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DualSportDad's 97 XJ build

Old 08-21-2012, 08:43 PM
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Default DualSportDad's 97 XJ

i'm starting this thread as more of a log of what i do to my jeep but feel free to follow all the dumb stuff i do to it. there won't be much tho, i promise.... i hate working on my vehicles.

This is my 1997 Cherokee SE... i pretty much got it the way you see it here minus the highlift on the front bumper and the axe and shovel on the bread basket. oh and minus the dent in the front fender and the rip in the front bumper.



i ended up buying my jeep when i found out i was having a kid and noticed there was no way a rear facing baby seat was fitting into my civic when i'm 6'6.

my son's mom talked me into buying the jeep (it didn't take much convincing) cause we had been planning on taking our motorcycles and riding the "TAT" (Trans America Trail). since we were having the baby we decided to hold off for a year and then we'd do the TAT with our son , her and him in the Jeep and me on the bike. 4 months after our son was born we split up. i decided to keep the Jeep in hopes to be able to take us on some awesome father and son adventures. he's getting to the age now where he wants to go in daddy's jeep but unfortunately his mother and i are going through a awful custody dispute right now and for the time being i only get him once a week for 6 hours and it's supervised.

since i haven't had much free time or spare money i haven't been doing much to the Jeep except for what's needed to keep her up and running... which includes a "new" transmission, all new brakes (everything except the master cyl. and booster), replaced every u-joint and put in a new front drive-shaft, new front diff bearing and reset the preload (set too tight from factory), new a/c compressor, new condensor fan, and more that i know i'm forgetting.


fast forward to now.... well kinda, haha. a few months ago i came across a 98 xj 5-speed 4x4 with 213,000 miles on it that was totaled in the front end. the owners were a really nice older couple that had bought the jeep in 99 with 10k on it. when they moved her to Florida a few months prior they registered the jeep and put minimum insurance on it... the accident was the owner's fault. i ended up buying the jeep from them for scrap worth. the jeep is in really good shape other than rust.







i performed a little magic and the next day i had her up and drivable.







i had fun with the 98 but now my baby (the 97) needs a new evaporator and the the main reason for buying the 98 was the interior. the previous owner of my 97 gave her a spray paint paint job. while the outside looks good i don't know why he started to paint everything inside black... and it looks awful. there is also no headliner material on the headliner board.

i did also want to do a 5-speed swap but i'm really hesitant to do it. a few reasons are... it's a decent amount of work that i really don't feel like doing (i'm a Chrysler tech), the center console always got in my way while shifting the 98, and the first cupholder was useless with a 5-speed... i'd always knock my drink over when shifting to 2nd or 4th. i could also sell the swap parts for decent money that could help me fix some things on my jeep, like a real paint job (the sun has taken a toll on the spray paint), tires, and some race seats (the stock ones suck!!!!!). other than that i really miss driving stick.

so now here's when i start my pictures.....yesterday i started my dash swap and possibly my 5-speed swap.

the dash as of yesterday when i left work.


the dash as i left work today.


i didn't get much time to work on it today, maybe a little over an hour. i was really hoping to have the headliner and the rest of the little interior tid bits, headliner and complete body harness out today and was hoping to get the whole drivetrain and fuel tank out tomorrow.

well that's it for today... maybe more tomorrow.

Last edited by DualSportDad; 09-07-2012 at 10:38 PM.
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Old 08-21-2012, 09:16 PM
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How did you get the 98 up and running it looked like the grill was pushed in. Nice work

Nice 97 I personally like the 98 better but I have a 98 chilly pepper red sport 4 door Cherokee so thats maybe why
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Old 08-21-2012, 09:41 PM
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The main damage was the front frame rails and the steering linkages. I had a spare set of steering linkages. The radiator and condenser was pretty good shape but pushed back some. I put the spare on and took the jeep back to our body shop where a buddy of mine straightened the frame for me.

