Mira's '93 XJ 2-dr. build (11-year-old's first Jeep) - Pirate4x4.Com : 4x4 and Off-Road Forum
 
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Old 11-22-2011, 10:49 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Mira's Jeep Cherokee (XJ) build (11-year-old's first Jeep)

(NOTE: This is a cross-post from some other forums. Given the exciting news that Mira's XJ project is featured in the January 2012 edition of Jp Magazine, I thought I'd post it up here for y'all to see. It's not "Hardcore", but it's a nice little project.)

Reader's Digest version...

My (at the time) 10-year-old daughter gets her own Jeep XJ project, will be paying for 1/2 of the rebuild herself, doing much of the work with my assistance, and learning to weld in the process. She'll appreciate her XJ when she's ready to drive, as she'll have invested her own money, and sweat equity, in the Jeep.

She's now sponsored by several individuals and a few companies, for which we're both very grateful.

BTW, this is my daughter, Mira.




For the rest of you (LONG version)...


For the rest of you who want more detail, this is a lengthy post...be forewarned .

A retired friend of mine and fellow Jeep enthusiast from Kentucky bought this relatively rust-free '93 Cherokee 2-door for the transmission (to use in a Jeep Scrambler he was building). After pulling the transmission, the Jeep sat on his property for about 4 years.

I have rebuilt a couple old Jeep CJs from the ground-up in the past, and my two daughters (now ages 8 & 11) have been exposed to dad parting out roughly 50 Jeeps to get the parts I needed inexpensively, as I couldn't afford to build the Jeeps by paying "retail" for used parts. Knowing that my friend Don had this Cherokee just sitting, and that it was much cleaner rust-wise than most of the Jeeps we see here in the salty Midwest, I asked him how much he'd want for it. He replied by saying, "You come down and pick it up, and it's yours for FREE." I asked my daughter Mira if she was interested in building a Jeep with me, and her response was, "Can I weld on it?" (She has helped me do tack-welding on some military trailer modifications I recently completed.) You have to love a response like that from a then-10-year-old! Of course, the answer was "yes". We talked about her doing much of the work, and paying for half of the cost to build the Jeep. We have been tracking all the purchases & parts sales (from several XJ part-outs) on an Excel spreadsheet.


With this project, I saw opportunity for several "teaching moments" for Mira:
  1. Learning about Jeeps/cars, and learning about having pride in, and respect/responsibility with her vehicle. I could get monologuing about an "entitlement attitude" that seems more common than not with kids now, but I'll refrain... My daughter was going to have a vested interest in her first car.
  2. Fiscal responsibility. I'm a Dave Ramsey fan (syndicated financial talk radio guy), and wanted to teach Mira about budgeting, making good financial decisions with her Jeep build choices, etc.
  3. Learning more about using Microsoft Excel...a very powerful business tool (I'm a bit of a programmer/Excel geek).
  4. Originally, I wanted Mira to learn how to drive a stick (we planned on an AX-15). However, the acquisition of a low-mileage '99 XJ with an AW4 thwarted that plan. I'll teach her how to drive a stick on a different vehicle, I guess.

So the journey began. I drove from Michigan to Kentucky, worked in 104-degree heat to get the tow brackets built on-site, and flat-towed the Cherokee home. The exterior of the Jeep is rust-free, but due to the windows being broken out and collecting rainwater for several years, the floors needed some work. Otherwise, it's a very clean base for a project.

Keeping in the tradition of getting resourceful for parts, we subsequently bought several additional rusty parts Cherokees locally for $350-500 each to knock down the net build cost for Mira's. We parted out the Jeeps (all but the last one, which is her engine/transmission/transfer case donor).


