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TXST8tj 04-29-2010 10:28 AM

TXST8tj's build thread
Hey guys! My name is Patrick. I have been a member of this forum and several others for quite a while. I have been taking a back seat to posting and have just been doing a lot of reading and looking around since I have been Jeepless.

I sold my last TJ about 2 years ago and it has been a long time coming, but I just picked up another TJ. While I really do like the newer JK, I have had two TJs previously, and simply prefer them.

This is the 2001 SE I just picked up this weekend outside of San Antonio, as it was when I got it

It is a basic 4cyl, 5spd no frills Jeep with 87k miles on it. One of the previous owners put a 4" Pro Comp lift on it (coils, shocks, sway bar links, and lower control arms) and 35" Pro Comp MTs with 15x8 Pro Comp black steelies.

There is a lot of cleaning to with random things about the Jeep...soft top, stickers, shock boots, etc.

These are my two previous TJs:



adkjoe 04-29-2010 10:36 AM

Very nice! What gears are you running with a 4cyl. and 35" tires?

TXST8tj 04-29-2010 10:38 AM

It has a Pro Comp 4" short arm lift already installed by a previous owner. It consists of their usual 4" coils, shocks, sway bar links, rear trackbar bracket, and lower control arms. It has 35" Pro Comp MTs on 15x8 Pro Comp black steelies. The tires will get me down the road a little, but are not long for the world.

The Jeep itself is very clean on the inside. Clean dash, clean carpet, clean seats (some cracking but no stains), rollbar padding is not too fadded, etc. The outside is basically clean other than a large assortment of obnoxious stickers/decals. There is no body damage, and as the interior, all parts are present.

Some initial pictures:

The first plan of attack is to get it cleaned up. I need to de-personalize it from the previous owners and bring it back to a respectable appearance.
Out came the hair dryer and stool and I went to town removing the stickers.

I also removed what was left of the soft top. The frame and hardware is in great condition, but the canvas and windows are 100% worthless. You'll notice in the above pictures that the side windows were held in place up top with zipties. The zippers had separated from the actual top portion, so the windows and top came off as one piece.
This Jeep will see 90% topless action because of no A/C, so while I am on an urgent search for a new top, I will not be spending the $500 wanted for a Bestop Sailcloth replace-a-top. I do know it is worth the money and is a superior top, but I can't justify the expense. I would rather spend a little more and get a used hard top.
If I cannot find an OEM black top in great condition for a decent price, I will just get a Pavement Ends top for $300. I have seen them/used them in person and I feel it would suit my limited needs and is worth the asking price.

TXST8tj 04-29-2010 10:41 AM

I removed the doors and the 31" spare tire, carrier, and 3rd brake light.
I am very happy to have the full doors. I have run both hard and half and I definitely prefer the full.

There is a lot of sticker glue residue left. I bought some Goo Gone Extreme last night, but I think it did more smearing than removing. I am going to pick up some of their regular formula today as I have always had good luck with that.

I will be removing the shock boots and the chrome center wheel caps.

It came with a cheap Panasonic radio and 6.5" Pioneers in the soundbar. That's not going to cut it, so I will be swapping that out for my Pioneer h/u and 5.25" Kickers for the dash and soundbar. The 5.25s will be run off of a 4-channel amp. I have a 10" JL sub that will also be installed with amp. It will go behind the backseat for now, but I will be building an in-seat rear seat enclosure in the future.
I have to have decent sound for daily driving.

My co-pilot:

He's only 2.5, but he LOVES Jeeps....and Skittles. He was very excited to go for a ride in it. He did not stop smiling and laughing while riding in it yesterday with the top off.

TXST8tj 04-29-2010 10:42 AM

For this Jeep, I am going for an overall simple, but effective build. I am concentrating on a capable LCG Jeep, but focusing on comfort, driveability, and safety.
The current 4" kit will be removed in favor of a RC 3.25" suspension kit and a 1.25" body lift/1" motor mount setup. It will be tight, but it will be ok for now with the 35s. I will add bumpstops as needed.
I am anxious for the body lift so that I can move on with high clearance skid plates. I plan for a Rokmen gas tank skid and UnderCoverFab high clearance transfercase and engine skids. They both will require the body lift.
I have installed several of the RC 3.25" kit and the ride quality is far superior to the Pro Comp kit; not to mention lower. I have also installed a few OME 2.5" kits and while it is a great ride, it is not worthy of the large cost difference for me.
I will add a full set of adjustable control arms and adjustable trackbars. I plan to swap in the Currie HD steering system and a Currie AntiRock sway bar.

