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Old 02-17-2018, 07:07 PM
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1998 TJ Resto mod to CJ

Hello all. I've been a member of this forum for a while but haven't done much on here so I'm thinking I'm going to start now.

I've had this (insert adjective here) idea for a while now and I'm finally getting around do trying to implement it into reality. I say trying because I've not done anything like this before. I've done a bit of welding and such but my body work skills are on the well below average side.

What I'm looking to do is transform a rusty TJ into an off road capable rig that can still be daily driven. Nothing extreme by any means.

My plan is also to swap a CJ front clip onto the TJ tub. I'm toying with the idea of also installing a CJ dash since the roller frame I'm starting with didn't come with anything inside.

What I have to start with is a very rusty roller tub/frame that will need lots of cutting and welding to make it safe for the road again. The frame is a 1998 Jeep TJ sport that originally had a 4.0L six. I'm unsure what transmission it had but I suspect it was a 3 speed auto because the axles appear to be 3.73 gear ratio.

I am actually planning on using that gear ratio but not with the axles it came with.

I'm planning to rebuild a stock Dana 30 front and eventually equip it with a selectable locker. I know the Dana 30 is not liked by a lot of folks but I ran one in my V8 powered CJ7 for years without problems. I already have one and I have already purchased all new ball joints and tie rod ends. The run out in the differential is good and all the bearings look like new. I'm running with it for now.

I also have a Ford 8.8 inch already set up with brackets ready to bolt in. It has 3.73 gears and limited slip. The disk brakes are a really nice. I used this axle in my current 1997 TJ for about a year. I gave it to my son when I thought I was going to sell my Jeep but I ended up keeping the Jeep so I bought another 8.8 and bracket kit. When my son saw the truss kit I got for it he convinced me to let him have it and he would install the first 8.8 back in my Jeep when I'm ready.

For power I am going with a Chevy LS V8. I have a 5.3 but my son really wants to trade me my 5.3 for his 4.8. I'm probably going to do that and add a China turbo to it. I bought the EFI Live tuner/software and will be learning that as I go as well. I'm guessing right now I'll probably be in the 500 horsepower range when I'm done.

I'm unsure at the moment how I'm going to transfer the power to the axles. I enjoy shifting and have the ax-15 in my current TJ that has not given me any problems. But as I get older I also enjoy ease of use and wouldn't mind an auto. My concern is I don't really want to spend a large amount of money on the transmission and to get an auto to stand up the the horsepower the LS may end up with I will probably have trouble keeping the 4L60E alive. I've read mixed reviews on the AX-15 as well though so I'm open to suggestions. At the moment I'm leaning towards a manual transmission.

It may be a little slow getting off the ground with this but I think it is going to be a worthwhile challenge for me.

I don't have many pictures yet but will be taking them as I progress through this. What are others on here using to host pictures?




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Old 02-18-2018, 07:47 PM
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So to add a little more information I am also going to be running either 33 or 35 inch tires.

I will be running a long arm suspension and using 4 inch lift springs. I have purchased the Rough Country long arm frame brackets and will be incorporating them into my suspension. I am unsure if I will buy the control arms from them or if I will build my own. For the sake of time I am leaning towards getting the rest of the long arm suspension upgrade kit from Rough Country and using my own shocks and springs.

I don't think I will be detailing the engine rebuild here on the forum unless there is a lot of interest in that part of this build. I will mainly just be assembling the parts. I will be bringing the block to the machine shop if I need to bore the cylinders for example. I will probably bring the heads in to have them tested as well. I will be putting in new bearings all the way through and probably a cam suitable for a small amount of boost.

I hope to get some good pictures of the roller frame/tub as they were when I dragged it home. I also want to get some good pictures of how badly the frame is rotted now and some pictures of the repairs I do to it along the way.

I also plan to highlight the body work necessary to get the CJ7 front end to look like it belongs on the TJ tub.

I should also mention I am doing this on as little cash outlay as possible. I will be trying to get this done as cheap as I can but don't plan on cutting costs at the sake of safety.

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Old 02-22-2018, 06:41 AM
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I had some time yesterday to start on the frame. I am going with a long arm suspension so I cut off the factory control arm mounts. I think the frame repair will be easier without those in the way.

Here is what the frame looks like:





I hope to get some shots today of the frame after the control arms were cut off.
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Old 02-22-2018, 06:51 AM   #4
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Lookup jscherb on here, he did an amazing job of making the front of his LJ look like a CJ(his was custom). And there was a thread on JF by a guy named tattooweeney(I think) he did a military inspired build on his TJ. He put a flat dash in his. Might get some good ideas from those two
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Old 02-22-2018, 06:38 PM
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Thanks for the heads up on that.

So I got a little more done today.



I cut back the frame to get to some solid surface I could weld to.

I cut and bevelled a patch.




And then I used a flapper disk to make it all smooth.



I am almost done with the first side of the frame today. I hope to get it wrapped up tomorrow and start on the other side but there is rain in the forecast. Since I'm working outside it will be a fair weather project for now. If it does rain I may start on something in the garage.

I called and got a quote to sandblast the frame but after talking with the guy I realized I have a lot more cutting and welding to do on the frame for motor mounts and such so I will have to wait on getting it sandblasted until I'm further along.

Has anyone had their frame acid dipped for rust removal? I'm not sure where I'd get that done around here or if there are negatives to that approach of dealing with the rust. But sandblasting won't help with all the rust I see inside the frame. I'm not sure how I'll deal with that. Anyone have any suggestions?
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Old 02-23-2018, 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by gixxerphil View Post
Lookup jscherb on here, he did an amazing job of making the front of his LJ look like a CJ(his was custom). And there was a thread on JF by a guy named tattooweeney(I think) he did a military inspired build on his TJ. He put a flat dash in his. Might get some good ideas from those two
Thanks again for the heads up. I had already found jscherb's thread about the CJ front grill/clip. Unfortunately his skills make me look like a toddler in comparison.

I also looked up tatooweeny. His dash isn't quite what I'm going for but it did give me some other ideas as far as paint scheme. I have done a couple M715's already and still have one that needs to be done. Number one and number two over on the m715zone.

I may just militarise the look of this a little but I'm probably going to put a CJ dash in. I'm not sure yet what I'll do for a heater plenum. I'm thinking I may end up putting a CJ cowl and firewall in an making the front of the tub all CJ. I'm anticipating I will be able to use a CJ or YJ soft top that way as long as I use a CJ windshield/frame.

I have already put early CJ7 full doors on my existing TJ so I know that can be done. I also modified a YJ hard top to fit the same. It isn't a great fit but it keeps the rain out (mostly).

I ended up moving the frame into the garage this morning so I didn't have to dodge rain drops. It didn't rain that much but I wasn't taking any chances. I'm not finished patching yet but I'm down to a couple patches on it. I forgot to get pictures as I went but will take some when all the patching is complete.

I work a weekend shift so I won't be getting much done the next few days. I work Sat-Tue four ten hour days. It makes it nice to get a three day weekend every week and be able to get places during "working hours".
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Old 02-24-2018, 07:36 PM
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I got out there after work today and got a couple more patches cut and welded in place. I need to grind the welds down still and apply the flapper disk to smooth them out and I'm ready to move on to engine fitment I think. I will probably be making my own motor mounts and want to get them in place before the frame gets blasted. I'm still trying to find more information about what to do for the inside of the frame to stop/prevent it from rusting again/further. Anyone have any input on that?
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Old 02-25-2018, 05:24 PM   #8
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Sounds like a great project. Good luck!!
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Old 02-25-2018, 06:56 PM
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Thanks.

So today I traded my rusty 1999 XJ Cherokee for a plasma cutter. For what I paid for the Cherokee I don't think I could go wrong. The Cherokee cost me $300 when I got it.

I haven't tested the plasma cutter yet but was assured it works properly. It is a Miller Spectrum 2050. I'm excited to get it hooked up in the garage and start testing it. I'm hoping tomorrow I can have the wiring pieces I need to start using it. It should come in handy for this project.
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Old 02-27-2018, 03:37 PM
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Just in case any of you were not sleeping well worrying about whether my plasma cutter works you can now rest assured it works good.

