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Old 12-08-2016, 04:44 PM   #1
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Bleu Belle - 95 Jeep YJ Project

Alrighty, here's post #1

About 2 months ago I took a new position with my company. It was about a 20% pay bump, included a company car, and was "work from home" when I wasn't traveling (I'm an Environmental, Health & Safety Manager for those interested in the boring stuff). At the same time, my wife and I have been going through some difficult times and I decided it was time to find my happy place and keep distracted and entertained while we work through our situation.

So despite the hefty salary increase, I decided to sell my 2011 Toyota Tundra Platinum with mid-travel suspension, BFGs, OBA, and a bunch of other goodies. The truck was great, but I didn't "love it". It had tons of power and was like driving a limo down the highway. The MT suspension also meant that 40-50 mph jaunts down the desert were a cake walk. But it was kinda boring. There are tons of Tundras on the road here in AZ and every one kinda blends in with the next. The thing was also a pig off-road and there is something about running a $60,000 truck next to guys at the local 4x4 spots with beat-up Samurai's that get you funny looks (and not in a good way).

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My kids have been asking for a Jeep, specifically a Wrangler, for years. My son's favorite toy is a Willy's Jeep (Army truck play set) that he still plays with after 3 years. After looking for a few weeks, I picked up Belle on 11/25/16 (yup, did my dealing on Thanksgiving and picked her up the next day ). She was a local Jeep and spent most of its life here in sunny, dry AZ. However, she was apparently a Canadian Jeep, as the gauge is in ºC and the warning above the sun visor is in French (hence the most French name I could think of and stand to use, Belle).

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The Jeep came with an unknown 4" lift, worn out Duratrac's on some aged, Varisty Blues style Eagle Alloy wheels, a "Morris 4x4" winch, and chrome Smittybilt bumpers. The important stuff was there - clean frame, 4.0L I6, AX15 5-speed, and no apparent leaks.

There were some things that I knew I'd have to do right away. Belle had a straight pipe with no muffler or cat (not good per ADEQ requirements), about 1" of dried mud (literally) in the back area, a broken ignition switch, a few broken neon lights hanging below the frame, and a rats nest of wires zip tied to various parts of the underdash...

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The turn signal switch also didn't work, the horn was broken, and there was a ton of slop in the Jeep "QD" mount. The first thing I did was rip the steering column out, clean the mud out, clean the bearings, repack with grease, clean the contacts, install a new turn signal lever, put a new ignition switch in, and put in a new Grant 3-spoke steering wheel.

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My kids are crazy about the new ride... Leo couldn't wait to get into the garage and help.

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95' YJ | 4.0L | 5-spd | Unknown 4" lift | Rancho Shocks | 33x12.5" Duratracs | American Racing wheels | Currently undergoing a frame swap!

Planned Mods: 4.5" RC X-Series, 1" body lift, Ford 8.8, LSD w/4.88 gears, 35" BFG KO2s, Skids, bumpers, etc.
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Old 12-08-2016, 04:49 PM   #2
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BTW, not my first Jeep...

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I was able to get a 30-day Temporary Tag. This gave me enough time to get an exhaust and cat installed and emission tested...

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Passed on the first try!!

My daughter reminded me to get some "before" pictures before her and I went to pick out some new wheels and tires...

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Found a nice set of American Racing flat-black wheels with a backspacing that matched the Eagle Alloys (I like the wide look!)

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Taking a quick spin through the desert before picking kids up from school...

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95' YJ | 4.0L | 5-spd | Unknown 4" lift | Rancho Shocks | 33x12.5" Duratracs | American Racing wheels | Currently undergoing a frame swap!

Planned Mods: 4.5" RC X-Series, 1" body lift, Ford 8.8, LSD w/4.88 gears, 35" BFG KO2s, Skids, bumpers, etc.
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Old 12-08-2016, 04:50 PM   #3
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Saving this spot for my "list of mods"...
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95' YJ | 4.0L | 5-spd | Unknown 4" lift | Rancho Shocks | 33x12.5" Duratracs | American Racing wheels | Currently undergoing a frame swap!

