Bargain Bin Jeep

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    Bargain Bin Jeep

    Hi Y'all,

    I'm glad to find a forum where I can record my build and tech for others to follow. I will copy and paste my build thread from another forum to this forum.

    I'll start with my first Jeep purchase in November 2013, a red CJ5 that I paid WAY too much for but I wanted a Jeep and I wanted it badly! The CJ5 came with a full black top, was mostly original, and had the stock 258, T150, D20 drivetrain. I drove it for not too long before realizing the CJ5 needed some serious TLC to make her safe.

    I wish I had a picture of the first day I bought the Jeep but I was in love from that first drive! I took it wheeling by myself very quickly and proceeded to get stuck in a bad way! It was that moment that I realized I needed a "mentor" or club to join.

    After that first trip and killing the starter I decided it was time to fix some issues I had noticed now that I owned the Jeep. I replaced the starter, relay, wiring, and patched a bunch of interior wiring that had been loosely cut. Oh and I meet a group of folks on Facebook that called themselves a club so I decided to go wheeling with them. This trip taught me to hate mud! From this moment on I sought to miss the mud hole instead of going straight for it!

    I also learned the difference between a Facebook club and a real group of friends who wheel together after that trip. I went camping with a bunch of folks and that is when I meet the folks in the club that I am a charter member of. The trip is called Country Fried Weekend and is held every MLK Weekend in Northwest GA. The weekend is comprised of a bunch of expedition type builds coming together to enjoy some time riding trails, cooking, and making a MASSIVE fire to stay warm!

    Right before this trip I swapped in a full 4" lift kit to get rid of the insane shackle lift that was on the Jeep. I also rebuilt the entire front axle, driveshafts, and brake system. About the same time I noticed the fuel tank had rusted through so I decided to buy a new fuel tank and completely rebuild the fuel system. Soon after all this work I went wheeling with the club again to a place called Bell Mountain.

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    I started visiting various offroad parks with the new club and quickly began to realize the short-comings of my CJ5. The lack of length, power anything, crawl ratio, and a solid frame and body quickly gave me a wakeup call. At this point I had acquired a Wagoneer D44 front and a Isuzu Rodeo D44 rear to swap into the CJ5 but that was all about to change. I made plans to stretch the wheelbase some, add the D44's f/r, and a new transmission to make the crawl ratio much better for rock climbing. I drove the Jeep for the last year hard on the trails doing things that pushed the limits of the CJ5 and myself. At Dixie Run 30 at Golden Mountain Offroad Park I was attempting a 3' ledge when I ripped the rear shackle bolts through the frame. At this point I parked the CJ5 in a buddies garage and began the planning process for the D44 swap.

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    The previous post catches y'all up to September of this year (2016). I started looking at my end goal for the Jeep and looking at the various issues I was facing by building the CJ5. The following issues halted the repair work for about a month:

    -Lack of wheelbase
    -Lack of room
    -Pretty much a rusted out body
    -Rusted frame

    I got married in October of that year and that changed the build plans in my mind. I knew if I built the CJ5 I would eventually have to replace the body and build a new frame just to make it safe enough to drive my future kids in. At this point my buddies mentioned the idea of building a CJ7 instead of the rusted out CJ5 I own. The wheels started spinning and on December 3 I picked up a rust free and straight 1994 YJ body and frame. Before you jump on me I plan on bolting a CJ clip on the front end and installing a flat dash to keep things as close as possible to a CJ5. The Yj body and frame gave me a perfectly clean slate to build off of that would allow my wife, future kids, and myself to fit in one Jeep! As of now here are my build plans:

    -1994 YJ Body and Frame
    -CJ hood (high-lined) and grill
    -Fuel Injected V8 (Current plan is a TBI 305)
    -Automatic (Current plan is a TH350)
    -A twin sticked transfer case (Current plan is a D300)
    -1979 Wagoneer Front D44 (passenger side, 4.30 gears, lunch box locker, beefy steering, rebuilt consumables)
    -1996 Isuzu Rodeo rear D44 (4.30 gears, limited slip, disc brakes, mini-drum e-brake)
    -Front 7 leaf Wagoneer springs mounted SUA f/r
    -Power Steering
    -Power brakes
    -Safe enough to do 70 mph down the highway to the trailhead
    -Built low with skid plates covering all the vitals

    The first picture shows the frame and body sitting on axle stands in my driveway with the 315/70/17 BFG KO mocked up. The second picture shows the rear Isuzu D44 mounted SUA with the stock 7 leaf wagoneer springs. The frame is currently 22" off the ground which I am digging! I love a low vehicle built with a predictable and controllable suspension for the trail.

