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Old 02-14-2010, 10:47 PM   #1
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Monkey See Monkey Do

Well, we finally did it. My wife and I have owned our 02 TJ for about 3 years now in stock form. Neither one of us liked driving it and at one point we almost considered selling it. Since selling it was never really an option, I decided to tear into it. This build took about 3 months part time to get to this stage.

Having built dozens of Jeeps and various 4x4's with all kinds of suspensions over the past 25 years, I decided to go old school and convert it leaf springs all around. Some might consider this to be a step in the wrong direction, but I love it! I know I am sacrificing some ride quality in some circumstances, but I canít stand the look of all the coil suspension components, linkages, and brackets that are typical on TJís; especially with long arm kits. So, I decided to go through with the conversion and I am so glad I did. It looks nice and clean and drives and rides beautifully. And it will be extremely reliable and stable on and off road.

It is a sweet Jeep with only 45k miles on it and is in perfect condition inside and out with the 4.0L, 3 speed auto, and a 231 that now has a JB Conversions Super Short SYE kit. This is the second JB SYE I have bought and their quality is amazing. The best I have ever seen.

Right off the starting line I ditched the rear 35 and front 30, of course. I refuse to put any money into those axles. In their place, I narrowed and built up a Ford F150 High Pinion Dana 44. I cut 2" off each side so it would match the Currie 9" rear axle I already had for it. They are now a matched set at 63" WMS. I maxed out the 44 with custom length Moser axles and Yukon super joints, Detroit Locker, 4.56 Genuine Gear ring and pinion, new 77 F150 hubs/rotors, ball joints, bearings, and all seals, GM flat top knuckles machined for Ballistic Fabís high steer arms, new 77 GM 1/2 ton semi-loaded calipers and OEM brackets, Warn premium internal hubs, Stage 8 locking system (the coolest design ever), Riddler diff cover and Lube Locker cover gasket, and an Off-Road Design 3-piece brake line kit. This 44 is built with the best components available and should last a long time without any troubles.

It now rolls on 37x12.50x17 Super Swamper TrXuS MT's and 17x8 Cragar wheels. I installed 7" Rugged Ridge fender flares too.

Here is what the TJ looked like when we began tearing it down.



The really fun part of a project like this is that itís all in the suspension and axles. The rest of the vehicle is in perfect condition and ready to roll.

So, here is how it came out. I just got it on the road yesterday.







Got the bumper completed and the winch installed today.







Now I will focus on the rear bumper and rocker guards. The cool thing is that I was able to present it to my wife on Valentines Day. It's her Jeep and she was all smiles...

I have a lot more photos of the entire build, but I only had time to post the highlights.

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Old 02-14-2010, 10:50 PM   #2
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Awesome silly monkey Jeeps are jeepers looks real good man

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Old 02-14-2010, 11:00 PM   #3
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Very nice build!
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Old 02-14-2010, 11:46 PM   #4
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Very Nice.
Now lets see the Willys Wagon hiding in the background.
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Old 02-14-2010, 11:51 PM   #5
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It looks awesome, does she know what shes got there? My only suggestion is a very minor one......paint the headlight bezels black. You got a nice black front end.
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Old 02-14-2010, 11:57 PM   #6
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Very Nice.
Now lets see the Willys Wagon hiding in the background.
Good eye man
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Old 02-15-2010, 12:08 AM   #7
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The wagon just recently underwent a major rebuild. It is now ready for paint and the finishing touches.

Here are a few photos of it...















Test fitting 42's...





----

Great idea on the headlight rings. I will paint them black for sure... And she is pretty savvy about Jeeps. In fact, she helps me quite a bit with my builds when I need a second set of hands. She is SO stoked about this thing!!
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Old 02-15-2010, 12:12 AM   #8
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Both rigs look great! Nice job.
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Old 02-15-2010, 12:15 AM   #9
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Sweet! Looks like Colorado, too. I'm totally jealous.
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Old 02-15-2010, 12:18 AM   #10
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That is a very good looking willies man
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Old 02-15-2010, 12:42 AM   #11
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Maybe you have wide flares on it, but the with 63" WMS it doesn't look any wider than a stock axle. And with 37" tires... time for some long arms.
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Old 02-15-2010, 04:37 AM   #12
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Willy's are always going to be the bomb!!!!!
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Old 02-15-2010, 09:56 AM   #13
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Maybe you have wide flares on it, but the with 63" WMS it doesn't look any wider than a stock axle. And with 37" tires... time for some long arms.
7" flares with the wider axles and 4.5 back spacing on the the wheels really helps it look almost stock width for sure. That's the look we were going for.

