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1995 XJ 4.0 Inline Rebuild

Old 03-15-2018, 05:05 PM
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Year: 1995
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Engine: 4.0 inline 6
Default 1995 XJ 4.0 Inline Rebuild

Okay, here we go. This is my own journey through the tear down and rebuild of the 4.0 Inline Six from my 1995 XJ Cherokee.

Here are some specs. This is the Country Edition with factory installed tow package. Front and tranny skidplates. Automatic Tranny. 4x4 using the NP242 Transfer case.

Everything is stock except for the exhaust header witch has these neato accordion flex sections welded in to keep the unit from cracking.





My Dad bought the jeep used from an auto rental agency around 1998 I think. He did some four wheelin, got severely rear ended and had to have the XJ twisted back into shape on one of those massive frame straightening machines. Toppled the XJ on its side once. And drove it all over So Cal. Then he parked it in his driveway and let it sit for 2years.

I had a baby. And shamelessly used her as a good reason to convince my Dad to swap me the XJ for $50 and a little Ford escort that I hated with a passion.

"It's for your little grand daughters protection Dad. You DO want her to be SAFE right?"

I've had the XJ ever since. Have taken it four wheeling all over the deserts of Barstow and up into the San Bernadino mountains. I've taken that XJ to Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Both the Southern and Northern ends of California and on up into Oregon and Washington State. Where I now live.

I've replaced the Alternator, the ECU, the blower motor and relay, the ignition switch (four times), front wheel bearings (twice), the harmonic balancer, water pump, had the head redone (a poor job I suspect, done by a cut-rate mechanic whom I'd like to throttle right now....) and rebuilt the transfer case myself.

My kids have named the car "Hobbes" after the comic series "Calvin and Hobbes" I don't know why they chose that name, but it stuck.

So there you go. Hobbes' background.

His heart failed, and Ima gonna fix it.

I've rebuilt a couple of VW engines. So I felt I could tackle this. I figured it would be best for me to remove as much of the engine as I could before pulling the block from the engine bay.

I found several loose bolts and even some spots where the bolts had worked themselves loose and fallen away at some point. Alarming to say the least. When I reassemble, I'll use a drop of locktight on the threads of the bolts to keep that from happening again as much as possible. Tho I suspect that is bound to happen when you are flexing and twisting and bouncing through rough country.

I removed the front grille, and radiator. And I'm glad I did. It makes it sooo much easier to get to everything else with the radiator out of the way.





Every part was first photographed, and then tagged before removal. Then said part was bagged (along with the bolts that mounted it to the engine) in heavy duty, large plastic poly-bags or into their own little plastic container. The idea being to keep each unit segregated to avoid confusion later on.





I found some severe damage to parts of the engine wiring harness. Mostly due to age and heat, but one of the steel supports for the cable from the battery to the starter had been crushed into and around the wire. Compromising the insulation and honestly, I don't know HOW I was ever able to get Hobbes to start without that cable simply grounding out to the engine block. I think the ONLY thing that kept that from happening is that the engine was so oily, so greasy.. (up to a 1/4" of accumulated sludge in some areas.. sheesh), that it acted as insulation and kept the wire from grounding out.








At this point, I've got all of the auxiliary units and their brackets removed from the block. And I'll lift the block out this coming Saturday with the help of a friend and a borrowed hoist.





I plan to take the stripped down short block and head to Bud's Machine shop here in Lakewood. Have him mill the big movey-aroundy bits in the block, and inspect the head. Do that too if it calls for it.

No fancy stuff.. no stroking or anything like that. I want a solid, steady runner I can depend on to last me another 270,000 miles or more of DD and WW.

I'll add the next post once I pull the engine out of the vehicle.

... 'till next time....

Last edited by outersketcher; 07-09-2018 at 10:37 AM.
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Old 03-15-2018, 05:36 PM
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Ohh.. the hopes and dreams and plans for this engine.

If all goes well. And there are no major problems. I'm going to have a typical short block mill job done. Polished and balanced crank, rods, pistons, Cylinders bored if needed, deck resurfaced to match the head..etc.

I'd like to have the head redone too. I have no faith in the work the last guy did. New lifters.. balanced cam etc..

Once I get it back, I plan to install a new oil pump, brass freeze plugs. New front and rear seals (duh).. and maybe new distributor. I noticed some wear on the tab and there is a little vertical play in the shaft that worries me.





I would also like to make that fuel injector conversion. Go with the fuel injectors that spray from four holes instead of the originals that only use one.

And Finally, I plan to go over the engine wiring loom and clean clean clean clean everything. Make any needed repairs to the damaged wires. And wrap it all up again in protective sheathing and shrink tubing. Maybe while I'm at it.. replace the battery cables and starter cable wires with heavier duty wiring for more.. er...what is it.. voltage? amps?.. aww I always get those mixed up.

