Step one: Open the owners manual to the last two pages and grab the 800 number for the Factory Service Manual and order one. The FSM for the 97 is actually 3 books so don't even bother with a chiltons or haynes.
Step two: Brew a pot of coffee and start reading, both the manual and here.
Wranglers are easy to work on, heck, alot of the stuff you don't even need to get it off the floor.
wonder what my 10" total lift would look like with some 31's ??
Dana 44 Front 60 Rear
TeraFlex - LCG Max Kit, SYE, 2-Low Kit, High Steer Kit w HD Tie Rod, Dual Rate S/T Sway Bar
FAB Tech Front Bumper
Poison Spider - Fenders, Roll Cage
37x12.50x17 Pro Comp Mud on 17" Pro Comp Steels
Thats not a bad combo, may look a bit funny, no worse then some of the 3/4 and 1 ton pickups out the factory with their small tires, but man the flex works well and won't hit ANYTHING.... Ran 4.5 for a summer with 31's, no complaints off road.
Are there any good installation/rebuilding websites out there?
Best thing to do is come up with a list of what you want to accomplish and then search for each of them separately. There are hundreds of good sites (Pirate4x4, Stu Olsen's site, here, etc) so coming up with a list is rather difficult.
i would suggest putting in a ford 8.8 to replace the rear axle unless you have the D44. The D44 will be octagonal, and have a metal drain plug, if its not the D44 its not worth fixing and slap a for 8.8 underneath, not sure abotu the T case
The NP 231 is a decent transfer case. Its a chain driven transfer case which isn't the best, but mine as well blow it up before replacing it. If you'd like to replace it, look into advancedadapters.com. See what works well and try to score one of of ebay or car-parts.com.
I'd definitely look into car-parts.com. I've already found tons of cool shit and a huge salvage yard not too far from me.
I've learned more about my trucks from simply reading on forums and searching around on the internet than I ever thought I would. The other part is getting your hands dirty.
So get that thing torn apart and post some pics.
Rotting piece of junk with some bling in the rear axle.
Everyone will do different things to their Jeeps. It really depends what you want to achieve. I started by putting on a 2" budget lift, and then put in an 8.8 rear end with 4:11's and lockers. Then the next year I lifted to a 3.5RE Superflex lift with a Slip Yoke Eliminator among other things. Of course, then there was the wheels and tires. It's endless ... lots of fun though. You will really enjoy your habit. opps I mean hobby.