ok im on page 6 of this thread and haven't been on this fourm to often but happy to see something closer to what and where I would like to take my jeep.
I have a 97 TJ. and it has a 2" bb on it right now and plans are to keep it low. but this allowed me the clearance for what I wanted for the tires I will eventually have on it. but so far reading this it is packed with TONS!! of great info. how ever the one thing I have notice that seems to be neglected is with all of the electronics you are adding have any of you had issues with the Alt. failing from stress of the extras? also running a 2 bat. set up is great but is the a how to on how to set this up so it is not just for show? plans are to do a winch but bumpers might be a issue I like the warn bumpers but have heard they are not as strong as they look. so until I see one up close I will still look at others. the on board air with a Co2 set up seem the easiest however its something you need to pack but dose allow air tools if needed. I am changing all but the head lights to L.E.D. for the system strain and also because I just hate incandescent bulbs. how ever the one thought I have is in water crossing how much water do you worry about getting in to your jeep ? sounds crazy but those wires and inverters etc... all can get wet and shut you down in the river or lake or puddle your in. this would not be good. might be more info as I read and I am enjoying the read of a thread that seems to be more "real" then king of hammers builds I see in the mall. so please forgive the noob attitude but I have done rocks before while fun just not what im looking to make this one for. I am a photographer and want to get out where I can see things not every one has seen daily. so longer off road adventure's are near. I was a Eagle scout and know how to do the whole "be prepared" thing but also know how to be over prepared also. so what are the absolute ever one should never leave home with out. for camping over and above the ax and shovel and u joints. think most will chose to not go this route because it is work to get out like this and not just drive threw a open field 3miles off the hard ball roads.
thank you for all the info!! and im not trying to offend anyone but the lifted mall crawlers look great just not what im looking for in a daily driver and expo type build I want to drive 600miles to get to where I plan to go out in to the back woods and be lost for a while. and survive with the jeep. I can do the mechanic stuff I grew up doing that. but also want to do the camping stuff and not feel like I have to pack a Hilton in the truck also.
If I had a 97 TJ I wanted to use for getting off the road to take pictures, yet keep it as capable and as reliable as possible here is what I would do.
1) Despite what many here will tell you, the closer to stock you are the more reliable you are.
2) Lift - I would stick with 2" lift or less. Probably OME med springs with Bilstien 5100 or 5160 shocks. Id also use the OME rear track bar relocator bracket to center the rear axle, I would keep the stock front track bar as its the best you will get for a 2" lift.
3) For tires I would find some JK Rubi takeoffs. Those 255/75R17 tires will nicely tuck under a TJ with a 2" lift. They are a fantastic tire in many conditions and they give you a solid 32" load range C tire. Remember that this tire is only 1/2" shorter than those big fat 33x12.5R15 tires that a lot of guys run. So you only give up 1/4" of clearance under the diffs but the tire should be lighter and can be run with less lift. Its a win win. You will need some adaptors to run the JK wheels. However, I tend to prefer using adaptors that maintain a hub centric wheel over buying aftermarket wheels that are not hub centric.
4) Get a winch if you will be out all by yourself. Self recovery could become very important
5) Skid plates - Don't forget to cover the oil pan and transmission. You don't want to loose them on the trail.
6) Snorkel - If you are doing a lot of water crossing consider a snorkel. However, I think if you are crossing water that deep you would be better off to find another route around it. Crossing deep water is looking for trouble, especially if you are alone.
7) CHeck out expeditionportal.com. There are a lot of like minded people over there who want a very capable vehicle and are not concerned about having the proper 'look'.