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  #1  
Old April 14th, 2020, 22:57
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Nates2000XJ Nates2000XJ is offline
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The Black Pearl

This thread serves as a timeline for the ongoing build of my 2000 Cherokee Classic. Iím writing this trying to remember all that has transpired so Iíll try to keep it straight forward. Iíll try and add lots of visuals to break up the words. Here we go.



I purchased it on black Friday of 2014 in really good shape and stock with 178k miles on the clock. At the time I was a student at SJSU and was using it as my daily driver. Before college, I had a buddy that had a Renix XJ and, to make a long story short, I caught the wheeling bug and had a hard on for Cherokees. Some friends from college would plan overlanding trips with their stock-ish rigs so I would tag along and camp. Itís a trip to go though and look at these older photos. I began looking into lifts and bigger tires and although it took what felt like a long time to pull the trigger on a lift, bumpers, tires, etc.., I felt like I had a well thought out plan.

At the time, I was at SJSU and was working part time. I got my feet wet with a set of JCR DIY bumpers that I welded (my first MIG project) at the student machine shop at SJSU. Got those together and daily drove the jeep for a while like this.





The D30 under the jeep was low pinion so my first big project was to find a high pinion and build that to swap in while the jeep was still low.


I figured when it was time for a lift, the front axle would be fresh, geared, and ready to go. I picked out 4.56 gears for the front and rear, a Richmond LockRite for the front, new Timken unit bearings, and spicer ball joints. Built the HPD30 on a stand and eventually swapped the low pinion out on a Saturday. Keep in mind that this was a big step up for me in terms of planning out a build and was learning along the way. I had been tinkering with dirtbikes and other things here and there as well so I wasnít a total newb. I had also picked out an ARB for the 8.25 and welded my own rear diff cover from BTF.



I had the jeep on stock suspension and tires for a few years and in October of 2016, I compiled a plethora of lift parts while working a part time internship with the state. The pay was worse but in the end it turned out to be a great stepping stone for my career. I finally saved up for a clayton radius arm (4.5Ē) lift with bilstien 5100ís, clayton double shear track bar bracket+track bar, jks quick disconnects, and clayton leaf springs.




My budget only allowed for steelies but with some help, I cadíd up some rock rings and had them water jet before TIG welding them to a cheap set of Soft 8s. Gives the Jeep a bead lock look and protects the valve stem. Also wasnít something I saw on many jeeps so I gave it a shot.




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  #2  
Old April 14th, 2020, 23:07
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Nates2000XJ Nates2000XJ is offline
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The Black Pearl

Did a JB conversions SYE and had a local shop whip up a set of 1310 drive shafts. I got a new set of mickey Thompson baja mtx p3 in 285/75/16 and kept daily driving and weekend wheeling. I eventually got a set of HD Engineering no lift shackle boxes and ran normal IRO ploy bushing lift shackles. The shackles sucked and bottomed out on the brackets but I still wheeled it.


Cut the front fenders up to the top of where the stock fender flares were. Pie cut and folded the rear fenders and pinch welds. I like to take my time on projects and this was no exception. Cutting fenders for the first time was daunting but I like how they came out.




After a few shake down runs, the Jeep really didnít change a whole lot for a while between 2016-2018. I kept going on those camping trips with college friends with their stock-ish rigs. It was around this time (2016) that they caught the wheeling bug as well. This also must have been right around when I joined I suppose. I was able to reconnect with an old childhood friend at a San Jose meet up that was already part of the club. Best part was he lived 3 blocks from me.









Went out wheeling solo and broke my first shaft. Of course I didnít bring a spare and wasnít thinking straight and removed the entire shaft from the axle and put everything back together to head home. Learned the hard way that this is a no-no.










Put it all back together and learned my lesson! More wheeling here and there.













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  #3  
Old April 14th, 2020, 23:20
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Nates2000XJ Nates2000XJ is offline
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The Black Pearl

Then I got around to cutting and folding the rear lower quarter panel.




I finally met up with the Naxja group at Reno Fest 2017 and did serious wheeling not in a designated ohv for the first time.





To protect the body, I added some square tube to the bumper. They ended up being too long and would get snagged if I had a rear tire stuffed and reversing at the same time. This was discovered during a trip to slick rock with my college buddies.












The Jeep stayed like this for another year or so and few Reno Runs later, I got motivated to keep wrenching. In early 2018 I was at the tail end of school and landed my first real job. With consistent and hefty (compared to my shit-paying internship) checks, I did mid frame stiffeners, heim crossover steering from TrailForged, Boosterks steering box brace, drilled and tapped my steering box for assist (still plugged). I also redid the rear shackles and boxes since I hacked up the boxes to make my cheap IRO shackles work.