Here are the specs so far on Mira's Jeep:
  • 1993 Jeep Cherokee Sport 2-Door
  • '99 XJ interior swap, including all wiring/gauges/dash
  • '99 4.0L HO engine with 94K miles...runs very well
  • '99 AW4 auto
  • '99 NP-231 transfer case
  • '05 LJ Dana 30 front/trussed Dana 44 rear axles (3.73 gearing with limited-slip in the rear) from my Jeep (low-mileage...only 53K)
  • 4-wheel disc brakes
  • 2" TeraFlex BB spacers (front) OR 4" TJ springs (which should net 3" lift on the XJ)...unsure at this point.
  • TeraFlex front lower control arms
  • '05 LJ OEM Jeep Ravine wheels
  • 31" x 10.5" BF Goodrich KM2 Mud-Terrain tires
  • JCR Offroad DIY front bumper, Rear Bumper TBD
  • JCR Offroad Transfer Case skid plate
  • (planned) Iceland Offroad high-clearance flares (no suspension lift planned for vehicle)
  • JCR Offroad Ultimate Sliders


Company Sponsors:

Mira & I would like to thank the guys at RockSolid Performance here in Cedar Springs, Michigan for the pro bono custom machine work on her rear Dana 44 truss, some new Dana 44 U-bolts and the braided stainless rear soft brake line kit, and more! These guys are HIGHLY recommended, and will be getting much of our business going forward. Much appreciated, RockSolid!




Thanks for the caliper paint, seam sealer, internal frame coating, PRE cleaner, and cleaning discs, Matt. Much appreciated.




Thanks for the new TeraFlex adjustable lower control arms, Sterling!




Thanks to the great guys at JCR Offroad for the AWESOME deal on the XJ Ultimate Sliders!


Individual Sponsors: (NOTE: Most of these guys are from GreatLakes4x4.com)
  • BOBCAT (Don): The whole project is a reality because our friend Don hooked us up with a fairly clean, '93 XJ 2-dr. "carcass". Thank you so much, Don!
  • Shane Rugg: SCREAMIN'-good deal on a low-mileage 1999 XJ parts vehicle. Thanks again, Shane. Your generosity is greatly appreciated, and will breathe life into Mira's project!
  • Brewmenn (Bruce): Thank you for hooking us up with a clean set of FREE doors. Much appreciated. :thumb:
  • mrclean (Travis): Transport of parts, and donation of some Hummer D-rings/mounts.
  • JeepMann (Steve): A set of Dana 30 knuckles. Thanks Steve! :gotsand:
  • big_ol_bronco78 (Dave): Free parts transfer/delivery. Thanks man!
  • Ron Peterson (cj8ron): NEW late-model XJ header panel for a "facelift" front clip swap (WOOT!), fan shroud, and several other XJ parts we can use. Thank you so much, Ron.
  • Aaron Smuda (Porscheguy): Adjustable lower control arms & some TJ 4" lift springs. Thanks for your generosity, Aaron. We hope to return the favor someday!
  • TJontherox (Ryan): New XJ grill insert. Thanks Ryan!
  • alix4d (Alix): FREE transport of donated parts.
  • Mitch Ware: Cash Donation. Thanks for your generosity, Mitch!
  • Andy Stock (MKR5150 on NAXJA). '98 ZJ disc/disc brake proportioning valve. Thanks again, Andy!



Project Coverage
  • Check out this Eastwood Blog covering Mira's Jeep project.
  • Featured on Page 56 of the January 2012 edition of "Jp Magazine". Thanks guys!

Last edited by 1x1_Speed_Craig; 01-27-2015 at 05:46 PM.
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Old 11-22-2011, 10:50 AM   #2 (permalink)
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The carefully-fitted patch panel, which I cut from the original (dented) hood.



75% done. I butt-welded in the patch panel, and ground the welds flush. Butt-welding this sheet metal is a PITB (pain in the butt).



Passenger-side replacement floor pan (test fit) from Sherman Auto Parts here in Michigan. I love supporting local business!



Here's a profile pic of the XJ with the 31" BFG KM2 tires. Have some vision...we already have a straight set of replacement doors, and a clean rust-free, dent-free front clip (not pictured).



Here's Mira getting acquainted with one of her new best friends - the Sawzall (she'll also get to know it's cousins, the 4 1/2" grinders down the road). She's cutting up the carcass of one of the parts XJs we bought.



Loading up the scrap trailer with remnants from the '94 XJ parts vehicle.



Here's my "King of Scrap" photo. Believe it or not, the entire cut-up carcass of the Jeep Cherokee fit in my 3/4-ton military trailer (barely). It was a good teaching moment, too...we got $85 for RECYCLING the steel. Mira & her sister Maeve are already on-board with recycling things.



