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Oscar The Grouch LJ Build

Stitch1

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Joined
Feb 7, 2020
Messages
58
Location
KCMO
Hello, I have been larking around here for quite awhile reading up on things I want to do with our 2005 LJ. I think we have a pretty good game plan so I figured it was time to introduce myself and start a build thread.

This is my fourth Jeep. I started my Jeep journey with a 4cyl 94 YJ that I traded a 98 Dodge Dakota for. I really fell head of heals for offroading and later got a 2005 TJ Rubicon. I was very active in the local Jeep community but some life changes caused me to have to take some time away from Jeeping from 2012 until May of 2016 when I bought a 2016 JKUR and declared I will always own a Jeep. Then in June of 2018 we came across this very nice 2005 LJ in a car lot near my parents house. We weren't looking to get another Jeep but this one caught our eye and that next week I brought it home.

img_20180618_164539-jpg.jpg

img_20180618_203829-jpg.jpg

fordoscar-jpg.jpg


Since owning it we mostly have only done a few maintenance types of changes. I took off the wheel spacer, extra 6x9 speakers and some other random things the previous owner had installed. I also swapped out the ball joints and replaced both wheel bearings. It drives pretty good for basically stock rig. They did have some kind of 2" budget boot but with how saggy the stock springs are it isn't sitting all that tall.

Now we are starting to build it up. I like the more nimble feeling of a TJ/LJ on our tighter tree lined trails here in the midwest. So the main goal for this Jeep is to be used mostly for local wheeling and to help build up my wife's confidence off road. While she has wheeled the JK a little she is always very nervous because it's my daily driver. This LJ is more of a toy and will be used as such. The JKU gets penalty of use off-road but I would like to use it more for long distance trips. We're in Missouri and have taken it out east to PA and out west to both CO and WY and down south to Texas. I would rather use the larger JK for those adventures and keep while the LJ can stay around here for places like Kansas Rocks, SMORR, and Disney OK.

It's not a rubicon, so sadly it has the 30/44 axle setup. So starting there we are planning on regearing to 5.13 and adding a selectable locker in the rear. Currently looking at either ARB or Eaton ELocker. I could use some thoughts and opinions on what locker to use. There may come a time that we upgrade the axles but we would like to run these for the time being. I am leaning towards ARB only because I plan on adding OBA for my tires. But I could go either way really.

I ordered some PowerStop brakes. I don't know the last time these were changed. The pads look fine but the rotors have been around for quite sometime. While to do stop with these 31s I don't have the most confidence in them. I've not used PowerStop before but they seemed like a good option for the price. Again I don't want to put a lot of extra money into these axles as I have a feeling they might get upgraded within a few years.

I also have a short arm Metal Cloak 3.5" lift. I was skeptical of Metal Cloak when I first heard of them. But after helping a friend install their kit on his JKU and driving it quite a bit I ended up going with them for my JKU as well. I have not ridden in a TJ that had their gear, but if it's good enough for my daily driver then it should be good enough for this build. I went with their budget RockSport shocks. I didn't want to go long arms for quite a few reasons. My last TJ had quite the Frankenstein lift. I had parts form quite a few manufactures and I was always swapping things in and out. This time around I wanted one full kit.

We also have a MORE motor and body mount lift that needs to be installed. A UFC engine and transfer case skids that need painted and installed. Teraflex super short SYE, and a speedohealer. I have a Currie steering coming in May (it was on backorder) as well as some wheels that should be here later this week.

I just started taking the front end apart for the lift.
Green.jpg

I plan to at least have the lift on this weekend.

I still need to figure out what tires I want to run on it. Looking at either Cooper STT Pros (what I run on the JK) or the new Micky Thompson Baja Boss. There are a few other options but these are the front runners in my mind. I also need a gas tank skid. I may just order one from UFC as I like the belly skids I bought from them. Then I will start looking at fenders, rock rails, and then interior. I'll probably sell off this hard top and get something like the Trek top or similar. I bought some half doors but they still need some work. Luckily they are black so I don't think i'll need to paint them right away.

