My LJ Thread - A MrBlaine Spec'ed LJ Build for Daily Driving and Weekend Adventure

ObiWanWebWheelr

New Member
Oct 1, 2017
21
West Coast
Hello WranglerTJForum,

I'm new here and wanted to share my LJ build. This thread is going to end up as a long term log of the LJ's lifetime as a daily driver/weekend warrior but in the meantime I'll share a little about how I ended up here. As with most people on JeepForum I've been around the block a few times with Jeep projects and have personally experienced the good, bad, and ugly that comes with them. I've had great times and wheeled the Rubicon, Moab, and Hammers along with easier exploration stuff in between over the years. I've also seen a lot of hard work and dollars go down the drain when parts and builds didn't work out as planned. Over a nearly 4 year period I worked as a designer and responsible engineer in the Jeep aftermarket having created axle assemblies, pumpkin castings, diff covers, end forgings, brackets and ball joints. It was a dream job for a period of time and I got to meet a lot of people in the industry while attending events like SEMA and EJS. One of the people I was lucky enough to meet is MrBlaine who is a stand up guy and regular here at JeepForum.

I learned a lot working in the industry. Once you are on the inside of any industry it is a little easier to see how much of it is marketing and which products actually make the rubber meet the road. The same is true of the aerospace industry where I currently work, everything has a hype cycle and it is ultimately up to the customer to figure out which products and partners actually have legs to stand on. While I was working in the industry I built up my 2000 TJ with 60s, Atlas, a long arm kit, 37s, and some King coilovers. It got me around in the rocks and it drove well enough on the street for what I imagined a Jeep could do.

After I left the jeep industry about 7 years ago I also started to fall behind on the maintenance of the TJ. It's hard to keep up living here in SoCal when you don't have access to a fully stocked axle production shop and you are living in a small apartment. In the following years the TJ's health started going downhill. The long arm kit was really taking a beating, it ended up being a weak link... suspensions are a hard thing to get right. I know the person who designed the kit and he is a talented and well respected engineer having created other products in the market which have legendary status. As I mentioned suspensions are a hard thing to get right, small factors upset a difficult balance of arm placement and interlinked relationships. It isn't obvious and you wouldn't "guess" it right on your first custom long arm build. Believe me, I've created one myself from scratch having done everything from CAD design to welding and cutting under the jeep to get in on. I wouldn't do it again to be honest.

The final death knell for the TJ was a trip to Ocotillo Wells in the Anza Borrego desert here in SoCal. It took me a while to get it but I can say for a fact I love the desert. It is a beautiful and punishing place all in one go. There is an offroad park at Ocotillo Wells with a bunch of competition style man made challenges. I managed to break the rear driveshaft, bend a couple control arms, and destroyed the driver hard door when I laid it on its side in a notch. I drove it out there so I ended up putting the Atlas in front wheel drive and drove it out a ways. I found a comfortable spot away from the off road park off of the highway and called AAA for a tow. I've got the double throwdown AAA membership and they will tow you for a very long distance! Good thing as it took most of a day to get home waiting for a flat bed from El Centro to show up. When I got it home I fixed it up just enough to take it out on a couple easy hunting trips at the Tajon Ranch here in SoCal, even shot a pig and used the jeep to drag it out. After that the Jeep needed more maintenance than I could handle and I was distracted with other sports. I ended up letting her sit for long enough to get a little rotten.

At some point while I was living in a hotel room in Chicago for work I decided the TJ needed to be restored and operational again. Who knows, the snow makes people crazy. Anyway, I started emailing around and doing some research to see what interesting products had emerged in the last number of years. Despite being limited by my own human state of existence and a preoccupation with shiny metal parts I've managed to learn a few things. I knew I was going to do it different this time and focus on off the shelf solutions which could create a strong combination. I'll invent a new term here and call it the "total performance envelope". The goal of any builder who values efficient use of time and money should be to maximize the total performance envelope, TPE, while minimizing dollars and frustration spent getting to your goal. Another interesting twist is you get to define the purpose of the Jeep and thus how to measure the TPE. If you want to build a 1/4 mile drag race jeep you probably don't need a Dana 60 front axle and 40" tires because your TPE is very narrow and specific. However, for most of us the TPE is much larger, we want excellent street handling, a long service life, and the ability to hit the rocks and trails. When you take a broad measure of TPE you've got to start being picky about the build plan and parts combination. I want to chase a sports sedan down mountain roads and run the Rubicon when I get to the end of the pavement... then drive home.

I had been saving money for the Green TJ for a little while before I got really serious about fixing it. With my current living situation I'm not able to take on a real big project, even doing a break job or oil change is a bit uncomfortable. Real estate in SoCal is spendy and I'm still a renter trying to save a few bucks. So when I did get serious there was really only one choice with respect to who I wanted to work on it. You see there are lots of shops and guys who are able to wrench on a Jeep but only a few people who really deal in engineering facts and extensive personal testing. Even fewer of those guys are persistent and driven enough to trust with your rig. Naturally I ended up making contact with MrBlaine and was lucky enough to learn about the evolution of his mid-arm geometry from KOH winning race LJ to a consumer kit from Savvy offroad which would be coming online for the mass market. Next thing I knew AAA was towing my TJ out to MrBlaine's.

Since my days in the industry I've shifted towards doing more back country exploration and I've become a veteran of many a crazy backpacking and bike-packing trips like the full John Muir Trail start to finish and several Stagecoach 400 mountain bike rides. 400 as in nearly 400 miles long and self supported living off your mountain bikecrossing mountains and desert. I really wanted the Green TJ to be a sweet driver I could use to explore remote parts of California where they don't publish guidebooks and route maps. I wanted to blast down freeways and dirt roads then push through the gnar to find remote mines, cabins, historical sites, and old Indian villages. You know the type of stuff you hear about being out there in the desert but nobody will really say they know where it is or have been there. Have a trip down to Google looking for the Beveridge Mine, it won't be easy to get your own two feet down to the stamp mill site, I promise you.

The problem was the TJ had already become one of those compromise machines you see running around on 37" tires. That tire size really demands a Dana 60 axle for reliability but it suffers from being the smallest size tire you would want to run with those 60s. The green TJ had also become a highline fender rig with no type of flare to block sand and mud from flying around. It is a fair weather California rock crawler and wouldn't handle some of the climate areas I've been planning to explore. There is a funny joke in the movie Tropic Thunder about going "full retard", you never go full retard. I decided forcing the green TJ to become a sweet expedition rig with 35s didn't make much sense while running Dana 60s and an Atlas 4-speed.

However, I did choose to have MrBlaine rebuild the suspension with his mid-arm kit. I will never forget the day I took it for a test ride with the new kit and some fresh Fox 2.0 coilovers. The smile was hard to wipe off, I can't really tell you how well it handles... you'll have to just trust me. The green TJ, with crap tires and bent up unbalanced steel wheels drove circles around any Jeep I had personally driven. I've spent a fair amount of time in a Mustang on road racing tracks like Willow Springs and I'll tell you the Green TJ F**KING RIPS. It has MrBlaine's brake kit up front and stops great too! Overall I was pretty amazed and the rig doesn't have enough power to out drive the chassisand brakes on the street. I was going into turns super hot and breaking last minute, pushing through the apex and right back on the gas. Seriously, my own money here and those are the best dollars I've ever spent on a rig since I started in about 2001. I even drove it back to back on hot laps comparing it against my Dad's brand new JK Rubicon. The TJ on 60s and 37s could hold it's own against the JK, if only the TJ had more power!

That leads into the LJ build which will be documented here. After realizing I was at a cross roads with the green TJ I elected to have it live with my Dad in NorCal. It is getting fixed up but won't be the daily driver and overland exploration rig of my dreams. Instead it will be a fun fair weather rock crawler and I can run Fordyce and the Rubicon with my Dad using it. He has a truck and trailer so it will be a good situation. That left me wondering what to do for a daily driver and exploration rig. Naturally I sold my F350dually and decided to double down on a daily driver LJ build with MrBlaine.
 
