High travel, high clearance & high octane, a streetable adventure LJ story - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 382 Old 03-29-2018, 09:02 PM Thread Starter
toximus
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High travel, high clearance & high octane, a streetable adventure LJ story

This new build thread comes at the intersection of my previous "Red the LJ" build thread and a honest conversation with Blaine (MrBlaine here on the forums) where, put simply, he told me that I need to start all over.

After a day of mulling it over, start over I did.

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Building the right way for 37s.
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post #2 of 382 Old 03-29-2018, 09:38 PM Thread Starter
toximus
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Up until now I've treated my build like a Lego project. Building a little here and there, and when something broke I upgraded it. Not that there's anything innately wrong with that building style but I wanted more and the building bug has bitten me HARD. After talking with Blaine I started to have a deeper understanding of the complications that one component can have on another. I couldn't just slowly build what I had into what I wanted I had to jump ship and swim into the uncomfortable.

I listed parts for sale from my previous build that I wouldn't need and continued to refine the details and specs of my build.

Blaine had me pick a few specs to build to:
  • Tire size that I won't change from.
  • Belly height.
  • Wheelbase.

All of these effect each other. Change one and you must change another.

I decided on a balance for travel and clearance.

Building the right way for 37s.
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post #3 of 382 Old 03-30-2018, 03:41 AM
Trevlaw
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Sub'd for a fresh start 👍

I want a J-Series
TJ Build:

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post #4 of 382 Old 03-30-2018, 04:12 AM
chris87xj
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I'm in for a well thought build.

***Chris***

"You can set my jeep on fire and roll it down a hill,
But I still wouldn't trade it for a Coupe DeVille."


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post #5 of 382 Old 03-30-2018, 08:41 AM Thread Starter
toximus
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In order to accomplish my chosen specs I decided on fitting 2.5x14" coilovers on all 4 corners, mid-arm 4/3-link, and 37" tires. The stock 105" LJ wheelbase is ideal for the 37s and they'll allow for higher up travel compared to 40s. By running 37s on an LJ the overall offroad ability should be similar to a TJ on 35s.

Some challenges I'll face are that I want to keep my Jeep as narrow as possible to better fit on some of the narrow forest trails we have in Northern WI and Upper MI. I'll be using wider 65" WMS axles to get a little more stability but will still need to narrow the frame and tub in the back to fit in the 2.5" coilovers. Another challenge is that I want to keep my Jeep sealed to keep rain, snow, and dirt out. That's going to require some body work. I have also never welded before so this is going to be fun!

---

The axles arrived early this week on the warmest sloppiest day of the year. I had planned on meeting the semi truck with a rental truck that has a lift gate and driving it down to my garage and using a strap around the lift gate to lift the axles off the pallets but even the best laid plans sometimes don't work out. I ended up with a stuck Penske rental truck, friends stuck pickup truck, and my neighbor heard the commotion on our access road and came over with his old International tractor from his farming days and saved the day! It was a huge mess but I'm thankful for good friends and that it wasn't worse and the axles are safely in the garage!


Building the right way for 37s.
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post #6 of 382 Old 03-30-2018, 10:24 AM
Remko
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Good luck, look forward to a nice build.

TEALJ6 Build
https://www.jeepforum.com/forum/f22/tealj6-build-1428156/
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post #7 of 382 Old 03-30-2018, 10:31 AM
usnavy_233
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This sounds like the beginning of an incredibly insightful build diary. Grabbing my notepad and hoping to learn something.

"He is Best; Who is Trained in the Severest School"
- General Thucydides, 434BC
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post #8 of 382 Old 03-30-2018, 08:21 PM Thread Starter
toximus
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The stock Dana 30/44 combo that comes on an LJ won't hold up to 37s. The biggest issue is that the stock Dana 30 outer balljoints on the front are too weak. There's enough examples of even heavily built Dana JK 44s will wear out the internals over time if ran offroad. So for axles I decided on Dana 60s. Currie makes their version, the RockJock 60, which main advantage is that the ground clearance is higher than your junkyard 60s. Along with some other improvements Currie added which are great for offroading, which I'll go over, they were also able to build to my specs which saves me a lot of time vs piecing together my own from a junkyard.



