Barbie Jeep build - a TJ "improvement" thread - JeepForum.com
 1Likes
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 24 Old 12-11-2019, 08:00 AM Thread Starter
jeepguy03
Winning
 
jeepguy03's Avatar
1998 TJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Storrs
Posts: 6,430
Garage
Barbie Jeep build - a TJ "improvement" thread

I've been a member on this forum for several years, but mainly on the XJ side of things. I've had 3 XJs ranging from a 1990 Limited to my previous Jeep which was a 2000 XJ Sport. All of them have been mild "builds", the last one had 30's and a 2" pieced together lift with OME springs.



Since there is no legal wheeling close to where I live, and my Jeeps have all been my only vehicle, I was limited with what I could really do with it. Most of my modifications were to make it "super stock" or slightly improved over stock, but still function as a daily driver.

While this Jeep will be a similar build, my plan is to actually take it wheeling in places like Moab, Colorado, etc, and make it an Overlander sort of vehicle. This thread will not be a crazy build on one ton axles and 38" tires (yet), but rather a progress thread. The journey starts with my last XJ becoming too rusty for me to fix. It was clean, but the rust was increasing and I didn't have the skill to fix it. This is an unfortunate reality of living in New England, which is something I also hope to change in the future. I've always wanted a TJ, even though I thought of them as "barbie jeeps" until I drove one... and that is where things began.

Let's first give credit to my daily driver/winter vehicle, which is a 2009 BMW 328i E90 sedan. It is RWD, with a 3.0L inline-6 and it does around 90 miles a day right now commuting. Here is a picture from when I took it on the famous driving road "Tail of the Dragon":



The daily driver mod really is a good mod when working with now 20+ year old Jeeps, although the car didn't always start out as a daily driver:



Now onto the Jeep...


0331 head swap DIY:

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


"Build" thread:

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


Previous: 1990 XJ Limited, 2000 XJ Sport, 2000 XJ Sport
Current: 1998 Wrangler Sahara
jeepguy03 is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 24 Old 12-11-2019, 08:07 AM Thread Starter
jeepguy03
Winning
 
jeepguy03's Avatar
1998 TJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Storrs
Posts: 6,430
Garage
I sold my XJ to a local guy who was going to fix it up, and when I sold it had planned on getting another Jeep at some point. Little did I know that after you sell a Jeep, all you see are Jeeps on the road, and soon you want another one. I decided I wanted a TJ after driving a friend's, but they were becoming difficult if not impossible to find in my area with low rust. Most of them had frames with rot or painted over rust and high price tags. I ended up finding it worthwhile to expand my search out of state, towards the land of sunshine (California) where I found this one. Surprisingly, it was cheaper than all of the other TJs in my area with similar mileage, but in much better condition.



It's a 2 owner California Jeep.

Stats:

-1998 Sahara 156k miles - Spice interior, Moss Green exterior
-4.0L
-AX-15
-Dana 44 rear with Trac-Lok LSD
-3.73 gears
-Hard and soft top
-Zero rust
-New starter
-New alternator
-New brakes front and rear
-New valve cover gasket
-New radiator, water pump, hoses
-Diff fluids and transmission fluids recently changed
-Newer battery
-New cat converter/O2 sensors
-New ignition tune-up parts
-Bosch 4 hole injectors
-V8 ZJ steering
-New motor mounts
-New serpentine belt
-New wiper motor and blades

0331 head swap DIY:

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


"Build" thread:

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


Previous: 1990 XJ Limited, 2000 XJ Sport, 2000 XJ Sport
Current: 1998 Wrangler Sahara
jeepguy03 is offline  
post #3 of 24 Old 12-11-2019, 08:15 AM Thread Starter
jeepguy03
Winning
 
jeepguy03's Avatar
1998 TJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Storrs
Posts: 6,430
Garage
Here are some more shots of the underside, the interior, and the night I picked it up from the shipper.








