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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
In 2016, my family and I had a lot going on - both my wife and I started new jobs, both the kids were in new schools, I had a bunch of work travel, we had new family members living close by, there were some health concerns in the family, we had a bunch of new activities/sports with the kiddos, and a whole host of other things to keep up busy. Although there was a lot of good stuff happening and we were having lots of fun with the kids, it was a bit stressful at times and I wanted something to help me decompress in the evenings and weekends when we actually did get some free time.

For nearly 2/3 my life, I had always had a "project" - old 4x4's, muscle cars, and a host of other fun four and two wheeled toys. So with that, I decided to sell my 2011 Toyota Tundra Platinum - decked out with mid-travel suspension, BFGs, OBA, and a bunch of other goodies. The Tundra was great, but I didn't "love it". It had tons of power and was like driving a limo down the highway. The MT suspension also meant that 40-50 mph jaunts down the desert was basically like sitting on the living room couch during movie night! But truth be told, it was also kinda boring. There are tons of Tundras on the road here in AZ and every one kinda blends in with the next. Although speedy trips through the desert were fun, I'm more of a trail guy and the thing was a pig off-road!

The plan was to get a daily driver and a project/toy. The daily driver had to be practical and a good "daddy" wagon - something I could use to take the kids to school with, but also something that my wife and mother could drive when I'm out of town if needed. The daily driver search was basically ended as quick as it started - I found a nicely priced, low mileage, uninspiring but super practical, most kid-friendly AWD sedan I could find that fit me well. Meet my 05 Outback Sedan...

Photo Jan 22, 1 32 40 PM.jpg


Not much of a head turner, but the H6 engine is peppy (albeit at the expense of gas mileage), the trunk is bigger than the cargo area in my 4Runner, the AWD is legendary (allows safe trips up north during the winter months), and it had less than 48,000 miles!

Next came the hunt for my project car. To be honest, I was originally looking for a FZJ-80, as they're probably my #1 most loved 4x4 (once a Toyota guy, always a Toyota guy!). However, the kids have been asking for a Jeep, specifically a Wrangler, for many years now. My son's favorite toy for a long time was a Willy's Jeep (Army truck play set) that he still plays with after 3 years. After looking for a few weeks, I was shocked to see just how pricey YJ's and TJ's were. Because of that, I even considered getting a JKU and took one for a test drive. Thankfully, I smartened up and just couldn't spend that kind of money on a glorified minivan! (relax JK guys, it's just a joke!).

I found myself getting a bit frustrated - everything was either in good condition but well over Blue Book value, or beat to crap and barely able to make it on the drive home. I then found a blue YJ while sitting on the couch after eating Thanksgiving dinner. I sent the guy a few texts and before I knew it, I was picking up Bleu Belle the next day.

Picture from the original Craigslist ad:
2016-11-24 Jeep YJ.jpg


Belle was a local Jeep and spent most of its life here in sunny and dry AZ. However, she was originally a Canadian Jeep, as the coolant temp gauge is in ºC and the warning above the sun visor is in French (hence the most French name I could think of and stand to use, "Belle").

2016-11-25 Jeep YJ (2).jpg


The Jeep came with what was said to be a Rancho 4" lift, worn out and heavily chunked Duratrac's on some aged, Varsity Blues style Eagle Alloy wheels, a "Morris 4x4" winch, and chrome Smittybilt bumpers. Although there was some impact damage in the rear (the extent of which I wouldn't completely know about until a few weeks later), the important stuff was there - a clean(ish) body, strong sounding 4.0L I6, a smooth shifting AX15 5-speed, working 4WD and no excessive leaks.

2016-11-30 Jeep YJ (2).jpg


My daughter, who is typically very camera shy, even suggested that we "get some before photos" with her and the Jeep, to which I happily obliged!

2016-11-26 Jeep YJ (1).jpg


The next day, we took the YJ for our first quick trip around the block and the expression on my son's face was sheer excitement the entire time!
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
There were many things that needed to be addressed right away...

