After wrenching on my YJ for the last couple of years I've finally decided to put some things in writing for my memories sake and to list some things I've done to possibly help other YJ owners. I'll apologize up front about the pictures. I don't take a lot because it's a pain to clean your hands off good enough to reach in your pocket, pull out your phone, take pictures, do more work and repeat. Some less dirty projects I have more pictures of, some I have less or none so bear with me.
It's probably going to take me a few days to put this together or maybe even a couple of weeks depending on how much down time I get, so again, bear with me
I had my first YJ in high school and worked on and drove it for about 4 years. That's when the jeep bug hit me so to speak.
When I turned 21 I decided to buy a house so a couple of my toys had to go so I could afford the down payment. (21 perfect credit, but no real credit history besides one credit card = big down payment)..I no longer used my YJ as a DD, so I sold it (regrettably) as well as my old Harley..
A little over two years ago and a few wild vehicles later, I decided to trade my built Chevy 2500 for a "built" jeep. By then I had been out of the jeep game for about 5 years or so and REALLY wish I had got on here and did more research before deciding to do that. I had a person with a really nice TJ that wanted to trade for my truck and then a person that had what looked like a really nice YJ as well. The 4.0, 5 spd, lift and 4.56 gears and lockers sold me on the YJ unfortunately because I was thinking that would save me some money and trouble down the road..
Boy was I wrong.. The lift consisted of some old springs, lift shackles, tcase drop & a gawdy 3" BL.. And they really abused this thing I realized the more I crawled under it. As I start tearing it down, I find that everything the POs touched was complete shit.. It started out with the 1 speaker overhead working and quickly spiraled out of control..
Anyways.. enough blabbing here's the "awesome" "built" YJ when I got it..Sure it looks great in a cell phone pic and even in person from a distance haha. In this pic, I had already put my PIAA spot beams on the windshield.
Since it ran good and drove pretty good, I started off with some basic needed upgrades. I did white LED under dash lights, and put some LEDs in for the dome light as well, since there was just a gaping whole there.
Removed old under dash lights, spliced LEDs in to factory plugs for easy removal if needed. I picked these up from Amazon for $15.
I decided to do LED flush mount tail lights and since this is a 99% trail only rig, wasn't concerned with the tag light. May eventually put one on, but I doubt it.. I also put little flush mount LEDs in for the reverse lights and just tied them into the factory wires. Got everything for about $30-$40 after shipping. Everybody's seen what it looks like with a round 4" hole cut in it, so here's the final product..
LOOK AT THAT HIDEOUS 3" GAP
back side of the reverse LEDs
After lots of research, I ordered up some new Hella E-Code headlight housings
Reluctantly put HIDs in them (also after reading on here) and pretty much instantly removed them.. Horrible scatter doesn't even begin to describe them. I don't know why so many people on here recommend that combo lol. I knew HIDs wouldn't be good in regular housings anyways but so many people say they work good in the E-Codes. Well THEY DON'T! Anyways I ended up selling the Hellas and am in the process of fabbing up some projector beams in a clear housing. Will update that project later on down the road.
Notice in the bottom pick the lovely bondo I found.. yippee!
Next up was the bumper.. I liked the Smittybilt SRC, but grew tired of how wide it was. Thought about trimming off the end pieces but didn't want to do that then hate it and not be able to sell it. So I just sold it to a buddy with a TJ for $150 and bought the XRC Stinger bumper. Much happier with this bumper. But then I hated how the front fenders looked with such a narrow front end now..
Time to do some trimming!
I removed the front TJ flares and marked off the factory fenders where I was going to cut. For anybody wanting to just trim the factory fenders like I did, I'd suggest removing the 3 bolts that hold it them to the grill. You can then wedge something between the grill and fenders and pull the fenders back a couple of inches so you don't have to completely remove them..
Here's those bolts I was talking about. You can see where I cut straight down to the left side of them. I also installed flush mount LED side markers in the front wheel wells as you can see, so I wouldn't smash them being on the outer fender. Been there, done that with my old YJ.
