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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This build was started Summer of '07 completed Summer of '08, but I hadn't posted anything about it on POR yet. I have had a lot of nice comments on it, so I thought I'd post the build here, too. Here's how it went down.


I've been gathering parts for my next project, the official RockyMountainExtreme.com Jeep TJ. I'm going to use the Jeep to help promote RME. I recently picked up the base for this project, a 4 cyl (was a 6, but previous owner swapped in a 4 cyl) 1997 Jeep Wrangler. I have some pretty big plans for it, basically I'm going to build a hardcore TJ. I want something that's more than capable to run the local CO trails, in addition to the trails in Moab.

After wheelin' a Toyota with a 4 Cylinder engine & a manual transmission, I think it's time for a change. I'm going for a V8 and an automatic transmission... more power and the convenience of an auto on the rocks will make the TJ a blast to drive. A linked suspension and coils should ride well & provide plenty of flex. A set of 1 ton axles built for 40" tires should provide enough strenght and clearance for the big Colorado rocks. I'm going to stretch the wheelbase by moving the rear axle back & the front axle forward... :cool: Here's a build outline-


Drivetrain-

  • 2003 Chevy 5.3l V8.
  • TH350 transmission w/ manual valve body.
  • Atlas transfer case w/ 4.3 to 1 ratio.
  • Rear Dana 60 with 40 spline shafts, 5.13 gears, spool & disc brakes. 62" wide.
  • Front Tera CRD60 with chromo shafts, 5.13 gears, ARB locker. 64" wide.
  • Full Hydro steering.


Suspension-

  • TeraFlex LCG for an Unlimited.
  • Rear coil bucket will be moved back 10".
  • No more than 3" of lift.


Tires & Wheels-

  • 17" steel black wheels.
  • Staun beadlocks.
  • 40" Maxxis Creepy Crawlers


Body Mods & Protection-

  • Comp Cut the rear quarter panels.
  • BTF Crusher Corners, 3/16" thick steel body protection.
  • BTF Rocker Protection, 3/16" thick steel.
  • Highline Hood, raised for more tire clearance.
  • BTF Tube front fenders.
  • Roll Cage built to take abuse.


So that's the basic plan. I have a good start on the parts, the TJ, GM 5.3l engine, Atlas t-case, Dana 60 rear axle, parts for the front axle, etc. I'm going to list my 4Runner for sale pretty soon so I can fund the rest of the TJ build.


I'm going to write-up a handful of separate tech threads that will go with this build, they'll be listed here-



I started with a 4 Cyl TJ, ripped out the stock drivetrain & went to work hacking off brackets, engine mounts, etc, etc.-




Here's the suspension, TeraFlex LCG for an Unlimited-




Front axle being built-




Then most of the Blue Torch Fab order came in-




Started installing the suspension-

 

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Discussion Starter #2
Test fitting the engine/trans/t-case-




The TeraFlex axle bridge going on the rear axle-




Started working on moving the coil springs back 11"-











Got the Comp Cut done & started bolting on the BTF Corners.-




Rear suspension from underneath-

 

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Discussion Starter #3
Built the tie rod-






And the finished product! Needs paint, but the tires both turn at the same time!-




The 5.3, TH350 & Atlas are in!








I need to button some stuff up before moving on to the next step. The track bar needs to go on, the front axle needs to move forward another inch or so, the wiring harness needs to be plugged in, the headers need to get tweaked in order to fit, etc. I also need to clearance the floorboard for the Atlas. I have a lot done, but it seems like the work is only beginning.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Next up is the fuel cell... this thing is a work of art! Ben at Alliance Metal Works in SLC custom-builds these fuel cells. It fits perfectly behind the rear seat, has approx. 15 gallons capacity, has built-in baffles, is built to drop in a TJ fuel pump & sending unit and has a quality filler cap & tank vent. The aluminum is quite thick, the mounting tabs are built into the bottom piece of the tank, not welded on. This combined with the thicker material should prevent cracking that other mass-produced aluminum tanks suffer from. The tanks get pressure tested & come with a great guarantee.






About 2 weeks ago, I had to mock up the front end roll it out of the garage & see how it looked. That also gave me a much need chance to clean out the garage, it has looked like a disaster area for the last few months.









Little progress the last few days, I adapted a E2000 fuel pump to go inside of a stock TJ sending unit, since the fuel cell was built to take TJ parts. It was a bit of a pain, since the stock TJ pump is 1/3 the size. I wanted the pump in the tank rather than outside, also wanted to use the stock sending unit & factory power lines. The stock TJ pump wouldn't put out the pressure required by the 5.3 V8, hence the upgrade.

Since I was working on the tank, I ordered braided steel hose & AN fittings from Summit Racing. I included a fuel filter (there's one in the tank, but thought a 2nd before the motor would be useful,) and a pressure gauge that will go on the fuel rail. Should be handy if the pump ever goes out. Spent a couple hundred there... Thanks goodness for Discover card!

I had to order the transmission mount, nobody stocks them here! Weird... it will be in the next day. I need to work on putting the wiring harness back together & getting power to the motor.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I got to the point where I really wanted to get it done and I wasn't able to spend enough time with the TJ to finish within another 12 months. I planned on having the cage done by a friends shop in SLC, but decided to moved up the timeframe when the Jeep would go up there and also decided to add more work to the list. I had already gotten the drivetrain installed, suspension done, wheels & tires on, etc. It was a roller, but still needed plenty more work.

