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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
2005 LJ Build...because a stock LJ is boring

Greetings all. I just picked up a 2005 Jeep Wrangler LJ back in December and thought I would document the progress of the build.

Backstory: I previously had a 2000 Jeep Wrangler TJ that I built up over the past year but decided to go a different route. My TJ was a 4 cylinder model, with no A/C or cruise control and more rust than solid sheet metal. I originally bought the TJ as a second vehicle but it slowly became my daily driver. After one summer with it in Texas without A/C and driving it on the highway to and from work, I decided that I should install A/C and cruise control. But then when I thought about it, after spending the time and money to install A/C and cruise control, I would still have a rusty, base model 4 cylinder TJ with almost 200K miles.

So I figured I would just buy a newer stock TJ with less miles, no rust and I would just swap over my lift kit, bumpers, etc. off my 2000 TJ and sell the 2000 TJ as a stock Jeep. After looking at several newer TJ’s around the DFW area, I figured that I would be spending around $10K for a clean, low mile, late model TJ.

Just out of curiosity, I started looking at what I could get an LJ for and it wasn’t much more than a TJ, plus it would definitely have a Dana 44 rear axle and the extra room inside was a bonus. So I started the hunt for a stock LJ with less than 100K miles. I looked at several LJ’s around Dallas and many online that were in Austin or Houston. Most of them were already built up, were Rubicon models (out of my price range), or had so few miles on them that the prices were too high for me to pay cash. Then I stumbled across a patriot blue 2005 LJ in downtown Dallas. It was very clean, had 99K miles, 6 speed, 3.73 gears, and was completely stock, with the exception of 31” tires, cheap tube bumpers front and rear, and a Bestop TrekTop (the Trek Top was a nice bonus). I struck up a deal and it was mine!

Below are the pictures of it the day I got it.



Once it was in my possession, the first thing I did was remove the tube bumpers and change out the OPDA. Then I started the rest of the swap. My TJ had Old Man Emu 2” springs and shocks, JKS sway bar disconnects, 33” BFG All-Terrains, Smittybilt bumpers, an Alpine CD player and Memphis speakers that were all less than a year old. I felt like they were premium parts (minus the smittybilt bumper) that I wouldn’t get my money back out of if I sold them on my TJ. So the logical thing to do was swap them to the LJ and put the stock LJ parts back on the TJ so I could sell it. The swap took about 2 days of working off and on. Below is a picture of the TJ before I took it back to stock.



Here is the LJ after I swapped the lift over.



And here is the TJ after I took it back to stock.




Once the TJ was completed, I sold it on craigslist and focused on the LJ. I got it aligned, changed the oil and did some minor maintenance items.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I was able to score a set of used Warrior products rock sliders off Craiglist for $100. They were pretty dirty, needed a fresh coat of paint, and some stainless steel hardware. But for $100, I couldn't complain.

I also installed factory cruise control, as my LJ came wired for it but the dealer option was not chosen. Was able to find a slightly used kit on eBay for $150. Hell yeah for more buttons to push!

And I installed a tuffy under seat drawer for securing my "cap gun" lol





 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I took the LJ out to the offroad park in Bridgeport, TX the weekend after I bought it and it handled medium trails pretty well. I was the smallest jeep in my group, the next smallest tire size was 37", so I was being a little ambitious on 33's with no lockers. But the Jeep performed well and I only had to be winched out once, I wasn't stuck but was about to be!

Unfortunately while towing it home, my upper track bar bolt broke off my Rubicon Express trackbar. Luckily I knew something was wrong before it broke (was only driving 20 miles per hour), as the tires on the jeep were shaking a little bit, like it had slight death wobble while towing it before the bolt broke. Luckily I was only 50 miles from home and a buddy helped me get it home with his trailer. There was no other damage to the jeep or my Dodge Ram (towing vehicle). Once I got it home, I inspected the bolt that broke and it looked to be a slow fatigue failure. So I am sure wheeling on it all day was the straw that broke the camels back. Instead of replacing the upper bolt on the Rubicon Express trackbar, I sold the track bar to another member in my jeep club and ordered Metalcloak trackbars (front and rear).
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Once I got the new track bars installed, I decided that I wanted a little more lift. The tires rubbed a tiny bit in the front at full stuff when wheeling. I am bumpstopped for 32" tires, not 33's. So I called Dirk at DPG Offroad and he sent me a JKS 1.25" body lift and 1" motor mount lift. I installed them one night after work and now I am perfectly setup for 33's at full stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The next thing on my list was to repair some small damage I incurred while wheeling at Bridgeport. I peeled apart my rear license plate bracket on some rocks, so I replaced it with a Warrior Products license plate bracket that contours to the body of the Jeep and doesn't stick out so far. As well, I relocated the 3rd brake light inside the factory tire carrier using a 2.5" LED clearance light I picked up from Wal-Mart for a couple bucks.

In addition to the damage to the rear license plate bracket, I also smacked my front license plate on rocks. I found a Warrior Products front license plate mount that is removable, but mounts to a winch fairlead. This seemed like an excellent time to purchase a winch, so I was able to pick up a used Smittybilt 9.5K winch from another jeep club member. It came with synthetic rope and was in decent condition. I picked up a winch plate for my bumper and mounted it up. I am not a big fan of Smittybilt products but the price was right and it'll get me by for now. With the new winch installed, I was able to mount my front license plate with the removable bracket.

Side note, this is the first Jeep I have ever used "Warrior Products" parts on and I kinda dig them. The parts are no-nonsense and nice bolt in upgrades.





 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
As she currently sits with the body lift and winch on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Digging the LJ. Sounds like youve been scoring some deals!


