Back in the saddle :) -
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post #1 of 8 Old 08-28-2013, 06:21 PM Thread Starter
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1997 TJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Chittenango
Posts: 8
Back in the saddle :)


Just wanted to drop in and say hello, and use this as a bit of a launchpad to show the rebuild of my BELOVED 1997 Jeep TJ Sport.

A little jeep story:

In the spring of 1997 I was a senior in high school. The new TJ had just come out and I had ALWAYS wanted a Jeep. Mom and Dad made me a deal: Go to college, and we'll give you the down payment for any car you want, as long as you can make the payments.

What a deal That June, I walked out of Spearfish Motors, in Spearfish South Dakota with the keys to a brand new Stone White TJ.

Years passed by. I went to college, started a family, paid the thing off finally! But Time wasn't so kind to my TJ. I had moved to New York by this time, and the salt here is killer. However I did my best to keep the thing clean, but over time nothing stays flawless.

Two years ago I purchased my second ever new car, a 2011 Camaro SS. Since then my Jeep has been relegated to winter beater status. (I know, shameful on my part.)

The time has come to try to reverse some of the damage and neglect that I've done to my old friend. Make it a vehicle that I want to drive ALL year. Make it solid, capable on and off road, and give the Camaro a little bit of run for the money in fun factor.

As of right now, she has about 165K on the odometer. In 16 years, I've had parts of the tranny replaced (warranty) 3 exhaust headers, umpteen sets of tires, and just last winter I replaced my radiator (First mechanical work Ive ever done on my own. Simple, but we all have to start somewhere right?)

Aside from these minor issues, I've had a relatively trouble free life with my TJ.

It DOES have a good bit of surface rust on the frame. The Hammer and Screwdriver test revealed a couple holes in the drivers side frame rail just ahead of the control arm mounts. The rest of the frame is solid. Not pretty, but solid. The suspension is TIRED. We're talking 160 thousand plus on the original shocks. The steering box is completely shot. The Driver's side front fender has a hole rusted through it, and the doors are full steel doors that I hijacked from a buddy (he sold em to me for next to nothing) BUT they don't match the white body, they're dark blue!!!! There's some minor rust on the body, but nothing that a grinder and some elbow grease won't cure.

So this is my plan!

While I would LOVE to do ALL of the work myself, I know my limits. I also know from replacing the radiator that rusted out nutserts and bolts just may be more than I'm willing to play with until I have a garage and a set of tools.

That being said. I have an aquaintance who runs a great garage and has done work for me in the past. I have an appointment with him to have the rust spot welded up, and the steering box replaced.

I also ordered a DPG Ultimate OME Kit today for my TJ. OME Coils, shocks, front and rear JKS trac bars, JKS quick discos, Brown Dog Motor mounts, and a small body lift as well. Dirk at DPG was a pleasure to talk to, and was very helpful in choosing the right setup for my project.

I think this will give the jeep a nice tighter feel, while replacing some of the old worn out components with better aftermarket parts.

This will be installed while the steering box/frame repair is being done.

That in place gives me a nice place to start on my own end of the work for this rig. Once the lift is on, I'll have a bit more room to work under the jeep. I plan to attack the frame with a wire brush and clear up the loose surface rust. Once that's tackled, a coating of POR-15 on the frame. Holes drilled near the rear of the frame to allow draining, and then a coat of Eastwood's frame treatment on the inside.

I'm hoping this gets me another 5 years out of this frame, gives me some time to find a clean donor frame, OR save up for a frame from TDK. (Not sure if they even fit a TJ tub)

The next stage, (hopefully before it gets too cold out) will be to sand and prep the tub, and bedline the interior.

I'm not 100% sold on doing the exterior YET. The parts of the exterior that are rusty are generally going to be covered by body armor or replaced with aftermarket parts. I may just sand and prime the trouble areas, or I may just bedline the whole damn thing. I have time to decide. I can't stand the look of the blue doors on a white body, so I may just rattle can them for the time being.

Still undecided on how I want to tackle the rusted fender. I know I can find a cheap replacement. BUT I do love the look of tube fenders. Metalcloaks are SEXY (IMO) But after spending a nice big chunk on the lift kit, I think i'm going to hold off until springtime for that. Another year with an ugly fender I can live with. I would rather wait and save for what I want than buy twice and have regrets.

Once all of that is done, it will be time for some new tires. (I might just skip to tires right after the lift! I can be impulsive at times.)

The tires I have on it now are cheap walmart specials. I'm going to scour CL and my local Jeep Club to see if I can find a decent set of 33" tires but I may wait until spring. I hear 33"s dont run so well in the snow and Ice.

Well, that's my extremely long winded jeep story, along with my plan of attack for getting this thing trail worthy again.

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to sharing the progress of my build with all of you. I've been creeping these forums for a few years now deciding what direction I wanted to take my TJ in, and you've all been an immense help.

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post #2 of 8 Old 08-28-2013, 06:30 PM
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2000 WJ 
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Welcome to JF.

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post #3 of 8 Old 08-28-2013, 09:14 PM
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2004 TJ Wrangler 
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Location: Herriman
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Welcome to the forum. What a great story, I look forward to reading along throught the build!

"may the odds be ever in your favor"
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post #4 of 8 Old 08-28-2013, 11:56 PM
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:dance: Welcome to the forum!!!

89YJ 2.5L TBI, AX-5, NP231 SYE, Ford 8.8, Yukon Grizzly, Tom Woods Shaft, 33" BFG T/As, 4" lift, Warn VR10000s.

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post #5 of 8 Old 08-29-2013, 10:07 AM
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post #6 of 8 Old 09-18-2013, 04:13 PM Thread Starter
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1997 TJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Chittenango
Posts: 8
Frame repair, and lift installed.

Ended up going with MTR's instead of Duratracs. I'm pretty stoked with the way it came out.

Still a long way to go but we're off to a good start
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post #7 of 8 Old 09-19-2013, 12:42 PM
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Welcome aboard...

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'04 TJ Rocky Mountain, 4" Fabtech, Sitting on 35"s
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post #8 of 8 Old 10-13-2013, 02:06 PM Thread Starter
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1997 TJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Chittenango
Posts: 8

Been a busy month!!!

I finally had the opportunity to get my TJ muddy. Went out with my local Jeep club, and took some seasonal roads on an 80 mile trek across central NY to check out the turning leaves. Beautiful ride, and on one section of road I was able to test out my TJ's new capabilities.

Deep ruts, 30"+ water crossing, completely rutted and washed out narrow trails on a semi steep (to me) grade. A few sections really had my axles flexing. It was nothing extreme but a great way to break in my Jeep and wake up my old line picking skills (who am I kidding I'm still a novice LOL)

I will say that the OME/JKS lift combo that I have worked great, this thing rides like a dream on the road and seems to swallow up rough trails like nobody's business. I didn't even disconnect the sways. I can't wait to take this thing to Rausch Creek next summer once I really have my build where I want it to be.

The MTR's hooked up incredibly well. It was POURING rain all day. I never slipped.

I had some issues with my transfer case. I think the linkage is out of adjustment, and I haven't had time to crawl underneath the Jeep and work it out. I'm going to have a look this week. If I can't get it working properly I'm going to add a Novak Shifter cable sooner than later.

Also was able to find a set of Metalcloak overline fenders used on craigslist for a very fair price. Came powdercoated with 6 LED's preinstalled and wired up.

Anyway. That's my current progress. Of course, Here's a few pics

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