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Old 08-16-2013, 09:13 AM   #1
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LJ Build - A work in progress!

I thought I would capture my latest project, a 2004 Wrangler Unlimited build. Not to go into a long story here, but I went from a '05 TJ, to a '11 JKU Rubicon, and then back to my TJ. After driving the TJ again for a while I missed the room of the JKU, but loved the simplicity of the TJ platform. The end result was a search and ultimate purchase of the LJ.

Since acquiring the LJ, 3 weeks ago, I first mapped out a plan, ordered parts, and then began the transformation in earnest 2 weeks ago. To start with, because I'm admittedly somewhat anal, I first tackled a number of things that were more in the area of preventative maintenance. Here I:

- replaced entire cooling system (radiator, water pump, thermostat, & hoses)
- replaced serpentine belt & pulleys
- replaced timing chain, gears, front seal, & cover gasket
- replaced oil pump & oil pan gasket
- replaced ignition coil pack & spark plugs
- drained & filled transfer case with synthetic fluid
- replaced automatic transmission filter and fluid
- replaced valve cover gasket
- added a automatic transmission cooler

Once that was completed in a marathon weekend, I then started on the suspension. Here I added the following:

- 4" BDS Lift with upper and lower control arms
- 1" Daystar body lift
- Bilstein 5100 shocks
- JKS MML
- UCF Tummy Tuck
- Rubicon rear with all new bearings, seals, and Superior axles and Solid diff cover
- Rubicon front with Reid knuckles, Warn Lockout hub conversion, Dutchman axles, all new bearings, seals, and Solid diff cover
- New Chevy brake rotors, calipers, hoses, etc. on front rear
- New brake rotors, calipers, hoses, etc. on rear
- Currie HD steering system
- Rancho HD steering stabilizer

With the suspension done, I then topped it off with:

- Nates front bumper with 9K lb Superwinch and synthetic line
- Nates rear bumper with tire carrier, highlift jack, and jerry can holders
- 315/70R17 Goodyear Duratracs on Allied 17" steel wheels

Although I have some odds and end to tidy up, the net result was a transformation from this (i.e. 9" of clearance at the transfer case skid) :



To this (20" of clearance at the transfer case skid):







As always, there is more to come!

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Old 08-16-2013, 09:28 AM   #2
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Dayum! That's some work.

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Old 08-16-2013, 09:35 AM   #3
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Dayum! That's some work.
A best friend to help with the work, two complete weekends with little to no sleep, 4 long weekdays, and one unhappy woman!
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Old 08-16-2013, 11:49 AM   #4
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Bought the softtop version of your rig 4 weeks ago. Looking at doing some of the same mods as you, just can't do them quite as quickly. Really like the tummy tuck idea. What is your clearance under the door from the bottom of the body to the ground? Looks good!

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Old 08-16-2013, 11:53 AM   #5
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Bought the softtop version of your rig 4 weeks ago. Looking at doing some of the same mods as you, just can't do them quite as quickly. Really like the tummy tuck idea. What is your clearance under the door from the bottom of the body to the ground? Looks good!

I do have a set of rocker guards to install there, but that shouldn't impact the clearance to much. I'll have to measure it when I get home later and get back to you!
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Old 08-18-2013, 01:05 AM   #6
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Bottom of rocker panel to the ground measures 24".
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Old 08-18-2013, 11:19 AM   #7
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Bottom of rocker panel to the ground measures 24".
Thanks! Right now with 35's mine is running right at 25" with a 9/16" gap between the panel and the bottom of the guards. I like your setup, gives me some good ideas for improvements to work towards. Let us know how it performs!
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Old 08-19-2013, 07:24 AM   #8
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Thanks! Right now with 35's mine is running right at 25" with a 9/16" gap between the panel and the bottom of the guards. I like your setup, gives me some good ideas for improvements to work towards. Let us know how it performs!
Will do! I'm tweaking suspension now (i.e. rear pinion angle, bumpstop, track bar, etc.), before taking it in for alignment. I had some binding and handling issues with the crappy sway bar disconnects I had. Turns out, since they weren't adjustable, that there was way to much angle on the front sway bar. I purchased and installed a new JKS adjustable set this weekend, set the sway bar angle to 10 degrees, then loosened and re-tightened all my suspension components. This made a huge difference in the ride. I'm still not completely happy with it, but a Currie or MC lift kit is planned for the future. Since the BDS kit was a freebie from a buddy, it will work for now and I won't complain.

