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Sparhwk 3.0 - a build thread


NAXJA Forum User
Richmond, VA
hello all,
I've had a few years off from Jeep life, the Sparhwk (99 Cherokee, 3” lift & 33s) was totaled a few years ago, I saved the drivetrain to put in a new body pulled the engine apart and life just got it the way and the roller I found to swap the engine into had its fair share of rust.... so I still have that and may end up using the body as parts if I can get storage for it. that retired thread can be found here.... :arrowr:

but onto new ventures
I picked up a 97 Cherokee the other week for a steal, it was very clean except for some rocker panel rust in front of the drivers side rear tire.
It was so clean I almost wanted to make it a slightly modified restore. at time of purchase it only had one CEL of P1491 which is just a fan relay,
However I have found some other issues along the way that have made me rethink that plan.

the problem spots, so far....not really worried about the rear bumper,
the rockers I will take steps to stop the rust and decide if it should be repaired or replaced with 2x8 steel, but other than those 2 spots its fairly clean underneath.

But the following is a build thread for the Sparhwk 3.0, I am going to be trying to do everything ‘More correctly’ (as money allows)
and welcome any input or opinions.
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But straight into the issues
Driving it home the steering was very soft, and not quick to respond but wasn’t too worried about it as all those pieces would get replaced when I lift.
But almost home in my neighborhood I was going downhill and I let off the gas completely
(It has dummy gauges now so don’t know the RPM) and the engine died,
Had to get my friend to tow strap me the half a block home…it hurt a little to be there so soon after purchase lol.

when I got home I had a CEL of PO320
So I ordered a OEM Crank Position Sensor, I went OEM b/c it such a pain to replace and like I said I want to do this Rig right.
Finally got in there and replaced the CPS, and there is alot of oil sprayed on the back of the engine that I didn't notice just how bad it was when I inspected it so I think a RMS is in my future :banghead:
ran it up and down the road a little but can't test fully b/c the steering is still rly bad…
well came home to a flat tire yesterday, went to pull the jack out and had a stuck hatch,
pulled the trim out to unlatch and it hadn't come apart like the last one so I pulled it spread some white lithium grease in there and its smooth now.
I had already purchased replacement hatch struts b/c its a pain to hold that open lol, so replaced those while I was in there, cleaned up the area and got all it all buttoned back up.
pulled the tire and didn't have a nail or anything just a moderate amount of dry rot. but it was down to 2 PSI so aired it back up and put it on...
did I mention how much I love my milwaukee cordless impact :heart:
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well won't be able to work on the Jeep for a few days due to schedule
despite the fact that its beautiful outside.

but heres my to do list before I lift...
1. fix loose suspension... my friend suggested I should resolve base issues before I lift so we wont be trying to track down new vs old issues.
2. oil change w/ regular high milage oil, when I checked the dipstick it looks like the PO overfilled it..
3. replace the dummy gauge cluster w/ a 99 one...according to what I've read should be a direct swap, have to find someone to program the milage
4. replace the intake manifold w/ a 99 one
5. check the brakes out, but at minimum fresh pads all around...
6. go through the cooling system...there seems to be some coolant residue on the outside of the water pump, so I plan on flushing the system, replacing the water pump,
radiator and hoses (can you tell I've been down this road not on my timetable before lol), perhaps adding a Tranny cooler while everything is apart.

thats the starting list anyway...I'm sure other issues will present themselves as I work through this list
That's not how you test for worn parts, but yes something is worn out.
Steering box looks questionable. Also your test is usually more useful with the tires on the ground so there's some resistance.
You can test for worn ball joints on a lift with no load on the suspension but tie rods, drag link etc should be tested with vehicle weight on the suspension. In the three videos your linkage appears ok. I'd suspect the steering box.
I was starting to look into the Durango Steering box swap, but I'll try this first!
found his video on a full rebuild of the steering box but not this one,
thanks so much! once I'm onsite with the Jeep I'll update with how this went
Well tightened up the Allen head at the top of the steering box per Matt’s Bleepin Jeep video and test drove....
Steering seems slightly improved but lots of clicks and pops even on a gentle curve... like it sounds like something is getting ready to fall off... prob not but that’s how it sounds.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
ok had my friend come by and take a look at the Ol Jeep and turns out my whole steering box is loose against the frame, but the 3 bolts are all as tight as they can. he suggested maybe just add a thick grade 8 washer to each of the bolts so it will tighten up. (already ordered replacement factory bolts)

at a minimum I'm going to to add a aftermarket spacer like:
https://www.ironman4x4fab.com/product-page/xj-steering-box-spacer or https://www.ironrockoffroad.com/product/xj-steering-gearbox-spacer.html

I'm debating pulling the trigger on the ironman brace...
I'm not going to do the durango box as my old steering box was fine (on the previous Jeep) and theres a chance I could end up with one that limits my steering radius.
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Just go to Ace and pick-up some grade 8 bolts, they are 7/16"-14.
I've got the Boostwerks Comp Mount, and it's got an integrated steering brace with a sector shaft support similar to the brace by Ironman. I wish I'd added one sooner. It really improved the overall steering, and markedly improved its tracking on the highway with a better on-center feel and generally needing less steering input. Check out the steering brace from Boostwerks, it's a pretty well thought out design.

I've got the JCR steering box spacer, I like that it's got one more bolt hole than some of the others.
Sorry for my absence, life seems to get in the way of wrenching.....Test from Tapatalk app, just can’t see pictures, anyone else have experience with this?

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
Long overdue update:

So I did end up ordering the IronMan4x4 Steering box brace, spacer, and swaybar drop bracket.

before I worked on that install I was doing a brake job (they were baaad) then had 2 bad wheel studs, so thinking preventive maintenance I decided to replace the hub instead of just the studs...enter a 2 week period to remove the hub from the knuckle and paint surrounding areas, tried every trick I could read about, bought a HF 1 ton hub puller that ripped the hub in half, but in the end it was large sledge, metal chisels, and lots of PB Blaster that did the trick. Removed the knuckle, wire wheeled it and sprayed it with black glossy caliper pant. Applied anti seize between hub & knuckle

After I got it back together, discovered that the caliper had a leak, replaced the caliper.
Bought a self bleed kit, couldn’t get it to remove all the air (I know...prob doing something wrong) and my friends made it over to help me bleed the brakes the old fashioned way.

And yes I did replace both sides brakes and rotors... after I finally pass inspection, I will tackle the other hub. But that gets the project up to date, hoping to start the steering brace tomm afternoon.
yes and no… really I had a 3 month period that no work was done due to a Christmas show and Holiday plans,
but I did pickup some things on FB Marketplace - Cooper Discoverer S/T 33 x 12.50 x15 and a decent condition Warn M8000 winch.

This week I ordered Rims, just basic black D window steelies (ProComp) 15x8 with 3.75 backspacing.
a steel battery tray from Dirtbound Offroad to replace the cracked oem one,
and just had to order a 1.5” deep well impact socket to install the IronMan Stabilizer.