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Project 4 Banger Danger

Old 09-28-2016, 06:17 PM
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Default Project 4 Banger Danger

Disclaimer: I am a long-winded writer and this is a long post. If you don't care about the background of my XJ, skip to post # 2.

Background:

I needed a good winter vehicle and a friend sent me a craigslist ad for this 1993 Jeep Cherokee 2.5L 2-door 4X4 with 182k on the clock and the AX5. I had heard about Jeeps but knew nothing about them. After going to look at it, I picked it up. This was September 2015.
Here it is when I bought it:





It needed new tires to get through the winter, so I bought some Firestone Destination A/T’s in 235s. Lifts weren’t on my radar at the time; again I knew nothing about XJs.








I should mention that I am a “late bloomer” when it comes to wrenching on cars. I did not grow up working on stuff in the garage at all. I first got into it in about 2012. My pickup needed a brake job and I couldn’t afford what the shop was asking. So I decided to give it a whirl myself. It took me two days! Keep my lack of experience in mind…

I knew a high mileage vehicle this old would need some work from time to time so I started doing more research on Cherokees. A friend who used to own a Cherokee still had his Haynes manual and he was kind enough to give it to me. During this time I also found this forum. Little did I know that I was about to fall down the XJ rabbit hole…

I was living in the Black Hills of South Dakota at the time and hoped to go skiing over the winter, so after a friend gave me his old ski rack I threw it on.





I am also an avid pheasant hunter and discovered the Jeep works great as a hunting rig.








Forest service roads are fun too:










I previously had an irrational fear of snow (driving a 2wd pickup will do that to you). Now it was fun!
















In December of 2015 I had my first major mishap… While driving down a steep hill approaching a busy intersection, my engine died on me. My brakes went out too and I was unable to stop. Oh, and I was heading towards a red light. That was fun! Thankfully somebody upstairs was looking out for me and there was a break in traffic right as I went through the intersection. I was able to forcibly downshift and pull off to the side of the road.

Figuring out what happened was a diagnostic nightmare. I went through the manual and tried everything I could. Mechanically-inclined friends gave their two cents but nothing worked. I gave it a tune-up for good measure; new plugs, wires, cap, & rotor. That helped get it running but it ran terribly. It’s hard for me to describe how it sounded, but it was like the timing was off or it was misfiring. Eventually I had to throw in the towel and call in the big guns. There is a well-known semi-retired mechanic in Rapid City, SD who makes house calls. A true “expert”; he used to work on jet engines in Vietnam. Anyway, after he came over and started it up, he had this perplexed look. We stood in the garage for a while saying nothing while he listened to the rough idle. After a bit – I’ll never forget this part – he unscrewed the oil cap and put his ear to the fill hole. Another thirty seconds passed before he said, “I think you have a busted valve spring.” We shut the engine off and unbolted the valve cover and sure enough! The man diagnosed a broken valve spring just by listening to the engine!

I never did figure out what happened with the brakes. After replacing all of the valve springs and making the engine happy again, the brake system worked fine. Maybe in the midst of the situation my panicked mind imagined that part.






About two weeks after I fixed that, the alternator bracket broke in half, throwing a belt. I have no welding experience, so I had to take it to a machining shop to get it welded back together.

In January we moved across the state to Eastern SD. A few months later, the started died on me while I was out geocaching with my wife. Five days after fixing that, while out doing some rather easy "wheeling" on minimal maintenance dirt roads, it died on me again after I got stuck in this:




Oops...





I was able to jump it to get it home (I have no idea why that worked – the battery was fine) and then it died and wouldn’t start again. I ended up refreshing all my grounds and I also discovered that the throttle body gasket had deteriorated to dust. Slapped a new one in and it was happy again.

In June I was able to do my first “mod”. The slave cylinder had a leak when I bought the Jeep, and I procrastinated fixing it because I wasn’t comfortable tackling that yet. Instead I just nursed it; topping off the fluid every couple weeks or so. By the time the slave cylinder finally died I felt up to the challenge. I decided to convert to an external slave. I figured if I was dropping the transmission anyway I might as well, then if the slave ever failed again it would be easier to fix. I also replaced the clutch and flywheel while I was in there.




Tranny out...



Ready to go back in!

We had planned a vacation in Yellowstone National Park in July and I had the Jeep buttoned up in time to take it. Here are some pics:










































Ever since refreshing the grounds and replacing the throttle body gasket the Jeep has run good. Ever since converting the slave cylinder and changing the tranny fluid it has run great! I think I finally have all of the mechanical gremlins taken care of.

Recently I finally pulled up all the carpet to take a looksy at what was underneath. Yuck!















I grinded everything down...








Patched holes with fiberglass...












...and used Rustoleum rust dissolver on the bare metal. Then I primed the metal...










I then gave it a coat of Al’s Heat and Noise Reducer and top coated with bed liner!
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Old 09-28-2016, 06:32 PM
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Build



After bedlining the interior, I purchased some Rugged Ridge Floor Mats for the front. For the back, I decided to do something different. I bought one of these rubber horse stall mats from Tractor Supply and cut it to fit. I had enough leftover to cut pieces for underneath the front floor mats.

