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Photobucket ruined all versions of this build on the internet, and people have asked on other forums if I had the old pictures.  I do, but it's a lot to sort though, so I've basically decided to post the build over from the beginning, just much more condensed than it was originally.  I am going to upload everything to Imgur, so hopefully they don't pull a Photobucket at some point, but we could cross that bridge when the time comes.  Since I was doing that anyways I figured I'd throw it in here, as it really takes no added effort and some of it is applicable to the MJ platform.


The day I bought it:



I had actually thought it was an SJ Cherokee based on the terrible ad and the owner's lack of helpfulness.  Turns out it was an XJ, but for $100 I couldn't say no.  It didn't run, but as it turned out it was just the ground cable off the battery.  I should have sold it right there, pocketed the couple hundred in profit I could have made, and moved on.  But nooooooooo.


It honestly was terrible.  Rust, disgusting interior, hack repairs...






The piece of aluminum instead of a back window was a nice touch.






Steering column was all torn up because of a NSS issue and really bad troubleshooting.  Yeah.





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Some basic trimming was going to be required to fit the tires I wanted, so off I went.





Roughly how big and where the opening needs to be:



Rear before:



Cutting the rear initially:



The lines were traced out using stock fenders and some measuring to make both sides the same, I wanted to preserve the boxy nature of the wheelwell as it is what gives the XJ a lot of its character.


I also got these black doors from a parts Jeep that the PO had:



I made quick hinges for them more because I like to be able to take them on and off quickly to access areas for working on the sheetmetal and checking clearances.



The cut edges were rolled back, and the inner fender was sectioned and the process of stretching it to the new shape started:








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Here is the before cutting picture, with just the flare off, I missed it earlier:



Other side getting cut and sectioned:



The fill neck complicates it a bit, but it was all massaged to fit.



Edges welded up:





More work was going to be needed on the front of the wheelwells, and a shock tower was going in the middle.  But the rough opening was made.


I then measured approximately for the shocks and the bumpstops at this point.  I added 1.5" of bumpstop to the rear in the end, I believe, as that wound up being a good compromise which still allowed for reasonable uptravel.


There was also a sweet access panel pop riveted (with 3 rivets) over where the fill hoses meet the tank.  The hole was cut right into the uniframe rail.



I patched it and made a nice rounded access hole with a rolled edge, and later put a cover over it.


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The other front outer fender was cut too, again this was the rough shape.  Obviously I'm going forwards with the front axle, and I am also going back with the rear.



There was some horrible stuff going on with the floor.  This was the typical area above the exhaust were moisture gets trapped:





A GM14 bolt or two was sourced, and some hacking was done:



That left the casting paper thin, and I decided to do the shave in a somewhat unconventional way:



Cover ring getting modified, basically I welded in the filler piece to be as close to the ring gear as possible:



I did it this way so the two remaining lower bolt holes (the lowest is gone completely) wouldn't have to be reproduced in the joint of the original casting of the center section where it met the filler plate.  I would NOT do it like this again in the future and would straight up shave the ring gear and go farther with the entire shave and just accept that the holes might have to be moved to allow them to be drilled in an ideal position.


Shave and cover welded up:



Disk brakes were put on the axle, typical K20 front junk.  Perches were welded on at 42" and paint was applied with a hose.


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So many of these pictures are ugly/out of focus because I was lazy and used my cell phone for most of them, plus I didn't pick through them to find the best when multiple shots were taken and instead uploaded them based on the thumbnail view.  I am sorry, it's really bad.

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The gas tank didn't clear the diff cover with the axle shoved back, and it had to come out anyways (for repairing the floor).



Some basic suggestions of how to modify the locating points for the tank were penned in place:



They were cut open:



And squished and welded:



The forward mounts were then cleaned and modded with new ones being bent up out of 16ga sheetmetal:





The tank then cleared:



The seams did have to be modded to get it back far enough:



With the tank moved back like that it is very vulnerable and a skid/bumper/etc is an absolute must to protect it.  It's basically touching the rear valence panel (or whatever you want to call it) so in an accident the crumple zone would be the gas tank!


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At this point I'd built a really ugly rat rod looking Cherokee thing:



A Chinesium stainless header was bought:



It really didn't fit how I wanted.



Nor did it clear the intake manifold for that matter.


So I cut the flange off and put a V-band flange on it at a different angle.






Then made a 2.5" downpipe with a flex coupling in it.


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Some sweet mods were done to the hatch so it could be opened from the inside.  And a gate handle was added to aid closing it from the inside.



Some shock towers were added to the missing section in the wheel tubs.







Metal was bent up to close them in.



Everything was painted, shocks installed.





Including the interior.


And I started to paint around the exterior as repairs were completed.


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Some more big holes in the floor had to be patched, along with a big cover for the NP205.



Rockers were cut out, and 6x2 HSS welded in.





Parts of the unibody were plated, and the position of the track bar mount was worked out to clear the diff.





Inner fenders in the front were cut out.






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The inner fender pinch seam was trimmed slightly, and then a lot of hammer work was done to move the metal back without having to put relief cuts in it.





