Building a Budget Overland with a 2002 Wrangler Sport 4.0 - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 15 Old 07-11-2019, 04:49 PM Thread Starter
Kaptainkid1
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Building a Budget Overland with a 2002 Wrangler Sport 4.0

Everyone,

I just purchased a used 2002 Wrangler TJ sport with a few mods and looking to upgrade and mod this weekend rig to do a few overland trips. I'm the 3rd owner and this TJ has spent it's entire life on the west coast with no rush or accidents according to the Carfax. The body panels and frame is all straight and clean. So I spent so far is about 6k for the Jeep and current mods. She was modded before I bought her and she has the following spec and mod done:

2002 Wrangler TJ Sport Stock drive train 5 speed and stock gears.
Dana 44 Rear 3.73 gears I believe since it's unmodded
Dana 30 Front 3.73 gears
166k
OEM Hardtop
3inch lift with springs, struts and swingarms.
Rockhard Rear bumper with tire swingarm
Rockhard Light bar
Full width Front bumper with 9000lbs winch.
Highlift Jack
Aftermarket Rock sliders
Bumper Cooler Basket and two gas tank mounted to swing arm
3in lift kit with sjk quick release.
15in with 31" tires Hankook Dyna Pro ATM
New Clutch, New deep cycle battery, New aluminum radiator from Champion, New fluids, New 12 hole Bosch Injectors, New spark plugs and new belts.
So what's not on the rig now is the Roof rack and Overland Tent which I'm looking to buy used. Any info or comment on using this set will guild me on the proper direction for my build. I want the ease to set up and pack away my tent is the direction I want to go.

So here are the current mods and budget I have for this project:
$1500-$2000 for the following upgrades on a budget: Considering Good Used parts for this thrifty budget build.

Goal: Want to mod this rig to camp in MOAB drive in & drive out with no problems!
Want list:
1. 35" tires and possibly bead lock rims.
2. Smittybilt roof tent
3. Dana 44 Front end with new gears 4.11? for new tires set up "if need be". I'm sure if I can run stock gears for the 35" tires.
4. Currently the Dana 30 are running the 31" no problem and has been fine on the trails now. NO rock climbing so far but don't want to break on the trail if I can avoid it.
5. diff locker for both front and rear not sure if air or electronic is better.

Here is a picture of the front end swing arms
I feel this set up is going to be too weak for the new tires and off roading trails :

What do you guys think? Where should I start and if the budget is too low, then I'll consider spending more money later on. What should I mod first and add later when I get more money. My concerns right now is the Suspension and Axles? Are my axles good enough and I noticed my rear end is sagging when my camping gear and ARB fridge is loaded. I also bring out 100 watt solar panel which I also run a charging kit to keep my fridge and battery charged for long trips. It's loaded down on the rear shocks on my first trip which didn't even carry my roof tent or Roof rack set up. I know it will add about 300 to 400 lbs. ( heavier Springs?) Right now I have Air Lift 1000 which the line has cut on my last off roading trip. Air Lift 1000 bags are good for towing but not off roading from my first impression.

Any tips are welcome and encouraged to pick out any weakness on my current set up.

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Last edited by Kaptainkid1; 07-11-2019 at 11:28 PM.
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post #2 of 15 Old 07-11-2019, 06:08 PM
StrippedTorx
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New axles? Selectable lockers f/r? 35s? With stock gearing? You’re going to blow way through your budget.
Run it how it is now. Learn it’s upsides and downsides. I don’t think 35s are very overlanding friendly. IMO
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post #3 of 15 Old 07-11-2019, 06:56 PM
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Dual batteries for safely and reliably getting out of a jam.
Good winch and block and extra straps, make sure the winch has rope to cut down on weight,.
upgrade the front steering link as that tiny bar is not that strong.
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post #4 of 15 Old 07-11-2019, 11:15 PM
Shark_13
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If you are jumping from 31 to 35" tires, regearing will make it much better to drive.
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Get out and explore.
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post #5 of 15 Old 07-11-2019, 11:40 PM
mukluk
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In 1978, a group of six Jeeps drove from Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska via the rugged Darien Gap in Guatemala -- a trip of 21,000 miles across all types of terrain and many areas that had very primitive or no roads. They did this on 31 inch tires.

