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My '92 XJ dilemma.

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I've mentioned it a couple times so I figured I should show it off. Well, not that I'm bragging much about it. 



This is a '92 2-door Sport, AX-15, 231.

The story starts a couple years back. I picked it up off a cattle farmer in May of 2016. The last registration on it having expired in December 2015. I don't know how much it actually got used as a farm vehicle, the older gentleman (he has an English accent) talked about taking his daughter and all her musical gear to shows in it. It's a Manitoba Jeep, although I picked it up about a quarter mile from the Saskatchewan border. Middle of nowhere kinda place with a view for weeks. I think there's a thread somewhere about it, bunch of enablers that y'all are talked me into buying it. Er... here. 

I drove it about 45 miles home to my parents', parked it in their back driveway (they were out of town for a couple weeks and I may have accidentally on purpose forgotten to mention it. Got a very confused phone call when they did get home...oops) but then I pretty much abandonned it there. Sure I fired it up and moved it around a couple times but mostly it just sat. Initially my intent was just parts to manual

swap my MJ, maybe practise rust repairs on it before attacking the MJ's problems, but I was living and working 75 miles away, which isn't that big a trip, but it was enough to prevent much from happening.

Fast forward to Christmas break, 2017, I've ended up moving ~1100 miles west, which was only supposed to be for six months, but six turned into 12 and around month 9 they made me an offer I couldn't refuse and now I'm stuck in Alberta for the next four years. My Jeep horde stashed out at a friends's place back home was causing patience problems, my parents weren't excited about having stuff sitting around at their place either, so I took a train home, dug the XJ out of the snow, hooked up a UHaul, and drove the whole mess 1100 miles west. First time it had started in 9 months after not being on the road for over two years, and with extreme cold warnings all it took was a new battery and a couple hours with the block heater plugged in, and it fired up like it had just been running... At -30°F. Didn't really feel like doing more than absolutely necessary in the -60 windchill (especially as I was just getting over a flu bug) so the new battery was it, until I discovered the trailer lights weren't working too well, so I cobbled a harness together as quickly as I could (electrical work outside in -60 windchill is one of my most favourite things... :shaking:) but it survived the 200 mile return trip to pick up the UHaul (that thing I said about middle of nowhere) with no issues except some major square-tire-itis for the first few miles, then the next day did the 150 miles to pick up the horde without issues, so then I hit the highway for the 1100 miles home. Only issue I had was the alternator going out (coasted into the only town between saskatoon and Edmonton that would have one and be open at 5pm on a Sunday that happens to be New Year's Eve. Ended up in a buddy's girlfriend's parents' garage to put it in, because in -50 windchill in a crappy tire parking lot after dark there was no way in hell I would have managed to retain my fingers. I also discovered at this point that the line to the vacuum reservoir was broken behind the battery, which I repaired with a couple layers of heat shrink tubing, meaning I actually could get some heat onto my feet... holes in floorboards are great at -40... Or well maybe not great but the other word that means the same thing as great but exactly the opposite. 


Which brings me to my dilemma. I'd always assumed this was a totally rotten piece of garbage. But as I got more acquainted with it over the trip out, I've realized how original

and unmolested it is, and I've become pretty attached to it. Hell, all the rubber trim bits under the front end are all still there and none are torn or anything. This Jeep was looked after. It's got a new windshield, and had some rust repaired about ten years ago, although more has since developed, some maybe in the same place.

More photos:



(yes that's the carpet underlay hanging through the floorpan)


both rear quarters look like this although there's not much in the fenders.


passenger rocker is bad.

Also my garage is too small but I'm living in staff accom so I guess I'll take what I can get... last summer I was wrenching out on the street.



This was the first time I've been under it to check things out, and it's honestly not as bad as I expected. 



I mean sure it is a 26-year-old, 200,000-mile Jeep that lived a life of gravel roads and seven-month winters so there is quite a bit underneath, but not a huge amount of through rust. 

This is the only structural looking stuff. 


Althoygh I'm not actually sure how structural this component is... It's a kind of gusset I guess, a brace for the bit behind the driver's side rear wheel. It looks like it could be factory but it also looks to be bolted on, possibly with self-tappers, and there's no symmetrical component on the passenger side. Here's another photo without flash that shows the rust a bit better.



Theres also a questionable spot in the bumper/hitch bracket which I'm not sure I would've hooked up a 3500lb trailer to, and then pulled it over the highest pass on the Yellowhead highway quite so eagerly had I known about it. 


Quite a few layers have flaked off there. 


Floorpan holes exist, driver's side is by far the worst with one on either side of the main frame section




Although the rear floor looks mostly intact so far. That funky wire is part of the hastily hacked trailer harness. It's for the tail lights, and runs straight to the fuse panel, it was the only wire in the Jeep's harness I couldn't get power out of, and the easiest one to hack. For the heck of it, the -60 windchill wiring job:


I mean, I only needed it to last about a week...

The passenger outter and inner rockers look like they both will need done, although my phone's battery died so that's the end of the pics for now at least. 


But it now the dilemma. So I bought this thing to part out to swap the ax-15 into my MJ, in place of the AW4. But now I know that it's maybe not as rusty as all that... Definitely within the fixable realm even for someone not super comfortable with a welder yet, and it runs and drives so nicely, and it's basically unmolested, so it's pretty hard for me to wrap my head around just parting it out.


I think I have a problem... :driving::brickwall::dunno:

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It also means I'll need to find another donor for the MJ project. But having moved to Alberta that's suddenly a lot more feasible. Something about having four times the population and not having 1/6 XJ's stolen and written off must have something to do with that. I mean they don't run quite as cheap as they did back home because you can actually register a rusted-out deathtrap here so long as it was registered in AB before, but there's definitely more XJ's to be had.

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  • 1 month later...

Well, slowly taking steps towards... somewhere with this. Pulled the parts horde out of the back of it today. As you can see, the seat's been flipped down with heavy stuff on it for... a while.


Still on the fence about wanting to save it or not. Another factor that comes into play is a municipal bylaw against having "unsightly or disassembled and unregistered vehicles" in your yard. I mean, it is a national park and all, I suppose, but it does make it difficult to have multiple projects going at once when the garage is so small. Also my landlord doesn't seem super excited about my hobby. She came in when a roommate moved out and freaked out that I had a pair of mirrors on the coffee table. But that's neither here nor there.

I've been leaning towards fixing the XJ but swapping the aw4 from the MJ into it after putting the AX15 into the MJ, then fixing and selling, just don't want to have an automatic as a driver for some reason. I'm also not interested in having the MJ sit around any longer than it needs to, but it also would need rust repaired and a shit ton of suspension work done before it'll pass the out-of-province inspection, so ideally I'd be doing the trans swap at the same time.

This is why this is such a dilemma :brickwall:

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Yup. :sad:

I think my next move is going to be pulling out the carpet. It seemed moist, hopefully just from condensation while heat cycling in my uninsulated garage, but it seemed like there was a soft spot or two above the gas tank as well.

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Yeah that's the thing. I don't really want to see it parted out, but if I don't fix the rust that's all that'll happen cause it can't be registered pretty well anywhere now as it is. Maybe like the NWT or somewhere that wouldn't care, lol. 

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Well I got the carpet out of the front half today. Can't really say either way if it was better or worse than I expected. On one hand I knew it was bad, but I didn't really realize how bad. While struggling with a very stubborn trim screw on the passenger's side lower door surround piece, I noticed that every time I shifted my knee sitting right behind where the seat would've been, I heard stuff hitting the ground. 

I set the work lights under it mostly for shits.



And here it is with the lights on.



I knew the driver's side was toast already, just didn't quite realize how absent the floor was I suppose. I'll need to pull off the firewall insulation to see the full extent of that. I'm surprised with how solid it is under and behind the seat though with how rusted the seat bolts were. But that's a tiny victory, it still doesn't look awesome underneath.

The passenger footwell I wasn't expecting to be quite so bad as it was, I don't think. It's still there but not that far behind the driver's side methinks. The back portion of it though... Must have been a kid sitting in that spot pretty frequently. Makes sense I guess; it's on the curb side. It may not have looke so bad before I stuck my knee through it I guess.


This was a much bigger task than I expected, pulling the carpet. The biggest challenger was definitely the one trim screw that did about 3/4 of a turn nice and easy and then stopped dead. I was able to tease it delicately back and forth (okay, not so delicately... I had to put so much force into the Phillips head to keep it there that I eventually bent the screw) but somehow I got it far enough out before it stripped that when it did I could grab the head with my vice-grips and turn it the rest of the way out.

The other challenge to deal with is that my garage is so small that in order to get the driver's door open after I drive in, I need to have the passenger side as far over as I can get it, which means access through the passenger door is a no-go. Everything had to be done through the driver's door and hatch, which was much easier to manage with the seats out, I gotta say. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Getting the carpet out of the cargo area did this one in. After soaking in PB for a week, the rear seatbelt bolts broke two brand-new 1/2" t50 impact bits. Got maybe two turns on each of them before the one stripped and the other started snapping bits.

So given that it needs most of the lower sheet metal replaced, and that I only bought it to manual swap the MJ in the first place, I guess that's what's going to happen now.

