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1998 Cherokee Classic - Queens, NY Build

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1998 Cherokee Classic - Queens, NY Build

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Old 07-13-2018, 08:28 PM
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Location: Long Island City, NY
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Year: 1998
Model: Cherokee (XJ)
Engine: 4.0
Default 1998 Cherokee Classic - Queens, NY Build

Hey all, I'm making this thread as a way to keep track of my (slow but steady) progress on my newest Cherokee, a 98 Cherokee Classic that I bought as a project to work on in my free time. Unless otherwise specified, all of the work I'm doing is being completed with the Jeep parked on the side of the road in Queens.

Background on this Jeep: Purchased on May 1, 2018 in Deer Park, NY.
1998 Jeep Cherokee Classic 4 door
Stone White
4.0I6 AW4 NP231
152k miles
Came with "no death wobble" - 1.5 hour drive home determined that was a lie. (wasn't concerned about that though for the price I paid)

Parts that came already on or with the Jeep:
Rough Country 3" lift
Iron Rock Offroad adjustable track bar
Cragar Soft 8s with 31x10.5x15 tires (2 were Cooper Discoverer ATR, 2 were offbrand, all 4 were starting to rot some)
New(ish) pads and rotors up front, new shoes in back
Spare Jeep steel wheel with 100% bald, flat, and rotten spare that didn't match the size of the factory spare OR the 31s
Aftermarket stereo head unit and Alpine Type R 12" sub with amp that reminded me of my "audiophile" high school days
Aftermarket Prestige alarm system with remote start

Beginning my project work:
My first undertaking was replacing all 4 ball joints, and upgrading the worn out XJ tie rod with a V8 ZJ one. I did the passenger side parked on one side of the street, and the driver side and tie rod parked on the other side of the street. The passenger side took about 6 hours, and the driver side took about 1.5. Having the right tools and not having to make multiple 20+ minute walks to the parts store makes a lot of difference.

New ball joints and tie rod made a huge difference for the wobble I was experiencing, but didn't fix it completely. After more inspection, I found the tie rod end of the track bar was shot, as were all of the control arm bushings. I opted to upgrade the track bar to the IRO double shear upgrade kit (GREAT kit!) and ordered a whole new set of control arm bushings while I was at it. I got the track bar installed, and found out I needed to replace (and did replace) the main brake line from the master cylinder to the T on the rear axle, but needed to stop the work at that point to make a long trip to Pittsburgh for a wedding. The Jeep made it there okay, but I ended up with a nail in a tire, so I bought some BFG AT KO2s, but the next day, one of those went flat. Got that repaired because the shop missed a leaking valve stem originally, and made the trip back with only some overheating issues. The temp gauge would go from reading just right to spiking to 2 lines below the top of redline, then go back to normal. And it would move fast. So I assumed sensor failure.

When we got home, I inspected everything and found out that the overflow tank was clogged up and not working. I knew I wanted to flush everything because it was dirty, but didn't know it was that bad. So now I've replaced the overflow tank, emptied the system and fillled with flush and distilled water, and took out the thermostat. We took a day trip to the Hamptons, which gave plenty of circulation to the flush liquid. I'll finish draining, flushing, and filling sometime soon.

I'll try to keep this thread updated as I do things, and decide on things that I want to do. If anyone has any questions or is local to the area or anything like that, say hey and ask away!



One of the pics from the craigslist ad. If anyone around can recommend a place to get the rockers repaired in a quality way, or has the means to weld in some 2x6 and wants to help a fellow Jeeper out, I primarily pay in dad jokes and booze. And will pay for any parts and anything like that. And also beer.



Doing the first side of ball joints. That orange dead blow was the cause of most frustration. A 3lb sledge helped make short work of the second side.

Last edited by aesora; 07-23-2018 at 10:47 AM.
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Old 07-23-2018, 10:26 AM
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Replaced my spark plugs, wires, distributor cap, and rotor this past weekend, as well as finished the flush of my cooling system, with a new Stant thermostat and radiator cap.

Living in Queens, I don't have access to a garden hose to flush all of the components of the cooling system. But I was able to use a 5 gallon bucket of water, a funnel, and the upper heater core hose to flush out everything I could get to. I filled the bucket three times, between flushing the heater core, radiator, and block. I flushed the heater core forwards and backwards until the water ran clear both ways, then blew through the hose to get the rest of the liquid out. Same with the radiator. I'm sure the block still has some leftover coolant flush and water in it, so I'll probably flush one more time, just before winter.

