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142 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey y'all. I have been wanting to do this for a long time and finally decided to slowly start getting it going. Please keep in mind, this is being done on a crap hourly wage and minimal free time so this will likely be a very slow process.

The background: I always loved the Brute but like so many, could never dream of affording it.

There is a new end goal! But I will still be building and posting to try and help those looking to do this on the easier/more cost-effective scale. Please read post 41 for the update
The goal: End with a TJ brute style truck (undecided bed length for now, probably 5' 6") on 35's, coils front and rear with "engageable" airbags for heavier loads. Axles will be the current 8.8/30 combo (yes really, get over it :wink2:). I want this to be a good rig that can handle miles of easy/moderate trails, while still being able to drive home and around town occasionally. I hate to use the term "overland" anymore, but if that's what give you an image, then sure.

The other goal of the project is to show how much you can get done beforehand still allowing your Jeep to be used before you tear it down. I am anticipating quite a bit of work done long before the jeep sees the garage.

The other goal of this thread is to get some more obscure measurements/weights that are not available and are generally related to this conversion. Alright, let's get to it!

Here is where I will try to continually update the numbers when I get time. If you have any other measurements/weights that you would like me to try and get, I am more than happy to if I can.

Stock TJ specs will be in BLUE
Current TJ specs will be in GREEN
Project Freakshow specs will be in RED

Overall Weight
3229* roughly
4200* roughly

Tub Weight
300 ish

Bed Weight


Overall Length

Approach Angle

Breakover Angle

Departure Angle

Belly Height
19 7/8"

Rear Upper Control Arm Length

Rear Lower Control Arm Length
33 1/4"

Rear Driveline Length
19 3/8"

Interior Decibels Based on Flooring Choice
Stock Carpet -
Inside Monstaliner Only -
Inside/Outside Monstaliner, Underside and Firewall Chassis Saver -

5.2 from a ZJ - 646.6
2.0 BHW TDI from 05 Passat -
Superduty dana 60 (2002) - 422
Superduty 60 Trussed and stuff -
Sterling 10.5 (2001) -
Sterling 10.5 trussed and stuff -
Stock TJ Tub - 290
My TJ Brute Tub -

Reusable TJ Frame Length*
For this, I just decided to use the back half starting at the highest point in the hump

I am just an average person with a bit of mechanic experience and a decent selection of tools. I know how to weld, but I will be getting my welding friend to do the frame and suspension stuff with his 220. Also please remember, I am doing this project for myself, not for you. If you don't like how I do something, oh well :) I would love to hear suggestions, however, if you feel like I could have done something in a better way.

Again, this is going to be a long and slow project combined with my new home! so it's not a top priority sadly.

Here is the running cost list of what I have into it. This will not include things like grinder discs and welding materials, just parts and such.

BHW Engine, harness, ECU, and pedal - 500
TJ Tub - 200.00
Roll bar - Free
Square Tubing/Angle Iron - 14.97
16g Sheet - 88.63
TJ Frame - 300.00
Monstaliner+Chassis Saver+Primer - 758.75
Metalcloak ball ends - 83.00
Eastwood frame coating and seam sealer - 103.88
Hardware - 43.00
Frame metal - 360.32
More frame metal - 89.75
Artec body mounts - 180.00
Body mount bushings - 99.17
Brackets - 158.05
More link brackets - 172.50
Frame/body sandblasting - 384.66
Electrical/wiring - 400
Heated seat inserts - 76
Wontons - 500
ORI towers - 264.87
TJ Dash, and all interior - 510
Tubing for rock sliders - 48.41
Donor TJ - 4,000
Poison Spider hood louvers - 170
Body panel sandblasting - 257.04
Artec rear axle brackets and truss - 340
Monstaliner tintable - 202.10
ZJ seats - 45
Tuffy console used - 150
Battery trays blast and powder - 40
4D's - Free!
Summit Machine 8 of 14 joints - 656.29
Control arm bolts, nuts and washers (5/8 grade 8) - 105.00
Rear axle sandblasting - 91.16
Rear control arm materials - 315.56
Barnes Flat Skip Plate - 200
UCF LowPro Trans Mount - 142
Spare keys for Tuffy Console - 21.20
Misc. hardware/paint - 49.44
SMC resin n stuff - 73.49
Misc. fiberglass supplies - 31.46
Summit Machine 6 remaining joints - 492.22
Front Axle blasting - 91.16
Misc foam strip/coax adapter/usb socket - 61.67
Artec coilover towers (replacing others) - 523.34
Artec SD 60 Steering - 336.91
Front control arm metal, inserts, and track bar stuff - 486.97
Used Rigid Trucklites - 150