0331 head swap DIY:

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


"Build" thread:

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


Previous: 1990 XJ Limited, 2000 XJ Sport, 2000 XJ Sport
Current: 1998 Wrangler Sahara
jeepguy03 is offline  
 
post #4 of 24 Old 12-11-2019, 08:23 AM Thread Starter
jeepguy03
Winning
 
jeepguy03's Avatar
1998 TJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Storrs
Posts: 6,430
Garage
Here is the first day I got it registered:



I'll have to get used to the Jeep wave, since nobody waved to me in my XJ.

My goal is to build something like this, which is a picture I stole off Google, apologies to the owner if he is on here for stealing the pic:



The Jeep already has 1" H&R lift springs, which according to the tape measure have lifted it anywhere from 1.25"-1.5" over stock. It also has brand new Bilstein 5100 shocks all around, and rides perfect, so I'll likely stay at this height at least for now. The tires are round, but other than that they have zero redeeming qualities, and are getting replaced with some BFG All-Terrain KO2's in the 31x10.5R15 flavor. I'm not the biggest fan of the Gambler wheels, so I have (5) almost brand new condition 15x8 TJ canyons on the way.


0331 head swap DIY:

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


"Build" thread:

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


Previous: 1990 XJ Limited, 2000 XJ Sport, 2000 XJ Sport
Current: 1998 Wrangler Sahara
jeepguy03 is offline  
post #5 of 24 Old 12-11-2019, 08:39 AM Thread Starter
jeepguy03
Winning
 
jeepguy03's Avatar
1998 TJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Storrs
Posts: 6,430
Garage
When I drove it home the first night from the shipping drop-off location, I immediately remembered how much my stock headlights sucked in my XJ. By the time I sold the XJ I had an upgraded harness, IPF H4 housings, and some Hella 80/100 watt bulbs. For this Jeep, I went a bit of a different route with IPF H4 housings and LED bulbs. Normally I wouldn't put LEDs in a housing meant for halogens, but the sharp Euro spec cut-off of the IPF housings and the fact that I won't be driving this everyday made it okay in my mind. It was a bit trickier to aim, but I was able to make it so the lights did not blind oncoming cars, and tested it several times with friend's vehicles. Overall I'm happy with the upgrade considering the bulbs were $40 or so and the housings were around $60 each.




0331 head swap DIY:

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


"Build" thread:

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


Previous: 1990 XJ Limited, 2000 XJ Sport, 2000 XJ Sport
Current: 1998 Wrangler Sahara
jeepguy03 is offline  
post #6 of 24 Old 12-11-2019, 08:45 AM Thread Starter
jeepguy03
Winning
 
jeepguy03's Avatar
1998 TJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Storrs
Posts: 6,430
Garage
One of the stock fog lights wasn't working, and when I went to replace the bulb I found that the glass had cracked.

I plan on replacing the glass at some point and rebuilding the fog light, but for now I decided to upgrade to LEDs, with some LED KC Daylighters mounted in the stock location using the stock fog light switch. I plan on wiring the stock fog light relay to get power from the high beam circuit, so the daylighters will come on with the high beams, since they are way too bright to be used with the low beams as fogs and would definitely blind other drivers.




0331 head swap DIY:

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


"Build" thread:

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


Previous: 1990 XJ Limited, 2000 XJ Sport, 2000 XJ Sport
Current: 1998 Wrangler Sahara
jeepguy03 is offline  
post #7 of 24 Old 12-11-2019, 08:52 AM Thread Starter
jeepguy03
Winning
 
jeepguy03's Avatar
1998 TJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Storrs
Posts: 6,430
Garage
Three things that really annoyed me about driving this (dash wise) were the gauges being dim, the annoying shift light, and the seat belt chime if you started the Jeep first without the belt on. The shift light in my mind is pointless. If I followed that I'd be in 5th gear at 20 mph at the start of every hill here in Connecticut. I pulled the dash, put white LEDs in the gauges, pulled the shift light, and pulled the beeper thing out from the back. Took about 30 minutes to do, and makes driving it much nicer.

