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259 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Good day to sit and write up my build. Winter Storm Nemo is just starting to get heavy here, about 4", and its coming down fast.

I bought my 1994 YJ 4.0L 5spd in October 2012.
I previously owned a 1998 TJ 4.0L 5spd a few years back, but only owned it for one winter while I still had my Mustangs. It was bone stock minus some 31" BFG AT's.

I looked for about 6 months to find one locally that wasnt a hack attack project of someone elses, or rusted to pieces, or just an overall mess.
Much harder than I originally thought!

I found this one in NY, listed for $3400, 156k miles. Advertised as running well, but not used for 6 months.
Upon inspection, I found a rotted rear upper shock mount, a leaky wheel cylinder, a relatively clean frame, and an engine that sounded very good, and started easy. Compression test showed 160-165psi on all cylinders, so I started bargaining.
I got him down to $2800, knowing it needed brakes and some other items.
This didnt bother me, as I already planned to replace ALL the brakes, and suspension, and steering.

The motor ran well, but was overall dirty, and had nasty valve cover leak- more on that later.

Suspension was intact, but lots of surface rust.

Loaded up, and headed for my shop.

259 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Rolled it into my shop in late October, right after Superstorm Sandy.
Hectic week at my marina, after we finished clean up, started the tear down.
And like my friends already know about me, its hard for me to look at something, and not improve it in some way shape or form.
Whether it is modifying, replacing, updating, cleaning, painting, etc, I cant leave $h!t alone lol.

All of it was tore down in a matter of a couple days. Lots of sledge hammers, pry bars, PB Blaster, ox- acet torches, and the sawzall.

First assignment was to clean and paint what was to be saved, and toss the rest.

Rockauto got a huge order from me as well, so I could start to re assemble it all.
While it was stripped down to the frame, I wire brushed, scraped, sanded and painted the frame with POR15. And a coat of Rustoleum High Peformance Enamel spray over the top of that. The under side of the body was also wire brushed, and painted with Rustoleum Rust Reformer (awesome product!).

259 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
On the list for replacement parts-

-Full stainless brake line kit, hard lines and flex
-Drums, shoes, hardware, wheel cylinders
-Calipers, pads, rotors
-Master cylinder, brake booster
-Driveshaft u-joints (4)
-Axle u-joints
-Fuel pump/sender, filter
-Head light bezels (missing)
-Unit bearings (front wheel bearings)
-Rear wheel/axle bearings/seals
-Diff gaskets and fluids
-Oil pan gasket
-Tie rods
-Ball joints
-Sway bar bushings
-Track bar deletes
-O2 sensor
-plugs, cap, rotor, wires, coil
-75w-90 full syn gear oil for diff's and trans
-new rear shock mount and frame reinforcement
-Tail gate, old unit tweaked pretty bad
-Hard top, large crack in side, overall rough shape

On the list for upgrades-

-Rough Country 4" lift with N2 shocks
-Rough Country HD stabilizer
-Dynomax catback exhaust
-Magnaflow high flow muffler
-Rugged Ridge cold air intake with heat shield
-Rugged Ridge dual battery tray
-E-Auto Smittybilt front bumper "clone"
-HD fuel tank skid plate (old unit rotted), new tank straps
-2 Interstate Marine 24MXHD 850CCA batteries
-.5" lift Boomerang shackles, HD units
-Prothane shackle bushings
-Grade 8 hardware EVERYWHERE on suspension/steering parts

After all the part showed up, I started to assemble everything:

I lucked out, not needing to buy tires right away.
It came with VERY new D window steelies, and 31" Bridgestone Dueler AT's.
Too small for my liking, but being so new, and possible snow around the corner, these will do fine for the winter.

Can anyone spot the two mistakes I made while installing the suspension??!??!?

259 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
So I drove it around like this for a while. Needed to get it out of my shop so we could load it up with boats for the winter.
I planned to bring it back in once in a while to fix some other things:

-upgrade injectors to newer style
-fix valve cover leak
-replace exhaust manifold (cracked)
-install new bumper

I found a hardtop on CL for $300, complete, in very good shape. Not too far away in NJ.
Here is how she looks today (on the exterior! at time of this pic is before I started the engine work):

So I picked up a header off of eBay, and to say the least, IT SUCKED- more on this later.

A couple months went by, and this brings me up till the last two weeks.
I planned to bring the Jeep back into the shop (in the heat!), to finish up some loose ends.

-installed a Kenwood head unit
-removed, trimmed, and painted the trans tunnel/shift plate, the combo of the 1" body lift from the previous owner, and the TC 1" drop that I installed, made it very hard to get into 2nd and reverse.

Sorry no pics of these two mods.

Then I took a break from the Jeep to finish up some items on my truck-

-replace bed with new 2013 unit
-new tailgate, tail lights, bumper
-Plasti-dip the wheels, emblems, bumpers, grill, and bottom two tone of body paint
-finish some engine mods to help support the new turbo/injector combo
-install new head unit

Start to finish progress pics:

Ok enough truck whoring lol, back to the YJ!!!!

