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Old March 19th, 2014, 12:40 AM   #1
RossDickman
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Default Long Travel Grand Cherokee ZJ Build

Instead of looking at all of GL4X4 members rigs I figured I would post up my own build thread for my Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo ZJ. I'm a 19 year old kid who is going to school to become a Mechanical Engineer and have worked in machine shops and fab shops for a couple years now. I went to tech center the senior year of highschool and learned some pretty cool stuff such as how to run a CNC mill and lathe, manual mill and lathe, surface grinder, etc. Kind of taught myself to weld and do some other metal working things.
I started off by buying a 1998 V8 model ZJ for $1100 that came with some exhaust stuff and two sets of extra tires. Stole the motor, transmission, tcase, doors, axles, steering box, and some other miscellaneous parts. I sold some other things like interior panels, seats, seatbelts etc. A local GL4x4 member came and picked up what was left of the jeep, took what he needed from it, then scrapped it. I ended up a couple hundred bucks in the green from that hole deal after selling tires and such.

That leads to the second jeep I bought off craigslist. A 1998 (same year) Grand Cherokee ZJ V6 model for $400. Craigslist add and the gal I bought it from said that it had a blown head gasket and when I went to go check it out there was two big holes and a couple cracks in the block. I didn't care seeing as I had the drive-line from the other jeep so this deal was perfect. This body / sub-frame was in much better condition and was cheap!

Started the engine swap last winter and finished it in a fairly quick manner. Everything bolted right in besides the passenger side (I believe) motor mount. I had problems getting in running for a week or so and asked many different people and places if they had any ideas and ended up plugging the old V6 computer in. It fired right up but ran like shit so I ordered a new computer and it purred like a kitten for a couple months. I drove it for the rest of the winter, found a good deal on "lift kit" which was arms, coils, and pan-hard bars. Drove the jeep like that for a week or so and realized that just wasn't going to cut it! Which leads the story to where I'm at right now...

Bought a Dana 44 and Ford 9 Inch for $200 and just freshened them up a bit (New balljoints, U-joints, front rotors and calipers, pinion seals, etc.). I built a backbone truss the Ford 9 Inch and did a disk brake conversion on the it with RuffStuff brackets, Rotors are 1978 Ford F150, and calipers, hoses, and pads are 1976 Chevy K5 Blazer. A big thanks to John D for the help with disc brake conversion input!

Seeing as it will be a long travel toy and I've got a place up at Silver Lake, my buddy told me of a sweet deal for some General Grabbers, and I hopped on it. I believe they were $500 for the four 33 X 12.50 X 15's with 200 street miles on them. Bought some steel D-window rims from another member for $60. Plan to beadlock them at some point so I can air down and still whip the back end out and jump in the dunes without rolling a bead in the sand.

Enough background lets get to the pictures:

First ZJ that ended up getting scrapped


Second ZJ after motor swap and lift


Some of the brake and axle parts


The Ford 9 Inch with the homemade backbone truss (Will also get a truss on the top for the wishbone link mount)


Just the axle and tires setting underneath the jeep to get an idea of width and ride height


Fingered crossed I can get this much bump out of it!
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Old March 19th, 2014, 08:33 PM   #2
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keep up the good work, I can see it jumping now
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Old March 19th, 2014, 08:42 PM   #3
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Nice start. Nice writeup.
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Old March 19th, 2014, 09:20 PM   #4
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Old March 19th, 2014, 09:23 PM   #5
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jump shit!!
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Old March 19th, 2014, 09:24 PM   #6
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nice!
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Old March 20th, 2014, 10:35 PM   #7
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Thanks guys.
Plans are suspension wise~

For the front:
Dana 44 with custom radius arms and panhard bar. coilovers going to radius arms just behind axle ( maybe 4" behind axle" )

Rear:
3 link wishbone with swing arms coilovers attached about 16" forward from the rear axle

Anyone have big bind issues with travel / flex running a radius arm front similar to the cast wedges that I have?