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ObiWanWebWheelr

ObiWanWebWheelr

New Member
Oct 1, 2017
21
West Coast
This is how the LJ project starts... I spent a couple few weeks looking around for a LJ Rubicon which is a fairly rare vehicle. I extended my search nationwide looking for an inexpensive starting point. I needed to have a reasonable number of miles, hardtop, and an automatic transmission. I was hoping for a color I could love or black, because black is kinda easier to paint considering the firewall and interior can be left black while changing the outside.

nrqIMF.jpg
 
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ObiWanWebWheelr

ObiWanWebWheelr

New Member
Oct 1, 2017
21
West Coast
She looks pretty good in the pictures, but for $14,995 I wasn't getting a pristine factory LJ rubi. I expected some issues and my primary hope was finding one without rust. I hate rust and fortunately this one from Mississippi showed up full of mud underneath but not a spot of rust in sight. It also came with dented up hood, cowl, and tailgate. The paint is pretty much hammered and the suspension kit installed was totally junk. I spent a few hours driving it as one day and the handling wasn't great. It has fixed length arms with stock uppers and a t-case skid drop. It was a real mixed bag of poop!

tjO1aS.jpg
 
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ObiWanWebWheelr

ObiWanWebWheelr

New Member
Oct 1, 2017
21
West Coast
The mud packed in under the rig was pretty healthy as it was previously owned in Mississippi. The good news is we have yet to find rust anywhere on the Jeep despite the mud. Based on the condition of the vehicle I think somebody owned it on a ranch or used it as a hunting vehicle. I've got a friend from a previous job who moved out west from the Florida panhandle Alabama area. Hunting is a right of passage for men in the deep south so I'm wondering if this LJ was used for the same. It kinda looks like Dad bought it used it to get around during hunting season which generally falls into the time of year where you would have mud and muck to contend with. We didn't see a single sign of rock rash under the bottom or on the axles so it looks to have been purely used in the mud. Perhaps it was handed down to somebody's 18 year old man-child who decided he didn't care about the body panels... it looks like somebody stood on the hood and cowl a few times hooking up a winch line to get it out of the mud to me. Either way it was available and a reasonable starting point to get this project going.

I sold my F350 ahead of a relocation to the Pacific Northwest so this LJ is going to be a true daily driver. I've been in SoCal for 10+ years now and have been getting tired of the traffic and cost of housing. An opportunity I couldn't turn down came up and sure enough we are going to see if the sunny weather is worth the pound of flesh paid in traffic and urban sprawl. In addition to this mysterious thing I hear about called weather and seasons the PNW also has a different flavor to the way they build roads. Here in SoCal you can drive around a big old truck because we have so many large roads which are 2 lanes in each direction and everything is nice and flat. I've been visiting the PNW pretty often and decided the F350 DRW would be too big to get around easily up there.

With respect to the build things are going full tilt at the moment. The beginning of the project started with some miscellaneous work to sort a few things out with the computer. The stock computer must have been causing some issues, which I've heard is a problem with the late model TJs, so the owner looks to have swapped it out for a re-manufactured computer. When they did the swap they put in a regular TJ 4.0 auto computer and not one configured for the Rubicon package. That means the locker switch doesn't work like the factory which is hopefully something we can fix. Blaine was also able to get a miserable problem with a factory recall and the wiring sorted out it could be smogged. There was some noise coming from one of the circuits in the wiring which would trip up the computer and keep the monitor on and it couldn't be smogged. As always Blaine sorted it out and was able to get the smog done which was a big win.

At the moment the Jeep is in full hover craft mode up on jack stands with the suspension having been removed.

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Chris

Administrator
Staff Member
Sep 28, 2015
35,381
Salem, Oregon
Oh wow, what a beauty! I’m drooling over here!

And another member from the PNW too? There’s a bunch of us from the PNW including myself.

I’ll be following this, I love all of @mrblaine work!
 
