I'm starting a new build for this 97 TJ. I currently live in NYC for work, so I have some specific things in mind for this Jeep. It's has to fufill being a occasional work vehicle which includes hauling equipment (film business) with the ability to go long distances on the highway and be helpful for solo self-recovery and survival when I go on adventures.
I am prepping it to be able to go offroad, but mostly for light off-road and tons of sand and whoops on desert dunes. It also has to have a bit of rough-edged elegance for the days I go trolling for girls as a single guy in NYC.
Starting with one beat up 97 TJ! There is tons wrong here - no driveshaft, coolant not flowing, seats are jacked, one is bent to the side, electrical issues galore, no lights in dash, scratches, dings from falling rocks in the mountains, flat spare just to name a few.
Here are the first pics:
Drivers seat - food - coins - tickets - girls hair - dog hair, everything in this bent seat that has messed up my back a bit.
Missing lens covers, tired tires, milk jugs - which you actually need in the city - a jeep bumper is deadly to fiberglass!
Bushwhacker Fender Flares that are mostly in good shape,
Under the hood: one working HID light, brown backed up coolant
Steering wheel covered in Grip cloth tape from work. Disgusting looking I know
I think homeless cats smoking cigarettes were using my jeep at night as a place to party
The short list for first round mods are for this month:
2" or 2.5" lift with new springs
New Tires / 32 or 33
New Rims Black / Or Sandblast and paint sock rims
Fox 2.0 Shocks with res and controller
New spark plugs/wires
new seats / twisted stitch!
underbody lighting systems
audio system/ in dash-linux based mp3 player
OBD computer reader tied to linux box.
two Garmin GPS walkie talkies 530cx (build one in dash!) or SMS/GPS device to track jeep if stolen or lost from it.
LED Lights all lights!
I was thinking of naming her Tess - short for Tesseract, and a ton of other names from Stuntjumper to Ranger, but not quite sure yet. Open to ideas.
Whew - that's a lot to do but I am open to suggestions and I'm checking everyone elses builds out for ideas. Please feel free to let me know what I am doing right or wrong!
I wanted these since I saw them on Hummers overseas. They took the pain and were bright. First Steps on this jeep are cosmetic. I only had one headlight for the last six months on this jeep - and somehow I didn't get a ticket! Maybe it's the ranger sticker on the back and the cops give me a break?
Box day: Trucklites are simple, plug and go - with solidly enclosed element with cooling fins. Just what I needed! I'm hard on headlights - this thing is bulletproof! Go Trucklite!
Removed Chrome Headlight retainers front and back and painted them. I have to do them over - wind blew tons of dust, newspaper bits and hair onto the spray paint before it dried. Still looks better than chrome.
Removed my DeltaTech HID's - while I would buy from DeltaTech again - aftermarket HID's just can't take the pounding and I spend a lot of money buying replacement parts.
Light Mounted up - In the daylight they sparkle like a vampires skin from twilight.
The top half of the light lights up in lo and both halves light up on hi. It gives the jeep a interesting face.
The light hits the road in front of me - but you can't see in this photo but it brightly illuminates a sign way down at the end of the docks. amazing.
Blurry too since I took it driving - but if you want light - trucklite delivers and it draws such low power you could leave it on all night by mistake and still start your jeep up!
I notice that you have a long list of cosmetic upgrades, but have you gone through the mechanicals as well? Is your discolored coolant the result of oil mixing into it? Could be a bad head gasket or worse.
It looks like you have a great project on your hands, but I would check to make sure that it is mechanically sound (if you haven't already) before dumping a ton of cash into it's appearance.
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I got the trucklite headlights from JC Whitney - they aren't cheap! $299 each currently there which means you are paying $600 plus shipping - but they rock.
I was driving on a country road with it last night - I like the pattern - it gives you both sides of the highway or street - it always makes the signs on the highway or street bright without high beams - it lights up directly in front and then it has this amazing long throw set that goes down the road and looks like a diamond so you can see obstacbles way ahead of you like deer or pot holes at night.
Only down side is that people in front of you are gonna curse you out for shining light into their side mirrors and flooding their cabin with white light.
Phase 2 of the build up continues:
I used Raptor from U-Pol to line the tub so it can look great - but mostly not scratch up when I work hauling everything from girls with makeup cases, to dogs, to generators and air compressors and film cameras. $100 - I got the version without the gun!!!! Get the version with the gun!! I lost about $75 getting the wrong kit.
The flatbed of my jeep: pretty messed up! I un-installed the last of the back seat mounting brackets and back seatbelts - i don't rock with a backseat.
