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AirborneTexasRanger

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Joined
Sep 14, 2022
Messages
238
Location
Boca Chica, TX
Just picked up (2 weeks ago) this 2004 TJ-X (columbia edition). This is my 4th jeep (JK, JKU, JTR), but my 1st TJ. I plan on doing most of the modifications myself so I hope everyone here is ready for my questions. I've been scrolling through the build threads, started at the oldest and working my up through each one for ideas, tips, etc. Many thanks for the loads of good info so far btw.

Not sure what direction I want to go with this one because it will not be my daily driver so the sky is the limit. On second thought the bank account is the limit. To me it looks to be mostly stock except for the radio, shocks & what looks to be a spacer but I'll know more when I get a better look this weekend. Also there's a rectangular tube between the skid plate &the frame which I know isn't stock because it says Smittybuilt on the side. Not sure what that is for, so if anyone could clue me in that would be helpful.

Future plans:
Obligatory lift, wheels & tires
Replace the speakers that don't work (center console sub and 1 sound pod speaker)
Upgrade the radio to one that has bluetooth
Upgrade lights to LED
Set up for flat towing
Fabricate tube bumpers, fenders & sliders (welder by trade)
Switch to a frameless top

I had thought about putting some bucket seats in the back instead of the bench, but I'm not sure what all of that would entail so it's on the back burner for now.

EDIT: I'll try to update regularly as I make modifications, but my memory is blotchy at best & I'll probably end up editing a bunch of my posts as I remember things.

Thanks for checking out my build

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Update #1

Just loaded up ~five 20' sticks of 1½" Sch 40 pipe, that I had cut & blasted at work. I work for a steel fabricator & this was material that they had lost the heat number for so I was able to get it for scrap price $40

Just a tip: there are many steel fab shops that have drops of material that they will sell to people so they don't have to pay taxes on their on hand material.

Thanks for checking out my build

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Update #2

Replaced/upgraded the radio. It didn't come with the stock radio so I had no agita about replacing it. I also removed all the padding from the roll bars, but I didn't like the sight of the speaker wires hanging out. I fished them through the roll bars & put some rubber grommets that I picked up from Ace hardware to make it look more "professional".

Edit: I do not recommend this head unit. I cheaped out but learned my lesson

Also whipped up some 550 cord grab handles & accents. Tapped an existing hole to bolt them in (m8 x 1.25 if anyone is curious)

Finally I modified the exhaust with the one I pulled off my JT. I need to pull it out & rotate the tip about 45°

Thanks for checking out my build

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Update #3

Stripped the fender flares off in preparation for building the new fenders. Don't quite have a design in mind but I'll figure it out as I go. I will update with progress, but sometimes I forget to take pictures during fabrication.

Anyone looking for Columbia Edition fender flares let me know and we can work something out. The paint is in decent condition, but there are no cracks or broken bits. Willing to ship also.

That box on the cowl was a lock box I found under the driver's seat. I didn't get the key so I cut it open and stuck it there for shit's & gig's

Thanks for checking out my build

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Update #2

Replaced/upgraded the radio. It didn't come with the stock radio so I had no agita about replacing it. I also removed all the padding from the roll bars, but I didn't like the sight of the speaker wires hanging out. I fished them through the roll bars an put some rubber grommets that I picked up from Ace hardware to make it look more "professional".

Also whipped up some 550 cord grab handles & accents. Tapped an existing hole to bolt them in (m8 x 1.25 if anyone is curious)

Finally I modified the exhaust with the one I pulled off my JT. I need to pull it out and rotate the tip about 45°

View attachment 361254

Have you had a chance to use the stereo at all? I used a single-DIN with a floating screen on my last TJ, and I need something for my new vehicle but the larger floating screens won't work. This looks like a compact way to run CarPlay, but it seems to have mixed reviews on Amazon. Any experience you have with it would be appreciated!
 
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I like the cord wrap on the door handles. I may have to get some red 550 and give that a shot. I enjoy knotwork (in a past life I did historic interpretation in a port town, so sailors knots were a must know!) The turks heads clean up the ends nicely!

Also, good to know about steel drops. Thanks for the tip!
 
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Have you had a chance to use the stereo at all? I used a single-DIN with a floating screen on my last TJ, and I need something for my new vehicle but the larger floating screens won't work. This looks like a compact way to run CarPlay, but it seems to have mixed reviews on Amazon. Any experience you have with it would be appreciated!

So far I'm satisfied with the radio for the price. The Bluetooth connects to my phone (android) very well as soon as I turn the key. I'm still trying to figure out Android Auto, but you have to have the phone plugged in & it mirrors the phone screen. My Jeep is a manual so working the phone while driving just wont work for me. Fit & finish are okay, but you can tell it's not top quality. The rear camera is decent, but it does turn on automatically as soon as I shift to reverse. Installation was easy because it already had an aftermarket radio so I used the same pigtail. If I had the money I would have spent a bit more, but this was my first time installing an aftermarket radio & I'm not an AV expert.

