What's new

Project: I have no idea what I'm doing (Moved from p4x4)

Sandy Johnson

Harry Member
May 19, 2020
Member Number
Spreckels, Ca
About a year ago, I convinced my wife that we needed a jeep in our life again. Hunted around and found this beauty:


1988 YJ
700r4 Tranny
Atlas II 4.3:1
D60 Front
14B rear
lots of holes everywhere
Sketchy wiring

The original goal was to some somehow stretch the wheelbase, slap some 40s on it and go wheeling. But first, I had to convince my wife this was good idea in the first place, so after fixing some of the sketchyness(disc brakes out back, new arb compressor, got it running on all 8 cylindars, etc.) we set off with our 1 year old son and some buddies for the Rubicon.

About 30 minutes into the trail, with loon lake coming back into view and the sun slowly setting in the west(we got a late start ok?), my wife turned to me and exclaimed the following: "THIS WAS THE BEST DECISION EVER!!!!". Boom, vindicated. Two things became aparent:
#1 I had the green light to actually make this jeep thing a line item in our budget.

#2 with the three of us, we were going to need way more space than a little ol YJ tub could provide.


The wife stoked on our new jeep.. also everything but the kitchen sink stuffed on the roof.

That was about a year ago. We wheeled that thing as-is for a while, alternating between family trips and me just beating on the thing to find weaknesses. Some times things went well...

Sometimes bad decisions were made

But I realized that while I still needed more wheelbase, I also needed more tub space for things. I hunted around and found out there's a bunch of people stretching their YJs and CJs to LJ length. Since I had terrible fabrication skills, no expirence with body work or sheet metal, and barely any time on my hands, I decided to do that too.. Makes perect sense right?

This thread will be my attempt to document the shitshow that follows.
First thing's first. If I'm going to make my tub longer, I'm gonna need more jeep tub. Found a doner out in nevada. Front was hosed, but I only cared about the rear fenders back.


After consulting The Internet, I found I needed to add 14 7/8" to my existing tub if I wanted to be able to have an LJ soft top fit. Everything about the stretch was focused around because my wife told me no top was a deal-breaker. Fair enough. I did some measuring...


...and some cutting.


Then I took the jeep out for one last hurrah with my little buddy:

At this point, it was time to take a perfectly good running jeep, take it apart and cut a chunk off. Not sure if I mentioned it previously, but I'm bad at things like cutting sheet metal in a straight line with a cutoff wheel... turns out even worse at cutting a frame square with a sawzall.

Whatever, this thing was never really pretty and I don't think that's going to change with my efforts. I started stripping everything off.



Notice the funky rear shock mounts. Those worked great for crawling but turned the back into a pogo stick through the desert.

Frame cut off:
In trying to keep the tub at the exact length I needed, I decided to weld up the tub before stretching the frame. My thinking was I could get that extra 14 7/8" length, and then bolt the back half of the frame on to the new tub. From there all I would have to do is measure the gap to know how long my frame extensions needed to be.

I had never done any type of bodywork before, so once again I consulted The Internet. From what I could tell, I needed to get some .024 wire, and spot weld across the whole thing to avoid heating one particular area and warping the thing metal. So I went for it. It turns out one thing people fail to tell you, is that if you suck at cutting body panels straight, your life is a lot harder when you're trying to fill in gaps between super thin metal. 5 Million tacks, a bunch of burned through sheetmetal and a 50 swear words later and I never wanted to weld body panels again.



Meanwhile, I found that Poison Spyder has some LJ corner armor. Already cut out for an LJ with 4" of stretch and 40s. I bought it, and couldn't help mocking that and my crappy old fender flares(that I actually love, don't judge) up to the tub.

...hmm, not bad.


Speaking of buying stuff, I also tracked down some 14" bypasses to match the travel I had up front. Here they are next to the older kings that were in there:

I hemmed and hawed back and forth on deciding to link or not, but my desire to get back to wheeling and also save some $$$ for a bit led me back to leaf springs for now. After consulting The Internet some more, it looked like chevy 63" springs could potentially bolt right up to my existing leaf spring hangers once the frame was stretched.

Only one way to find out. After cutting the crappy old shock mounts off the rear of my frame, I bolted it back up to the new tub.

Sure enough, it's right around 63" eye to eye from front spring mount to rear shackle. Score one for team lazy.

After designing a new frame extension using CAD(Cardboard Aided Drafting), I had something that fit and didn't look terribly ghetto for the driver's side.


