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FrankenJeep II

Old 10-12-2017, 11:37 PM
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OK, been lurking around here for a few weeks now and getting some great advice on our project. XJIrish4x4 suggested I do a post on the build so here it is.

A couple years ago my daughter bought her first XJ (she's owned several Wranglers). Kind of an old beater, but it looked cool, had some gnarly bits on it, and was real cheap. She named it FrankenJeep due to our body work of repairing cracks and splits in panels by stitching them together with zip ties. Here's FrankenJeep:



We really didn't do much to "Frank", other than getting it semi-sound mechanically. I did remove the rear seat and build a slick bed/cabinet/storage deal for camping. Frank has done well for her, surviving a record snowfall winter in the Sierras, taking her offroading on rock climbing adventures, and several road trips. But ... Frank has some issues. Floor boards rotted out, a bit of death wobble, transfer case issues, low compression on a couple cylinders etc. Plus, that little 4-banger motor can hardly get out of it's own way. So ... she and I decided the next time she came home we'd find a much better XJ, transfer all those cool gnarly bits over, do a bit of customizing, and create FrankenJeep II.

So a few weeks ago we found her, an unmolested pavement princess '95 Country XJ for $1000. Runs great, no mechanical issues, rust free, and perfect for this project. Here's FrankenJeep 2 as bought:



My daughter got home, and we've only got a month before she hits the road again and heads south, so this is a bit of a rush project. We're transferring the lift kit and wheels over (she's painting them gloss black), doing bedliner treatment on the lower body and other pieces, wiring in bumper lights and other doodads, might do something creative with the headliner, got a Smittybuilt rear bumper with spare carrier (happy to get that heavy spare off the roof rack), we'll transfer the bed/cabinet thing I made over, and she's got lots of other customization touches she wants to make. We'll see what all we have time for before she has to hit the road again.

Anyway, that's the story so far on FrankenJeep II, aptly named as we're stitching together limbs and organs from a corpse to create a new living creature. As we go along I'll try to share some progress pics, and hopefully in a few weeks I'll post a pic of the finished Frank II.

Later ...

Last edited by wristwister; 10-13-2017 at 08:52 AM.
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Old 10-14-2017, 05:27 AM
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Loving the build intro so far!! Glad you took my advice and your daughter was convinced to put one up online to share. I really like the old Frankenjeep the color scheme and all but I totally understand the problems it had and the need to convert to something in much better shape. That new one looks to be from California is it not? If so I can totally understand the rust free. Always loved buying cars in California they could be 20+ years old and still in imacculate shape if the owner took care of them you never had to worry about rust.

Keep them coming love it!!!!
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Old 10-14-2017, 09:02 AM
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Thanks for posting. I can't wait to follow the build.
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Old 10-14-2017, 09:49 AM
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Spot on Irish, Frank II is indeed a California Jeep. Not only rust free, but as near as I can tell the poor thing has never had a chance to stretch it's legs off road. Frank 1 on the other hand was from Alaska, hence the rust, and shows signs of a life of off roading abuse.

My daughter really likes Frank 1's color, a flat sand paint job. It was probably a cheap Maaco job or some such thing, slightly better than a rattle can job. She originally wanted to get Frank II painted the same color, but the original white paint is in pretty good shape, so she's going for a black and white look, with black lowers, fenders, bumpers, grill, wheels etc. I believe she's on her 5th can of bed liner spray, she's getting quite good at this!

Yesterday I finished transferring the front lift kit components over. Went well but slow. I'm also transferring the stock components over to Frank 1, as in the end it still needs to be driveable. Both Jeeps are looking pretty silly right now. Frank 1 looks like a drag racer lifted with big wheels in the back and stock up front, and I'm not sure what to make of Frank II with it's snout pointing up in the air!

