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Old 02-06-2016, 08:40 AM   #1
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Baby

Baby is my '94.
She is a pain in the ass but I love her.


Bought her in may 2015 with 119K miles.
4.0, ax15.

Once I got the tacky light bar off (I lost the pics of when I brought her home but she had a big 80's style light bar with four non-functioning 6" chrome lights) she got a full tune up, fresh tranny and t-case fluid, radiator flush and new thermostat, and a good once over.

The good:

- The interior was great. Clean and intact. Tear in drivers seat but can't feel it.
- The body is in pretty good shape for a northeast jeep.
- Relatively low miles, engine pulls strong, tranny shifts well. No grinding in any gear like these are known for.
- It was the proper vintage and drivetrain. I only wanted a 94 or 95 for the family roll bar and external slave cylinder, and I only wanted the 4.0 and ax15.
- No ABS
- The price was right
- It wasn't red. No offense to the red vehicle owners of the world but it's the one color I can't deal with.


Known issues at the time:

- a small hole in the drivers floor pan (about the size of a pack of smokes)
- the drivers rear shackle area of the frame needed fixing.
- skid plate nutserts on drivers side were shot, PO had welded (yes, welded) a couple pieces of angle to the frame to hold the skid up.
- PO had welded 3/8" thick steel to the front frame for a plow and the plates were interfering with spring movement.

I drove it around for a little bit before starting work.
Ahhh, the good old days when life was simple and the jeep was stock.
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Old 02-06-2016, 10:24 AM   #2
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Anyway, before I could really get started on the lift/swap/build plan/etc, I had to address the weak frame rail in the rear. I put it up on stands, removed the drivers rear tire and started poking around. Curious, I poked around the passenger side too.
Poked too hard I guess, because I punched a hole right through the frame with my knuckle.

Great.
Two Autorust sleeves, in the mail.

Set aside a weekend and started on pulling the fuel tank. For those who have never done it, it's not fun. One piece of advice- if you ever do pull the tank, take the time to remove and reverse your shackle bolts so the bolts go in from the outside and the nuts are on the inside. This way you can remove them without dropping the tank again.

Found a horde of dog food that was kept by a mouse couple on top the tank. They had made their nest just behind the fuel filler opening. I found the mice, deceased, nestled together in their home. As I worked I uncovered the entirety of their domain, ending with their latrine, which was the bottom of the tank on the inside of the skid plate. I don't know how many generations of mice did their business there but the sludge inside the skid was thick and foul. I almost 86ed the skid and ordered a new one on the spot. Unfortunately, I had to man up and clean the thing because funds at the time were being help for other jeep projects.

Ok so tank is out, fuel lines are cleared away, jeep is up high on stands, rear shackles are cut loose from the frame, sleeves have been measured, cut lines have been marked, cut lines double checked, cut lines triple checked, have torch in hand, cut lines checked one more time, time to cut.

I don't have access to a plasma cutter, but I do have access to a torch and I've got many a country mile of linear torch cutting under my belt. I had the rotten frame sections on the ground within 10 minutes.

The Autorust sleeves are made very nicely. They fit like a glove.
I prepped them by cleaning with degreaser then priming the life out of them with a weld through primer. A little clamping, a little knocking around with a mallet and they were in position. Before I started cutting I measured from spring hanger to shackle bushing on both sides. Both sides were exactly the same. Go America!
I knocked the sleeves around until the measurements were good, checked the measurements 5x as per the instructions, tacked them in place, then burned them in.

After the welds cooled I re-primed the life out of them, them sprayed on many coats of black rust inhibiting under body paint.

After scraping what seemed like decades worth of mouse shit off the skid and tank I reinstalled these items, then reinstalled the shackles.

Wheels back on and I stood back to admire my work. Nothing to see really. Sort of a let down.

After driving around for a couple weeks and checking the repairs every time I exited the vehicle I was confident that the repair was sound and I could move on to the next task on the list: NEW EXHAUST SYSTEM.
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Old 02-06-2016, 11:06 AM   #3
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New exhaust

While dropping the gas tank noticed that the tail pipe hanger was pretty shot. So was another hanger further up the line. The heat shields on the cat were toast and the whole thing sounded rather like a refrigerator with the volume turned up. Research and the internet told me that at 120K miles it was a sure bet that my stock exhaust header was cracked.

All this info combined in my head and led to the decision to completely replace the entire exhaust system.

For a header on a 4.0 there are many options. I've read tests and reviews and specs on headers ad nauseam and nothing showed that a $600 header produces any performance or longevity benefits over a $60 header so I relished the justification of the cheap route and ordered up the ebay special. I've since seen them as cheap as $35. When it arrived I was a little concerned with the welds on the inside of the collector but a user o this forum assured me that his spendy Borla header was the exact same way so I stopped caring immediately and set my sights on the rest of the system. (BTW- after pulling the old header I saw it was indeed cracked in two places)

I saw somewhere (probably this forum) that the TJ mid pipe is a viable option for YJ's because it routes forward and around the oil pan instead of under it resulting in slightly better ground clearance and keeps the pipe a little further out of harms way. You can see in the pics below how the TJ pipe sits a few inches closer to the header outlet. I found a cheap 2.5" TJ mid pipe from Summit (I believe) and also ordered a Magnaflow 2.5" in/out High Flow Cat. Supposedly this cat is NYC legal. It's also about half the size of the factory cat.

Oh before I forget, for anyone who might do the TJ midpipe swap-
the YJ's o2 sensor fitting is a different size than what the TJ pipe takes.
The TJ o2 sensor's wire is not long enough to replace the YJ's wire.
I had to splice the TJ fitting onto the YJ wire, it's just long enough, then zip tie the wire away from the hot parts.

Prices for a complete 2.5" cat-back system are just flat ridiculous. If a muffler is $70, I'm not paying $350+ for a muffler and a curvy pipe.

I decided to skip the expensive curvy pipe and shorten up the exhaust system so that it dumps it just aft of the skidplate.

The TJ mid pipe and the tiny cat already shortened things up nicely (see pics below). I purchased a Dynomax Super Turbo 2.5" in/out muffler and mounted it directly to the cat. The resulting system places the muffler directly under the skidplate. A 2.5" turndown from the auto parts store directly on the muffler is perfect to direct spent gasses downward and away from the rear axle and gas tank.

I used one of those exhaust hangers with the tire-rubber connector in front of the skid and at first I used a the same type of hanger just after the skid.

I'll be honest and say that the initial sound of this new arrangement rubbed me a little the wrong way. It's a little bit louder at idle, and decidedly louder at speed, but not obnoxious, certainly not something that would make people stare as I drove by. What was killing me was a drone at around 1500-2000 rpm that shook my brain. It mellowed out a little over the next few weeks but I was positive I was going to have to spring for a custom tailpipe to get the outlet further back. Then one day I noticed the rearmost hanger I had installed ad broken (the rubber connecter ripped in half). I replaced that with a solid hanger rod welder directly to the frame. This helped the drone immensely. I think the muffler and cat have also "broken in" and are sounding a lot mellower as well. All in all it is totally fine now and the annoying drone from 1500-2000 rpm is now noticable at around 1800 rpm but doesn't make you grit your teeth. I've gotten used to it so it's staying.

When it's under power, accelerating on the highway or blasting through mud or sand it sounds awesome. Before I would mostly shift around 2000-2500 rpm just because it sounded horrible beyond that. Now I enjoy winding it out beyond 4000 rpm just because it sounds good. I also feel like the slight flat spot I was noticing in the power band around 2500 rpm is gone, it feels a little stronger there.

So now that I'm driving all over at high speeds, I better fix those crappy front brakes...
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Old 02-06-2016, 11:19 AM   #4
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Brakes

The sound of metal on metal was finally getting old so I swapped in all new front brakes.

For guys just breaking into wrenching, this is a great project because it is quick, easy, and provided a huge return on effort.

The pads on the jeep were completely gone and the calipers were a little sticky. In the pic below of the caliper sitting in the drip pan, the pads are still attached. Or what's left of the pads. Really just the metal backing plate of the pads. The rotors were quite thin and heavily grooved so I opted for all new everything. I just went factory-replacement, no big upgrades.

Like I said, this is easy stuff.
Tires off, caliper off, rotor off.
New rotor on, new calipers and pads in, tires back on.
Bleed the brakes and you're good.
I used the "plastic bottle with clear hose" method to bleed.
Took it for a test drive and damn near chipped a tooth on the steering wheel.
Baby's got some "whoa" now.

The rebuild of the rear drums is conspicuous in it's absence here because even though the rear brakes were shot I knew I'd be fixing that soon with the addition of a new rear axle.......
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Old 02-06-2016, 01:16 PM   #5
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Now the fun stuff

Okay so Baby was now safe to drive and sounded like she meant it.

Time to get her fitted for her big kid shoes.

My ultimate long term plan for baby is to stretch the wheelbase front and rear and run spring over on 37's but that transition won't be starting until around 2018.

For the time being my goal was to lift around 4" total, run 33's, and keep her like that for a few years.

Anyone who has looked into this even a little has seen that there are a zillion ways to do this.

I decided to keep it simple and relatively cheap. I pulled the sway bar and both track bars and junked them.

I cut out the thick plate steel the PO had welded in for his plow so the springs could actually move up and down.

The lift would have to entail new gears, new gears meant if I was going to upgrade the d35 I'd have to do it now, and if I was re-gearing then now would be the time to lock the front.

Oh and remember the welded angle holding up the skid plate? Need to fix that to.

