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Project ghetto fabulous; A poor man's oddyssey

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Project ghetto fabulous; A poor man's oddyssey

Old 09-29-2015, 10:00 PM
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Default Project ghetto fabulous; A poor man's oddyssey

Greetings my fellow Cherokee forum members! I've decided to document and post my very slow build on my recently acquired 1996 2 door XJ.

I've always loved the XJ and ever since I was young I dreamed of owning one like my TJ. As fantastic as the TJ is, everyone and their mothers has built and wheeled one and I wanted something a little more unique and challenging, not to mention more practical. So here I am, sipping on my rum and coke and trying my best to make a coherent and somewhat amusing build thread on what will be restoration/mod build.

So here's how she currently sits at spry 19 years young.












The off-shade jizz white asides, looks pretty good right? Well, when I went to get the vehicle inspected so I could plate it, the technician took me aside and showed me how half the floor fell apart with a few taps to the underside. In his words, my floor was essentially held together by the carpets. That issue aside, I had a loose u-joint on the drive shaft, loose exhaust bracket, no mandatory daytime running lights(For Canada), and no active airbag light which shows the airbag was indeed functional. These niggles aside, the tech was very pleased with with the condition of the vehicle and how solid it was mechanically for a 19 year old SUV.

Originally, I wanted this vehicle to be a lightly modified daily driver to enjoy and not stress over, but when I drove home from the inspection, I sat long and hard to think on which direction to take this in. Everyday these great Jeeps become more and more beaten, rusted, and harder to find. What a pity because they are fantastic little SUVs that can tow, haul, and crawl and look good while doing so.

For the time being here are my goals while working with a small budget(I work weekends and go to trade school during the week) and little time:

-Progressively restore and keep her looking good
- 31 inch All-Terrain tires around
- 3 inches of lift to accommodate said tires
- Detroit truetrac in the rear
- Upgraded lighting
- Repaint

This would be more "short term" to keep cost down, drive-ability up while still being used as a good tow vehicle and hauler, long term i envision making it an expedition style truck to explore the great canadian outback and doing so I would look for a variation of the following:

- Engine swap(ones that particularly interest me are the 4bt cummins, small block 350, although a Dodge sourced 5.9 or 5.2 would be an option for ease of wiring)

Perhaps bumping up to 33's, which would mean regearing, a bigger lift, and trussets for the axles, not a hundred certain if this is yet necessary for my needs.

Without further ado, here is my build thread!
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Old 09-29-2015, 10:16 PM
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September 28 2015


I build the courage and venture out into the great unknown that is my XJ. Today I begin the job of stripping the vehicle of it's interior to see the kind of shape the floors are.


The drivers side carpet and seat lifted up, I see to what extent the floors are rusted out and "patched over". The rust has completely killed the structural integrity and with a good kick the rust will fall out the bottom.



One down, more to go!


seat 2 is out, I found a loonie dated 1994 on it with a lot of verdigris! i wonder how long it has been sitting under the carpet...





I noticed that the top of the roof was taped up! I gave it a good pinch and it crumbled... The other side was similarly weak due to rust. This will be a lot of fun to take care of!









My working setup! It started raining so the roof kept me, as well as the carpets dry while I was running back and forth for my tools. As you can see, more rust spots on the roof wing or however you wish to properly refer to the lip.




Who said big guys cant be comfortable in an XJ?! 6 foot 3, 240 pounds and I fit just fine...without seats




Anyone know what this is sticking out of the center console? Ashtray?




Console is out!










Hmmmm... Previous owner wired something in there consequently trapping my carpet... A quick visit from my friend Buck and she was freed from her prison!




Front is done! I didn't take any more pictures because it was getting dark and my camera on my phone sucks and has a rose tinted filter... Looking through life with rose coloured glasses right?