And finally, since I have it out. I'll paint the engine block pretty. Either Detroit alpine green, or mg maroon.

My GOAL is to have a dependable, daily driver that will also enable me to enjoy weekend wheeling in the local backwoods up here in Washington.

Last edited by outersketcher; 03-16-2018 at 10:44 AM.
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Old 03-15-2018, 06:58 PM
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Subscribed. We need some pics of the rest of the Jeep!
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Old 03-15-2018, 10:42 PM
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Welcome you may be too far from me but I'm in Everett and we got a few others from up this way too on here.

Looks like you got your hands full but defiantly knowledgeable to tackle the job as its not your first rodeo.

Looking forward to see what you do with it!
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Old 03-16-2018, 10:58 AM
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Here's a pic of Hobbes in action. Picking up a vintage travel trailer I got my hands on in exchange for $400 and a few hours of hard work stacking wood. Hobbes later pulled that same trailer all the way up the coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington. I gotta say.. it was really nice to be able to pull over whenever I felt like it at some overlook turn out spot. Sit in the trailer.. make a sandwich and sip a cherry coke while watching the waves crash against the rocky shoreline. Then maybe take a nap on the bed with the windows open.. a soft breeze blowing the homemade curtains I had sewed together. Those little trailers are great! I took my 14 year old son with me. Was a really nice bonding trip for him and I.




Edit: If I remember right... Yes, those are indeed 31" tires shoe-horned up under Hobbes wheel wells. Bone stock. No lift. The only problem I had was a forced increase in the turning radius size.

Edit-Edit:.. Naaaww...they couldnt have been 31"s.. must have been 30s

Last edited by outersketcher; 03-16-2018 at 11:25 AM.
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Old 03-16-2018, 11:06 AM
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I think I would have wanted to stay where that trailer was picked up at Looks like an amazing place in the California woods.
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Old 03-16-2018, 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by XJIrish4x4 View Post
I think I would have wanted to stay where that trailer was picked up at Looks like an amazing place in the California woods.
It was. There are little villages like that dotted all over in the San Bernadino and Los Angeles Mountain ranges. The man I got the trailer from had shutters made out of freakn two-by-fours on several of his cabin windows. When I asked him why, he simply arched an eyebrow and said.

"Keeps the bears from getting in while I'm sleeping at night."

...whoaa....

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Old 03-16-2018, 09:43 PM
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Yea if California wasn't so damn expensive to live in it sure is nice place! I have traveled all over California while stationed there. My wife and kids camped in our 5th wheel all over.
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Old 03-18-2018, 05:47 AM
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Yah, expensive is right. Im renting a four bedroom house with a huge backyard, 2-car garage, and space to park my trailer up here in WA. With a monthly payment that would barely get me a two bedroom apartment, no backyard, and a single parking space down in So Cal.
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Old 03-19-2018, 01:43 AM
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This Saturday, I got up early and headed out to a local rental agency and picked up a monster engine hoist. That thing was a real monster.

It took us most of the day. But we finally got the block lifted out of the XJ and bolted up to an engine stand. It only took 7 hours with a pizza break in there at one point.

Couple of things I discovered that no ever really talks about.

1) Those two estar bolts on the back top of the bell housing are simply Hell on earth to get out. I'd REALLY like to know what special tool or process Jeep must have had ready to unbolt them at the dealer. Because it was a miserable experience getting TO them. And finding a way to BREAK them loose in such an awkward to reach space. We spent almost 2 of the 7 hours just trying to GET to those stupid bolts and break them loose. We found it easier to get to those rotten little bolts once we removed the valve cover.

I finally had to use a hacksaw to saw off the end of that protruding bold that sticks out of the firewall. (hope it wasnt important) And I used the handle of a Hi-Lift Jack slipped over the little e-star wrench. I had to climb into the engine bay and PUUUULLL on that bar... till we all heard that beautiful "CRACK" sound of the bolt breaking loose.



...stupid bolts.. and stupid engineers who DESIGNED that silly setup in the first place...


I have a gravel driveway.. And we quickly realized that the engine hoist wasn't gonna move backward for nobody. So... we simply put the tranny into nuetral, and pushed the XJ back. Thereby seperating the engine from the tranny. It's a simultaneous feeling of elation and dismay when you hear that "KATHUNK" of the engine pulling free. For better or for worse.. you are committed now.

I'd never done this before.. not with such a large engine block. But I'd been watching the youtube vids.. so I kinda had an idea how to bolt up the mounting plate to the back of the block. I DID have to remove the flywheel tho. My fly wheel has this three-quarter inch flange around its end. And if I had left it on, the combined weight of the engine and stress of the angle would have crushed and distorted it. Ehhh.. it's okay. I marked its position in relation to the crank with a magic marker in case the machinisted needed to know, and removed it.

