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Discussion Starter #61
Time for an update. Got the body back in shape. More-or-less. Still need a windshield:







Finished in time for OSJ's May trail ride:







Unfortunately, we dropped the ball when it came to video footage. Basically all of them sucked. Here's the best of the worst:



Stay tuned. Lots of trail rides planned for this summer.
 

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Discussion Starter #63
I got tired of waiting for Trxus to become available again and picked up some Maxxis Bighorns today:





Paid $190 a tire which is about $80 less than I was looking at for the Swampers. This is the tirst time in over 20 years that I've run something besides Swampers or BFG's on a trail rig. Guys in my club have been running the Maxxis and they are holding their own. Let's see how it goes. . .
 

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Discussion Starter #64
I started building my new rockers today. Not a moment too soon because the original rockers have seen better days:



The basic structure is 4"x4"x3/16" wall tubing. Whats left of the original rockers will be cut out and the new rockers will be tied into the A/B/C pillars. They will also be tied into the uniframe to help resist side loading:





Here's what can (will!) happen to shocks if you don't run limit straps on a link suspension:



Limit straps have been on the TODO list but I kept putting them off. The crazy thing is I just replaced the shocks and will not have time to fit limit straps before the Fall Crawl next weekend. Maybe I will just remove the shocks and wheel without them:

 

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Great lookin rig!! Your pics, video, etc are great learning tools.

My rig is still virgin, but learning all I can from here before throwing down the mulla. Thank you for laying this out, its a pleasure to see what others have done and experienced.

Can't wait for more!
 

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Where's the rocker update man? Lol I bought jcr mounted them up for a good minute then hacked em up and my rockers like a year ago! Ouch! Interested how you tied them in to the pillars.

Sweet Zj doode
 

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Discussion Starter #69
I'm back from never never land. More info on the slider build.

The second stage of the project was cutting off the old rockers. The design calls for tieing directly into the pillars so I carefully cut out the old material which revealed solid structure for the a-b pillars but nothing much for the c-pillar.

Here's the b-pillar structure:



And here's the a-pillar structure. There was quite a bit of rust on the passengers side (shown). Not so bad on the drivers side. The sliders will also tie into that channel running under the floorboards to the frame:



The third stage of the project was making some mounting brackets. Here I used 4" wide by 1/8" thick sheet welded into an "angle iron". These brackets are welded to the pillars and the unibody structure as shown in the photos below. Lots of care was taken when fitting these brackets so that the sliders would line up perfectly. This was a real PITA but well worth the effort. The photos also show how I peeled back the remaining rocker panel metal for access. In the end I will fold this metal back into place and stitch-weld it directly to the slider rails.

Photo showing how the a-pillar bracket was attached. You can also see the other two brackets toward the rear:



Photo showing how the b-pillar bracket was attached. I used a similar bracket for the c-pillar area but since there was no pillar structure back there I could only weld onto what remained of the old rockers (i.e. similar to the vertical welds show here):



With the brackets fitted it was then a simple matter to hoist the rails into place and burn them on. The following photos show how the rails were attached to the top edge of the brackets. The same was done on the bottom edge of the brackets:







These things are incredibly strong. I can lift the whole side of the vehicle off the ground with a high-lift and there is zero deflection.
 

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Discussion Starter #70
More photos of the sliders and the beginnings of a custom belly skid:







The following picture shows the trimmed and cleaned sheet metal ready to fold onto the slider:



I also started building a belly skid plate. Here are the parts:



Fitting the parts together and tacking:







I welded a couple flanges to the Clayton frame stiffeners for mounting the skid plate. That cat sure will be happy to have some protection:

 

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that looks like SO much fun, nice pics!
 

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Discussion Starter #76
Here is my TODO list as the 2011 season rapidly approaches:

  1. Install rear limit straps
  2. Replace ABS system with adjustable proportioning valve and re-plumb all the brake lines.
  3. Disassemble suspension, inspect ball joints, service control arm ends & swap jonny joints into the radius arms, adjust pinion angle, straighten bent CA bracket.
  4. Drain, inspect, and refill differentials
  5. Rebuild both driveshafts
  6. Paint front/rear bumpers and get them looking somewhat straight again.
  7. Finish rocker skid install and coat them with Herculiner
  8. Replace bent front tie rod
  9. Replace broken front exhaust pipe
  10. Install synthetic winch line
  11. Get CB working
  12. Get stereo head unit working
  13. Fix broken dome lights
  14. Replace starter
  15. Clean throttle body and replace IAC valve (as per ODB II check engine code)
  16. Keep eye open for rear doors in good condition.
  17. Come up with a better storage solution
  18. Other items that I forget . . .
Not too bad, huh?
OMFG.

Brake lines were on the list last year, did not get done, and I had TWO blowouts on the trail so the brakes are must-do.

The exhaust is also must-do. Both clamps holding the front pipe to the manifolds are rusted away and there is major obnoxious leakage. The original stainless pipe is still in perfect condition but there is no way to replace the clamps without cutting the pipe. Bald Hill Jeep wanted $495 :eek: for a factory stainless replacement so I'm going with a steel replacement from NAPA. The engine is running like crap and throwing a code for the intake air control valve (IAC). No suprise since the throttle body has not been touched for years and I apparently had a squirrel living inside the intake. Plugs, wires, and distributor cap are also due.