Planned Mods: 4.5" RC X-Series, 1" body lift, Ford 8.8, LSD w/4.88 gears, 35" BFG KO2s, Skids, bumpers, etc.
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Old 12-08-2016, 04:51 PM   #4
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Saving this spot for "as she sits"... My forum skills are strong
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95' YJ | 4.0L | 5-spd | Unknown 4" lift | Rancho Shocks | 33x12.5" Duratracs | American Racing wheels | Currently undergoing a frame swap!

Planned Mods: 4.5" RC X-Series, 1" body lift, Ford 8.8, LSD w/4.88 gears, 35" BFG KO2s, Skids, bumpers, etc.
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Old 12-08-2016, 11:55 PM   #5
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Nice YJ. Its prettier than my 1990 - with the top on, mine looks somewhat like a hearse....
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Old 12-09-2016, 12:48 PM   #6
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Where to start....Welcome to the forum....Congrats on the job and the Jeep.....Sorry to hear about the troubles at home. I think that cover it.

Anyway, looks like a nice Jeep to start out with. It is great that the kids are into it. Jeeping is such a great family activity. My kids, although a bit older than yours, love to go to Jeep events with me and spend the weekend camping and wheeling.
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Old 12-12-2016, 03:34 PM   #7
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Picked up a used Dana 30HP from another 95 YJ - cost was $180...

Looks like it has had some work done, although the complete history is unknown. The guy who sold it to me said it looked like the axle had 4.88 gears and I've confirmed this to be true. It also has some beefy diff cover installed...

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Everything seems legit with it and nothing appears broken, beat or bent. My plan is to go SOA this summer once it gets too hot to drive the Jeep (no A/C in this one!). The 4.88's are probably deeper than I would go with the 33" tires I'm running now, but I was thinking of going with the RE 1.5" SOA springs so maybe a set of 35" tires are in the future anyways.

I ordered a set of original Dana/Spicer ball-joints and am ordering a set of new Timken bearings for the axle rebuild. I was planning on going with a set of Warn hubs and blocking off the CAD, but it appears as though they don't make them anymore.
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95' YJ | 4.0L | 5-spd | Unknown 4" lift | Rancho Shocks | 33x12.5" Duratracs | American Racing wheels | Currently undergoing a frame swap!

Planned Mods: 4.5" RC X-Series, 1" body lift, Ford 8.8, LSD w/4.88 gears, 35" BFG KO2s, Skids, bumpers, etc.
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Old 12-14-2016, 10:44 AM   #8
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Your 90 looks nicer than my 92! I believe mine was originally from up north as well, but the nice thing about the desert is the lack of rust once a vehicle does make it here. I'm down in Yuma, what part of AZ are you in?
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Old 12-15-2016, 12:17 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Matt_C View Post
Your 90 looks nicer than my 92! I believe mine was originally from up north as well, but the nice thing about the desert is the lack of rust once a vehicle does make it here. I'm down in Yuma, what part of AZ are you in?
Well it's a 95 so that may help There is some sun fading on the fenders and flares, but I'll fix that after the underside and inside work is done.

I'm in the Phoenix area, Mesa specifically...
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95' YJ | 4.0L | 5-spd | Unknown 4" lift | Rancho Shocks | 33x12.5" Duratracs | American Racing wheels | Currently undergoing a frame swap!

Planned Mods: 4.5" RC X-Series, 1" body lift, Ford 8.8, LSD w/4.88 gears, 35" BFG KO2s, Skids, bumpers, etc.
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Old 12-15-2016, 09:35 AM   #10
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Not sure why I thought you said it was a 90... There are some nice trails over in Mesa. I used to go out there with the ex's Toyota pick-up when I lived in Tempe a few years ago. My YJ has sun fade too, but considering how I off-road, painting it would be futile. I would like to strip mine down one day and use rhino lining or something of the sort to protect the tub, underside and inside. Ideally, it would be nice to be able to hose out the interior and not worry about rust and messing up the electronics.

