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Old 01-18-2018, 10:42 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Tribal's 2 door XJ mild trail build

So this is my first XJ in well over a decade, I had a 2000ish 4 door for a couple months in between trades from a motorcycle to another yota crawler, and while I dug it, I just didn't have the time or want to deal with weak axles and no frame. This time around, I was hunting for something that could carry a bunch of kids, had AC/Heat, doors, top, etc. Cherokee and 4runner were both high on my list but for some reason the 80s 4runners have just disappeared from the market in my area. This 2 door popped up and I talked the guy down and made a deal happen. It's got a D30/8.8 with Aussie front and limited slip rear, had stock axles all around with 35s and a SYE. Also has a 4.5 RC short arm. So I bought this thing, noting the gay 260x ujoints in the front axle.



It's already had the fenders rolled, guy did a pretty decent job at it. Also had the unibody stiffeners tacked in. He gave me some 2x6 that he'd planned on using for the rockers, as well as a steering box brace and some other bits. I drove it around the neighborhood and immediately got hellacious death wobble. Got tires balanced/rotated and that seemed to cure most of it. Decided to change out the thermostat for a 180, as I'm well aware of the overheating issues alot of people have. Motor looked VERY clean from what I could see peering through the thermostat hole. Also obviously had a new waterpump. sweet. Suffered through welding up all the frame stiffeners, as well as cutting out the rockers and installing the 2x6 2 days before we were supposed to go to Hidden Falls Adventure Park near Austin.



stuffed full of dirt on both sides. glad i cut it all out and cleaned it before it got too rusty.







Got the fiancee to help me some too. A lot of the reason I bought this thing was to get something a little milder that she could get comfortable driving offroad. So I told her to put some sweat equity in it too. lol



All I did for now was just cut to the pinch seam, used 2x4 angle iron plug welded/welded to pinch seam, and plug welded/welded the 2x6 rockers to the angle iron and the body on top. I did not brace it to the unibody since I'm getting ready to do long arms and didn't want to end up having to cut shit off and redo it twice. Landed on both sides at Hidden Falls several times and no indication of moving/bending at all.

I went out and bought a spare set of TJ 297x front shafts, and a JCR transfer case and Gas tank skid plate before the trip too, but quickly realized the gas tank skid wouldnt work since it was for a 97-01. So I need to sell that. Haven't mounted the transfer case skid yet because fawk nutserts. In talking to my buddy that I was meeting at Hidden Falls, he mentioned he had a YJ D30 with chromos, 4.88s and a spartan he'd sell me cheap. So i agreed to buy it when I got to the park.

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Old 01-18-2018, 10:42 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Damn was it cold in that tent. It got down to 26 degrees, and the space heater I brought along did no good unless you were essentially hugging the thing, which is what my fiancee did.

Went out, did some trails with Alex driving and she did great, but quickly realized it had no bumpstops at all. The rear axle was rubbing HARD on the rear quarters, and the front was chewing through the front fenders and inner fenders. Eh well. Kept sending it and eventually broke a front passenger axle on Wildcat Stairway. Limped back to camp, took apart the D30 I'd just bought and put in the Alloy USA chromos.








After we got it fixed, we went back out and wheeled all afternoon and night, and slept in the truck that night



Got it back home, and now I just need to fix the fender, install some bumps front and rear, and look ahead at installing the longarms I bought already. I think the next step is to add some rear quarter armor and a hybrid exo cage.



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Old 01-18-2018, 10:42 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Gotta wait for it to warm up though, this weather has been ridiculously cold the last couple weeks.

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Old 01-26-2018, 06:25 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Spent the week after work sanding down and POR15'ing the rust spots, and spraybombed the Cherokee in the color of Alex's choice (well, actually second option because fawk purple) Harbor Blue Rustoleum. repainted the roof rack satin black as well as the windshield mounts (that I put my LED lights off the bronco on).



She's in love with the color, which is great. I wouldn't have chosen the color but hell, almost certainly won't run into any other rigs this color on the trails. LOL


Next step here is to install the JCR skid if the install kit will ever get here, and cut/fold the rear quarters and cut the rear bumper. After that, I still need to do some bumpstops front and rear, move the rear axle forward to where its supposed to be and it'll be ready for a 2nd wheeling trip. She's already asking when we can go offroading again, so that's a good sign.
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Old 01-26-2018, 09:38 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Nice lookin 2 door. Was wondering what backspacing your running with those 35s and those 4.88 gears seem to be a good fit all around?

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Old 01-26-2018, 12:12 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks man. I have no idea what the backspacing is, i know the wheels are 15x10. I'll check and get back with you. the 4.88s are pretty aggressive IMO for 35s, but i think they'll be just right for 37s (which is where this will end up being on)
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Old 01-26-2018, 04:20 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks...I'm torn between 4.56 or 4.88 w/35s. Just trail riding, a little mud with some street. Do you have any front inner wheel well tire rubing going on front side of tire?. I'm trying to go for smallest amount of lift with long arms. Debating on cutting open front inner and reworking due to rust. Fenders getting cut for all I need. Wanted to due these repairs while its stripped for my build.

