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Desert StormTrooper

Old 06-14-2017, 11:50 AM
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Hey Fellow Jeepers,
I am a long time reader, infrequent poster, and I have finally gotten my butt around to doing a build page for my jeep. Mostly for my own personal documentation of my travels with my jeep but also to share with you guys and hopefully repay some of the much needed information I learned here.
It started about 5 years ago with me doing the adult thing and trading in my dodge 1500 quad cab for a smaller commuter car when I changed professions. Part of the deal I made with the wife is I would be able to acquire a “project” vehicle. When looking at what I was going to need to keep up with my lifestyle and hobbies, it needed to be able to seat at least 4, have a little cargo room, and I wanted to be able to do a lot of the work myself when possible. Then it came to me, I always liked the Cherokee XJ and it fit all the criteria I needed. So off a looking I went.
And soon I found my first Cherokee. Looking back I probably should not have bought it, but that is how we learn. It had too many miles, needed too much work, and had rust issues like there was no tomorrow. That being said I learned a lot about the basic construction, maintenance and it caused me to look up and learn so much.



Then came the Sunday afternoon I could have done without. Driving home from a friend’s house to get ready to go out to dinner with my wife and in laws, a drunk driver blew through a red light at about 75 miles an hour. And when I say drunk, I mean he should have been dead blood alcohol level drunk. Anyways, this was my daily driver at the time. Needless to say it was totaled, and I was in need of a shoulder surgery for a destroyed rotator cuff. All I can say is thank you uninsured motorist coverage and thank you lawyer.



So in thinking what we wanted to do, (the wife and I didn’t want another car payment) my only option was to move up my timeline on restoring my jeep to daily driver dependability and use that for going to work for the time being. Then my wife came up with an idea, with some of the money we were getting from the accident, why not get a jeep in better condition and use that instead? Yep, the wife gave me the ok to get another jeep, who was I to say no?
So enter in the Desert Stormtrooper. After a few weeks of going through craigslist, I found this one. Called the guy up the next morning and went with the wife to go look at it. Luckily no one had called to look at the whole time. Was in pretty good shape, had a lot of the stuff done to it I was going to do anyways. I talked him down a bit on the price by offering cash, and a deal was struck. Granted I paid more than I should have, but this is Arizona, all Cherokees are expensive here.



So here it is, 1998 Cherokee 182k miles, 31” tires, PO said it was a 3 inch rough country lift, not the greatest, with front spacers and unknown leaf pack in the back, and transfer case drop. Kenwood stereo, amp and subwoofer in the cargo space, Dana 44 rear axle with a detroit locker and regreared (not sure what to, but owner said it was regeared) aftermarket triple electric fans, aluminum radiator and transmission cooler. And one of my personal favorites, factory overhead console, oh yea!
Attached Thumbnails Desert StormTrooper-red-jeep.jpg   Desert StormTrooper-fb436038.jpg   Desert StormTrooper-img_0726.jpg   Desert StormTrooper-img_0727.jpg   Desert StormTrooper-img_0728.jpg  