I'm curious to how those 4.88's work with your 33's. Mine definitely needs new gears
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Old 12-19-2016, 09:21 PM   #11
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Nice looking ride. Then, I am partial to blue jeeps...
Speaking of which it looks to have had a paint job in it's past.

Welcome to the forum and thanks for sharing your build.
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Old 01-11-2017, 11:57 AM   #12
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Some progress has been made...

Inspired by @Tom95YJ success with his X-Series Rough Country lift, I took @Rockridge 4wd up on their sale ad (YJ's Only ! Sorry JK TJ. Rough Country Military Wrap Lift Kits Deals!) and ordered a kit last week. I will say, RockRidge has been great to deal with, fast service, easy to talk to on the phone, and they actually call you back when they say they will. I'd recommend them to anyone so far!

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I picked up the 4.5" RC X-Series for cheaper than I could have from RC and it included free shipping. I don't know how they did it, but I'm happy!

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Since I already sourced a Ford 8.8 31-spline from a ~2000 Exploder, I needed to get a set of perches. After talking to RuffStuff about what I was doing, they recommended their Deaver Long Travel Spring Perch kit.

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After looking at some of the other options, I liked this setup the best as the cradle tucks the u-bolt nuts out of the way a bit and should add some protection/durability.

The D30 I sourced last month is getting a TJ-shaft upgrade. I'm not going to dump too much money into the axle and figured the TJ shafts are probably the most cost effective at this point (it was recently rebuild with 4.88 gears, new Spicer balljoints, and the wheel bearings seem to be in great shape).

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I ordered the Yukon CAD Block-off kit, though still am trying to figure out what seals go where... you'd think that Yukon would get their $hit in gear (figuratively speaking) and at least put a piece of paper in the cardboard backer that says what goes where (I figured out that the large stepped seal goes by the CAD housing, but have no idea where the other 2 go).

Ultimately, I want to run some high fenders, a V8, maybe some Currie Big 9 axles and some 37" tires. That will have to wait until the Jeep no longer needs to pass emissions testing (~2 years) so for now I'll enjoy the current configuration for a few years and hopefully the D30 doesn't cause me too much grief.

Next up...
Cleaning off the '94 frame and putting a fresh coat of epoxy paint on, getting the new suspension hung and new axles underneath. Then I'll be swapping the drivetrain over, while replacing some worn items, such as the cracked split wire loom on nearly every harness and the deteriorated rubber fuel/evap hoses. I'm also going to remove some of the ancillary wire harness connectors under the dash. I swear there are more unused connectors than there are used on this Jeep!!

I'll pull the t-case out and do the SYE/6P/wide-chain upgrade at that time, and also probably replace a few seals that appear to be leaking. I may put in a new clutch while everything is torn apart too. I hate having leaks and/or cardboard in the garage! I can't burn in the rear axle mounts until the SYE is installed and I order my new shaft, so this will have to happen somewhat quickly...

I'll have the tub off for a few weeks too, so I'm going to work on getting the interior completely cleaned out and lined, while first repairing some of the cracks in the floor boards (near the seat bolts). Also, I noticed that the small bracket that the emergency brake bolts to near the dash panel is flopping around. Looks like it broke at the factory weld (looks like a cold weld or just didn't get any penetration at the tub). I need to decide if I'm going to reupholster my factory seats or if I'm going to go with something nicer.

Still deciding on whether or not I want to install the Daystar 1" body lift to help add some room to the 33" tires and maybe squeak in a set of 35" M/T's for tough trail use.

I still am up in the air about the 4.88 gears. I can save some money by keeping the front 4.88 and simply installing a Ford Racing LSD with 4.88 gears. That being said, the Jeep will likely have 33" tires until my V8/Currie plans are able to be acted upon, and I worry they will be too deep for comfortable highway driving (we have lots of highway roads to get to trails here in AZ). If I go with the 35" tires for a while, that would help, but these are brand-new tires and I'd rather not spend another $700 on rubber unless I have to...
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95' YJ | 4.0L | 5-spd | Unknown 4" lift | Rancho Shocks | 33x12.5" Duratracs | American Racing wheels | Currently undergoing a frame swap!

