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My 97 XJ build

Old 03-01-2010, 02:32 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Hampton, VA
Posts: 15
Year: 1997
Model: Cherokee
Engine: 4.0
Default My 97 XJ build

Ive always had a love for Jeep Cherokees. In fact, its the only type of vehicle ive owned. This one being my fourth one. I picked it up for a steal, 1600 bucks back in March 2008. Its got the bullet proof 4.0 Inline 6, AX-15 Manually tranny, and no power options. Sweet ride.



Between march 2008 and November 2009, I put about 35,000 miles on it. ( Was deployed for 5 months , so basically put 35,000 miles on it in one year ).

I like to do rock crawling. Not really a fan of mud, but like driving over rocks and such and doing technical, low speed crawling. Its pretty intense if you've never done it before. So I planned and built the jeep to play in the rocks.

The specs:

4.5" Rubicon Express Leaf springs and Coils
Y-Link Radius Arm Suspension up front.
Dana 44 Front axle out of a 1986 Grand Wagoner.
Dana 44 Rear axle out of a 1981 Jeep J10.
Bilstein 5150 Shocks up front.
35" Mickey Thompson MTZ's
Eaton 32 Bolt Beadlocks.

Time for pics!

Parts ready for primer and paint

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My big pile of parts

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The 35" MTZ's mounted to the beadlocks

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Since I cant attach convential wheel weights to the wheels, this is how the tires are balanced. These are BB's for BB guns. I put about 1200 ( 6oz) in each tire. When you start moving, they get spinning and find the unbalanced spots in the tire and balance the tire.

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My front axle, out of a 1986 Jeep Wagoner. Its loaded with after markert parts. Chromoly axle shafts, Longfield Cyro-treated 300m ujoints, Detroit locker, and setup for over the knuckle steering.


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The truss I put on the axle. Provides strength to the axle housing it self, and provides mounting points for the Upper Control arms, trac bar, and coil buckets and shock mounts.

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Stock Dana 30 Gone!

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Is something missing here?

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Had a small fire trying to get the stock leaf spring out... The bolt was frozen so we broke out the torch and the rubber bushing cought fire, and then the rubberized undercoating cought fire

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Looking up at the floor from underneath.. Surprisingly no rust. Jeep spend 12 years in the north east, usually most vehicles this old are destroyed by rust.

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Old 03-01-2010, 02:32 AM
  #2  
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Hampton, VA
Posts: 15
Year: 1997
Model: Cherokee
Engine: 4.0
Default

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Threw the tires under it just to get an idea how wide I will be


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Torched the lower control arm mounts off to make room for the long arms

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Cherokees are built with unibody construction, less than desirable for offroading. Plated the weak unibody with 3/16th Steel

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Had to cut a hole in the "frame" to get to a nut that is located inside for the leaf spring bolt. You can see how thin the frame is. ****s weak!
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My minty new transfer case. Well not new but modifed. NP231 with Slip Yoke Eliminator ( SYE).

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New Trac-bar mount
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Longer Stainless Steel braided brake lines

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My belly skid. Doubles as a skid plate for the tranny/transfer case but also a mounting point for control arms

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Had to drill through the 3/16" stiffeners and unibody. What a *****

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Stripped the dana 44 down and replaced some seals and made sure everything was solid.

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Old 03-01-2010, 02:32 AM
  #3  
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Join Date: Mar 2010
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Year: 1997
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Had a fun time actually getting these beadlocks installed. Had to run a tap through all 32 bolts to get the paint out, so I could correctly torque every bolt to 15 inch lbs. Ended up mounting it and adding air, only to have a fault valve stem and having to unbolt the whole thing, reinstall a new valve stem, and rebolting it down and torquing em all again. What a pain .

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Front axle mostly in...

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Put seam sealer over the seams of the stiffeners to keep the elements out, painted the frame rails

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Supports for the belly skid bolted in

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The width. Stock width from WMS ( wheel mounting surface ) to WMS is 59". This Dana 44s WMS is 61. The tires are 12.5" wide and the wheel is 8 wide with a 3.5 backspacing.