So thats it so far. What do you all think and what suggestions do you have? I can't wait to get this thing built. It's one heck of a project that I have been looking forward to since we spotted it on a trip to my parents place.
 
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Chris

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Nice looking Unlimited!

As far as lockers go, you can't go wrong with the Eaton or the ARB. The Eaton is of course simpler in that it's just wired, but the ARB isn't that complicated, and it's proven. Both are good, and I'd honestly say just pick whichever one you want.

I think my biggest suggestion these days is pick which tire size you want to run from the start. Don't say, "Maybe I'll go to 35s eventually.". Pick what you want to run from the get go and build for that. An entire build should really be done around the max tire size you plan to run, as changing that can dramatically change build plans.
 
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Stitch1

Stitch1

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Feb 7, 2020
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Oh yeah, we plan to run 35s. Everything we are doing is based around 35s as the type of wheeling this rig is going to see won't really ever need bigger and anything smaller wasn't even considered. At first I considered 37s and was looking at running JK axles. The perks of this is both Jeeps could have the same setup. But in reality I don't want to mess with custom stuff nor is this Jeep out to become the biggest baddest thing around. Just a fun weekend warrior. I still don't hate the idea. But I'm of the mindset of KISS. Keep it simple stupid!
 

pagrey

TJ Guru
Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2018
Messages
7,726
Location
Los Angeles, CA, USA
I've heard Kermit green and now Oscar green, I might have to start calling it Muppet green. Nice looking Jeep, a really great place to start.
 
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MountaineerTom

LJ Enthusiast, Retired USAF Weapons Loader
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Sep 25, 2018
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I know it's not for everyone, but I've always liked that color. Nice looking Jeep. (y)
 
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Stitch1

Stitch1

Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2020
Messages
58
Location
KCMO
I've heard Kermit green and now Oscar green, I might have to start calling it Muppet green. Nice looking Jeep, a really great place to start.

My blue JK is called Cookie Monster so Oscar seemed like a good build name for this one. My wife and I both really liked the color.
 
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Irun

What I want isn't as important as what I need!
Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 31, 2019
Messages
7,033
Location
Virginia
Hello, I have been larking around here for quite awhile reading up on things I want to do with our 2005 LJ. I think we have a pretty good game plan so I figured it was time to introduce myself and start a build thread.

This is my fourth Jeep. I started my Jeep journey with a 4cyl 94 YJ that I traded a 98 Dodge Dakota for. I really fell head of heals for offroading and later got a 2005 TJ Rubicon. I was very active in the local Jeep community but some life changes caused me to have to take some time away from Jeeping from 2012 until May of 2016 when I bought a 2016 JKUR and declared I will always own a Jeep. Then in June of 2018 we came across this very nice 2005 LJ in a car lot near my parents house. We weren't looking to get another Jeep but this one caught our eye and that next week I brought it home.

View attachment 157096
View attachment 157097
View attachment 157098

Since owning it we mostly have only done a few maintenance types of changes. I took off the wheel spacer, extra 6x9 speakers and some other random things the previous owner had installed. I also swapped out the ball joints and replaced both wheel bearings. It drives pretty good for basically stock rig. They did have some kind of 2" budget boot but with how saggy the stock springs are it isn't sitting all that tall.

Now we are starting to build it up. I like the more nimble feeling of a TJ/LJ on our tighter tree lined trails here in the midwest. So the main goal for this Jeep is to be used mostly for local wheeling and to help build up my wife's confidence off road. While she has wheeled the JK a little she is always very nervous because it's my daily driver. This LJ is more of a toy and will be used as such. The JKU gets penalty of use off-road but I would like to use it more for long distance trips. We're in Missouri and have taken it out east to PA and out west to both CO and WY and down south to Texas. I would rather use the larger JK for those adventures and keep while the LJ can stay around here for places like Kansas Rocks, SMORR, and Disney OK.

