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277 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Decided to start a build thread...for myself as much as anyone keep track of the mods I've done and perhaps my wish list.

I'm a new owner of 2 months now of a 98 Yellow TJ, 4.0 5-spd w/D35 and 3.07 gears.

Matching hardtop, 18" XD Rockstar rims with 33" Kelly Safari ATR tires. There is a 2" BL to accommodate the 33" tires (actual tire size 275/70/18).

While I agree that the wheels and tires look nice, and I like the height of the lift, all of that will be coming off and so I will be a work-in-progress...hence, the build thread.

I've already started on some mods, parts ordered for others, and wish list for future (does it ever end?). In-fact, my wife just asked me the other day "Are you done spending money on your Jeep?" :huglove: I politely said 'Almost'.

Anyway, 18" wheels and tires sold. Temp 15" wheels and 31" tires (used) installed - I need something to roll underneath me while I work on everything else as this is my DD. New wheels and tires to come in the Fall.

Safari top ordered and on-hand, but before I take the top off, I've got to build a trunk box to keep stuff just about completed.

2" BDS lift ordered and on-hand.
1" BL on-hand (bought from friend - aluminum pucks)
Rock sliders ordered and on-hand.
Disco's ordered and on-hand.
Tow hooks ordered and on-hand (cosmetic well as functional).

Anyway, I'll do write-ups of the mods I do and if it helps someone - great. If not, at least I'll have a record for myself on what I'm doing/have done.

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277 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Started on my 2" BDS lift today...stubborn torx bolt on front track bar. Head is destroyed. So far, all other bolts playing nicely with me.

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277 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The evolution of my Jeep:

The day before I bought it - sitting on the dealer lot:

98 4.0 5-spd w/D35 and 3.07 gears. No AC, Interior in GREAT condition - Exterior looks great too!! I didn't know about how bad the TJ's had with frame rot - my mechanic (who lives across the street from me but has his own shop, and another Jeeper both looked at my Jeep before buying - rust is just surface rust:

Wheels are 18" XD Rockstar w/33" Kelly Safari ATR tires. 2" Body Lift in place.

Now, 2" BDS lift installed, Hardtop off - Safari top on, 18" Wheels and 33" tires off, 'temp' 15" wheels and 31's on:

Will add more later to write-up the lift install

My Trunk Box

And Safari top and Rain Gear

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277 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
After seeing a lot of really cool ideas for a trunk box, this is what I ended up with:

The considerations I had were:
- It had to fit an equipment bag 36"L x 14" H x 16" W
- It had to be removable to allow the back seat to be put back in
- It had to be accessible (the items inside the box needed to be accessible)
- It needed to have tie-down points
- It had to look good

I decided to NOT just simply cover the back deck, though that probably would have been easier to do. However, if I just simply covered the entire back, I knew I wouldn't get much use out of the space above the wheel wells - so I opted for a simple 'box' design.

First, wood of choice. I opted for OSB rather than a good quality plywood. Cost was a consideration, but more importantly, I knew that I wanted to take it apart and put it back together any number of times. I felt that using OSB would give me something with the 'least' amount of voids in the wood which meant I didn't have to worry about where I was cutting on the sheet.

So I got a 4x8 sheet of 3/4" OSB. Out of the one(1) sheet, and with my box dimension being 38" Deep x 30" Wide x 16" High, I was easily able to cut the bottom, top, and all three sides. Since I don't have a table saw, HD was kind enough to make my cuts for me (I can make the smaller cuts and adjustments at home).

Next, portability - how am I going to make this and take it apart and back together without chewing up the wood. Answer - T-Nuts.

These were the perfect answer. Since the t-nut had barbs to cut into the wood to hold it there, I could use regular bolts instead of screws to hold everything together - without biting into the wood each time.

So I countersunk the t-nuts, used gorilla clue as I pounded each nut into place, screwed in from the other side and let it sit for 24 hrs.

