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Old 04-08-2014, 09:09 PM   #1
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Building Dawg's cage


My name is Dawg, and I am the proud owner of a 97 TJ Sport I bought in December. It is almost bone stock, had only 1 owner, and only had 80,000 miles on it when I picked it up.

Here is what it looked like when I brought it home. The previous owner added ravine wheels, 31" tires and a hockey puck 1" lift.....



The previous owner was an older mechanical engineer, so he took pretty good care of it over the years, but it did live in the rust belt, so underneath it there is quite a bit of rust. He did a lot to maintain it and replaced stuff as he went along, but not everything of course.

New stainless brake and fuel lines, but not evacuation line........



New shocks, plugs, wires and more were replaced, and the body is in good shape, and the interior is in excellent shape....



Even still has stock stereo with a cassette player....



Here are some more pictures of the rust and undercarriage.........



















So, as you see, I have a long way to go. Of course with 2 jobs, 5 sons and wife that doesn't like to spend money, I am in no huge hurry. I just have this terrible addiction to buy stuff and get building!!!!


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Old 04-08-2014, 09:26 PM   #2
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The first thing I needed to do was get it up in the air, do a good inspection of it and get the general maintenance taken care of.

So we changed the oil, transmission fluid and transfer case fluid......



We also drained and filled the diffs and they looked real good too. A real pain to clean all the old gasket junk off though.......






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Old 04-08-2014, 09:37 PM   #3
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When we did the inspection, we found the transfer case had water in it, and I think the previous owner had washed the engine compartment and spayed water in the vent tube so we had to drain it again after a few miles.

We also found that the passenger front brake pads had worn much faster than the driver side. After taking it apart I thought it was because the guide pin bushings were shot on the drivers side and would not let the pads get to the rotor and in turn not wearing down as quick. So we replaced the bushings, cleaned and lubed the pins and replaced the pads as everything else seemed to work and move pretty smooth

It also needed a new serpentine belt and transmission mount......



I really need to get a wire brush and some rust encapsulator to that skid plate.......

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Old 04-08-2014, 09:39 PM   #4
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A good bath and some wax, does a body good!!!

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Old 04-08-2014, 09:49 PM   #5
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Also in the inspection, I found that she needs some tie rod ends and u-joints. So off to the internet I went. After a lot of reading about tie rod ends and a few calls to some parts stores, I came to the conclusion that this was a good time to do the ZJ Tie rod mod.

So I ordered the Crown heavy duty steering kit from 4wheel parts and bought some Spicer 5-760X U-joints for the front axles. It seems to be well advised to change out the cheap boots on the tie rod ends to some polys before the install, so I think that will be my next low budget purchase while I am waiting to find the time to do the install.

While I was waiting, I could not resist taking off the soft top and doors now that spring has arrived........



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Old 04-08-2014, 09:52 PM   #6
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Nice jeep. I would probably stay away from the CMax brakes. They will eat up your rotors badly. I put a new set of rotors with those brakes and they tore up my new rotors like nothing. I would just use the Duralast gold if you want to stay with those brakes.
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Old 04-08-2014, 10:07 PM   #7
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Nice jeep. I would probably stay away from the CMax brakes. They will eat up your rotors badly. I put a new set of rotors with those brakes and they tore up my new rotors like nothing. I would just use the Duralast gold if you want to stay with those brakes.
Hey, thanks and thanks for the shout out of advise!!! I have heard that about the ceramic pads and such. I gave them a go though, as I am planning on replacing the rotors next time around. Never used ceramic before on anything.

I think next time I might go with Black Magic pads with Centric rotors. I am going to be building this old TJ up with some bigger tires and heavy gear all around it, and after all the reading I have done, I think that might be the way to go. How ever, if I have to replace the pads again before I am ready to upgrade, I have a pair of posi quiets in the garage.
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Old 04-08-2014, 10:13 PM   #8
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Ohhhh..... I almost forgot. It had a crack in the windshield when I got it and had it replaced for only $150.00 from a local guy who put in better glass than it had in it and flippin safelight wanted around $300.00. Guys and gals not only is safelight expensive, but I have read lots of complaints about them, so my advice would be to stay away from them and find a good local guy!!!! Sorry, no pics of that install.
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Old 04-08-2014, 10:30 PM   #9
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Yeah my dads TJ needed to be replaced and we went to a local shop as well and paid 150 also. The windshield kind of had a nice tint to it as well.
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Old 04-09-2014, 12:04 PM   #10
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1 more pic with the top and doors off.....