Thanks for the input guys
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Old March 24th, 2014, 05:42 PM   #8
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Got quite a bit of things done this weekend!
I knew that I wanted to extend the radius arms from the beginning - after putting tires on and turning to full lock I realized that they had to be clearanced for tires which means more work!
My plan initially was to bend them... but after breaking a buddies bender and trying some other ideas I gave up and cut and mitered them.


After torching the arms and replacing with 2 inch O.D. .25 wall seamless tubing


The joint from stock arm to tube


Another picture of the joint. I milled the tubes at 10 degrees.


The arms after tacking them together


Hopefully enough room for up to 37" tires


Mocked up a template for an idea of link mounts


From cardboard to computer!


To computer to CNC!


The man behind the madness! Username is Mitchmiller on GL4x4.

Big thanks to Chad (K5 Yota) and Mitch (Mitchmiller) for the help this weekend!
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Old March 24th, 2014, 06:18 PM   #9
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Neat build!! Differnt from most crawler builds on here
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Old March 24th, 2014, 06:27 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michigan maniac View Post
Neat build!! Differnt from most crawler builds on here
Thanks! I still plan to go to R&V and Twisted Trails and try and keep it 4WD... we will see how much travel is in the front and if I able to keep a front driveshaft!

Forgot to post this pic earlier:


Where the link plates are going to go. Made the center of the heims for the arms as close to even as I could with the T-Case outputs to try and minimize slip in the shafts and also try and protect them with the bottom of the arms
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Old March 24th, 2014, 06:44 PM   #11
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Nice job, looking forward to seeing how it turns out.
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Old March 24th, 2014, 06:57 PM   #12
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Looks good, I like the long arms there kinky
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Old March 24th, 2014, 07:28 PM   #13
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That's pretty sweet man!!! Keep up the good work. I'm about 95% there on mine. Developed a huge tranny leak that can't be found now.
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Old March 24th, 2014, 07:28 PM   #14
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Cool build. What did you do with the old V6 you pulled out of it? I'm kind of interested.
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Old March 24th, 2014, 07:36 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kixx007 View Post
Cool build. What did you do with the old V6 you pulled out of it? I'm kind of interested.
Stole the parts that were worth anything off of it then brought it to a scrap yard.

Thanks John!
and Chad.... Kinky?
Mike - I may still beat you yet!
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Old March 30th, 2014, 09:54 PM   #16
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I have some good updates from this weekend! Big thanks to Chad (K5 Yota) for his help! Stayed up until 4 Saturday night and got some good stuff done!


There is a nasty pinch seam on the inside of the unibody near the transfer case crossover - which is right where the link plates had to go. Cut the seam with a 4.5 grinder with a cut off wheel then welded and ground the excess weld down so the plate could set flat against the frame.


Went through a coupla theese bad boys
So I was anal and measured (and got 2nd and 3rd opinions) pry 10 times to make sure both my link mounts were both in the same position on each side. I think they're within a sixteenth but hey whatever it will all work out... I'm not building a spaceship.... just an airplane


This may be ride height - not sure yet - might be a bit lower in the end. This set up would give me ~8 uptravel and ~8 down (depends on the length of the coilover). Love how the links are next to level!!




In those pics you can see that the link hits the subframe before full bump... may french the subframe who knows... That's a pretty critical part of the unibody but if I do it right it should be alright.


A good pic to show full bump - or close to it
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Old March 31st, 2014, 08:29 PM   #17
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Looks real good well worth the late night and early morning. Cant wait to see those arms extended all the way out when you are JUMPING SHIT!
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Old March 31st, 2014, 08:50 PM   #18
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Nice start man!
I may have missed it, but did you have plans to reinforce the unibody?
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Old March 31st, 2014, 10:02 PM   #19
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Chad - Thanks for all the help and putting out all the fires hahaha

SANDVIPR - I'll plate the bottom and probably the outside from front to back and some important spots on the inside for crossmembers and such!
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Old April 2nd, 2014, 11:42 AM   #20
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Curious as to why you cut and welded the radius arms? Seems like that would make for a WEAK spot at those welds, especially with the forces you will be putting on them at speed, and if ONE of those things breaks you are screwed!
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