Colorado Daily-Driven Trail Warrior V2 - 2006 LJ

zachpeakee

The most hated man on the internet
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Colorado Springs, CO
Decided I would make a build thread to document my progression into my first LJ.
I'm uber excited to start building this one up.

As some of you already know, a few days ago I came across an absolutely unpassable deal on a 2006 Wrangler Unlimited "LJ" near me.

4.0L w/ NSG370 6-speed Transmission.
BONE STOCK w/ 200k miles.
1-Owner (I'm the second), and dealership maintained.

(To keep the build thread from being cluttered, here's the thread where I explain the story)
—-> https://wranglertjforum.com/threads...-of-the-century-my-second-tj-a-2006-lj.76288/


Unfortunately (or not) I still have my 2000 Sahara that I've been wrenching on.
—-> https://wranglertjforum.com/threads/colorado-daily-driven-trail-warrior.75736/

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After buying the LJ, I've felt a bit of buyers remorse, just because of how much time/money/research I've put into my Sahara, that is now "wasted".
I don't enjoy losing money.

SO, here's the plans, what I plan to achieve, and how i'm going about it.

Ultimately, my ideal "purpose" of a jeep build is to have a reliable daily driver (if needed) that can handle anything I throw at it.
I want to hop in, turn the key, and go wherever I need to go. Whether that's a 10 hour snowboarding round-trip on the interstate, or 10 hours in the rock gardens.

I'm wanting the best of both worlds, and am overly determined to make it happen.

My Sahara already fills most of the checklist, but the short wheel base limit it severely as far as "road comfort" goes, and I'd be lying if I said there weren't a few times off-road I felt as though a longer wheelbase would've made things more enjoyable.


Queue in the LJ...
I took these photos the minute I pulled it in the Driveway.

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And then some more photos yesterday during the daylight...

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The Swap-Over...

Obviously I don't need 2 Wranglers, and I don't plan to keep both.
As the dice fall, the Sahara will ultimately be sold, and the LJ will take it's spot in the garage.

My Sahara already has a lot of fairly expensive parts on it, and rides like a dream on & off-road.
A few quirks here and there that I would like to have done differently, but I plan to work those issues out in the future.

Just a build summary of the Sahara:

- 33x12.50 Tires on 15x10 Wheels
- Dana 30 Front, Dana 44 Rear (re-geared to 4.88)
- ARB Air Lockers
- 4" SkyJacker lift springs
- Rancho RS5000x Shocks
- RE Adjustable "Super-Flex" Control Arms
- JKS Adjustable Track Bars
- ZJ Steering Conversion
- A ton of aftermarket accessories (Headlights, Morryde Tailgate Kit, Aux Lights, etc)

Needless to say, I'm not comfortable just selling all of my good parts, as well as knowing I won't make 100% of the money back on the parts.
I've put a lot of thought into it, and taken other forum members' opinions as well.

Parts like my axles JUST came out of the shop on the 18th of this month (13 days ago).
I'm not willing to throw that kind of cash away.

So the current plans are to throw BOTH Jeeps in the air, and start swapping everything between them.
Essentially the Sahara will sit as the LJ now does, and the LJ will sit as the Sahara does.

Then I will just sell the Sahara in stock configuration, and use the cash to fund some of the "changes" I wanted to make.

- I haven't been overly pleased with my Spring selection, and want to purchase a set of Currie 4" Springs for the LJ.
- The wheels I bought for the Sahara are black, and I feel that polished/aluminum would suit much more nicely on the LJ, as well as bumping up tire size a few inches.
- I would also prefer to not re-use the ZJ Steering conversion, and opt for the stronger Currie Correctlync instead.

Just a few things to note, that i've made my decisions on based on the amount of time I've had both driving AND wheeling with my current part selections.

In my mind, it's going to be a tough swap.
Although I have a bit of confidence since most of the parts on the Sahara are fairly "new", and the underbody of the LJ is clean as a whistle.

