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Old March 15th, 2010, 09:41 PM   #1
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Default Project XJ

When I first started this project I was posting the build pictures on Facebook. Instead of listing them individually on here, I figured it would be easier to just put the link to the album. Here it is: From here on, I will post them in both places. Project XJ started with a 1988 Jeep Cherokee from my parents. It has a standard Inline 6, with a 5 speed manual transmission and the 231 transfer case. Just under 230,000 miles on the vehicle and still plenty of life left in her.

The floors were pretty well shot, lots of rust and needing A LOT of work. A good friend of mine offered to teach me how to fix it up and I took him up on the offer (Thanks again by the way). The first thing started was removal of the interior. From there started cutting out all the worst of the rusted floors, and grinding it down as best as possible as well as removing all the old body tape. Due to weather we opted to wait to prime the floors till it got a bit warmer out. So we moved onto the lift. The front axle had a few weak points, mainly the U-joints, and the vacuum disconnect. Since we were doing gearing upgrades, I opted to just say screw upgrading a old, less strong axle and replace it. So the replacement was procured out of a 98 Cherokee Sport. The gears and carrier were bought from the site as well as the axle, thanks again to those who were selling those items. The axle was upgraded from 3.55 to 4.10 gears and rebuilt with new bearings. Then reassembled.

The front axle was removed, as well as the old vacuum lines for the 4wd (as far back as I could trace them at the time). The new axle was installed with new Rough Country Lower Control arms, and Rough Country 4.5" lift springs that I got through Ironman offroad (Thanks again). All the steering components were reinstalled, and the trac-bar mount was re-drilled so the stock bar could be used. Ran into a couple issues with shocks and brakes, mainly that I had to remove the master cylinder in order to get to the stem on the drivers side shock. Planning a stem-eye conversion to eliminate this problem in the future. Both the soft lines were bad, so planning to replace those with Stainless Steel lines in the not too distant future. Sway bars are still to be determined, but planning for quick disconnects

The rear axle drum brakes were bad and an estimate of the total cost to replace the whole system was roughly $150. However a Ford 8.8 out of a 2001 explorer with 4.10 LSD gears was procured for $200 from a Cash for Clunkers vehicle. All the old mounts were torched off, and ground smooth, the old axle was dropped, and the replacement measured with old spring perches welded on. All but the main leaves were removed from the leaf packs, revealing 1 leaf that had cracked, and had a 1.5" gap. A leaf pack from my buddy's old Jimmy rig (which began life on an S-10) were disassembled, cleaned and rebuilt onto the main leaf of the XJ for a little over 4.5" of lift. Once done, the axle was bolted in place with some super strong u-bolts custom made in Marysville, Mi. The original plan was to use the top spring plates from the Ford 8.8 because of the shock mounts to avoid having to weld on a set of shock mounts. The plan did not work so well though, and the new plan is to weld them on, and go with a custom spring plate on top made of thicker stronger steel. The Sway Bar was removed, but I kept a couple parts to make a junkyard BPE for the rear shocks. Also planning to do Stainless Steel lines in the read, as well as the Grand Cherokee Parking brake cable so that will still work.

Up to this point, that is all that has been done. In no particular order, there are a number of other things being planned.

Bought a 2" hitch from a 99XJ, (thanks to that seller again) for towing. Got a center console from the same seller to be custom fitted and installed when the floors are done. Now I have cup holders, and a much nicer looking center console. The rocker panels are really rusted in a lot of places, mostly the bottoms thankfully so planning on cutting them out and replacing them with thicker tube steel, and running some like 1" tube from those to the main torque tube for extra reinforcement and strengthening. I am debating between 2 things for the floors. 1) cut out the rest of them, and just weld in larger pieces right to the rocker tubes. Or 2) weld in new panels next to the old floor pieces, and to the rocker tubes as well. Almost prefer to do option 1, but not too sure yet lol. The back end holes will be patched, an access door made for the fuel pump to change in the future, and the holes around the fuel intake tube will be fab-ed up from thicker steel. The new floors will be made from thicker steel as well. The rear plastics in the cargo area will be replaced with some custom fitted Aluminum diamond plate to make them more durable. When all the patch work is done, the floors will be blasted to be rust free, treated with a rust inhibitor, primed and then Herculined for maximum protection and durability.

All four doors are rusted in a lot of places. Instead of spending all the time trying to repair them, I am planning to replace them with rust free doors, and switch over to manual windows at the same time to avoid the hassle of wiring difficulties. The rear hatch is being replaced (that is mainly for the reason of a painting idea I have) but that will give me tinted hatch glass, and the third brake light in the read. Both 1/4 panel glass's will be replaced with tinted glass as well. The windshield is cracked in multiple places, and leaks in a few. The leaks will be patched, and the windshield replaced. The tires are going to be upgraded as well. Cutting the fenders back, and removing the flares to fit them. The fenders are rusted, but luckily enough they need to be cut back enough for the tires, which just so happens to be the end of the rusted parts so I got lucky there. The tires though are a nice set of 33x12.50x15 TSL Radial Super Swampers on 15x8" 5x4.5 Steel rims with a full size spare. Oh, in the rear, the bottom 1/4 panels are rusted in the back, going to cut them out, and weld some thicker steel to make them flatter for a better decent angle. Still not sure of a final color to paint it, but the whole thing will be painted when done. And the final 2 touches will be a custom fitted snorkel, and a new welded exhaust.

Why do all this work for a vehicle in such bad shape? A couple reasons. first and foremost, prior to Project XJ, I knew NOTHING about any kind of vehicle. I could check fluid levels, and tire pressure and that was it. The opportunity to learn how to do all this stuff was a great chance for me to learn about it all and a great way to get experience doing it. Plus I end up with a really bad ass Jeep when done that will be the first vehicle I own. Great as a daily driver and trail rig. Another reason, I always wanted to learn how to do this kind of metal work. I love the idea of being able to make custom stuff and make it fit and work. This seemed like an absolutely great way to get started in this, and I can't wait to get to more into that portion of the build.

Well, I guess that is it for now. As I get more done, I will update this with pictures and progress info. Thanks for taking the time to read it, and I hope you enjoy it. If you have any suggestions, tips or anything, please do not hesitate to post. Thanks again,

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