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  #1  
Old January 15th, 2020, 15:56
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BigNuge’s 99 XJ

Hey folks, new member here from NH.

Figured I would start a build thread, I picked up the project XJ a few months ago. I apologize for the consecutive posts/messed up dates. I started this project a few months ago, and have been posting on other forums. I am basically transferring this over from one of those forums.

This build is something Im doing with my older son (who is 9). Hes super excited to be involved with something like this, Im looking forward to many quality hours in the shop (and in the woods) with him working on this and having fun in it.

Its a 99 Sport in red. Its got 120k on the clock. Rockers need a little work, but very savable. Runs ok, has a skip/miss. Seller says it overheated and the head gasket failed. The deal included a head gasket kit. 4WD works good.

Towed it home on a dolly (pulled the rear driveshaft). The trip was uneventful, all went well. Got home and pulled it into my shop. Threw it up on the lift, looked it over good. Brakes are good. The rest of the body is good, one soft spot under the passenger front seat.

Yesterday I tried doing a coolant flush, found it hemorrhaging coolant out of the rear freeze plug on the left side of the engine. At that point I just committed to getting the head off so I can get the manifolds out of the way to do all the freeze plugs on the side. Got the head 99% ready to pull. Only thing stopping me is the damn fuel line disconnect. I am going to get one of the tools to get it apart (I tried like hell with the picks...couldnt get it apart). The good news it things looked good under the valve cover.

Im going to have the head cleaned and checked at a machine shop. I have already ordered a new water pump, tstat, freeze plug set, electric cooling fan (found it seized up). I will also be doing plugs/cap/rotor.

Some pictures of the new project.




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Old January 15th, 2020, 15:58
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Ooooooooookay......this is off to a bad start. Finally got around to pulling the head off. I was pleasantly surprised to find the head gasket and head looked good! I could see where there was bypass between #3 & #4 cylinders, but looked good otherwise....

I was feeling pretty good about it until...




Yup....two very noticeable cracks in the block, just above the freeze plugs on either side of #3.

Motor or shopping it is.....hope to find a suitable donor quickly, I was hoping to have this on the road before too long!


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Old January 15th, 2020, 16:01
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BigNuge’s 99 XJ

Hey everybody, little update on the engine search. I picked up the 96 that I went and looked at today.

Stats: 1996/auto/4x4/C8.25/77k on the clock (yes, thats the real mileage). Paid $450

The good: Runs fantastic, starts right up cold, idles perfectly hot, drives and shifts awesome, 4x4 works as it should. Entire cooling system replaced 8k ago (rad/cap/hoses/pump/tstat), repair slips are in the glove box. Rocker panels are immaculate....which is strange given the condition of the floors.

The bad: Floors rotted front to back on outboard side of frame rails, and 4-6inched inboard of frame rails. Generally really rusty underneath body wise.

Seeing as Im into this for the motor (and Ill keep the tranny), I think I did fine.

I have already got the bad motor in the 99 nearly ready to pull out. One question for those who have done it, can I just separate the motor/tranny and leave the tranny in the truck for the swap, or is that just making more work for myself? Im either thinking Ill split them apart and leave the tranny in, or pull them out as one (in which case Ill drop the donor motor and tranny in as one with the swap).

A few picks of the donor and the bad motor as it stands:




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Old January 15th, 2020, 16:02
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A quick clip of the donor motor starting and running. Nice running motor!

For some strange reason the video makes it sound a lot louder than it really is. This thing runs quiet and smooth!


https://youtu.be/QPoMtmizB7k


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Old January 15th, 2020, 16:04
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Made some progress yesterday after work. I think Im going to pull the tranny before pulling the motor. I was going to try and leave it in during the swap, but I dont think thats going to be doable.

Pics of where I’m at...




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Old January 15th, 2020, 16:07
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Finally got around to pulling the motor and transmission today. I ended up dropping the Tcase, then pulling the motor and tranny as one. Did it all single handed, the toughest part was dropping the Tcase, that I should have got help for.




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Old January 15th, 2020, 16:10
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Ended up getting home from a party earlier than expected, so I started on the floor repair on the passenger side.

I knew there were a few soft spots. But as always, things aren’t always what they seem.

Got it all cut out, going to get new patch pieces made up and in tomorrow.




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Old January 15th, 2020, 16:12
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Lol, I forgot to get pictures of it all painted, but you all know what it looks like I’m sure. I got the front seat riser all rebuilt, then got the passenger side interior all back together.

I spent a bit soaking all suspension and steering parts in penetrant (again, for the 5th time). Then I enjoyed a cold beer whilst contemplating the next move.

I’m REALLY wanting to do the lift with the drivetrain out, it looks like it would be so much easier to do that way...thoughts?

While thinking about the next move I decided to pull off the OEM front flares and hardware, as well as the fender liners. When I do the lift I’m going to clean/treat/paint EVERYTHING in the wheel wells, make it all flat black/under coated/protected. Unfortunately I found more floor troubles on the driver side/under pedal area when I got the fender liner out.....so now more of that work awaits me (I was hoping to avoid more of that....).

