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Discussion Starter #1
I am starting this to mainly document everything that I will be doing to the TJ as well as try to help others out in the same situation as me. It needs a good amount of fixing before the building really happens.

So let's start with why I wanted a TJ. I have wanted one for a few years since my one buddy got his first wrangler. His was a 1998 SE 5 speed with a 2" and 31s. Mine is a 98 Sport 4.0l 5 speed with 129k bone stock.

So why did I buy it now? A different buddy of mine found this off-road event up in Michigan called the Detroit Gambler 500. Look it up on Facebook if ya want. There might even be a group on here going already. I haven't had the chance to check or familiarize myself with the site enough. The goal is to buy a vehicle for $500 or less and go on this 475 mile adventure in Michigan which combines road driving, way points, and minor off roading. I looked for a 4X4 first gen S-10 (I am an s-series guy to start), but I never found anything roadworthy or for a fair price. I have never owned any Jeep, so this is my first. Well, I went a little over the budget and bought this TJ. I mean why not? I didn't want something for $500 that I was never going to drive again. I just bought a new winter beater, a 04 loaded ZR5 CC S10 that I bought with a salvage title and I got it rebuilt, so I have a need a winter beater.

Well enough on the back story. Now some details on the Jeep itself. Body needs floor work and frame needs attention. The back by the control arm mounts was already patched and done right. The front by the steering box, which does not seem to be a common problem or a problem I have found anything about, is pretty rotten. The previous owner hit a patch of ice and slid into the rock exposing how bad the frame truly was. In typical Chrysler fashion, at least to me, a brake line blew on the test drive. The exact same thing happened to me when I bought my Cummins so I thought to myself, this thing has to go home with me. So I bought it right after the test drive and drove it to a buddy's house. This is where it will be for pretty much all of the repairs.

So here is a list of what is needed:

Frame patch by front steering box (hope to find a good front section of a frame)
Patch the floor and other parts of the tub (wouldn't mind finding a clean tub with no title and using it to patch)
Find a back seat, brackets, and seat belts
Replace all brake lines and rebuild brakes
Replace radiator (seeping but no puddles on the ground), hoses, thermostat, and flush system (try to unclog the heater core)
Newer tires (dry-rotted)
Replace front coil springs (really sagged out) and maybe the rears
Replace oil, diff fluids, transfer case fluid, and tranny fluid
Windshield wipers
Hood latches (see pics)
Sound bar (missing)


Here is a list of stuff that I want, but won't be concerned with until the need list is complete:

2" spring puck lift or spring
31s (need the puck lift)
Find new rear window for top (has hole)
HiLift with mount
Fog lights
CB radio
Front & rear bumpers

End goal is to have a big enough lift to be able to wheel, and still daily it in the summer. For now, I need something simple and quick for the Gambler 500.


And what everyone really cares about, PICTURES!















 

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Discussion Starter #5
Very cool. Much respect for taking on that frame.
Thanks man! This is the first real project for me vehicle wise as well as my first attempt at welding anything. I have done fabrication before, but I always had a buddy that could weld. I have been wanting to learn but never had the time or access to a welder. Now I do, so here I go.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Other news, here are the two rigs going to the gambler. Might pick up another XJ for another buddy, but I doubt it. He wants his own vehicle to take, but has no way to transport it or money to buy it in the first place haha.
XJ details: 92 Laredo 204k on it. Absolutely no rust on the bottom side. Cleanest XJ I have seen in Ohio. Needs a power steering pump, a neutral safety switch, an alternator (the guy he bought it from wanted it back once we got it home) and front brakes. That is it to get it reliable. His goal for it is to have enough of a lift for 31s.
New sound bar I picked up locally. Think it is out of a YJ, but looks like it will fit. The brand is VDP, Vertically Driven Products, if anyone has heard of it.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
So I started taking the interior apart. Top, doors, seats and console are out. Floors are way worse than I thought. Well actually the whole tub is. Looks like I need to order the frame body mount brackets too. Really don’t have the time to fab some up, so I will pay the money for them.
Progress pics
Front floor pan on the driver side was some weird rubber material that they basically had stuck in there. No metal was under it.
The material was about 1/8” thick.
The rest of the patching was done with riveted on sheets of galvanized steel. They worked, but were not held in well when I got it. The tub started rusting past the riveted areas, so they weren’t really held in. Front roll bar mounts are rusted away.





