The Pickle / Jurassic Pickle, Nostalgia Build With My Kids

techjeeper

TJ Enthusiast
Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2023
Messages
140
Location
Texas
I’ve been a jeep guy for 22 years now 15YO to 37YO(present). My 2 older kids are 12 and 14 so I figured it was about time to get their hands on a vehicle and start learning about tools, repairs, upgrades, etc. The only vehicle I really know well enough is the venerable Jeep TJ. I started looking around for a proper project that was a beginner level. A good friend actually found this one and put a new transmission and clutch in it and sold it to me for a very fair deal. The Jeeps starting point was trashed seats, crap fender flares, wheels and tires way too big, tires were some off brand, radio has issues, etc.

It was named Jurassic Pickle because my daughter, first words out of her mouth were, "It looks like pickle!" and my son with out missing a beat..."Jurassic Pickle!" After we got the Jurassic Park logos and residue off the doors its become just "the pickle" now.

The plan phase 1:
New Seats, done
Remove JP stickers, done
New Shift knob, done
New Carpet, done
Go through all the wiring for the lights and radio, done
New Flares, done-ish
New Wheels and Tires, done
New tailgate tire mount and third brake light, done
Fix the front bumper nut inserts on the frame, done
Rebuild the door latches and linkages, parts are in
Late Model Mirrors, done
New Rear Bumper, done-ish
Old Tomken front bumper(my first jeep bumper from 22 years ago!), done but getting modified
New Steering box(old one leaked like crazy), done
All sorts of small restoration type stuff. Using a heat gun to restore plastic, deep cleaning.
New head unit and mount, done.
All new speakers, done.


Updated list of To Do’s 1/3/24:
All new shocks, front done, rear arrived.
All new bumps stop, arrived
New front track bar, done!
New heavy duty steering, done!
Rebuild passenger door, Arrived
Install winch, have to figure out winch plate interfering with aftermarket bumper.
H&R 1” Adventure Springs

Building a camping trailer.

My kids have done tons of the work, I just don’t post their pic online.

Phase 2: MTB road trips, camping, mountains, and fun. They are even excited to be taken to school in it at this point. This TJ is my way to reconnect with where I started with jeeps and connect my kids to jeeps and adventure you can have in a stock-ish jeep. At some point we might do something along the lines of a high clearance skid, no lift, MC fender and 33s, etc. The idea is really more restore and make nice rather than modify and build up into some sort of hardcore jeep. This is my 6th jeep over 22 years, I've built them, bought them, broke them, fixed, etc. TJ/LJ are my favorite. I have well built JKUR on 37's that can handle all the harder wheelin' that I bought 7 years ago to be able to fit the bigger family and have slowly built in the direction of do it all pretty good instead just rock crawl, or overland, or cruise the mall. It does all those things pretty good. After I get a couple of kids out on their own in their jeep(green tj pictured) over the next couple years I will have to find an LJ.

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A little background on my jeep(s).

The Family Truckster JKUR I call Plain Jane JK. 37s, black, blah blah blah...Plain ol' JKUR Stuff. Does all the current wheelin', camping, hunting, MTB trips, etc. In my view its not cool or exciting but it really works well and I can drive it anywhere.

Build thread I started so I could keep track:
https://wranglerjkforum.net/threads/8-years-with-plain-jane-the-jk.31747/
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My last TJ(blue) was such a good off-roader…hi lines, 35s, atlas, full mid arm links, just a great off road jeep. I never really could get it all the way sorted out for daily driving. I didn’t have to because I had a truck but I just really wanted it to be solid all arounder. I poured time and effort and resources into that jeep. True love/hate relationship that comes with these sometimes. Then I found out our third kid was on the way and knew my time with it would have to end. I don’t ever want that keep back but I’d love to build one fully my way similar to it some day. I’d rather use more of the shelf parts next time. Everything was custom and it meant doing anything to it took tons of time and effort.

Honorable mention. The little tan jeep is one I built for my dad. Very minor stuff. Rocker guards, steering box skid, rear bumper, OME lift. It drove all over Moab. Open diffs and stock JK rubicon wheels and tires.

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I’m skipping a few all the way back to the jeep that started it all. 1998 Chile Pepper Red Sport. It had 31s and a 3” body lift(barf). When I got it. It was my first car. I truly learned a ton turning wrenches on that jeep. It went through several iterations. Some I did myself and other done by a shop or 2. One of which was a big surprise after I thought it was a goner. While flat towing it the TCase let go and tire out everything under the jeep. It was so disheartening after all the work and time. My dad took a town over to a mechanic to sort though the destruction and piece it all back together. I thought it was just getting put back like it was but he essentially had the whole underside rebuilt and upgraded. RE along arm, Dana 44 axles, atlas, etc. at that time he and I went jeeping a lot and he didn’t want to worry about it breaking anymore. We also quit flat towing. Hahahahaha

The pics are from college when me and my buddies shoe stringed it to Moab for a week and had the time of our lives eating sandwiches, sleeping in tents and wheeling all Moab had to offer.

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Quick note, the bumper on that red jeep is the one we just put on the green jeep above, this thread is actually about. The tow bar was on it after having to drag it back to camp in Moab with a pickup to fix it. It rode a trailer all the way to Moab and back. That bumper has seen a lot through the years and has new life on the front of the Jurassic Pickle(green jeep).
 
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That's a really rare color. Looks awesome especially with that interior color.

I didn't know this color existed before this jeep. I thought it was just really faded. Another jeep we had way back when was a 1997 4cyl and it was a really dark green, the more common one from '97. The dash and console are staying tan. The carpet, seats and top are all black now. If the seats hadn't been such garbage I would have actually preferred to keep them but hey were a lost cause. The rear seat got a black corbeau cover to it would be similar to the front seats. It's pretty hashed too under the cover.
 