Running Total - 14,367.97

Money back
Red tint not used - 48
Hardtop - 1,000
Rear bumper - 60
Console - 50
Front bumper - 50
Driveline - 30
Intake - 40
Motor - 400
Seat bases/bezel/oh **** bar - 80
Stock jack - 20
Map sensor - 10
Knee dash panel - 10
Axles - 100
Springs - 20
Seats - 50
Sway bar cover - 10
Tow hooks - 10
Wheels/tires - 250
Throttle body - 25
Flares - 35
Frame - 500
Tailgate bar - 5
Body - 500
Dash+rear seat hardware - 40
Fenders - 60
T-case - 250
Soundbar - 50

Total - 3,703

Total minus parts sold - 10,664.97

Things I will not include yet but want to document
Silver 05 Passat - 1,200 (Parted and gone. Kept engine, harness, ecu, pedal, and all related accessories.)
Parts sold - -150 (Can't even remember what this was haha)

142 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
So to begin, I found a TJ tub in decent shape for a pretty good deal. I figured getting a donor tub would be necessary in my case because I want my jeep down as little as possible. I should be able to build the bed based off of some measurements as well before even cutting the frame on my jeep, but we will see. Measuring the tub was quite the ordeal but a huge bit of information I was always curious about. 20 minutes, 2 vehicles, 2 people, and a game scale got the job done. 290 pounds. We both guessed in the 300's..

Anyway, our basement renovations were put on hold while we waited for a fireplace to be installed so I got to cutting away. After looking at a few other builds, I decided that I would rather get a custom soft top made and extend the cab versus paying $2500 or whatever for a GR8Tops hardtop since I will likely be running topless or shaded most of the year anyway. I ended up cutting my tub 4 inches longer than the 61 inches needed for the half hard top. I did manage to forget the pictures in that phase.

In the spirit of doing this on the lower end of cost, I decided that the corners off of the old tub were in good enough shape so I salvaged them and got them all tacked up. New corners probably would have been worth it but oh well.

My little welder is up to the task of sheet metal luckily so I kept on knocking out the sheet metal work the next few days. I went to my local steel supplier and came home with a 4x10 sheet of 16G. I went with 16 instead of 18 because I tend to like overkill, and I just felt that 18 would be a tad too flimsy with the floor patch panel I had in mind. The first step was making the fender well filler panels. This was easy with the help of some cardboard and a marker. I left an extra half inch on the back side and an inch on the bottom edge so when I do my rocker guards it will be more stable. Here are the panels I cut with a jigsaw, scored with a grinder, and bent my hand.

Carefully tacked in place...

I called it quits after this point so more to follow...

142 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Next up was the floor panel. I did my tub a bit differently than the other builds in that instead of cutting across the bulging round fender, I just opted to remove it and do one nice long flat replacement panel to maximize my interior space (ok its a small difference but hey.. us TJ guys know how to utilize every square inch). Here is a crappy picture of the gap I left when I removed the remaining fender metal...

I knew this was going to be quite the task with my minimal equipment, but I wanted to make this one piece. After taking a million measurements, and mocking up with cardboard, I got to cutting the panel. A half an hour later and presto... A floor panel. Notched it with the grinder and bent by hand once again.

I was definitely nervous about the fitment of such a big panel as it was a gamble to make it one piece, but I must have gotten lucky because it was about as perfect as you can get without a CNC machine. (it's just sitting in there so it isn't flush. Lines up perfect when you hold it in place)

That was all for this day. I had a few hours the following day to drill holes for the plug welds and got the first center weld in. I am going to wait to well it all until I get my tailgate panel cut and tacked in so I know everything lines up. I tested a panel out of 3/4 inch plywood and everything seemed to pull together rather nicely, but we will see...

I already cut the panel out of 16 gauge, but I will be getting the metal for the tailgate panel support bars. I have plans in mind to strengthen it a tad while tying it into the corners so I can mount things to it on the inside like a high lift, rotopax water jug, or other crap I decide on later.

