What's new

Build, The General Lee, Tons, 40s, stretch, leaves

92 Green YJ

General Lee Jeep
May 19, 2020
Member Number
Mariaville, ME
The plans:
YJ with an 18” body and frame stretch
One tons (Chevy 60 front, Ford 70 rear)
40” Bias Ply Trepadors
Atlas 4 speed
SOA with Rubicon Express SOA springs
Full Hydro steering
4.6L stroker
General Lee paint job to piss of the liberals

I have had this YJ since 2001. It was bought to replace my 1991 GMC Jimmy that was stolen my first week of college. As with most around here it has undergone quite a few changes over the years as I got more and more into wheeling so I’ll start with the evolution.

When I first got it. Bone stock.


Iirc this was some eBay 2” lift shackles front and rear and a ghey light bar that I’m not sure what I was thinking when I put it on.


Probably the biggest mistake I made, rough crappy 4” lift kit, 33” all terrains, some home made rock rails, etc


Stepped up to 35” procomp Xterrains


More or less how it currently sits. Swapped to Rubicon Express 4.5” extreme duty springs after having so many issues with the rough country junk over the years, Great Lakes Offroad diy beadlocks, still on 35s. A few armor upgrades over the years, tossed in an 8.8 with an ARB when I blew up the Dana 35, etc.




And the real motivation for doing this rebuild

So as you can see above, my little girl is currently strapped into a kids suspension seat sitting on a frame I built to go above my fuel cell. I figure she’s only gonna fit this set up for one more season so I gotta get something done to give her some more space.

I was watching the sale forums here and bought a YJ tub and semi hacked CJ 7 tub from Hurleygo3 and dragged them home to use for this build. Nice thing with this is I am building the tub first in the garage and I don’t have to take down the Jeep until the tub is done.

First thing I did was build a table of sorts to work on the tub. I built it to the exact intended dimensions I am stretching to. I am adding 18”s to the body and the frame. Once the table was built I had a buddy help me slap the tub on it. Then I carefully measured and marked and chopped the tub in half right behind the door frame.




Then I carefully measured and cut some of the top rail section off the CJ tub for my top fill plates



Then I got detoured and spent some time filling all the unnecessary holes in the firewall and plating in the Cowell vent hole as I will not be using the stock heater.

Next order of business was to measure my aluminum fuel cell and go ahead and cut the hole in the rear floor for it. This time I am moving it back as far as I can so I have plenty of room for a rear bench and my growing kid.

Since I cut thru one of the body crossmembers I broke out my TMR Customs dimple dies and spent way too much time making a new one that nobody will ever see to beef up the edge of my cut a bit.



Next I had to decide what parts of the floor to stretch. I decided to split the difference and add 9”s to the upper floor section where the seat will mount, and 9”s to the lower floor for some more backseat legroom. (Something severely lacking in Wranglers)
Since the floor of the CJ tub was pretty rusty, I decided to use new metal. So I hit Quadratec and ordered some factory replacement patch panels since they were the correct gauge, already bent and ridged, etc and I just cut them up for the pieces I need.

For the rear I cut back a bit more of the factory floor to get rid of the mangled area where the spot welds were and give me a bit more surface area to weld along the fenders.




Up next was the rear step. Again this is a patch panel from Quadratec.



When it came time to make holes for the spot welds I started with a drill and quickly realized it would take me weeks. Quick visit to Amazon got me this trick little pneumatic hole punch that made perfect holes in a second.


For the fill panels in front of the wheel wells I just cut up some more of the upper floor patch panel I had left over.




Next I moved on to the lower floor section. Again I hacked up some replacement panels from Quadratec to get the pieces I needed.





I currently run Blue Torch fab comp cut corners. I want to try and keep this monster somewhat light though so I decided to go aluminum for this build. I got in touch with Genright about getting some custom AL comp cut corners from them with 18”s added between the door and wheel well. However they told me I would have to order a minimum of 10 sets for them to make me what I needed. Obviously that wasn’t going to happen. So I got in touch with Stout Fabrication here on the board instead. No problem. Custom made 3/16” Aluminum comp cut corners showed up from them in just a few weeks.