Poll:

2” lift or High Clearance Skid?

I’ve been out of the TJ game a while and don’t remember some of the finer details.

I put together a parts list of all the good stuff for a 2-2.5” lift. Springs, Shocks, front track bar, rear track bar bracket, etc. As I recall that’s about the limit with stock control arms and driveshafts. Total for said parts was around $1100.

I think I’d prefer the Undercover fab no BL skid plate or something like that. Bumpers don’t get any higher but the belly does.

May no do either. The jeeper in me has my mind running wild on build ideas but the practical dad in me says leave it alone and just enjoy it.

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Poll:

2” lift or High Clearance Skid?

I’ve been out of the TJ game a while and don’t remember some of the finer details.

I put together a parts list of all the good stuff for a 2-2.5” lift. Springs, Shocks, front track bar, rear track bar bracket, etc. As I recall that’s about the limit with stock control arms and driveshafts. Total for said parts was around $1100.

I think I’d prefer the Undercover fab no BL skid plate or something like that. Bumpers don’t get any higher but the belly does.

May no do either. The jeeper in me has my mind running wild on build ideas but the practical dad in me says leave it alone and just enjoy it.

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Do both. I have a 2.5” lift and a little less than a year ago put a UCF extra clearance skid on my Unlimited. I do have adjustable control arm, a body lift and motor mount lift though. Also added a SYE and DC rear driveshaft.
 
Do both. I have a 2.5” lift and a little less than a year ago put a UCF extra clearance skid on my Unlimited. I do have adjustable control arm, a body lift and motor mount lift though. Also added a SYE and DC rear driveshaft.

I’m trying to avoid all the typical lifted or hi clear snow balls at least for now. Doing one or the other now wouldn’t prevent the other one in the future. I really like the idea of a maxed out 31” tire TJ some day in the distant future. Locking diffs, high clear skid, 1-2” lift, and so on. Basically a rubicon I suppose.

I have to keep reminding myself it’s the kids daily driver when they are old enough. Mundane is good for now.
 
I’m trying to avoid all the typical lifted or hi clear snow balls at least for now. Doing one or the other now wouldn’t prevent the other one in the future. I really like the idea of a maxed out 31” tire TJ some day in the distant future. Locking diffs, high clear skid, 1-2” lift, and so on. Basically a rubicon I suppose.

I have to keep reminding myself it’s the kids daily driver when they are old enough. Mundane is good for now.

Kids do dumb stuff,even good kids. I vote skid and stock height to keep center of gravity down and good handling.

But....a small lift would increase clearance in more places.
 
The camping pics wouldn't be Palo Duro Canyon?

Yep, we live in north Lubbock county so its about an hour and half from the front door of our house. We hike and bike there fairly often.

We usually take the RV and go.

We’ve been to Merus to camp as well(2nd pic), I slept in the jeep, all the kids in the tent. Wife doesn’t camp, but loves the RV.

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I’m trying to avoid all the typical lifted or hi clear snow balls at least for now. Doing one or the other now wouldn’t prevent the other one in the future. I really like the idea of a maxed out 31” tire TJ some day in the distant future. Locking diffs, high clear skid, 1-2” lift, and so on. Basically a rubicon I suppose.

I have to keep reminding myself it’s the kids daily driver when they are old enough. Mundane is good for now.

My kid has his learner's permit, and is driving the 1999 XJ that we have been working on and fixing up since he was 12.

First, you're tackling this EXACTLY the right way. My boy did a ton of work on his XJ, and because of that has pride of ownership in his ride. Your kiddos will be the same.

I went extremely mild with my son's XJ. First, I didn't want to drop 5-6 grand in a vehicle that may get creamed in the high school parking lot and bend the frame. I hope that doesn't happen, but the reality is that teenage boys get in wrecks.

Instead I focused on bang-for-your-buck mods, and safety/convenience mods.

His XJ has a 1" lift, quality tires, completely rebuilt front end, hours and hours of wiring work (fixing electrical problems), transmission cooler, tune up work, all fluid refreshed, hands free Bluetooth system, etc.

I still fantasize about lifting the XJ, locking the axles, mounting a winch, etc. But reality is, dad's money was better spent on making it reliable and safe. My boy can spend his own money making it a better offroader, and I'll happily help him turn wrenches and install parts if he does!😉
 
My kid has his learner's permit, and is driving the 1999 XJ that we have been working on and fixing up since he was 12.

First, you're tackling this EXACTLY the right way. My boy did a ton of work on his XJ, and because of that has pride of ownership in his ride. Your kiddos will be the same.

I went extremely mild with my son's XJ. First, I didn't want to drop 5-6 grand in a vehicle that may get creamed in the high school parking lot and bend the frame. I hope that doesn't happen, but the reality is that teenage boys get in wrecks.

Instead I focused on bang-for-your-buck mods, and safety/convenience mods.

His XJ has a 1" lift, quality tires, completely rebuilt front end, hours and hours of wiring work (fixing electrical problems), transmission cooler, tune up work, all fluid refreshed, hands free Bluetooth system, etc.

I still fantasize about lifting the XJ, locking the axles, mounting a winch, etc. But reality is, dad's money was better spent on making it reliable and safe. My boy can spend his own money making it a better offroader, and I'll happily help him turn wrenches and install parts if he does!😉

Yeah so far other than the new tires being mud terrains it’s all been towards, utility and daily driving. I drive it pretty often now, I’m going to miss it when they take over using it every day. I tell them all the time it’s my jeep I will be allowing them to drive. I don’t want big ideas of mods that I don’t have a hand in.
 
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