    This brings y'all up to today and the current status of the build. If you have ideas on what drivetrain you would suggest please comment below but remember I want to be able to keep up on the highway as well as crawl on the trail! Please add any advise you wish to share!

    Oh and my wife is fully behind the new build as long as she gets 3 things:
    (1) The Jeep has to be nice enough for her to drive to work any day she wants
    (2) She gets to pick the paint color
    (3) She gets to see all the deals before I purchase them
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      Tonight I started the gas tank notch but was stopped cold in my tracks by the rain. I drained the tank out and notched the skid plate. I got far enough as to start tacking the notch back in when it started raining. Forgive the crappy welds, I haven't welded in 5 years and I had the macivine too hot. BE CAREFUL WHEN HEATING THE TANK, a standard heat gun seems to heat the tank more than enough if your not careful. Take your time and I'll update this thread on Wednesday night when I hopefully have some time to finish the notch and forming of the tank!

      Here is the process of how to notch your YJ gas tank:
      1. Remove the tank from your vehicle and empty of the gas. Make sure all the gas has been removed and give the fuel tank time to air out.
      2. Remove the tank from the skid plate and mark the area you want to cut into skid plate.
      3. Now cut out the notch area and weld the notch back to the skid plate
      4. Use heat guns to warm up the gas tank and press fit the tank into the notched skid plate. MAKE SURE THERE ARE NO SHARP POINTS ON THE SKIDPLATE WHEN FORMING THE GAS TANK!.
      5. Pull everything apart and part the weld areas before reinstalling the gas tank.

      I was able to fit a 2" stretch using Waggy leaf springs and a D44 by notching the gas tank.

      Here are some before pictures just to show the before and after and of the skidpkate notch.

      I've been spending a little time here and there as I get it. Up until now, I've only been able to spend Monday and Tuesday nights on the Jeep but I was able to get the gas tank molded and the rear axle back in! Once the Jeep is complete I will burn in the leaf springs mounts so I can set the pinion angle. Tonight I started cutting off the old suspension mounts on the front axle before the bottom fell out! Such is life ... BIG Update coming this weekend!!!

      P.S. it's been hot down here's in GA


        I brought the parts CJ5 home and even got the rebuilt 304 running! I spent the rest of the day removing the rest of the front suspension mounts to prep for the outboard suspension brackets. Step by step I'll get this Jeep done for Dixie Run 2017 in September!!

        It's been a busy week! I got the body undercoated with Herculiner and bolted down for good. TIP: Stir thoroughly and cover anything you don't want the liner to get on!

        I also got the gas tank bolted back in and the fuel lines hooked back up. With the notch the tank didn't quite sit as low as it previously did so I'm glad I decided to put a small body lift on. I went with a 1" body lift to make sure all my mounts were good and to help with make room for the flat belly.

        I also pulled a AW4 transmission and steering system from a donor XJ. Lastly I got the rebuilt AMC 304 to start up on it's own and man what a boost that is! September 21 is coming soon but I'll have this thing ready!


          So I've been working my tail off trying to get the Jeep to driving status for Dixie Run in a couple weekends. It's been a whirlwind of a few weeks to get to where I'm at today.

          I've finished welding in the engine and suspension mounts. I spent yesterday regearing my front Waggy D44 axle with a set of Rodeo 4.30 gears and installing a Spartan Locker. That was a huge pain in the butt!

          I made a temp mount for a oil, temp, and volt gauge in the YJ dash just till the winter when I can pull it apart and swap in a CJ Dash. I also adapted the wiring harness for the gauges and got the interior ready for the cage to go in. Once my seat sliders come in I can mount the seats and build a center console to hold the shifter, CB, and some cup holders.

          Tonight I mounted a filler neck and installed new fuel filler lines. Now I'm waiting on the flexplate from the machine shop to come in so I can do a final mount of the drivetrain.

          It seems like I might not be doing much but I'm working on it every night! By Thursday night I plan to have the front axle back together and the drivetrain installed so I can do the engine side of the wiring and test fire this Saturday. Wish me luck!
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          Well life got crazy and I lost my password so I haven't logged in for a long time! I have had some free time to work on the Jeep and it is now running and driving. To catch up on what has happened here are some pictures of the grill mounts, steering box mount, and the flat belly transmission mount all made out of 1/4 steel. Something was going on internally with the stock MC2100 so I swapped on a borrowed 1406 and the Jeep has been running great since then!



            I eventually plan on installed tube fenders but for now I high-lined the stock CJ Fenders and hood. I added 3" to the fenders, custom built the grill mounts, and threw some primer on them before bolting them up! I also had to section 1 1/4" out of the front of the fenders so they would eventually miss the headlights once I install them. Sheetmetal is extremely difficult and I know the hood cut was messed up. I assumed since I raised the stock fenders up 3" I should just take 3" out of the hood but man was I wrong! I forgot to take into account the custom grill mount did not keep the grill in the stock location. Either way I have enjoyed the learning curve and adding some new talents to my arsenal.



              Before I get to far ahead I wanted to update the build info. from what was posted on the first page:

              -1994 YJ Body and Frame
              -CJ hood (high-lined) and grill
              -Fuel Injected V8 (Currently a carbed AMC 304 -> plan to fuel inject eventually)
              -Automatic (AW4)
              -A twin sticked transfer case (D300)
              -1979 Wagoneer Front D44 (passenger side, 4.30 gears, lunch box locker, beefy steering, rebuilt consumables)
              -1996 Isuzu Rodeo rear D44 (4.30 gears, limited slip, disc brakes, mini-drum e-brake)
              -Front 7 leaf Wagoneer springs mounted SUA f/r
              -Power Steering (XJ steering box, replacement late CJ PS Pump, XJ Column)
              -Power brakes (YJ booster, C4 manual booster)
              -Safe enough to do 70 mph down the highway to the trailhead
              -Built low with skid plates covering all the vitals (I have the 1/4 plate already)

              This past weekend I took the Jeep to a local park to celebrate the 2 year build process and it was quite the payoff. The D300 wouldn't engage the rear axle but I still made it up the waterfall without much of an issue! I can honestly say it was worth it to start this new build now that it runs and drives! I have a long list of things to work on before the Jeep is anywhere near finished but the current short list looks like this:
              1. Figure out why the rear transfer case output won't engage
              2. Fab and install longer rear shackles
              3. Check the float level, block off the fuel bowl slot to prevent flooding, install spring loaded seats
              4. Fab new trans. cover
              5. Fab skidplate
              6. Fab final dash layout
              7. Fab permanent cage to replace the temporary one
              8. Build center console and cable shifters

              I know the front and rear wheels are different. The mag slots won't fit over the rear axle flange so I need to mill out the flange diameter on the rear wheels.

              Let's see if this video works correctly


                Well it's been a time of transition the last few months. My wife and I bought our first house, found out we were pregnant, and I am now employed full-time at the Church I have been serving at for the last 5 years. On top of that my mom was diagnosed with cancer in the Fall, which she just got the all clear from after surgery and several months of radiation! Thank God she is alright and our baby is growing quickly! Needless to say life got in the way of major progress with the Jeep!

                Some progress on the Jeep build:
                I did some modifications to the Edelbrock 1406 I found on IFSJA and Pirate4x4. I'm glad to say this carb runs no matter what way I'm headed and regardless of how off-camber the Jeep is. I do need to add a choke to ease the starting but once it's warmed up the Jeep barely turns over once before the engine catches. Y'all seriously with the modifications I have not run into a single situation with any issue from the carb. I love showing up all the JK's and JL's on leaf springs and a carb!

                I also mounted my Warn 8274 up front and tested it for the first time. The Jeep Club I am a member of came together to buy the winch for my wedding present 2.5 years ago and it is now finally getting used! Man does that thing fly!

                The last thing I was able to do was fab a skid plate for the belly from 1/4 steel. It took forever with a 4.5" grinder but eventually I finished up the cut and was able to get it mounted to the frame rails. I will be adding bracing in the future and a engine skid off the front of this skid plate but that is for another time when I get a 220V line run into the garage.

                That brings you up-to-date with that status of the Jeep in late January 2019. On February 2, 2019 I meet some friends from the Jeep Club at Gulches Offroad Park in Waterloo, SC for a test drive. At this point I had installed JB Fab cable twin-sticks and made sure everything was running properly while driving around the neighborhood/town for an hour.

                Here are some videos from the test drive:
                You can hear me complain when the driver's tire contacts the fender even after I moved the fender up 3 inches! All that work for the tire to self-clearance within the first 1/2 mile of the trailer!

                The second trail we went down nearly resulted in a flop. I was spotted by a friend who over estimated my width and luckily the Jeep stayed wheels down. This is the last time I trust him for spotting!

                I tried to make Shipwreck but the lack of traction combined with a very loose limited slip in the rear axle stopped me from making the climb.

                I'll update the to-do list in another post as this trip highlighted several issues I was not aware of before!

