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  #16  
Old October 3rd, 2018, 20:22
anxjous anxjous is offline
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Re: 4 what it's worth

Before dropping the new axle in, I wanted to get all the frame/ body work done: full frame stiffeners, 2x6 high clearance rockers, and a hybrid cage. I dont remember the brands I bought the stiffeners from, these were my first big welding project and proved to be more work than I expected.




I actually added the front and rears after pulling the axles, but putting the pics here is easier to keep track of.







One piece of advice for removing the underbody coating: buy one of these paint removers that mounts to the drill. I tried a bunch of different techniques and this thing worked the best. I did go over all the stripped areas with a flap disc as well to make sure the metal was totally clean. Also, remember to disconnect your battery when welding on the jeep, if the ground is bad you could fry the pcm.




I also highly recommend one of these low profile respirators that fits under a welding mask.




Once the stiffeners were in, it was time to cut out the old rockers. I followed EricsXJ and Torxfab for how to do these and where to cut. I think the only thing I trimmed was the seatbelt bolt, so the 2x6 sat in far enough.




The 2x6 is 3/16 thick, and 64" on the top side, capped on both ends, with a chamfer on the front to sort of follow the fender line. I used 3: 2x2 3/16 tubes to tie it into the frame stiffener and also welded along the body cut seam. So far Ive landed on it pretty hard a few times and there's been no issues. Also, the 2x6 and the square tubes were used for the A & B pillar cage tie in locations, keep this in mind when you are deciding where to locate the 2x2 tubes.







Doors were trimmed, and out of laziness they were not capped on the bottom.

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  #17  
Old October 3rd, 2018, 20:38
anxjous anxjous is offline
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Re: 4 what it's worth

Next up, I ordered a hybrid cage from XO fab, pre-bent DOM for that price was a no brainer.






It went together pretty easily, and there is enough length in the tubes so that you can custom fit the cage to your jeep. I ran the 6 vertical tubes through the roof with a plate on each side, and the tube is welded to the top plate for more stiffness from the roof and to help seal from water.




My B pillar tie in: the 2x2 that runs from rocker to frame stiffener.




A pillar is on the 2x6, and C pillar is on a floor plate (Ill eventually tie it into the frame stiffener).




The kit is lacking a good solution for the interior tubes, it only comes with 1 extra tube. The tubes behind the front seats are ones that I bought and bent myself ("pre-failed" as my friend says). I used the other kit tube to run diagonal behind the rear seats.




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  #18  
Old October 9th, 2018, 20:56
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GordoSmasho GordoSmasho is offline
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4 what it's worth

Looks awesome man. Wish i had taken those steps before i beat the crap out of my heep.
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  #19  
Old October 10th, 2018, 09:25
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Re: 4 what it's worth

Looks real good dude. Glad this rig we t to someone who is trying to build it well. I dig it
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  #20  
Old October 11th, 2018, 19:57
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Re: 4 what it's worth

I love the cage, it looks good. Keep up the build and we will see you all at Reno Fest 2019.
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  #21  
Old October 19th, 2018, 17:39
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twinhauler twinhauler is offline
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Re: 4 what it's worth

Very nice work. You are taking all the right steps for a great rig.
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  #22  
Old October 23rd, 2018, 02:34
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Re: 4 what it's worth

Wow awesome work
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  #23  
Old October 25th, 2018, 22:41
anxjous anxjous is offline
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Re: 4 what it's worth

Dudes, thanks for the kind words. I did quite a bit of reading on this site and if there's one thing xj people agree on, its adding chassis reinforcement.

Next thing I wanna layout is the work I did on the axles. When I bought the jeep it had an xj 44 rear axle, and after doing some reading, it seemed like matching that in the front would be a good balance for what I wanted to do. 44s would be strong enough to run 35s all day, yet not so large that it would make highway driving unrealistic.

I started with a ford f150 dana 44, whatever year had the welded wedges. Previous owner had done some work to it, but I started by stripping it down, cleaning stuff, and replacing worn out parts.




The beginning of my knuckle headaches: the pass side had a sketchy high steer setup welded on, that I cut off. This is what it looks like when you try to weld to cast, but dont know how to do it. The rusty spots are where I just pulled the welds off with my hands. Stay safe out there!




The axle came with chromoly shafts, and after realizing that the u joints are shared with dana 30s, I found some yukon joints to swap in there to increase strength. These use a low profile bushing instead of needle bearings, which allows yukon to put more material on the joint. But since they use bushings, theyre not supposed to be run at speed, which is why the locking hubs on the 44 are nice during highway time. The joints also come with full c clips, which are a no brainer upgrade if you are swapping u joints.






I had grown tired of the loose steering on my jeep and started to research other setups I could use on the swap. My friends cherokees are running inverted T setups, and after driving them I could feel the tie rod roll and even though it would have been easy to go this route, it wouldnt be an improvement. It was clear that I needed to get the drag link as horizontal as possible, and rigidly attached to the knuckle. The obvious solution here is high steer knuckles/ arms. This is when I learned that some old ford f250s came with knuckles that could be machined for high steer arms. I was stoked when I found a well priced pair on ebay.


