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88 Pioneer Build (Picture dense)

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Long time MJ dreamer here. I built a xj back in college and since I built it, I’ve wanted a mj. So, two weeks ago I drove 12hrs round trip overnight from SW Florida to South GA to pick up a mostly rust free Pioneer from CC member, Griff04 . It’s a 1988 4.0, 4x4, auto, longbed, 200k miles. 2 piece D30 front, D35 rear, stock 3.55 gears. 231 t-case and I believe the ax15 tranny (2h-4h-4l).  He replaced the the tranny and t-case with one from a xj with 160k miles. He also did some heavy gasket work so I have not seen any leaks. The owner before him replaced the trac bar with an adjustable JKS. The truck looks like it’s on stock suspension with 31’s. 


First things I had to address were the soft brakes and occasional no start. 

I already started a brake thread to further diagnose them. If you are interested or have some soft brake issues go check that out. The no start issue seemed like it as something simple. The ignition would light up the dash and turn the fuel pump on but turn the key and nothing, no clicks. I replaced the battery leads because they appeared to be original. I was able to just pull the main positive lead out of the crimp it should have been in. I didn’t take pictures of that process since you guys know that’s straight forward. I just goobered up the terminals with the red terminal grease because Florida wreaks havoc on batteries. This seemed to have solved the issue so far.


I tore up the carpet even though the truck seemed solid. It looks like the windshield leaks and caused the carpet to get wet. In the pictures you’ll see the floor pans don’t look terrible. I’m going to take a wire wheel on an angle grinder and go to town. Then I was planning on throwing down some ospho and bedlining the floor. 


From here I will eventually lift it just not sure how much yet. the xj I built was 4.5” on 33’s. I definitely want to run atleast 33’s if not bigger!F2AF1A19-8977-4193-BBCF-F2CC0D3A2DA3.jpeg.f80587203b814590e8d115a990ad23e4.jpeg703BD268-C24A-420B-99FC-2F062AAC8254.jpeg.7ba6e3e85783d7c8543dcc8363c45e0c.jpegF2AF1A19-8977-4193-BBCF-F2CC0D3A2DA3.jpeg.f80587203b814590e8d115a990ad23e4.jpegD8F0BC5A-B06C-411D-8E85-C9493C30F420.jpeg.28c18ddc1988565cf1fe820ab5c475db.jpeg703BD268-C24A-420B-99FC-2F062AAC8254.jpeg.7ba6e3e85783d7c8543dcc8363c45e0c.jpeg









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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Slowly but surely, I’ve been patching up the passenger floor board. I used 16 gauge sheet metal because my little fluxcore welder blows through the thinner stuff. I’ll be cleaning up the welds with a grinder before I paint. The plan is to use some sort of rust “converter” first. I have some rustoleum rust reformer but I’ll probably end up using Ospho. Then I’m going over that with Herculiner. 


I also noticed the sticker on the firewall says XJ. Did they just throw xj stickers on all mjs and xjs?






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I made a jy trip and picked up some goodies. I got a sound bar from an xj with some cheapo sonys already in it and a dual diaphragm brake booster both from a ‘95 I think. Then I got a sway bar and tie rod from a ‘01 v8 zj. Hopefully I’ll throw them in next week after I finish the floors and get this thing back on the road!



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9 hours ago, MeanLemons said:

The v8 zj tie rod upgrade should come from 94-98 zj with 5.2 or 5.9.    Not from a 4.7 99-04 WJ. It may not work. Let us know



Okay, I was not aware of the years. I just knew a v8 grand cherokee. We’ll find out! Plus the jy is brand new and their prices aren’t set yet so it was only $5 for the tie rod and ends lol

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  • 4 weeks later...

I have slowly been getting some things done. I was sick of jumping the starter with a screwdriver and I replaced the starter relay and the starter/solinoid. No functioning multimeter so I did both for peace of mind and it’s starting so far. No pictures of that since it’s a straight forward swap. 


I finished the floor and put the interior back together. Next on the list is to finally install the xj brake booster and zj swaybar+tie rod




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  • 1 month later...

I got around to replacing the brake booster a few weeks back. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. I spent 2 days on what should have been done in a few hours. Needless to say, I didn’t take many pictures because I was so frustrated. 


The brake booster upgrade was well worth it in the end, even with all my trips to the parts store 🙄. All that nasty brake fluid was part of the weak brakes I had. 


A few days later, my rear drum was squeaking real loud and began to grind. When I took the drum off, the metal plate holding the pads together fell out. I replaced the drum, shoes, and hardware, and it’s good as new. 


Next on the list is to install my new headliner from SMSheadliners and fix a few exhaust leaks. 




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  • 2 months later...

Some updates:

I put the interior back in awhile back. I put the sound bar in and it turned out pretty sweet, I just have to watch my head on the speakers. 


I found the header was cracked and bought a pacesetter on sale on amazon. I successfully removed the intake and header without breaking bolts, one was actually lose lol. 


With the intake and header out, I replaced the motor mounts. I got the stinky fab motor mount and transmission mount pack. The stock ones were beyond wore out. The sleeve through the bushing was completely separated on both sides. 


With the motor mounts in, I’ll be putting the new header in this weekend 👍







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Great project! Take your time, every time I work on mine it seems the project opens up into a much larger one. Kind of like a rabbit hole. You will be pleased in the end if you take your time. I guess I don't like doing anything twice! Great to see your project.

Sent from my SM-G920P using Tapatalk

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