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Old 01-31-2018, 01:06 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks...I'm torn between 4.56 or 4.88 w/35s. Just trail riding, a little mud with some street. Do you have any front inner wheel well tire rubing going on front side of tire?. I'm trying to go for smallest amount of lift with long arms. Debating on cutting open front inner and reworking due to rust. Fenders getting cut for all I need. Wanted to due these repairs while its stripped for my build.

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They're 15x10 with 4.5 back spacing. I am going to run 1.5 spacers (mainly because i have em anyway) to help push the tires away from the body a little. its not as critical with the 35s but definitely will need them with the 37s i get eventually.
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Old 02-04-2018, 11:08 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I’m running 35x12.5” tires with 5.5” lift on 15x8 wheels and I don’t rub much because the wheels have ~4.5” backspacing. I tried my friend’s 2” spacers and took that off right away. They made my front tires to run into inner fenders badly.

You’ll have better luck if you have right wheel offset to keep the steering axis close to center of tire’s center line as possible. To minimal the “tire scrub”.


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Old 02-04-2018, 11:41 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Also, minimal the scrub radius will help a lot with the locker up front and to make ball joints & unit wheel bearing to live longer.
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Old 02-18-2018, 08:23 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Just a quick update. After the trip to Hidden Falls I knew I had to do something about the total lack of bumpstops. So now the XJ has got some extended bumpstops front and rear. The front is just about totally perfect, I just need to trim my fenders about an inch more and I shouldn't rub at all anymore. I still need to build a pad off of the leafs for the rear bumpstops to hit, I'll probably do that in the next week or two. I also bought a set of 35x14.50 Pitbull Rockers, but they're just way too wide and I didn't like the look so I sold them almost right away. I've got a pretty good slice in my sidewall on the old MT's so I'm going to try and patch it using a combination of plugs and radial patches. My next step is to order a crossmember so that I can install the longarms, and I'm also debating whether I want to try Shackle sliders or just do a shackle relocator in the rear. Thoughts?









One of these days I'll build a real RTI ramp too. LOL
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Old 02-19-2018, 06:41 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Welp, I've decided to go ahead and buy some 37s. Meeting one of my old buddies at Wolf Caves this weekend to wheel and purchase his 37s and 17s. I'm hoping with a light enough foot and smart wheeling that we'll be able to keep the D30 alive with the 37s. I'm also hoping that i'll be able to stay at 4.5 lift with the 37s, but we'll see.
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Old 02-22-2018, 09:14 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Heading out to Wolf Caves in Mason, Tx tomorrow afternoon to meet with my buddy Cotton to pick up the new to me 37s and do some wheeling. Not sure if I'll be able to wheel with the 37s or if i'll need to do some more bumpstop/cutting. It was pretty close with the 35s. I'm gonna bring my sawzall and angle grinder and see if we can make em work. Otherwise I'll just wheel on the 35s for the weekend.
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Old 02-22-2018, 11:02 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I wheeled hard on 37" PBR's with a D30 up front.
No locker, i was hard on the gas pedal all day every time
we took it out. I either had a tough as nails D30 or the key
is to not install a locker.

Well i know, no locker definitely helps.
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Old 02-23-2018, 06:27 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I've got chromos in the D30, so i'm not too horribly worried about it. I've always been good about not breaking parts. my only concern is body clearance, and stuffing a tire so far into the wheelwell that it breaks an axle (which is what happened on the first trip). Last time I didn't have any bumpstops at all, and this time I do, so hopefully it's enough. only one way to find out. LOL
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Old 02-25-2018, 05:28 PM   #16 (permalink)
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well that was a fantastic trip to Wolf Caves. If you've never been, it's definitely worth a visit. It's located outside Mason, Texas, not far from K2. https://www.wolfcaves.com/

The drive there wasn't so great, fought a constantly deflating rear passenger trailer tire and finally just pulled over and had it replaced in Brenham. After that it was smooth sailing all the way there. Wheeled all day Saturday with the wifey and I swapping driving/picture taking duties. The only thing I will note is that some of the green/blue trails were very easy and could have been rode with a stock JK, and other greens were very challenging for our XJ with lockers and 37s. All in all the XJ did great, the rear bumps are just about perfect, just need to do some very minor trimming on the very back corners and the fronts I'll have to drop in a hockey puck to keep the tires out of the fenders/inner fenders. On to the pics...











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Old 02-25-2018, 06:21 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Old 03-18-2018, 07:15 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Went out to Hidden Falls again during spring break, this time with all four kids in tow, and for 3 of them it was their first offroading and camping trip. It went AWESOME. I added a hockey puck on each side of the front bumps which helped alot, it still rubs a little bit on the inner fenderwells but nowhere near as bad as before. It did break a chromo driver side stub off in the unit bearing, we never even heard it break and had no idea until we rolled up on a rock and couldn't get over it and realized we only had 3 wheel drive. Gonna try and work on trimming the rear a little more, it's still rubbing on the rear bottom corner of my cut/folded quarters. Going to Hidden Falls again in 2 weeks for Easter weekend.





















