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Old 06-30-2011, 01:37 PM   #1 (permalink)
RWC
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Budget Iceland Offroad ZJ build

While the XJ that my fiance came with still had a strong drivetrain, it came from Juneau, where there aren't I/M requirements, and rust tends to be more severe due to the constant rain and humidity.

So in 2009 we started searching craigslist and ultimately came up with a '95 ZJ 4.0 Laredo with the NP231, leather interior, fancier VIC, and no factory alarm (which I consider a good thing). Long story short, the sellers got ripped off since they didn't realize the rear axle shaft was busted. I looked at it and explained to them that it's probably a simple repair, but they didn't trust it, weren't mechanical, and just wanted to get rid of it. $500 later, we had a ZJ. REALLY high mileage with 250K on the clock, but the underside was SUPER clean, and all the bushings were tight, the tranny and t-case both felt good/shifted good, and the engine had good power. :crazy: It had a slight exhaust leak which I assumed was the infamous cracked 4.0 manifold (nope, just a loose nut at the header pipe). Even the A/C worked! 3.55 gears. The Jeep was obviously well maintained, but for the damage on the axle and left rear side.

The story the sellers learned after they bought the ZJ was that a kid got it from his grandparents, who babied it, mostly doing long drives to see a kid in Fairbanks and keeping it in the garage. The kid rallied it exactly once, slamming the left rear corner and obviously breaking a rim since the left rear was from an XJ. The left rear door wouldn't open, and there was damage down by the rocker, just above the light, and the tailgate. I think a C-clip popped off the left rear shaft. Once I got the rim off, the only thing holding the shaft in was the caliper. The splines were toast, and I couldn't find the c-clip anywhere in the differential.

So for another $500, we picked up an Up-Country Limited 5.2 '95 ZJ with a good 3.73 rear axle, skid-plate, tow-package, a slipping tranny, and a dieing engine with 130K. It also came with the gold honey-comb rims and an OK set of BFG All Terrains. The front tires had scuffing, but the back tires were 75%-80%. The front axle had a bad pinion bearing so we didn't use it, and I spent another $100 for a good front end with matching 3.73 gears. I swapped the u-joint shafts to eliminate the problematic CVs in the front axle. I changed all the fluids, put in a new rear main seal, and a new fuel filter, and took it for a drive to Palmer for a set of $80 studded tires. After a front end alignment, it absolutely drove like a dream! We also put on the gastank skidplate, hitch, and 1" lift from the Up-Country springs on the Limited before scrapping it.

I picked up some front tow-hooks (forgot to pull them from the Limited), put on tire chains, and we went wheeling!



So in the summer of 2010, we put the BFGs back on and it reminded me that with two bad tires we were only going to get another season out of them. We had a friend with some 32" BFG Mud-Terrains that she'd been itching to sell, and I thought we just might clear them with a budget-boost. I picked up a complete 3" kit (spacers, shocks, stabilizer, disconnects, trackbar relocation brackets) and 1.5" wheel spacers that fall:





They rubbed on the back leading edge going over speedbumps. She only drove it for about two weeks like this until they came off for the 235/75R15 studs anyway.

We'd been discussing bumper options since she liked the little bit of wheeling that we'd done, and I brought up the Iceland Offroad stuff for a couple reasons: we could ensure tire clearance, the fiberglass front bumper wouldn't weigh it down since it's a daily-driver, and with the basic rock-rails it would keep her Jeep looking pretty. Around that time, a local guy signed up to be a distributor for Iceland Offroad, so I jumped in on his first order. He was, in theory, giving me a steep discount since this was his first "promotional" order, but by the time everything finally arrived in the spring and I figured out what shipping would have cost had I ordered directly from Iceland, he only saved me $50 if that. But whatever, we got the stuff.

For Christmas, I got her a used XD9000i for a great price that had been sitting in the garage next my Scrambler's 9.5ti. So when the Iceland products arrived I immediately put on the front winch bumper, installed the winch, and trimmed and installed the front flares, mostly because they were the "big" things which were in the way in the garage. The rock-rails I took to get powder-coated with some things for my Scrambler.







