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Project 2drx4. A cherokee.


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Remember my story about acquiring the 'cheap' cherokee? Yeah, that pile...

 

If you don't know the story:

 

I acquired this XJ through a bunch of schinanigans. It belonged to a co-worker's girlfriend, and I had made some drunken deal that when she bought a new vehicle I'd buy this pile. Granted I'd never even seen it when I agreed to this. Being a man of my word, when I got the phone call I headed over with cash in hand.

 

Did I get ripped off? Uhhhhhhhhhh......

 

Not the worst looking from here.

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Swing out spare - doesn't interest me.

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Rockers were optional I guess.

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The B-pillar took a hit and is dented in, the door frame is twisted, and generally there's dings all over the place.

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The good stuff:

 

4.0L/AX-15/NP231. Not a bad combination. Personally I'm more of an AW4 guy, but whatever.

1990 - it's a renix, I understand it.

2drs, since I'm young and stupid.

 

The bad:

 

The rust, dents, dings, ugly paint.

Clutch slave or master is out.

Water pump MIA.

No AC, although I only want it for the pump. It's probably a good thing actually...

10 000 other things.

 

My 'Plan' (like I really have one)

Build a 'mild' wheeler for camping/expiditions. I no longer live in an area where there is estabilished hard-core wheeling, and you can't do that alone. I'm thinking I will probably run about 2-3" of lift and some 33s, along with some body mods. The back seat and cargo area interior will be axed in favor of making enough space that I can sleep, and some storage. I'm planning dual batteries but haven't entirely sold myself on how they should be done. OBA is needed, and I will run a sanden style compressor out of convenience. However, the biggest emphasis of this build will ultimately be the reliability of the rig as a whole (more on this later).

 

 

So, the first order of business was to change the water pump and serpentine belt. The old belt got eaten as the water pump had played up to the point that the belt got thrown into the mechanical fan. I changed the lower rad hose while I was at it, the old one looked rough.

 

Serpentine belt shredded around fan:

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Since I need a new belt, I did the idler pulley delete. No sense keeping a useless pulley. Which I've had fail before, not a good thing.

 

Reference picture of belt routing minus the idler:

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Part number for the belt (upside down so it's easy to understand)

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Then I did my first major mod. I plan to turn this one into a write up. I think many would benefit from it.

 

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Yeah, the gas struts are worn out, the 2x4 keeps the hatch up... No, I won't actually write a how-to on it, sorry. So I changed them. Apparently the parts store wants $60 each for the struts here (jerks).

 

 

Started pulling out the interior junk. Found that the roof braces had de-bonded, probably as a result of whatever had hit the B pillar on this thing before. I think I'll just use some 3/16" bolts to re-attach it, and seal them with poly or something. I'm undecided, but definatly not going to bother replacing the roof to fix the dent.

 

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Rust, rust, rust...

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Started pulling the rear bumper off... I said I didn't like the swing out - so off it came. I broke EVERY bolt that held it on. And while I'm sure you could just unbolt the bumper from its brackets, I was not interested in that game (torx). So I just cut it apart...

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Bumper removed, only snapped two of the bolts that hold the brackets on. Trailer hitch/boat anchor removed mostly - I had to cut one of the tabs off it as the bolt was not removable yet (still getting to that)

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I have to comment on who-ever the genius was that had installed this aftermarket hitch... Put some damn anti-seize on the bolts, I only broke 4 of the 5 that I removed (with the 6th still in place, as they installed it in a creative manner, I will remove it whenever I have more stuff out of the way). And that was after I heated them cherry-red with the torch.

 

Began the first of the sheetmetal mods... This part was all rusty, and really doesn't do anything for me. So, I butchered it off. Just the inital cut.

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Before you jump on how I cut all of this, I just went for it. Later I'll clean it up, I was just concerned with getting it out of the way for now.

 

View from inside... I'll weld in some 22ga or something in the hole.

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The pretenda-rockers had to go next... I'm going to weld in some 2x6x.188 in their place, I think.

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Mostly cut out in rough...

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All cut out. Other than the end there. I need to figure out exactly what my plan is there. I was going to use some MJ rear flares over the rear (cut and fold it), and see if that part was 'covered'. But that's kidna hack. I might just have to cut a bunch more out, and maybe patch it (heaven forbid).

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Took off most of the junk from the front that doesn't interest me... Vacuum bottle and horn will get relocated. There's more work to be done here, but not for tonight.

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Did some more work....

 

This area had to be cut out... I was about half done at this point, all of it had to go. Oh yeah, there's a few cracks there, don't mind those, they're on the list.

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At this point I figured I was about done cutting this side. Yeah...

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I cut out the back of the uniframe rails to put my bumper mounts in (2x3x.188).

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Yeah, I cut that one very square... Shh. The top shackle bolt extends too far and is in my way. Luckily it has about 20 threads more than it needs.

 

So I pulled it out, cut off about five threads, then ground the end to a bit of a point so it would self centre.

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Threw some anti-seize on and reinstalled. Plenty of clearance.

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(I know that's a picture of the other side, just imagine everything backwards if it's a problem)

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Test fitting the new rocker/slider. Looks like it'll work... Of course I had to cut way more stuff off.

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More test fitting...

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You can see how it doesn't extend too far back. More on that later...

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Capping the ends.

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Ugh. Was still dialing in the welder (haven't welded in 2 months), then realized it was spooled with crappy wire (I lend it to a friend when I'm at work). Of course, had I looked before I started welding, this wouldn't have happened. Anyways, I ground that part out and re-welded it.

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I cut the front of them on a 40* angle, then capped them too. At this point I was getting a little more comfortable.

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Ground smooth (same with the rear). Then I RO sanded the entire thing to promote paint adhesion.

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Shimming it all into place for welding...

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Welded most of it up. Had a minor, almost major, fire in the interior. Apparently this foam lights up really easy. Considering I was welding on the other side of the A-pillar when it lit off.

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Welded all around the top... Ain't done, but I was sick of welding. Thick steel to thin sheet it trying of one's patience. The welds vary from decent looking to horrible. I think I'm going to put a sealer of some sort over them anyways, so nobody will really see...

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And I partly built both rear bumper mounts... Just some 2x3x.188 with some nuts welded in it. They aren't as hardcore as some people's, but I pick up 4 place on the uniframe per side, plus the 4 stock holes per side (other than the ones that have broken bolts in them, something to do sometime...) I used 1/2" GR8 hardware for no reason other than it fit the holes in the frame nicely, and GR8 has a nice plating on it so it doesn't rust as quick.

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Made the ears for the bumper mounts:

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In retrospect, those could have been made from a single peice, and it probably would have looked better. Ohwell, nobody sees 'em. Oh yeah, the new hardware is AN, I think AN6-11As, but whatever, I have lots of it and it'll work. I drilled through the stock captured nuts and will just put nuts on the back.

 

Of course, prior to this I figured I should remove the two snapped off stock bumper bolts. Welding a nut to them did not work. So I chose to drill them out. After dulling a lot of bits in a short period of time (I lack a bench grinder to resharpen them here, and have to do it at work), I tried using my nice lennox step drill since it has a carbide edge. I broke the end off. Swearing, lots of swearing.

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Anyways, welded one of the ears on.

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Other side.

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Main part of the bumper is 2x4x.188. I cut the ends at a 40* angle. RO sanded for paint adhesion, yada yada...

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Welded the caps on the ends, wasn't overly impressed with myself with the bead appearance, but the penetration was good. I ground them smooth afterwards anyways.

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Tacked it place.

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Keg stand! But not quite how I did them in college. Man do I ever have a ghetto shop, instead of a welding table I either use my trailer or whatever is around... Anyways, welding the bumper mounts on. You can see the shape of the brackets...

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Got the other slider welded on. Well, half welded on. To the same stage as the other one anyways (good enough for now)

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Some of the welding went awesome, some of it was ugh.

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But I managed to get it to match the other side pretty darn well, even the slight angle they're on (they slope outwards a bit so water will run off) is the same. I have to say though, these were more time consuming than I thought. So much cutting stuff off, then putting them in place, only to pull them off and grind a bit off something else, and try again and again... But I think they'll be worth it.

 

 

Now, what I did that I do NOT like at all. Instead of doing the cut'n'fold on the rear wells, I decided to try something different. My reasoning was that I couldn't get as much clearance by just folding them as if I changed/removed the lip/pinch seam completely. Also, I had a rust issue, and I wanted to cut it out.

 

So, I did this.

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Basically I screwed it up so bad that I'm going to have to do some major surgery to fix it. I took 1x.125 flat bar and welded it between the quarter panel and wheel well from the inside. Then I cut off the pinch and ground everything 'flush'. My mistake was that I should have used much wider flat bar (2" or 2.5") or just done it with sheetmetal like a regular person. As it is, I've not got a properly shaped wheel well.

 

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I didn't even bother cleaning up the front because I'd realized it was screwed.

 

I'm pretty mad at myself. Normally I think about things enough ahead of time that I don't get in this situation.

 

And that is all for a while... Back at work. Other than I might order some goodies...

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nice :cheers:

 

you will love the extra clearance. especially if you run a small lift.

 

i suggest you weld a tube/bar on the outside of the 2x6 to give a little more clearance for the body. .02

 

made mine into air tanks. :D

 

 

Yeah, half the reason I did them was I only plan to run a 2" lift at most (and by lift, I mean a collection of parts I found in my garage). Although, that plan might change. I won't make them any wider - screw the body, I'd rather fit through things. It's not like this thing has virgin sheetmetal or anything. And mine are air tanks too, well almost, along with the rear bumper, and the front bumper will be too... Figured I might as well.

 

 

Plans might really change though.

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Are you planning on tying the rockers into the unirail? I've read that without that there isn't enough support to prevent the rockers from bending up quite a bit.

 

Willy

 

 

They'll be tied in to an extent. I have a plan, I'm just not sure how well it will come out. I actually think they're pretty solid as-is, the door pillars have a lot of material too them once you get them welded all over the place. But I don't trust that enough to leave them as-is.

 

I've seen people who only tied them into the floor a little more than mine are now, and they seemed to work. But who knows how hard they are on things.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well.

 

 

I think the project died yesterday.

 

 

I'm actually kinda annoyed about it. It was coming out pretty nice (or so I thought) and would probably have worked well for what I wanted.

 

But, I decided to fix a rust hole in the floor, and removed a bunch of the floor in the process, and yeah, the uniframe is kinda rusted up pretty bad. Not like poke a screwdriver through bad, or even near death bad, but bad enough that I remember why I wanted to build a buggy, or put a frame under a MJ, or generally not work on vehicles.

 

So, it's decision time. I've already burned up half of my time off, and got nothing done. I did a bunch of research today into ubuilt vehicles and the perils of registering them in the fine people's republic of BC.

 

I might be building my own SUV, using the driveline from this XJ and the same general dimensions for the body. Yeah. We'll see how this goes.

 

 

So, nobody hold their breath for more updates.

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I can salvage it. I can even make it better than it ever was. But I wonder if it is worth it. I'll admit I am partial to the box stylin' of the XJ. For similar reasons, I like MJs. I'd prefer building a MJ in general. Hell, I've already got one that could use some love. But I really felt I needed the SUV instead of a truck for what I wanted.

 

 

I've talked about doing full frame replacements before. Albiet only for a MJ. Looking at it now, I am very comfortable that I could do it to a MJ and have decent results. The XJ would be a similar process, but I forsee a few more issues.

 

If I go to the effort of cutting it up that much, I will want to change a bunch of other things. I have a rear end that is half built (well, more like 1/4), the intention was actually to use it in this project at some point down the road (I made no mentions of what I'd be doing with the axles yet). You're going to think :nuts: . It's a Hi-pinion D60. Which probably would get me some sort of award for the intention of running 33s or 35s. But, I had no intention of running it with leaf springs in the rear. I also had no intention to keep the front 30, or the 5-link that goes with it. I'll admit it is a very decent suspension setup, and probably could do what I wanted in only a slightly modified form.

 

The problem is that my desire to fix the uniframe will lead me to wanting to do all of the other upgrades at once. As this would only make sense (if I'm going to need a new rear x-member, and a bunch of new brackets, it's best to do them when it is easy). This will consume a lot of time, and necessitate having both of my axles ready to go.

 

 

Now, how I would fix this (if I do). I think I first need to get the body to a position that it will stay reasonably rigid when the floor is removed. When I say the floor is removed, I mean all of it. And with it the uniframe rails. I'd have to pull the hatch first, and just get it out of the way. Then the remaining interior - which is just the dash, along with all the remaining wiring. And that would be all the wiring. The trick there would be to not screw any of it up. Anyways, I'd need to tack some of my surplus 1x1x.120 HSS in an X brace in the rear and middle of the body, my weld in rockers will already do a fair amount to keep the A and B pillars in position. The C pillar (hatch area) might want to move, and I have few thoughts on how to fix this other than to do some more work on the rear wheel wells before I attempt removing the body.

 

Then I'll just have to cut all of the floor/uniframe off, or at least away from the body, all the way up to the firewall. Then hopefully I can lift the body off and throw it on my trailer (good place to store it, basically). Then, it's just a matter of removing the driveline parts that I'd like to keep (engine, trans, tcase), and rolling the remaining mess outside to steal what little measurements I need, and then send it away for scrap.

 

Then I can get to work on a new frame. 2x4x.120 HSS would be my choice. The shape is relatively easy providing you don't try to copy the factory floor (hence why I'd not save it with the body). Stick drivelin e back in, re-attach body, etc...

 

It'd need a lot more planning to do it that way. But I'm sure it would be unique, if nothing else.

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I guess I'm going for it...

 

I figured I needed to take everything apart. Maybe because I'm sick in the head and just enjoy that. Ohwell. So, I removed the windshield using one of the not recommended methods (it involved a crowbar, don't worry it was cracked all over anyways). And stripped out the remaining interior and the engine bay. The engine is mostly ready to pull, other than the two fuel lines.

 

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The procedure I used for tcase removal is probably not in any manual.

 

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I discovered that the output of the AX-15 is 23 spline. Of course, that reminded me that ALL AX-15s were 23 spline, it was the early AW4s that were 21 (and the BA-10/5). This is good, if I put my AW4 in the tcase I removed will bolt up to it. Of course, I spun the front output on the tcase and heard some distinct grinding noises, so I think it'll be more like I will use the front input on my other NP231.

 

I pulled the hatch and what little remained in the rear. Oh, and dropped the tank since I didn't want it to go boom when I cut into it by accident.

 

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Everything is out that has too be, other than the engine/tranny, the two back windows (I hate glass), the door/hatch seals, and maybe another couple feet of wire and a few odds and ends.

 

I need to cross-brace it a little, then the cutting will begin.

 

But, in due time, I'm out of time off. So, no updates for a bit.

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