View Full Version : When is the Unitbody/Unibody done?

August 31st, 2017, 09:52
I have done a bunch of searching and cant quite find the answer to my question. I have a 1988 Cherokee that is built. 5.5 clayton long arm lift, exocage, etc. etc. I have been working on this thing for years. When I bought it, it was a heavily wheeled rig and had cracks in the body at the top of the hatch that I welded back up. The front door hinges were jerked away from the body so far that I had to sledge hammer them back and do some welding to get the doors to work again. Rear frame crushed, but plated, repaired and working. The jeep when I bought it was a trailered wheeler. I have worked my butt off to make it a freeway capable rig again as we freeway travel between offroading. I know this wasn't the smartest way to go, but I wanted an exocage, and this one was nicely done, so I went for it. When I wheel it, the creeks and squeaks of the body are plentiful. It might just be me, but it "feels" like the body is flexing A LOT. It just doesn't feel like a "solid" jeep. Enough, that when I am really crossed up I expect the windshield to pop out. This always kind of bothered me. Then after I rode in my buddy's XJ with 320K on the odo and his doesn't squeak almost AT ALL when wheeling. It really has a solid feel. So, it makes me feel like my unibody might have seen better days and might be nearing the end of its life. All that being said, absolutely no cracks in the frame rails, or anywhere other than around the hatch. All doors and the hatch always open. I am getting ready for my next phase of mods, which will be pretty spendy, permanent mods that I cant switch to another jeep, etc. We wheel pretty knarly stuff, so the jeep will continue to get a workout. If I try some more plating to stiffen things up and tie in's to the exocage, am I likely to attain that solid feel I am looking for, or once these bodies have been flexed for so long is it a losing game with eventual body failure? I am considering buying another XJ to start over with. A stocker with no wheeling history. This means a ton of work to do all over again, so that is my dilemma. Hopefully this makes sense. Thanks in advance.

August 31st, 2017, 12:35
You mention all the work, but nothing about frame stiffeners to prevent the frame from flexing......I would try that first........it also gives the exocage something to hold onto besides a thin sheet metal flexy frame.

August 31st, 2017, 12:47
So, it gets interesting here as the cage is welded to the frame front, rear and in two separate locations along the middle. The Clayton long arm brackets weld on in the middle and there are synergy spring mounts welded on at the front of the rear springs. So, there is some beef added, but they did not add frame stiffeners. The cage tie ins weld directly to the side of the frame and they actually windowed the outside of the frame for about 6 inches where the transfer case cross member bolts on, the frame is reinforced there. So, I have frame stiffeners on the garage floor and that was part of the go forward plan, but there is no way to use them without notching them to fit around some of he mods there. With that I don't think the full benefit will be in place.

August 31st, 2017, 13:11
Well, notching the stiffeners and then welding them in, so you effectively have a full length stiffeners is WAY better than what you have now, which is some stiff metal, interspersed with thin sheet metal.

2 pieces of metal welded together are just as strong as 1 piece as long as the welds are good.

So if you notch the heck out of the stiffeners, and then weld them in good to the reinforcements that are there now for the other stuff as well as the frame, you'll get the same effect as if the stiffeners weren't notched on a stock truck.

Hope ya understand what I am saying......2 - 1" x 2" pieces of metal welded together properly to form a 2" x 2" square is just as strong as a single 2" x 2" square of the same material.

August 31st, 2017, 14:31
Yep, I am with you. That was part of my plan for the next phase. Just a ton of work and I am trying to get an idea whether it's worth it or not. I don't know how much those will remedy a tired body. Not even sure this one is tired yet. I just don't have enough knowledge on the unibody. Go to four wheeler magazine articles and they call it a throw away body. That's kind of what started my line of thinking here.

August 31st, 2017, 15:20
It can be saved but what has been down cannot be undone. If you got a new body and started with frame stiffeners and moved everything over it would last probably as long as you had the rig. It just depends on what you want.