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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I bought a project YJ yesterday. 1988 - it was mostly in pieces. But some nice parts are there. I didn't need another project - I've got my 1995 YJ and a Jeepster project car already. Probably an unwise decision! :D

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Details:
1988, no rust (original Texas vehicle and been sitting in a garage for ~14 years)
SOA on new stock springs...I prefer SUA
Original drivetrain removed...nice - saved me the trouble!
SBC 350 included - supposedly a crate engine with very low miles...carb...I prefer fuel injection, but a V8 will be fun
Rebuilt Turbo 350 automatic with adapter kit installed for an NP231J...I prefer overdrive, but ok
NP231J with SYE...good. (EDIT: on closer inspection, it was a Hack-n-Tap...yuck!)
Rear 8.8 with 4.10 gears, and I think a Detroit locker...good
Front Dana 30 with 4.10 gears. Unknown locker or open?...fine for my use
BTF front Tube Fenders...may go back to stock fenders
TJ Rear Flares...okay for now
Half Doors...not in perfect shape, but very nice to get
1" body lift
I have most of the missing parts that you don't see in the pictures (roll cage, windshield, grill, hood, fenders, etc)
It also came with some 36" Super Swamper tires and a couple of interesting axles (Waggy front Dana 44 - very nice shape - rebuilt with 5.13 gears. And a rare XJ Dana 44.

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Notable missing items:
The entire interior is gutted - no dash, no cowl, no heater, no controls, no gauges. I do have the seat risers and some old front seats...I think I'll go CJ dash.
Stock Gas tank...he was going to run a fuel cell
Front Sway Bar and brackets...luckily, I've got a spare bar, but not the brackets
Soft Top
Original Paint - he rattle canned it blue 👎

Initial Build Plan (subject to change without notice!)
Street rig and maybe light trails or the beach...I already have a rock crawler, and don't need another one
Budget Build - hopefully use what is there. No desire to go back to 100% original YJ
Use the SBC \ Turbo350 \ NP231J...since I already have it, but would prefer an LS and OD
Convert back to SUA...I don't need that much lift
32x11.50x15 AT tires

First questions...to help me plan out my build:

Can I make this drivetrain combination work with 32" tires? Or will the engine just be revving too high on the freeway?

Can I can get by with the stock springs SUA with 32" tires - hopefully possible because of the front tube fenders and rear TJ flares?

Are those the stock wheels? I'd like to use them, if possible. Any idea on the backspacing and how bad they may rub on turns with 11.50" wide tires?

What do to about the missing dash, open cowl vent, heater, etc. Should I just seal up the cowl vent hole? I'm fine with an aftermarket Summit Racing Heater. For the dash and gauges, I'm thinking flat CJ7 dash and CJ7 gauges.

If anybody in Texas has a good poly gas tank or passenger side stock fender, please message me.
 

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Stock wheels won’t fit over 8.8 calipers. The last 1/16” locks tight on the caliper. Explorer centerline-look do work as well as 4.75BS alloys. Don’t know about drums.

32” tires worked great on my 89 with stock springs, 1” body mounts, 5-1/4” shackles, cutting the D30 factory perches off snd using very low profile perches I modified, and moving the rear shackle mounts down 1-3/8-ish. Extra leaf in the rear put me at ~4” taller at rockers (which includes the tire of course). So yes, 32s. 33s are a tad big unless you cut fenders.

Stay SOA is what I’d think, make it short as possible? Your jeep your choice

Either way I think that’s a cool find
 

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Really looks and sounds like the guy had eyes for a ton of different mods but no real knowledge or experience doing any of it. Looks like he went head first into a mod and then got stuck on every one of them when things didn't just magically bolt up. I'd be weary of anything he's already done.

I don't remember having any issues running a stock aluminum 15" wheel with my 8.8 calipers. I didn't have those exact wheels but if you have clearance issues, just run 1/2"-1" spacers and it'll clear for sure. Looks like they're already installed on the 8.8 though. Unless the guy said the rear has a Detroit locker, it may just have the LSD which is pretty good but not a true locker. Worth a look.

