Hey Guys, here is the build up I've been working on. This is my 3rd XJ and 5th Jeep but the 1st Ive been able to actually build. My journey started with few weeks of searching and holding out. Came across EXACTLY what I was looking for in an XJ. It was a 97 base model with 145k and the best axles you could ask for that year (HP30, 29SP 8.25). Here is the most recent pictures of the Black Widow (Cuz it crawls over obstacles like a spider)
Here is what I started with, guy wanted 4k but I talked him down to 2500$
I started looking at lifts immediatly after my purchase and I knew what I wanted to do with it. I wanted to run atleast 33's on a 4.5. After weeks and weeks of researching I finally pulled the trigger on the RE 5.5 SA w/Drop Brackets. I couldn't decide on long arm kit i wanted. The consensus among the forums was unless you paid 4k for a long arm lift you would DIE if you drove it down the road...not exactly what was said but you get the idea. My 2nd choice was going to be the Rough Country Long arm but you won't find a single person who doesn't have to change the bushings all the time, yes even the new generation ones.
I ordered my kit through 4x4GroupBuy.com and I will never purchase another item from them ever again. I placed my order on February 7th and received PART of the kit at the end of march. Opened the box and half the items were the wrong ones and they only had 1 leaf spring. No mention anywhere of back ordered items or anything. The only thing positive I can say about my experience is that Jason from 4x4 Group buy usually dealt with my issues pretty quick but the fact remains it took almost a full 2 months to receive my order.
The Kit included a Tom woods custom DS and advanced adapters SYE
IRO Front Recovery
It came with hooks but I opted for the d-ring mounts, heres a comparison to show how beefy it is.
Got a sweet deal on 4 35" KM2's mounted on Soft 8's with only 800 miles for just 600$
Of course I had to do the angry eye mod
I also blacked out all the plastic's (Flaming not needed)
Picked up the stock armor for 100$
All Packed up ready to go
The lift process begins!
The back was somewhat easy except trying to remove the leafs. Both the bolts holding the shackle to the body and the front of the leaf to the body were completely seized up. Keep in mind I sprayed PB plaster on everything for WEEKS before attempting the lift, it made no difference on a lot of stuff. I'm sure if I would have had some impact tools it would have been a lot easier but the whole process was kind of a PITA.
Here you can see that when I was trying to remove the bolt going through the leaf that the nut welded inside the from started spinning. I ended up having to cut open the pocket and inserting a wrench in there to hold the nut. I highly suggest getting an impact, even if its the 39.99$ harbor freight one, its probably good enough.
Rear pretty much done.
For the rear we moved the XJ onto my buddies lift he's got in his garage...lucky SOB
The front came apart a lot easier, but was still tricky. My biggest problem we ran into on the front was getting the stock pitman off, I tried heat...impact...curse words and violence...nothing worked! I finally decided to grab my angle grinder with a cut off wheel and cut a line in it all the way to the steering box output shaft, then I put a chisel in the cut and 2 BFH swings later the pitman was on the ground.
A good look at the RE drop brackets. It moved both the upper and lower mounts down atleast 3-4 inches to help keep a nice geometry. This helps it ride better but flex closer to a long arm.
Ended up trailering it home from a friends so I could spend more time on it at. Here it is next to my 3G prelude and the WJ
I then got to work on installing the IRO front recovery, best recovery you can buy if you ask me.
After finishing a few other things and doing the SYE I was finally able to take it for a spin! I could barely keep it going straight the alignment was so far off but after a trip to les schwab I was ready to go.
My 3rd trip away from my house I was pulled over by a Sheriff, he hassled me about my tires sticking out too far and needing mudflaps. So as soon as I got home I ordered some awesome Flares from Napier Precision Products.
The front was easier by far, but I knew going into this that was going to be the case. I simply made a template of the flare and copied that to masking tape placed on the jeep. Out came the grinder and metal started melting away.
I followed my template a little too closely. I found out once I was done cutting that I needed a little wiggle room. There is a lot of room from the top and bottom of the flare so you can cut up to a couple extra inches away and still have plenty of material to mount to. Thus giving you the wiggle room to maneuver the flare how you want.
The rear is an entirely different story however. As most of you know you can't just go cutting away the metal in the rear as its spot welded. These welds hold the exterior sheet metal and wheel well liner together. If you just cut them off you could literally reach right inside the jeep and put your hand inside the rear trim pieces, if your like most who dont have trim pieces, you could just reach in and grab various tools and fluids :2thumbsup:
You have to cut the spot welds like tabs and then use a BFH to bend them back into the wheel well. I could have done a better job cutting and bending, but the finished product looks legit unless you really start looking around.
Before attaching the flares in the rear I ground down everything and made it somewhat smooth. Be careful if you take this route as sheet metal is very thing and a grinding wheel will eat it very quickly. After I was happy with how all the tabs laid I sprayed a rust inhibitor paint and rubberized bedliner to somewhat seal the area. One thing I chose to do was also remove the interior trim piece and run a bead of flexible high temp silicon anywhere that I cut deep enough so that water wouldn't get inside.
No two people will probably install these the same, and thats whats nice about them. You can customize them to fit. I ended up removing some of the flare material at certain points so it would fit better to the jeep. I basically took the flare and visualized what I wanted it to accomplish as far as flex was concerned. Then tried to make it look visually appealing and structural.
These flares are very beefy. These are supposed to be twice as thick as a bushwacker and if thats the truth I can't imagine anyone putting paper thin buswackers on their rigs, as these aren't crazy thick as it is. They are very sturdy and look great. I'm running 35's and these make them look small.
I still had to install some Daystar extended bumpstops but once I did I can turn full lock side to side and I have no rubbing!