So here was my parts list:

Lift:
- RC 4.5" mil wrap lift kit (sans shocks)
- Bilstein 5100 shocks

Rear axle:
- ECGS prepped Ford 8.8 axle
- Fresh 4.56 gears
- Fresh bearings/seals
- Rebuilt LSD
- all new disc brakes (rotors, calipers, pads)

Front axle:
- Fresh 4.56 gears
- Fresh bearings/seals
- XJ shaft conversion/cad eliminate with larger u-joints
- Spartan locker

Plus:
- Barnes Off Road 2" drop 1/4" steel flat belly skid
- Prothane trans mount
- New torque arm bushings with homemade stud

One more quick little wheeling excursion before all the new parts get here and I tear Baby down for the build.... (plus I found pics of when I brought her home)
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Old 02-06-2016, 01:32 PM   #6
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Spending lots of loot...

My UPS guys name is Sammy. We got to be pretty tight.

While parts were showing up I also ordered new prothan urethane body mounts and shackle bushings, a couple new body mount bolts, new headlights, some other small odds and ends. Picked up a 12 ton bottle jack, found a brand new 33" bfg mud on craigslist for a spare, grabbed some new u-joints, etc.

For tires I went with Dick Cepek Mud Country's. I chose these for a few reasons:
- Great reviews
- Great milage
- I don't see them every time I turn my head. KM2's and MTR-K's are great tires but it's almost like they're giving them away on every street corner.
- The price was excellent

I chose the Spartan locker for the D30 based solely on reviews.

Bilsteins, ditto.
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Old 02-06-2016, 02:48 PM   #7
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Beginning the install...

Once all the parts were in the install commenced.

In my opinion, a bolt in suspension swap like this is another great way for someone new to wrenching on their own vehicle to really get their hands dirty and gain a huge amount of comfort doing their own work. This is a pretty easy process, just undoing and re-doing fasteners. The hardest part is dealing with obstinate, rusty bolts. Dealing with these builds character and breeds strong problem solving skills.

First the front suspension.

Jeep on stands, remove the tires.

Cut the sway bar and track bar loose, carelessly toss aside.

Disconnect the tabs that hold the hard brake lines in place, pull some slack out.

Loosen the axle u-bolts

From here it's one side at a time.

Take the weight of the axle with a jack, remove the leaf spring, shackle, and shackle bushing.
I had to cut the frame mount bolts.

Grease up the new bolts and bushings, install the new spring and shackle. Hand tighten these for now.

Lower the axle onto the new spring, repeat on the other side.

Locate the pins on the springs on the holes in the perches, install new ubolts. Hand tighten these for now.

Mount tires, lower vehicle onto tires, stand back and take a gander.

Torque the u-bolts to spec.

Torque spring and shackle bolts to the specs set forth in the instructions, which are super high.

Or, do what I did: torque them to around 100 ft/lbs, then back them off and re-torque to around 40 ft/lbs. They will flex a hundred times better. Keep an eye on the torque for a few days of driving.

Install the brake line relocation tabs. I didn't use the ones that came with the RC kit. I just made a tab and screwed it into the frame rail. It gives plenty of slack for the suspension to cycle.


Now the rear.

It's pretty much the same as the front.

Well, unless you are swapping out your rear axle at the same time.

Basically:

Jeep on stands but keep the tires on. (it helps to just roll the axle away once it's freed up)

Disconnect driveshaft from pinion. Tie it up out of the way.

Disconnect brake lines, e-brake cables, vacuum line, u-bolts.

Take weight of axle with jack. Remove springs/shackles/old bushings on both sides.

Lower axle onto tires, rolls out of the way.

Position new axle (I used a pallet jack, but a couple furniture dollies would work too), jack it up and get it onto stands.

Grease up the new bolts and bushings, install springs to frame mounts.

One side at a time, install springs/shackles to rear of frame.

Position the axle so the pins on the springs are located in the holes in the perches and snug the u bolts. This axle came from ECGS with the perches welded at the proper angle for my 4.5" lift so I had to remove the shims that came with the springs. Make certain the pinion angle is correct before driving anywhere.

Re-install brake lines, e-brake cables, vent line.

Put the jeep back on the ground, torque bolts as you prefer.

Almost done, just have to drop the T-case.
I'll be getting an SYE at some point before this summer but when I installed the lift it was with the knowledge that it would be a while before that happened.

As I mentioned, I had a nutsert issue.

After removing the skid i realized the issue was a little more involved that just the nutserts.

On the drivers side the nutserts were shot and there was a small crack.

Pas side, only one bolt remained, the others must have fallen pout quite recently.

I pulled the skid plate and junked it. Then cut away the bottom of the frame rails on both sides, and about 2" up from the bottom.

I made my own set of frame sleeves from some 11ga steel plate I had sitting around. For the new bottom plate I welded nuts on for the skid plate bolts, then tacked the bottom plates on. I made up the side plates, scribed around the body mounts, positioned them, tacked them in place, and burned them in.

Then I installed that T-case drop tubes that came with the lift and spent a fun evening on my own wrestling with the new Barnes Off Road Skid plate.