The last must-do items are the driveshafts & tie rod. The driveshafts were damaged last season and need to be rebuilt. I'm going to have the local driveshaft shop deal with the rebuild so they are just a bolt-in for me. The tie rod is bent enough to interfere with the track bar & stabilizer brackets. I already have the replacement but don't look forward to screwing around getting the toe adjusted.

Everything else basically falls into the nice-to-have category, especially if I want to keep rolling the dice without limit straps to protect the rear shocks (which both blew out on the trail last season)

I have most of the parts. Now its a matter of time. Too much time. I'd like to get through the must-do items by the end of April at the latest and then start knocking off the other items as time permits.





Stay tuned for write-ups on the ABS delete, Jonny joint install, and limit strap install (hopefully) as well as more photos from the trail.
 

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I've been meaning to take a closer look at the sliders for a while. At the time it was too cold out. And then they got covered in mud. Finally had to wash her off for the Toy Run and took a closer look. Low and behold they did get dented:



No big deal. After all, thats what they are for!


For a while now I've been going back-and-forth between getting some JK D44's or building up my own axles. According to the guys at IROR the JK axles are now being sold a la carte (i.e. rotors, calipers, etc. sold separately) and the price has gone up considerably. I have thus committed to building my own. For the front I got a high pinion D30 from a '94 XJ and for the rear I got a D44 from an '87 XJ. These D44's are rare since they were only available on '87-'89 XJ's with the tow package and I needed to travel to New Hampshire to get it.

Front high pinion D30:


Rear D44:


I paid $150 for the front and $200 for the rear which is dirt cheap around here. Most yards are selling the D30's for $300-$550 and D44's from TJ's for (well) over $1000.

I'm going to strip them down and do a complete rebuild so by the time I'm done the only parts remaining will be the housings, knuckles, and bearing caps. Gearing will be 4.56's with a Detriot Locker in the rear. The rear will of course be adapted to disc brakes and I want to keep ABS working all around. I'm considering a Superior Super 30 kit w/ ARB in the front but its not clear if this kit works with ABS. I called Superior and was told the axles are machined to accept a tone ring but the guy I was talking to did not give the impression he really knew what he was talking about. Its looking like I am on my own when it comes to ABS in the rear. The wildcard in all this is what to do with the suspension. I'm definitely stripping off all the mounting brackets and replacing them. The question is whether to stick with short-arms and 4 1/2" springs or go with long-arms and 4 1/2"-5 1/2" springs. If long-arms then triangulated 4-link, 5-link, or maybe something entirely different? Decisions, decisions. I'm even thinking about designing my own suspension.

While up in NH picking up the rear axle I had to wait a few hours while they pulled the axle so I asked them to direct me to some local trails. The sent me to some power lines a few miles away. Its was slippery out there! My daughter and I did not get a quarter mile down the trail before we ran into a kid who had his TJ (on street tires) mired. His mother and father were out there in a Land Rover trying to get him unstuck. They had already snapped a tow strap and tensions were running high. We spend the next hour or so shoveling and jacking and were finally able to pull him out with my tow strap. In the end we did not get much wheeling in and never took any action pictures because my daughter and I were to busy fighting about who got to drive.

How did you convert the rear Dana 44 drum brakes..to disc?

Did you get a kit, or scrap some hardware off an existing axle..Ford Crown Victoria? The latter is a source vehicle for some disc conversions.


PS

I ALSO got a used '96 GC 5.2l V8 Limited Edition 1 year ago. LOADED (power everything = seats/windows/locks, sunroof), with an already swapped in NV242. The previous owner was a mechanic, who was incredibly scrupulous. LOTS of new parts (balljoints) rebuilt rear end, recently rebuilt tranny. I'm keeping it stock for now, just to "use it up".


Whoah..I've been researching crazily the last 2 days on axle upgrades for my newly acquired '98 GC 5.2l V8, got it for $650 (real clean) with blown rear axle..the notorious "rumble" (worn carrier bearings, possibly bad pinion bearings as well).

A friend built his ZJ with a HP Dana 30 from an XJ (like yourself), with a custom built rear Dana 44 (off '66 truck). Your solution for rear (Dana 44 from '87 - '89 XJ tow package) is hard to find, as you mentioned. I'll probably go with a rear Dana 44 from Isuzu Rodeo (mid 90's), Honda Passport ('93 - '97), very stout unit avail in 4.3 & 4.56 gears. However, it's a 6x5.5 lug, so I would have to drill 5x4.5 pattern in the axle flange (& the rotor assembly).

I'm definitely doing things on budget ("junkyard lift"). I heard good things about the Mopar JK Rubicon axle set ($3000 plus), but that's getting pricey on my "budget build". I want to do my own rear 4-link, whereas you got yours from Clayton. I want to do a custom 3-link (w/trackbar) for the front, like a build on Pirate4x4. So, I want to bust-out my welder & start "burning".

Thanks for this awesome thread..
 

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