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TheTJRod 05-21-2009 02:00 PM

My TJ timeline
I wanted to start a thread to keep a time line of my new Jeep. This being my first Wrangler and still learning things, any advice would be very helpful. Suggestions of parts, warnings of parts I plan to get, and best places to get certain parts.

I purchased my TJ used in Stafford, VA. It is an 2003 6cyl manual, Grey in color and has a Grey soft top. It looks like is has a lift or is it just the bigger tires. Looked around under it but saw nothing that looked like it was added. The doors are scuffed up and even has a little rust on them from some of the deeper scratches. Need to clean them up and finish them, or at least repair the rust spots (suggestions). Also the the letters "Sport" on the driver side is coming off, and I would like to replace it. I want to get side steps, the rugged ridge in textured black. I also would like to get new rocker guards, as the last owner had some then replaced them with smaller ones(I believe they are the Rubicon style ones). Leaving holes and some rust spots. Like the ones from Fabtech, A to Z diamond plate, or another A to Z(my most likely replacement). Also I have no back seat or 3rd brake light.

Bought my first accessories. The tailgate lid and the door lids were scratched up and paint was getting chipped off so I got a full set of entry guards. Also I know I am going to get it dirty so I bought some Quadratec front floor liners, will get the back ones once I get a back seat. Also picked up some neoprene grab handles.

My work involves me taking a 2m/70cm car mounted radio to remotes spots. I am an instructor for the DoD, teaching RF theory, DF theory and geolocating, and various communication gear. I hide and they try to find me, I love my job. It's like playing a high tech hide and seek. Anyway, I bought an antenna mount for the back spare tire area, as the magnetic hood mount won't work on my soft top jeep. Though when I got it yesterday and went to remove my spare tire. I found out that I don't have the lug nut key, or a lift handle for that matter. If I were to get a flat there would be nothing that I could do... except walk. Anyone know how to get a new one? Called the dealer(not an official Jeep dealer) and they couldn't help me, and I am sure a Chrysler dealer would jack up the prices on things like that. Was thinking though from something I read while looking for answers. Places that sell tires should have a large amount of keys and could just replace it with a normal one. Though I like that extra security.

Only took me a few times driving on the highway to work that my want for better speakers and an iPod plug grew. I hate commercials, and really pisses me off if I only hear one song the whole time it takes me to get to work (20min). So I looked and looked and I think I found the best radio. I wanted one with these two key features: iPod controlling port, and bluetooth(it's a manual trany, very helpful). I found the Dual XHD7714, one of the very few cheap receivers that has bluetooth build in, iPod control without buying extra plugs, and a bonus of having HD built in. Most other radios are only "ready" so you have to buy add ons for the special features. I went with a full kicker speaker setup too. Don't have premium sound so I have 4 speakers. The Kicker KS460 and Kicker KS5250. I would have liked the usb plug to be on the back so I could keep the iPod in the glove box, but I have a dremel, a solder station, and extra usb extenders lying around. Will be getting here today from UPS! Hope I make it back on time from the auto yard to get it. The stupid UPS center is 10 miles away through downtown and closes at 6pm.

Called some auto yards in the area, and was told they have a back seat. Heading out to hopefully pick it up later today. It will be a race against time, they close at 5 I get off around 4:30 and aren't open on the weekends. Weird huh.

PS: These are shots with my phone, nice detail I think.

jgano23 05-21-2009 02:04 PM

that is a really great idea. welcome to the forum.

TheTJRod 05-21-2009 02:28 PM

Well, I couldn't stay away from getting side steps. It's a little hard for me to get into it, and I have to face it... my wife is short. Got the RR in textured black, I am finding out that the Quadratec place must be close because no matter what I order I get it in one day. That's all the big spending I can do for a while. Maybe in a few months I will get the neoprene seat covers, a back bumper with hitch, and a front bumper with a winch. Some halogen headlights, fog lights, and two auxiliary lights.

Oh and yesterday I got a power lock and alarm kit off eBay for $50 with free shipping. Hope to get the power window kit some day too.

Twozerofd 05-21-2009 03:46 PM

In response to your jeep being a little higher, looks like the previous owner may have tried to make it look like a Rubicon edition. Those are rubicon moab rims and goodyear mtr's. he may have put in the rubicon springs wich are slightly higher than other TJ springs. are there any switches to indicate lockers? do you know what kind if axles are in it? Welcome to the forum and nice jeep!