So yeah, that's where I'm at now. Progress is pretty slow mainly because I like to travel and I'm a big softie if my kid asks me to play with him instead of work on my jeep. Hopefully, I'll get some time this week to bust out the frame extension on the other side(It's not a mirror image of this one because I suck at cutting things straight with a sawzall).
Originally Posted by RANGERROD
Subscribed! Are you keeping tank in factory location? Nice move on 63” springs. Thanks for posting.
Short answer- yep, tank in stock location for now.

Long answer- When I got the thing, it had a 10 gallon rci cell behind the back seat. 10 gallons gas + 6L on rubicon = stress. I then slapped an 18 gal cell from motobilt out back and that was good for a while, but once I started stretching the tub, I realized it was silly to try and add more tub space only to stuff a fuel cell back there again. I found a good price on a genright TJ tank and after looking at every dimension except width(yes, I'm a moron), I surmised it was the same as the YJ tank and brought it home. 10 seconds into trying to bolt it up I realized the TJ tank was a little wider and would hit my leaf shackles. Almost decided to link the rear in a fit of rage, then had a beer, calmed down and now I've got a genright TJ tank and a motobilt fuel cell for sale.

I probably need to sack up and just go buy a new genright YJ tank, but I've got a little time still.
Finally got around to cutting out the other frame extension. Family vacation season is over and I think I'm going to my last wedding of the year this weekend, so hopefully things will go faster from here on out.


One thing I've been slacking on is putting a 220 plug in my garage. I have a millermatic 215 and despite what everyone said, it has welded really well plugged into a 110 outlet so far. But now that it's time to put my frame back together and work with some thicker metal, I figured I should get off my ass and do it.

Hoping to have this thing supporting its own weight again soon.

Oh, here's a shot of my sweet CAD setup:
Udpate: I still have no idea what I'm doing.

Headed over to the pick-n-pull and grabbed some 63" chevy leafs(that's right, despite my wife's protests, Jetta wagons make good parts getters). Good news is I was right- they will bolt right up as is. Bad news is the axle will be sitting about 5" farther forward than I want.


Plan B is to go back to pick n pull and grab some f150 leaves. If I get the right year, they should be the correct width and instead of the axle being centered 50/50 on the leaves, they are 60/40 so hopefully, that will line them up.

Plan C is to cut the existing brackets off and move everything back 5" with the chevy springs. Upside to that is I'll get to run that TJ genright gas tank that's sitting in my garage because I won't have to worry about hitting the rear hangers anymore.

Plan D will not be spoken of, because my bank account doesn't need any more abuse.

I was sort of depressed that my magical chevy spring solution wasn't going to work without any extra fabbing, so I bought myself some used 40's and sat them next to the jeep to make myself feel better.

ah, much better.

You guys are probably wondering why I'm jimmy jacking around with used tires and junkyard leafs instead of welding up my frame. Valid question. I didn't have a 220v outlet in my garage until Sunday. Slapped one in this weekend: 50 amp breaker, 6 gauge wire, shoot, I even grounded the outlet box. Professional sparkys and armchair quarterbacks, feel free to light me up on this, because as the thread says: I have no Idea What I'm Doing.
Going slow but at least making progress. Got some time this week to get my extensions prepped and tacked in. I'm ok with a welder, but since my kid is going to be riding in this thing, I phoned a friend to help out with this part.

We're all welded up and now I can finally put my rear axle back under there and make sure the wheelbase is where I want it.


Government worker, so I had Columbus day off yesterday. Got a hall pass from the wife to spend some time working on the jeep.

I needed to get this thing rolling on wheels so I could move it in and out of the garage when we actually start to get fall/winter weather, so it was full speed ahead to get parts out of the garage and back on the jeep.

First thing's first- I had that LJ corner armor taking up space, and a tub full of holes. Apparently the previous owner's solution to mounting anything was to drill a hole in the tub and run a bolt through it. I started filling in holes and slapping some primer on them:

While I had the paint out, I hit the new section of my frame

Next up was to mount the corner armor and see how if my lazy 63" spring idea is going to put the axle where I want it without moving any hangers. Spoiler alert: it isn't.

Whatever, I needed this thing to roll and I was kinda excited to get it sitting back in the garage, so I threw the axle in there anyways. I'm also leaf spring retarded, so when I found out I could put the centring pin in any of these holes, it blew my mind.

Even with the axle moved back as far as I could, I was still off by 4". Here she is sitting at 103" WB (I want/need 107):

I started at 96"(front was already moved forward a little), so after stretching my frame, and slapping chevy 63s under it, I ended up with an extra 7" of wheelbase. I told this to a buddy of mine who then told me I was doing it wrong. Why? Because without stretching his frame, using the stock front hanger, stuffing Dakota springs under it, and doing one of those weld on the rear bumper spring hanger moves, he got 11" of wheelbase with what I think is a shorter spring.


I started looking at my setup a little more closely. As I said above, I'm leaf spring retarded. What I didn't notice was that my rear shackle was topped out on the frame.


I'm no leaf spring scientist, but I'm guessing that the shackles not being able to flex would explain why junk feels stiff as shit and doesn't flex well. At this point, I'm thinking maybe motobuilt's YJ stretch rear bumper and shackles might help.

Oh, and then just for fun, here's a rear shot at my attempt to get the rear to flex(It didn't).

I'm guessing the rear shackles bottoming out on the frame are the issue. Pulled the trigger on the Motobilt YJ Stretch Kit to move my rear hangers back 5 or so more inches.


I'm thinking that should fix it. If not, next step is to try and ignore the fact that ruffstuff is having a sale on their link kits and move the front hangers back instead.
Originally Posted by gt1guy
Hey, ruffstuff is having a sale on their link kits
For some reason, the Minister of Finance at my house doesn't see the value that could be added by trailing arms, coilovers, and bypasses. We're still in negotiations, but it's not looking good.
Originally Posted by gt1guy
I was actually just kidding cause I read it in your post, but I'm sure you knew that.
Honest comment would be, don't do it, because you already have a plan in action. Moving the spring mounts will work exactly as needed.

Now you can always pickup a link kit for phase 2
I agree. I'm trying to get everything done for KoH in February and I shouldn't be jimmy jacking around with the rear suspension... The hard part is everything is all stripped down right now and ready to go and going 60 mph through the whoops sounds like it would be a pretty good time. It doesn't help that every friend who comes over to drink beer and stare at it has to go and talk about links. Then just when I was talking myself back into leaf springs, I get that stupid ruffstuff email on my phone. ugh.
Originally Posted by 99HoE
But RuffStuff offers financing now. Surely the Minister of Finance will appreciate your fiscal responsibility
yeah, she loves it when I incur debt and interest payments on my rusty pile of depreciating assets in the driveway.

Motobilt kit should get here Tuesday. Hoping to get it tacked up next week and see what happens.

Question for all you leaf spring smart people: the bolt size for my beater 63" chevy springs is bigger than the bolt size for my stock hanger up front(and most likely my fancy new motobilt hangers out back). What does everyone do for this? Drill out the hangers or struggle with pressing out the bushings and find some that are a smaller size?
Originally Posted by 99HoE
I'd drill those hangers out in a heartbeat rather then try to burn out and install new leaf spring bushings. What shape are the bushings in?
Junkyard shitty.
Got motobilt YJ rear stretch kit last night. Hoping this will help get my springs where they need to bed.



I'm also hoping I'll be able to fit my genright TJ tank under there now that the shackles are being relocated to the bumper. So now comes decision time:

Weld bumper straight to cross-member so I can keep the tabs that the gas tank bolts to and make my life easy or...

Cut the cross-member out, weld in the bumper and figure out how to make new tabs for the tank to bolt to.
Pulled rear shackles just to see where it wants to sit on its own weight with nothing in the way. Doesn't look too good considering I want to move everything another 4" rearward.

I could go hunting for some other springs with an offset centering pin. F150 are like 31/25, Dodge Dakota are 32/24, these chevys are 32/32 for reference. I think the Dakota spring would let me run the stock hanger location out back. I have a buddy running those in his YJ with a similar lift. He had to make a bastard pack out of two sets of Dakota springs to get the jeep to ride level.

The more I think about how much effort it will take to find the right leaf springs and pick the right mount, the more I think I want to link it out back.

simple to setup
already have bypasses for rear

No matter what I'm moving the stock hanger location back (I really want my axle farther back than it currently is).
I'll either have to ditch my tire carrier/hilift mount/antenna mount rear bumper and run the motobilt alternative or I'll have to ditch my TJ genright tank and use the stock rear hanger location.
axle wrap(I already bent a set of springs due to this)

Handles nice if setup right, no axle wrap
Can run TJ tank
Get to keep current bumper/tire carrier
Nice departure angle
Minister of Finance approved after asking me what I was doing staring at my jeep in the driveway for an hour.

Harder to setup properly
More expensive
I need some coilovers
Need to add truss to rear axle
Could take longer to get done

I really want this thing ready to go for KOH. I've got 96 days... or 13 weekends. There's stuff like christmas and thanksgiving and my wife's birthday where it's frowned upon to be working on your jeep instead of saying grace at the dinner table. hmmmm...
Ruffstuff made my decision easy. They're having a sitewide 17% off sale. Pulled the trigger on their 14 bolt 4 link kit. I thought about trailing arms for a hot second, but getting everything to fit up right and not back-half the frame was going to be tough. I still have delusions of getting done before KOH. 95 days

Going to be eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at lunch for the foreseeable future.

Talked to a few homies since I'm new at suspension geometry. Plan is to follow rule of 80%: Link separation at frame setup for 80% of link separation at axle, upper links to be 80% length of lowers. Did some measuring and it looks like everything will fit.

Now comes the hunt for coilovers. Anyone want to buy some old bypasses?
In other news, I decided to start cleaning up my tub and get to work on the cage while I wait for links. The tub looked like swiss cheese around where the old cage bolted in. You can kind of see some of the holes I had to fill in in the pic below(I freaking hate welding such think metal, but I think I'm getting better) What does everyone's frame to cage tie-ins look like?

Here's what I'm thinking:
Originally Posted by HankScorpi0
Don't you want the frame side to be fixed position? That doesn't seem like it will prevent the cage from moving downwards.
That's my concern too. I've seen a lot of people set it up this way, but it seems... not strong.
Originally Posted by TiTRD

I had the Motobilt 4 link kit on my YJ. Worked extremely well and saved quite a bit of time.
That thing looks fun as hell.

Do you remember how long your lower links were?

I'm trying to figure out what's a good length that will ride nice and not hang up on everything. I was thinking 48", but after measuring it out, that length seems really long.
Originally Posted by YJUnlimited
My links are 43.25” in the rear and 33.5” in the front with the Motobilt kit. Putting me at 116.5” WB.
Good info! I measured under the jeep last night and it seemed like ~34" lower links were going to be the way to go to hit 108" WB, but I was worried I was going to make my links too short. Looking at your numbers, it's probably just about right.
Ruffstuff link kit showed up Friday! Was doing dad stuff all weekend, so didn't get to get started on it. The local metal shop is only open the exact same amount of time I'm at work 7:30 - 4:30, so I need to figure out when I can take some time off and pick up tubing for links and cage.

Originally Posted by 99HoE
Check out Wide Open Designs for AL links.
I don't think I've got aluminum link money. I'll have to see what kind of deal I can get on coilovers
Got my mounts and truss unboxed so I could start taking some measurements. Those heims are beefier than I thought they would be and I'm stoked.



Lower link frame brackets are still back-ordered, so waiting on those, but here's a rough guess at what my links will look like using the link calculator.




Figuring out stuff like Anti-squat, roll oversteer, etc. is WELL into the I Have No Idea What I'm Doing category. Hoping I'll get some time this weekend to start mocking stuff up and see if this all makes sense.
I heard from a few people that my CG was low.. Moved it to something more realistic until I can measure this weekend and it changed everything dramatically. Upside is I think it made it easier to get the numbers I want. I updated the images in the post above with the new numbers.
Did lots of measuring this weekend. I think everything's going to fit where the link calc wants them to. I did have to move my frame side lower mounts out a little farther than I wanted so I'm at 2* of oversteer.

Speaking of angles, let's talk pinion angles. Is it generally a good idea to more or less point the pinion at the t-case? This is where I was at on leafs:

I was thinking I would probably try to keep that the same going forward.

Still waiting on lower link brackets to show up, so I moved on to clearance-ing my sliders to clear the new cage frame tie-ins and pulling the axle back out.

1 step forward, 2 steps back


Yep, I cut a 3" access hole a little off-center above where the line comes out of the housing so I could tighten/remove it easily. Don't look at those welds too closely. I'm not good at making them look pretty.

I should have gone for the offer to plasma all the brackets off, they took forever with a cut-off wheel. Oh well. When I finally buy a plasma cutter, it'll make me appreciate it more, right? I got the axle all cleaned up and since it's living outside, I threw a quick coat of Ace Hardware's finest spraypaint on it.


Taking the wife and kid down to Southern California to see family for thanksgiving. So of course it's going to rain while I'm gone.

I had to hook the hoist up and shove the whole thing in the garage. I'll be dragging it back out after thanksgiving.
Finally had some time to weld up all my link brackets. Moving slow but at least there's progress.


Next up is getting the truss on the axle.
Originally Posted by Mattafact
Ah damn it.

So the bad news is I'm not going to be done for KoH... Good news is all the holiday family travelling stuff is over as of today, so I can get back to work.
Top Back Refresh