For starters, the steering wheel was very floppy due to a worn-out Grant "No Wheel, No Steal" steering wheel disconnect. A good idea in theory, but it felt unsafe as it was and had to go. I replaced it temporarily with a Grant 3-spoke chrome wheel. Alongside the loose steering wheel, the turn signal switch didn't work and the horn was broken. I ripped apart the steering column out, cleaned the mud and gunk out out of it, cleaned the bearings, repacked with grease, cleaned the contacts, installed a new turn signal lever, and put in a new ignition switch.

2016-11-26 Jeep YJ (6).jpg


There was also a rat's nest of loose wires, both under the chassis and under the dash. I spent a few hours getting those all removed, and also addressed the 1" of dried mud in the cargo area.

2016-11-26 Jeep YJ (9).jpg


The Jeep was missing both a muffler and a catalytic converter - something ADEQ and my neighbors frown upon. I was able to get a 30-day Temporary Tag which gave me enough time to install an exhaust and converter. A quick engine tune-up and she passed on the first try!!

2016-12-05 Jeep YJ (1).jpg


In my trips back and forth to the parts store and Emissions Testing Facility, the slow leak in one of the Duratrac's turned into a faster leak and I figured it was a good a time as any to get new tires. I replaced the chunked Duratracs with brand new versions of the same time, but picked up a sweet looking set of American Racing wheels for a more modern look (and sold the Eagle Alloys for about as much as I paid for the new American Racing wheels!).

2016-12-07 Jeep YJ (6).jpg


With new wheels and tires, a quick photo-op was warranted before picking the kids up from school!

2016-12-07 Jeep YJ (11).jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
As it turned out, my rear end damage was more than I originally thought and was bowing the frame rails out above the axle. I checked but didn't notice the extent of the damage. Perhaps it was the caked on mud, my excitement, or a combination of the two but I was not at a decision point - do I choose between repairing the damage with new rear frame sections or do prepare to do a complete frame swap...

2016-12-17 Jeep YJ (3).jpg


In a stroke of pure luck, or perhaps a blessing from the Jeep Gods high above the Rubicon, a rust-free, all-Arizona frame from a 94 YJ was listed on CL about 2 blocks from my house. Asking from was $300 and we negotiated down to $225!

2017-01-26 Jeep YJ f1.jpg


I figured at this point, it was go big or go home and it was time to make this a true "project"! A sourced a recently rebuilt D30 from a 95 YJ that was recently rolled over and parted out. It was advertised as "probably having 4.88 gears" which turned out to be correct (Yukon gears with almost no wear as it turned out!). It also had newer wheel bearing units, Spicer u-joints and Spicer balljoints. It also had some football helmet style diff guard. Not bad for $180...

2016-12-11 Jeep YJ.jpg


A few days later, I found a nice Ford 8.8 which allegedly came from a 2000 V8 2WD Explorer. It was more than I wanted to pay, but these are getting harder and harder to find in the Pick-N-Pull places and I wanted to keep the project moving.

2016-12-19 Jeep YJ (3).jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Inspired by Tom95YJ's build and his success with the Rough Country X-Series Lift, I took RockRidge 4WD up on their 2017 New Year sale and ordered a 4.5" lift to go under the new chassis in preparation for the transplanted drivetrain and body.

While waiting for that to arrive, I began prepping the new frame. The first step, after a good power wash and some epoxy paint, was to replace the worn out and crack frame bushings with some Energy Suspension bushings.

2017-01-28 Jeep YJ (1).jpg


I also picked up a set of TJ shafts for the new D30, as well as a Yukon CAD Block-Off Kit.

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Work travel was light for a few weeks and I was able to make some significant progress in a short amount of time. Here I am getting the D30 freshly painted and prepped...

2017-01-28 Jeep YJ (2).jpg


And began prepping the Ford 8.8 by removing as much of the heavily caked on grease and oil as I could...

2017-01-30 Jeep YJ.jpg


Concurrent to that, I began pulling parts off Belle, slowly and methodically labeling each set of bolts and brackets.
2017-02-25 Jeep YJ.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
About 16 hours total is what it took to get the tub completely off the chassis. I used a cherry picker and some chains, and basically lifted the entire tub up, then simply slid the old rolling chassis out from underneath and into the garage next to the new frame.

2017-03-26 Jeep YJ (3).jpg


Gotta love AZ - not a single spec of rust on the old frame and every body bolt came loose with a standard 1/2" ratchet and extension.