A lot of planning went into speccing the axles to be just right for my build. It took about 2 months to get everything right on paper before giving Currie the go ahead. (As a side note, if anyone is wanting to repeat my order, make sure you buy through a reputable reseller as some of the discount resellers may not be worth the savings you receive. I purchased through Ricky at 4LowParts and he has been very helpful and had no issue putting together my order. He answered all of my questions without making me feel like I was wasting his time.)

Starting at the differentials, the RJ60VXR are a high pinion design, which results in the pinion running on the weak side of the ring gear teeth in the rear, this can cause the ring gear to deflect under high load and skip teeth. I upgraded to the RJ60VXR diff housing for the front and rear. The VXR housing adds a few benefits but the main reason I went with it was for the load bolt to prevent ring gear deflection in the rear. I also went with Ford Super 60 gears which are larger diameter and thicker than the standard Dana 60 gears. I wanted to go with a lower gear ratio in the diffs like a 6.17 but the lowest Currie will go in their housings is a 5.38, so that's what I went with, we'll have to make up for it with the engine later. ARB lockers front and rear were chosen for their reliability and ability to provide expected behavior on snowy and icy roads.

The load bolt can be seen near the middle:


For the yoke, it is high pinion (HP) which will improve driveline angles and keep the yoke out of the rocks. I went with a 1310 yoke to allow for the maximum driveline angle when at full droop, to act as a fuse to prevent damage to the transfer case, and because it's simply strong enough to run even larger tires than I will be. There's simply no reason to go to a bigger ujoint.

The rear has a AR500 steel skid under the diff, the same material that bulldozer buckets are made from. It's strong and doesn't gouge and "grab" onto rocks like an aluminum skid would. For the front Currie forgot to include a skid but for now I won't be running one up there, Blaine mentioned that the fronts like to get caught on rocks and rip off anyway (which immediately made sense when I actually thought about it). Currie is sending a skid over if I later decide to put it on.

Because of the angle of the RockJock 60 covers they built in a dip stick to check fluid levels:


The VXR includes 3.5" .375" wall axle tubes. I omitted all of the brackets except for TJ lower control arm brackets and bridges. This will be correct for the 4 link rear and 3 link front. There is no room for coil buckets on the front at 65" WMS, even the driver's side LCA mount is partially frenched into the diff housing. Part of the reason why I'll need to go with coilovers.



RCV shafts were chosen for the front for their ability to give constant wheel speed in case I need to drive home across the country in front wheel drive after breaking something in the rear. I also have a theory that they may provide better handling on snowy roads while in 4wd since they won't break traction with every revolution. RCVs added strength and warranty is a cherry on top but not a reason for upgrading.



On the ends up front I went with a '04 Ford style balljoint design on the iron knuckles, the unit bearings are based on the F450 design and include a sane 5x5.5" bolt pattern with 1/2" studs. Front brakes will be later built by Black Magic Brakes. Yukon manual locking hubs will be used up front which are narrower and stronger than those from Warn.

The upper steering arms should have included a hole to be in shear with the lower steering arms but due to a recent change at Currie they are unable to provide those and a strange combo was sent to me instead. Currie is mailing me the correct blank steering arm design which I will be drilling to work with my custom crossover steering.

In the rear the simple option would have been to go with Explorer brakes flip the left to right to get the calipers to the front of the housings and call it a day. And that would have been fine and held up long term combined with the semifloat shafts. I wanted a 35 spline full float rear so I could drive home on a broken rear shaft if necessary and to further prevent deflection on the ring gear. The main contenders here were either expensive and complex designs made for Ultra4, full size truck brakes, or Currie's Wilwood brake kit. But I didn't want to compromise or run junk brakes. I ended up going with the Currie JK floater spindle (https://www.currieenterprises.com/CE-0013JK5L). This full float design uses OEM JK brakes which are reliable, available, and they'll allow to me have the correct 75/25 braking ratio with the front without messing around with a proportioning valve. Awesome! With some ingenuity I should be able to make the parking brake connect up with the TJ cables. They are finished off with Currie drive flanges. Oh, and Currie welded the snouts to opposite sides for me so that there would be more room for coilovers in the rear by placing the calipers on the front!