The Barnes plate is awesome- it's 1/4" steel and totally flat. It comes with no trans mount holes. The though process is that you can use this skid with any trans you want, you just make your own holes. This means mounting the skid loose, marking hole locations, removing the skid, drilling holes, fitting the skid a second time and hopefully your holes line up.

This process can be tricky when performed solo at night with no chassis lift.

I would basically lay down next to the jeep, pull the skid plate onto my chest (did I mention this thing is 1/4" thick?), then squirm under the jeep, press it up into place, hold it in position with my knee, elbow and face, and try to make a bolt. Chances are, if there is one single welded nut that has the tiniest little bit of spatter on the threads this is the one your fumbling bolt making hand will go to first.

If anyone out there ever tries to copy this method I can tell you that you will not look cool doing it.

Anyway, skid plate sorted, trans mount and torque arm fasteners set, it's time to re-connect the driveshaft and take some pics of the new vehicle.
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Old 02-06-2016, 03:53 PM   #8
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Front Regear and Locker

I don't have the tool set or skill set right now to handle setting up the gears so I took baby to a local drivetrain shop to do the regear and install the locker. I could have had them install the XJ shafts and new u-joints at the same time but I decided to do that myself because I want to be familiar with that process in case it ever need to happen on the trail.

I adhered to ECGS's break in recommendations for the new gears.
After 500 miles of light use and ample cool downs I Swapped out the fluid for fresh and took baby off road to see what she could do.

I was not disappointed.

With the gears, rear lsd, front locker, and fresh meats she was a whole new machine. I didn't have an appreciation of the term "crawl ratio" before this.
The 4.56's and 33's really bite! This combo is so fun, I'm so glad I went through with it.

Of course after a couple wheeling trips issues start to rear their heads...
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Old 02-06-2016, 04:13 PM   #9
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What's broken now???

So I was filling up at the gas station on day and I kept hearing these loud "clicks". I looked and listened and finally realized they were coming from under the rear end so I finished filling the tank and got down to take a look.

Bad news.

The gas tank skidplate assembly was hanging way low, sort of slowly bobbing up and down. A closer look revealed that the crossmember in front of the tank had completely torn free on one side and was barely hanging on by a rust thread on the other. Basically the gas tank was about to fall out of the Jeep.

I secured it with a couple ratchet straps and took it back to "the shop" (my driveway) to see what could be done.

Cue another call to Autorust.

The rear crossmember was toast. Rust had taken most of it and a few bumps and bangs on the rocks had done the rest. I was seriously thinking about welding in a piece of heavy angle or something but it's a bit of a weird shape and the autorust sleeves I used on the rear shackle areas were so perfect I just bit the bullet and ordered the piece.

The good news is that I got to drop the gas tank again. Lucky me.

Also chose to disconnect the brake lines and rear shackles to drop the axle way out of the way.

I cut out most of the old piece with a torch and had to flush up what was left with a grinder. To be clear, this was not fun work. It's tight and cramped and you're on your back and you're getting burned all ver from sparks and hot bits of metal.

I used a bottle jack and a piece of wood to press the new crossmember into place. Make sure to leave enough space for the gas lines to go back above the crossmember. it'll be tight but there needs to be enough play so you can move them back and forth.

Primed, tacked, welded solid, primed again, painted with underbody rust inhibiting black.

Re-install the gas tank assembly and off we go.
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Old 02-06-2016, 05:57 PM   #10
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Where Things Stand Currently

So Baby was whole at this point and we had fun together.
She's my daily driver and there's no stereo so I got to enjoy the quiet time during my commutes (well, as quiet as a lifted jeep on muds with exhaust work can be).

Did some light wheeling on the beach and on some trails on a high spot of land about an hour and change from the city, enjoyed some old dirt roads upstate, just generally enjoying a running jeep.

I had to go to eastern Mass for business and so I made plans to hit the Mabell trail on the way home. I didn't want to hit it too hard obviously, I was a long way from home, but Baby likes to climb and it was hard to keep her under reins. She performed very well, I was proud. That was a lot of fun, looking forward to going back for sure.

There was a trail I saw but didn't try upstate and it had been in the back of my mind.
It was steep with big steps and a pretty good drop to one side if you lost it. I was thinking about tit so much I finally headed up there to give it a shot.

Long story short, I made it up the trail but it took some effort, and I had my heart in my throat a couple times. There was a guy on a mountain bike watching me the whole time. When I got to the top of the climb he looked at me, shook his head, and just said, "that was awesome".

After that wheeling excursion there was a slight clicking sound as I turned the wheel. I looked everything over and didn't see any obvious issues. It got progressively worse pretty fast, over the next three days it turned into big loud clicks so I had my daughter turn the wheel back and forth while I was under the jeep with a flashlight.

Turns out I managed to nearly rip the steering box off the frame.