Here are two more ~3.5" square floor pan patches after welding/grinding/sanding. Once it's painted, it'll be covered up with either a rubber mat or carpet (probably with Dynamat underneath). Still, my perfectionist ways require me to make the patch job pretty.



Then we bought some "instant hardcore", and welded one of these Ballistic Fab weld-on skulls on to her HD diff cover. The cover is stamped with a 1987 date, and is the OEM HD style (1/8" thick). It'll give her more protection than the thinner D44 cover that came stock on the LJ.



Here's Mira & the Sawzall vs. the LJ Dana 44. Since I'm installing 1-tons in my '05 LJ, Mira is the lucky recipient of this disc-equipped Dana 44 rear axle for her XJ. It'll be trussed, and reworked with XJ bracketry. My LJ only has 53K miles, so everything is in great working order as-is. It has 3.73 gears and a limited-slip.
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Old 11-22-2011, 10:51 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Here's Mira's Dana 44 mocked up with her T&T Customs XJ D44 truss and XJ perches. Since this photo was taken, all finish welding on the perches and M.O.R.E. shock mounts has been completed, and the truss is just about ready to weld on (just requires some minor grinding first).



One evening's "mini project" was installing these Dana 30 JKS Mini Skids for the lower control arm brackets. The fit was really nice, and the install very simple. Given all the mangled D30 LCA brackets I have seen, I thought this would be a good idea since Mira plans on wheeling her XJ. Again, the Dana 30 is from my LJ, and only has 53K miles. Gearing is 3.73 open.



Here's Mira starting on disassembling the dash. We did find an amplifier under the lower dash panel; we'll have to test it to see if it works, and will use it if it does. NOTE: Despite the bird's nest that's still in the radio opening, no actual birds were harmed during the course of our work.



Disclaimer: This is a "poser" shot. I (dad) removed the rear axle for her while she played with her sister. This is her token, "What, WHAT?!?" poser look.



Here are the products that Eastwood so generously donated to Mira's project. WOOT! Thanks Matt @ Eastwood!



Here's the INCREDIBLE color that Mira picked out for her XJ - Synergy Green. BEEE-A-UUUUUTIFUL!!!



And pics from the H.D. Offroad Engineering Shackle Relocation Kit. Nice, heavy-duty product!



T&T Customs XJ Dana 44 truss & H.D. Offroad Engineering[/URL] Shackle Relocation Kit after some paint.



Because I'm a nice dad, and because Mira would have gotten completely bent trying to break the bolt free , I loosened (slightly) the upper shackle bolt, and then turned Mira loose with the 1/2" ratchet. Despite being a relatively rust-free Jeep, the upper shackle bolt was still stubborn, and a bit crusty.



I mentioned previously that this Jeep build would be full of teaching moments. This is one of them. Teaching moment = Rusty Jeep bolts are a PITB (pain in the butt). Even after I broke it free, and after Mira added heat, the bolt was still somewhat tough to remove. Note the look on Mira's face. After spouting off a few comments in a seriously annoyed tone, I explained to Mira that this WAS a teaching moment, and this is one of the things that us "Jeep folk" deal with on a regular basis. I then became "Mr. Nice Guy" again and removed the bolt the rest of the way for her.
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Old 11-22-2011, 10:51 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I picked up some JCR Offroad nut strips. Nice pieces! It completely makes sense to spend the money on these nifty pieces that will make our life much easier!



Here's our driveline/wiring/interior "donor" - a 94K-mile '99 XJ that was a mechanic-owned Jeep for the last 4 1/2 years. Holy cow, this a clean, great-running Jeep! It's clean enough that I'll likely be able to use parts of the floor pan to repair Mira's (with the factory stampings). It also runs like an absolute dream. Mira's Jeep will get the "heart & mind" of this '99...all wiring, computer, interior, dash, etc..



Mira working more on her '93 dash removal.



...and (mostly) done!



Here's the LJ-turned-XJ Dana 44 mocked up under an XJ. In this photo, the (higher-clearance) M.O.R.E. shock mounts are tack-welded on, and everything looked great. I'm just about ready to weld on the T&T truss.



