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Old 05-05-2019, 07:18 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Low, Simple, & High Clearance TJ Build

Into:
I put 35’s on my TJ with 1” of suspension and 1” of body lift along with a flat belly and a bunch of semi bolt on upgrades. This build thread will show what I did and what was involved to actually clear the tires without killing up travel or having suspension components hitting each other. There’s people who have done it but very few pictures and explanations about how they did it. I’ll try and explain what I had to change/ modify to make everything work. It was built in a 1 car garage with a decent but not huge set of tools. There is plenty of booty fab and things not 100% straight and perfect. The Jeep is currently wheelable but needs some finishing and I will post updates as I have time to get to the present day.

Current Picture


Background:
I bought this 98 TJ almost 3 years ago, used it as a daily driver putting 100 miles a day on. We were wheeling the girlfriend’s JKU Rubicon on 35’s most weekends during the summer in Colorado and then a couple weekends a year in Moab. Pretty early on I put on a 1” body lift and 31” mall terrrains. Last october I built the bumpers, tire carrier, sliders, put an m8000 on the front bumper, and put in some PRP premiers for a trip to Moab. It worked decent but it just wasn’t anywhere near as capable as the JK.

Bone stock the night I bought it


The TJ with the JK it replaced


Driving to Moab after I added the weight of the bumpers and sliders the jeep started rocking side to side when you hit a bump on the highway. The monroe parts store shocks just weren’t cutting it and the 200k springs were pretty well done. I also turned the factory drag link into a frown when I hit a rock. We’ve known Steve from Off Road Only for a while so I ordered up his u-turn steering kit to fix the steering, some 1-1.5” lift H&R coil springs, and some 0-2” lift Bilstein 5100 shocks.

The Jeep rode much better and the steering worked but I lost a ton of turning radius and the pitman arm would hit the tie rod at full bump.

Fast forward to January and the girlfriend sold her JK, I bought a daily driver car. In February we decided we were going back to Easter Jeep Safari and the jeep needed 35’s, lockers, gears, a flat belly, and a 4:1 T-case.

Pictures of the jeep after I sold the hard top but before I tore it apart


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Last edited by BarrelRoll; 05-06-2019 at 06:29 PM. Reason: I think the pictures are finally working and vertical
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Old 05-05-2019, 08:42 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Goals:

-Low with uptravel. It had 1-1.5” springs and a 1” body lift to clear 31’s, not planning on any more lift for 35’s. I’d like to maintain as much up travel as possible

-As much clearance as possible. Flat belly, boat sides, savvy 1” lift gas tank skid

-Keep it light. Try to keep away from ” plate and adding unnecessary weight, aluminum skid plates when possible.

-Still drivable on the road. I don’t want a trailer queen. I’m not going to drive it daily but I’d like to be able to keep up with traffic and not scare the crap out of myself in the process. Having to tow makes a lot of the local trails a no go or really long because you have to run them backwards to get to your trailer.

-Not too capable but not stock. There’s only a handful of trails to really push a rig within a couple hours. 35’s and lockers were just about perfect on the JK. Staying with 35’s and lockers. Hoping to be a lot more nimble than the school bus of a JK

-Keep it cheap, not a super cheap build but I don’t have the budget for a bunch of bling parts, coil overs, 1 tons, links, or an Atlas t-case.

Plans:
-4.88 gears, Nitro lunch box locker front, spool rear, diff covers, stock shafts for now with a set of junkyard spare front shafts, it has a factory Dana 44 in the rear
-35’s, 15x8 4.5” steel wheels from the 31’s
-Teralow 4:1 t-case with SYE I picked up for $400 because it was “making noises”, Novak cable shifter, cut down ZJ front drive shaft in the rear
-Flat belly with t-case crossmember, oil pan/ tranny skid tied into it, savvy gas tank skid
-Hydro assist steering with a big cooler, make a track bar clear, regain lock to lock steering
-Adjustable upper and lower control arms rear, adjustable lowers with skid plates front
-No front fenders, boat sides, move up rear flares

Next posts will be the current round of upgrades. I suck at taking pictures along the way so most of them are completed pictures. Everything was done in less than 2 months while attempting to work 60 hours a week and attend class 1 night a week and on Saturdays. I made my Moab deadline but there's a couple things that need to be finished or tweaked.
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Last edited by BarrelRoll; 05-06-2019 at 03:22 AM.
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Old 05-06-2019, 06:10 AM   #3 (permalink)
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FYI: For some reason the pictures aren't showing up either on the website or on Tapatalk.


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Old 05-06-2019, 07:09 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Cant see the pics but looking forward to the build thread.
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Old 05-06-2019, 11:12 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I have the pictures hosted with google. I'll have to play with them when I get home, work has pictures on lock down.
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Old 05-06-2019, 06:32 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I think the pictures are finally working, let me know if they aren't. Google photos failed me. I ended up posting them in the test forum, figuring out what was sideways, saving it, flipping it, and then reposting it in the test forum and linking from there.

