Jump to content
Minuit

Driveway Ornament To Daily Driver: 6 Years!

Recommended Posts

Right on, man. I hope you're right. :thumbsup:

 

What A Naive Thought: July 2014

 

Yeah, that was pretty optimistic of me thinking I'd get the WJ control arm swap done in a day. :laughin:

 

My truck's alignment had been acting up recently. The steering refused to center itself, and driving in a straight line down the highway was almost impossible. These are the symptoms of a bad caster angle, and that's adjusted in the lower control arms. The bushings of which looked like this:

 

n6wS5cfl.jpg

 

bqzzbZql.jpg

 

:eek:

 

Enter the WJ control arms. These things are seriously beefy and weigh significantly more than the stock arms. The bend is for clearance with large tires, which is what I originally bought them for.

 

mBeZkgZl.jpg

 

Now is probably a good time to mention that you really don't want the control arm bolts seizing on you. I didn't have any problems but my truck is probably an outlier here. Spray them with penetrating oil a while before you plan on starting the job. Regardless, these bolts are torqued at 130 ft-lbs. You'll need some serious leverage to get them off. Remember to only remove one at a time, or you'll have a hell of a time getting them back on.

 

The biggest issue with this swap is the bushing width on the WJ control arms. GoJeep has a frequently referenced article that suggests modifying the control arm mounts themselves. Personally, I'm not willing to bend the control arm mounts on my truck, so I decided to cut down the control arm bushings.

 

maVJQ9kl.jpg

 

The stock control arm bushings are 66.5mm wide at both ends. The WJ control arm bushings are 72.5 mm at the axle (round) end and 79 mm at the frame (oval) end. It's not critical that you absolutely match this number, but you need to be decently close. This caused me problems when I was trying to fit them in the mounts. They need to be able to slide in fairly easily. On my first try, they were too tight to fit in with one side connected.

 

Tip: If you're cutting or grinding near rubber bushings, you must keep them cool! A spray bottle full of cool water works well. Heat will shorten the life of the bushings.

 

ud4X2csl.jpg

 

My method of choice was a Dremel tool with a cutoff wheel, since I could get a clean, precise cut. A little word of warning: The normal Dremel cutoff wheels are very fragile. I went through no less than 24 of them for this job, although this is partly my fault. If the wheels grab, they will break apart.

 

sX9EBL2l.jpg

 

They like to do so violently, and chunks of cutting wheel that were spinning at 30,000 RPM isn't something you want hitting you in the face. A welding helmet or something similar will make sure it doesn't happen.

 

Anyway, I made very sure that the axle didn't move and I still needed to move the axle forward significantly. I think I found why my caster angle was so far out!

 

8DiLAijl.jpg

 

The stock widowmaker jack is perfect for pushing the axle forward. Doing so will add positive caster, which stabilizes the steering. The WJ control arms are exactly the same length as the old ones, so my guess is that the old LCA bushings were ruined to the point of not keeping the axle in place. I couldn't fit both the jack and the LCA under there so I had to do this a few times, using a tire blocker to hold the axle in its new place. I didn't have to do this for the driver side (jacking it up and down until the bolt holes lined up worked fine) but the passenger side needed some more adjustment.

 

It took longer than I expected, but it was very worth it. Handling is pretty noticeably improved (can't wait to see what a 28mm sway bar does to it!). Stability at speed is now much better, and ride quality is also slightly better. My upper control arm bushings are probably also toast. They'll be replaced eventually.

 

sNHF8ZZl.jpg

 

Here's the truck as she sits now:

 

Yimn4hNl.jpg

 

Total Expenditures since January 2014: $2,379.39

Junkyard Parts:
Door panels: 1988 Jeep Cherokee Limited
Front bumper guards: 1992 Jeep Cherokee Sport
Windshield wiper motor: 1998 Jeep Cherokee Sport
Tailgate handle: 1989 Jeep Comanche

Mud flaps: 1987 Jeep Comanche

Interior Quarter Panels: 1989 Jeep Comanche

Courtesy Lights: 1994 Jeep Cherokee Country

 

Maintenance Status:
Oil changed 6qt generic 10W-30, 150,580

Brake pads, rotors, fluid and calipers replaced at 152,455

Brake shoes, drums, hardware and wheel cylinders replaced at 152,295

 

Odometer: 152,563

 

 

:banana:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Future tip, soak away, but get a MAP gas torch set from a hardware store, with or without oxygen (O2 is hotter though).  I use my MAP torch a lot when dealing with rusty suspension nuts and bolts.  Granted, I have a compressor and impact wrench, but heating up the nuts helps even when using a socket and breaker bar.

Something that I do when installing new hardware with bushings that have inner metal sleeves is to put anti-seize on the shank that rests in said sleeve.  Not really necessary, but it's a little added insurance to avoiding the bolt and sleeve seizing together and having to find a creative way to cut them from inside the bracket.  Blue thread locker on the thread side is also nice insurance even with things torqued to spec.

P.S.  I really enjoy following your restoration.  It tends to give me motivation to go out and do more work on mine lol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

:agree:  That's good advice. My truck is definitely an outlier in regards to rust. I'm pretty sure I had a lot easier time with the control arm bolts than most will. Glad I can be an inspiration :cheers:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tennessee Tech in Cookeville :thumbsup:

 

This has definitely been a learning process. At the beginning of this build I knew exactly nothing about this kind of work, and reading back through the first chapters it definitely shows.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Uh oh, it's another one of those late-night thoughts posts...

 

When I was doing the control arm job, I made the comment that "maybe I should have left it under that tree". The MJ has taken revenge for that insult duly and once again decided it wanted to be a pain in my @$$.

 

First, the oil pressure "sending unit" decided to unplug itself. I originally thought that the bulb in my dummy light cluster went out and didn't worry about it because the idiot lights are on borrowed time anyway. It's disconcerting that this thing stays off when there's no signal.

 

YdSL7xOl.jpg

 

...and then this happened :eek: The symptom was a really loud squeak when any vibration occured. (thanks guys who provided pics of their gas tanks, it's back on now)

 

EviD9XLl.jpg

 

And now, I've been blessed with very, very, very slow cranking, although it does start up and run correctly every time. Tomorrow I'm going out to clean up some electrical connections.

 

...aaaand the electric cooling fan is making tons of noise whenever it's on. It still works, but it'll be replaced and hopefully upgraded eventually.

 

Tip: Never insult the MJ when you're around it. It can hear you.

 

Anyway, time for some non-Jeep content!

 

I occasionally dabble in detailing cars. It's something I would eventually like to do as a side job, but there's bigger things to worry about now.

 

h2grqcel.jpg

 

Here's my dad's 1995 Buick LeSabre with 163k miles. This car gets rode hard and put up wet consistently, so it felt good to make it look nice for a change. It's also got the fantastic 3800 engine.

 

JzMhxSAl.jpg

 

Here's my mom's 2004 Cadillac Seville... which I would never ever like to work on, thank you very much. A 4.6L V8 (yes, the Northstar...) stuffed sideways into a FWD car is a horrible idea, but it's one of the smoothest vehicles I've ever driven. It's really fast and makes a good noise, too.

 

j3LtjJCl.jpg

 

bcvmjOzl.jpg

 

oNvpAeGl.jpg

 

Of course the truck had to get in on the action, too.

 

One thing I'm considering doing is video updates. I'd like to know from you guys whether or not there would be any interest in this. It would give me a chance to show things off in more detail than I can in pictures, for sure. Let me know!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would totally be interested in video updates. You have a really sweet truck there, I would like to see more. Just be sure to not shoot vertical video ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I recorded the first part of what will be the first video update today. Since I know all 19 of you that have seen the last post are on the edge of your seats with excitement, I won't spoil anything. These videos will be slightly edited and basically consist of me pointing a camera at things and talking about them. I'll definitely be doing an in depth walk-around of the MJ and possibly a brief driving video. I may branch out into other things if this sort of stuff is received well. :thumbsup:

 

and no, I won't be shooting these vertical. :cheers:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The first video update is here! Let me know what you think.

 

I'll be making a text update later. There isn't enough stuff for one yet, and it's doubtful that there will be for a while. Tomorrow I'll be filming a front to back, in depth overview of the truck and a little bit of its history.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwVR4ceuqrE

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alright. Today was the day. I'm now 100 miles from home at university, so my wrenching time will be mostly limited to weekends and breaks (although I can see myself fitting in a parking lot oil change and the like) This means that this thread probably won't get nearly as many updates as usual. The MJ is a joy to drive on the interstate and has performed flawlessly on the numerous 100+ mile drives it's been on recently.

 

The next wrenching session will be one of de-leakifying the engine. I am 99% sure the engine is in need of a rear main seal (oil filter adapter and valve cover gasket have been taken care of) as well as a new front main seal, which has just started recently. While I'm at that, the engine will get a new timing set. I'm also pretty much positive that the oil pan threads are damaged, and as a result the plug drips some oil occasionally. The oil pan will either be repaired or replaced.  All of this is about $220 in parts, but quite a bit in labor. I should be able to take the truck off the road for several days in a few weeks, so it'll be getting done then. It leaks oil like a 23 year old 4.0 currently, and that's something I want to fix soon. Stay tuned, although the next update may be a while. :thumbsup:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alright, it's been a few weeks. Time for a small update. Here's my observations so far:

 

- You can fit more stuff behind the seat of an MJ than you might think, including a small TV and a couple of suitcases. I found this out when my buddy's basketcase '91 Chevy ate its distributor on the side of I-40 and we had to put 2 trucks worth of stuff in mine. :laughin:

 

- I'm 95.9% sure that my exhaust manifold is cracked - considering that I believe it's the original one and the truck has almost 154k on it now, I'd say it's lived well past its service life, given the 4.0's hunger for exhaust parts (wow, that was a long sentence). The symptom? A noise that sounds almost exactly like a stuck lifter with the windows rolled up, but I can hear a distinct "puff" noise with windows down. It also seems to be sensitive to throttle position in some way. After a few minutes, it goes away.

 

- I'd like to replace the exhaust system anyway. The odd combination of stock and el cheapo replacement parts I currently have is... bad. Everything but the cat (which is a new el cheapo replacement) and possibly the tailpipe (el cheapo replacement, replaced in 2002 with the el cheapo muffler that's currently rattling itself to death and probably restricting exhaust flow in some way) is on borrowed time. I hate loud exhausts, but the current setup is pretty toneless to say the least.

 

- It runs like a charm at interstate speeds. Wind noise is quite high, so some sound padding will be added (something I've wanted to do anyway) The ride isn't bad but rough enough to make sure you don't fall asleep. The alignment I got in August made the steering feel pretty much spot-on. I adjusted the gearbox so it has the slightest bit of play, barely enough to notice.

 

- The next big project will be a re-sealing of the engine. As I've said before, this truck currently has or has had all of the typical 4.0 leaks. Currently, it leaks from the rear main seal (VC gasket and oil filter adapter are both dry and have been replaced recently), front main seal, the oil pan drain plug, and I believe the oil pan gasket. I believe the threads on the pan for the drain plug are damaged as well.

 

- My el cheapo CCV tube at the side of the airbox has split open. Easy fix, and it wasn't the right part anyway.

