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Tyler's Jeep Build


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Jun 19, 2020
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A continuation: https://www.jkowners.com/threads/2-d...336186/page-11

Jeep has been down for about 4 months, probably longest single period it's been out of commission. One more interesting little cracked-metal fix.

Found cracks right at the base of each front strut tower:



Ran a simulation on the loading, turns out there is a stress riser right there and failure is predicted. By wrapping the tower around the bottom of the frame, the stress riser is eliminated:




Next up, time for the fuel tank inspection, which I expected to go pretty poorly. I haven't taken the tank out in the roughly 3 years it has existed. The drain holes were plugged up by foam sheet (design flaw), and it was basically sitting in a swamp for 3 years.

Indeed, I found that the POR-15 had failed on the tank, and there was some rust getting into the metal.


No leaks yet, but I always sort of wanted to make an aluminum tank instead, so took it as an opportunity. Figured it'd be a fair bit of work to try to re-coat the tank, so just moved it to the scrap bin.




This time I left some drain channels in the foam sheet, so hopefully it won't be submerged in water for its life. In theory wouldn't much matter, but I think when it's that bad even Aluminum is susceptible to corrosion failure.


Made it out of 5052 sheet with 4043 filler, which Facebook tells me will eventually crack for fuel-tank duty even though it is compatible filler, so we'll see how long it lasts. Maybe I get to do it all again some day with 5356.

Here's the home made bender I used.


Which seemed to stand no chance of bending a 1/8" thick 39" wide sheet of aluminum. Messed around with different ideas for a while then came up with the trick that makes it bend. Throw a little 1/4" chunk of shim between the bender and the sheet, and slide it back and forth as you're pulling on the bender. This makes it only actually locally bend one location at a time, and after a few minutes you can work it all the way up to a 90 degree bend. Plus it cancels out the bowing of the bend from using a crappy home made bender that isn't very rigid, just do a few extra passes with the shim in the middle of the sheet.


As it has been in a perpetual state for the last 2 years, the Jeep is very, very close to just being "done".
Glad to see you here.

A doubler between the shock tower and the frame would have spread out the stresses also. I have zero faith in just about anything welded directly to the factory frame.

How many gallons is the new tank?

Did you finish the 4 link in the rear?
How many gallons is the new tank?

Did you finish the 4 link in the rear?

It's about 20 gallons of actual volume, took 17 gallons until the pump shut off from completely empty. Definitely wish I had a bit more, but I carry 4 gallons of extra fuel and haven't had a real problem yet (definitely come close though).

Yes, the 4-link works great now with reduced triangulation in the lowers and a roughly -3 deg RAA. Haven't gotten very good pictures of it as it's very hard to photo sitting on the ground, I'll have it on a lift some day in the next few weeks probably.
Snaked my exhaust further back to dump behind the axle pointing back below the fuel tank. Surprisingly it barely made it quieter versus just dumping under the drivers seat. Just a tiny bit, but I'll take anything I can get. I was expecting a night and day improvement by reducing tub resonance, but I guess not. Maybe I'll try to throw some baffles into the inside of this pipe section.

Now supercharger whine is driving me crazy on longer drives too... I hate loud vehicles.



Did it make any difference in smelling exhaust, or was that never a problem?

Never smelled any exhaust even slightly at any point, even sticking my head out the window on the trail, so no change on that.
Have not been good about updating this thread... Here's the last 6 months.

Finally got 37's! So much more capable off-road and looks much better. I went from 35" load range C MTR"s to 37" load range D, the only thing I really hate about the D tires is hitting potholes is super harsh even aired down whereas the load range C tires absorbed potholes no problem if aired down. Other than potholes when aired down, I have no complaints about going to the D tire. They still air down real well at 1-2PSI for deep snow wheeling, they work better than the 35's did in snow. Sure wish there were good C 37's, but there just aren't so I'll live with this.

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Then my warranty replacement Sprintex supercharger (3rd one now) failed in the same way the 2nd one did. The press in bearing-support pin on the rear cover lost press fit, spun, wollowed out the hole, and allowed the rotor to contact the case. This seems to be a design flaw of the product, I heard of someone else who's also on their third replacement supercharger with identical failures.

The two Sprintex units with the identical failure, press fit failure on the rear pin:
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My solution was to weld studs onto the back of the pins and put nuts onto the rear side of the studs to hold the press fit in place. So far, no problems, I suspect this should solve that issue for good.

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I raised my track bar axle end up above even my notched frame by moving it outboard of the frame rail, and using an offset rod end. This was to correct a geometry issue between track bar and drag link that was giving me nasty roll-steer induced by the drag link/track bar geometry. Would cause it to go into steering oscillations sometimes on the highway when hitting a bump. I notched the frame to clear a 3" raised bracket, but I actually needed about 4" because I have so much caster after cut-and-rotate on the C's that it raised the drag link yet another inch.

Now, it steers perfect 80MPH+ on bumps or sudden swerves.

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Then last week, I raised my rear upper frame mounts to decrease my anti-squat. I was previously at 95% anti-squat, way too high for the driving I do. I raised the frame side 2-3/8" from where it was before dropping me to 62% anti-squat with 7" of frame side separation, and an instant-center near the front axle. Had to push the rod ends up through the floor. It is such a great improvement, went out to the desert yesterday and it is so much more fun to drive with some rear squat.

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I bent my front Rubicon axle housing hitting a big ditch hidden under the snow, so decided to finally build real axles. Did a hi9, spider 9 housing, and 05+ superduty outers in the front. Rear plans are still TBD, but leaning towards a Gearworks 10" with 05+ unit bearings. Need to see how much body work I'd need in order to actually fit a rear high pinion.

I had a trip to Sand Hollow planned, and had 4 weeks left at the start of this project. So I ordered everything (remarkably everything in this build was in stock), got to work, and did absolutely nothing other than go to work and build this axle for 3.5 weeks. Finished literally the morning of departure.


Made my own flat top passenger knuckle out of a $100 junkyard knuckle


Shock mounts off the side of the inner C's:

Had to notch the track bar through the frame and run it in a somewhat unconventional location directly above the axle. The 9" fabricated housings are just massive, no room for it in front, but it works out fine as it's a nice high roll center. Also had to move the steering box forward about 1.5", although I only ended up with probably a 1" stretch by the time everything was packed in tight at full compression.




Then off to Sand Hollow, everything worked out fine.

Did you leave the factory tube in that C and bore it out enough to fit a 3.5" housing?
Awesome job Tyler. Air lockers?

Did you end up with more or less clearance from the bottom of the diff to the ground?
Did you leave the factory tube in that C and bore it out enough to fit a 3.5" housing?
That describes what I have, I could see the sliver of old tube left in the C. I did not do the machining though, if you order C's from Busted Knuckle that's how they do them.

Awesome job Tyler. Air lockers?

Did you end up with more or less clearance from the bottom of the diff to the ground?
Yes, it has the 9" ARB locker (which I hear might break, but we'll see how it holds up - all the fear around those are from 10 years back so hopefully they fixed the design by now, I haven't seen people talking about problems since the early 2010's).

It's a tiny bit worse than OEM, by a quarter to half an inch. I originally measured it out to be improved when planning this, but didn't realize I was using old housing dimensions from a forum from back when they actually were 9" housings. Not really such a thing as a fabricated 9" housing anymore, they're all 10" housings to support Gearworks. So I was a bit bummed when I realized I was losing ground clearance. Oh well, it's not much difference.
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While working on my rear axle, I completely trashed my rear 1310 shaft. Yoke broke off, and splines twisted, on two different occasions.


And while driving around on two bolt patterns, I got a flat on the wrong axle so had to do a trail tire swap

Didn't want to buy a new driveshaft, so that retired the old D44 axle and I spent a few weekends in the shop finishing up the rear axle.

Went with another Spider 9 housing, this time with a Gearworks 10", 35 spline ARB and Branik shafts, Superduty 05+ unit bearing outers with S&S Fab bearing cups, and Busted Knuckle ultra-light brakes with Wilwood Dynalite calipers.

Pretty happy with how it came out, and no problems yet after a trail day.




Loving that high pinion clearance, yet I still managed to tap the pinion on a rock on the first day out!


Eliminated the awful OEM e-brake entirely and put line-locks in the rear


Unit-bearing rear is pretty awesome, no hub sticking out at all.


High-pinion means no more double-cardan! I won't be missing that one bit. At ride height, the driveline is absolutely straight. Pinion, transfer case, and shaft are all within 1 degree. There's no angle anywhere, so just went single-cardan and zero vibes on the highway.


The one bummer is I warped the housing a bit. Tried to straighten it as best I could, got it about half way corrected and it just wouldn't take any more. Whatever, it's a full floater, doesn't really matter. Here's a home-made approximate alignment bar. Also messed up the third-member flange enough that I had to hammer the third member on to start onto the threads, but no leaks so I'll just run with it. In hindsight, probably not the best call to 100% TIG weld this. Maybe it'll motivate me to buy a MIG welder.

Well done.

You're right about a full floater not having to be perfect. A lot of folks will build in 1-1.5* of negative camber into their axles on road going cars.
I haven't updated this in 2 years! Here's a few things that have been going on. Dozens of little stuff not worth mentioning. Jeep is really getting dialed in at this point.

One of the huge projects of the last two years was CTIS. I have CTIS on all four corners utilizing Superduty unit bearings. Took a few months of experimentation to get all the seals good, but it's been remarkably reliable. I think I finished this about 1.5 years ago, and other than a few trivial things here and there with silly designs, I've had no leaks. Except recently, one unit bearing started leaking and I just put a new one on tonight. Trying Mevotech TTX this time as they're the only company that look to have actually come up with a new seal design instead of just copying Ford's (I'll bet every single superduty unit bearing other than Mevotech is made in the same factory).



That whole system is extensively documented on a blog post here: 05+ Superduty CTIS

My other major project has been re-engineering the ORI strut. More on that some other day, I need to do a bunch of writing on that one.

Other than that, a few other things...

Found that high pinion rear was brutal on hitting rocks and getting stuck, so had to make an angled skid. This totally takes care of it, slides right over rocks.



Found Seals-it seals to suck on usability and got sick of pulling my third member every time I pulled a shaft, so I made outer-seals for the front axle. Couldn't find the right cartridge so had to make one. People online said outer seals never work in the front. Well, it works great!


Found that urethane bushings in a track bar are stupid, at least on a street vehicle. Way too much slop even new. So I shaved the ID of the housing down until I could press in a spherical bearing. Then just put Delrin sleeves over it to prevent mis-alignment (I require bushing-style containment on the frame end so the track bar can't flop or it hits stuff). This has been phenomenonal, with it all sealed up it doesn't wear like a heim does and I can keep it greased. This has no play after a year of use.


Ran new hydro lines down the track bar. Pretty long runs, but works great. Doesn't hit anything anymore. It's amazing how hard it is to run hydro lines well in a tight-clearance suspension.


Added limit straps as my modified-ORI's actually have fast rebound and top-out pretty hard




Bent my track bar while showing off crossing a deep rut, reinforced it, we'll see if it ever bends again. This is by far the weakest part.

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Bent a Hutchinson wheel showing off another day. Ok, lesson learned, no more showing off on the trail. Since Hutchinson's are now $900+, decided to just run a spare tire with no wheel, I can always re-mount on the trail. Saves 50lbs in the back, so I'm glad I discovered I don't really need a spare!


Got Baja RS recliner seat on the drivers side (not sure what to do with passenger side, my partner hates it and doesn't want me to put it on passenger side). I have mixed feelings, I don't particularly love it. As delivered, it was intolerable. I had to cut out the lumbar support system as it's painfully, well, painful. The metal mesh it adds is the most uncomfortable thing I've ever sat in. With that out and some custom lumbar support foam, it's OK. Wish I'd gone PRP, but they never got around to releasing their new seats in +2" and I got tired of waiting (which they still haven't... come on PRP, make your new seat design in something that isn't too small for a human adult!).


And most recently, I stepped up to 39" BFG KM3's. Been out a few times, really liking the ride. The load range C cushions things out both on and off road. There's no magic, it's still a heavy-unsprung-weight vehicle but a little of the harshness is taken away compared to my old 37" STT's (which I think is a fantastic tire from a traction standpoint, but it's a stiff riding tire for a light 2-door).

I had to relocate the front body mounts to clear the tires at full-articulation/full-steer so I made aluminum body mounts that house a press-in OEM rubber shock mount bushing from some truck.