The LED bulbs for the gauges are a #74, and the beeper is only held to the back of the dash with 2 contact pins. I was able to easily "break" it off the cluster with a set of needle nose pliers.



I also added LED interior lights while I was at it. They are the warm white color which is similar to factory but much brighter:


0331 head swap DIY:

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


"Build" thread:

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


Previous: 1990 XJ Limited, 2000 XJ Sport, 2000 XJ Sport
Current: 1998 Wrangler Sahara
jeepguy03 is offline  
post #8 of 24 Old 12-11-2019, 09:08 AM Thread Starter
jeepguy03
Winning
 
jeepguy03's Avatar
1998 TJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Storrs
Posts: 6,430
Garage
Next up was the factory sound system. There was a failing rear speaker, and it still had the stock cassette player. I replaced the cassette player with a Sony DSX-A415BT bluetooth capable head unit I got on ebay, and the speakers with Polk Audio marine grade. The rears are 6.5" Polk DB651 and the fronts are 5.25" Polk DB521. I used the Select Increments speaker pods for the front, and it sounds MUCH better. Very clear, and the bluetooth option makes listening to music/navigation on my iPhone a lot easier.






Be aware that if you install the front speaker pods on an earlier TJ, there is a metal strap that needs to be cut out of the dash to fit the pods. When the directions state you need a "good" set of tin snips they aren't kidding. Mine were too old and dull and I had to get better ones from the hardware store.

I also installed the Fairchild Industries entry guards to protect the area that seems to get kicked a lot by passengers when they get in and out:



And a friend got me the Misch door arm rests which are a great add-on for highway crusing:


0331 head swap DIY:

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


"Build" thread:

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


Previous: 1990 XJ Limited, 2000 XJ Sport, 2000 XJ Sport
Current: 1998 Wrangler Sahara
jeepguy03 is offline  
post #9 of 24 Old 12-11-2019, 09:20 AM Thread Starter
jeepguy03
Winning
 
jeepguy03's Avatar
1998 TJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Storrs
Posts: 6,430
Garage
What I still need to fix:
-Oil pressure switch/sensor (gauge likes to read steady then dance from max to min)
-Exhaust manifold is cracked
-Transmission mount is shot
-Rear main seal is weeping oil
-Steering has a slight shake around 70 mph
-Battery cables/terminals are a bit "meh"
-Clutch is original and still grabs okay, but I'm sure will need to be addressed at some point
-Steering stabilizer is leaking


Near future mods:
-trailer hitch
-winch
-sway bar quick disconnects
-skid plates
-LED brake/tail lights (because nobody pays attention while driving)
-tube doors
-roof top tent
-anti-theft hidden fuel pump shut off switch
-differential covers both for protection and easier maintenance (drain plugs)
-rear locker

0331 head swap DIY:

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


"Build" thread:

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


Previous: 1990 XJ Limited, 2000 XJ Sport, 2000 XJ Sport
Current: 1998 Wrangler Sahara
jeepguy03 is offline  
post #10 of 24 Old 12-11-2019, 10:38 AM
hodgexj1996
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Posts: 16
Subd and so far looks great! There's something nice about a clean mild build instead of full bore 1 tons that I am starting to really like. Being in NJ I know the east coast pain of rust, you got yourself a beautiful rig to build off of. I can't imagine touching something rust free. It's gott a be like heaven.

Sent from my SM-N920V using Tapatalk
hodgexj1996 is offline  
post #11 of 24 Old 12-11-2019, 02:55 PM Thread Starter
jeepguy03
Winning
 
jeepguy03's Avatar
1998 TJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Storrs
Posts: 6,430
Garage
Quote:
Originally Posted by hodgexj1996 View Post
Subd and so far looks great! There's something nice about a clean mild build instead of full bore 1 tons that I am starting to really like. Being in NJ I know the east coast pain of rust, you got yourself a beautiful rig to build off of. I can't imagine touching something rust free. It's gott a be like heaven.

