Inside-Out Build—2006 LJ


I'm a rooster illusion
Supporting Member
Ride of the Month Winner
Sep 26, 2019
Arcadia, OK
So all my talking has finally come to fruition. I was actually searching in earnest for all of about 3 days before finding this example that checked all my boxes for $14k, and just over an hour from my I jumped on it and brought it home today.

at or near the mileage of my current TJ - 118k - check
Quiet, well maintained 4.0 - check
6 speed with no signs of weird shifting issues - check
can feel paint inside frame holes instead of rust flakes - check
flame red - check
hard top - check
stock - close enough. It does have an entry level 2-5" lift but no stupidity like drop pitman arms or cheap bolt-on longarm kits.


I'm calling it the "inside out" build because instead of buying a Jeep and building it, I'm basically taking my already-mostly-build TJ, and replacing the frame, tub, engine and transmission - or said another way, I'm gonna swap the following parts from my TJ onto the LJ:

Dana 44 w/ 4.88 and E-locker (housing actually came from an LJ to begin with, will be going back "home")
D30HP with BMB pads and calipers, centric rotors, YJ brake lines, sway bar disconnects
NP231 with new chain and JB SS SYE, bluemonkey speedohealer (need new driveshaft, or lengthen current one? also need to check input shaft compatibility between NSG370 vs AX15)
Warn stubby bumper, Smittybilt winch
KC Slimlite 6" LED with A-pillar mounts
Rancho RS5000x shocks
combination of Savvy, Currie, JKS and RC adjustable suspension links
ZJ steering
MORryde tailgate reinforcement kit
15x8 5.25BS Ultra 51 wheels with 32x11.5 KO2

...and put all the stock parts taken off the LJ in favor of the above back on the TJ which will then be sold - leaving me with the exact same build but with 10" more wheelbase and a healthier engine, as well as an opportunity to course-correct on some of the mods I wouldn't do the same way again:

1. MCE fenders. I'm not going to the trouble of painting and installing uncut OEM fenders on the TJ before selling it. I was really in love with the flat fender look at the time...I still like it, but knowing what I now know about clearance, if I'd done the stubby bumper before instead of at the same time, I probably wouldn't have done the fenders. Instead I'm going to try to find some Rubicon or Sahara fenders that I can paint black. These are in pretty good shape though so it's not a big rush. Just some time before I get 35's so I maintain some reasonable coverage.
2. AtoZ rock sliders. Obviously not going to the trouble to take care of all the little holes I drilled to mount them, but they wouldn't be the right length anyway so they'll go with the TJ. I might have replaced them with equivalents of the right length, but AtoZ is no longer in business so I'm probably going with Savvy on these.
3. Having lived for 3 months with aluminum trail doors, I think rather than painting mine red I might rather just sell them and find some OEM Jeep half doors. The constant rattling from the Bestop latches drives me crazy.
4. My TJ had old Body Armor bumpers that weighed a ton. I already got rid of the front when I got the Warn, and I'm gonna let the rear go with the TJ. The LJ will get the Next Venture bumper that is basically a plate reinforcement over the rear frame crossmember...trying to regain some of the departure angle lost to the LJ overhang. Jury is still out on whether I get the standard version or the one with the hitch receiver. With my TJ I needed it because no cargo space, but with the LJ I may be able to fit all my family's crap inside.
5. My wheels are plasti-dipped, which I think worked with the forest green pearl, but I'm thinking I'll strip the dip and go back to the bright machined aluminum finish they came with.

As for completing the build - I'll be at a place where I just need chromo axle shafts and a body lift to do 35's, and at that point I could be ready for a tuck at my need and/or convenience. Probably will go with the UCF extra clearance here, just because it seems like I read that the full tucks like the Ultra and Savvy can be a hassle.

First things first though - gonna ditch those grill inserts and the bug shield, and hope to have time this weekend to get the KC lights and the front bumper/winch swapped over. As much as I'd like to get my wheels and tires on the LJ, the wheels are some ridiculous 18 from a JK with I think 6" (!) of backspacing and are mounted on adapters, which I don't want to mess with, so the wheels will have to wait to go at the same time as the axle. It does look like people might be paying $100+ per wheel for these though, so I could see maybe selling them and getting some stock wheels to send with the TJ instead.
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None of it is wired yet but I did get the front bumper, winch, and kc lights swapped over. I just got back from picking up a set of stock springs and Grizzly wheels with tires to go on the TJ, decided to sell the JK wheels separately because I don't know how well the TJ would sell as a dog with 3.73 gears and 33" tires. I may end up having to do some trading around to get the right setup though because I'm not sure 205/75R15s are going to look right with MCE Fenders. May need to find some 31s.

