Minimalist '04 Rubicon Build - JeepForum.com
 
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post #1 of 10 Old 03-23-2020, 10:30 AM Thread Starter
Deputy_Wee_Woo
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Minimalist '04 Rubicon Build

Hi everyone,

I'm pretty new to the forums here and I've decided to create a build thread for the purpose of documenting the progress of my Jeep as I work on it in the coming months. I'm more than willing to hear any advice that you guys possibly have for me regarding parts, accessories, etc, as I am totally new to TJ's.

Here's a quick summary of me, in case you're interested. I recently graduated college with a degree in Geographic Science and currently work as a land surveyor. Back in my community college days I owned a 97 Cherokee Sport and a '84 4Runner that I did a mild restoration on before selling it to my roommate in order to buy my current Tacoma. I started working after college and was toying with the idea of getting a fun car because I currently drive either my 4 cylinder tacoma, or my beater civic to work, and don't really have any bills aside from rent. I looked at C7 corvettes, but with insurance and everything I decided that I didn't want to be stretched that thin on finances. So....the quest for a Jeep began.

My original plan was to find a yj for under $4,000. I wanted a 5 spd and 4.0. I know a lot of the auto Jeeps are solid, but i refuse to drive an auto Jeep for anything but rock crawling, and this isn't going to be a rock crawling build. I quickly realized that a lot of the YJ's are kind of overpriced for what they are, so I started looking at TJ's. My original budget for everything all said and done was going to be $6,000 but after going to look at multiple $6,000 jeeps with rusty frames, I quickly realized that I might have to either buy one with a good frame that needs substantial work, or spend more and get a super clean one. Because I do plan on using this as a camping and trail vehicle, I really didn't want to spend $10,000 for a clean one when a much cheaper one would suffice. I passed up a nice silver one with a rust free frame for $6500 with a hard top and immediately regretted it, and then I went through a bit of a dry spell where I couldn't find any locally that interested me. I got on facebook marketplace one night and found a 2004 Rubicon with 180,000 miles that wasn't too bad to look at, though it did need some work. I messaged the guy and he told me that somebody was coming to look at it in 15 minutes but he'd message me if it fell through. Turns out the guy was trying to pick it up for like 5k, and I set up a time to come and look at it the next day. I got off work the next day, which was a friday, and I drove up to look at it.

I showed up to like 8 dudes hanging out in the driveway next to it, and my first thought was, "great, these dudes are probably going to try and rob me." Talked to the owner of it, and did a quick walk around inspection. Got underneath, and the frame was surprisingly clean. No real signs of rust anywhere that I saw, and I did a very thorough check. Got up, hopped in and took it for a test ride. Immediately I noticed a pretty loud ticking noise coming from the engine bay, which I assumed was lifter tick. I asked the previous owner, who told me that he had his mechanic friend check it out, and it was a bad manifold gasket. I was a little hesitant about it, as I could tell that it definitely needed some work. He insisted that it was a solid foundation and that it "didn't really need anything" which I thought was kind of funny because it so clearly did. I eventually popped the hood and listened more closely. I confirmed that it most likely was not lifter tick and that it could be either a bad exhaust gasket or a leak further down by the downpipe. I took it for another test drive, and after heating up to full operating temperature for a while the tick almost completely went away. We talked price on the way back, and I got him to take $6500 with a contingency that I check it out again even better when we get back so that I can determine what it needs. We got back and I ran some numbers. Basically, with the Rubicon axles and lockers, and because I want Dana 44's with lockers, I would have to get a clean sport model TJ for like $4000 in order for that to be more worthwhile than purchasing the rubicon and starting with the same axle setup that I would have ended up upgrading a sport model to. Paid the man and drove it 2 hours home. On the way home I tested it a bit more and realized that it actually drives very very nice. No overheating. No oil pressure problems. Brand new Duratrac M/T's and a good alignment. I think $6500 actually turned out to be a pretty reasonable price. Granted, I'm very particular about vehicles so I will probably be buying some things that it doesn't actually need from a function perspective, but I would like to make it as nice as I possibly can. The interior has been semi gutted and 2/3 seats are totally ****ed, but that's all cheap stuff compared to entire axle swap setups. Worst case scenario, if engine or transmission goes, I can get a good one from Davey's Jeeps for under $1,000. I plan on keeping this Jeep for a long time, so I'm okay with putting some money into it every now and then.

The following posts will have pictures of it as I bought it, and then what I've done so far.

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post #2 of 10 Old 03-23-2020, 10:38 AM Thread Starter
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Also, I should mention what my plans are for this build because I didn't explicitly say. First order of business will be buttoning up all of the interior, exterior and mechanical issues that the vehicle has. I will be doing 2" lift and getting new wheels. Gonna run the Goodyears it came with, which are a 31". May go bigger on tire in the future, but don't really want to go bigger on lift. In my opinion, the bigger a jeep gets, the less useful it is. The thing that makes the wranglers awesome to me is their small size. If i wanted a full size trail vehicle I would just upgrade my tacoma. I think a mild lift and bigger tires for clearance is really the way to go for these. With the rubicon axles and lockers, I have no doubt that it will be extremely capable. Will be putting some armor on it to protect everything, but I'm gonna keep it close to stock in a lot of regards, as it makes it easy to find replacement parts. If I ever decide to go wild with a build it'll probably be a YJ that I pick up cheap at an auction or something.

