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Spartan Locker Promo Running now @ ROCKRIDGE 4WD plus FREEG2 Disc Brake Conversion Kit for Jeep Wrangler YJ TJ LJ ChTJ Wrangler 4" Rough Country Suspension Lift Kits in

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Unread 11-26-2014, 11:05 PM   #1
wildman4x4nut
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1997 TJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Cle Elum, Washington
Posts: 95
Wildman's TJ from Then til Now

I bought this TJ in Sept 2002 and it is a 97 TJ SE model. It had 33x14.5x15 TSL Boggers & a Pro Comp 4" suspension lift. I found it on a lot in Yakima, WA with no top and had never been taken off-road. After I bought the Jeep the first thing I found out about it was that a blond woman with a VERY large chest had owned it previous to me. She like cruising around town in it and had installed the Boggers just because she liked the way they looked.
The first thing I did was install new tires because I was going to be driving it on the highway every week.



My first wheeling trip with it I also put my first dent in it. Joked about it too because I said I got the first dent even before I made the first payment on it.
Still have that dent in the door too.







One of the first mods I did was to install my Tuffy overhead console to hold my CB.



Also took the stock seats out and installed some Scat ProComp seats.



Changed my stock mirror for one with lights on it to help brighten up the interior.



Next was a new bumper and Warn 8274 8,000lb winch.



Picked up some used Poison Spyder Rocker Knockers



Also got this junk rear bumper. I was driving down the road one day and the swing out just fell off. Glad it was given to me.



This my first attempt at building a bumper.



I also got a Warn full floater kit, Detroit locker & 4.88 gears used. The FF kit came with Warn small hubs too. Then picked up a LocRite locker for the front axle. Now I was cooking in overdrive. I could even use 5th gear again sometimes with my 33" tires.

The last mods I did to my TJ before being deployed to Iraq in 2004 was to install onboard air & a Warn small hub kit on the front axle.





My last wheeling trip before leaving to Iraq.



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Unread 11-27-2014, 09:18 AM   #2
wildman4x4nut
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1997 TJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Cle Elum, Washington
Posts: 95
So I left off on my way to Iraq. I had parked the Jeep at home and told the wife to drive it once in a while.
I arrived in Kuwait in Feb 04 and then turned 43 In March still in Kuwait. We rolled into Iraq on 1 April 04 on our way to a base that was about 1 hour north of Bagdad. I was on LSA Anaconda which was the largest air base in Iraq. I was the 1SGT of the security company that guarded the main gate.
Then in Sept I had to come home on emergency leave because my wife had moved and not told me where she had gone. I got home to find out she was living with another guy. Plus she had been letting the new boy friend drive my Jeep and he had broke it. So I got the Jeep back, got the key to the storage unit she had put all my belongings into and got to see my daughter 2 times in the 20 days I was home. My daughter was 1 1/2 years old at the time.
I got back to Iraq on 8 Oct 04 and had been moved from the main gate to the east gate. I had a smaller group of people to manage but I really wasn't happy about it. The **** went from bad to worse in a hurry. On 19 Oct 04 while clearing the road coming into the gate I was shot by a soldier trying to load a machine gun she was not trained on. The bullet went into the back of my right leg and came out 1" above my right knee.





The bullet hit my femur and shattered the bone while blowing bone out the front of my leg too. It also severed my femoral artery so they had to take the saphenous vein from my left leg to repair the vein.

I came home and spent the next 6 months learning to walk again on a leg with nerve damage from my knee down. But I told myself I wasn't going to let this stop me from doing what I like to do. So I decided I would build my Jeep as therapy for me. While I was in Iraq I had bought a Tera Flex CRD 60 rear axle with a ARB & 5.13 gears. So now I just needed to find a front axle. I decided to use a Ford HP44 front axle that I would narrow to Waggy width to keep the Jeep narrow for the trails I run here in the PNW.







Got the inner "C" removed then cut the tubes to the length needed to use Waggy axle shafts.



Once we got the tubes cut it was time to reinstall the "C". Check twice, three times and hopefully only weld once.





Once the "C" were back on and welded up it was time to install all the brackets. I used Rubicon Express bracket kit. T&T did have their truss out at the time or I would have used one of them.













Looks pretty good to me. It was actually easier than I expected.
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Unread 11-29-2014, 08:58 AM   #3
wildman4x4nut
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1997 TJ Wrangler 
 
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The whole time I was in Iraq I was going over in my head what I wanted to do to my Jeep when I got home. I had decided I wanted that HP44 front axle and had been unsure about the rear axle until I bought that CRD 60.

I made I don't know how many lists sitting over there. I could kick myself because one night I was I was surfing around on Ebay and found a Avenger Supercharger for my 4 cyl. And being the dumb a$$ that I am I didn't buy it right then. I had sent a email to their customer service to ask if I could get any missing parts. And of course when I went back online to look at it someone else had used the buy it now option. I was trying to find ways to get more power out of that little 2.5ltr engine. Off-Road it was fine but on road it SUCKED even with the 4.88 gears.
When I had got back home and been released from the hospital I went to live with my sister since I didn't have a wife anymore. I was pretty much stuck in my bed and couldn't do anything else so I spent tons of time on the net. I bought a Tera Low 4:1 crawler off Ebay for cheap and once I could drive and be up and about I went over to a buddies shop and installed it. Now I am on crutches and have a brace on my leg that keeps me from bending it past a selected point. So I had figured out how to get into and out of the Jeep. But being the true Jeeper that I am as soon as I could drive I took my Jeep down to Schwabby's and got 5 Toyo M/T tires installed on my Jeep. I was running 33" tires and went up to 35" tires. I guess I must of really put on a good show getting in and out.
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Unread 11-29-2014, 09:11 AM   #4
wildman4x4nut
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1997 TJ Wrangler 
 
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I picked up some used tube fenders w/ 3" flares. I had a buddy down in Vancouver, WA who had a fab shop so I drove down in the Jeep and we installed the Poison Spyder cage I had bought, the tube fenders and one of his custom built rear bumpers.



