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4wd conversion questions


90MJ
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Is converting to 4wd as easy as installing a transfer, axle and driveshaft? Would the transfer bolt in place of the tailshaft on a 4spd by simply removing the tailshaft? Are any adapters required? Any special things I should know such as different year compatabilities or anything? Its a future project possibility but nothing set in stone yet. Just hoping to hear about other folks experiences

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In theory, yes, the truck was designed that way but the garage is not the production line with a factory "parts bin"  behind the line.  Cannot swap tail-shafts.

 

Things come to play quickly unless you have the donor sitting next to the truck and they are exactly the same (except being 4WD of course). 

 

Would you be comfortable dropping any one thing completely out of the truck spinning around three times and then putting it all back together? 

 

Things come into play quickly you make an attempt(s) to change things. 

 

Column shifted? Planning to go full console shift or just floor for transfer case?

 

Can it be done? Yes. Has it been done? Yes. 

 

IMHO #1 Requirement. The Passion to work through the project ( or deep(er)) pockets than expected. You will be tested. 
 

And yes, I have done it. 

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3 hours ago, Pete M said:

you'll want to source a 4wd transmission too. :L: 

 

and for a question like that, please include your truck's stats, as what you have can change the answer.  in fact, you could put them in your sig:  :L: 

 

Haven't figured out how to add a sig or pic yet. 90 MJ 2.5 AX4 D35 Shortbox Sportruck as bare bones as they come

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I just finished up my conversion and it really wasn't that difficult.  This was the first time ever doing anything like this.  What I did was I asked a lot of questions and read a lot of write ups.  There are a lot of knowledgeable and patient people here that are willing to help out as much as possible.  A lot of times the same question and topics come up and it must be frustrating to the see the same thing come up but everyone is willing to help out so don't be afraid to ask a question.   I upgraded to the AX-15 transmission so it took longer to find all the parts that I needed.  If I would of started out with a automatic it would of been a lot quicker since it seams there a lot more of them out there.  It is definitely easier to have a donor vehicle in front of you as I always found myself running to the junkyard for little things that I didn't have.  It's been a fun project and I learned a lot of things that I didn't know.   

 

Good Luck

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The plan is to eventually find a cheap XJ for the parts. They are a dime a dozen around here. Was hoping to not have to swap to auto. AX15s can he had for under 200 bucks all day also around here. I figure I could do the whole conversion with a $500 donor. Upgrading to a 4.0 in the process seems like it will be a longer project than I want. If I could bolt the transfer to the current transmission I could have the whole swap done in a weekend providing all the donated parts are in working order

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You don't have to change to auto. The AX-5 is physically the same as the AX-4, and there should be 4-banger XJs around with the 5-speed tranny. Jeep made the XJ with the 4-banger right up through 1999. Look for one with the external clutch slave cylinder.

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My rear is a D35 with 3.55. Was hoping to upgrade in the future to a Chrysler 8.25 or a Dana 44. I am torn whether I want to do a 4wd conversion or leave it 2wd and do an AMC v8 swap eventually. I'm really just weighing my options at this point and doing a v8 swap wouldn't happen anytime soon, at least as long as the 2.5 is still alive and kickin'. The 4wd swap seems more practical to me since this is my daily driver and I live in the northeast and rotted out but running XJ donors are plentiful around here cheap, but I don't want it lifted though, just keep it stock height and get the body cleaned up. I appreciate all the feedback from everyone so far. 

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Yes, a 4-cylinder with the AX-4 4-speed transmission would have a 3.55 rear axle. The good news is that all 4.0L automatics came with 3.55 (or 3.54) axles, so you can pick up a front axle out of any 4.0L XJ or MJ with an automatic transmission. The best choices will be late 90s, because they'll have larger/stronger u-joints -- but they will also have the composite front rotors that are prone to self destructing in the rust belt areas. The 2000 and 2001 XJ front axles use different (and better) rotors, but they're low pinion. That's not an issue on pavement with stock size tires, but the low pinion axle is slight weaker so not the preferred choice if you'll want to run big tires off-road.

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I have access to another front beam axle. I am contemplating if I could cut it and press/weld the tubes into a 44 center section for the front. I really want at minimum a pair of 44s under it if I go 4wd. I have stockpiles of 44 sh*t laying around from my Gladiator and will have even more once I swap the 3/4 ton axles into it this summer. Plus I already have lockers for it then. OR, try to find a TJ Rubicon front 44. I am the guy that will do conversions as overkill as possible even though a 44 front is excessive for what I would need. My theory is like the 'take a jacket' theory. If you don't need a jacket you could always take it off, but that one time you need it and don't have it, you'll wish you did. I use that mentality on everything I have ever built. I am new to the Comanche world again after a 20yr hiatus but not new to Jeeps and fabrication. If it wasn't freezing here realistically this post wouldn't even exist, as I would have crawled under the truck and figured all of it out myself. I don't like wrenching in the cold haha. I think a rubicon TJ 44 front would be the way to go though. They sell narrowed 60 rear housings online pretty inexpensive also. It would be cool to run a 44/60 combo thats 5 lug. At least that route I would feel comfortable if I did the AMC V8 swap eventually as well. The thought of breaking axles and things that are underbuilt would keep me up at night.  

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