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Unread 11-25-2007, 09:20 AM   #1
camper49
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1998 TJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: altamonte springs, florida
Posts: 490
'98 TJ build essay (long with lots of pictures)

In 2004, my wife and I purchased a new KJ jeep liberty 4x4 for camping vacations. I discovered the internet jeep discussion forums and I began to modify the KJ in the limited ways that were available for that model. We went to a jeep jamboree and then out to Moab, Utah. As I learned more about the hobby, I decided I would rather drive a TJ model, so I switched.

This is a picture essay of my '98 TJ build-up. I'm reluctant to post because it's more pictures than is appropriate for the tech forum....the moderators may not let it continue. The modifications to my jeep aren't anything that thousands of others haven't already done. This post isn't intended as a "hey look at me" thing. I'm attempting this because I think I can present it as a technical lesson for fellows like me who just got involved in working on a jeep. It's also more pictures than many will have patience for. So I'm going to limit the content to stages and add chapters every couple weeks to tell the complete story. The complete story is up to where I ran out of money for more parts.

My advice is you can't believe anything you read on the internet. From time to time there is incorrect information on these jeep forums. You should verify with your own efforts. I don't claim to know very much more than what you will see in the following....and goodness knows if you can say that any of this will be correct or useful....


how I drove around town for the first 18 months....


I picked up a very clean, stock condition, never used, everything worked....'98 sport model with a dana 35 rear axle assembly, 3.07 gears, manual 5 speed transmission, hardtop, 28 inch tires. I knew about the preferable rear dana 44 axle assembly option and I looked for that. But I also considered the condition and mileage and other intangibles as priorities. After looking around for awhile, I found one I liked. I knew I was going to modify the jeep and I wanted to do the work myself if possible. Like many others, I'm on a budget and it was going to require that I enjoy this hobby over a extended period of time.

My opinion is that a useful and interesting education doesn't usually come without some expense....whether through effort or dollars. I didn't want to buy a jeep already built by a previous owner. I didn't want to be stuck with tires or bumpers I didn't like. And I wanted to do by myself all the installations that I would be capable of. That might sound like I'm just trying to justify how I ended up spending money that others would choose to save, but I wanted to have hands on experience with even the most basic stuff that gets discussed on the internet and beside the trail. Six guys standing around kicking the dust with their boots and talking jeeps....and only two know what they're talking about. I wanted to be one of the two.

So meanwhile, I've been reading this forum and others, collecting parts, and stacking them in my garage. I joined the local jeep club and met some folks who taught me a few things. Through that network, I found an '03 TJ rubicon rear dana 44 axle assembly, complete with air-actuated locking differential, limited slip/posi when unlocked, 4.10 gear ratio, and factory disc brakes....and it bolts right into my TJ without modification.



I was also looking for (and found) a front axle from a late '90s XJ with a four cylinder motor. A funny thing about the internet....it seems everyone knows about a $100 axle assembly at their local salvage yard. Well I never found that kind of great dollar deal in my limited search around central florida. I paid a little more than most report and I had to drive about 100 miles for a '99 XJ front dana 30 high-pinion axle assembly from a four-cylinder cherokee. With four cylinders I get factory 4.10 gear ratio. Still, it was less than it would cost me to regear my TJ dana 30 (but quite a bit more than $100). Of course, I run a risk of bent tubes, bent steering, bad gears, bad bearings, etc. If I'm lucky, I get a gear ratio I can live with, a high pinion (high driveshaft location), spare axle shafts, maybe some reusuable steering and brakes. I'll have more detail on this axle later on.

I pulled the front passenger seat and the rear seat and went to pick this axle up. The fella at the salvage yard didn't think it would fit in the tub, but it worked out okay. It came complete with all the control arms, coil springs and steering.