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Old 05-08-2014, 10:27 PM   #11
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What a great week it has been to own a TJ in Indiana!!! Spent all week with the top down and doors off with some beautiful 70 and 80 degree days and sunshine.

Today was a busy day though, and boy am I getting old!!! Crawling around underneath the jeep on the creeper is starting to get to me. I need to hit the lottery and buy a lift!!!!

The rear differential has been leaking since the last time I took it off. So today while changing the oil, filter, and air filter I installed the Lubelocker gasket. So far so good!!!! I have it in the garage overnight to see if any leaks start, but I think it is all good.

After doing all that, mowing the grass, hauling the boys to piano lessons, and ending the day with a little dinner at the dairy bar, it was time to put the top up, and get the doors and windows back on due to the coming rainy weather headed our way.

I think next week I will drain the transfer case one more time to make sure I got all the water out.
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Old 05-11-2014, 09:00 PM   #12
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Today and the last few months, I have been prepping to get to work on the jeep.

A lot of rust to get off of the underside and paint it thick with Eastwood's rust incapsulator and this includes the bumpers. Because of this, it gave me a great excuse to by a new drill and wire brushes. Of course with age comes wisdom, so for the first time in my life, I also bought a pair of safety goggles.



For getting underneath it, I needed a few more tools, so I purchased a brand new set of jack stands, floor jack, and creeper!!!



and as I have stated before, I ordered the Crown heavy duty steering kit with steering stabilizer, Spicer u-joints and even purchased some poly grease boots for the tie rod ends.



I have taken off the milk jugs on the front bumper also and purchased some flat style caps for now.



Thursday we will start the work!!!!
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Old 05-20-2014, 11:37 PM   #13
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Just got this today via Fed Ex from Rock Auto.

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Old 05-22-2014, 09:40 PM   #14
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So.... I know it is not a mechanical need, but I wanted one and found it for $100.00, but the header is not complete. Can get a new "NO DRILL" header for about $30.OO, but trying to get the missing parts from folks here on the forum. Super stoked though, came in last night and can't wait to put it on!!!!





Still had not stopped the leak on my rear diff and decided to try one more time. So out came the jack and stands, up went the TJ and of with the cover.



Of course I had thrown away the RTV, so on went the lubelocker.



All was going well until I did not here the torque wrench click. Oh.... but I felt the bolt snap though. To make matters worse, I snapped my eazyout too.



Ran out of time, so I buttoned it up, and drove it around for a bit doing the needed chores, including dinner with the family. Oh.... and NO LEAK!!!!



Must get to town and get a bigger, better bit tomorrow and try to get that out and not make things even worse.
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Old 06-06-2014, 10:31 PM   #15
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Well, I have not really started the build yet, but I am collecting a lot of parts and pieces for it. Tie rods, u-joints hubs and such are all sitting in the garage waiting for me. I will get to it for sure, but just need to find the time.

Meanwhile I have been taking care of some little stuff that needed attention. Things like the A/C and fender flares.

The A/C is pretty important and I decided to tackle it the other night. When I bought the TJ in December, I checked to see if the compressor clicked on, and it did. I did not realize it was short cycling then and could not tell you if it was. The Previous owner stated it would need charged though. All I really new is that it wasn't blowing cold air, once it got warm here in Indiana.

So I went to Autozone and bought this.....



Although I don't have a GED, I figured it could not be too hard. So I read the directions, I watched some videos on youtube, read some stuff on this forum and jeepforum and went at it.

I started the TJ, found the low line valve and plugged in the hose, and started to charge it. I noticed that my compressor was short cycling on and off, the gauge on the hose was going crazy and my air was not getting cold. SUCK!!!! After doing this for quite some time, I figured I would go inside and try the internet again and try and figure out what I was doing wrong.

Well, I found out the compressor needs to be running continuously to draw in the refrigerant and the only way to make it run continuously was to jump the low line pressure switch. Of course there was no where I could find a picture of this switch, so I found what I thought was it and tried to jump it. No luck. SUCK!!!!! I had run out of time by now, so I buttoned everything up, and headed for bed. I had to work the next day and it would all have to wait until I got off work.

The next day, I also figured out that after the TJ warmed up, the compressor would not run at all, and that if I tapped it lightly with a hammer, it would click on for a couple of seconds. So back to the drawing board and the internet.

These symptoms seem to coincide with a problem with old compressors that I found online that could be remedied with a little work. So I tried it.

First you have to take out the clutch of the compressor. To do this, I did not have to take the compressor out, remove the belt or even drain the system. I did need to remove my upper radiator hose.



Remove one of three shims......



Wire brush the heck out of the face of the clutch to remove any rust and corrosion....



and put it all back together.