Then, with several brackets, I could bolt/un-bolt the box as many times as I liked:

I made relief cuts on the bottom side to allow for the footman loops, and then on the two sides to allow the closing of the tailgate:

I primed the entire box (to seal the wood as best I can...sanding prior to priming and sanding after), and then used bedliner on the bottom of the bottom piece, and all the outside of the sides. I did this because I knew the box would get wet at times with having the top off. I carpeted the inside, leaving the bracket areas exposed, I have a rubber carpet piece to place on the bottom inside, and then the top is carpeted with automotive carpet (picked up at Autozone). The top is on hinges so I can lift it for easy access to everything inside, and when closed, I can actually lock the box. However, I can just use a carabiner because it is set back far enough that it can't be reached with the tailgate closed.

So, though I'm not a master carpenter, I think it turned out ok. Probably a little overkill on the tie-downs, but very functional!! The equipment bag I have is my umping equipment (I umpire fast-pitch softball...High School, Girls Accelerated, and Men's). Since I'm at various locations (High Schools / Tournament sites), I needed to have a way to secure stuff - hence, the box.

My bag fits in nicely, I have another smaller bag with my ropes and ratchet straps, another first-aid bag, and then a smaller tool bag:

Now, when I want to put the back seat in, I can disassemble the box rather quickly and then throw the back seat in - aside from taking stuff out of the box, to take it apart, store it, and then put the back seat in - probably no more than 5 min. Then just reverse the process when I want the box back in...and I could do that over and over again without doing any damage to the wood and always have a solid box! So in short.....:iamhappy:

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277 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Gone are the 18", Temp 15's

Just thought I'd do a quick write-up on my wheels and tires.

As noted, when I bought my Jeep, it had 18" XD Rockstar rims with 275/70/18 Kelly Safari ATR tires (basically, 33's).

While they looked good and gave me height, I wanted a more aggressive tire (more than just an AT), and from researching on this forum, decided to drop to a 15" rim.

So, I bought a used set of 15" rims for $25

Some of them were pretty beat up

That's ok though - the plan is to plasti-dip them and throw on some used 31's as this is a TEMPORARY setup till I buy new wheels and tires in the Fall.

So, cleaned, prepped, plasti-dipped, and then mounted

While the look isn't anything special, it'll do for now - my total cost of rims, tires, mount/bal, and plasti-dip - $100. Sold the other for $500 - probably could have held out for more, but cash-in-hand is better than wishful thinking.

Plans 'were' for black steelies, but then I found a used set of AR 26 and tried them on for looks (they have a 3.75" BS)

I'll be bed-lining them black but will keep the rivets chrome - something similar to this:

And then will be throwing on a set of Treadwright Guard Dogs

So I'm a bit plain looking now, but selling the old tires and rims have generated some cash to allow me to do other mods first and running on used tires is fine through the summer. However, I can't wait till I get my new tires and fix up my to come - later.

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Looking good! I love your storage box! I have been trying to think of a way I can make a removable box that I can disassemble and this is a great way. I may be stealing the idea ;)
Thanks - you're doing a lot of good on your build as well!!

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277 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
BDS 2" install

Well, while I have written about my BDS install in the general forum, I thought I'd document it here as well so I can have a single point of reference.

As my weekends are rather limited (I'm usually umping a tournament somewhere...), I had slated to do my install on Apr 24/25 - my first free weekend since the 2nd weekend in Feb - ouch. The good thing, it gave me the time to get everything I needed ordered and soak my bolts. However, a few 'tense' moments (actually, frustrating moments).

Since I only work 2 miles away from the house, I usually watch the tracking status when I know I'll have a pkg coming. However, in this case, I was away at a tournament when Brown delivered my lift - I couldn't wait to get home!! Upon getting home, I opened my boxes - it's like Christmas - I can't lie. Only one thing, I noticed I didn't have my rear coils...the 3rd package. I thought no worries - it'll come on Monday. Monday came...nothing. Tuesday - nothing - so I called Brown and they put a trace on it. I called the company I ordered from and they worked on Brown from their end.

I was in a crunch though since my first free weekend since forever was coming up that weekend. The company - Rockridge 4wd, was GREAT. However, I Missed Their Call!! They called me to confirm what part I was missing and they were going to send another one out. When I got home in the eve and heard my vm, I was bummed!! I called the next day and we worked it out - I got the pkg on Friday! As for Brown - the pkg is still missing.

Now the plan was to start Thu eve by just unbolting stuff - well that didn't work. Had family come from out-of-town so my evening was spent w/family. Plan B - get home from work on Fri around 3 pm to start - YES! Oh, I also bought a set of 6-ton jack stands from HF as my smaller ones just weren't going to cut it.