I continued with the removal of the rear carpeting, and my work was quickly halted to a grind when I stripped the seatbelt bolts! All in all, could have been worse...
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Old 10-01-2015, 11:02 PM
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Nice work man! and yes that is an ashtray. I noticed it has what looks like a newer generation handle on the t-case selector lever? Anyone more experienced know if this is possibly stock, I have heard the 96 year model is kind of a mutt. Or is it maybe a swapped tcase from a newer model xj? What t-case do you have?
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Old 10-07-2015, 03:45 AM
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Originally Posted by StuckBuck View Post
Nice work man! and yes that is an ashtray. I noticed it has what looks like a newer generation handle on the t-case selector lever? Anyone more experienced know if this is possibly stock, I have heard the 96 year model is kind of a mutt. Or is it maybe a swapped tcase from a newer model xj? What t-case do you have?
As far as I know, she's bone stock, I didn't bother checking the transfer case though I believe it's a np231 case. I can attest to the mutt analogy, as far as my brief familiarisation with the xj goes, the 96 is a 95 with OBD2, 97 onwards has some more changes though I can be wrong!
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Old 10-07-2015, 03:59 AM
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So... Progress has been slow. I was halted previously by the stripped out rear passenger seatbelt bolt to take out the final carpet. In the meantime I acquired a new toy for my tool chest.


'20v' electric impact wrench that churns out 145lbs of torque. I realized the time spent stripping the interior could have been done much quicker with a power tool but I didn't feel like lugging my heavy compressor each time I was outside doing work, which would be often! I tested her out on a bolt I torqued to 120lbs and spun her out without hesitation. For jobs like this it would be perfect! For 180$ I'd say it was a half decent buy.

Onwards with the project.




Courtesy of my impact and a Napa 21mm lock nut remover, the drill spun her out in no time. A little too well even because the nut was stuck! Good thing I have a vise around... The last step has been completed however, all that's left is to pull the final carpet, trace my cut lines and get to work.

As mentioned progress is slow. I'm busy with school and work and free time during daylight hours is at a premium. I'm arranging to have a day off to paint the jeep before it gets too cold and the paint won't properly adhere. Here's to more progress!
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Old 10-13-2015, 12:44 AM
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greetings ladies and gents! Happy thanksgiving to my Canadian brothers and sisters! This Monday was one of the few days off I will be having but not without a price; I work from 6pm to 4am on Sundays, and knowing it was going to be absolutely beautiful today I took advantage and powered through with an all nighter(or would it be called an all day-er in this case?) To advance on my Cherokee. I had full intentions of painting today but sadly there's only so much one can do in so little time. That being said I feel like I got a lot done!




I came across this glorious little product, which essentially comes out as tar, stops rust from spreading, and came in at a whopping 3$ per can. Dont know how much good it would do but I decided to buy a couple cans and blast the interior floors with it and see how it does!







Started with some basic outlines in the rear to spray around the rust and hit behind the rear wheel fenders just to get a feel how it goes on..





Drivers front side has been blasted with it, likes to go on thick and reaks of gasoline, which I didn't find too bad but didn't bother without a respirator regardless, and a first metal panel has been placed and screwed into place via solid anchoring points and remaining metal floor which was still healthy.









So far so good, paint dried relatively quickly, 3 hours in and was good to the touch. I got another panel bolted on behind the drivers seat. I know my setup is not ideal but if it holds, passes inspection, and keeps my carpet dry I have nothing to complain about. I'll be putting in metal on the underside as well and use a sealant to be sure no water enters underneath.


As my day went on I finished most of the problem areas in my floor board minus a section measuring 12 inches by 20 to which I had run out of metal. To be continued another day I suppose. I got on to prepping the Cherokee to be painted and masked everything up on the outside, and started roughing up the paint with 80 grit to promote good adhesion with the rustoleum I'm planning on blasting. Before I further onwards with the sanding I will need to address the raincatchers on both sides which are heavily rusted. I will either strip down what's left to bare metal and blast tar on it and then sand it, or I'll try and reconstruct it with bondo and put down some primer I have laying around. It got dark and I do not have any photos to show of my masking job but I'll be sure to do so tomorrow.
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Old 10-16-2015, 01:44 PM
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Greetings once again,

The warm season has ended for all I'm concerned. Tomorrow snow is expected and that put a huge dent into my rustoleum paintjob which needs 2 good days of half decent weather, to which I will put off until spring. Now here's the problem: I sanded the Jeep already and I cannot stand the color.