I plan to get started here shortly on swapping the axles over (after I run to Harbor Freight for a few more big jack stands) , and plan to photo-log everything, and throw it here in the build thread!
 
What a nice score. The parts swap-over will be fun.
You're really going to like that deeper 1st gear off road.
Keep an eye out for a 241 t-case. It was by far the best mod I've done. They're out there, and you seem to be good at finding deals. I searched LKQ online daily for months to find mine.

That sweet new LJ could use some good backup lights ;););)
https://wranglertjforum.com/threads/led-backup-lights.57845/
 
I’m glad you’re going this direction. In all honesty you’ll probably get more for the Sahara and a quicker sale with it being stock. The gears and tires will be perfect with the six speed on the LJ.

That's what I'm hoping for.
I'm thinking of taking it all the way down to a "grandpa jeep" :ROFLMAO:

Remove the spare tire carrier on the LJ, and swap over to the Sahara.
Remove the side steps, and swap them over, etc.

Every little dinky accessory I don't plan to keep will go onto the Sahara, to be sold in ultra-stock form.

Some older couple will wet their panties for it here in Colorado. :ROFLMAO:

What a nice score. The parts swap-over will be fun.
You're really going to like that deeper 1st gear off road.
Keep an eye out for a 241 t-case. It was by far the best mod I've done. They're out there, and you seem to be good at finding deals. I searched LKQ online daily for months to find mine.

That sweet new LJ could use some good backup lights ;););)
https://wranglertjforum.com/threads/led-backup-lights.57845/

Already have my eyes out for a 241!
I've wanted one since I bought the Sahara 8 months ago!

Don't worry, I've got that link bookmarked.
I plan to buy a set of your lights once I get everything dialed in with this full-jeep swap I'm in the middle of..:LOL:
 
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I Spent the ENTIRE night with my TJ & LJ...

I spent the night in the garage, deciding what to do with the two Jeeps.
The idea of completely swapping Axles, Suspension, and Control arms made me super anxious.
I've never taken on that large of a project, and ESPECIALLY not to two vehicles in as good of condition as the TJ/LJ.
The largest "project" I've done was my NV3550 to AX15 swap in the TJ, along with clocking the tail-housing, which was fairly straightforward.

On top of that, the LJ drove FANTASTIC on the road, and my TJ had a few quirks.
BUT, "scared money don't make money" or whatever people say.

I needed to get over the anxiety of it, and snap into reality.
Reality being the amount of money I've spent on parts, GOOD parts, and the fact that the Sahara will sell better/quicker/easier in stock configuration.
And I PLAN to lift the LJ 4", Adjustable Arms, etc. The same stuff I've already done to the Sahara..

So I took one last ride in my TJ, went to Harbor Freight, and picked up enough jack-stands to handle the job.

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Got home, threw it in the air, and started pulling Axle Shafts.
(this is something I've never done before, and was quite intimidated by. Turns out, it's one of the more simple things I've done thus far... :LOL: )


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Then I pulled the brake/hub assemblies off as well.
The TJ has rear drum brakes, and the LJ has rear disc's.

Both braking "assemblies" mount to the 4 bolts that hold the shafts in the housing.
So it also shed some light to me on how easy a "disc brake conversion" would be on a TJ platform..
I'm swapping the brake assemblies between the axles to maintain the rear discs in the LJ.


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after this point, the rest of the axle drop was fairly straightforward & simple.
Just unbolt the shocks, unbolt control arms, unbolt the driveshaft, unbolt sway bar links, and unbolt track bar.

Lowered the jack a bit, and the axle pretty much just "fell out". A LOT more effortless than I thought it would be.
Extremely tedious, but very straightforward and simple in process.










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And an undercarriage shot of what the axle-less TJ looks like.


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And then it was time for the scary part.
Ripping open the perfectly good LJ I had sitting right beside me.
I'd be lying if I said this one didn't hurt my soul a little.

But either way, same process.
I learned a bit during the TJ axle drop, to help me do the LJ drop with less effort.