There was a tear in the frame rail right along the weld where the PO had attached plow bracing. It looks like the weld was way too hot and compromised the strength of the steel.

Needless to say this is nearly catastrophic. I can weld and all but I've already done major surgery on this frame 5 TIMES!

I parked the jeep at my shop and thought long and hard on this one.
Ultimately I know my "future build" will involve extensive frame mods to stretch the wheelbase front and rear.
It will be easiest to to those mods on a stripped down frame.
I am nowhere even close to ready to start that phase of the Baby's life, it's years away.
I certainly do not want to swap frames now only to do it again in a couple years for the big build.

I concluded that I was going to fix this problem and ride out this crazy patchwork frame until it was time for the big build. I've got Autorust on speed dial by now. Just Empty Every Pocket, right?

So I ordered up some parts and mentally committed to the next series of the build.

- Autorust front driver's side shackle mount/ steering box replacement frame rail. This is a big fix but I'm going for it. I will probably make a sterring box brace while I'm at it.

- Autorust rear crossmember (mine was compromised from the PO's ridiculous attempt at welding on a receiver, a hard tug from a buddy with a strap sealed it's fate)

- two 72" lengths of 2" x 4" x 3/16" rectangular steel tubing and two weld on shackles for recovery points front and rear. That's right, I'm going to make some bumpers and they are going to be stout. The rear bumper may get a swing out tire carrier at some point, for now I'll just be making a simple "rockcrawler" style tube bumper.

- Solid rear diff cover. I dragged the 8.8 over a rock at MaBell and there is a constant wet spot there now. Plus this thing is just beef.

- I finally got the countersunk bolts to replace the studs on my trans mount and torque arm. I never liked how the Barnes skid if so nice and flat and then there are these three threaded studs hanging down below. With the countersunk bits I will return the flat belly to a true flat belly.

- I will hopefully be getting around to finishing the body mount replacement I started.

- The SYE and new driveshaft will be happening soon.

- The front driveshaft will also be getting replaced.

- I'm also planning on doing some simple mods to the rear cargo area like tie down points and tool/spare part storage.

- I have a set of extended width TJ flares that need to go on. That will happen once she'd back on the road.

- Rocker Protection. I'm going to make this. I have a design in mind that will transition into boat sides in the future.

So that's basically where things stand right now. A lot of work has been done and there is a lot more to go.

I have the front frame piece, the rear c-member, the weld on shackles and the diff cover at the shop currently, I'll get pics of that stuff posted this coming week.

The frame repair is underway, I'll get pics of the progress up here too.
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Old 02-06-2016, 09:29 PM   #11
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Nice build, keep us updated!
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Old 02-08-2016, 12:39 PM   #12
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Heyyyyy, kinda looks like mine and I agree....nice build!!! :-)
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Old 02-09-2016, 09:14 PM   #13
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Sounds like mine in many ways.

Planned on doing a body off frame but didn't really expect to replace 3 corners on the frame plus the cross member in front of the fuel tank and the rear shock frame mounts. Of course in the process also dealt with several broken transfer case skid plate nuts broken loose in the frame and body mount nuts broken loose in the tub. Not to mention tub sheet metal replace/repair to eliminate the extra ventilation.

Now that it is all together an on the road I continue to find things I need to do but that what project vehicles are for.
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Old 02-10-2016, 11:06 AM   #14
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Nice build!
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Old 02-20-2016, 08:45 PM   #15
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Quote:
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Nice build, keep us updated!
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Heyyyyy, kinda looks like mine and I agree....nice build!!! :-)
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Nice build!
Thanks fellas.
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Old 02-20-2016, 08:47 PM   #16
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Sounds like mine in many ways.

Planned on doing a body off frame but didn't really expect to replace 3 corners on the frame plus the cross member in front of the fuel tank and the rear shock frame mounts. Of course in the process also dealt with several broken transfer case skid plate nuts broken loose in the frame and body mount nuts broken loose in the tub. Not to mention tub sheet metal replace/repair to eliminate the extra ventilation.

Now that it is all together an on the road I continue to find things I need to do but that what project vehicles are for.
Yeah those broken body mount bolts are a pain. This will be the last northeast vehicle I buy. I don't mind fixing things, I actually like doing swaps and builds and fabrication but this rust issue is no fun.
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Old 02-20-2016, 09:27 PM   #17
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The weather has not been very supportive of my building/fixing efforts.
First we had temps in the low 20's and below for a while, then we had around 32" of snow, then more low temps in the teens and single digits, and lately a ton of rain.

Frustratingly, the couple times I did have an hour or two to get some work done I was sabotaged by my "friends".
First, I grabbed my bottle jack to lift the axle and it didn't work... come to find out a buddy had borrowed it without asking, unscrewed the pressure plug too much and drained the fluid out of it. He bought a bottle of fluid but he didn't know how to properly fill/bleed the jack so he just left it and 'forgot' to tell me.

