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96 2 Door XJ Build- Project Penniless

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96 2 Door XJ Build- Project Penniless

Old 04-06-2010, 12:47 PM
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Default 96 2 Door XJ Build- Project Penniless

Hey everybody, I've been around here a while and figured it's about time I started a build thread. I bought my 96 XJ for $400 in November 09. The guy I got it from was about to donate to the fire department for a Jaws of Life demonstration. There was NOTHING wrong with it and I drove it home from his house problem-free. The reason I named it Project Penniless is because of how much money goes into this Jeep. Also, if I complete my XJ the way I want, I will be penniless. Here's a picture of my Jeep in it's current state.

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Here's the specs:

96 2 Door XJ
4.0L HO
AX15 Trans
NP231 TC
27 spline Chrysler 8.25" rear
HP Dana 30 front
2" RC lift (spacers and shackles)
235/75R15 Lemans Pathmaker A/Ts
Cold Air Intake (Okay...warm air)
Ford style injectors
Trimmed fenders

So far, I've had to do a few things to my Jeep that were not performance related. I changed out the alternator first, which wasn't a bad job. Then I did the CPS and distributor, which was more frustrating than difficult. And I recently changed out the oil filter adapter o-rings. After that, the leak was almost gone, but I realized my oil pressure sending unit also leaks. No biggie, though. Next time I'm at the JY, I'll just grab a new one.

Possible future plans include:

4.6L stroker
99' intake manifold
APN header
63mm throttle body
Another 1.5" of lift
31" tires
Bumpers front and rear
Unibody stiffeners
Roll cage
Chop top (only if I roll it)
Hood vents
New paint
Go doorless and fix the hinges
Locked 29 spline 8.25" with 4.10 gearing
Disc brake conversion

First off, I'd like to say that this Jeep is a rust bucket! I guess years and years of road salt finally took it's toll on my Jeep. Here's what the floors looked like when I pulled up the carpet.

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A few more pics to show the extent of the damage.

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After looking at all that rust, I went out and got some sheet metal. I borrowed a welder from my buddy and got to work. Here's how everything went down.

Step 1: Pull up the carpet and gasp at the sight.

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Step 2: Cut out the cancer.

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Step 3: Weld in the new metal and lay down some primer and seam sealer.

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Step 4: Accidentally cut through the wiring harness for the fuel pump and fix with butt connectors. Doh!

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Step 5: Lay down some undercoat and toss in some floor mats.

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I still have some work to do in the cargo area, but that wasn't nearly as bad as my floors. I could've been Fred Flinstone-ing it this whole time to save a few MPGs

Next update should be when I get some new leaf springs. Mine are pretty shot so they're next on my list. Here's what they're looking like as of now.

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I'm probably going to make some bastard packs to get another 1.5" in the rear and throw in some V8 Grand Cherokee coils up front to level things out.

Thanks for reading, everyone.

Last edited by 96Cherokee113; 04-08-2010 at 05:01 PM.
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Old 04-06-2010, 12:57 PM
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Floors look pretty goon now. I will be doing the same project to my 95 2 door soon. I haven't pulled the carpet out yet, but I can see the carpet from underneath the jeep in several spots. My rear leafs look like yours also, except I have a 2" lift shackle.
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Old 04-06-2010, 01:02 PM
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Yea, I was able to see my carpet from the underside also. So expect something like what you see here. Make sure you wear a respirator, man. From grinding all the rust away, I was hacking up rust filled phlegm. Probably not too healthy. And I do have 2 inch lift shackles. I have shackles in the rear and spacers in the front. Got the full RC kit with shocks for $90 shipped
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Old 04-06-2010, 01:43 PM
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nice work on the floors...does that sheet metal flex around alot?
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Old 04-06-2010, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by N20jeep View Post
nice work on the floors...does that sheet metal flex around alot?
Nope, it's pretty solid and really doesn't let through as much road noise and everyone says it does when you remove the carpet. If your concerned about it flopping around, you could drill a few extra holes in the sheet metal that line up with the unibody rails and plug weld it. I did on the first big sheet that went in and it doesn't move at all. I didn't have a drill, so I carefully cut a slot with an angle grinder. Then I just pushed the sheet metal tight up against the unibody rail and puts a couple plug welds to hold it all together. I think it turned out pretty good. I just need to finish up with the cargo area and then I'll be good to go.
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Old 04-06-2010, 08:30 PM
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figured i'd ask you since i have to do the same work on my floor this summer (really bad rust!): what gauge sheet metal did you use?
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Old 04-07-2010, 02:14 AM
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Floors turned out good. I got my drivers side almost all done. Just need a little bit more sheet metal and then some rocker guard.
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Old 04-07-2010, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by DagBMX View Post
figured i'd ask you since i have to do the same work on my floor this summer (really bad rust!): what gauge sheet metal did you use?
I would have liked to use 16 gauge, but all Lowes had was 20 gauge. It's definitely thick enough, though. I just wanted 16 gauge because it would've been easier to weld to the unibody rails and it would take longer to rust out because it's thicker, even though I doubt they will ever rust out.