Desert StormTrooper-img_0729.jpg   Desert StormTrooper-img_0730.jpg   Desert StormTrooper-img_0731.jpg  
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Old 06-14-2017, 12:42 PM
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So after acquiring my new obsession, I had to think of what I wanted to do with it. In what l like to do in the desert, camping, hunting, shooting etc., I am leaning less away from a rock crawler and more of an over lander type build. I want to refresh the list, and bushings, upgrade the steering etc. I will do my best to get things caught up to the present and keep posting on any new changes I make as I go along as well.
Well about a month after owning the Jeep, my power steering blew. Now that was fun to replace with an arm in a sling, but luckily my roommate was there to lend a helping hand!
Then I noticed a rhythmic sliding sound coming from one of my wheels. I slowly narrowed it down by process of elimination. I replaced the from wheel hubs, front rotors, calipers, and pads, ball joints, which at that point I was able to determine the sound came from the rear. After having all the seals and bearings in the rear axle replaced, the rear brakes adjusted multiple times, I was about out of options when a new symptom showed itself. It seems when I hit the brakes semi hard, the rear wheels lock up while the front ones do not. Well after even more digging I decided to try one last thing, to remove the parking brake cables. Well that as the case, they were keeping the rear brakes from fully releasing. So after taking them off and readjusting the rear brakes, no more noise and the brakes work as they should. I will say after all the research I have done I have put the disc brake conversion on my list of things to get done to the jeep as soon as I can afford it.
Also during my regular maintenance of my jeep I was noticing some small oil leaks. So taking what I have read here in the forum, I did some noggin poking and started assessing what needed to me done. The biggest culprit was me oil filter adapter. Fixed that with the next oil change and now I am down to what looks like a very small leak under the valve cover.
In what other little items I have changed, I purchased the LED interior bulb set from Oneway Light and the cargo net from Raingler Nets to separate the cargo area behind the back seat.
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Old 06-14-2017, 01:14 PM
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Then there was this, hazards of having to park my jeep on the street. Luckily the lady stopped and gave us her insurance info. Got everything replaced, wish I had spoken up a bit more and just got the cash as opposed to having them pay my mechanic. Would have been better to have some of that money to divert into upgraded parts.
Attached Thumbnails Desert StormTrooper-img_0348.jpg  
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Old 06-14-2017, 01:28 PM
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This was a good day, after doing A LOT of research and comparing, I finally decided on a Rockhard bumper for the Jeep. It would allow me to have the spare on the back instead of on the roof rack, I could have my hi lift jack, and it also had a mounting point for an antenna. Combine all that with great reviews and I just liked the way the thing looked, I was hooked. So I saved my nickels and was finally able to pull the trigger and get one. Here are the pics from the install, took my roommate and I about 6 hours, to get it all installed. We could have probably got it done sooner but we were not in a huge hurry. I also got a plate relocation bracket from Tomken, so my plate will be visible. That reminds me still need to connect the plate bulb!
Attached Thumbnails Desert StormTrooper-img_0338.jpg   Desert StormTrooper-img_0339.jpg   Desert StormTrooper-img_0340.jpg   Desert StormTrooper-img_0342.jpg   Desert StormTrooper-img_0344.jpg  

Desert StormTrooper-img_0345.jpg   Desert StormTrooper-img_0363.jpg   Desert StormTrooper-img_0365.jpg   Desert StormTrooper-img_0367.jpg   Desert StormTrooper-img_0368.jpg  

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Old 06-14-2017, 03:04 PM
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So in my effort to keep with the Stormtrooper theme, (seemed to work with the white and black asthetic) I wanted to change my front grill from the original all white, I wanted to have the black grill and headlight bezels. So I slowly began aquiring the new pieces I needed and then painted each in bumper/trim paint. Here is the fron as it is now.
Attached Thumbnails Desert StormTrooper-img_0466.jpg  
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Old 06-14-2017, 04:15 PM
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Went on a camping trip this past Feburary and snapped a pic. Opted to take the rack off, as it was poorly made and atached to the drip rails and when it rained it got rust everywhere. Luckily I was able to aquire some stock roof rails from Chizuck. Am looking at designing my own rack, and will probably do that when I get a chance.
Attached Thumbnails Desert StormTrooper-img_0945.jpg  
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Old 06-14-2017, 04:21 PM
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So When I had purchased the red jeep, I had acquired a lift kit with the intention of lifting it. Well I never had a chance to put it in before I sold it again so I intended to put it in the new Desert StormTrooper as I was not a fan of the current lift kit and was unsure on how old any of it was. So I had a new BDS 2” lift with add a leaf, new shocks, new coils and new steering stabilizer. I purchased new leaf springs just in case and new bushings and shackles for the rear. I also had to get new u bolts as I had a D44 rear axle instead of the 8.25 that the red jeep had. I settled on u bolts from RuffStuff. Damn those things are beefy! Here are some pics from before I got started.
Attached Thumbnails Desert StormTrooper-img_1173.jpg   Desert StormTrooper-img_1174.jpg   Desert StormTrooper-img_1175.jpg   Desert StormTrooper-img_1181.jpg   Desert StormTrooper-img_1182.jpg  

