Bertha the shoebox's build thread (the story of an aerodynamically challenged Jeep and her 3rd life as a first car)

Ho boy, Junior year was very very Busy and I let this thread fall waaaaaay to far behind, so we have some catching up to do........

Heres a picture of the jeep from fairly recently,


I'm going to try and list below what all has happened, but I'm probably gonna miss a lot of little stuff, here we go.

2 inch Pro-comp spring lift
UCF 3/4" plate Carbon Steel engine skid
ZJ steering upgrade
Icom 5100 Under drivers seat
TYT-9800 (6M mobile) under passanger
callsign plates
^ I got waaay to far into Ham Radio
upgraded tow hooks (old ones flew off in recovery)
Amber rock-lights
Aux electric cooling fans (this was a fun install)
Twin OTR switch panels (3 switches each)
Custom Relay/Fuse box
Custom Interior
full sound deadening Noico 80Mil
rear cargo light
sway bare quick disconnect
quick disconnect upgrade for limb risers
Custom Cowl intake - Ford V-10 filter
replaced Windshield and hood bolts with Stainless steel (royal pain)
Daystar winch hook holder (love this thing)
LED light RF isolators
AUX. LED reverse lights
Smoked light bar (still not sure how I feel about this)
Orange "Jeep" emblem stickers
DEI Fuel injector insulator kit
Stable Seat front seat bushings
Door limit straps (several times)
Bolder auto tire deflators (more of an at the trail head thing)
Extended Diff breathers
Brown Dog Motor Mounts
A/C water drain re-route

Oil and filter change as well as suspension grease every 3K
TOB replacement
A/C condenser and heater core replacement
OPDA replacement
A/C control panel electrics replacement
Blower motor replacement
Spark plugs
Front U-joint replacement (Spicer 5-760X)
Full cooling system replacement (including water jacket, rad. cap etc etc)
Oil pressure sensor replacement x2 (just buy MOPAR the first time guys)
Diff fluid change (front and rear)
Transfer case fluid change
FM radio head mount replacement
Alternator replacement
Clutch master and slave cylinder
Battery Terminal replacement
Hood latch replacement
Rear gas strut replacement
Engine coolant temp sensor
Starter replacement
Cowl weather stripping
Lift gate bottom of glass weather stripping
Transmission shift bezle

I think thats everything, I'll try and add some pictures/opinions on some of them and maybe installs. The aux. cooling fan was a particularly fun trail blazing experience. If theres anything specifically you want more info on, LMK and ill be happy to tell you what I have found about it. The jeep has been great and with the Relax of COVID I have been able to go on more and more wheeling trips. I have found I really like "redneck off-road heaven" near Ardmore OK major limiting factor right now is my lack of lockers and 3.07 gears so hopefully those will be coming soon, I'm looking at some auto-lockers to go in the front Dana 30 with the new diff cover I have sitting ready to install
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The Problem: I have been fighting an overheating problem with the Jeep, especially at low speed or when sitting in drive-through/pickup lines. I'm aware that the MOPAR cooling system is widely regarded as gold around here and while after a full replacement, it did technically keep the jeep below 230, she was regularly hitting the high 220's - more than I was comfortable with. Keep in mind this is in 100+* humid Texas heat with the AC running full blast and sucking several other cars exhaust, no forward movement or change in engine RPM for sometimes hours, basically worst case scenario.

The Solution! - an electric fan, which can reach peak cooling potential regardless of engine RPM, but I didn't want to sacrifice the CFM that the engine driven fan can pull when it needs to, so I decided on adding a auxiliary pusher fan on the front of the condenser. This leaves the OE system to operate as intended, with exceeeeeedingly limited drawbacks (it does block some airflow) and the ability to pull extra CFM at idle or low RPM when needed.

The Install: After extensive tape measure work, the largest/highest CFM fan you possibly can fit is a Mishimoto SLIM STRAIGHT 16" fan this is mostly due to the limited clearance between the back of the grill and the front of the condenser. I do recommend going with a name brand Mishimoto, SPAL or other fan. This install is a bit of a PITA and you don't want to be going though this headache to replace your lifetime warranty amazon special every couple of months, my Mishimoto has been running great for 2 seasons now with zero complaints. To install the fan I had to remove the radiator and core support and slide the condenser back toward the engine out of the way. I wound up trimming most of the top of the electric fan shroud down with a Dremel in order to get it to tuck under the back of the hood latch location. I then zip-tied it in place and re-installed all the hardware. I wound up having to trim down and re-bend the secondary hood latch in order to prevent it from pressing down on the fan shroud and contacting the fan blades, this wasn't hard but be careful not to over-trim it, this would make the hood very difficult to open.

Through the grill

Trimming the safety latch

Fan control Module

How far to trim

How much to trim/clearance

Then it was just a matter of wiring, I started with just a simple toggle switch and eventually bough Mishimoto's Fan Control Kit, I stuck the prob up by the passengers headlight through the radiator, it does occasionally get a little heat soaked on short stops there, but I figurer it just helps cool down the fuel injector rail which is still giving me hot-start problems. I have the fan set to come on at about 215* and it turns off again at 205*. it pretty much only ever comes on when I have been sitting for 15+min in the hot summer, or when I flip the switch to tell it to.

Benefits: The fan does quickly drop temperatures at idle, not only is it capable of sustaining a temp but it will bring the Jeep back down from 215 to 200 in 5-10 min. Most surprisingly it noticeably drops the AC in-cab temp, maybe 5*. doesn't sound like Much but it can make a HUUUGE difference when your sitting in stop and go traffic for 2 hours. I regularly find myself reaching down to switch on the fan long before the engine needs it, but simply because I want the extra airflow through the A/C.

Downsides: This sucker is LOUD, I mean like, annoyingly loud. If you're out working around the front of the jeep, you will hear it. Inside its fine but I have had complaints from SXS's in-front of me on the trail and it gets inside your head after a while. for whatever reason the frequency seems to be a bit of an earworm and can get tiresome after and hour or 2 working around the jeep in hot weather. I think this could be mitigated with a SPAL fan (fewer max CFM) that has speed control, especially if you could route it through the PCM somehow but I've seen limited success. Unfortunately the Mishimoto is pretty much all or nothing, and the slim fan that we need to fit in the space is just Drift car fan loud, does move a ridiculous amount of air. Other than that, I'm sure theres a perfectly good reason I shouldn't have removed the core support, but it hasn't given me any problems and the fan is pretty rigid, kinda doubles as one, so meh.

All in all, if you live in Texas and spend much of your time at low speed, I would recommend it. If nothing else for the extra AC efficiency, the engine might be "ok" as is in this heat, but I'm not!
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Had a weekend run to Red-neck heaven with some buddies (1 JKUR on 33's and 1 Can-am Maverick) and the park was stupid muddy, had lots of fun winding though the trees and running some creek beds, eventually found a hill that was a little to slimy (The Can-am had no problem) and came back looking like this:

That was a royal PITA to clean off and wound up me cutting off the rear bumper end caps (have new ones coming, olds were sized) and had to do some rock light re-wiring. Thankfully the jeep is back to some semblance of clean and nothing is majorly broken.

The KM3's worked well, but at 15PSI and with all the wheel speed, I popped a beed


Put the spare on and had no problem getting out, having the "spare" re-mounted and balanced as I write

I can't upload the whole video, but heres the last attempt where the bead finally goes, for the record my initial mistake was not carrying enough speed through the dip, she got a little squierlly and so I hit the brakes and killed my momentum. Though it looks rough, the back and forth was actually making significant progress and you can see I'm very very close to hooking up and getting out. Unfortunately wheel speed and finally finding traction was too much for 15PSI and I lost the bead at the critical moment, bummer. I want a front locker.

Thats pretty much the trip, had a great time but would have liked to stay away from quite so much mud, at some point you just give in. This was the first trip for the "Bolder Tire Deflators" they work great so far, love how much faster it makes the trail head, hopefully I don't have any future problems with accuracy. I did take each deflator apart and clean out any FOD and apply a light coating of oil
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I'm not normally one to go recommending companies, but I have been truly impressed with the service I received so here we go.

As ya'll can see in the previous post one of my KM3's popped the beed on the trail. I brought it back to 4 Wheel parts for a repair (thinking I was in for a mount and balance fee) and while the tire was deemed un-reparable 4WP was kind enough to replace it UNDER WARRANTY! I was shocked that they would honor a road hazard warranty on a tire that was quite clearly killed off-road. So for 10% if the cost of a new tire I now have another KM3 on the way with a warranty to go with. Ill update when the tire comes in, looks like there about a week out on order - which is a lot better than I expected given the current shortage.
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Over due for an update, so ill try and catch up on all the little things I have done

I picked up a set of rims from @BigMac5166 for a killer deal. Got them home and polished them up (the photo below is before polishing). They shine like a Diamond annnnnnnd.

yeah...... that didn't work quite like I was hoping it would. the rims are great, but they really don't match the jeep so i'll probably be driving the tail end of these A/T's out and then putting them up for sale. if anyone is interested I found that the rims are a Eagle Alloy 186 series which is no longer in production, but a higher quality alternative too the Pro-comp 69 series

Additionally I attempted to solve my tailgate rattle with a grease-able tailgate pin as apposed to replacing the entire hinge.

You can kinda see it here in the top hinge. While the idea is great in theory, its a right royal PITA to install (wind up having to drill out the entire hinge) and it turns out my hinge was to damaged to accept the pin and it now just rotates the top button head in the metal ass apposed to rotating on the greased part. inevitably a set of Morryde hinges are probably coming soon and ill just have to deal with my right side antenna mount and making that all work.

Lastly I have Dash Cam on order, hope to install it later this week and have some thoughts on it up before too long. It seems like it should be pretty slick, but we'll see what the real UI is like.
Dash cam is installed and works well, I haven't had any problems with the field of view and not having an obvious camera on the front windshield is nice. I find myself not using the digital mirror function, in favor of just having a normal mirror. I'll upload some pictures of the install and try and show some video from the cameras

More excitingly, I found an RD101 (3.73 and numerically lower) ARB locker for the Dana 30 for $200! I also picked up an ARB single compressor for $250 (should be fine for front and rear lockers and the 33's I might eventually run) after all the bits an bobs, new seal housing and bearings and plumbing and such we are going to wind up more in the neighborhood of $700 for the complete install, but thats still less than 1/2 price and I have some extra bits to sell and try and recoup cost!

I threw the compressor in over the weekend


it works well! I'm a little worried about the heat being so close to the Cat's, but lots of other people seem to have had success with it.

I also attempted to install a 56009070 clock spring only to find out the jeep actually wants a 56047103AB spring so if anyone wants to trade, I'm listening.

Also, don't remove airbags on July 4th.... rookie mistake and I almost needed a change of shorts.

Other than that she has received a bath and an oil change/grease, found out that one of my Sunpie LED headlights died, soooooo..... rather than buy a quality replacement, I bought another set :) I can do this 3 more times before I reach a used pair of JW speaker 8700's
So, if you can't tell by the build already, I'm a little cheap. I like to save money where I can and up until recently my Sunpie LED's had been bright as hell and holding up great. Then one day the center and outer most LED's failed on the passenger side light, after some deliberation I decided WTH and ordered another set from amazon. I noticed that the new headlights where much "thinner" than the old ones (front to back bucket depth) but didn't think much of it until I went to aim the lights.


No, thats not the camera. I neglected to take any pictures actually from behind the lights (IK,IK shame) but the new LED's are significantly dimmer than the old. thinking it was just a dud I tried the other light in the box (these arn't side specific) - same story. that set is on its way back to Sunpie and I ordered another just so see if it was a fluke, or if thats the new normal.

In the meantime let's see what caused the old light to fail. remove some sealant glue (i recommend heat), undo 2 Phillips on the back and pry the lens off the housing with your least favorite flat-balde and we find ourselves here

Remove the 3 Philips in a triangle pattern (already removed here) and we find out first clue

That top LED isn't looking so hot, seems like the filament is flaking off. I'll spare you the trouble of prying the board off the housing and just tell you now that is is one sided, these boards are used in a lot of Sunpies headlights and this is the base model (hints the lack of components)

looking at the main lenses we find out next point of concern
uhhhhh, that awfully melty for no good reason.....

Current theory is that the light got to hot sitting in the wash of the rad. fan and melted the lens director, the fumes from the melting plastic then did a number on the top LED, and cause of how the board is traced, the top LED is in series to the most outboard, so its failure is preventing the other LED from lighting.

The Plan is to try and find a CREE or other chip LED from Mouser and solder it in place, thus getting back into business for under $20 and doing absolutely nothing to prevent the problem from happening again (maybe well do hood vents, I have been on the edge anyway but I'm not gonna do them to save the cheap headlights.)
So, the plot thickens. I have tried to remove the LED chip from the dead headlight, but the lovely people at the factory decided to glue the chip down, so even unsoldered it was a no go. I wound up trying another set of amazon specials. Staying away from the Sunpies that served me so well due to there change in design I wound up half heartedly trying the LX-Light and when they arrived touting the "old style" housing I got excited.


Though slightly different the lights are similar enough that I decided to install them.


here you can see the difference between the 3 year old light on the left and the new ones on the right, there is some yellowing/hazing on the old light.


Here you can see a pattern of the lights down my alley, the alley does curve off to the left, but for a roughly aimed lo beam setup I'm pretty happy. I did wind up dropping a retaining ring screw into oblivion, so I need to make a trip to the hardware store. Additionally the drivers side headlights bucket adjusters are stripped, so thats going on the "needs to be done later" list.


The high beams fill in alright, but I don't think the alley allows for an affective demonstration. All in all, great set of lights especially for the $$$ they're not JW speakers, but then again they're roughly 1/5th the cost. Now I just need to get that front locker in.
wow, I am really over-due for an update again, that seems to happen a lot....

Here we go -

Picked up some Hooke roll bar bags to hold some of my recovery gear and tools that I keep in the jeep 24/7, they have been great and are in a waaay better position than the old warn bag was, plus each one is easily twice as large and does not conflict with rear seat passengers, also I can pull the recovery nag out quickly and toss it to someone to rig up there own Jeep in a mud bog, pricy but well worth the investment.

Frustratingly I have gone through another 2 or 3 sets of door straps in search of ones that will actually not break.

Kept on oil changes and filter every 3-5K as well as chassis grease (just got a new Lock N Lube grease gun, thats making life waaaay easier, first time in forever I could have loaded a grease gun without first needing to "suit up")

Front drivers Axle seal wen't bad on one of the many failed ARB installs, so both passenger and drivers side have been replaced, as well as a stronger diff cover fitted (not my fav. company, but i got it for cheap and it keeps the fluid int he axle when I scrape on stuff)

The ARB has proven itself to be a royal PITA, basically if theres anythign to know about installing an RD31, I have figured it out the hard way. I am currently waiting on a drivers side carrier bearing (recently learned these are special on a ARB) and a new seal housing before we go for round number the next one.



looks so pretty, damn shame about the backlash. Out it came and stock one is back in for now.

