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Unread 11-30-2008, 03:20 AM   #1
Whsperz
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"Project Naomi" TJ Build

First a quick background; I am a telecommunications engineer who just recently got the Jeep "Bug" bad! I had a station wagon (Grand Cherokee) for quite a few years and although it was great and reliable for the family, I never got into doing anything more with it because it is, dare I say, a 2WD southern Jeep. It was such a great deal and I really couldn't pass it up. I had no desire to do anything with it because, well, I was more into imports and muscle and that was all fine and dandy, until I took the job in Alaska. On my final interview I had asked how much it snows here. Here being "The Bridge to Nowhere" city they basically have Seattle, WA weather and it is a rain forest. I figured the station wagon would be fine up here. My long trip from Louisville, Kentucky to Alaska was via Canada on the TC-16. By doing this, I missed all the massive flooding in Washington State and Vancouver. But I did make the trip through snow almost all the way. So my little 4 1/2 day 3500 mile trip was pretty interesting knowing that if I got stuck, I had no 4WD to get out. I did wonderful until the last day of the trip. Pictures are posted here: http://www.jeepforum.com/forum/showt...08#post6077208 Needless to say, all was well, however 3 weeks later in our little city we had approximately 30 inches of snow. My Jeep didn't like it, we were low on cash so I ran around town with snow chains on. Figuring we will make it through the season without buying studs. We did but the new season is coming up. So I snatched up a YJ Renegade. This is when the Jeep "Bug" hit. I started thinking about what I could do to it. Well, I was told that this Jeep had been in Alaska since it was bought brand new and the frame was probably rusted beyond belief. Much to my chagrin, one strong bump would seperate that rear axle from the frame. Being this is a small town and I had no idea how much and who would be able to fix it, I scrapped that idea.

Here's where Naomi comes in: My wife saw how excited I was getting about building up a Jeep and with the YJ having such a dismal outlook she told me to get whatever I wanted. I started looking around first at new prices and said forget that... Pay this much just for the stock Jeep and then put a lot more money into it, no thanks. I started looking at used Jeeps and from car lots online, they were just a little too much for me to justify. I thought why not Ebay. Keep in mind, here in Alaska, as well as Hawaii (I am sure), we pay an ASTRONOMICAL amount on shipping. I knew that if I bought a vehicle online, aside from me flying down, driving and boating it up, to have it shipped would run in the neighborhood of $2-3k. This makes playing auctions an extreme pain. Luck was on my side and there was this nice 2000 TJ Wrangler on there sitting in Bellingham, WA (which by the way is where the Alaska ferry is to my fine town). Have the Jeep now although the seller had a lien on the Jeep and am awaiting to have that taken care of. I have been making the plans to rebuild some of it and addon to more of it as well as share my experiences and perhaps get some insight from anyone willing to give it on the various issues I may or may not have.

Our city is really tiny and it's on an island. We take up about 10% of the actual island with roads and houses. There are many other islands that we can go out to via ferry (if you have that kind of money) but mainly the Jeep was bought for traversing through snow to and from work/school/other (we do live on the side of a mountain so lots of hills) and my family wants to start going out and hunting/fishing/camping which is something I didn't want to attempt in the 2WD Grand Cherokee. So that being said here are the primary goals of Naomi:

Safe.
Enough storage space for gear with the family sitting in it as well.
The ability to get in or out of places that we desire.
Having lots of fun and getting really muddy (only my son and I want that part!)

Seeing my list here sort of shows where my priorities lie first and foremost. I don't intend to go rock crawling, however if I start scraping and bottoming it, I want the underside to be protected. Nothing like no cell phone range/CB radio range in Alaska and having a trouble is quite painful.

Of course, I have some pics with what I am starting out with and I can tell you from what the PO has stated has been done to it. First one being the obligatory picture of all three Jeeps together. Pretty bad when the neighbors are already referring to me as the Jeep guy! More on the next post of what Naomi currently has done to her.

pic_0013.jpg   pic_0017.jpg   pic_0018.jpg  
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Unread 11-30-2008, 03:27 AM   #2
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What she has and what's been done to her:

Inline6 4.0 Liter.
33x12.50/15 Goodyear Wrangler MT/R
Upgraded Silver Star Headlights
Midland CB Radio
Python Security System (useless in Alaska!)
Bumpers from Ryans Truck Frabrication
Rubicon Express superflex 3.5" suspension lift
Drop Pitman Arm
Rancho Steering Stabilizer
Quick-Disconnects for the front sway bar
Flowmaster Super 44 Muffler w/ Custom Mandrel Bent Tail Pipe

