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TX RamRod's '99 Cherokee Sport Build: "Choctaw Bingo"

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TX RamRod's '99 Cherokee Sport Build: "Choctaw Bingo"

Old 05-31-2016, 03:15 PM
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Default TX RamRod's '99 Cherokee Sport Build: "Choctaw Bingo"

May 2016
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I'm going to go ahead and start a build thread to help me keep up with the progress and take suggestions along the way.

I've been doing some research on building a Jeep for a couple of months now and realized that I could buy AND build a Jeep Cherokee for about as much money as I had dumped into customizing my 2015 Polaris Ranger. The Ranger sold and I came across a good deal (seemed good to me anyway) on a 1999 Jeep Cherokee Sport. 179k miles, 4.0, automatic, 4x4, Chrysler 8.25, blue/gray in color. I purchased it last week, joined CF and now the fun begins. I know how I want it to sit when I finish, but the parts list is growing and the price is soaring.

It's not my daily driver, in fact it's my 4th vehicle until I can offload the diesel truck that I need to sell. I'm not mechanical at all, so my intention is to do a lot of the work myself so that I can learn. Given that, it may be a slow build. I'm looking forward to learning all about these vehicles and hopefully will be able to contribute at some point.

The goal is to have a fun vehicle to take down to the beach, find the occasional off-road trail and drive it to work if I'm ever get the itch. The original plan was to do something in line with Rough Country's "XJ Budget Build." That was until I saw so many poor reviews on here of RC products. I'd like to do a 4 1/2" lift on some 33" tires and flat fenders for a start. I know with that comes some other items like the SYE and a new CV. Then I'll get into some of the other goodies like bumpers, winch, rack, etc.

The body is in great shape, I have yet to find any rust. I'll have to find where the most common rust problems occur and see if I can find any, I keep thinking surely there has to be some rust. There are four minor door dings that don't really bother me. But the previous owner didn't latch the hood down one time and apparently the hood flew up and put a dent all the way across where it hit the roof. At some point I'll probably replace it, but I may put the flat black stripes on it in the mean time. That may draw attention away from it.

I had the oil changed in it Friday and the guy said everything looked pretty good. Possibly a small oil leak somewhere, so I'll go ahead and get that checked out. Also, the shocks are shot, which explains awful "flex" pic below.

After I scrapped idea of the RC X-series lift I am leaning towards the Rubicon Express 4.5 Inch Super-Flex Short Arm Lift Kit with leaf springs and either their shocks or buying those separate. This kit seems to be better quality, plus I can upgrade to the long arms if I decide to do that later on. But I'm still open, so I would appreciate any input on this.

Here are a few pictures of just playing around.

XJ posing with my little brother's JK, it sure makes the Cherokee look small
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The interior is in pretty good shape
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I went out to "Big Hill" down the road yesterday evening, it looks a lot higher from the top
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I had to do it, but she's not too flexible
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Old 05-31-2016, 05:30 PM
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Sounds like you have a great plan in place and you've done some homework. That's very refreshing. Welcome to the addiction.
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Old 05-31-2016, 07:22 PM
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Looking good. Take your time with your build. Check the rocker panels, rear panels, and floor boards because those are the common rust areas.
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Old 06-01-2016, 06:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Silentj View Post
Sounds like you have a great plan in place and you've done some homework. That's very refreshing. Welcome to the addiction.
Thank you kindly. I'm sure there will still be plenty of stupid questions, but I do my best to research.


Originally Posted by Kuya View Post
Looking good. Take your time with your build. Check the rocker panels, rear panels, and floor boards because those are the common rust areas.
I appreciate the advice, I will take a look at those areas.
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Old 06-02-2016, 11:22 AM
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I used a Meguiars product on some of the black plastic exterior.
Before:


After:


I realize it's just a "band aid" fix, but at least now the faded, gray/white plastics don't draw as much attention.

Also, the leak spots on the ground are not from the Jeep!

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Old 06-08-2016, 02:52 PM
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No real updates, just some playing around in the garage over the weekend. I'm still trying to decide on a lift, I'm thinking either the Rubicon Express 4.5" Super Flex with leaf springs or possibly the Iron Rock Offroad 4" Critical Path Long Arm kit with leaf springs. I'm weighing out the costs for each to get a complete kit, such as having to add a track bar and brake line to the IRO kit. But I'd like some opinions from anyone familiar with these kits or if a entirely different set up is recommended. I may put a survey up at some point.

I pulled the grill out and painted the inserts a gray color.
Before:

After:


Before:

After:


I didn't like the way it turned out. It looks better than the faded and chipped black, but being that light I think it draws the eye to the inserts more than I wanted. So I ordered a whole new grill and headlight bezels that I'll paint charcoal gray and keep the inserts black. Hope fully it'll turn out nice, if not I'll throw the original ones back on it with black inserts.