I'd look real hard at the steering setup if you're going to stay with SOA. Looks stock and may run into the leaf springs when turning/flexing. Usually you have to run high steer knuckles for SOA. 32" tires are too small for a SOA in my opinion but the 36" tires would be a great choice.

You may be able to fit 32" with stock springs SUA but it'll be close. 4.10's and 32" tires will be fine with no OD.

CJ dash or custom flat dash will make a unique Jeep for sure. I pulled my YJ dash to go that route and I love it. I also run an aftermarket heater box and have had great results with it. Have been considering an aftermarket AC/heater setup but haven't pulled the trigger on that yet. May be worth looking at while you have lots of real estate behind the dash. Since it looks like ALL of the wiring was pulled, your best bet will probably be to get a generic wiring harness. You can buy generic wiring harnesses with fuse block and labeled wires for $100-$200. I wish I had done that when I did my V8 swap.

It looks like the engine is included but it doesn't look like any effort was put into doing the engine mounts or any of the conversion work. Decide what you want to do with the suspension before trying to mock up the engine placement. That said, an LS is a better option than the carbed 350 but does require a little more electrical work. Both engines will be a joy to drive but the LS will require less tinkering once setup. The extra cost to go LS is fairly low though and you can still use the TH350 if you really want but it will likely require a new flexplate/adapter which is around $150-ish.

IMO the waggy D44 is a good axle with a lot of potential but you won't be able to run 5x4.5 wheels over the locking hubs even if you bought adapters so that could force 5x5.5 wheels with some adapters in the back if you want to run that axle. The D30 axles may be ok with the 36" tires especially if you go with chromoly axle shafts but the weak link is the ring and pinion with V8 power and there isn't much you can do about it. Everything else on the D30 can be made stronger to last and the D44 can be made to last with bigger tires but it requires a little more effort/money up front.
 

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88 had alloy wheels as an option?
I assumed you were steel wheels. (Stock steel wheels bind on my disc 8.8)
Either way, the 8.8 open is great in mine.
Mine were 04-06 TJ alloy wheels. I don't know the difference in BS but mine were not even close. The big WJ brakes up front were very close though even with a 1.25" spacer but didn't require any shaving. The spacer makes a big difference though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Really looks and sounds like the guy had eyes for a ton of different mods but no real knowledge or experience doing any of it. Looks like he went head first into a mod and then got stuck on every one of them when things didn't just magically bolt up. I'd be weary of anything he's already done.
snip
CJ dash or custom flat dash will make a unique Jeep for sure. I pulled my YJ dash to go that route and I love it. I also run an aftermarket heater box and have had great results with it. Have been considering an aftermarket AC/heater setup but haven't pulled the trigger on that yet. May be worth looking at while you have lots of real estate behind the dash. Since it looks like ALL of the wiring was pulled, your best bet will probably be to get a generic wiring harness. You can buy generic wiring harnesses with fuse block and labeled wires for $100-$200. I wish I had done that when I did my V8 swap.

It looks like the engine is included but it doesn't look like any effort was put into doing the engine mounts or any of the conversion work. Decide what you want to do with the suspension before trying to mock up the engine placement. That said, an LS is a better option than the carbed 350 but does require a little more electrical work. Both engines will be a joy to drive but the LS will require less tinkering once setup. The extra cost to go LS is fairly low though and you can still use the TH350 if you really want but it will likely require a new flexplate/adapter which is around $150-ish.
snip
Thanks for the comments.

I think this guy started his build 15 years ago when tons weren't real common. LCG (low center of gravity) wasn't real common back then. It's like a time capsule of sorts :)

The guy included a new painless harness kit with the YJ - I just need to install it.

The SBC engine mounts are also included - I just need to weld them in.