Items still needing completion before a test trail run are:
- air lockers wired up
- wider flares installed
- rocker guards installed

As they all are....it's still a work in progress!
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Old 08-21-2013, 09:17 PM   #9
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right,I'll have to measure it when I get home later and get back to you!thanks
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Old 04-30-2014, 06:08 AM   #10
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Been a while since I updated this, so I thought I would be a little more comprehensive in what I've done, so here goes:

Since bringing the LJ home early last summer, here is the breakdown:

1. For the powertrain, I did the following:
- replaced the timing and ignition components
- replaced most gaskets/seals (rear main, oil pan, timing cover and front seal, valve cover, etc.)
- replaced the oil pump (checked main and rod bearings)
- rebuilt the transfercase
- added a JB Conversions SYE
- replaced the automatic transmission filter, installed a Mopar transmission cooler, and flushed and replaced the fluid
- both rears were replaced with Rubicon dana 44's and all bearings and seals replaced
- upgraded 5 on 5.5 bolt pattern alloy axles were included for front (Dutchman) and rear (Superior)
- Reid knuckles
- Warn lock out hubs
- new Tom Woods driveshafts added front and rear


Ingition, cooling system, gaskets, seals, etc.


Transfercase rebuild & JB Conversions SYE


Tom Woods rear driveshaft


Tom Woods front driveshaft


Dana 44 front and rear install....with front Reid knuckles, Warn lockout hubs, and Currie HD steering
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Old 04-30-2014, 06:23 AM   #11
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Suspension, tires, and armor
- because I had these components already, I installed a BDS lift (with complete adjustable control arms and adjustable front track bar) and Bilstein 5100 shocks
- installed JKS sway bar disconnects
- installed a Currie HD tie rod and drag link steering system
- cleaned painted and installed solid diff covers (front and rear)
- installed a 1" body lift and MML
- installed UCF tummy tuck and engine skids
- cleaned, painted, and installed Skid Row radiator guard
- cleaned, painted, and installed Kilby steering box skid
- cleaned, painted, and installed Nates front and rear (with tire carrier) bumpers
- installed 6" fender flares
- added 35x12.50/17 Duratrac tires on steel wheels (looking to upgrade to aluminum in the future, but these were dirt cheap to start with)


BDS suspension



UCF Tummy Tuck Skids


Skid Row radiator Guard


Kilby Steering Box Skid
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Old 04-30-2014, 06:42 AM   #12
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Safety
- added a 9Klb Superwinch
- added synthetic line
- added a Hi-Lift jack
- installed Hella Fog and Driving lights
- added a fire extinguisher inside
- added an assortment of straps and shackles for extraction purposes






After - With Duratrac Tires, Nates Bumpers, and extended flares
Rear Bumper, tire carrier, Highlift Jack, and Jerry Can
Hella Lights and Superwinch with synthetic line
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Old 04-30-2014, 09:40 AM   #13
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Added creature comforts
- new Kenwood stereo with Satellite, HD radio, and bluetooth
- new Polk Speakers and a new powered subwoofer
- replaced all the internal lights with LEDs (a patriotic combination of red, white, and blue)


Interior LED Lights and Stereo
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Old 04-30-2014, 09:45 AM   #14
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With all that done it was time to tweak. After the tummy tuck I decided to relocate the locker air pumps under the hood.

I pulled and cleaned the entire bracket, from the drivers side, and painted it. I then mocked up a location and drilled the mounting holes:


Locker Air Pumps Mockup

I then installed the bracket and pumps and wired everything up:


Locker Air Pumps Installed

Once that was complete, I ran the wires inside and cut two (2) holes in the heater control panel and mounted Daystar switches:


Locker Switches Mounted
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Old 04-30-2014, 09:50 AM   #15
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I ran the BDS suspension offroad and discovered the BDS disconnects were not user friendly, so I installed a new set of JKS swaybar disconnects I got from a buddy:


JKS Swaybar Disconnects
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Old 04-30-2014, 10:06 AM   #16
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I then ran the suspension for a couple of months and it got to a point where I couldn't stand it anymore. It hit/binded in multiple places, couldn't handle the additional weight added, and generally rode like crap. Fortunately, I had the suspension already from a previous Jeep, so I wasn't out anything except time. Ultimately, I did learn a lot about the vehicle in the process, and had a good baseline to compare with going forward.