It's not Cherokee-related, but Mira had her first big welding lesson a little over a week ago. She had a school project where she had to build a catapult that will fire a marble at least 10 feet (study of potential & kinetic energy). We found an old spring-loaded faux cabinet drawer hinge in one of my parts bins, some 1 1/2" square tubing, some aluminum siding pieces, and a teaspoon measuring cup. Mira did a GREAT job welding. Here's a shot of me helping Mira with the MIG welder.



Mira solo welding on some scrap steel.



Here's Mira testing her final catapult design - a hand-held unit that utimately fired a marble 35 feet (project requirement was 10 feet). Since we bought a "bulk" purchase of weld-on skulls for her Jeep project, she welded one of them on her catapult to add a little "hardcore". She learned how to tape off parts, and also did most of the spray painting...good practice for her pending Cherokee work.



got the remainder of Mira's dash items removed last week...naked firewall. It'll make doing the rest of the floor pan patches considerably easier, and will allow me to make a template for the firewall holes to compare against that of the '99 XJ (dash/wiring/engine donor).



And the latest news (mentioned in my original post)...Mira was published in the January 2012 issue of Jp Magazine. Woot! I'm very proud that they complimented her writing/grammar/punctuation. That's my girl! She e-mailed Jp Magazine a couple months ago in response to a blurb that we saw about projects. While I helped her with the specifics with as to the parts (model names), she wrote the entire e-mail herself.
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Old 11-22-2011, 02:23 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Looking forward to doing this when I have kids. Great job both of you.
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Old 11-22-2011, 03:30 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I've got a baby girl on the way, this is awesome
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Old 11-22-2011, 05:38 PM   #7 (permalink)
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that is cool man!! I just read the article today at work from the JP magazine.
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Old 11-22-2011, 05:50 PM   #8 (permalink)
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This will be a great experience for every one involved.
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Old 11-22-2011, 09:38 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Looks cool man, Thats pretty cool she is interested in something that you are also, something you two can share..
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Old 11-23-2011, 05:42 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Read the miss...this isn't har..eat..dammit..

Very cool. Me and my 3y.o. recently rebuilt his tricycle, can't wait for him to get old enough to do this knd of stuff with me.

Keep us posted
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Old 11-24-2011, 12:03 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Great build look forward to seeing the progress.
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Old 11-26-2011, 01:58 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Thanks all!


Maeve (Mira's little sister) actually helped me out in the garage today, and was a great little helper! She liked watching me weld, and seemed pretty interested in the process. She, of course, laughed at me a couple times I forgot to connect my ground wire prior to welding. Anyway, here's the progress.


Front view of Mira's completed (minus paint & replacement "skull" diff cover), disc-braked, trussed Dana 44 rear axle.


Close-up of front of truss. I welded a couple 7/16" nuts on the inside on both sides of the center section as a mounting point for a potential differential skid plate down the road.


Close-up of passenger-side Dana 44 rear. The M.O.R.E. shock mounts gain us about 1" of additional ground clearance over the stock shock mounts.


Another center section shot. I cleaned up & painted the inside of the truss, and also the top of the cast center section prior to welding on the truss so it'll be easier to seal up from the elements.


On the rear of the truss, I drilled a hole, and welded (from the back) a 7/16"-20 bolt to mount the OEM '05 LJ brake line splitter. The little tab below is just to keep the splitter from rotating around.


Here's a close-up of one of the truss welds. I did a double-pass weld with my Millermatic 135...worked very well. I haven't done many double-pass welds, but given the thickness of the material, it was the best route to go with my 115V Miller welder.
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Old 11-27-2011, 04:12 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I also have a wheeling buddy Ally (oldest daughter). She is 9. My rig is currently under the knife getting tons and 42's. After I finish that I am starting on her Comanche. She had a big grin on her face when I showed her this thread. Good to see she is not alone. This is her usual place. Co-dog and keeper of sunflower seeds.
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Old 11-30-2011, 06:19 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I started on Mira's "poor kid's (and dad's) heavy-duty control arms" tonight (stock LCA on the bottom, newly-plated LCA on top). I bought $4 worth of 1 3/4" x 3/16" plate today, and welded one piece to the bottom of the stock LJ control arms. I stitch-welded them a little at a time to minimize warping. The grinding is just the initial pass...it'll look better once I'm done.