I did did a few more things, like separate the bad motor from the tranny (going to keep it around until the donor motor is in, just in case I need brackets or whatever). Got the old/severely rusted xfer case shift assembly out. I plan on going with one of those cable systems for that.

It’s funny, the rear sits so low....the springs are just tired as can be. I’m going to get 6” of lift out of the 4.5” kit...lol.

Speaking of, I’m trying to narrow down my options for the lift & tires. Here’s what I’m thinking...

Tires:
Looking to run 33” tires, not stuck on any brand, but want a solid trail/off-road tire that isn’t terrible on-road (Goodyear MT/R looks good from reviews). This is going to be a trail rig/toy, but I don’t want it to suck driving on the highway from time to time. Most of my wheeling will be an hour+ drive away down the highway.

Rims:
Thinking basic black steel. I do not want to run any sort of spacers, seen far too many horror stories with those. I need to figure out backspacing to avoid major rubbing issues though.

Lift:
Thinking 4.5” for the lift. I’ll never go bigger on tires (well, I don’t plan to), so I’m considering a 3” as well. I would like to not be forced into an SYE and other associated costs in connection with the lift. I understand the driveline alignment issues with lifting and not using an SYE, I’d like to avoid it if possible. Don’t mind trimming, I’m assuming I’ll be doing some no matter which way I go.


Any thoughts on the above??
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Old January 15th, 2020, 16:13
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Well, the lift shipped and is due to show up Friday. I’m going to work on getting it in over the course of several afternoons/evening after work. I have all new sway bar bushings coming (front and back), new flag nuts for the top rear shock mounts, new bump stops for the front.

Next I’ll be getting the driver side floor fixed up and treated and back together.

With the lift and the floors done I’ll be itching to get the donor motor in.

One thing I’ll be doing is a DIY hack and tap for and SYE. Seen a video of it using the OEM slip yolk, cut both sides, drill and tap. I have the xfer case on the bench, should be an easy job at this point. Going to use the front DS from the donor as the new rear DS on this one.

Stay tuned for the next update!
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Old January 15th, 2020, 16:16
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The UPS man brought goodies today...




Pumped to get this on the XJ! I have a bunch of other stuff coming too, shackles and whanot. Speaking of, anyone know off-hand what size hardware I need for the shackles? Just want to have everything on hand for when the lift is done. Running around while doing the job wats up so much time...lol


In the meantime I got the drive side floor patch made up and ready to weld in.




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Old January 15th, 2020, 16:18
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Dayum....what a job that was!!




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Old January 15th, 2020, 16:21
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Todays progress involved dropping the fuel tank, charcoal canister, hammer out the nurserts for the upper shock mounts, clean up all loose rust, wipe everything down and give it all a good treatment of rust converter. I also pulled the rear OEM flares, rear bumper caps, rear bumper, tow hitch, flag nuts for the tow hitch.




Got the new bump stops ordered, they will be here next week. Going to do the DIY bar pin eliminator using the donor XJ’s rear sway link mounts. I already have the flag nuts for the top mounts. Ordered new fuel filler hoses (fill and vent).

In the process of pulling the axle I broke the driver side lower shock stud. Im going to do a universal shock stud for a replacement.

Hope to get get the chassis all painted up and prepped for the axle re-install by Wednesday. Kind of a pain having it hog up my bay with no way of rolling it out!


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Old January 15th, 2020, 16:23
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Made some more progress today. Unfortunately I ran into issues while trying to drop the track bar. Broke the bolt on the axle end, tried several different ways of cutting the bolt, fkn sawzall bucked against the bracket, crushing my fkn hand against the axle. That ended the afternoon, bolt is still in there.

Considering cutting the bracket, getting the track bar out, bolt out, then rebuild the bracket afterwards.

Gonna have to take a couple nights off...Hand took a solid hit.




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Old January 15th, 2020, 16:24
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Oooooooookay....needed to take a step back and count backwards from 10.

Now that I’m thinking clearly again, I have ordered a track bar bolt kit, all new leaf spring bolts, welded in the final floor patch on the driver side, primed it, seam sealed it, painted the front swaybar.

Now to figure out how to get the track bar bolt out. Think I’m going to try and source a 6” or 8” cutting wheel and ride dirty (no shields on my older grinder). The 4” wheel is not big enough to get the bolt cut all the way through.

Going to try and take the afternoon off as far as the Jeep goes....it tough though, I want to get this thing to a drivable state ASAP!


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Old January 15th, 2020, 16:25
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Im trying to rest my hand, so I limited my work in the shop to painting the underside of the rear chassis. As I detailed above, I had previously treated the entire rear section of the chassis with rust converter. That has set for 2 days, so now I top coated the entire rear section of the chassis with Duplicolor bed liner (black). I like the result, came out good!

The front section and front wheel wells will be getting the same treatment.




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