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Old 11-02-2017, 08:44 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Looking for a new base to build on

Hey everyone. I currently have an 03 TJ Rubicon with 5 speed manual that is sitting on 35s. It's trussed and sleeved in the front and has a bolt on truss and an ARB in the rear (original locker grenaded). I have a 4.5" long arm kit, bigger radiator and electric fans, and a few other items. I'm really happy for what it is. I use it only for wheeling trips to the mountains and desert. I live in the LA area.

I was out at Johnson Valley last weekend playing with the big boys (all other vehicles had no less than 39s) and came to an abrupt and rude awakening. I broke a chromoly shaft on one of the easier trails and struggled in other areas. To do the type of wheeling I want to do I need to upgrade to 1 tom axles, stretch the wheelbase, and run 40s.

Here's the question. Do I upgrade what I have or do I sell it and go with another base vehicle to build? I have a few requirements. It still needs to be street legal (no dedicated offroad buggie) so no full hydro or engine swap. Being limited in CA due to smog is a hassle as many of us know. The TJ will fetch a decent price here and would give me funds to build what I need.

I want a V8 on a frame, not too wide and not too long. I will cut and fab as needed. I did a bit of research and am possibly thinking on a Dodge Dakota extended cab and then shortening the rear. If you had your choice to go with another platform requiring a V8, frame, and smaller than full size while dealing with the CA DMV what would you choose? It needs to be stable on the road while on 40s.
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Old 11-02-2017, 08:54 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Hey everyone. I currently have an 03 TJ Rubicon with 5 speed manual that is sitting on 35s. It's trussed and sleeved in the front and has a bolt on truss and an ARB in the rear (original locker grenaded). I have a 4.5" long arm kit, bigger radiator and electric fans, and a few other items. I'm really happy for what it is. I use it only for wheeling trips to the mountains and desert. I live in the LA area.

I was out at Johnson Valley last weekend playing with the big boys (all other vehicles had no less than 39s) and came to an abrupt and rude awakening. I broke a chromoly shaft on one of the easier trails and struggled in other areas. To do the type of wheeling I want to do I need to upgrade to 1 tom axles, stretch the wheelbase, and run 40s.

Here's the question. Do I upgrade what I have or do I sell it and go with another base vehicle to build? I have a few requirements. It still needs to be street legal (no dedicated offroad buggie) so no full hydro or engine swap. Being limited in CA due to smog is a hassle as many of us know. The TJ will fetch a decent price here and would give me funds to build what I need.

I want a V8 on a frame, not too wide and not too long. I will cut and fab as needed. I did a bit of research and am possibly thinking on a Dodge Dakota extended cab and then shortening the rear. If you had your choice to go with another platform requiring a V8, frame, and smaller than full size while dealing with the CA DMV what would you choose? It needs to be stable on the road while on 40s.
Think about the older Grand Cherokee with the 5.2? Not full frame but lots of aftermarket support.

Or the V8 Explorer from the 90s as well.

I know guys around here do the 5.2 swap into the TJ and all the wiring goes together so make it emission compliant in NH, I know CA is a WHOLE other story though.

Or just 1 ton swap what you have and rock out with you cock out
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Old 11-02-2017, 09:42 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I thought of using a ZJ or WJ but due to lack of a frame I don't think it'll do what I want. I will most likely build taller shock mounts and doing this on a unibody may be tricky even with stiffeners. A Ford Explorer might be a good alternative though. Food for thought.
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Old 11-02-2017, 09:48 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Why not put 1 tons in the TJ?
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Old 11-02-2017, 10:07 AM   #5 (permalink)
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That's my dilemma. I can add 1 tons to the TJ but I'd like to stretch to 105 or 106. That's a good stretch and may require me to get an LJ tub. Since it's going to still be road worthy I'd still need a top hence the LJ tub. I thought it might be cheaper and easier to go another route. Trying to weigh my options before I set it in stone.
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Old 11-02-2017, 04:00 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Sounds like either way youd be paying for parts. Tons,lockers,motor,suspension,tires.why not keep what you have and by buy the parts . Thatd be less of a headache then selling a vehicle, buying one in unkown condition, and still having to purchase the parts you want. Id keep it if you like the jeep. If buying a built buggy is not in the cards because it has to be skreet legal than it seems the choice is pretty simple. If the only issue with it is its not built....then id build it.
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Old 11-02-2017, 04:46 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Of all the platforms to start with, you chose the Dakota? That would be about my last pic. I’d go Toyota, jeep, super duty before I went with the Dakota. Not just no, but hell no

Stretch the TJ to 100-102 inches, hi line it and put 40s on it. Done.

Edit: one tons are a given
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Old 11-02-2017, 04:49 PM   #8 (permalink)
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If you really want a V-8 and a frame, Get a pre-smog body, and put it on a JK frame. Similar to the last two ultimate adventure jeeps, or the synergy commando.
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Old 11-03-2017, 09:45 AM   #9 (permalink)
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….I was out at Johnson Valley last weekend playing with the big boys (all other vehicles had no less than 39s) and came to an abrupt and rude awakening. I broke a chromoly shaft on one of the easier trails and struggled in other areas. To do the type of wheeling I want to do I need to upgrade to 1 tom axles, stretch the wheelbase, and run 40s.
And yet this is what you're playing with. If this is the type of wheeling you do, why did you even bother with this set up??

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Here's the question. Do I upgrade what I have or do I sell it and go with another base vehicle to build? I have a few requirements. It still needs to be street legal (no dedicated offroad buggie) so no full hydro or engine swap. Being limited in CA due to smog is a hassle as many of us know. The TJ will fetch a decent price here and would give me funds to build what I need.

No matter which way you slice this, you will be spending big money to do the type of wheeling you want to do.