I have to learn how to use it but am already thinking of some of the things I will be using it for on this project.
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Old 03-01-2018, 06:15 PM
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This is how it looked when it got to my house. I though I'd better include a picture of that.

Didn't get much done today. I'm still learning how to use a plasma cutter.

I got the motor mounts cut off the frame. I also cut the skid plate to fit around the long arm mount.

What are these called:


This is the hole where the the skid plate bolt goes. Where do I get them? My frame needs four new ones. I may come up with an alternative solution but would like to see if I can get replacements first.
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Old 03-02-2018, 06:41 PM
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I spent some time on the Jeep again today. I cobbled up some control arms so I could get the frame back on some axles to make it easier to do a body lift on the frame.

Since I'm trying to put a CJ front clip on this Jeep I am doing a body lift to make it easy to fit the grill. The grill doesn't fit without hitting the steering box. I could have tried modifying the grill but thought the body lift would be easier to do. I'm kind of wishing I'd have known I would need to do that before I started because I would have probably bought shorter lift springs. I bought 4 inch lift springs as it is and with the body lift the tub will end up about six inches higher than stock I think. And with 35" tires probably closer to 8 inches higher.

Anyway here is how I'm doing my body lift. I'm slicing the top of the frame mount off and adding 2.5 inch flat stock to it. Here is what it looks like so far.
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Old 03-02-2018, 08:34 PM   #13
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Looks like a cool project! Very curious to follow this along, way out of my skill range but thats awesome!
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Old 03-03-2018, 06:30 PM
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Looks like a cool project! Very curious to follow this along, way out of my skill range but thats awesome!
Thanks. It may well be out of my skill range too. At least the body work part. I've transplanted engines/transmissions before with good success though.

Today after work I made a run to pick up some CJ parts for trial fitting into the TJ tub. Turns out my wife used to babysit this guy when he was young and his son and my son are friends. What a small world.

Anyway I got a dash and a heater plenum from him. The dash came from a Laredo which is cool. The plenum box has a rust hole through the metal cover plate. He ended up giving it to me gratis.

When I got home I had enough time to slice off another body mount and tack in the flat stock. I hope to get it fully welded tomorrow after work but since it's back outside it will depend on weather.

I also got a few measurements and pictures of the CJ7 cowl to compare to the TJ cowl. It looks like there are a lot of differences between the two. I think to start I will try to modify the TJ cowl and if it turns out looking bad I will move on to plan B which is complete cowl replacement. I hope it doesn't need to come to that.
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Old 03-03-2018, 06:45 PM
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Old 03-04-2018, 07:43 PM
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I have six of the body mounts in place. I'm starting to question whether I want to gusset them or maybe add steel to the top of the frame and tie them in to that.

After reading some other peoples threads that have the V8 swaps I'm wondering if my frame will flex too much with the extra horsepower. With 2.5 inches of body lift will that also then twist the body?

I'm not sure yet how I will get the four rear body mounts fabricated. Actually I have an idea for the rear most mounts but the two on the cross member ahead of the fuel tank don't look easy. I may end up just adding a steel spacer there and using a longer bolt for those two.
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Old 03-07-2018, 08:15 PM
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I didn't get a lot done on the Jeep today but I did get the rear most body mounts raised. I'm only raising 10 of the 11 mounts so I only have 2 left to figure out. I have an idea now and hope to get it implemented tomorrow.

I decided I will be using an AX-15 manual transmission. I found one on craigslist that "has some issues". I picked it up today along with the np231 case. I will be rebuilding the transmission and will also be installing a slip yoke eliminator on the transfer case. I will probably rebuild the transfer case while it is apart as well.

So now I need to figure out how I will join the engine to the transmission. I can get a conversion bell housing or I can get an adapter ring that joins the Chevy engine to the Jeep bell housing. Not sure which way to go yet...

I hope to test fit the body on the frame tomorrow.