I noticed the TREs were shot and the drag link was rusted together. Did some research and ended up getting theRugged Ridge HD Tie Rod Link Kit P.N.- 18050.83 and was very pleased with the product. Also got a Teraflex steering stabilizer to replace the POS that was bent and dented..
Look at the TREs compared to factory. Mucho beefy The tubing is also quite an upgrade going from 1/8" wall thickness to 1/4" thick. The OD of the new tubing is 1 1/4" compared to the factory OD of 7/8".
It was time to replace those worn out BFGs with some good new meat. I opted for the Nitto Trail Grapplers (33x12.5x15) and love them. They perform good in rain, snow, mud etc.. No road noise either. When my buddy was un-mounting the old tires he noticed the lip of the steelies was rusted all the way around. Not enough to break the rim or anything but not smooth enough to make a good seal against the new tires. So off to Summit I ran and got their cheapest steelies. 15x8 summit brand for $49 a piece.
New shoes put on but still sporting that ugly BL, shackle lift and tcase drop..
As seen in the bottom pic, I have a steel bumper that used to have a swing out tire carrier on it. The bearings in it were shot so I removed the swing out so I could access the rear of the jeep (it took a LOT of force to get it to swing and not worth the effort).
After wheeling a little to try out the new tires, I noticed the clutch slipping a little when I was trying to climb a little hill. The gears were also slowly starting to grind more and more and had been for a few months.. Was worried it was the synchros but turned out to be way worse.. Not sure how the clutch lasted as long as it did and that it didn't show signs of failure LONG before now. I hadn't done any hard clutch drops or even spun the tires or anything yet..At this point I've had the jeep for 6 months and put MAYBE 200 miles on it total..
So bought a master clutch kit that included pressure plate, clutch disc, throughout bearing, pilot bearing etc..
new kit ready to be installed
and the old.. WTF like I said.. not sure how it didn't act worse but here's what I pulled out..
So after all that, we get the trans and transfer case put back in and I think I'm good to go.. well it was still acting funny and making a clunking noise at higher speeds. So I put it up on 4 jack stands and start spinning the wheels to try to hear it. No luck. So turn the jeep off and start turning them by hand. The noise is coming from the trans. Great.. So we pull the trans and everything again and I start researching how to rebuild it and found some great info on the interwebs. Actually found a short book on rebuilding the AX-15 step by step! Thinking great, rebuild kits are way less expensive then a new trans.. So start the tear down of the AX-15 (luckily before I purchased the rebuild kit) just to see what I was up against. I new I'd see some worn synchros but had no idea what I was in for. Thinking back to when I changed the trans fluid it's clear why it was so "gunky" and not normal consistency or even normal color.. Well the PO had apparently either had the thing rebuilt already or he tried himself and as I mentioned previously anything they touched was shit.. Well this proves my case even more..
It's a little hard to tell from this angle but when they installed the gears, they either put the wrong spacer on or put it on backwards or something. I'm not sure, but the gear wore in to the rail.. It had dug in almost 1/4"
The prices to get what I needed on top of the normal rebuild was going to be way more than I wanted to spend so I got on here and CL and eBay and searched for a couple of months. Finally got an AX-15 from a part out from Tim7.
I decided to do a little tune up since I noticed one of the spark plug wires was deteriorating.. I will say she runs a lot smoother now.
So new plugs, wires, distributor cap, and rotor. Accel TST16 Ignition Tune up Kit is what I ordered from Amazon and also got the MSD blaster coil #8228 at the same time. Saved about $50 going through Amazon rather than Qtec or 4WD etc..
I had to get an adapter plug for the new coil and it's Accel Ignition Coil Adapter # 140021AH for anyone planning on adding MSD or ACCEL coil.
I used an engraver that was passed down from my granddad to my dad to me, to mark the dist cap for future reference. Also went back with a silver sharpie just recently and marked it again to make it a little easier to see when in the jeep.