Other armor will come in the form of Rokmen Mercenary sliders, rear corner armor, and steering skid. I favor the Rokmen Mercenary GT front bumper and a Jeeperman rear bumper and tire carrier.

In preperation for larger tires, I will invest in a set of high clearance/hi-line front fenders (trimming the rear as needed), and either trim the stock hood or bend over for an AEV high clearance hood.

Of course a winch and lights will find there way in there somewhere.

For the design, completeness, and price I like the KOZ offroad full cage.

Ultimately, I plan to run a 37" tire with 2.5" of suspension lift and 1.25" body lift. I feel with the right protection, gearing, and traction aids, this will be a very capable Jeep offroad that should hopefully handle well on the road (for the limited miles I actually put on it daily).

While 1-tons, a custom suspension, and 40"+ tires is always a possibility for the future, that is no where near the direction I am interested in taking this Jeep right now. Considering that and a max tire size of 37", I do not think a d60 rear axle would be wise. I understand that a 37" is pushing the limits of a d44, but unless I am completely off base, I figure I would do better with a fully built d44 for that tire size for the sake of ground clearance.
What I am going to pull a pair of d44s out of to built up, I do not know.

The tires are ok for now, but are not too long for the world. My commute is 20 miles a day total, so I'm not expecting to swap them out just yet.
I have a set of 33" BFG MTs on my Suburban (that my wife is now driving) that I think I will move over to the Jeep. We want something more road..and ear..friendly on the Burb, but the BFGs have tons of life left so they are not worth tossing. They require a 16" rim however, so I figure I'll grab a set of 16" black steelies for ~$200 and move those over to the Jeep. I'll keep the 15" steelies for another day when I go back up to a 35"-37" tire, but spending $200 on wheels would beat spending $1000+ on tires right now. Not to mention, 33s would run much better with the stock 4.10 gearing than these 35s do.

TXST8tj 04-29-2010 10:43 AM

Per my wife's request, I had dropped the Jeep off at the local dealership yesterday during lunch for a multi-point inspection.
I need a new gas cap. It is not holding enough pressure which caused the check engine light.
I need a new radiator cap because it is not holding enough pressure.
The top of the radiator is not completely sealed anymore so I need to replace it.
It needs new wiper blades
The front right lower control arm mount had at one time broken from the axle. It was re-welded. They said it looked fine, but wanted to make me aware. I know it is because of those dang Pro Comp lower control arms. I have heard of the same thing happening many time over on other people's TJs.
I talked that issue over with my wife and let her know they need to be swapped for a better adjustable control arm....which is part of the plan anyway.

TXST8tj 04-29-2010 10:44 AM


Originally Posted by adkjoe (Post 611777)
Very nice! What gears are you running with a 4cyl. and 35" tires?

*cough* 4.10s *cough*

:zap::banghead::zap:'s ok for my commute. i don't see it doing well offroad though for any crawling.

KawiTJ 04-29-2010 11:25 AM

if you get a set of tube fenders, they seem like they offer a few more inches of clearance

TXST8tj 04-29-2010 11:28 AM

I'm going to run a set of hi-line/high clearance tube fenders. I like the Rokmen and TNT Customs. They will offer tons of clearance for larger tires with less lift.

Nic of HJP 04-29-2010 04:11 PM

Awesome looking jeep. I also live in the katy area, if your intrested, you could join Houston Jeep People. We have over 200 people joined and always have meet ups. Heres the link.

Houston JeepPeople Meetup (Houston, TX) -

TXST8tj 04-30-2010 08:05 AM

thanks NIC! i just signed up. always interested in local Jeep groups.

TXST8tj 05-03-2010 10:49 AM

I did not get too much done with the Jeep this weekend. I had some other work with my 'on the side job' (lift kit and accessory installs).

I did swap out the headunits. I put my old Pioneer in place of the Panasonic. I can connect 3 amps and it has great audio controls. The Panasonic was highly simple. It will make a good spare though.

I found my original GoGone and went to town on the sticker residue. It worked like a charm. I still have two very small stickers that I still have to peel off and then clean, but it looks about 1000x better already.