I also picked up a few more CJ parts today. I got a tail gate and hinges for a CJ. I will be putting a fiberglass CJ tail gate on the TJ tub. I also got some CJ mirrors and brackets. I have already put CJ mirrors on my existing TJ so I have mirrors when the doors are removed. I know that can be done pretty easily if I do end up using a TJ windshield frame.

And I got a CJ speedometer and speedometer cable.
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Old 03-09-2018, 12:52 PM
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So I stopped for lunch and thought I'd update progress so far.

I am trying to modify the cowl to match th CJ hood line. So I am trying this first:









And the body lift as it is now. I still have to do something for the rear on the cross member ahead of the gas tank but I'm moving on until I come up with a better idea of how I will tackle that. Plus you can see some of the frame patches too.

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Old 03-10-2018, 03:31 PM   #19
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I dig reading these rust-belt rebuild threads. I'd be concerned about the frame section above the rear coil bucket. Seems like it'd be in equally poor condition as the area repaired by the control arm bracket.
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Old 03-11-2018, 04:38 PM
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DoubleC thanks for the heads up. I have used an awl to poke around on the frame all over. In fact just about every square inch. Where the frame was thin the awl would go right through the frame. WHen I cut the thin places out I cut to a location that was still at least thick enough to weld to. I didn't actually measure the frame but it looked to be at least 1/16" thick where I welded the new steel in.

I'm not sure if China Freight err Hardly Freight err H.F. had a sidewalk sale nation wide but I ended up getting a 20 ton press to make it easier to rebuild the ax-15 . It seemed like a pretty good sale at 150 and a 20% off one item coupon on top of that.

It looks like I can get the master rebuild kit on Amazon so I will be ordering that soon. If the gears and shafts are good this transmission should be pretty inexpensive to rebuild. There is a pretty good video on you-tube (user name UCanDoit2) that shows the whole thing. I'll watch it a few more times and read the manual he linked before I start that rebuild though.
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Old 03-14-2018, 09:10 PM
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Yesterday I ordered an adapter from Novak. It should be here by the end of the day Saturday according to the tracking.

Today I didn't make a lot of progress but I did get the power washer out from winter storage and sprayed the AX15 transmission and NP231 transfer case. They are not clean enough to paint yet but they look much better. I still need to clean the Chevy bell housing,

Once the adapter comes in I will be able to bolt everything together and start figuring out where the engine will sit in the frame. Then I will be able to get some motor mounts figured out.
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Old 03-18-2018, 06:49 PM
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Well I haven't gotten the adapter from Novak yet. The status changed to Tuesday so I will have to wait a couple more days for it.

I did make a decision on the body mounts ahead or the rear gas tank. I found some conduit couplings I had stashed in my electrical parts and the idea hit me to use them for my last two mounts. It looks like it will work out fine. The picture makes it look like it is crooked but it is actually plumb.




At this point I have spent a lot of time pondering how I will get the front cowl modified to meet the CJ hood line correctly. Up until today I was trying to keep the TJ windshield and wiper setup so I could use the stock TJ top and doors. I am now leaning towards modifying the entire cowl and turning it into a CJ cowl and using a CJ windshield/wipers. I may end up buying a replacement cowl from Quadratec, but I think I will try a while longer to see if I can make one myself. Then as a last resort I will buy one and try installing it myself. At the worst I will end up paying someone to do it correctly for me. I sure hope it doesn't come to that. I still feel I may have jumped in over my head on this part of the project.
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Old 03-22-2018, 06:18 PM
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I have spent too much time trying to figure out how I will modify the existing cowl with the basic hand tools I have. Since I have minimal knowledge about sheet metal work and limited tools I am opting to find a CJ cowl.

I can buy a new one pretty easily but since I don't have the tools/knowledge to do this anyway I will be searching for a used one. I found one a couple hours from home and called the guy who has it. He thinks he will have it removed for me next week.

So I moved on to getting some motor mounts figured out. I assembled the Novak adapter to the transmission and bolted everything to the engine temporarily. I lifted the whole works into the frame. I am in the process of adjusting things front to back and side to side to determine what I need for the mounts.

