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Old April 6th, 2020, 09:45 PM   #1
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Default Project Midlife Crisis

The planning stages of this build started about five or six years ago, but four years ago while going through a divorce I decided it was time to stop waiting and to pursue my dream. Couldn't think of a good name for this build, but since I'm turning 42 this year Project Midlife Crisis seems fitting Its going to be used for all types off wheeling but with a focus on rock crawling.

I had a couple goals in mind with this build when I started...1) Learn a lot. This is my first buggy build. I knew I had a lot to learn and it may not work perfect when I'm done but I didn't want that to stop me. Only one way to learn and that's by doing things and making mistakes. 2) Budget...I'm a single Dad with two young kids so have to keep cost as low as possible. 3) Jeep based powertrain. Why? Well Jeeps are what I know, they are what I love, and being that my time and money were limited I decided to not pursue the LS route. 4) Design/fabricate as much of this build as I can. I am a mechanical design engineer with access to fabrication equipment and I love metal fabrication. So I knew I'd enjoy building this just as much as driving when I'm done.

So four year ago I picked up donor 199? XJ, some DOM tubing, and got started. I spent some time rough modeling the build in CAD before cutting any steel. I'm only working out of my two car garage at home and I don't have easy access to a bender so I designed the chassis with as few bends as possible. Also tried to make the design simple enough for me to assemble. I tacked together the base cradle on a layout table at work but everything else I've done at home. I've had to make a few adjustments to my original design but I have to say I'm pretty happy with how well its gone so far. I have a lot of work left to do (and money to spend ) but figured it was time to start a build thread. I've got questions on a few things that might get answered and it might help keep me motivated to finish this thing some day. I only get a few hours a week to work on this project so over the last four years I've been chipping away at it when I my schedule and cash flow allow.

Build Specs/Plans:

Chassis:
2 seater (might see if I can fit a small bench seat in back for my kids)
113" wheelbase
21" belly
Main chassis is 1.75"x0.120 DOM, frame rails are 2"x4"x3/16" wall rectangular tubing, sliders are 1-7/8"x1/4" wall DOM

Powertrain:
Jeep 4.0...I was told its had some internal work and computer upgrades but have no way to confirm that. I was able to drive the donor Jeep before gutting it and it did seem to have more power than a stock 4.0.
AW4 with RAD manual shifter
Flipped D300 with 4:1

Front Axle:
Ford BJ Dana HP60 housing (not sure the exact year, 92-99 range I believe) w/ 4.10 gears (for now)
Barnes4x4 HD diff cover
Full hydro steering
My own truss and link mounts
Couple unknowns at this time. One, which locker I'm going to use. Second, what D60 outers I'm going to use. More on that below.

Rear Axle:
14 bolt w/ 4.10 gears (for now)
Probably a Detroit locker
Barnes4x4 pinion guard with the truss tie in, disk brake brackets, and HD diff cover
My own truss and link mounts

Suspension:
Double triangulated 4-link front and rear
Lowers are going to be 7075 aluminum and uppers are going to be 1.75x0.120 wall DOM
1-1/4" heims all the way around
Current plan is 16" travel coilovers on all four corners with 5" up travel, and 10" of droop (11" of droop might cause issues, we'll see)

Tires/Wheels:
Chassis and suspension are set up to run 40"x13.50" tires, not sure which ones yet.

Interior:
Corbeau suspension seats with 5pt harness
Basic gauges
???
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Old April 6th, 2020, 09:45 PM   #2
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So this is where I'm at now. Basic chassis is there, motor/transmission/tcase are where I want them. Link mounts on the chassis and axles are set. Last week I made up some temporary 4-links and mock coilovers. Then cycled the suspension to verify that my plans would work and where my mounts need to be. Feel pretty good about moving forward with 16" coilovers and have a good idea how the mounts are going to work.