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Old 06-14-2017, 04:25 PM
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I had a 3 day weekend this past weekend so I decided it was time to give it a shot. On day 1, (Friday) I started by removing all the old suspension, and only had one leaf spring bolt that wanted to be a bit tough to get out but everything made it out with no broken bolts. Got everything installed by midafternoon even with the heat and was pretty happy with the results. The height didn’t change but it sure rides better and is a whole hell of a lot quieter. If I didnt know it was my jeep I would say it was a whole different vehicle! I got a few pictures of some of the items that was planned to replace, and what everything looked like before putting the wheels back on and how it looked after everyhting got torqued down.
Attached Thumbnails Desert StormTrooper-img_1176.jpg   Desert StormTrooper-img_1177.jpg   Desert StormTrooper-img_1180.jpg   Desert StormTrooper-img_1183.jpg   Desert StormTrooper-img_1184.jpg  

Desert StormTrooper-img_1185.jpg  
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Old 06-14-2017, 04:41 PM
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Day 2 started with me starting the work on the front end. Along with the parts that came with the lift, I plan on replacing the lower control arms, track bar, and installing the crown steering upgrade. Had a little more trouble with some of the bolts, as I don’t think the lower control arms have ever been removed. A few of them needed a little heat treatment to get loose. Luckily a buddy came over to lend a hand and we were able to get the suspension parts back in by the end of the day
Attached Thumbnails Desert StormTrooper-img_1186.jpg   Desert StormTrooper-img_1187.jpg   Desert StormTrooper-img_1188.jpg   Desert StormTrooper-img_1189.jpg  
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Old 06-14-2017, 06:22 PM
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Day 3 was supposed to be a simple one. Just get the new track bar, and steering upgrade in then set it down and get everything torqued back down then I’m good. Well……… first the new track bar I had stripped out the grease point as I was putting it in, Great……. Ordered a new one. Put old one back in temporarily. Put in the steering upgrades which went pretty easy. Then I set everything down and realized I forgot to change out the coil spacers <Face Palm> Ahhh well, at least everything works and now all I need to do it pull it back apart and change out the spacers. Got a few pics from the day, not as much as being my third day in our heat, I just wanted to be done.
Attached Thumbnails Desert StormTrooper-img_1191.jpg   Desert StormTrooper-img_1192.jpg   Desert StormTrooper-img_1194.jpg  
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Old 06-15-2017, 11:01 AM
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Very nice! I like the bumper especially​.
Ah, Arizona... Look at all that lack of rust underneath! Lucky lucky! Lol

I like overhead consoles but my XJ has a sunroof so I can't really put one in. If I did, it would just benefit the people that never sit in the rear seat.
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Old 06-15-2017, 01:15 PM
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I like the idea of the overhead console because that is where I plan on putting my CB radio
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Old 06-26-2017, 05:28 PM
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Finally got the time to pull the front of the jeep apart to change out the coild isolators. Looking much better and way more level. I tok pics of the old isolators compared tothe new ones and the front end about halfway put back togther as I was taking a break in the Phoenix heat. Now just need to take it in for an alignment next weekend.
Attached Thumbnails Desert StormTrooper-img_1236.jpg   Desert StormTrooper-e3488b0f-e156-4223-b148-78b014c4f63e.jpg   Desert StormTrooper-img_1237.jpg  
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Old 06-26-2017, 07:04 PM
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Nicely done! It sits at about the right height, i think.
I think i'll start pinching pennies for a lift of new factory upcountry springs.

BTW, nice shield in your garage!
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Old 07-13-2017, 04:47 PM
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Well quick update, not much in the way of pictures. Got the alignment done and she is driving fine, still a little bit of torque steer, but until I get new tires that is to be expected.
Had to start driving the jeep to work as the clutch is going out in the DD vehicle, UGH. Had the check engine light come on about 4 days later, was showing P0700 and P0740. Wasnt showing any shifting or RPM issues, and light went beck off the next day. I am still planning on changing tranmission and transfer case fluids and such just ot make sure. I also ordered a shackle relocation kit as the add a leaf I put is has the hole mounted center and the leaf springs do not so I will be taking that out and using a shackle relaction to get my lift in the rear. Also just ordered a new valve cover gasket and new grommets so I can hopefully track down the last of my oil seeps.

Regular - Yep thats my shield, she does a pretty good job of keeping my from getting beat up on a regular basis
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