I'm getting to the really good part of my YJ (re)build and have decided not nearly enough people have been able to appreciate it...so I'm posting it here.
**If you care for the sentimental history of the jeep (yeah, I'm a girl), read on. If not, skip to the pictures.
Teal 1993 Wrangler, 4.0L, half doors, soft top, all stock. My dad bought it for me during my junior year of high school, spring of '98. I was kind of annoyed at first, because I didn't get to pick it out...I didn't even get to pick the color (yep, was a girl back then too). After about a week I was over it and the love affair began.
I wrecked it my senior year, March of '99. The initial insurance adjustor estimated the repairs to be just under the amount that would require them to total it...so it was sent in for repair. They discovered more damage, so it should've been totaled...but they had already started working on it. I was pretty attached to it by then, so I was thankful.
Over the years... took a road trip to California (from Colorado ). Drove it out to Virginia when I moved there for college. Drove it when I transferred back to Colorado a couple of years later. Then drove it to Minnesota when I moved there for my final year of college...and back to Colorado again. Five different speeding tickets I believe. Had two stereos and a purse stolen out of it. Ran out of gas several times because my gauge was always off. In 2005, my husband-to-be and I decided to upgrade a few things. New seats and top, bed liner for the tub, and a locking stereo console. Lots of memories is the point.
Then in 2009, I got a job with a 45-minute commute and decided the soft-top jeep wasn't going to cut it anymore. I was thankful we were able to keep it as sort of a third "play" vehicle. I happened to be driving it to work one day (August 2011) because some repairs were being done on my car...and on the way home some jacka** rammed me from behind going about 80 down the highway. Lucky for me, the jeep got caught on the guard rail/cable in the median...not so lucky for the jeep, the cable was a lot tougher than it looks. When I saw it...there wasn't any question it was totaled.
I think I threw about eight consecutive f-bombs. Knowing we didn’t really need it, being a third vehicle, I didn’t see what justification would be good enough for our frugal-minded selves to pay more than the insurance would give us to fix it back up. Long story short, Wayne (husband) recognized the sentimental value it held and has been more supportive than I could’ve hoped for. We decided to buy my jeep back from the insurance company and use the rest of the money to buy a donor jeep off Craigslist and complete the repairs. I’d get my jeep back, better than ever…and we’d have a fun project to work on.
And so it began…
We found this one that had also been in a wreck. It had been hit at just the right angle to crack open the transfer case. We figured we'd use the tub, hard top, doors, wheels & axles (2.5L, figured we’d get the slight upgrade to 4.10’s).
Wayne has an awesome shop that fit both jeeps inside...although they did have to take over my indoor basketball court.
They looked pretty darn good from there...not long though, and they looked like this:
And then...we came across another jeep:
Some of the parts had already been stripped off, and it had really bad rust. BUT, it also had a relatively new Rubicon Express Extreme Duty 4.5" suspension lift on it...worth more than the guy was asking for the jeep. We sold off parts and essentially got the lift kit for free. Score!
(with fresh paint)
Rust removal – Getting rid of rust was a big task. There weren’t any horrible spots, it was just everywhere. We used lots of wire wheels with a drill and with a grinder. For the lighter stuff, the cheap multi-packs from Harbor Freight worked well. For the thicker, tougher patches, a knotted wire wheel was great. Those are definitely more expensive, but it’s worth having at least one. Die grinder stones were nice for small, hard-to-reach spots, and for getting rid of pitting. Then there were those spots with never-ending flaky layers of rust. Mostly on the frame, around the body mounts. We ended up with a new savior of a tool neither of us had ever heard of, a needle scaler. Bought this one at Harbor Freight on sale for $30-40. Unfortunately, they require a decent air compressor to run, for any length of time anyway. That worked out alright for Wayne , because he got to upgrade his compressor. We had already decided to do everything ourselves, including painting…so we were going to need it to run the needle scaler, dual-action sander, HVLP gun, and it would run the impact wrench and air ratchets/grinders better. Between the time savings, the money we wouldn’t have to spend on the paint job, and the fact that Wayne had been looking to upgrade anyway…it was pretty easy to justify the $800 purchase off craigslist (older version of this).
