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Building a 95XJ with my kids.

Old 08-12-2015, 12:52 PM
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Default Building a 95XJ with my kids.

It took a while but I found a 95 Cherokee that was in pretty good shape and priced right, so last night I drove home our new Jeep. It's a 1995 Cherokee, 4.0 (198K miles), Auto, Power window, Power locks, Cruse, and Towing hitch. The body is in pretty good shape I will need to replace the front floor boards they are starting to rust. The dealer told me he thought it was a park ranger jeep, but I didn't pay attention I assume he was full of it.

My goal for the Jeep is to let my boys help with everything and build her into a great daily driver that my wife and I will give our oldest when he turns 16. Then we get to start another one from our other son. Doing it this they will learn how to do basic auto maintenance that should help them later in life, or maybe they will decide to go be a doctor so they never have to do it anymore. Win-Win Also it should get him more invested in the jeep as he will be doing some of the work and will take better care of it.

My oldest son's wants a Flat Black jeep with a lift and bigger tires, upgraded bumpers, and lots of room to carry his music instrument around(he loves music).

So the over all plan is to take this jeep and see how close we can get to making both our goals come true. I'm thinking a 3" lift is enough to give the off road look but not high enough to worry about drive shaft angles and being overly unsafe. I want him to have a spare tire and I have read 31" tires will fit in the back on the stock mounts and very little risk to the stock axles, so no bigger then that. I have seen a few places I can get some nice bumpers so just need to decide which ones he likes. As for the paint flat black should be easy to do and I think I could pull it off for him but that will be toward the end just to be sure he doesn't like the white color it has now.

So here is out starting point.

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When we got her home I did notice a few things that stood out.
1- High Idle switch on the dash beside the head lights. When you flip the switch it does idle up, so it does work.
2- The roof has 4 holes down the center, two near the back gate, one between the front seats and one over the back seat.
3- There is a key lock on the front passenger fender

That does fit in with the park ranger jeep idea of the dealer. I don't know for sure but I'm thinking the lock is right beside the battery so it might be a switch to turn of the battery when the jeep was parked in the winter so it won't be drained. I won't know for sure until I start taking it apart to see whats hooked up.
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It has what looks like a factory tow package and while I was hoping it was the Dana 44 but it looks like a Chrysler 8.25.
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Over the next few weeks we are going to do all the basic maintenance (plugs, wires, cap, rotor, fuel filter) and inspect the brakes and steering joints. Then start cleaning things up to stop any rust we find and start replacing panels as needed.

I did notice the check engine light came on so pulled the codes O2 and Map sensors, found them online for less than $50 shipped so not too bad.


Also this morning I was able to get a free build sheet but I'm not sure how accurate it is. It does list the jeep as the police group so fits the park ranger theory but says it has a Dana 35 rear, power mirrors, and skid plates that it doesn't have. I have contacted Jeep about a build sheet so hoping they will hook me up.



Work done so far.

1- Full clean and Vacuum
2- Oil Change
3- Lubed all grease fittings
4- Checked all the brakes they are in good shape so didn't see a reason to replace.
5- Flushed the brake fluid
6- Flushed Radiator system.
7- Painted the steel wheels
8- Plugs, wires, rotor cap, and distributor cap
9- Repaired door arm rest
10- Replaced fan shroud
11- New speakers in front doors

Last edited by Warhawk; 10-19-2015 at 08:21 AM.
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Old 08-12-2015, 01:15 PM
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It looks to me you have a dana 35 in the rear. There is a noticeable flat bottom on the 8.25. Your pic is kinda hard to tell but compare these.


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Old 08-12-2015, 01:18 PM
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Thanks for that info. I thought the Dana 35 looked more rounded then mine but I could be wrong. My goal is to spray it down to get the grim off this weekend and get a better look and photo.

I guess int he long run it doesn't matter both should hold up fine for my setup. The Dana 35 would be better if we do lockers but that will be a while off, because if I do lockers I want to be able to unlock and lock as we need it.
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Old 08-12-2015, 01:26 PM
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well the 8.25 is stronger, but if you plan to stay small tire and easy on the skinny pedal the 35 can hold up to some abuse. I wouldn't lock it by no means. And welcome to the Forum !
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Old 08-12-2015, 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by HS00XJ View Post
well the 8.25 is stronger, but if you plan to stay small tire and easy on the skinny pedal the 35 can hold up to some abuse. I wouldn't lock it by no means. And welcome to the Forum !
I thought the 8.25 pre 96 was 27 splines and about the same as the Dana 35 but after 96 it was a 29 spline and was much stronger. Again I could be wrong.