I sanded it down with this and by hand with a painters sandpaper brick. I didn't have power in the street, so I did a tie-in to the lamppost for electricity. Hey - I pay high city taxes!
Doing a complete build up on the New York City Street has it challenges. I think someone came by and stole my 1/2 inch wrench! Here is the front cab - it's a mess too. I wrenched out the drivers seat and other floor crap
Morning time! all sanded down and taped off shifters and parking break and plugged holes with painters tape , earplugs and screw anchors. I think Screw Anchors are fastest and best. Lost 2 dollars buying ear plugs.
After washing and vaccuming it again, the only tools I need are the air compressor. spray gun, upol and beer - which is illegal to drink on the street in NYC.
Coat 1/2 is finished! I botched lots of things during the spraying - wrong spray gun - sprayed sloooow. Kit is eaiser - my mistakes make it hard - still - looks better than it did didn't it!
Work Fast! This thing congealed fast into a thick rubber you could make a shoe sole out of. $50 for the clogged spray gun and $50 for two bottles of Upol wasted!
Okay - i got one last bottle out of another gun for one last layer. Looks good to me or does it look like I botched it?
I am pleased with how this came out:
A couple of notes so that you don't shorten your life like i did working with this stuff:
Use a high end facemask, I used a regular mouth covering and it's not enough - the fumes will get you.
Make sure you wear gloves and don't spill it on your hands.
Work fast - before it dries!
Even though i botched the job and lost 2 bottles because of clogged spray guns that involved me riding a girls bike with a basket at high speed down a highway to pep boys to get a new one - it still came out fantastic - and even my 3 thin layers doesn't scratch and looks 100 times better than spray paint - and more like a vampires skin in daylight from the Twilight Series if that makes sense. I plan to spray it again next year and hopefully get it to a thicker consistency like a play mat at a kindergarten!
Other jeep owners near me commented how good it looked and lots of girls stopped to talk and take pictures. That's NY!
I've gone the way of the mighty Twisted Stitch. My Vortex XL seats came - i got them in basic black. These are the most comfortable seats I've ever sat in. I have a couple of notes, and of course I borked the install, but these seats are amazing! Full marks - the reviews don't do the exerpeince of these seats justice. I got them with lumbar support and a heating element.
They came in a box - and they were not that heavy and packed beautifully!
Unpacked - heating wiring, box for stock seat adapter brackets and two beautiful seats
Compared with my old seat - the driver side was disgusting - I probably have to admit i wiped snot on them a couple of times and it rusted so bad it torn right out off the brackets
Mounted adapter to stock seat mount - they only go on one way - so you can't really bork that
First one in! I spent hours trying to find Grade 8 3/8 Bolts to attach seat to adapter - guess what - They were in the box with the brackets! Twisted Stitch rocks! I'm dumb - lost $10 in gas and bolts there!
Sometimes its the little things - look at the detail - its all comfort - all my back pain is gone - feels like im sitting in a massage chair - for real
Alright! Both in! Took it for a ride - all night long - couldnt stop! chair is better than my herman miller aeron at work. I am going to pull them back out to spray down the mounts with anti-rust primer.
From the back. Looking good!
In short - twisted stitch rocks. You can get the seats any color you want - I'm 6'3" and it fits. If you can try it out because maybe I should have gotten it a we bit taller, but it feels good and I can lay my head where it counts in the seat. You may also want to get it wider if you are large - they are narrowish, but a good snug. Best seat on your back - and if you have back pain before - you know you gotta grab this seat. even felt good on speed bump jumps! Not good - amazing!
other thoughts: the ledge on the side of the seat make jumping out of the jeep a bit awkward - you'll either brake this ledge off after time or learn to jump over it or just get out really slow and uncool.
other thoughts still: so my shifter is broken - and I had to fix it offroad and it placed my shifter father right than normal. It knocks right into the seat so currently I can't go in reverse - ever try to parallel park when you have to get out and push it in reverse? Oh well - that's what I will be doing for the next couple of days till i source a new shifter assembly. that's not on twisted stich - that's on me being dumb. Twisted Stitch makes the best seats in the business right now hands down.
Next up? Dash ? Shifter? Lift/Tires/Brakes/Shocks? Driveshaft? MOLLE? Doors? Cage? Not sure - let's see what comes in the mail first - Lift kit still has me stumped for this ride - I still want it to do street duty - and light offroad duty (sand, water, hills - no rocks)
The next step was small - I installed some clear/white lenses. I still don't know if I should have gone with smoke - thinking of smoking them. I got them from quadratec with the bulbs. Set me back like $60 bux.
