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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 2001 XJ The Work Horse Build Thread

I finally have an XJ again. I was an avid poster/reader years ago when I had my 1990 with the super bumper (2-door, 4.0L with the 5-speed and factory sunroof). I have had 2 XJs in between but one I only had for maybe 2 weeks as I discovered it had been rolled and the other had more rust than not rust. ANYWAY - now I'm back and I am not giving this one up (can, you know, finally afford to have a Jeep :2thumbsup:).

So, I bought this 2001 Cherokee Limited but it doesn't have factory cruise, and it's 2WD. However, I only paid $1500 and it doesn't even have surface rust on the under body - which is extremely rare up here. I've been looking for one for the past 2 years but haven't found anything even close to this price, especially without rust.

What it does have is a tow package, the Trak Loc LSD, Chrysler 8.25 rear, Great running 4.0L and seriously no rust. My plans for this Jeep are not like my 1990 - instead I want this to be my work horse. I want it to be clean but tough. So, here are my plans:

  • HD Rear Leafs and new shocks/struts
  • Rebuild the 4.0L with new head (found on ebay)
  • Complete service (Will detail this as I go)
  • 4WD conversion
  • New Tires
  • Paint the underbody with Herculiner
  • Paint the front and rear axle
  • Tint the windows (rear)
  • Replace the stereo
  • Replace the headliner
  • I like switches so add something to use a toggle switch haha
  • Add some sort of frame stiffening if necessary

I'm sure that list will grow, but that's what it is so far. I just want a really nice, ready to tow my trailer, run through the winter, and be my absolute work horse as I continue to remodel the house, take care of dogs, and take my newborn kids camping and whatnot (obviously that's going to be a little in the future as they're only 2 months old).

Here are the pics:







 

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I'll be following your progress! That is a great looking XJ, I love the Limiteds. If you want a toggle switch you could add some fog lights in the factory location and put them on a switch.

One good thing about buying a 2WD XJ is the body is more likely to be rust free since it wasn't out in the snow. :thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I think fog lights are what it's going to be. At least for now. They are simple enough but actually useful.

Exactly - thing seriously has no rust anywhere.

So - tonight I got the front brakes, rotors and calipers installed. Nothing fancy. I was hoping it would fix my braking problem where I have to smash the peddle into the floor for it to stop but it didn't. There was actually decent pad left but the rotors were rusted to hell and the calipers were locked up. So - glad I replaced them all, but now I'm hoping it's the rear brakes that were causing the problem - which I'm replacing this weekend.

Thought I had a good parts Jeep for the 4x4 conversion but turns out the guy can't differentiate between a Cherokee and a GC and so I guess I'm still looking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Was going to buy a new Cylinder head from a JC Enterprises (I think that's what it was) off of ebay as I've heard good things about them. However, they were sold out of the new ones. I ended up just buying a rebuilt one that was over $100 cheaper - so that's nice. Been a little crazy here this week but I'm hoping tomorrow I can get the rear drums and shoes installed along with new axle seals, brake hardware kits and brake wheel cylinders. Once I get it roadworthy I'll make a trip over to the Wrench-N-Go and see if I can't find a black hood.

Anyone know if the hoods from any generation will work or do I have to go 97+??
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Got the rear brakes done last night and serviced the rear diff. Confirmed it's a LSD:



The rear diff was really clean. That orange stuff around the edges isn't rust - it's that high temp silicone. So at least I know it was taken care of before I bought it. Fluid was very clean and there wasn't any sort of metal filings around it at all.



Rear brakes probably didn't need replaced (that's the after pic, not the before). The shoes were actually pretty good and the hardware definitely wasn't original but the drums were shot. We got the axles pulled out last night to replace the axle seals but the ones I bought weren't the right size (pretty sure they were for the Dana 35, not the Chrysler 8.25. I went to Autozone to buy replacements (they are maybe a block from my house) but all they had was the cheap made in Taiwan seals. I didn't spend a lot of money on the brakes (just bought the Advance wearever brand) but I just don't feel right putting a cheap seal in such a critical place. So by the time I made it home with the cheap seals (that whole block and all) I had already convinced myself that wouldn't work. So - going to get some new seals from Arnolds or something today.