I think the YJ wranglers were high pinion front dana 30. I guess there could be some discussion as to why jeep engineers switched when they redesigned and gave us the TJ with a low pinion front. Most everything I decided to do, I based on reading the internet or talking to jeep guys I hardly knew. Swapping in a rear dana 44 and a XJ front dana 30 is frequently suggested.

I had a growing stack of parts in my garage for about a year as I researched this new hobby.



The following pictures are "part one" of a ten day vacation in my garage. I'm presently driving the jeep with 33 inch tires after installing/modifying the jeep in the frequently suggested methods....I'm 53 years old, reasonably educated, with a box of tools. I'm not a mechanic by trade but I did all the following by myself with hand tools and budweiser....





First, I have to clean up my replacement axle assemblies....this is the rear dana 44....it came out of a TJ rubicon. It came from a reliable source and besides a little surface rust on the brake rotors, it wasn't going to require much preparation.




People frequently ask what a rear dana 44 cover looks like. I've seen it described as an apple on its side, or as a stop sign. The shape is polygonal as opposed to the more oval shape of the dana 35. And the fill plug is a threaded pipe plug. Mine is also magnetic and you can see how it sticks to the metal cover.



The air locker diaphram is behind the fill plug in the cover....you have to be careful not to thread the fill plug too deeply into the cover or you will contact the locker.




(continued in follow-up post)

__________________
steve in central florida

'98 TJ wrangler sport.....gunmetal blue
XJ d30/rubicon TJ d44...33's with popular suspension mods

want to read my build threads...they're long with lots of pictures

Last edited by camper49; 01-01-2009 at 01:02 PM..
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Unread 11-25-2007, 09:22 AM   #2
camper49
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first part of story continued.....

These are the factory tags on the rear differential cover. Notice the 4 oz. friction modifier requirement....the source of internet forum confusion. The synthetic 75w-140 gear lube will already have a friction modifier blended in, and the design of the rubicon limited slip/posi doesn't even require a friction modifier....(based on what I've read.....on the internet).



The "thick ring gear" of the rubicon d44....and the rubber air line with a simple wire retainer that is claimed to be suspect. A separate small electric air compressor/pump is designed to deliver about 5 psi to the locker and then switch off. If the hose becomes unattached, obviously the locker will not engage, and also the pump will never cycle off. After I had buttoned the cover back up, I read that it's common for the rubber hose to pop loose. Next time I change gear oil, I'll replace the hose clamp with a gear driven style.






When the locker engages, a electrical circuit is closed through a two wire plug in the back/side of the pumpkin (plug wire is hanging over the tube on the right). I'll use a lighted rocker switch to fire the locker air pump and a separate indicator light somewhere near the switch....the lighted switch will indicate the locker pump is on....the indicator light will confirm the air pressure has engaged the locker diaphragm. I'll have more information on how I did this later in my reports.


After I cleaned out the pumpkin with brake cleaner, I went ahead and closed it up with rtv gasket maker. I'll put gear oil in it later.

I had changed the automatic transmission filter and fluid in my '04 KJ just before I switched jeeps. I had this rtv gasket maker for automatic transmission fluid (ATF) left over. The cheese-whiz can is recommended by some jeep wrenches I know, but the shelf life for the relatively expensive container isn't great so you have to use it up in a short span of time. The gray rtv has worked satisfactorily for me on several differential covers. And of course, brake cleaner is the bomb for multiple uses....might as well buy it by the case.


I'll get disc brakes with this rear end....




My axle purchase included the parking brake cables. The end links are different for the factory disc brakes, so I wouldn't be able to use my dana 35 brake cables without some kind of improvisation. I pulled the brake hardware to inspect it and to prep the axle for painting.




The picture is intended to show how to unbolt the axle shaft retainer flange....rotate the hub to four positions to remove the nuts. You should then be able to pull the axle shafts out of the tubes. I didn't pull the axle shafts because I was confident that this was a good assembly and I didn't want to introduce any unneccessary problems. So pulling the rear shafts isn't a job I have actually tackled yet.