I ordered a new soft top. I would've loved to get the Bestop Sailcloth replace-a-top, but that was way more than I wanted to spend. I decided on the Pavement Ends Replay top in black denim with tinted windows.
The Bestop replace-a-top (non-sailcloth) would be better, but it was pushing $500 with shipping where the PE was $350 shipped. If it turns out to be a POS, I will send it back and bend over for the Bestop.
I have no A/C, so the top will hardly be on, but I do need it for rain days and such.
The fabric is the same density as the Bestop, but the windows are about half that of the Bestop. From what I understand, the PE brand is Bestop's 'value line' made to compete with Rugged Ridge, Smittybilt, etc.

Anyone have any experience with a Pavement Ends top?

TXST8tj 05-06-2010 09:27 AM

The new Pavement Ends Replay soft top (black denim w/tinted windows) was sitting on the porch when I got home yesterday. I will be installing it this evening to see what it's made of.
The canvas looks nice. The windows are noticeably thinner than OEM or Bestop plastic, but they don't appear to be too cheesy. We'll see how the fit is once it is on the Jeep. As much as I will use it, I am thinking whatever it is will be OK.

I might have a JKS 1.25" body lift headed my way soon. I can get a GREAT deal on a Rough Country 1.25" body lift kit, but I prefer the JKS pucks as they wrap the body mount bushings creating a cleaner look.
I will likely order the Rough Country 1" motor mount lift as it is very cheap and the same as the JKS BMML. I've installed a couple of each brand, and other than the price and the color of the alum. blocks, they are the same.
I think I will hold off on the install until I get the new suspension lift. I just don't really need over 5" of lift on this thing.

I got a good price for the RC 3.25" kit. I hope to have that ordered in a month or so. I hope to be able to sell the Pro Comp 4" kit (coils, shocks, lower CAs, tcase drop, sway bar links, and rear trackbar bracket) for a decent amount to offset my expense on the new kit.

KawiTJ 05-06-2010 09:42 AM

i have that same 3.25 lift, I like it

TXST8tj 05-06-2010 09:51 AM


Originally Posted by KawiTJ (Post 617570)
i have that same 3.25 lift, I like it

That is good to hear. I have installed several of that kit and all of my customers have been happy with it.
I of course like the OME 2.5" kit, but IMO there is a negligable difference in ride quality between that and the RC kit. And even less of a difference when you get down to the price.

TXST8tj 05-06-2010 09:51 AM

Oh, I will be in the market for a Ford 8.8 or TJ d44 rear axle.
I won't spend any money on the d35 (unless I blow it up on the highway). Between the 35s, 4.10 gearing, and weak nature of the axle itself, I am weary about doing any degree of offroading with the d35. I doubt I would even have any chance in 4lo as it is.
I like the 8.8 for stock strength and ability to build it up as I go.
I like the TJ d44 because it is a stock bolt-in and can be built up.
The 8.8 can be found at a cheaper initial purchase price, but will require more to setup to drop in the Jeep.
I'm open to both. Either axle will require regearing at the least.

TXST8tj 05-06-2010 10:55 PM

Well, I yanked the old canvas off. As a joke, a friend suggested keeping it for a drop cloth when changing oil. It might not even be in good enough shape for that. Keep in mind, that whole top had to come off in one connected piece.
New canvas

The canvas material itself is nice enough. I can't say it is noticeably lower in quality than a standard Bestop canvas, but you can definitely tell a difference in the window plastic though.
Overall, for the $300 price tag, I think it will suit my needs just fine.
There are a couple areas I am not thrilled with, but you get what you pay for. They are just some downfalls with the value line of tops.
A little loose/extra fabric at the center of the windshield and some bunching at the corners.
A fair amount of extra fabric on the lower ends....more on one side than the other!

TXST8tj 05-06-2010 11:14 PM

Some pictures of the front passenger side lower control arm mount.
You can see that the one of the previous owners welded in some plate when reattaching the mount.

check out the track bar bracket.....who is this made by? I've never seen this before.

erickpl 05-07-2010 09:14 AM

Nice lookin' top!

TXST8tj 05-07-2010 11:44 AM

I chopped the front bumper a bit. You will have to bear with me for now with my simple, cheap mods. This just needs a lot of TLC to get it in a respectable form to move forward on.

