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Driveway Ornament To Daily Driver: 6 Years!

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On 10/17/2017 at 11:25 PM, Minuit said:

Here's a thought that just popped into my mind. Now that I have brand new carpet, I suddenly care a lot about keeping it clean. Why the HELL do the factory slush mats have a cut-out right next to the brake pedal? That's where your left foot goes! That little oversight completely defeats the purpose of them, and ruins them in my opinion. You can kinda see what I'm talking about in this very old pic:


Seriously, what the hell were they thinking? As a "detail" guy this stuff pisses me off... did nobody think about someone resting their muddy foot next to the brake pedal and messing up the carpet? Are you just supposed to sit in the truck like it's a chair?


Naturally, once I realized this they got replaced with a pair of junkyard factory XJ floor mats at $1.35 per. Sorry aftermarket, I'm not spending $70 for reproduction floor mats that are gonna get dirty the first time I drive the truck. The downside is that I had to spend almost an hour each in the shower brushing them out and spraying them with undiluted degreaser to get them anywhere near acceptable. They aren't perfect...






...but they protect the carpet.


I also put my amp back in. Remember how short the input harness was? That severely limited where I could put the amp.



I made it longer. A lot longer. In fact, I may have overcompensated a bit.



So I could put the amp here:


Please don't try to steal it armed with this new information, thanks. Yes, it's wearing the wiper intermittent box like a hat. As an added bonus, I don't have to take the cluster out to make adjustments. That got old.


"But Minuit," you may ask, "It's 12:23 AM. Why are you posting pictures of floor mats in your stupid blog about your stupid truck?" I don't know either.



Where'd you get those factory slush mats? Look pretty sweet to me! I don't really see the cut out next to brake pedal you're referring to... Since you don't seem to like 'em much would you possibly want to sell them?

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16 hours ago, Pancho975 said:


Where'd you get those factory slush mats? Look pretty sweet to me! I don't really see the cut out next to brake pedal you're referring to... Since you don't seem to like 'em much would you possibly want to sell them?


They have a cut-out right where I happen to rest my left foot. I'm not selling them right now, but if I change my mind I'll definitely let you know!

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On 10/17/2017 at 9:08 PM, Minuit said:



Those things go by a few names. Rocker seal, door to rocker seal, lower door weatherstrip are a few of the ones I've seen. They help a little with sealing up the door gap. I noticed a worthwhile difference in road noise when I installed them. The part number I ordered was 55134856. You'll need two and they aren't side specific. I think I bought the last pair for sale on eBay though. It took me a WHILE to find them! You can also find them on older, high trim XJs. The early versions are riveted to the lower seam, mine are held on with 3M double sided adhesive.


Here is a link to more info.


Thanks so much for posting that! Didn't know those existed. I went to the local pull-and-pay today and grabbed some off a '94 XJ. I found some on a '91 as well with the riveted strip but opted to go with the adhesive ones instead for ease of installation. There were actually several junkers with them in various states of decay, if anyone else in Denver is looking for some... Can't wait to get 'em installed and keep the mud out! 


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12 hours ago, MJsNotDead said:

GREAT looking MJ Sport! I've seen one other like this, but white.

Thank you! I have seen a few white ones, I think two blue ones, and a couple more red ones. I've seen exactly one other silver one like mine. The Squiggly Club is a small one indeed :roflmao:

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I really don't like doing this, but I can't help but notice that this thread is on track to be on Page 1 of build threads if you sort by most viewed. As of this writing, the thread is juust short of 30,000 views. That means that if every viewer spent 5 minutes reading the thread, I have helped you all waste more than a quarter of a man-year of your time! To everyone who continues to tune in to this 42,000 mile, almost-7-year adventure of me and a dumb old truck - I thank you sincerely. Playing around with Jeeps and interacting with the like-minded people here has been a consistent bright spot in my life, and it's something I hope to keep doing for a very long time. :beerchug:


Wait, the Chapters Are Supposed to Have Names?: June-December 2018


I think I promised somewhere to do something interesting by the end of the year. This is that. I graduated school in May, so I really have no excuse for doing so little in so much time. :twak:


First on the list was the small matter of the gas tank and related parts, which has been on the $#!& list since the very beginning of this build. This time, I set out with the goal of sorting it out - permanently. Here's the short list of the annoying crap I wanted to fix:


- The gas gauge seemed to get "stuck" at a half tank and would never go past half. Below half, it worked fine. At the time, my best guess was that something in the tank was blocking the float arm. As you can probably imagine, this was driving me crazy.

- The Airtex fuel pump, the first part I ever bought for the truck, was beginning to get even louder than normal - which is to say that it was louder than the engine AND exhaust, rather than just the exhaust, and stepped up from "disconcertingly loud" to "frankly, quite frightening" when priming before start. It was still working, but it failed to inspire confidence. Not that it inspired much to begin with, and I got one of the good ones. Don't buy an Airtex fuel pump.

- Every once in a while, the front gas tank strap would slip out from under the tank. This made a disconcerting sound and was bad for driver confidence.

- Last time I installed the tank, I was an idiot and pinched the vent lines, resulting in pressure building up in the tank. This caused the truck to always smell like gas. The gas cap would also fly off if you tried to unscrew it. Very bad for driver confidence, much worse for passenger confidence.


In dropping the tank, I set a new personal record for an MJ tank drop: 24 minutes from the tank pumped empty to laying on my chest. I've gotten good at this. I hope to never do it again.


Enter our savior, the Bosch 69302 fuel pump kit.



What's that, it doesn't fit? It doesn't even come close? As if they didn't even try to make it fit? Yet another Cherokee part being sold as a Comanche part? Damn. Time to grab the Aftermarket Part Adjustment Device and follow kryptronic's excellent instructions from one of his excellent build threads that you definitely should be reading:


The new pump was supposed to be drop-in, however the top mounting adapter needed to be modified to make it fit. It was modified as follows: 0.20" removed from the top, 0.20" removed from the top of each fin, 0.30" long by 0.15" deep notch added on either side of the opening.  I used a dremel to remove all the excess plastic.  With these modifications, the pump attached to the sender unit without issues, perfectly.

After making the prescribed adjustments with the world's busiest Dremel tool, the pump fit well. Make sure you don't cut too much from the plastic spacer, because you can eventually make the pump loose in the sender by cutting off too much material.


You may note in the above pics that the condition of the wire connectors range from "crappy" to "I'm amazed this thing hasn't broken yet." - thankfully, the vast majority of the connectors on the sender are various sizes of quick disconnect terminals, which I keep a healthy stock of and you should too. They're very versatile connectors if you do a lot of electrical work.


Also, the Bosch pump contains a harness extension that is meant to plug into said factory quick disconnect terminals, not the ring terminal used with the old Airtex pump, which means this fella needs to go:


I crimped this with a pair of pliers when I was 15 years old. Other key details: this is a blue connector on an 18AWG wire, and nobody bothered to crimp the strain relief. Don't be me. Props to this cheap connector for holding up to 6 years of gasoline exposure though.


Sadly, my phone decided not to listen when I told it to take pics of the assembled sender. Sorry. Anyway, just pretend that there's pictures of nice, shiny TE Connectivity quick disconnect terminals and a fully assembled sender here.


Finally, time came to address the fuel gauge. In typical fashion for one of my problems, the cause happened to be the last thing anyone thinks to check - the float. I repeatedly tested the gauge potentiometer for correct resistance and the float arm for free movement with no issues. On a whim, I decided to check my float against a spare from a Renix era sender - my original float was more than twice the weight and was noticeably full of liquid when shaken. I considered buying a new one, but I was impatient and decided to just install the Renix float in my HO sender. It worked fine and clipped right in place.


After a quick test of the new fuel pump and a test of the float in a bucket of gas, it was time to put it all back together. There's nothing really to say about this - just make sure the sender is seated in the tank, and make sure the o-ring isn't pinched before you hammer the locking ring into place. Finally, make sure the vent hoses stay attached to the roll-over valves and aren't pinched between the top of the fuel tank and the bottom of the bed.


Longtime followers of this build will remember that the gas tank occasionally slips off of one of its straps. I didn't want that to happen, so I made these:

These two bars tie the tank straps together and prevent any movement, and hide away under the plastic tank shield. If you want to make your own, they're very simple. Two 5/16" holes drilled 16" apart in a piece of flat bar. You'll use the existing studs on the gas tank straps which are M6 on my truck. The same nuts that hold on the plastic tank shield also hold the reinforcing bars. It'll be hard to thread the nuts on with the plastic shields installed, but they'll fit.



Finally, the all important test:




So, having driven around for a while with a Bosch fuel pump and fixed gauge, what should you know? First of all, my Bosch pump is very quiet. The Airtex pump sounded like a jackhammer in the tank. You can only hear this one if you specifically listen out for it, and only when priming before start-up. Also, the MJ fuel gauge is very bouncy. I'll often gain or lose a 1/4 of a tank on turns. It also doesn't seem to be terribly consistent. Still, much better than nothing, and after all of these years I get to say I finally fixed an MJ gas gauge.


Emboldened by my successful gas gauge fix, I decided to install a part I've been hanging on to for quite some time - the mythical Mopar C3905840 Ignition Coil Package. It's a simple affair consisting of a new connector, new Mopar ignition coil, and a short resistive wire harness designed to curb premature ignition coil failures on early ZJs. While it doesn't seem like it had any other intended purpose other than extending coil life, some CC members have noticed improved idle and faster start-up after installing it. I've had no problems with ignition coil life, but the claims of smoother idle and faster start-up made me curious. As a side note, I'm pretty sure this only applies to HO trucks.


The only change needed to your jeep is to remove the existing coil connector and replace it with the provided one. Lucky for me, since the tab on this connector broke off a long time ago. I've tried to figure out what kind it is, but I haven't had any luck.


With the lock out of the way, simply pry the plastic fingers that hold the contacts in back and pull the contacts out. The rear of the connector has a seal which will come out with the contacts. Then install the contacts into the new connector in the same orientation as before. If you forgot which wires are which, here's the diagram from the '91 FSM:



The resistive harness will connect to your original connector at one end and the new coil (which has a different connection than the original) at the other end. It doesn't really have a place to go, so I tied it up by the A/C receiver-drier.



Then just install the new ignition coil which is a pain in the @$$ due to the silly design of the bracket. Pro tip - as much as it looks like the bolts go into threaded holes, they actually thread into nuts on the other side.


So, did I notice any difference? Not one bit. The truck starts up in exactly the same amount of time, and idles exactly as it did before. Not that I really had any complaints, but there was precisely no difference in anything. If you're looking for an improvement in how your engine runs, I would skip this. If you want a new Mopar coil or need to replace the connector at the ignition coil, put this one on your watch list.


I'm about to start talking about A/C systems. Don't take this as a complete guide. I have a fair amount of experience with auto A/C systems but I do not claim to know everything! If you want to work on A/C systems, you have to know what you're doing and understand the operation of the system in detail!


Since winter was starting to ramp up here in TN, I decided it was time to give the A/C a look. I had discussed this with a few CC members, and the consensus seemed to be that converting to the 1996 XJ's A/C system was the best choice. While it has different connections and hose routing, the parts are all easily swapped into the MJ with no fuss. In addition, parts are readily available including parallel-flow condensers. The compressor is completely interchangeable, with the same footprint and electrical connector. You can re-use your old evaporator, as all hose connections are the same size as the MJ and use the same type of flare nut connection. The only modification required to the vehicle is a simple connector swap for the high-low pressure cutoff switch. Otherwise, it's a simple matter of installing the parts, which all more or less fall into place. To ensure a clean, reliable system, all parts should be new except for what you can't get new anymore. In my case, that was only one thing: the line running from the receiver/drier to the expansion valve. It's #1 in this diagram.


My parts list was as follows:


- New Sanden 4727 compressor, pre-filled with oil from the factory. This was the factory compressor for the 1994-1996 XJ.

- New discharge, suction, and liquid lines for 1996 XJ. I used Four Seasons brand parts, and they fit well and gave no trouble.

- Used receiver/drier to expansion valve line from 1996 XJ.

- New expansion valve for 1996 XJ.

- New receiver/drier for 1996 XJ.

- New APDI Pro 701473 condenser. This is advertised for a 1991 Comanche but will fit our otherwise 1996 components. It is of a parallel-flow design for better efficiency.

- New o-ring assortment for 1996 XJ. I would also suggest buying a box of various HNBR o-rings so you have extras in case you lose some, or buy two o-ring sets. Some of your parts will come with o-rings, some won't. All o-rings should be replaced any time you disconnect them.

- Used hi/lo pressure cutoff switch with connector - junkyard from 1996 XJ. This can be replaced without evacuating refrigerant, so I didn't consider a new part absolutely necessary.


I had already replaced the evaporator with NOS before this. I personally would suggest using an aftermarket evaporator as those tend to be parallel flow, and thus more efficient. That's the only time you're ever gonna hear me say that.


I'm not going to go into flushing here. That's it's own topic. To be properly informed on A/C flushing, you're gonna have to do more reading than I care to write here.


Anyway, installing the parts was pretty straightforward. The only difficult part was the condenser. I didn't feel like draining the coolant to remove the radiator nor did I feel like taking the header panel off. Also, I have a fairly large automatic transmission cooler in the way, so I had very little room to work with. Also, this little bastard slowed me down:


You will strip these condenser mounts. They consist of a threaded insert in a rubber cushion. It's not too hard to tear off the cushion and get a pair of pliers on the bolt. You need something to cushion the condenser, so I came up with this:


I think those are valve cover grommets, but I'm not sure. 



When I tried to remove the lines from the condenser, it just twisted the condenser apart instead of removing the lines.



New condenser. Dirty bed.



Here's the new compressor, a Sanden model 4727. It is a direct bolt-on and comes with a full charge of the correct oil.


There's not a whole lot to say about the process of installing the parts. Do make sure that the receiver/drier is the last thing you install, as it contains a desiccant pack to remove moisture from the system. Be careful when putting the parts together - make sure connections go on straight and "seat" together. You'll know it right away when the line seats. You should put a little bit of PAG oil on the o-rings to prevent them from tearing and help seal.


The 1996 system is quite well designed and easily serviced. There is one problem, though:


That oil filter needs to go somewhere else. The solution seems to me to be to install a later model oil filter adapter which sets the oil filter facing backwards. I'll let you know what I do about that.


Anyway, once all of the parts are installed, it's time to vacuum. The system needs to be pulled down to 30inHg and left there. Some people say 30 minutes, but I would advise you to leave it for at least a few hours. If you lose any significant amount of vacuum in 30 minutes, I guarantee your system will leak severely (or your manifold gauges suck). Here are my gauges right after turning the vacuum pump off, and then after leaving it overnight:



I lost maybe a needle's width in 9 hours, probably through the manifold gauges, so I felt reasonably confident in the system's ability to hold its chili. If you have the time, I would strongly advise leaving the system under vacuum for this long just for your own confidence. For what it's worth, the system was charged on Nov 2 and still works.


As a side note, just because your system holds vacuum does not guarantee that it will hold refrigerant in operation. It's a simple numbers game - 30 inHg of vacuum means that there is a pressure difference of 1 atmosphere (14.7 psi) between the outside world and the inside of your system, and in the opposite direction of how it will be in use. With the system running on a hot day, you can have a pressure difference between the outside atmosphere and the high side of the system in excess of 300 psi, and this time the inside of the system is at the higher pressure. A leak that doesn't show up at 14.7 psi of difference could very well show up in a big way at 300 psi. The real test would be to pressurize the system with gas (typically nitrogen) prior to charging and let it sit for a while, but I don't have the equipment to do this.



I kinda wish the condenser was black, but I can understand why it isn't. It does look kind of funny against the black transmission cooler and black radiator. Note that the new condenser is not as wide as the old condenser.



Now that our system is put together, vacuumed, and is known to hold vacuum, we charge! This system holds 32oz of R-134a and 7-3/4 oz of PAG 100 oil. I am strongly of the opinion that the charge should be weighed and recorded. You should always try to know exactly what's in your A/C system. I happened to be charging on a chilly day, so here's a good trick: Get a bowl of warm water and set the refrigerant can in it. That'll get the refrigerant moving again and prevent the can from freezing up.


Now, I know it's the middle of winter and I can't really give any real indication of its performance, but the system easily produces 42 degree Fahrenheit air when the truck is in motion with an outside temperature in the mid 60s. It also seems to have no issues defrosting the windows. I guess we'll have to wait until it warms up for a real test. I do have one complaint - the compressor is quite loud as Sanden compressors have a bit of a reputation for. It can be heard running at idle and gives a slight vibration. In fact, it sounds just like the old compressor! I have decided not to worry about it. If it blows up, I'll make sure to let you know.



That looks like about 44 Fahrenheit to me. That's nose in to the garage standing still with an outside temperature of about 62, although probably hotter in the garage due to me running the truck inside.


After doing the A/C, I didn't do anything to it for a while. I did wash, wax, and clean the interior up though.ZrEbxfOl.jpg





A little while afterwards, I noticed that the battery seemed to go flat if the truck sat for a few days. EXTREMELY observant viewers may have noticed that the glove box seems to have a barely noticeable glow around it. Long story short, I did some probing with my meter and found a 250 mA draw on the "DOME" circuit. This circuit is responsible for almost all of the always-on interior accessories such as dome lights, radio memory, and the glove box light. The glove box light in particular relies on being properly adjusted, and will fail to turn off if it isn't. Re-adjusting the glove box latch fixed my "parasitic draw" entirely.


Finally, time to fix a few problems I brought on myself. I happen to be putting roughly 9 times stock power to my front speakers, and thus into my doors. Controlling rattles may as well be a full-time job on this truck. Let's just go down the list of things I've had to fix, shall we?