Wheels off, sway bar disconnected, shocks out - well, that was easy. The killer for me that night was unbolting the front trackbar - it had a torx bolt...arghhhh.

To be honest, I really didn't know where to spray (using kroil) for this bolt but as I got into it further and then understanding what a 'flag-nut' was, I had ended up stripping the head. Next step - dremel tool to cut a slot into the head...only problem was, my 'battery' operated dremel tool's battery was all but pooped out and wouldn't hold a charge worth beans. So off to the hardware store to buy a new battery and some extraction tools/bits. $70 later, I have a new dremel (electric - no battery for my older dremel), torch (never had one, never needed one, always wanted one...), and extraction tools (which I later returned).

Getting darker...cut a slot in the head - yeah, that didn't work out too well. Next, cut the bolt to square it up...and that 'almost' worked but the head started rounding off. By then, too dark to work and if I remember...light rain.

So I ended the day feeling bummed - got onto the forum and found out that hey, I don't really need to take the front trackbar off - what??? :jawdrop:

Sat morning:

Thought I would get a better picture - and then just left it alone and moved on w/the install.

Since I already had the shocks out and before taking the coils, I loosened the bracket for the break line - why? - jack up one side to stuff to take out the coil, then again to the other side. Coils came out just fine. Cleaned the mounts a bit but didn't worry about cleaning any of the shock hardware - I had all new hardware. Coil on left, old on right:

And the old shocks:

Getting the front coils on really weren't too much of a problem - I did not use spring compressors - you really don't need them in my opinion. However, when I first put them on, they were rubbing up against the bump stops:

Well, after getting the shocks mounted, it all fell into place:

Next up, the rear. Wheels off, sway bar disconnected, trackbar disconnected from the frame mount - all bolts came out just fine including lower shock mount bolts. The upper bolts...well, 3 out of 4 isn't bad - broke the upper/inner driver side bolt - well, at least the shock is now out. Took out the coils - new on bottom, old on top:

Now what to do with the broken bolt...tried to drill it out - because of the location, just couldn't get a good straight shot at it so back to the forum and my good friend google. Found that the easiest thing to do is to just break the tack weld on the nut and bust the nut out of there. So I got my new dremel and because of the 2" BL that the PO had installed, i was able to get the dremel in there to start cutting away at the tack weld. Between that and pounding away at it with a hammer and rebar, I finally busted it loose. Now, a trip to the hardware store...but they didn't have grade 8, but I got them anyway. As I got home, the rain started in a serious way. By the time I cleaned up with what little stuff I had laying out, I was soaked - looks like I'm done for the day (and done posting for now....)

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
BDS 2" install - continued...

So after getting soaked Sat late afternoon, I was dead dog tired!! I thought that working on the Jeep had just really worn me out - come to find out, I was actually sick and ended up :puke: - not a pretty sight. So I was "really" done for the day and then pretty much out of it on Sunday and then just weak on Monday. But, since I wanted to get the lift done...

Since the rear involved re-using some of the same bolts (trackbar, swaybar, lower shock), I spent a good deal of time cleaning those up. Also, I ran to the auto store and picked up some grade 8 bolts for my upper shock mounts - including a new nut and lock washer. Put everything back together...making sure to use antiseize!!!

Everything back together EXCEPT for the trackbar bolt. Now, I suppose I could have used the trackbar relocation bracket - but the ONLY problem I had with using that is the torx bolt that I would have to take out. Well, after my experience with the front one, I wasn't going to force anything. In fact, I really couldn't get anything in there good enough to even try and loosen it because the gas tank is in the way...and I wasn't about to perhaps open up another can of worms by dropping the gas tank. So for now, I've decided to NOT use the relocation bracket. As for the torx bolt, I do want to replace it with a hex bolt, but I'll take it down to my neighbor's shop and let him break it loose.

So the problem with the trackbar bolt was two-fold. 1) the hole wouldn't line up - it was about 1/4" out of alignment, and 2) the trackbar angle was different...more on that in just a sec.