Also cut out the frame quite a bit which now just barely clears the tire



Rear was just a bunch of pinch seam trimming. I'm at the absolute limit, there's no more trimming before separating the body panels and doing major body work to hold everything together. Already had to do new spot welds around the opening to keep things held together as I'm cut way past the OEM spot welds.




Going to 39's also made my gearing better. I was a bit over-geared running 37's on 4.86 gearing with a supercharger. It feels really perfect at 39's, things make more sense on the highway. Sure it feels every so slightly less powerful, but heavy gearing is also annoying.
Your skillet is pretty impressive dude. Great job on the Jeep.
Lots of not so common features.
Great to hear you still at it on the Jeep.

Please do those write ups. The stuff you come up with is always very interesting.

Do you have the adjustable ride height dialed in now?

Don't be such a stranger here................we miss you man.:flipoff2:
Do you have the adjustable ride height dialed in now?

Nah, I ditched that system years ago, it wasn't worth the weight of all the hydraulics for the small amount of adjustment I got. I'm considering re-doing it differently where I just have an onboard nitrogen bottle (already carry a small one) and valves to control it, but that'd be more for fine-tuning level on road trips than for an actual trail tool, as it'd run out real fast and be hard to level.

All my more recent ORI work has been on changing how they operate from a damping standpoint, and getting seals that don't have massive friction. Basically making them not ride like crap.
I do remember you had miles of hoses running all over.

I see you've stepped up your tig welding game quite a bit. Looking good.
Made a new gas filler. Found that running a connection between the OEM filler and a tank so close eventually cracked the filler after a few years (fortunately not severely since I was in another state when it happened). Just made a filler right at the tank, works even better than before. Some day I'll do something with my corners...



New rear brake caliper mounts made of aluminum bar. I found that my old welded-on mounts always warped a tiny bit when welding leading to an out-of-plane caliper. Gave some horrible noises on the trail and weird grabbing and pulsating on the road. This 100% solved it. Just mounts up to the unit-bearing bolt holes


Made a tire balancer since I got sick of carrying my mounted tires into the tire shop to have them balanced. This took quite a few tries but eventually I got it working well. I initially tried hanging a hub from a string, but it was never repeatable enough to give a real balance. Then came up with this, the ball bearing sits on a hardened steel puck (must be very hard tool steel or it dimples). You then set it on a floor jack and balance the base with the three screws. The base must be flat to give a proper balance or the ball is sitting on an angled puck which distorts the balance. Roll it under a tire and lift it up to balance. It's not perfect, but it gets it plenty good for me. Just a very, very slight shake at 60mph sometimes. Honestly, half the time the tire shop didn't even do it any better. These KM3's take a lot of weight and balance rough.

This was a fun little machining project to get all surfaces absolutely parallel making the balancing disc.

It's surprising how much of an art tire balancing is. You'd think it'd be trivial, just put it on, check the bubble, and add weights. But it's just surprisingly really hard and takes so many iterations of putting it on, taking it off, adding weights, putting it back on again, and repeat. Sometimes I'd manage to diverge from reality and have to start over. I'm getting the hang of it, though.





Had the most ridiculous failure mode of the CTIS system on a particular day of snow wheeling where snow built up inside the wheel, iced up, and pulled so hard on the hose that it broke the push connector on THREE corners on the single trip. Couldn't believe it, have dozen(s) of snow days on this prior.


Made these little brackets that bolt to the brake hat to hold the line.


Also put centramatic balancers in, these are awesome! Highly recommended. Makes highway driving so much more pleasant.


Also got rid of all the OEM transmission cooler lines, they never lined up well with my steering box moved forward and were touch on intercooler plumbing. The aluminum hard-lines had abraided through pretty far in multiple places, so figured it was time. I just replaced it all with 5/16" hose from the transmission to the cooler. Put little quarter-size bubble flares into the OEM hard-lines at each side to slip hose over.




Finally put in a harness bar. First time driving with harnesses, definitely nice for neck-strain on the longer trail days. Just welded it to the OEM cage for now. Yes, some day I should really make a real roll cage for this thing. Maybe... some day, we'll see.