You can upgrade what you got. Or you can buy a Dakota (Or whatever and upgrade that) or you can buy someone else's junk thats already on tons and 40s. Selling your Jeep will offset some of your costs on the next vehicle but not by much (expect any build to cost more than you budget for) and keep in mind that just because it's got tons doesn't mean it can't break.

For what it's worth, if it were me, I'd save a bit of my money by replacing the broken axle shaft with another cho-mo shaft and downsize the tires to a 33 or 34. Learn to drive with more finesse and not build it to keep up with the Joneses. A great driver in a halfway decent 4x4 can always go further than a mediocre driver in an awesomely built 4x4 any day of the week.

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Old 11-03-2017, 10:30 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I get it. Initially, I put this rig together to hit decent trails and have been doing that for some time however there comes a point where you want to improve what you have otherwise you are limited. I'm not saying I want to build a rig that will compete in KOH however I'd like to get to a point where I can do the trails. It will still be a trail rig but not a daily driver.

With that in mind, I've decided to keep the TJ and extend it to LJ length. I think it will get me what I need yet allow for decent on-road drive-ability. I had to ask the question to see what you guys thought.
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Old 11-03-2017, 11:05 AM   #11 (permalink)
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My 2 pennies....

Sell the Jeep if it is in good-great condition. There are so many vehicles going up for sale that someone already has dumped a ton of money into for half the price of what they have in parts. Doing it this way, you'll likely be very close to breaking even on cost.

If it is beat to shit, you won't pull a lot of money out of it anyway, so get to cuttin! Best part about starting with a ja-heep, is you have the ja-heep aftermarket support for doing stretches, 1 ton swaps, you freakin name it. Doesn't Genright even have a smog legal fuel cell for TJs? You can definitely off-set the cost of building the jeep by selling all the good parts you already have. The axles, lift, tires, wheels, all that stuff people will want. So you are already ahead of people with a stock TJ that no one wants the axles and shit you take off.

ZJ is a great platform for the reasons above

Explorers are pretty awesome because they are body on frame. The motors don't make a lot of horsepower, and have basically no aftermarket support, so everything is on you. This is a downside, especially if you're looking for V8 power, as the 5.0 has about the same power as a 4.0

JK's on tons bring the stupid money, so you could always go that route if you're a baller.


Seriously though, you can likely pick up a YJ or TJ on tons for about what you could sell yours for, and its already be done.
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Old 07-23-2019, 08:39 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Been a while since I've been on here. I did a lot of research and spent a lot of time and energy plus a bit of coin but I'm nearly done with my build. I ended up keeping the TJ and cut it up, literally. I cut it in half and made a TJ6 (15" rear stretch). I put 1 tons under it with 5.13 gears and 40s. The front isn't stretched but I did move the rear axle back another 2". I'm sitting at 110" at the moment but no, I didn't change the engine. It's still the same 4.0 I had in it and it runs good even at freeway speeds.

It took me longer than expected especially since I did it in my garage. I'm not afraid to try anything but also won't put myself or anyone else at risk so researching and doing it right was key. What amazed me the most is the amount of info out there that allowed me to do this in the first place. The number of things that had to be change was astounding. I haven't posted anything since everything I needed was at my finger tips.

I couldn't be happier with her and although she's not quite perfect she's pretty darn close. I think my neighbors are happiest of all now that nearly all of the fab work is completed. I've had a couple of shakedown rung but did my first crawling a couple of weeks ago. Found a few things to fix but man, am I all smiles.
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Old 07-23-2019, 08:50 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Old 07-23-2019, 09:29 PM   #14 (permalink)
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A couple of pics that started it all



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Old 07-23-2019, 09:34 PM   #15 (permalink)
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At this point I had a frankenstein. Shaved 14 bolt rear with 40s and a D44 front on 35s.

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Old 07-24-2019, 11:58 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Folks here need some beers or a sawzall, it works for undecided people
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Old 08-03-2019, 09:22 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Here's a pic of her that's nearly done (if done is ever really a term we can use). Since this shot I've swapped out the wheels, added to the sliders, and built a tire carrier.

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Old 08-04-2019, 10:52 PM   #18 (permalink)
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(if done is ever really a term we can use)
Done is the period of time that happens between leaving the garage and the next part to break. Everything is done... for now... every once in a while



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Old 08-15-2019, 11:13 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Have you considered a K-5 or a Jimmie? A ton of aftermarket support, you can get a pre-smog, or if you prefer newer, get a TBI setup and with some mods you can get 300 hp and still pass the tailpipe and visual inspections. You can pick one up pretty cheap, they are all over. I will agree that some driving skill will offset the need for bigger tires, though. You're looking at building heavy, cumbersome vehicle that isn't going to be anything like the one you drive now!
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Old 08-17-2019, 08:27 PM   #20 (permalink)
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You don't need a V8. Stretch what you have with one tons. It can be a weekend project. Done.
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Old 08-17-2019, 08:35 PM   #21 (permalink)
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I was out at Johnson Valley last weekend ... I need to upgrade to 1 tom axles, stretch the wheelbase, and run 40s.
Always amazed when folks say they "need" 40s. Yet I watch 4500/4600/4800 class run all over JV full tilt on <37s.
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Old 09-28-2019, 12:32 PM   #22 (permalink)
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I'm with you that 37s are all over the place in JV however I don't trailer my ride and I need to get back in one piece. There's no guarantee that will happen however the better built the rig has the better chance of not breaking. At least that is my thought process.

The TJ has been stretched 15" in the frame and body with a couple of more inches in the rear axle. Since I drive to the trails a V8 would have been handy to get to the mountains and overpasses. The 4.0 works fine off road but I will not be doing an engine swap due to CA emissions. I may build a stroker if I feel the need.
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