Where are you planning on "overlanding" that you'll truthfully need 35" tires?
Your planned budget is woefully inadequate for your want list unless you have ungodly good luck running across stuff folks are practically giving away. Each individual item in your list can easily eat up half to all of your current budget plan.
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post #6 of 15 Old 07-12-2019, 03:14 AM
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The objective of overlanding is to use what you have or what you've been given to achieve the desire goals. Although I would say that the TJ is a bit small interior wise for overlanding, One would have to make up for this by adding the necessary items to the exterior of the jeep. Regear, thin tires and take only what is necessary to complete your goal.
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post #7 of 15 Old 07-12-2019, 06:32 AM
Ross
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Please reconsider.

The max payload for a stock wrangler is about 800lbs. Especially think hard about adding that much weight on the roof. With a winch, a buddy, some food, extra gas and heavier bumpers you are already at least 2/3 of your max payload.


If you want to take that much consider a trailer. If you don't want to take a trailer maybe consider a full size truck or larger SUV. There is a reason Land Cruiser are popular among overlanders.

If you want to overland/overload (and don't want to take a trailer) the wrangler is the wrong vehicle.

I don't overland but I head out for long weekends with buddies and camp along the way. I have used a rear wrack before but not anymore. Even an extra 5 gallons of gas sticking way out on the bumper makes things different. If you add all that weight your Jeep wont perform as it should and you are a risk to yourself and maybe others.

If you want to overload you vehicle and want nothing but support and more and more ideas for all sorts of stuff go here:

https://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/forums/jeep.44/
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post #8 of 15 Old 07-12-2019, 07:06 AM
SkylinesSuck
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35" tires and bead lock rims alone will cost what you have budgeted.

'98 Sahara w/AX15 & 4.6L stroker, 2.5" OME lift, 32" BFG M/T's, 8.8 w/Detroit Trutracs & 4.10's F&R
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post #9 of 15 Old 07-12-2019, 07:09 AM
happymudder10
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As others have stated, the TJ is probably the worse vehicle for overlanding in terms of space and payload capacity. If you want to overland in a Jeep, I would be looking at the JKU. While I don't overland, I do go on camping / offroading trips in my TJ and I will bring all my gear in a small utility trailer. I am planning on eventually building it up to an off road trailer.

If you are planning on overlanding in South America, you should be looking at Toyota 4Runners since parts are more readily available outside of the US. Good luck with your goals!
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post #10 of 15 Old 07-12-2019, 08:40 AM
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Hopefully you are listening to what these guys have said. They just gave you some of the best information and advise you may ever get.
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post #11 of 15 Old 07-12-2019, 10:28 AM
StrippedTorx
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Everyone hates to hear it, and by all means do whatever you want to do. But it might be in your best interest to sell your current rig, and buy one a little more built in the direction you want. There are rigs for sale all over and a lot of guys take a hug loss on them. I just looked at a cj7 on tons locked l w/ 350 and 205 tc for 6000. Not sure your location.

And if you really want to keep the tj for overlanding stay 31s or 33s max. A good lsd in the rear. And a reliable winch and you should be good for 90% of it. I mean you don’t see people overlanding buggy’s for a reason. There is a fine line between street and dirt. And you don’t want to half *** either by cheaping out.
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post #12 of 15 Old 07-12-2019, 06:29 PM
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My take on this: skip replacing the front and regear both to 4.88 and chromo both axles. 30 should handle fine unless you drive it stupid.
Personally I would want something bigger storage wise like at least an LJ. Roof top tent doesn't save that much room over a normal backpacking tent and avoid adding a rack on the back as they ruin rear clearance.
That said YMMV

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post #13 of 15 Old 07-12-2019, 08:07 PM Thread Starter
Kaptainkid1
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Ok Everyone,