Then, a couple days later, I had about two hours of daylight to burn so I got out the torch and prepared to do the cutting of the front frame piece out. Got everything set up, fired up the torch, and cut for about 90 seconds before I ran out of gas. I know I had a full bottle of gas so I started asking around the shop. Sure enough another buddy had borrowed my burning outfit without asking, used all the gas, and 'forgot' to refill the bottle.

Well.
I can do exactly f**kall about the weather but I certainly can crack some heads around the shop and make sure people leave my gear alone.


Anyway, I do have what I need to move forward and it looks like Mother Nature is going to give me a few decent after-work wrenching sessions this week so hopefully I can bang out some work and get this heap back on the road.

I forget if I listed this but the complete list of immediate goals before getting back on the road are:

- Replace drivers and passengers side front frame bits with shackle mounts
(pass side has a small amount of rot on the underside near the bottom bumper bolt)

- Replace rearmost crossmember with new reinforced crossmember w/weld on shackles for rear bumper

- Swap in junkyard xj D30 shafts for CAD eliminate and larger Ujoints

- Upgrade to Solid rear diff cover (awesome)

- Modify the Barnes 4WD flat belly skid to accept new urethane trans mount and torque arm bushings with countersunk hardware

- Replace rubber fuel lines in the rear (this JUST happened)

- Swap in Rugged Ridge gas tank skid

- Replace power steering fluid reservoir (one of the plastic nipples snapped from me looking at it too hard)

The only thing I don't have for this list of work is the new reservoir and the gas tank skid. Coming in March.

I have to say that this Solid diff cover is totally bas ass. This thing is tough looking, heavy, and looks like it could withstand a direct hit from a grenade. I don't know why I didn't just order the 8.8 from ECGS with this cover in the first place. First time I nicked a rock with the flimsy stock cover it started leaking.
The Solid cover is ductile cast iron, which is basically bombproof, and the flange that mates to the housing is probably 5/16" thick. It's a monster.

Her's pics of the parts. I'm psyched on this low profile bumper solution.
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Old 02-20-2016, 09:37 PM   #18
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Here's where the front frame situations is so far. I ran out of gas just as I got started cutting.

You can see my home-made brake line relocation on the far right.

Also take a gander at the giant pieces of 3/8" steel plate the PO welded on to the frame for his plow.

And yeah my parking spot floods at the drop of a hat.
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Old 02-25-2016, 09:25 PM   #19
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Awwwww yeah- the new gas tank skid showed up today....

I chose the Rugged Ridge Gas tank skid for a few reasons:

- It's almost 2x as thick as the factory piece but it's the same design with nicely radii at the front and back edges. This thing is a hair over 3/16" thick and the powder coating is flawless.

- Price. It is a decent bargain for the extra beef you get over stock.

- Someone on here did a write up of their RR skid install and that's what ultimately sold me. Do the holes line up? Will it hold the weight of the vehicle and protect my tank? The answers were yes and yes so I was sold.

I replaced the frame crossmember in front of the gas tank a little while back and I'm replacing the rearmost crossmember soon so this thing will be bolted to new steel fore and aft making it one of the largest expanses of non rusty steel on this heap. Once I get around to the rear c-member I'll get some pics of the install.

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Old 02-25-2016, 09:47 PM   #20
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Came across an hour or so of daylight and mild temps the other day so I managed to get the front driver's frame rail cut out.

The welded nuts that take vertical bolts to hold the steering box bracket in place had broken free so they were just spinning. I had to cut the frame piece off with the bracket in place then cut the nuts off to save the bracket.

I tried to get pics of the inside of the frame rail piece that was removed, the rust was worse than I thought. I knew there was a tear/crack where the steering box was and along the PO's super butch weld but the rust inside was going to sideline me any day regardless. In the third pic you can see there's a crack that runs the length of the cut out frame rail, in the upper corner.

Didn't get pics of the jeep frame as it stands now, it was dark by the time I wrapped up the tools and gear. I'll get pics of the cleanup and prep of the frame and front crossmember as I get it all ready for the new piece to be fit up and welded.




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Old 03-06-2016, 08:26 AM   #21
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Had a few hours to kill and decent weather yesterday so I managed to get a bit done on the heep.

First, I evened out the jeep a bit. Put both sides on jack stands, removed the pass side wheel, and cut the pass side suspension loose. Now the frame was a little more balanced. Then I cleaned up the round tube front crossmember.




Then I removed the cracked PS fluid bottle, removed the two PS hoses and the front axle breather tube. Swung the steering box way out of the way with zip ties, and carefully moved the pass side steel brake line pout of the way and held it in place with zip ties.

By the way- be careful with the hoses into the PS fluid bottle. I moved one too much and cracked the nipple leading to the bottle. Those bottles are hard to find for YJ's, I had to get a used one for over $60.

I had already cut the frame rail away with a torch but I left about 2" of frame more than I needed just in front of the track bar mount. I wanted to do the final cuts with a cut off wheel so I had nice straight cut lines.

