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D-FENS
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My dad wheels his stock CJ around the ranch and took it to Gilmer with me once and he caught the bug. He decided he wanted to buy a built CJ to wheel hard and keep his stock for ranch driving. After having a couple of deals fall through, he decided he wanted to build his CJ up. After contemplating having to drive a lifted jeep everytime he wants to ride around and evolving plans from a simple one ton swap to a full on build, we decided to build a YJ/CJ instead and keep the other stock. So, I give you, project "Ranger One". The stock CJ will be demoted to "Ranger Two".
 

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D-FENS
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2,387 Posts
Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
First order of business was to get the axles stripped, cleaned and built. The front is a Chevy SRW Dana 60. Gear ratio is 5.13:1 with a Detroit Locker and 35 spline Yukon alloy shafts with forged Dana joints. The cover is a kit from Roughstuff and the pinion joint is 1410.
 

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D-FENS
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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Rear axle is the obligatory GM 14FF. Again, 5.13:1 ratio, Detroit Locker, 1410 pinion yoke and Ruffstuff cover. I'm running GM 3/4 ton disc brakes for their simplicity, cost, and availability. I had other ideas but this turned out to be the easiest and probably most effective set-up.

Again, the reason I bought covers in kit form instead of welded is because I was going to cut and plate the bottom and machine the ring gear O.D. This gives somewhere in the neighborhood of 2.5", IIRC, of added clearance. After considering that it wont be my rig to wrench on, my dad doesnt like turning wrenches, and any repairs will most likely be done by normal auto shops, I decided to forego the severe trim and leave the ring gear in stock form. I still gained a good 1.5" or so. There's a lot of beef to be cut away there. It's not a 14 bolt anymore.
 

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D-FENS
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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Next, I stripped the jeep and all the bracketry off of the YJ frame and started on the front suspension. It'll be riding on Rubicon Express 1.5" YJ SOA springs. I got 6 leaf for the front and 5 leaf for the rear. There will be no front anti-wrap bar, so I wanted the extra leaf to combat axle wrap. I didnt jump on the 44044 bandwagon for two reasons, three really. Since this will be a ranch cruiser as well as a trail rig, ride quality is a major concern. I thought springs with rates designed for a lighter vehicle and less lift would ride better. We shall see if that holds true. Secondly, I originally planned to build it low and these seemed to be better suited for that. However, I dont think it's going to turn out too low after all. Lastly, I just wanted to be different than all the cool kids.
 

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D-FENS
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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Tub came off and rear suspension and bumper went on. I stretched it as much as I could. I was originally going to stay away from a full comp cut since I don't particularly like the way it looks, but finally decided to follow function over form, plus, my dad favors the full comp cut. I will probably have to trim the ends of rear bumper and definitely move the body mounts.
 

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D-FENS
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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
-rear dogleg shackles
-bumper
-Front shackles. I apparently didn't take a pic of them. This is the best I could find.

I decided to go ahead and build these rear shackles and put them in front of the bumper. They are at a pretty good angle, but they allow plenty of movement to allow the springs to cycle fully and will result in a lower spring rate, giving a smoother ride. I left room on the back of the bumper for hangers in case I need to move them out there after everything settles.
 

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D-FENS
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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Once I had all the suspension hardpoints on, I bolted the axles under it and started working on the drivetrain. The engine is a GM 5.3L V8 from a 2002 Chevy Truck. The transmission is a 4L60E 4 speed auto from a 2003 Chevy Suburban. It's the new style with a removable bell housing and six bolts on the rear. Steve at A Pick-up Parts in Houston threw in the NP241 adapter for free. I got everything with it except a starter. I forgot to ask for it, but other than that he was willing to let me pull parts that were missing off of other engines. He even let me have an extra wiring harness because there was some damage to the one on it. I got a starter at Doggett's along with about $50 worth of free accessory bolts. If you need any GM metric bolts for one of these engines, go to the junkyard. They pull the accessories off of the engines either before or during pulling them out of the trucks and throw all the bolts in the bed.
 

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D-FENS
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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
I tested a Dana 300 on my NP241 adapter to tell if what I had heard was true. Sure enough it fit with the exception of one bolt hole. That hole was very close to being in line and clearly could be elongated with a rat tail file and work fine. Even the alignment boss is the right size. After getting it cleaned up, I bolted my t-case up to it to check spline engagement. The factory NP241 engages 1.5" of the 4L60E output shaft and the new t-case engages ~1.125". The 27 spline shaft is around 1" in diameter, so I feel confident that this is enough to not worry about the difference. I ordered the STAK with a 27 spline input. This enabled me to use the factory adapter. $500 knocked off the cost right there. The low range is 4.3:1 for two reasons. I have never felt the need for lower gearing in my Scout with the auto and viscous coupling of the T/C and I wanted to be able to maintain good wheel speed in low range for the looser surface this jeep will see around home. The Scout crawl ratio is around 69:1 and this jeep will be in the neighborhood of 135:1. I bolted the drivetrain together and got ready to mount it in the chassis.
 

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D-FENS
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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
I set the drivetrain in between the framerails and raised the t-case up against the bottom of the tub. I decided on a drivetrain inclination angle at 5 degrees for two reasons. One, its a nice round number and will help with my rear CV joint angle. Two, at 5 degrees, the bottom of the transmission pan is level. This leads me to believe that GM designed it that way and it must sit at 5 degrees in the trucks. I also offset the entire assembly 1" toward the driver's side to aid the front driveshaft in clearing the 4L60E pan that hangs off to the passenger side. Without cutting the tub out, this left the oil pan, trans and t-case hanging down quite a bit.
 

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D-FENS
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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Obviously, I was going to have to cut out the floor some. After sitting and looking at the contours of the floor, I decided it would be easier to just cut out the contours and rebuild the tunnel from the flat part of the floor. This allowed me to raise the assembly up until the bellhousing was about 1" from the tunnel where it meets the firewall. At this point, the trans pan is just about dead level with the bottom of the framerails and the bottom of the trans mount is about 1/2" below the framerails. I played with the t-case clocking ring and got it up out of the way too. Close enough! The negative side effect is the intake manifold now sticks up above the hoodline. This is one of three inherent problems I've found with the swap. The other two being the deep oil pan and the wide set exhaust manifold outlets. The driver's side manifold dumps almost directly into the top of the framerail. The passenger side, however, will work very well.
 

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D-FENS
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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
After I got the engine on jack stands where I wanted it, I pulled the tub back off so everything would be easily accessible. I originally planned to use GM clamshell style engine mounts. I put them on the Scout and have been very happy with them and they are easy to work with when fabbing up the rest of the mount. However, with the Y block style of the LS series engines, the clamshell mounts would not fit very well. I then decided to go with a leaf spring bushing style mount. Since this will not be a daily driver, vibration transmmission is of little concern. This style of mount is very robust and also easy to work with while fabricating towers and block plates.
 

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D-FENS
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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Although I hope to not have to work on this Jeep very much (crosses fingers), I didn't want it to be any bigger of a pain to pull the skid plate and service the transmission and/or t-case than it has to be. With this in mind, I decided I wanted the back half of the drivetrain supported by a separate crossmember, not by the skidplate itself. This is what I came up with. Actually, I did this before the engine mounts (ergo, the jackstands still under the oil pan).
 

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