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The '88 XJ "Ugly Duckling" build

Old 03-23-2017, 07:52 AM
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Year: 88
Model: Cherokee
Engine: 4.0
Default The '88 XJ "Ugly Duckling" build

My oldest son, who turned 13 on Sunday, has been looking for a project vehicle that he and I could work on over the course of the next few years until he can drive. He's been looking for the better part of a year and just so happens that he found this '88 Limited on Craigslist on Saturday. Owner was asking $500 for it and it was about 2 hours away from us. I called the owner and he said it runs but needs a battery, brakes, and a front drive shaft. We hooked up the trailer and made the drive. Sure enough, with a jump start it ran, pretty well actually. I didn't see any rust underneath, rockers, etc. I offered $400 and we settled on $440, loaded it up, and made the drive back home.

Stats: '88 Jeep Cherokee Limited, 4.0L I6. (Haven't checked the axles or x-fer case to see what it has in it) 262,000 miles.

Monday, we put a new battery in it and it fired right up. We also picked up a new brake master cylinder which should make it drive-able again. Surprisingly, all the electric stuff works. Power seats, windows, locks, lights, blinkers, brake lights etc. Wiper switch has been rigged but we'll take care of that later. It does have an oil leak which I'm guessing is coming from the rear main so that will have to be addressed. Other than that, it's going to be a lot of cleaning, and slowly replacing, fixing, and fabricating as we go. I've owned 3 Wranglers a YJ, TJ, and JK so I'm no stranger to Jeeps but this is the first XJ. My son is eager to work on it and eager to learn so hopefully I can teach him some stuff as we go.

His plans for the Jeep are: a Daily Driver/Camping/Hunting Rig
- 3" Lift
- Rims/Tires (most likely 31's)
- Custom Bumpers
- Winch
- Custom Roof Rack
- New Paint
- Swing out tire carrier
- Stereo

Here's how it sits now.



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Old 04-11-2017, 08:49 AM
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We tackled the brake issue next. Pads and rotors were in good shape on the front, rear drums and shoes were decent so we decided to start where we knew we had issues, which was the MC.

The Master came out just fine, but I had a terrible time getting the lines to come loose. Finally ended up just cutting them off. I was able to get the nuts loose from the proportioning valve.






Did a bench bleed of the new MC, inspected and cleaned the push rod on the booster, and put in the new MC.





I gathered up the old double flare fittings from the old MC and the brake line pieces and headed to the parts store. They didn't have what I needed in stock but said they could make them up for me. Sure! However, I had them make up one line with both large nuts on it, and one with both small nuts.

Back home we go and as I attempt to put them on I realize. Arrgh, each line should have one small nut and one large nut. Well, that's what I get for not paying attention when I take it off. Anyway, back to the parts store to rent a double flaring tool. We got back home, cut and re-flared the ends. Everything on that end went back together great after that.

Next, we move to bleeding the brakes starting with the proportioning valve. Holy Crap! The nastiness that is in this brake system! Fluid looks like a combination of muddy water and grease. YUCK! After thoroughly bleeding the proportion valve and all four wheel cylinders until good clean fluid is coming out, we have brakes!

We took it out for a short test drive and it stops pretty well. At least as good as can be expected for drum brakes on the rear. A disc conversion will most likely be in it's future.


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Old 04-11-2017, 09:45 AM
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Moving on to some of the interior issues...

The rear carpet was a nasty, black, mess. Pretty sure the PO hauled some of his farm animals back there at some point. We took out the rear seat, trim panels, and carpet to expose.... Rust.







Thankfully none of is was all the way through in the cargo area. We were able to scrape and sand most of it away. We did find one spot rusted through underneath the rear seat. That will have to be addressed later with a cutoff wheel and some sheet metal.



On to the rear carpet...

Vacuumed it, then wet it and let it soak in some liquid laundry detergent.



A little (a lot) of hand scrubbing with a stiff bristle brush.



Then the power washer...