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  #4  
Old April 14th, 2020, 23:33
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Nates2000XJ Nates2000XJ is offline
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The Black Pearl

Out of all the field engineers/geologists at work, I was the only one who could drive stick. My boss noticed my Cherokee in our parking lot and asked if I wanted this ole girl as my field vehicle. Even let me take it home every night.




A base model í95 wrangler 4cyl and 5 speed. Hardly enough power to get out of its own way, broken zippers on the soft top, and an exhaust leak. Despite all that, driving it up and down the peninsula was a blast. I ran the YJ for about a year and a half before work upgraded me to a 2017 Ford Transit 150. Itís a shame the YJ just sits in our lot now so I try to use it when the weather is nice. Maybe one day Iíll make an offer on it when I have a place to park it.


I went out to Deer Valley with the usual college buddies over labor day weekend 2019. The jeep was doing great on all the obstacles I pointed it at up until the last day.




As we packed up camp and got back on the road, the Jeep was making a knocking sound whose frequency increased proportionally with wheel speed. Both front shafts still appeared to rotate in 4wd so I figured I damaged a wheel bearing or hurt the front diff. After a very noisy trip home, I discovered that I broke 4 or so teeth off my front ring gear. Not exactly sure how this happened as I really wasnít beating on the Pearl that weekend.




I suppose it could have been low quality gears or the ring gear deflected sometime over the weekend and lost tooth engagement while under load.


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  #5  
Old April 14th, 2020, 23:40
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Nates2000XJ Nates2000XJ is offline
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The Black Pearl

By this time, I had clocked nearly 30,000 miles on these gears (crawling, freeway speed, and around town). At this point it was either shit or get off the pot with these stock axles. The rear was holding up great and the damage in the front seemed like a fluke. Instead of going with just a new R&P, I kinda went wild and ordered up a bunch of stuff. ARB, chromo ball joints, inner c gussets, axle tube sleeves, a low profile truss, chromos front and rear, etc.





Tore that sucker out and got wrenching.

















Soon after this I converted the 8.25 to disc brakes from a ZJ at the local Pick and Pull. Very easy upgrade but I did not take any photos. I picked up a set of ARES rear quarter panel armor as well as an ARES gas tank skid during a sale with free shipping.








Iím still working during the Corona shelter in place but not full 40hr work weeks. After picking up the welder, Iíve been able to take care of something Iíve been wanting to do for a while; 2x6 rocker replacement! I chopped the rockers out just below the plastic door guards and cut the doors about ľĒ (max) over the 2x6. I used 2x3 3/16Ē wall tube to tie the 2x6 into the stiffened frame. I made some money back after selling my JCR sliders to a buddy from school whoís going to make them work on his WJ. Iíd say I gained about 3 or so inches of clearance over the JCR sliders. The 2x6 doesnít stick out too far so Iíd like to try my hand at bending tube and welding them on to the edge of the 2x6.















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  #6  
Old April 14th, 2020, 23:55
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Nates2000XJ Nates2000XJ is offline
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The Black Pearl

In late 2019 I got a killer deal on a Millermatic 180 from a fellow member which got me thinking about what else I wanted to do to the Pearl. I posted that photo out of order. Oh well.

Last weekend I finally took care of the sagging head liner thatís been bugging me for a few years. I had been sitting on a roll of material but never wanted to take the interior apart to do it until I snapped and had to handle it.








Iíve enjoyed the reliability of the 33ís and stock axles that have been pretty well-built although I drag sliders, lower control arms, diffs, and even exhaust if Iím not careful on moderate obstacles.





Iíve gotten fairly good at judging what I can clear and what the pearl can get up without really bumping it but I expect more ground clearance (bigger lift and tires) will really open up the opportunities for the pearl to clear more obstacles thus prolonging the life of the drivetrain.

Soooooo,
Over the past two or so years Iíve been helping Mike (matchief87) swap a waggy 44 and 8.8 under his 2 door and because of him Iíve been on the fence about stepping up to bigger axles in order to run a larger tire.






With the pearl seeing less and less daily driver miles and no real protection in the event of a roll, I know Iím gonna need a cage. With the eventual jump to 35s in the near future, I knew I didnít want tons (for weight and ground clearance reasons) so I went down the rabbit hole of hybrid axles thinking I could save weight and have a really strong set up. This is true although the price tag to accompany that pipe dream of an axle was pretty hefty so I abandoned the idea. 35s on the stock axles, albeit built, would be a good set up with a cage and maybe hydro assist and maybe a hair more lift - based on my limited experience and seeing that a fair amount of folks here run that set up - but this weekend I came across these and was able to bring them home. 5x5.5 D44 and 31 spline 9Ē from a í77 F150.