It's not a rubicon, so sadly it has the 30/44 axle setup. So starting there we are planning on regearing to 5.13 and adding a selectable locker in the rear. Currently looking at either ARB or Eaton ELocker. I could use some thoughts and opinions on what locker to use. There may come a time that we upgrade the axles but we would like to run these for the time being. I am leaning towards ARB only because I plan on adding OBA for my tires. But I could go either way really.

I ordered some PowerStop brakes. I don't know the last time these were changed. The pads look fine but the rotors have been around for quite sometime. While to do stop with these 31s I don't have the most confidence in them. I've not used PowerStop before but they seemed like a good option for the price. Again I don't want to put a lot of extra money into these axles as I have a feeling they might get upgraded within a few years.

I also have a short arm Metal Cloak 3.5" lift. I was skeptical of Metal Cloak when I first heard of them. But after helping a friend install their kit on his JKU and driving it quite a bit I ended up going with them for my JKU as well. I have not ridden in a TJ that had their gear, but if it's good enough for my daily driver then it should be good enough for this build. I went with their budget RockSport shocks. I didn't want to go long arms for quite a few reasons. My last TJ had quite the Frankenstein lift. I had parts form quite a few manufactures and I was always swapping things in and out. This time around I wanted one full kit.

We also have a MORE motor and body mount lift that needs to be installed. A UFC engine and transfer case skids that need painted and installed. Teraflex super short SYE, and a speedohealer. I have a Currie steering coming in May (it was on backorder) as well as some wheels that should be here later this week.

I just started taking the front end apart for the lift.
View attachment 157090
I plan to at least have the lift on this weekend.

I still need to figure out what tires I want to run on it. Looking at either Cooper STT Pros (what I run on the JK) or the new Micky Thompson Baja Boss. There are a few other options but these are the front runners in my mind. I also need a gas tank skid. I may just order one from UFC as I like the belly skids I bought from them. Then I will start looking at fenders, rock rails, and then interior. I'll probably sell off this hard top and get something like the Trek top or similar. I bought some half doors but they still need some work. Luckily they are black so I don't think i'll need to paint them right away.

So thats it so far. What do you all think and what suggestions do you have? I can't wait to get this thing built. It's one heck of a project that I have been looking forward to since we spotted it on a trip to my parents place.

That's a great looking LJ! Per Chris's comment, tire size will drive your build. If you're planning to run 33" tires, that will work with the 5.13 gearing.

To help keep the 42RLE transmission happy, install a quality transmission cooler and temperature gauge.

As for the gas tank skid, pick Savvy's. It's the best out there, period! Also, since you mentioned rock rails, Pick Savvy here as well. I've installed several different rock sliders and Savvy's are the best combination of strength and lightweight.

That leads me to the last point, I'll repeat over and over. Whatever you do, be conscious about every pound of weight you add to the Jeep. Heavy bumpers, skids, wheels/tires, etc. will increase the weight of your Jeep to the point where performance will be negatively impacted. I've had numeros people I know come to me and say "my Jeeps drives like a pig". I generally say in response, "because it is one".
 
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Stitch1

Stitch1

Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2020
Messages
58
Location
KCMO
That's a great looking LJ! Per Chris's comment, tire size will drive your build. If you're planning to run 33" tires, that will work with the 5.13 gearing.

To help keep the 42RLE transmission happy, install a quality transmission cooler and temperature gauge.

As for the gas tank skid, pick Savvy's. It's the best out there, period! Also, since you mentioned rock rails, Pick Savvy here as well. I've installed several different rock sliders and Savvy's are the best combination of strength and lightweight.

That leads me to the last point, I'll repeat over and over. Whatever you do, be conscious about every pound of weight you add to the Jeep. Heavy bumpers, skids, wheels/tires, etc. will increase the weight of your Jeep to the point where performance will be negatively impacted. I've had numeros people I know come to me and say "my Jeeps drives like a pig". I generally say in response, "because it is one".

Hi Irun,

Thanks for checking out my build. I was looking at yours and I'm pretty sure I have seen yours (at least in pictures) a few times before. How do you like your build? I have been looking at the same fenders that you have. Anything you would do differently if you could?
 