Once the round crossmember was cleaned up I could slide the new frame section on and mock up the location of the final cut. I made a template of the passenger side using a measurement from the spring hanger to center of round crossmember, then mocked up the drivers side, made a mark, and made another mark based on the pass side dimensions.

I measured and laid this out about forty times until I was confident I had the cut line in the right place, then I made the cuts about 1/8" off the lines.

Heres the cut location:


I'm a professional woodworker and furniture maker. In woodworking, to get a perfect fit in any joint we do what's called "sneaking up on the fit". Instead of cutting right on the layout lines, I always leave a little material and then remove that material a little at a time until the fit is perfect. The reason is that you can always remove material but you can't put it back. So I left that 1/8" of steel there on purpose and slowly removed it with the grinder until a)- the frame section fit snug and tight, and b)- my dimensions on driver's side matched the passenger side.

The final fit was pretty darn good:

Before the final fit up I scrubbed out the inside of the frame rail with a wire grill brush and vacuumed out as much dust and junk as I could. I sprayed most of a can of Eastwood Heavy Duty Anti-Rust in there, hopefully that does something. The new frame section got a couple coats of Eastwood's self etching weld-through primer on the inside, and a coat on the outside where the welds are going to be. Once it's burned in it'll get a good cleaning and multiple coats of primer and paint.

I'll note here that I did have to cut off most of the track bar bracket.
My track bar was tossed in a dumpster last year so I didn't really care but if I WERE running a track bar this repair would be immensely more difficult. The bracket would have to be cut off in one piece and reused, or cut off and a new bracket made. That inside part of the frame rail is very hard to get to without dismantling the entire front end of the jeep.

By this time the sun was way behind the trees and it was getting cold fast so I wrapped it up.

I'm hoping to get this thing welded this week, get the new pass side axleshaft fitted, and get the Jeep turned around so I can start pulling the rear crossmember for replacement.

Then it's:
- new gas tank skid installed
- fuel hose fitting replaced/fixed
- rear diff cover installed
- trans mount fitted/installed
- torque arm bushing fitted/installed
- Pass side single piece axle shaft/seal/block off plate

Then, I'm going to drive the damn jeep for a while!

It's going to need the same frame repair on the passenger side but it's not serious yet and for now I can keep using the stock bumper with a small strap welded to the underside of the frame rail for strength.
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Old 03-06-2016, 02:37 PM   #22
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Wow that's some serious work! Great job so far, love your build thread.
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Old 03-07-2016, 08:20 PM   #23
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Wow that's some serious work! Great job so far, love your build thread.
Thanks man.
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Old 03-16-2016, 10:05 PM   #24
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I'm averaging about one 2 hour stint every two weeks here!
This week's two hour stint in the driveway saw the welding get completed.

Mostly.





I also got the weld-on d-rings secured to the new rear crossmember/bumper.




The welds around the tubular radiator support, the verticals, and the flat across the top of the new frame piece came out great.

The overhead weld on the bottom of the frame sorta sucked.
Overheads have always been my weakness.
Which is a bummer because that's where a lot of strength lies.

Today I took a grinder under there and ground that overhead weld flush (It looked solid after the grinding) and I cut a piece of 1/8" plate to fit on the underside of the frame spanning the old frame and new section. I'll get that burned in tomorrow (fingers crossed)... it will be a bit of overkill but it will add a ton of strength.

As I learned when I was working on the bridges here in NYC, steel will compress easier than it will stretch. To reinforce a beam or girder that runs a long span that carries weight, we would add plate to the bottom flange and weld it solid. Steel's inherent resistance to stretching would make it harder for the beam to sag than if we added plate at the top flange.
Basically, this little reinforcing plate is going to let me sleep easy. Didn't get pics of it but I'll take some shots as it gets installed.

I also swapped out my front spring mount bolts for the proper grade 8 hardware. I'd been running grade 5 bolts that were way longer than necessary since I installed the lift.

Then I started setting up my new junkyard xj drivers side axle shaft with a new ujoint so I can throw that in before putting the wheels back on.
The c-clips on the long side of the joint just snapped off but the clips on the stub side are totally frozen in there. Soaked them in PB before packing up for the night, hopefully tomorrow they cooperate.

I'm really hoping I can get the plate welded on and the new short front shaft installed tomorrow. Then Friday I can get the steering and suspension back together and actually turn the jeep around to begin on the rear crossmember and gas tank skid install.

And the fuel hose fitting.

And the new rear diff cover/fluid.

And the trans mount/torque arm.

Oh and I decided I'm going to paint all past, current, and future frame repairs a different color than black.
I'm thinking either green or yellow but suggestions are welcome. (Ha! Let's see who's reading this!)

I'm determined to be driving this pile again before the month of March is gone so I'll have to really get on it. Time has been hard to come by lately.
At ~3 hours per day of wrenching time, I figure it'll take me:

- One day to complete the welding, button up the suspension, and re-assemble the steering gear.