The 3.5" tubes are sleeved down for the rear snouts and JK backing plates:


Pictures don't do these axles justice. They are large, beefy, and precise without being overkill.


Building the right way for 37s.
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post #9 of 382 Old 03-31-2018, 07:28 AM
Imped
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Great axles....jealous.

OlllllllO

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post #10 of 382 Old 03-31-2018, 11:41 AM
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Hey Tox, any plans for the power plant yet? I've been driving myself crazy trying to wrap my head around all of the information around the LS series motors. Currently I'm thinking if I can find a deal on an L33 I'll build that with a 4l65e, maybe use a 4th gen aluminum motor, but I have to do some more research on those. If I can't find a deal on one of those I was thinking I'll just do the 6.0

I want a J-Series
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post #11 of 382 Old 03-31-2018, 12:29 PM Thread Starter
toximus
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Originally Posted by Trevlaw View Post
Hey Tox, any plans for the power plant yet? I've been driving myself crazy trying to wrap my head around all of the information around the LS series motors. Currently I'm thinking if I can find a deal on an L33 I'll build that with a 4l65e, maybe use a 4th gen aluminum motor, but I have to do some more research on those. If I can't find a deal on one of those I was thinking I'll just do the 6.0
I am also a bit overwhelmed by the LS options. And combine that with transmissions, transfercases, and belly height and it becomes an even bigger project. Thankfully I don't have to deal with legal issues here. If I do an engine swap a lighter aluminum block with a low clearance pan seems like a good option. I will be going to highline fenders and narrowing the engine bay considerably with coilover hoops -- there won't be much room left for the engine. Additionally being able to run a smaller fuel cell and get the same miles out of a tank are fun to think about. My biggest challenges going with a hemi or LS swap are 1) I don't have any experience engine swapping (not that that has stopped me before). At this point I'd want to do it with somebody who can help me and that already has a good idea of what works, what doesn't work and what needs to be done. 2) I only have so much time to build my Jeep before next winter comes and I already have too much planned and have barely even started.

For now, the plan is to throw a BoostedTech supercharger onto the stock 4.0L to gain back highway-ability and more low end torque for trails with the 37s. I will probably keep different size pulleys in the back so I can run at optimum boost as I travel. If I'm unhappy with that it'll be almost as easy to swap to an LS in a few years as it would be now.

I am tinkering with the front a little bit but I do plan on starting with the rear and working my way forward. My next step is to wash the garage floor where the ECGS axles puked gear oil so I won't be laying in a puddle of that stinky stuff. Today however we got a foot of snow and it's back below freezing. It's going to be a late start on the Jeep this year.

Building the right way for 37s.
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post #12 of 382 Old 04-24-2018, 08:31 AM Thread Starter
toximus
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I test fit the drive flanges in the front, in this case Yukon Hardcore Locking Hubs (part number: YHC70002). These have the strongest design to the extent of my knowledge of any manual hubs. I decided to go with manual hubs vs a traditional drive flange in the front so that if I end up with vibes due to the higher driveline angle and harmonics of deep gearing I can unlock the fronts while on the road. I'll be able to set proper caster angle without worrying as much about pinion angle.