*edit - I now realize those pics are near worthless.

TXST8tj 05-07-2010 11:45 AM

These are some other "fun" do-dads my Jeep is graced with....
Bolted and welded rear trackbar bracket...luckily only a small amount of weld that can be removed easily enough.

Flat t-case skid bolts. I think they used to be hex or torx head, but appear to be sifficiently rounded out. Those will be a blast to remove when I take out the drop kit.


TXST8tj 05-07-2010 12:42 PM

After a quick search, it appears that the front trackbar bracket is made by Tuff Country. The same bracket may be made by others, but I have found them so far.

Track Bar Brackets Miscellaneous - Jeep 1997-06 Wrangler TJ - Front track bar bracket 4"

erickpl 05-07-2010 04:30 PM

Looks like the finish on my sway bars by Hellwig I have on my Avalanche! :)

TXST8tj 05-07-2010 05:33 PM


Originally Posted by erickpl (Post 618756)
Looks like the finish on my sway bars by Hellwig I have on my Avalanche! :)

Yeap, but not what's left on THIS bracket. It definitely won't stay forever, but I guess it's better than drilling a new hole while I still have the stock track bar.
It definitely is not ideal for wheeling though being as low as it is, but there won't be too much of that while it sits at a 4cyl, 4.10, d35, 35" tires.....

TXST8tj 05-10-2010 09:26 PM

Did some more cleaning on the Jeep today. I removed the red shock boots, painted the front bumper, painted the frame, painted the headlight rings (de-chromed), and painted the fender flares, cleaned the interior and washed and waxed it.

I removed the front chrome wheel caps thinking I was going to sell them off, but they have a little rust so I don't see them worth anything. I think I'll just sand them down and paint them to match the steelies.....or chunk em.

erickpl 05-11-2010 01:15 PM

sand and paint....

I'm painting my backing plates for my CO2 and trail racks. They go on the back this weekend.

Want to come over and wax my TJ too??? :) Looks a Lot better. How bout some interior pics?

TXST8tj 05-12-2010 10:12 AM

That's awesome. I can't wait to see them on the Jeep.
I didn't realize I haven't taken any interior pics yet. I will take some this weekend when I get back from Utah and am working on the stereo install.

I have pretty much decided to go with the OME 2.5" HD kit instead of the Rough Country 2.5" kit. I have installed several of the RC kits and the ride is great. However, there have been an increasing amount of reports of the springs sagging within a short amount of time. With the amount of added weight my TJ will see, sagging springs does not make for a good option.
While the OME kit will run at least double what the RC kit will, I think it will be worth it in the end. Other than the initial expense, I know I will not regret the decision.

I scored a JKS 1.25" BL as partial payment for a lift install I did on a TJ last weekend. My customer ended up not needing the extra lift over the OME 2.5" kit I installed, so I took it off his hands as a partial payment. Works perfectly because it's one thing off the list.
I won't install it until the current 4"-5" kit comes off and the OME kit goes on. I just don't need it any higher than it already is.
In the meantime, I do plan to pick up the 1" MML so that whole package will be ready to go.

mrcarcrazy 05-12-2010 10:53 AM

90 Attachment(s)
Its looking great. That top is definitely a large step up from where it was. Your plan seems pretty good IMO. Looks much better after all the trash(stickers) was removed.

I'm somewhat shocked that thing will move from a stop w/ 35's and the 4 banger.

TXST8tj 05-12-2010 04:53 PM

The new top definitely is a step up. It will be back off as soon as I get home, but it's just nice to know I have it available if needed.

It is a bit of a dog with the 4cyl, 4.10s, and 35s, but it gets the job done for now. My office parking garage is 10 miles from my driveway. So 20 miles a day on straight/flat highway. It could be worse.
When these tires wear out the rest of the way, I have a felling that I will swap in some 33s. I figure by the time the 33s wear out, I will have the next set of axles built and ready to drop in for 37s. No sense in struggling with a new set of 35s when I have plenty of other things to do.

erickpl 05-13-2010 10:26 AM

I'm hoping to get the plates primed and painted (perhaps with the Magnet Paints Chassis Saver Rust inhibiting paint I got with my Monstaliner). I'll be mounting the CO2 and rack HOPEFULLY this weekend.

I'll be sure to shoot ya some pics. :)

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