Tie rod is made of wood....real strong








Just a temporary driveshaft thrown in there to check clearances




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Old April 6th, 2020, 09:45 PM   #3
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One of the next big decisions/projects I need to tackle is what knuckle setup I'm going to run on my front 60. My original plan was to run everything from a Dodge BJ 60 from the outer knuckles out. I was going this route because early in the build I was able to purchase a Dodge axle for cheap. I'm no longer sure I want to go this route because I'm not sure the outer shafts can be upgraded if I start breaking parts and the lack of locking hubs. My second option is to cannibalize a D50 that I have, use everything from the inner knuckles out. Not sure if the outer axle shafts on a D50 are upgradable and not sure if there is u-joint compatibility between a Ford 92-99 inner shaft and a D50 outer shaft.

Other things I'm working on. Now that I have an idea of where the coilovers are going I can start adding tubing to the front and rear of the chassis to mount those as well as other necessary tubes. I also purchased one of the Corbeau seats so I can start mounts for those as well as other areas of the interior.
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Old April 7th, 2020, 06:29 AM   #4
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Nice Just keep plugging away there will be a day when Dad can take the little ones for a ride



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Old April 7th, 2020, 07:15 AM   #5
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So your midlife crisis makes my midlife crisis wet its pants.
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Old April 7th, 2020, 08:25 AM   #6
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Nice Just keep plugging away there will be a day when Dad can take the little ones for a ride

RBB
Thanks! Plugging away is all I can do. Wish I could speed it up but it is what it is. The pay off in the end will make it all worth it.

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So your midlife crisis makes my midlife crisis wet its pants.
But you have gotten to build a lot of cool things over the years too
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Old April 7th, 2020, 09:14 AM   #7
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Nice. Keep going.

FWIW, if you decide to regear, I have a D60 4.88 gearset that I just took out. Gears are decent and I would sell cheap. However, most likely you will go lower than that if you change gears.
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Old April 7th, 2020, 09:22 AM   #8
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With a 4:1 case, weld those diffs and wheel it on 4:10's for a while. Gears are still deeper than a 2.62 x 5.38 that I had in the Jeep with the 4.0 and it was honestly fine. Boom, just saved you tons of time and money. Done yet? Also, everybody and their grandma runs 14" 2.0 coilovers making springs and stuff cheap AF. If you go up to 16's, you limit your used parts availability. Thought I'd mention it knowing the budget is month to month. Use that 2" for uptravel and setup close to 50% on the shock instead.
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Old April 7th, 2020, 09:26 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by feva4u View Post
With a 4:1 case, weld those diffs and wheel it on 4:10's for a while. Gears are still deeper than a 2.62 x 5.38 that I had in the Jeep with the 4.0 and it was honestly fine. Boom, just saved you tons of time and money. Done yet? Also, everybody and their grandma runs 14" 2.0 coilovers making springs and stuff cheap AF. If you go up to 16's, you limit your used parts availability. Thought I'd mention it knowing the budget is month to month.
Welding the diffs is definitely an option. Wheeling with the 4.10s is the plan for now. Its not ideal but its what I got so might as well see how it goes. And sticking with 4.10s gets me out on the trail sooner than later

I looked at running 14" coilovers and I've got the room for more travel so I figured I'd rather get 16's and not regret getting 14's. Plan on getting the shocks thru Accutune and hope that they can get the coil rates right.
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Old April 7th, 2020, 09:38 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by feva4u View Post
With a 4:1 case, weld those diffs and wheel it on 4:10's for a while. Gears are still deeper than a 2.62 x 5.38 that I had in the Jeep with the 4.0 and it was honestly fine. Boom, just saved you tons of time and money. Done yet? Also, everybody and their grandma runs 14" 2.0 coilovers making springs and stuff cheap AF. If you go up to 16's, you limit your used parts availability. Thought I'd mention it knowing the budget is month to month. Use that 2" for uptravel and setup close to 50% on the shock instead.


