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Rybob's Daily AZ beater 98 XJ!

Old 01-14-2016, 07:46 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 18
Year: 1996
Model: Cherokee
Engine: 4.0
Cool Rybob's Daily AZ beater 98 XJ!

Hello All! I'm Ryan, I've been a long time lurker and I am recently back from a several year hiatus of not owning an XJ. Seeing as I enjoy this forum quite a bit and my XJ has been getting some love lately I figured I'd go ahead and post a build thread. The goal of my XJ is to be trail ready/capable while maintaining its status as a somewhat decent Daily Driver.

So here she is, I bought her here in Tucson AZ, for $2400 with 180k on it. It's a 98 Classic model with the factory skid plates, an AW4 trans, NP242 Xfer, and a Dana 35 rear (ew). I didn't like the options too much but I bought it from the original owner who had every maintenance receipt since new and it had ALWAYS been an Arizona (no rust) Jeep.

Day 1, June 27 2015.

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I drove it like that for awhile, 2-3 months precisely, then my 23rd birthday hit September 4th, and with it came my FIRST EVER mid life crisis. Feeling down that I was now in my mid 20s and there are no Taylor Swift songs about turning 23, I decided to make the Jeep a hobby and help me start living an active lifestyle, thus the lift was ordered!

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I shopped around for deals and ended up piecing together my own 4.5" lift comprising of the following parts:

Iron Rock Offroad Adjustable Upper/Lower short arms
IRO adjustable Track Bar
JKS Quick Discos
IRO xfer case drop
Rubicon Express 4.5" Coils
Rubicon Express 4.5" Full leaf packs
IRO Stainless steel Brake lines
Bilstein Shocks (monotone nothing crazy)
Cragar D windows 15x8 with a 4" Backspacing (5)
(5) 33x12.50R15 BFGoodrich Mud Terrains KM2s

My goal was for this thing to perform off road and ride real nice so i dropped a little coin on the parts. So far happy with everything except the fact that WHY DID I NOT JUST ORDER LONG ARMS. Oh yeah, because $$$.

I loaded all the parts up in my jeep and took off to my buddy Dave's the weekend they came in to install them. Little did I know the mathematical challenge that laid ahead due to adjustable control arms. (still not sure if i did this part right)

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The back end was done very quick. I believe it was only 2 hours. Feeling excited that this may not be a 8 hour job after all i snapped a few pics of it sitting with a rake ( I had just seen Mad Max and felt the Jeep would fit in the movie well at this point).

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And thus the front install began. Ryan vs 180,000 mile trackbar.

Round 1: Ryan kills it with fire.

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Many many hours / curse words / burns / scrapes later, she was done.

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At that moment, after working for 13+ hours and feeling very accomplished, I decided that my Jeep was going to have awesome articulation and that I was, all of the sudden, a suspension expert. And I needed room to stuff those awesome looking KM2s, so i picked up and angle grinder and hacked away. ( I still regret doing this ).

Front Done.

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After that, I drove home and passed out. I woke up early the next day just to look at her in the daylight. Besides being a little disgruntled with my cuts on the fenders (wish i would of been a little more conservative), i was very pleased.

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A little comparison I made to examine the difference.

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I MallCrawled it like this for a month before I got a chance to take her in the dirt for the first time.

Here are some shots from my Gardner Canyon trip

Feeling Artsy/trying to be #Instafamous

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On the road:

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Scenic Southern AZ:

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Bobby's Tacoma on the trail :

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Goofin' off at the lunch spot.

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The truck did awesome! Loved the suspension, and i LOVE AZ in October so I was a happy camper! Drove her like this for awhile, happy as could be! Glamor Shot with my R6 at my apartment, one week before i closed on my first house ever, But more importantly MY FIRST GARAGE

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But then the bad stuff happened...

Water pump went ( so i thought)

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Annndddd the head gasket went with it, due to a clogged cat. At this point I had to do some work so I spent a little coin and got some goods.

(Sidenote: RIP to my other Daily, the gray Cobra pictured there, it was determined a TOTAL LOSS TODAY (1/14) by GEICO after i hit metal debris on the freeway and it tore my floorpan in 6 places.)

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Head reworked by a machine shop
Water pump
Cat-back exhaust (Dynomax Turbo if i remember correctly, it's very quiet)
Flow master Cat
Spark Plugs
Radiator Hoses
Dirtbound Offload Battery Tray
NEW battery!! I love warranties!

Motor mounts look yummy

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So I ordered some Brown Dogs (not installed to date).

No worse feeling than having a Jeep but having to strap the darn Christmas Tree to the roof of your girlfriend's Taurus because the Jeep isn't ready.

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That pretty much sums up the last 7 months with this old gal! Many Plans ahead, I have a JCR 1 ton UTK steering setup sitting right now waiting to go in as well as the Brown Dog mounts and a CB radio! Don't mind the messy garage!

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Here is the old girl right now, Oil pan is removed for a oil pan gasket and rear main seal. Other than that, TIP TOP shape!

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Last edited by Rybob; 01-14-2016 at 07:51 PM.
Rybob is offline  
Old 01-14-2016, 08:31 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Iowa
Posts: 75
Year: 1995,1997
Model: Cherokee
Engine: 4.0

Nice jeep. Sorry about your snake.
wauto is offline  
Old 01-14-2016, 11:11 PM
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: tucson
Posts: 17
Year: 1992
Model: Cherokee
Engine: 4.0

Sweet xj. I'm on the south side of tucson. If you ever need a hand with your jeep, hit me up
93_xjcherokee is offline  
Old 01-15-2016, 12:12 AM
Bryan98XJ's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Lincoln, NE
Posts: 140
Year: 1997
Engine: 4.0L

Lookin good! Same color as mine too!! Lol
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