More google work and forum work - and I find that this is a common problem with the trackbar bolt being out of alignment. Solution? - just get a ratchet strap and pull the frame over. The straps that I had I felt were too weak, so another trip to the hardware store for a more sturdy/heavy-duty ratchet strap. I should have taken pictures, but in the end, I got the hole to line up and started the bolt through. That's when i found that the trackbar had rotated and I just couldn't figure out how to resolve it...I tried jacking up and down the axle/wheels and all sorts of things nothing worked :banghead:

So my Monday was finished with just ONE bolt remaining!! Back to google.

Tuesday at work, all I could think about was what my plan of attack would be - loosen everything again, take out the coils, and loosen upper and lower control arms on both sides. However, since I still had High School games to do...I had to wait till around 7pm before I could get back to my Jeep. Once I got home though, it was a cinch to unbolt everything so that took hardly any time at all. Then I just raised the axle and the bolt lined up perfectly! I wasn't taking any chances then and lightly tightened the bolt. Put everything else back together, installed my front discos, and DONE :dance::dance:



I gained about 3" both front and back - nice!!

Test drive - no problems at all. No vibes, nothing broke on me when driving, and the ride is much better!! So I'd have to say my first suspension job was a success!! :appl:

In summary, leave your trackbars alone (front and rear) unless you plan on replacing them or if you are adding a relocation bracket. Take time beforehand to soak your bolts. This is actually a simple lift to install, yet it provides a GREAT ride and a GREAT look! I haven't wheeled with it yet...been too busy :( but so far, I'm liking it!!!

It'll look even better when I get my new wheels and tires come Fall....CAN'T WAIT!!!

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·

Well, it's been a bit since I've updated my build. The "biggest" improvement came with new tires that I thought I wouldn't be getting till the Fall. However, since my drivers side front was getting pretty thin and my wife didn't like the idea of spending more money just to spend money again on tires in the Fall said to just get new now. I didn't argue one bit. However, since I didn't have cash on-hand to get the treadwright Guard Dogs, I went with the Goodyear Duratracs and I love them.

The wheels (AR 26) I picked up used so that saved me some money as well since initially I was planning on new.

I also took care of some rust below the drivers door on the rocker panel:

Ground it down a bit:

But then just decided to cut it out and have a new piece welded in. This pic is after the new piece welded in - not the best weld job but it was all going to be covered up anyway with rock sliders:

I have bad body working skills - actually, this was the first time I've ever done any body work - never needed to before. I did bondo the area smooth, applied like 3 coats of primer...wet sanded the last coat, and then about 3 coats of paint. Didn't get any pics of the bad paint job (could NOT get a color match!!) but again, it was going to be covered up anyway with rock sliders:

I figure that if the sliders come off, then I can redo the area if needed...for now, no one will know and most importantly, the rust is out and the area protected properly with primer/paint and then protected again with the slider.

I was also able to pickup an OEM soft top with ALL the hardware. I'm loving the soft top as I can go from fully enclosed and protected from the elements, to safari top to topless. The soft top's back window had zipper problems so it was unusable. However, the zipper itself looked good so I ordered some new zipper sliders from jeepit and I now have a working rear window.

So for now, most of my initial mods and all of my major mods are done:
- 2" BDS Lift
- Wheels and tires
- Rock Sliders
- Body Rust
- Soft top w/hardware (especially door surrounds)
- Trunk lock box
- Discos

My kids just got me a CB for Father's Day so that will be going in as soon as I have some time, still need to keep working on the surface rust on the frame ('surface' rust), a winch is on the list at some point as are new bumpers both front and rear...but not this year. A sound bar is also in the plan though I may just build my own - will have to see.

Anyway, I'm way happy with my Jeep and how it is turning out. The only sad part is I have yet to take her off-road as I just haven't had any time. I've made the time to make her trail worthy, but my weeknights and weekends have just been too full. I'm hoping July will give me some much needed rest and time to enjoy both family and my Jeep!!


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Been lurking around on this site for quite some time, looking at other builds. I don't have a jeep yet, but within a year or so I'll be trading in my 98 f150 for one. Man oh man, time needs to get a move on. Anyways, I'm lovin' what you're doing with your jeep and this is something similar to what I've been dreaming of. Around my neck of the woods, we don't have much of any hardcore trails or anything. So a small lift and some decent tires would get me through the woods, and a winch maybe for that piece of mind.

Your jeep is looking beautiful already. I'm following this for sure man.
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