And yes I don't see going over 31" tires on this one. I have read I could go 33" tires but past that you are risking the axle. If my son wants to push this one off road we will have to upgrade for sure but I don't see that happening.

I have never run lockers but my brother in-law really likes his and thinks they really help his jeep. His are always locked but I have read you can get them so you can unlock while on pavement so that's the only way i would do it.
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Old 08-24-2015, 08:03 AM
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Okay a update on our progress,

The weekend before last we spent time cleaning the under body and inspecting everything. Everything looks pretty good the floor pans will need to be replaced at some point. Everything else checked out good. We played with the radio a little only one speaker was playing and it looks like it only has 2 and one is blown. So a new radio and speakers are on the list now.

Last weekend my son wanted to clean up the inside, he spent about 2 hours cleaning and vacuuming. Then I showed him out to change all the spark plugs and wires. It does run very smooth now so guess it was about time. We also greased the front end.

This coming weekend we are going to do oil change, Brake fluid change and a few other small things.

It is a great little project for us so glad we got the jeep.
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Old 08-24-2015, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Warhawk View Post
Okay a update on our progress,

The weekend before last we spent time cleaning the under body and inspecting everything. Everything looks pretty good the floor pans will need to be replaced at some point. Everything else checked out good. We played with the radio a little only one speaker was playing and it looks like it only has 2 and one is blown. So a new radio and speakers are on the list now.

Last weekend my son wanted to clean up the inside, he spent about 2 hours cleaning and vacuuming. Then I showed him out to change all the spark plugs and wires. It does run very smooth now so guess it was about time. We also greased the front end.

This coming weekend we are going to do oil change, Brake fluid change and a few other small things.

It is a great little project for us so glad we got the jeep.
I cant wait till my son shows interest in jeeps.
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Old 08-24-2015, 08:14 PM
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Been doing the same with my son. He's loving it too. We dropped ours off today for a tranny service since it has sat so long... so he's stoked that we may get to do some real test driving this weekend! Post up some more pics.
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Old 10-19-2015, 08:14 AM
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Quick update. We have been slowly making progress, my son has been busy with school activities so working around his schedule. Still have a few things to do but it's ready to drive now.

In the past few weeks we have
1- Checked all the brakes they are in good shape so didn't see a reason to replace.
2- Flushed the brake fluid
3- Flushed Radiator system.
4- Painted the steel wheels
5- Lubed all the grease fittings
6- Plugs, wires, rotor cap, and distributor cap
7- Repaired door arm rest
8- Replaced fan shroud
9- Got speakers but still need a radio


Over the weekend we put up a few things from the junk yard. We got his fan shroud, hood latch handle, and rear speaker bar.

We have the speaker bar ready to install but it looks like a good time to repair the head liner so going to pull that this week and redo it. Just need to pull the rear seat belt bolts so the liner will come out everything else is loose. Hoping to get that all done this week.

Also I have a fuel filter and thermostat just not had time to put them in yet, maybe this weekend

Last edited by Warhawk; 10-19-2015 at 08:22 AM.
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Old 10-17-2016, 10:27 AM
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It has been a while but do have a few updates in the last year but as this isn't a driver yet it keeps getting pushed back so I can do other things. Just working on it while I can here and there but this winter I'm planning on finishing up most of the build.

Here is what I have gotten done so far.

1: Redid the headliner but I didn't use enough glue or didn't get the foam clean enough because it came down again.
2: One of the metal brake lines started leaking so while fixing that we did Rear Brakes, new brake hose and new metal brake lines (only rear so far but front are on the list)
3: Cleaned rear axle and changed fluid.
4: Cleaned up and painted the wheels.
5: Replaced hood latch


Started installing a Zone 3" lift kit with new leaf springs and coils but real fast I could tell there was more work than just a swap of parts. Started with the passenger leaf and the front bolt would not break free. Started with liquid wrench, heat, impact wrench and 4 foot bar nothing worked. I pulled the rear bolts and the spring fell out because it was broken already. I had to cut the bushing off and keep using heat on the bolt to get it worked out. With the spring out I noticed cracks in most of the leafs so glad I decided to replace the whole thing. Just starting on the driver side but the rear frame area needs to be reinforced so doing that before I install the new spring.