TheTJRod 05-22-2009 10:54 AM

I went to the auto yard today and picked up a back seat, it is darker than the rest of the interior but that wont matter when I get neoprene seat covers. Though it does need a vacuum and I should shampoo it too, don't even want to think what could have happened to it with it's other owner(s). When I get home I had a note on my door from UPS. 10 miles and 35 minutes later and the customer center I was told that the delivery truck wasn't going to get back till well after they closed, convenient huh. I opted for them to hold it there till I picked it up. Will do that in a few minutes while on my lunch brake. Will put up pics when I get home of the seat and will probably make a thread for modding a radio with only a front usb plug to have a behind the dash usb plug.

Twozerofd - I don't have any switches. Didn't realize the wheels were for a Rubicon. I doubt that the axles were changed. I picked up the Jeep for just under 9k, 10k with fees, taxes, and paperwork. After taking pictures of the underside I found out that I have Bilstein 5100 shocks. For use with lifts from 2" to 5". Will need to clean them off to read more of the model number to know for sure.

distortedtj 05-22-2009 11:07 AM

Good looking jeep bud and welcome to the forum.

Yep you have wheels and the rocker guard from a Rubicon model TJ. Also the holes in the side of your jeep above the rocker guards are from having larger aftermarket rockers on it. The previous owner probally bought a rubicon and took his/her add ons of of your new jeep and put them on his ....wheels the rocker and so on.

5150's are great shocks. If you take some pic's of the suspension such as the springs control arms and those after market swaybar links you have we can most likely tell you what they are.


TheTJRod 05-22-2009 01:21 PM


Originally Posted by distortedtj (Post 375967)
Good looking jeep bud and welcome to the forum.

Yep you have wheels and the rocker guard from a Rubicon model TJ. Also the holes in the side of your jeep above the rocker guards are from having larger aftermarket rockers on it. The previous owner probally bought a rubicon and took his/her add ons of of your new jeep and put them on his ....wheels the rocker and so on.

5150's are great shocks. If you take some pic's of the suspension such as the springs control arms and those after market swaybar links you have we can most likely tell you what they are.


That makes a lot of sense why I have those Rubi items and holes. I have the 5100's not the 5150's. I have a few pics of the underside, will take better ones when I get home and install the radio.

Shocks label
Shocks label other side
Underside pic

TheTJRod 05-26-2009 10:03 AM

At work and forgot my camera memory card, so I took a pic of the back seat and the radio. I ended up not altering the stereo for two reasons. One being that I would void the warranty doing that, and two that the traces aren't easily identified and I didn't want to spend my three day weekend figuring it out.

TheTJRod 05-26-2009 10:20 AM

Oh and the side steps should be here today, ordered them Friday. Hopefully they show up after I get home from work or I will be picking them up tomorrow at the UPS center... :|

TheTJRod 05-27-2009 08:03 AM

Going to order some LED's for the dash mod, anyone out there know if the climate controls are the same size bulbs as the gauge cluster? #74

TheTJRod 05-29-2009 05:27 PM

Power windows and locks
I got the side steps a few days ago, didn't realize that drilling was required. I have a drill but my wife "packed" when we moved 3 months ago and it seams that it got lost in the move. All I got is a dremel right now, I don't think it can put any holes in the reinforced frame. Gonna wait till I give up looking for it till I get a new drill and install them.

I also got some power locks and power windows, the universal kinds. I had a lot of fun hours installing them into "one" door... :| Might make a write up on how I did it later, when I get them both installed as to keep people from spending hours figuring it out.

My living room is a mess still from all the packaging and all the little parts. Glad my wife is out of town so she won't yell at me :)

Drilling and ingenuity defiantly required

This one wasn't so hard, Oh and sorry, I didn't think to take pics till I put the plastic back on.

I don't have the switches mounted because I didn't really like them that much and wanted to look around before I drill holes in the door cover. When I was done and walked outside I found out it was raining! Put the door back on, then realized that I couldn't roll up the window yet. I had to find some test wires and temperately rigged power to it and thank god they worked because seconds later the sky opened up. I still need to wire the rest of it up, I was delayed because of the rain. Will post pics when I get that done. Oh and for all you wondering, I did get quick disconnects so that I can still easily remove the doors.

Just realized that I didn't make a post on my new sound system install. Just made a write up for it here.

TheTJRod 06-04-2009 12:20 PM

Well I did the dash and HVAC light mod in blue yesterday to match my radio and I am very pleased with the results. Interestingly it looked like the previous owner tried to make the lights blue as they all had the blue plastic covers on the original lights. I can say that I didn't notice a difference in the color with those on, but when I changed out the lights with the LED's there was a definite difference and they were brighter.

Also to try and stop confusion I am going to list all the lights you will need to switch out the Dash and the HVAC for a 2003 YJ, might be different for 2002 and older, most likely the same for 2003 to 2006.