I've taken notes and suggestion to heart and everyone said this is the wrong vehicle to convert to Overland rig is right. Let me clear up the term "Overland" since I might have used this term incorrectly, which seems not to be the best way to describe the propose of this weekend rig. I want this TJ for weekend to week long camping trips in the back woods and mountain trails. Goal Moab, Rubicon trail, Mojave Road, etc. No south america but I have thought of going south america on my KLR650 all modded out. Which took me whole year and she was ready to go but I didn't have the money and time so that project got sold. I regress, I want this build to have an overland look and a few mods to show it can go anywhere and crawl if need be. I will not be living in the rig if people thinking this TJ will be a full time travel vehicle. Regarding using another project Truck or Rig, honestly because of my circumstances, I'm stuck with using and keeping the TJ as my project. I have my heart set on making this TJ as best as possible for the limit budget. I'm flexible when it comes to which mods to do first and not to do but I have my heart set on making this TJ reliable and awesome! My past project I was able to find great deals via craigslist, ebay, forums and I'm sure this will work for the Jeep as well. I've found so many deals now which kind planned out my current budget to be so low. Used: Dana 44 Front end from a wrecked TJ on Craigslist $600, My roof rack was $170 used offer-up. The Jeep TJ modded out was $5k. smittybilt RTT: $500 on Craigslist. I can go on and on about the endless deals I see on CL.
So my next trip will be roof rack installed and my RTT tent for a long weekend in the mountains. See what next on list of mods to do ride this baby out back!
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post #14 of 15 Old 07-14-2019, 08:17 AM
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There are few places that you find the only way out is through a boulder field. Building a rock crawler to go camping out of is difficult in such a small vehicle. You can fit a camping gear, food and clothing for a week or you can fit all the spare parts, pieces and equipment to go rock crawling. To pack for both will put so much weight in the TJ that you wont be able to to either very easily. A huge bolder field in the middle of a trail is unlikely to happen without a go around. And you can always turn back and find another way. Just my $.02. Whatever you decide, do what you want. Not what some old guy online says to do. But if you start with just the basics, every trip you take will tell you what you need. #1 thing in "overlanding" is reliability.
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post #15 of 15 Old 07-14-2019, 05:28 PM
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Weekend (even a long weekend) I think you will be fine if you look at going at it like a backpacker for camping. Week may be pushing it if you have anything that needs to be kept cool. Go with a small tent, single burner that attaches to gas canister etc. You should then be able to fit tools, recovery gear. I usually do primitive camping for long weekends in the summer and can do all that and spare front shafts with a Coleman 50q cooler but it is full to the point you can't look at the back

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaptainkid1 View Post
Ok Everyone,

I've taken notes and suggestion to heart and everyone said this is the wrong vehicle to convert to Overland rig is right. Let me clear up the term "Overland" since I might have used this term incorrectly, which seems not to be the best way to describe the propose of this weekend rig. I want this TJ for weekend to week long camping trips in the back woods and mountain trails. Goal Moab, Rubicon trail, Mojave Road, etc. No south america but I have thought of going south america on my KLR650 all modded out. Which took me whole year and she was ready to go but I didn't have the money and time so that project got sold. I regress, I want this build to have an overland look and a few mods to show it can go anywhere and crawl if need be. I will not be living in the rig if people this TJ will be a full time travel vehicle. Regarding using another project Truck or Rig, honestly because of my circumstances, I'm stuck with using and keeping the TJ as my project. I have my heart set on making this TJ as best as possible for the limit budget. I'm flexible when it comes to which mods to do first and not to do but I have my heart set on making this TJ awesome! My past project I was able to find great deals via craigslist, ebay, forums and I'm sure this will work for the Jeep as well. I've found so many deals now which kind planned out my current budget to be so low. Used: Dana 44 Front end from a wrecked TJ on Craigslist $600, My roof rack was $170 used offer-up. The Jeep TJ modded out was $5k. smittybilt RTT: $500 on Craigslist. I can go on and on about the endless deals I see on CL.
So my next trip will be roof rack installed and my RTT tent for a long weekend in the mountains. See what next on list of mods to do ride this baby out back!

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