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"Broken Car 2" - My 2000 XJ Project

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"Broken Car 2" - My 2000 XJ Project

Old 09-08-2012, 02:30 AM
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Cool "Broken Car 2" - My 2000 XJ Project

This project starts with the death of my last XJ, which was also my first XJ.
I refer to my current project as "Broken Car 2" because of a window sticker that was on my first XJ when we bought it. The sticker was for a clothing brand called "Broken Cartel". My wife bugged me for a couple weeks to remove it. When I finally got around to it, I started from right to left. I got three letters off and couldn't continue. It was just too appropriate.
I was on my way to work, pulling my trailer, when I was rear-ended by a lady who wasn't watching where she was going. She hit my trailer so hard that it bent my receiver hitch down about 20 creasing both of my frame rails. Totalled. Insurance gave me the standard insult of a payment and I had to start from scratch.

I was able to find a replacement relatively quickly, but given the "generous" payout from the insurance company, I had to sacrifice a few upgrades. It was in good shape. I don't think it had ever seen a rough trail. Not a scratch on any of the suspension or driveline components. The mileage was a little high, but it was real clean and the price was decent.

The image above is not actually of my Jeep, but this one is almost identical.
Since I didn't have the presence of mind to take a before picture, this will have to do.
I had to wait a few months, but tax return time came and it was time to give this thing some personality. The first thing I did was the lift. I went with a Rubicon Express SuperFlex 3.5" Lift. I was able to customize it a little bit with Adjustable Lower Control Arms and an Adjustable Track Bar. I also went with ProComp complete rear leaf springs and ProComp MX-6 shocks.


Here's a 'before' view of the front suspension.


Another 'before' view of the front suspension.


OEM Lower Control Arms vs. Rubicon Express SuperFlex Adjustable Lower Control Arms.


OEM Springs vs. Rubicon Express Springs.


After we installed the springs, we did the sway bar quick disconnects. This bolt has to come out
in order to install them. If you plan on installing these on your XJ, be prepared for some work.
It won't want to come out. You may want to use some sort of puller, as it's pressed in, not threaded.



Here's what it looks like after it's out.


Completed sway bar disconnects. I love the design. Very easy to use.
The install was relatively straight forward.
There was one difficult part. We'll get to that later on.



Another view of the quick disconnects.


And another view, because I really like 'em.


The lower control arms have only one design flaw. I really like them for the most part,
but it was very frustrating that there's nowhere to put a wrench on the opposite side of the jam nut.
It makes it difficult to tighten the jam nut adequately. We ended up using a pipe wrench with a towel
to protect the powder-coat. Still scratched 'em a little. Not too happy about that.



Another view of the lower control arm, johnny joint, and zerk fitting. The RE SuperFlex
system really is impressive. They even sell rebuild kits for the johnny joints.



I am extremely happy with the ProComp MX-6 shocks. My Jeep rides better now than
when it was stock. I'd recommend these to anyone. They're a little pricey, but it's worth it.
Especially since they have a lifetime warranty.



Here's a close-up of the upper shock mount location.


And here's the lower mount.


Front suspension installed.


The leaf springs were a little tricky to put in. Those preparing to do this install should
remember to install the rear of the spring first. For some reason, if you attempt to install
the front first, it's a bear. I really like the ProComp springs, not only because they're relatively
inexpensive, but they also come with shims to adjust the driveline angle.



Here it is with the lift installed. Now for some wheels and tires.
First of all, I want to say that I was very impressed with the quality of the Rubicon Express parts. They seem very well built. As a company, they were great to work with. Very helpful throughout the process of choosing the right parts for my Jeep and any other questions I had. As far as I'm concerned, there's no other way to go, unless you wanna drop some serious coin. RE even has the long arm upgrade kit to make the transition to long travel easy and relatively inexpensive, considering you don't have to buy another complete lift kit for $1,000+. I was also impressed with ProComp's parts. The MX-6 shocks are amazing. Now, on to wheels and tires.

When my first Jeep was totalled, the insurance company, as part of their "generous" pay-out, offered me a whopping $250 for my wheels and tires. I politely declined, seeing as how that would barely cover the cost of a tire. So, I kept them in my garage until my new-to-me Jeep was ready for them. The time had come.


The tires are Hankook DynoPro ATM 31x10.50r15. They're great tires. They're inexpensive,
quiet, hard-wearing, and I think they look great. The wheels are a standard black mag with
fake bead locks. I never thought I'd like black wheels, but they were on my first Jeep when
I bought it. I loved them the first time I saw them. I think they suit the Jeep perfectly.


Well, there it is. I'm on my way. I absolutely love the stance. For what I'm looking for, the lift height and tire size are perfect. I still have a long way to go. There are a lot of things I still want to do, but time and money are in short supply. I'll update this thread as I go, though, for any of you who are still interested after this long-winded first post. Thanks for reading.
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Old 09-08-2012, 02:31 AM
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Exclamation A Quick Note About the RE Quick Disconnects

I mentioned before that I had one issue with the Rubicon Express quick disconnects. What I'm referring to is the way they suspend the sway bar when disconnected. Don't get me wrong. The system is brilliant and, once installed, is beautiful. The problem lies in the installation.