2017-03-26 Jeep YJ (2).jpg


To coincide with the new lift and new rear axle, and in order to eliminate the use of t-case drop spacers, I ordered an Advanced Adapters SYE. Due to space limitations (hey it's only a 2-car garage with 2 YJ frames side-by-side), I decided to swap the engine/trans/t-case as a unit and add the SYE while the t-case was installed in place. It worked out fine and was quite easy with the tub off!

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Everything inspected and ready to go back together...

2017-04-14 Jeep YJ (3).jpg


Here my daughter helps prep the case halves...

2017-04-14 Jeep YJ (2).jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
With the SYE installed, fuel tank and brake lines all swapped over, I turned my attention to the rear axle. I centered the axle on the perches and tightened up the u-bolts enough to hold it in place. Then I began tearing it all down...

2017-04-18 Jeep YJ.jpg


I routed the metal brake lines and tacked in the brake line mounts. I also roughly set the pinion angle and tacked the shock mounts in place.

2017-04-19 Jeep YJ (4).jpg


The Ford 8.8 parking brake is notorious for rusting and seizing up, so new parts were ordered to ensure proper operation.

2017-04-20 Jeep YJ (5).jpg


Once I finished mocking up the rear axle, I get the necessary measurements and placed the order for a new Adam's CV Driveshaft.

2017-04-19 Jeep YJ (5).jpg


Leo was excited and wanted to help install the new driveshaft...
2017-04-19 Jeep YJ (2).jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
With the rear axle in place and mocked up, I began to address the other items on my "to do" list...

Replacing all the cracked wire loom and installing a TJ-style t-case switch to make sure the dash light is functional...

2017-04-25 Jeep YJ (1).jpg


Replacing two stripped out nutserts in the t-case crossmember...

2017-04-20 Jeep YJ (1).jpg


New fuel-line o-rings, vacuum hoses, and gaskets...

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Freshly cleaned block with new valve cover gasket being installed...

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The old frame being picked up by a Jeep Tours company in the Sedona area for parts! Got $800 for it - which basically paid for the axles, new frame and most of the lift!

2017-05-03 Jeep YJ (6).jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
At this point, the tub and chassis were ready to come back together. I used some 4x4 cribbing and my cherry picker again to lift and hold the body as I slid the new chassis underneath (basically the reverse of what I did the first time!)...
2017-04-27 Jeep YJ (3).jpg


I decided that since I needed new body bushings anyways, I might we well get some additional tire clearance while I was at it. I went with the Daystar 1" Poly Body Lift bushings and ordered new Crown bushing inserts to replace the flaky factory ones.

2017-05-03 Jeep YJ (1).jpg


Once back in the garage, I used the cherry picker to lift up the body, side-by-side and installed the body mounts in place. This was a lot easier, IMO, than wrestling the body and all the bushings in place in the yard...

2017-05-03 Jeep YJ (5).jpg


I used the chains attached to the seat bracket bolts to lift the tub...

2017-05-03 Jeep YJ (4).jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
With the body back on, I began addressing some of the other items on my list...

I ripped the dash all apart as there was a ton of dirt that flew into my eyes everything I broke 35 mph.

2017-05-01 Jeep YJ (6).jpg


I rebuilt the heater box while I was at it, as it too was full of dirt and barely worked...

2017-05-01 Jeep YJ (8).jpg


The bracket that held the parking brake was broken and flopping around, so I made sure to clean it up and weld it back in place before hooking up the e-brake cables.

2017-05-01 Jeep YJ (4).jpg


Although I can weld, I know my limitations and didn't want to trust my novice-at-best welding skills on my spring perches. So after adjusting, checking and double checking everything, I tacked them in place and pulled the axle so that a local mobile welder with good reviews could come burn them in for me. It was $90 well spent in my opinion...

2017-05-09 Jeep YJ (2).jpg


With the dash back together, rear axle in place, all suspension bolt torques checked and marked, and wiring buttoned up, she fired right up and was running smooth! I then took Belle for her first fill-up since the swap...

2017-05-12 Jeep YJ (4).jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I've had good luck with the local Big O', so I took the Jeep down for an alignment. I installed all new MOOG steering joints during the frame swap and although it was close, I figured I'd let these guys get her all straight (plus it was only $40 as I transferred the 5-year alignment warranty from my Tundra to the YJ!)

