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1999 XJ "Grandma Gold"

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1999 XJ "Grandma Gold"

Old 05-05-2017, 12:24 PM
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Default 1999 XJ "Grandma Gold"

Welcome to my very first ever build thread! I have a 1999 Jeep Cherokee Sport, 4.0L, AW4, D30, 8.25, 3.55 Gears, Tow Package, 122K miles.

Bought this back in 2009 with only 80K miles and threw on a 3" Rusty's short-arm lift kit, some 15x10 wheels and 31x10.50x15 and kept it stock besides that. When the engine blew up in my old car, I was given the XJ. This thing was completely stock besides the wheel, tires, lift, and added a light bar also. Unfortunately, I don't have any stock photos so it'll start with right after it was lifted.




I drove it like this for a few years, adding some small modifications here and there, such as an CB radio and antenna, LED light bar, clear marker lenses, and a homemade bumper I found off Craigslist.



That was about it while I was still in high school, I tried to keep it clean because it had such low mileage and the paint was in great shape. Fast forward to a few months ago, i'm in my first year of college, and one day I was driving back home on the interstate, stopped in the middle of traffic, just slowly inching forward when out of nowhere I get rear ended by a distracted driver. It shook my girlfriend, two dogs, and I up pretty bad. I ended up getting "sandwiched" in between the lady who rear ended me, and a truck in front of me. So much for keeping it clean...

Damage? It cracked a small portion of the frame in the rear, caved in the rear fenders, front header panel is destroyed, lost a fender flare, cracked pretty much every piece of the exhaust. It was declared a total loss, damages totaling over $5k.





However, after some negotiating with the ladies insurance company, they decided to give us a check and they even let us keep the XJ, with a clean title! So now I am driving a 2006 Scion XB until we can completely fix up the jeep. I am slowly trying to fix and upgrade as much as I can, while working and going to college. This is where I will begin my build.

Last edited by CantDrive55; 03-23-2018 at 12:21 AM.
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Old 05-05-2017, 12:37 PM
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A week after the accident, the very first thing I did was take off the front and rear bumpers to assess the damage. The front bumper mounts were bent, so I tried to bend it back as straight as I could and put on the old stock bumper temporarily.


Upon removal of the rear bumper end caps, I found plenty of rust... I had already repaired the rust from my rockers a while back, however I did not expect to see the rusty quarter panels.



My goal was to fix one thing at a time. One day, while browsing my local facebook offroading groups, I found somebody parting out an XJ that happened to be the same color as mine. I managed to get a hatch to replace my dented up one. I traded an old hi-lift jack and $60 and it was mine! He didn't have the header panel as he hit a deer with it. Still a good day for me.



Next up was to repair the header panel. I tried to repair it without damaging the paint, but it was too far cracked. I used a fiberglass repair kit and a tub of bondo and bedlined it along with the front bumper.




Turned out pretty good. Swapped out my clear lenses with stock ones as two of them were damaged in the accident. If I ever see a color-matched header panel, I will jump on it ASAP...
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Old 05-05-2017, 12:44 PM
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On to the body damage in the rear. Instead of trying to repair the rust I decided to just cut it all out. Cut and folded the lower quarters with rivets and seam sealer. I beat out the dents in the fenders as much as I could but it was still pretty ugly. I opted for some fender armor from Dirtbound, along with an Ares cut and fold evolution rear bumper, with frame tie-ins for the hitch receiver.
Cut and folded.

Holes all drilled and armor mocked up, ready for painting. I broke 3 drill bits and installing the nuts and bolts were a PITA. This would've been much easier with two people.

Painted and stock flares put back on until I can afford some fender flares. Not a big fan of cut fenders by themselves.

Ares cut and fold bumper, high quality, great welds, easy to install. Looks great and has a built in hitch receiver with frame tie-ins. Uses the nutstrips as my old hitch did. Very happy with the final product.


Last edited by CantDrive55; 05-05-2017 at 01:06 PM.
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Old 05-05-2017, 12:57 PM
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Onto the exhaust system. I completely forgot to take pictures of the exhaust manifold replacement, but I replaced the whole system from header to tailpipe. Everything is brand new. I decided to stay simple and stick with 2.25" tubing. I am on a budget, so I used whatever the parts store had in stock. I believe everything was just under $250, included the $20 my friend charged me to weld it all in at his shop. (Yes, that hanging O2 sensor has since been mounted appropriately )



Things are starting to come together. I still need to do new rear brakes, fix my leaky thermostat and valve cover, and get a state inspection. I also bedlined the fenders and lower halfs of the doors! Here's how it looks right now, along with some pictures of my girlfriend's XJ.