Sent from my SM-N920V using Tapatalk
Thanks! Starting with something rust-free has been awesome so far and I feel very lucky. My last XJ when I bought it in 2009 had 84k miles and a little bit of rust, so this is like working on a new Jeep in comparison. Since it is a second vehicle, I plan on keeping it for a long time. Luckily my car with snow tires is excellent in the snow, so I've been driving that to keep the Jeep out of the salt.

Around here it's crazy the prices TJs command in sad condition, and many shady dealerships will paint right over rust and rot holes. I even saw one where they put spray foam insulation from a house inside the frame.

0331 head swap DIY:

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


"Build" thread:

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


Previous: 1990 XJ Limited, 2000 XJ Sport, 2000 XJ Sport
Current: 1998 Wrangler Sahara
jeepguy03 is offline  
post #12 of 24 Old 12-11-2019, 03:53 PM
hodgexj1996
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Posts: 16
Agreed! Crazy thing is, people pay it too! Without second thought, till the trans support/belly pan falls off!



Sent from my P00I using Tapatalk
hodgexj1996 is offline  
post #13 of 24 Old 12-13-2019, 07:54 AM
NashvilleTJ
I miss the snow...
 
NashvilleTJ's Avatar
2004 LJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Nashville
Posts: 4,060
Great project. Did you go out to Cali to see it / buy it, or buy it sight unseen? And Iím curious what it cost to transport it back to Jersey.

Looking forward to following.

Jeff

Build Thread:

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

Swing Away / Swing Down Tire Carrier:

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
NashvilleTJ is offline  
post #14 of 24 Old 12-16-2019, 06:39 AM Thread Starter
jeepguy03
Winning
 
jeepguy03's Avatar
1998 TJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Storrs
Posts: 6,430
Garage
Quote:
Originally Posted by NashvilleTJ View Post
Great project. Did you go out to Cali to see it / buy it, or buy it sight unseen? And Iím curious what it cost to transport it back to Jersey.

Looking forward to following.

Jeff
I had a friend out there just check it over quick and I talked with the owner about it. The previous owner was very thorough on maintenance (had lots of documentation) so I wasn't too concerned about not seeing it in person. Normally I wouldn't buy something I haven't seen in person with my own eyes, but it was cheaper than almost every TJ out here in CT and had zero rust. The shipping was $800 from Cali to CT and the company I used was very reputable and the driver provided status updates frequently. Overall I was pleased with the experience because the previous owner was very upfront about everything.

Almost every single TJ or LJ I looked at here had painted over frame rust, bondo, replaced fenders, axles, etc. They are a big seller here in the North East, so dealers will do whatever they can to get top dollar. Engine work and suspension stuff doesn't scare me, but finding a clean frame and body was priority, so starting with something from the West Coast seemed to be the ticket.

0331 head swap DIY:

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


"Build" thread:

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


Previous: 1990 XJ Limited, 2000 XJ Sport, 2000 XJ Sport
Current: 1998 Wrangler Sahara
jeepguy03 is offline  
post #15 of 24 Old 12-16-2019, 06:45 AM Thread Starter
jeepguy03
Winning
 
jeepguy03's Avatar
1998 TJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Storrs
Posts: 6,430
Garage
The manifold came in. I ended up ordering it for $100 or so on Amazon. Stainless steel with the improved design with the bellows, and gaskets/hardware. The gasket looks okay, but I ordered a Fel-Pro one just because I've had good luck with those in the past. The manifold seems to be of pretty good quality, and the welds are pretty good. The reviews all seemed to be good.

I also bought a stainless steel flex joint (6") I will add downstream in the exhaust between the manifold and the cat converter. From what I've read this combined with the improved manifold seems to be the best bet on preventing cracking in the future. The motor mounts are new also, so hopefully I won't have to worry about this for a while.


0331 head swap DIY:

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


"Build" thread:

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


Previous: 1990 XJ Limited, 2000 XJ Sport, 2000 XJ Sport
Current: 1998 Wrangler Sahara
jeepguy03 is offline  
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the JeepForum.com forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid e-mail address for yourself.



Email Address:
OR

Log-in











Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page



Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome