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She's a real GEM

Mack McLaughlin

New Member
Sep 26, 2018
Bryan, TX
We will start with a history of my Jeep named Gem

I bought a bone stock Jeep TJ in upstate NY in 2015.
I've always been of the mind that you take things out and fix what breaks.
Well... things broke. Every time I brought it out. First thing I did was pull the radio and speakers.
Next- I destroyed the rear tire and in the process of removing it I realized the rim was all but fused to the axle. Had to cut that out.
Then I found some half decent 33's with rims and spacers. The spacer failed. (Never going that route again) and on the same trip pushed my steps up on an angle.
Remedy for that was to buy some awesome Boat Sides.
Then the rear brakes failed catastrophically.
So I replaced every component of that (to include the lines, master cylinder and brake booster)

So here I am with a Jeep that all of a sudden became a huge project. We started taking apart the front just to replace some small parts. NOW I have nothing in the Jeep except the frame, body, axles and tires.

This has been an excruciating learning process but, I couldn't be happier about it. This will be a frame up build and will likely take me years to accomplish.
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What I currently have:
33" Cooper STT Pros on steelies
Boat sides
A dana 44 rear axle I am rebuilding along the way (with rotors instead of drums)

What I plan:
An LS with an AX-15. If I can find a 241OR I will use that, if not I will build up the 231 with an SYE and a lower gear
Fuel cell behind the front seat
A solid roll cage for off roading
Winch and bumpers (obviously)
CJ Tailgate with a swing out tire carrier
New Bucket seats with a 4 point harness
Tummy tuck
How she started and how she sat when I pulled the engine



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Sounds like a fun / time consuming way to pass some time over the next few years. Can't wait to watch the progress unfold. I wish I would have taken photos and documented my build so I would have had a story to share. I guess there's always next time.
Sounds like a project for sure. Curious, why the AX15 and not a 4L60E/4L80E? No adapters, stronger, better off road.
Sounds like a project for sure. Curious, why the AX15 and not a 4L60E/4L80E? No adapters, stronger, better off road.
There is something to be said about having an automatic off road but, I can’t convince myself to ever put one into a Jeep honestly. Also- my brother and father are also Jeepers and would never let me hear the end of it
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