Last edited by anxjous; October 25th, 2018 at 22:44.
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  #24  
Old October 25th, 2018, 23:41
anxjous anxjous is offline
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Re: 4 what it's worth

Well I didnt realize how deep this rabbit hole would go. I figured I could run the f150 brakes on the new knuckles... but you cant. The f150 knuckles have a cutout for clearance where the caliper sits, and the f250 knuckles dont have this.

So at this point I realized I needed to run the bigger ford brakes and 17" rims to clear everything. Fine. I gave in and bought the larger caliper brackets. Also was surprised to see how much more expensive 35s are with a 17" rim than 15".




Well in order to run the larger brakes on a dana 44 there was going to be some custom work. I followed "VINTAGE JEEP DANA 44 BIG BRAKES" article on four wheeler for purchasing and machining. Essentially I wanted to run 5x5.5 wheel bolt pattern and I needed to keep the ford 5 lug spindle pattern.

Reusing the stock hub, putting in new bearing races:




Reusing the stock spindles, the guys at wild horses 4x4 talked me into installing some of these bushings instead of the stock needle bearings (which they said rust out really quickly).




Then the dodge ram 5x5.5 rotors need to be machined down a bit. They say 12.75 OD in the article, but I wish I had gone 12.70 for a touch more clearance.




The ID also needs to get bored out to accept the ford spindle:




I was feeling pretty handy by this point and it had taken a while to get all this stuff figured out, so I was ready to do some install. While I was doing this work, I had dropped off both axles to get regeared. I went to rear end specialties in san jose, and would recommend them to anyone who needs axle work. I dont know how to run a pattern and didnt feel like learning or getting the tools. I cant comment on what the pattern looks like, but so far seems like they did good work. Only downsides were they were pretty terrible at communication, and they forgot to put a pinion seal on the front axle.

I went with 4.88 gears, with an arb in the front and detroit in the rear. For the rear I also went with 33 spline (dont ask why I didnt step up to 35 cause I dont really know (?torsional shaft stiffness that can transmit higher shock loads to r&p gears??)).

Anyways, went to install the f250 knuckles. The driver side went on fine, but when I got to doing the threaded preload sleeve on the pass side, it just kept spinning and not reaching torque. Its not terribly obvious in this photo, but what I realized is the knuckle C was bent.




Well damm, I had a trip planned for 2 weeks out and still had a ton of work to do. In a blind fit of rage, I broke down and ordered reid knuckles. Kinda lame that the tie rod is reamed on the bottom. Anyone know if there is an interference issue if you run the tie rod on top of arm with a threaded insert?




For the rear axle, the 33 spline shafts came from g2 gear. Theyve got threaded wheel studs so you can run 5x4.5 or 5x5.5, but I cant say Im thrilled with the length of the studs.




The rear got a disc brake kit and it came with dana 44 backing plates. Well turns out xj 44's use a different plate, so I made some of those. The dirty one is stock, light grey is what I was shipped, and dark grey is what I made. So just a heads up if youre doing an xj dana 44 disc brake swap.




Whatever, in the end I got discs and a parking brake for the rear.

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  #25  
Old December 4th, 2018, 20:54
anxjous anxjous is offline
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Re: 4 what it's worth

Well this thread is gonna take me longer to finish than it took to build the Jeep! Hopefully its entertaining/ mildly insightful. Next installment: front suspension.

The Jeep came with an IRO long arm kit, and while I guess it could be strong enough, the design is not confidence inspiring. One 10mm bolt for the upper control arm, strange clamp design for the caster adjustment, and I wanted to go away from control arm bushings. I decided 3 link front made all the sense, and I wanted to put the upper control arm on the passenger side for some reason that I cannot justify at the moment (I guess the mount on the axle was easier to do).

Unfortunately, the way the IRO crossmember is made, there is no good way to mount upper control arm tabs to it. Can it be done? Probably, but I was too new and scared to mess with it. I bought a Claytons 3 link crossmember instead. The one thing I did not realize when I bought it was the UCA mount was built to be mounted driver side. So I decided to change that.

A little heat and I was able to bend the tabs over to the same angle on the other side. It could have been mounted upside down, but that wouldnt have been as clean!



Had to re-drill one of the holes. Now Ive got all 9/16 link hardware!



Then welded it on to one of the frame mounts. The Claytons kit has a drop out center where the trans is mounted, and the LCA and UCA mount to the parts that are welded to the frame.



The UCA mount was welded with the JJ bolted in, but I guess it got a bit tweaked when we did an inside pass. Had to chuck up the JJ and take off 0.01".



For link lengths, Clayton publishes 2d on their website of the UCA and LCAs. I reused the IRO LCAs, but cut off the Y split on the drivers side. Then made an UCA using the clayton 2d. (Obligatory JJ next to soda can shot.)



The bolt head for the old UCA was stripped so I spent a few hours cutting the thing out.



It really sucked, there's no room for angle grinder/ sawzall/ plasma/ hacksaw/ bandsaw/ chisel/ sharp knife/ xacto/ pliers/ ratchet strap.



Exhaust needed some luvin.



Then I tried bolting it in!



