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Old 08-19-2014, 04:28 PM   #1
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Rust heartbreak - Need advice

Here goes...bought this Jeep few months ago, 97 SE 4cyl 5sp 171k, and took a good look at the frame. Some surface rust and the skid plate pretty well rusty. Price was good and body, interior very nice so decided to go for it. Figured before winter I would scuff spots on frame and apply a coating inside and out. Week ago driving home hit a hard few holes in the road and heard a clank from driver's rear. Broke the trailing arm mount almost completely off the frame. Managed to nurse her 3mi home and got a good look at the all too common area for rust troubles. Took my air needle scaler to the frame and blasted right through both sides, ugh.

There were never drain holes drilled and I took a ton of material out of the frame. After hitting the control arm mount it is no longer attached to the frame at all. Would have been awfully bad on the highway. So here is the all too common dilemma, auto rust tech kit, custom weld, reframe, or sell/part out? I really don't think I have time for a reframe and not willing to pay when the engine is up there in mileage. I really cannot sink thousands into the jeep. I have a friend that could weld the auto rust kit onto the frame after I clean it up and void out all the bad metal. Is the auto rust kit worth doing or will I find there is much more to this then what I can see? The body/tub and rest of the jeep is in great shape they were undercoated, is it worth much as a parts bucket sale? Has anyone done much better parting the truck out vs selling outright? The right side will need the same as the left since it is almost as bad.

The problem here is I fell in love with this truck and will be a jeep owner for life now. I just want to make a correct decision after obviously making a crappy one. The pic is after I hit it with the scaler. What is left is good metal, just needs to be wire wheeled. Thanks for your input.
http://imgbox.com/Ebu5xItM
http://imgbox.com/cKSUzaOa
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<a href="http://imgbox.com/cKSUzaOa" target="_blank"><img src="http://t.imgbox.com/cKSUzaOa.jpg" alt="image host"/></a>

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Old 08-19-2014, 07:48 PM   #2
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Personally I would not try to fix that frame. It's done for. When you have to take that skid plate off to service the tranny/xfer case, you will find even a bigger mess.

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Old 08-19-2014, 08:26 PM   #3
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Fixed your image links.

My god that frame. I am not even sure if that is repairable. Really you can do anything. I think that trying to repair the frame will be much harder then to find a new frame and just swapping everything over. Then at least from there you can drill the proper drain holes and coat everything to prevent future rust, my opinion is just based on this one picture, I am assuming that there is a lot more rust elsewhere on the frame that I cannot see.


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Old 08-19-2014, 08:29 PM   #4
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My next move is removing the skid plate and doing some more investigating. There seems to be more meat around the skid plate. I see there is a safTcap for the side rails as well. Doesn't seem like much love for the product. At first I thought welding new sections in would be a good alternative to dumping the truck. Anyone have any success in using them? A very good welder will be doing the work.
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Old 08-19-2014, 08:41 PM   #5
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My LJ was hit from the front when we first purchased it. The front end of the frame was bent. We took a clean straight frame, and cut and welded it into the place fo the bent one. Assuming your whole frame isnt rotted out, you can do the same.
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Old 08-19-2014, 08:58 PM   #6
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Rest of the frame is not even remotely this bad. There is surface rust which I plan on wire wheeling down and coating the frame. Here is the front control arm mounts and you can see surface rust forming but the mounts are solid and clean.
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Old 08-20-2014, 08:43 AM   #7
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I think in the long run it will be cheaper and a better bet to do a frame swap. The hidden rust will only get worse until it becomes visible. I don't think selling it is an option unless you fix it to make it safely drivable for the buyer.
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Old 08-20-2014, 02:09 PM   #8
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I would never sell it as a drivable truck. I could not in good conscience do that to someone. If someone wanted to buy it for parts or to reframe I'd let it go. The body and interior is excellent.
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Old 08-26-2014, 08:50 AM   #9
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Had a very good reputable welder come see the TJ yesterday and he said it would be thousands to repair that frame the "right" way. Doing more thinking I'm leaning towards parting this Jeep out and buying another. I want to trust this Jeep to take rides with my young son so a cheap fix is not an option. Thanks for the insight guys this is the best wrangler site!
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Old 08-26-2014, 11:57 AM   #10
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Get another frame and swap them out. You'll be money ahead and still have a drivable, safe Jeep.

You can take the time to do some preventive measures on the new frame before the swap to minimize a future rust out.

A frame should only cost a couple of thousand at the most, if that.
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Old 08-26-2014, 12:03 PM   #11
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3-500$ avg I have seen for TJ frames...look around real good and you will find that that is true. Not in mint condition, mind you. But very useable. Scrape and paint and your good to go. It's a bit of a job, though...to do a frame swap. Not an easy thing.
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Old 08-26-2014, 12:53 PM   #12
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Where are you guys finding these inexpensive frames? Searching the salvage yards it looks like 800-1000 for a frame in my area and a used one at that. Down south more plentiful and cheaper. Swapping a frame is no joke, very labor intensive. Is sinking that kind of time and money into a 4cyl with 170k really worth it? I do not have a garage so this would be a driveway operation. I'm more than skilled enough and have too many tools. I'm figuring an other grand in parts I'm going to replace rather then swap over.

Oh and I found more fuel on the fire last evening. The middle body mount on both sides is rusted through the tub. The outer two on both sides are perfect?!? What gives with that?
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Old 08-26-2014, 01:57 PM   #13
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Here is another thought or two...you said you are considering parting it out and that replacing the frame which is labor intensive. But when you think about it, you are going to be stripping all the parts off anyways just to part it out.

The other opportunity to consider it to get a used frame and then consider a v8 conversion while it is all apart. And sell the 2.5 and tranny.
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Old 08-26-2014, 03:46 PM   #14
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I did think about the fact parting out is basically the first part of reframing, lol. As much as a v8 TJ would kick some serious ass, the cost is up there. It would definitely be the time to do it though. Parting it out is really just an effort to recoup some of the purchase and move on to the next Jeep. I have hard and soft tops for it so right off the bat I have about a third of the purchase cost selling those.

Next Jeep I am driving south of the salt belt and buying there, probably from a member on here.

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Originally Posted by Dextreme View Post
Here is another thought or two...you said you are considering parting it out and that replacing the frame which is labor intensive. But when you think about it, you are going to be stripping all the parts off anyways just to part it out.

The other opportunity to consider it to get a used frame and then consider a v8 conversion while it is all apart. And sell the 2.5 and tranny.
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Old 08-26-2014, 03:51 PM   #15
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At least you have the comfort knowing that whenever a Jeep dies, another star appears in the sky to remember it by.

Oh....... Wait a minute... I was thinking of a Disney movie I saw. Sorry
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Old 08-26-2014, 05:15 PM   #16
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LOL! I'd like to think by this one Jeep departing it may bring life into a bunch of other Jeeps and keep them going. Oh so heartwarming


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At least you have the comfort knowing that whenever a Jeep dies, another star appears in the sky to remember it by.

Oh....... Wait a minute... I was thinking of a Disney movie I saw. Sorry
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Old 08-26-2014, 10:29 PM   #17
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Started a thread over in the jeeps parting out section if anyone is looking for parts :

Parting out 97 TJ SE 4cyl 5spd

Think at some point I'll be making a room trip down south to buy my next Jeep.

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