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Project- "Cheap Cherokee Challenge" Slow Build...

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Project- "Cheap Cherokee Challenge" Slow Build...

Old 05-21-2017, 04:20 PM
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Join Date: May 2012
Location: Inland Empire
Posts: 34
Year: 1994
Model: Cherokee
Engine: 4.0 L
Default Project- "Cheap Cherokee Challenge" Slow Build...

Well the time has come to start my build thread. Everybody bare with me here as this will be my first real build and documentation on everything. I will try to be as thorough as possible and include many step by step pictures for you to see the transformation. This project will be slow due to time and funds but I will get to my end goal one day! Slow and steady wins the race right!?

A little back round on me and Jeeps... It all started about 5-6 years ago when my best friend (Username- "5-Speed" A.K.A Sean) had bought a impound-yard complete '99 XJ I think for like 5 or 600 bucks. It was an all stock 5 speed 4WD with a blown motor. Exterior was clean along with a spotless interior but the motor knocked like nobodies business! Any who he rebuilt the motor, lifted it and put 31s on it and then took me for a ride one day... Mind you it only had a 4 inch lift and tires, 2 open diffs and WOW did that thing seriously go anywhere!! So right then I told myself I have to get one!

A few weeks later a light-ish blue "Cherokee Chief" popped up on Craigslist for a price that was in my budget. I showed Sean the ad, he looked it over and said "Lets go get it!" So we headed up to Hesperia to check it out... It was beat! It was an '86 Cherokee Chief, 4WD automatic with patches of rust in the body. Not to mention it had a bent front axle and it was a 4 cylinder! But I was in love with it!! I paid the guy 600 bucks and called AAA and we headed home. Long story short I only owned the thing for maybe a month. It was just too big of a project for me at the time with little money... Before I sold it Sean and I did go to a junk yard in the blistering heat though and yanked out a STRAIGHT front axle. I sold the Chief not too long after though for the same price I bought it for. New owner was stoked like I was and he got a good front axle with the purchase. I was sad to see it go but I told myself it would not be my last Cherokee...

Here is my first XJ- '86 Cherokee Chief-


Last edited by braytonia; 05-23-2017 at 10:22 PM.
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Old 05-21-2017, 04:25 PM
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Year: 1994
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Well the years went on and needless to say the Cherokee bug was still there... Which brings us to current day. Sean had just bought a very clean 2WD white XJ for a steal of a deal, since then he had replaced the front fascia, installed new carpet along with bucket seats and did a 4WD conversion. So he was well on his way to hittin' some trails. He constantly kept bugging me about when I was going to get a Jeep... So I knew it was time again to jump back in the saddle. I saved up a good chunk of change and began my search for the perfect Cherokee. (to me at least) My 3 main criteria was; it needed to run and drive, it had to have working 4WD and yes this was a big one for me but it had to be red. The year didn't matter all that much but my heart was kind of set on and older front end style one just because my first Cherokee had that older front end. So I was on CL everyday, day and night but people either wanted way too much for one or they were just so beat it wasn't even worth checking out. I was so burnt out from searching Craigslist that I had almost given up hope when Sean had sent me a link for a '94 4WD red one down in San Diego. I glanced over the ad a few times before I contacted the guy. Keep in mind the seller was only asking $800 for it but it was Wednesday night and I was only able to make it out by Saturday and at a price like that I knew it would not last long... So I asked him to hold it until Saturday because I had cash ready to go. He kindly said he would. I couldn't sleep for 3 days!