The Dash has 6 lights you can change out. All are #74, I used the tri-power 3 LED lights and I am sure the matrix II's will fit but the tri's are bright enough. 5 lights are for the illumination of the gauges, and one is for the high beams indicator(and if I remember right this one is already blue though I changed it anyway and it sure is bright.). All the other lights in the dash seem to be circuit mounted LED's that take a bit to get to. I grabbed 8 #74's so I have 2 extra if anyone wants some in blue. Also I bought some twist lock bases but did need to use a single one as I was able to reuse all of them.

The HVAC controls have 3 neowedge type B(or T4) lights. They are on the same web page as the #74's in the middle of the page. I got the Super Star ones for 50 cents more though it seems like the cheaper ones will still get the job done right.

I also got some 921 sockets without a light for the foot well lights and a bunch of super bright blue LED's to make my own LED lights for the interior foot wells and overhead lights. Will be finishing the soldering of the LED's to perf boards today and will install them and see how well they work. For the foot wells I am using 4 LEDs in parallel with a 100 ohm resistor, and for the overhead lights I am using 8 LED's in 2 groups of 4 in parallel. The resistor lowered the light output to much for my liking and will try it without the resistor on one light and with the resistor on the other light to see how much of a difference it makes.

TheTJRod 06-04-2009 07:48 PM

I took them to work then forgot them when I finished. I did kinda blow 3 of them connecting only 3 in a series to a battery rated close to the same voltage as a cars voltage, 13.8. I was checking to see if all of them were connected in the correct polarity, I got a bright orange light and then they burned themselves up, in under a second. I only had one extra so now I have to go to Radio Shack to get expensive replacements. I got a pic of one of my foot well lights, made it for under 3 bucks! 55 cents a LED, 25 cents for the light case, and a very small piece of a perf board(4 by 5 holes).

... had a pic, my memory card got corrupted and I lost everything... will post a pic tomorrow.

TheTJRod 02-08-2010 02:54 PM

It has been 5 months since I last updated this but a lot has taken shape since then.

Well to continue where I left off. I finished the interior lights shortly after my last post. Though I think there is to much blue now and might make a new set with bright white some day.

Lest than a month later I made some led light replacements for my tail lights. In the shape of a "T" and a "J". They turned out real well I think.

I also picked up a front and rear bumper. Both Smittybilt from eBay. Also shows the side bars I got welded on.

TheTJRod 02-08-2010 03:03 PM

The stock fog lights weren't long enough to be installed and got the bumper on the same day I left to that event so they aren't on in that pic. Later I spliced in some wire to lengthen them, I can only suggest soldering wires together for high current draw items like lights.

Here is a vid of me going up a rocky incline. They unlimited that went before me got high centered in the middle of it.
EDIT: Did have a video but it got cut short to only 5 seconds somehow... :(

Here is one of my favorite pics of my jeep playing in the Jeep Playground at Gore, VA. For the Big Dogs Summer Slam of '09.

At the end of September 09 I got a high lift jack and fabed a mount for under 10 bucks.

Jeepzcb09 02-08-2010 03:10 PM

love the lights, are those a pain in the ass to install? How much for a set like yours?

TheTJRod 02-08-2010 04:13 PM


Originally Posted by Jeepzcb09 (Post 541305)
love the lights, are those a pain in the ass to install? How much for a set like yours?

Made them myself. Took me a while to get the dim and bright down.

TheTJRod 02-08-2010 05:40 PM

In the middle of December I got a hefty Christmas bonus. And I used all but 200 on my jeep, that 200 went to my wife's shoes so she wouldn't complain.

I ordered Smittybilt tube fenders with 3" flare, Smittybilt rocker guards with step, High Rock tire carrier, ORO license plate light with relocator, 4" LED tail lights, and a full set of 33" tires and wheels. I found a guy locally that was selling 4 near brand new 33x12.5x15 ProComp Xterrain Radials for 600. I picked up a ProComp Mud terrain as a spare and the wheels are 15x8 D window black steel. JK turn lights mounted in grill.

TheTJRod 02-08-2010 05:43 PM

I forgot to mention the Delta Quad Bar headlights, though I had to remove the headlight guard to get them installed properly. Also noticed that I don't have a pic of the rocker guards. Will add that if I can find a picture or when it gets bright outside.

IndyJeepMan 02-08-2010 06:01 PM

Looks good!, set a big ole' winch on the front and you'll be set.

Also, spray some undercoat on the front fender wells atleast. All black will be much better then the different colors. Do multiple coats! If not the first hot bath you give her with a pressure washer, itll come right off.