(continued in the following post...)
__________________
steve in central florida

'98 TJ wrangler sport.....gunmetal blue
XJ d30/rubicon TJ d44...33's with popular suspension mods

want to read my build threads...they're long with lots of pictures

Last edited by camper49; 01-01-2009 at 02:39 PM..
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Unread 11-25-2007, 09:24 AM   #3
camper49
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the final part of this first part of this post.....

Most TJ models come with rear drum brakes. Based on what I've read on this forum, it they are in good repair, they work fine for most owners. The rubicon rear comes with factory disc brakes, which is considered an improvement. They're easier to work on, they self-clean better on muddy trail rides, and they perform better when brakes are worked hard on long hill climbs and descents. When considering the price of a "for sale" rear dana 44, most sellers intend for you to reuse your existing brake set-up. I didn't have to fool with moving my drum brakes from my stock axle. A disc brake up-grade like the rubicon rear will command a higher price.



I cleaned up the surface rust. The brake pads appeared to have a lot of life left in them. I'm not a brake expert, so I hope I can reseat the pads and won't have any problems with the rear brakes.




rattle can rustoleum smoke gray....I spent some time with a wire brush and some solvents to prep this so the paint would last.




The rear disc brakes bracket has a stainless clip over the casting where the brake pad will slide....this will prevent the pad from wearing a groove into the slide. This is an improvement over the front disc brake pad slide....



The rubicon rear dana 44 pinion yoke uses a spicer 1330 series u-joint (spicer 5-790X) to connect to the rear driveshaft. The dimension across the joint caps is greater than for the 1310 series joints used in most other TJ rear driveshafts....


Calipers painted....hard brake lines and parking brake cables reattached....ready to go. Like I said earlier, I didn't have to address anything critical here. Just superficial clean-up. I paid for a good axle from a friend I trusted. Because of my limited experience, it has turned out to be well worth it. I wouldn't know how to set up gears and weld control arm mounts, so this axle choice was just what I needed.


Now on to the front axle assembly....please look for a "part two" post in a few minutes.
__________________
steve in central florida

'98 TJ wrangler sport.....gunmetal blue
XJ d30/rubicon TJ d44...33's with popular suspension mods

want to read my build threads...they're long with lots of pictures

Last edited by camper49; 01-01-2009 at 01:32 PM..
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Unread 11-25-2007, 09:27 AM   #4
camper49
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Posts: 490
the front XJ axle clean-up.....

This is a salvage yard purchase.


This is a front axle assembly from '99 XJ cherokee with a four cylinder motor which came with factory 4.10 gear ratio. It also is late model so I get better axle shafts that use better universal joints. The four cylinder TJ wranglers also come with factory 4.10 gears but I was looking for the high pinion design from the XJ. The front driveshaft attaches to the pinion yoke above the centerline of the axles. The ring gear is driven from the top which is supposed to be stronger in forward motion, and the driveshaft is positioned higher above the trail.

I never saw the vehicle this came from....it wasn't an option for me to remove it myself at the salvage yard. I was given a short term warranty but I knew I wasn't going to get around to installing it for some months. It was grimy but the rotors turned by hand and it felt okay, no grinding, that kind of thing. I took a chance and purchased it, with the alternate plan of just using my TJ axle assembly if I needed to have this one completely rebuilt. It came with all the steering still attached, and all of the springs, shocks, control arms, sway bar.








I used a pitman arm puller to detach the drivers tie rod from the drag link.


Tapered studs in tapered holes, like found on tie rod ends and ball joint studs, can usually be knocked loose with a strategic hammer blow...(or two). You don't drive the stud like a nail. But by creating a shockwave on the knuckle, the stud will usually pop free.


I guess the track bar on a XJ is attached at the frame with a bolt-on bracket. Must be a unibody thing.





I could end up reusing the drag link...the tapered stud ends and rubber boots were good. I can use the differential vent hose. I can save the tie rod tube as a back-up. I won't need to reuse anything else here.