I'm going to try and add some details about parts I used to make this easier for the next person with fewer misordered parts and delays.
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Old 05-08-2019, 08:43 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Front Suspension and Steering

1st off trying to keep a TJ low with Offroad only steering, hydro assist, and keeping up travel is a battle. After cycling everything 100 times in different combinations I ended up with 1” of bump stop spacers booty fabbed with a hole saw and ” aluminum plate. Any more up travel and the steering box would have been needed to be relocated and the track bar would need to be moved on both ends. I was able to get lock to lock steering minus 1 washer on each steering stop and stock down travel. When I checked travel I pulled the rubber stops and check it metal on metal. The track bar clears the diff cover by about ⅛”, the ram fittings barely clear the crank pulley at full stuff and it actually need to be rotated a little bit to keep the fittings off the track bar.



Track Bar:
I wanted to fit a hydro assist ram and the only way to fit a ram with my steering was a straight track bar or mounting it to the drag link which I didn’t want to do. I ended up buying a Barnes 4wd outside the frame track bar bracket, ”x3/4” rod ends, some 1.25”x.125 4130 tubing, ”x5/8” high misalignment spacers for a 2” mounting width on the frame side, on the axle side I used ”x5/8” bronze reducer bushings and ⅝” aluminum spacers to get the rod end mounting width to the factory 1.600” mounting width.

I moved the frame side mount up 1.5” to make up for a flat pitman arm but kept it positioned roughly in the same spot on the frame. It was recommended to avoid bump steer to keep the track bar in the same plane it was in from the factory in relation to the drag link. I hacked the crap out of the barnes bracket and added a gusset on the inside of the frame. I wouldn’t buy an outside the frame bracket, either an inside the frame bracket or make my own.

Here's the barnes bracket all hacked up with a gusset









On the axle side I drilled out the bracket to ⅝” and used a weld washer on the outside. I had to cut off the steering stabilizer bracket and some of the track bar bracket to get full down travel. I used hex weld bungs and they are a larger OD than the tube which required grinding down the bung and more trimming of the bracket than I would of had to do with a smaller bung



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Last edited by BarrelRoll; 05-08-2019 at 08:45 PM.
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Old 05-20-2019, 03:19 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Steering:
I installed an Offroad Only U-Turn steering kit after I bent the stock tie rod back in the fall. It “works” with a stock jeep but was really designed to work with a 4”+ lift kit with bump stop spacers. With stock bump stops/ up travel the TJ pitman arm hit the tie rod, in spots I used to be able to make a U-turn required a 3-point turn, and there wasn’t enough adjustment in the drag link to make it short enough to center the wheel.

I used a CJ7 pitman arm in place of the TJ pitman arm, it’s flat compared to the TJ arm, the clocking is the same as the TJ arm, and I believe it was slightly but not much longer. It will not clear the radiator hoses on a TJ without a 1” body lift or some creativity. The pitman arm bought me some up travel.





I did some research and it seemed like everyone used a 6”x1.5” ram for a TJ with a dana 30 so I bought one from surplus center. I used a Synergy tie rod clamp for the 1.⅜” tie rod, it has holes for ” and ⅝” fine thread bolts. I bought a Ruff Stuff ⅜” thick diff cover and welded tabs on the diff cover for the other side of the ram.


After mocking up everything up with a 6” ram I didn’t have lock to lock steering, pulled the ram and I still couldn’t get lock to lock steering or a centered steering wheel. It turns out the drag link was way too long. I cut 1 ” off it and the drag link end and finally had lock to lock steering again but the wheel wasn’t centered. ORO is in the process of making a shorter drag link so I can get full thread engagement and a centered wheel.

After I got the drag link sorted out I measured my ram mounts and found out I needed a ram with 7.75” of travel. Luckily 4 wheel parts had an 8”x1.5” trail gear ram on the shelf. I drilled and tapped the box like everyone else, I think I used a youtube video but don’t have a link to it for reference. I did it without disassembling the box and didn’t have any issues. Coming out of the box I used ” MNPT x -6 JIC straight fittings, on the ram I used -6 90 Degree swivels and 1 45” long and 1 55” long -6 straight hoses with swivel fittings. I used a spring on the passenger side to keep the hoses up and out of the passenger tire.

Ram Mounting Diff Side


Ram Mounting Tie Rod Side


Drilled and tapped Box


Hose Routing With Random Spring


More Hose Routing Up High and Out of the Way



For the pump I followed West Texas Offroad’s directions drilling out the orifice and adding a #4 washer in the valve. I added a big Darle cooler mounted to the factory grill support.

Steering Cooler


The steering runs cool but I ran into big problems bleeding it. To get it bleed I ended up having to turn the wheel all the way 1 direction and crack the line of the side that wasn’t under pressure. I drove it for probably 20 miles with air in the system and ended up killing the who know how many mile factory pump in Moab. I put an O’Riley pump in in the dirt, it worked for 100 yards then nothing, tried for an hour to bleed it, said screw it, bought another pump, went to eat dinner, came out and it worked again. We are thinking the pressure relief stuck open. The new pump was stock and you can barely feel the difference, I’m thinking I’ll modify this one.
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Last edited by BarrelRoll; 05-20-2019 at 03:21 PM.
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