Haha, I told him I wanted to fully define the problem, now I know I need to replace all four!
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Unread 02-23-2013, 09:59 AM   #3
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So i did some research and found these bar pin eliminators to hold me over until I decide to outboard in the future.

Not shown here, I removed the rear wheel liners by slicing the heads off of the plastic clips (I'll replace them with new ones anyway if I ever reuse the wheel liners). I then got out my trusty air chisel and attacked the weld nuts.

I removed the weld nuts before I did my 1" body mount lift however I did not install the bar pin eliminators and shocks until later on after the body lift which gave me a little more room to access the nuts from the rear frame cross member.
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Unread 02-23-2013, 09:59 AM   #4
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Next it was time to address the front hub assemblies where I had a squeak that I needed to resolve. I did some research on JF and found out how to remove the hub assy, a healthy dose of Kroil the night before the job helped, use a 12 point socket and loosed all three bolts but don't remove them (make sure you have thread engagement in the hub). Then use the socket with a small extension, locate the socket on the bolt head and prop the extension against the ear of the half shaft...you can then use your steering to help push the hub off of the knuckle. You will have to do a little on the front most bolt, a little on the rear size bolt and go back and fourth to walk the hub off. Be careful when doing this "contents under pressure" and watch for pinch points!!!

Once I removed the old hubs and half shafts I cleaned the knuckles and painted them with POR15.
I also added some superior axle seals while I was in here.
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Unread 02-23-2013, 10:00 AM   #5
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When I pulled the half shafts out it was very evident that I had a bad u-joint on my front passenger side. Again I found a great how to here on JF and removed the c clips amd got to work beating the caps out with my trusty brass 5 pounder (most influential tool I have, between it and the Kroil they made life a lot easier...respectively of coarse). One tip that I have is that you need to be sure you have the whole c clip removed, mine were rusty and some broke during my removal without me realizing it....beat on it all you want but the u joint caps not coming off!

I found one of the bearings on my passenger u joint lost its needle rollers and was rusted badly, still operable but obviously not for long. Reinstall of the new u joints was an art form, they shouldn't be easy to assemble but if they are really difficult stop and pull them back apart to check the needle bearings...I had some needles fall over in one cap and beat the crap out of it only to blow the cap out. That was a 45 dollar learning experience!
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Unread 02-23-2013, 10:34 AM   #6
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Next was the fun part, reassembling the half shafts, hub assys, freshly turned rotors, and some new stainless braided brake lines that I picked up [gently] used about 5 years ago and have been sitting in a box in the garage. Before cracking the stock rubber hoses from the hard lines I opened up the bleeders on the calipers to release any pressure in the system. I used some fresh copper washers when installing the SS lines and took care to make sure that they "wanted" to flex inboard when the vehicle is at ride height (sorry for the odd personification of the brake lines, I could think of no other way to get my point across). I took the opportunity to bleed the brakes in all four corners and cycle a few new bottles of brake fluid through the system (the old stuff was pretty gross looking) - thanks to Sundowner for giving me this inspiration!
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Unread 02-23-2013, 10:35 AM   #7
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The next thing I did was researched tummy tucks, I knew I wanted rid of the shovel (especially as it was dropped an inch for my RE 3.5" lift). Here's what I bought and why:

1. AEV tummy tuck - only complaint I could find was that it weighs 90 lbs, the pros are that it is really strong and has a nice gusset rib going from on corner to the other to reinforce it. It also came powder coated and included flush mounting hardware and a low profile tranny mount including two rubber components which support it. In retrospect, I love the idea of the modular underarmor from savvy because dropping the plate to get to the tranny is annoying but that's more of a convenience thing. One thing I will suggest for anybody who has yet to do this - remove the rear drive shaft and cut a 2x4 to the proper width between your frame rails while your old skid is still bolted up. You should have to hammer it into place, then drop the old skid and do the swap. The torsion of the frame might have only moved the mounting holes a few mm but it made installing my skid a real pain!

2. MORE 1 inch raised bomb proof motor mounts and aluminum / polyurethane body lift (also 1"). No real issues here accept that you should do the motor mount lift while the tranny skid is still holding the tranny in place...I scared the crap out of myself when I realized that my engine and tranny were entirely supported by two jack stands with wood blocks to extend their height...nono. That would have made for a bad day! The steering column support was also kind of a pain in the backside because of how difficult it was to get to the bolts but it is achievable (there's a picture below of my impact threaded through the driver side of the engine compartment).

3. Novak shifter cable - amazing, go buy one.

4. AEV oil pan skid

5. Tom woods rear drive shaft. This would have been better to wait until the end of my build but I lucked out as you will see down the road. I guessed at the length before I finished mounting the engine, tranny and skid and when I got it all done it was a bit too extended at ride height for me to feel comfortable. Luckily in a few months from this point I completely redid my suspension and life was good again.

6. JKS upper rear adjustable control arms. My local off road shop was all about JKS, they showed me a set of these monster and I was sold, very beefy! Of coarse I will later change my entire suspension and have these beauties in my garage for some future fabrication (after about 50 miles on them).


The only note I would say is that it worked out really well to do all of this together, especially the Novak, MML, Body mount lift and the new tranny skid, save yourself a huge headache and try to do all at once.
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Unread 02-24-2013, 01:34 AM   #8
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I can't recall if the oil pan skid holes on the engine were tapped from the factory and required chasing or if I had to tap them...either way I stripped one of the threads on the block and had to very carefully over drill it to depth and tap with the next size up. I did this to both sides because why wouldn't I want a bigger bolt in shear?