If you unbolt the track bar first, it releases a LOT of that side-side binding in the axle.
This allows you to wiggle the axle a good bit more, making it easier to wiggle control arms up and out of the way.
TJ axle drop took me about 3 hours to get on the ground. LJ drop took me 1.5 hours.

I also kept the driveshaft bolted until last.
Since I had the axle supported on jackstands, and I had vertical movement from the floor jack, the driveshaft staying CONNECTED during the process eliminated the binding of the axle "rolling forwards", and helped to stabilize it while pulling the control arms.


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Decided while I was down there, with what was now PLENTY of space to comfortably sit under the Jeeps, i'd go ahead and swap over the bumpstops.
(i'm planning to make the bumpstops more precise once I get all 4 axles swapped, but for now I KNOW these worked well on the TJ)


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I decided that pulling EVERYTHING from the LJ was my best move. Since the LJ is stock, I could just swap all the OEM arms, lines, etc over.

But the LJ undercarriage/frame is MUCH cleaner than my TJ, and I've decided I want to soak/powerwash/paint the axles before tossing them under the LJ.
By this point in the night, it was 2am, and I gave the neighbors a bit of mercy and decided NOT to powerwash an axle at 2am in the driveway..:LOL:

The LJ will have to wait until later today, whenever I wake up.

So I started the process of getting the LJ axle mounted into the rear of the TJ.

I thought about the best way to handle this, since I was by myself with no extra help.
It ended up being extremely easy to lift the axle, bolt the track bar, and then mount the Upper Arms to the axle.
This way gave a good pivot point on the jack , so that I wasn't having to man-handle the entire axle myself.
The track bar, again, did it's job and kept the axle centered.

* I need to note here, that the axle/brake hard-lines are NOT a direct swap from a drum vs disc platform. The lines were completely different, and I had to swap the hard-lines between the axles. I'm sure it could be bent to work, but since I had both axles out on the ground, I just swapped the lines over *


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After that, the process of mounting all the other arms began.

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Once the arms were on, it was time to throw the axle shafts back in, and mount the drum brake assembly.
Again, this was something I was anxious about, but was quite literally a direct bolt-up swap.


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90% done with the TJ rear, LJ has an empty diaper, and it's 4am by this time..

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Got the drums mounted back onto the TJ, swapped the LJ OEM wheels/tires over, and now I think I'm eligible for the "Carolina Squat" competitions, so that's pretty sick.

Either way, the TJ is now OEM stock in the rear. Officially 25% complete.
(well, closer to 50% if we count the LJ rear-end being dropped now as well)



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It was at this point that I could visualize how the TJ would look stock.
I actually think it's going to be a pretty sharp looking Jeep, and someone is really going to be excited to buy it.
I think it will end up coming out of this looking like a nice daily-driver!

In total, this was about 6-7 hours of crawling under both jeeps, and overall I'm extremely surprised at how simple of a task it is.
Very tedious and time consuming, but no real brain-effort involved.

Just hanging out in the garage, wrenching, with some music to keep me company.

Not really looking forward to doing it again, but we march on...

It's now 8AM.
I've been a degenerate all night, and am ready to hit the bed.

Will update tomorrow with more pics of the axle washing/painting & hopefully throwing it under the back of the LJ.
(plus the 4" lift & adjustable arms, which I'm UBER excited to see) 🤘
 
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Nicely done. I knew when you said you’d done a tranny swap that the suspension swap would be a no brainer for you.

Keep the momentum going!! It should be easy since you did the Sahara first and your real dream is the LJ!
 
Nice work. That’s quite a task to take on, but you are killin’ it.
 
I chose to tackle the rears first, because of the disc/drum ordeal.

I knew that I was out of my element, and the rears would be the toughest to handle & learn.
There's a few firsts for me involved in this, and axle shafts/bearings are one of those firsts.

Which now that i've done it makes me question what I was nervous about.

