2004 LJ In Flux

Fluxor

@fluxoffroad
Original poster
Supporting Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2021
Messages
265
Location
Central Florida
So, just some back story. My last jeep was an 88 Yj that a traded a dirt bike and $1000 for. Total P.O.S, but I loved it as it was MY P.O.S. ;). The plan was to have a toy that I could go wheeling on our mild local trails and drive my kids around on the weekends when the weather permits. Weeeeell this went from bolting things on to getting a welder then proceeding into tons, 40's, V8 etc. This was a amazing project. Main issue was I found my self actually building backwards as I was "finishing" the build. The more I drove it the more I realized I over built it and although it was a point and shoot trail rig, I wanted something I could take on longer trips with my wife or friends. So I sold it.

And I bought this gem, a 2004 khaki LJ. I always loved these when they first came out so this was a win.
Recent rebuilt auto tranny, 4" RC lift, hard top, dented import front bumper, almost new general grabber 33's, full doors, factory soft top, faded wheels, semi bald spare, wide fender flares, but the paint was in great shape the frame was in great shape with zero rust and over all was not in bad shape. The catalytic converter was rattling so after a little negotiation it was my new ride!
New Home.JPG



It had the stock gears so over drive was not usable and with the cats rattling, compared to my last jeep it was as they say "slower then snake shit up a hill backwards". Maybe this is just a local term. lol. It was slow. Sooner then later I replaced the cats with the magna flow down pipe. Well fitting part that is not the most fun to replace but I would totally recommend. I did my research heading the warnings of jerry and blain on what O2 sensors and swapped them at the same time.

Magna Flow Down Pipe.JPG



I was fixing small issues and really just enjoying driving it. I new I wanted to go with 35's well really 40's but we know where that goes so 35's. I picked up a used set of 35's for a smoking deal. The 4" lift with 35's looked great but O.M.G with the stock gears it was un-drivable. Sold the wheels and tires a few weeks later and slapped the 33's back on. I wasn't sure when I could install gears etc to make the 35's work.... and I wanted to drive it.

35s General Grabber 1.JPG


Had a weekend off so I built a aluminum front bumper. Nothing special, the plan was to make a winch tray that bolts over the top of the bumper. I still don't really know what I want to build, just got bored and had the material from another project. Oh and I installed a set of JK head lights. Maybe the beast mod to date. The factory headlights bring the suuuuuck.

Aluminum Front Bumper 2.JPG


Then I went camping with some friends.

Camping Tomoka 2.JPG

Camping Tomoka 5.JPG
Camping Tomoka 7.JPG


Then a friend of mine backed into the front PS fender bumper area while I was at my brother in laws house. The insurance cut me a check to fix it. I figured the motor was tired with 185,000 on the ticker so I spent the cash on rebuilding the motor and some new Genright aluminum high-line front fenders. And here the slope begins lol. With the high-lines I figured I could do things in stages. so out came the motor and off to the rebuild shop.

Motor Out.JPG
Gen Roght Fenders.JPG


I know 4" lift is the upper limits of being able to get a decent ride while on short arms, but I never really like the way it rode. The Ranch shocks made a difference but still not what I thought it could be. So I pulled the lift and put stock springs and shocks on to get a baseline of what it "could" ride like.

Rear tire, 33" full bump no lift.
Smashed  2.JPG



I didn't take any pictures of this set up as it didn't last long. Plan now was 5:38's, 35's, 1.25" savvy body lift and 2.5 spring lift. And cuz the dana 30 front was never going to be in the mix I scored a 77 F-150 dana 44 front. Plans are to narrow this front axle to waggy width. Plans for now are to keep the stock motor and tranny, and I haven't done this before so....

77 F150 Dana 44 Front Axle.JPG


Pulled it all apart.

IMG_3897.JPG


Cut all the Ford Brackets off, took a million measurements, cut the knuckles off, cut the tubes down, re-welded the knuckles on and installed the gears.

IMG_5862.JPG


Time to install the rear gears cuz if I didn't mention it is slooooooow. Out with the old and 5 hours later and two sore shoulders in with the new. I choose to keep and rebuild the clutch rear LSD for now. I will go with a selectable if I ever find myself in the rocks. I just don't have those trails around me. I drove around with the 33's and 5:38's for a little while. Around town it was quite fun.

IMG_3989.JPG

IMG_4042.JPG


I considered the stroker route and in the end decided against it. I have already been down the motor swap rabbit hole and really like the reliability of a fresh 4.0. According to the machine shop the the motor is their HIPO, meaning it has a mild cam that doesn't mess with the stock computer and new cast iron head with larger valves. This is not a race motor, just intended to run well. Motor in running great, fenders on with stuff still zip tied to the inner fender wells, 2.5" skyjacker dual rate coil lift, JK wheels and 35" BFG's and garbage ebay body lift that has since split and been replaced with savvy, sometimes you learn some the hard way.

2.5 lift and 35s.JPG


I always liked the mid arm lifts.......Saved some cash and went with the barnes enduro joints and could not pass up the artec coil bucket lower control arm kit. I couldn't really find a truss that net my needs, after taking measurements they all seemed like they would contact the oil pan at full stuff. And that's no good. So I got to cracking on the front axle for the swap.

First truss I built touched the oil pan at full stuff with 2" bump stop extension so I changed it to this. I have a 1/4" between the oil pan and truss to give some idea how other truss's on the market will interact with the oil pan.

Truss that Cleared 1.JPG

Truss that Cleared 2.JPG


Had been working on these. Mid Arm Kit. I have been wanting to try this for a while.

Un Welded Kit.JPG

Link Mount.JPG

Welded Drivers SIde Lower.JPG

Track Bar Mount.JPG


And then then a few days of this stuff. Axle in, axle out, I like this oh I don't like that and what about this moments.

DS Mock Up 2.JPG


I ended up with something like this with a new lug pattern 5 on 5.5 Woohoo. Drives much better then any previous combo including stock. I haven't finished the steering to my liking. Right now the tie rod is below the knuckle with the drag link above. I am running the RC adjustable track bar with the ram 2500 bushing swamp and my frame bracket that does take some advantage of the extra length, but the drag link is a few inches longer then the track bar resulting in some mild bump steer. It is still like I said much better then stock but could still be a little better yet. Once I land on my toe and caster adjustments I will weld a bracket onto the tie rod and make the drag link the same length as the track bar. Maybe. lol. Drives really well now and nothing binds at full droop or stuff so.....and I need to do the rear! Step by step, whole goal is to be able to keep driving it with minimal down time while I build it. Plus its like a reverse mullet Party in the front and business in the back.

Profile.JPG


PS Link View.JPG

Steering.JPG

34 Fromt View.JPG


This brings it pretty much up to speed. I don't love the front bumper. I have some ideas for a rear bumper so we'll see how that pans out. I am not really loving anything in the rear bumper category for the tj. I could be wrong but I seems like since the JK then JL have dropped most are focused on those models leaving the TJ/LJ alone. But Bumpers, rockers and corner guards are in the mix. I may finish those projects first then leave the rear 4 link till last. Its all in flux you know;) And I want to go camping again!

Camping Tomoka 3.JPG


IMG_3988.JPG


IMG_4041.JPG


Truss that Cleared 1.JPG


Truss That Cleared.JPG


DS Mock Up.JPG
 
Last edited:
Nice looking build. This will be fun to watch unfold. You’ve got a nice shop setup there.
 
I have wheeled in Ocala area many times. Been to Hard Rock and 2 other pits in the area. One is right across from Bubba Raceway Park. Other is behind Ring Power. You know some cool local spots? Seems like there is alot of old mines up there
I wish I could say yes but you named the go to spots. Jeeptoberfest "use" to have what I considered the most fun course around (intermediate course). It was great for learning and trying different lines to see what works etc. If you were part of the Ocala Jeep Club you could wheel once every few months with out the crowds. They have since moved the show/courses to a new location and things (from what I have herd) are not up to the level of the last location. I am hopeful they will keep improving the courses and again in the near future have some well thought out obstacles.
 
No I don't believe so, its been blocked of for a while. It was a cool little pit though. It had a couple hills that had a decent pucker factor.
 
So, just some back story. My last jeep was an 88 Yj that a traded a dirt bike and $1000 for. Total P.O.S, by I loved it as it was MY P.O.S. ;). The plan was to have a toy that I could go wheeling on our mild local trails and drive my kids around in on the weekends when the weather permits. Weeeeell this went from bolting things on to getting a welder then proceeding into tons, 40's, V8 etc. This was a amazing project. Main issue was I found my self actually building backwards as I was "finishing" the build. The more I drove it the more I realized I over built it and although it was a point and shoot trail rig, I wanted something I could take on longer trips with my wife or friends. So I sold it.

And I bought this gem, a 2004 khaki LJ. I always loved these when they first came out so this was a win.
Recent rebuilt auto tranny, 4" RC lift, hard top, dented import front bumper, almost new general grabber 33's, full doors, factory soft top, faded wheels, semi bald spare, wide fender flares, but the paint was in great shape the frame was in great shape with zero rust and over all was not in bad shape. The catalytic converter was rattling so after a little negotiation it was my new ride!
View attachment 294427


It had the stock gears so over drive was not usable and with the cats rattling, compared to my last jeep it was as they say "slower then snake shit up a hill backwards". Maybe this is just a local term. lol. It was slow. Sooner then later I replaced the cats with the magna flow down pipe. Well fitting part that is not the most fun to replace but I would totally recommend. I did my research heading the warnings of jerry and blain on what O2 sensors and swapped them at the same time.

View attachment 294430


I was fixing small issues and really just enjoying driving it. I new I wanted to go with 35's well really 40's but we know where that goes so 35's. I picked up a used set of 35's for a smoking deal. The 4" lift with 35's looked great but O.M.G with the stock gears it was un-drivable. Sold the wheels and tires a few weeks later and slapped the 33's back on. I wasn't sure when I could install gears etc to make the 35's work.... and I wanted to drive it.

View attachment 294432

Had a weekend off so I built a aluminum front bumper. Nothing special, the plan was to make a winch tray that bolts over the top of the bumper. I still don't really know what I want to build, just got bored and had the material from another project. Oh and I installed a set of JK head lights. Maybe the beast mod to date. The factory headlights bring the suuuuuck.

View attachment 294434

Then I went camping with some friends.

View attachment 294435
View attachment 294439View attachment 294440

Then a friend of mine backed into the front PS fender bumper area while I was at my brother in laws house. The insurance cut me a check to fix it. I figured the motor was tired with 185,000 on the ticker so I spent the cash on rebuilding the motor and some new Genright aluminum high-line front fenders. And here the slope begins lol. With the high-lines I figured I could do things in stages. so out came the motor and off to the rebuild shop.

View attachment 294444View attachment 294445

I know 4" lift is the upper limits of being able to get a decent ride while on short arms, but I never really like the way it rode. The Ranch shocks made a difference but still not what I thought it could be. So I pulled the lift and put stock springs and shocks on to get a baseline of what it "could" ride like.

Rear tire, 33" full bump no lift.
View attachment 294446


I didn't take any pictures of this set up as it didn't last long. Plan now was 5:38's, 35's, 1.25" savvy body lift and 2.5 spring lift. And cuz the dana 30 front was never going to be in the mix I scored a 77 F-150 dana 44 front. Plans are to narrow this front axle to waggy width. Plans for now are to keep the stock motor and tranny, and I haven't done this before so....

View attachment 294447

Pulled it all apart.

View attachment 294448

Cut all the Ford Brackets off, took a million measurements, cut the knuckles off, cut the tubes down, re-welded the knuckles on and installed the gears.

View attachment 294449

Time to install the rear gears cuz if I didn't mention it is slooooooow. Out with the old and 5 hours later and two sore shoulders in with the new. I choose to keep and rebuild the clutch rear LSD for now. I will go with a selectable if I ever find myself in the rocks. I just don't have those trails around me. I drove around with the 33's and 5:38's for a little while. Around town it was quite fun.

View attachment 294451
View attachment 294454

I considered the stroker route and in the end decided against it. I have already been down the motor swap rabbit hole and really like the reliability of a fresh 4.0. According to the machine shop the the motor is their HIPO, meaning it has a mild cam that doesn't mess with the stock computer and new cast iron head with larger valves. This is not a race motor, just intended to run well. Motor in running great, fenders on with stuff still zip tied to the inner fender wells, 2.5" skyjacker dual rate coil lift, JK wheels and 35" BFG's and garbage ebay body lift that has since split and been replaced with savvy, sometimes you learn some the hard way.

View attachment 294464

I always liked the mid arm lifts.......Saved some cash and went with the barnes enduro joints and could not pass up the artec coil bucket lower control arm kit. I couldn't really find a truss that net my needs, after taking measurements they all seemed like they would contact the oil pan at full stuff. And that's no good. So I got to cracking on the front axle for the swap.

First truss I built touched the oil pan at full stuff with 2" bump stop extension so I changed it to this. I have a 1/4" between the oil pan and truss to give some idea how other truss's on the market will interact with the oil pan.

View attachment 294467
View attachment 294470

Had been working on these.

View attachment 294471
View attachment 294473
View attachment 294474
View attachment 294475

And then then a few days of this stuff. Axle in, axle out, I like this oh I don't like that and what about this moments.

View attachment 294476

I ended up with something like this with a new lug pattern 5 on 5.5 Woohoo. Drives much better then any previous combo including stock. I haven't finished the steering to my liking. Right now the tie rod is below the knuckle with the drag link above. I am running the RC adjustable track bar with the ram 2500 bushing swamp and my frame bracket that does take some advantage of the extra length, but the drag link is a few inches longer then the track bar resulting in some mild bump steer. It is still like I said much better then stock but could still be a little better yet. Once I land on my toe and caster adjustments I will weld a bracket onto the tie rod and make the drag link the same length as the track bar. Maybe. lol. Drives really well now and nothing binds at full droop or stuff so.....and I need to do the rear! Step by step, whole goal is to be able to keep driving it with minimal down time while I build it. Plus its like a reverse mullet Party in the front and business in the back.

View attachment 294485

View attachment 294484
View attachment 294486
steering is not ideal. Should run a tj style steering if you're going to keep your track bar that low (will induce bump steer). Also that style of cross over (single shear with dual heims gives you a dead spot in steering. YOu'd have to push the coil springs back centered on tube to clear a track bar if you wanted to align the drag link and track bar.
 
The steering could be improved fosho. But......

I had a massive dead spot with the stock TJ steering and out of the variety of set ups I have driven/built the stock TJ has been the worst, or at least mine was. I added the ruff stuff "cure" and that helped. The Currie "correct" lynk is a wonderful product, and works very well with the stock TJ knukles. They are very short little guys, that's one of the reasons people have issues with the tie rod hitting the diff cover at full lock and start putting bends in places they shouldn't with dom steering set ups.

The angle of the track bar is less of an issues in my set up then length. Right now the drag link is few inches longer than my track bar creating the small amount of bump steer I have.

The Ford dana 44 knuckles are longer from the axle center line to the tie rod center line vs the TJ knuckle by around 1.5". My drag link is straight with no bends and there is no "roll" in the drag link due to the rod ends or the ford knuckles. This puts the tie rod further forward making more room for things like my diff cover and that great spot were the track bar and steering stabilizer connect to the axle. This distance can be a pita if not considered, axles very widely from model to model.

Moving the spring perch over the center of the axle pushes the axle too far forward for my set up. I am still playing with some things but front axle location is not one of them, as of now.

The track bar has been moved further out and forward on the frame side. I will post some pictures, skimmed a lot of that stuff in the initial post.
 
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I purchased a spare Barnes enduro joint and disassembly tool. I wanted to see how difficult a field rebuild would be. Plus I like taking things apart. In the words of Chong nice joint man!
214E8898-AB0F-40AA-B75C-92A238F4A8FF.jpeg
 
Barnes Enduro joint rebuild kit. Simple but helpful.

FF47EB4B-5E28-47B4-BCA4-670B3FFD9C6B.jpeg


Spacer for the captured side

EB0AFA3B-22FE-4A22-A3A7-AAF5481656DD.jpeg


Spacer for the stainless washer/C-clip side.

042CA9A1-5F76-4117-B7D1-616D6A773833.jpeg


Bolt washer spacer joint spacer washer nut.

F435CBEC-D0DA-42D4-AAA8-42A1A719C20A.jpeg


Don’t over tighten, just enough to remove the C-clip.

B8F7EEC7-3EE0-4D66-910C-501F47EDCCE1.jpeg
E67B4933-033E-4D6F-81ED-9960E038580C.jpeg


What’s inside. Now that I have taken this apart I would disassemble and grease all the joints before installing. With clip removed it seems like the grease flows better and once grease they seem to take a greasing easier.
8BA5DFE7-C9E6-4CD5-98F7-32A524EC62DB.jpeg


We will see how long the last, initial impressions are good.
 
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I have a question regarding the front drivers side of the TJ and LJ frame. I noticed my frame has a extra piece of metal on the drivers side top inside where the the three link bracket mounts. My father in laws TJ doesn’t have this. Can anyone confirm what years have and don’t have this?

Bracket for reference.
14C08943-88C1-47B6-81E8-39965AFD44E2.jpeg


Area in question, this channel slips over the frame. The little hole that in the front or bottom of the picture lines up with a hole in the frame.
84D1A64B-E1D0-4F17-95D7-85850DC16D38.jpeg

Thanks!
 
Been working on some armor and would like some input. I wanted something a little different with some more angles. I was going to build something in aluminum but after considering both options it seems like the weight savings would be relatively low. I use my hitch a lot for bike racks and my small trailer etc. If I went aluminum I would need to build a substructure with the hitch shackle mounts and brackets to mount the aluminum shell. I am not convinced the the weight saving would be all that much. Working with steel also lets me get a little more creative with the design not being bound by the aluminum large bend radiuses needed to keep things strong. I also wanted something that covers the GAP from the body lift. Also thinking of making a receiver plug with to cover the hitch while wheeling.

Picture 4 Rear View.JPG

Under  view 1.JPG

Top View.JPG
Profile.JPG
 
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Started building the rear bumper. I am waiting on the shackle mount material to come in. I have been messing around with different backup lights. You kinda can’t have too much, with tinted windows it really nice having bright backup lights. I painted it just so it doesn’t rust. This covers the body lift gap nicely. Have to still test the hitch.

C0441027-AC52-4920-8C31-C8510E2FC053.jpeg