Turns out there's a paint+primer in one which would serve as a perfect temporary fix until spring



At 5 bucks a can, I had little to lose and bought all six they had in stock at canadian tire. My masking job was botched due to intense showers the night before so I had to rip off all the work I had done

However, having some free time and nothing to do I decided I'd at the least mask off a segment and test out my painting skills and see how the paint comes out.




This is two coats in, sprayed evenly and relatively lightly to see to what effect It will have. Thus far I am pleased with the color, especially considering flat green was one of the colors I was originally considering.






While for the most part it came out nicely, sometimes I got drips but that is mostly due to a heavy trigger finger and spraying a little too close. Practice makes perfect more to come..
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Old 10-22-2015, 11:43 PM
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Good work man keep it up!
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Old 10-25-2015, 03:43 PM
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Paint job is 'done' and I'm not pleased with the results. The first can I used in the previous post was the first generation of the paint and shot well with little runs and had an adjustable nozzle. Well they stopped making that and the second gen produced as of 2014 onwards was all that's left on the shelf and shot like ****! Came on very heavy and had a narrow spray pattern. Ended up with a lot of runs and the color doesn't match 100%. Oh well, for 60$ it came out OK










I'm looking forward to spring to paint her properly with a gun! The weather we've had lately has halted all progress not to mention I've had to pick up more hours at work.
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Old 10-25-2015, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by StuckBuck View Post
Good work man keep it up!
Thank you! Hopefully come spring I'll be able to put down a much better paint job with my gun
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Old 11-17-2015, 01:42 PM
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That's a pretty straight jeep. Good find. I think you're going to find you really hate that tar coating on the inside though once the exhaust hears it up. At least that's the complaints I commonly hear about it.

Great jeep though man. Can't wait to see more.
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Old 11-28-2015, 12:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Basslicks View Post
That's a pretty straight jeep. Good find. I think you're going to find you really hate that tar coating on the inside though once the exhaust hears it up. At least that's the complaints I commonly hear about it.

Great jeep though man. Can't wait to see more.
Thanks! Just by the odors of it, I don't think it's tar, or at the least, not majoritarily composed of tar. It's hardened very nicely and doesn't seem to run when it heated up to 40c inside. We will see when I finally get her rolling how it fairs up though, I'll let you know!

As for the jeep, slowly but surely. Busy as ever but I finished the floors and managed to put the rear back together.


Also patched up a rust hole on the roof that was leaking on the interior. Sadly the roof upholstery is stained but the plus side is she don't leak anymore



Before it got sanded and painted smooth. For those who are curious the reason I have a white square among the paint is because I had friends help me mask the jeep up. Well one of them thought it would be funny to tape up a small section and I never realized! I told him not bring his truck for work to my place because I'd weld his diffs closed! :-)

2 issues to tackle before the jeep is road worthy.

1. In Canada, day time running lights are mandatory and mine don't work for whatever reason. I will need to look at the module (if I can find it) and check if it's still good, check the fuses and and connections. Alternatively I was thinking of either wiring a pair of aux lights tapped into a 12v source that's key on, or wire the headlights lowbeam and remove it after inspection.

2. Mandatory airbag lights and the Cherokee does not have one. This will be a fun headache to deal with.
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Old 11-29-2015, 11:04 AM
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Subbed. Want to see how this goes. Nice foundation you have there. I feel for you inspected guys. If they start back doing it here 80% of the population would be walking.
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Old 12-03-2015, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by chipmaker View Post
Subbed. Want to see how this goes. Nice foundation you have there. I feel for you inspected guys. If they start back doing it here 80% of the population would be walking.
Thanks for the sub! Here in beautiful Quebec, vehicles sold within province don't need inspection REGARDLESS of age, km, being a Mazda, etc. What this has done is create an enormous supply for rusted, clapped out ****boxes compared to the rest of the provinces where an inspection is mandatory every 2 years(Atleast that is the case for Ontario). In addition, you have salt, 8 months of crappy weather, and the french, which means even "recent" cars are often in bad condition and poorly maintained. Also explains why every cherokee under 4k is folding in half from rust.
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Old 12-04-2015, 10:21 PM
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I like it... Plasti dip the rims black...
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