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Project: 4wd conversion 99 XJ

Old 12-07-2016, 04:45 PM
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Default Project: 4wd conversion 99 XJ

I picked up a decent XJ over the weekend. I have been searching craigslist for quite some time just waiting for the right one to pop up. It finally popped up so of course I made the drive and snatched it up. Drove it home the same day! I have owned a few auto XJs in the past and my last one was a manual. While a manual might not be as good to crawl with, it is more fun to drive. So that's what I was looking for. Found a 99 2wd 5-speed that was white (couldn't find a green one). I went with the 2wd for 2 reasons. #1 - a 4wd 5-speed is nearly impossible to find around here and if you do find one, it will most likely be beat to death and expensive. #2 - 2wd are a lot cheaper, cleaner and a whole lot easier to find in a manual. The one I found looks like it has never been off road. Doesn't have any scratches underneath it and no mud stuck in odd places. The interior needs carpet, front seats and a window motor. On the outside, it need a front bumper and grille. So for what I plan on doing, this is a perfect start.

So first on my list is to turn this thing in to a real Jeep. That meaning 4wd! First parts are going to be a new trans and transfer case. I am not going with used parts. I have the trans and t-case on order already. I already have the t-case shifter linkage, shifter and interior bezel. This is the most expensive part of the build. I am not too sure on if the existing trans cross member is going to work so if anyone knows the answer, please chime in. If it doesn't work, I will either modify the one I have or make a new one. Once it is all bolted in, I will get the rear drive shaft shortened and get a new front drive shaft made. I will be searching around locally for a decent Dana 30. Then take it all apart, put in new bushings and see what the insides look like. At the same time, I am going to swap the gears to 4.10 (maybe find a front axle with them already). My last XJ (5-speed) had the stock 3.07 with 31s and it worked, just could have been a lot better.

In the middle of the conversion, I will be doing all the little stuff. New seats, carpet, grille, grille surround, front bumper and window regulator are all on order. That should be most of the little stuff to clean it up. After all that, then I will move on to fender flares, wheels, tires and the lift kit. It currently has spacers on the front and shackles in the rear. That should get me by for now.

I will get some pictures up this weekend when I am home in the day light. I will try my best to take some step by step pictures while doing the actual conversion and list out everything needed to do the swap. Here is a picture of my last XJ which this one will almost be cloned to. Nothing too crazy for now.


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Old 12-10-2016, 09:20 PM
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When I got the Jeep, it had the older style Cherokee front seats. The guy I bought it from had the correct set and threw them in with the deal. They were in a little bit better condition. He told me that all I need to do is switch the seat brackets and I would be good to go. Well here is how it went.

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Took the old seats out and pulled the brackets off.

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Grabbed one of the newer seats

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Flipped the seat over to put the mount on and found this.... So needless to say, these seats are junk. They were pretty stained anyways so I really don't care. I ordered some nice brand new bucket seats instead that should be here next week. I will have to fab up some adapter brackets but no big deal.

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My NP231 came in on Friday. It doesn't look too bad from the outside. Going to get it rebuilt and add in a SYE as well. The new transmission should be done getting built by the end of next week.

Some of the other 4wd parts have also started showing up. I got this and my 4wd shifter with linkage in already.

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I should be getting in all the front end parts (grille and bumper stuff) over the next week. That will all be pretty simple to install. Hopefully this weekend I can get the new seats, carpet and stereo system installed as well. It should be a completely different Cherokee by the end of next week! I will get some picture of it up tomorrow.
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Old 12-11-2016, 05:09 PM
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Alright! Finally got some pictures of the Jeep. I do have to say, I have a lot of other white cars. 6 white cars in total now.

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The PO did a good job on destroying the front end. All will be replaced next week. He also installed some lights which will be removed as well.

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Not in too bad of condition (besides the front). Looks like it was repainted at some time.

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4 of the 6 white cars. One more is in the garage and the other is on the street.

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And the other 2 Jeeps that are not white...
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Old 12-12-2016, 11:15 PM
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More work got done tonight. I got the front end taken apart. Found more damage then I thought would be there. No big deal though. Nothing a pry bar and hammer cant take care of.

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I got a lot more parts in today. Still waiting on the bumper itself and the grille surround. They should be here by Wednesday. After that, I can put the front end back together again. Then on to the interior or trans swap, whichever shows up first...

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Old 12-13-2016, 08:29 AM
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I did the manual swap on one of mine but I had a complete parts jeep. And it was aw4 before so maybe apples to oranges. Looking forward to watching your progress. Also I believe the crossmembers are the same, but I could be wrong. The exhaust mount may be different?
I had 3.55's with ax15 and 31" tires on that jeep, it seemed pretty good but I noticed 55mph was lower rpm than I would've liked. I think 3.73 would have been optimal (for stock like feel). I went 4.10's with 33's on my other manual jeep since I won't be off road as much as I would like.
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Old 12-13-2016, 12:29 PM
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I though about going the route with a parts Jeep. Would have been a lot cheaper. But at the same time, I wanted all new stuff (or rebuilt). This way, I know I should be able to get another 150K miles out of it. I hope you are right on the crossmember. It would be much better to just install the new trans and mount and call it a day. If I have to redo any part of the exhaust, I am perfectly fine with that. Way better then making a new crossmember.