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ObiWanWebWheelr

ObiWanWebWheelr

New Member
Oct 1, 2017
21
West Coast
For the guys up in the PNW I'll be in the King County area and would be happy to meet up for some wheeling and a test drive after the build is done and I get the rig up there. One of the goals of this thread is to document some of the parts that really work and are worth spending your hard earned money on. I'm not wealthy and can't afford to throw away money on an experiment at this point! I want the greatest total performance envelope with the least amount of risk and frustration. I can afford a new car and if you've checked prices lately a new 4x4 crew cab F150 with the Lariat package and a few bells and whistles will run you north of 50k. Don't even try to price out a new Raptor unless you are ready to see some serious sticker shock! Building an LJ really isn't a bad option and I would rather not have a huge car payment every month to worry about. I've rented and lived with roommates for many years getting to the point where I'm able to do a serious build like this in my later 30s.

Speaking of Jeep experiments being on the consumer side of the equation is difficult because of all the hype and options available in the marketplace. In most situations figuring out how and what really works with the build is harder than parting with the money and time. How can the average builder choose between a Rubicon Express kit and a Currie kit without having had previous experience with both? These days I'll go Currie but it has been a long road getting there, the Johnny Joint is just that awesome.

The fastest way to skip the frustration of testing for yourself is to learn from others. Out of all the people I've worked with on engineering projects I'll have to vouch for the quality of Blaine's design and work. He is a genuine guy who is actually rather humble despite being a real subject matter expert. It sounds like a cheesy public service announcement but he is motivated by helping and educating people. Blaine will tell you "he isn't an engineer" and in the same breath utter really intelligent comments about nuances to the design and technical details most wouldn't observe or make an effort to understand. Having worked with a zillion people from top schools like MIT and Stanford I can say for a fact there is no secret sauce in life. In the end people are just homo sapiens, apes running around in pants and a shirt with well developed math, language, and writing skills. The real measure of merit is the willingness to continue moving forward in spite of failure and difficulty. The old saying "fake it until you make it" holds true to some degree. If you are willing to move forward regardless of how rough the road gets the odds are you'll end up somewhere meaningful. Nelson Mandela survived 27 years in South Africa's prisons before he became the leader of his nation and an international symbol of perseverance. It wasn't by accident, first mover advantage, or a silver spoon. Blaine might not have a fancy engineering degree but he is surly a uniquely talented engineering mind having become a master of the art through self teaching and experimentation. He is the Michael Faraday of Jeeps... if you don't know the name give it a google.

Here are a couple more pictures from the build. I'm really stoked on how clean the work is. Everything is done the way I would do it myself.

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ObiWanWebWheelr

ObiWanWebWheelr

New Member
Oct 1, 2017
21
West Coast
Brake line solution for rear. Blaine moved the line bundle to the top of the frame, straped it in place and then the rear hard line gets bent so the bend is under the brace on top of the frame and then he wraps a 360° circle in it to shorten it without cutting and re-flaring. He can cut and flare but the black plastic coating has to be peeled back which exposes the hard line to rusting. They do cut and flare the older model non coated lines.

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Here you can see the p-clips used to route the lines along the top of the frame. All the bits and parts of this setup have been really well thought out as you can see.

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Here is the front LCA mount all welded up. Blaine has done a kick butt job getting extra paint on the frame to keep rust away in the PNW.

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JMT

The Jeep Guy
Supporting Member
Ride of the Month Winner
Feb 27, 2017
7,319
Texas Hill Country
Hey, I was reading your Build with Mr Blaine a few days ago on the other forum. Going to be interesting. Welcome to a more civilized Jeep cyberportal
 
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ObiWanWebWheelr

ObiWanWebWheelr

New Member
Oct 1, 2017
21
West Coast
Thanks! I'm new to the forums and it is a funny situation. I actually mixed up the other forum for this one haha, so hey might as well have two build threads out there. Hopefully it saves somebody time and money or gives them some build inspiration.

The LJ build continues to march forward with the only snafu having been self inflicted. The hood that came with the LJ was all dented up so I needed to source a new one. I found the white one in the picture below at an auto recycling yard. Turns out I didn't notice a few imperfections when I picked it up. Blaine got it installed and I stopped over to have a look at things in person. Well it turns out the white hood was pretty straight but it had three areas with dents and dings. One of them was a bit of an oil can effect causing the center to pop in and out a little which means it would be hard to fix. It is hard to see in the picture but once I noticed the imperfections in person I couldn't stop thinking about it. I'm a perfectionist at times and just couldn't live with painting an imperfect hood. Naturally I'm also a moron sometimes and realized I never called the dealership to see if they could get a factory new hood. Turns out the local Jeep dealership was still able to get one and they could have it the next day. Live and learn... so I bought the factory fresh one and will have that installed and painted. The other Green TJ I mentioned at the start of this post has a pretty dented up and paint faded hood, I might end up being able to put the white one on the Green TJ. Duplicolor makes a factory matching spray paint for the Green TJ and I used that paint to do the steel highline fenders and rear corner armor. It has lasted well over almost 10 years so maybe the white one will end up being useful.

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Blaine was also able to get the new cross members installed at the transfer case. I'm going with the off the shelf Savvy engine and belly skid. This Jeep isn't going to see hardcore use on the rocks for at least 5 years which is the period of time I plan to use it as a daily driver. Blaine builds a really nice heavy duty belly skid out of 3/8 aluminum but it wasn't necessary for this build. If I was going to play at the Hammers I would go that way.

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Sure enough one of the most common things to fail on a late model TJ are the catalytic converters. The LJ came with exhaust which was marginal at best and on the way to total failure so it was a good idea to replace it. Especially with the planned forced induction from a supercharger. You can see the two sensors which have been added as well. These are for air-to-fuel ratio and exhaust gas temperature to help tune the fuel map when in boost.

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The automatic transmission is also getting a nice cooler and a temperature gauge to keep an eye on it. The cooler will live in front of the radiator in the grill area.

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The rear axle is coming back together as well and was painted up. It has been geared to 5.38 which works best with the automatic transmission. Blaine has done testing between 5.13 and 5.38 with 35" tires and the automatic transmission. He finds the 5.38s are the best with the automatic but would choose the 5.13 in a stick shift application. Again, another reason to work with somebody who has personally tried every combo of parts under the sun.

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The rear axle also got a nice set of alloy shafts from Revolution.

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Here are a couple shots of the new cable routing and body lift. I really like the way Blaine has designed the body lift. It retains the factory duromter bushings and adds a spacer. On other Jeeps like the Green TJ I've used various body lifts. The ones in the market all change the durometer to a stiffer bushing. When the rig is used hard and the suspension is cycling it tends to put more stress on the body tub. The Green TJ has had the tub bent around enough by the stiffer bushings to cause the doors to need some shims/spacers at the hangers to get it to latch and shut. I'll go with the MrBlaine design for any future builds. Savvy sells them.

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Here is the pile of parts removed from the Jeep and heading to the recycling bin. The joints on the lower control arms are totally shot and have quite a bit of free play in them. Having tried a number of things the only joint I'll use on any Jeep is the Johnny Joint from Currie. Just don't waste your time on marketing hype and experimentation with something otherwise. The JJs have been bullet proof on KOH race trucks so I just don't see the justification to try anything else. If it ain't broke don't fix it!

F8B4T1.jpg
 

mrblaine

TJ Expert
Supporting Member
Nov 20, 2015
3,969
Quail Valley, CA
Bitchin so far! Blaine lays down some nice welds. Question: How do you get the rear diff cover off and back on? Does that bracket flex out of the way?
The truss brace unbolts from the cover bolts and the two bolts that hold it to the back of the truss and it is fully out of the way for any maintenance work inside the diff.
 

Chris

Administrator
Staff Member
Sep 28, 2015
35,381
Salem, Oregon
I agree, nice welds!!!

I love looking at the underside of that thing, it's pure eye candy. Love those Savvy parts too, that's the way to do it!
 