The Cherokee finally marked it's territory, I feel official now...

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Old 06-08-2016, 04:50 PM
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In my opinion, I would go with the RE kit. I'm not a fan of IRO long arm kit and the whole adjustable arm thing. But again, that's my opinion and you know what they say about opinions...

Did you pick an SYE yet?

I pieced together my entire kit so it met my exact needs. Check out my build and see the pics I just posted. Mine just came out of the shop.
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Old 06-10-2016, 07:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Silentj View Post
In my opinion, I would go with the RE kit. I'm not a fan of IRO long arm kit and the whole adjustable arm thing. But again, that's my opinion and you know what they say about opinions...

Did you pick an SYE yet?

I pieced together my entire kit so it met my exact needs. Check out my build and see the pics I just posted. Mine just came out of the shop.
I appreciate the advice. I was leaning towards the RE kit anyway, as it seemed to be more complete. I have not picked out the SYE yet, I still need to do some more research on that and the CV shaft (it's my understanding that both are needed).

I subscribed to your build thread the other day, I like the way it's coming together.
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Old 06-10-2016, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by TX RamRod View Post

I appreciate the advice. I was leaning towards the RE kit anyway, as it seemed to be more complete. I have not picked out the SYE yet, I still need to do some more research on that and the CV shaft (it's my understanding that both are needed).

I subscribed to your build thread the other day, I like the way it's coming together.
Yes, when you get an SYE you need to get a new DS. I went with Adam's for mine. $235 shipped to my door. They build the axle to your specific length.
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Old 06-10-2016, 08:38 AM
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Bear with me on the cosmetic upgrades I am doing, I assure that there will be some more significant progress coming. But in the mean time I am having fun messing around with some of these improvements.

I wasn't satisfied with the crappy finish that the bumper caps had. It looked better after the Meguiars, but it was still splotchy and I didn't like the half shine it had. So I pulled them, used a degreaser to get the dressing off, lightly sanded them with 180 grit sand paper, wiped them clean and applied two coats of Duplicolor Bed Armor. I was blown away with how nice these turned out. The texture and finish are just right, reminds me of the fenders off of the new Wranglers.

Shout out to Bmoflaz, even though we went a different rouute, I got the idea from his "Busted Knuckles" build thread.



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Old 06-10-2016, 09:01 AM
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I just placed a couple of orders... so much for waiting. I've got the following heading my way:
  • Rubicon Express - 4.5 Inch Super-Flex Short Arm Lift Kit with Rear Leaf Springs and Twin Tube Shocks
  • Rubicon Express - Steering Stabilizer
  • Dick Cepek - 33x12.50R15LT, Extreme Country Tires
  • Pro Comp - Series 1069, 15x8 with 5 on 4.5 Bolt Pattern - Polished (mounted and balanced)
  • HD Offroad - Full set of XJ Cherokee Frame Stiffeners

Silentj, I'll either put the TC drop kit in for the time being and get the SYE and CV shaft in a few weeks, or maybe I'll have it ordered by the time I get around to installing the lift and can do it all at the same time.

I should also be getting the Bushwacker Flat Fender Flares soon.
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Old 06-10-2016, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by TX RamRod View Post
I just placed a couple of orders... so much for waiting. I've got the following heading my way:

[*]Rubicon Express - 4.5 Inch Super-Flex Short Arm Lift Kit with Rear Leaf Springs and Twin Tube Shocks[*]Rubicon Express - Steering Stabilizer[*]Dick Cepek - 33x12.50R15LT, Extreme Country Tires[*]Pro Comp - Series 1069, 15x8 with 5 on 4.5 Bolt Pattern - Polished (mounted and balanced)[*]HD Offroad - Full set of XJ Cherokee Frame Stiffeners


Silentj, I'll either put the TC drop kit in for the time being and get the SYE and CV shaft in a few weeks, or maybe I'll have it ordered by the time I get around to installing the lift and can do it all at the same time.

I should also be getting the Bushwacker Flat Fender Flares soon.
Nice! Sounds like Christmas at your house is coming early. I'll be ordering the same flares very shortly. Gotta wait for the $$$ to build back up.
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Old 06-10-2016, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Silentj View Post
Nice! Sounds like Christmas at your house is coming early. I'll be ordering the same flares very shortly. Gotta wait for the $$$ to build back up.
I feel ya, I'm over here saving up for Jeep parts like...

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Old 06-10-2016, 10:16 PM
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Bumper caps are back on
Before:


After:


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Old 06-11-2016, 05:52 AM
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That looks much better.
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