Put together a different ride-height adjustment system. This is totally different from my last setup from many years ago that I took out. This is not intended for changing heights on the trail, this is just for changing height manually when on flat ground. Simple setup that adds little to no weight or complexity. I have so much gas volume in my struts at this point that changing temperatures from a cold morning to a hot day + engine heat can raise me a good 2 inches. I also often carry camping gear long distances and want to re-set height for trail days out of a base camp.

Put three valves in a custom manifold that tucks into the rear body jack storage spot. I have a paintball tank in the corner that I charge up to 2500PSI. This gives me enough to raise the jeep about 48 inches before out of gas, which is more than plenty to last many road trips etc. Center valve controls the tank line pressure, each outer valve connects to the strut on that side. Then there's a schrader valve on the manifold that I can tap the core on to lower.

Just have the rear right now which is more important for changing payload, but I'll probably make one for the front too. Alternatively, I'm also going to play with water-cooling the front strut bodies. The rear problem is payload, but the front problem is temp. Those struts get HOT from engine heat when crawling and raise up (whereas on the highway they get good air cooling and stay at ambient).

Everything is connected by 3/16 nickel copper brake line since I don't want much ID on these lines. The only viable hose option with this ID is teflon brake hose, but that is permeable to gas so it's no good for strut gas line.




And my hammer still fits in there for storage!


Is this solving a problem that doesn't exist? Ya, probably, at least for most people. But I really hate having my ride height off by an inch or two, and this lets me fine tune it whenever I want when I'm away from home.

Just took my rear Gearworks out after 23,000 miles. Had a few problems:
  • The pinion seal started leaking. It feels like a piece of plastic, definitely suffered thermal failure. This diff runs crazy hot, some people told me it's probably from running 250w oil on the highway but that's the recommended oil by Gearworks. Might try 85w150.
  • Carrier preload was way too low. Didn't realize just how much torque you put on side adjusters when I setup this diff. Made a spanner socket and cranked it down to 100ft-lbs of side adjuster this time.
  • The rear ARB has been very slowly leaking gear oil out the air line for a long time. This might have been the low preload, also might have been because my air line was routed very direct and was probably really rigid perhaps not allowing the seal housing to move around enough. Replaced the copper line and put a more circuitous path in it.


9" is so easy to work on it's almost fun! I just put it into the vice on my Bridgeport and can torque anything on it without a concern.


One other little thing but a nice improvement. Put grease zerks on my rear antirock bushings. These always get squeaky and although it's not too hard, I never want to pull it and grease them. This makes it super easy!


Does changing the ride height change the stiffness of the shocks at all?

Yes, the ride-height spring rate becomes stiffer as it lowers since I'm not changing the shock's volume. Also I have a 3.5" bottom-out zone with 6.5" of ride height so as I get closer to that it becomes a harsher ride. As they over-extend from heat, it gets a lot looser and has worse roll control.

I've never done a placebo-control test but I think I could tell between 6, 7, and 8" of shock shaft showing.
I've been meaning to address this for years after building my front axle and just never got around to it. It drove "fine" so I left it alone, but always knew it had bump-steer.

There was no room to further raise the axle-side track bar or drag link, and I couldn't drop the frame-side track bar any more without hitting the axle on up-travel. Only thing I could do is make a flatter pitman arm, so that's what I did.

Made this out of a 5/8" plate of steel. Cut the factory arm ends off, turned them down to 2" and 1.5", then drilled holes for them in the plate. Worked out well. First time I've cut out 5/8" plate, that is a real pain compared to the normal 1/4" work!



Had to notch the frame to clear the TRE nut. I also considered doing a double-shear heim style as that would not require a frame notch, but I hate heim joints so much that I preferred doing this.


Fortunately, my passenger-side notch is still just barely good enough with this drag link at worst-case (steer full passenger, passenger side articulated up).


Also had to make a new pitman arm puller as the custom arm is too big to fit a standard puller. Didn't feel like spending $100+ on a heavy-duty truck puller.


This perfectly eliminated bump-steer. As a test, before I did this I dropped the front struts 3" and it changed the steering angle by a good 30 degrees. Repeated the test after and it's dead-on straight steering at any ride height.

Not a night and day different in street handling, but can definitely tell it's a bit better. Also doesn't pull much to the side in heavy braking.

Looking from the front, the old drag link was dashed line moved up to the solid line, versus the track bar remaining unchanged. Amazing how much tiny little geometry changes matter.

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