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955 Posts
Discussion Starter · #22 ·
I have to replace my heater core too. When you can let me know how difficult/easy it is.
Sorry if i'm replying too late; been too busy with both work and the jeep to make an update. Seems every time i sit down to make a post i get half way through it, run out of time, then have to rewrite it due to new progress!

I'm pretty much done with the heater core. As i was disconnecting harnesses, i recorded video on my phone of where they all came from and plugged into, just to make sure i wouldn't forget anything. I'd recommend following the write ups on STU's site, they're very well written, however the main write up leaves out a couple harnesses so be sure you keep a close eye on the dash as you pull it away from the firewall.

I personally did not end up taking the dash completely out. The main firewall harness was zip tied all the way across the bottom of the dash, and i was not snipping every one of those zipties, so i just went with one of the suggestions in the writeup and tied the dash up to the sport bars. Be careful if you use the center hole in the dash, though. It's thin and it'll bend.

The HVAC unit was a bear to get out. I fought it for a while before i managed to angle it in a way that i could get it out. It probably would have been a little easier had the dash been removed, but not by much.

The two halves of the unit itself are held together by about 50,000 screws(actually around 30), many of which were hidden in inconvenient spots. 2 of them were in deep pockets towards the middle of the unit, which i could only see with a flashlight. Then 2 more were under the cover for the blower motor, which at first glance looks like you could get away without removing it but there are screws hiding underneath. Mind you i have a 05 so my blower motor is set into the unit differently than the earlier years, though. You can speed up taking apart the unit A LOT if you have an impact driver like i do.

The foam gaskets that press up to the firewall and the ducts also need to be removed partially because they're attached to both the upper and lower side. I just picked a corner and started peeling them from one half as cleanly as i could. Some elmer's glue, RTV or whatever you have handy will work for putting them back on. The pressure when it's all installed should be enough to hold them in place.

Reinstallation is even more of a pain than removal. The only real suggestion i have is that MAKE SURE you remove the floor board blower duct piece like they mention in the writeup or else the unit will not go back in. I didn't and had to fight it back out of the jeep, take the duct off, and reinstall the unit. BE CAREFUL of your door jam switches and the wiring. I accidentally broke my passenger side and had to visit the local pick n' pull for a new one. The only other advice I can give is that when you're lowering the dash back onto the firewall, take your time and make sure all wiring is plugged in, and not pinched or tight if it's not where it's supposed to be. I have 3 aftermarket switches with 3 or 4 leads each in addition to aftermarket wiring running from one side of the dash to the other. So I made sure this was all clear as it had a tenancy to fall in front of the HVAC opening that leads to the ducts on the dash.

The column and dash are in save for a few trim panels i need off for later.

As for the rest of the jeep, the old engine is out, components swapped over to the new engine, and it is now installed. I was gradually taking parts to work as they came off to run them through the parts washer. My intake manifold in particular was fun to clean out. Night and day difference.

Most of the accessories are bolted on. I started on my transmission flush by dropping the pan, which I've now painted and drilled for a drain plug.

Speaking of painting, that's another part that took some time. I mentioned recently por-15ing my frame. Well shortly after i duct-taped over my frame holes to prevent mud/crap getting in. Well i planned on peeling them to drain out water when i occasionally wash out the frame. Only problem is that doing this ripped the por clean off!! Almost like peeling off plasti-dip. And it most-definitely did not "fuse" to the rusty parts of the frame like it's advertised to. I'll be sending an email to por-15 to see what's up, because i followed the application procedure to the T.

So, some time was spent re-doing the parts of the frame where the paint tore off. I also did the engine bay rails while the engine was out.
Some other spots i noticed were the fender mounting brackets that bolt to the firewall on the lower sides. There was a considerable amount of rust around this area so i took them off, cleaned them up the best i could and rattle canned them. I also rattle canned the bottom of the rockers & body mounting channels to buy myself a little more time before i replace them.

I also decided to just jump the gun and go full-LEDs with my marker lighting. I bought 4" round red LEDs, along with some smaller red side-markers from work.

I've mostly finished converting the rear end of the jeep to LEDs. So that took up some extra time too. I also had to modify my EVAP canister to fit them by cutting off a piece of bracketing. This is mentioned in STU's writeup on LED tail lights. The lights are all wired now, i just need to touch up some cut edges with paint and pop them in!

I think I've mostly covered in broad-terms what i have done right now. Obviously there's much more detail to be had as I've been busy with the jeep 24/7. But i'm trying to keep this post short and mildly interesting.

Right now, the next step is getting the rest of the accessories bolted to the engine and getting it to the point where it's turn-key ready. I forget if i mentioned this earlier in the thread, but i'm going to try to get it started and warmed up before i even install the fenders. Reason being is because I've had issues on multiple 4.0s with the intake leaking due to the bolts loosening up, even when properly torqued. You're technically supposed to torque these again after a few full heat up/cool down cycles but i see it to be incredibly difficult/impossible with the fenders on. We shall see how that goes.

Until next post!

955 Posts
Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Just wanted to make a quick post to say i hit a milestone tonight. I got the engine started! It fired right up without any hesitation. No clanks or pings, just a smooth idle! The computer did come back with a couple codes, one being an evap leak(P0499) which makes sense since i don't have the canister hooked back up yet. And another for a hot battery(p0517), which i may have forgot to connect the battery temp sensor or it's because the battery isn't sitting straight in the tray.
Getting it to fire on the first try definitely is the best payoff i could have gotten from this project. I also have already finished piping most of my transmission cooler/filter/temp gauge lines, and the fenders are on the jeep. I decided to not wait on putting them on because as i looked at it more, it looked like i could wiggle extensions in there to torque those manifold bolts.