Originally Posted by matt_s View Post
Floors turned out good. I got my drivers side almost all done. Just need a little bit more sheet metal and then some rocker guard.
Yea. Just take your time and do it right the first time. I know I don't want to have to do this again. It took me 2 cans of undercoat to get a decent coating on both sides. One can just barely covers both sides of the floorboards. For the back seat and cargo area, I estimate I'll need about 4 or 5 cans to get a couple coats on it with good coverage. Good luck with your repairs.
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Old 04-07-2010, 01:03 PM
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Well I have almost no rust on the floorboards except for one place where the factory undersprayed the liner on and it got scratched and rusted out. The rest of it is 100% solid throughout. Gotta love Florida vehicles. I do have a hole in the roof that I dont know what thats about. My dads 90 from OH suprisingly had not that much rust on the floorboards. the front ones were solid and the back only had holes back near the door seam.
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Old 04-07-2010, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by 96Cherokee113 View Post
I would have liked to use 16 gauge, but all Lowes had was 20 gauge. It's definitely thick enough, though. I just wanted 16 gauge because it would've been easier to weld to the unibody rails and it would take longer to rust out because it's thicker, even though I doubt they will ever rust out.
awesome: good to know. that's what i was looking at is 16g. the next size they had at the local hardware store to that was 24g, and i said "no, way to thin."
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Old 04-07-2010, 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by tuxfan212 View Post
Well I have almost no rust on the floorboards except for one place where the factory undersprayed the liner on and it got scratched and rusted out. The rest of it is 100% solid throughout. Gotta love Florida vehicles. I do have a hole in the roof that I dont know what thats about. My dads 90 from OH suprisingly had not that much rust on the floorboards. the front ones were solid and the back only had holes back near the door seam.
Hmm, a hole in the roof. I haven't seen that one before. Might be from the sun peeling off the paint and then the water rusting it out. Some new metal and a little bit of fiberglass should fix that problem, though.

Originally Posted by DagBMX View Post
awesome: good to know. that's what i was looking at is 16g. the next size they had at the local hardware store to that was 24g, and i said "no, way to thin."
I wouldn't even think about using 24 gauge. I didn't even want to use the 20 gauge, but it's all they had. Today, I picked up a decent sized piece of unknown thickness metal that seems to be around 16-18 gauge. It should cover the cargo area rust holes that need repair. I just need to be careful welding around the gas tank if I want to keep my XJ from becoming crispy.
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Old 04-07-2010, 11:09 PM
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Originally Posted by 96Cherokee113 View Post
I wouldn't even think about using 24 gauge. I didn't even want to use the 20 gauge, but it's all they had. Today, I picked up a decent sized piece of unknown thickness metal that seems to be around 16-18 gauge. It should cover the cargo area rust holes that need repair. I just need to be careful welding around the gas tank if I want to keep my XJ from becoming crispy.
Just drop it down for the time being
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Old 04-08-2010, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by JerseyJeeper View Post
Just drop it down for the time being
I'd like to, but I just filled it up and I know from experience that 20 gallons of gas isn't light. We dropped the 40 gallon tank on my buddy's Suburban and it was 7/8 filled. It took 5 people to get it back up there. I might wait till I'm almost empty and drop it down. Seems like it's easy enough.
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Old 04-08-2010, 01:58 PM
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Just siphon out the gas. Nice fix BTW. I know I'm gonna have to do it on my '92 one of these days, but I'm scared to pull up the carpet, lol!
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Old 04-08-2010, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by 96Cherokee113 View Post
I'd like to, but I just filled it up and I know from experience that 20 gallons of gas isn't light. We dropped the 40 gallon tank on my buddy's Suburban and it was 7/8 filled. It took 5 people to get it back up there. I might wait till I'm almost empty and drop it down. Seems like it's easy enough.
Yeah it's not that bad to do. I dropped mine with 1/4 of a tank to replace a bad fuel pump. It took about two hours to do the whole job so no big deal for one person with a small floor jack. There's only two bolts that hold it up there. They're on the back end of the tank near the axle. It's kinda clamped in almost with those two strap looking things lol Should be a good job done.
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