I did put in 2 small kids harnesses in the middle section of the rear seat so the two boys could sit in there safely. it's pretty tight and wont work for much longer than a year, but hopefully by then maybe the bronco will finally be done (yeah right)
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Old 03-21-2018, 12:34 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Looks like you guys had some fun!
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Old 03-22-2018, 11:53 AM   #20 (permalink)
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definitely. It's been a blast wheeling Ole Blue. I ordered a Long Arm Crossmember from Dirtbound today, and plan on ordering a shackle relocator for the back as well very soon. I'm hoping to figure out a way to avoid gaining any lift at all, I love my current ride height but pretty sure i won't be able to avoid gaining at least an inch or two of lift with the shackle relocator. I do have a set of 6" coils in the garage that i can put in the front so it is what it is.
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Old 04-15-2018, 10:16 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Just a quick update.. we went wheeling again a couple weeks ago with the new long arms, and it worked awesome. also got the new stub from AlloyUSA and got that installed with a new 760X ujoint. no issues. We spent a lot of time leading runs so we didn't really get out and take many pictures, especially on the harder trails. We met up with a jeep group out of San Antonio and a pretty sweet XJ from San Saba and did some easier 3's and 4's before breaking off with the XJ and running some 5's.
















We had no issues at all the entire weekend. Then on April 5th, I was laid off for the second time in my O&G career from the company I'd worked for the last 3 years. It wasn't totally unexpected, but still pisses me off. I'd just bought a couple of cheap little ATV's for the kids to ride at the offroad park so I've been working on those things. They haven't run in a few years so I'm about ready to just order all new parts for them.



I spent some time modifying the JCR transfer case skid to work with the Dirtbound crossmember, and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.





one drawback, however is that the mounting holes no longer matched up at all, so I just ran some welds on the sides of the skid. I always carry my angle grinder, and worst case scenario I'll just grind off the welds on the skid if I have to do some repairs to the T-Case. What I'll probably end up doing eventually is drilling some new holes and do the nutserts again (although I hate those fuckers) I also cut off the big ass stock muffler that was beat to shit and welded in a compact little 30 dollar Cherrybomb oval muffler. Sounds better and I tucked it up pretty much as high as it can go.
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Old 04-15-2018, 10:19 AM   #22 (permalink)
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On the last trip I was denied on several lines of obstacles because my front bumper wouldn't let me approach a ledge, so I decided to pull it off and sell it and build a new lowprofile hidden winch bumper.



That'll be my project for the next week or two.



I also installed some shackle relocators that I'd bought a while back, and I'm still debating whether I want to cut the rear of the relocators off to give my stock shackles enough room to full compress, or if i want to get longer shackles. I'm pretty sure I'll just cut the rear of the relocators off. I got about 1.5 inches of additional lift with the relocators so I'll be putting in the 6" coils in the front. Wasn't really what I wanted to do but i think it'll help all around with the little bit of extra lift.

On the last trip my lightbar quit working while I was leading a night run on a pretty technical trail, and just having headlights and a couple of dim rock lights in the very front of the jeep didn't really help me out much. Luckily I knew the trails really well. So I also installed some new rock lights (wife picked the color) and got the rest of the lights working right again for night wheeling.

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Old 04-16-2018, 09:58 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Nice build. I just finished a pretty low profile hidden winch setup and tucked it far enough back to fit behind a stock bumper. I have a bunch of pictures if you want to see how I tucked it under the radiator. It was a smitty 10k which I think is the same body as the 12k, so it was a pretty big winch but definitely can be done.
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Old 04-22-2018, 09:02 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Nice build. I just finished a pretty low profile hidden winch setup and tucked it far enough back to fit behind a stock bumper. I have a bunch of pictures if you want to see how I tucked it under the radiator. It was a smitty 10k which I think is the same body as the 12k, so it was a pretty big winch but definitely can be done.
That'd be awesome man. I've got some ideas but pictures and other people's bumpers definitely would be good. I don't know if i'll have enough time to mess with a bumper build before we go wheeling on friday, but we'll see. I might just even do a super basic little stubby bumper just to protect the front end a little, and then come back later and do a real build.
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Old 04-23-2018, 05:27 AM   #25 (permalink)
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That'd be awesome man. I've got some ideas but pictures and other people's bumpers definitely would be good. I don't know if i'll have enough time to mess with a bumper build before we go wheeling on friday, but we'll see. I might just even do a super basic little stubby bumper just to protect the front end a little, and then come back later and do a real build.












Hope this helps. Bolts into the frame with 6 bolts per side, 3 through my stiffeners. Itís super solid, although I do still plan to add a lateral brace for the shackle mounts behind the bumper and a guard for the free spook lever.



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