So Iím tossing the idea of converting to a 3 link set up in the front and ditching the radius arm. I also wasnít planning on swapping these axles anytime in the immediate future. Iím more of a plan-it-out and execute kinda guy anyways. I enjoy playing with gears and axles so Iíll probably take my time to build these up.

Anyways... that brings us to present! Whew.


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  #7  
Old April 15th, 2020, 00:32
upsidedownxj upsidedownxj is offline
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Re: The Black Pearl

Kick ass build.. Keep it up dude. Love how this downtime is allowing us jeepers to catch up on lost time, and post up our progress.
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  #8  
Old April 15th, 2020, 00:59
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Nates2000XJ Nates2000XJ is offline
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Re: The Black Pearl

Thanks! 100%, can't take the down time for granted!
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  #9  
Old April 15th, 2020, 04:34
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Goose_XJ88 Goose_XJ88 is offline
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Re: The Black Pearl

Nice build thread man. I thought that the rock rings cave after reno for some reason. I just remember loaning you my spare for the Bronco run since I was headed home.

Hit me up on that 30 when the time comes. I'm in need of a polished turd for my rig.
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88 XJ Laredo 8" RE SA, drop brackets, 35s D30/44 4.56, AW4, 242, 7100s, Loganís ft winch bumper, JCR swing out tire carrier, JCR sliders, 96 booster, 97+ mirrors & console (FOR SALE)
99 XJ Limited, AW4, 242, Colombia Edition WJ Seats, Stock. Future 4.5" lift, TnT LA, 33s armor, 231 SYE, D30/44 4.56, rear locker, etc
93 XJ 2 Door AX-15 D30/8.25 3.55 swap, (SOLD)
92 MJ AW4 2wd, 97 mirrors. Future 4wd swap, 242, MJ 44, Eliminator Roll bar, Bucket seats, 97+ console
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Old April 15th, 2020, 09:07
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sdspearo sdspearo is offline
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Re: The Black Pearl

That was a good read. Nice to see your progression.
Let me guess, you're an ME?
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'96 XJ: Locked up D44's on 35" Milestar Patagonia's, ChroMo axles, 6" lift w/ 3 link front, 4 link rear, AX15, Atlas 5.0, Internal cage, DIY beadlocks, hydro assist, big ass stinger!, ...
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Old April 15th, 2020, 09:48
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Nates2000XJ Nates2000XJ is offline
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The Black Pearl

Thanks Casey, yeah that was me haha. My spare had a ton of backspacing so the tire rubbed on the leaf spring. Will do!

Thanks sdspearo. I got a bachelor of science in geology although I spent as much or more time with ME students who were part of the FSAE program at SJSU. I ended up getting heavily involved in the program as well.




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  #12  
Old April 15th, 2020, 10:41
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Goose_XJ88 Goose_XJ88 is offline
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Re: The Black Pearl

haha, I remember that was you Nate, I was the only other person running 33s that could loan you a spare.

I was just thinking that you did the rock rings after that trip because of the rings I had.
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88 XJ Laredo 8" RE SA, drop brackets, 35s D30/44 4.56, AW4, 242, 7100s, Loganís ft winch bumper, JCR swing out tire carrier, JCR sliders, 96 booster, 97+ mirrors & console (FOR SALE)
99 XJ Limited, AW4, 242, Colombia Edition WJ Seats, Stock. Future 4.5" lift, TnT LA, 33s armor, 231 SYE, D30/44 4.56, rear locker, etc
93 XJ 2 Door AX-15 D30/8.25 3.55 swap, (SOLD)
92 MJ AW4 2wd, 97 mirrors. Future 4wd swap, 242, MJ 44, Eliminator Roll bar, Bucket seats, 97+ console
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  #13  
Old April 15th, 2020, 20:11
Ronbo Ronbo is offline
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Re: The Black Pearl

Thanks for posting your build, they're getting few and far between around here. I've always lacked the concern to photograph my progress, and I regret that now. Glad to see you took the time to document the changes, keep posting!
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  #14  
Old April 15th, 2020, 22:06
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Nates2000XJ Nates2000XJ is offline
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Re: The Black Pearl

Thanks Ronbo. More to come on those 3/4 ton axles!
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  #15  
Old April 16th, 2020, 15:17
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blondejoncherokee blondejoncherokee is offline
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Re: The Black Pearl

dude the jeep is coming along nicely man! looking good for sure !
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1998 4.6 stroker , aw4 XJ on 60/14b , 5.38s, grizzly/detroit, cage, 40s, psc big bore box , assist, 3 link,transgo aw4 reprogram
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