Pretty much the only thing left is tying up loose ends. Finishing my front markers and tail lights, finish wiring the trans. temp gauge, finishing the piping for the transmission cooler, putting dash and body panels back together, putting the center skid plate back up, finishing the coolant flush, transmission flush, power steering flush, E brake shoes, and a few nuts and bolts i'm probably forgetting.

Next update will probably be rolling the jeep out of the garage!

955 Posts
Discussion Starter · #24 ·
Another quick update!
2 weeks later and I've driven the jeep back and forth to work several times so far. For a complete front end revamp, i'd say it runs great. The 1" brown dog MML has completely eliminated any need for a t-case drop with my 2" lift. I do have some slight vibes at idle but i believe this is because i do not have the thru-bolts torqued properly. I'm going to re-visit them before returning the jeep to full service.
I have some idling/throttle problems that were pre-existing but have gotten worse since the swap so i'm trying to sort those out now. I made a thread about them in detail here.

Other than that, my transmission cooler and gauge are working great after some working out some troubleshooting with the sensor not grounding in the rubber lines i installed it in(Duh!). I dare say the cooler may be keeping my transmission too cool if there is such a thing? Normal 60mph driving with OD on keeps the trans around 115-125 degrees. It takes some heavier highway driving with steeper grades to push the transmission to the normal operating temp of around 150. And this is just all based on the output line which should show the hottest the temps get. This is something i will be asking about in the tech forum later.

My heater core was blowing intermittently between luke-warm and boiling hot water since i installed it. The past 2 times i drove the TJ though it's been that typical jeep super-heated air so i'm hoping it's just an air bubble that took a while to work itself out due to everything being void of coolant. The coolant reservoir is also probably about 1 qt below where i filled it, so this thankfully reinforces this theory. Both top and lower heater hoses were super hot as well so i believe that rules out a clog. Which i find unlikely in the first place due to the block only being 10k miles old, and all the other cooling components being new.

My modded LED flasher using STU's write up apparently wasn't rated low enough to still flash my full-led conversion. So i ordered a new one from GCD offroad as suggested in mentioned write up. This works flawlessly flashing my full LED conversion. I also ordered a new multi-function switch to go with it, as my fog light indicator lamp kept lighting up every time i used my turn signal(even though i have the fog light circuit disconnected). Very annoying, but a common-place problem with the later TJ multi-function switches.

I still have some small stupid stuff to sort out. I never installed my new e-brake pads and adjusted them. So i'll be doing that in the coming weeks. I still need to put on the hardtop and put away the soft top for the winter. And i think i will be re-installing the carpets for winter. And i need to loom up some wiring, and install my brush guard and flood lights. Though i plan on welding my custom light bar on the brush guard a little more to stiffen it up. The lights will wobble going down my bumpy dirt road.

Also something i learned about myself is that while i'm crunching trying to get stuff done, i get lazy with the pictures. I don't have nearly as many pictures as i'd like of my transmission gauge, cooler, filter, nor the engine or the jeep itself. Right now a picture of the jeep itself will have to do. Though a bit outdated, I've since cut the flare extensions and rear flares flat to match the flat fenders in front.

Addressing the reason to my late post:
I've been busy working on my girlfriend's new 2006 5.7 hemi WK. It pretty much was a jump right out of working on the TJ into the WK so I've been pretty busy. She got a good deal on it so obviously it's been a long 2 weeks of fixing small, stupid little the-PO-was-too-lazy-to-do-basic-maintenance things that made it the good deal it was. Even though it's kinda cheating because this a wrangler forum, i can't resist posting a picture of the WK!

I hope to make another update post soon with more pictures of what i have done!

955 Posts
Discussion Starter · #25 ·
Happy 2017!

It's been a few months since my last post! Work, the jeep, and my girlfriend's WK have kept me busy through the holidays. But progress has been made, even if i've been too lazy to report.

I've put the new 4.0 through most of it's trials by driving it though all of the rough snow we've had in NW PA this winter. Pretty much all of the issues i talked about previously have worked themselves out. Heat is staying hot, transmission gauge is working great, even the engine vibes I had during idle are gone. Perhaps the new motor mounts needed a break in period?

The glaring issue I have not figured out yet is my jeep wanting to Rev itself and stall out with you suddenly release the throttle in reverse. As I mentioned before, this was a small issue before the swap but has gotten worse. I've ruled out possible throttle body or vacuum leaks, replaced the TPS and the IAC, with no luck. The only conclusion I've drawn is that some sensor(or the computer) is telling the IAC to feed the engine pulses of air when the butterfly plate suddenly closes. I'll need to do more research to figure out what's going on.

Even though the holidays *should* have made me buckle down on my spending, i(somehow) managed to pick up 3 new mods for the jeep. Spoiler, only one of them was a gift(Still in denial that i have a problem).

First off, i found a set of 100w KC apollo driving lights for 50 bucks. They were in pretty good condition, and I've secretly been wanting to replace the Hella Optiluxes that were on my windshield. Reason number 1 is that i have found i very much dislike KC's classic metal light design that everyone copies. Reason being; the huge 1/2" bolt that the lights use to mount is prone to rusting(Even KC does not use a stainless bolt on their design!) and when it does, upon removal it strips out the housing rendering the light non-mountable. This is a picture of what happens

This happened with BOTH the Hellas, and the KCs. The KCs, i was able to warranty and received a replacement pair. I will not be re-installing my brush guard, so i do not know if i will be re-mounting them. I may go the way of 100w fog lights instead of the floods, because the white-out conditions of these past 2 winters have been brutal.

Continuing on the trend of lighting(How has it come to me being a complete lighting fanatic?), for Christmas i was given a set of United Pacific 7" LED enclosures.