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superduty

TJ Enthusiast
Apr 7, 2016
161
So Cal
For those of us fortunate enough to know Blaine personally we understand your description of him. He is awesome. He maintains the highest level of integrity.

You mentioned no engineering degree.....while that may be true, if I were tasked to design or build something, I'd want him on my team before any engineer out there.

Consider yourself lucky that he is willing to work on your junk. It's a select few that fall into that category.

Last time I was there, I saw your TJ. He was doing some great work to it. I'll hopefully get by his place during the LJ build to do a little drooling.

Good luck and thanks for taking us along on the build up.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk
 
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ObiWanWebWheelr

ObiWanWebWheelr

New Member
Oct 1, 2017
21
West Coast
Superduty, I totally agree! That is why I was drawing a parallel with Michael Faraday by comparing the two. Faraday is considered one of the greatest experimental physicists in history and got there by self-teaching without a formal degree. Having a degree is just marketing hype and paperwork in a lot of cases. Having perseverance, passion, and genuine curiosity are greater indications of success than any certificate or competition of a course of study. I'm just trying illustrate the quality I see in the designs and work. Anybody new to Jeeps or looking to budget for a rebuild can rely on the parts and advice coming from Blaine. There are few people in the industry who I would trust for quality products at this point. MrBlaine designs are as good as they get. That is my soap box, I've read a zillion MrBlaine product threads and some people bust his balls too much when they should be trying to listen a little harder.
 
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ObiWanWebWheelr

ObiWanWebWheelr

New Member
Oct 1, 2017
21
West Coast
For the seats I'm going to buy a leather kit from https://wrangler.leatherseats.com/

They are reasonably priced and the seats need a going over anyway. Since we are living in a colder climate at the moment my better half will really enjoy some seat warmers so I was planning to rebuild the seat anyway.

I'm looking at using the orange color to match the desired Impact Orange paint on the outside of the rig. Then using the off black charcoal color which is the lighter of the shades in the green grass picture. The inside of the rig is black so the off black charcoal will add a little bit of contrast and give it a custom look.

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ObiWanWebWheelr

ObiWanWebWheelr

New Member
Oct 1, 2017
21
West Coast
This pictures is sweet... a pile of MrBlaine designed parts from Savvy going out to powder coat. Look at the detail in the gas tank skid between the planned weld gaps, dimple, drain, etc.

They are getting coated with a black color recommended by Blaine. He has tried a number of things. It won't be a full gloss when new and retains its appearance better over time. Bumpers and skid plates live a hard life. The control arms are getting coated as well to keep a low key look. Factory arms are black and blend in from a side view at a distance.

I'm a little OCD about trying to have this look factory enough at first glance that the average person wouldn't think twice about it. The aluminum part of the rock rails had all the edges broken over and sanded neatly to prep for powder coat primer and then automotive paint. The steel part is going to be black like factory. The factory Rubicon had the stock rocker guards which are only a couple inches tall. There is a distinct body color paint gap between the bottom of the door and the rocker guard. I feel that is a necessary part of the sleeper look and plan to have the taller aluminum part painted to match the body in Impact Orange. That way the black section is similar to the factory size and shape.

The wheels are going to be the basic silver powder coated JK Moab wheels. Titan wheel adapters will be used to put them on the TJ bolt pattern. Good news is JK backspacing is 5.2" so a 1.25" wheel spacer puts it right about 4" overall backspacing on the TJ which is a good place to be. They also look just like the 16" TJ wheels but will look bigger and trick if you've got that Jeep bug.

This rig will be factory sheet metal all around the body. Just new Rubicon fender flares because it came with the god awful bushwackers that whack up the body lines. It is a daily driver for at least 5 years to even justify existence so I've got to keep a level head off road. A bunch of aluminum corner guard armor and front fenders makes it look too modified and I'll end up driving it like so. I like the stock body lines and want it to feel more like a retro-mod. Something that drives like a new car but has the charm of a custom and capability of a real rig.