Edit: this radio is a POS & it was binned after a few months.
 
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I like the cord wrap on the door handles. I may have to get some red 550 and give that a shot. I enjoy knotwork (in a past life I did historic interpretation in a port town, so sailors knots were a must know!) The turks heads clean up the ends nicely!

Also, good to know about steel drops. Thanks for the tip!

I do like a good turks head knot. How do you seal off the ends of the cord? I used to use a lighter, but I bought a cheap wood burning kit & find that works better in tight spots
 
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Update #4

Installed the new winch plate (no winch yet but needed the plate to build the bumpers) and removed the headlight bezels

Traded a buddy some labor for his old skid plate off of his gladiator. Fabricated some brackets & got that put in.

Finally, took a page from Jerry Bransford's book & bolted on some tow hooks on the rear frame

Thanks for checking out my build

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Update #5

Started fabrication of the back bumper leaving room for larger tires in the future. I'm not sure how big of a tire the stock tailgate can hold though. Ended up using some riv-nuts and existing holes in the frame to mount the bumper. Also I'm debating on capping the ends as is or cutting them down then cap it. I'll probably wait to see how the fenders turn out before I decide.

I went ahead and primed it & I will be picking up some paint today at the hardware store

I saw a spare tire carrier on Jae's build thread that I liked. I might try making one similar to that. https://wranglertjforum.com/members/jae.1472/

Thanks for checking out my build

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Update #6

Completed the rear bumper last night & got it painted & installed this morning. I think it turned out pretty good. I'm going to start fabrication on the front bumper this weekend. Hopefully I'll remember to take pictures.

Also put a coat of paint on the side mirrors

Thanks for checking out my build



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Update #7

Got 82% of the front bumper fabricated. I still need to put some more mounting tabs then prime & paint. I ordered some OEM style tow hooks which should be in later this week. Also I'm going to put the OEM fog lights back on.

Next step will be step side/rock sliders

Thanks for checking out my build

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Update #8

Finished up the front bumper. I think it turned out great.

In case anyone wants to know, I'm painting them with Rust-Oleum multi color textured spray paint. Then cover that up with flat black & matte clear coat. It gives it a nice textured feel that's not rubbery.

I mounted the fog lights on the ends of the winch plate, but I'm afraid they will interfere with the tow hooks. I'm going to try & fabricate a bracket to off set them a bit.

Thanks for checking out my build.

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Update #9

Front tow hooks came in today, but the hardware needed an Allen key size that I didn't have, went to the hardware store & all they had was full sets so it was cheaper to get different bolts. I still need to find a way to mount the factory fog lights, but the cable is very short so I'm not sure what I'm going to do, but I'm up for suggestions.

Also got some grille inserts off eBay mainly b/c I'm driving to Dallas this weekend to pick up some JL wheels and tires from my brother & don't want a radiator covered with bugs.

But most importantly I got the sun shade top that I ordered from JTopsUSA. I didn't want my kids roasting in the Texas sun. JTops doesn't make a TJ specific one (that I could find) so I ordered the JK 2door & it fit perfectly. It's way better than I had expected. I've had spiderweb shades & alien sun shades that attach with bungee cords & was never happy with them. The JTop uses adjustable padded plastic clips that have a locking feature, metal rods that keep it from sagging 7 magnets that hold it to the roll cage. I took it for a test drive & it did not flap around, but to be honest I only got up to 50mph. Definitely worth the ~$300

Thanks for checking out my build

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Update #10

Picked up some 255/75r17 takeoffs from a Texas Trails JT this weekend in Dallas. TJ handled the trip pretty well, just a bit too slow for the other drivers on the interstate. Although everyone kept telling me that I was #1

Also relocated the fog lights. Not pleased with the location but I really like the look of the factory fog lights.

Replaced the mirrors with the earlier version because I think they look better.

Finally finished the step side/rock sliders even though figuring the mounting bracket was a PITA.

Also removed the OEM soft top, I'm hoping this will motivate me to get a frameless top.

Next project is a spare tire carrier.

Thanks for checking out my build

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Update #11

Put off the tire carrier for now. Still figuring out the plan of attack. So I got started on the rear fenders in the meantime. Took me a bit to figure out the geometry but it's coming along nicely. Did some minor surgery to the tub & lined up all the hardware.

FYI the marks on the tub are from a silver pencil & not scratches.

Also I desperately needed to adjust the drum brakes because it would roll backwards even if the parking brake was on. Picked up some grease to address the squeaks & creaks of the suspension. Not in the budget to replace anything right now but it's on the list.

Thanks for checking out my build

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