Now to start neatening up the interior.. I pulled out the radio and found a rats nest of wires.. I pulled out about 3-5 lbs of 16ga wire that was absolutely useless. Rewired the radio nice and neat and reran two speaker wires to the sound bar. You should've seen how they had that rigged up
After I got all that straightened out, I put in a Viper alarm with kill switch and proximity sensor.
I then turned my attention to the little switch panel the PO had mangled.. You can see where I temporarily put a new hole for an extra switch compared to the two made by the PO.. Did they use their teeth to make those holes or what?? Geez..
So I cut out a piece of ABS the same shape and plasti-welded it on the factory piece. (I removed that cut up cover from the little piece)
and new switches installed. Got them from Amazon or ebay.. Got a 10 pack for dirt cheap. I know they're not perfectly aligned but I just eyeballed it.. Still better than before. I have my rock lights, fog lights, spot lights, electric fan, and winch currently on these switches and have a couple extra for future needs.
Time for a brake job.. Any time I hit the brakes hard (remember I rarely have this thing on the road) it would pull to the left and I could tell the brakes were worn. Got the front end torn apart and realized that when the PO did the last brake job, they didn't replace the pass front brake pads! Why you ask?? Because the caliper was seized from mud. So I took the caliper off and squirted some oil in it and worked it loose and cleaned it out. It now functions, so I finished the front brakes. Rotors still looked good so I only did pads up front.
Rear D35 drum rebuild kit about $50 part number from amazon: 4723367MK
Nice new pads
Then on to the rears.. I knew I didn't have an e-brake so didn't really know what to expect when I pulled the drums off..Hmmm... don't think that looks too good haha. I've never seen brakes that were held together with mud/dirt..
new shoe compared to the ones in the drums
1 complete rebuild coming up!
Decided it was time to remove the 3" BL and lift shackles in favor of a Daystar 1" BL and no lift shackles. I stuck with a BL for future tummy tuck plans and Daystar is the way to go. Their kit comes with everything including factory replacement body mounts. $125 from Amazon.. I wanted to get boomerang shackles and found that Crown makes some that aren't an extreme boom shape, but they're not bad. Comes with greasable bolts too.. The kit comes with front and rear shackles, hardware, & new bushings for $50. How could I not..
Amazon part numbers if anyone's interested in either.
Daystar 1" BL: KJ04505BK
Shackle kit: 52040415KHD-2
Body gap before..
and after.. sorry for the quality of these..
So now that everything has been back to working condition, I decided to start on the doors. I wish I had gotten some more before and after picture of this but only have a few.. The doors were off of a 94 that had spice interior and my interior is black. The doors didn't come with pull handles and the handles to open the doors were lacking in the looks and function dept. So I bought some VHT Vinyl/Plastic dye and dug out my plastic prep spray and got to cleaning.. Ordered some pull handles and release handles as well as the window insert pieces. They were worn and I didn't want to dye them.
I degreased the door panels and scrubbed them with soapy water to get any oily residue off from 20 years of arms sitting on them..
The first of about 5 or more light coats on and waiting to dry
I'll have to get a good after picture showing everything back together
I have a wife who luckily knew about my Jeep "disease" (you know..the one where you want to spend more time/money on your jeep than your spouse) since we started dating while I still had my original YJ, and Harley, and monster truck. She's supportive as long as I promise not to bankrupt us lol.. She got me a set of AutoMeter Z-series electric gauges I had been wanting for a while so I quickly sold the inaccurate OEM pieces of junk. Much better In this picture, you can also see where I took a universal power window switch I had laying around and wired it to control my winch. I love that thing, so I included a couple of pics of it.. I again just cut out a piece of ABS and shaped it to what I needed and attached it from the rear side to the factory dash piece.
Ended up replacing my starter as well back when I did the transmission. I noticed the wire was frayed and then when I took it off I realized the PO had stripped the copper stud and had it jammed on there to stay. I ran new 4 ga wire from my alternator to the battery, from the battery to the starter and put new 4 ga grounds from battery to firewall and firewall to block. I cleaned off the paint where the ground mounts to the firewall and put a good bit of dielectrical grease on everything.
