I purchased this 97 Wrangler in July of 2014. I have always wanted a jeep and when I moved to CO several years ago I thought it would be the perfect place to start. I sold my 2011 Cummins due to sheer size and it being an inappropriate vehicle for downtown Denver. So far I think I made the right decision. This was a 2 owner vehicle. First being an older gentleman who only put 30k miles on. Second owner being a man in his late 40s who threw the 4" lift on and 35s. Purely for looks. When I looked at it there wasn't an ounce of rust anywhere nor a scratch to be found. It had 69k on the clock, a D35 in the rear with 3.55 gearing, and a transfercase drop, not ideal but it was to clean to pass up.
First change was getting rid of the 35" tires. They were over 6 years old and clearly not meant to be on there just yet. I opted for 33" duratracs
I drove around like this for a few months, doing research and planning the next stages of my build. I figured if I wanted to do any rock crawling here in CO I would need to upgrade the dana 35. At that time I was looking for a Super 35 but they were pretty much non existent (RG&A hadnt come into the market yet, superior had been shut down for quite awhile already). I kept an eye on the forums, craigslist, ebay and scoured daily. I finally found a member on WF who mentioned he was selling his Rubi d44 with OEM locker in a few weeks, it was a subtle comment that nobody really jumped at since it wasnt in a FS thread, or WTB. I messaged him, found out he was only 45 min from me, and made a deal. He even helped me out with the install.
In order to lose the transfer case drop (I was more excited about that then the actual axle) I needed a set of control arms, track bar, and an SYE. He referred me to metalcloak and I made the jump for a set up uppers, lowers, and long travel track bar. I also had an Advance Adapters SYE Installed.
Wheeler Lake trail finally did my current superlift shocks in. They had no rebound or resistance whatsoever. The bar pin bushings had disintegrated and the shocks were rattling around like crazy. I put in a set of Bilstien 5100s based on 4" lift. Had I known then what I know now I would have done that differently, I would have bought shocks based on my bumpstops, interference issues, coil bind, etc... But they work for now.. The purchase of new shocks motivated me to get the front axle dialed in. New goodies from Metalcloak
For 2016 I made a big change and dove deeper into the world of modifications. I purchased the Savvy Under Armor and gas tank skid. The old OE skid had me hung up plenty of times and I decided to change that. With this came the UA, GTS, JKS 1.25 BL, and 1" JKS MML. This mod taught me how everything works in unison and how bumpstops play a major role in everything. This issue arose after the tuck:
My axle was rotated so far back that my shocks were contacting my coil springs. My driveshaft was also binding at full droop
I made a few phone calls back and forth with Hosejockey (WF Member), we decided to shave the axle completely, and install 3/16" brackets clocked to accommodate the angles along with performing a rear spring perch relocation. Had help from Hosejockey, UnlimitedLJ04, jjvw, and CO_HOLLIDAY (all WF Members). A very very long weekend.
I went with Rubicon Express axle brackets as a replacement. 3/16". They werent the cheapest, but they fit the tubes well, and mounted to the CAs and trackbar perfectly (I lost that photo...)
After all this work the only issue that remained was my driveshaft was just barely binding still at full droop. The only way to resolve it was to opt for a JB conversions super short SYE and have my current DC shaft lengthened. That install was easy following the directions from Stu Offroad.
Advanced Adapters SYE on the left, JB Conversions Super Short on the right.
I was enjoying my new mods and glad to be back in action. Then the powers-that-be decided I was having to much fun after one weekend....
I was leaving work and shifted into 3rd, my thumb knocked the locker switch and I engaged the rubi locker around 35-40 mph. Since this was a transplant axle, I didnt have any sensors or protection other than the on/off switch to activate the locker. I quickly shut it back off but didnt hear anything that alarmed me. Later that night I started making slow maneuvers around the neighborhood and could feel and hear a hard jolt and pop. Something was binding inside. Cracked the cover and found this
Several teeth at the bottom of the case. We think it may have been the inner spider gears. Though I never confirmed it. Obviously it wasnt working.