Building an E-Ticket ride - 06 LJ

E-Ticket

Slow but steady, in the shop and on the trail
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Joined
Jan 2, 2024
Messages
115
Location
Twin Cities, MN
Hi all. Starting a build thread for my 2006 LJ Sport. I purchased this LJ in August 2022 after returning to home from a 4,000 mile road trip in my 2018 JL 2 door with my wife. We had a great time and wheeled in the Badlands, Black Hills, Ouray, Sedona, Prescott and Moab over a month of traveling. However, the highway miles were not kind to our bodies and the 2 door was full up with our stuff, leaving her to remark “that was an amazing trip, but I’ll never do it again!”. Outside of that trip I’ve driven my JL to Moab twice more by myself, also leaving me looking for a better solution to combine travel and wheeling. On the one hand I want to build my Jeep but on the other hand I drive it to work and so the mods don’t help the ride 99% of the time.

I decided to get a separate trail rig and trailer it out west for the future trips so I could wheel the harder trails I wanted and not be subjected to such rough highway miles. Being in Minnesota I did not want a local machine, but tried anyway and got lucky to find this 06 at a local dealer that specializes in used vehicles bought at auction in other states. This one spent its entire life in Texas per the CarFax and from my inspection it had no signs that it was every on rocks or in any salty environments. It has just about 100k miles on it and a few light mods that I could undo easily (basically just a stereo and 2” rough country lift on 33’s). It had some really bad death wobble on first test drive but the dealer got it sorted and I did not care too much about that as I just wanted a clear tub, frame and drivetrain to start with.

Why an LJ after having a JK and JL? My JK was 4 door and the wheelbase was too long in many situations, even on 35s. My JL is much more maneuverable, but also a bit short and too modern and new to really dig into with mods. I’ve had my eye on the LJ wheelbase for a while and also like the more simple systems of a 2006 which will hopefully be more conducive to mods and troubleshooting.

Here she is on the rack at the dealer, a pretty clean slate in my opinion with only minor surface rust on the frame and no spray paint that I could find:

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I even looked inside the frame with a remote camera, no surprises. I looked at another LJ that had the frame spray painted and when I put my finder in the frame and scraped the bottom it came out as orange as a cheese puff!

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Here she is on my rack as soon as I got home from dealer, ready to pull it apart:

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The build plan:

Installed so far:
  • 4” Rock Jock short arm lift with Rancho RS9000 shocks
  • Savvy tummy tuck – partially installed with some customization
  • Currie CurrectLync steering
  • 35x12.50x15 BFG KM3's on Pro comp series 69 15x8 wheels, 3.75” backspacing
  • Currie HP44 front axle, Currie HP60 rear axle with Explorer brakes, stock widths
  • 5.13 gears, Eaton E-Lockers
  • Advance Adapters Rubicrawler reduction gearbox for a double low
  • Slip yoke eliminator
  • NP231 TC upgrades, 6 spider gears & 1.25” chain
  • Genright gas tank
  • Tom Woods driveshafts
  • B&M shifter
  • BMB 15” front big brake kit
  • Anti-rock swaybars front and rear
  • MORE 1” MML
  • Genright lifted motor mount brackets
  • Rear brake hardlines
  • LOD destroyer shorty front bumper
  • Superwinch SX 1000SR winch – mounted, not yet wired
  • Genright roll cage with X, V and harness bars
  • Genright corner armor
  • Genright mini boat side sliders
  • MCE 4.5” fender flares
  • Turn/side marker LEDs
  • Auxbeam switch pod
  • Subwoofer for console
  • 5 channel amp
  • Kenwood double din head unit with front and rear cameras
  • Barnes 4WD stubby rear bumper
  • Midland MXT275 GMRS radio with ghost antenna
  • Speakers for dash and pod mounted for roll cage
  • PRP Summit Elite seats, 5.2 harnesses and mounts
  • AGM battery
  • 12” LED single row bar on bull bar
  • Walker muffler and cat delete with short exit
Parts on the shelf waiting for installation or in progress:
  • MORE engine skid front mount on
  • Bed Tread carpet replacement kit, front in and rear needs more velcro
  • Half doors, hinges and mirrors
  • LED pods for A-pillar
  • Reverse LED pods to mount in bumper - not sure I will use
  • Rock lights
Parts yet to purchase:
  • ECU Tuner for wheel size and gearing? Not sure I need, changed speedo gear in TC
Other to do items:
  • Paint half doors, replace seals and re-key
  • Power adder? Let’s see if I need it.
And some basic maintenance items:
  • Transmission flush - done
  • Cooling system flush - done
  • Power steering fluid flush - done
  • Add filter for fresh cabin air
  • Replace serpentine belt
  • Check if OPDA has been replaced - done and replaced
  • Replace brake MC
  • Replace serpentine belt
More posts to come to catch up to where I am today.

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First up was to strip the existing suspension and axles, which went fairly smooth:

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The rear bump stops were completely disintegrated!

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I did not realize the value in my stock axles until I went to post them up for sale. Nice to get a few bucks back and made a couple guys very happy to get these:

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The Currie axles are damn heavy! Just getting them out of the crates took some doing. I know the Dana 60 is going to hang low on 35's but I really like the high pinion shape and hope that I can just drag that super hard armor plate over anything I may get into contact with.

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Getting the Rock Jock short arms in place was straightforward. Getting the axles on the arms was a bear. We lowered the Jeep onto them in the end. I got a hand from my son, lucky me that day as it must have been his day off. He is a freshly minted ASE mechanic and wrenches full time so not so interested in doing more of it when he gets home. Handy to have in the house though when I can get his help!

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Starting to look like something:

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Seeing some issues with the rear axle. The brake tabs are not going to work where they came attached, too close to the shock and also will interfere with the anti-rock tabs. Also, Currie told me they would weld on the anti-rock tabs but did not...now I get to weld on my brand new power coated axles. That's not the only problem I had with the rear anti-rock, but more on that later.

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Moving on from there, got the wheels on and pushed her outside after months on the lift. No, it didn't take me months to do the job but life gets in the way and I was not able to work on it for a while. She is sitting pretty high in my view but still a lot of weight to add to the tub which should help.

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This doesn't fit anymore with the Dana 60, goodbye OEM and order up a Genright tank.

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Time for some NP231 surgery. I got a kit with the 6 planetary gears and 1.25" chain on Ebay and dove in. Add in a SYE for my tummy tuck. I had to say I was intimidated by this one but I watched several YouTube videos on it first. I guess I will really know when I try to drive it but so far it holds fluid, that's a win!

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Also time to install the Rubicrawler. I read up on the NP241 swap and that seemed to be about the same $$$ and required a lot of work to the tub. I opted for the double low ratio of the Rubicrawler and hope that I don't regret it. Installation is easy, just seal it well. I made a stub shaft removal tool as many have done with piece of box section steel and that make the job easy.

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I did not get a pic using my stub shaft removal tool but here is where it is used:

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TC in and Savvy cross beam, looking good and lots of room above the TC...wonder why...

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Well that doesn't look so good! I was really stumped by this one for a few days. It turns out that the Rubicrawler has a slightly shifted hold pattern versus the OEM 42RLE tail section which clocks the TC down driver just a hair. I confirmed it with measurements. I asked Savvy what to do and Gerald recommended clearancing the mount and add some weld to the remaining overlaps. Done and fits great now.

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Hole in OEM tail flange hole pattern from common datum:

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Same hold in the Rubicrawler flange:

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Modified mount:

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I bent up some hard brake lines for the rear axle and got my e-brake lines in too. My flex line in the rear is a bit too long but I think it is going to work.
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Back to the rear anti-rock...it was installed per the instructions using the bolts and self tapping screws. Then when I went to install the Genright gas tank the filler tub was right in the way of the torsion bar. So, I kept the lowest screws and pivoted the assembly back a bit until it cleared the filler and then welded the brackets to the frame. I know, ugly welds. I've since gotten better and for this application I feel good these will hold...or I will redo/repair!

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The other side of the tank, a snug fit.

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I got these in as well:

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I have some adjustment to do to get the shifters dialed in but that is nearly impossible alone so will need to schedule some help for that.
 
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Don't know him but I'll have to keep my eye out. A few Minnesotans popping up all of a sudden. May have to get a wheeling trip planned to meet them at some point.

I'd be happy to be invited and meet you sometime locally. I hope to be in a position to wheel the LJ this summer but as a backup I've got my JL for more tame stuff.
 
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I'd be happy to be invited and meet you sometime locally. I hope to be in a position to wheel the LJ this summer but as a backup I've got my JL for more tame stuff.

If you can get it done by June several forum members will be in Moab for a week to wheel.

I'd be up for an Iron Range trip later this summer though.
 
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A few more things I've been up to so far:

I wanted an OEM hard top, so searched high and low for months. Finally found a good one in Chicago, 6 hours away. The LJ can't get out there, so what to do? I measured my truck bed and it would fit but need some good support. This was the result after a 14 hour day to go out, load it and come back.

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The bumper my LJ came with seems decent enough except for the hitch receiver that was going to drag on everything. I cut it off and refinished the bumper with some rattle can bedliner. I am not sure if I will keep it or replace it, will decide once I get my corner armor on and see how it all goes together.

While on bumpers, mounted the front bumper and winch. I like the look of a bull bar and that fact that the LOD bumper has hard points for flat towing. I will add a few lights but not too crazy. I was able to do some night wheeling in AZ and loved it, good to have something just in case.

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Added some engine bay cooling and some bling factor:

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Out with the NP231 rear yoke and in with the flange yoke after speaking with Tom Wood's driveshafts:

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I was unhappy with my puck lift so decided to install Genright lifted mount brackets across the area where the sliders will go to get that extra clearance and get back to the OEM bushings. I have the modified smaller diameter lower mount parts and flush bolts ready to go once I get the rest of the mounts done. I have a 1" lift and these brackets are 1.25" lifted despite being called 1" lifted on Genright's website. I cut them down to be 1" but I am on the fence now about leaving them or getting another set and going to 1.25 all around as of course all 11 points have to match.

