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Discussion Starter #1
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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Discussion Starter #2
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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Discussion Starter #3
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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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 :thumb:
 

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Discussion Starter #5
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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Discussion Starter #6
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 :thumb:
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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Discussion Starter #7
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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Discussion Starter #9
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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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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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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Discussion Starter #12
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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Discussion Starter #14
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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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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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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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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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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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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