Fixing three big mistakes....or otherwise known as LJ build number 2.

UND_Sioux

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Well I figured it was time to start a thread of my own for what will most likely be a long process. But first, a little history so you know where I'm coming from......

I had a friend growing up that had a CJ-7. Thought it was the coolest thing ever. Years later I owned a 2002 TJ for a short while and had to sell it because of my job that required driving around clients. I always wanted to build one "my way". I really like the LJ platform so in February of 2015, I picked up this green 2006 LJ with 266,000 on the clock. It was rough, but I didn't care because it was cheap and I was planning to replace everything anyway.

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So I tore the thing down to the bare frame (even powder coated it) and built a roller with Metalcloak suspension, new wheels and tires, a Chevy 5.3/6L80 and a few other goodies. I honestly didn't know what I was doing as far as the suspension goes. I've done a few LS swaps, so I was ahead of the game there.

Now fast forward to where I got roped in to building an LS swapped 3-series track car. That killed a ton of time and the Jeep got put on hold. Anyway, somewhere around the end of 2017 or early 2018, I decided to sell the project to a guy looking to build a second LJ. Selling the LJ was mistake number 1.

This is what that green LJ turned into.

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Not exactly what I had in mind for me....but he definitely made good use of a few pieces. At least he kept the 5.3/6L80. I think everything else got sold or cut off.

This brings me to mistake number 2. I bought a JL Unlimited. I thought having a daily driver that could also be a toy would be the best use of my time and money. Nope. What I realized after a few years of ownership and a trip to Colorado and Tennessee is that the JL is just an OK daily driver. OK, and not great. Also, it is an OK Jeep. I had electrical gremlins on the trail more than once and honestly it was just too nice for me. I was craving simplicity without power windows, locks, traction control, stability control, etc.....

So last summer, I sold the JL, bought myself a gently used Honda Pilot to drive to work and then started looking for another LJ. In all honesty, I was in a rush and way way way overpaid for the once I purchased. I bought it sight unseen and a ton of the info I got from the owner turned out to be BS. So I ended up with a 2006 Silver Automatic with just over 70K on it. The interior is very clean, the paint shines, it is good mechanically, and the frame is complete crap. Mistake number 3.

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There is some rust in the usual spots on the fenders, but the body is definitely usable with a little cleanup. I don't think the frame is worth trying to save. Lucky for me, I looked on www.car-part.com and found a frame for $800 with no rust and it was 70 miles from my house. So now that frame is sitting in the garage ready to get built.

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My plan is to do as much of the build as I can on the new frame while driving the stock LJ for now. Once I get to where I think it is as far as I can go, I'll swap everything over to the new chassis. I'm still deciding how I want to go with this build. I've learned a lot since the last build, and I'm going to spend a lot more time on research before pulling the trigger on buying parts. Stay tuned.....
 
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UND_Sioux

UND_Sioux

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I've been brainstorming and researching and contemplating what powertrain I'm going to use. I just can't leave the 4.0 in there as it. I should, but I can't. It's a character flaw. So my three options are basically, stroked 4.0 with the 42RLE; an LS with the 6L80e; or a 5.7 Hemi with the 54RFE. I need some Pros and Cons.....

Stroked 4.0

Pros: More power than stock; bolts right up; slightly less expensive all in than other options; doesn't interfere with any suspension options; cruise control and emissions still work; less likely to break other things such as axles

Cons: Less Horsepower and torque than the V8s at any given RPM; possibly less long term reliability;

LS/6L80

Pros: Inexpensive components; easy to source; lots of options; easy to tune; I have lots of experience with LS engines; compact size; light weight; lots of power; 6 speed with big ratio spread

Cons: Cruise control and A/C require module to work from PCM; Some factory accessory brackets (low mount AC) won't clear upper control arm; more expensive than stroker due to the need for gauges; front AND rear driveshafts; kind of boring since everyone swaps LS engines including me

Hemi/54RFE

Pros: Works with gauges, AC controls, emissions etc...; less common; plenty of power;

Cons: less common; body lift is required (probably doing anyway); more expensive to source; more expensive to build; more expensive to wire; heavier than LS;

Really struggling with this decision. I've gone back and forth at least 5 times.
 

Nickgsjeep

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I don’t usually chime in when I have nothing intelligent to say. But against my better judgment I will do so here. If it was me and I had the money I would do the HEMI. I like em and I got to drive one once and it was awesome. That’s my only foundation for making that choice, I don’t even have a really good reason for liking them. But it’s what I would do lol
 
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UND_Sioux

UND_Sioux

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I hate chiming in when I have nothing intelligent to say. But against my better judgment I will do so here. If it was me and I had the money I would do the HEMI. I like em and I got to drive one once and it was awesome. That’s my only foundation for making that choice, I don’t even have a really good reason for liking them. But it’s what I would do lol
I posted this so people would chime in. If I wanted to keep this build super secret, I would not have started a thread. I have a 2016 Ram 1500 in the driveway. My wife drives it most of the time. I have 70K on it and it has been good other than the rear exhaust manifold bolts shearing off in the head recently. It is a terrible design with tiny little bolts and they get hot, brittle, and eventually break. Apparently it is a common problem.

If I put a Hemi in the Jeep, it would be an older one for compatibility reasons, and it wouldn't be as powerful as the one in my truck without some mods. The 2009 and later engines are different with better flowing heads. With that said, a 2005ish would be more than enough.
 