They are a glass H4 halogen bulb enclosure, with 2 sets of +/- leads for the curve of LEDs on the right and left sides. They come in amber or white, so with the amber they could be wired as turn signals. I have mine wired as daytime running lights. That is one thing i envy about newer cars; the LED daytime running lights are a huge safety feature. They make you much more noticeable going down the road.
I grew increasingly dissatisfied with my KC 7" enclosures the longer i had them. They are about 4 years old, and the plastic lens already has plenty of scratches and pitting. I prefer glass lenses that do not have these issues. Combining both these reasons made these lights a no-brainer on my "want" list. My only complaint is that while the LEDs are wired into my marker lights, they stay on when i turn my headlights on. I would prefer them to turn off with the headlights, but i need to figure out a way to do this without incorporating too many relays.

Lastly on the list, one of my weaknesses is looking on craigslist occasionally for good deals on things i really shouldn't be buying. One of those are Warn winches. That's how i picked up this Warn M8000.

Winch, controller, cable(no hook), and wiring(too short for my application) all included. I bought it in non-working condition when it was advertised as working. So i chewed the guy down from his 250 asking to 150. He guessed it did not work because the pins for the controller plug were hot-glued into the solenoid cover and had broken loose. While the plug did need replaced, it ultimately was not the issue. Some troubleshooting later, i found out how to short and activate the motor to find it was not working. Due to my limited experience with electric motors(I really only know how to check if the brushes are good) i took it to an alternator shop. 30 bucks later, they repaired a broken solder joint on one of the studs(Feel stupid for not having seen it when i had it apart) and the motor worked!

I took apart the endhousing and found the moly grease to be smooth with no grit. No water, and all of the planetary gears in great condition with no chips or funny wear. I elected to put it back together as-is for now and get it on the front of the jeep for as little invested as possible. Sometime this year i plan to strip down the entire thing and re-build it with fresh grease, paint and a few new parts.

I never had mentioned this in my build, but when i owned my old TJ, i picked up a Warn 9.5ti for 50 bucks. The motor worked, however it had no cable, and had broken mounts. It also was in great condition inside. No water, smooth grease. Guess i get lucky on deals with rebuildable winches. I planned on rebuilding it, but after finding out how much it would cost with the cable and winch plate, i put it on the back burner and kinda' forgot about it.

That winch came in handy, because when i got the M8000 mounted onto the front of the jeep, the power spool out did not work. Turned out being a bad solenoid, which i just took one of the good ones from my 9.5ti and the winch worked great! I'll keep the other 3 solenoids with me as spares.

Including the Winch itself, mounting plate, fairlead, wiring, hook, and other misc. expenditures to get it to work, i'm at about $375 invested for a working Warn M8000 on the front of the jeep. I don't think that's too shabby!

I already put it to good use pulling a poor guy and his ranger out of the ditch after he hit a snow drift and lost control. I preemptively picked up a cluster of wrecker rigging hooks for when things like this happen.

They are designed to hook into the frame holes of vehicles that do not have tow attachments. They are not rated for heavy duty recovery(5,400lbs working load), however it's what towing services like AAA use when they're doing recoveries from ditches and embankments. So it should be enough for the occasional good samaritan act.
While pulling him out, though my voltage gauge dropped and the check gauges light came on while idling. I raised the RPMs to make the alternator work harder, however it's probably the fact that my 4 year old Everstart isn't up to full-time winch usage. This year will probably see a new battery and upgraded wiring.

This year i also have a lot of welding and painting planned. Rust is starting to show though on the rear corners of the jeep, below the tail lights. Right where the boxed-in body mount nuts are. Hopefully it isn't too far gone that i can't clean it and treat it with POR-15. If worse comes to worse, i'll have to cut it all out and either install corner armor to cover it, or weld in new steel.

I also am going to repair my rockers, and replace my body mount torque boxes, treating all the surfaces as i go. My windshield frame is rotted out in spots, so i'll be fixing that as well. The frame on the jeep is in great shape, so i'll be damned if i let the body rot out above it.

Besides that, i plan on putting in a mopar radiator and re-installing the AC this year. And most importantly, i plan on WHEELING the jeep this year. I'm finally comfortable that i can beat on it a bit without it breaking. And even if it does, i have my truck as a backup DD. My only issue is that i don't have anyone to wheel with! So, if you're in the NW PA/NE OH area and want to get out on some trails this spring/summer, hit me up and maybe we can arrange something!

I believe that's it for this post! Happy Jeeping!

955 Posts
Discussion Starter · #26 ·
February 2017; build summary
Having owned my TJ for a little over 2 years, i wanted to make a concise mid-build update post kinda' summarizing all my mods so far. None of my remove & replace or general maintenance is on here unless i consider it an upgrade. Nor will i include any recovery gear or anything else i keep in the jeep. So you'll have to dig through the thread if you want those!

2005 Jeep TJ Sport
-123k miles on body, trans and TC. 17k miles on engine
-42RLE transmission
-D44 rear/D30 front. stock 3.73 gearing

-2" BDS lift springs
-Rancho RS5000X shocks
-Adjusted bumpstop extentions
-Rough Country 1.25" body lift
-31" Goodyear duratracs on 15x7 Cragar D window steel wheels
-265/75 studded Firestone winterforces on 15x7 stock SE steel wheels
-Spicer HD ball joints
-ZJ tie rod upgrade
-Front custom HD sway bar disconnects

Exterior/body modifications
-CCFabs tube fenders
-Trimmed rear stock fenders
-Bestop Trektop NX
-Stock hardtop from a 2000 TJ
-Warn M8000 winch mounted on a Rough Country plate
-10k tow hooks
-Curt Class 3 2" receiver w/ shackle attachment