And the inner fenders were closed back in.





The battery was relocated and the wiring harness redone to run around the back of the engine, as there was no space for either with the stretched inner fenders.



An upper link mount was cut through the passenger floor and braced on the top and bottom.


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The engine was refit with a HO intake, and a V8 WJ power steering pump, the overflow bottle, washer reservoir, brake boost and master, etc were all manged to be packed in there.



I hate that cone filter and will get rid of it once the summer (dust) comes around.


A Ford HP D60 was built up:



I went with a Spartan because they had good reviews:



Installed with the hydro assist tucked in behind its own skid:





A Wagoneer pitman arm was used, due to needing more up travel for the steering (and to get the frame side of the panhard as high as possible), and the box was drilled/tapped.



It could then actually sit properly on it's own tires and axles.



The knuckles on the D60 had to be modified to allow the tie rod to be run on the top side of the steering arms, and yet still clear the 17" Dodge wheels.  A DOM sleeve was welded in with a tapered insert.


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A ring gear was broken out of a NP241:



There is a tool to remove them, I don't have it, it was a little violent doing it that way but it worked well enough.


It was pressed into the Northwest Fab Ecobox.





A Ford NP205 was cleaned up to use with the Ecobox.



Painted it, turned out to be a waste of time.



Because I could not make it clear the seat with the big mount on it.  These are hollow, you can just grind it down, you have to cut them off and cap the area.





Capped and mated to the Ecobox.




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Shifters took a long time.  I did not want cables.



Much time was spent figuring out how to make a pivot bracket for the NP205 shifter.



The end result put the triple sticks in a nice position where they did not interfere with the gearshift, and the seats and center console still fit.



A rear mount was put on the NP205, as hanging the weight of the Ecobox and NP205 (combined is 220lbs or so) off the tailhousing of the AW4 is not recommended.




I think I'll have to figure out what images come next and see if they're already uploaded.  I have a ton of other images, I just have to go through them.  If anyone actually wants to see anything specific just ask, I may have more pictures or can take some...

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I made the trans crossmember into a belly skid:



I didn't use countersunk hardware because I figured it would be okay for now.  Maybe next time around.



Nutplates were made and welded to the unibody in the rear or the rear crossmember.



Then a rear crossmember (to support the NP205) was made, and a skidplate was integrated between it and the front one.



Everything was test fit before final welding:






I hate painting in the shop...





With the NP205 there isn't much option for making the belly any flatter, it's just too big.

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I have worked on it but didn't update.  So I'll update a bit, this isn't actually catching it up but I don't have pictures on this laptop.  No, it's not done and drivable, it's closer though.

So, needed a rear bumper...  Because there isn't one, and you couldn't attach a stock one even.



Weld 'er up.





I think the D-ring tabs were from TMR or Ruffstuff, the hitch is a PA special (comes painted even though it's a weld on, f-ing PA  :laugh:), the bolts were just threaded into some nuts welded inside which are for later use (integration with the gas tank skid).


Done for now.





Youtube if you want to waste time:


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  • 1 month later...

What a great build!   :applause:  I really enjoyed your video ... couldn't agree with you more regarding cutting with a grinder.   I have a plasma cutter too and barely use it (waste of space and $$$).  Love your shop too.   Lots of Canadian hints in there (PA, Maximum and of course Beach boxes ... my favourite).   Looking forward to seeing more! 

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4 minutes ago, PCO6 said:

What a great build!   :applause:  I really enjoyed your video ... couldn't agree with you more regarding cutting with a grinder.   I have a plasma cutter too and barely use it (waste of space and $$$).  Love your shop too.   Lots of Canadian hints in there (PA, Maximum and of course Beach boxes ... my favourite).   Looking forward to seeing more! 




There's a Beach box in there that I got from my uncle, it's old and SOLID.  I also have been half assed looking for somebody to make me a big maple leaf decal or stencil for the bay door, since I think the place could use a little snazzing up and that would be tasteful.

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That's a Beach B29 box.   I bought the same one at Canadian Tire in the late '70s and still have it (on top of a B27 roller cabinet).  I'd gladly trade all of my tool boxes in for Beach boxes.   They were very popular in industries too.   I bought a second roller cabinet that came out of the DeHavilland plant in Downsview where they had dozens of them.   They still show up on Kijiji almost weekly.  Agree with you on the "Maple Leaf" ... always good to fly the flag!  :canflag: 

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On 4/21/2018 at 10:12 AM, PCO6 said:

Agree with you on the "Maple Leaf" ... always good to fly the flag!  :canflag: 


I'm having trouble finding one though.  I'm wondering how easy it would be to mark out the points, mask it, and spray it on?  If I had an overhead projector I'd use that trick, but I don't. :laugh:

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  • 2 months later...

Front bumper is done.





I really debated doing a hidden winch, but at the end of the day I'd rather be able to see the cable spool and get at the winch easily, plus there's a lot of brush around here so the bumper does need to protect the sheetmetal a bit.


Video for people that like watching them:

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