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Old 10-17-2019, 06:34 AM   #1
hodgexj1996
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Default Hodge' s FrankenshitboXJ

So about 7 years ago I had a pretty heavily modified 96 xj. I ended up selling it when I got the itch to build a diesel rig and basically figured I'd never see it again. Fast forward to this September, the kid I sold it to bought a gladiator and low and behold, my xj was sitting in the background. A few messages later and I had it back in my possession.

Specs.
96 xj sport
D30hp 4.56s lock rite, Rustys 1/2 cover
C8.25 4.56s powertrax, Rustys 1/2 cover
Currie Currectlynk steering
Clayton DIY Track Bar/ Rustys Brace
Rustys steering box brace
Bilstein 5125s with stem/BPE conversion
HD offroad shackle Relocators
Rough Country shackles
4.5 Rustys Leafs
4.5 R.C coils 1.75 teraflex spacer
R.C control arm drops
DIY Control Arms with Currie flex joints
Currie D30 housing press in/weld on joints
Brown Dog Full motor mounts
Advanced Adaptors Sye
Tom Woods Front and Rear shafts
DIY front and rear bumpers
Old school Wilderness Roof Rack
Rustys T Case skid and Gas skid
Dirt bound triple electric fan

I'm sure I'm forgetting something but you get the idea. This was my DD for years. I loved it and never should have sold it. When I got it back in my possession it was in dire need of TLC. The kid put 8k miles on it in 8 years. So it sat a majority of its life. The motor runs like a top, and all the bones were still in great condition. The bad....the floors and uniframe were shot. The crusty, cancer rust that looks solid, until you touch it. I was pretty bummed and honestly not interested in spending the time and $ for full floor and frame material. So my hunt for a clean roller began.

I found a 2000, bad motor but CLEAN. Here in NJ it's a unicorn. There was 1 small hole in the driver's floor that maybe a pencil would fit through and the lower rear 1/4s are shot. I already welded in a new drivers floor, and plan to just totally remove the rear 1/4s anyway.

Thus far I've gutted, repaired and painted the floors. Custom headliner is being done today and installed my Grand Cherokee seats. The 96 motor is dropped in, converted to coil packs, and bolts to The 2000 Aw4 and dropped in my 231. Still need to sort the exhaust since mine has 4 o2 sensors and the 96 obviously did not. Not a big deal but haven't sourced o2 weld in bungs. The 2000 is missing the neutral safety switch so I need to order one of those and I'll be close to getting this thing running and track down any issues the roller has with evap or vacuum. The d30 needs some love, the pinion is a bit loose and needs a seal.

I still need to do the full axle and suspension swap, and brake conversion to non abs, but I needed brake lines anyway. Been picking away at it in my driveway, solo so it's slow going but hopefully I'll have it done here soon.

Plans are 4.5" lift, 285 75 16s and minor trimmed fenders and make it reliable. I have a 2016 ram as a daily driver, but I'm a union iron worker so I normally have it loaded out with tools and stuff so loading the gf, dog and stuff to go adventure is a chore so id like the jeep to be my stand in for weekends and a backup vehicle. The bigger lift and 35s was cool, but it was quirky so I'm hoping the drop back to 4.5" lift cures some of the issues. Eventually I'll jump up in tire size, and do a JK axle swap with rear 4 link....unless I sell it again.

Anyway enough rambling. Pic time!


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Old 10-17-2019, 06:51 AM   #2
hodgexj1996
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Some old Facebook pics when she was in her glory.

Purple jeep is my buddy padens that went on the ultimate adventure

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Old 10-17-2019, 07:06 AM   #3
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Here's my little diy hack for a headliner. I use a cheap bed sheet and trim it to fit. Material for a headliner ain't cheap, and they are a pain to do. For 9.99 from Wal-Mart I have no love lost if I mess it up. As well as there are plenty of print choices to choose from. I'm goin retro and trying plaid. Might love it, might hate it idk we'll see.

To be continued......

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Old 10-17-2019, 12:14 PM   #4
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Nice XJ man. Love the pics
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Old 10-17-2019, 12:23 PM   #5
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Excellent! Lookin forward to seeing the new Frankenjeep come together
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Old 10-17-2019, 07:49 PM   #6
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Thanks guys! So as this goes forward my brain is going all over. I'm really thinking I'm gonna keep this thing nice and low on this build and ill properly cut and weld the body.

Today I slapped on my 1.5" shackles and I had a pair of OME 930s sitting in my garage. So enough that I can clear some decent tires with trimming. Dare i say this will stay much more overlandish and not so much trail truck. Eventually I'd like to jump to about a 3-3.5" lift. Planning on reusing my brake lines, control arms, track bar and some other goodies I can repurpose. As of now it's gonna be running around fully armored on nearly no lift. Torn on cutting this one up, I might try and do it tastefully and reuse oem flares with some pizza cutters. It's sitting on 245 75 16s right now and they have some decent room so I'll see how it sits with the full weight on it and go just big enough to clear 255 85s or something similar.

I'm selling my built axles to a local guy. Gonna run the LP30 and D35 for now. Getting this thing reliable and road worthy is worth more than holding onto axles that are a dime a dozen. Since I'll be sitting on small tires I'll be ok.

Headliner was a fail. Ended up using plastidip style stuff and sprayed it a charcoal grey. The fabric ended up wrinkling and than stuck to itself and I don't care enough to wait until my gf is free. I wanna slap it in tomorrow and start pulling the dash. I have a water leak that I have a feeling is coming from the cowl or heater box. With 200k on the clock I may as well just do the heater core and properly seal the fire wall up while I'm in there. Interior is already apart so I'll just keep goin at this point.
Boring stuff.

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Old 10-17-2019, 09:24 PM   #7
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On the headliner, i imagine straight lines like plaid would be real tough to keep straight too
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Old 10-17-2019, 09:27 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1_2_XjU View Post
On the headliner, i imagine straight lines like plaid would be real tough to keep straight too
That was an even bigger issue for me. My OCD went nuts. Kudos to those that manage to make plaid look good. Mine looked like twizzlers. Was worth a shot and the 9$ it cost. If be way more upset if I spent alot on it. Used the glue up for a texture under the spray paint stuff. It looks ok. Headliners are meant to be forgotten about....right.

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Old 10-18-2019, 12:26 PM   #9
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That lift height is always a debate. I got gigged on another forum once because I said a 6" lift was acceptable. But that depends on what you are doing with your rig. Out here, 8" lifts are on a lot of XJs because a low center of gravity rig gets completely trashed on many of our trails. But on the other hand, overlanding is getting popular too now
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Old 10-18-2019, 12:57 PM   #10
hodgexj1996
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Originally Posted by 4.3L XJ View Post
That lift height is always a debate. I got gigged on another forum once because I said a 6" lift was acceptable. But that depends on what you are doing with your rig. Out here, 8" lifts are on a lot of XJs because a low center of gravity rig gets completely trashed on many of our trails. But on the other hand, overlanding is getting popular too now
Yea, I loved my old one at 6.5" on 35s. It went anywhere. But the older I get the harder it is to get away for dedicated wheeling trips. That and once you start hitting the more dedicated trails, the rig quickly ends up getting thrashed and becomes a trailer queen. If I had a spot for a trailer and my rig it would be a NO brainer and if have fixed my 96. But I need it to stay streetable. Which means less hardcore trails. I took my ecodiesel on 33s to the offroad park and hung with much more built rigs, so add in the capability of the xj and I don't see the need for much more than 33s for the current time being. I'm leaning for 3.5-4.5 on this rig. For now my starting point is 1.5. Than I can see exactly how it sits with the armor and go from there. I have a big list of things I need to order just to get this thing back together. First order is pulling the dash.....im.not excited.....

Once I graduate to harder trails honestly I'll end up with a buggy of sorts so I can not care and just let my right foot play.

Overlanding is just how I can describe the build direction. Not full trail minded, not budget either.

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Old 10-18-2019, 01:12 PM   #11
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Another issue I had was geometry. I really needed to go OTK steering and custom track bar. Not that I can't do it, but I really don't wanna do that right now. Especially since I'm trying to not go full overboard with this build. So the Currie steering l have is gonna be reused.

My old rig was very imbalanced front to rear. The front could articulate for days, even with he offroad brackets, shackles at 45* and a custom soft pack I just couldn't get the rear to keep up. If I keep this rig I'll be considering a linked rear setup.

Suspension will be my last venture tho as I'll likely piece it together and for that I need to research alot. I've been off the jeep game so long I need to see what I've missed. I came across those notch flares.....i really like the thought of 3.5 with some tweener sized 33-34s.