Anything else not listed is because I don't know right offhand or I don't know how to identify, but the time I have spent on these forums doing research and planning has taught me a lot or I can definitely find the knowledge.
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Unread 11-30-2008, 03:34 AM   #3
Whsperz
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Of course my exterior plans include (to encompass my goals listed above):

An Expedition Rack
Nice large Winch (larger than most would need, better safe than sorry)
Swing Away Bumper for Spare Tire (as well as Gerry Cans and some tools)
Skids (Fuel Tank, Steering Box, Engine/Tranny, Radiator, Belly Pan, and Rocker Armor) (Am I missing anymore than that?)
Nice Stinger Bumper w/Winch plate, D-Ring loops and light mounting locations (Still looking around on this one)
Rear storage trunk and Under seat drawer
Delta light Bars all the way around it
Sport Cage
Snorkel

Like I said, I want it safe, fun and have plenty of storage. The rest of the build will include what I find when I get underneath her. Tomorrow (or rather today), I will probably have lots of questions to ask and I hope I can get some good answers.
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Last edited by Whsperz; 12-29-2008 at 03:33 AM.. Reason: Forgot something on the list!
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Unread 11-30-2008, 03:40 AM   #4
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Ohhh Ohhh! I already have some questions since I started making this post.

How big of tires/rims can one reasonably go with a 3.5" lift? Is there any drawback to going bigger aside from being top-heavier prone? Will putting spacers on wheels to get a wider stance equal more stability? Both a question for the 33s on it currently and going with larger?

Does any have experience with Wilderness Expedition racks? Are the easy to disconnect from it's mounts once it is fully mounted? Do you have lights mounted onto it, in the front, rear or both? Loaded question here is, do you remove the rack with lights on it to get it in your garage and do you have quick disconnects for it?
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Unread 11-30-2008, 04:14 AM   #5
RogueSpear2023
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Your probably going to want to replace the rear diff if its a Dana 35, especially for 33s or larger. If the rear diff has a rubber plug and is oval shaped its a Dana 35, the Dana 35 is notoriously weak for larger tires, and or lockers which you will probably want soon enough. The main options here for what you want to do are either a Dana 44 or Ford 8.8, If you are good with a welder, and good with tools the Ford 8.8 is a good choice and probably cheaper than a Dana 44. A D44 from a TJ/LJ will bolt in. Considering what you are planing I would assume your next plan would possibly be selectable lockers since you live in an area that has snow and ice. Most go with ARBs, or OX lockers here.

Armor is also a good place to start I think you have everything. If you want to go larger than those 33s you will have to add about 1" of body lift and 1" motor mount lift. You may also want to do a slip yoke eliminator if not done already.

The only other advice is search is you friend, and ask questions if you can't find it, most of us will guide you in the right direction even if asked 100 times previously, some will get a little grouchy about, but just ignore them, they have nothing better to but put down others. Good Luck. Welcome to the forum.
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Unread 11-30-2008, 04:18 AM   #6
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differential skids and LCA skids.

with a $10k budget youll have plenty to get yourself into. i didnt see a BL or TT in your list anywhere. thatll give you a little more ground clearance.

33's are about the perfect size tire for you lift and adding spacers to your wheels will give it a wider stance and ever-so-slightly more stability but not a whole lot. the tires you have are some pretty good ones and i dont see a need to replace them at all.

you wont find very much storage room in a TJ but adding racks will remedy that. Tuffy makes a good stogage box that goes behind the rear seat and expands for when the seat is removed. Tuffy makes a lot of good security storage for Jeeps.

the best winch you could get IMO is a 12,000lb warn power plant. its a 12,000lb winch with an air compressor built into it but its not cheap.

are your axles locked? if not you should have at least one. i prefer to lock the front before the rear but a lot of other people like to lock the rear. get selectable lockers if you dont already have them.
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Unread 11-30-2008, 04:27 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RogueSpear2023 View Post
Your probably going to want to replace the rear diff if its a Dana 35, especially for 33s or larger. If the rear diff has a rubber plug and is oval shaped its a Dana 35, the Dana 35 is notoriously weak for larger tires, and or lockers which you will probably want soon enough. The main options here for what you want to do are either a Dana 44 or Ford 8.8, If you are good with a welder, and good with tools the Ford 8.8 is a good choice and probably cheaper than a Dana 44. A D44 from a TJ/LJ will bolt in. Considering what you are planing I would assume your next plan would possibly be selectable lockers since you live in an area that has snow and ice. Most go with ARBs, or OX lockers here...
purchasing an 8.8, purchasing bracketry, having a competent shop weld the bracketry on, and having them install the axle you have the same if not more money into it than a D44 or a S35. i personally have a S35 in the rear with an OX and i couldnt be happier. theres no need to completely replace the D35 since there are very good upgrades for it. dont dismiss it because its the "notorious" D35. research it and understand it before you make a decision.

