Build. the General Lee, tons, 40s, stretch, etc - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 315 Old 05-14-2020, 06:18 PM Thread Starter
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Build. the General Lee, tons, 40s, stretch, etc

So I’ve been thinking about this for a few days. I’m gonna go ahead and copy most of my build thread over here as well so you guys can check it out and drool. This may take me a while as it’s a lot of posts to copy over. So here we go.


The plans:
YJ with an 18” body and frame stretch
One tons (Chevy 60 front, Ford 70 rear)
40” Bias Ply Trepadors
Atlas 4 speed
SOA with Rubicon Express SOA springs
Full Hydro steering
4.6L stroker
General Lee paint job


I have had this YJ since 2001. It was bought to replace my 1991 GMC Jimmy that was stolen my first week of college. As with most around here it has undergone quite a few changes over the years as I got more and more into wheeling so I’ll start with the evolution.

When I first got it. Bone stock.



Iirc this was some eBay 2” lift shackles front and rear and a ghey light bar that I’m not sure what I was thinking when I put it on.



Probably the biggest mistake I made, rough crappy 4” lift kit, 33” all terrains, some home made rock rails, etc



Stepped up to 35” procomp Xterrains



More or less how it currently sits. Swapped to Rubicon Express 4.5” extreme duty springs after having so many issues with the rough country junk over the years, Great Lakes Offroad diy beadlocks, still on 35s. A few armor upgrades over the years, tossed in an 8.8 with an ARB when I blew up the Dana 35, etc.







And the real motivation for doing this rebuild





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post #2 of 315 Old 05-14-2020, 06:18 PM Thread Starter
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So as you can see above, my little girl is currently strapped into a kids suspension seat sitting on a frame I built to go above my fuel cell. I figure she’s only gonna fit this set up for one more season so I gotta get something done to give her some more space.

I was watching the sale forums here and bought a YJ tub and semi hacked CJ 7 tub from Hurleygo3 and dragged them home to use for this build. Nice thing with this is I am building the tub first in the garage and I don’t have to take down the Jeep until the tub is done.

First thing I did was build a table of sorts to work on the tub. I built it to the exact intended dimensions I am stretching to. I am adding 18”s to the body and the frame. Once the table was built I had a buddy help me slap the tub on it. Then I carefully measured and marked and chopped the tub in half right behind the door frame.







Then I carefully measured and cut some of the top rail section off the CJ tub for my top fill plates





Then I got detoured and spent some time filling all the unnecessary holes in the firewall and plating in the Cowell vent hole as I will not be using the stock heater.


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post #3 of 315 Old 05-14-2020, 06:19 PM Thread Starter
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Next order of business was to measure my aluminum fuel cell and go ahead and cut the hole in the rear floor for it. This time I am moving it back as far as I can so I have plenty of room for a rear bench and my growing kid.

Since I cut thru one of the body crossmembers I broke out my TMR Customs dimple dies and spent way too much time making a new one that nobody will ever see to beef up the edge of my cut a bit.





Next I had to decide what parts of the floor to stretch. I decided to split the difference and add 9”s to the upper floor section where the seat will mount, and 9”s to the lower floor for some more backseat legroom. (Something severely lacking in Wranglers)
Since the floor of the CJ tub was pretty rusty, I decided to use new metal. So I hit Quadratec and ordered some factory replacement patch panels since they were the correct gauge, already bent and ridged, etc and I just cut them up for the pieces I need.

For the rear I cut back a bit more of the factory floor to get rid of the mangled area where the spot welds were and give me a bit more surface area to weld along the fenders.








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post #4 of 315 Old 05-14-2020, 06:19 PM Thread Starter
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Up next was the rear step. Again this is a patch panel from Quadratec.





When it came time to make holes for the spot welds I started with a drill and quickly realized it would take me weeks. Quick visit to Amazon got me this trick little pneumatic hole punch that made perfect holes in a second.



For the fill panels in front of the wheel wells I just cut up some more of the upper floor patch panel I had left over.








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post #5 of 315 Old 05-14-2020, 06:20 PM Thread Starter
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Next I moved on to the lower floor section. Again I hacked up some replacement panels from Quadratec to get the pieces I needed.










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post #6 of 315 Old 05-14-2020, 06:21 PM Thread Starter
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I currently run Blue Torch fab comp cut corners. I want to try and keep this monster somewhat light though so I decided to go aluminum for this build. I got in touch with Genright about getting some custom AL comp cut corners from them with 18”s added between the door and wheel well. However they told me I would have to order a minimum of 10 sets for them to make me what I needed. Obviously that wasn’t going to happen. So I got in touch with Stout Fabrication here on the board instead. No problem. Custom made 3/16” Aluminum comp cut corners showed up from them in just a few weeks.








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post #7 of 315 Old 05-14-2020, 06:21 PM Thread Starter
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Now it was finally time to make the two halves one tub again. I burned in the top caps from the CJ tub and broke out my super high tech CAD design system to figure out what I would need to cut from a half sheet of fresh 16 gauge steel to fill the giant holes in the side of the tub.











Then after I cut my panels out I tossed them in my SWAG press brake to bend the bottom edge for some rigidity


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post #8 of 315 Old 05-14-2020, 06:22 PM Thread Starter
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Next began the tedious process of burning them in. I had forgotten how much I hate welding sheet metal. I am definitely no body man. Luckily the armor will cover most of the imperfections on the outside and the Monstaliner will cover it on the inside. Got them all burned in and cleaned up as best as I can with a flap disc from Roark Supply. Might have to bite the bullet and use some filler in a few places before paint, but all things considered I’m pretty happy with the job I did. (Namely a 220V Miller 185 with .25 wire on the lowest setting I could get it on STILL burning holes. First time in my life I wished I had a 110v welder)


















That brings us up to date of where I am on the body right now. I have to finish welding the fender tops back to the body as the comp cut was high enough to cut thru the seam. Then I will flip the tub onto its sides so I can do the welding underneath. Spot weld the floor sides to the side panels, trim the excess from the bends, etc.

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post #9 of 315 Old 05-14-2020, 06:23 PM Thread Starter
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The axles for this project came from another member here and a buddy of mine. They were in his CJ that he split the frame in half on. I have a Chevy Dana 60 front with a Detroit locker and 5.13s and a Ford Dana 70 rear stuffed with the same.

We used his bucket loader to get them in the bed of my truck, but when I got them home I had to get creative to unload them.





Another part of this upgrade is I am tired of blowing Dana 30 shafts. I am famous in my group for being the fastest front axle replacer they know because I’ve done it so many times. Don’t think I’ll have that issue with these.



I will be converting the 70 to discs. So far I’ve only blown the hubs and drums off. Cleaned up the hubs and put all new Timken bearings in them.







Past that, I took advantage of some Memorial Day sales and have started stockpiling parts. Goodies from Motobilt and RuffStuff respectively.






Also went ahead and ordered and picked up the custom rear bench from PRP to help with mock up.



And that brings us up to date with where I sit at present. I will continue to update as I keep rolling forward on this project.

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post #10 of 315 Old 05-14-2020, 06:24 PM Thread Starter
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Onto today’s progress, limited though it was. I managed to finish welding the wheel wells back together and was finally ready to get the tub up on its side to start the bottom welding. Then I hit a little snag. Turns out the table I made is too tall to allow me to stand it on its side on the table. I was a good 2 feet off on clearance. So what to do when working all alone?

Definitely to be filed under the “kids, don’t try this at home” file. I found I couldn’t really lift the tub by myself. So I grabbed some chain, my harbor freight come along that I used to unload the axles from the back of my truck, a heavy strap, some eye bolts, and some shackles and got very redneck very fast.

Ran the eyebolts with washers and nuts thru some of the floor drain holes. Made a big X with the chain hooked to the eye bolts. Wrapped the strap around the rafter in the garage and put the come along in between. Cranked it up until the tub swung clear off the table. Dragged the table out from under it, and slowly lowered the tub to the floor. Got it up on its side and started welding some of the spot welds on the bottom until the wife and kid came home.










It worked really well. Amazingly I only have to straighten out one drain hole that got a little tweaked from the lift.

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post #11 of 315 Old 05-14-2020, 06:25 PM Thread Starter
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Didn’t get too much done this week as I spent both days off with a *****in cold and just couldn’t bring myself to drag *** out to the garage. I’m sure my welds would have been fantastic with all the sneezing I was doing too.

However I did get a little bit done this afternoon after work.