Also didn't notice that on the head I bought I have to return the core in 30 days. It's freezing cold here right now - and won't warm up within 30 days - so that's going to be fun.
 

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Better make sure the rebuilt head is a TUPY casting head ('02-'06) or you could have the same head cracking problem later down the road. The rebuilt heads are often the same head you are replacing now. Swapping the head is not really something you want to do twice.

If cost is an issue, I'd definitely wait and save up for a Clearwater Head. They are brand new and strengthened in the spots known to crack. They are known as "Odessa Cylinder Head" on eBay. You might have to wait a little to save a bit more, but at least you will only have to do the job once.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Unfortunately I didn't research it before I ordered the rebuilt head. I'm not sure if it's the TUPY casting. I already ordered it and received it today. Hopefully it lasts me a while. If not I guess I will have learned my lesson.

Also got a timeline put on at least dissembling the engine as I have to have the core returned within 30 days. It's I think 12 or 13 degrees today and the highest temp in the next 8 days or so is Saturday at about 23 degrees. So ... that should be fun. Can't wait to actually get this thing running though.

So far I've also added to my to-do list:

  • Add in the ashtray switch console
  • Add a swing out tire mount
  • Replace the headliner and possibly add the overhead console (not sure why it doesn't have this since it's either a Limited or Classic)
  • Add factory cruise control
  • Add a roof rack
  • Replace the stero
  • Add a sub enclosure from Quadratec and new speakers
  • Fatmat the interior (I think between that and the hurculiner it should be pretty quiet inside)
  • Possibly put some sort of tool box or organizer in the rear without sacrificing too much space

I say "it's either a Limited or Classic" because when you look at the doors they both have a Limited logo on them. When you look at the title it says Limited. When you look up the VIN it says Classic. When you look at the options it's probably closer to a Classic than a Limited because it doesn't have cruise, doesn't have leather and doesn't have the overhead console.

I've got newborn twins so we'll see how quickly I can get these projects done but I'm pretty excited and my wife is awesome and doesn't care that I have projects.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I did some searching yesterday and I think I know some of the components I'm going to go with. My goal for the Jeep is to make it basically my "work truck" but I'm also a little obsessed with keeping it as nice looking and "complete" as possible. I like doing modifications but I want it to look like it was meant to be that way.

So, as of now, I'm not thinking I'm going to lift the Jeep but instead just install the following suspension parts:

  • $220 - Crown HD Leaf Springs
  • $14 - Daystar O.E. Poly Bushing Set
  • $32 - Crown U-Bolts
  • $204 - Rancho RS5000 Shocks
  • $114 - Crown HD Coil Springs

Things I'm still debating on:

  • $55 - Rancho RS5000 Stabilizer
  • $16 - Coil Spring Isolators

Really I just don't know whether or not I need them. After some more searching yesterday I've also decided I think I'm going to run Monstaliner instead of Herculiner. From what I've read, the Monstaliner seems to repel water/dirt much better than the Herculiner. That's what I want for the underbody of the Jeep.

And now stereo. I want to add a sub because I like some bass but I don't like it so loud that everyone in my town can hear it. I just like some nice crisp bass to back up AC/DC and other good classic rock.

  • $115 - Enclosure: Subthump 10" Enclosure
  • 10" MA Audio Sub
  • JVC or Pioneer Head Unit
  • New interior speakers

I haven't decided what speakers and head unit I want exactly but I did find a nice JVC that actually has the preset buttons for only $99 on onlinecarstereo.com and I'll probably go with that because it has bluetooth calling, preouts and the presets. I've always been partial to MA subs as I had 2 12's in my Grand Prix years ago and they sounded exactly how I liked.