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A quick ride up to the Tonto Forest to check out the alignment and see how she rides...

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2017-05-16 Jeep YJ (1).jpg

2017-05-12 Jeep YJ (3).jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I spent some time getting the body tweaked straight and removing all the old carpet adhesive from the rear seating area...

2017-05-17 Jeep YJ.jpg

A good Craigslist score - a set of 99 Sunfire GT seats fr $40 for the set!

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The are direct bolt ins - almost as if intended for a YJ seat bracket!

2017-05-24 Jeep YJ (3).jpg

Found these Skyjacker sway-bar disconnects on FB Marketplace for $45. They're for a TJ but work on a YJ, albeit a tad short.

2017-06-07 Jeep YJ.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I've been wrapping up some odds and ends lately. I finished cleaning the adhesive from the rear seating area, welded up the cracks and random holes, and coated the entire floor in POR-15. I also installed a new set of dash gauges. My factory one was having intermittent issues and the temp gauge is in ºC, so I found a nicely priced ($20) replacement on eBay that reads in ºF (because 'Murica!).

I ended up replacing the 4.5" X-Series RC lift springs with a set of 4.5" Rubicon Express springs. Although the RC springs rode surprisingly very nice, they were too short IMO and negatively affected handling due to the need of having longer shackles to get the full 4.5" of lift (and reduced caster too much!).

My Craigslist good-luck streak continued and I ended finding a set of brand-new RE 5 and 6-leaf springs on Craigslist and traded him my old 12,000lb Bandland winch for them. I had a set of RE greasable shackles already and installed all at the same time, along with a set of RE Extended bumpstops. Honestly, I almost hate to admit it, but the ride is about the same but handling is improved, to which I credit to the shorter shackle length (the RE shackles are OEM length of around 4") and thus better caster angles.

I decided to regear the Ford 8.8 myself - I figured it was time to dive in and learn how to setup gears. I went with a set of Richmond 4.88's and ended up keeping the factory Traction-Loc differential but installed a set of Ford Racing Carbon Clutch packs, which are the ones that Ford factory installed in the 03-04 Cobra. These are tight and grip a lot and although it won't be a locker, it should offer plenty of grip while still having good street manners. Although the Yukon Ultimate 88 kit is planned for this winter, I ended up replacing the wheel bearings and seals ($~20 locally) for the time being.

2017-06-08 Jeep YJ (1).jpg

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Some people report having issues with the vent tube puking out gear lube when climbing rocks on Ford 8.8's with the factory vent location. It makes sense, especially with the 18º+ pinion angle. To prevent future hassled, I drilled and tapped a 1/4" NPT hole and installed a brass fitting for good measure.


2017-06-08 Jeep YJ (5).jpg

Final setup - got her to 0.009" backlash and 25 in-lbs of pinion preload, so about "perfect" by the numbers and the mesh looked good. After about 300 miles so far, there was no noise or whine from the gears. I did have some scraping noise when turning right, but ended up removing the rotors, cleaning, pushing the backing plates a bit and it went away.

2017-06-11 Jeep YJ (1).jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Some of you may be following my thread where I'm desperately trying to get rid of the pulsing vibration that a lot of YJ/TJ's experience when lifted above 4" and running a SYE+CV shaft. If you are curious, give this a read here:http://www.wranglerforum.com/f218/a-pulsing-jeep-a-case-against-a-cv-shaft-2083201.html#post30725905

As part of the investigation, I heard some funny noises coming from the t-case when I jacked up the rear tires and ran it through the gears. I used a stethoscope with the wheels spinning and it sounded just like the chain dragging across the case. I decided to tear the whole case apart and inspect, assuming I was going to find a big mess inside. Much to my surprise, everything appeared to be fine, though I did find some scrape marks across the bottom of the case and near the output shaft; the chain itself looks like it has more slack than it should but nothing that made me say "OMG!". There were also quite a bit of metal flakes in the oil, but again nothing that made me freak out.

2017-07-17 Jeep YJ (1).jpg

After doing some research and talking to some local Jeepers, the general consensus is that the "rolling rocks" sound was likely an indicator of worn out t-case bearings and possibly a chain with too much slack in it. I ended up ordering a rebuild kit, alongside a NP241 6-pinion planetary and a NP231HD 1-1/4" wide chain (which I was planning on doing eventually but had an excuse to do now!).