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Nickgsjeep

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I posted this so people would chime in. If I wanted to keep this build super secret, I would not have started a thread. I have a 2016 Ram 1500 in the driveway. My wife drives it most of the time. I have 70K on it and it has been good other than the rear exhaust manifold bolts shearing off in the head recently. It is a terrible design with tiny little bolts and they get hot, brittle, and eventually break. Apparently it is a common problem.

If I put a Hemi in the Jeep, it would be an older one for compatibility reasons, and it wouldn't be as powerful as the one in my truck without some mods. The 2009 and later engines are different with better flowing heads. With that said, a 2005ish would be more than enough.
Thanks, I just meant that I didn’t have an Intelligent response to your actual question regarding pros and cons. I don’t have much experience with actual engine tear downs or swaps other than auto shop in high school but the jeeps I have seen with the HEMI swaps just do it for me. I also have a weird quirk where I like things to “go together” and a mopar engine in a jeep is more appealing to me.
 
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UND_Sioux

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I know it has been awhile since my original post. It has been a crazy year. Not too much new on the Jeep. Since the original post, I decided to "remodel" my garage to make some extra room, add A/C and heat, steel cabinets, etc... I first built a 12x16 tool shed last winter and moved everything that wasn't car related out there; lawn tools, etc.... Then I started on the garage. Drywall came down and then insulated; I raised the ceiling on one side to make room for a lift; major upgraded wiring with a second 200a panel, and on and on. Here I am on month 8 of the 4 month project and it still isn't done. Finishing up on paint, stain, trim, etc....

On the Jeep front, I made a decision in the direction I'm going with the build. Last week, I picked up a 2004 Ram 1500 with the 5.7 Hemi. It is rough, but it will have the cores I need for the engine and transmission swap. I'm hoping to get the engine and transmission pulled in the next couple weeks so I can send the rest of it to the scrapyard.

So my plan as of now is:

Hemi with 545rfe
Savvy Short Arm
35s

IMG_1399.jpeg
 
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NashvilleTJ

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Nice - and I approve of your Hemi choice!

Looking forward to following your build. My mill started as a 2006 Gen3. I guess basically the same engine as your '04. The good news is that your 2004 Ram ECU will work well with your LJ. I was coming off of a supercharged I-6, but the stock HP (a bit more) and torque (less!) of the 5.7 was not going to be worth the effort. So, I stroked the Hemi to 392, with a complete forged Molnar rotating assembly, and built the 545RFE as well. It was a fun and challenging project.

Happy to help if I can. Here is my mill after the build:

Jeep - 5.7 Hemi 7-7-2017 359.JPG


...and installed:

Jeep - 5.7 Hemi 7-7-2017 1503.JPG
 
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UND_Sioux

UND_Sioux

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Nice - and I approve of you Hemi choice!

Looking forward to following your build. My mill started as a 2006 Gen3. I guess basically the same engine as your '04. The good news is that your 2004 Ram ECU will work well with your LJ. I was coming off of a supercharged I-6, but the stock HP (a bit more) and torque (less!) of the 5.7 was not going to be worth the effort. So, I stroked the Hemi to 392, with a complete forged Molnar rotating assembly, and built the 545RFE as well. It was a fun and challenging project.

Happy to help if I can. Here is my mill after the build:

View attachment 274394
I read a good chunk of your thread. I'll be referencing a lot of it for sure. Who did you have do your tuning for the engine mods? I've considered doing the same 392 stroker as well.
 

NashvilleTJ

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I read a good chunk of your thread. I'll be referencing a lot of it for sure. Who did you have do your tuning for the engine mods? I've considered doing the same 392 stroker as well.
I originally had a speed shop not far from me tune it - it was passible, but I was never really happy. I am currently in the middle of working a new tune with Fyin' Ryan Performance out of Houston. He is a member here and really knows his stuff on the Mopar platform. Ryan has already corrected many of the minor drivability issues I had.

If you are really interested in the gory detail, I originally posted over on JeepForum. Here is my build thread - the Hemi begins on post #1070.


That build thread is a monster, but on that first post I have an index which you can use to find the different parts of the Hemi build.
 
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UND_Sioux

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I originally had a speed shop not far from me tune it - it was passible, but I was never really happy. I am currently in the middle of working a new tune with Fyin' Ryan Performance out of Houston. He is a member here and really knows his stuff on the Mopar platform. Ryan has already corrected many of the minor drivability issues I had.

If you are really interested in the gory detail, I originally posted over on JeepForum. Here is the thread, beginning on post #1070.


That build thread is a monster, but on that first post I have an index which you can use to find the different part of the Hemi build.
Thanks. I've spoken to Flyin' Ryan before. Lucky for me I'm in the Houston area.
 
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Mike_H

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Going to follow along. The ideas are swirling in my head, and if my piston slap or lifter tick gets any worse...I'm going to start looking for trucks. I just don't think I can pull the 4.0L apart and not do something to give the ol jeep a little kick in the pants.
 
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UND_Sioux

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Going to follow along. The ideas are swirling in my head, and if my piston slap or lifter tick gets any worse...I'm going to start looking for trucks. I just don't think I can pull the 4.0L apart and not do something to give the ol jeep a little kick in the pants.
Are you the Mike from the GMC Motorhome Forum?
 
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UND_Sioux

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I was going to stick with the front Dana 30 initially, but ultimately decided to upgrade. I found a brand new Carbon Offroad HP Dana 44 where the owner decided to go a different direction. 4.56 gears, ARB, etc..... He also had some chromoly shafts for the rear 44. I just need to order a locker and gears and I'll be good to go.

IMG_1596.jpeg
 
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