After getting as much rust off as possible, we coated things with Jasco Prep & Prime. Jasco is one of those products that converts rust to a paintable surface. It isn’t a miracle worker by any means. It won’t seep into rust that is very deep, so you really need to get most of the rust off. But, it will convert the small residual spots and seal it off so you don’t get any flash rust. You do need to wipe it off before priming or painting. Everywhere except the converted rust spots will have a sort of sticky residue on it. I used “TSP” to wipe it down. It became a little harder to get off after sitting for a month or so, as dust and other particles had set into the residue.
Okay, back to the story. We kept tearing things down, cleaning up, painting…selling off unneeded parts. Here’s the frame from the black jeep, mine is behind it…there were a couple of holes that were stripped out so we weren’t going to use it.
Until we started to put things together and it didn’t fit right…see anything wrong?
Yeah, it’s bent…who knows how we missed that. It wasn’t going to work anyway we later realized…since the engine mounts for the 4.0 are different from the 2.5…duh.
Here’s a pretty good before and after shot. The paint on the axle, leaf springs, frame, etc…is Rust-Oleum’s Professional Undercoating. Anything that was down to bare metal got a shot of Rust-Oleum’s Self-Etching Primer first. We weren’t looking to get too crazy on these parts…knowing they wouldn’t really be seen and would get greasy and dirty soon after driving anyway. However, we wanted some corrosion resistance. We’ll see how it holds up, looks awesome right now though. :o)
Wayne stripped down the engine block, resealed everything, and painted it. Looks sharp.
Then we started putting things back together. Here’s the frame, axles, leaf springs, gas tank, skid plate:
Engine & tranny mounted, shocks, exhaust (new catalytic converter):
Here’s the SYE kit attached:
And the upgraded driveshaft to go with it:
Those last few pictures were taken in November, 2011. The mechanical part of the project was pretty much ready to go. That meant it was time to start on the sanding, body work, and painting. At that point… progress . . . slowed . . . considerably . . .
Sorry for the delay…this will bring you to where we are currently.
Somewhere along the line I decided I wanted a YJ hard top and doors with the paddle handles instead of the lever. We found both on Craigslist. The top is tan, so it will need painted, but it has the rear defroster and lightly tinted windows. The doors are still CJ doors, so the handles are chrome instead of black…and they need a little work.
We continued to watch for other YJ’s for some reason…and ended up buying three more. The first one’s transmission was shot and it wasn’t worth fixing for the guy. We just happened to have that particular transmission sitting in the shop. Initially, that was the only plan, swap out the tranny. But then we noticed how much better shape the tub was in than the one we planned to use. :o) We took it apart and swapped tubs. We also put the lever handle doors on it and took the newer YJ doors. Cleaned it up and sold it. The other two had various issues. We made them back into nice, working jeeps, and sold them. By “flipping” a few jeeps, we’ve covered the cost of fixing mine and then some.
We didn’t really get started back up on this project until September 2012. Here’s the tub ready to be stripped down. Notice the big rust spot above the wheel well.
We sanded all of the black body pieces down to factory primer. We tried to do the same on the teal pieces, but we kept getting all the way to metal too easily. There was a little bit of hammer and dolly work and several spots of body filler (Evercoat Z-Grip). I cut out the rust spot and Wayne welded in a patch. First time welding sheet metal, not too shabby eh?
The idea was to get it painted before it got cold…so we could put things back together over the winter. That didn’t happen, but it seems like it might’ve worked out better anyway. At the opposite end of the big shop that had the two jeeps in it is Wayne’s wood shop, and it is heated and insulated. We discovered that if we put the tub on its side, we could fit it through the door into the wood shop.
Pretty crazy. It’s so nice being warm and controlled…but the coolest part is – I know the jeep is going to get done now. Not a chance Wayne is letting his shop be taken over all winter! :o)
The plan was to paint everything in separate pieces, hanging from the ceiling. Wayne did spray primer that way:
After throwing some things around, we decided now that everything had a solid coat of primer, we’d go ahead and spray paint with it assembled. Check this out…it’s a Jeep again!!
So right at this moment, that’s about how it looks. We ended up needing to put some finishing putty over a few spots, and then re-priming those spots. It should be about dry now, so we’ll go sand it, mask as needed, and it will be ready for paint come daylight.