Another point about 14 vs 16" shocks - good luck with driveshaft angles with 16" shocks.
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Old April 7th, 2020, 09:40 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by whiterhino View Post
Nice. Keep going.

FWIW, if you decide to regear, I have a D60 4.88 gearset that I just took out. Gears are decent and I would sell cheap. However, most likely you will go lower than that if you change gears.
Thanks for the support! When I go to regear I'll keep that in mind
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Old April 7th, 2020, 09:41 AM   #12
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Another point about 14 vs 16" shocks - good luck with driveshaft angles with 16" shocks.
Good point, something I didn't really look into yet. Guess I better cycle things to double check.
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Old April 7th, 2020, 09:52 AM   #13
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Looks great!!

Why are you thinking of swapping away from the Ford BJ60 knuckles and outers? That seems like the best option and strongest aftermarket support of any you listed. And I assume you already have the parts. If you do use Dodge parts, are you talking the mid to late 90s unit bearing style? Those shafts are upgradeable, @TOPTRUK has done it on his build.

Hit me up once you're ready for tires. I may be able to give you a deal on the 40" Toyos currently on my Jeep. I've got another set with more tread sitting in my shed, so I'll swap them sooner or later. Currently around 40% or so left on them, I'll probably pull them after this summer. Not great, but will be a cheap way to get you on the trail.
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Old April 7th, 2020, 09:59 AM   #14
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Looks great!!

Why are you thinking of swapping away from the Ford BJ60 knuckles and outers? That seems like the best option and strongest aftermarket support of any you listed. And I assume you already have the parts. If you do use Dodge parts, are you talking the mid to late 90s unit bearing style? Those shafts are upgradeable, @TOPTRUK has done it on his build.

Hit me up once you're ready for tires. I may be able to give you a deal on the 40" Toyos currently on my Jeep. I've got another set with more tread sitting in my shed, so I'll swap them sooner or later. Currently around 40% or so left on them, I'll probably pull them after this summer. Not great, but will be a cheap way to get you on the trail.
Should have mentioned that the Ford D60 that I picked up was only the the housing, carrier/gears, and full set of shafts. Didnt have anything outside of the inner knuckles. I've got I think $300 in the Ford housing and full Dodge axle all together. At the time it was cheaper than finding a full Ford D60. And yes it is the mid to late 90s unit bearing style Dodge D60. If the Dodge outers are upgradable I'd be tempted to keep them and see happens. It would be a lot less work at this point to just run them.

When its tire time I'll hit you up and see if you have any of those left
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Old April 7th, 2020, 10:13 AM   #15
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I was trying to save the D50 stuff for a low cost 14 bolt front axle build some day
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Old April 7th, 2020, 12:00 PM   #16
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Nice project. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to seeing where it goes.
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Old April 7th, 2020, 12:19 PM   #17
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The Dodge D60 outers are in fact upgradable. Yukon makes a chromoly shaft for all the shafts in a CAD D60 now. Outer P/N is YA W46107.

I've been very impressed how well the CAD D60 has held up to the abuse. Only downside is there are no hubs to unlock if your doing any street driving with a welded diff.



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Old April 7th, 2020, 01:20 PM   #18
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The Dodge D60 outers are in fact upgradable. Yukon makes a chromoly shaft for all the shafts in a CAD D60 now. Outer P/N is YA W46107.

I've been very impressed how well the CAD D60 has held up to the abuse. Only downside is there are no hubs to unlock if your doing any street driving with a welded diff.



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Thanks for that info! Definitely gives me options and things to think about
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Old April 7th, 2020, 01:45 PM   #19
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I can vouch for the durability of that thing. Even before he upgraded to chromoly it stood up to an impressive amount of abuse. Just keep oil in it.....
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Old April 9th, 2020, 06:46 AM   #20
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Looks good sir, glad to see you coming out of Jeep retirement! I need to follow suit as well.
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