Also pictured a very non flattering shot of me bolting up the skid...camera adds ten pounds and there were about 4 cameras pointed at me.
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Unread 02-24-2013, 01:36 AM   #9
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To complete my tranny skid install I cleaned up my locker pumps, located them into the engine bay and plumbed them with new wiring and air hose. This just took time but was a pretty nice low risk project, not a whole lot to go wrong unless you brake the nipples off of the pumps (which I fortunately did not).

I also found a vacuum hose that had a big split in it, I replaced this as well.
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Unread 02-24-2013, 01:46 AM   #10
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Up until this point I had stock lower control arms in the rear and when I adjusted my pinion angle I effectively moved my axle backwards. I had an axle side raised track bar bracket on which came with my original rubicon express lift. The bolt which held the track bar to the axle was placed in from the front of the axle so the extra thread past the nut was in the back of the axle. My inspection for interferences didn't find this issue however after some test driving I found a small notch in my gas tank from this bolt. This didn't sit well with me and I new I needed a proper gas tank skid anyway so I opted to just take the plunge into getting a pure jeep stretch tank. It has been awhile since this part of the build but of my memory is correct it took the tank about 6 weeks to get to me and while the exact time is foggy, my recollection of the lack of instruction is still very fresh. If I would have known this I would have spent the extra two bills and just got the genright tank.

That being said, after several calls to pure jeep I finally got somebody that knew what he was talking about and he confirmed my plumbing diagram which have me a big price of mind. To me their only downfall was this customer service issue, the tank has some really nice aluminum welding and the steel skid has a nice powder coat and feels really solid. I think it will hold up great and give me options for stretching in the future.

See this thread for more information about the tank install:

http://www.jeepforum.com/forum/f9/ge...44/index2.html

I also did rokmen crossmember gussets, cleaned and touched up paint under the body and installed new fuel pump (Bosch - complete drop in unit).

Edit: added a picture of the rear shock mounts with the tank removed, this is probably the best picture I have to show what I did.
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Unread 02-24-2013, 01:46 AM   #11
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The tank install complete, I spent a lot of time figuring out how to move forward with my suspension. I wanted to stretch it but with no access to a welder my only option would have been a full traction stealth stretch kit, not a bad choice from my research but I didn't find anybody that swore by it (the way some people do about weld on kits like Clayton's). I did however find a lot of people that were really happy with keeping their Jeep low on short arms, I spoke to Jeff at Rokmen several times and really researched their builds, seeing the rigs that they build and the type of wheeling they do swayed me in that direction.

I love the arms and am really happy with the decision to run them, while I was installing them I sacked up and bought the 3" OME springs because my driveline angles were terrible with my 3.5" RE springs (which were probably between 4.5 and 5" of lift).

Pictured: heavy duty arms from Rokmen, Currie front track bar and some stout Riddler diff covers for my 44s (JKS rear track bar not shown).

I won't get into the entire install and setup of my suspension as its already been covered in the below thread:
http://www.jeepforum.com/forum/f9/up...stion-1422738/
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Unread 02-25-2013, 09:00 AM   #12
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Okay, so in the past I've not done well at updating this but I've been reinvigorated. Since the last post I got my springs installed and the jeep back to drivable condition. I then purchased savvy's ultimate steering and installed it over the winter. All in all, the jeep drove awesome, low and mean, no driveline vibes and it just felt good.
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Unread 10-14-2013, 08:13 PM   #13
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One piece of the story I forgot is that we found out my wife was pregnant back in October 2012...with triplets....all girls . They're 5 months old today, and somehow I got a gift .

So about two-three months ago I tossed my rubicon 44 axles and pumps up for sale for no real good reason other then I really wanted to build a 9 inch rear axle. I like going to the sand dunes and want to be able to hit some pots at speed and not worry about bending a tube or snapping a shaft. So they sold a few weeks ago and I picked up a start of a rear build it kit from a fellow forum member.

So now begins the fun....I've never taken on a project like this before so cut me a little slack, I have a lot of questions and will never claim to be an expert...you have to learn somehow right!
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Unread 10-14-2013, 08:31 PM   #14
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So here's what I have:

Yukon nodular drop out
Daytona big bearing pinion support
31 spline Detroit locker
Ballistic pro 9" housing - this thing is a monster
Ballistic fab semi float axle flanges (with spacer kit)
Motive 4.86 gear set

Questions:
What master install kit do I need (I believe the attached pic)
What disk brake kit do I need (plan to start with stock 5x4.5 wheels and go to 5x5.5 bead locks eventually) preferably these would have e-brakes too but not a deal breaker
Then comes axle shafts but I need to wait until i get the housing cut down - thinking 64-65 inches.

Then there is a bigger question of whether I stick with my current stock type suspension or 4-link, stretch and outboard. The only way I could see this working is if I can cut my Rokmen lowers in half and stuffing these into a larger piece of tube. The upper arms are threaded both sides so I just need a piece of 7075 al drilled and tapped on both ends.
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Unread 10-15-2013, 12:06 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shobes View Post
Questions: What master install kit do I need (I believe the attached pic) What disk brake kit do I need (plan to start with stock 5x4.5 wheels and go to 5x5.5 bead locks eventually) preferably these would have e-brakes too but not a deal breaker Then comes axle shafts but I need to wait until i get the housing cut down - thinking 64-65 inches. Then there is a bigger question of whether I stick with my current stock type suspension or 4-link, stretch and outboard. The only way I could see this working is if I can cut my Rokmen lowers in half and stuffing these into a larger piece of tube. The upper arms are threaded both sides so I just need a piece of 7075 al drilled and tapped on both ends.
OK, so i asked a moderator to rename the thread, it occurs to me that nobody wants to help me build a sissy-azz Jeep ...rest assured that I do intend to actually use my fancy new axle or else there is no way I would waste the time and the money upgrading. Not sure if I will ever run KOH but it is a long-term goal of mine. That being said, I need some experts to weigh in so I build the axles right the first time!
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