With swapping the disc brakes to the drum axle, and vise versa, it was more-so anxiety of the unknown.
I wasn't sure how simple of a swap it would be, or IF it would even directly work.

All in all, i'm pretty stoked with how it turned out.

The fronts should be an absolute cake-walk, as I can just unbolt the control arms, roll the axles to the other jeep, and re-mount.
Since they both disc brake fronts. As far as I can tell from looking around underneath, the axles are set up identical, hard lines and all.



Side Note-
I haven't decided whether or not I'm planning to swap my new calipers/rotors over to the LJ.
I like them for the fact that they're fairly new, but entertaining the idea of just keeping them on the Sahara, and ordering a Big Brake kit from @mrblaine .

Since the ultimate goal is 35" tires on the LJ (because anything else looks too small in my opinion, given the wheelbase), I feel that the Big Brake kit will perform significantly better for what I want, versus this OEM+ Powerstop kit on the Sahara.

Any insights on that are much appreciated.
 
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Since the ultimate goal is 35" tires on the LJ (because anything else looks too small in my opinion, given the wheelbase), I feel that the Big Brake kit will perform significantly better for what I want, versus this OEM+ Powerstop kit on the Sahara.

Any insights on that are much appreciated.
do it jewish GIF


I had OEM, Yellows and BMB pads on OEM calipers and tire size. I now have 35s on my LJ and the big brake kit with BMB pads is top two for best money spent on the rig
 
Mine has the 16" Vanco BBK. Having really good brakes is absolutely among the top improvements I have made to the Jeep. It is as important as the gearing, shocks, steering and automatic swap have been for overall drivability.
 
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Looks like you're making quick work of the back to stock build on the TJ. I absolutely think you are making the right decision.

Big brakes are definitely a must. On 33's I basically did my own 15" big brake kit (It's fine for what I do but I'm sure in time I'll be making the switch to Vanco as the knuckles are much better - though I think the rest of my components are the same). It went from feeling like you somewhat have brakes to stopping very very well.
 
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Just a hint from my experience, if you're swapping any parts of the suspension and steering over along with the axle you can just disconnect it all from the frame and leave them on the axle. For the front axle, once I removed the calipers, I put some roller wheels/tires back on to make it easier to roll over to the other jeep.

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I didn't have them high enough on the jack stands to roll the rear axle on tires under the gas tank, so I put it on my creeper to position it. Plus since the brake hard lines are on the back side, it made it easier to slide the axle forward a little and then pull it out from the side.


You're already ahead of my pace, either way. I did mine while the Mrs. and I were in a rough patch so I was not in a hurry to end my alone time in the garage. I'd usually work from when the kids went to bed to about midnight, which was usually about enough time to remove 2 or install one axle. I also had the advantage of having previously swapped a disc 44 in place of a drum 35 because my Sahara came with trashed gears. (We patched things up eventually 🤣)

I had just upgraded to BMB calipers, pads, and Centric rotors so I swapped them over. I left the rear calipers with their respective vehicle so I wouldn't have to bleed all 4 corners and I don't rememeber which pads and rotors I kept but I remember looking at them and making a decision about it.
 
Looks as thought the Big Brake upgrade seems to be highly regarded.
I never had issues with my OEM size Powerstop kit, but they also didn't "stop on a dime".
Could definitely tell with the 33's that the brakes just didn't have the power to really lock things down if needed.

It's more-so one of those things that lingered in the back of my head, versus me ever actually NEEDING bigger brakes.
But it only takes one odd time for something out of my control to happen, and I'm going to wish I had just done the big brake kit sooner.

I'll be ordering up a kit as soon as I get these axles swapped over!

Just a hint from my experience, if you're swapping any parts of the suspension and steering over along with the axle you can just disconnect it all from the frame and leave them on the axle. For the front axle, once I removed the calipers, I put some roller wheels/tires back on to make it easier to roll over to the other jeep.