Planned Mods: 4.5" RC X-Series, 1" body lift, Ford 8.8, LSD w/4.88 gears, 35" BFG KO2s, Skids, bumpers, etc.
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Old 01-12-2017, 07:57 AM   #13
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You're going to love the gears and lockers.

We have very similar builds and also almost identical plans for future build so I'm going to drop my two cents here.

I have the same RC lift. After living with it for a year and a half I'm definitely happy with it.
Especially for the price.
I skipped the RC shocks and installed Bilsteins, and I ditched the track bars and sway bar.
The one kvetch about the RC springs I have is that they could be longer.
My shackle angles aren't ideal.
It flexes well off road, full droop and full stuff at all corners, but with the shackles more or less vertical the on road ride suffers.

I agree with leaving the D30 as it is (single piece pass shaft, heavy diff cover, ball joints) until you replace it. It'll be fine with 35's and the stock motor.

The lsd in the 8.8 is great 95% of the time. I've been very happy with it.
If I had to do it again I'd install a detroit or yukon locker.
Your milage may vary.

The two seals in the cad kit that look the same go in the axle tubes from inside the pumpkin. I replaced the pass side seal a little bit ago, tail end of my build thread has pics of how I did it.

I've got 4.56's with 33's and ax-15.
Sweet spot for highway cruising is 2600-2800 rpm, 67-72 mph.
Above that, the wind resistance is heinous and I'm pulling like 8 mpg.
I expect you'd see the same numbers with 35's and 4.88's.
It'll be a beast off road so depending on the frequency with which you wheel and your tolerance for not being the guy doing 5mph above the flow of traffic (learning curve for me) you could be ok.

If you haven't placed the order yet, check out the Barnes Off Road 8.8 perches.

The 1" body lift is something I definitely want in the future.
I've had to drop my gas tank a few times and the BL would make this annoying task a lot easier, plus my 33's can rub the tub in the rear so the extra space would be helpful.
Another plus is it's a good excuse to replace the body mounts which can be a cause of rattles and rough ride.

As for the V8 and 37's, like I said that's my bullseye as well and I'm looking to start this year so I guess it's a race.
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Old 01-13-2017, 08:27 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ROGER B View Post
You're going to love the gears and lockers.

We have very similar builds and also almost identical plans for future build so I'm going to drop my two cents here.

I have the same RC lift. After living with it for a year and a half I'm definitely happy with it.
Especially for the price.
I skipped the RC shocks and installed Bilsteins, and I ditched the track bars and sway bar.
The one kvetch about the RC springs I have is that they could be longer.
My shackle angles aren't ideal.
It flexes well off road, full droop and full stuff at all corners, but with the shackles more or less vertical the on road ride suffers.

I agree with leaving the D30 as it is (single piece pass shaft, heavy diff cover, ball joints) until you replace it. It'll be fine with 35's and the stock motor.

The lsd in the 8.8 is great 95% of the time. I've been very happy with it.
If I had to do it again I'd install a detroit or yukon locker.
Your milage may vary.

The two seals in the cad kit that look the same go in the axle tubes from inside the pumpkin. I replaced the pass side seal a little bit ago, tail end of my build thread has pics of how I did it.

I've got 4.56's with 33's and ax-15.
Sweet spot for highway cruising is 2600-2800 rpm, 67-72 mph.
Above that, the wind resistance is heinous and I'm pulling like 8 mpg.
I expect you'd see the same numbers with 35's and 4.88's.
It'll be a beast off road so depending on the frequency with which you wheel and your tolerance for not being the guy doing 5mph above the flow of traffic (learning curve for me) you could be ok.

If you haven't placed the order yet, check out the Barnes Off Road 8.8 perches.