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For the center brackets I added a gusset. This picture also shows how I had to butcher the Savvy outer C to get it on after installing the Genright mount. I've since seen how Blaine welds a bracket inside the frame and flips the ends of the Savvy mount to solve this problem. I am considering that as this looks like crap even though I believe once the aluminum skid is installed it will clamp up the whole thing such that it will not move in operation. The crossmember is very solid right now but that is with no torque on the drivetrain and now really a good indication of what will happen on the trail.

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I've gutted the interior in preparation for a roll cage. Thankfully I had very little surface corrosion here and just cleaned that up and primed all four cage contact patches while I wait for the cage work to begin a bit later on.

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The hard top is just sitting there for storage until I can move thing around and get it up on my hard top hoist on the other side of the shop and out of the way. It is literally night and day how much more light and open feeling you get with the white interior hard top versus the black soft top. I love the look of the hard top and also the added security it provides when towing with a bunch of gear in the back. I don't have the wiring for the wiper so will likely remove it to save a bit of weight. As this is not a daily driver I can get away without it.

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I cut the OEM fenders In preparation for my MCE fenders. Those will have to wait for the sliders to go on first as they mount over them.

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That about sums up where I am as of January 3. As a priority I've got to finish up the body mount and get moving onto the sliders and corner armor. The roll cage is the elephant in the room. I have to get much better at my welding before I can build it. I have scrap tubes and plan to practice a bunch before I get into that. If I can't get to where I can fully weld the to my satisfaction then I will just tack it all together and take it somewhere for finish welding.

Thanks for looking and comments / advice welcome.
 
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Great build. Always good to see a nice LJ project.

Paint it Yeller and I am all in.

:)

Welcome to the forum.
 
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Great build. Always good to see a nice LJ project.

Paint it Yeller and I am all in.

:)

Welcome to the forum.

Thank you! I tried to get a yellow one but it had too much orange and brown trim with all the rust and I had to pass.

Just back from 4 nights in Nashville for New Year, dragging @ss after all that fun.
 
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Cool build. Any ETA goal on it being trail worthy?

Thank you! My goal is to be driving it by the time the last salt is washed off the roads with the first spring rain. I'd like to shake it down locally and hopefully be ready for some travel out west this summer. The roll cage is likely the biggest unknown in my schedule. If I can weld it up then I control the schedule. Everything else is comfortably within my skillset and equipment.
 
Thank you! My goal is to be driving it by the time the last salt is washed off the roads with the first spring rain. I'd like to shake it down locally and hopefully be ready for some travel out west this summer. The roll cage is likely the biggest unknown in my schedule. If I can weld it up then I control the schedule. Everything else is comfortably within my skillset and equipment.

I highly recommend tacking it up and pulling it out to weld. When I did my last one it made getting good welds on everything much better. Spend as much time as you can getting it to fit really tight. That’s what actually provides the bulk of the strength.
 
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I highly recommend tacking it up and pulling it out to weld. When I did my last one it made getting good welds on everything much better. Spend as much time as you can getting it to fit really tight. That’s what actually provides the bulk of the strength.

For sure! I've watched a few videos on it and I plan to tack in place then pull and fully weld with some bracing in place to keep the attach points from wandering. I am just concerned if my welding skills will be up to the task. I've got some DOM tubing of the same size that I purchased just for practice, as well as a notching tool so I can simulate the joints in my practice pieces. Now if I can just find that notch tool in my shop that I bought months ago!
 
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Finished up my lift redo with the lower profile pucks and painted my rear bumper pucks so they will blend in a bit better.

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Credit to the forum members who posted the low profile mount solution!
 
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After a few weeks busy with life I was able to get some work done. Before I get into the armor I want to get my transmission cooler installed. First, the factory pan was all rusted and that did not sit well. Knowing that I was going to disturb the fluid it was a good time to change the pan for one with a drain plug.

First out with the old, but behind it a new filter I had put in just after purchasing the Jeep.

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New pan:

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I got the Derale kit for the TJ/LJ. However, even after reading all the forum posts about the safety of the position, I can’t get comfortable with it. I want to tuck it up and armor it a bit like @NashvilleTJ did with his. The thing is already pretty heavy out of the box and with more steel it seems overkill for what you actually have to hang. Instead of using the tube frame they supply, I made some brackets for the sides and got some stiff perforated metal to put over the cooler.

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I wanted to use some of existing holes or fasteners and found a great solution. The driver side rear seat track forward mounting bolts were in a good spot. They just needed to be a bit longer. I replaced them with 40mm long bolts so I could drive a nut up from the bottom to secure one side.

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In the other side there was a hole in the tub stiffener just to the driver side of center. I drilled it a bit larger and put a nutsert in it.

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It fits in nicely and it very solid.

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There is just enough clearance to the fuel lines. I test fit the fluid lines but they are too short with this new location so tomorrow I will go get some line to make new ones.

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Well that escalated. Looking at the factory lines I can’t leave that in. They go right by the cats and also the upper one is rubbing on the tub with my Savvy skid moving the trans up so much. I will get some quick connect line fittings and redo all of the lines for a more direct routing (no backtracking for the cooler), get away from the exhaust and also to have new lines everywhere.

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