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I clear my control arms at full lock

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Gettin' There

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The ujoints. They cost about 200 bucks for one ujoint ( compared to about 20 for a stock ujoint )

"machined from 300m billet material and the caps are made of 4340 chromoly. They are also properly heat treated and cyrogenically frozen for added strength. These ujoints do not have needle bearings or bushings to crush or wear out. This makes the legs larger for added strengt. The legs and the caps are surface hardened and polished to prevent wear and galling. The legs also have a hole bored in them for grease storage. These joints have a lifetime warranty against breakage."


[img]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v724/mike01166/IMG_1223.jpg[/img[

A shot of the internals. Detroit locker and 5.13 gears. Came with 3.07's stock. Quite a big jump.





Rear leaf springs finally in.

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Old 03-01-2010, 02:33 AM
  #4  
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The Bilstein 5150 shocks. They are sweet.

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Driveshaft is mocked up.

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Steering mocked up. Tracbar is way too long. Ended up cutting about 6" from the center section and sleeving with DOM tubing.




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The axle came out of a Waggy with a front leaf spring setup, and it was spring under. You can see the spring perch in the picture. I ended up having to grind 3" away to make the lower control arm mounts fit. What a *****, cast iron and a grinder for about 30 minutes sucks.

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When attempting this, make sure you wear a glove. Sunburn from welders ****ing sucks!

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Front done.

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Old 03-01-2010, 02:33 AM
  #5  
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Join Date: Mar 2010
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Year: 1997
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Roughly at ride height. Still need to cut the fenders.

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Nice. Fronts done.

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Had a lot of issues with my rear axle and the process of installing ring and pinion gears... Its a weird situation because I upgraded to 33 spline chromos, but I was sent an install kit for a 30 spline axle, so I had to get new shims and bearings overnighted to me. It was a major PITA. That whole deal really held me up in getting the jeep done on time.

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A shot of the rusty rocker panel. I ended up cutting out the rocker panel and replacing it with my rock sliders ( box tubing )

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My "new" rocker panels. Beefy steel that I can slide over rocks with and protect the body. The tubing also lets me pivot off trees and ****.



I previously had these mounted to the frame below the rocker panel. You can see the spots where they were welded to the frame and where I cut them off and moved them up. I gained about 4" of clearence by doing this.




My drop pitman arm designed for a grand wagoner. Will match the throw of my dana 44 knuckles and give me a better turning radius.



Longer rear brake lines out of a 95' Dakota

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Rear axle in






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Front stance.



The fruits of my labor and hard work. First wheeling run with it. Did great, went everywhere I wanted it to. Still need to tweak a few things but it did great.













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Old 03-01-2010, 02:34 AM
  #6  
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Couple pics from the recent snow storm in Virginia this last weekend



Yorktown National Battlefield





And thats that. Jeeps mostly done. Still lots of little tweaks and changes I need to make but mostly done for now.

Heres a little before and after shot for comparasion.



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Old 03-01-2010, 03:08 AM
  #7  
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Wow, Nice build man!! I love it!
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Old 03-01-2010, 05:19 AM
  #8  
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I feels good to see successful jeep builds like this one...
It gives inspiration to others who also want to build their own...
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Old 03-01-2010, 07:02 AM
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Awesome build!
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Old 03-01-2010, 07:30 AM
  #10  
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Awesome build !
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Old 03-01-2010, 04:04 PM
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Very clean! I'm jealous lol
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Old 03-01-2010, 04:22 PM
  #12  
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Nice job on the build. Great lookin' XJ.
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Old 10-21-2010, 06:19 PM
  #13  
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great lookin rig man. im out at school in radford but im bout to be back home in yorktown for my internship, we should get up and talk jeep, i gotta pick your brain haha
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Old 10-21-2010, 06:30 PM
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sounds like something for you to PM him about.
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Old 10-21-2010, 07:00 PM
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man this build is like a lot of members on this sites wet dreams not many go all out crazy custom axles and stuff like you
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