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Project Uncompahgre - 1989/1999 MJ

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8 hours ago, 89 MJ said:

Odd question. How do you pronounce the name of this project?


Its actually pronounced nearly exactly how it look... it just looks insane the first time you see it. LOL: Un-com-paw-grey or per wikipedia: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/07/En-us-Uncompahgre.ogg


Its the National Forest that encompasses Telluride and Ouray Colorado and some of the most iconic 4x4 trails in the country (black bear pass, imogene, engineer, etc.)

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55 minutes ago, USN_JeepMJ said:


Its actually pronounced nearly exactly how it look... it just looks insane the first time you see it. LOL: Un-com-paw-grey or per wikipedia: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/07/En-us-Uncompahgre.ogg


Its the National Forest that encompasses Telluride and Ouray Colorado and some of the most iconic 4x4 trails in the country (black bear pass, imogene, engineer, etc.)

Interesting. I’ll need to read up on that. 

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10 minutes ago, 89 MJ said:

Interesting. I’ll need to read up on that. 


Highly recommend the San Juan mountains in the Uncompahgre National Forest for some of the most awe inspiring trails in the country. Moab has the best technical trails but Colorado definitely has the best views. I'm lucky to have parents who retired to Ouray Colorado (the "jeeping capitol of the world") so I visit often. 



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11 minutes ago, USN_JeepMJ said:


Highly recommend the San Juan mountains in the Uncompahgre National Forest for some of the most awe inspiring trails in the country. Moab has the best technical trails but Colorado definitely has the best views. I'm lucky to have parents who retired to Ouray Colorado (the "jeeping capitol of the world") so I visit often. 




Looks like a road trip is in my future. 

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Great build. Deutch connectors are the best. So easy to work with. Getting the pins in and out is so easy and they seal really well. Used a lot of them on my build. The throw out bearing adjustment is a nightmare. The novak adjustable isn't that great an option either. Getting the clutch dialed in is fun. Be gentle with that Ax15 your are really on the ragged edge of its hp and torque rating. Won't take much to shred it!! 

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  • 2 months later...
On 1/14/2021 at 11:29 PM, Limeyjeeper said:

Great build. Deutch connectors are the best. So easy to work with. Getting the pins in and out is so easy and they seal really well. Used a lot of them on my build. The throw out bearing adjustment is a nightmare. The novak adjustable isn't that great an option either. Getting the clutch dialed in is fun. Be gentle with that Ax15 your are really on the ragged edge of its hp and torque rating. Won't take much to shred it!! 


Thanks! Yeah I love those connectors. I'll definitely be gentle with the AX-15... well I'll try to at least. 


Damn TX... If it weren't for the power outages it would have been a relaxing few days in the shop:




Took the Gladiator out to Ouray Co to visit my parents and finally get it off pavement!










After I got back to TX I decided to replace my problematic SRT WK2 with something a bit more sporty:




Then it was back to work on the Comanche!


I couldn't find a 97+ pedal box so I combined the '89 pedals with the '99 pedal box. I also added a second brake switch for a clutch cancel on the cruise control:




Then I modified the Corvette drive by wire gas pedal to fit in the factory MJ location along with some Mopar Gladiator pedal covers:




Transmission hump moded for the XJ e-brake:




Airbag computer and JCR center console bracket:




Transmission tunnel "modified" to make room for the clutch fork:




Dynamat going in:






Rebuilt the HVAC box with new Mopar A/C core and lucked into a copper heater core. Next I test fitted the Corbeau Trailcats:




Next I had to modify the shifter. The AX-15 trans sits about 3" forward of where it would behind a 4.0L. I took a B&M shifter and some 3/4" stainless rod from McMaster Carr to make this (plus added a vent tube):








I had to notch out a bit of the center console to get the shifter to slide underneath without making contact but you won't be able to see that once everything's back together:




Dakota Digital emulator to let the GM PCM see a speed signal and a HD camera interface for multiple cameras:




The interior panels are being refinished with SEM using their recommended process. First I scrubbed everything down (front and rear) with dish soap, next I scrubbed with a grey 3M abrasive pad and SEM Soap, I then prepped with SEM paint prep, a light basecoat layer went on over the adhesion promoter (wet-on-wet application) followed by 2 more coats of base and finally clear on all of the high-traffic panels:








ACC carpet in black:




I decided to add a ZJ overhead console (96-98 w/ sunroof). It'll function with the help of a ZJ body control module tapped into the CCD Bus:




I used expanding foam to build up a place for the console:




Formed using razor blades and sand paper:






I then used 2 part epoxy. I used approximately 3/4 of a gallon for 2 coats. the first coat soaked in completely and the second left a smooth surface for the headliner to adhere to. This also had the side effect of making my fragile headliner a whole lot stronger:












I completely rebuilt the dash, Re-did the entire wiring harness for the dash and interior, and installed a TJ gauge cluster:






Rear of the cab all together along with some new seatbelts from Seatbelt Planet and a Kicker 5 channel amp:




I added a sub... and immediately removed it. It's way too big. It limited the passenger seat travel and I can only assume is way too powerful for the cab. I'll have to build my own box to maximize seat travel:




The Corbeau seat brackets (MJ specific) are a little tall in the rear for me. I'm 6'4" and my head was only about an inch from the headliner. So I cut an inch out of the rear legs and rewelded everything together. I took this opportunity to add a seat belt buckle bracket:






I modified the stock transfercase shifter by cutting off the handle and welding on some M10-1.5 thread:




And lastly I buttoned up most of the interior. The shift knobs are from Twisted Shifterz and are both stainless steel to match the B&M shift lever. I used a 6" "shifter extension" sourced from ebay for the t-case shifter:




Now it's back to work on the mechanicals. My Holley accessory drive components finally showed up after 4 long months of waiting and the front axle has arrived (a Spicer bracketless D44 crate axle in JK width). I just placed an order from Artec for the last few suspension components and brackets that I need to get make this thing a roller! Lastly I'm just waiting to purchase a D60 rear from Currie. Still on track to have this thing done by July... we'll see.







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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...
On 3/24/2021 at 8:37 AM, Jesse J said:

that's going to look so col when it's done




On 3/24/2021 at 9:56 AM, MiNi Beast said:

real nice. well did good sir. :grinyes:


LOL, thanks!


On 4/4/2021 at 10:25 PM, Joeyv12503 said:

I didn’t want the build thread to end.   Phenomenal work.  I wish I had you’re budget/ability, and shop! Keep the pics coming.  I love everything about you’re build.  


Yeah I really lucked out finding a house with a shop!


The Supra needed some love... AWE Touring exhaust and ARMA carbon intake going on:




J.W. Speaker TS4000 driving lights in chrome to match the J.W. Speaker headlights:




Engine bay wiring... What a mess!




Slowly cleaning things up:




Novak tach/cruise module in an easy to access place (for tach calibration and cruise button assignment):




Modified the Novak GM PCM bracket to work vertically just aft of the battery:




I ditched the Novak intake setup with its 4" couplers and pipe as I want to run the factory MAF sensor. I ended up using a 4" to 3.5" 90° elbow into a 3.5" aluminum tube followed by a 3.5" 45° elbow (cut in half to net about 25°) the factory Corvette MAF, and finally a 3.5" K&N cone filter. I topped it all off with t-bolt hardware and a bracket to hold the MAF/filter rigid:




You can see the Novak fuse block just aft of the PCM between the factory fuse block and fender. I added a second fuse block tucked in just above the blower fan to run the aux lights, fog lights, lockers, etc. I made simple brackets for everything out of 3/4" x 1/8" flat bar-stock. 




Next I cut up a JCR battery bracket to fit the dimensions of the Braille lithium battery and welded up a tie-down:








Lastly I installed a Wilwood clutch master cylinder and finished running the clutch lines before throwing on a reupholstered WJ Overland wheel:




I'm not super satisfied with the leatherwork on the wheel and it may be coming back off to be sent back for another attempt. I spent way too much money for the work that was done... I won't be recommending this company to anyone. At least it looks good in pictures. 


The good news is everything fits under the hood!




I have to finish wiring up the winch solenoid and find someone to custom make 2 a/c lines but otherwise the under-hood is complete except for fluids and a good once over. Next I'll be rebuilding the NP231 with all new internals plus a SYE and figuring out the rear mount along with my Ironman 4x4 Fab 4-link x-member. I also recieved all of the Artec brackets to start welding the front axle together. Getting there!

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2 minutes ago, MiNi Beast said:

I look at the pics and think why spend the time and money.. but then i look at the pics again and say why the fuxk not!! :beerbang:


I ask myself that repeatedly... not sure when this project went off the deep end but might as well see it through at this point! 

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On 5/2/2021 at 1:53 PM, Pete M said:



you don't get to make that statement without sharing some photos :D 

I can’t remember if it was a machine, but It seems like I remember his orange XJ was featured somewhere a couple times over the years. 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 5/2/2021 at 8:33 AM, MJXJKUGUY said:

It wouldn’t be the first time. 


On 5/2/2021 at 1:53 PM, Pete M said:



you don't get to make that statement without sharing some photos :D 


My XJ builds have definitely never been in a magazine... that I know of at least. These two pictures have made their rounds though. My favorite is one of the LED headlight companies on Amazon using one of the first pictures with their cheap Chinese LEDs photoshopped over the Trucklites. I've contemplated sending them a cease and desist but that would be way more trouble than its worth. 






JCR (with my enthusiastic permission!) also meme'd the two XJ builds on their IG a few years ago:




But thats about it. Definitely not building to be in a magazine. Building in the hopes of one day hitting some dirt in my suspension/wheel/tire/axle-less MJ!


On 5/2/2021 at 4:48 PM, JMO413 said:

Just an awesome build!!