I didn't do much with the jeeps yesterday (post incoming below) , but while I was digging around under them I noticed that since the fronts are identical (same mounts, same disc setup, etc) that it's going to be significantly easier to swap over (granted I don't run into issues). As you said, driveshaft disconnected, drop all arms from the body, and just roll it over.

I have both jeeps up high, so I shouldn't run into issues keeping tires on.

This would also allow me to keep my ZJ steering, etc, as I don't feel theres any need to keep those parts on the Sahara. The stock stuff from the LJ will do fine in stock configuration. I'll just pull the ZJ stuff whenever I decide it's time for the Currie Correctlync kit.
 
I didn't end up doing much in the garage yesterday.
Woke up after all that rear axle work, and just felt like I had been hit by an icecream truck.
Forced myself to stay out of the garage and re-coup from the Jeeps for a day.

Well, kinda.

I went ahead and mounted all of my control arms under the LJ, and tidied up a few things so that it's ready for the rear axle to go underneath.
I decided to keep the arms as they were on the Sahara, without adjusting anything. Since theoretically the TJ/LJ frame side mounts are the same, and I'm pulling the Sahara Axle into the LJ, AND the arms are off the Sahara, I'm HOPING that will at least keep me close enough in spec that I won't need to do much in terms of alignment.

In my mind, I should still be almost exactly in the same specs as the Sahara was, unless there is a random mount on either that is 1/4" out of whack, or something unforeseen.



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On a side note, seeing the undercarriage of this LJ really makes me appreciate the money that I spent on it, and the price I paid for it.
This thing is seriously one of the cleanest TJ platforms I've ever seen in person.
Aside from the exhaust/driveshaft, there isn't a single spec of rust ANYWHERE underneath.




Then I decided to crawl around the front of the Sahara, just to check things out and judge how easy the front swap would be.
As @freedom_in_4low said, I believe it will be as simple as unbolting control arms, unbolting track bar, unbolting driveshaft, then just roll EVERYTHING over to the LJ and re-mount.

Since both have front discs, the configuration should be identical enough that I run into very minimal issues there.

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One part I am concerned about is the Track Bar/Track Bar Mount.
On the Sahara I've got the JKS Adjustable Track-Bar. It required the frame-side mount to be drilled out (9/16" drill bit)

Is this going to cause any issues when re-mounting the factory track-bar?
If so, It's no big deal to keep the JKS on the Sahara. I'd lose about $250 by leaving it there, but that's much better than selling the Sahara to someone with a janky steering issue.


Also, I snapped one of the upper shock bolts on the LJ when pulling the old stuff off.
So I need to figure out exactly how I'm going to tackle that issue.


I'm planning today (here in a few minutes) to pull the old Sahara Axle into the driveway, and get it pressure washed, take a wire wheel to it to cut down some of the surface rust/grime, then repaint it. Then it SHOULD be going into the rear of the LJ hopefully tonight.

And as I said, if my thinking is correct, the front axles should only be a 1-evening ordeal.
I might have a streetable LJ in 2 days or so.
 
I went ahead and mounted all of my control arms under the LJ, and tidied up a few things so that it's ready for the rear axle to go underneath.
I decided to keep the arms as they were on the Sahara, without adjusting anything. Since theoretically the TJ/LJ frame side mounts are the same, and I'm pulling the Sahara Axle into the LJ, AND the arms are off the Sahara, I'm HOPING that will at least keep me close enough in spec that I won't need to do much in terms of alignment.

In my mind, I should still be almost exactly in the same specs as the Sahara was, unless there is a random mount on either that is 1/4" out of whack, or something unforeseen.

That should have you pretty close, for sure, but you may want to go back once it's all done and make some fine tuning adjustment.
1. Due to weight distribution, your ride height may change, which will change the angle of your track bar and you have to re-center your axle
2. Due to manufacturing tolerances, it's very likely you'll have trouble getting the last link bolted up. I would connect everything except for ONE of the upper control arms, and then wait until you have both ends of the Jeep supporting it's own weight, put a jack under the pinion to just release the load on the bolts of the UCA you've already mounted, then adjust the length of the unmounted UCA until the bolts slide in easily. Then you'll be good to go with a free moving suspension.
3. your driveshaft will be at a lower angle thanks to being 10" longer, so you'll probably have to make a pinion angle adjustment.