I came across one potential issue because RCV does not groove the stub shafts for the 1999-2004 Ford D60. Because the inner shaft has room to move 1" in further to the differential, under the right conditions, it was a concern that this could lead to failure of either the shaft or the drive flange if the stub doesn't have full engagement. If the stub shafts were grooved and a snap ring in place the shafts would be sandwiched into place by the unit bearing and unable to slide around. I considered a few ideas for grooving them myself, which RCV said would not void the warranty and there's quite a bit of tolerance for error so I have no doubt they'd work fine, but in the end I decided to send them to RCV for grooving as it was the easiest option and I think they'll look the nicest when I have to look at them every time I take the front axle apart.



RCV has constantly provided me helpful customer service and never once made me feel like I was wasting their time despite my multiple long phone calls. Even when I wanted the shafts grooved, even though they said it's not necessary, they did not make me feel bad about it. If I need other shafts in the future I will not hesitate to buy from them.

One trick I figured out to removing the shafts from the housing if they don't just pull out is to slip the orange RCV boot off and fit a c-clamp on the CV joint ball face and the unit bearing face on the knuckle to push the shaft out. This does in minutes what I was unable to do by just tugging on the shafts.


Building the right way for 37s.
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post #13 of 382 Old 04-24-2018, 08:48 AM
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High travel, high clearance & high octane, a streetable adventure LJ story

Quote:
Originally Posted by toximus View Post
I test fit the drive flanges in the front, in this case Yukon Hardcore Locking Hubs (part number: YHC70002). These have the strongest design to the extent of my knowledge of any manual hubs. I decided to go with manual hubs vs a traditional drive flange in the front so that if I end up with vibes due to the higher driveline angle and harmonics of deep gearing I can unlock the fronts while on the road. I'll be able to set proper caster angle without worrying as much about pinion angle.







I came across one potential issue because RCV does not groove the stub shafts for the 1999-2004 Ford D60. Because the inner shaft has room to move 1" in further to the differential, under the right conditions, it was a concern that this could lead to failure of either the shaft or the drive flange if the stub doesn't have full engagement. If the stub shafts were grooved and a snap ring in place the shafts would be sandwiched into place by the unit bearing and unable to slide around. I considered a few ideas for grooving them myself, which RCV said would not void the warranty and there's quite a bit of tolerance for error so I have no doubt they'd work fine, but in the end I decided to send them to RCV for grooving as it was the easiest option and I think they'll look the nicest when I have to look at them every time I take the front axle apart.







RCV has constantly provided me helpful customer service and never once made me feel like I was wasting their time despite my multiple long phone calls. Even when I wanted the shafts grooved, even though they said it's not necessary, they did not make me feel bad about it. If I need other shafts in the future I will not hesitate to buy from them.



One trick I figured out to removing the shafts from the housing if they don't just pull out is to slip the orange RCV boot off and fit a c-clamp on the CV joint ball face and the unit bearing face on the knuckle to push the shaft out. This does in minutes what I was unable to do by just tugging on the shafts.





Tox - when I got the RCVs for my 60s, they came with a tool to remove the boot similar to how you described. I actually carry it in the rig in case of a trail repair. Do they not provide that tool anymore? Sounds like it is still needed.

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post #14 of 382 Old 04-24-2018, 09:07 AM Thread Starter
toximus
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Originally Posted by NashvilleTJ View Post
Tox - when I got the RCV’s for my 60’s, they came with a tool to remove the boot similar to how you described. I actually carry it in the rig in case of a trail repair. Do they not provide that tool anymore? Sounds like it is still needed.
There is the tool to install the orange RCV boot (I couldn't figure out how it'd help remove it.). The purpose of the c-clamp is not to remove that orange boot but to remove the shafts since I found the vacuum seals were tight on the knuckles which didn't allow them to pull out.

I used this method for removing the orange boot:

I did find that mine didn't come with the high moly grease. So I need to pick up a tube of that.

Building the right way for 37s.
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post #15 of 382 Old 04-24-2018, 02:47 PM
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Any idea why the shafts are allowed to move back and forth that inch? Seems kind of odd. After getting them grooved, with the shaft pulled outwards far enough to get the snap ring on to secure it, any idea how much spline engagement you have between the shaft and the carrier?

I want a J-Series
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