 

- I have very little free time during the week. I spend nearly 21 hours in a classroom or walking towards another classroom, 4 hours tutoring math, and quite a bit more studying or doing homework every week. The truck isn't my first priority right now, to say the least.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you decide to tackle the exhaust yourself...you can find all of the Walker exhaust pn's on RockAuto and then shop the lowest prices between RockAuto and Amazon....free shipping sometimes get's you a better deal. I think my middle of the road CAT was around $90, free shipping from Amazon.Total parts was around $240 including new rubber isolators. Don't forget the flange gasket.Trickiest part is removing the old CAT from the down pipe. Two studs with nuts and two bolts / nuts hold the flange together. Heat them to Cherry and either let cool and break free or crack them when they are still hot. If the CATs been replaced already, the flange may separate easy...good luck with School!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Least Interesting Build Thread Update In The History of, Like, Ever: October 2014

 

I had two extra days home this weekend (today and tomorrow). Naturally, I decided to do truck fixin' rather than normal things, like play with my dog:

 

APvbAfUl.jpg

 

 

If you've watched the video updates, I was troubleshooting a starter that seemed to crank slower and slower every day. For about a week it magically fixed itself and then went right back to the same old thing. Today, as I was leaving the grocery store, the truck barely cranked at all. Rather than having my starter seize up 120 miles from home, I decided it was time to get to the bottom of this.

 

I didn't take many pics, so imagine that at first there's a starter in the frame, then there isn't. One of the pics might have a pun or something for a caption.

 

I took the starter to the parts store and had it tested. Normally they can't tell you much besides whether or not the drive pops out or not, but my starter sounded absolutely dreadful on the test rig, so I bought a reman one and installed it.

 

QYqE0Yfl.jpg

 

... which hopefully puts an end to several months of starting issues.

 

I also did a brake job on a friend of mine's (same friend that broke down a few posts earlier) '01 Impala that replaced his hilariously troublesome Chevy truck. The dude that sold it to him swore up and down that it had new brakes on it.

 

PW7ny9Ml.jpg

:bs:

 

I also changed my oil. The multitude of leaks are starting to get worse. Over Christmas break (starting in 2 months) that's all going to change. Until then I'll need to carefully monitor my oil level.

 

Total Expenditures since January 2014: $2,470.00

Junkyard Parts:
Door panels: 1988 Jeep Cherokee Limited
Front bumper guards: 1992 Jeep Cherokee Sport
Windshield wiper motor: 1998 Jeep Cherokee Sport
Tailgate handle: 1989 Jeep Comanche

Mud flaps: 1987 Jeep Comanche

Interior Quarter Panels: 1989 Jeep Comanche

Courtesy Lights: 1994 Jeep Cherokee Country

 

Maintenance Status:
Oil changed 6qt generic 10W-30, 154,269

Brake pads, rotors, fluid and calipers replaced at 152,455

Brake shoes, drums, hardware and wheel cylinders replaced at 152,295

Starter replaced at 154,269

 

Odometer: 154,269 (christ, these miles are starting to rack up)

 

:group beer:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since this is just one of those nights when sleep eludes me, I figured I'd make a little update. Ready?

 

I've done nothing.

 

There you go. Mileage is 155,3xx. Nothing of interest to report. Everything that worked last month still works, and everything broke last month is still broke. I'm going to the JY Wednesday (or is it tomorrow? :fs1: ) with plans to pick up some more parts to play Truck Legos™ with. More details later.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Christmas List

 

Wednesday was a pretty good day as far as days go. Drove up to La Vergne with a few bucks in my pocket hoping to pick up a brake booster then hit the very highly recommended Express Pull 'N' Save. What I wasn't expecting to leave with was all of this:

 

S2Aj668l.jpg


 

From left to right: Tilting bucket seats (the one on the right will obviously need a new cover), dual diaphragm brake booster/MC, passenger manual window regulator, MJ bucket seat brackets, 28mm front sway bar. Not pictured: wheel center cap, and rear carpet backing. Yeah, the gears are starting to turn :D

 

Much credit due to TN bro relyt120, who provided me with most of this stuff at a good price.

 

rpwKQNjl.jpg

 

Who the hell junks something like this? For those of you in the land of rust, this is pretty typical in Southern junkyards. Either a very late 90 or very early 91 model (build date 8-90), and in my favorite XJ paint color too. Almost immaculate inside and out. I grabbed a pair of the Jensen sound system bezels from this. I have an idea to make them clear my window cranks and I need a few spares.

