COVID-19 Home-School Auto Shop: 1998 Sport

Mike_H

Off-Camber is scary
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Not a lot of progress during the past couple weeks due to work schedules and shitty weather. It's mostly been parts organization, cleaning fasteners, and waiting for delivery trucks. Hopefully we'll be able to finish the chassis assembly and transition to other tasks.


Meanwhile, today I bought a hard top with a 2000 Sahara attached to it. The fenders tell the tale of this beauty. Eagle-eyed readers might spot a pile of rust in front of the rear tire. The rust fell off when I kicked the step down then wrangled the skateboard away from the remnants of the one tube holding it on.


View attachment 165416
I see it has those special "extra light" front fenders so common in Michigan too!
 
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Sea Cot

Sea Cot

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Welcome rust-belt brethren!

Yesterday was productive. At first my son was fine with the rusty coils until OCD kicked in and decided they had to be dealt with. The OEM coils got hand sanded and rattle-canned. Then suspension parts went back on the chassis. . . for what should be the last time. At least, all threads were treated with anti-size. He has a homework assignment to lookup all the chassis torque specs.

The left side fuel tank roll-over valve nipple was broken. So, we hand drilled the valve, insert a 1/8"x1" aluminum tube, and attached the tube

It's hard to tell from the pic, but the parts installed yesterday were:

- used, but beautified OEM springs
- coil spacers, rear rubber coil pads
- new jounce bumpers and front jounce bell thingies
- 4 Rancho 5000x shocks
- fuel pump to fuel line hose
- rollover vent.
- front sway bar

May31st.jpg


Up next: install fuel and brake lines, front and rear track bars, rear sway-bar, and steering linkage. At that point, the chassis is mostly done. While we wait for the machine shop, we'll turn our attention to the bottom of the tub and get ready to reunite the tub and chassis.
 
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Sea Cot

Sea Cot

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I just received an update from the machine shop. The '98 block doesn't have cracks or damage, but they do recommend a +.020 bore was expected. The "surprise" was the thrust bearing, apparently, failed catastrophically and damaged the crankshaft beyond repair. I don't have a known good spare crank on hand, so I'll have a decision to make.

My son would vote for LS swap, but hell no. Options on the table. . . .
  • continue with master rebuild + crank kit keeping in the spirit of this being about the journey instead of the destination.
  • buy a short/long block- journey be damned!
  • scavenge the '00 engine from the rot box, and deal with its issues. (currently planning to patch frame, replace lines, and prolong its tortured life)
  • put the '03(?) engine into service, though I have been saving it for if/when my '06 engine dies
I plan to chat with the shop in person to get a precise quote for what lies ahead and then make a decision. Currently I'm stuck on keeping it 100% 1998 as much as practical, and especially the electronics/sensors of things.
 
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Sea Cot

Sea Cot

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Ahh...there is some use for them. 👍

Floor to work surface height is 32.5". :D

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Received disappointing news from the machine shop. The cam thrust surface is damaged beyond economical repair. Apparently this is a common failure on big block Chevy for which the solution is to machine the surface and install a spacer. The machine shop, nor anyone in their network, has a mill large enough for the 4.0 block. If they did, a custom spacer would be have to be machined. So, I'm not going down that road.

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I have a complete '01 TJ engine (no PCM though) and enough 97-98 TJ parts to make a "hybrid" engine and avoid the electronics hell of things.
 
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Sea Cot

Sea Cot

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Finally made time to pick up on this project. Fuel and brake pipes are in, front & rear swaybars on- picked up a set of JKS because stockers were too short, front & rear trackbars are on, etc. At this point, I don't plan for anything attached to the frame to come off again.

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Couldn't resist temptation to get a first glimpse at the stance, so we fit the tub to the frame.

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Overall, pretty happy with how things are turning out. Up next is moving the project to the in-laws barn so we can install the engine & trans. Also, I want to get under the tub to clean things up and get protection over the bottom. Current thought is to Raptor line the bottom of the tub and the interior, but need to have a good look below to determine the way forward.
 