142 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·

So do you ever feel like things were going too well? Yeah. Luckily it wasn't major but it was enough to be annoying. I picked up some 3/4 inch square tube to frame in the tailgate. This way it will add a bit of rigidity and allow a place to mount things. The crappy thing was after I got it all in and welded in a few places, I lifted up the patch panel to see that my added "frame" was sitting more like this \=\ rather than |=|. It wasn't much but it was enough for me to say nope and stop what I was doing to fix it. I grabbed my ratchet strap and rigged up a way to pull it a tad bit more straight. Simple fix I guess and glad I caught it before I got too far. I would say my weakness is wanting to rush things sometimes. I'll have to keep a closer eye on that next time. :nono:

Next up was the back top rail. Before I got rid of the back half of the tub, I remembered to cut off the two remaining sections of the upper part that has the weird angle where the soft top slips under. I figured I could reuse them rather than having to match that bend without a bender.. It took about one and a half of the two pieces I had so it was a bit tricky to get them lined up. With the frame I built, it created a nice flat spot to rest them though and it all came together nicely. The other issue I ran into is after welding in the frame, I realized that I had to pull the corners together ever so slightly which caused the floor panel to not fit. After shaving off 1/8th of an inch off of both sides, we were back on track.


After it was completed and also a few shots of the frame.

Also, I grabbed a piece of angle iron to attach the floor to the rear frame. Same strength thing in mind here, I knew I would be throwing things back here so I wanted it strong. There goes the weight savings of a half cab... haha.

(The bottom bar is NOT bent, its the wood table haha. And the floor was resting on a tack weld. It is flat now.)

You may notice I have all of the plug weld holes ready to go with the floor panel as well. I drilled through a few of them so I could bolt the floor in place while I worked and it would stay where I wanted. The added rigidity of the angle iron will make that floor solid. I am just trying to refrain from welding the floor into early.

My plan for the body is to take some Artec blank TJ armor and cut it up accordingly. I can keep the door curve and back about 6 inches or so, then I will make a cut. I can then switch the corners so the longer side is at the back and allow me to cover up the tailgate frame I built. Its a tad difficult to explain, but it'll armor the body, stiffen it all up, and hide all of my shoddy bodywork :teehee: More on that later when I get the money for it. I am also getting closer to ordering up some primer :)

Lastly, in a little bit of spare time I found the other day, I had an idea. Since I don't listen to the radio, why not build that into a CB antenna mount. And while I am at it, make a matching one on the drivers side for a ham radio antenna. Ignore the tape, I have a 90 degree fitting on the way.


142 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Latest update. Pictures will come later.

I picked up a stock TJ roll cage for free that I will use for mockup/ideas only. The previous owner had attempted to cut the cage out until he got the bolts loose so the B pillar is weakened too much for my taste. I was thinking of doing a full cage anyway, but this will help me to design the rear bars at least.

Also, I was originally planning on picking up some blank corner armor and cutting it accordingly to wrap the back corners and tailgate area. It was going to provide strength, armor, and a coverup for the bad bodywork. I recently changed my mind, however, and now I am going to "reskin" the entire side of the jeep with 16g in a similar fashion to the armor. This will save me some weight, still provide a clean-finished product, and I have enough leftover from my sheet to do it all. I realize it is not quite the armor strength, but if I am taking body damage along this part, then I have other things to worry about. I can either drill holes and tack weld it, use body panel glue or do the bolts the same way armor does. Any way I do it, it will be under the bed liner and not removable. I am thinking I will prime the entire tub and panels while off, spray paint behind the panels, glue them with body panel glue and do a few flathead bolts along the top. The bottom I am not worried about because I will be using angle to protect the rocker, so that will bolt through and help hold. Pictures will come after I get the panels cut up!

Also taking suggestions if you have them. I would like this done right so if you see any faults with my ideas, please call me out!

25 Posts
Nice work! I wanted to do this to my YJ had the cuts marked and saw in hand but just couldnt bring my self to cut it up as I would be redoing alot of work. I decided a new build like your doing is the way to go and have been watching for a tub. Want a jeep truck for a daily driver.

