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Tackled the good ol' rear shock bolts. I bought this XJ (98) a couple months ago with 254k on the clock and it still had the original shocks. Only the front passenger shock was even partially functional. Had to use a dremel to completely grind away the heads of the rear bolts (too rusty to even get a socket on them) so I could punch them through and fish in new bolts.

Also discovered that the rear output of the transfer case is bent, so I suppose that's next weekend's project. Then ball joints and front wheel bearings the next week since the bottom bj's are seized up pretty bad and the bearings have just a bit more play than I'm willing to ignore. After that I think she'll be ready for duty as my new winter beater
 

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Removed the driveshafts and verified that the main shaft of the transfer case is bent. I already bought a new main shaft so I went ahead and drained the case so I can split it open, and "Oh s***." The ATF in the transfer case was nice and sparkly. No chunks and the flakes are too small to see unless you point a flashlight directly at it.

I'm fairly certain that the xfer case was rebuilt recently, and since it was working just fine and making no noise I'm hoping the metal in the fluid is just from break-in. Once I get the case open I'll take a look, and if everything looks ok I'll throw it back together with the new main shaft and hope for the best. Fingers crossed - this was supposed to be a cheap project LOL
 

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Might as well throw a new chain in it while your in there. Unless it's tight of course. Cause it always works great til the day it stops working. HaHa then it slips and binds and won't let you move an inch.
That would be smart, but I think the rust will kill this Jeep before I wear out the chain LOL. Just looking to take care of the immediate issues so I have a reliable winter beater for a couple years until the shell is toast
 

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Finally got the t case back together after 3 weeks apart. I opened it up to replace the bent output shaft from the PO and found metal in the oil, but the t case was still working properly and I hadn't heard any noise from it. Turned out that the range shift fork had lost its bushings and was sending chunks/flakes of aluminum everywhere. Luckily the bearing surfaces still look great, so after a thorough cleaning it's back together with a new fork, slider, and output shaft.



Someone's been in there before - the bent shaft had an extra snap ring groove that wasn't holding anything, so I believe that shaft came from another variation of the 231J. It wasn't hurting anything, but the used replacement shaft doesn't have that groove. The synchro ring for the 2-4 selector is missing, but that isn't crucial and I needed to get it put back together so I didn't do anything about that.

Tonight I'll put the driveshafts back in and take it for a test drive. Hopefully I've got it cleaned out well enough LOL
 

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Finally found time to do the front wheel bearings and ball joints. Totally transformed how it drives now that the lower ball joints aren't seized up. Drove it around a bit and did one more flush on the transfer case to get rid of the remaining aluminum flakes. I'd say it's ready for winter beater duty now with all the major jobs complete. We'll see if I can get this thing to 300k
 

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Well now that my transfer case is back together and I have the front ball joints and wheel bearings done, I can hear a whine in the rear end. :brickwall I suppose I'll be taking it to the trans shop to have that looked at
 

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Slipped a wrench while adjusting the steering gearbox so now I have no clue how much I've adjusted it. I really don't feel like pulling the box and resetting everything so I guess I'll tighten it back down 1/8 turn at a time until it drives ok. Whoops
 

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Used it to hide gifts all week and now that Christmas has passed it's back in the garage. Readjusted the steering (I think it's good to go now), did a little diagnostics on the A/C system, and threw in a new valve cover gasket. It's not the original engine and the mileage is unknown, but everything under the valve cover was sludge-free and the engine appears to be clean and healthy.

With the new valve cover gasket on, I should be able to tell if the rear main seal is leaking. I'm crossing my fingers that it was only the valve cover, because the garage isn't even warm enough to melt the snow off the Jeep.
 

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Finally got a few inches of snow yesterday with a few more on the way tonight. Gave it a good look all around and it looks like the valve cover was my only oil leak, so I got lucky.

Which do you guys like better?
Despite everything on the Jeep being square I am leaning towards the round ones.
The LEDs probably put out more light, but I like the look of the round halogens much better. Had the same ones on my TJ and they were plenty bright enough for fog lights :cheers2:
 

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Found a small leak in the radiator. I've had to replace the radiator on every single Jeep I've owned, so why not one more lol. Luckily it's still a small leak, because the XJ is the only vehicle in our little fleet that made it through the snow to the main road today. I'll take care of it when it isn't so bitterly cold outside
 

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Welded the exhaust back together and pulled out some bushes in front of the house. Got 7/10 bushes out, the last 3 were just too much and I spun all 4 tires on my driveway. I'll have to call in a friend with a heavier rig this weekend.
 

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Finally got her out wheelin for the first time this summer and had a blast. My buddy brought his 92 Explorer, I towed his bikes out there, and his friend stopped in the middle of his 5k mile road trip on his BMW R1200GS to take it out wheeling with us.