You have to attach aluminum pins in the upper inner fender well for the disco's to attach to when disconnected. The locations of both are very difficult to get to from the inside of the engine bay, particularly the passenger side, as it is under the battery. Maybe I'm a freakin' idiot and there's a much easier way. Maybe not. All I know is that my vocabulary was augmented by several new 4 letter words that day.


Here's a shot of the finished RE quick disco's. I absolutely love the way
the look and function. Just not crazy about the install of the retainer posts.

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Old 09-08-2012, 02:32 AM
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Default Faded Black Trim - No Longer Faded

The next phase of this project was to do something about all the black plastic trim on the exterior of the vehicle that had turned gray (almost white, in places). I'm sure there are many ways to take care of this, but this is how I did it. Here are a few before pictures.








I went down to Home Depot and bought satin black spray paint that is specifically designed for painting plastic. I removed all the parts that I felt comfortable removing and went to work.




I didn't feel comfortable trying to remove the door trim, so I masked it with painters tape and brown paper. For some reason, I forgot to take pictures of this process. The following are of my first Jeep when I did the exact same thing.








Here's the finished product. The pictures aren't great, but I still think you can see how much better it looks with new-looking black trim.




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Old 09-08-2012, 02:32 AM
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Default Cold Air Intake & Exhaust

The next thing I decided to tackle was the air intake and exhaust. I'm sure there are plenty of you who are reading this who are of the opinion that a cold air intake, and maybe even the exhaust system, is worthless and is a waste of money. To those, I politely offer the invitation to not post comments expressing those opinions because I just don't care. I firmly believe that they do help and will get into that a little more as we move along. That being said, on we go.

Cold Air Intake:

I decided to go with an AIRAID cold air intake. Why? I dunno. Mostly because of price, but also because of reputation. AIRAID makes a really nice product and they're made right here in the USA (some of their stuff is made here in the valley of the sun).


Here's a view that I'm sure many of you are very familiar with. The factory air box.


AIRAID's cold air intake kit is really simple. It utilizes your existing
intake tube and the lower portion of your factory air box. The
housing is easy to put together using the provided hardware
and it snaps in place using the spring clips that originally held
the upper portion of your factory air box in place.



Here is the complete kit installed.
I love the way it looks inside the engine bay. You can hear the increased air flow whether the hood is up or down. I'm working on a way to fabricate a ram air style intake, as well. Should be fun. Check back for that update.

Exhaust:

My OEM exhaust system was getting pretty gnarly. The pipe had become twisted between the muffler and the cat (not sure how that happened) and water was pooling in the muffler, which had caused it to rust through. I also wanted to open up the exhaust for performance purposes, so we killed two birds with one stone. Here are a couple 'before' shots.


In this one, you can see where the exhaust is drooping, causing water to pool in the muffler.


There's the twist I mentioned above.
After weeks of research, I decided to go with MagnaFlow. I didn't like the muffler that came with the cat-back kit, so I bought the muffler I wanted (14" x 8" x 5" oval; center/offset) and had a local shop build the pipe. I wanted to go with 2.5" tubing all the way out. This, for reasons unknown, caused the price to go way up at the exhaust shop. If I replace the catalytic converter, however, it wasn't as difficult and the price was roughly the same. So, for the price of install w/out the cat, I was able to purchase a MagnaFlow high flow 49 state legal cat and have everything installed. I hope that made sense.


I was really worried about how loud it was going to be. My brother has a 2009 JK Rubicon Unlimited. He recently had a complete exhaust system installed, long tube header to tip, due to the addition of a supercharger. I don't know what brand of muffler he went with, but it is unbelievably loud. The in-cabin drone is ridiculous. I was nervous that mine would be like that, especially with the high flow cat.

I was pleasantly surprised, however, to find out that it isn't too loud at all. Quite the contrary, in fact. It sounds amazing. It has a nice rumble when you get on it, but it's almost non-existent at cruising speeds. I'm extremely happy with my choice of muffler. The Flowmaster, I believe, would have been too loud and the 18" MagnaFlow would've been too quiet. As far as I'm concerned, it's exactly what I wanted.

The shop I used for the install is called Mad Hatter. They're located in Mesa, AZ. They do great work and their prices are reasonable. My only complaint, and this is more due to my ignorance and lack of research than anything, is that they did not use a mandrel bender to bend the tubing. Using a standard pipe bender compresses the tubing at each bend, which restricts air flow. I guess it's a good thing that I went with larger pipe. Someday, I may have someone redo the over-the-axle portion of the pipe with a mandrel bender. Until I have the money to do so, however, what I have now is great!

And for all of you naysayers out there, I'm getting 16+ mpg (up from 14) and there's better throttle response and gumption. Once I tune it, I'm hoping to get around 18-20 mpg and a substantial increase in power.
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Old 09-08-2012, 08:56 AM
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Wow, very well written and illustrated build so far, excellent job. Now I can see what mine will look like in the future when I lift it, thanks.
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