I have alot of tweaking to do to my old setup. Today is bumpers. Need to extend the rear for a cut and fold and i need a winch plate so I can cut it into my lo pro hillbilly front bumper. Spent 3 hours wire wheeling.....i hate rust

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Old 10-18-2019, 07:38 PM   #12
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Love you buildzzz Bro!!

I'm on 3.5" RE with cut fenders, pocket flares, cut and fold rear quarters, on 33's. Ain't the greatest on flex. But I have hung with and even out wheeled wranglers on 35's.

You have a real good handle on your build. Anxiously awaiting.......

Welcome to the forum, Thanks for your updates!
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Old 10-18-2019, 07:59 PM   #13
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Love you buildzzz Bro!!

I'm on 3.5" RE with cut fenders, pocket flares, cut and fold rear quarters, on 33's. Ain't the greatest on flex. But I have hung with and even out wheeled wranglers on 35's.

You have a real good handle on your build. Anxiously awaiting.......

Welcome to the forum, Thanks for your updates!
Thanks!

Honestly I've wheeled all the setups you can imagine. From a budget boost with 30s all the way up to the rig I'm currently stealing everything off twin locked on 35s. Each has its pros and cons so I'm hoping I can blend a little of each. Good line choice makes up for unlimited flex quite a bit.....not that it ever hurts either.

I'll prob end up around 4" of lift dictated by my rear lift combo. My shackles are the 1 to 1.5" rough country adjustable. Combine them with shackle relocation brackets (1" lift )and the lowest full packs I can find ( Rancho 1.5" ) and ill be about 4". At that height I'll prob run metal cloak springs (3.5) and a small spacer. Id love to long arm it but I never needed more flex than I had with the control arm drops, and contrary to most arguments I never hung up on anything and I did all rocks. Should make for a pretty well rounded combo.

I'm still on the fence with selling my built axles. I may keep them, dump the front locker and go with it. This rig has a d35 rear, so I'll have to do the abs delete, which is just more down time for the swap, but it does need brake lines anyway.

My goal was to get it together and drive it as is for the winter. Than I'll do the axle swap and suspension in the spring.....but we'll see.

This heater core job just has me dreading the weekend. But after all the work to rehab the rusted floors I cant consciously let it leak water and rot.

Tomorrow I'm hoping to get rear bumper painted and mostly together, headliner in and possibly start pulling the dash. Trying to take pics as I go but it's hard when I get into the groove.

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Old 10-19-2019, 07:58 AM   #14
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From one union brother to another, likin' where this is headed. I will caution you on the Notch fender flares. They are more for looks than anything else . I have them on my WJ . They do not give at all , so the first thing that comes in contact with them bends and wrinkles the fenders. They are made nice and the are heavy duty but something has to give and it will be the fenders. I ended up buying bushwackers for my other WJ.
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Old 10-19-2019, 02:01 PM   #15
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From one union brother to another, likin' where this is headed. I will caution you on the Notch fender flares. They are more for looks than anything else . I have them on my WJ . They do not give at all , so the first thing that comes in contact with them bends and wrinkles the fenders. They are made nice and the are heavy duty but something has to give and it will be the fenders. I ended up buying bushwackers for my other WJ.
Thanks for the compliments and the heads up on the flares. What trade are you?

The more I look at things the more I'm for sure sticking to 3.5-4". I know I'll have to trim, but I have a welder so I'm not too concerned, but the flares are my hang up. Might just stick to Bush wacker or Napier flat flares. I'll be running a skinnier setup to start to hopefully beget the tires to tuck and stuff up into the wells without crushing the fenders or requiring tons of cutting or hacking. I'll be going with the close to oem color monstaliner so I have no issues cutting and doin body work

Kinda challenging myself to make a clean low lift and functional build. But for now the little things are my biggest headache. I broke all the trim clips on the interior pieces doin the headliner, so I'm waiting on the silicon to dry to put it back together.The entire hvac box leaks at the fire wall so I need to get it running and see if I need to do the heater core immediately or if I can seal it up in the engine bay and worry about that this spring. So right now I'm trying to scoop jk take off shocks for my 1.5" lift and just get this thing together. Luckily I took a lay off so I have time, but I need to get back on the list soon so I'm trying to expedite this.

I bit off way more than I expected to chew.

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