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The BK231J rebuild kit was a good deal at $52 via eBay seller Powertrain Parts Warehouse. It was the same kit as the one many others are offering for $79+. I called ECGS (they wanted over $100) and the guy went through his entire kit for me and verified Nachi bearings with US/China/Japanese parts (I love those guys, great customer service and it is why I buy a lot from them!). The eBay seller was local to me and a smoking deal at half-price, so I tried them out and was surprised that everything seemed to be really good quality! The "NP231 Beef Up Kit" as it was listed as was also a good deal at $194 + free USPS Priority shipping. Look at what JB Customs is getting for their kits and you'll see how reasonably priced this is! Items were sold as a set and purchased through PowerTrainPartsPlus eBay seller

If anyone's installed a SYE, you know the NP231 is an easy case to work on, just make sure to have a good set of snap ring pliers! The bearings are all easy to remove and intuitive, except for one. The one that supports the rear of the front output shaft is quite a bear. It's a roller bearing with no access from the rear. I tried various pullers (pilot bearing, blind bearing pullers, etc.) with no luck. Everything I tried was either too thick to get below the lip of the bearing, or was too small to reach that far apart. Rather than order a special puller off of Amazon that I would use only once, I tried to cut the cage off and remove the rollers - hoping that my small 3-jaw would be able to squeeze inside and remove. Well, the 3-jaw fit but just bent the lip of the bearing race. I ended up using a small Dremel cut-off wheel, a good chisel, and some patience. Only took 15-20 minutes to get it out, but I was taking my time so as to not damage the aluminum case. The new bearing went in place very easily (thanksfully!).

2017-07-27 Jeep YJ (3).jpg

Factory 1" wide 231J drive gear vs 1-1/4" 231HD drive gear. Note that the 231HD drive gear has a different taper and finish at the hub side when compared to the 231J, which is slightly smaller in diameter and highly polished. At first, I couldn't reassemble and thought the seller had sold me all NP241 parts by accident...
Attachment 3685745

A quick call to Duke @ PowertrainPartsPlus and he advised me to remove the brass synchro ring and synchro tabs as these aren't needed really and is more like what the newer NP231 cases utilize. I was concerned that removing the synchro or tabs would cause some issues but Duke offered to come and personally fix the NP231 if there was a problem. He was joking (maybe not?) but his confidence in rebuilding hundreds of 231 cases and upgrading just as many rubbed off on me and I followed his suggestions. No issues have been observed on my end and the t-case will still shift into 4wd on the fly without a hitch or any noise. Makes me wonder why they went the synchro route in a t-case in the first place...

All buttoned back up! I saw a tip on TeraFlex's install videos where the guy used a soft-wire brush on a drill to clean the gasketing surfaces and holy $*^% did that work well! A quick wipe down in acetone and everything went back together with some black RTV without issue. I used "High Torque Grey" RTV last time (when I installed the AA SYE) and it was a bear to get the case halves apart - to the point where I was worried I was going to crack something (even though I was using the cast-in pry points!). I decided something less "high torque" was appropriate and most places recommended the black and it seems to be working find for now.


2017-07-27 Jeep YJ (2).jpg

Everything appears to be working fine though the sound is now more of a clicking sound. Unfortunately it did NOT help with my "pulsing" issue in the slightest. My next step is to check a few more items (axleshaft straightness since it was a heavily used Ford 8.8, gear install, brake rotors (JIC), etc.) but as it stands the CV shafts weight-to-length ratio is still the suspected culprit. I'm at the point where there is little left to check...
 

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Discussion Starter #14
TJ Flares

Found a set of TJ flares on a Facebook sale page and decided to install them with a modest trim. I kept the inner "lip" on the TJ flares b/c I think it looks better and gives a better factory-installed look. This allows for less trimming but still adds some much needed space for my future 35" tires.

2017-06-13 Jeep YJ (1).jpg

Overall the process was simple; line up the TJ flare over the wheel opening, trace out the pattern, then retrace the pattern about 1/8" higher to account for the flare's plastic lip.

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I used a bimetal HSS fine tooth metal blade in a jigsaw and it made quick work of the trimming...

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Finished product! I attached the flares with stainless steel bolts and nuts.
2017-06-15 Jeep YJ (1).jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Detroit TrueTrac Install

I heard some clunking coming from underneath the Jeep and I was a little worried as I haven't heard this noise before and wondered if my recent ~45 miles down the highway at 70-75 MPH on my newly rebuilt t-case caused a problem. I decided to jack up the rear and check it out in the garage. The clunking was actually coming from the differential, although it very much sounded like the t-case, and was present almost every time I came off the throttle. I checked it at higher and higher speeds and was even able to capture it on camera:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIqlMEfedbs&feature=youtu.be

I pulled the cover and let it drain for a bit then I started to inspect everything. There were no chipped teeth, the rollers in the pinion bearings appears to be working properly, and the wear pattern on the ring gear looks identical to the pattern I observed during setup. Backlash and pinion pre-load appear unchanged. After a few minutes more of playing around with it, I noticed that the spider gears may had some excessive play. Truthfully, I don't know what is considered excessive but it sure looks it to my eyes. I got a video of it as well, although it isn't great (I'll put a short tripod on my Amazon list!). There is what I consider to be excessive movement between the spider gears and the cross pin, as well as the spider and side gears, and side gears to axle splines. Also, it appears as though the spider gears have a lot of play between both the side and spider gears and the case itself. It may be hard to notice in the video, but with all the movement - the cross pin and axle shafts did NOT move.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mJsA5rh6PA&feature=youtu.be

When I rebuilt, everything looked fine but I did not check how much play there was in the spider/side gears. I am guessing that this play was likely there before being rebuilt as I did not find any shavings that would suggest this is recent or a result of the gear change. I'm not sure if this is the cause of my weird resonance/vibration issue at speed, but it is a problem regardless. I'm kicking myself now for rebuilding the Trac-Lok in an attempt to be "financially conscious"... yeah, yeah "financially conscious" and Jeep aren't exactly simpatico...

So I sucked it up and spent some of my other budget money on a new TrueTrac (looks like new seatbelts, rollbar padding and bikini top will have to wait a few more weeks!). I also picked up a new ECGS forged pinion yoke (to replace the factory flange+adapter), and a solid pinion spacer (to replace the crush sleeve). I will say, even with worn spider gears, the Trac-Lok is a great LSD on the street and in the dirt/gravel. I even had no trouble traversing a few deep ditches and washed out hillsides. The Cobra clutch packs are a great upgrade IMO and give plenty of bite but still retain good street manners. I'm hoping the TrueTrac only adds to the enjoyment and off-roadability.

Despite being my first carrier replacement, it went surprisingly very smooth. Here's everything all torn apart. I did run into a small delay, well two delays actually. First, I ordered a Richmond Solid Pinion spacer to replace the crush sleeve while I was installing an ECGS 1310 yoke (I decided to replace the flange and adapter since everyone and their grandma swears up and down is the cause of excessive vibrations and trail damage).

2017-08-20 Jeep YJ (4).jpg

The problem was that the spacer and shim kit that Summit sent me was missing the shims - a packaging problem at Richmond. No big deal, they sent me another kit and it was actually nice to have a second spacer on hand (they were slightly different in thickness and made adjusting the shim stack easy!).

The second delay was due to Amazon sending me the wrong bearing race. I reused the pinion bearings since they were already all set and were like new since I only regeared about 1000 miles ago. However, when I removed the carrier bearings, one side was nicked and chipped on the cage (due to the 2-jaw puller catching the edge ever so slightly). It was probably ok, but for $18, the peace of mind is cheap IMO.

FWIW, I can now confirm too that the Koyo bearings and the Timken bearings are indeed both USA made - HOWEVER, the Koyo bearings are a bit thicker than the Timken. This explains why I had such a hard time when I originally rebuilt my 8.8 as everyone said I should just be able to use the original shims in the original locations (originally included Timken's but the FMS kit included Koyo replacements).