Cool idea for a project. Build what you want without spending too much extra.

hey, neighbor! There are a few other members here in the greater Denver region (not that I consider myself one of them, I'm more greater Springs). I actually bought it from a guy in Evergreen. It ended up being a great opportunity to put some miles on it because I had to meet him at his bank in Lakewood to pay off his loan, but he lives jut barely inside Clear Creek county so I drove him up to Georgetown to get the title and then back to drop him off at his house. Nice young guy that basically just had it as a good vehicle to get up his road and driveway in the snow, but had a baby on the way and needed to ditch the payment. From looking underneath I can't tell it's ever been offroad. If it was, it had to be on some mysterious trail completely devoid of mud or dust and I'd really like to find it. :ROFLMAO:
I haven't made much progress as I was gone for work all last week, but I did pull my rear axle today over my lunch break and WOW. I've never had better luck with fasteners on a Jeep before. Not only did I not have to get out the Sawzall or the grinder, but some of the bolts that I couldn't get my impact on, like the frame ends of the track bar and the passenger UCA came out with hand tools!

I also made what has to be a new personal record, 86 minutes from tires on the ground to axle completely out. A 2 post lift and a roomier shop would no doubt cut some time, but I felt like that was pretty decent for jackstands, frame at ride height, sharing a 2 car garage with my wife's 4runner. Still, I'm gonna shoot for under 60 when I pull the rear out of the TJ to put this axle under it.

this one was out in 75 minutes.


If only it was just suspension links I feel like it could have been out in 15, but all the little stuff adds up. The calipers, the brake line bracket on the lower spring perch, the brake line splitter block and the little retainer on the passenger side, and then the e-brake cables, which were probably the most time consuming. Then carefully dragging it out from the driver side so as not to irreparably bend the brake line.

Now gotta get the TJ back together and rolling so the wife can park in the garage for the snow tonight. It now has a stock height, stock linked rear with no shocks or bump stops and a CV driveshaft and SYE so it's not going anywhere but out to the driveway in front wheel drive.
so I've got my 4.88 e-locked axle under the LJ now. Still need to put in a few bolts, set up the control arms, put in the springs, etc.

The sway bar end links and springs look like maybe the lift that came on it is from Zone. The shocks are white, hydro, with no boots or brand markings. The number on the rear matches up with a Rancho RS5000 with the same lengths but the mounting codes don't match.


Thinking maybe the old white Zone hydro shocks might have been Ranchos? The front number matches the RS5000 number format but doesn't bring up anything on Rancho's site, so maybe it's a custom tune for the lift manufacturer.


I'm expecting to lose just a bit of uptravel, since I'll end up rolling shock mounts up as I roll the pinion down a few degrees to match the angle of the LJ's longer driveshaft. Hoping it's not so much that I need to step down to the 55241.

My rear axle vent hose is nowhere near long enough to reach at full droop, which is curious because the one on my TJ reaches no problem. Guess I'll need to extend that.

Lastly...I hate this exhaust. Way too droney. Gonna put a stock type replacement on once I get it back on the road.

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Obviously my rear axle isn't going to just drop in without adjustments to the control arms. For one, my pinion angle will be different, my ride height may or may not be different, so the track bar will likely need some adjustment. I learned on my TJ that you can't start setting your pinion angle without the track bar connected, and I also don't know how much my pinion angle change is going to affect my shock selection.

I had a lull at work so I dusted off some trigonometry.

My current pinion angle is 14 degrees, and my driveshaft measures 18-3/8" from yoke to yoke, or 17" from the axle yoke to the centering ball. The axle measures approximately 12" from the yoke to the tube centerline. Since I'll be using a SYE and DC driveshaft, my driveshaft and pinion should be one straight line, so it's effectively a 29" hypotenuse to a right triangle with one 14° corner.

From there i used the law of sines to calculate the distance in the horizontal plane from the centering ball to the axle tube centerline, and the vertical offset between the centering ball and the yoke. Then add 10" to the horizontal offset to account for the LJ wheelbase and used the pythagorean theorem to calculate the new driveshaft length assuming the same ride height and law of sines again for the new pinion angle.

So, my new pinion angle should end up around 10.5° and my driveshaft should end up around 28-1/8" yoke to yoke.

I then took it a step further to see what a 2" tuck would do, adding 2" to the vertical offset, keeping the same wheelbase and came up with a pinion angle of 13.3° and a driveshaft length of 28.5". So an LJ with a tuck still has a lower driveshaft angle than an untucked TJ, and I should be able to get a driveshaft length that will work until I do a tuck at some future date.


All of this will of course be subject to final measurements and adjustments before buying parts and driving it, but it should get my pinion angle close enough to get 95% of the control arm and track bar setup and check bump stops and shock lengths without having to wait for a driveshaft.
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For general reference purposes, my LJR (4" springs and Savvy tuck) rear drive shaft is only 25.5".

