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  #1  
Old July 27th, 2016, 08:11
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Project Unicorn - a light duty trail rig

For a couple of years now, the only rig I've had is 4643. And while that's one hell of a fun ride, its not really practical for many applications - so much so, that I've found myself wheeling my tow rig a couple of times - which isn't the end of the world, its got a locker and 33" AT's.. - but not optimal.

But I knew it was time to look for something new.

A lot of people love to bash on California and our laws. And some of them are really stupid for sure (gun laws), but as far as cars go, we actually have it pretty nice over here. We don't have rust, they don't really impose limits on lifts, tires, what we can do for steering, chops and cages - we have a really strong car culture, and generally anything safe goes. The exception there is our smog laws, which get more strict every year. That isn't to say that I hate them - anyone who's old enough to remember growing up in CA in the 80's remembers how bad our air was, and its actually pretty clean now. But in building something up, the laws can still be really inconvenient. Starting last year, however, 2000 and newer vehicles no longer go through emissions tests, just an OBD2 scan to check for codes and a quick visual. So I want a 2000 and newer car. In looking at assorted XJ packages, in 2000 Jeep still offered Federal emissions packages (1 cat, 2 o2's) and CA emissions packages (3 cats, 4 o2's) - then in 2001, all jeeps went CA.

I clearly needed a 2000 Federal XJ, low miles, clean and unmolested. Like finding a unicorn. This would let me drop in a stroker, tune the factory JTEC ecu, throw a decent header on, not be encumbered by extra smog stuff, and as long as it ran clean and didn't throw codes, pass smog somewhat legitimately.

I looked for a few months, and then sidewaysstarion sent me a link to one on CL over in Arizona. I looked at the pictures, texted a couple of them to Dallas @ SFR who promptly fired up his airplane and flew me out to get it.

I present, Project Unicorn:







2000, 2 wheel drive, 4.0 auto. 114K miles. Looks new inside, but I don't have any shots of that handy.

Picked it up a bit east of Phoenix and drove 6 hours home averaging 19 mpg.

This is going to be kind of a slow start to the build - a stereo, some usb charger ports, etc - but we all know that sooner rather than later I'll jump the shark, so I'm starting here in Modified Tech were we all know I belong.
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Last edited by cal; July 14th, 2017 at 16:21.
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  #2  
Old July 27th, 2016, 08:19
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Re: Project Unicorn:

So driving the rig for a couple of months, I had a slowly increasing vibration in the rear end. I had been operating under the assumption the rear end (8.25) was going out, but I started noticing puddles of ATF when I parked. Not cool.

It turned out the bushing the rear yoke rides in was totaly shot. I could move the yoke .120-.180 side to side in the housing. Did some reading here, found the part numbers, ordered a bushing and seal and tore into it.





After draining the fluid, the tailcone is 6 bolts and slides off pretty easy.



Drive the old bushing and seal out of the tail housing.








Reverse the process









If you do this, watch for this oil line, which apparently likes to fall out and not be noticed, causing you to pull the housing back off and install it again.






If anyone needs to do this, the parts came from transmission parts USA:

760-000076635 76635 A340 AW4 A40 Transmission extension housing bushing. (38 MM) 1 $2.94 $2.94
940-000094401 94401 Jeep AW4 Transmission extension housing seal 1987-on. 1 $3.70 $3.70
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Last edited by cal; July 14th, 2017 at 16:30.
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  #3  
Old July 27th, 2016, 08:25
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Re: Project Unicorn:

Slapped the car back together. Vibes gone. No leaks. Yay.

That lasted almost 50 miles, and it was just as bad as before again. WTF.

Pulled it back apart, and the yoke was really worn out. I should have noticed that the first time, but it never occurred to me to look.



Turns out the output on the 2wd uses a standard 27 spline output, same as a turbo 400 or 700r4 chevy, or the earlier model 4x4's with the wet output. The spline count when ordering is what they call '26 based on 27'. Confusing until you actually get it in your hands and look at it.



The new yoke is not exactly the same, but its close enough for me.

]

Also ordered up another bushing, another seal, and re-did the above job (pictures are actually from the 2nd time around, no need to repost them).


And this is where things went wrong on me.

