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1997 TJ Rebuild question about gearing and carrier


New Member
Jan 11, 2021
We are building a 1997 TJ from its stock setup to make it a trail ride. I need to start by saying that this is strictly an off-road vehicle. We use it at the deer lease for deer lease stuff but we also want to take it on some local fun stuff. I live in the north Texas area and there are some places to go put a jeep through its paces but not some of the true rock wrestling that is seen in the northwest.

Let me start with what the jeep has:
Engine: 2.5L 4 cylinder (were keeping this just to prove it can be done)
Tran: 5-speed standard (AX-5)
Transfer case: NP231J
Axles: Front Dana 30 Rear Dana 35 (27 spline with 4:11 gears) - again were keeping these to prove it can be done.
3" Rough country lift

Here's the initial plan.
Upgrade tires to 33x10.5x15
Wheels 15x8 with 4" backspacing (note-we are keeping the original lug pattern because the rims and tires will be swapped when the jeep is at the lease)
Regear front and rear to 5.13 front and rear
Upgrade axles
Add slip yoke eliminator

This is to just get us going for now. We plan on doing more as funds and time provide.

Heres the questions
1. Will the stock carrier for the 4.11 work on the 5.13 gears?
2. Is there any reason that lunchbox lockers wound work front and rear? (keep in mind the is strictly off-road)
3. What is the difference between chrome-moly axles and 1541 H axles. There were great previous posts discussing the 1541's but I don't know what one is going to give me the best longevity.

Thanks in advance for the advice and any additional information would be greatly appreciated. Also, feel free to drop any product information you might suggest.

P.S. when you're asking yourself "why isn't he just upgrading to a V8 with dana '60s?" 2 reasons, The costs for upgrading really big are more than I am willing to bare. Secondly, the challenge of building this by going small is really challenging and invigorating. If I can keep up with the big boys by driving better, who got the bigger bragging rights?


TJ Guru
Supporting Member
Apr 10, 2018
Los Angeles, CA, USA
I think the carriers are correct based on the carrier breaks. I think you really need a Super35 to run a locker and those gears in the Dana 35 safely. I think all the lunchbox lockers are for 28 spline axles and the Super35 kit is 30 spline so you might need a full case locker in the rear. Hopefully somebody else has more details. You could just re-gear and lock the front crossing your fingers the rear wont pop but people normally do that without spending the money on a re-gear for the 35.
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