It looks a lot better but you'll have to take my word for it right now. I forgot to get a pic of the after. Will add later.

After scraping, sanding, grinding, etc. We primed the entire rear cargo area with some self etching automotive primer and then a coat of spray in bed liner. After spending all that time cleaning the carpet, my son decided he isn't sure he wants the carpet back in there. I tried to explain to him, based on my past experience, but to no avail, how loud it will be back there without some kind of sound deadening. We'll see...

To be continued...
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Old 04-11-2017, 12:13 PM
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LOL welcome! Rust is usually standard!

Originally Posted by Cajun1 View Post
Moving on to some of the interior issues...

The rear carpet was a nasty, black, mess. Pretty sure the PO hauled some of his farm animals back there at some point. We took out the rear seat, trim panels, and carpet to expose.... Rust.







Thankfully none of is was all the way through in the cargo area. We were able to scrape and sand most of it away. We did find one spot rusted through underneath the rear seat. That will have to be addressed later with a cutoff wheel and some sheet metal.



On to the rear carpet...

Vacuumed it, then wet it and let it soak in some liquid laundry detergent.



A little (a lot) of hand scrubbing with a stiff bristle brush.



Then the power washer...



It looks a lot better but you'll have to take my word for it right now. I forgot to get a pic of the after. Will add later.

After scraping, sanding, grinding, etc. We primed the entire rear cargo area with some self etching automotive primer and then a coat of spray in bed liner. After spending all that time cleaning the carpet, my son decided he isn't sure he wants the carpet back in there. I tried to explain to him, based on my past experience, but to no avail, how loud it will be back there without some kind of sound deadening. We'll see...

To be continued...
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Old 04-11-2017, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by oldblue#2 View Post
LOL welcome! Rust is usually standard!
HA! Thanks. I'm beginning to see that.
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Old 04-13-2017, 11:50 AM
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I love seeing projects like this. Most kids these days seem to think they are owed a new car when they turn 16. There are kids here around where I live that get BMW's, Denali's, Mercedes, etc and then they have no respect for them and end up trashing them. Then the parents wonder why their kids don't treat them better. It builds character and investment in something when they have to work for it and on it. Your son will appreciate this in the long run more than any $50k vehicle you could have bought him. Plus he'll have the skill to work on his own vehicles, a skill most of the younger generation no longer will have. Kudos to you and your son! :Cheers:
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Old 04-13-2017, 12:06 PM
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My kid is 7 and already wants to build his own Jeep. He's been helping me in the garage for the last 3 years now.
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Old 04-17-2017, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by DCox View Post
I love seeing projects like this. Most kids these days seem to think they are owed a new car when they turn 16. There are kids here around where I live that get BMW's, Denali's, Mercedes, etc and then they have no respect for them and end up trashing them. Then the parents wonder why their kids don't treat them better. It builds character and investment in something when they have to work for it and on it. Your son will appreciate this in the long run more than any $50k vehicle you could have bought him. Plus he'll have the skill to work on his own vehicles, a skill most of the younger generation no longer will have. Kudos to you and your son! :Cheers:
Thanks, he's a great kid. He makes straight A's, always helps me outside taking care of the yard, etc. and loves the outdoors. He'll hunt anything that has an open season. Last summer he told me he wanted a new shotgun so I told him he'd have to save up for it. He hustled up his own work painting, laying sod, mowing grass, and pretty much anything else he could do and by the end of the summer had enough to buy his own Beretta A300. This summer he's planning to do the same for money to put into the Jeep.

Originally Posted by oldblue#2 View Post
My kid is 7 and already wants to build his own Jeep. He's been helping me in the garage for the last 3 years now.
That's awesome! Enjoy that time together.
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Old 04-18-2017, 09:57 PM
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This is awesome! Definitely sounds like a good kid. Now you'll just have to fight the urge to keep the XJ for yourself! Not to mention, $440 is a steal for that thing. Good buy!
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