I dropped off the TJ at Ben Hanks Racing just before EJS. It needed engine wiring, transmission cooler plumbing, drivelines, full hydro mounting, gauges, exhaust, roll cage, etc. Long story short, those guys went to work on the Wrangler, knocking out the items 2 and 3 at a time. I ended picking up the Jeep late Wednesday night, 3 days before leaving to Moab over Memorial Day, but I still had a few minor things I need to finish once I got it back. There was come confusion on how I wanted my fenders setup, they ended up putting the Blue Torch DIY fenders together different than I specified and they wouldn't work with the dropped grill. They ended up fabbing up a set to work with the dropped grill.

Ben Hanks Racing did some incredible work, all the fabrication is top-notch. Everything they did is well thought out. The roll cage is a work of art... it's simple, but looks good and will be plenty strong when the Jeep eventually rolls over. The plumbing, wiring and a few extras that we added turned out quite well.

I'm very pleased with the TeraFlex LCG suspension, it rides great and flexes incredibly well. The long-arms work well and even with the vehicle flexed up, it's not anywhere near unstable. I do need to add a S/T Dual Rate anti-swar bar, but as-is, it's great. The 5.3l V8 engine, TH350 transmission with a full-manual valve body with 2000 RPM stall is a perfect balance. Even with the 4.3 low range of the Atlas transfer case, the final gearing is great. It will crawl along, but needs throttle to climb. No problem with crawling thru the brakes. The Blue Torch rocker guards, comp. cut corners, grill hoop and winch plate all add beefy protection the Jeep will need while offroad.

Anywho, enough of that... onto the pics!






 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Finally, the first trip out! I'm going to have a perma-grin on my face for at least the next week. No better place to test out a newly built rig than Area BFE in Moab, UT! We hit the new trail at BFE, LockJaw... the first big obstacle was a massive ledge, that was already on a steep incline. I tired to crawl it in 1st gear, but without being locked in the front I needed a bit of momentum. I backed up a bit, put the tranny in 2nd gear and hit it. The Wrangler bounced and clawed its way up the ledge and I had the momentary thought that I should back off the throttle before I break something (old habits die hard)... then I remembered how this thing was build... I stayed in the throttle and went the rest of the way up! That's when the grinning started.

We ran LockJaw, Green Day and did some other playing around Area BFE, then took Strike Ravine back out. On Sunday we ran the Pickle. Helluva test for a rig that was just built with all different/new parts!

This Jeep is amazing, even with the front axle not being locked up, it went just about anywhere I'd point it. I'm going to chalk that up to a flexy suspension and the amazing Maxxis tires. Hopefully I'll get the parts to get the ARB going within the next week.



Here's the vehicle specs.-
  • 6' 4" from the ground to the top of the roll cage. (I'm 6'4" tall!!)
  • 104" wheel base.
  • 18" from the ground to the lowest point on skidplate, about 20" to the frame.
  • 12" from the ground to bottom of diffs, with tires aired down to 4 PSI.
  • Total running/driving weight; 4100 pounds, w/o tools, spares, etc.


I have to say thanks to everyone that helped out with this build, from all the people that I bought parts from to the shops that helped me put together the Jeep that I've been dreaming about! These folks were kind enough to listen to my ideas, make suggestions as to what was best and take some ideas into their own hands!

Thanks to;


  • Everyone at TeraFlex Mfg and TeraFlex Plus
  • Dan DuBose at Blue Torch Fab
  • All the guys at Ben Hanks Racing
  • Ben at Alliance Metal Works
  • Justin from Aero Exhaust
  • Wayne Hartwig from AllJeep
  • Craig Stumph
  • Mike at Summit Machine


Some trail pics.-











 

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Discussion Starter #7

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Glad you posted this build here on Pirate. I checked out on your other board.
 

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Nice jeep. I think I've run across your build up thread on another board while googling for other info.
 

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Any more info on the fuel cells? Price? Number to call and order!!!

Also, is that an M8000 winch you're using?

Badass TJ RME...I followed your build on CO4x4.com.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Thanks for the comments guys, this thing works amazingly well. The LCG really makes it capable, it's very stable where most other rigs would be on their side. The individual parts all add up to make this thing so capable, it's too much fun driving it!

To answer the question about the winch...it is a M8000, I've had it for years on a few different rigs. :p

As for the fuel cell info, call Ben at Alliance Metal Works. Tell him Greg sent ya!-

Alliance Metal Works
6060 S 300 W
Salt Lake City, UT 84107
(801) 288-9353
 

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Greg, I have this rig in my shop now doing a few little additions for the new owner and I must say that you did a wonderful job on this vehicle. Very nice work.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Greg, I have this rig in my shop now doing a few little additions for the new owner and I must say that you did a wonderful job on this vehicle. Very nice work.
Thanks for the compliments Zach! Like I told Clayton, I put this TJ together with the best components and all the work I did was done to the best of my ability. I really hate that I ended up selling it, I really built it to keep forever.

Sounds like Clayton has some great upgrades planned, they'll fit right into the initial build ideas.
 
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