At the end of the day, I spent about 4 hours getting the TrueTrac installed, taking my time and taking a few breaks for lunch and such. I set the pinion bearing preload at quite a bit less than I had when the bearings were brand new (around 8-10 in-lbs now, but they were 25 in-lbs when new). It felt plenty tight and most people recommended half of the OEM spec (which is 16-25 in-lbs) on used bearings, even if only lightly used, so that's what I did.

2017-08-20 Jeep YJ (2).jpg


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On the carrier-side, I was able to set backlash up at 0.009-0.010" as measured at 4 locations, so I'm happy with that. Contact is still centered from heel-to-toe, but not as deep into the tooth as it was the last time (I got lucky on the shim pack this time and was able to make good adjustments!). I was also able to set carrier preload almost perfectly with 0.013" of added shims; Ford says 0.006"+0.006" but I was only able to go 0.006" on the driverside and then 0.007" on the passenger side.

2017-08-20 Jeep YJ (3).jpg

While I was underneath the Jeep doing the axle work, I was reminded that I need to address the ECGS e-brake cables. Like others have experienced, I too am having an issue with the ECGS e-brake cables. One is significantly longer than the other and it causes only one side to hold. It works, even on steep driveways, but not as good as it could/should...

2017-07-19 Jeep YJ.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Craigslist hunting!

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While on the road, I saw that Amazon had listed the Rampage roll bar covers for $6.00 off and the Pavement Ends bikini cover was also on sale ($4 cheaper than normal). I figured the $10 savings was a good a time as any to buy and everything was waiting for me by the time I got home.

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Install took just a few minutes, which was a lot faster than I had planned, even considering I had to cut a few holes to make the forward bars and sound bar fit. Overall I'm impressed with the Rampage kit - I would put it on par in terms of fit and quality (appearance at least) with the $150 Bestop kit I was checking out at 4WP.

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After killing some time surfing through CL, I found a CJ7 hardtop. After some negotiating, we ended up bartering for some AR parts. That same day, I sold my used Track-Lok for what I was asking for - so a big good by any standard :happyyes:

It needs to be painted and the side window reinstalled, but for about $250 in trade value, it is a good deal in my books. It has some weird antenna/light adapter installed on the roof that will need some holes patched, but it looks solid enough and I like the "utilitarian" look of the CJ top vs the YJ top (I prefer no wipers, etc... at least here in AZ).

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Discussion Starter #17
More Craigslist hunting - Bestop Tire Carrier

I found a lightly used Bestop Tire Carrier tucked away on Craigslist. The tire carrier was tucked away with a bumper + hitch sale. It wasn't even advertised as a Bestop carrier but having been looking at the Bestop one for awhile, I immediately recognized it and made an offer that was quickly accepted.

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It was lightly used but missing the hardware (got misplaced during a move by the original owner). I went with zinc coated grade 8 hardware all around and it was still a cheap $14 cost. I later found that it was missing two of the backing plates and the owner could only locate the upper (and most important one). I ended up making a beefier version of the lower backing plate with some 1/4" flat stock I had on my shelf.

Overall I am very happy with the Bestop carrier. It hugs the tire much closer to the tailgate than every other bumper+carrier I've seen on the market, by several inches at least. I also like the fact that it looks stock and opens together with the tailgate. It is rated for a 35" tire and 200 lbs, but I'm nearly 310 lbs and I rested my entire weight on it and it didn't even budge, so I have little doubt that this will hold up for a long time.

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I also appreciate the fact that I can continue to use my Smittybilt Classic rear bumper (also a CL find!). I know people give Smittybilt a hard time (Sh*ttybilt!), and even I too was looking at what other options are out there (Warn and RockHard are the replacements I was considering), but both the front and rear classics are probably the best looking YJ bumpers on the market IMO, and the Class III rated hitch built into the rear is a nice touch. I don't intend to haul too much with my YJ, but it's nice to know that I can comply with DOT regulations and have a hitch with rated chain hooks built right in. Truth be told, the powder coating is nice with none of the common issues I've heard on Amazon/Quadratec/etc such as flaking or lack of color uniformity. Mine has nice, even looking welds that passed the visual muster of my welding buddy, and should hold up to some moderate to heavy wheeling with ease.