-Complete LED marker/turning light conversion w/GCD LED flasher
-United Pacific 7" H4 headlight conversion w/ LED halo rings
-Custom 10GA relayed headlight harness
-80/100w Hella H4 headlight bulbs
-KC Apollo 100w driving lights on the windshield w/ KC brackets
-LED rock lights & reverse lights

Performance/under the hood stuff:
-Ford windstar cowl intake mod with rugged ridge cowl vent cover
-Banks monster cat-back exhaust system
-Axles, trans, TC breathers extended to top of engine bay
-Advanced Adapters TC linkage isolation bracket
-Brown Dog 1" lifted motor mounts
-Autometer Trans temp sensor piped after torque converter
-Aux finned transmission cooler
-B&M aux transmission filter kit
-Spicer HD u-joints in front driveshaft, Moog u joints in rear & axle shafts

Interior/convenience/other faffy things:
-Black box G1WC dash cam
-Quadratec floor mats
-Ebay paracord grab handles
-Custom wired GM compass/temperature rear view mirror
-Polk 6.5" soundbar speakers
-Front speaker adapter plates & Polk 5.25" speakers
-6.5" pyramid replacement subwoofer in center console
-JVC head unit
-2 10" kicker CompVR subs in a probox rocks non-ported box
-Dual amp

It's come a long way since i first got it, but it still has a long way to go before i'll consider it done. And what remains probably will be a slower haul. Simply because coming up are things like running 33s, suspension and axle modifications. All of which are much higher-dollar mods which will take saving and part collecting. However as stated in my original post, a lot of convenience/smaller mods still apply so i'll be throwing those on as i go.

955 Posts
Discussion Starter · #27 ·
July 2017 check-in

Hey all! Just wanted to drop in and update the thread. Jeep and I are still around; however most of my money is being invested into tools for work at the moment, and what's left over is going into my girlfriend's vehicles as I've taken over the maintenance accounts while she focuses on college. I haven't gotten a chance to take the Jeep out this summer yet, unfortunately. It's been harder than i thought to find groups to wheel with around where i live. I still have a couple solo trips i want to tackle before summer is up, though.

I still have managed to put some work into the Jeep, though. Though i won't go into detail now due to time constraints, i put in a new RMS into the reman engine as the one that was in there started leaking. I also put in a new battery, and completely new cables.

Right now, i'm working on wiring up my Warn's solenoid box into the engine bay, this way i can re-install my grille guard and KC floodlights. I'm also putting in a new aux grounding bar and finally looming up all the loose wiring running around my engine bay. I think i'll post up a complete detailed post on all this at once when it's done. For right now though, here's a couple teaser images of the bracket i fabbed up and how my solenoid box will mount in the engine bay.

After that it's time for replacement rockers, and i'm also getting rust showing through under the tail lights in the back that needs fixed before winter. My windshield frame is completely rotted out at the bottom, so i'm debating if i want to just go with a new one or try to fix it. Either way i'll have to either have a shop move the glass, or learn to install it myself. I'm trying to get this rust completely quelled so it can be managed with regular oilings and spray-paint touch-ups.

Lastly i noticed photobucket did something pretty awful. They've been holding their 3rd party image hosting hostage and breaking everyone's embedded pictures here on the forum(and everywhere) unless they upgrade to a $400/year account. From what i can see, my pictures look alright still, but i'll be finding another hosting service soon. If my pictures break i might have to get with an admin and see if they can help me fix them.

Cheers! Hope to be posting back soon!

1,026 Posts
July 2017 check-in

Hey all! Just wanted to drop in and update the thread. Jeep and I are still around; however most of my money is being invested into tools for work at the moment, and what's left over is going into my girlfriend's vehicles as I've taken over the maintenance accounts while she focuses on college. I haven't gotten a chance to take the Jeep out this summer yet, unfortunately. It's been harder than i thought to find groups to wheel with around where i live. I still have a couple solo trips i want to tackle before summer is up, though.

I still have managed to put some work into the Jeep, though. Though i won't go into detail now due to time constraints, i put in a new RMS into the reman engine as the one that was in there started leaking. I also put in a new battery, and completely new cables.

Right now, i'm working on wiring up my Warn's solenoid box into the engine bay, this way i can re-install my grille guard and KC floodlights. I'm also putting in a new aux grounding bar and finally looming up all the loose wiring running around my engine bay. I think i'll post up a complete detailed post on all this at once when it's done. For right now though, here's a couple teaser images of the bracket i fabbed up and how my solenoid box will mount in the engine bay.

After that it's time for replacement rockers, and i'm also getting rust showing through under the tail lights in the back that needs fixed before winter. My windshield frame is completely rotted out at the bottom, so i'm debating if i want to just go with a new one or try to fix it. Either way i'll have to either have a shop move the glass, or learn to install it myself. I'm trying to get this rust completely quelled so it can be managed with regular oilings and spray-paint touch-ups.

Lastly i noticed photobucket did something pretty awful. They've been holding their 3rd party image hosting hostage and breaking everyone's embedded pictures here on the forum(and everywhere) unless they upgrade to a $400/year account. From what i can see, my pictures look alright still, but i'll be finding another hosting service soon. If my pictures break i might have to get with an admin and see if they can help me fix them.

Cheers! Hope to be posting back soon!

You probably are much better going with a whole different wind shield frame. If you have someone good with a mig welder, you can rebuild that frame.

Photo buck has lost it's marbles. Go from $0 to $400. Im sure this will work for them. Try these guys, they are great....Cubeupload dot com

955 Posts
Discussion Starter · #29 ·
You probably are much better going with a whole different wind shield frame. If you have someone good with a mig welder, you can rebuild that frame.

