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Good morning everyone. I have never done a build series thread before. I may or may not do a good job with this. I have a 2002 TJ that I have owned and enjoyed for the past 12 years. Being from South Ga. I am my jeep is pretty much in perfect condition. I keep it inside a barn. It is not a daily driver. It is a john boat pulling, dirt road cruising, good time machine for my wife and I. It is a X model and just has a soft top and half doors, but the top has not been on it in quite a while. Just a bikini top to protect my scalp from the UV we enjoy so much here. It has a 4 inch suspension lift and a one inch body. I run 12.5 x 33 BFG's on it. It has been my dream to convert it over to a V-8 ever since I got it. But, it is such a good machine, I have talked myself out of it.....until now. I have begun this project. I sold the original engine, which only had 81K on it. It has been removed along with the front sheet metal. I am in process of removing the factory engine mounts and cleaning up the wiring at this point. I may have already made mistakes, who knows, but I will figure it out. I have been doing the research for over two years on what my intended outcome will be. I will be reusing the NV3550 transmission. I will not be reusing the factory ECM. I have a full Autometer gauge package on order with the six gauge pod. I will be using the stepper motor gauges that have individual warning lights in each gauge. I debated a long time, but, I am not going to retain the A/C. The compressor was controlled through the factory ecm, and I don't want to reuse that. And, I never use it anyway. The top only goes on in winter if at all. I will have a few more challenges without the factory ecm, but I will find a solution. Maybe some here can advise me on this. The guys at NOVAK are my source of parts and knowledge. I will be using their engine mounts, headers, radiator and fan assembly. Also their flywheel and clutch setup and everything else they say I need.
So, my engine choice. Well there really wasn't a choice for me. Just time to save for it. I will be using a LS3 from Pace Performance. 525hp version with the stand alone GM harness and ECM. I am using a Holley mid mount accessory drive system on the advice from NOVAK. No, I do not need this. Yes it will be overkill. I may break things. Probably not. But if I do I will fix it. I have 4:56 gears in the factory axles now. I will probably upgrade the rear to something bigger. A ford 8.8 perhaps? Or a dana 60. I do not climb rocks or mud bog. I ride around cotton fields and pond dams. I want to listen to the engine run. Only time, and my right foot, will tell about what else is needed.
Any advice you can give, or even criticism is welcome. I am old enough to know better, but still young enough at heart to try. This is my damn toy and the build is going to be half of the fun. I will post some pictures as I go. If you want something specific please ask. I hope this will be completed by the spring. If you have read this far, thanks. Ol Rob.
Here is a before picture.
 

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Looks like a great project

I think you should reconsider the AC delete, you could make a stand alone system that by passes the ecm
They had AC systems for many years in cars with out ecms with simple mechanical systems that you could duplicate.
I heard it gets a little hot and humid in GA in the summer and AC could come in handy

Good luck with the build, I will be following along.

.



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Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it...
 
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Keeping the AC is fairly easy. I did the suggestion above and just have just the pressure switches disconnect the AC clutch relay.

As for the rear axle: I have 400HP going through a Dana 44 with upgraded axle shafts and 4.88 gearing. It has held up to my thrashing.
 
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Discussion Starter #7
Keeping the AC is fairly easy. I did the suggestion above and just have just the pressure switches disconnect the AC clutch relay.

As for the rear axle: I have 400HP going through a Dana 44 with upgraded axle shafts and 4.88 gearing. It has held up to my thrashing.
Thanks for the heads up on the rear axle. I have been wondering if I could get by with built 44. I don't really want the weight of a 60.
 

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Thanks for the heads up on the rear axle. I have been wondering if I could get by with built 44. I don't really want the weight of a 60.

I'm also running a built 44 with a 500+ hp LS. Mine is from Currie from 2006.

One issue I found when I needed an axle seal (welded to close to seal...) is that my particular axle was no longer supported. Currie didn't have seals and couldn't recommend the part or where to find it. The housings I found out were from Venezuela and figuring out "what seal" became my (shop's) problem. So whoever you buy from, ask what kind of support they intend to provide 10 years down the road.

Keep a build "book" like a 3 ring binder owners manual with every thing you do to the Jeep, parts literature, etc.. The only reason I figured out the axles were from Venezuela, which led to the correct seal, is because the original receipt from a decade ago was in my book. A book will be a big help to you and especially the next owner of your Jeep.
 

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Also, I'm curious how the NV3500 holds up.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I am currently working on the fuel system. I ordered a Walbro 255L and a regulator bypass from novak. I am going to run a new 6AN to the front. I have a question. I am going to use the Novak weld in enginhe mounts. The engine I plan to use come with the rear dump Camaro exhaust manifolds. I have seen a few builds that show this combination, I think. Anyone have this experience? I think this will work better than center dump headers for running duels. I plan to just dump in front of the rear axle.
 

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I am currently working on the fuel system. I ordered a Walbro 255L and a regulator bypass from novak. I am going to run a new 6AN to the front. I have a question. I am going to use the Novak weld in enginhe mounts. The engine I plan to use come with the rear dump Camaro exhaust manifolds. I have seen a few builds that show this combination, I think. Anyone have this experience? I think this will work better than center dump headers for running duels. I plan to just dump in front of the rear axle.
I used fifth generation Camaro exhaust manifolds and had the left side wrap around the front of the oil pan to make a huge single all the way back. I could have avoided a lot of driveshaft yoke and axle interference work if I have done dual exhaust.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Engine mounts tacked up

Well, I got the fuel pump upgraded and the regulator and return line installed. This morning I finished the grinding off of the original engine mounts. I got the new mounts tacked in place. I have to go get a donor junk engine to mock up this afternoon. My new engine is still a couple of weeks out before delivery. Autometer has me held up on my gauges as well. They are saying mid January. Evidently the TJ dash pod is back ordered from the supplier. That is still OK I am not trying to rush. I still have all the modifications yet to do to the bellhousing. I will try to get a few more pics as I go. Rob
 

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Please tell me how to get the pictures rotated correctly. They were right before I posted them.
 

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Please tell me how to get the pictures rotated correctly. They were right before I posted them.
Are you using an Apple phone ?

They seem to do that a lot

Maybe a mod will flip the pictures for you.
 

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I'll be watching, I'm just getting started with mine as well. I just posted about oil pressure and water temp sensors, curious how you plan to attack?
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Good morning. I guess I need to give an update. My shop looks like a Jeep assembly line on strike. I am stuck waiting on components. Novak radiator fan assembly should be here today. Autometer has had my gauge dash pod on back order since November 19th. And still no ship date. I hope to receive a shipping confirmation from Pace Performance on the LS3 later this week. I have the JB conversions super short SYE installed on the 231 transfer case. I have all the work done to the bell housing, ready to get the NV3550 set to the engine. I have completed the fuel system and the frame mounts are fully weldined in. I mocked up a spare block and heads and set it back as far as I could. My jeep has a one inch body lift, so I am hoping I gained an extra 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch in the front. I will post significant pictures as I go, but you have seen it all before.
If anyone has a lead on an 8.8 or a 44 rear axle down south, ready to build. I am worried about my 35 with 4:56's. I will have to baby the clutch. I think the pinion gear is my weakest link. I do not climb rocks. I would love to find an axle housing already welded up ready to build for the TJ.
I should get some work done in the next couple of weeks if parts will show up. One good thing is I have had plenty of time to get everything cleaned like new.
Happy New Year--Rob
 

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Very cool build! Thanks for sharing your experience!
 
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