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Old 05-05-2017, 01:28 PM
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Wow what a transformation! And nice work getting it all back together!

What did you do about the crack you said it had in the rear unibody? I bet some rear frame stiffeners might work out well for that repair?
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Old 05-05-2017, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Pinkyman View Post
Wow what a transformation! And nice work getting it all back together!

What did you do about the crack you said it had in the rear unibody? I bet some rear frame stiffeners might work out well for that repair?
Thanks! Definitely needs a lot of TLC. It's been in the family for 8 years already, I want to preserve it for another 10 hopefully. When the time comes, yes, I want to stiffen the unibody from the front back.
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Old 05-05-2017, 08:33 PM
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Well done. It looks great! I really like the balck and gold together. Check out hooligan off road when you look at stiffeners they are 3/16 and wrap around the "frame" i did mids and rears and im very happy with them.
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Old 05-06-2017, 12:51 AM
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Awesome, keep up the good work! She looks great... of course I may be somewhat biased, lol.

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Old 05-06-2017, 05:25 AM
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Looks good! Keep it up
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Old 05-06-2017, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by 01EXPOXJ View Post
Well done. It looks great! I really like the balck and gold together. Check out hooligan off road when you look at stiffeners they are 3/16 and wrap around the "frame" i did mids and rears and im very happy with them.
Looking good, nice choice on upgrading while doing the repairs!

Also curious on where the frame damage was, I'm assuming at the fuel filler hoses, the frame get really thin in that area.

Those Hooligan stiffeners look really nice, all their products look like excellent quality! Another option that also wrap under the unibody are the Iron Rock Offroad, they also look nice, I haven't used either, so can't comment on anything specific.
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Old 05-06-2017, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by jbennett View Post
Looking good, nice choice on upgrading while doing the repairs!

Also curious on where the frame damage was, I'm assuming at the fuel filler hoses, the frame get really thin in that area.

Those Hooligan stiffeners look really nice, all their products look like excellent quality! Another option that also wrap under the unibody are the Iron Rock Offroad, they also look nice, I haven't used either, so can't comment on anything specific.
Thats exactly where it is, I believe the hitch took the most impact in the accident causing my frame damage.
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Old 05-06-2017, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by CantDrive55
Thats exactly where it is, I believe the hitch took the most impact in the accident causing my frame damage.
Do you plan on fixing the frame before driving and inspection?
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Old 05-06-2017, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by SatiricalHen View Post
Do you plan on fixing the frame before driving and inspection?
Before inspection, no because they won't fail me for it since its a hairline crack. Before driving it every day again, yes most definitely. Although it drives perfectly down the highway doing 70, straight down the road, I want it to be safe for not only me, but other drivers around me. I don't want to take the chance of just leaving it as is. I will get pictures up soon of the frame damage. I have a daily driver right now so the jeep only gets driven short distances one day a week. Mainly to auto stores and gas stations.

EDIT: Pictures of frame damage
Driver Side

Passenger Side

Last edited by CantDrive55; 05-06-2017 at 09:50 AM. Reason: Pictures
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Old 05-06-2017, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by CantDrive55
Before inspection, no because they won't fail me for it since its a hairline crack. Before driving it every day again, yes most definitely. Although it drives perfectly down the highway doing 70, straight down the road, I want it to be safe for not only me, but other drivers around me. I don't want to take the chance of just leaving it as is. I will get pictures up soon of the frame damage. I have a daily driver right now so the jeep only gets driven short distances one day a week. Mainly to auto stores and gas stations.
I'd repair it before it gets worse, and that area is high stress area because the leaf spring is always pressing on it.
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Old 05-06-2017, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by SatiricalHen View Post
I'd repair it before it gets worse, and that area is high stress area because the leaf spring is always pressing on it.
Most definitely, yes. I just edited my previous post with pictures of the crack. It's been a while since I looked at the damage, and it does appear to be a bit worse than a hairline crack LOL. I will most likely plate the rear before inspecting it and driving it after taking those pictures.

When I do stiffeners I will also be repainting my undercarriage to take care of any remaining rust. I'd like to do POR15 if I can but that can be expensive.

Last edited by CantDrive55; 05-06-2017 at 09:55 AM.
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