Photo buck has lost it's marbles. Go from $0 to $400. Im sure this will work for them. Try these guys, they are great....Cubeupload dot com
Thanks! Yeah the more i looked at the windshield, the more i'm tempted to just replace it. There's about a 5" rot hole on both edges of the inside of the windshield. It would be A LOT easier to replace it, however a new one would cost about $350 shipped, plus my cost in paint to get it to match and any expenses to install it. I think i'm going to put it off until next year; some windshields i see offered with glass so maybe i can find a deal and get a cheap one.

Thanks for the reference; photobucket is ensuring it's own demise with this move.

955 Posts
Discussion Starter · #30 ·
Early 2017 projects; engine bay wiring progress

Managed to chip away at the engine bay wiring a little more today.

But before that, i'll go over everything i did to the jeep in the first half of 2017. Starting with upgrading my stock alternator/battery/starter wiring, and my new battery.

I covered before in my build thread about my voltage dropping significantly with winch operation. I believed the culprit to be my 3 year old ever start battery. So i tossed it in favor of a Napa Legend AGM battery. Along with it, i upgraded the chintzy stamped copper terminals to some military style lead terminals. I also tore out the stock charging, starting, and ground harnesses and replaced them with 2 AWG welding cables, copper terminal lugs, and finished off with glue-lined heat shrink tubing.

For folks wanting to do something similar, i loosely followed this guide[link].
However i did do some things differently:

-I ordered an assortment of copper lugs in 1/4", 5/16", and 3/8". Reason being is that i planned on relocating my winch solenoid box at the same time, and there are an assortment of different stud sizes in the engine bay and on the parts i was using. So i wanted to make sure i had the correct sizes to ensure a snug fit on every stud. Ordering ~40 copper lugs in different sizes can get pricey($50-$60), however the extras will go in my wiring kit and will be used, eventually.

-I did not use a hammer clamp style crimper as shown in the above write up i linked. Given how much i was spending on this mod, i decided to go a little farther and pick up a cheap hydraulic crimper off Ebay.

Ebay items like this are sometimes hit-or-miss, but this one worked great and made a rock solid mechanical connection on every terminal i used it on. I didn't even waste one terminal.

-Someone in the comments of the above write up mentioned the stock fusible link wired in between the alternator and fuse box and how the person writing the guide left it out. This link is to protect the electrical system in the event that the alternator fails and begins over-charging the system; the fusible link acts as a slow-blow fuse that melts and breaks the charging circuit.
I did not want to leave this out of my system, so the best thing i could do was get a bunch of 4 6" lengths of 10 AWG fusible link wire, and connected it inline with a copper barrel butt connector. I used GM part #12077140, it was the larges gauge fusible link i could find for an affordable price. This roughly equals out to a gauge or 2 below 2 AWG. This is about the size you want your fusible link.

I measured the correct lengths for all the power and ground wires, cut, stripped, crimped, and heat-shrunk every connection. I then wrapped all my power wires in wire looming; you don't want these rubbing on something and shorting out!

No pictures of the engine bay just yet; i need to clean up my rat's nest of aftermarket wiring first!

This all took place slowly over February - March. Around the same time i had a rear brake caliper lock up, so i did rear pads, calipers, and rotors. Not much to say about this except that the Wearever premium pads i got are extremely squeaky. It'll probably be my last set of pads from Advance Auto. Also i cannot get my parking brakes to work properly; even with completely cleaning and freeing the lever set in the backing plate. I believe i'll have to replace my parking brake cables to get them to work properly, so i removed the pads and hardware for now.
I also changed out the gear oil in both diffs as well.

A couple weeks i also did the Rear main seal in my Spartan re-manufactured engine with only about 22k on it. Not too bad of a job; you just have to drop a lot of parts. I personally dropped the center skid and exhaust down pipes to make it as easy as possible to get the pan out. All of this was pretty easy as I've had all these parts out before. I followed my copy of the factory service manual, the instructions of the write up i was following[link], and the directions on the rear main seal very carefully and got it all installed properly.
While i had the pan out, i did a little research on a part i removed while swapping this engine into my first jeep(couldn't find the proper orientation for it so i just didn't put it back on). It was a strap-looking bracket that mounted over the rear of the oil pan using the rear 2 bolts.

I found out that this is installed to help support the rear of the oil pan. Me removing this very well could have caused the rear main seal, or the rear of the oil pan to leak. Needless to say, i picked a new one from the dealer and installed it with the new oil pan gasket. With about 100 miles on the new seal, absolutely no leaks yet.

Flash forward to today; i got a chance to work on cleaning up my engine bay wiring. I'm a couple steps closer to looming it all up and being done with it.

I picked up a Blue Sea Systems grounding bus bar. My previous grounding bar was stamped ~20 gauge tin and needless to say i probably ran 3 sets of 100W lights on it a little longer than i should have.

My new bar is built extremely solid, however to get all the terminals to align properly on it, i picked up a piece of aluminum L channel and built a bracket for it so it is orientated sideways. This way all the wiring will run straight up to the grill supports where i will have the main looms zip tied. I have it positioned right next to the alternator, mounted to a flat spot on the fender. There is just enough room to fit a stubby Philips screwdriver in there to get at the terminals

I'll have to keep one in the jeep's tool box at all times!

I have some of my aftermarket grounds transferred over, however i have a few more to go. I'm using glue-lined heat shrink ring terminals; so the seal should be solid, and decently waterproof.

My next update will probably be when my grounding bar is done, solenoid box relocated, and hopefully all my wiring loomed up! Until then, happy jeeping!

955 Posts
Discussion Starter · #31 ·
Wooah, 35s!

So, somewhat of a mid-progress update on the jeep...

The wiring and looming i mentioned in my last post is 95% done. The Warn's solenoid box is relocated, it just needs a new 2ga power wire crimped and ran to it. All of my aftermarket grounds are relocated to the new buss bar, all aftermarket wiring in the engine bay and under the fenders is now loomed up and looking all nice and black.