The bumper took half a day, and the flares took another half day with help from a friend. We trimmed the leading edge of the rear rocker area so the tires would clear, knowing that I'd soon be installing the rockers and rear flares.

She's been driving it like this since April.
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Old 06-30-2011, 01:40 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I took it for it's first real trail run in May:




With the TDK/Aqualu Scrambler out of the garage (build thread here: http://www.cj-8.com/forum/showthread.php?t=27328 since I'm not porting the whole thing to Pirate) and my fiance doing research in California for a couple months, I wanted to surprise her by painting everything and getting the rear flares installed, so I started this last weekend:


She wanted flat-black. I also hadn't previously wired up the lights, so that's done now too, with an extra switch that I stuck on the dash.


These only sorta "bolt-on." I can see why welding is a good option, but since they were powder-coated I didn't want to do that. The pinch-seam that they bolt to on the bottom edge (look at the Iceland Offroad website for photo installation instructions) is somewhat sketchy. Maybe if you had a brand-new never-been-touched ZJ, everything would be straight and perfect and they'd bolt right on, but this isn't my case. The pinch seam doesn't drop down far enough all the way from front to back to get a good "grip" for the rock-rails, and I only had clearance to properly set three or four of the bolts. Maybe this is a construction difference between the '93-'95 and '95-'98 ZJs too, I just don't know. But I didn't trust just the bolts along the bottom, so I added #14 self-tapping stainless sheetmetal screws to secure it along the upper edge of the rocker. To keep gunk from getting down between the rocker and the body, I ran a bead of silicone along the upper edge.

To match the body cladding, I pulled it all off to paint it flat-black, along with the rear bumper (not installed yet).


Trimmed and welding in-progress. I won that little flux-core at the Alaska 4x4 Meet & Greet. While I may suck at arc-welding, I forgot how much I love to MIG! I already want to sell it so I can upgrade to something with gas.


Ready for bondo.


Since the flare covers this, I didn't need to make it even as pretty as I did, but for some reason I at least wanted to knock-off the big Bondo ridges and make it look kinda nice.


Test fitting the flare.


Welded and initial trim. I would have done more but it was late and didn't want to fire up the cutoff wheel.


Test-fitting the flare.

My fiance gets in tonight at 11:00. I'm hoping to finish this up and get the interior panels re-installed so I can pick her up in this as a surprise.

A friend in my 4x4 club is moving to the Lower 48 and decided to sell his VHF, so I picked that up from him to put in the ZJ somewhere. I haven't figured out where yet though.
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Old 07-14-2011, 06:23 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Finished and in the driveway. I didn't get the rear bumper on before I had to pick her up from the airport, so she had input at the end and told me she didn't want the leading edge of the bumper cut; she prefers the factory edge even though it doesn't match up to the flare. It's her ZJ, so she's the boss. We can always trim it later.


Overall clearance and look is satisfactory.


First real trail run on Boulder Creek with Alaska Extreme Fourwheelers.


Mud to the left.



This was a bad line. Even a locker and 37" Iroks didn't get him out of that hole.



ZJ did great though. On the way back she slammed it hard down on a rock without damaging the rocker. I haven't looked at it closely to see if the powdercoating came off though.


On this trail the hard-bottom tends to be toward the right, but it's still deep enough even in the dry weather we've had to give the door-seals a test. The only place we had a little water seep in was at the left rear door where the area is damaged so the seal doesn't seat properly. She proceeded without me while I was taking pictures and started to get hung up, so I had her back up and pull up on this little spot so let water drain for a few minutes while we got the two Toyotas winched out.

Overall impression: very nice! This was her first real trail run while driving, and she slammed the left front fender hard against a bank cut in a muddy spot when she slid into a rut. I heard a cracking sounds from that general area but there's not apparent damage. And the rock-rail she slammed on reshaped the rock but didn't damage the ZJ at all. The right front flare, right at the tip, and the edge of the bumper had some rock-rash that I didn't notice until we were airing back up. I'll post pics of it when I get a chance. It's nothing that a little Bondo for fiberglass won't fix with a little paint.