But to make myself feel better about parting out the XJ I picked up something that's better worth saving as a daily:












'93 base 4x4 ZJ, pretty well manual everything... Including the locks, windows, and transmission.:driving:

It's a one-family vehicle, 267,000 km/165,000 miles, a little rough around the edges but overall in pretty reasonable shape. There's a touch of rust in the rockers that shouldn't be too much to fix, and supposedly some "wobble" that I didn't notice going around the block a couple times but I'm hoping is due to the 2" spacer lift and adjustable track bar, which looks legit but I'm thinking I'll put it back to stock anyhow. The plan is for it to replace the Saint as my daily.

Looks like I need to update my sig now. 



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Yeah. Pretty nuts. As far as I can tell there were only around 1000 of them built in total, at least that's the number going around the forums. I can't imagine how many are out there in Canadian market spec either. I'm pretty pumped about it, TBH. 

I jumped on the ad about six hours after it went up, and the guy selling thought I seemed like the best person who contacted him to sell it to. Because of how many memories they had with it they wanted it to go to someone who would take care of it, and I guess everyone else seemed to want to go nuts chopping it up to wheel or straight up part it out. I told him I wanted to keep it stock(ish) as a daily driver, which is true.

It was about a five hour drive just to get to it, about 400km north along the "scenic route to Alaska" as the signs said, in Grande Prairie, AB. Not super far north as things go but still a solid 12 hours north of the 49th. But it was a pretty scenic drive for sure. Definitely a great trip.

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Yeah, I've read that. Actually a couple days before the ad for this ZJ went up. I tried to buy one about five years ago but someone else got there first, but something had me thinking how sweet it would be to find one for sale again. I did a few searches, but found almost zero of course, except that article and some other stuff. Then it popped up in a saved search for manual XJ's and I couldn't believe it. But the photos didn't lie, so there was no way I was letting it get away.

The numbers bouncing around the forums are 600 in '93 and 400 in '94. More reputable sources don't quote numbers, but just say it was discontinued as an option in '94, but don't clarify whether that means before, after, or during the '94 production run. I wouldn't take a Doug Demuro article as gold... he's the sort of guy who thinks the standard pull-knob headlight switch is some crazy novel thing.


My biggest problem right now is that with the long weekend there's extra cops out and the registry's closed till Tuesday, I can't drive it. Tomorrow it'll be getting full fluid changes and possibly the trackbar issue sorted... The XJ/MJ track bar is the same anyone know if they also use the same frame-side bracket? It's a double-shear one, but the PO left out a bushing sleeve and some washer, and the bolt's clearly been moving around so I'm not optimistic about the hole still being the right size... Or that it's not an unnecessary drop bracket. Still on the fence about keeping the lift on it or not. 

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Do you need the manual column? I was hoping to swap it into the MJ with the rest of the manual stuff. But I've got a complete automatic column from a '93 XJ Country laying around, with key.

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1 hour ago, gogmorgo said:

Do you need the manual column? I was hoping to swap it into the MJ with the rest of the manual stuff. But I've got a complete automatic column from a '93 XJ Country laying around, with key.


AFAIK they're functionally the same when used in a manual application?  Unless they're column shift?  Just don't hook up the interlock cable and it's fine?  I'm going to hack the lower flange off it so I can put it in my J10, which will be a manual trans.

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1 hour ago, Wiggilez said:

The manuels zj you missed out on 5 years ago. Was it white and in southern Alberta? 

No, it was black I think, although may have been rattle canned, somewhere around Moosomin or Estevan, SK. My memory's getting fuzzy on details there, but definitely south east Sask. 

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2 hours ago, gogmorgo said:

I kinda want the full manual experience with the release lever. :dunno:


I never really understood the point of it, but you're correct, that is the functional difference. :laugh:


I don't care, I just need a column that isn't screwed that has keys.  Or I could rekey the one allegedly good spare I have.

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1 hour ago, Pete M said:

you should probably start a new thread for the ZJ :L:  

It'll happen as soon as I get to it. I haven't even really done much except park it in the driveway so far. Been taking advantage of all my college-aged roommates being gone for the long weekend to put the house back into a semi-reasonable condition...


1 hour ago, DirtyComanche said:

I don't care, I just need a column that isn't screwed that has keys.  Or I could rekey the one allegedly good spare I have.

Well if you find yourself around Jasper you're welcome to the '93 column. Pretty sure it's in decent shape, although I only did a couple laps around the yard with that particular XJ before it gave its drivetrain to the MJ. IIRC it's got the older style ignition key so I'm guessing that means the cylinder's been changed at some point. might match the j10 a little better maybe? 

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