The 1" body lift is something I definitely want in the future.
I've had to drop my gas tank a few times and the BL would make this annoying task a lot easier, plus my 33's can rub the tub in the rear so the extra space would be helpful.
Another plus is it's a good excuse to replace the body mounts which can be a cause of rattles and rough ride.

As for the V8 and 37's, like I said that's my bullseye as well and I'm looking to start this year so I guess it's a race.
Hey @Roger thanks for the reply!

I'd say we have very similar builds and plans. I'm also from NYC originally (NYC born, Brooklyn raised). Nice to see another city boy who knows how to wheel!

Regarding the rear, I'd like to go locker but having run a locker in the rear with a 5-speed is unnerving a bit. No matter how smooth I am, shifting through a long corner causes some erratic behavior and potentially dangerous on slick roads. I thought about going ARB/E-locker too, but I will have to think about it some. Even if I go 1-tons/Big 9's in the future, a Ford 8.8 setup for SUA with locker here in AZ will go for a premium and I can recoup most of my $$ easily.

For the CAD block off kit, I figured the two similar seals went on the inside near the carrier. The problem is that the red/gold one is 1.130" ID (from my best ability to take a measurement) and the silver/gold is 1.066". I measured each a few times and took the average, but again hard to measure soft rubber ID with hard metal calipers. The TJ shafts are 1.190" (short side) and 1.199" (long side). Just going by the bigger/small guide, the red/gold seal fits nicely on the long-side shaft. However, the silver/gold seal is SUPER tight on the short-side shaft. Almost hard to get over the splines, even with lots of grease and hand pressure. I was thinking silver/gold seal was for a different set of shafts (I have heard that XJ shafts are slightly smaller in diameter). Hopefully someone at Yukon gets back to me so I can wrap this up this weekend...

If you haven't yet been to AZ, the speed limit on every major roadway here is 65. Once you get out of the valley and onto highways or main state routes, the speed limit is 75, meaning traffic all goes 80. I don't need to go 80, but at least cruise comfortably at 75. Using the Randy's RPM calculator, that puts me near 2950 RPM with 33" tires, and 2775 RPM with 35" tires. Looks like the 35" tires may be a requirement at this point!

Since I'm going to have the tub off and everything pulled apart, I figured the 1" BL would just make too much sense NOT to do. The body mounts are super dry and cracked, so might as well get the increased lift and new mounts all at the same time. Even with cut out flares, the 1" isn't going to hurt anything really, so why not!

PS I checked your build page, I'm stealing some of your recommendations (the RR skid and steering parts)!
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95' YJ | 4.0L | 5-spd | Unknown 4" lift | Rancho Shocks | 33x12.5" Duratracs | American Racing wheels | Currently undergoing a frame swap!

Planned Mods: 4.5" RC X-Series, 1" body lift, Ford 8.8, LSD w/4.88 gears, 35" BFG KO2s, Skids, bumpers, etc.
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Old 01-15-2017, 08:38 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by pc1p View Post
Hey @Roger thanks for the reply!

I'd say we have very similar builds and plans. I'm also from NYC originally (NYC born, Brooklyn raised). Nice to see another city boy who knows how to wheel!

Regarding the rear, I'd like to go locker but having run a locker in the rear with a 5-speed is unnerving a bit. No matter how smooth I am, shifting through a long corner causes some erratic behavior and potentially dangerous on slick roads. I thought about going ARB/E-locker too, but I will have to think about it some. Even if I go 1-tons/Big 9's in the future, a Ford 8.8 setup for SUA with locker here in AZ will go for a premium and I can recoup most of my $$ easily.

For the CAD block off kit, I figured the two similar seals went on the inside near the carrier. The problem is that the red/gold one is 1.130" ID (from my best ability to take a measurement) and the silver/gold is 1.066". I measured each a few times and took the average, but again hard to measure soft rubber ID with hard metal calipers. The TJ shafts are 1.190" (short side) and 1.199" (long side). Just going by the bigger/small guide, the red/gold seal fits nicely on the long-side shaft. However, the silver/gold seal is SUPER tight on the short-side shaft. Almost hard to get over the splines, even with lots of grease and hand pressure. I was thinking silver/gold seal was for a different set of shafts (I have heard that XJ shafts are slightly smaller in diameter). Hopefully someone at Yukon gets back to me so I can wrap this up this weekend...