So i set about taking them out - the side ones have taken a beating from the extended fender flares scrapes with nature and traffic.
easy modification? kinda! cept with 97 i had to shave the side adapters a bit - now they werent staying in - especially since my back shocks were torn up! I lost a lot of bulbs since then - also the clip/connector itself for the sides are a little loose.
Here they are in!
Its nice I think - black, smoke or white, its all better than amber - something about the stock amber - it's time has just passed is all.
okay guys - my overland trip is getting closer, i have a bunch of stuff to post about the Nomad build - its almost finished, I still have a busted driveshaft, which of course will derail the trip - I can't go into 4x4 without a driveshaft!!!!! I also have to replace the belts and the radiator, which is leaking - gonna go 3 row aluminum for the radiator. Im a bonehead and messing up as per usual. cart before the horse and all that - but today I put in the 1500 watt inverter - phase 1 - in a manner of speaking.
Okay, so I deseperately wanted a inverter in the jeep full time with regular AC plugs and a USB port to charge things for a while now and I finally got the first half of it done today. I'll write a more detailed write up later as Im trying to post and then go out and hang out with the chicks!
I wanted it under the dash because its cooler there than in the engine compartment, and its semi-waterproof under the dash when you get rained on or splashed from below. I also could use it for work - lights and chargers, and USB for the phones.
Here is the 1500 watt continuous inverter. it has 3 plugs on it's face and a usb port. The thought is to wire the switch to cut it on to the dash and two plugs and the usb to the dash and the third one to under the hood somewhere in beyond the firewall or to the rear. It also has a LCD readout to let you know how you doing
Next up to start is the blade fuse, I grabbed a 100 amp one, so that it can blow quickly if something goes wrong - i might move up to 150 or 200, but ill run the numbers again and see how well the amp performance in real life scenarios.
Next up was the 4 gauge wire, that should contain the current. I got a red and black one at about 6 feet each. I ran the red/positive into the fuse block and out the otherside.
Next i opened the top to make it easier to rewire the power switch at a later date. I didn't get to do this tonight. Hopefully tomorrow.
Next I pulled out the dash yet again. I pulled the fuses for the air bags. ****. i have to go put them back in!
Okay, shoved it behind the dash, doesn't quite fit. I am choosing to remove the vent extension to the passenger side heating duct. the part that connects to the central duct, i tamped down and screwed into the frame to make it flat for now.
Okay, cut a whole in the rubber grommit in the firewall and threaded it with both 4 gauge wire, bought it inside and wired up the inverter. I
disconnected the battery again at this point.
I used 3m doublesided tape , after cleaning the firewall to stick the fuse box to the firewall.
Next up I closed the dash. It fits! My passenger might not have the best heat anymore, I never use the AC - but now I have power! I have heated seats, so I guess that makes up for it. Looks like a good fit!
you can see the numbers running thru the vent.
Lets try it! Yup! Powers up a fluorescent AC work light perfectly without breaking a sweat.
Oh yeah! Usb port works good too, cell phone is charging! Better I tested with this than the g2 android I am switching to!
So tomorrow I will try to tackle cutting the dash and putting in a USB slot and 2 AC outlet slots and tie the power to the switch. I dont know what the downside yet of modifying the right side air duct is yet. Anyone care to venture a guess? Hopefully i get it done tomorrow - my window for leaving to the west coast is soon! I might have to blow off a date with a hot girl sunday to get this done.
Is or was thier any way to get the lcd screen to the dash? If so would you be able to hook the pipe back up to the vent and get heat out of it again. Also from where its mounted can you acess all the ports or are you putting extensions in? Looks awesome by the way. Nice work. Mine is readily available anytime you want to do this.
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Well phase two of this install i will put this into the dash
the only floating issue is the usb port which is important. I am trying to find an outlet that has usb on it, but not having luck with that. I think there is one. and that one is on the internet only for like 40 bucks. I might just cut a hole and mount the usb extension cord into it.
the could be relocated to the dash, but I dont think I have enough room for that at the moment - and i leave for my trip soon so I dont think that ill have enough time for that before I leave. you could relocate the hole front of the inveter and just mount it under the glove compartment, but then you'd want to cover the inverter top with something so the elements dont get in it.
i am in progress on a trip but i carried my champion 3 row aluminum radiator with me down the cost to Georgia, where I put it in. It took about 1 hour, but not without classic mistakes. my rig had been leaking fluid up and down the east coast, and i apologize for that. i wanted to clean that up before I went off road where animals could wind up ingesting it.
She sure is pretty - I also got a new overflow tank that is stainless steel.
First I drained it. Do it on a level surface - I did not - and of course it came shooting out backwards. I caught it in the bucket fast, but i got some on my hand so of course i shortened my life even more.