Thanks. Yeah I started sourcing parts before I bought it and scoured Craigslist everyday. Luckily I was off work the week I bought it so I was able to go pick up parts all over DFW and do all the work during the day. The cool thing is that I picked the Jeep up on Christmas morning. Definitely the best Christmas gift I've ever gotten!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Future plans for the LJ are as follows:

Short term: regear it to 4.56, install lockers, tummy tuck, gas tank skid, and new control arms when funds allow.

Long term: when my 33's wear out and it's regeared, I'll step up to 35's and simultaneously upgrade the brakes and steering

It's a daily driver so I don't plan on too many "extreme" mods. I like the low COG and keeping it very streetable.
 

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Nice LJ.

I just did the same thing. Sold my 2000 TJ (fully built out on 37s) and moved into a stock 2006 LJ. It is getting 1 tons and 38s, which are sitting in the garage.

I'm in the parts collecting stage right now while I sell my boat to free up cash and garage space for the LJ. Hoping to have it done for Moab 2018. :)

Here's the LJ:
Land vehicle Vehicle Car Jeep Off-road vehicle

Here's the TJ and LJ when I had both. The LJ had a Trektop NX on it when I bought it but I swapped it for a Supertop NX which works better for my needs. TJ was Patriot Blue like your LJ.
Land vehicle Vehicle Car Automotive tire Off-road vehicle
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Nice LJ.

I just did the same thing. Sold my 2000 TJ (fully built out on 37s) and moved into a stock 2006 LJ. It is getting 1 tons and 38s, which are sitting in the garage.

I'm in the parts collecting stage right now while I sell my boat to free up cash and garage space for the LJ. Hoping to have it done for Moab 2018. :)

Here's the LJ:
View attachment 3423962

Here's the TJ and LJ when I had both. The LJ had a Trektop NX on it when I bought it but I swapped it for a Supertop NX which works better for my needs. TJ was Patriot Blue like your LJ.
View attachment 3423970
Thanks. That is gonna be a nice upgrade! I love that silver LJ!

Some people thought I was crazy for doing the swap and told me to sell my TJ lifted and then either buy a lifted LJ or a stock LJ and lift it. It made sense to me to swap it, considering I wouldn't get my money back out of my lift if I sold it on the TJ and all the suspension parts were a bolt in swap. I put a lot of money into my lift kit and didn't want to let it go if I didn't have to.

Plus I wanted a stock LJ because I wanted something "virgin" that had never been touched. I have bought too many lifted jeeps in the past that were lifted poorly and done the "cheap" way.

Glad there is someone else that is as "crazy" as I am!
 

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I thought about swapping over too but had several obstacles since the TJ had a long arm suspension on it and no factory lower brackets. I would have to add brackets to the TJ just to swap in the stock LJ suspension. The rear coils on the TJ had been corrected to fit the angle of the 9 inch. So it was too much work in my case, and the TJ would sell for a lot more lifted than stock.

I also felt the extra weight of the LJ might be too much for the Dana 30 with the 37s. I had no problems with it on the TJ for 8 years though since it was built well.

Really though... it was a good time to jump to 1 tons!

Although, every time I look at them in the garage and think about how MASSIVE they are compared to the D30 and even the 9 inch I had in the TJ, I question my sanity. But there really isn't much sanity to this hobby!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
That makes sense. Long arms would be a little harder to swap. Yeah I threw the sanity factor out the window a long time ago! Are you doing a build page on the LJ? I'd love to see the progress. Sounds like it's gonna be a sweet LJ with one tons!
 

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I'll try to take photos along the way and do a build page. I can copy it across the many forums I peruse. :)

It's going to look a lot like a friend of mine's LJ. I told him I'm just going to copy what he did. lol

4" stretch, D60s and 38s, too. The LJ length helps make it look unassuming. :)
https://austinjeepexclusive.shutterfly.com/pictures/10826
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Most recent update. I got rid of my "Shittybilt" front bumper in favor of a Metalcloak Frame Built bumper. Picked the bumper up on the internets, it's used but it's in good condition. And anyone who knows me very well, knows that I got it for a song! I would have been losing money if I didn't buy it...

 

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Great build so far. My LJR does not have cruise. I noticed that you added cruise. Was it plug and play? I found a kit and looks fairly easy too install.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Great build so far. My LJR does not have cruise. I noticed that you added cruise. Was it plug and play? I found a kit and looks fairly easy too install.
Thank you. As long as your Jeep is factory wired for it, it's super easy and all plug and play. If its not factory wired, you are in for a real mess. Took me less than an hour to install (I was factory wired). Look near your brake booster on the driver side fender, there should be a four prong plug not connected to anything. If you have this, you are factory wired for it and install is a breeze. And you gotta check the clockspring behind the steering wheel to make sure its the version for cruise control. If not, you gotta pull the steering wheel and replace (not hard at all). I had the cruise control clock spring as well, so my install was quick and easy. I looked at new factory kits from Jeepsareus. They wanted about $370 for the kit. But I was able to find a used kit off ebay for $150. Guy had bought it and never installed it. It works great!
 

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Thanks for the info. Was it just the buttons and vacuum servo under the hood? I could probably get it off another TJ or LJ. I searched eBay and Amazon. No good deals. $370 for Jeepsareus. I will look for a while though
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
No problem. Yes all I had to hookup was the servo (mount it to the fender on the supplied bracket, hook up the electrical connector, connect the vacuum line and throttle cable). Then install the steering wheel controls. Done!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Nice LJs! :awesome:

If you're looking for a community that's TJ & LJ focused, check out Wrangler TJ Forum .com

It's a great forum with friendly experts!
Thanks! I'll have to check out that forum
 
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