Thanks for the input on gear ratios. I think I am going to do 4.10s on 31s. Its not my DD and will be used to tow some things. It will also help out if I decide to go 33s down the road.

I am trying to do things right the first time around with this Jeep, even if it cost more and creates twice as much work. So if anyone has any suggestions, feel free to put them out there. So when I say I want a RC short arm lift, put some 6.5" coils up front, stock leafs with 4" blocks, someone better be calling me a retard!
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Old 12-14-2016, 07:41 AM
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Sounds good to me. My red jeep is taking way longer than I would have ever expected or wanted - it's been 3 years since I drove it on the road. I've always wondered if I would have liked 4.56 gears for 33's better (with ax15) than 4.10's. We'll see!
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Old 12-15-2016, 11:57 AM
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Well I got some more parts in. It looks like the PO not only destroyed the front end, but put the wrong bumper on it. I got my new bumper in the mail yesterday and figured I would put it on. Well I opened it up and noticed it did not look like the one that came off. So after doing some searching on the wonderful interweb, I found out that it was off of an earlier model Cherokee. So that means that the brackets wont transfer over. Great! So back to ordering more parts.

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After I found out that, I moved on the making the body straight again. The fenders need some massaging to get them back to the original shape. After about an hour with a BFH and a pry bar, it looks like it was never in an accident! Thank you thin fenders!

Then I moved on to painting the front grille surround. Primed it, painted it and cleared it (not all in the same day). My Cherokee has been repainted at one point in time and looks like they went with an off white. So I did my best to make it match. We will see this weekend when I am home in daylight and can put it on. If it is close, time to color sand and make it shine.

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This weekend, if it isn't raining, I will be gutting the inside of the Jeep in preparation for a carpet swap and stereo install. It much easier to run the wires when there is no carpet in! Will be doing the double din install as well. The funny thing is that the system I am putting in came out of my last Cherokee from 5 years ago. The head unit even has the correct adapter plug on it still and all the wires should be the correct length. Should be a super easy install.
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Old 12-15-2016, 05:58 PM
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Seats showed up today! Now I just have to hope they fit... Might be a bit on the wide side. If not, looks like I get a new office chair and Forza chair.

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Old 12-15-2016, 10:56 PM
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When I got home tonight, I decided to test fit the whole front assembly. Well the grille fits fine. The headlight bezels dont. Need to file down a few spots. No big deal. It doesn't look too bad so far. To top it off, the paint looks like a perfect match.

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Here is a helpful tip to anyone replacing these same parts. There are a bunch of these little clip that need to get transferred over to the new piece. They have a 3 prong locking clip that you cant get off with pliers.

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My trick to get these things off in one piece is simple. Grab a 1/4" drive 6mm socket, attach it to some sort of extension and use it to press the clip out. Just slip it over the top and push.

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BTW - Does anyone know what the actual name of that style clip is? I need to order more but dont know what the proper term is. Is it something Autozone would carry?
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Old 12-17-2016, 08:12 PM
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Finally a day to work on the Jeep in the light. I feel like I got a lot done today. First thing was to assemble the front end. Waiting for bumper brackets to come in before the rest goes on.

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Looks a lot better now. Almost like a new Cherokee. I am very surprised that the color matched. Still need to align the hood and fenders.

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After that, I moved on to the inside. New carpet and seats! The old nasty carpet is out. I was glad to find no rust at all. But I did find out that the front window leaks. It has a crack in it anyways, so time for a new one.

Last edited by 5-Speed; 12-17-2016 at 08:16 PM.
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Old 12-18-2016, 01:49 AM
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whose new seats did you purchase?
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Old 12-18-2016, 01:09 PM
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Speed Daddy aka China special.

If the winds calm down at all today, i will try to get one of them mounted. Got to make my own adapters. I will be keeping the factory sliders though
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Old 12-18-2016, 02:48 PM
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sub'd because this is a build worth following.
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Old 12-18-2016, 07:46 PM
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Yes it is the holiday season, so just want to say happy holidays to all! The dogs agree.

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Well it was cold and very windy today so not much got done. 30mph constant and 50mph gust are no fun. I got the old stereo torn out and found all the stuff for its replacement. I did however, forget how I made the double din fit (I remember cutting) and mount in the last XJ. So I need to look in to that a little. I am sure I have some old pictures somewhere.

Other then that, I got the new seats tacked in to place. Looks like they are going to be a perfect fit! They dont rub the center console or door panel so I am fine with that.

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At first it seemed like 2" brackets would be perfect. After mocking it up, the front of the seat sat too high. So I went with a 2" in the rear and a 1" up front. Feels just a little taller then stock now. Other then that, perfect. Its tacked welded for now. A better look at the modified seat brackets will come later.
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Last edited by 5-Speed; 12-18-2016 at 07:49 PM.
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