Edit: it was 26.5 in with my stock Dana 44 rear end. I had it shortened an inch when I put in the HP 60.
For general reference purposes, my LJR (4" springs and Savvy tuck) rear drive shaft is only 25.5".

Edit: it was 26.5 in with my stock Dana 44 rear end. I had it shortened an inch when I put in the HP 60.

I don't really know how the 241 compares, but I have a 231 with a JB Conversions Super Short SYE so I get an extra 3+ inches even beyond a standard SYE.

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Well, I'm happy to report that my shocks will still work! It's like, down to the bees dick but the bumps make hard contact at the exact millimeter that the shocks bottom. It MIGHT use a little bit of the give in the shock bushings, like the thickness of the lower bushings sleeve, but I think that's OK.

I can also report that the Johnny Joints I bought do indeed fit into my Rough Country lower control arms, so when this is all done I'll have no RC joints, and all JJs except for the bonded rubber bushings at the axle ends of the LCAs.
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Current status: Rear axle is in, rig is on it's own weight, bolts are all there just not torqued yet. Will adjust the parking brake and torque most of them tonight after the kids go to bed, but I'll leave the lower shock bushings and the jam nuts on the UCA's and track bar loose for final pinion adjustments. My uptravel is at 5.25" and my shock bias with Rancho RS55256 (9.76" travel) is 54 up/46 down, which I'm really happy with.


The LJ wheelbase with those 32s is looking a little too roller skatey, so this may accelerate the jump to 35's. Since I'm already geared for them, I'd just want to upgrade my axle shafts. Eventually would likely go for the big brake kit though my current BMB pads are easily able to lock up the 32s so I'll probably wait and see.

For anybody with Rough Country lower control arms that isn't happy with the longevity of the flex joint, I can confirm that Currie's CE9114 Johnny Joint is a direct replacement.


As you can see the JJ doesn't have as long of a threaded shank so your adjustment range and your maximum length won't be what they were, but I don't think you could extend them too far with a stock gas tank anyway.

Next step will be to put the rear tires up on ramps and pull the transfer case. Once I've got that swapped then I can get rear driveshafts for both rigs and then it'll be on to the front axle.
not necessarily Jeep related, but related to the build.

We've been having a lot of cold weather and this little heater has been keeping me going. Yesterday never got above 20F and I don't know what it was in the garage, but cold enough that it would have effected the function of my hands within a few minutes. After an hour and a half I turned it off 'cause it felt like it must have been into the 60s.


It's a Big Buddy by Mr Heater, 18000 BTU on high, and indoor-safe. Runs about $130-140 at various retail locations like Cabela's, Tractor Supply, Big R, or Amazon. Designed to run the Coleman grill camping style propane bottles (2 at a time) but with a $12 adapter hose can run off my bbq tank (which I realize I probably shouldn't have inside my garage, but...). From what I've read it'll burn through a BBQ tank in 20 hours on high, but it was almost empty when I repurposed it and I've probably got at least 6 hours of run time on it and still going.
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I picked up a little dual top propane heater for my garage. After about 45 min my 10x27' garage is plenty warm. Makes a huge difference when working in there during the winter.
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new driveshaft looks almost comically long compared to the comically short TJ driveshafts I've gotten used to.

Pinion angle set, jam nuts and all bolts torqued, new vent hose installed and long enough for 7" of downtravel, even though I only have ~5, I never know if I might do an outboard one day and now it'll be one less thing to mess with. I can consider the rear axle and transfer case DONE except for a bump stop cup that I've been waiting 13 days for...the driver side cup seems to have made hard contact at some point because it's tweaked and was bothering me.

The shaft ended up being 28-3/8". It started life as a Tom Wood shaft (in Feb 2020) and got lengthened by a local driveline shop for $92 with a same day turnaround. Beats the heck out of buying a new one!


I see in that photo that my t-case output seal is leaking a bit, which is frustrating being that it's got less than 2k miles on it. It doesn't show up much to the naked eye but it really shows in photos.

You can also see the absurd reverse rake on the TJ with the 32's and 4" lift in the front, and 27's and "lowering springs" from an SE in the rear.

Now onto the front axle...My plan is just to switch everything. Disconnect the track bar and control arms at the frame, the shocks from the lower mounts, the drag link at the pitman arm, remove the brake calipers from the knuckle, put tires back on and roll the whole thing over and mount it back up, then go back and switch over the YJ brake hoses and brand new calipers. It appears my tapered tie rod insert will work for the track bar hole on the TJ so I can put the stock one back there.

My front driveshaft shows no signs of a worn out u joint or centering ball, but with 118k miles and looking original I'm gonna go ahead and change them all out and put a coat of paint on the front shaft before I put it back in.
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