The BMW wasn't quite up to the task, but I gotta give him props for sending it right in the middle of his trip.

Super impressed with the new General Grabber ATXs and the old XJ didn't skip a beat towing or wheeling.


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Went to the junkyard and got a new taillight, rear wiper motor, and airbox. Got home and installed them, chased down a couple electrical issues, and tore down the headliner.

I stripped all the old foam and fabric off the headliner, got some fabric to put back up, but now I gotta wait for the glue to show up. Couldn't find anything locally for it, so now we wait.

I'm redoing it with red buffalo check flannel :laugh2: because why not?
 

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I'm done with the headliner! I finished Saturday night but didn't have a chance to post.

I wanted to make sure that it has no chance of falling down again, and I've had some earlier upholstering experiences go sour when the glue I used stopped holding a few weeks/months later. I had some trouble finding any of the above glues or any that sounded like they would work in local stores, so I ordered some 3M Hi-Tack 76 online. It has been over 2 weeks and the glue still hasn't shipped. It still sounds like this is a great glue for headliners, but I managed to secure a couple cans of 3M Headliner Adhesive after heading to a couple different AutoZones.

It was a bit more difficult than I anticipated, but I'm super happy with the results!


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I was planning to drive it to Chicago last weekend, so of course I decided I should take things apart right before leaving. What could go wrong? Ended up snapping off a bolt while replacing sway bar bushings. I welded nuts to it multiple times but it never broke free, so the night before leaving I was drilling and tapping the hole. Got the sway bar back together the next morning and decided I still wanted to replace my slightly warped rotors before going. As soon as I pulled the drivers side caliper off, one brake pad fell out in 3 pieces, so I'm glad I decided to do the brakes! Made a quick trip to the store for new pads and only got to Chicago an hour later than intended.

The XJ did great and rolled over 260k on the way home.
 

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Well, she sits about 4" higher now, which I think puts it about 2.5-3" above stock. All the springs were sagging and I think they might have been the original 260k mile springs. They were pretty beat up (original leafs in picture) and those front eye bolts on the leaf springs were a nightmare. I didn't want to spend a lot of money, so for about the same price as buying new stock springs/bushings/bump stops (all the bump stops were gone), I cobbled together a lift:

-Lightly used RE 3.5" springs from a dude on Facebook. I pulled a leaf out of the middle hoping to hit 2.5-3" above stock to hopefully avoid needing an SYE
-Lightly used 3" lift shocks from the same guy, I believe they're also RE
-cut and welded the rear brake line bracket to keep the brake hose slack
-New Skyjacker 2.5" lift TJ front long travel springs
-3D printed 1" spring spacer for the front (printed in ABS. I printed spacers in PLA for my last Wrangler and they held up for years before I sold it. The ABS will be even stronger and more heat resistant)
-New stock front bump stops and rear 4" bump stops
-3D printed 2" front bump stop extensions (bolted to the lower spring perch)
-all new hardware
-removed the rear sway bar while I was in there

So far everything feels great. Definitely firmer than before, but certainly not harsh and it handles corners/bumps a lot better on road. Haven't gotten it off the pavement yet so that remains to be seen.


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Here's a pic I just snapped in the parking lot at work. I've used the plastic bump stop spacer pucks that some companies sell before, and those held up great. I used basically the same design and printed these 100% solid so I figure it should be comparable to those.

Also yes, the sway bar links will be replaced soon lol


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I overshot my goal when I lifted it, and as such ended up with some driveshaft vibration. This weekend I got a transfer case drop installed (it's just a beater, not worth spending $ on the SYE).

With a lot of patience and some map gas, I got the 2 crossmember bolts and one nut free, and the other nut was conveniently already missing. One bolt had also been backed out about halfway since I bought it, but was still very much rusted in place.

The studs, however, had no interest in coming out. After several rounds of torching, quenching, and torching again, the vice grips still couldn't turn them out. After several rounds of welding on a nut, waiting for it to cool, and then breaking off the nut, I gave up on removing them. I figured I could just cut them off flush and weld in some 1" square tubing with a welded nut to bolt the crossmember to, but I'd already bought bolts to use traditional spacers and I'm a cheap bastard. I figured I'd try cutting the heads off a couple of the bolts and welding the threads onto the remaining studs to extend them. It seems to have worked out pretty well. At the least, I still have 2 more fasteners actually holding the crossmember than I did before.

After everything was all bolted up, the transfer case shifter was hitting the front of the console opening, forcing it just barely into 4x4. I cut a small notch for relief and everything seems happy. The vibrations are 100% gone.

I'll be taking it winter camping/wheeling in northern Michigan next month, so I've got a bit more prep to do.


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