a S35 is plenty strong enough for up to and including 35" tires.
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Unread 11-30-2008, 06:25 AM   #8
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Nice Jeep. The Rubicon Express Super Flex lift I installed did not need a dropped track pitman arm. You may want to take a quick look at the trackbar/pitman arm relationship if it seems to drive a little sketchy, i.e. bump steer when hitting bridge abutments or large bumps in the road.
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Unread 11-30-2008, 06:38 AM   #9
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Lol with all the wait of the skids, rack, storage compartments, and everything else you are doing to the jeep you might need to step up to RE's 4.5" springs if the 3.5's start to sag with the added wait...just an idea I'd look into a Super35 kit with a selectable locker and a c-clip eliminator in it. You'd have a strong axle in the rear and it wouldn't be as expensive as going with a dana 44 (save a couple hundred $ and buy something else with that $). ARB has a killer snorkel, but with the snorkel you need to think about waterproofing the rest of the jeep, like the seals, breather tubes for axles, TC, and other various things. All I can think of right now...hope it goes well for you!
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Unread 11-30-2008, 12:28 PM   #10
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First thing I will do today after I get in the garage is identify the diff and do some research based on this. I will also do some research on lockers as I need to understand how they work and what all is involved. My ability to weld is nil and finding someone around here may prove difficult (small island and all). Will identify past experience with the S35 w/wo the OX, D44 and the work involved with Ford 8.8 as well as cost analysis versus shipping materials (shipping is what I get killed on). I appreciate this info from all of you and it made me look in another direction to where I go with Naomi.
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Unread 11-30-2008, 12:35 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeepster83 View Post
i didnt see a BL or TT in your list anywhere. thatll give you a little more ground clearance.

...

the best winch you could get IMO is a 12,000lb warn power plant. its a 12,000lb winch with an air compressor built into it but its not cheap.

are your axles locked? if not you should have at least one.

...
Hrmm, don't know what a BL or TT is. I will have to look around and see if I can figure out what they are.

That's an awesome winch I haven't seen that one where I have been looking. That would help the solution of me trying to put an air compressor on if I could use that one. IMO I think it would behoove me to get the one you mentioned as it's only like $300 or so more than the one I was looking at.

I honestly don't know if my axles are locked, and I wouldn't know where to look/how to check. Another thing to research. I would rather research than spend the money and find out it doesn't work.
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Unread 11-30-2008, 12:39 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dragginwagon406 View Post
Nice Jeep. The Rubicon Express Super Flex lift I installed did not need a dropped track pitman arm. You may want to take a quick look at the trackbar/pitman arm relationship if it seems to drive a little sketchy, i.e. bump steer when hitting bridge abutments or large bumps in the road.
I know the PO also purchased an RE Track bar but didn't install it. He put it and the other stuff he had in the Jeep before putting it on the ferry. I do feel a bit of death wobble although on this island we rarely get above 55 mph and that comes in spurts. I do feel it in puddles and it feels like I constantly have to pull left to stay off the curbs/trees/parked cars. I am debating and trying to figure out if I need to install the track bar, if it would help daily driving and how does it hurt offroad?
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Unread 11-30-2008, 12:40 PM   #13
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BL= Body Lift
TT= Tummy Tuck (replaces the HUGE skid plate under the jeep's transfer case)
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Unread 11-30-2008, 12:46 PM   #14
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I do have another and I may repost this in the tires/wheels forum. I am trying to identify the wheels that are on this. The PO didn't have a spare and of course I would like to get a matching wheel for it. As far as I can identify it looks like these are Cragar Series 397 Soft 8 Black Wheel. Anyone agree or disagree?
pic_0002a.jpg  
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Unread 11-30-2008, 02:19 PM   #15
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looks like a Cragar sort 8 to me. there are a few companies that make that style of wheel but if you get a Cragar wheel itll look the same.
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