Now it was finally time to make the two halves one tub again. I burned in the top caps from the CJ tub and broke out my super high tech CAD design system to figure out what I would need to cut from a half sheet of fresh 16 gauge steel to fill the giant holes in the side of the tub.






Then after I cut my panels out I tossed them in my SWAG press brake to bend the bottom edge for some rigidity

Next began the tedious process of burning them in. I had forgotten how much I hate welding sheet metal. I am definitely no body man. Luckily the armor will cover most of the imperfections on the outside and the Monstaliner will cover it on the inside. Got them all burned in and cleaned up as best as I can with a flap disc from Roark Supply. Might have to bite the bullet and use some filler in a few places before paint, but all things considered I’m pretty happy with the job I did. (Namely a 220V Miller 185 with .25 wire on the lowest setting I could get it on STILL burning holes. First time in my life I wished I had a 110v welder)









That brings us up to date of where I am on the body right now. I have to finish welding the fender tops back to the body as the comp cut was high enough to cut thru the seam. Then I will flip the tub onto its sides so I can do the welding underneath. Spot weld the floor sides to the side panels, trim the excess from the bends, etc.
The axles for this project came from another member here and a buddy of mine. They were in his CJ that he split the frame in half on. I have a Chevy Dana 60 front with a Detroit locker and 5.13s and a Ford Dana 70 rear stuffed with the same.

We used his bucket loader to get them in the bed of my truck, but when I got them home I had to get creative to unload them.



Another part of this upgrade is I am tired of blowing Dana 30 shafts. I am famous in my group for being the fastest front axle replacer they know because I’ve done it so many times. Don’t think I’ll have that issue with these.


I will be converting the 70 to discs. So far I’ve only blown the hubs and drums off. Cleaned up the hubs and put all new Timken bearings in them.




Past that, I took advantage of some Memorial Day sales and have started stockpiling parts. Goodies from Motobilt and RuffStuff respectively.



Also went ahead and ordered and picked up the custom rear bench from PRP to help with mock up.


And that brings us up to date with where I sit at present. I will continue to update as I keep rolling forward on this project.
Onto today’s progress, limited though it was. I managed to finish welding the wheel wells back together and was finally ready to get the tub up on its side to start the bottom welding. Then I hit a little snag. Turns out the table I made is too tall to allow me to stand it on its side on the table. I was a good 2 feet off on clearance. So what to do when working all alone?

Definitely to be filed under the “kids, don’t try this at home” file. I found I couldn’t really lift the tub by myself. So I grabbed some chain, my harbor freight come along that I used to unload the axles from the back of my truck, a heavy strap, some eye bolts, and some shackles and got very redneck very fast.

Ran the eyebolts with washers and nuts thru some of the floor drain holes. Made a big X with the chain hooked to the eye bolts. Wrapped the strap around the rafter in the garage and put the come along in between. Cranked it up until the tub swung clear off the table. Dragged the table out from under it, and slowly lowered the tub to the floor. Got it up on its side and started welding some of the spot welds on the bottom until the wife and kid came home.





It worked really well. Amazingly I only have to straighten out one drain hole that got a little tweaked from the lift.
Didn’t get too much done this week as I spent both days off with a *****in cold and just couldn’t bring myself to drag *** out to the garage. I’m sure my welds would have been fantastic with all the sneezing I was doing too. :rolleyes:

However I did get a little bit done this afternoon after work.

I felt the upper floor extension could use a bit more support. It was flexing a bit more than I liked so I knocked up another dimpled sheet crossmember and burned it in. It spans the distance between the bends and I also went and welded it to the flange of the step to help tie all the pieces in together just a little bit more. Feels much firmer now. Also added some more tack welds along the edges underneath at the seams to help tie it all together a bit more and welded the floor to the last side panel.



Then I couldn’t resist trying out the new bender with a scrap piece of tube real quick.



Well the wife and daughter went up to Hollyweird for the day so I actually get a whole day to get some work done on this beast.

I finished up the work on the bottom of the tub and sprayed a coat of primer down on the bare steel.




Then I went ahead and slung it back up on my poor mans chassis table. I thought I would go ahead and get the corner armor mocked up with the tail lights and such. I am having a bit of a hard time deciding which way to go with it. I want something a bit different so I am looking at a couple of options.