259 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Next was to bring the Jeep in to fix the manifold, valve cover leak, and clean up some stuff in the engine bay.

Tore the engine down for inspection/cleaning/painting:

Next was the BIG surprise, nasty sludge through out the head, and valve cover. Weird part is, i dropped the pan back in November, and there ZERO sludge in the pan.

Needless to say, I pulled the head.

I dropped the head off at the machine shop to get it cleaned up, new seals, grinding of the valves and seats, and have the bottom milled flat.
While waiting for the head, I cleaned and painted the valve cover, intake manifold, accessory brackets, power steering pump:

Also cleaned the fire wall a little, gave it a coat of paint, and the evap canister bracket:

Installed new water pump, cleaned and painted the fan and WP pulley, painted the block:

Out of order, but also cleaned up the deck, replaced the lifters:

259 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Got the head back, got it ready for paint:

New Fel Pro Severe Duty Head Gasket, and new Fel Pro head bolts, torqued with ARP Ultra Torque:

Not sure how I missed the pic, but i replaced the pushrods, and rockers along with the lifters. New valve cover gasket, and new stainless bolts:

Junk eBay header, made contact with intake on runner #6 Pissed I took the time to wrap this darn thing. Removed the header, and bought a new one:

The new header fits much better. Better welds, etc. Got this one from 1A Auto, $140 shipped. They call it their "high quality" manifold. They sell another for $80, not stainless, welds looked crappy on that one.

259 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Power steering reservoir leaking at seam on bottom, good ole epoxy fixed that:

My solution to eliminate the OEM crappy PCV connection from the valve cover to the intake manifold, now able to use heavy wall rubber fuel hose in place of the hard and brittle OEM line:

All back together, minus the intake heat shield:

I like to put this pic right next to it to show the comparison:

During this engine clean up, I also replaced:

-serpentine belt
-all the power steering lines/hoses/clamps
-upper and lower radiator hoses
-radiator cap
-PCV/CCV fittings/grommets/hoses/clamps
-heater hoses/clamps
-windshield washer fluid pumps/hoses
-new "custom" overflow bottle for radiator (no pics yet)
-every bolt/nut/washer possible was replaced with new 316 stainless steel units (probably close to 50-60 bolts!


259 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Still need to snap a few more pics.
Modified some stuff on the driver side fender to clean it all up, make it look neater.
Also painted the fender while it was off.
I have some better shots of the cleaned up PCV/CCV system I routed.\
And forgive the neon yellow hoses for the MAP sensor at the back, I ran out of black vacuum hose.
Also, I was able to delete a port on the intake and blocked it off.

But its all back together and running great.
Love how simple these Jeeps are, and how easy to fix/diagnose/work on them is!

259 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Went to dinner at my sisters to eat pizza with the kids.
Nemo was in full force!
We are seeing an easy 2-3" per hour right now.
Went and grabbed the shop truck and plowed both marinas, and a couple of family members houses.
The YJ does much better in the snow than our 2012 F250, ext cab, short bed, 6.2L gasser,

I must say, the 31's dont do my lift and justice in the looks department, but these things are awesome in the snow!!
Bridgestone Dueler AT's

259 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks bud.
Waiting for a little warmer weather and going to paint the hard top grey.
These Jeeps are far more addictive than I ever imagined!

Picked up a set of 5 of these off a forum member:

And General just came out with these in a 33x10.5x15, got a great deal from Discount Tire Direct on a set of 5:

259 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Another quick update.

Buddy of mine across the street from my shop just bought a new tire mounter, so he gave me his!!! Love the free tools!!

My tires came in yesterday, and Ive had the rims on hand for about a month now. Got to play with the new tire machine. Must say, its pretty sweet. Very easy to use, nylon bead roller leaves no marks on rim and doesnt gouge tires. Difficult time getting the beads to pop, I went with the ether method, never done it before, works great! Very easy, just dont use too much, and they pop right on!

I went with the Grabber Red Letters in 33x10.5. Sick looking tire. First trip to the trails is in late March, cant wait!


259 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Had some more shop time with the Jeep today.
Got my LED tail lights, reverse light and license plate lights installed.
Had to move the plate bracket down so it didnt interfere with the reverse lights.
Also came up with a slick little coolant overflow bottle, forgot to take pics of that after the install.


259 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
What kind of bumper is that? Where did you get it at?

Its an eBay SmittyBilt copy. Actually very beefy. The plate is very sturdy, welds are solid. Tube is very strong as well- enough that I can stand on it (6'4" 240lbs). One minor complaint is the paint finish. It has held up well, except right at the shackle mounts, its chipped a little there. But VHT's wrinkle finish chassis coat is a perfect match.

Only $238, free shipping, weighs about 90-100lbs.
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