Pics of the interior:







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Old 09-28-2016, 06:38 PM
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I have now owned this Jeep for just over a year and after giving it much thought, I've decided to build my little four banger into a modest expedition/overland rig. That means it's finally time for a lift! My stock suspension is completely shot - this was the only way to convince my wife lol. The goal to shoot for is ~2.5". I decided that I wanted a full coil spring up front instead of a spring/spacer combo so I am going with Rancho 2.5" coils. In the rear I will use Crown HD leafs with IRO 1.5" boomerang shackles.

Shots of the front:








I put in the '95 YJ brake lines up front as well since they are longer than stock XJ lines. I know this may have been unnecessary with my little lift but I decided to do it anyway.









Front end finished up!






As I type this, I am taking a break after wrestling with the driver's side leaf spring bolts all day. I got the U-bolts off no problem. The shackle bolt I managed to get started part of the way out. The front leaf spring bolt I have somewhat started. I worked at them for a while today. They're kickin' my kiester!
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Old 09-28-2016, 11:16 PM
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Great build man! Glad to see the Jeep (and you) are happy!
Never thought of fiber-glassing or a horse mat, good ideas!

Always good to have another 4 banger

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Old 09-29-2016, 04:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Ad-HocXJ View Post
Great build man! Glad to see the Jeep (and you) are happy!
Never thought of fiber-glassing or a horse mat, good ideas!

Always good to have another 4 banger

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Thanks! It's at just over 192,000 miles right now. I've put 10k on it in a year, which isn't bad when you consider all the times it has sat and that I have two other vehicles I drive a lot. It's safe to say I'm addicted!

I got the idea for fiberglassing from another member here recently who used a POR-15 fiberglass kit for those unable to weld (like me). I liked it and tried to duplicate the process with Rustoleum products.

Even with Al's HNR under the bedliner, the Jeep was still a lot louder than before. I was looking for a cargo mat that could provide some more insulation and noise cancellation. And most cargo mats you find for the XJ's, like the Rugged Ridge one, have that lipped edge where they go behind the passenger seat. My passenger seat stays folded down 95% of the time and my dog rides back there, so mats with that lip weren't going to work with me. I saw the horse mat online and decided to give it a try. It's very thick, about 3/4", and since it's meant for livestock I figured it would provide insulation and be "puppy proof". So far so good! If nothing else, it definitely provided a lot more noise cancellation and I'm happy about that.
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Old 09-29-2016, 03:33 PM
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I gave it another go at the shackle bolt today. I thought for sure I had it with the combination of penetrating oil and elbow grease. Until I pulled it out and looked at it...

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Oops...
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Old 09-30-2016, 02:58 PM
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I managed to get the lower shackle bolt off, and then proceeded to beat the living daylights out of the shackle itself with a hammer until it slipped out.

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Now that I can get to what's left of the upper shackle bolt, I have to figure out how to deal with it...

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Old 09-30-2016, 11:26 PM
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Quick tip on getting that stud out: thread two nuts onto it and turn the bottom nut to get a twist on it. If that doesn't work, you might have to revert to getting someone to weld a nut onto it! Good luck man, I had the same issue with mine
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Old 10-02-2016, 04:06 PM
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Coming along nicely man.
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Old 10-23-2016, 06:17 PM
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Good news and bad news...

Bad first: The lift installation has stalled as I have been clueless what to do with the stuck leafspring eye bolts. Life also caught up with me so I've been busy and struggling to find garage time. Today I tried again on the driverside eye bolt and I promptly heard a loud SNAP. I believe I broke the weld on the nut as the bolt just spins now. Yay! I'm not sure what to do about that...

The good news is I have ordered some more parts:

Steinjäger swaybar quick disconnects
BDS adjustable track bar
Some JK Rubicon shocks off ebay
Rough Country BPEs for the front and rear
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Old 10-25-2016, 06:41 PM
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Progress! The broken bolt gave me an excuse to buy a Sawzall. That and an angle grinder with a cut off wheel helped me reduce the leafspring to this:

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Now I just have to figure out how to remove what's left of the nut...


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I'm wondering if I can leave that access hole open like that or if it needs to be welded shut. Does anybody have any ideas?
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Old 10-26-2016, 11:27 PM
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I would try to get that out if you're gonna put new shackles in, or if you're going no-lift shackle relocation then I think you cut it out anyway. May be wrong on that one tho
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Old 10-27-2016, 04:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Ad-HocXJ View Post
I would try to get that out if you're gonna put new shackles in, or if you're going no-lift shackle relocation then I think you cut it out anyway. May be wrong on that one tho
The most recent picture is actually the front leafspring eye bolt that is broken. Although the shackle bolt is broken off too! I have a talent for breaking bolts, it seems...

I did manage to heat up the passenger side bolts with an oxygen torch until they were glowing red and then managed to carefully remove them. For the driver side I ordered new bolts from the dealership that should be in today.
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Old 10-27-2016, 07:09 PM
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Almost there...

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Got it!

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Sloppy primer job...

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I also got the broken rear bolt out and removed the rear sway bar. And picked up the new leafspring bolts and nuts from the dealership. I'm finally at a point where I can install my new leafs!

To anyone reading, sorry I'm so slow! I'm a beginner at all of this.
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Old 11-01-2016, 05:00 PM
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My suspension overhaul is done. Took me way too long, but better late than never.



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Before pic for comparison:



I haven't done the official measurements but I'm happy. Took it for a spin and even though it's out of alignment I still think it rides and handles worlds ahead of where it was before.
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Last edited by 4BangerDanger; 11-01-2016 at 05:09 PM.
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