142 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Nice work! I wanted to do this to my YJ had the cuts marked and saw in hand but just couldn't bring my self to cut it up as I would be redoing a lot of work. I decided a new build like your doing is the way to go and have been watching for a tub. Want a jeep truck for a daily driver.
Thanks! It was a tough thought cutting into a perfectly good TJ, so that's why I decided to go this route. It will actually be a huge benefit in the long run as I can turn and sell my tub bedlined in great condition for quite a big profit compared to what I paid for my donor one. Also got lucky and found a frame. With the frame and tub, I can then build a bed completely. The only downtime my jeep will face would be swapping everything over and setting up some suspension (and all of those pesky little challenges along the way).

142 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Alright, update time. Things have been a little tough with work so the next few weeks will be quiet while I gather some cash, but I did manage to get a few things done. I went a slightly different direction with the "armor" than what I had mentioned a little earlier. I am going to treat it more like armor rather than skin, meaning I will finish the tub as is with primer and bedliner as well as the body panels, then bolt them to the tub using button head allen bolts. As long as I don't crank down on them, the 16g should be strong enough to hold its shape without looking bad. If this all fails, then I can spend the money and do some real armor (un-needed weight in my mind for my wheeling style). Anyway, here are some pictures of the armor I made up with the remaining 16g that I had laying around.

Bending that stuff was quite the task. A little propane torched helped a little but honestly inch by inch with C clamps was the trick.

After making the armor, I got to the rockers. I am still debating on the best way to attach some added strength to the bottom to avoid the can-opener effect, but I got it all lined up and drilled. 2x3x3/16 angle iron. I should be able to lift by any part of the rail if needed. Lucky for me, I needed exactly 5 feet of it per side and my local steel supplier puts anything 5 feet or less at a discount. They had one side, but I did need to buy the other. Anyway, saved me a few pennies so I won't complain. Here are the rockers...

2 of the bolts were in very poor position for putting a bolt all the way through or getting a nut to so I decided to thread the hole and trim the bolt so that it threads into the rocker and "looks" like it is a supporting bolt. Any guesses on which ones they are? Haha. 8 out of 10 should be plenty strong.

The one thing I decided I didn't like about this design after seeing it installed is that there is now a 2 inch lip on the underside for mud and crap to settle where a hose will have a hard time reaching. I thought about completely boxing it off.. Anyone else have a better idea? Or should I just drill some drain holes? Open to suggestions on that one. I think my excitement got ahead of me. Maybe some time to step back and reexamine will be good so I can plan my next steps before throwing parts at it. Always been a weak point of mine :brickwall:

142 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Been a while since I've posted so I'll give a little update. To keep things short I landed a new job, am making a little more, the basement is finished (mostly) and the Thanksgiving craziness has settled. I hate supporting Black Friday, but they have such good deals that I had to order a few things as money allowed. I got all of my Monstaliner and chassis saver ordered, internal frame treatment and seam sealer from Eastwood, and some builder parts and a track bar from Metalcloak. Also found an hp30 I picked up for a good deal so I didn't have to brave the winter at the junkyard and pull my own. I was hoping to pick up an Iron Rock Offroad truss and sleeve kit but they weren't on sale so I figured I would hold off until I was ready to build the axle. Next step is getting the frame under the tub in my small garage and starting to measure where to chop and how to extend in the most efficient manner while putting the frame rise in the correct spot for my long arm kit. I also got all of the hardware for the skins and the rocker guards and got a few little things cleaned up. I will try to post pictures here pretty soon, but this will still be a slowish project until the holidays are over.

Premium Member
3,895 Posts
subscribed. Nice looking work. Nice fab skills. Been using a lot of 16ga on my build. What are you bending yours with? It sure makes for a solid panel but can be very tough to work with in places.

142 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
subscribed. Nice looking work. Nice fab skills. Been using a lot of 16ga on my build. What are you bending yours with? It sure makes for a solid panel but can be very tough to work with in places.
Thanks! My fab skills aren't quite as nice in person as they may seem here haha. Honestly, I have just been bending by hand with the assistance of a score on the back side of the bend, but I have run into an issue with matching the radius bend of the tub by hand and getting it to stay at 90 degrees so I may have to reach out to a shop that can help me on that one. I am glad I went with 16g even though it is a bit heavier. I was wanting to overkill this one a bit so I knew it would last, specially after a v8 swap.
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