- 3 days to do the crossmember swap, gas tank skid swap, and fix the leaky fuel line.

- 1 day to do the diff cover/fluid, trans mount/torque arm, touch up newly painted frame areas.

- 1 day to cover snags, and cutting my stock front bumper down in length.

That's six days, which should be do-able.

Knowing this jeep, no sooner than this scope of work is complete something large and drastic is going to go completely tits-up. We'll see.
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Old 03-24-2016, 09:59 PM   #25
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Progress:
- Got the small stiffener plate welded up to bottom of frame
- Painted new frame repair with several coats of Rustoleum Hammered silver
- Steering box/reservoir/hoses all back together
- Pulled gas tank, fixed fuel leak, painted new rear crossmember, swapped in new body mounts under front of tank
- Got the new gas tank skid and straps ready to rock and roll

Did most of this in the dark, didn't get great pics. I forgot which of the fuel lines was leaking so I cut 1.5" off each one and re-fit them.





Bloopers from tonight's efforts:

- The parts catalogue I was given listed the bolts for the steering box bracket (the ones that go up through the bottom of the frame) as 1/2"-13 x 2.5". I needed two.
Had to order a box of 10. Turns out they are way to long. Really need about 1.75" long.
So I grabbed a die and turned the threads down a bit on two of the bolts. Grade 8 steel is hard. Finally got about an extra 3/4" of thread on the bolts so I didn't have to order new ones and wait till next week. (sorry for the blurry pic)





I'd also ordered new urethane bushings for the front driver's side shackle. The old bushing melted when I cut the frame off. Couldn't order one bushing, had to order 4. They finally arrived, I took one out, sized it up, it's the wrong size. I put it down, turned my back for one minute, came back and it was GONE. Vanished. Spent 40 minutes looking for the damn thing. It literally disappeared. Now I can't return the pack. Have to buy another pack of the proper size. And now I'm going to have paid for EIGHT goddam bushings when I only needed one.

- Anyone who has wrestled the steering box into place in the dark and tried to make the bolts without having disconnected the drag link or steering shaft will probably find it funny to know that did it three times in a row:
1st try I got the 5" bolt and the 5.5" bolt in the wrong holes. It was dark.
2nd try I got the bolts in the right holes but realized I had to hook up the intake and return hoses before the box gets bolted up.
3rd try I got it right.
This sequence involved a fair amount of cursing. That steering box gets to be a heavy little bastard once you've been juggling it for a little while.

Really psyched on the Rugged Ridge gas tank skid. This thing is bomber. About 3x as heavy as the stock POS.



Take a look at the difference in steel thickness.




So once the new bushings get here the front end will be DONE-ZO.

I have the rearmost crossmember mostly off but ran out of daylight, time, and cutoff wheels today. Going to finish pulling it tomorrow and hopefully get the new one fully welded. Then it's smooth sailing:
- re-install gas tank and new skid
- rear diff cover swap
- mark and drill the skidplate for new trans mount/torque arm hardware

This thing has been on jack stands since late December and it's so close to being done I can taste it.... I can't wait to get this pile back on the road.
There may be some victory donuts in the very near future.....
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Old 03-24-2016, 10:18 PM   #26
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Wow that gas tank skid does look nice... makes me rethink the idea of refurbishing mine this summer.

Props! on the work you have done thus far to your Jeep.
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Old 03-25-2016, 07:57 PM   #27
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Wow that gas tank skid does look nice... makes me rethink the idea of refurbishing mine this summer.

Props! on the work you have done thus far to your Jeep.
This skid is ridiculous. It's literally about 4x heavier than stock.
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Old 03-28-2016, 09:14 PM   #28
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Mo' Progress....

Only had a little bit of time but I'm a lot closer to being back on the road now.

Got the whole area under the body and above the gas tank cleaned up nice and got on a bunch of coats of Rustoleum Hammered. Here's a terrible photo:



Got the rear bumper/crossmember cut off and got the new one fit up. It is also covered in many coats of rustoleum hammered. Also a crappy photo:



Got the drivers side axle shaft in (new 760x ujoint!), hub back on, brake assembly back on.

Tomorrow I swap rear diff covers, install the rest of the new body mounts, and get the new gas tank skid and gas tank back in.

I ordered a M.O.R.E. steering box brace and a set of new prothane shackle bushings.
Tracking sez both should be here Weds.
They should go in quickly, then I can get the trans mount bolts sorted.

That reminds me, I have to pick up some power steering fluid...

Theoretically I could be driving this piece home Wednesday night.
If not I can finish up Thursday. Finger's crossed the rain holds off.
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Old 03-28-2016, 11:29 PM   #29
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great work, YJ frames sure like to rust
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Old 03-29-2016, 07:56 PM   #30
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You have great dedication! It is inspirational to see someone tackle those tough dirty jobs. Congrats!

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