No more pics to add at this time, but happy to go into any detail if anyone has any questions about how I've completed anything I've done so far.
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Old 10-10-2018, 01:50 PM
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Life has been keeping me from getting much done on this lately. I finally got around to replacing the leaking valve cover gasket with a new FelPro unit last weekend.

Hopefully I'll have time to do the oil pan gasket and rear main seal before it starts to get too cold out.

I'm also starting to collect the pieces needed to add cruise control. There aren't any junkyards near me that I can go poke through (that I know of) so everything is coming from eBay. Waiting to buy each piece at a reasonable price is really building the anticipation at least!

To recap work done up to this point:
4 new Moog ball joints
New Moog ZJ tie rod
New air filter (Fram)
4 new 31x10.5R15 BFG KO2 and locking wheel lugs
New thermostat (Stant SuperStat 195*) and radiator cap (Stant Lev-R-Vent 16psi)
New coolant reservoir (Dorman) and all new bolts + clips to hold the electric fan, mech fan shroud, and coolant overflow tube in place
Super flushed cooling system
New spark plugs (NGK (7252) FR5-1 V-Power), wires (OMIX-ADA), distributor cap, and rotor (both Performance Distributors)
New nickel copper brake line from the master cylinder to the rear axle
New wheel cylinder on driver side (Pep Boys brand)
New valve cover gasket (FelPro)

Last edited by aesora; 10-22-2018 at 03:01 PM.
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Old 10-11-2018, 11:54 PM
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Location: Lower Mainland
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Year: 1991
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Well, it looks like you got a bunch done right away. What's the plan for it?

I'm in a similar situation - work on my XJ has to happen in the alley behind our apartment. It's amazing just how much longer it takes when working on the street vs your driveway or garage. And you definitely have to work around things (no hose, etc). I'm pretty impressed with what you've gotten done so quickly on the street. Good job!

Originally Posted by aesora View Post
If anyone around can recommend a place to get the rockers repaired in a quality way, or has the means to weld in some 2x6 and wants to help a fellow Jeeper out, I primarily pay in dad jokes and booze. And will pay for any parts and anything like that. And also beer.
I'm no help - I'm on the West Coast, and have no skills at welding. But I did find it funny how you mention booze twice. I'm surprised nobody is volunteering already!
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Old 10-16-2018, 11:52 AM
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Thanks! I'm really proud of what I've gotten done on it. The biggest rewards are hearing my dad say I've impressed him with what I've done, and actually seeing the results of the hard work when we take trips out of town in it.

I think part of my problem with this Cherokee is that I don't really know exactly what I want to do with it in the near future. Someday it'll be what I use for offroading, climbing trails, hauling deer and other game back out of the woods, etc., living out the rest of its days probably 100% off of paved roads. I'm originally from Missouri, where I grew up turning wrenches. And someday I'll move back, where I'll have plenty of land for a big shop and plenty of toys (I still have a 98 ZJ and a 2006 Subaru STi at my parents house in St Louis, now). But for now, I live on the west side of Queens NY, where it barely makes sense to have a vehicle at all. So it's the only vehicle that my fiance and I have available to us here.

Because of that, I guess my current goals are to make it as reliable as possible and as safe as possible (trying to completely kill the death wobble) so that we can drive it whenever and wherever we want. And more importantly, I want to feel comfortable letting my fiance drive it, and I want her to feel comfortable driving it. Past that, I just want to keep it as nice as possible for as long as possible.
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Old 10-16-2018, 12:09 PM
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I do have an idea about the rocker panel, but I'm not sure it's really a great idea. I want to get a replacement panel for that side from ebay or amazon or something, cut away the rusted bits completely (somehow the rest of the inside of that rocker area is rust free, it only has those big holes in it), strip the paint off of the rocker pieces that are still there, and then use a combination of 3M panel bond and rivets to put the new rocker on, basically making it act like a rocker cover. Then either paint or bedline the newly applied rocker.

