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Bolt-ons for the side chick - Mild TJ Project

Sandy Johnson

Harry Member
Joined
May 19, 2020
Member Number
247
Messages
2,795
Loc
Spreckels, Ca
Yes, I'm right in the middle of scrambling to get my YJ ready for KOH this year. Yes, I also have a wife, two kids, a full time job, and a bunch of other hobbies. So when my dad called me up and told me his wheeling days are over, and he can't get much of a trade-in value on his 98 TJ, then asked me if I wanted it.... I immediately said yes. The first jeep I ever owned was a 1997 TJ, and my dad and I had so much fun in it, that he went out and bought his own the next year. My dad has always been into wheeling, but after I was born, the only thing with 4x4 he ended up with was a suburban. When I went out and paid too much money for a brand new jeep for my first car, he was skeptical. After our first trip to the desert he was hooked. So out he went to repeat my mistake and buy a brand spankin new jeep.

My dad back in 1957 driving my grandpa's 51 willys:
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He immediately started beating on the TJ. Stock form on the squeeze in anza-borrego circa 1998:
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We ended up with identical jeeps after my mom and I got some cash together to lift, re-gear, lock the rear, and add tires to my dads.
It was a sahara edition with a Dana 44 out back, so specs are as follows:

Stock 4.0
D30/D44 combo
4.56 gears, detroit locker out back, open front(I suspect the only thing keeping that poor dana 30 alive)
Transfercase lowering kit in an attempt to cut down on driveline vibration
3" Rubicon Express Lift
33s on 15 inch wheels.
aaaaand, thats it!

Because our jeeps were so similar, there was some trading back and forth. I think he liked mine because I put a flowmaster on it for maximum high schooler obnoxiousness. Here's a few pics of when I got my hands on it:

Tierra Del Sol.... not sure which year
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Pismo Beach circa whenever rangers still had broncos.
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Me learning that mud is dumb:
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Which brings us to today. Not much has changed with the old girl except a set of all terrain tires. She runs, gets washed, just got a tune up from my dad, and sits out in the San Diego sun all day. So when I brought our motorhome down to San Diego to visit my parents this thanksgiving, I brought a tow bar and had a Currie/RockJock tow bar mounting kit shipped to their house:

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Plan is to get this thing driving nice and hand it over to my wife for fun. We also want to have a chill tow dingy to go behind our motorhome when we go somewhere that tons, 40's, an atlas(can't flat tow, need to pull driveshafts), and a flatbed trailer aren't needed. A bunch of you guys told me to keep my damn hands off of it, but too bad, Imma touch it. So without any more history lessons or rambling, I give you Project: Bolt-ons For The Side Chick.

Step one is to get it driving nice:
Fix leaky oil pan seal
New ruffstuff heavy duty steering
Rebuild/clean up Johnny joints on the old Rubicon Express kit
Check caster(it feels twitchier than I remember, so I think that's off) and fix if needed
Ditch the craptastic transfer case lowering kit and replace with SYE and new rear driveline
Fix the leather around the fawking steering wheel. You wouldn't think that is a big deal, but it's shredded, then wrapped in baseball grip wrap.. then that shredded, and now it has an old man wheel cover on it making the whole thing like 1 3/4" in diameter and it sucks.
New tires. Existing ones have been sitting in the sun for 8 years and have scary cracks. We're definitely putting 35s on it. Reasons why in step 2
Kids car seat latches.
Surf Racks (special wife request)

Step two is to get it protected enough for my wife to run the rubicon.
My wife has a goal to build up a "girls jeep" for her and our friend's wife to take on the rubicon when we all go. Hence the 35s to make life easier.
Ditch crappy rear hitch and stock bumper, replace with low profile rear bumper with proper tow points.
Rear tire carrier so the stock one doesn't tear out of the tailgate.
Rear corner protection (aluminum)
Rocker protection (aluminum maybe?)
Front bumper that could one day maybe have a winch (also aluminum)
Full cage
Some sort of gas tank skid
Maybe flat belly skid?

Step three- we actually don't talk about step three because that means lots of work for me and that aint happening for a long time buuut...
D44 front with selectable locker
Ditch the detroit out back and replace with selectable locker (she wants it to play nice on the street)


Oh, actually I got it wrong. Step one was to take it to the desert for a day and enjoy the fawk out of it right now. Mission accomplished:
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Wait.... bolt ons???? What’s gonna be the ROI on those????
oh wait......
:flipoff2:

im in on this one... got some refreshing to do on my 03 soon!!!
 
Might be a good idea to reinforce all the axle bracketry, weak sauce on stock axles, especially with 35s on tough trails.

On the leather factory steering wheels, most of the time you can cut the leather off at the stitches and it's the base model plain steering wheel underneath.
 
Might be a good idea to reinforce all the axle bracketry, weak sauce on stock axles, especially with 35s on tough trails.

On the leather factory steering wheels, most of the time you can cut the leather off at the stitches and it's the base model plain steering wheel underneath.

From what I can tell of what's peaking out from under the holes in the leather, it looks like foam under there. I did some internet hunting around and found this article:
https://www.thehogring.com/2019/10/18/steering-wheel-upholstery/

I'm not an upholstery guy at all and not even really that good at sewing, but it looks like I might be able to pull this off if I can figure out where to buy the materials and convince my wife use her sewing machine to do the perimeter stitching. Added bonus is if I actually get good at this, I'd like to re-wrap our motorhome's steering wheel as well. I mean, the electric tape wrap job looks fancy and all buuuuut...

I also found this site with pre cut and stitched wraps... for the amount of jimmy jacking and football fucking I'll probably end up doing trying to DIY, $130 is tempting:
https://www.redlinegoods.com/Wrangl...ler-TJ-1997-06-steering-wheel-cover-(2-spoke)
 
those are sweet, looks like you have them framed and hopefully hanging on the wall.
 
Bolted some things back on.
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So the answer to the ultimate tuesday question- 35s fit on a TJ with a 3" lift with minor fender flair rubbing. I went out to my favorite local dirt pile, disconnected the sway bar, and tried to see what I could see in the dark:

Front
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With wheel turned to get the tire as close as I could to the metal fender at full stuff:
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Rear. It eats the stock flairs in the stock location a little bit, but then again, so did the 33s.

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This is with a 3" rubicon express lift from 1999, so the springs nice a broke in, and the bumpstops aren't really putting up much of a fight either.


I was going to highline the fenders and all that jazz, but it seems to work just fine as is. The more bolting and the less cutting/drilling/welding I can do on this the better.
 
So I'm not supposed to be working on this right now because I should be prepping the other jeep for KoH.. except that I can't go. Then I told myself I would still work extra hard on our other jeep anyway so I could still go wheel it in a few weeks... Then my buddy texted me and told me he was going to do a recon jeep/moto/shoot guns/ boondock camping trip with his kids about an hour and a half south of me this weekend. Fuck. I want to do that.

Talked to the wife and we figured we'd cruise down for a couple days with some toys and the Side Jeep... on one condition! I had to get some real car seat brackets in there because the stock rear seat belts are questionable at best. I hade been looking around for a newer TJ rear seat ad some of the late models had the built in latch system. No dice. I had some scrap and the old back half of the cage for our other jeep, so I figured what the hell, lets make brackets instead.

Step one, I headed out to the shitty old roll cage garden and clipped what I needed:
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Next, and this step is very important, I removed the back of the seat and pulled the fabric and foam off the frame so it wouldn't catch on fire later.
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After some shitty measuring, cutting, tacking, and welding, I had a thing:
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I put some ubolts in it and made some holes in the back so I could thread nuts on it in case I wanted to adjust how far in/out they sat and booger wleded the whole thing to the seat frame
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It is at this point in the story that I'd like to share my frustrations with my welder. Up until very recently I loved my miller multimatic 215. I'm not sure if some thing changed, or if I just got good enough to notice, but lately it seems like when it's in the auto setting, even when I turn the wire speed down(it's supposed to allow you to slightly adjust wire speed and voltage even in auto), it will report the wire speed is slow and then blow that wire out faster than a my daily constitutional after a wild night of Mexican food and tequila. I can literally hear the wire feeder hauling ass while I'm welding. Almost sounds the same as when you're running new wire through it and it cranks up the speed after you've been holding the trigger for a while. I could swear this didn't happen even like a month ago. If I turn it to manual mode, I can read the chart on the inside of the door, set it, and life is good, but what's the point of paying all that money for a fancy welder if the fancy part doesn't work so great. Anyone got any suggestions?

Back to the thing. I pained it.
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It kind of bugs me that the latch system used for kids seatbelts has such a small clamp. 1/4" ubolts just barely work with them. I'm sure they will hold up for a 20-30 lb kid, but they look so small to me.


Back in the seat:
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Back in the jeep with test car seat:
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Nice Jeep. Makes me miss my '01 TJ. Winch, 35's, auto lockers, f/r 2" lift. Went everywhere you pointed it.
 
You’re making me feel like a bad dad!!!!
I fabbed up a lap belt so I could squeeze all 3 of my girls in the back!!!! They were 10, 12 and 13!!!!
They are 23, 24 and 25 now...😞😞😞 best part of buying this Heep is that it got the whole family out in the woods, hard to do with 4 women.....we had so much fun.... hope you have as much or more fun than we did!!!
 
You’re making me feel like a bad dad!!!!
I fabbed up a lap belt so I could squeeze all 3 of my girls in the back!!!! They were 10, 12 and 13!!!!
They are 23, 24 and 25 now...😞😞😞 best part of buying this Heep is that it got the whole family out in the woods, hard to do with 4 women.....we had so much fun.... hope you have as much or more fun than we did!!!

ha, thanks! We've got a 6 month old and a 3 year old, so the wife is taking it seriously. I actually got back into four wheeling because we had kids. Prior to that it was the wife and I out on motos or mountain bikes. Since we can't very well take all the kids and all their crap on motos right now, we figured it was time to get back into 4 wheels.

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