The stand came from Harbor Frieght. 'bout 70 bucks including tax out the door. Rated to hold 1,000 lbs. Seems to be holding the block okay. I can turn it around, which is nice. And I like that I can now roll the block around in the garage. Be careful.. that block is still pregnant with fluids and it will still leak coolant and dribble oil all over the place.





I once had a leaking rear main oil seal and had replaced that along with the oil pan gasket. Did that about 7 years ago. I remember not wanting to have to deal with oil leaks.. And so.. I slathered rtv all over the place.

It worked. No leaks.. at least not from the oil pan. But lordy. Getting that oil pan OFF?? I found myself cursing my 10 year old younger self up and down and sideways while I cut and sliced, and gently hammered a scraper through all that old rtv. It's gonna take me a looong time to remove all that goop from the pan. Not looking forward to that. I've been doing a lot of research on how to install an oil pan gasket the right way these days. And I've become a fan of the felpro gaskets. I'll get into that more later. As for now, I wanted to strip that block down to just itself and the head. so I can take them to the machinist.



Whoooooeeee!. loookit all that goop squeazed out around the bolts and seams. It did the job tho.. 7 years. No oilpan leaks.



Any of you ever seen THIS big giant nut on your oil filter adapter? I've never seen one on any other XJ?.. Maybe I just never noticed?




Sooo.. next for me is to remove the oil filter adapter.. and the timing chain cover and then take it all down to the machinist.

While he works on the tender nethers of the engine. I'll see what I can do to clean up and prepare the engine bay for the return of the block. Gonna repair the damaged wiring I found on the engine bay wiring loom. Clear out some grease and rust. And replace those old engine mounts!.. Duyang...


moisturizer!.. I need moisturizer!

Next post.. Wire loom repair, and engine bay clean up.

Last edited by outersketcher; 03-19-2018 at 01:45 AM.
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Old 03-19-2018, 02:43 PM
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I know its a bit too late to help now but to get those e-torx bolts out, it helps to pull the motor mounts off and drop the engine down a little. Gives you a ton of space back there. Might help when you put it back together!

The thing over by the oil filter is an adapter for your oil psi sending unit. It probably has a pipe plug in place of the sending unit right now. You should be able to see it in this picture.


Last edited by 5-Speed; 03-19-2018 at 02:45 PM.
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Old 03-20-2018, 02:54 PM
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Thank you for the photo and the advice 5-speed. I actually DID remove the engine mounts and lowered the engine a good 4 inches.. still had to climb in there and scream curses at those rotten little e-star bolts.

And i feel like an Idiot.. but yes you are right about that adapter for the oil sending unit. I suppose it just looks different once the engine is out of the bay. heh..
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Old 03-20-2018, 06:58 PM
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No problem! I just got done rebuilding my engine, so if you have any questions, feel free to ask.

I know you arent the only one who hates those 2 bolts but for some reason I have never had an issue with them. On the last 3 XJs of mine, I had to pull them out and they came out super easy. I am actually glad they are e torx....
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Old 03-21-2018, 01:38 PM
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I don't think the engine has been pulled since the day it rolled off the factory assembly line. And this jeep has been rolled on its side at least once.. and survived two collision accidents.. one being a minor fender bender, the other requiring the XJ being put on one of those monster frame straightening machines. Not to mention all the weekend four-wheeling I'd been doing. Add in the hot and cold cycles of the engine running for nearly 20 years..

Yah.. I guess it's no surprise those two bolts had snuggled in way tight. I'll bet if I have to pull the engine again in the future..it will be easier to get those bolts to loosen.
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Old 05-14-2018, 04:33 PM
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Little bit of an update. I stripped everything off the block. And took just the long-block and head along with the flywheel and harmonic balancer down to a machine shop.

I told them "Look, I'm not interested in a race horse. I want a donkey."

I walked away from his shop thinking it would cost me about $1600. and take about 5 weeks.

One week later, he calls me up and tells me the engine is ready. Found some serious problems with the head. a crack. loose valve seats etc. Cam shaft had to be straight-up replaced. Anyway, he fixed all that. And swears to me it will run for another 300,000 miles.

Shrugs.. I believe him. But the PRICE was just north of $2000.00. Not that I mind.. it looks like good work. But I had to scramble to scrape together the money needed.

I'll be able to pick up the longblock in two weeks.. Until then. I better get to cleaning up that engine bay.


P.S.. Ohh I forgot to mention that I had paid him an extra $300.00 to balance all the moving parts. I'm excited to get that engine in my hands.


P.P.S.S... I plan to drive this vehicle till it either disappears into a deep mudhole, spontaneously catches fire, or we both get taken out by a passing 18 wheeler or something.

Last edited by outersketcher; 05-14-2018 at 04:39 PM.
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