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Unread 01-04-2012, 07:41 PM   #1
jonlabass
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1998 XJ Cherokee 
 
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Wilderness XJ Build

This past fall I sold my TJ and bought an XJ because I needed more cargo room. I do enjoy wheeling for sport, but the main objective of this vehicle is to get me to hiking trailheads so I can photograph the backcountry as that's what I do. Therefore, I shall call this my Wilderness XJ.

Here's what Willy looked like when I brought him home:



He already had a 3" BDS lift which (after much vacillating), I decided is plenty for my needs. However, I wanted 31" tires and am a fan of the BFG KM2 so that had to happen.

It gave it a bit more of an aggressive look:



My quick and cheap "mod" of mounting my maglite:



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Unread 01-04-2012, 07:42 PM   #2
jonlabass
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I bought five tires rather than just four as I'm a big fan of rotating the full-size spare into the mix and not having to worry about tires being different sizes if I get a flat. But, that means the stock spare comes out of the cargo area and instead of putting a big ol' tire back there, I opted for a Surco rack and mounted my hi-lift jack, axe, and shovel as well. I need all the cargo room I can get for my gear (and sometimes others' as well).

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Unread 01-04-2012, 07:42 PM   #3
jonlabass
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One of the best mods I did on the TJ was also required on the XJ - JKS Discos. Instead of using a hammer to get the stock pressed pins out, I used my U-Joint press tool which worked really well...on the driver's side. It wouldn't fit on the passenger side because it was big enough to have the steering stabilizer get in the way. I ended up taking the stabilizer off to complete the job.



It got tested on a trail and I really like the ride of the XJ better than the TJ. It feels much more stable.

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Unread 01-04-2012, 07:43 PM   #4
jonlabass
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Before selling the TJ, I pulled my winch off it so I could use it on the XJ. Here's another time where I vacillated for awhile as I couldn't decided between a winch bumper from JCR or the backbone from Detours. After much consideration for both, I opted to go with the more budget-friendly backbone and keep the stock bumper. I actually like the stock look of the bumper and endcaps, too, so that's a win-win!



Getting the backbone installed was a breeze as the holes all lined up perfectly.



It was getting the bumper skin cut to fit where I had a bit of trouble as I don't do this sort of thing for a living. It did fit in the end after taking it off to make adjustments about 13 times. I also took the opportunity to take off the bottom plastic piece of the bumper and cut the end caps to match. Gives it a cleaner look and a better approach angle.



And now for the obligatory profile picture:



He's coming along quite nicely, I think.
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Unread 01-04-2012, 07:44 PM   #5
jonlabass
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If you look at the profile picture after I had the 31s put on, you will see that the tires (specifically rears) won't fit in the wheel well without rubbing. I encountered this quite a bit on this wheeling trip and here's a shot of the front (at one point my flare even popped off):



With more vacillating (apparently I'm quite indecisive!) between going back to smaller tires, different backspacing, or fender trimming (which I was opposed to from the beginning), I decided to get some of these to put on:



Now that I have the box, I need to get to cutting...

My other project is to tackle this unfortunate problem:

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Unread 01-04-2012, 07:44 PM   #6
jonlabass
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The last thing I did before Christmas was my Bushwacker install. The install was pretty easy except very time-consuming. After getting the stock flares and brackets off, I taped the fender up for cutting:



After that, cut and fold, and then primer (and eventually paint):



Install the inner flare for mounting:



And then attach the outer flare:



And now fully installed:



And the side profile for comparison from the original:




Now I just need to flex him out to see what a difference it made...
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Unread 01-04-2012, 07:45 PM   #7
jonlabass
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Haven't flexed him out yet, but found some time today to get my sliders closer to install. They are all primered now and I'll need to find some time to make a store run for some black paint.



One thing I was a bit bummed about is when I opened the package from JCR, all of the bolts, nuts, and washers were spilled in the box as the pouch split open. Not that big of a concern other than I'm missing two washers and a nut now. I guess I'm going to the store for more than just paint. At least the JCR sticker wasn't missing.
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Unread 01-04-2012, 09:44 PM   #8
kvesi122
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Sick jeep! Super jealous of Colorado haha
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Unread 01-05-2012, 12:28 AM   #9
karlo
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I really like the fender flare mod. Nice work!
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Unread 01-05-2012, 05:17 PM   #10
jonlabass
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I was able to make it to town today and while I was there picked up some flat black paint. After work I setup my painting area in the garage (hung a drop cloth) and got it done.





It's good timing as I will have time this weekend to hopefully complete the install and looking at the forecast for this weekend, we're supposed to get some snow. I won't have to worry about airing out the garage in the cold since the painting is all done!
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Last edited by jonlabass; 01-06-2012 at 04:23 PM.. Reason: Added another picture
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Unread 01-05-2012, 08:52 PM   #11
doogie
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Ah c'mon man, what do you have against KMC XD122's? We could have been the only 2 Cherokee guy's rocking those! I guess I'll have to carry the torch alone. Build looks good though, clean and tasteful mods with a purpose.


(I'm like you, I wouldn't have picked them either, they were on my XJ when I got it)
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Unread 01-06-2012, 07:35 AM   #12
jonlabass
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doogie View Post
Ah c'mon man, what do you have against KMC XD122's? We could have been the only 2 Cherokee guy's rocking those! I guess I'll have to carry the torch alone.
LOL Sorry to leave you hanging, but if you break a wheel, I've got your replacement. They seem to be harder to get rid of than I originally thought.
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Unread 01-07-2012, 07:31 PM   #13
jonlabass
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Got the sliders installed today. Took longer than I thought, but then again, I had to run to the hardware store to get another drill bit. This happened on hole 1 of 26:



I really like how the slider is attached to the body seam as well as the frame rail. I really noticed a significant strength difference during the install.



And here's the installed slider:



The only thing I wish I did differently was use a primer from a spray can as I didn't even think about brush strokes. I'll probably be the only one that notices them though.

Now I just need to get some posing shots...
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Unread 01-08-2012, 02:06 PM   #14
jonlabass
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Here's a couple of profile pictures with the new sliders on:





Took it to town today after the fresh snow and found an inconvenience with the new sliders: pant legs will most certainly get dirty when getting in and out of the vehicle. I didn't think about them sticking out the sides enough to make it more difficult to get in without getting dirty. Oh well. We'll live it and learn how to step over the mud they pick up. I still think the stage 3 slider from JCR looks good.
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Unread 01-08-2012, 02:19 PM   #15
Jcool
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great build
very clean work
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