Bf7s7l.jpg
 

JamesAndTheSahara

TJ Addict
Supporting Member
May 22, 2017
2,164
Auburn, AL, United States
Thanks! I'm new to the forums and it is a funny situation. I actually mixed up the other forum for this one haha, so hey might as well have two build threads out there. Hopefully it saves somebody time and money or gives them some build inspiration.

The LJ build continues to march forward with the only snafu having been self inflicted. The hood that came with the LJ was all dented up so I needed to source a new one. I found the white one in the picture below at an auto recycling yard. Turns out I didn't notice a few imperfections when I picked it up. Blaine got it installed and I stopped over to have a look at things in person. Well it turns out the white hood was pretty straight but it had three areas with dents and dings. One of them was a bit of an oil can effect causing the center to pop in and out a little which means it would be hard to fix. It is hard to see in the picture but once I noticed the imperfections in person I couldn't stop thinking about it. I'm a perfectionist at times and just couldn't live with painting an imperfect hood. Naturally I'm also a moron sometimes and realized I never called the dealership to see if they could get a factory new hood. Turns out the local Jeep dealership was still able to get one and they could have it the next day. Live and learn... so I bought the factory fresh one and will have that installed and painted. The other Green TJ I mentioned at the start of this post has a pretty dented up and paint faded hood, I might end up being able to put the white one on the Green TJ. Duplicolor makes a factory matching spray paint for the Green TJ and I used that paint to do the steel highline fenders and rear corner armor. It has lasted well over almost 10 years so maybe the white one will end up being useful.

View attachment 23062

Blaine was also able to get the new cross members installed at the transfer case. I'm going with the off the shelf Savvy engine and belly skid. This Jeep isn't going to see hardcore use on the rocks for at least 5 years which is the period of time I plan to use it as a daily driver. Blaine builds a really nice heavy duty belly skid out of 3/8 aluminum but it wasn't necessary for this build. If I was going to play at the Hammers I would go that way.

View attachment 23063

Sure enough one of the most common things to fail on a late model TJ are the catalytic converters. The LJ came with exhaust which was marginal at best and on the way to total failure so it was a good idea to replace it. Especially with the planned forced induction from a supercharger. You can see the two sensors which have been added as well. These are for air-to-fuel ratio and exhaust gas temperature to help tune the fuel map when in boost.

View attachment 23064

The automatic transmission is also getting a nice cooler and a temperature gauge to keep an eye on it. The cooler will live in front of the radiator in the grill area.

View attachment 23065

The rear axle is coming back together as well and was painted up. It has been geared to 5.38 which works best with the automatic transmission. Blaine has done testing between 5.13 and 5.38 with 35" tires and the automatic transmission. He finds the 5.38s are the best with the automatic but would choose the 5.13 in a stick shift application. Again, another reason to work with somebody who has personally tried every combo of parts under the sun.

View attachment 23066

The rear axle also got a nice set of alloy shafts from Revolution.

View attachment 23067

Here are a couple shots of the new cable routing and body lift. I really like the way Blaine has designed the body lift. It retains the factory duromter bushings and adds a spacer. On other Jeeps like the Green TJ I've used various body lifts. The ones in the market all change the durometer to a stiffer bushing. When the rig is used hard and the suspension is cycling it tends to put more stress on the body tub. The Green TJ has had the tub bent around enough by the stiffer bushings to cause the doors to need some shims/spacers at the hangers to get it to latch and shut. I'll go with the MrBlaine design for any future builds. Savvy sells them.

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Here is the pile of parts removed from the Jeep and heading to the recycling bin. The joints on the lower control arms are totally shot and have quite a bit of free play in them. Having tried a number of things the only joint I'll use on any Jeep is the Johnny Joint from Currie. Just don't waste your time on marketing hype and experimentation with something otherwise. The JJs have been bullet proof on KOH race trucks so I just don't see the justification to try anything else. If it ain't broke don't fix it!

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Do you have plans to surpass 35” tires on the dana 44? Curious why the Dana 44 was trussed, not against it, just curious :D.