For starters I am using a pair of recess mount LED cubes for my back up lights. (they will be wired so they come on with reverse engaged or switched independently if I need them for recovery lighting)

Sorry for the sideways picture. But I want to mount these down low towards the bottom of the wheel well. About this area.

Now for the actual tail lights, I ordered a set of these Tear Drop LED lights like you would see on a motorcycle or something, as well as a set of standard OVAL led trailer lights like I am currently running. I think it will look odd with the tear drop due to the size of the LED cube.



So then I thought, what about a pair of tear drops per side.



This is kind of what I am currently leaning towards. Wire them together obviously so they will both light together. And paint that chrome bezel black or maybe body color (Chrome is fine on my '71 Charger, NOT my Jeep.) Would also be much easier to mount these as they are surface mount. Just have to drill some holes instead of cutting the huge oval holes for the trailer lights.
Well the more I looked at it, the more I like the double tear drop look. So I went ahead and laid out a grid to help me get everything lined up and situated.


Tossed an Aluminum cut off wheel from Roark Supply on my grinder and between that and a jigsaw for the corners I got my hole cut for my reverse lights.


Then I went ahead and figured out where I wanted my teardrops and punched a couple holes for the mounting studs and the wiring to pass thru into the tub.




My only issue now is that I can't really do the other side as I need to order another pair of the teardrops from Amazon. I guess at least I can get the holes drilled.
Well summer time means no school for my daughter and I am on Dad duty all day on Monday. And of course my daughter goes thru phases of not liking loud noises and the sound of power tools which makes it very hard to get anything done.

That said I did manage to get a couple little things done today.

First the second pair of tail lights came in over the week so I got them mocked up and temporarily installed.


Then I got the first armor backing plate knocked up. Grabbed some 1/8” x 2” aluminum flat stock from homey depot and cut it to length. Clamped it up and marked the bolt holes from the armor. Pulled it off and drilled the 3/8” mounting holes. Then I laid out a mess of holes for dimples. Unfortunately I wasn’t thinking when I did this and didn’t space them out enough for the die to be able to dimple every hole I cut. (Was trying to get it done before my daughter decided she wanted something) also in hindsight I should have dimpled first and drilled mounting holes later as the dimples along the length pulled the aluminum enough that half the holes for the mounting bolts were completely off when I went to bolt it in necessitating drilling new mount holes. Lesson learned for doing the other side.

Mmmmm, dimpled aluminum.



And yes, I am debating redoing this side again because the imperfections of the hole spacing and such will probably bother me eventually. Of course I’ll have to go get another strip to remake it because the length is 4’6” meaning there isnt enough left of the 8’ strip I cut it off of to make another.:rolleyes:
Found a spare hour and a half today so I knocked out the aluminum backing plate for the drivers side corner armor. Did this one a little different after the issues I had with the passenger side getting all bent out of shape. This time I clamped the strip in place and drilled my mount holes on the tub. Laid out my holes for dimples and switched to a 1” die for the whole thing. Same hole spacing as the other side. This worked WAY better. Sadly though now I am definitely going to want to redo the passenger side.

Drivers side backer



As you can see, this side lined up almost perfectly when I went to bolt it back in. Only had one hole that was slightly off.

And for comparison, a close up of the passenger side piece that I am going to end up redoing.

So I did a thing.


Pretty damn impressed with 4Wheelparts on this one. Ordered the tires online yesterday around 4 pm. Did ship to my local store in El Cajon to save myself the $300 shipping fee. Got a call from a guy at the local store ten minutes after I placed the order. He tells me I am in luck and they have 4 of them in stock at the Compton warehouse and they will be at the store here by 10 am today. He then begs me to pick them up quickly because they don’t have the space to store them. So I got the call at 10:30 this morning that they were in and again the plea to pick them up today if at all possible. So I cut out of work a little early to get there a half hour before they close and we loaded them up. These things are big! Went with the bias ply.
More pics.





Back to work on the tub a little bit today.