                The trip to Gulches went great but I ran into several issues I did not foresee:

                1. I lost a drive flange hub cover somewhere and was unable to recover it so I need to order a set of hubs, but I am not sure what brand to order. I am leaning towards using the hub as the weak point in the drivetrain so if one lets go I can easily slide in a drive flange and keep moving along. If I need to I can throw in the drive flanges, remove the front driveshaft, and make my way home from trail if I do not have my truck and trailer with me. Anyone have any ideas on a budget friendly selectable hub for the Waggy D44 front?

                2. The rear axle drive flange OD is too large for the mag slot wheels I want to run. My dream is to run aluminum beadlocks but they cost way too much money for now so I am stuck with the mag slots! I really like the look of the mag slots, I own them, and my 35's are mounted already so I need to bore out the wheels or bore down the axle flange OD. See pictures below:

                3. The biggest issue the trip to Gulches revealed was steering problems. The PS Pump started making noise and puked fluid an hour into the trip. We pulled over, removed the belt, cleaned off the PS fluid, and kept going. I think the PS Pump was slightly over-filled which caused the fluid to spill over during the trip. I also have some serious clearance issues. I am ordering some standard misalignment spacers to see if they will create enough clearance for the drag link; however, I am already planning on having to notch the passenger frame rail to create enough clearance so I do not have to limit the uptravel as much. If you look at the pictures though you see I will probably have to move the steering box forward and up to create the clearance needed for the pitman arm. It's either that or use a shorter pitman arm and the current Waggy pitman arm exactly matches the measurement from the ball joint to the tie rod.
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                  I've been pretty busy since my first test drive in February with getting the house ready for our first child and of course after her birth. Now that everything is calming down I was able to work on the Jeep some more over the last month and weekend. It seems this Jeep is going to forever be built in stages and not in a short period as life keeps throwing things in the way of me finishing the Jeep!

                  I nailed down a dash layout for the Jeep and fabricated the new dash last week and spent this weekend finishing it and laying down some paint. I decided to paint the Jeep GM Race Red and used Duplicolor Perfect Match paint and Spraymax 2K Clear on the dash. The picture below was taken 15 minutes after I sprayed the last coat of clear yesterday. Of course, the humidity made painting extremely difficult and I'm concerned the finish is going to take quite a bit of wet sanding and buffing to look perfect.
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                  A few post back I showed where I had some serious clearance issues between the drag link and frame. This past weekend I was able to take a piece of 1/4" 2"x4" tubing and notch the frame to open up 2" of extra uptravel! I'm won't have time to brace the notch before my trip this weekend but I'm also wondering if I even need to put a brace in above the notch.

                  What do y'all think, brace above the notch or leave it along?
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                  Well I finally finished all the hard fab work on the dash and got the gauges, heater controls, 12v charging ports, and glove box all situated. Painting in 102 degree heat with 95% humidity was not a smart decision but I can always redo the paint later when the body gets painted. This weekend I got the new dash installed and connected using weatherpack connectors. I haven’t connected the fuel pump wiring because I am fabricating a gas tank lift right now.

                  I also drove into town sitting on a bucket and man that was awesome! It feels so good to drive something you built with your own hands!!

                  Tonight I removed some old side step brackets from the frame, ground down the booger welds, and laid down some paint on the frame. I’ve only got 1 month left before Dixie Run and I’m gonna get this thing as close to prepared as I can!
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                    A few weekends back I went to AOP to test the Jeep and hang with some good buddies for a event called Dixie Run hosted by SFWDA. It was such a awesome weekend hitting the hardest blue trails at the park! The Jeep performed phenomenally and made through every trail I attempted. I also added up the money I’ve spent on the Jeep and surprisingly I’ve only spent $4650 which includes the tubing for a cage, bender die, metal to build a trans tunnel out of, and a Waggy steering box!

                    The weekend wasn’t without breakage though. My power steering went crazy again and I drove all day Friday without any steering assistance. I also spun the weld loose on my driveshaft using too much WOOOPOOW but that was a easy fix until I bent the driveshaft on Saturday. Now I need to lift the front 3/4”, add bump stops, buy and mount shocks, figure out my power steering issues, and build a 2 piece front driveshaft. I’ve attached the to-do list to finish the Jeep and make it street legal!
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                    Well I got the bump stops tacked into place and everything clears at full bump with 3/4” to spare. I currently have 4” of uptravel and 3/4” of compression before bottoming out. I am super excited about that and I still have 6.5” of down travel! This Jeep is gonna be so much better than my previous CJ5. It may not ride or flex as good as coils but I am using 35 year old Waggy leaf springs!! I will also have to remake the passenger front brake line once the shocks are mounted.

                    I’m at a stand still until I save up money for shocks and shock towers. If anyone has some suggestions on what brand and where to buy shocks I would take it! I’m looking at Bilsteins 5125 Shocks but they cost a pretty penny! Once I buy shocks, mount them, and test clearances with the tires I will then burn in all the mounts and move onto fixing the steering clearance issues.