If you haven't yet been to AZ, the speed limit on every major roadway here is 65. Once you get out of the valley and onto highways or main state routes, the speed limit is 75, meaning traffic all goes 80. I don't need to go 80, but at least cruise comfortably at 75. Using the Randy's RPM calculator, that puts me near 2950 RPM with 33" tires, and 2775 RPM with 35" tires. Looks like the 35" tires may be a requirement at this point!

Since I'm going to have the tub off and everything pulled apart, I figured the 1" BL would just make too much sense NOT to do. The body mounts are super dry and cracked, so might as well get the increased lift and new mounts all at the same time. Even with cut out flares, the 1" isn't going to hurt anything really, so why not!

PS I checked your build page, I'm stealing some of your recommendations (the RR skid and steering parts)!
Yeah that's the awesome thing about the rear lsd- it's totally transparent on the road and it's almost magical in slippery conditions.

After wheeling with guys on 35's it's clear that I won't be getting another set of 33's once there are done. Every inch helps in the terrain we wheel in here.

I see what you mean about the ID of the seals. I didn't know the TJ/XJ shafts had varying section diameters, that's the first I've heard of that.
With that in mind I'd be tempted to install the seals, then test fit the shafts with a buddy before re-installing the carrier so you can ease them through the ID of the seals, maybe even leaving the end of the shafts sitting just inside the seals while you button up the pinion to make sure the seals don't get compromised. When I did it I installed the seals, carrier and diff cover, then I had to get my Ray Charles on and fit the shafts through the seals by feel and luck.

Anyway, right now Baby isn't starting so I'm working on just getting her running again.
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Old 02-04-2017, 05:12 PM   #16
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Making some progress, but got some poser shots in the meantime... Welcome to #NoFlexFriday! The combination of horrible and possibly bent springs, with a bent frame means I get almost zero flex. I figured it was worth a few "before" shots before ripping everything apart!
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Got the frame power washed and ready for the work to begin...
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Installed some Energy Suspension Frame bushings 2.2120G in place of the cracked factory ones on this '94 frame (20+ years in the AZ desert will crack some rubber!
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Got the new-to-me D30 all cleaned up and prepped. I was able to get the Yukon CAD removal kit and TJ shafts installed, of course after crushing the inner seal during the first attempt (a 32mm socket works well FYI). I also went with new Spicer joints as a JIC. I ordered a LubeLocker cover seal as well as a new vent hose fitting.
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After the front was wrapped up and bolted up with new Warrior Products front leaf spring skid plates, I moved to the Ford 8.8. Here I'm soaking with some HD degreaser and a heat gun on some stubborn spots before cutting off all the brackets...
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__________________
95' YJ | 4.0L | 5-spd | Unknown 4" lift | Rancho Shocks | 33x12.5" Duratracs | American Racing wheels | Currently undergoing a frame swap!

Planned Mods: 4.5" RC X-Series, 1" body lift, Ford 8.8, LSD w/4.88 gears, 35" BFG KO2s, Skids, bumpers, etc.
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Old 02-06-2017, 04:18 PM   #17
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Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: 7.23754 Meters from the sun
Posts: 158
Matt_C is on a distinguished road
Looks like you will busy for a while! Can't wait to see your project progress

__________________
1992 YJ with 5.0 Ford, M5OD R2 Trans, BW 1356 TC, Ford 8.8 rear axle, sitting on 33 x 12.50 BFG MTs.
Aluminum 3-core rad, Electric fan, 8k winch
-More mods to come-
LSD 8.8, custom dash, front and rear bumpers, extended rear axle, fender mods, etc, etc, etc
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