One last pic:
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Old 05-20-2012, 03:53 PM   #4 (permalink)
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She got into an accident. I expected the bumper to be toast. This is what happened to the Ford:


Here's hers:

The winch-mount took the brunt, completely f'ing-up the license plate bracket, but I still expected the fiberglass to be trashed on the sides. It just has a few scratches. It did tweak the angle a little bit, giving a gap between the back of the bumper and the front of the flares, but a winching operation the following day to get a big piece of metal out of the backyard, followed by winching it back over the embankment (not shown), straightened it out!
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Old 09-11-2013, 06:34 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Not that I ever expected this build thread to be the talk of the century, but this summer will be the last wheeling this ZJ will see in its present form:



Because everything will be shortly moved over to a 5.9L:
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Old 09-11-2013, 08:44 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I liked it first go 'round, enjoy round two
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Old 10-01-2013, 02:27 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I'm doing the main thread on thespeedfreaks.net, but due to popular demand have an abbreviated version on CJ-8.com. I will do an abbreviated version here too. The highlights:


Swapped spacers and Upcountry springs, front axles, pulled t-cases. Ended up having to disassemble the NP231 from the 4.0 to remove a bearing collar from inside the input shaft.




These were only on for like five minutes. They rubbed at all four corners. Since studs are now legal, I immediately pulled them (seriously, we didn't make it out of the driveway before my wife told me to put the other tires on) for the studded 235s.




She already hit a post. I'm not super-worried about it though since the lower portion of the bend is getting cut off, and the upper part will be covered by the flare.




All four door speakers were blown. Since I was at it, we picked up the Scoshe 6.5"s from WalMart for $33 to put in the sound bar. MAJOR difference! Also got the Pioneer installed that I just put in to the '95 four months ago.




'95 is getting close to being ready for sale.




Cleaned up the bumper, Bondo'd the gouges, etc., from her accident a year and a half ago, and added several coats of paint before installing.


Also:
- installed and wired the VHF using 3M tape stuck to the dash
- resoldered the VIC to eliminate the "coolant temp sensor" message
- swapped the red/black plugs behind the VIC so it recognizes the NP231 with 2WD, 4WD "part-time," neutral, and 4WD "part-time." I'm not sure how to make it display "lo," but I don't think I'm going to worry about it.
- swapped the shift gate, spring, and bezel for a clean OEM-style NP231 swap
- f'd up the headlight switch trying to re-solder it to eliminate the auto-headlight flicker (new one ordered from RockAuto)
- shortened front driveshaft

Still left to do:
- replace axleshaft u-joints
- fix tailgate lock actuator
- fix driver's seat heater
- paint and install front flares
- paint and install rock rails
- cut rear fender pinch seam, weld, Bondo, etc., for rear flare installation

I'll probably wait to cut the pinch seam until next spring when studs are illegal again (that will be my motivation since I will necessarily have to put on the 32"s).
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Old 01-08-2014, 01:50 AM   #8 (permalink)
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- Found a permanent aftermarket solution to the 5.9L ZJ fan switch problem (this is a big deal in the 5.9L ZJ world; applicable threads are on TSF and JF).
- Change u-joints.
- Opened up the tailgate guts to discover that a DSPO completely removed the lock actuator. I have no idea why. Either way, I sourced one (with the rod) from a part-out and it's working great.
- Cut up the Iceland Offroad fog lights to replace the non-serviceable bulb with a conventional replaceable bulb, and soldered OEM pigtails on.
- Replaced the headlight switch, and bypassed the BCM so the fog-lights work independently of the headlight switch position.
- Fixed the driver's side seat heater . . . for two weeks. Then it stopped working again. I'll fix it for real later.
- Had a friend with a shop install a remote-start.
- Added made-in-China light bar:

I did run a bead of flowable silicone around all edges in hopes that I've got it better sealed than how they came; I've heard stories that the poor seals is what cause these to prematurely fail.
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Old 01-09-2014, 11:58 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Really like the new 5.9 version. You said you swapped the t cases was that a big deal?