I'm also a nerd (I'm a system admin for a living) and love to mix my alter egos together. So, I have two projects I'm going to kind of tie into this, although I'll just provide updates when I have them and not go into depth on anything. I'm in the process of building a website to track my vehicle maintenance. I've owned 34 vehicles since I could drive and it's hard to keep track of them all and to then keep track of my maintenance. I can't find any current service that really does what I want to do so I'm just going to build one. If I get it done I'll probably make the code available if anyone wants to use it.

Project 2: I'd also like to use a Kinect and a TV to put in my garage to go through walkthroughs while I'm working on stuff. I don't like the idea of getting a keyboard all nasty plus it'd just be annoying. However, being able to scroll through a walktrhough would be fantastic in the garage. I just came up with this idea this morning, but I think it could work with some fine tuning.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Went out in the horrible weather today and drove an hour to pick up a NP242 t-case, the front axle and front drive shaft. Make it over there and they actually didn't have the front axle or the driveshaft. So, made a little progress at least and now own the NP242 transfer case. Only had 130k on it so it should be good for a while. I found a front axle here locally for just a little more than I had planned on paying so I'm picking that up Monday. Will hopefully be warm enough this weekend to continue rebuilding the engine so that I can haul the front axle home without using the mini-van (wife's not a fan of dirty stuff like that in her van).

Day by day making a little progress.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Here's a pic of the transmission and the t-case. The transmission is out of a 2000 XJ with only 130,000 miles on it. The transfer case is out of a 2000 also with about 130,000 miles on it:



Then today it was finally above freezing and I stayed home sick but was feeling better by the afternoon so I went out and got the engine tore down. Got it down to just the intake and exhaust left on the head.



Didn't really have any issues but things are starting to make sense as to what all has been done to this Jeep. I had already ordered a replacement, rebuilt 0331 head (I know, I know, they aren't good, but it's done and too late now) but I noticed that the head was rusty whereas the rest of the engine was actually really clean. Well - got the valve cover off and saw that the the head on there is a 2686 from the 87-90 XJs. Which, now that I think about it is making sense. When I bought it we couldn't get it to start (it was the Cam Position sensor) but it randomly started which let us put it on the trailer (we forgot the winch) and then drive it back off the trailer (we just drove about a mile and left it running). In that drive it overheated ... when it was about 3 degrees outside - maybe colder. So, I assumed it had the 0331 head. Now I realize (and as I reflect back on the neighbor that "helped him work on it" I think he mentioned something about rebuilding it) that he must have overheated it, realized it was a cracked head and then replaced it with a non-rebuilt JY find that was just cheap. Wasn't able to get the head off tonight as I apparently don't have 12-point sockets for the head bolts, but I'm just hoping now that the block is all nice and not cracked (we had an issue with that on my 1990 XJ - had to go through 3 blocks before we found one that wasn't cracked).

BUT ... I also got my front axle today. $250 and they left all the shocks and steering parts on it. So now I can pick and choose which is best and go with them - although I might just upgrade it all when I do the conversion. It has a painted front cover so I'm hoping they were just getting creative and painted it and they didn't regear it or something as I don't plan on doing that. There's a little play in it but nothing bad and it's only got just over 100,000 miles on it supposedly.



Tomorrow it's supposed to be 50 here so I plan on getting the head pulled so I can ship it back as the core return. Then Wednesday it's supposed to be 50 again and I'm hoping to get it all put back together that night and maybe FINALLY actually have an XJ to drive again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Finally got around to completing the head removal today. Man those back three bolts on the bottom of the exhaust/intake are a real PITA!! Especially when you have an idiot minute and randomly switch to 1/2 socket instead of the 9/16 and you spend an hour trying to get the wrong size socket to fit on the bolts. I have no idea why I grabbed the 1/2" socket when I switched to the swivel adapter but it literally cost me about an hour of frustration. But alas the head is removed and I called the company I bought the new head from and they said they didn't care that the core return was a different casting so that's good. Was nice to have 50+ degree weather today for this little project:



Learned that the head on it was rebuilt at some point but I'm still convinced that it was bad. There were two really rusty head bolts on the intake side around cylinder 3 and 4 and the cylinders all look really clean - no real ridge or anything along the cylinder wall. I know we had an issue with getting cracked cylinders on my 1990 XJ but it doesn't seem to be an issue here.

