Brandon's Arles Blue TJ

bbaldwin237

TJ Enthusiast
Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 27, 2023
Messages
436
Location
Grays Harbor, Washington
I've already made a more in depth post about the Jeep we just picked up but wanted to have a place to post updates and pictures (partly for myself!).

Some parts are already arriving and a few repairs and updates will be happening soon and I will post accordingly.

Next week during my days off, I'll be replacing the exhaust manifold, motor mounts, and transmission mount. Also, going to be changing the oil and cleaning everything underneath to keep an eye on a leaking RMS. Might try some AT-205.

And just ordered my first aftermarket "mod" that isn't for a repair, which is some smoked lenses for my marker lights.

Same picture used from other posts because that's all I've taken so far! lol

More to come, though for a while this will be very slow and very basic.

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So when we picked up the Jeep, the seller asked if we wanted the sides and back installed or to just bring them. It was 95 degrees and it's a non-AC car and I had a 2 hour drive home, so I said just bring them.

Since then, our weather has cooled and we wanted to throw the full top on. Last night I got my first experience of installing a soft top (Trektop NX) by myself and boy was that a blast! lol I learned what I did wrong by zipping one zipper completely but I was sweating by the end! 🤣 It's also a new top and I don't think they used the sides much.
 
Last night I got the rear jacked up and confirmed that I do have the LSD which is good news. It wasn't a deal breaker for me so I hadn't bothered worrying about it in the purchase process.

I also popped off the gear selector cover and see that the wiring that should be there for a bulb is nowhere to be seen. Going to have to pull the console and see if it's tucked in somewhere else. Otherwise, I'm going to have to find a way to order that light plug and tap into a "lights on" power source. It's not a necessary thing but would be nice to have working.
 
Long post!

Two easy additions yesterday and first off-road trip. First, my Barricade floor liners were delivered and got put in. It's got a BedRug carpet kit but here in the PNW I like having heavy floor liners to catch the rain, snow, and sand from the beach. I like them so far. They are a simple design and the price was reasonable.

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Right after throwing those in, my son and I took it "off-road" for the first time to a large nearby section on DNR land. Mainly just gravel and dirt roads, but we hit the power line road and found a spot or two to try 4WD. Right near the top of the first loose climb, everything slowed and started grinding something terrible. Quickly stopped and noticed the 4WD (4Hi) light had gone off. Grabbed the shifter and it just felt loose, like not engaged. Got into 2WD since I was at the top and pulled to a flat area. It went into 4Lo fine and I can get it to engage into high, it just takes some wiggling and "feeling around." I'm going to get under there and try to adjust the linkage but I think I'll just bump cable shifter up on my priority list.

Does anyone have a preference on cable shifter for the 231? I think the one I was looking at was B&M. Also saw Teraflex and some others. The B&M was priced decent and it's a well known brand so I thought they would be a safe bet.

We still managed to play a little and flex it out for the first time(s). I got into a few crossthread type flexes and it did great. The LSD clutch seems pretty tired, but it's got 141k miles so I'm not surprised. Plus, 33s are quite a bit heavier than stock. It'll be fine for now, but more to come on that down the road.
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Lastly, got home and my smoked marker lights were delivered so I threw those in. They look so much better IMO. Much more subtle and blend with the blue and black.
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And this morning, I tackle the exhaust manifold (heading to the garage now)! I think I've read and watched enough of the how-to's and have a pretty good idea. Also doing motor mounts while I'm in there. They don't look bad but I figure if I'm in there, I might as well. And if there's still time this afternoon before family plans, an oil change 👍🏼
 
Does anyone have a preference on cable shifter for the 231? I think the one I was looking at was B&M. Also saw Teraflex and some others. The B&M was priced decent and it's a well known brand so I thought they would be a safe bet.
I think if you search the forum and read about cable shifters, you’ll find most have the Savvy followed by the Novak. I didn’t even realize B&M or Teraflex made them.
 
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I think if you search the forum and read about cable shifters, you’ll find most have the Savvy followed by the Novak. I didn’t even realize B&M or Teraflex made them.

Sorry, looking again the Teraflex one is an upgraded linkage, not a cable. Looks like the Savvy is around the same price as B&M too which is nice. Definitely want to get one that will be reliable and work when you need it!
 
Got the new exhaust manifold, engine mounts, and transmission mount all installed today. Was a little time consuming but overall went about as I expected, minus a hiccup or two.
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I was able to do the job, including torquing with the swivel socket that everyone talks about using a 3" extension and a shallow socket. I think I used a 6" extension underneath, or maybe the short one with a deep socket, I've already forgot. But never needed anything special as far as sockets go.

I forgot a nut on the transmission mount when I was dropping the transfer case skid which was surprising! The driver's side engine mounts went super smooth but the passenger side took some wiggling and maneuvering.

I had watched a video on YouTube where the guy made a fuel line disconnect out of a pen and I made one out of an old sharpie cap that worked perfect!
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Lastly, the dang exhaust flange was a nightmare! With the new lead donut, I could get enough threads sticking through to get the nut on the other side. I spent somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes fighting with it while wedging my knee up to push on the exhaust and using a floor jack to slight lift up on the exhaust on the other side of the engine to align everything. That was the hardest part of the whole job and I was not expecting it to be an issue at all.

I was a little surprised at how much buildup was in my intake and the intake and exhaust ports. Cleaned it out as best as I could with what I had available.

Overall, not terrible, but don't particularly want to do it again. But I would if someone was paying me (or if mine ever needed it again)!
 
Got around to the oil change today and it definitely needed it. Nothing scary, it was just pretty dark. One thing I noticed while draining the oil was that there was no new oil showing from the RMS. I cleaned it while it was doing my exhaust manifold and it's been driven a few times with no oil showing.

I filled with Pennzoil conventional high mileage and a bottle of AT-205. I was shocked when that stuff came out looking like straight water! Wasn't expecting that. Drain plug gasket was a little worn but holding up. I went ahead and ordered a new one for the next change.

Took another look underneath this evening after we went for a little drive, still no oil. Just going to keep an eye on it and see what happens.

Also removed some PS fluid and added Lucas PS Stop Leak for the drip that is going on. It has a remanned box but it's got a drip (a couple drops or so on the cardboard each day).
 
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Fixed my shift indicator today using @zebra12 's instructions. It's about 90% accurate but doesn't line up perfectly in neutral and drive about half of the time. Still better than it was, might tweak it in the future, but not too concerned. Also hit the trim piece with some black paint while it was out because it was faded and scuffed. I used some black I had on hand and it's glossier than I would prefer. I may also redo that down the road, who knows!

Edit: I legitimately did not notice the huge patch of bubbles near the bottom until it uploaded. Oh well, that's what I get for minimal prep and a quick spray. It'll ride for now!
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Man, I love this thing! Got out with the family a couple times and this has been a great purchase!

Turns out I didn't notice the bubbles on the shifter trim because it's not very noticeable in person. Not sure why it looks so atrocious in the picture!

I'm not at this point yet, but I've been spending a good amount of time researching gearing 😵‍💫. Currently, the Jeep shows 3.73 tags on the axles and sits on 33's. However, based on everything I'm reading, it's not consistent. I think the Jeep drives fine with the 32RH and 33's. During the drive home, I cruised about 70-75mph and that was right about 3000 or so. I see people saying reporting very different RPMs with 3.73s and 33s. I know you can't trust everything you read but it's not really consistent. I have no reason to believe it has ever had the gears changed based on the PO's information.

This all brings me to wonder what my future gear ratio should be. I would like to eventually build the front axle and add lockers front and rear with 35s. I initially thought 4.56 would be perfect but now I'm wondering if that would be too low and I should just go with 4.10s. But it seems like it would almost be a waste to spend the money to regear from 3.73 to 4.10. I also want to be able to comfortably drive on the street up to 70 as some of our interstate is 70mph where I might drive. Not to mention that it's not likely that I will spend the money for regearing/lockers at the same time as 35's.
 
Man, I love this thing! Got out with the family a couple times and this has been a great purchase!

Turns out I didn't notice the bubbles on the shifter trim because it's not very noticeable in person. Not sure why it looks so atrocious in the picture!

I'm not at this point yet, but I've been spending a good amount of time researching gearing 😵‍💫. Currently, the Jeep shows 3.73 tags on the axles and sits on 33's. However, based on everything I'm reading, it's not consistent. I think the Jeep drives fine with the 32RH and 33's. During the drive home, I cruised about 70-75mph and that was right about 3000 or so. I see people saying reporting very different RPMs with 3.73s and 33s. I know you can't trust everything you read but it's not really consistent. I have no reason to believe it has ever had the gears changed based on the PO's information.

This all brings me to wonder what my future gear ratio should be. I would like to eventually build the front axle and add lockers front and rear with 35s. I initially thought 4.56 would be perfect but now I'm wondering if that would be too low and I should just go with 4.10s. But it seems like it would almost be a waste to spend the money to regear from 3.73 to 4.10. I also want to be able to comfortably drive on the street up to 70 as some of our interstate is 70mph where I might drive. Not to mention that it's not likely that I will spend the money for regearing/lockers at the same time as 35's.

Use this to help figure out your gearing and planned regearing.

Measure your tire from the ground to the center of the hub/rim. And put that in for tire size. Most 33" tires will measure around 31.5"-32" tall.

http://www.grimmjeeper.com/gears.html
 
Use this to help figure out your gearing and planned regearing.

Measure your tire from the ground to the center of the hub/rim. And put that in for tire size. Most 33" tires will measure around 31.5"-32" tall.

http://www.grimmjeeper.com/gears.html

I've used this one plus some other formulas that have been shared around, plus other's posts with a similar setup as mine, and they're all a little different for my current setup, so it's so hard to know what to trust. None of them really seem to match what I'm seeing on the dash either. Going to have to get out on the highway again and calculate with my GPS again.
 
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I've used this one plus some other formulas that have been shared around, plus other's posts with a similar setup as mine, and they're all a little different for my current setup, so it's so hard to know what to trust. None of them really seem to match what I'm seeing on the dash either. Going to have to get out on the highway again and calculate with my GPS again.

You may not have stock gearing?

The best thing to do is use your phone to track your speed and then verify what your RPM's are. Then sit there and play with different gear ratios until you get one that is super close to what you have.
 
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You may not have stock gearing?

The best thing to do is use your phone to track your speed and then verify what your RPM's are. Then sit there and play with different gear ratios until you get one that is super close to what you have.

The PO had mentioned that I may want to change the gears (we hadn't discussed future plans/vision for the Jeep) to accommodate the tires so I assumed factory. Both also still have the 3.73 tags on the covers.

It could also just be that the 33x10.5 BFG ATs are lighter than others, especially 12.5's, and it just taxes the engine a little less.
 
Yo
The PO had mentioned that I may want to change the gears (we hadn't discussed future plans/vision for the Jeep) to accommodate the tires so I assumed factory. Both also still have the 3.73 tags on the covers.

It could also just be that the 33x10.5 BFG ATs are lighter than others, especially 12.5's, and it just taxes the engine a little less.

You can always do a gear ratio check by jacking up one tire and rotate it as you watch your driveshaft or tape a string to it and see how many times it rotates. That will tell you real close what you have.
There are How To's and videos on how to do it.
 
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Ok, so it's making more sense now. Double checked with GPS and the faster I go the more the speedo is off. It had the speedo gear replaced (not sure tooth count) for 33's but they're measuring just shy of 32 mounted and sitting under it's own weight.

So, the speedo is pretty accurate at lower speeds but by 65 is off around 2mph. When using those specific measurements, I'm right around 2550-2600 RPM at 65 and about 2750 at 70. Going to 4.56 would have 35s (calculated for 34-34.5") around 3000-3100 at 70. So when we get there, it'll probably make the most sense to go bigger tires first and just deal with it until I regear. Otherwise the 4.56 with 33s would just be too high on RPMs for what I'd like. I can probably also work it to argue that both need to happen around the same time to make everything work together! lol This isn't a DD by any means, just a toy/weekend wheeler.
 
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Not really an update, but found a factory jack and accessory kit on marketplace. I'm sure I could've got it cheaper at a junkyard but having time to get there and find one made the cost difference worth it. Plus, if I had an issue in the meantime of getting to the yard would leave me somewhat stranded and having to rely on someone else.

Been spending a lot of time looking at control arms and trying to decide what my build order will look like. This is what I'm thinking right now for the big things...
Cable shifter (probably Savvy or Novak):$
Body Lift (something aluminum and quality): $
Bumper(s) and Sliders (unsure):$$
Winch (unsure):$$
Control Arms (probably Core Crawl w/ double adjustable, correctlync, and track bars):$$$
SYE:$$
Swayloc:$$
Belly skid (UCF extra, but maybe ultra):$$
Tank skid (maybe just a late TJ skid modded):$-$$?
Axle upgrades (4.56 gears, chromo shafts, selectable lockers):$$$-$$$$

Couple year process, other smaller things will be scattered in there but that should do it for the most part. I was originally thinking 35's, but starting to lean a little more towards a solid 33 build that is capable, reliable, and enjoyable to drive. Will mostly be a mild trail/mountain rig but have the desire to hit some more aggressive trails in the future. (Some friends and I are envisioning a Rubicon trip once my son is old enough to enjoy and remember it. Maybe another 4+ years down the road. His rig is a JKUR on tons and 41" pitbulls, so I'll look funny following along! lol)

Definitely open to thoughts, especially on build order. I've also considered an aftermarket LSD in the rear and selectable in the front but the price difference wouldn't be very large to just go selectable.
 
Not really an update, but found a factory jack and accessory kit on marketplace. I'm sure I could've got it cheaper at a junkyard but having time to get there and find one made the cost difference worth it. Plus, if I had an issue in the meantime of getting to the yard would leave me somewhat stranded and having to rely on someone else.

Been spending a lot of time looking at control arms and trying to decide what my build order will look like. This is what I'm thinking right now for the big things...
Cable shifter (probably Savvy or Novak):$
Body Lift (something aluminum and quality): $
Bumper(s) and Sliders (unsure):$$
Winch (unsure):$$
Control Arms (probably Core Crawl w/ double adjustable, correctlync, and track bars):$$$
SYE:$$
Swayloc:$$
Belly skid (UCF extra, but maybe ultra):$$
Tank skid (maybe just a late TJ skid modded):$-$$?
Axle upgrades (4.56 gears, chromo shafts, selectable lockers):$$$-$$$$

Couple year process, other smaller things will be scattered in there but that should do it for the most part. I was originally thinking 35's, but starting to lean a little more towards a solid 33 build that is capable, reliable, and enjoyable to drive. Will mostly be a mild trail/mountain rig but have the desire to hit some more aggressive trails in the future. (Some friends and I are envisioning a Rubicon trip once my son is old enough to enjoy and remember it. Maybe another 4+ years down the road. His rig is a JKUR on tons and 41" pitbulls, so I'll look funny following along! lol)

Definitely open to thoughts, especially on build order. I've also considered an aftermarket LSD in the rear and selectable in the front but the price difference wouldn't be very large to just go selectable.

Don't count out non-aluminum body lifts. I recently installed the acetal lift from Black Magic Brakes and it's a very nice kit.

As for the order, I chose to do gears and lockers before anything else, but that's just one guy's approach. 🤷‍♂️ Sounds like a pretty comprehensive build.
 
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Don't count out non-aluminum body lifts. I recently installed the acetal lift from Black Magic Brakes and it's a very nice kit.

As for the order, I chose to do gears and lockers before anything else, but that's just one guy's approach. 🤷‍♂️ Sounds like a pretty comprehensive build.

I would trust a BL from BMB, looks to be about the same price as the aluminum options out there. Savvy items are getting harder to count on it seems, so we have to look at different options.

I've gone back and forth with doing axles first or last. It's a big expense, so it's a little harder to convince the wife of that so early on. The benefit is that I would be able to start playing around and building more confidence in the Jeep and my abilities. Then, by the time I added everything else, the Jeep would be very capable and I would be able to use it properly. It's a tough decision for sure. That's why I said I'm definitely open to opinions. Yours might be only yours, but as more people share thoughts and opinions, along with continued reading, I can put my plan together.

Heck, I'm even thinking about grabbing a set of disconnects to use between now and a Swayloc. It would be a little bit of a waste of money that I could put towards the SL, but it would also allow me to use the full travel sooner and have longer to save for the SL? Of course there's no single build path 😵‍💫
 
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