Can't see the wiring? Good! That means the looming is doing it's job :)

This will also allow me to reinstall my grille guard and my KC flood lights on it. However i think i'm going to rework my mounting design; the current bar stock welded onto it wobbles on bumpy roads.

Now, a sudden and kinda spur of the moment development with the TJ...

I was looking on Facebook jeep pages and found someone selling a set of 5 35" Goodyear MTRs on cragar soft 8s for $750. He claimed there was only about 3800 miles on 4, and the 5th hadn't even touched the ground.
Now, the TJ is due for new tires next year... While 35s weren't even in my original build plans, it became a faint idea as a possibility when i got another vehicle to DD.

Well me, the girlfriend and my buddy loaded up in his truck and traveled 2 hours down into Ohio to take look at them and make sure they were what the guy said they were. A few minutes after looking at them they were loaded up in the truck and mounted later that night.

And boy do they fill out the jeep.

The bad: After about 40 miles on them, i started to get serious death wobble that i'm still trying to diagnose. At first i thought it was the fact that i had the unbalanced spare on the front. Swapped them around and still no dice. With a dry steering test, i couldn't find much movement in the steering besides what i thought was a little movement in my not-too-old track bar. So i replaced it with a brand new Moog unit; death wobble is still there.

So after some research and asking around on the forums, I've decided to take them into work and check the balance on them. There's really no damage on them besides a little rock rash on the outside of the tread blocks. But no cuts or chunked tread blocks. But that possibly might be enough to throw off the balance.

The bad further: My Jeep really isn't set up for 35s. I have a ZJ tie rod upgrade and a 44 in the rear, but that's pretty much the bare minimal i would consider acceptable for street and light trail use 35s. Not to mention stock brakes, my glass cannon 42RLE and the 3.73 gearing. Which, by the way, wasn't nearly as bad as i thought it would be at highway speeds(For the small amount i drove before the DW set in). I have to keep OD off at any kind of highway speed; or else the tranny starts heating up pretty quickly; even with the cooler on it. So the engine is working a little harder, but i can keep 65 up on the interstate so i'm happy.

Also there's some issues with offset in PA.

The tires are mounted on 10" wide rims with 4" of backspacing. So, this equals out to them exceeding my flares by about ~4". My solution for this, i believe will be to cut up mudflaps from work and make my own jerry-rigged flare extensions. It might look a little hill-billy-ie, but it'll keep my clearances legal until i move somewhere where it's a non-issue or think of something better...

I'll be addressing my other weak points as i go. The ZJ steering should get me by for a while. But i'll eventually want to upgrade to something stronger, but also something greasable for longevity... That kinda' rules out any heim steering kits. I'm looking at the Currie correctlync, however it's designed for higher lifts so i might wait until later and stick with the ZJ set up for now.
As far as braking and gearing, i think braking is probably more important from a safety standpoint. So i'm trying to decide if i should go with just black magic pads + centric rotors or bite the bullet and go with a big brake kit.

Gearing will be done when i can afford it and can't stand the mileage and speeds of stock gearing... I'll also probably do some aftermarket shafts in the front, then the rear for good measure eventually.

So, as i close this i have a lot to think about... Right now i'm just going to focus on getting the Jeep streetable again and then return my energy to fixing my rust. My new 35s give me a lot to think about long-term, however i just want to get them turning properly first.

Until next time!

955 Posts
Discussion Starter · #32 ·
Build redirection; tub swap

So, this is going to be a bit odd coming right after my update of getting 35s. But, i plan to completely re-direct my build. I feel like I've gotten pretty off-track with my original image for my TJ, and need to backpedal a bit. Last month i found myself typing up plans for "another" TJ build to take place in future years. One with a simpler, more TJ look. And something a little bit more comfortable.
The deeper i got into these plans, the more i realized that if i continued my current build, and built this second TJ later, i would unnecessarily be repeating a lot of work. That's when i decided it would be less work and time to backpedal on my current build.

First off, the 35s, flat fenders and a few other things are going to go. For now, my plans are to go with 33" tires MAX, and over-build the jeep to maybe run a larger tires in years to come.

The 35s are awesome, but truthfully the TJ as under-build as it is, cannot handle them comfortably on the road. And if i do get into heavier offroading, i'll fear for breaking things. You can definitely feel the weight of the 35s and the strain it's putting on the drive train.

Furthermore, when it comes down to it the TJ is my fall-back if anything ever happens to my truck. So it needs to be reliable, and at the ready at any point. I also want the jeep to be a pretty comfortable ride(Go ahead, scoff at the words "jeep" and "comfortable" in the same sentence). Me and the girlfriend used to always take the jeep cruising down dirt back roads some evenings. I noticed as the exhaust, intake, tires and road noise got louder, that started happening less as it gets hard to even talk above 30 MPH.
Some of these reasons may seem trivial, but it's what made me love my first jeep in the first place. And i always seemed to enjoy my jeep more the way it was before i got lift n' tires fever. And life is about change, right?

So, with these happy thoughts in mind i redirected my efforts and money from building the jeep to handle bigger tires, to cutting into the body to fix the body rust.

Well, sparing all the details that would make this a book of a post, it went from me thinking i could patch some spots with some sheet metal, to realizing i need entire repair sections, to realizing i need a whole entire tub.

I already expected needing all new side body "torque boxes", and after cutting into the rear tailgate support i found out that a new one of those would need to be installed. But after i cut into the body toque boxes is when i realized the rear floorboards are completely compromised.