Saturday morning I was up at the crack of dawn, picked my cousin up and we headed the 107 miles from where I lived down to San Diego. I was so eager that I did not even bother to ask the seller If he had the pink slip in hand ready to go, I just wanted a Jeep! I also had very little info on the history of the vehicle. All I knew was that it was 4WD, runs and drives, it was from Idaho and it was RED... When I finally arrived I saw the Jeep and looked it over from top to bottom. I checked how bad the rust was if any because it was from Idaho, I checked that it was truly 4WD and I checked to make sure it had fluids before I fired it up. Everything checked out and then the moment of truth... Will it start? I had brought a brand new battery with me because the one in it had been sitting for so long and it was dead. It cranked over a few times and then fired right up and came to an idle instantly! For sitting so long it still purred like a kitten!! Now onto the test drive. I let it warm up before I took it around the block still listening for any funny noises coming from the engine. Nothing out of the ordinary caught my ear so I hopped in and went for a cruise. It had good power, auto trans shifted pretty well and the brakes worked so I was happy. I then pulled into a empty parking lot threw it into neutral, shifted it into 4-low and to my relief 4-low worked just as it should. That was all I needed, I was sold! Drove it back to the sellers house and talked money with him. There were a few red flags that made me almost walk away from buying it... The ignition had been stripped out internally so the Jeep was stuck in the "on" position, (I had to physically crawl under to jump the starter until it fired up) the seller was "selling it for a friend" which was very odd to me but he did have the Idaho pink slip in hand, signed and ready to go so I trusted him. One last thing I didn't like was the engine temp would jump up halfway between 210 and 260 but would always fall back down when the fans kicked on. That issue was a little sketchy for me only because I had to drive it a long way back home so I tried to bargain with him... I managed to talk him down to $600 because of the few things that needed to be addressed, so he said okay that's fine he just had to run it by the ACTUAL owner he was selling it for. I thought this is going to be sweet, another diamond in the rough for only 600 bucks! But when he got off the phone he said the owner would not take less than $800... I honestly was about to leave when I thought to myself, "you know what, 800 bucks is still one hell of a deal." So I handed him 800 bucks cash and I headed home. To my surprise it made it back 107 miles and didn't even skip a beat!! Which just proved to me what everyone says about these inline 6 4.0 motors and just how reliable and bulletproof they actually are. It never even really got over 210 degrees cruising on the freeway! Once home I was able to relax, I was extremely happy and also relived it made it home with no issues but knew I had a lot of work ahead of me. It made it home yes but there were some things that needed to be addressed before it was truly road worthy again. Needless to say I was once again the happy new owner of a 1994 Jeep Cherokee XJ! And here she is the day I brought her home!!
Attached Thumbnails Project- "Cheap Cherokee Challenge" Slow Build...-20170325_115600.jpg   Project- "Cheap Cherokee Challenge" Slow Build...-20170325_175442.jpg   Project- "Cheap Cherokee Challenge" Slow Build...-20170325_175451.jpg   Project- "Cheap Cherokee Challenge" Slow Build...-00e0e_4ldc1bci23c_1200x900.jpg   Project- "Cheap Cherokee Challenge" Slow Build...-00f0f_4rmlcspgfyt_1200x900.jpg  


Last edited by braytonia; 05-21-2017 at 04:47 PM.
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Old 05-21-2017, 05:55 PM
  #3  
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Join Date: May 2012
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Year: 1994
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So my main goal for this project/ build is to keep the final cost of everything including the Jeep under 5 thousand bucks which means it wont' be a full blown trail rig but something that does exactly what I want it to do, no more and no less. By having an initial low cost for the vehicle itself will help keep my end budget goal under the 5k mark. I want it simple yet effective meaning; a decent lift (3-3.5), good tires (no bigger than 31s for now), a fairly inexpensive true locker and of course reliability with the motor it has now (178k miles are currently on it) and I believe it to be the original motor. With all that being said I feel I can keep it with in my end price goal. The interior is on that list as well because it is pretty nasty and dirty but that is last on the list because I am not one to be picky about interiors. Also motor, trans and transfer case all seem to be stout just needs typical routine maintenance like a fluid flush on everything and just about every new external engine gasket because it literally leaks from every possible orifice on the motor! So I will be doing things a little backwards on this project. I am going to start with exterior including suspension, body and wheels and tires. I have a vision in my head exactly what I want this Jeep to look like when it is all done and I will do everything in my budget to make that happen. I have more knowledge and know how now than I did years ago with my first Jeep. I also can't forget the much needed help and assistance I have from forum member "5-Speed" who points me in the right direction and hands me a wrench or two when need be!