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I wanted to make sure that I wasn't going to get any rattles or unexpected "openings", so I took the Jeep for a short trip to the utility road near my house. Looks like I'm going to need to work on getting some more travel out of the these shocks and maybe those MORE shock extensions are in my future sooner rather than later. I'm a few inches off the bump stops (and I'm running the Rubicon Express extended stops) and appear to be bottoming out my shocks. I need to find a better place to test these, but I have no doubt that my goal of trying to keep the shock bottoms out of the rocks is costing me travel here. Not an "urgent" matter, considering all the other work I still need to do, but something that will be looked at this winter.

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Discussion Starter #18
Battery Cables

Crossing some more stuff off my list...

The battery cable terminals were fairly beat up and both were stretched beyond effectiveness to give a truly tight connection. Repairing/replacing these has been on my "to do" list for a while. With cooler weather around the corner, I wanted to get these addressed so that I'm not worried about it when out wheeling.

Most people with a YJ and TJ knows that the PDC (power distribution center) has an odd 2-hole connector that goes from the battery (+) terminal to the PDC. Depending on model year, engine, etc. they look something like this:

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I couldn't locate a factory replacement and was getting tired of finding TJ-only style terminals. I ordered a TEMCo 4 gauge cable bundle and some ends and was simply going to cut the terminal off the PDC wire and use it to bridge both terminals and just use a single ring terminal at the lower post. I then had the brilliant idea to see if I could somehow get the factory wire out of the molded terminal and use that. Turns out, this is way easier than I expected and I used an old chisel to hack through the terminal in less than 30 seconds.

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Since the wires were in good condition and no significant corrosion was present, I cleaned the insulation off with some "scrubbing wipes", installed new ring terminals (clamped + solder + heat shrink) and use a set of "military style" battery terminals I had laying in the parts bin.

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Clean, effective, cheap and factory looking. At least now I have a bunch of extra terminals and cable for my winch!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Vintage Hi-Lift Restoration

Did I mention I love Craigslist??

Found another score on Craigslist - a vintage Hi-Lift Jack...

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It didn't look like much and the seller didn't even know that it was a Hi-Lift, but the PO box and city cast into the body was a dead giveaway. It was rusty and missing the shear bolt at the bottom of the pitman, but the price was right and the main bar was straight as an arrow...

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A quick squirt and whack with a hammer to verify the pins and arm moved as they should. The cross pins were slightly bent - and the incorrect shear bolt - suggests that someone reaped on this thing in the past. However, there was no physical damage and it was a good candidate for a relife...

I soaked everything in a foaming degreaser and followed that by a spray down and soak with WD-40. I then gave a thorough hose down and scrub with some simple dish soap before completely disassembling. I then rescrubed with dish soap and then boiled the parts in water with some baking soda added to help get all the entrapped oils out of the metal surface and nooks and crannies.

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After the boil clean, I rinsed with fresh water, wiped down with some acetone and then baked the parts at 300º for 15 minutes to drive out any residual moisture.

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I hung all the parts on individual wire hangers and sprayed with Dupli-Color High Ceramic Caliper Paint in a few thin coats followed by a heavier coat on the body. I let the paint dry overnight and reassembled in the morning. I added some Rem-Oil to all the parts when reassembling and made sure not to damage the paint before it completely cures.

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Now all I need to do is figure out where to mount this thing. It's been a while since I had a Jeep and I totally forgot how heavy and awkward this thing is! I was looking at a mount that mounts inside the spare tire mount but may end up making my own...
 

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Discussion Starter #20
CJ-7 top on YJ

After removing the soft top channel and trimming the top where it hits the cross bars, I got the CJ-7 top on without too much hassle. I was also able to get the glass installed without too much trouble using the old school string trick I learned when working at the body shop!

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For those running or thinking of running a CJ-7 top on a YJ, note that there are some subtle nuances that get missed in many discussions on various forums. Here's what I noted after having a CJ top and a YJ top on a day apart:

1) The CJ top does indeed fit and should bolt right up. However, you will need to trim the front where it meets the windshield to clear the roll cage cross bars. Not too hard using a small fine-tooth handsaw and a zip/Dremel tool with cut-off wheel.

2) The scallop cuts on the door edges are slightly different - the inner scallop is bothwider and lower. If you're running full doors, it doesn't matter much. However, if you are running half doors or intend to, the scalloped parts need to be trimmed as they hit the edge of the door otherwise.

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