Next i removed to hoses. careful - more is going to pour out! mine hoses are in good condition on the rubber, but are ringed with gunk. I am still racing the weather, so I went without changing hoses, and this is bad. I hope to snare some hoses during one of my stops and reflush.
Then i wrenched it out - my 97 had 3 bolts holding the fan shroud and the radiator. One was metric the rest were the king's foot size. The old one fell apart - no wonder it was leaking - there isn't anything left of the thing.
I took the opportunity to primer the fan with high head black primer, which i've done the whole jeep with. now it looks better and not so rusty
okay time to wrench it back in. Here is the final install.
I added new clamps and I ziplined the overflow to bar that is over the engine compartment. I don't know what effect this will have, but I didn't have a place to mount it yet to the side where the stock one goes. It swings, but it doesn't hit anything. Of course i drove off and overheated immediately! I pulled over looking at the redline like wow - what did I do wrong?
Duh - I only put in 1 gallon of 50/50 antifreeze! I cooled off, and limped into autozone and bought another bottle and poured it in. boom! Hit the highway for Alabama from Georgia - and it was cooler than stock! Stock it hovered - even when broken at about a click or two above 210 - now its 3 clicks below 210 always and even cooler at idle.
Nice! Cept I don't know what that overflow is gonna do hanging like that. Any guess how that's gonna mess me up? I better grab a pdf on fluid dynamics and try to figure it out.
I did this mod before I left, but I'm taking a break in the big easy before I push into the southwest, so to complete documenting it all:
So I got a set of raingler nets and grab handles from raingler and a rear carry plate from smittybilt. The raingler nets encompass the back and let me carry big things that make it impossible for it to fall out and they are strogn enough to hold a grown man as a hammock - as the website says - and yes they dont make noise on the highway. I installed them quick and easy and they look good and they don't obstruct the rear view which was my greatest fear. it's a little weird at night, but you get used to it. the rear carry plate on the other hand - has issues that I need to solve and quick before the desert!!!
here it is unboxed - it is heavy as all get out and i got it for 75$ including shipping from amazon.com! most places have it listed for $150. comes with the holding clamps for a gas can and a hi-lift jack.
I commandeered the corner spot and laid out my tools and began my street jeep tech work with a thumbs up from my local police force.n I threw on the nets and instantly my jeep looked cool. Everyone loved it - i knew it would look good, but would they work when it came down to the wire?
Now to the smittybilt plate. To mount it is easy - the base plate mounts to the bolts behind your wheel - so I took off the rear wheel:
I also snarfed two nato cans - 20L for the trip and a metal spout - works great - but I don't like the color and I have seen enough camoflauge and olive drab for the rest of my life. I prepped to paint them black like the jeep!
here is the base plate mounted - I took the time to tighten and fix my lose tail rear light:
Painted up! looking good
After a beer or two later I remembered to take photos! Cans are now black and the plate is fully mounted now. it's held in place by two giant wing-nut type screws. I need to actually give these a mega turn tight - on my ride to the southwest they keep coming lose after hitting big bumps. i'm concerned. If it falls off on the highway - someone could really get hurt. Im gonna ultra twist it with a bar today - but if it comes lose again - this thing shouldnt be used for the highway:
here is the gas can mounted! one problem that they - as far as I can tell - neglect to mention in most literature online about the product - it only works with leaky blitz cans!
Oh nuts - so now I have to along the way - make sure this thing doesnt fall off - doesn't tear my back door off from it's heavy weight and hitting bumps at 70/80mph (on the highway) and I have to figure out to find a shop that will fabricate some mounts for me as I don;t have an on board welder nor do I know how to use one really - although I have melted a few metal things using my jumper cables in a pinch. I hope someone can recommend a shop between Texas, new mexico and arizona that could help me in this regard. I mounted - as I will show in another post the hi lift jack elsewhere. For now the cans are laying empty and flat in the flatbed - at least the raingler nets and handles worked right out the box! Hurray! go Raingler.
underbody lights: these are a set of Tantrum lights from vision-x: 8 LED nearly waterproof pods (oh dips forgot to silicone them!) So i can fix things from underneath if something goes wrong in the dark - and if I have vehicle power!)
I have to throw up the pics from the ipad I think, but here are what the underbody lights look like for desert running, and city show off (single guy looking for a wife! - or running away from possible wife - depends on how you look at it!)
Also, underbody, frame, axle, muffler, control arms - all spray painted with high heat black primer and a touch - and I mean just a touch - of silver spray paint - just enough to give it a little something special if the light hits it just right.
I have some pictures of the install, let's see if I can find them while i am stationary.