TheTJRod 02-08-2010 10:26 PM


Originally Posted by IndyJeepMan (Post 541446)
Looks good!, set a big ole' winch on the front and you'll be set.

Also, spray some undercoat on the front fender wells atleast. All black will be much better then the different colors. Do multiple coats! If not the first hot bath you give her with a pressure washer, itll come right off.

Moving to a house next week!! Also one of the first things we are getting is a pressure washer(of course there are others like a kitchen table and washing machine etc.). Was planning on taking it back off and sanding the inner fender down to coat it, thinking of painting the top and or side the same color as the body. Also need to spray undercoat under the rocker guards as there were holes all over it and wasn't protected so there is surface rust on them. That is all for the first day, the second day will be laying down the herculiner.

Also planning on getting a winch or a locker with my tax return.

TheTJRod 02-08-2010 11:11 PM

Oh yea. I also got the JKS quick disconnects and a Rancho steering stabilizer.

TheTJRod 03-17-2010 10:35 AM

Well two weeks ago I changed the rear disk brakes and e brake pads at 64k. Then last weekend I changed the transmission and transfercase fluid to synthetic oils.

TheTJRod 04-06-2010 03:09 PM

Well finally got my steering upgrade done. If you want to follow my two week ordeal here it is.

I also ordered a JKS adjustable track bar. My bushing was bad and I replaced it, my steering improved. The frame side looks real bad to and I do have that lift pushing my axle over so I decided that now is the time to upgrade.

TheTJRod 04-22-2010 12:13 PM

Got my JKS Trackbar in. Sadly you need a 9/16" drill bit. The only ones are like 15 bucks and only fit a 1/2" drill head... I have a 3/8" drill head. Went to work the next day and found out that we have both of those items. Went home and installed it, very straight forward. It took out vibration inmy steering wheel at 35-45 mph. It is my first Johnny Joint but definitely not my last!

Will post a pick later. Oh also got my Teraflex oil pan skid installed. Got a steering box skid plate and steering box brace but they don't seem to fit. They are from Warrior Products. They didn't seem to know that the steering box was replaced on the 03-06 with a Mercedes sourced one.

TheTJRod 07-12-2010 03:36 PM

Man has it been a while since I posted last.

Not much has changed. Though have some maintenance items to do on the Jeep

Got back from my two weeks out of town this past weekend and had some time to fix a leak in my brake system that sprung up out of no where and randomly. Half the day I had brakes, then went to the store in the afternoon and I had very weak brakes with the pedal able to go to the floor. Also at the same time my clutch started to make a loud screeching noise. Through all the research I have done it is most likely the throwout bearing going bad, as it makes the most noise while the clutch pedal is pressed. Though it does sometimes lightly makes a noise while just sitting there not in gear.

The brake leak turned out to be a worn down spot on the front driver side brake line. You could lighly press the brakes and it would be ok, but anymore pressure and it would spew brake fluid into a mist cloud. 18 buck replacement at auto zone fixed it. Already had brake fluid lying around to bleed the brakes some day already. Glad I don't have a big lift that requires custom length brake lines. I am still all proud that I did it myself and probably saved over a hundred dollars.

Also decided to change the bushings on one of my rear control arms. Got it all apart and realized that the stock bushings I bought weren't going to work. Auto zone asked for 80 bucks for a kit for ONE control arm and said screw it, I will order online. Found a kit for both rear lower arms for 40.

While I was down there I noticed a slight leak in my rear diff cover. I was thinking that I wouldn't have time to rip apart my rear axle to replace that axle tube seal I got a long time ago that I would remove the rubber plug and top it off to make sure I didn't burn up the gears. Then it got interesting.

When I first got my Jeep I knew very little. I was told that I had the dana 35 rear axle and just took it as fact. I have been doing alot of research while thinking of an axle swap so now I know how to identify axles. And I defiantly have a dana 44 rear axle. As I first recognized the diff cover shape and bolt pattern and then saw that I have a metal allen bolt fill plug. At least now I don't have to do an axle swap and my very next upgrade will be a locker followed by a tummy tuck and SYE

ElectricVolvo 07-12-2010 03:54 PM

Love the whole timeline idea. Kinda like an evolution of a JeeP. We all have em, but you have a record. Thats great...........well till your wife starts addin up all the lil addons...LOL. Dont hurt so much when ya spread it out over time tho....
Great Job....Nice Ride

JeepFrogger 07-26-2010 08:36 PM

nice to keep a timeline!

Got 4 Lo 07-26-2010 08:58 PM

love the tail lights

GoldTJ 07-26-2010 09:20 PM

awesome Jeep!very interested in how you did all the L.E.D. stuff,especially the taillights!WAY COOL!

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