I know there are two sides to this argument. One camp of people say that the rocker is structural and needs to be properly welded in place to be strong enough. The other side points out that companies like BMW use panel bond to assemble their cars. I also think that enough rivets should be enough to tie the new panel into the existing one. I'm thinking like one per inch on the top edge hidden by the doors, and along the bottom pinch seam.

I fully understand that if I do this, I will be making a bigger headache for myself down the road when I want to repair it correctly. But once I have access to a welder that I can use (or find someone willing to help me out with one) I think I'll probably cut the rockers out and weld in some 2x6. So this half-*** repair now wouldn't really cause THAT much trouble for me later.
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Old 10-22-2018, 02:54 PM
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No new work done, but I have nearly everything now to install cruise control, and have started gathering parts for a rear disc brake conversion. My fiance is not as excited as I am.
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Old 10-25-2018, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by aesora View Post
I do have an idea about the rocker panel, but I'm not sure it's really a great idea. I want to get a replacement panel for that side from ebay or amazon or something, cut away the rusted bits completely (somehow the rest of the inside of that rocker area is rust free, it only has those big holes in it), strip the paint off of the rocker pieces that are still there, and then use a combination of 3M panel bond and rivets to put the new rocker on, basically making it act like a rocker cover. Then either paint or bedline the newly applied rocker.

I know there are two sides to this argument. One camp of people say that the rocker is structural and needs to be properly welded in place to be strong enough. The other side points out that companies like BMW use panel bond to assemble their cars. I also think that enough rivets should be enough to tie the new panel into the existing one. I'm thinking like one per inch on the top edge hidden by the doors, and along the bottom pinch seam.

I fully understand that if I do this, I will be making a bigger headache for myself down the road when I want to repair it correctly. But once I have access to a welder that I can use (or find someone willing to help me out with one) I think I'll probably cut the rockers out and weld in some 2x6. So this half-*** repair now wouldn't really cause THAT much trouble for me later.
I have the same constraints and did pretty much the same thing. I did not use the rocker panels you can buy - I just used a 3/16 flat bar (maybe 3" wide, 3/4 the length of the rocker panels) because I was cheap and the rust was pretty much only in the "flat" spot of the rockers. I cut out the rust. Painted inside the rockers with rust converter paint. Painted the flat bar. Put the flat bar inside the rocker panel. Drilled and riveted the flat bar to the rocker.

If you have enough rivets they will be very strong. Stronger than what you have there today. I haven't run the calculations on it, but unless you are offroading this hard and flexing the body I really don't think you'll have a problem. One rivet per inch sounds good - that's about what I did. I recommend if you have a lot of overlap between the new and old rocker panel put rivets throughout. Just don't rivet along the edges of the new panel. Do another line of rivets 1 inch in from the outside edge, and offset the rivets from the previous series. Best way to explain it with my tired brain is just this image, except with rivets instead of holes:
https://image.made-in-china.com/2f0j...ted-Sheets.jpg

Yes, I am still going to weld in a 2x6 or new rocker in there but I can't weld it myself due to a number of constraints (space, epilepsy - so I can't use welders without having a seizure, no welder) so it's got a panel riveted on until I can get the panel welded in by someone else. IMO it's much, much better to get the rust out (to slow down the rust from spreading) and rivet something in now rather than just wait to weld something in. Worst case you have to drill the rivets out before welding in the panel when you actually go to do it. That's just extra work. But at least your rockers will be much stronger in the meantime.
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Old 10-25-2018, 02:37 PM
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I just finished reading through your build thread. And I'd say after what I saw there, if you think this will work then I'm confident moving forward with it.

Do you have any pics of your process or close ups of what you have now?
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Old 10-28-2018, 11:39 PM
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Originally Posted by aesora View Post
I just finished reading through your build thread. And I'd say after what I saw there, if you think this will work then I'm confident moving forward with it.

Do you have any pics of your process or close ups of what you have now?
I don't have any "in progress" photos of this, unfortunately. I did it in the winter and it was too cold to take photos. I was just trying to get it done quickly.

I actually ended up putting fibreglass over top of the rockers in this area; so the photos of it now won't show you much. The fibreglass was just to add more reinforcement and seal the water out. It has held up quite well and hasn't separated from the metal. I think using the panel bond would probably do pretty much the same thing as my fibreglass but would be MUCH less work.
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