Here's the stripped stud on the solenoid
nice shiny new starter
installed with new cables as mentioned before
and a shot of the 4 ga cables and batt terminals. I had all the wires and terminals from my previous stereo install days.
I've also done LED rock lights under the jeep and mounted my HiLift to the hood and added a neoprene cover to it. I've done lots of other things over the last couple of years that I can't remember at the moment but she's getting there. Next week I'm doing new seals in the D30 up front as well as putting on new U-Joints while I have the axle shafts out.
I've also ordered a set of AERO race wheels bead locks that are supposed to be in 2/21. They're orange chrome, so I'm going to paint the entire jeep matte black.
This is a generic pic from their site but like I said, mine will be bead locks..
So during this whole "rebuild" I was also remodeling my entire upstairs at my house since my wife and I found out that we were going to have a baby. She gave birth to a healthy little man on October 19, 2013 so the last few months I haven't been able to get much work done. I plan on doing the 8.8 swap and at that time I'm going to stretch the rear back a couple of inches. I'm going to do chromoly shafts and a locker in that and do chromoly shafts in the D30 as well.. I'm considering going SOA and using stock height leafs and possibly XJ leafs in the rear. Who knows.. I'm tossing around a lot of ideas that change almost daily. I'm probably going with the BTF rear bumper, since I'm planning the stretch and moving the shackle hangers anyways. I'm also thinking of going with the Bestop High Rock rear tire carrier since it's good up to 200 pounds and won't interfere with my tail lights, like the Or-Fab one would have..
So here's how she sits now. Got her out and played in the snow a couple of weeks ago and earlier this week we had an ice storm that I got out in and yesterday it was sunny and 60 degrees so I washed all the salt off her.
Just realized I didn't mention the front lights at all.. I have a set of Rigid Duallys in the flood pattern and a set of knock offs in the spot beam pattern to add to my PIAAs. I'm currently fabbing up some projector housings as mentioned earlier, so those should be done soon and I'll just have to order a set of D2S bulbs for them.
Wow... that is a lot to take in. Congrats on the son. Keep up the good work.
haha yeah a lot more than I was expecting and I know I missed some too.. I would've been better off selling my truck (rather than trading), finding a bone stock YJ and could've used the extra dough to do everything I've done. Oh well.. Live and learn I guess.
And thanks. I couldn't be more proud of my son. He's about to be 4 months old and already looks through quadratec magazines with me and he actually studies everything on the pages and likes the pages with pictures of jeeps on them. I can't wait to build a rig with him one day
Another thing I did was hook up a door pin on the tailgate, so the dome/courtesy lights come on when I open it up.. The jeep has two dummy push ins already, I'm guessing for other options such has hard top jeeps. I got under the rear tub and saw that wires were going to these dummy buttons, so I decided to check them with a multi-meter and figure out where they went. They go to an empty plug just above the fuse panel under the dash, so again, guessing for extra options mine didn't come with. The wire that runs to the front IIRC is tan. So I hooked it up to the door pin and the end of the wire that's under the dash, I just tied in with the oem door pin circuit. Worked perfect If anyone needs me to double check the exact wire color, just let me know and I'll crawl under there and see..
I used a universal door/hood pin that normally comes with Viper remote start systems. I had a few of these laying around from my previous auto accessory/stereo days, so didn't cost me anything. Otherwise, you can order them for about $5-$11 depending on style or where you purchase.
Please ignore the terrible cheap bedliner material the PO put on
Found a front shot of my rock lights after I finished the front half of the jeep. Still determining where I'll mount the rear rock lights and that will determine what kind I use. I currently use two kinds for the front.
For anyone wanting one under the front center of the jeep, I've found that a good place is right in front of the middle/front body mount. There's a hole there and it's already angled forward. I used a stud style LED like the ones I use for my reverse lights with a washer (since the hole was a little big). works great Sorry for the pic quality..