He also bent up a radiator hoop and tied it into the small hoop on the front bumper. I really liked how it turned out.

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Unread 11-29-2014, 09:17 AM   #5
MountainHound
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I have also used my old CJ as therapy. I did 6 tours from 2001 to 2008. Happy wrenching on your build!
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Unread 12-04-2014, 11:31 PM   #6
wildman4x4nut
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Sorry been busy for the past couple of days and haven't had a chance to post. I should be able to continue the story tomorrow.
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Unread 12-04-2014, 11:55 PM   #7
rdock31
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Awesome build man, and thank you for your service! Looking forward to see what's to come in this build.
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Unread 12-05-2014, 12:55 AM   #8
JLITTY
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Good stuff man.
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Unread 12-05-2014, 08:54 AM   #9
Cooneys08JK
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Real nice! Sorry about your rough patch. It seems you are coming out way ahead tho! Thank you for your service!
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Unread 12-05-2014, 06:57 PM   #10
wildman4x4nut
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1997 TJ Wrangler 
 
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So I left off with just installing my tube fenders & getting the radiator hoop done. I also got a rear bumper made by my buddy along with a tire carrier.



The bumper part was done but I had to wait for him to build the carrier portion. While I was waiting on the carrier I had decided to do a V-8 swap on the Jeep and was going to take it to Backwoods OffRoad in Eugene, OR. This was March 06 and I had been walking again now for 8 months but didn't feel that I could handle a V-8 engine swap at this time. Now I had to think about doing this for a while before I said yes. I had planned on running 5.13 gears and adding a doubler box behind the stock 4 cyl. I was also looking at adding a AX-15 tranny & a supercharger. But got convinced that the V-8 would give me more power.



Old engine pulled waiting for the new engine to go in.



Working on the wiring



Finishing up the wiring



Going back together



On the trailer



Going home for phase II of the build.
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Unread 12-05-2014, 07:10 PM   #11
Joe Dillard
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1991 YJ Wrangler 
 
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Location: King George, VA
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You're Rick - right? Sorry if I got the name wrong, it's been a while.


Didn't we meet-up in Moab and do some wheeling ~2004 - 2005? Or was it in '07? Stayed at Canyonlands Campground, right? You had a Dodge truck pulling a BIG trailer with a camper attached to it & your piece of junk Jeep, right? Didn't you have a party at the campsite for one of your kids?
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Unread 12-05-2014, 07:41 PM   #12
wildman4x4nut
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Location: Cle Elum, Washington
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Joe,
Yes you got the name correct. It was in 07 I think because that was my first year going to Moab and then I went again in 08. I know it wasn't 04 as I was in Iraq and in 05 I wasn't walking yet. Jeep broke down in 10 and has been parked since then.
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Unread 12-05-2014, 10:13 PM   #13
STRATTON
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Subbrfed.

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Unread 12-06-2014, 12:09 PM   #14
wildman4x4nut
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1997 TJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Cle Elum, Washington
Posts: 95
While the Jeep was in OR getting 4 more cyl added to it I was busy at home spending money and ordering parts. I have had a few people talk crap about my TJ and the amount of money I spent on it. Well the money I was spending was Combat Pay so I felt it was a great thing to spend it on as my Jeep was going to help me get thru things.
So a few months before I shipped out to Iraq I was reading in one of the off-road mags and saw an article about this new system being made for TJ's from a company called Off Road Only. They replaced all the coil springs with air bags. Now I thought this looked cool and told myself someday I sure would love to rock one on my rig. As a matter of fact I was walking one night BSing with a fellow soldier and told them about this this.
So here is the air bags, the adapter brackets, the wiring, and all the other odds and ends.



Also came with Walker Evans shocks



My TJ with the OFO suspension doing it's thing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOZJ5n338Fo
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Unread 12-06-2014, 02:04 PM   #15
wildman4x4nut
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1997 TJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Cle Elum, Washington
Posts: 95
When I got the Jeep home I backed the trailer up to a garage door and we pushed it off the trailer. Well as it was rolling into the garage it was realized that there weren't any brakes. So we were grabbing for Jeep to try and stop it. Within 3 hours of off loading it we had it up on jack stands and the front axle was pulled.



Now I wouldn't say all the hard work is done already. The only thing that has been done was to blend the truck and Jeep wiring harness plus get the engine/tranny/transfer case put into place. I had a ton of things to do now before it would be drivable let alone able to go on a trail. I had two Jeep buddies who were going to Central Washington University that would come over some days and help work on the Jeep. I'd cook for them and make them a nice meal.

Some of the stuff was a Onboard Air bracket set from Kilby Air. And no they didn't ever mass produce the 5.2/5.9 bracket set. I just knew that they had made a set for Brad's TJ so I took a chance and called to see if they had any. Next was a 160 amp alt for the Premier Power Onboard Welder Between that and the Portable Mig welder I have help save a few rigs on the trail so far. Plus done some repairs on my Jeep too. It was money well spent.





On top of all the other stuff I had picked up for this build was a STaK's 3 speed transfer case.



1:1 High Range
3.05:1 Low Range #1
5.44:1 Low Range #2
And 5.13 gears w/ARB lockers in both axles
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