This should have enabled my compressor to run as it should and...... NOPE!!!! SUCK!!!! I was running out of options and was getting pretty frustrated. My time had ran out, so I buttoned it all up again and called it a night.

So the next(third) day, I got ahold of A/C Pro, the company of the refrigerant I had purchased, through email. After describing what I was going through, he suggested the system was overcharged. Although it did not make sense to me, and I did not believe it at first, I finally gave in and evacuated the system. Now my compressor won't even short cycle. Won't run at all. How the heck am I going to get this stuff in there? I was almost done with the whole thing, and then I noticed another switch. This one was close to the fire wall and pretty close to my filler line.



So, I thought what the heck. The worst I could do is not have cold air and need to buy a new compressor. Heck I am already to that point, so I tried to jump it with the only piece of bare metal I could find. I broke a piece off of some old frayed winch line.



HOT DOG!!!!! The compressor is running like a spinning top!!! So I hooked up a second can of A/C Pro and charged the system and now I have cold air!!!!

Now it is true that refrigerant does not just disappear, so there must be a leak somewhere, but this A/C Pro stuff is supposed to have a sealant in it and I hope it takes care of it. If it don't I will have to take to finding it, but if it holds, I am on it like blue bonnet!!! Either way, I have COLD AIR for those hot summer days when I have to put the top and doors back on because of rain.
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Old 06-06-2014, 11:07 PM   #16
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So we all have the same problem with our fender flares. Pale, washed out, faded and ugly. Although I had been wiping it down with bumper black, I new I needed to do something more. I had been reading on the forums about Krylon, line-x and more, I just did not know for sure what I wanted to do.

Now, I work at a new car dealership, and our detail chemical vendor was in the shop the other morning when I came strolling in, and I asked him if he had a good plastic dye, and he said of course. I asked him about the product and he really did not know much about it.

I had read up some similar plastic, fabric and carpet dyes though and had really thought this was the way I wanted to go. It dyes the plastic and not just cover it up. Paint, because it just covers it up, can have a tendency to crack and chip. Don't want to have to touch it up. Line-x and other stuff is rather expensive, and since I hope to replace my fenders someday in the next couple of years or sooner, I did not want to spend the $100.00 on that.

So I asked him how much and he said $8.00 a can. Sounded good to me so I bought this........



For $16.00 I figured I could not go wrong. Once I got home I decided to look it up and found it on Amazon for $11.00 and was happy I got a deal!!!!!

Well, today I had time to do those flares, and this is how it went down. First, a little prep work with my littlest buddy. While I was taping, he was shaking my paint cans, handing me the tape and paper.





Then came time to spray the product on. This went really well and although I messed up a little, no one will ever really notice. No runs and real easy to work with. The first coat.....





I was pretty proud, so I came inside and posted the pics on the "What did you do to your TJ today" thread, while it dried. Then it was back out to put on a second coat. Here is the finished product........





Now it is just a matter of time to see how long it holds up. Wish me luck!!!!
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Old 06-17-2014, 11:52 PM   #17
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Well, it is going to be quite a while until I can do a build the right way, body of frame and such, so I decided to start tackling the whole rust issue with the body on.

So I got it lifted up onto the jack stands, was taking off the wheels and broke a jug nut. Suck!!!



Of course, this was just the excuse I needed to go get some tools!!!!



Yep, that did the trick.......



First I needed to change the fluid in the transfer case. I can't believe it had water in it again. That dang vent tube must be blocked and condensation must be collecting and getting into the TC. Hence the strawberry milkshake that drained out of it.



Then it was time to start disconnecting stuff and getting to work on some rust!!!





This hose brake line was not long enough to drop that axle as far as I wanted to, and I did not feel like cleaning up a brake fluid mess and bleeding brakes, so I didn't get the springs off. Shouldn't that have a clamp on it or something?





A drill, wire brush bit, and a wire brush did quite a number on it and then washed it all down with some mineral spirits.







then it was time to give it a good coating of this....






Did all the way up to the front lower control arms. The front will happen here in a few weeks.