There are still a ton of parts to buy, but he did include many good parts
 

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Moderation in Moderation
1995 YJ Wrangler SE
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Mine were 04-06 TJ alloy wheels. I don't know the difference in BS but mine were not even close. The big WJ brakes up front were very close though even with a 1.25" spacer but didn't require any shaving. The spacer makes a big difference though.
i believe those alloys were 16"

from what i recall on both my '03 TJ Sahara and '06 Sport.

Could be misremembering.
 

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i believe those alloys were 16"

from what i recall on both my '03 TJ Sahara and '06 Sport.

Could be misremembering.
They were definitely 15" because that's what the tires said. Here is what I had....pic from the way back machine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Some amount of assembly progress last night.

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You'll also see a picture of a big hole in the tub. The PO was going to sink a fuel cell in there. So he made a big hole and threw away the piece of sheetmetal. I'll make a patch, and then try to figure out what to do about matching the bedliner. Finding a stock gas tank is one of my biggest needs right now.

Outdoor bench Furniture Table Outdoor furniture Wood


I don't have the front clip fully aligned yet. I still need to paint one of the tube fenders - it was bare steel. And the hood is just in primer. Then I'll worry about complete alignment. The PO welded up the tube fenders - it was a BTF kit, I think. And I'm hoping that they are welded up in the correct position, so alignment will be easy.

The A pillar hoop he added is also pretty crappy - I'll be cutting that off very soon...

I'm complaining about some stuff, but at least I'm not dealing with any rust :grin2:
 

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I have a 20 gallon poly tank thats making a nice home for spiders.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
Still on the hunt for a gas tank. Recall that I am trying to build this on a shoe string budget. I built my 95 less disciplined, and the costs can explode very quickly! I'm determined not to do that with this 1988.

The poly tanks are so expensive to ship that it almost doesn't make sense (thanks Randon!). But that is still a good option. I wanted the later 20 gallon poly tank for the large capacity, but I also started looking at the steel 15 gallon 87-90 tank. They are dirt cheap - $80 or so
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Fuel Tank For 1987-1990 Jeep Wrangler | eBay

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What does the skid plate look like for that tank? I'm really only familiar with the 91-95 poly tanks and skid plates.

In other news, I cut off the crappy A pillar roll cage extensions.

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And I smoothed some of the previous owner's welds on the bare steel tube fender and painted it a matching rattle can blue. Not my favorite way, but I'm just trying to match the rest of the Jeep for now.

Wood Gas Bicycle part Road surface Wheel


Plant Wheel Tree Tire Grass
 

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The steel tank skid plate is just some cheap 14 gauge (roughly) steel that wraps around the tank and supports it. https://www.amazon.com/Crown-Automo...9XV0JSK/ref=pd_lpo_2?pd_rd_i=B009XV0JSK&psc=1

The fuel tank strap is pretty simple and I'm sure you could make one out of an old ratchet strap and it'd do a better job. IMO, a junkyard would probably sell you the steel tank with skid plate and fuel pump for under $100. The poly tanks are a different story though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
i have a feeling this is gonna turn into one of those rags to riches, beasts to beauty type builds that gets done in a crazy short period of time and makes me embarassed of my YJ progress lol
Damn, I hope you're right! :smile2:
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Poly 20gal tank is on the way via Brown Santa - thanks Randon!

No other progress so far. I have bought some engine gaskets, engine paint, and miscellaneous missing parts. It feels like death by a thousand cut$.

For any SBC fans, I did buy a well worn Vortec engine on Sunday (for just $50) - I just wanted the Vortec heads. The sawtooth pattern on the heads indicate good flowing, Vortec heads, that were mostly made from 1996-1998. I'll have to get the heads completely rebuilt before using them. These heads and a cam should be good for 360 hp or so, which is more than a YJ needs :smile2: This would be a future upgrade - not part of the initial build.

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If anyone is interested in the Vortec heads, this video is pretty interesting. Just watch the first 7 minutes, as that is the part on the Vortec heads:

If you want to ask, why not just do an LS for that much power (360hp) - you are correct! LS is probably a better starting point if you are starting from scratch. But I already have the SBC, and it might be a fun upgrade in the future.
 
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