Good news... It's leaf springs all around... No need for long arms!
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Old 02-15-2010, 05:45 PM   #14
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Love both Jeeps, especially the Willys
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Old 02-15-2010, 08:18 PM   #15
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What wheels are on the Willys? They'd look nice on my black LJ
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Old 02-15-2010, 09:53 PM   #16
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What wheels are on the Willys? They'd look nice on my black LJ
Pro Comp Series 8089 Gloss Black Wheels - Pro Comp Xtreme Alloy Wheels



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Old 02-16-2010, 01:55 AM   #17
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Where did you get that front bumper on the TJ? or did you fab that? I want one!
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Old 02-16-2010, 06:41 AM   #18
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Thank you, kind sir. It's comforting to know someone is always watching...
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Old 02-16-2010, 07:44 AM   #19
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both are VERY nice! Great work!!!!
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Old 02-16-2010, 06:28 PM   #20
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What a great looking Jeep. It captures a clean, classic look that is lost with the TJ link suspension. Would like to see some more information, axle buildups, spring mount layout etc ... Also, what did you do with the transfer case and drive shafts.

Great Jeep ... more info please!

Edit: Ooops re-read and saw the SYE info ... duh
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Old 02-16-2010, 06:33 PM   #21
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IMHO that tj might look better with stock flares... maybe 4" atleast... IMO it would look more aggressive..
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Old 02-16-2010, 06:47 PM   #22
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Both are very nice indeed.
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Old 02-16-2010, 09:05 PM   #23
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Where did you get that front bumper on the TJ? or did you fab that? I want one!
I bought it from Buck's 4x4 here in Boise. They had no idea who made it. They took it in on a trade. I researched and found that it was made by Man-a-fre. They don't actually show this model, but I saw another one that was very similar. I thought about making my own, but got lazy.
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Old 02-16-2010, 09:26 PM   #24
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What a great looking Jeep. It captures a clean, classic look that is lost with the TJ link suspension. Would like to see some more information, axle buildups, spring mount layout etc ... Also, what did you do with the transfer case and drive shafts.

Great Jeep ... more info please!

Edit: Ooops re-read and saw the SYE info ... duh
Yes, I installed a JB Conversions SYE. I did nothing else to the drivetrain. I did upgrade to a Dodge 2500/3500 master cylinder. It's a 1 1/4" bore vs. the stock 7/8" bore. While I was at it, I removed the anti-lock brake system and proportioning valve. It is now running directly to the wheels. Talk about awesome brakes! It made a huge difference. Simple, clean and easy to do.

I also moved the power steering box up and forward about 3" to allow for a longer pitman arm that I took from a Scout II. They are about 8" hole to hole, which really improves turning radius with long high steer arms. I was a little worried about speeding up the turning ratio with a 3 1/4" turn box, but it didn't have any notable effect. It is steady and smooth. I moved the front axle forward about 4" and the rear axle back about 1". Every little bit helps with the ride. I also purchased a 40" Tom Woods long slip driveshaft today for the front. They sure are expensive, but totally worth the cost.

Here are some additional build photos.

Collateral Damage:


Frame Extension:




My Custom Designed Shackles:


Parts Collection:


High Pinion 44 Narrowing/Build-up:




Dana 44 Install:




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Old 02-16-2010, 09:42 PM   #25
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man, im going to be honest with you.. that is the most badass bumper i have EVER seen..!!!! amazing job!!!!
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Old 02-16-2010, 09:49 PM   #26
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A few more...

Currie 9" with 35 spline, Detroit, 4.56 gears, disc brakes:


New vs. old master cylinder:


Rear shackle location:


My wife and I drove it to work today and it was awesome! I love driving it now. This was a very fun project.
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Old 02-16-2010, 09:49 PM   #27
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Man-a-Fre mostly makes parts for Toyota stuff. They do nice things.

This last set of photos is bugging me. Everything is so organized. That new Dana is so clean. The springs are some sort of weird shiny black - aren't they supposed to be a little, I don't know, orangey tinted? Something is truly not right in this garage.

Amazing build. Going back to leaves. Wow!
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Old 02-16-2010, 09:53 PM   #28
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IMHO that tj might look better with stock flares... maybe 4" atleast... IMO it would look more aggressive..
I agree that it would look more agressive and historically for my rock crawlers, that's what I would have done. But for this one, I wanted to compromise between agressive and the ability to keep it clean by keeping the tires covered. It's a daily driver and it's my wife's Jeep so it was really important to keep myself in check.
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Old 02-16-2010, 09:57 PM   #29
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it looks great you did one hell of a job
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Old 02-16-2010, 10:08 PM   #30
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Thanks for the kind feedback. I didn't expect to get any positive attention with this one. Glad you are enjoying it.

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