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Sea Cot

Sea Cot

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Finally got some forward movement on this project.. . . today we moved the Jeep to the in-laws barn where the chassis will be introduced to the engine, trans, and many other parts in storage over there.

The complete '01 engine (sitting between '98 bare block and yard sprayer) will be used and attached to a '98 AX-15 with new flywheel and clutch kit. Once the engine & trans are in, then we'll work on converting the '01 ignition system to '98. This thread hasn't been tech-intensive at all, but I do intend to document the conversion in adequate detail for the benefit of others.

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Sea Cot

Sea Cot

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Reached a major milestone, IMO, in this project. I wanted to get the engine & trans set before my work schedule changes and I begin my final semester of grad school this fall. Setting the drivetrain clears more floor space in my in-law's barn, and allows better access to deal with converting the ignition system and other improvements. Also, I'll feel more comfortable turning my son loose on tasks with his papa. Papa won't feel compelled to attempt any heavy lifting, and the engine is no longer on a janky-ass stand strapped to a pole for tip-over prevention so accessibility is easier.

Couple updates. . . . new flywheel and clutch kit

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Trans mated to engine, resting on own weight. The rear OEM driveshaft received new u-joints and a blast of paint. The driveshaft is not attached to the axle, I wanted to verify it fit.

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We got a surprise when the engine tilted backwards. . . . a view in to the exhaust pipe before we cleared it out.

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At this point, I'm leaning toward attaching the '01 PCM and attempt firing it up to verify it's operating condition before investing the time and effort in the ignition conversion. At least we'd have a baseline and would have fewer (in theory) problems to resolve when testing the ignition. I might be able to make exhaust popcorn, too. Assuming it proves out, another decision will be if we strip the engine down to a long block and paint it (and all the brackets, too) or just make a thorough pass with cleaner and a power washer.

Earlier this month I sold the Dana 30 and Dana 44 that originally came in this vehicle, and those proceeds will go towards a BMB rear disc conversion and set of front pads. I'd like to get the brake hardware done since that'll be one of the more expensive purchases for this build.
 
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Sea Cot

Sea Cot

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One year later. . . some progress! One week after the previous post I began a gauntlet of work travel. From Aug 1 to July 1, I racked up just over 200 hotel nights. . . during a pandemic. . . but hey, mission critical! Finally getting caught up on overdue fleet maintenance, so time is opening for the project(s).

The engine above is from an '01 WJ, the body is '98. After much pondering I decided to wait for a '97-98 TJ 4.0 to keep everything simple-ish. After months of waiting and several missed opportunities, I finally acquired one yesterday. Today the '01 WJ came out of the chassis. Now I have to get the '98 4.0 setup with flywheel & clutch so that can be installed in the chassis.

The other breakthrough was finally having the right conditions, and time, to get the tub outside and on its side for a thorough spray job. The PO used some type of underside protectant, but should have gone the extra mile to preserve the torque boxes. I have to repair one middle mount. The rest are good & solid, so they'll receive some internal protection. I ran out of time today, so the rust busting and coating will wait a day or two. I'll work around the middle repair area just to keep things going.

My adjusted plan is to install the engine and reunite the tub and chassis by Labor Day. Around October 1st, I plan to bring the Jeep to my house where assembly can continue over the winter without having to commute to the in-laws. Also, frees up space in the FIL's barn which is a good thing. . . for both of us.



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Sea Cot

Sea Cot

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The tub had been left to dry on it's side for a couple days. The rear wheel liners were nice and pliable from sitting in the sun, so out they went. They should have been removed before washing, but at least they're easy to access. Then got out the wire wheel and cleaned up around all the welded seams that could be reached. Once the dust settled it was a couple heavy coats of Krylon Industrial Tought Coat & Eastwood's Extreme Chassis Black. It's not a professional job by any means, but the layers are thick where it's needed most.

I'm awaiting delivery of body mount repair parts. In the interest of keeping on the FIL's good side, I'm hoping weather stays favorable for the tub and chassis to be reunited this weekend. That'll free up some space in the barn as winter storage configuration is approaching soon.

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