The new yoke would slide onto the tailshaft no problem. It would slide into the tail cone, no problem. When I install the cone onto the tail shaft, the new yoke won't go in, period. WHAT THE HELL!?

Pulled it back apart. The tail shaft is bent.

That explains a lot. Not how it got that way, but why the old yoke is so worn out and how it destroyed a new bushing in a matter of miles.

What to do.. what to do.
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Last edited by cal; July 14th, 2017 at 17:12.
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  #4  
Old July 27th, 2016, 08:37
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Re: Project Unicorn:

I made some calls, and Richard had a 99 4 wheel drive aw4 and 231 sitting around. Quick parts runs to Bakersfield. Since I was driving up there anyway, Russ asked me to grab a couple of tires for him and bring them down.

Met Don at G&G Auto, loaded up a trans/tcase, and what turned out to be 6 37" MTR's. With all of the loading of tires, I didn't really have time to pay attention to the trans - but after I got home, it turned out they gave me the wrong one (pre 98) and it wouldn't work for me.

Made some more calls, and Grimmjeeper hooked me up with a 98 AW4 that came off of xjohnnyc's old 2 door XJ. Moving in the right direction here.

I don't like getting Dexron III on my phone, so not a ton of photos here.

Out with the 2wd junk.



The underside of this jeep is as clean as the top.



Dirtiest part of this car now.



The irritating input sensor that causes 98+ guys so much drama finding a trans. grr.



The dipstick tube on the new trans was jacked up, so I ended up swapping the pans between them.



Got the trans installed (no photos) and found that once the first torque converter bolt was in, I couldn't turn the engine over at all to get to the 2nd bolt. Pulled it back apart and found the pump was totally locked up! Possible we didn't seat the torque converter right, but I've installed aw4's about 30 times now and am pretty certain this was not user error.

Pulled it all back apart, and swapped pumps between the aw4's.



Careful with these bits here: you bump them, and they all fall out. A pita to put back in.



Making absolutely sure I know how the pump and TC mate up before re-assembly.



Throw the trans back into the car, and decide that the 231 just isn't my style.

Went digging around in the garage and found the spare Atlas from 4643, and toss'd it in there.



Didn't take any more photos from there, but managed to scratch up a driveshaft to fit, get all of the wiring done and am just about back on the road. No shifters or front end yet, 4 wheel drive will come later.



Now down to the questions:

The speedo wires are a little short. Does anyone know where I can buy the appropriate male/female plugs to build an extension, vs hacking into the factory wiring to extend them?
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Last edited by cal; July 14th, 2017 at 17:16.
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  #5  
Old July 27th, 2016, 16:50
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Re: Project Unicorn:

Quote:
Originally Posted by cal View Post

The speedo wires are a little short. Does anyone know where I can buy the appropriate male/female plugs to build an extension, vs hacking into the factory wiring to extend them?

Mark (sidewaysstarion) managed to track these parts down for me.

05014007AA
05017133AA

Grabbed both on ebay, will be here next week and I can build a short speedo extension cable. I could probably just squeeze by without doing it, but its tighter than I find comfortable and someone doing a doubler would really be SOL.
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  #6  
Old January 25th, 2017, 09:50
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Re: Project Unicorn:

Quote:
Originally Posted by cal View Post
The underside of this jeep is as clean as the top.

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Last edited by cal; July 14th, 2017 at 17:20.
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Old August 7th, 2016, 06:48
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Re: Project Unicorn:

Quote:
Originally Posted by cal View Post
So driving the rig for a couple of months, I had a slowly increasing vibration in the rear end. I had been operating under the assumption the rear end (8.25) was going out, but I started noticing puddles of ATF when I parked. Not cool.

It turned out the bushing the rear yoke rides in was totaly shot. I could move the yoke .120-.180 side to side in the housing. Did some reading here, found the part numbers, ordered a bushing and seal and tore into it.





After draining the fluid, the tailcone is 6 bolts and slides off pretty easy.



Drive the old bushing and seal out of the tail housing.








Reverse the process









If you do this, watch for this oil line, which apparently likes to fall out and not be noticed, causing you to pull the housing back off and install it again.