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Old 01-11-2014, 02:16 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Billy_Bottle_Caps View Post
Really like the new 5.9 version. You said you swapped the t cases was that a big deal?


Bbc
Not really. Just had to pull the input shaft from the 231 to pop out the internal bearing collar. I'd never opened an NP t-case before, but it was all straight forward.
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Old 01-11-2014, 12:07 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Not really. Just had to pull the input shaft from the 231 to pop out the internal bearing collar. I'd never opened an NP t-case before, but it was all straight forward.
Thanks for the reply will keep that info for a future project
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Old 05-20-2014, 05:36 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Lots of 5.9L ZJ work, on both my wife's and our friend's 5.9L. Here are some highlight photos:


Still need to build a storage box in the back where the spare tire is, and I'll incorporate a mount for this speaker/sub into the box.



Welded a roof-rack in anticipation of needing someplace to put the spare tire. I'll probably get rid of this when I get a rear bumper that includes a tire carrier. Yes, I ground off the zinc before welding.



Added pencil beams.



Did an aluminum plenum on our friend's 5.9L. The first gasket didn't take, so I had to do this job again about three weeks later.



Also added a catch-can to that ZJ. (This, and the plenum, are on the list for my wife's.)



Major transmission service: band adjustment, all new electronics (pressure sensor and both solenoids), found and replaced a broken accumulator spring, welded in a nut for a drain plug, new filter and fluid, deleted the one-way check-valve for the OEM cooler, added an auxiliary MOPAR cooler from a '93-'97. (For some reason, Chrysler didn't put the auxiliary cooler on any '98 ZJ, and relied solely on the radiator cooler.)



Trimmed the rear leading edge in anticipation of 32"s and ultimate cutting and installation of the rear flares.




Trimmed the front and got those flares installed. Also got the rock-rails on.
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Old 05-20-2014, 05:37 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Made a tool to test the Track-Loc. Turns out it's in great shape! Took right around 130 lb-ft to break it loose, which is well within the 30-200 lb-ft range provided for in the FSM.



Cleaned up the OEM stainless exhaust tip.



Welded/Bondo'd/painted the rear cuts.



32"s on.
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Old 06-10-2014, 03:27 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Full set of Husky floor mats installed. Definitely a good idea! We both like them.




Rear flares positioned and drilled. I decided to mount them and then cut so as not to remove any more steel from the uni-body as necessary.





Cut and welded.






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Old 06-12-2014, 12:54 PM   #15 (permalink)
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AAAaaand . . . rear cladding back on.




Also gave it a quick wipe-down inside to knock out the dust, and condition the leather. With the impending completion of the roof-rack, I decided to take this opportunity to re-ghetto mount the sub. Once the roof-rack is installed and the spare is on top, the next project will be building a speaker/storage box where the spare used to live.
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Old 06-12-2014, 04:54 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Cool, still diggin it. What's the white Jeep in the garage/driveway? Looks like CJ10 doors and funky top on a Scrambler?
Travis..
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Old 06-13-2014, 02:27 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Cool, still diggin it. What's the white Jeep in the garage/driveway? Looks like CJ10 doors and funky top on a Scrambler?
Travis..
Postal CJ-8 made only for Alaska; one of 230. I have 1.5 of them. Funky export package CJ-8s modified by AMC to USPS specs:
Postal Pseudo-resto (in AK))
It would have had much more love if the 5.9L hadn't been in my (relative) way. I'm really a CJ man; this ZJ stuff is still new to me.

My CJ-8:



The running postal:



Non-running postal (in the garage to keep my HOA happy):



I also have an '85 CJ-7 that my father bought new. I was with him on the test drive, and learned to drive in it when I was 12. There also might be a '54 CJ-3B laying around my other property somewhere under a tarp (but I've promised to sell it to a buddy who lost his 7 several years ago).
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Old 06-13-2014, 04:49 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Oh, I like the looks of those. Diggin the world tops, but could use some side windows I think. Cool stuff there.
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Old 06-14-2014, 10:52 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Roof rack painted and installed. Also took the Hi-Lift apart, painted it, and put on some lithium grease.
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Old 03-07-2015, 02:39 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Wow; I really haven't been keeping up with my build thread here. I admit that my primary thread is on TSF. I've done the aluminum plenum, added a catch-can, replaced all the coolant hoses, upgraded to an all aluminum radiator, and put in a FlowKooler water pump, in addition to some modifications for the e-fan switches. Also replaced all four front control arms and did the axle bushings. Look at my TSF thread if you're interested in the details.

