kmas0n

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I purchased "Gru" used in 2005 with only 20k miles and in pristine condition. A bone stock TJ sport, with manual transmission, hard/soft tops, and an aftermarket stereo. Over the past 14 years, we have been through a lot together. We learned maintenance, how to perform electrical mods, like lights, speakers, and winches. We taught each other the value of quality tools and doing quality work. Of patience. We have both bled, sweated and cried through the years. We learned how to cut steel and weld, how to fabricate, how to create. We have explored Texas and Arizona. climbed rocks and forded rivers. Got stuck in deep mud holes and clawed to the tops of mountains.

14 years later we are both older and have scars. I can tell you where every one of his scars came from. I've never allowed anyone else to work on him so I know every nut bolt and weld well. I've replaced and upgraded axles, transmissions, and the entire suspension system. I still think its the coolest TJ ever.

This is how he sits today.

PXL_20210907_220129970.jpg



Dana 30 HP front with Yukon air locker
Ford 8.8 rear with Yukon Super 88 c clip eliminator
4:10 gear axle ratios
Currie Antirock swaybar
Advanced Adapter SYE
Advanced Adapter AX15 5-speed transmission
Black Magic pads
UCF Aluminum Ultra High Clearance Skid
33x12.50R15 BFG KM2 All-terrain tires
15" steel wheels
Custom rear bumper/hitch
OBA made with Sanden compressor, custom brackets to retain stock AC pump.
3 Link Mid arm front suspension with 3.5 Rock Krawler progressive springs and 11" travel Fox IFP (custom mounts for JL shocks)
3 Link Mid arm Rear suspension with JLUR front Springs and Outboarded Fox 12" smoothies with Remote Reservoir
AutoCustomCarpets Cutpyle mass backed carpet
Bestop Trektop NX frameless soft top in twill


I've created this thread to document the work I've done and the work I will be doing.

*edited occasionally to maintain accuracy*

Index.
Page 1 The Begining.
Page 2 Headlights, Carpet, Bestop
Page 3 Topless JLs and pretty pictures
Page 4 OBA, Flexing and... The perfect spring?
Page 5 Tummy Tuck, RotoPax and a old jeep
Page 6 JL shocks on a TJ and HUGE air!
Page 7 Beautiful Pics, a flat tire and a Loose exhaust clamp
Page 8 Bitching about heat and a 5.3 Vortec
Page 9 The End of the World. And a bunch of shit I worked hard on... then cut off
Page 10 Prepping for the Vortec
Page 11 AC frame notch and other clearance issues
Page 12 Mini Skids and Body Mounts
Page 13 Some other guys jeep and Hi Lines
Page 14 Joints, links, and coilovers
Page 15 Punk'nStein
Page 16 Armor, sliders and axles
Page 17 A Tiny Jeep, and big tires
Page 18 Coilover Towers, gas caps and Bump stops
Page 19 A brake, A plasma Cutter and a bad ass axle
Page 20 Finalizing the rear
 
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Chris

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Looks great with the JL wheels! Where did you come up with the name? Are you a big Despicable Me fan? ;)
 
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kmas0n

kmas0n

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My wife named our Yellow Renegade minion for obvious reasons. Then said, "your old jeep is like Gru, tough and old. (and grey)" It just stuck. I went with it and named our red JLUR "Lucy"
 
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kmas0n

kmas0n

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Build Philosophy
I think the most important thing anyone modifying a jeep needs to figure out, Is "what am I building this for?" Is this going to be a daily driver? Rock crawler? Mud? Sand dunes? Weekend warrior? Glamper?
When I lived in South Texas, the only off road available is mud. Gru ran a 2" BB with 33's. No bump stop extensions, no disconnects, factory shocks. It worked fine for that.
88470

When I moved to Arizona, I had to completely change my build concept. Now I needed articulation and travel. Longer shocks, proper bump stops. I knew that I had to be realistic with myself and build to the type of terrain I would be driving. I don't like extreme rock crawling, it just not for me. I'll never visit Johnson Valley and run king of the hammers. I need a jeep that's civil enough I can drive there, and watch others do it. So highway manners are a must. I need a tire big enough to get me over most trail obstacles, but not so large power, economy and comfort are sacrificed. I chose to stay with the 33" height tire. 4:10 gears compliment a 5 speed transmission nicely. For increased traction I went with a Yukon air locker in the front, and a LSD in the rear. Gru has an OBA so I can air down and then fill my tires back up for the drive home. A 9500# winch serves as a little insurance.
 
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kmas0n

kmas0n

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Gru is unique in that he has a 3 link rear suspension. I chose to retain the track-bar and have a single upper link. When I swapped out the factory Dana35 for a Ford 8.8, I went with the Artec truss system. I had intended on keeping the 5 link setup, but ended up cutting all the link brackets off, and making my own.

Pro tip: Don't buy the Artec truss system, weld it all up, then change your mind and cut it all off to make your own.

I did end up keeping the actual truss, coil buckets and track-bar portion of the kit.
I chose to go with a mid-arm style setup, my links are 27" long. I'm utilizing JKUR springs and shocks and have 5.5" of up travel, and about 4.5" of down travel.

88480


Things will get tight at the extreme ends of travel. All full compression the lower control arms come to within 1/8" of the frame, and the track-bar will touch the tub (zero clearance).

88481


I relocated the upper coil perches for bump stop alignment.