The same will apply to the front axle, except #3 since the front driveshafts are the same length.

The good news is that the stock arms you put on the Sahara aren't adjustable so you can just bolt them on and be done!

One part I am concerned about is the Track Bar/Track Bar Mount.
On the Sahara I've got the JKS Adjustable Track-Bar. It required the frame-side mount to be drilled out (9/16" drill bit)

Is this going to cause any issues when re-mounting the factory track-bar?
If so, It's no big deal to keep the JKS on the Sahara. I'd lose about $250 by leaving it there, but that's much better than selling the Sahara to someone with a janky steering issue.

I had the same situation. I ended up buying whichever JKS worked for the lowest amount of lift to put on the Sahara and moved my Rockjock over to the LJ. I looked into what it would take to put a stock track bar back on it and it was more of a PITA than I wanted to deal with, and required tools I didn't have.

Also, I snapped one of the upper shock bolts on the LJ when pulling the old stuff off.
So I need to figure out exactly how I'm going to tackle that issue.

that one is well documented on the forum, happens a lot. Easier if you have a body lift.
 
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3. your driveshaft will be at a lower angle thanks to being 10" longer, so you'll probably have to make a pinion angle adjustment.

Also good to be noted, the Sahara has an SYE installed, while the LJ does NOT.

I don't feel the time/energy is worth it for me to swap the SYE over, nor do I feel it's worth it to worry about figuring out driveshafts for BOTH in the process, so I'm keeping the SYE/Driveshaft on the Sahara, and will look into some SSYE / Tom Woods Shaft options for the LJ, once I get it driveable.

This will more than likely lead me into some driveline vibrations on the LJ for now (but I'm still being hopeful that for some odd reason it causes no issue)

I'm thinking with the longer rear shaft, the angles will be reduced enough to NOT cause issue, however i'm prepared to go to an SSYE if needed.

Just mainly trying to get them both road-worthy, work out the kinks in the Sahara so I can get it up for sale - recoup some money - and then use said money to fund whatever needs adjusting/fixing on the LJ.

Currently, both of my "daily drivers" are in the garage torn apart.
(thankfully I work from home, but still...)



As far as pinion angle adjustment goes, that is typically handled by adjusting the upper control arms, correct?

And what is the proper angle to set the pinion to, for a non-SYE application. Straight In-line with the driveshaft angle?
 
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Rear Axle is Painted!

Small update.
I wasn't able to get the broken shock mount bolt out yet.
I tried my best to hammer it out, but she's not budging.
Going to buy a bolt extraction kit here shortly, and see what I can do with it.
If that doesn't work, I'll drill it out completely. SHOULD be fairly straightforward.



As for the rear axle out of the Sahara (the one going INTO the LJ)
I pulled it into the driveway, sprayed some degreaser onto it, and let it sit while I messed with the shock bolt.

Then I pressure washed it to break up any loose dirt/grime, Hit it all over with a wire wheel, and soaked it again with degreaser.
Rinsed it back off with the pressure washer, and let it dry. (Humidity here in CO is low, so it dried in no time at all).



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Had a few spare cans of Rustoleum Primer, and Rustoleum Matte Black, which might not be the most durable, but it's $3 a can, and takes 5 seconds to crawl under and spray in the future.

Needless to say, it's in the driveway now drying.




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I wasn't looking for or expecting showroom quality.
Just something that wouldn't look so crusty/rusty underneath the LJ.
It's going to get beat off of some rocks and whatnot either way.

Overall, I'm extremely pleased with how it turned out, and ready to throw it under the LJ tonight!

Everything under the LJ is mounted/ready for the axle to go in, aside from the shock bolt, so I'll be handling that before I toss it in!