Seeing as how Im still waiting on parts, I wen't ahead and installed the MAC air valve and the switch, came out pretty clean. If you are on a budget and trying to get an ARB in, first-off, just don't, its not going to be as cheap as you thought it was. Secondly MAC valces makes a great air valve PN 35A-ACA-DDAA-1BA that is literally 1/5th the price of the ARB valve and has an excellent reputation for quality and nearly identical spec's


I will likely get some amber OTRATTW switches to replace these ARB ones once OTR's stock becomes more reliable, for now these will do.

I dropped the old dash cam mirror when replacing the button, so I would up having to order another one and of course it doesn't have the built in battery that I liked and they swapped to USB-C, the software is better and I get fewer false positives, but I still liked the old one slightly more


Now a brief break for my fellow ham's - The TYT-9800 that was above the ID-5100 died due to water intrusion, I think this occurred before the radio was in my possession. I was going to add a FTM-300 for APRS, but I wound up building the following APRS "box" instead and putting it on a switch so I can decide when I transmit or not. The box broadcasts a Wi-Fi network so the plan is to put a small tablet up there running YAAC or APRS-Droid for messaging and mapping capability, but don't hold your breath on that


^APRS box

^APRS antenna w/ custom mount


I installed a hand-throttle because every stick-shift Jeep should have one, and proper cruise control is to expensive


Added a "real horn" cause I'm tired of having people pull out in front of me and being politely asked to move along. If I am being honest the horn is waaaay louder than it has any right being and I was really just going for a "deeper" or "wider" horn tone as apposed to louder, but we'll run this for a little while and see what I think.


External OBA hookup so I don't have to open the hood, has been well worth it and the HF hose is taking the beating surprisingly well. I plan to get a Wits-End Binky soon enough, but for now the Crutch tip works.



One of the Biggest DD upgrades has been a set of Mickey Tomphson Baja Ledgned EXP tires. I can not recommend these tires Highly enough, coming from KM3's I got a silent ride, excellent tread ware (the tires in that photo have probably 10K on them) excellent rain performance and picked up .3 MPG on average. They're waaaay nicer to live with on the day-to day and have 90% of the off-road performance of the KM3, clearing mud and scrabbling up rocks waaay better than my buddies KO2's. There not 3-ply like the KM3, and they're not quite as good off-road, but for the weekend warrior they are really hard to beat.

Other upgrades/ fixes include some weather striping repair, CB antenna, CB mike repair, LED dome lights, another new coolant temp sensor, and a full set of Rancho 5000X shocks. Between the sound deadening, 5000x's and the Baja EXP's the jeep has become a way better daily commuter. Now if I can jsut get that blessed ARB in.


Doesn't really belong here but little Tool Porn for you: My dad gave me a full set of the new "Gunmetal chrome" ratchets for christmas. Not only do they work great, but they look KILLLER. Really love the color and puts a smile on your face when you wrench.
Overdue for an Update, the ARB is in you can read that drama HERE many thanks to everyone that contributed and especially to @Blackjack for the winning idea.

It proved itself at Palo Duro, while I never had an obstacle that I thought the locker allowed me to get through, it did inspire great confidence on hill climbs and I could definitely feel the added traction clawing my way up some of the embankments - now I just have to Super 35 the rear and get another one in (lol)


The dash cam recorded some pretty slick trail footage, unfortunately most of it got over-written on the 6 hour drive back. Next time I need to bring an extra SD card and pull it after the trails

ill try and add the video later.

Th sleeping setup for the jeep got tested in 20* weather

It was cold, but better than a tent and would be great for higher temps.


I finally got around to installing a fire extinguisher mounted to the roll bar which is actually a plastic mount. At first I was skeptical, but in combination with a well placed rubber band it doesn't rattle at all. I can reach the extinguisher from the drivers seat, from outside the drivers door and from the cargo area (with a bit of a stretch). its not the Jerry below the seat option, but I have radios in t9he way of mounting there.

Lastly I just completed the Blower Fan relay bi-pass mod. I still need to get the angle bracket to make it look nice and clean, but I already feel better reducing the current at the switch. More on that when I go to install the bluetooth radio from @PRNDL later this week :)
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I have decided to start a build thread for the Shoebox, i've had her for about 6 months now, so the first page of this thread was me catching up. she's a 2001 4.0 5spd, silverstone metallic no frame rust or other significant rust 250,000 miles when purchased. came with a soft top and 2 inch spacer lift, aftermarket radio head. rolling on 31's and canyon wheels.

Tentative build plan is 2.5 OME, 1.25 body, 33's, AR767 style wheels, bumpers, winch, lockers, maybe a tummy tuck.

Ok, so his is her the day I brought her home, wonderful base but entirely to bland, someone has to do something about that monotone color scheme.
View attachment 183825
I am her 3rd owner bought buy a guy in Vermont who moved down here andowned her until 2016ish then a ex-marine bought her Form his friend after the first owner died. he drive her as a second car for afew years and then sold her to me valintines weekend, feb 2020. 4K out the door. (She was missing a sway bar link so she drove like junk, threw a pin in and drove her home.)

We just saw you in Dallas! I just want to say as a fellow jeep owner, love your Jeep!
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We just saw you in Dallas! I just want to say as a fellow jeep owner, love your Jeep!

Hopefully I remembered to wave! - Things have been chaotic getting ready for a huge radio event this weekend.

- Looks like I am once again Waaaaaaay overdue for an update to the thread, hopefully I can get that done sometime in the week.
Updates, lots of them - its been a crazy little bit with 2 wheeling trips and lots of upgrades since I last posted.

Got the head-unit from @PRNDL installed it has been working great and having bluetooth has actually gotten me back to using the radio more (and discovering the crappy stock speakers), but more on that latter.


Swapped the ARB locker switches over for OTR to match the rest of the interior


Fan Relay By-pass mod, takes all of the high current switching away from the dash and switches it with relays down int he glovebox - no more melted switches. It's a little difficult to see, but there is some angle bracket bolted to the bottom airbag bracket that holds the relays in place.

Did the Oklahoma Jeep invasion at Robbers Cave in OK - last weekend in April

had a great trip running with a buddy of mine in the blue F-150

Screenshot 2023-07-20 at 10.32.54 PM.png

Cleared 300,000 Miles in early May - here's to 300,000 more.


A new and different kind of door handle failure - in goes another one


Relocated the Aux. fan control relay to combat a water intrusion problem that has killed 3 controllers. This location has been working Finer probably 3 months now with several HEAVY rain storms.


installed a 30" CB antenna cause why not - hardly ever use it, but its there and it doesn't get in they way.


Got back from a day run to OK to find the tire comes up to contact the fender, little bit of damage that I'm just going to live with for now, but MCE fenders and/or a body lift likely coming soon. Should I have added bump stop? - probably, but where's the fun in that?


Added an easy access med kit.


Finally picked up a code reader to deal with the airbag light


Got the shovel mounted and out of the way


installed a speaker replacement for the ham radio


upgraded to Polk Db522's with front speakers on the way

Other stuff that got done:
-Door hinge bushing replacement
-Oil and filter change, suspension grease
-Turn signal/MFS replacement
-heat reflector on the firewall and trans tunnel to help cool down the drivers floorboard cabin (still tinkering with this)
- swapped out OBA hose for 15ft coiled flexzilla
-patched 2 tire road hazards
- epoxied weather tech floor mats to waterproof (Standing water)
- repaired damaged rock light

Coming Soon:
custom headliner
-front dash speaker upgrade
-interior storage re-orginization
-APRS mapping system
-Door dome light interrupt switch
-Caddie horns?
-Body lift
-Swap to Kenwood D-710?

I'm sure I missed some stuff, I'm already planning another wheeling run and more mods are always on the way. Hopefully that brings us close to up to date again.
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