And the mess taking the seats out made. Driver side seat was only held in by the two front bolts. Passenger side was held in by the front two and the torques head on the back. The seat flip forward function (don’t know the proper name) was froze up. I just cut the floor and broke it out of there. I got it soaking now for getting that working again.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
So I picked this tub up Sunday. It is in much better condition than mine. Will need some patch work on the body mounts as well as the driver side behind the seat and in the wheel tub.


Front has a soft spot by the drain.

This is the worst of it on the floor.



Passenger rear
The back driver corner of the tub has some dents, but they aren’t too bad. I May try to push them out as best as possible.





Body mount rust. The front two mounts are fine, but the rear is pretty rotted.
 

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Mad respect to you for taking on that much rust. I sold my rusty TJ, as it was too far gone for me to fix (time and knowledge). Looking forward to seeing this build!!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks man. This is what I am learning on. It's not a daily so I have the time. If I didn't find that other tub, I would be way more concerned. I hope to have the old tub off Thursday or Friday to see the condition of the rest of the frame.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Well more progress. I got the steering column, dash, rear gate, cowl, and windshield bars off (whatever they are called). I started on getting the HVAC box out, but it got late so that is tomorrows project.

Anyway, progress pictures and more pictures of newly discovered rot.















I do have a question. Does anyone know if this steering joint is supposed to come apart where it goes thru the firewall. It looks like it should (slip joint), but I had to take it apart under the dash to get the column out.

 

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Discussion Starter #12
I got the HVAC box out last night. All the wiring is out of the inside of the tub. Just need to get a few wires fed back on the bottom side, get wires off the firewall, and take the fenders off.


Transfer case links are pretty rust. It didn’t like moving in the first place. Lucky my other tub came with one in much better condition.



This time working on it beers were drank and we got distracted by another project. My buddy's dad, the one where we are fixing up the TJ, has a work van (2007 diesel Sprinter), and the belt broke on it. Tensioner pulley seized and fried the belt. That was fun figuring out how it went back on with no diagram handy. Took us 45 minutes to find the right one online.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I made some good progress this weekend. Body is completely off and most of the frame has been exposed. I am going to pick up some steel tonight to start making patches.

Steering box area is a little weaker than I thought, but I am going to plate it in. It should be pretty stout when I am done.


Found another hole once the tub was taken off. This one is going be tricky, but I think I have a good idea on what to do.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Took some more pictures of the frame and some of the tub after it was removed. I discovered a lot of bondo. One area was about ¾” thick.

Considering making this into a trailer. I would either put a seat in it or a cooler.

Skid plate needs replaced. I got one ordered yesterday.
Passenger side of the rear frame needs plating.


Same with the driver side.


I picked up about 140 pounds of scrap ¼” plate yesterday from a local steel supplier for the repairs. Should be overkill, but I would rather be safe than screwed.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
After reading up more on frame patches, I think I am gonna go pick up some 1/8" and 3/16" plate after work today. I may use the 1/4" on a winch plate or something.
 

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I took the skid plate out yesterday. Discovered more rust on the frame underneath it. Bolts came right out. Soaking them really helped. I have a new skid plate and bolts ordered.
Frame holes under the skid plate.

Worked on getting the front frame bent up. Moved it a lot, but it is still not quite there. I may have to remake this entire piece. I really hope not, but we shall see.
Showing how bent out of shape the driver side is compared ot the driver side.
Figure I would post these. These are the rear control arm patches that some previous owner did.




Also picked up some 3/16" and 1/8" plate last night. They will work better for patching. So now I got a lot of 1/4" to figure out what I am going to do with.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I got the rear shocks, rear brakes, and the rear coils taken out last night. One of the springs had a full coil broken out of the bottom. I had to grind the heads off of the bolts holding the wheel cylinders on. They were just too far gone. I got a few other things soaking last night including the control arm bolts. Not to remove them, but to loosen them when I put the lift kit in.

 

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Well some part came in. More are on the way. Less than a month to get this thing finished!



 

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Discussion Starter #20
Alright I got a question for you guys.

I found a different set of axles. D44 and D30 combo with 3.73s (I got 3.08s). Dude is asking $1200 for the set. That seems fair to me from the limited research I have done. Seem fair to anyone else?
 
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