There is a gummy, tar-line sealant on some of the lower parts of the tubs to seal the lapjoints. And that sealant was covering some pretty cancerous rust. Discovering this, combined with the costs i originally expected to put out on repairing the body mount sections, it pushed the project over the edge to where a tub swap would be a more economical solution. Here's some pictures of the damage:

(Left side tailgate support, after cutting out a spot of rust in the rear corner)

(Left side tailgate support underside, completely rotted out)

(Right side tailgate support, after cutting out section of rusted rear corner)

(Right side "body pocket" under door; after cutting out rusted rocker)

(Left side "body pocket" under door, after cutting out rusted rocker. Before i started to cut out the "torque box")

(Left side rear floor pan, after i started cutting out the "torque box", half of the floor started to come with it)

Looking back at the beginning of my post, i scoff at how clean i thought this jeep was. Goes to show, even when i thought i knew everything about the TJ, it still ended up surprising me; In a very unpleasant way.

So, where i stand now. I plan on swapping on another tub(Covered further in the next post...) and essentially doing a frame-up restoration. The new tub i plan on color matching(obviously), bedlining the underside & firewall, cutting drainholes in the body channels, spraying eastwood internal frame coating, and soundproofing the interior with sound deadening mat.
I had the jeep partly ripped apart over the past couple weeks, but i hillbilly rigged it back together so i have a reliable 4x4 for bad snow days. This will also allow me to work on a tub in the garage over winter.

As far as the jeep as a whole, I'm looking at 33x10.50r15 BFG all terrains as my next tire choice. quieter, but also bigger than 31s and off-road capable. The Jeep is due for new summer tires next year so that'll probably be happening sooner than later.
Other minor points are that i plan on going back to stock fenders, lights, etc etc to maintain that TJ look that swooned me as a teen.

I'm always doing jeep-related stuff in some capacity. So rest assured, even if you don't see a post here for a few months, it just means the next post is getting longer... Or, perhaps split up into two posts.

955 Posts
Discussion Starter · #34 ·
May I offer my 2 cents. While you have the frame off, straighten the coil buckets and outboard the shocks
Thanks! I know that's the right time to do it, but i might wait a bit. I plan on an eventual 3" of suspension lift plus high clearance skids, so there will be a fair amount of axle/suspension geometry modifications after the frame is off. I'll probably wait until after i have fully adjustable control arms, and have them 100% dialed in.

955 Posts
Discussion Starter · #35 ·
03 Rubicon donor

As a bit of a compromise between needing to find a usable replacement tub and also focusing on the off-road capabilities of my jeep, i found this 03 Rubicon donor for a pretty good price.

The frame is rotted out in spots, the torque converter is shot and the body needs a little work(A lot less than mine, though). Nonetheless, it was a pretty good price for it's value in parts. Plus it had a bunch goodies that would save me modifications and chasing down other parts(rubi flares, 03 tub with provisions for my evap canister, etc).
I got it home, changed out the rims(the SE steel rims are going on my ranger) and found out exactly what was wrong with the transmission. I figured it was worth a filter and fluid flush to ensure it was actually shot and not just plugged. I got it to go into gear and roll to the end of the driveway, then it quit. It's throwing a code for fluid pressure, so i can only assume the torque converter is shot.

Flash forward about a month to today; I have stripped off quite a few parts and have began parting out what i don't plan on using. I also have both axles pulled. I popped off the covers and the gears look to be in great shape. I plan on putting them under my TJ for the 4.10 gearing and obviously the lockers.

I debated for a couple weeks on either selling or keeping the T-case. I ended up selling it for a few reasons.
One, because it recouped a decent amount of what i spent on the entire jeep.
Two, i really don't think i'll need the 4:1 low range for the kind of off-roading i plan on doing.
And three, for what the np241 is worth, i can completely rebuild my np231 with a wide chain kit, advanced adapters super short SYE and a DC driveshaft to go with it and still have a couple hundred left over. This will leave me with a longer driveshaft, and less pinion angle change when i add a high-clearance skid plate. Not to mention a wide chain kit will make it more than robust enough for an eventual V8 swap(not to say the np241 wouldn't have been robust enough in the first place!)

Where i stand now is getting the D44 combo under my TJ so i can put my 44/30 back under the rubicon to restore it's rolling capabilities. Then i plan on pulling the engine, selling that off, and pulling the tub to work on it.

Speaking of the tub; i mentioned it was a little rough in spots but not past redemption. The worst spot is the formidable rear tailgate support. But it's not as far gone as mine is on my 05. This obviously will require a new support, and probably patching up the rear corners a bit. However i might just do a rough sheet metal job on them and cover it with corner armor.
While removing the tailgate support on my 05 was daunting due to me not knowing how it was welded in, now that i have(barbarically)ripped it out i'm confident i can cleanly cut this one out and install a new one.

The only other rotted spot on the tub is, weirdly, the jeep logo on the passenger side. Which i just plan on cutting my clean one out of my 05, and welding it into the 03 tub.

Besides those spots, everything else on the tub is clean. Even the side body channels, which is extremely odd for a TJ with 193k of all-ohio miles.
The clean windshield frame and grill are perks. My windshield frame is completely rotted, and the un-cut grill will replace mine when i go back to stock fenders.

Now, for the obvious question(to me, at least). Why didn't i just fix up the 03 rubicon and switch over all my mods.
It was definitely something i thought about. But when i started breaking down the time and numbers, it definitely was more worth it to part it out and swap over what i wanted.
The frame is perfectly repairable, however it would have cost about $800 in safe-t-caps to do. Plus all the tub work is best done when it is off the frame, and i still want to line the underside. So i was still looking at a full tear-down.
The motor runs strong, however it still has 193k miles on it while the one in mine only has around 30k. Plus i would either need to rebuild this transmission, swap in a 5 speed or take the 42RLE out of my 05, leaving it undrivable.