Here's yesterday in the surgery center:


Last edited by wristwister; 10-14-2017 at 09:58 AM.
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Old 10-15-2017, 11:30 AM
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You did all that with the Kayak still mounted on Jeep #1? LOL if you did but suppose it really does not add much more weight. I bought my Kayak right before I left on deployment I got about 1 week of it fishing with it and loved it so much. Mine is setup for fishing primarily.....Keep the photos coming though as I'm jealous you get to work on yours now and I will have to wait some more. I'm surprised you don't have an XJ for yourself after building two of these now for your daughter.
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Old 10-15-2017, 12:30 PM
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You know Irish, I've been having that same thought. Working on these XJs, and her previous Wranglers, has been fun. I'd love to build one for myself, but the multiple projects are sort of getting out of control and I should probably tone down a bit.

But ... if a sweet little 4.0 2-door manual XJ were to show up on Craigslist ...
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Old 10-15-2017, 12:34 PM
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Oops....I didn't mean to stir up the pot ha ha! I know the feeling about projects though so if the right one comes along then I hope you find it and get it. Then maybe we can go wheeling sometime
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Old 10-15-2017, 07:09 PM
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Transfer of rear lift kit DONE! Did you all know that axles are slightly different diameters between the 95 and 96? Like, 1/4" difference. They both have exactly the same U-bolt brackets on top of the rear springs, which have slotted holes. The 95 U-bolts hug the inside of those slots and the 96 with the slightly larger diameter axle hug the outside. This meant I couldn't swap the U-bolts between the two. I had to run all over town to find exactly the right new U-bolts, but I got them and finished the job. Now as soon as the kidlette paints up the rear wheels I'll be able to mount them up and take Frank II out for a test drive.
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Old 10-15-2017, 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by wristwister View Post
Transfer of rear lift kit DONE! Did you all know that axles are slightly different diameters between the 95 and 96? Like, 1/4" difference. They both have exactly the same U-bolt brackets on top of the rear springs, which have slotted holes. The 95 U-bolts hug the inside of those slots and the 96 with the slightly larger diameter axle hug the outside. This meant I couldn't swap the U-bolts between the two. I had to run all over town to find exactly the right new U-bolts, but I got them and finished the job. Now as soon as the kidlette paints up the rear wheels I'll be able to mount them up and take Frank II out for a test drive.
you sure the axles were the same? Xjs came with different axles throughout the years. Either way, you shouldn't reuse ubolts anyways.
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Old 10-15-2017, 08:15 PM
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Woo hoo, sounds like ya'll are makin some progress.
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Old 10-15-2017, 08:54 PM
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Originally Posted by XJIrish4x4 View Post
You did all that with the Kayak still mounted on Jeep #1?
Yup, and all her stuff inside and on the roof rack. I told her to completely clean out Frank 1, but she's really been getting into the sanding, masking, painting and customizing on Frank II and hasn't gotten around to the clean-it-out part. No problem, as soon as I tell her I'm ready to transfer over the bed/cabinetry and the roof rack she'll have Frank 1 cleaned out in no time!

Last edited by wristwister; 10-15-2017 at 09:03 PM.
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Old 10-15-2017, 08:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Martlor13 View Post
you sure the axles were the same? Xjs came with different axles throughout the years. Either way, you shouldn't reuse ubolts anyways.
No, the axles are definitely different between the two, but the diameters are so close they both use the same U-bolt plates, just different U-bolts. Interestingly, the 96 with the 4-banger is the slightly bigger axle than the 4.0 95.

Probably good advice on not reusing U-bolts.
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Old 10-16-2017, 02:02 AM
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Yea X2 on the reusing of U-bolts that has been something I have known and been told. So I think regardles how it played out you did the right thing by just going to find new ones.
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Old 10-17-2017, 08:33 PM
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Got the 31's mounted up and attempted to take Frank II out for a test drive. Got some rubbing problems front and rear, I posted a pic and asked for advice over on the "All Lift & Tire questions go here!!!" thread. I'm thinking we need wheel spacers front and rear, but I'll wait to see what the forum brain trust has to say.
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Old 10-19-2017, 10:01 PM
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Applying her makeup


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