If anyone needs to do this, the parts came from transmission parts USA:

760-000076635 76635 A340 AW4 A40 Transmission extension housing bushing. (38 MM) 1 $2.94 $2.94
940-000094401 94401 Jeep AW4 Transmission extension housing seal 1987-on. 1 $3.70 $3.70
Hi Cal, how did you removed the old bushing? I took the extension housing out of the tranny but having a hard time taking the bushing out.

Thanks

Last edited by cal; July 14th, 2017 at 17:19.
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  #8  
Old August 7th, 2016, 08:56
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Re: Project Unicorn:

Quote:
Originally Posted by StratoXJ View Post
Hi Cal, how did you removed the old bushing? I took the extension housing out of the tranny but having a hard time taking the bushing out.

Thanks

If you see these two grooves that run along side of the bushing:



I used a long rod where the tip just squeeze into those grooves, and a big hammer



You can see the dimples where i beat the hell out of the bushing removing it




I let the bushing drive the old seal out. Its been in there for a long time, so you're going to have to hit it pretty good. IIRC I did two swings on each side, back and forth.

Pounding the new one in, I used a socket barely bigger than the new bushing as a driver, with some spray lube around the outside of the new bushing to make it go easier. Make sure you clock the lubrication hole correctly when you put the new one in.
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Last edited by cal; July 14th, 2017 at 17:19.
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  #9  
Old July 27th, 2016, 08:53
VAhasnoWAVES VAhasnoWAVES is offline
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Re: Project Unicorn - a light duty trail rig

who just has a "spare atlas" sitting around!?

lol.
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Old July 27th, 2016, 09:06
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Re: Project Unicorn - a light duty trail rig

Quote:
Originally Posted by VAhasnoWAVES View Post
who just has a "spare atlas" sitting around!?

lol.

lol. Its a really old t-case (serial 0063) that has some play in the shifters. we couldn't get a rebuild kit for it (too old) so ended up buying a new one for the race car. This has been kicking around the garage as spare parts for a while. Stole the shifters off of it a couple of years ago, a yoke off of it later down the road, the clocking ring more recently. Ended up digging up enough parts to get it installed, but who knows how good it really is.

(and you might be shocked to dig through the kind of spares we have to keep around, to get a full body XJ through king of the hammers)
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Old July 27th, 2016, 10:00
VAhasnoWAVES VAhasnoWAVES is offline
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Re: Project Unicorn - a light duty trail rig

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(and you might be shocked to dig through the kind of spares we have to keep around, to get a full body XJ through king of the hammers)
i got to check out the hammers in person for the first time this year. wheeling the hammers and racing it would be two completely different things. i couldnt imagine bringing a 4600 across the line.
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Old July 27th, 2016, 10:10
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Re: Project Unicorn - a light duty trail rig

Quote:
Originally Posted by VAhasnoWAVES View Post
i got to check out the hammers in person for the first time this year. wheeling the hammers and racing it would be two completely different things. i couldnt imagine bringing a 4600 across the line.
The first time we finished that race, I was so exhausted that I broke down and cried at the finish line.

The second time we finished, AshmanXJ was at the finish line, handed me a beer, and walked away without introducing himself. I'm really sad about that.
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Old July 18th, 2017, 14:46
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Re: Project Unicorn - a light duty trail rig

Quote:
Originally Posted by cal View Post
The first time we finished that race, I was so exhausted that I broke down and cried at the finish line.
Menopause is a bitch, huh.
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I always remember to brace myself before doing moderately tight work and get off when really cranking.
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Old July 27th, 2016, 16:39
mtbxj87 mtbxj87 is offline
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Re: Project Unicorn - a light duty trail rig

Clean rig! looking forward to this.
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Old July 27th, 2016, 16:42
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Re: Project Unicorn - a light duty trail rig

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Originally Posted by mtbxj87 View Post
Clean rig! looking forward to this.
Its literally the cleanest looking rig I could find anywhere in the country.

I did some other stuff I didn't bother to post up in here, new Dorman leafs in the rear and get rid of the lame lift shackles, new coils (progressive, and softer).

I've got a factory cruise control setup to go in, and had a custom switch bezel 3d printed, which i'll write up as I get around to installing them.

The big fun stuff won't happen until I decide on axles and go 4 wheel drive.
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