Just because I figure you guys probably like a lot of different 4x4's heres a few pictures of the 4Runner I had.
Attached Thumbnails
Screenshot_20200323-122208_Instagram.jpg   Screenshot_20200323-122150_Instagram.jpg   Screenshot_20200323-121948_Instagram.jpg  
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post #3 of 10 Old 03-23-2020, 10:48 AM Thread Starter
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And here's some pictures of the Jeep on the night I got it. Not great pictures, but not terrible.
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post #4 of 10 Old 03-23-2020, 10:52 AM Thread Starter
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Whoops. Not sure why they turned sideways. I'll correct that on future posts.
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post #5 of 10 Old 03-28-2020, 01:43 PM Thread Starter
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So, been working on the Jeep some for the past day. Trying to decide what to do as far as flooring. I want to run carpet, but I would like a good all weather coating beneath the carpet in case it gets wet. What do you guys think? I could do herculiner and paint red over the liner. Or I could do the same with the roll on rustoleum liner. Or I could bite the bullet and get monstaliner. Opinions? Another option would be to just repaint the floor red and touch up all of the areas in rough shape before I put carpet back in.
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post #6 of 10 Old 03-29-2020, 09:29 AM
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Congrats on the purchase! Personally, I'm not found of rubi axles, especially the front. They use cheaper lockers, and they never changed the design of the knuckles of the front axle, which is the weakest point

If it has a Dana 44 rear, and Dana 30 upfront, I would keep that configuration. They are basically as strong as the rubi a le because they have the same weak spot that breaks.

With a 44/30 set up, you can have a shop regear it, put in some new forged chromally axle shafts and gears, and maybe a detroit locker (that's what I have and I love it) in the rear if you want. I cant imagine that costing more then 4I, and you will have your self a better, stronger setup then rubi axles.

Find God, your gonna need him.
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post #7 of 10 Old 03-29-2020, 09:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deputy_Wee_Woo View Post
So, been working on the Jeep some for the past day. Trying to decide what to do as far as flooring. I want to run carpet, but I would like a good all weather coating beneath the carpet in case it gets wet. What do you guys think? I could do herculiner and paint red over the liner. Or I could do the same with the roll on rustoleum liner. Or I could bite the bullet and get monstaliner. Opinions? Another option would be to just repaint the floor red and touch up all of the areas in rough shape before I put carpet back in.
I took my carpet out and herculined the inside. I had to drill a couple of drain holes in the low spots of the floor. I do not have floor mats or anything. I can tell you one thing about that. Your feet and floor are gonna get hot. It's not bad in the winter, but summer it's just another source of heat. Yuck. I think I may get some floor mats just to help. Its not unbearable, but definitely noticeable.

Taking a hose and washing out the keep, worth it!

Find God, your gonna need him.
Captain of the Little Liberator.
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post #8 of 10 Old 04-06-2020, 04:14 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fishinjeeper View Post
Congrats on the purchase! Personally, I'm not found of rubi axles, especially the front. They use cheaper lockers, and they never changed the design of the knuckles of the front axle, which is the weakest point

If it has a Dana 44 rear, and Dana 30 upfront, I would keep that configuration. They are basically as strong as the rubi a le because they have the same weak spot that breaks.

With a 44/30 set up, you can have a shop regear it, put in some new forged chromally axle shafts and gears, and maybe a detroit locker (that's what I have and I love it) in the rear if you want. I cant imagine that costing more then 4I, and you will have your self a better, stronger setup then rubi axles.
I think that the biggest I'm going to go on tire size is gonna be 32". I like low and narrow rather than tall and fat. If I ever decide to build a rock killer, I'll build up a cheaper YJ. The rubicon axles should serve me well for my purposes.

Progress has been slow the past few weeks. I've been out of town every week for the past 3 weeks and about to head out again tomorrow. Doesn't leave a whole lot of time to work on it. I've got the interior all cleaned up and will start prepping it for bedliner this coming weekend. I went ahead and put in an order for Red Raptor Liner. I'm doing the bedliner mostly to protect the floorboards, as I don't plan on needing to hose it out all that often. I found an OEM carpet kit on facebook for $50 and figured what the hell. I'll bedline it and then run carpet on top to keep it looking fairly close to stock. Might run bedtred in the back, but haven't decided for sure yet. I also cleaned it all up this weekend and circled all of the spots that are gonna need paint attention. The paint is pretty decent, but it definitely needs a few things. I hope to get the fender flares and both bumpers painted up next weekend. Also, I've gotta decide what I'm gonna do in regards to my bumper, and I'm gonna need to swap out the rear diff cover because mine is pretty ****ty. I installed a new head unit and got the stereo set up about how I want it, although I might add better speakers and a subwoofer later.

I really like the look of the stock bumper actually, because it's simple, but I'd like to set it up for a winch. I also want to add some sort of brush protection, but I need to figure out how to do all that while leaving room for a winch. Gonna also need a spot to mount my KC lights, but I do currently have a lightbar up above the windshield, so maybe I'll mount them to that.

Anyways, I'll post some more photos once I get the floorboard lined.
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post #9 of 10 Old 05-03-2020, 08:58 AM Thread Starter
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Here's a few updated pictures of what I've gotten done on the Jeep. First order of business was to change out the rusty diff cover. I have no idea what happened to this poor bastard. The rest of the vehicle has almost zero rust. I guess it got some road salt up on the cover at some point. I replaced it with a new cover from Yukon I believe.
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post #10 of 10 Old 05-03-2020, 09:09 AM Thread Starter
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I'll post more photos as soon as I figure out how the hell to upload them right side up. It keeps turning them sideways for some reason.
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