Here’s the paint we ended up with.
Primer Surfacer = PPG Shopline JP202
Basecoat = PPG Omni MBC, color “Navajo Turquoise Metallic,” AKA “Cathleen Green”
Clearcoat = PPG Shopline JC620
Here’s a couple shots of the color, first one was taken with a flash…I think in person it looks more like the second pic.
It should be painted by this time tomorrow…more pics then. I will also get more info up on the other pieces we have at this point (tires, rockers, fender flares, etc).
Looking great. My paint booth at my shop looks just like yours. Must be from the same manufacturer. Lol. Only thing I would have done different is paint it once it is back on the frame and all your body lines are lined back up. It may be tough to get that back through the door if you have to turn it sideways.
Thank you for all the compliments so far...nice to get some positive feedback.
rykemc: We debated whether or not to put it back on the frame before painting. The problem was it would've required waiting until the weather warmed up quite a bit. We tried to line things up, but we'll see how it works out. And yeah, getting it turned over sideways, turned back over, and then mounted onto the jeep frame...hoping we can accomplish that without damaging the nice, fresh paint.
I don't suppose it really looks much different than the last photos...but here it is with clear coat applied. We couldn't quite capture the color in any pictures...the first one is the closest, but it is brighter than that in person. Hopefully when we get it outside the lighting will be more picture friendly.
I ordered black Monstaliner for the inside of the tub. Hopefully it will make it here for the weekend and we can get it on. Either way, I'll get pictures up of all the other goodies here pretty soon. Tag fender flares, XRC rocker guards, 33x12.5x15 Duratracs, beefy bumpers... It's been so long since we ordered it all...I'm kind of excited to sort through and see what we have.
Well, we've been too busy working on the jeep to post any updates. :o) It's coming along nicely though!
Here it is ready to put the tub back on the frame:
New body mounts:
Definitely going to be taller than before:
Ready to spray Monstaliner:
We chose to spray using a cheap undercoating gun. Once we had complete coverage, we decided building it up really wasn't necessary for our purposes. So we only ended up using half a gallon...may use the rest for the top and bumpers...we'll see what a finer texture looks like.
We bought Smittybilt XRC rocker guards and Tag fender flares. The flares pictured here are actually Rugged Ridge. After testing the fit and reading more reviews, we decided to exchange them for the Tags. The fit seems better. The Rugged Ridge had a pretty big gap that was going to be difficult to fill. The Tags also seem to have a bit more flex.
33x12.50x15 Goodyear Wrangler Duratracs:
These wheels were on the black jeep...cleaned up and painted. We also painted the center caps and lugnuts. We'll see how those hold up. We really wanted a matte silver/aluminum color and just couldn't find it.
We're really happy with how the jeep is coming together. There just isn't enough time in the day to get it done! Taking a few hours out to watch the Super Bowl seemed like a waste...so, Wayne set up a tv next to the jeep. Now that's multi-tasking
Sidenote - the tv is sitting on Wayne's future project...1946 Willys...plans to do an original restoration.
Tires and wheels are exactly what we were looking for. Stance and height are perfect. The paint looks pretty freakin' sweet after compounding. Can't wait to get it done!
We've spent countless hours reading forums on pretty much every aspect of this project. Between that and our own trial and error...definitely figured out ways to do things, and probably more ways NOT to do things. I really hope to help others out with what we've learned, so please feel free to ask any questions. Maybe I'll put together some writeups when it's done...just not sure what to even start with at this point.
Awesome build! Ive been staying updated with this build.
Seems like you guys did a great job with attention to detail.
I think thats the hardest part with build ups, staying focused, and not hurrying the job.
Whats your overall lift height with the body/shackle/leaf setup?
Im curious to see your Jeep with the flares on, looks to be about the same height as mine, and those tires on top on my list.
Im still sitting on 31's, and they need to go.
Thats an Awesome rebuild! Wayne is a great guy for doing this too. I love how the indoor basketball court looks like a jeep exploded on it, thats better in my opinion lol im glad to see the future project too Keep up the great work and enjoy it.
Anxious to see the final product. Keep up the good work.
It's All About Jesus
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, 'Wow! What a ride!!!'"