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Stitch1

Stitch1

Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2020
Messages
58
Location
KCMO
This last weekend we got the front end of the suspension on. The rear is mostly apart. We've installed the upper arms and removed everything other than the lower arms. I need to sand and paint some surface rust before we start installing the rest of the new parts.

Brown Santa dropped off the new wheels and brakes. I still need to decided on tires. But I figure those can wait a bit longer. We did order soft tops for both Jeeps. Stock style for the LJ. We will probably sell off the hard top in the coming months. Hoping to get the rear done before the weekend but only have limited time in the evenings.
 
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Stitch1

Stitch1

Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2020
Messages
58
Location
KCMO
I really like both of your Jeeps, but that green LJ has all the character to me, gorgeous!

Thanks for checking out my thread. I agree, that green just looks great on a Wrangler. However, The JK has changed quite a bit since that pic. This is how it currently sits.
CO Clean.jpg


I found a few pics of my old TJ. This was the first weekend after we got it. Disney, OK
TJ.png
TJD.png

The first round of lift, tires, and tummy tuck. I probably should have stopped there.
image.png

Unfortunately, camera phones weren't everywhere back then and I don't have a lot of photos. Even less of my old YJ.
YJ.png



In other news, MetalCloak had a deal going yesterday so I went ahead and ordered up some fenders and rockers. Also, it looks like the new soft top has shipped. I only have a few hours in the evening to work on this project. So last night I sanded down some surface rust then primed and painted. I hit all four spring perches and the track bar brackets. As well as some touch up spots on the frame. For being a midwest Jeep it must not have driven much in the snow. This frame looks better now at 15 years old than my 05 TJ did when I sold in in 2012.

While I was down there I started hitting all the body mounts with some WD40. Weather looks to be nice today so I am going to try to get the rest of the rear suspension put back together tonight. Or if nothing else get as far as I can with my limited time.
 
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Stitch1

Stitch1

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Don't you hate it when you are missing a part. I never realized when I took everything apart that the previous owner removed the bumpstop bell housings when installing the little budget boost. So when I went to put the springs in I was like... Um... wheres the bumpstop housing. I went ahead and put the coils in without them. I also installed all the brackets for the shocks and trackbar. But I left off both the trackbar and shocks as I may have to remove the coils in order to get the bell housings in there. I ordered them and they should be here Thursday. So not a ton of work got done this weekend. Pretty lame excuse.
 
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Stitch1

Stitch1

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Feb 7, 2020
Messages
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KCMO
Finally got the suspension finished up. We then drove out to my dad's place so we could store the hard top out there. I also used his perfectly flat floor to set the alignment. I had forgotten just how hard adjusting the rear track bars on TJs are. It now tracks great down the road and feels much better than the cheap budget boost that was on there.

I need a nice sunny day to put the new soft top on. I feel like everything else is mostly down hill from here. I've never installed a SYE but it doesn't seem too hard. I am debating when I want to tackle that task. I'll probably work on the body lift next.

Alignmet.jpeg


Dusty.jpg
 
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Stitch1

Stitch1

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Seems I haven't posted in a while. Oops. Unfortunately, not a lot has been done on the LJ since then. I put the soft top on. Then Covid hit and everything was put on hold for a bit. Now it's winter and it's been so cold. I have lots of excuses but at the end of the day I haven't made any progress.

However, I am now itching to get started again. Because of this long delay, I have a bit of money saved back up. So I am really thinking about replacing the front axle. Looking at doing a G2 Core 44 or possibly a Currie 44 or even a Dynatrac 44. The G2 is the cheapest for sure but I have heard some mixed reviews. The bigger question is ratios. Originally, I had planned on doing 5.13s as that's as deep at the 30 would allow. Should I go 5.38s for a 35" tire? Most people seem to think 5.13 is the ideal ratio for 35s but then others say go as deep as you can go.

I'm hopeful the weather will start warming up and I can get back out in the garage again. I have a ton of parts in boxes taking up a lot of room. I would much rather they be on the Jeep.
 
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