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Have I found out the hard way that you can't swap a '99 TC into a '97?

Hoped to be celebrating the last long weekend before Christmas by restoring my only running XJ to 4WD - instead it's stuck forlornly out by the kerbside with the trans supported by a jack - & no drive. No amount of pushing & jiggling will get the TC the last inch to mate up with the trans, although the splines are engaged & all the studs have entered their holes. It's as if the '97 output shaft on the trans is an inch too long - surely not! I did this job last year, when I swapped in the TC from my parts '96, & I do remember it getting to about this point - then, suddenly it went home. Am I just 18 months older & weaker, is it that slightly bent stud offering too much resistance, have I missed something or was I really attempting the impossible?
Looks like there's 3 different lengths of 23 spline..

Wrong end if he's talking about the torque converter.

As far as I know 87-2001 Cherokee AW4 converters are interchangeable. You see plenty on Amazon saying they fit all years.

You're not trying to stab the trans onto the converter with it already bolted to the flexplate are you? You need to get the t/c to drop all the way into the bellhousing first before trying to bolt anything up to the engine/flexplate. Keep rotating the t/c until it engages and drops down onto both sets of splines. You can damage the pump in the front of the trans if you try to bolt up the bellhousing without it being fully seated into the trans. There should be a little bit of front-back play in the converter before you bolt it up to the flexplate.

Are you mixing/matching the 97 and 99 trans and trans computer too? You'll have an issue there if you are: https://www.naxja.org/forum/showthread.php?t=1053970
I think he means Transfer Case, not torque converter.
No worries. I read Torque Converter at first, but that didn't seem to fit your issue. Some folks refer to the transfer case as Xfer or use the number like 231, 242, etc.
I think he means Transfer Case, not torque converter.

Ah, I should have noticed he said output too. What tranny is this and the donor? The only possibly conflict on the length of the snout on the xfer case would be an xfer from an auto bolting up to a manual. Even then it's only a 1/2" different in length.
There's a bit of "2 countries separated by a common language" creeping in here, because we call them "transfer boxes" so having translated, abbreviated, (I only use 231 or 242 where I believe it's relevant, missed that TC also = "torque converter" we are where we are.
Anyway, the 2 XJ's are pretty much the same, both are 4.0 + AW4 + 242's. As I'd mentioned the '97 already had the 242 from my parts '96 which I swapped in last year with few issues - apart from the electrics (& the 4WD switch - but that's another story).
Hope that helps, sorry I wasn't more precise originally, so I'm grateful for your tolerance.
Job done on Saturday, after the 2nd or 3rd attempt managed to close the gap enough for enough a few turns of the thread on the studs to appear so I could start a couple of nuts & use them to draw the transfer case onto the trans. That slightly bent stud wasn't helping but seems the problem was just my being weaker than I was a year ago - even with the benefit of a transmission jack.

Don't think I'll be attempting this job again - at least not on my own. :tear: