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Poor College Student '88 XJ Build

Old 05-29-2016, 03:21 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: Fallbrook, CA
Posts: 33
Year: 1988
Model: Cherokee
Engine: 4.0L i6
Default Poor College Student '88 XJ Build

Figured I would start a build thread to document my XJ build on budget. I bought the car in November of 2015 and have been slowly working on it ever since. Unfortunately I can't find the pictures of when I first brought her home and I haven't been fully documenting all of my work until now. I'll try and cover as much of my previous work as possible and start searching for old pictures.







This is the oldest picture I can find of the jeep. (This picture is after installing the lift). She started out as a completely stock 1988 base model XJ. Pretty much as basic as it gets.... the mini center console, crank windows, manual locks.....
Paid $4000 for it from a kid who purchased it from the original owner and only had it for a few weeks. I'm still in the process of breaking it in with only 90000 original miles! Paint is all original and zero signs of rust or even fading. Truly a great find for southern California, only wish I would have talked the price down a bit more

Last edited by huntrrrrr; 05-29-2016 at 05:21 PM.
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Old 05-29-2016, 03:45 PM
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Year: 1988
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Jeep drove great all the way home.... until I turned it off in the driveway. Apparently it had overheated on the way home and it boiled over. The idiot light didnt turn on to let me know.

Took this opportunity to overhaul the entire cooling system. I changed from the old style closed system cooling to the newer open cooling.
Replaced the radiator, cooling bottle, water pump, thermostat, and added an aftermarket temp gauge.

The radiator was a "Spectra Premium CU1193" from amazon. For less than $100 shipped I figured I would give it a try. It was a direct swap from the old radiator and fit perfectly.



I used a cheap coolant bottle from O'Reillys to replace the old pressurized coolant bottle.



To add the new temp gauge, I used a thermostat housing from a newer non renix XJ that has a temp sender in the housing. I was able to just swap in the temp sender from my new gauge into the housing and wire it up.



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Old 05-29-2016, 04:01 PM
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Year: 1988
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Engine: 4.0L i6
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After Fixing the cooling problems I decided to install the lift. I went with the Rubicon express 4.5in Superflex kit. I hope to get long arms one day but for now this kit works great. I plan on fitting 33's and maybe step up to 35's one day.

Installed the lift in the garage by myself. (Again sorry for the lack of pictures)
Definitely would recommend having a couple of people to lend a hand.... Took way longer than expected to complete. I don't have any pics of the jeep before the lift but here's a pic after, next to my friends JK on 35's.


I wheeled it for a long time on stock tires on the 4.5in lift. It surprised the hell out of me what it was capable of on such small tires and open diffs. Looked ridiculous though

Last edited by huntrrrrr; 05-29-2016 at 04:05 PM.
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Old 05-29-2016, 04:12 PM
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Year: 1988
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Christmas 2015 my parents "surprised" me with new tires! 33in Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac's on cragar soft 8's. They are a huge improvement to the jeep. The didn't like to fit in the stock wheel well though. You can see the tire chewing up the stock fenders:



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Old 05-29-2016, 04:20 PM
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Year: 1988
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To fix the rubbing I went with Napier fender flares. They were cheaper than bushwackers and I liked the look better. I cut the wheel wells to enlarge them (WISH I HAD PICTURES ) and installed the flares. I really like the look but having the extra space makes me want 35's!




Ignore the other stuff on the jeep...I'll get to that
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Old 05-29-2016, 05:05 PM
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Year: 1988
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After using the jeep for a few months I decided I wanted a roof rack to hold more camping and recovery gear. I wasn't willing to pay $600+ for a cheap looking rack so I decided to build one myself. It was my first welding project so don't expect anything to fancy.

I wanted it to cover the entire roof and have spots for a lightbar, side lights, and reverse lights. I also wanted to have a place to store tow straps, fluids, etc. when I am camping. I added slots for ammo cans to fit into the rack.

The wires for the lights run out the back of the rack and into the car where the rear window sprayer normally would. This was the cleanest way I could find to do it. I wired in a 5 connection plug for the lights so that I could easily remove the roof rack.






















This pretty much brings me up to my current setup. Posts after this will be done in much greater detail. Feel free to ask any questions!

Last edited by huntrrrrr; 05-29-2016 at 05:09 PM.
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Old 05-29-2016, 07:49 PM
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Looks good.
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Old 05-30-2016, 08:14 PM
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That's an awesome job. I really like the way you worked the back corners of the roof rack. It's extremely well thought out and executed.
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Old 05-31-2016, 10:19 AM
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Looks like a good start so far! I like your roof rack build!
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