So last time I was working on this I tried my hand at a little filler work. As I said I am no body man. Either it was too hot or I used too much hardener. At any rate, I was attempting to smooth out the vowel vent hole that I filled with a piece of plate and was less than happy with the results. So I took a flap disc and knocked a bunch of the filler out so I could try it again.

Started with this


I am using this lightweight filler I picked up from Amazon. This time I used less hardener .


I think I got it applied much better this time around. Now I am not going to bother with the body patches since they will be covered by the armor. But the cowel area will not be. Because of this I want to get it nice and smooth before I paint it. As it sits right now after applying a fresh coat of filler over the area.


Now I am going to let it harden and cure for a couple of hours before I spray a guide coat and attack it with these that I also sourced from amazon along with an assortment of sandpaper

Little more body work today. I am about at the point where I am ready to move the tub out of the garage and move the Jeep in for the tear down.

Looking like I am going to need some more filler work on the cowel still.


In preparation for moving the tub out of the garage I blasted all the bare steel with primer. I am going to wait on the undercoating and the Monstaliner for a while yet. Want to wait and see if I will have to do any more body modifications before I do that stuff and that won’t be until I go to drop the body on the frame.




Last thing I did today was go ahead and get the YJ off the trailer. I parked it in the yard for the moment as I am going to pressure wash the hell out of the undercarriage before I roll it into the garage. Also going to pull the roll cage before it goes in. It will fit with the cage installed but I won’t be able to remove it once it’s in there. Since I had it off the trailer I couldn’t resist a better tire size comparison next to my 35s



Well today was fairly productive for the morning. I put my ghetto fabulous hoist system to work again and removed the tub from the table. Dropped it to the floor, wrapped it up in a tarp and strapped it down to some movers dollies and got it the hell out of the garage. Despite a small hiccup of my daughter deciding to chase her ball right as I was maneuvering it down a small step and narrowly avoiding the tub falling on her (my leg took the brunt of it) I got it out of the way.


So for the first time probably since we bought the house I have a ton of open space in my garage.


So now I have the tub out of the way I have decided to focus on some of the smaller stuff before I roll the YJ in for the tear down. First thing I did was lay out all of my Motobilt goodies that need to be welded up.




So I am going to get all these welded up. The go ahead and finish stripping the axles down. Get all the old mounts and such off that I won’t be needing. Finish building them, finish the disc conversion on the 70, etc. I have all the brake parts on order from Summit as well as a set of Yukon flanges for the 60 which should come in Tuesday. Once this stuff is done it’s the YJs time of reckoning.
Parts train kept on rolling in today.

Swag Bertha high clearance body mounts


Yukon Drive Flanges for the 60


And about half of the parts I ordered for the rear disc conversion on the 70. Looks like the rotors and wheel studs shipped from Summit racing’s Ohio warehouse, so I won’t see those for a few days yet.

Well I came home and found I had the house to myself so I managed to sneak in an hour or so worth of work this afternoon. Nothing major obviously with the limited time I had.

Welded up some more Motobilt goodness. Feel like I may be over doing it by fully welding the joints on both sides of the shackle brackets, but what the hell



Then I laid down the first couple of coats of caliper paint on the rear disc calipers and brackets for the 70.

Came home from work to a nice heavy box from ECGS. 66lbs of Chromoly shafts, joints, and some wheel bearing kits.


Got a couple of hours in the garage this morning. So I decided to start with assembling the short side chromoly shaft and Super Joint as so far I have only disassembled the short side of the 60.





Not too bad for my first time working with Dana 60 stuff. Had to use my shop press for assembly as my bench vice wasn’t big enough to press in the caps. Also discovered I had to remove the zerks from the cap ends to install the shaft thru the knuckle.
Then I switched gears for a little bit and got to work on fitting the 3/4 ton brake rotors to one of the Dana 70 hubs. I had read that either the rotor needs to be opened up, or the ridge on the back of the hub machined down. I decided to do the hub that way I can just use an off the shelf rotor at any time. Since I don’t have a lathe I did it the booty fab way with a grinder and a flap disc.




Then I jumped over to some more painting. Painted the machined wheel hub, one of the front brake calipers, and the front brake bracket and hub that I have removed. Also tossed a few coats of black on the knuckle.



Then started to reassemble the short side on the 60. Waiting for the paint to dry on the hub so I can go install the new bearings and seals, new brake rotor, press the studs back in, install the drive flange, etc.

Last update for today. Went ahead and assembled a brake rotor onto the painted 70 hub.


I appear to have misplaced one of the studs for the 70 so I need to root around the garage by the press to see if I can find it for the other side. I still have to machine the other hub down so the rotor will fit and then repaint it orange to match this one. I was originally gonna go black on the hubs but I decided with the black wheels it’s just too much. Saw another build on here where someone had painted the hubs a different color and I liked it. This should break up the black nicely.

I also went ahead and placed another order with ECGS for some chromoly shafts for the 70 just a few minutes ago. Go big or go home as they say. I’m hoping I can get the axles pretty much wrapped up for now next week then roll the YJ in for the long awaited tear down. (I feel like I’ve said this before)

So I went ahead and put the 60 hub assembly back together with a new rotor and new bearings and such.


However I hit a little snag. I can’t seem to get the hub seated back on the spindle all the way. I think I drove the seal in too far (it’s not flush with the lip of the hub but set in closer to the bearing.) so near as I can tell, because of this it somehow won’t bottom out on the spindle. And of course I don’t see any way to remove the seal or space it out where it needs to be without destroying it in the process. So I ordered another seal and I will try and seat it flush and see if that makes a difference. Does this sound like it’s my issue? The races are fully seated.
Came home from work to another big heavy box from East Coast Gear Supply today containing a set of Yukon 35 spline chromoly axle shafts for the Dana 70, a pair of Yukon 1350 forged pinion yokes and 2 sets of Spicer U bolts for the pinion yokes.


My UPS guy must really be hating me.

On the YJ front I finally got the damn hub seated on the spindle. Still not entirely sure what the hang up was. I finally decided to give it some motivation with a dead blow hammer. After about 5 good whacks it finally slid into place and seated. So I was able to get the short side pretty well buttoned up. New Timken bearings and seals, new rotor, the chromoly shafts and Yukon super joint and the Yukon Hardcore drove flanges which I had to basically just figure out on my own as there are no instructions with them or on Yukon’s site. Wasn’t too difficult after I looked at it for a few minutes. Also new brake pads. I did discover I have misplaced the metal shim thing that locks the caliper into place however, so I have to root around and see if I can locate that.


I also managed to get the long side all blown apart.
Updates for today. I actually got a fair bit accomplished. I finished assembling the long side of the Dana 60. I still need to do a fluid change, hack the spring perch off of it and paint the diff cover and housing. But for all intents it is basically done for now. The housing will get painted after I get it mocked in and burn in the new spring perch.





So with the 60 out of the way it was time to dive in to the 70.
First order of business on the 70 was cutting all the crap off the tubes. Spring perches, shock mounts, and the anti wrap bar mounts (po had one on each side)

So I broke out the plasma cutter and blew off the stuff as close to the tubes as I could get without cutting into them. Then spent way too much time with a grinder removing the rest. I actually had to stop after cleaning one side as my hands were vibrating so much and my grinders were getting super hot. So I shifted gears to finish the hub and brake assembly on the side I had finished cleaning.





The I went ahead and cut down the first Yukon chromoly shaft. Amazingly I guessed right on which side it was. That said this shaft is the last thing my harbor freight chop saw will ever cut. It took for ****ing ever to get thru it and I kept tripping the power strip on the welding table. Got an Amazon and ordered a Dewalt chop saw as soon as I finally got thru the damn thing. Hit it with a flap disc to bevel the end a touch to make it easier to spline in.


I also went ahead and got the Ruffstuff diff cover painted for the 70.


That’s about it for this days updates. Slow but steady progress is being made.
Came home from work to discover I had been visited by the beadlock fairy. My ups guy is definitely hating me lately.








Procomp was nice enough to supply all the grade 8 bolts needed for assembly. Yet somehow they were too cheap to include a $2 valve stem with each wheel. Guess I need to pick some up. I still need to paint the rings before I go to mount the tires on them anyway, but yeah, mildly annoying they didn’t come with the stems. I gotta say they appear to be well machined and the quality so far looks pretty nice for what I paid for them.