 

cTRBep9l.jpg

 

This '95 XJ donated a (brand new looking) window regulator. It had clearly been recently replaced, so all of the rivets were replaced by bolts for my convenience. I should've grabbed one of its wheels for my spare.

 

IQc7A2Ml.jpg

 

These doors strip down surprisingly easy. Good to know.

 

And finally, I nabbed a 28mm sway bar out of a 2wd XJ. A base model '94 shouldn't have that option, but I measured it over and over and it is indeed 28mm in diameter. I need to go back and get its center console, since for the time being I'll need a blockoff plate for the transfer case shifter.

 

lotmfZzl.jpg

 

:(

 

D6MoFyfl.jpg

 

Much better than the grungy looking bare metal behind the seat. It also matches my door panels nicely.

 

 

Anyway, the main thing I wanted to address with this update (I needed something interesting for November, after all) is what I'll be doing over my Christmas break in two weeks:

 

- My engine is beginning to leak oil more quickly. The oil pan's drain plug threads are also worryingly damaged. The oil pan gasket, RMS, FMS, and timing cover gasket are all leaking roughly a quart every month and a half. I'm 99% certain it is all being leaked out, not burned.

 

- Since I now have bucket seats almost ready to go in, this begs the question of what I'm going to do with my interior. Plans over break include stripping it again to inspect the floors again and apply some sound deadening material. Next time I go to the junkyard I'll be grabbing a center console and possibly the parts to convert the AW4 to floor shift. Carpet to match the cab backing and door panels will happen, eventually. I wanted to throw the seats on ASAP but in the end I'd rather take my time and do it right and all at one time.

 

- All of the other stuff I got Wednesday (the big sway bar, the window regulator, and the brake setup) will also be installed. I have a feeling that in about a month my truck will feel drastically different.

 

Total Expenditures since January 2014: $2,595.00

Junkyard Parts:
Door panels: 1988 Jeep Cherokee Limited
Front bumper guards: 1992 Jeep Cherokee Sport
Windshield wiper motor: 1998 Jeep Cherokee Sport
Tailgate handle: 1989 Jeep Comanche

Mud flaps: 1987 Jeep Comanche

Interior Quarter Panels: 1989 Jeep Comanche

Courtesy Lights: 1994 Jeep Cherokee Country

28mm Sway Bar: 1993 Jeep Cherokee Sport

 

 

Maintenance Status:
Oil changed 6qt generic 10W-30, 154,269

Brake pads, rotors, fluid and calipers replaced at 152,455

Brake shoes, drums, hardware and wheel cylinders replaced at 152,295

Starter replaced at 154,269

 

Odometer: 154,429

 

:wavey:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

DAMN.

 

This afternoon, a family member was working on tapping out the RMS since I mentioned to them that I was having some trouble getting it out. This person somehow managed to chip the engine block where the RMS meets with it. I'm not sure to do yet, but there's a pretty good chance that this build is indefinitely going to be put on hold until I can put a new motor in it. I move back to Cookeville on the 18th, so until the MJ can be fixed completely I'm going to be driving a vastly different vehicle.

 

Son of a b$#@%.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This definitely isn't the update I wanted to make before going back up to Cookeville. Obviously the person who chipped the block owes me an engine, and my choices run the gamut from a $300 junkyard special to a $5k and up Hesco stroker. The truck isn't going anywhere, and at least it's not racking up miles or sitting under a tree anymore. The bad news is that I don't have any of the equipment or the time to do this job, so the MJ may be down for months or maybe years. We'll see.

 

The truck will live again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It sucks having what should be a perfectly running MJ but isn't because of a stupid blunder. At least for me it was mostly my fault... Can't imagine how I'd feel if someone else was to blame.

Hope you get yours going in less time than mine's been sitting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Damn it, I really liked this build. How bad is the damage?

Anyway of filling the score with a small weld and smooth it out? You'd still need a block in the long run, but perhaps that could tide you over?

 

Whatever you end up doing, Good luck man. I feel for you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×