Here's the latest:
Front output shaft bearing is on the way out in the NP231. Since I pulled that case from the '95, it now has around 300,000 miles on it. I think it's had bearings done once before, but either way, I can't complain. But since I have to open it up again . . . UPGRADE!

The final parts just arrived, so now she'll have the 6-pinion planetary, and 1.5" chain, with the SYE:



The Atomic Fireball came with the rebuild kit. Seriously.

Per Novak,
Quote:
The standard duty OEM 231 transfer cases are capable of transferring from 1600 to 1900 ft. lbs of torque (as claimed by NVG - actual experience puts this number quite a bit higher).
Wide chains, larger planetaries and stronger mainshaft/tailhousing assemblies (see Tailhousings, below) are also available if even more strength is desired. With such upgrades, a transfer case capable of handling 2900+ ft. lbs. of torque is attainable. This is a result of good engineering and refinement.
The Jeep New Process / NVG 231 Transfer Case
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Old 06-11-2015, 02:29 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Finally found a weekend to get the case out. Here's a shot comparing all the old with the new. I also put in a new front input shaft since the one from the '95 ZJ had the splines about .25" shorter to accommodate a bearing collar, which has to get pulled when installed on the back of the 46RE.



Case back together and installed. I added a little tag to indicate the HD components and the date the SYE were installed.



Driveshaft from Adam's Driveshaft showed up just a couple days after I ordered it. I'm incredibly impressed with the quality, service, etc. It was built and in the mail less than 24 hours after I ordered it, they'd already painted it, and it came fully greased, with the hardware, and a free t-shirt! All components were Spicer. And I went with the correct 1330 u-joint at the pinion rather than a conversion joint. I went ahead and installed it in the parking lot at the post office, and re-adjusted the shifter linkage.



All was good except for a slight vibration that kicks in around 55-60 mph, so I ordered adjustable rear upper control arms from Core 4x4 on eBay. I asked for the OEM Clevite bushings since ride is important as it's my wife's DD. I'm also impressed with the quality for the price, and the prompt delivery. DOM tubing, and they came painted!
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Old 11-07-2016, 05:21 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Still had vibration, which went completely away when the front driveshaft was removed. New u-joints and rebuilding the double-cardan resolved a lot, but I completely missed that the slip-joint had also gone out, so I ordered a matching from shaft from Adams. That resolved 90% of the vibration, but pointed more to the front axle.

I'd picked up an XJ HP Dana 30 a year ago, but was waiting until things got really bad before building it. Things finally got bad. I took it in for an alignment and found out that not only was the pinion seal leaking, but so was an axle seal. Oh, and it was full of water, even though I'd changed the fluid in the spring and hadn't done any water crossings since then. Even my wife finally asked on our last trip with it (when I didn't want to drive it because of the axle), "What's that noise coming from the front end?"

Full on turd polishing commenced:






ARTEC truss, ARTEC LCA mounts, ARTEC UCA bracket, IRO bushing sleeve, Synergy yoke gussets. I already have a NIB Dana 30 TrueTrac that someone gave me several years ago. The R&P were theoretically Alloy USA, but the ring gear itself has a Dana-Spicer part number on it. Same thing with the set-up kit: ordered as Alloy USA, but it actually came with a set of Timken bearings. I drilled and tapped the TeraFlex cover for the high-pinion fill level. I know Solid, etc., make them with the HP level already, but I thought I'd save money with the Tera cover. Some people also complained about the Solid cover hitting the track-bar with little-to-no lift.