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Old 12-01-2011, 04:49 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Drat...I realized that the stock control arms will NOT work with the JKS mini skids I already welded on the axle. I'll need to get aftermarket LCAs after all. If I hadn't put the JKS mini skids on the axle, this would have been a good idea, IMHO.

Craig
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Old 12-01-2011, 05:55 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Subbed, this is insanely awesome, and when I eventually have kids I want to do something akin to this with them.
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Old 12-02-2011, 06:31 PM   #17 (permalink)
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adopt me
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Old 12-03-2011, 06:12 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Subbed, this is insanely awesome, and when I eventually have kids I want to do something akin to this with them.
Thanks.


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adopt me
I have been getting that a lot lately.


Rear axle has now been primed (looks good). Pics to come once paint is complete.

Craig
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Old 12-04-2011, 08:24 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Trussed Dana 44 almost done...currently in primer. I hope to have paint finished this week (the Eastwood primer/paint requires 24 hours between coats). My perfectionist ways are killing me...I have a couple blemishes on top of the truss that I'll probably re-sand & re-prime. Nobody will ever see it when it's installed, but it'll bug me if I don't fix them.

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Old 12-07-2011, 11:07 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Here in Michigan, Mira must be excited about sledding season, as her idea for a photo with her new JCR Offroad transfer case skid was to sit on it like a sled. Crazy kid. I took advantage of a Black Friday sale at JCR to pick up this, and a couple other items for Mira as an early Christmas(ish) gift.


Another shot of Mira with the JCR Offroad skid, and also a set of their new front Unibody Tie-In brackets that wrap underneath the frame, and tie into the sway bar mounts. These are nice pieces to beef up the front sheet metal where the stock bumper mounts. NOTE that while she's a unique pre-teen in regards to owning/building her own Jeep at age 11, she's completely typical in that her cell phone is never out of her reach.



Speaking of front bumpers, JCR Offroad unveiled an economically-priced “DIY” front bumper on Black Friday, as well. It’s all CNC-cut, and comes in a tidy little (literally…approximately 12” x 30” x 1”) package. I picked one of these up for Mira, as well.



Here’s what the assembled JCR Offroad DIY bumper kit looks like assembled & installed. It should look very nice on her XJ.
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Old 12-08-2011, 12:03 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Thumbs up

I've been following this build over on naxja and the progress is good as well as the attention to detail! I will continue to follow this as time permittes..
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Old 12-10-2011, 04:53 PM   #22 (permalink)
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We want to give fellow (hometown) Jeeper Ron Peterson (cj8ron) a HUGE thanks for sponsoring Mira's project with a new "facelift" header panel (grill), and several other Cherokee parts that will help Mira's XJ project. Ron looks somewhat stoic in this pic , but we had a good time introducing Mira to him and chatting, checking out his cool Jeep collection, etc. Thanks again, Ron!

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Old 12-16-2011, 04:46 AM   #23 (permalink)
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We'd like to thank Aaron Smuda (Porscheguy on our local forum) for another sponsorship. Aaron donated some adjustable lower control arms (one just needs a new bushing), and also some TJ lift springs that we should be able to use for one of our projects.

Thanks so much for your generosity, Aaron! We owe you bigtime.

I'd also like to thank Frank (COYOTE) from RockSolid Performance for his help in transporting these parts up to Cedar Springs for us. :thumb:

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Old 12-21-2011, 05:14 PM   #24 (permalink)
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I mentioned that Aaron Smuda (Porscheguy on our local board) was nice enough to donate some used TeraFlex control arms for Mira's project...very cool. Well, they had not been greased regularly by a previous owner, and had some slop after we eventually freed them up (they were frozen in position from crud/corrosion). They WERE adjustable arms after all.

I contacted TeraFlex about replacement bushings, and planned to just weld the used TeraFlex arms into position, and run them as "fixed arms". Well, after a few e-mail exchanges about Mira's Cherokee project, TeraFlex offered to send us a brand new set, providing we destroyed the used ones we have. So, we're very thankful for a TeraFlex sponsorship that helps her project. Thanks Sterling at TeraFlex Suspensions!

Craig

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Old 12-21-2011, 06:31 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Neat!
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