Going to paint the head and valve cover tomorrow and get the block all prettied up so I can watch it for any future leaking. But I'm replacing much of the components that are around areas that leak so hopefully she'll be a clean Jeep for a while.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Bought a little sand blaster on Wednesday to clean up the valve cover and eventually the axles. Started spraying the valve cover but my little compressor just can't handle it so I'm going to my Dad's today to do that after work.

However, i did get the new head primed and painted.



And then I had a sad moment as we keep getting all this snow that'd be so much fun to play around in ... but my Jeep is sitting there like this:

 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Finally got around to getting the Jeep running. We had 2 days in a row over 50 so it was nice to be outside.



Thing purrs like a kitten. No knocking, no weird noises, holds temps perfectly. Now ... if only I could drive it. Someone we lost one of the c-clips in the rear diff that holds the axle in so I had to order replacements. Luckily they were only $2 so it's not that big of a deal. Glad I got it running because I need to be able to tow the trailer by Friday to buy siding for the house.

Note: do not paint the area of the thermostat housing where the hose connects. Got some overspray on it and it caused the hose to slide off while it was running. Not a fun experience at all. But all good now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Yeah - we didn't even break 20 degrees for almost a month. Probably the coldest winter I remember. We had a couple random days where it was in the 40s and that's when I tore it apart but it didn't warm back up to that point until just this week.

Waiting for the c-clips to come in tomorrow so I can finally drive the thing. I've never actually driven the thing other than moving it forward in the garage to test the brakes. I feel like a bad parent that brings a baby home and just leaves it in a bedroom hahaha.

Still debating on whether I want to dump the $$ into lifting it or just invest in my original idea of the HD springs/coils. From the sounds of it, the HD stuff might lift it a couple inches just in itself. I was only thinking about doing a 3" OME lift and I don't know if it's worth the extra $$. Although I'm hoping to be buying some land where the lift might prove to be useful :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Got the clips in yesterday, found a fan shroud because I don't like getting my fingers chopped off, got the fluid in the rear diff filled up and took her for a test drive. Runs fantastic ... but, there's definitely some fine tuning now. There is a grinding/hollow sound/weird noise when it starts moving in 1st and 2nd gear. It reminds me of the noise a really bad wheel bearing makes but it only does it in 1st and 2nd gear. I'm actually hoping it's the transmission as I have a replacement transmission for the 4WD conversion. Also needs some new steering components as if you just barely hit a bump in the road I almost lose control of the wheel. BUT ... she runs and that's all that matters today

Getting a new hood on Saturday. I know you can't really see it in the picture, but that hood is bent to h3ll and looks like crap - we just bent it into shape enough to drive and you can't really see it with the glare.

Other updates on my plans. I think I'm going to go with the Quadratec HD leafs and coils with new shocks from Crown. I want to give this more of that overland look than a trail rig. The HD Leafs/coils seem to give it about a 2" lift, which is as much as I need and then I'll upgrade to some 31" tires later this year. I'm debating on the wheels. Part of me likes the current wheels, part of me doesn't like to keep that factory. We'll see. Need to focus on the steering first though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Finally got the new hood on a cleaned up:



You can't really tell from my last picture but the old hood was pretty mangled up and didn't shut right. But, family in southern Iowa found this one at a junk yard for $35 because they said it has hail damage. I cannot find said hail damage and the paint on it is in fantastic shape. So, pretty excited.

Now I've got a squealing sound (pretty sure it's low on freon in the AC) and that transmission does not have much life in it. 1st and 2nd gear are loud as hell then it purrs like a kitten when it gets into 3rd and OD. Also need to get the steering wheel straightened and a new bracket for the CD player as the one in it is broken. Hopefully this all happens relatively soon. Trying to sell my place and will need the ol' Jeep to tow a lot for me.
 
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