Track bar was wayyyy too long. I used the Claytons track bar kit, which was needlessly spendy and also quite large. I gotta do a quick shout out to Chassis Unlimited where I got the steering and a few other brackets. Wish I ordered more parts from them since it was well designed, well priced, and fast shipping!



So I had to shorten the track bar. After doing some reading on bump steer I was curious how the different length drag vs track bar would act. My own intuition and a little trig made me think it was much more important to get the track bar and drag link to be as close to horizontal as possible. This way, there is minimal left/right movement during articulation. If you want more info, google 4 bar linkages and/ or look at a graph of cosine (note: very low slope around 0). Also, if you were wondering, this is a real solid track bar.



Track bar rewelded and mounted. (I think this pic is at full bump on pass side.)



Ride height(ish), angles looked good!



The big brakes live up to their name.



I needed a new front drive shaft since the dana 44 pinion is longer than the d30. 30.25 is the measurement for the front. Good news is, on the rear, I can reuse stock front driveshafts! This is a blessing since I seem to scrape my rear ds on everything, and junkyard replacements are pretty cheap.



Last and least cool thing that I didnt get a picture of yet: the UCA bolt frame side is impossible to get to without removing the frame side of the crossmember. Problem is, that part is supposed to be welded onto the frame stiffener. If/ when I need to change the UCA, Ill likely end up cutting the floor to get to the bolt...

Last edited by anxjous; December 4th, 2018 at 20:56. Reason: Speling
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  #26  
Old December 5th, 2018, 20:10
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Re: 4 what it's worth

Nice write up. I think you'll like the 35's/4.88 combo with front ARB and Detroit rear, which is what I have. It is hard to get used to the Detroit "bang"...every now and then it still scares the crap out of me!
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  #27  
Old February 10th, 2019, 16:04
anxjous anxjous is offline
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Re: 4 what it's worth

Next thing I wanted to cover is wheels. My friend is always destroying his hubs, so I was looking for a way to keep rocks away from them while using +4in of backspacing. I got quite lucky and found these used trail readys close by. They are conversion beadlocks, meaning they are stock mickey thompson wheels that trail ready converted into beadlocks. They also came with the really deep rings to keep rocks away from the hubs.






Went with some mickey thompson baja mtz tires in 315/70r17, which measures the same as a 35. For some reason they were real cheap, but Ive seen them run on the work on the trail, and so far they have been great. Mine are load range E, which seemed crazy, but I havent had any issues airing down and if they ride harsh on the highway I cannot tell.




I had heard about anti coning rings on some steel weld yourself beadlocks, and I have a good pic to show you what that looks like. Its recommended to use some kindof spacer to help support the lock ring when you are running a thick tire bead. As you tighten the lock ring down, it is bottomed out on the tire bead and the rim. Depending on the height difference between the bead and the rim, you can tweak on the lock ring pretty hard. Mine seems to be on the edge of acceptable. Basically, you have a problem if the lock ring is not touching the rim when you torque down the lock ring.




I have a steelie for a spare. I added a rock ring to it mainly just so I could see how much work it was and difficult the welding would be. It took a while to clean all the powder-coating off and the welding was a little awkward, but it gives me peace of mind since I seem to enjoy dragging my wheels across rocks. I used a bolt to space the ring out.



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  #28  
Old February 10th, 2019, 16:14
anxjous anxjous is offline
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Re: 4 what it's worth

This is a part I added after I had run a few trails, but it makes sense to keep next to the other wheel stuff, plus I wish I had thought about it before I installed my tires! After a trip through the rubicon, I had a leak from one of my valve stems, I had not checked them before installing my tires and a couple of them were loose. I took this time to add some of the power tank monster valves, as well as installing valve stems that would be protected by my lock rings. First thing to do is drill a large hole in your rim!




Thread it and make sure to add a nice chamfer on there.




Wrap 5-6 revs of teflon tape before installing the valve.




One of my valves had a slow leak that I thought was my fault from installing. But it turned out to be one of the orings on the valve. Make sure to keep spares, I dont know the size, but power tank will send you spares if you ask.




To balance, I used some ceramic beads from amazon.




The monster valves make it easy to watch tire pressure as you are airing up/ down. It takes about 15 seconds per tire to air down! One trick when airing down, as you tighten the red valve back down, back off a quarter turn after it's tight to stop any air from slowly bleeding out.




After mounting up the wheels, all I had to do was bleed the power steering.


Last edited by anxjous; February 10th, 2019 at 16:38.
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  #29  
Old February 10th, 2019, 16:24
anxjous anxjous is offline
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Re: 4 what it's worth

Major stoke after finishing this build!



I took a week or so to break the gears in. The steering is so much better than before, and the car drives great even without a front sway bar. We took it out to Hollister for a shake down run, I really wanted to watch how it would do on some obstacles so I had my gf drive, she put the suspension to the test and maybe got stuck pretty early in the day!




Needs fender trimming.




Needs limit straps.



Well look who's having issuez(j).

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  #30  
Old February 11th, 2019, 12:08
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#S194 #S194 is offline
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Re: 4 what it's worth

Looks great man.
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