I felt the upper floor extension could use a bit more support. It was flexing a bit more than I liked so I knocked up another dimpled sheet crossmember and burned it in. It spans the distance between the bends and I also went and welded it to the flange of the step to help tie all the pieces in together just a little bit more. Feels much firmer now. Also added some more tack welds along the edges underneath at the seams to help tie it all together a bit more and welded the floor to the last side panel.







Then I couldn’t resist trying out the new bender with a scrap piece of tube real quick.







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post #12 of 315 Old 05-14-2020, 06:26 PM Thread Starter
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Well the wife and daughter went up to Hollyweird for the day so I actually get a whole day to get some work done on this beast.

I finished up the work on the bottom of the tub and sprayed a coat of primer down on the bare steel.








Then I went ahead and slung it back up on my poor mans chassis table. I thought I would go ahead and get the corner armor mocked up with the tail lights and such. I am having a bit of a hard time deciding which way to go with it. I want something a bit different so I am looking at a couple of options.

For starters I am using a pair of recess mount LED cubes for my back up lights. (they will be wired so they come on with reverse engaged or switched independently if I need them for recovery lighting)

Sorry for the sideways picture. But I want to mount these down low towards the bottom of the wheel well. About this area.


Now for the actual tail lights, I ordered a set of these Tear Drop LED lights like you would see on a motorcycle or something, as well as a set of standard OVAL led trailer lights like I am currently running. I think it will look odd with the tear drop due to the size of the LED cube.





So then I thought, what about a pair of tear drops per side.






This is kind of what I am currently leaning towards. Wire them together obviously so they will both light together. And paint that chrome bezel black or maybe body color (Chrome is fine on my '71 Charger, NOT my Jeep.) Would also be much easier to mount these as they are surface mount. Just have to drill some holes instead of cutting the huge oval holes for the trailer lights.

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post #13 of 315 Old 05-14-2020, 06:26 PM Thread Starter
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Well the more I looked at it, the more I like the double tear drop look. So I went ahead and laid out a grid to help me get everything lined up and situated.



Tossed an Aluminum cut off wheel from Roark Supply on my grinder and between that and a jigsaw for the corners I got my hole cut for my reverse lights.



Then I went ahead and figured out where I wanted my teardrops and punched a couple holes for the mounting studs and the wiring to pass thru into the tub.








My only issue now is that I can't really do the other side as I need to order another pair of the teardrops from Amazon. I guess at least I can get the holes drilled.

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post #14 of 315 Old 05-14-2020, 06:27 PM Thread Starter
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Well summer time means no school for my daughter and I am on Dad duty all day on Monday. And of course my daughter goes thru phases of not liking loud noises and the sound of power tools which makes it very hard to get anything done.

That said I did manage to get a couple little things done today.

First the second pair of tail lights came in over the week so I got them mocked up and temporarily installed.




Then I got the first armor backing plate knocked up. Grabbed some 1/8” x 2” aluminum flat stock from homey depot and cut it to length. Clamped it up and marked the bolt holes from the armor. Pulled it off and drilled the 3/8” mounting holes. Then I laid out a mess of holes for dimples. Unfortunately I wasn’t thinking when I did this and didn’t space them out enough for the die to be able to dimple every hole I cut. (Was trying to get it done before my daughter decided she wanted something) also in hindsight I should have dimpled first and drilled mounting holes later as the dimples along the length pulled the aluminum enough that half the holes for the mounting bolts were completely off when I went to bolt it in necessitating drilling new mount holes. Lesson learned for doing the other side.

Mmmmm, dimpled aluminum.







And yes, I am debating redoing this side again because the imperfections of the hole spacing and such will probably bother me eventually. Of course I’ll have to go get another strip to remake it because the length is 4’6” meaning there isnt enough left of the 8’ strip I cut it off of to make another.

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post #15 of 315 Old 05-14-2020, 06:28 PM Thread Starter
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Found a spare hour and a half today so I knocked out the aluminum backing plate for the drivers side corner armor. Did this one a little different after the issues I had with the passenger side getting all bent out of shape. This time I clamped the strip in place and drilled my mount holes on the tub. Laid out my holes for dimples and switched to a 1” die for the whole thing. Same hole spacing as the other side. This worked WAY better. Sadly though now I am definitely going to want to redo the passenger side.

Drivers side backer







As you can see, this side lined up almost perfectly when I went to bolt it back in. Only had one hole that was slightly off.

And for comparison, a close up of the passenger side piece that I am going to end up redoing.



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