Well back to being busy with work and trying to wrench when I can. I managed to find a place to mount the Warn winch solenoid despite the engine bay being filled to capacity. I also realized I forgot to clock the clutch handle down... Oh well, I'll just suffer with it for now and fix it next time the entire front end is apart:




Eventually I'll probably upgrade to an Atlas but for now I just decided to rebuild the NP231 with new seals/gaskets/chain/bearings and a Tereflex SYE:










After that I installed a Ironman 4x4 Fab 4-link and fully welded it to the uniframe along with welding up a rear transmount bracket built into the middle section:






Here you can see where I modified the center section to accept the Novak trans mount. I also installed a Novak cable shifter and I completely regret not powerwashing and painting the underside black... I'll have to mask off and spray when all is said and done.




Thats all for now. I've got the Spicer HD44 out of the box and ready for some Artec brackets. In the meantime a cool shot of the shop:




Back to the day job:






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  • 4 weeks later...

The steering wheel I previously had wrapped wasn't up to par. They had failed to put padding under the leather so it was noticeably thinner than the wood upper portion. They also failed to go far enough in at spokes and a gap was visible at the cruise buttons. So I talked to the owner and it sounds like they had their new guy on the job. They re-did everything and I can't even begin to describe the absolute attention to detail of this quality work. I highly recommend Craft Customs out of Rockwall TX! can't wait to get the door panels back together:








But before I can get back to work on the interior, I needed to get the front axle under the Jeep. I started by setting the pinion angle to 90°. On a JK axle this equates to 6° of caster which should be perfect:




Next I measured the spring perches in relation to the Jeep at level. I then welded the axle perches in at 5°... I was trying to find a happy median with spring perch placement and LCA bracket placement and felt a degree wouldn't make much difference on the spring perches. These Artec brackets went together nicely!




The perches were set to 5° but the bumpstop plates burned in at 4.5° for some reason. Either way its close enough: 






After that was all burned in I flipped the axle over and welded up the LCA brackets:




I was getting a little bit more splatter than usual and I'm honestly not sure why. I did have a big fan blowing from the side and according to a buddy that might be enough to negate the benefits of the shielding gas. Oh well, the welds might not be a work of art but they're strong (240 volts / 50 amp outlet with my Miller 211 Autoset nearly maxed out using .035 wire):




Lastly I burned on the raised track bar mount at 90°:




That was a lot of welding... Happy to be done!






A quick coat of Rustoleum self etching primer and a coat of semi-gloss black. I threw on a Spicer diff cover but later realized it may contact the track bar under certain conditions. I later threw the stock cover on. I think an ARB cover will work without issue so I ordered one. 




Sliding the axle under the Jeep. I'm glad I didnt weld on the Ironmanfab4x4 trackbar bracket as it ended up just making contact with the spring perch under compression so I threw in a Clayton non-drop bracket:




Clayton non-drop bracket bolted and welded in:




Next I welded up and installed a track-bar:




I'm running a Clayton drop pitman arm and the track-bar should be almost perfectly parallel with the drag-link once it's installed (Metalcloak JK dranglink/tie-rod ordered):






I set the axle centered in the wheel well and centered under the body (plumbob off of the fender). I then set -1° on the pinion flange which equates to 7° of caster. This is to account for the rake as I'm planning for the rear lift to be an inch or so higher than the front. Once its on its own weigh at ride hight hopefully it should be right at 6° of caster. I'm sure I'll need to re-adjust when all is said and done:






I then flexed it out to measure for bumpstops (I'll be adding 4" additional on top of the Artec plate), shocks (I'm going to run Fox external reservoir shocks for a 4-6" lifted JK in the front), and limiting straps (20" and I'll just drill and tap the stiffner plate for the upper mount):




Lower shock mounts and some new zinc plated spring retainers from Crown:




While I wait on parts to finish up the front I'm going to get back to work on the interior:




I have a Currie JK LP D60 (without brackets) on order for the rear which should be here shortly. My original plan had been to take the Comanche on its inaugural trip to Colorado the week of the 4th next month but clearly it's not going to be done. Instead I'm scrambling to make some last minute upgrades (OBA and a few odds and ends) to the Gladiator. 




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  • 1 month later...

I had to take a quick break on the Comanche to regear the JT to 4.88's prior to a trip to Colorado:




This Nitro bearing puller made the job easy!




Success! It drove from TX to CO, did some wheeling, and made it home to TX:




Cleaned the shop before getting back to work on the MJ:




And finally I saw a WK still in use as an EMS vehicle on a recent trip for work. Waikiki beach:




This next part is a little out of order but I'm too lazy to rearrange the pictures. I finished dynamating the doors:




Next I installed the finished door panels. I took a set of Limited panels, scrapped them for the upper pad/woodgrain trim and added those parts to a Sport door panel (I didn't want the map pocket). I painted the Sport door panels in SEM black to match the rest of the interior and added the upholstered pad and arm rest. I also added "Kicker" emblems on the speaker grill (you can see it on the passenger panel) and on the drivers side I swapped in a 2dr switch bezel:














Next (or rather before) I decided it was finally time to cut and buff the rest of the body (I had previously done the front fenders/hood). 1000 grit 3M purple pads on the DA to start. This was followed by 1500 and 2000 by hand and finally all 3 3M Perfect-it compounds:






Here you can see a "before and after". The fuel door is untouched and the surrounding bedside has been completed:




So smooth:




And now its back to waiting for my axle to be manufactured: 



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