(Last spring while chasing down some loose steering it got all new linkage and an IRO track-bar as well.)
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Old 11-07-2016, 08:40 PM   #23 (permalink)
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You sir, have spent a lot of time keeping $500 dollar Jeeps on the road.

My daily driver is a $1250 - 1996 ZJ w/4.0 - rides great, has a terrible exhaust leak, sounds like a hand full of marbles bouncing around in the bottom end until it warms up but I like it. That upcountry spring swap has me hitting the googles
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Old 11-08-2016, 12:10 AM   #24 (permalink)
RWC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtr View Post
You sir, have spent a lot of time keeping $500 dollar Jeeps on the road.

My daily driver is a $1250 - 1996 ZJ w/4.0 - rides great, has a terrible exhaust leak, sounds like a hand full of marbles bouncing around in the bottom end until it warms up but I like it. That upcountry spring swap has me hitting the googles
Only one $500 Jeep was kept; the other I stripped and scrapped. The 5.9L was really clean, straight, not super-high in miles, . . . and a lot more than $500. But if you aren't familiar with the Z88Z, you need to look into them. They're a VERY different ZJ than the others.
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Old 11-29-2016, 12:08 PM   #25 (permalink)
RWC
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I had a couple friends help me with gear install last Tuesday night. My one friend in particular used to work in a drivetrain shop and has tons of experience setting up gears.


Then I took Wednesday off of work so I could get the axle assembled and installed to relax and enjoy the rest of my Thanksgiving vacation. Nope. When I slid the right-side axle shaft in, it was painfully apparent that the housing was bent. We took the paint off the bottom edge and confirmed it with a steel table square. The bend was most prominent where the two vertical front/back supports get welded in directly underneath the UCA mount, which would be consistent with the amount of heat applied to that area. BUT my friends and I came up with a plan right then and there using stuff I had on hand:

I cut two slits in the truss, and slit all the side supports along it's length.




Using a 12-ton bottle jack and a length of chain wrapped from yoke to yoke, the axle went straight without much pressure. This confirmed to us that the axle was most definitely straight before we put the truss on. My friend who did the welding got a little impatient since I was there with him, but at the same time I was there because I didn't expect him to do all the work for me, and I knew it would be a 10-12 hour process of welding and cooling before we even got to the differential heating procedure. Unfortunately, that resulted in him welding the truss base up quickly, and jumping right to the diff without having bothered with the pre-heating of the cast before I even realized what had happened. Either way, I'm not at all pissed at him; this was a buddy-deal offer by him to do the welding for me since he's got a nicer welder and is a better welder than myself. He took it pretty hard that the axle warped, and offered to buy me a new truss and find a new housing, etc. I told him not to worry about it since I was pretty sure we could correct the existing one, plus it's not like this was a professional business transaction or anything.



I let it sit like that as I progressively went back and forth increasing pressure, checking on shaft alignment, and adding thicker washers and more tin for spacers.



This looks pretty [email protected] close to me! I cut off the bits of washer that were sticking out and re-welded all the slits.



Fully assembled. My wife told me to stop being cheap and buy new u-joints and bearings. I picked up Spicer u-joints for the axle shafts, but got cheap hubs from Amazon. Those got topped off with new hub-nut kids from NAPA, and I did additional painting to clean up the scratches on Saturday.


Slapped it in on Saturday night, and took it out for the 20-minute initial break-in. The gears were a little noisy.




We then went out with some friends roughly 50 or so miles away to get Christmas trees. My wife drove the whole way and kept it at 55 mph. The trail was probably 4 or 5 miles, and then she did another 50 miles back home.


On Monday, first thing, I took it in for an alignment. Camber was within factory spec! Which means we got the axle straight! It's a driver! Turd officially highly polished! Gears also quieted right down after the break-in was done.


The truss and driveshaft don't appear to have any conflicts with the oil pan, and she did flex the axle out a little bit on the trail. I'll take a few pics the next time I get a chance. But keep in mind this also has a ~3.25" lift, and extended bump-stops.
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Last edited by RWC; 11-29-2016 at 12:11 PM.
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