Project Mall Crawler

Jeff d

Member
Original poster
Joined
Apr 12, 2021
Messages
41
Location
Louisiana
This is my third TJ. First was a 1998 Chili Pepper Red Sport with Dana 44 that I eventually sold and regretted it. Then, when my daughter started driving in 2021 I picked up a 2001 Solar Yellow Sport, also with Dana 44. Unfortunately, an inattentive 18-wheeler pushed her into the guardrail of the interstate back in November 2022 and it was totaled... rolled on one side, trashed the whole front end, snapped the transfer case in half, etc. He fled the scene but I'd just installed a dash camera the week before. There were no injuries but the trucking company was very amiable about funding a replacement Jeep.

It took me months to find a buy but I picked up a 71,000-mile white 2000 Sahara from an older gentleman who had it in a barn for 6+ years as he was no longer driving.

I used to run the '98 with the local 4x4 club several times per year but haven't in well over a decade. I like a bit of off-road capability to use on occasion but really have never regained interest in off-roading for sport. I'll probably eventually take my kids on club rides if they're interested though. I just like having a Jeep as one of our vehicles to drive the kids and dog around on nice days but I don't want to get into big lifts, long arms, slip yoke eliminators, maxing out flex, and all. So, I'll be mostly making do with salvageable parts off of the wrecked one and a few Facebook Marketplace finds to make a tasteful mall crawler.

I didn't take many before pictures because I found it to be unappealing to look at but it's in great condition.

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Here's the before and after for the wrecked yellow 2001. She was decent looking while she lasted. It would have been a lot easier to pull that Dana 44 if the cops would have held traffic a bit longer for me. I ended up having to do it in the grass in my back yard.

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Removed, cleaned, disassembled, inspected, re-lubed, and painted the Dana 44 with a helper

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I should've rolled it and dumped it out through the fill hole but I didn't really consider it as I've never worked on a diff that's not still installed in the vehicle.

The gears looked fine. No real wear despite 140,000 miles at the time of the wreck.
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I pressure washed, brushed off any significant rust (there wasn't much), applied rust converter primer then it took 2 full cans of black satin spray-paint to get in all of the nooks and crannies.
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Going in. Sneak preview of the new tires on the front.
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Put in fresh jounce bumpers as they were rotted out. Did 1.5" bump stop extensions on the axle spring perch on the front (not pictured) by drilling and tapping, then extended the rears 1.5" at the top since those don't get bit by the springs as the front does.
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Here's the before and after for the wrecked yellow 2001. She was decent looking while she lasted. It would have been a lot easier to pull that Dana 44 if the cops would have held traffic a bit longer for me. I ended up having to do it in the grass in my back yard.

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Circling like a vulture.
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Nice find though! I found a 2000 Sahara in green with 52k on it from the original owner. Great vintage of Jeep. It looked real nice with 2” lift and 31s. I plan to get another 00-02 Sahara at some point and keep it mild.
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Here's the before and after for the wrecked yellow 2001. She was decent looking while she lasted. It would have been a lot easier to pull that Dana 44 if the cops would have held traffic a bit longer for me. I ended up having to do it in the grass in my back yard.

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Condolences to a fellow/former team yellow TJ and good luck on the new build! :)
 
I ran across some nice LJ Rubicon take-offs with nearly new Falken WildPeak MTs in 285/70R17. I thought they'd look cool so I bought the correct set of adapters (even though I wasn't crazy about the idea of adapters). I also got a Rugged Ridge tire carrier that I had to modify to accept the 5 on 5 LJ rim.

Anyway, here's how she looks now:

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She could be an inch taller or so but I'm pleased with the outcome. It's perfectly level with the hard top on so if I take the little bit of rake out of it then it'll sag to the rear with the hard top.

For the tire carrier, I had to weld up 2 holes, redrill and put M14 studs in it to hold the LJ wheel. I haven't taken pictures of the rear yet as I'm not crazy about the angled look of the Rugged Ridge tire bracket. I like the beefy hinge as my last two TJs were pretty sloppy after years of having a tire on there but I'd prefer the tire be tight to the body and straight up/down. We'll see but for now I'm just hoping I start to like the angled look.

Regarding the wheel adapters, they've been fine for several hundred miles now. I pulled the wheels off to check them once. I got them from LugNutGuys.com and they are the proper M14 studs for the LJ rims. I wasn't keen on the wheel adapter idea to begin with so I didn't want to do the fatter lug nuts and run 1/2" studs like others have done without issue. These weren't expensive and seem to be of great quality.

Also, both the Dana 44 and the 35 had only 1" of stud exposed. I wasn't getting sufficient thread engagement with them like I did on the front 30. So, I was able to get proper studs to give full engagement with the inner lug nuts at O'Reilly and it took about 30 minutes to swap them out. I didn't even have to remove the axle shafts, only the brake drums and no other brake hardware. I was able to find a couple of places around the perimeter where I could sneak out the old studs and put in the new ones. Then I used a stack of washers, lube and my impact wrench with a 90 ft. lb limiting torque extension to pull them into place.

What was interesting is I now see how little thread engagement I have always had with stock rims and the rear axle. With the chrome, closed-end lug nuts it's not apparent but when I returned the stock wheels to the wrecked jeep some of the chrome caps were knocked off and I could see into the lugnut. They're barely on there with the OEM Canyon wheels on those short little studs. I'll have to grab a picture of this.
 
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