I didn't drive it much once I fixed it. The previous owners gave me all the mantence receipts they had .... they had been taking it to all aftermarket shops and they weren't doing a great jobkeeping the jeep up to snuff. The rear end was on its way out and had already been replaced once, the rear brakes were shot, the rear u joints are loose and more. I'm pretty **** about my stuff being in perfect working order. I will admit it was fun to take it out and see what it could take a stock jeep through. It also served as a great backup truck when my steering box broke in my 97.
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Old 08-22-2012, 07:53 AM
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Off topic but what kinda dual sport do u have ?
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Old 08-22-2012, 07:55 AM
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A KLX400R that is street legal.
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Old 08-22-2012, 01:28 PM
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Cool, I've got an old Yamaha TT350 that I converted to a dual sport. Been riding that as much as I can. 65+ mpg vs the jeep 14-19mpg
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Old 08-22-2012, 08:47 PM
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Cool, the first bike I got my ex was a xt350. It ended up needing a decent amount more work than I thought tho. Great bike after I fixed it all up. she couldn't kick start it to save her life tho.

And yeah I hear you about the gas thing.... my bike has around 30,000 miles on it. Gas mileage kills me in the jeep to.

Here's my jeep towing mine home through a trail after she got hit by a dually at work.

Last edited by DualSportDad; 08-22-2012 at 08:52 PM.
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Old 08-27-2012, 05:32 PM
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a quick update:

i had some time to work on the Jeep friday so i got the trans, t-case, driveshafts, etc out.

this is what she looked like when i went to work today:


nice pretty new clutch just like the PO said:


today we were a bit slow in the afternoon so i tore into the jeep for a few hours. i got everything out that was needed to do the swap and then some.



empty all the way back, no harness, exhaust, gas tank, etc.


pile of parts. dash and evap box are on the bench and what is left of the interior swap is pretty much piled up in or on the jeep.


that's all for now. at the end of the week i hope to start on my Tan one.
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Old 08-31-2012, 07:39 PM
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i started on my Tan Jeep today. i got to work around 9 ish and started putting my new evap and heater core into the 98 box.




i was slacking bad this morning... i took a long lunch and got back around 2 and this is how the tan jeep looked:


just the battery had been removed.

i started to pull the dash and the evap box and a little over an hour later i was at this point:


see the nice burned up wire?


this jeep has speaker wire running all through it (powering stuff) and even a household extension cord running constant 12v to the a/c blower relay. i already started cutting all the speaker wire out and removed the extension cord. tomorrow i'll remove that pin and solder a new one onto the wire.

i removed the brake pedal and bracket, the auto trans controller, and the engine bay harness.




then came the fun part... drilling holes. i'm not a fan of drilling holes in my cars but it had to be done. the factory is nice enough the mark the spots that need to be drilled.



2, 1/2 inch holes and one 1 1/2 inch hole was drilled.


that is silver touch up paint around the holes.

and one from the outside:


that's it for today. hopefully tomorrow i will either get everything done dash, engine bay and interior (shifter removed etc) or the trans and t-case in tomorrow.

Last edited by DualSportDad; 08-31-2012 at 08:57 PM.
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Old 08-31-2012, 07:47 PM
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clutch master mounts side ways like that ?
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Old 08-31-2012, 07:56 PM
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that's just the mounting holes, the reservoir is straight up and down once installed.
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Old 08-31-2012, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by DualSportDad View Post
that's just the mounting holes, the reservoir is straight up and down once installed.
ok thought you been drinking 2 much
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Old 09-01-2012, 06:16 PM
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Default Today's update.

worked on the Jeep today.

i went to repair the burnt wire and noticed that that harness just went from where to the fuse box and then to the hand brake and the ORC. i ended up replacing replacing the ORC because i noticed the wire harness had a wire on the 97 that the 98 didn't. i checked the connector pinouts for the 2 and there was some differences. not sure how it'll work out but i'll be hooking up the battery with the key on just incase.

i got the evap box in. i ended up having to use the high side line from the 98 jeep, i guess there is a difference between the 97 and 98 evaps cause the line was too long where it went into the evap.


then the engine compartment harness and the dash.







then i removed the trans and t-case.


looks like someone replaced a freeze plug.


tuesday i'll be removing this bushing if i can and putting in my crank. if you look at the previous picture you'll see the differnce in the crank ends.



and this is how she looked when i left


hopefully tuesday i'll be able to drive her home.

Last edited by DualSportDad; 09-01-2012 at 06:20 PM.
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Old 09-02-2012, 10:29 PM
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Don't forget the backing plate! don't ask.....
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Old 09-02-2012, 10:38 PM
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Looking good on the swap i just converted my 99 to 5 speed a month ago its definitely worth it just a tip save the manual computer from the 98 your going to need it just a tip
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