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Just another SPOA YJ

DannyK

Well-known member
Joined
May 27, 2020
Member Number
1547
Messages
340
Loc
Stokeridge, NC
I was excited to find out this board was created, but then a little bummed hoping there would be more posts. Last week I realized that I am part of the problem if I am just lurking and not contributing, so I am going to change that today.

This build started about two years ago, but it is still in work. I will start from the beginning and work to bring it up to the current status.

Before I do that though, I am going to trace this build back to its earliest roots of how I got into four wheeling and ended up with some of the parts that are now on the YJ. It started in the fall of 2000 when I bought a 1985 Bronco to use for towing my dirt bike. It had a camouflage paint job when I bought it. The following spring/summer I spray bombed it yellow because you may remember that was a fairly popular truck color at the time.

Bronco-before-2.jpg


Spring of 2003 my buddy convinced me to get into the hobby of four wheeling and build the Bronco. I ordered up a 6" Skyjacker lift, some 36" TSL's, a Detroit for the 9", and a Lock Right for the D44 TTB and off I went. I was new to the hobby with no GF, no kids, no house, nothing tying me down, so we went wheeling a LOT.

Bronco built.JPG


By December of 2005 I had beat it up pretty good and decided I was ready to go to the next level. This was the Bronco after its last trip in mid-December of 2005.

Big Bird end of days 1.jpg


Big Bird end of days 3.jpg


Big Bird end of days 2.jpg
 
I removed the body of the Bronco and installed a Ford Ranger cab, a 78-79 Dana 60 front, 14 bolt rear and some 42" TSL's. plus built an exo-cage. I broke a couple of NP208's so also upgraded to an Atlas 4spd around 2007. I ended up swapping the 351W 2 barrel carb'd motor for a 5.0 out of a Mustang to just to get EFI. This truck never worked as well as I hoped it would, and my primary wheeler during this time became a Samurai, LOL. After several years of sitting with little use, I cut this thing up around 2014-2015, but kept the axles and transfer case. Everything else was sold or scrapped.

Cab truck in garage.JPG


Cab truck Armor All trail.JPG
 
In the summer of 2016, I took the Samurai apart to build it into a buggy. Two years went by and I had made no progress. I decided I wanted to get back on the trail ASAP so started looking for another rig. I wanted something that I could easily swap my ton axles and Atlas into later on down the road. I also wanted EFI. I ended up finding a 92 YJ for sale close by and bought it in the summer of 2018. It had 200k on the clock, death shackles, and some Walmart 31" AT tires.

Pictures from the day I brought it home.

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I installed the winch from my Samurai and was ready to hit the trails.

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A few weeks later before I hit any trails, I hopped in it to drive to work one day, and gas was pouring out from somewhere underneath. While underneath looking for the source of the fuel leak I also noticed that the pinion gear in the D35 was loose and the bottom of the diff was covered in gear oil. It had been making noise, so I figured it wasn't in good shape. This is the point where looking back, I made the wrong decision. I should have scooped up a Ford 8.8, swapped it in, fixed the fuel leak, and been on the trails for the fall of 2018 like I originally planned.
 
I drug the Dana 60 out of my shed and started working on it. It came with a welded front carrier when I bought it, and that is how I ran it in my cab truck. I didn't want to do that anymore, and had picked up an open carrier many years ago in anticipation of ditching the welded unit. I installed the open carrier with a new Lock Right.


As it was under the cab truck right after I drug it out of my shed:

D60 front on bench.jpg


I found a broken hub gear during disassembly, so I ordered a set of Yukon Hard Core locking hubs.

Broken hub gear.jpg



Lock Right installed.jpg


I also decided to upgrade the brakes so I bought the kit from Lugnut4x4:
Lugnut4x4 brake kit.jpg




D60 front together on bench.jpg
 
Drug the 14 bolt from the old cab truck out from the shed and into my garage.

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I needed to change the input on the Atlas 4spd TC from a C6 to that of an AX15. I called Advance Adapters, and learned two things. First, the input bearing used for the AX15 is different than the C6, and actually requires a different planetary case. Second, they had changed the front planatery case design since 2007 when I bought my case. Luckily they had one of the old style cases on hand, so I was able to get all the parts that I needed to change it over. The guy at Advance Adapters was very friendly and a huge help with sorting all this out.

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Ready to go in the Jeep:

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Removed the stock axles and set it down on the tons with the old death shackles, but using the holes equal to the stock shackle length and an old set of rollers. I did this to get some measurements from the frame to ground. I plan on lowering it as much as possible.