With that behind me, I did extensive research on where to go next with the suspension. After looking at multiple possibilities, including long and short arm, I decided on upgrading to a Metalcloak 3.5" short arm kit.


Front Coil and sway bar disconnect


MC Front Coil and Brakeline


MC Front Control Arms 1


MC Front Control Arms 2


MC Left Rear 1


MC Left Rear 2


MC Right Rear


MC Front Track Bar View


Took it out to play and let the suspension settle



After the install, including setting proper bumpstop, the on and offroad ride was waaaaay better all the way round.
-Reduced overall vibration
-No binding or funny "clunks"
-Smooth riding
-Body roll or "wandering" control significantly improved
-Improved articulation (I do still need shock work here)
-Roughly 2" of additional clearance at the fenders
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Old 04-30-2014, 10:09 AM   #17
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Next steps are to install the Metalcloak Rockers, front and rear fenders, and extended corner guards. The plan is to have this completed by the middle of May.



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Old 05-05-2014, 01:04 PM   #18
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What version of the UCF tummy tuck are you running? Is it the 2" drop or 1" drop? Are you using their lo-pro mount as well? Any rework or modifications to the exhaust system necessary because of it? Thanks for any info!!
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Old 05-07-2014, 07:43 AM   #19
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I have the 2" version and can't use the lo-pro mount, because I have an automatic. I did remove the exhaust and cut out a 2 - 3" piece from the bend directly above the rear axle and then welded the pipe back together. This slightly shortened the exhaust, but eliminated my rubbing.
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Old 05-07-2014, 09:11 AM   #20
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I appreciate the info!!
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Old 05-08-2014, 06:54 AM   #21
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I finally had some time this past weekend to work on a couple of things. The goal for the weekend was the following:

1. install the Metalcloak (MC) front fenders
2. install the Round Eyes headlight upgrade

For the fenders, I decided when I purchased them that I would go with body color, Patriot Blue, instead of taking the black powder coat or paint route. Although I was second guessing that this weekend, in the end they turned out awesome and I'm glad I did. The process to get to the end state was relatively straight forward and went like this:

- remove stock fenders
- prime MC fenders
- paint MC fenders with Nason PBT
- clear-coat MC Fenders Nason clear
- install fenders
- re-mount all accessories

In the case of the install process I'll give huge accolades to Metalcloak. I've installed lots of aftermarket parts over the years and I have no issues saying that this was the best quality and most complete kit I've ever installed. Everything was included, fit exactly as I expected it should, and I didn't have to hack up or drastically modify anything. In fact, all I really had to do was bend one of of the existing brackets (i.e. cruise control) and break off a tab on the washer reservoir bottle. The only issue I did have was that the instructions tell you to have two people to push in on both sides of the hood simultaneously, so it won't rub on the fender rails. I didn't have someone there to help at the time, but did take care of it later. Other than that, it all turned out great. Enough about the words, here are the pictures:


Fender Removal


Fender Cleanup


Prime and Paint Fenders


Install Drivers Side Fender


Install Passenger Side Fender



Full Side View
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Old 05-20-2014, 06:19 AM   #22
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Finished the Metalcloak (MC) install this weekend. Now running MC suspension, extended corner armor, front and rear 6" fenders, and rockers.



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Old 07-07-2014, 02:17 PM   #23
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Had some time recently to install 2" round LED lights in the grill. This was actually a very easy job and only required a 2 1/8" bi-metal holesaw and drill. I used a piece of cardboard to mockup the location and went to work


This is what I installed (from Amazon)


Cardboard mockup


Drilled Hole


Painted, siliconed hole, installed, and wired lights



Finished Product Before and After


3/4 View



Full Front View
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Old 07-07-2014, 02:32 PM   #24
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Great Build!

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