(continued below...)
__________________
steve in central florida

'98 TJ wrangler sport.....gunmetal blue
XJ d30/rubicon TJ d44...33's with popular suspension mods

want to read my build threads...they're long with lots of pictures

Last edited by camper49; 01-01-2009 at 01:44 PM..
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Unread 11-25-2007, 09:28 AM   #5
camper49
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more of the front axle stuff.....

After the disc brake caliper is removed, the brake rotor comes off...




The front axle shafts are retained at the wheel hub with a single nut threaded onto the end of the shaft....I use a 1-7/16" socket with a 3/4" drive breaker bar....I think it might actually be 36mm but I don't have a socket that size for my 3/4" drive....


Once you loosen the axle shaft nut, you can remove the sealed hub bearing assembly. The center is splined to match the axle shaft and the bearing is supported by the steering knuckle. You need a 13mm-12 point socket to remove three bolts.


The axle shafts are not retained inside the differential so they will now just slide out through a oil seal near the inside end of the shaft.


An upper and lower ball joint fastens the steering knuckle to the axle "C". The knuckle has a designed "boss" that can withstand a sharp hammer blow that will shock the ball joint stud loose from a tapered hole in the knuckle.


The axle shaft seal surfaces, threads, and splines looked good....just a lot of surface rust at the yokes. The u-joints were flexible but I will replace them anyway. The steering knuckles cleaned up fine with a wire brush. The hub bearings turned too loosely and after cleaning up the grime with gasoline and a parts brush, they felt rough. The brake rotors were worn severely so I scrapped them. There were two possible rotors used in the XJ around this '99 model year. These in the picture are called full "cast" iron and they can be identified by the sharp 90 degree transition from vertical to horizontal in the center "hat". The other style is called a "composite" rotor and has a radius transition at the top of the hat, and the center section is a different material. There's also some minor dimensional differences. There are two slightly different hub bearing assemblies to match the type of rotor used. I was still trying to figure all this out. Depending on the model year of TJ wranglers, the same "cast or composite" front brake rotor issue occurs. I also didn't bother to save the brake calipers. I'll swap my TJ brakes and hub bearings over later. Eventually, I'm going to purchase new hub bearings and call Vanco Brakes in California.






These are the upper and lower ball joints at the axle "C". The ball joints were stiff and smooth in motion so I will proceed and I can check them out a little better when I have the tires/wheels mounted.


(continued below....)
__________________
steve in central florida

'98 TJ wrangler sport.....gunmetal blue
XJ d30/rubicon TJ d44...33's with popular suspension mods

want to read my build threads...they're long with lots of pictures

Last edited by camper49; 01-01-2009 at 01:57 PM..
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Unread 11-25-2007, 09:30 AM   #6
camper49
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paint and pinion seal.....

No broken gear teeth and the lube wasn't particularly nasty or milky. I man-handled this thing into and out of my TJ and it never leaked any gear lube out of the axle tubes so I hoped the shaft seals were good. I believe it was about a 90,000 mile axle but I don't really know. I'm going to run 33" tires. A popular opinion is that I want 4.56 gear ratio, so if I can absorb some of this expense for awhile, I will look at regearing sometime down the road. That will also bring new bearings and seals.



I squeeze a little rtv gasket maker out and smear it a little with my finger....let it sit for a few minutes and then try to be careful not to slide the cover around too much while I thread the bolts in.






I purchased a new pinion oil seal (part no. 5778V). I didn't get a full sequence of pictures for this. I've seen several forum questions about a leaking pinion seal. As I understand it, for do-it-yourself fellas, the high pinion dana 30 has the advantage in that it does not use a crush sleeve for pinion bearing pre-load. So you just have to retain the same bearing shim/slinger behind the yoke when you tighten it back down. Use a 1-1/8" socket on the pinion nut and a pipe wrench for the yoke. I got ahead of myself and forgot to mark the nut location on the threads before I broke it free. So I'll have to put it back together "shade tree" style.