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I just realized I forgot to mention that I bought a set of Motobilt diff covers and did the mini-shave on the 14 bolt.

Motobilt diff covers.jpg
 
It was time to make a decision on tires and wheels. I decided on a set of Raceline beadlocks and 39.5 TSL's. Obviously it would never be able to drive like this. The flares were hard into the rear tires, and the front wouldn't have been able to be turned without ripping the flares off up front. This was again just to get some measurements from the frame to the ground and get a visual of the planned stretch and cutting that would be to come later on. The reason the rear is sitting higher is due to the fuel tank and spare tire being removed.

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SPOA in the rear is the limiting factor in determining how low you can go, due to the frame design so I started with the rear. I cut off the stock rear spring hangers and moved them back 5.5" while also rotating them up. I believe this moved the rear axle back about 6".

Rear spring hanger moved.jpg


I cut out the rear of the frame to keep the Jeep as low as possible. I will be coming back and boxing and welding all of this in later.


Rear frame chop 2.jpg


Rear frame chop 1.jpg
 
I cut off the front spring hangers and moved them forward about 5". With the rotation, it probably moved the front axle forward about 6", just like I did with the rear.

Front spring hanger 2.jpg
 
Around this time I decided to install some Motobilt boat sides to improve the clearance under the doors. I bought them during the Thanksgiving sale.

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I designed a front winch and shackle mounting plate in Pro-E and modeled up some of the parts to make sure everything would package together.

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I spent some time building some raised inner fenders. The new pieces are just sitting in place right now.

Rear tub fender cut.jpg


Rear fender fold.jpg


New rear inner fender 2.jpg


New rear inner fender 3.jpg
 
Looks like it is coming along nicely!

I dig the retro decals too :smokin:
 
Time to swap out the transfer case.

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I'm going for a flat belly.

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My buddy at work made all the pieces for my front end and I welded them together. I have the new shackle pieces, but haven't welded them together yet, so just temporarily bolted the old death shackles on. Also visible are the wooden high steer arms that I was using for mock up, LOL.

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I like it, should be a bit of a sleeper.

I'm not seeing those leafs holding up though, those things bend under samurai's :flipoff2:

You planning on just replacing them as needed? Thought about using quality lift springs spua to reduce axle wrap?
 
I like it, should be a bit of a sleeper.

I'm not seeing those leafs holding up though, those things bend under samurai's :flipoff2:

You planning on just replacing them as needed? Thought about using quality lift springs spua to reduce axle wrap?


I'm worried about the leaf springs, LOL, but didn't want to dive into the deep end with linking this thing right from the start. I will be building a traction bar for the rear. I guess I will see how long the leaf springs hold up and just replace them as necessary. Maybe buy some high quality Deaver leafs to keep it on the trail until I give in some day and link it. This isn't a hill killing extreme rig. It is just going to be a street legal trail Jeep. At least that is what I told myself when I started the build.
 
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I'm worried about the leaf springs, LOL, but didn't want to dive into the deep end with linking this thing right from the start. I will be building a traction bar for the rear. I guess I will see how long the leaf springs hold up and just replace them as necessary. Maybe buy some high quality Deaver leafs to keep it on the trail until I give in some day and link it. This isn't a hill killing extreme rig. It is just going to be a street legal trail Jeep. At least that is what I told myself when I started the build.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a leaf spring fan. Just not 30 year old stock leafs :flipoff2:​​​​​​

There are some good aftermarket options for YJ's though.

Old man emu, bds, Rubicon express, and trail Tough make good leafs for decent price.

Rubicon express and tt have reverse eye option to work better spoa.
 
I've never had stock motor mounts hold up in previous wheeling rigs, so I bought some Brown Dog HD motor mounts. The 4.0 block also has a reputation for stock mounting bosses breaking off.

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I've never had stock motor mounts hold up in previous wheeling rigs, so I bought some Brown Dog HD motor mounts. The 4.0 block also has a reputation for stock mounting bosses breaking off.


Good call on those. I went with them on mine too. My only gripe was the powder coat on them flaking when you torque the bolts down.
 
Don't get me wrong, I'm a leaf spring fan. Just not 30 year old stock leafs :flipoff2:​​​​​​

There are some good aftermarket options for YJ's though.

Old man emu, bds, Rubicon express, and trail Tough make good leafs for decent price.

Rubicon express and tt have reverse eye option to work better spoa.

Meh... the stockers live the the best..
 
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