When I originally lined the truck with mass-loaded vinyl, I made a foam rubber "gasket" to decouple the MLV sheet from the door. This is good practice on the rest of the interior, but the added thickness made fitting the door panel almost impossible. After some more thought and research, I decided that the foam wasn't necessary and got rid of it.



Ordinarily, the reinforcement plates at the middle left and top of this picture are riveted to the door frame. Over time, these rivets can loosen and cause the reinforcements to rattle against the door frame. The rivets can be replaced with bolts. If the rivets are loose enough, almost any vibration can cause a severe rattling noise.



Power window motors can come into contact with the reinforcement bracket on the left side of this picture. Using washers to space the window regulator away from the door will work, as will wedging a piece of foam between the motor and door. Road surfaces and particularly loud kick drum hits can cause the door to flex enough to allow the window motor to make contact.



The armrest mounting fasteners loosen over time and can rattle against the door under certain conditions. Adding felt pads under these fasteners will prevent contact with the door.



The upper section of the window regulator can sometimes come into contact with the upper inside of the door. On my truck, the driver side door had this problem, and the passenger side door did not. Spacing the top window regulator mount away from the door using washers will correct this vibration.



While this may look like a piece of 1" 2lb cross-linked polyethylene foam I took a hole saw to, this is in fact a precision-engineered Door Control Rod Silencer(tm), replaces OEM part number 55074657. Qty Req'd: 2.



These speaker nuts can wear out with repeated removals, especially if someone over-tightens them. If they are stripped out badly enough the speaker can vibrate slightly in its mount. Sadly, I don't have a source of new ones. The ones you can buy at hardware stores are junk and won't last. I pop them out of any junkyard XJ I see with OEM speakers still installed. My best advice for making them last is to do like with other interior fasteners - treat it like an oil filter. I think I've seen some later XJs that got rid of these stupid things and went with threaded holes in the doors. If I'm remembering right, that would be a nice upgrade.



Finally, time to put the speaker back in. These expertly cut foam rubber gaskets do a couple of things - mainly, they act as a seal between the inside and outside of the door, with the goal of preventing as much air from moving past the outside of the speaker as possible. Second, they partially decouple the speaker from the door, lessening vibrations a little bit.


As a final note, do you want to know why I complain about aftermarket weatherstripping so much?



That's why.


Anyway, I hope this was a worthwhile conclusion to 2018. I've got a few neat things on my plate for next year, so hopefully I'll be able to write about something actually interesting soon.


Just because I was curious, I plugged this build thread update into wordcounter.net. According to that site, this post has almost 4,000 words, 225 sentences, and 75 paragraphs. If you were to speak this out loud (why?) it would take you more than twenty minutes. It also mentions that it is written at a 9th grade level and is full of grammar and spelling errors. In fact, this post is roughly as long as the papers I wrote in college. Dunno what that says about me. I'm a lot of things, but brief is not one of them.


Thanks for reading, and here's to a great 2019!  :banana::banana:


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22 hours ago, Minuit said:

... Page 1 of build threads if you sort by most viewed.


Welcome back to the top. Thanks for he update. :beerchug:

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You've done so many things in this build thread that are going to help me out with my own.  Thank you for your verbosity,  and attention to detail.  Always a great read. 

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20 hours ago, neohic said:


Welcome back to the top. Thanks for he update. :beerchug:


20 hours ago, kryptronic said:

You've done so many things in this build thread that are going to help me out with my own.  Thank you for your verbosity,  and attention to detail.  Always a great read. 



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Nice build thread.  Just read thru it on my lunch break.  Beautiful truck.    I could only wish to find something that clean in the rust belt.   Heck half of the junk yard pics you posted contained cleaner trucks then whats on the road up here.

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23 hours ago, Lthompson741 said:

Nice build thread.  Just read thru it on my lunch break.  Beautiful truck.    I could only wish to find something that clean in the rust belt.   Heck half of the junk yard pics you posted contained cleaner trucks then whats on the road up here.

You got through this in just one lunch break?!?! I've gotta do a better job at rambling then! :beerchug:


Yeah, what passes for junk here would make pretty much anyone up north cry. Until recently most of the jeeps in junkyards had better bodies than the ones I see driving up north. I'm starting to see more rusty ones now though.

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On 1/15/2019 at 2:59 PM, Lthompson741 said:

Nice build thread.  Just read thru it on my lunch break.  Beautiful truck.    I could only wish to find something that clean in the rust belt.   Heck half of the junk yard pics you posted contained cleaner trucks then whats on the road up here.


buy from out west or down south and have it transported to your doorstep. :L:   then don't let it touch winter.  :grinyes:

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