...pulling the yoke out so I can remove the old seal. I deformed the seal edge back away from the cast neck with a small screwdriver and a light hammer. After working around the circumference, it came loose and pulled out easily. The yoke is a spicer 1310 series and uses a spicer 5-785X universal joint.



You have to be careful with this seal replacement job. Remember this is a XJ front axle. It doesn't use a crush sleeve to correctly set the bearing load, so it's easier to work on than the TJ front dana 30.

The set-up depth of the pinion (shaft/gear) allows the gear to correctly interface with the ring gear. This depth and the ring gear carrier position is not altered when you change the seal. One of the other important differential set-up factors is called pinion bearing preload. There are two sets of tapered roller bearings supporting the pinion (shaft) in the neck of the pumpkin. The force or tightness of the tapered roller bearings against a bearing race is determined by the tightness of the nut. THIS IS IMPORTANT. When you remove the pinion nut and yoke you loose this preload. After replacing the leaking oil seal, it is possible to overtighten the nut. The XJ axle uses shims to space the depth of the yoke, so all you have to do is tighten the nut back down correctly. The correct method of reassembly involves using a inch-pound torque wrench to measure the rotational resistance as the nut is gradually tightened. I'm not claiming I can "feel" it with my hand but thats how I did it and I felt okay with what I was doing. Better a little loose than too tight I guess. The nut is what I call a "deformed thread" nut. It's intentionally smashed so that you can't thread it with just your fingers. It's also not intended to be used twice. However, many shade-tree repairs will reuse the old nut.

I polished the seal surface on the yoke with a worn emory cloth strap and tapped the new seal in place with a wooden dowel working around the circumference. If your seal is leaking, it isn't expensive or difficult to fix it. You just need to understand the consequences of tightening the nut.

(continued below...)
__________________
steve in central florida

'98 TJ wrangler sport.....gunmetal blue
XJ d30/rubicon TJ d44...33's with popular suspension mods

want to read my build threads...they're long with lots of pictures

Last edited by camper49; 01-01-2009 at 02:19 PM..
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Unread 11-25-2007, 09:32 AM   #7
camper49
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Posts: 490
axle shafts are rusty.....

I can't afford new hardened alloy front axle shafts just yet. So I'm going to try to salvage these stock axle shafts from the XJ. They should be the same as my TJ axle shafts.




The TJ and XJ front axle shaft universal joints use a c-clip retainer. Internet forum chatter complains about these clips popping loose under load and allowing the universal joint end caps to damage the axle shaft yokes. The aftermarket hardened axle shafts allow use of a full circle clip which helps remedy this problem.



I think that technically, a axle universal joint is two yokes and a bearing cross. Everyone refers to the cross as the u-joint. The bearing end caps on the cross have to be temporarily removed to allow disassembly / reassembly and it's a close fit design. You first have to press the stub shaft yoke to the side to expose the cap on one end of the u-joint cross. Remove the cap to expose the bearing trunion. Press the u-joint cross the opposite direction to expose the opposite bearing cap and remove it. Then remove the stub yoke. Now just press the cross sideways in the inner shaft yoke to expose cap no. 3. And finally, press the cross in the opposite direction to remove the final cap.









My KJ liberty had some ball joint issues. I have a ball joint press (a large c-clamp) which is convenient to use in a bench vise for u-joints. You can also use a couple of different size sockets and a hammer but its a more violent method.





(now the last part of this part....)
__________________
steve in central florida

'98 TJ wrangler sport.....gunmetal blue
XJ d30/rubicon TJ d44...33's with popular suspension mods

want to read my build threads...they're long with lots of pictures

Last edited by camper49; 01-01-2009 at 02:27 PM..
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Unread 11-25-2007, 09:33 AM   #8
camper49
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Posts: 490
the final pictures for this first part of the story....