I think it is looking pretty good. A lot to do still and never enough time or money, but it is coming together.
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Old 06-18-2014, 06:46 PM   #18
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You do good work. It looks like it is coming along great.
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Old 06-19-2014, 12:33 AM   #19
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You do good work. It looks like it is coming along great.
Thanks!!! Still a lot to do. They say a TJ is never done, and I can see why with so many things we can do to them. It has been a lot of fun so far and a great way for me to spend time with my sons and show them how to work on cars and stuff.
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Old 06-19-2014, 01:11 AM   #20
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Thanks!!! Still a lot to do. They say a TJ is never done, and I can see why with so many things we can do to them. It has been a lot of fun so far and a great way for me to spend time with my sons and show them how to work on cars and stuff.
That's what's it's all about!!!
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Old 06-19-2014, 01:47 AM   #21
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That's what's it's all about!!!
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Old 06-19-2014, 07:29 PM   #22
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Great job man. !
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Old 06-19-2014, 07:41 PM   #23
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Great job man. !
Thanks!!! A lot still to come. If only I was able to hit the jackpot on a lottery or something I could get a lot more done a lot quicker. Hahahahaha!!!!!
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Old 06-19-2014, 07:59 PM   #24
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its looking pretty good!, I'm still a fan of the color combo with the tan top and blue paint, I too need to hit the lottery so I can get a lift since I have a yj I'm looking at a 4.5 inch military wrap kit, I'm wanting to hit the badlands sometime this year if all goes well maybe we can all go sometime
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Old 06-20-2014, 12:53 AM   #25
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its looking pretty good!, I'm still a fan of the color combo with the tan top and blue paint, I too need to hit the lottery so I can get a lift since I have a yj I'm looking at a 4.5 inch military wrap kit, I'm wanting to hit the badlands sometime this year if all goes well maybe we can all go sometime
Thanks Tim!!! I would like to hit those Bad Lands soon. I need to get some recovery equipment first though. Good luck with the whole lottery thing!!!! Hahahaha!!!!!
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Old 06-20-2014, 05:50 AM   #26
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Thanks Tim!!! I would like to hit those Bad Lands soon. I need to get some recovery equipment first though. Good luck with the whole lottery thing!!!! Hahahaha!!!!!
haha yeah same to you, and I also need some recovery gear
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Old 06-20-2014, 06:32 AM   #27
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You are a very patient man who obviously takes pride in his work. It done me good to read your thread. Reminded me I have more time than money when I start adding things to my TJ. Man get a jeep and a million things spin thru your head that would be just oh so perfect. Fortunately I have two teen age sons to help me do the work and enjoy the jeep with.
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Old 06-20-2014, 10:56 AM   #28
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Very nice build so far! The rust doesnt actually look too bad. A little combing of the forums will return horror stories of people who bought TJs not knowing that there were holes in the frame due to rust.

I couldn't even imagine what it would be like living in the rust belt with all the meticulous care required to keep rust to a minimum. Our roads never get salted here in TX I will be following your build to see your progress
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Old 06-20-2014, 10:23 PM   #29
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You are a very patient man who obviously takes pride in his work. It done me good to read your thread. Reminded me I have more time than money when I start adding things to my TJ. Man get a jeep and a million things spin thru your head that would be just oh so perfect. Fortunately I have two teen age sons to help me do the work and enjoy the jeep with.
Thanks Mikhail, I have had so many things run through my head that I want to do to this TJ, and you are right about having more time than money. Like you, I really just enjoy wrenching on it and playing with it with my sons.

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Very nice build so far! The rust doesnt actually look too bad. A little combing of the forums will return horror stories of people who bought TJs not knowing that there were holes in the frame due to rust.

I couldn't even imagine what it would be like living in the rust belt with all the meticulous care required to keep rust to a minimum. Our roads never get salted here in TX I will be following your build to see your progress
Thank you too kdilly!!! You are right about the rust. It is all surface rust for the most part and no holes or soft spots in the frame, but there sure is a lot of it. Hahahahahahha!!!! The snow and salt sure does a number on these TJs and that is more than likely the TJ's biggest weakness.

Today I did a quick lube of the 7 zerk fittings on the original steering set up of the TJ and a little more inspecting of the front end.

First I jacked it up with the floor jack on the center of the axle. Took off the front tires and dropped it down on the stands that I put under the frame and then lowered the floor jack until I dropped the axle as far as it would go with out disconnecting the shocks and such.......





Then got out the good stuff. Some Lucas brand "Red and Tacky" grease and my new cheapo grease gun and made quick work out of greasing the 7 fittings......



Got it all back together and got the top down and the doors off in time for a little ride of into the sunset with my co-pilot and navigator.....



I really should not have taken this long to grease those parts. No doubt the parts needed it. They took a lot of grease before pushing out any old stuff.
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Old 06-21-2014, 07:55 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by thedawgshow View Post
Thanks!!! A lot still to come. If only I was able to hit the jackpot on a lottery or something I could get a lot more done a lot quicker. Hahahahaha!!!!!
. I hear ya on the money part. Nothing's cheap. Lol. We'll piece at a time you'll get'er done.

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