                      Well it turns out I was never going to get the steering linkage to work unless I went to a full high street setup. In order to do that I bought a ‘77 K10 D44 and stole the knuckle off it for only $50! Sure beats buying a Reid Knuckle! I used the Napa blue ball joints as the general consensus is they are the toughest right now that you can buy at a auto parts store.

                      I forgot to take a picture of the new knuckle painted and installed but it is now!

                      Once I got the passenger knuckle, high steer arm, and linkage installed it became clear that I was going to have to expand the frame notch on the passenger side to clear the new location of the drag link. I also decided that I wanted to gusset and fish plate each frame notch before I repainted everything for the final time.

                      I’ve got the driver’s side of the frame notched, gusseted with 2x2x1/4, fish plated with 1/4”, remounted the bumpstop, and mounted up the F250 shock mounts. I’ve still got 4” of uptravel and the shock is fully protected at max bumpstop and drop. I feel so much better now that the frame rail doesn’t have all those holes in it and the steering box is also supported by the fish plate! I’m hoping to build his Jeep tough enough that it doesn’t break or require modification for years to come!

                      Well tonight I was able to mount the passenger front shock tower and lower mount. I then mounted the wheels and tires to check clearances at full bump and drop. Everything looks great so I'll burn in the rest of the bump stop pads, passenger fish plate, and some filler pieces of metal before I fab some shackle spacers and burn those in too.


                        Thanks for the complement and I’ll have to check out your Jeep build when I get some free time! I’ve got several budget tricks still up my sleeve that I hope to implement! I was able to squeeze a couple hours in the garage this afternoon and finished quite a few things on my to-do list.

                        I finish welded the passenger fish plate and fabricated some filler pieces before welding those in as well. I mounted up the steering box to verify everything clearing in every direction from full bump to max drop and I’m good! Then I played with my new TMR dimple dies to see how they look in person. I need to buy a 1.5” hole saw to test the final size dimple die.

                        Photo descriptions:
                        #2 Steering linkage at max bump and no turn
                        #3 Clearance at max bump full turn right
                        #4 Clearance at max bump full turn left
                        #5 Steering clearance at ride height. The drag link and tie rod don’t make contact anymore!
                        #6,7 Quick test dimple die plate

                        I got to try my hand at bending and man it’s awesome! I really really enjoyed making this little hoop to protect my winch and lights on the front end while providing some style at the same time!

                        I recommend watching The Fabrication Series “tube bending basics” class on Facebook if you new to bending. It gave me all the knowledge I needed to take on this project and nailing it on the first try! Next I’m going to make some slider steps once I get the front end assembled and fab the front light mounts.

                        I’m so close to finishing this round of upgrades I can’t stand it! I finished painting the whole front frame and then started bolting everything on! I’ve got the leaf springs with the add-a-leaf in and supporting the weight of the vehicle. I repainted all the steering linkage and did a quick alignment on the toe in (1/16”). I also bent the passenger brake line to run under the grill and fabricated some new mounts for it.

                        Hopefully tomorrow I’ll drive it to the local Mexican restaurant for dinner!


                          DIY Slider Info
                          Check out my $75 sliders! If you ever want to make your own sliders keep an eye out for a brick house being remodeled! I snagged the 3.5”x3.5”x1/4” angle iron for free from a job site. I did have to buy the 10’ piece of DOM, the hardware, and the aluminum backing pieces. The sliders are super strong and support lifting the vehicle without flinching!
                          Here’s a quick guide on how I made my sliders: 1. Cut angle iron to length and grind the edges smooth 2. Measure out your bolt locations making sure to miss any crossmembers, roll cage mounts, or anything else 3. Drill the mounting holes through the angle iron. Now lift the angle iron against the body and drill through the body to mount the slider. 4. Now remove the slider and bend up your step 5. Weld on your step and filler panel if you want 6. Prime, paint, and mount!

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                          Last edited by lowslungCJ; 05-30-2020, 09:08 PM.


                            In preparation for my ride this upcoming weekend I decided to end my overheating issues with the power steering. I was going to try to rebuild the steering box and port it to install my hydro assist ram before the weekend. The timeline is just too tight but I did go ahead and install the PS cooler and wire up the fan. I know it’s super overkill but if it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing the first time 🤪! Anyways here are some pictures of the only place I could fit a PS cooler in.
                            Forgive the dark pictures as I took them at night. Oh and I forgot to post pictures of the bracket I fabricated to hold the distribution block and residual valve.
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