I spent a lot of time cleaning old parts. It kills your time budget and fouls your hands, but it makes reassembly much more enjoyable.




The shafts cleaned up fine for use and I replaced the universal joints with spicer 5-760X joints. I will look at my TJ shafts when I get that axle out and decide which I'll use. Either way, I'll have spare shafts and it's good to know how to replace them. After I recover some from the expense of all this, I'll purchase some aftermarket alloy shafts.


When you install new universal joints, you just need to be careful to align the parts before you put much pressure on anything. The joint end caps use needle bearings to ride on the cross trunion. Grease keeps them positioned when you remove the cap, but you want to make sure not to dislodge them before repositioning on the cross. The install of new joints is much smoother and takes less force/violence because there's no rust or siezed parts. The spicer 5-760X joint has no grease fitting.

A man named Clarence Spicer patented an improved cardan joint (universal joint) allowing the early automobiles to change from sprockets and chains to what became todays driveshafts and axles. It's correct to call it a spicer joint. I think Henry Ford named it a universal joint. The Dana-Spicer Corporation was a major player and is historically important in the U.S. automotive industry.


The front XJ axle is cleaned up and painted. I'll put the axle shafts back in later. I'm taking a chance that old bearings, seals, ball joints, etc. will be okay. I'm prepared to accept the consequences if I find out in a few days that I have to do more. Now I'll start taking my TJ jeep apart....a 1" body lift and motor mounts are next. I have lots of pictures but I may have to wait a few days to build a new forum thread. Thanks for looking.
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steve in central florida

'98 TJ wrangler sport.....gunmetal blue
XJ d30/rubicon TJ d44...33's with popular suspension mods

want to read my build threads...they're long with lots of pictures

Last edited by camper49; 01-01-2009 at 02:32 PM..
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Unread 11-25-2007, 09:50 AM   #9
blktjjp
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Great post! Your an inspiration to the rest of us middleaged nonmechanics Keep us posted on your progress.
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Unread 11-25-2007, 10:21 AM   #10
VZEHLER
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Very Informative! Wish we had more tech like this on the forums. Keep us posted on your progress and thanks for taking the time to write this up!
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Unread 11-25-2007, 11:17 AM   #11
Greg_Volkman
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getting ready to do the HP 30 myself. Why didn't you just swap in the TJ axle shafts and use the old ones as trail spares?
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Unread 11-25-2007, 02:12 PM   #12
MontyTJ02
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Very clean TJ Now all you need to do is paint those flares black again. Your write up is very informative. Thanks for spending the time so someone like me can do this the proper way. I have to fix my leaking front pinion seal soon.
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Unread 11-25-2007, 02:18 PM   #13
safarimike
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I may have missed this in your post . . . When swapping in the hp 30 from the xj, tj knuckles need to be put on the hp 30 right?
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Unread 11-25-2007, 03:16 PM   #14
camper49
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thanks fellas...

Quote:
Originally Posted by hockeyhair55


I may have missed this in your post . . . When swapping in the hp 30 from the xj, tj knuckles need to be put on the hp 30 right?
If I can work up a chapter two or three, you'll see how I ended up marrying parts from both axles....I used the XJ steering knuckles and axle shafts, with my TJ hub bearings, rotors, calipers. I ordered a replacement front brake package from Vanco Brakes which will replace all of these parts. I haven't swapped the Vanco stuff yet and my steering and brakes have been working fine (approx. 400 miles).

None of this means that I know what I'm doing....just that nothing has failed yet....
__________________
steve in central florida

'98 TJ wrangler sport.....gunmetal blue
XJ d30/rubicon TJ d44...33's with popular suspension mods

want to read my build threads...they're long with lots of pictures
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Unread 11-25-2007, 06:37 PM   #15
armyjeeper
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Love it, these are the posts that make me want to go rip something out of my jeep just to put it back in. Good luck bud!
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