88483


a common problem for the rear suspension is that the upper link(s) will make contact with the underside of the tub right at the point where the floor steps up for the rear seat. I've seen this addressed by adding a body lift, limiting travel and even cutting channels in the body. I chose to do something different. I cut the control arm right at the break over point, mitered in the correct angle, welded it back together and added fish plates to give it back its strength. The control arm is made of 0.25 steel as are the fish plates.

88484


Here is what it all looks liked tacked together and mocked up before install. The "C" shaped bit will get welded to the frame

88485


If you look carefully in this one, you can see how the upper link gets very close to the body. It's kinda hidden by the exhaust and coil bucket.

88486


And finally the finished product.

88487


It is my plan sometime this summer to outboard the rear with 12" travel Fox remote reservoir shocks. I have taken the advice of some of the more experienced members on this site and saved that step for last. The JK Rubicon springs work well for now, as the shocks only have 8" of travel, and all full droop the springs still have tension on them. When I put on longer travel shocks the springs will unseat so I will choose something with a longer free length.
 
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kmas0n

kmas0n

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The front of Gru is also a 3 link mid-arm setup. I chose a Clayton mini truss for the upper link mounting point. The lower mounts are factory. The links are 27" long and interchangeable with the rear. I chose Rock Krawler 3.5" triple rate springs and 10" travel Fox remote reservoir shocks which required me to Fabricate upper and lower shock mounts. The track bar is Metalcloak. I have 6" of up travel and 4" of down travel

88615


I didn't like how far off the top of the axle the Clayton mini truss sat. I wanted to keep the axle side link separation close to factory. Here is what it looked like out of the box...

88617


and what it looks like after I modified it, removing nearly an inch off its height.

88618


If you look carefully, you can see that the upper link isn't actually on top of the truss, it sits just behind it. The link mount is "L" shaped and is kinda wrapped around the truss, and welded to the top of the actual differential help tie everything together even more. By doing this little mod, the axle side separation between links is nearly the same as factory.

88619


Upper Shock Mount

88620


Lower Shock Mount

88621


And finally, my solution for bump stop extensions. I had used a 2.5" hole saw to make axle side link mounts for the rear, and the piece left over was a near perfect fit to sit on top of a standard hockey puck. Drilled a hole in the puck and countersunk a bolt to go through the whole thing through the spring perch. The final version needed 2 pucks, so about 2.25" of bump stop extension. It allows about a finger width of clearance between the fender and tire at full stuff with the jounce bumpers squished about halfway into the cup. A bounce at full stuff would probably let the tire touch the metal part of the fender, but it's unlikely to happen. You can see my shock has about 1" of shaft showing at full stuff with the jounce bumper squished about halfway into the cup. a hard bounce should safely use the rest of the travel. But again, unlikely to happen.

88622

88624
 
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TreverStevens

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I went the an Artec truss system. I had intended on keeping the 5 link setup, but ended up cutting all the link brackets off, and making my own.

Pro tip: Don't buy the Artec truss system, weld it all up, then change your mind and cut it all off to make your own.
What made you change your mind about the Artec system? What all did you change on it? Looking to pick up their 8.8 truss, but looking for insight on it first.
 
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kmas0n

kmas0n

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What made you change your mind about the Artec system? What all did you change on it? Looking to pick up their 8.8 truss, but looking for insight on it first.

I decided to go mid-arm. Then 3 link. The Artec system is very nice but puts all the mounts in the factory position. If you are keeping the arms stock length, its a very user friendly kit
 
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cdubculvy

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Hey, awesome build! Impressive what you've done. I have to say I LOVE the look of the JL Rubi take off's you decided to go with. Do you have any more pictures you could share? My Jeep is silver too so I'm trying to decide if I should go that route. Do you think they'd fit ok with a 2" bds suspension lift?
 
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kmas0n

kmas0n

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Hey, awesome build! Impressive what you've done. I have to say I LOVE the look of the JL Rubi take off's you decided to go with. Do you have any more pictures you could share? My Jeep is silver too so I'm trying to decide if I should go that route. Do you think they'd fit ok with a 2" bds suspension lift?
Thanks for the kind words. Check out this thread, its got a few more pics of mine and others who have put JL wheels on a TJ. I think the standard go-to set up with 33's is a 2" suspension lift with a 1" body lift, so you should be fine with a little more modification

 
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kmas0n

kmas0n

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The 3 link rear is fun to see.
Thanks, it was fun to build and performs very well. Road manners are outstanding, its the little things that often are not mentioned or thought about. Like crossing a 4-way intersection that has a lot of crown, This jeep will track straight even with hands off the wheel and my buddies TJ will require steering correction. Its not a huge deal and he was the one that had to point it out to me. But it's just a lot of small changes that make it enjoyable to drive.
 
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cdubculvy

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Thanks for the kind words. Check out this thread, its got a few more pics of mine and others who have put JL wheels on a TJ. I think the standard go-to set up with 33's is a 2" suspension lift with a 1" body lift, so you should be fine with a little more modification


That's the thread that lead me here :)

EDIT: Just saw your latest picture, holy crap that looks good! I'm going with those.

About how much lift do you have over stock would you say?

Also, you say it tracks well, how's the on-road comfort of those wheel/tire combo? They're 17" wheels but I'd think the C load rating would help.

Thanks!
 
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