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USN_JeepMJ

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  1. The steering wheel I previously had wrapped wasn't up to par. They had failed to put padding under the leather so it was noticeably thinner than the wood upper portion. They also failed to go far enough in at spokes and a gap was visible at the cruise buttons. So I talked to the owner and it sounds like they had their new guy on the job. They re-did everything and I can't even begin to describe the absolute attention to detail of this quality work. I highly recommend Craft Customs out of Rockwall TX! can't wait to get the door panels back together: But before I can get back to work on the interior, I needed to get the front axle under the Jeep. I started by setting the pinion angle to 90°. On a JK axle this equates to 6° of caster which should be perfect: Next I measured the spring perches in relation to the Jeep at level. I then welded the axle perches in at 5°... I was trying to find a happy median with spring perch placement and LCA bracket placement and felt a degree wouldn't make much difference on the spring perches. These Artec brackets went together nicely! The perches were set to 5° but the bumpstop plates burned in at 4.5° for some reason. Either way its close enough: After that was all burned in I flipped the axle over and welded up the LCA brackets: I was getting a little bit more splatter than usual and I'm honestly not sure why. I did have a big fan blowing from the side and according to a buddy that might be enough to negate the benefits of the shielding gas. Oh well, the welds might not be a work of art but they're strong (240 volts / 50 amp outlet with my Miller 211 Autoset nearly maxed out using .035 wire): Lastly I burned on the raised track bar mount at 90°: That was a lot of welding... Happy to be done! A quick coat of Rustoleum self etching primer and a coat of semi-gloss black. I threw on a Spicer diff cover but later realized it may contact the track bar under certain conditions. I later threw the stock cover on. I think an ARB cover will work without issue so I ordered one. Sliding the axle under the Jeep. I'm glad I didnt weld on the Ironmanfab4x4 trackbar bracket as it ended up just making contact with the spring perch under compression so I threw in a Clayton non-drop bracket: Clayton non-drop bracket bolted and welded in: Next I welded up and installed a track-bar: I'm running a Clayton drop pitman arm and the track-bar should be almost perfectly parallel with the drag-link once it's installed (Metalcloak JK dranglink/tie-rod ordered): I set the axle centered in the wheel well and centered under the body (plumbob off of the fender). I then set -1° on the pinion flange which equates to 7° of caster. This is to account for the rake as I'm planning for the rear lift to be an inch or so higher than the front. Once its on its own weigh at ride hight hopefully it should be right at 6° of caster. I'm sure I'll need to re-adjust when all is said and done: I then flexed it out to measure for bumpstops (I'll be adding 4" additional on top of the Artec plate), shocks (I'm going to run Fox external reservoir shocks for a 4-6" lifted JK in the front), and limiting straps (20" and I'll just drill and tap the stiffner plate for the upper mount): Lower shock mounts and some new zinc plated spring retainers from Crown: While I wait on parts to finish up the front I'm going to get back to work on the interior: I have a Currie JK LP D60 (without brackets) on order for the rear which should be here shortly. My original plan had been to take the Comanche on its inaugural trip to Colorado the week of the 4th next month but clearly it's not going to be done. Instead I'm scrambling to make some last minute upgrades (OBA and a few odds and ends) to the Gladiator.
  2. My XJ builds have definitely never been in a magazine... that I know of at least. These two pictures have made their rounds though. My favorite is one of the LED headlight companies on Amazon using one of the first pictures with their cheap Chinese LEDs photoshopped over the Trucklites. I've contemplated sending them a cease and desist but that would be way more trouble than its worth. JCR (with my enthusiastic permission!) also meme'd the two XJ builds on their IG a few years ago: But thats about it. Definitely not building to be in a magazine. Building in the hopes of one day hitting some dirt in my suspension/wheel/tire/axle-less MJ! Thanks! Well back to being busy with work and trying to wrench when I can. I managed to find a place to mount the Warn winch solenoid despite the engine bay being filled to capacity. I also realized I forgot to clock the clutch handle down... Oh well, I'll just suffer with it for now and fix it next time the entire front end is apart: Eventually I'll probably upgrade to an Atlas but for now I just decided to rebuild the NP231 with new seals/gaskets/chain/bearings and a Tereflex SYE: After that I installed a Ironman 4x4 Fab 4-link and fully welded it to the uniframe along with welding up a rear transmount bracket built into the middle section: Here you can see where I modified the center section to accept the Novak trans mount. I also installed a Novak cable shifter and I completely regret not powerwashing and painting the underside black... I'll have to mask off and spray when all is said and done. Thats all for now. I've got the Spicer HD44 out of the box and ready for some Artec brackets. In the meantime a cool shot of the shop: Back to the day job:
  3. I ask myself that repeatedly... not sure when this project went off the deep end but might as well see it through at this point!
  4. Thanks! LOL, thanks! Yeah I really lucked out finding a house with a shop! The Supra needed some love... AWE Touring exhaust and ARMA carbon intake going on: J.W. Speaker TS4000 driving lights in chrome to match the J.W. Speaker headlights: Engine bay wiring... What a mess! Slowly cleaning things up: Novak tach/cruise module in an easy to access place (for tach calibration and cruise button assignment): Modified the Novak GM PCM bracket to work vertically just aft of the battery: I ditched the Novak intake setup with its 4" couplers and pipe as I want to run the factory MAF sensor. I ended up using a 4" to 3.5" 90° elbow into a 3.5" aluminum tube followed by a 3.5" 45° elbow (cut in half to net about 25°) the factory Corvette MAF, and finally a 3.5" K&N cone filter. I topped it all off with t-bolt hardware and a bracket to hold the MAF/filter rigid: You can see the Novak fuse block just aft of the PCM between the factory fuse block and fender. I added a second fuse block tucked in just above the blower fan to run the aux lights, fog lights, lockers, etc. I made simple brackets for everything out of 3/4" x 1/8" flat bar-stock. Next I cut up a JCR battery bracket to fit the dimensions of the Braille lithium battery and welded up a tie-down: Lastly I installed a Wilwood clutch master cylinder and finished running the clutch lines before throwing on a reupholstered WJ Overland wheel: I'm not super satisfied with the leatherwork on the wheel and it may be coming back off to be sent back for another attempt. I spent way too much money for the work that was done... I won't be recommending this company to anyone. At least it looks good in pictures. The good news is everything fits under the hood! I have to finish wiring up the winch solenoid and find someone to custom make 2 a/c lines but otherwise the under-hood is complete except for fluids and a good once over. Next I'll be rebuilding the NP231 with all new internals plus a SYE and figuring out the rear mount along with my Ironman 4x4 Fab 4-link x-member. I also recieved all of the Artec brackets to start welding the front axle together. Getting there!
  5. Thanks! Yeah I love those connectors. I'll definitely be gentle with the AX-15... well I'll try to at least. Damn TX... If it weren't for the power outages it would have been a relaxing few days in the shop: Took the Gladiator out to Ouray Co to visit my parents and finally get it off pavement! After I got back to TX I decided to replace my problematic SRT WK2 with something a bit more sporty: Then it was back to work on the Comanche! I couldn't find a 97+ pedal box so I combined the '89 pedals with the '99 pedal box. I also added a second brake switch for a clutch cancel on the cruise control: Then I modified the Corvette drive by wire gas pedal to fit in the factory MJ location along with some Mopar Gladiator pedal covers: Transmission hump moded for the XJ e-brake: Airbag computer and JCR center console bracket: Transmission tunnel "modified" to make room for the clutch fork: Dynamat going in: Rebuilt the HVAC box with new Mopar A/C core and lucked into a copper heater core. Next I test fitted the Corbeau Trailcats: Next I had to modify the shifter. The AX-15 trans sits about 3" forward of where it would behind a 4.0L. I took a B&M shifter and some 3/4" stainless rod from McMaster Carr to make this (plus added a vent tube): I had to notch out a bit of the center console to get the shifter to slide underneath without making contact but you won't be able to see that once everything's back together: Dakota Digital emulator to let the GM PCM see a speed signal and a HD camera interface for multiple cameras: The interior panels are being refinished with SEM using their recommended process. First I scrubbed everything down (front and rear) with dish soap, next I scrubbed with a grey 3M abrasive pad and SEM Soap, I then prepped with SEM paint prep, a light basecoat layer went on over the adhesion promoter (wet-on-wet application) followed by 2 more coats of base and finally clear on all of the high-traffic panels: ACC carpet in black: I decided to add a ZJ overhead console (96-98 w/ sunroof). It'll function with the help of a ZJ body control module tapped into the CCD Bus: I used expanding foam to build up a place for the console: Formed using razor blades and sand paper: I then used 2 part epoxy. I used approximately 3/4 of a gallon for 2 coats. the first coat soaked in completely and the second left a smooth surface for the headliner to adhere to. This also had the side effect of making my fragile headliner a whole lot stronger: I completely rebuilt the dash, Re-did the entire wiring harness for the dash and interior, and installed a TJ gauge cluster: Rear of the cab all together along with some new seatbelts from Seatbelt Planet and a Kicker 5 channel amp: I added a sub... and immediately removed it. It's way too big. It limited the passenger seat travel and I can only assume is way too powerful for the cab. I'll have to build my own box to maximize seat travel: The Corbeau seat brackets (MJ specific) are a little tall in the rear for me. I'm 6'4" and my head was only about an inch from the headliner. So I cut an inch out of the rear legs and rewelded everything together. I took this opportunity to add a seat belt buckle bracket: I modified the stock transfercase shifter by cutting off the handle and welding on some M10-1.5 thread: And lastly I buttoned up most of the interior. The shift knobs are from Twisted Shifterz and are both stainless steel to match the B&M shift lever. I used a 6" "shifter extension" sourced from ebay for the t-case shifter: Now it's back to work on the mechanicals. My Holley accessory drive components finally showed up after 4 long months of waiting and the front axle has arrived (a Spicer bracketless D44 crate axle in JK width). I just placed an order from Artec for the last few suspension components and brackets that I need to get make this thing a roller! Lastly I'm just waiting to purchase a D60 rear from Currie. Still on track to have this thing done by July... we'll see.
  6. Highly recommend the San Juan mountains in the Uncompahgre National Forest for some of the most awe inspiring trails in the country. Moab has the best technical trails but Colorado definitely has the best views. I'm lucky to have parents who retired to Ouray Colorado (the "jeeping capitol of the world") so I visit often.
  7. Its actually pronounced nearly exactly how it look... it just looks insane the first time you see it. LOL: Un-com-paw-grey or per wikipedia: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/07/En-us-Uncompahgre.ogg Its the National Forest that encompasses Telluride and Ouray Colorado and some of the most iconic 4x4 trails in the country (black bear pass, imogene, engineer, etc.)
  8. Thanks! Quick update from the weekend: I cleaned up the old intake manifold: Then hand painted the coil cover lettering: It took a few coats to cover well. you can still see some red here after 2 coats: In the end it came out looking pretty good! Much better than the red for sure: Checked clearance with the throttle body installed. I'm going to rotate the transmission 4° upward so it'll only get farther from the hood. Just need to clearance the trans tunnel a bit where the clutch fork extends before I can do that. Plus I'm still waiting on my long arm x-member and Holley alternator + a/c bracket to tie everything together on the drivetrain: While I wait for those parts, time to start on the interior:
  9. haha, yup... I get excited about the next step every time I get close to completing something. I'm waiting on a few more engine parts so I'll be starting on the interior this weekend. can't wait!
  10. I pulled the facia off to add a modified harness to the back-side for the lights. Here are some radiator pics... this thing is huge! Here's the winch pass-through: All buttoned back up. The wires through the grill will be for driving lights:
  11. Figuring out a throwout bearing was a pain. I should have just ordered a Novak adjustable throwout bearing when I ordered everything but I thought an adjustable pivot ball would be enough. I was wrong. Plus it being the holiday I was unable to get one ordered in time. Luckily I have a Summit local to me and I ran there on Saturday for a McLeod 16505 adjustable GM style bearing. It has stackable discs to adjust the height. Perfect! Next I installed a Novak external slave cylinder: And my factory XJ oil pressure sensor on an Amazon sourced M12 to 1/8" NPT adapter with additional M12 end so that I could install the GM oil temp sensor Then it was finally time! Let me just say that this was not fun to do by myself but its in... Valley cover and water pump installed: Lastly I mocked up the front end. The bumper is good to go but the fascia is coming back off to install the wiring harness. I'll have to get some pics of the radiator with the facia off but its HUGE and a super tight fit. With the a/c condenser installed I needed to clearance the facia a bit. Otherwise it all fits!
  12. XJ harness is complete... let's just hope I didn't cut out anything important! LS1 finally off the pallet: What a mess: All clean! The C5 Corvette oil pan is way too wide so it had to go: Time to start replacing seals. I replaced the valve cover gaskets, timing chain cover gasket, rear cover gasket, front and rear main seals, and of course oil pan gasket along with a new Holley oil pan: ARP 12-point stainless hardware! All back together! New plugs, wires, ceramic coated headers, harmonic balancer: Brand new AX-15 with Novak bellhousing adapter and GM bellhousing: Running to Summit Racing tomorrow to get a throwout bearing and should be ready to mate the two tomorrow! In the meantime, I started getting the engine bay ready" I threw my Warn M8000 behind the x-member in the inverted position (so that the fairlead lines up with the upper flat face of my JCR Crusader bumper) along with a Factor 55 offset fairlead. I'll be running a second fairlead on the bumper: Like a glove: I mounted it as far driver as possible. There is about an inch and a half on the passenger side. Not enough for a Zeon or any of Warns higher capacity winches but perfect for anything under 22" I mounted the Corvette PCM and Novak tach/cruise module next to the XJ PCM. Hopefully it clears the alternator... only one way to find out! Of note, I also installed the only original MJ part that was retained besides the body... The windshield washer bottle! I mounted a new pump and drilled an additional hole and threw the XJ low windshield washer fluid sensor on. Lastly I installed some Hella horns and Inline Tube stainless brake lines. The brakes lines are for a 97+ XJ... the rear line doesn't quite make it to where the factory MJ line terminated but I think it should be in a good spot for the flex line to the axle. Hopefully getting the engine in tomorrow!
  13. Agreed. I like yours in contrasting color btw! Thanks! hahaha, very true
  14. It turns out PSC is literally down the road from my house... so stopped through their amazing facility to grab a big bore XJ/MJ box: I then plated the x-member with some 3/16" steel: Complete with some 1/2" bolts and tabs welded onto the inner frame rail stiffeners: Just enough room between the PSC box and the opposite frame rail for a winch! Unfortunately Warn was slow with drop shipping me the winch so I moved onto the next project. I decided to do a mesh grill along with a HD front facing camera to go along with my double DIN Alpine head unit (theres a reverse camera hidden under the tailgate handle): After that I stripped everything down for paint. I really don't have pictures of the prep process but it was a month or two of sanding, body work, and lots of dust. Next I turned my shop into a giant paint booth. Plastic up the middle to force air to move up and around (one shop door had filters and the other had filters and fans): I threw some sandable primer on and reblocked everything down followed by some sealer: Next it was time for color. Let me start by saying that my original plan was to paint it "Inferno Red Crystal Pearlcoat" (ARH) a Jeep color used on WK's. But after I decided to stuff the LS1 into it my Dad recommended I do something bright. So after much debate I finally settled on another BMW color (the blue XJ was Yas Marina Blue). Its an extremely gold color called "Austin Yellow" (B67). It came out ok for a garage paint job. I did have some lifting on the roof and tailgate (very slight in a few crevices... hence why I wish I had taken the entire thing down to bare metal) and the clear reacted with the basecoat in a few places where I put the first clearcoat on too thick. Luckily most of the imperfections are on the roof where they won't be seen or will be covered up by lineX on the bedside rail caps. Regardless it came out pretty good. Under the shop lights the color has a green hue but in the sunlight its more gold: Next I threw a few parts on to get an Idea of what it'll look like: After that I let everything sit for a few days to ensure the clear had cured before starting to bolt it back together: New glass front and rear. The rear is a CR Lawrance rear double slider. I love the functionality but its not a great fit. Oh well, there really isn't another option: I then cut and buffed the hood/fenders/flares... I still need to finish the rest of the cab. I started with 1500 grit, then 2000, then moved onto the 3M perfect-it system with all 3 compounds and pads. excellent results! Here's a shot of the factory ZJ drip trays for the vents. They drain just aft of the radiator support: 2 boxes from Novak arrived! most of the conversion parts along with a brand new AX-15: The engine bay is ready: I made an entirely new harness from the cab back using Deutsch connectors. The harness includes the 5-wire HD camera wiring and I designed it so that each tail light can be unplugged individually instead of letting it hang while you struggle to pull out each bulb: Lastly I found an old pic (circa 1999) of me and my HS MJ... '87 2wd 2.5L with zero options that I pained with lacquer in the driveway: Thats it! All caught up. Next I need to get the cab and underhood harnesses figured out. I plan to piggyback the XJ computer to run the factory '99 gauge cluster but I can strip out any wiring I don't need. It'll be a few long weeks staring at the FSM wiring diagrams before I can move on to getting the drivetrain together. more to follow!
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