While doing the lift I noticed some rust in the cargo area so pulled the gas tank, skid plate and hitch. Those where all in pretty good shape but did clean and paint them all so they are ready to reinstall. With the gas tank out I will be welding some patches on the floors and reinforcing the frame area.


Here is my list for the next 2 months

1: Finish patches in rear cargo area
2: Reinforce frame
3: Finish lift install
4: Front brake pads (I have done the rear shoes so might as well do the fronts so I don't have to do any more brake work for a while)
5: Repair floor pans
6: Build new rear bumper

This I would like to do before spring
1: Build Roof rack
2: Build front bumper
3: Install radio
4: Install LED lights on roof rack
5: Maybe replace the front seats with some nicer ones


I will post some photos soon. And try not to be lazy and post more often.

Last edited by Warhawk; 10-17-2016 at 10:49 AM.
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Old 10-17-2016, 10:47 AM
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Here is how she sit before I started the lift.

Also photos of the Skid plate and hitch I removed before I have repainted them.

Here is the holes in the cargo area that I need to patch along with part of the frame. It looks kinda bad but after cleaning it up it isn't too bad. I know others have had much worse and I'm glad it wasn't as bad as it could have been.
Attached Thumbnails Building a 95XJ with my kids.-20160922_174111_resized.jpg   Building a 95XJ with my kids.-20161015_133554_resized.jpg   Building a 95XJ with my kids.-20161015_135208_resized.jpg   Building a 95XJ with my kids.-20161015_135211_resized.jpg  
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Old 10-17-2016, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Warhawk View Post
Also it should get him more invested in the jeep as he will be doing some of the work and will take better care of it.
This sentence made me laugh. When I was a teen, my father made me buy my own car and pay to fix it. Bought a worn out 79 Camaro in 2001. He told me if I took it easy the front suspension would last a year or two, if I drove it hard it wouldn't last 6 months. Couple months later I had to pay for and install new front suspension. After all was said and done, Dad asked me what I learned. I said, "That cost $100 and a weekend, I could do that again." Thats what I learned working on my own cars, I can fix that. Hopefully your boys learn to treat things better than I did.

Jeeps looking good. Ever figure out what that switch on the fender does?
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Old 10-18-2016, 07:25 AM
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I know kids will beat and bang it around so things will get broken its what kids do. I have told him when he breaks it he will be the one to fix it. I don't expect him to be able to fix everything so I will help him just don't need him to think I will do the work for him(even if I will). My main reason to spend the time going through the Jeep is to find anything that is broken or may break soon, I want to get it ready to drive about 4 months before my oldest gets his license that will give me time to drive it around.

The switch is a battery disconnect. When I do the front part of the lift I'm going to remove it. With no key it is just another point of failure so needs to go.
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Old 10-24-2016, 08:24 AM
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I learned that learning to weld while laying on your back under the jeep isn't the best place to start. After a few mins I moved around so I could be sitting up and that make it a lot easier. I got the frame reinforced and everything ground down ready to paint. It isn't the prettiest weld and it took me much longer to do than others would have taken but I'm happy with it.

Also got the skid plate, gas tank, and trailer hitch all painted. They are ready to reinstall. Added a photo of the cleaned up items. Building a 95XJ with my kids.-20161022_153047_resized.jpg

I looked at buying the nut strips you can find online to make installing the easier but after looking I can make my own for $5 and just drop them in the frame from the top as I already have it open.

My goal this week is to get those things remounted so I can start replacing the floor area next week. It doesn't sound like much work but I'm thinking I will be taking this stuff in and out 3 or 4 times at least.
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Old 11-02-2016, 10:56 AM
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This week wasn't as productive as I had hoped. Did learn that my setting on the welder where off and I wasn't getting things hot enough. So after that welding got a lot better and faster.

Got the nut strip plates made and attached to the frame, the skid plate and hitch got installed. Everything is ready for the final install but want to weld in the floor pans before I do that.

Also starting making the rear bumper mounts they are about 90% done just ran out of metal. Will pick up some more next week to finish that up.

Ordered new bolts for the leaf spring but the local Jeep dealer had them for $8.10 each so very cheap. And started installing the passenger leaf spring but ran out of time in the day.


It does feel like I'm spending all my free time working on the jeep but not getting any thing done. But I know I'm making progress and soon it will all come together.

Hoping this week to finish the lift on the rear and start cutting floor pans in the cargo area.
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