So here it goes, onto step number one! The lift-

Sean (5-Speed) had recently bought new lift parts for his XJ so he had some left over front spacers and rear extended shackles that he wasn't using and since parts are interchangeable from year to year he kindly said I could have them! Even though it would only give me about an 1.5 inch lift I wasn't complaining, this will hold me over until I know exactly how high of a lift I actually want.

Well the front spacer install was a breeze and despite being from Idaho there was only a little surface rust on the front shock mounts. I was guided on what to remove first in order to install the spacers and to make it as easy as possible. To my surprise working on an XJ front end is quite simple. Front spacers were on in no time at all! Now onto the rear to install the extended shackles, this was a bit more difficult than the front. Not because it was complicated but because the shackle bolts going into the leafs had an extreme amount of rust on them... I soaked them in PB Blaster for 2 days and still they did not budge! So I said the hell with it and took a cut off wheel to them!! I had extra bolts in the garage so I didn't care if they were useless after I cut them, I just wanted them off. After that installing the extended shackles were cut and dry (no pun intended) and on in a flash. Even though with my worn saggy leafs I was still very happy with the out come. Down the road I want to go to a proper higher lift but this set up will do just peachy for now.

Here are some pics of some before and after next to Sean's XJ and of me installing and cutting the rear. Of course I had to test the lift right?? So I took it out the day I finished the install front and rear!

Last picture is of the lift all said and done...
Attached Thumbnails Project- "Cheap Cherokee Challenge" Slow Build...-20170329_084714.jpg   Project- "Cheap Cherokee Challenge" Slow Build...-20170329_214541.jpg   Project- "Cheap Cherokee Challenge" Slow Build...-20170329_195904.jpg   Project- "Cheap Cherokee Challenge" Slow Build...-20170329_214548.jpg   Project- "Cheap Cherokee Challenge" Slow Build...-20170401_111512.jpg  

Project- "Cheap Cherokee Challenge" Slow Build...-20170401_111557.jpg   Project- "Cheap Cherokee Challenge" Slow Build...-20170401_112542.jpg   Project- "Cheap Cherokee Challenge" Slow Build...-20170401_130004.jpg   Project- "Cheap Cherokee Challenge" Slow Build...-20170401_130041.jpg   Project- "Cheap Cherokee Challenge" Slow Build...-20170401_130241.jpg  

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Old 05-21-2017, 06:05 PM
  #4  
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Year: 1994
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More testing! I am very happy with the current lift. Ground clearance does not seem to be an issue on the trails I go to and in ruts it still has enough down travel to keep all tires on the ground. In the near future I think I would like to go to a true 3 inch lift, I feel I will be content with that height... I do have to say though my ground clearance is good but a locker would sure help on some tough stuff, so a rear locker might be in the works soon!

If anyone knows how to attach pictures so they are not in thumb nail form and I can write info above or below the picture feel free to chime in because I am trying to figure that out right now. Thanks!
Attached Thumbnails Project- "Cheap Cherokee Challenge" Slow Build...-20170401_143641.jpg   Project- "Cheap Cherokee Challenge" Slow Build...-resized_20170401_125723.jpg   Project- "Cheap Cherokee Challenge" Slow Build...-resized_screenshot_20170401-211419.jpg   Project- "Cheap Cherokee Challenge" Slow Build...-screenshot_20170401-145411.png   Project- "Cheap Cherokee Challenge" Slow Build...-screenshot_20170401-145444.png  


Last edited by braytonia; 05-21-2017 at 06:08 PM.
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Old 05-22-2017, 06:22 AM
  #5  
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Nice! Now I know who's red XJ that is in 5-Speeds pictures. Looks like a solid base. I'll be watching.
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Old 05-23-2017, 02:18 AM
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Finally....
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