My first hurdle was when I tried to roll the frame under the engine/tranny I ended up throwing the front springs because I don't actually have anything but gravity holding the frame on the axles. Oops...Heehaw. Then when I tried setting the weight of the engine on the frame to get another bite with the engine lift I almost rolled the springs out again. I ended up bracing the frame with cement blocks temporarily.

I'm not anticipating getting much more done for a while because I have a lot of other commitments coming up soon. I may have a little time tomorrow though.
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Old 03-28-2018, 08:17 PM
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I have started on the motor mounts. I probably should have bought some pre-made but I'm sure these will be fine. Here is what I'm planning.


It's close enough to 45 degrees for me. That made it easy to use a framing square to mark the steel.



Don't make fun of my welds, I was having a hard time seeing what I was doing. I'm starting to wonder if the older I get the better I used to be but I swear I used to be able to lay a pretty bead.

And how it will look in the Jeep



Currently I have a 1/2" hole in the mount but am contemplating upping that to 9/16". I'm not sure if one grade 8 1/2" bolt per side will be strong enough for the power I'm expecting the engine to produce. I could even go up to 3/4". I didn't get any pictures yet but I plan to weld a nut in the square tube that the bolt will attach to. Then I will install a cap over the square tube to keep debris out.

I got the flywheel today and the rebuild kit for the transmission should be here by the weekend. I still need to order a clutch kit.
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Old 03-29-2018, 06:58 PM
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I got a little more done today. I ended up going with 5/8" bolts for the mounts. I am using some left over rubber for isolation.



And the mounts are welded into the frame.



I will be taking a few small parts in to work to sand blast in the cabinet.

The transmission rebuild kit arrived today. I guess I'm ready to start that rebuild soon. I also have the slip yoke eliminator that can go in any time.
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Old 03-30-2018, 05:39 PM
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They say a picture is worth a thousand words...











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Old 03-30-2018, 06:33 PM
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And a view of the motor mounts with the engine removed today.

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Old 04-04-2018, 06:30 PM
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So a little more progress but no pictures.

I ordered some POR15. It should be here tomorrow I think. It's still too cold to paint here but I'll be ready when the temps do finally rise. I also bought some epoxy primer for the aluminum parts.

I rebuilt the NP231 transfer case and installed the slip yoke eliminator. I will need to paint it when it warms up.

I have the AX15 transmission started. I have the case separated and the shift rods out. I have given the gears a quick check and they appear good so far. There was only minor brass dust in the oil but some little pieces (I'm not sure yet what they're called) were also in the bottom. There was also what looks like a large spring clip that was broken in half and worn down laying in the bottom.

Since this is my first attempt at rebuilding a transmission I will be spending a lot of time checking and double checking as I go. I assume this will take me a long time.
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Old 04-05-2018, 07:39 PM
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Not much progress today.

I did get the main shaft and counter shaft out of the transmission and I replaced the input shaft bearing. I also was able to give a more thorough look at the gears. They all appear to be in good shape. The parts I found free in the bottom of the transmission are identified now but I haven't looked up what they are called. They are included in the rebuild kit though so I already have the new ones to install when I get that far.

I also got the POR15 today. I decided to test it out on the few small parts I sandblasted last week at work. It seems to go a long way as far as coverage. At the rate I'm using it I may be able to get the entire frame covered with one quart. The parts are out in the cold now so I'm not sure how they will turn out though.

I'm supposed to go pick up the CJ cowl tomorrow. It looks like a two and a half hour drive one way. I sure hope it's worth it! I won't be getting a lot done tomorrow I guess.
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Old 04-06-2018, 07:02 PM
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I spent about 5 hours in the car today to get the CJ cowl. It wasn't as nice as I'd hoped but it will do. It came from a 1977 Renegade CJ7 with a 304 and quadra-trac.

I also got the rest of the transmission apart. All the gears are off the output shaft. I actually got the second gear bearing replaced and the new syncro installed for it. I needed to look up the proper clearance for that so I called it a day at that point.

It is cold outside anyway and starting to snow. We have had a colder than normal period for the last few weeks. It is supposed to be in the 50's during the day here this time of year. I'm sick of winter and ready for it to warm up.

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