All this combined with all the small mods I've done to my 05 that would take forever to swap over, it's more time and cost-effective to swap what i want over to my 05, even with painting the tub, grill, and fenders.
And ultimately it comes down to the fact that i consider this an ultimate restoration now. So swapping everything over ensures that drain holes get drilled where they need to be, all vulnerable surfaces get painted and all weak points are reinforced. This will ensure that my 05 will be a reliable and capable jeep for years to come.

I'm going to continue parting out the rubicon over the winter to slowly recoup my savings from buying it. The axles may go under my 05 soon or they may not. They should have brand new steering components beforehand and i would prefer to go with adjustable track bars and aftermarket diff covers. So due to costs that project may have to wait.

Until next post!

955 Posts
Discussion Starter · #36 ·
Progress; slow and steady

Trying my best to keep this thread from dying! Yes, things have been progressing on the jeep. Not as quickly as i would hope. However, as always other jobs and projects get in the way.

Dana 44s are under my jeep. I got them swapped in with a complete set of new stock control arms earlier this year. Lockers work great; they drag my jeep through an awful lot. Even with the bald 31s that are on it. The 4.10s don't make too much of a difference on the highway.

I had someone come and buy most of the useful parts off of the rubicon. This left the tub pretty well stripped. It took 4 of us, but we lifted the tub off the frame and onto a makeshift flatdeck i built on top of my 5x10 trailer. This will let me strap it down, take it to work where I'm able to weld on it.

My jeep is out of inspection, and will not pass with the current tub. So this project is kinda' accelerated.

Another rather big decision I've made is to put a 5 speed in the jeep during the swap. After doing excessive research for several years on this swap, I've finally decided to do it. It's by no means a cheap swap; with my TJ and local laws it will require a new, reprogrammed ECM, a bell housing from Advance Adapters, as well as a bunch of smaller things to make the swap work. It won't be complicated, especially since I'll have the tub pulled. But it'll just be costly.

The upcoming weeks will be prepping the tub for installation.

955 Posts
Discussion Starter · #37 ·
More progress on the tub these past few weeks. This time i come armed with pictures!

Much like the tub that is currently on my jeep, the rear tailgate support was gone on this tub as well. Though not nearly as bad. I ordered a replacement support from Classic Enterprises and cut out the old unit. It was a little easier this time around as i knew where a lot of the spot welds were.

There's a few odd gaps that are left when you replace the stock unit with the CE replacement. But with a couple scraps of steel welded into place, i got them pretty well covered. The factory unit also has liberal usage of this gummy body filler substance to make the tub seal properly. I'll be using a paintable caulking to do the same.

Oddly enough, the jeep logo on the passenger side had rust poking through. I probably could have leveled out and fixed this spot with some rust inhibitor paint, but didn't realize until i cut it out. It seems like someone had been through this area with a stud welder, dent puller and body filler. Most likely the reason for the rust.

Another spot was the passenger side rear rocker "body pocket". Both of these were rotted out on my jeep. I got lucky with this tub and only one required attention. It's a bit of a rough sheet steel job, but given this is my first panel repair i don't think i did a half bad job. I added drain holes to prevent future rust-outs.

Lastly, i picked up some chain to make a rigging harness so i can lift the tubs with a hoist. Being able to throw the tub on a pallet and handle it with the forklift at work has been great, but i won't be able to do that at home. With this harness i should be able to lift the tubs pretty easily with just a chain hoist.

I just finished washing the tub and am in the process of prepping it for paint and bedliner on the underside.

More progress coming soon...

955 Posts
Discussion Starter · #38 ·
More progress on prepping the tub this past week.

I got it moved into the garage. But before that, i had to remove the roll bars due to the height of the tub on my trailer. And i'm glad i had to; i found a good spot of rust under the forward driver side mount. I fixed that, washed the tub one last time and then left it outside to dry. I then moved it into the garage.

To hoist it off the trailer, i had a 2 ton chain winch chained to a 4x6 laid across the garage rafters. I was a little worried about the sturdiness of it at first, but the rafters didn't even budge when the entire weight of the tub was on them.

I tipped the tub on it's side and started with the chassis saver. i used it as a primer over the rear tail gate support, and all the other bare metal areas i repaired that had taken on a light surface rust.

After i have had some adherence issues with por-15 in the past, i pray that the chassis saver will prove to be a good base coat for my body's color-matched paint later. If not, hours upon hours of work will need redone.

Chassis saver stated it takes up to 72 hours for a full cure. So i waited 3 days, flipped the tub up-side down and then prepped the bottom for bedliner.

It took about a full day(including waiting about 5 hours in-between coats) to bedline the entire bottom. My girlfriend lent an extra set of hands, which is VERY helpful as it would have taken much longer to do by myself. I am extremely happy with the end results.

The coat is nice and thick; it pretty much melts together all body seams and welds to make it one unified piece. The finish isn't as uniform and gritty as most bedliners. However this could be due to the fact that most of the nook-and-cranny spots required blotching with a brush to get them. i utilized the roller very little, which is what mostaliner states you need to use to get the right texture.
1 gallon of monstaliner was barely enough to do 2 coats to the entire bottom of the tub. Including wheel wells, the firewall and front fender wells. The first coat was very healthy; i covered every corner the best i could and that took a lot of coating. The second coat we focused on the broader areas that sound would penetrate through the easiest.

Another addition to this build-spree is a new set of wheels and tires. Discount tire direct was offering some pretty good rebates on tires; so i sprung for a set of 5 33x10.5 general grabber X3s at about 20% off. Pro Comp also is having a rebate on wheels so i picked up a set of their 69 series alloys, which came in just a few days ago.

The jeep is going to be sitting in the garage for quite a while during the big switch-over. But hopefully these untouched wheels and tires itching for some mud will bust me in the ass to get things done a bit quicker!

More updates to come!
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