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Woodrow's 97 Green TJ Moderate Build

Woodrow

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Edit:
After some time on the forum, I added this pre-amble because my ideas for the build became a little more crystallized. My build is based on a 3” spring lift and 33s. It’s one of 2 vehicles I daily drive and occasionally I take it off-road. Stock-ish looks and light weight are priorities as opposed to big travel and armor. But, within those boundries, I’m doing what I can to optimize it, and I’m having lots of fun.

Index:
Page 1: Clean up, SYE, exhaust, shocks, 33s, Eaton tru-tracs, Re-gear, and chromoly shaftsF/R, soft top.
page 2: Stock spare tire carrier mods, Hi-lift, hitch, Golen Stroker arrives.
page 3: Baseline dyno results stock 4.0, stroker swap begins.
page 4: Stroker swap completed, reupholstered heated seats, T-stat, O2 sensors, trans mount #1.
page 5: Seat belts, GM under hood light, Stroker dyno results, front drive shaft, trans mount #2, extended front brake lines, ZJ steering linkage, clutch master/slave cyl., front track bar, front suspension cycling, new tool-Welder!
Page 6: next up? rear sway bar, BMB F brakes, tie rod flip and elevated F sway bar link brackets. Welding practice. Oil ZDDP. Frame drain holes.
Page 7: New RC flares. T-case cable shifter. MML. UCF skid and driveline angles. Aluminum wheels. Savvy control arms. Stubby stock bumper. Rear frame rehab. Stretch tank/fuel pump. Super 35. ZJ rear disc conversion.
Page 8: Rear frame recovery point, e-Locker wiring, exhaust mods.
Page 9: Rear bumper, MORryde tailgate kit and 3rd brake light.

Back to the first post, 6/21…

After reading and learning on this forum for a while I decided to join and post a build thread. Please call out my stupid ideas.

2 years ago, in April of 2019, a green ‘97 TJ fell into my lap and for no good reason, I bought it (some would say stupid idea #1). For me, the Jeep bug probably started with a bright blue V8 CJ (-5?) owned by the father of a college girlfriend. I was fortunate enough to drive it on a date with her in 1985 (would you let some dude take your daughter AND your Jeep out unaccompanied?). I don’t remember where we went or what we did, but I remember that Jeep. 34 years later, this TJ is my first real Jeep (I had a V8 WJ w/ a 242 for 10 years). Let’s face it, JEEP Jeeps aren’t practical. Broke students can’t afford them and families need more space (e.g. SUV Jeeps like my WJ, or JKUs, JLUs…). But, now that my career is mature and my kids are out in the world, this is a great hobby to grow my mechanical experience and try new things. This specimen is a 4.0 Sport w/ AX-15 w/ Dana 30/35 w/ open front and factory LSD rear (and 3.08 gears!). I like that it’s small and maneuverable but tough and though old, has massive aftermarket support. I’m owner number 3. It’s been in Colorado, Nevada and Oregon and is not very rusty but a little dirty and rough around the edges. At over 20 years old, probably everything needs going through. The last owner was a teenager and it seems he maintained his vehicle like I did back then - which is to say he didn’t, really. It came 31x10.5 tires and a 3” Black Diamond lift without adjustable rear upper control arms or SYE kit and a 1.5” transfer case drop (and a nice driveline vibration).

But, I like green, sticks, straight sixes and messing with cars. So, I brought it home and it got put into the daily driver rotation with my 2012 Mustang GT which is mostly modified to my preferences so I’ve run out of things to do to it.

Here is the TJ at purchase:

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Last edited:

Nickgsjeep

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Well here I am a new Jeep owner and new forum member posting a build thread. Please call out my stupid ideas

Recently, I bought a 150K mile green 97 sport for no good reason other than I’ve always liked TJs (some would say stupid idea #1). It’s a 4.0 w/ AX-15 w/ Dana 30/35 w/ open front and factory LSD rear (and 3.08 gears!). I’m owner number 3. It’s been in Colorado, Nevada and Oregon and not very rusty but a little dirty and rough around the edges. The previous owner was a teenager and he maintained his vehicle like I did back then- which is to say he didn’t, really. It came 31x10.5 tires and a 3” Black Diamond lift with out adjustable rear upper control arms or SYE kit and a 1.5” transfer case drop (and a nice driveline vibration).

But, Iike green, sticks, straight sixes and messing with cars. So, I brought it home and it got put into the daily driver rotation with my 2012 Mustang GT which is mostly modified to my preferences so I’ve run out of things to do to it.

Here is the TJ at purchase:View attachment 257055
Welcome to the crazy club! Nice jeep👍🏼
 

Wildman

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And I forgot,
Another PNW member too although it seems like we are losing more members from the PNW than we are gaining lately.
 
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Woodrow

Woodrow

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OK. So to bring you up to date: First I did some housekeeping. A good cleaning inside and out. Lots of mud and sand underneath got a good power washing. The carpet and seats had a moldy odor so all that pulled and cleaned. Sold the rear seat, janky aftermarket hardtop (sprayed with bed liner) and 90s wheels. Pretty solid stuff underneath, though. No real body or frame rust. Even the seats and carpet without tears. Then changed all fluids (that helped the shifting). New Dana 30 pinion seal (same part back to 1946!). Replaced cracked windshield. Replaced the really dirty after market conical air filter with stock box and filter. New plugs, wires, distributor cap and battery. Stock headlights TERRIBLE at night. PO’s LED bumper lights don’t work. So, bought Vision X reflector housings and Supernova V4 LED lamps ($160 for everything) and suddenly night is day. Then a safari top, 15x8 black steel D-window wheels and matching spare. At this point, things are looking and acting more serviceable. But there’s still the driveline issue...

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Woodrow

Woodrow

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So far it’s all simple stuff. Detailing and level 1 mechanical work. Mind you, that has mostly been my level forever. Too busy with school, work and family for much else (having time and acquiring the skills just haven’t happened. So next I got an Advance Adapters SYE kit and Adams double cardan driveshaft. I put them in myself with a big high-five and a beer. With those mods and new adjustable rear upper control arms, I could remove the T-case drop which really bothered me. Now I can drive over curbs at the mall with confidence :)

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Woodrow

Woodrow

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After that big win, got smacked by some annoying 25yo Chrysler electrical issues. Had to replace ignition cylinder, actuator and switch, blower motor resistor and a front turn signal socket. Sorry no pics but does anyone else find it ominous that the local auto parts store had all of that stuff in stock? Also, flasher relay which did NOT fix odd, intermittent hazard light flashing without indicator on dash (so I don’t know when it’s happened-just look stupid). Anyone know how to fix that?
 
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Woodrow

Woodrow

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Some other minor stuff:
Factory exhaust ugly with surface rust. Also too quiet. Between that and the smoothness inherent to a straight 6, some times I’d forget to shift up. So got a manifold back stainless steel system. Magnaflow 2.5” header pipe, cat and muffler with new O2 sensors and custom welded 2.5” rear pipe (local guy did a beautiful job). Now that awesome inline 6 sound is audible but not loud and my shifts are better. It’s possible that I lost some low end torque by going from 2.25” to 2.5” behind the muffler. 3.07 gears make this more noticeable, I assume. Hmmm....

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Wildman

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WOW you've been a busy little beaver (Duck) either since you're from OR🙂😉. We joke around here sometimes which is why it's so crazy.


But really nice work to your Jeep so far and you seem to be hitting a lot of the key issues. It all looks like some great work.


A lot of people use Jeep West @David Kishpaugh is the owner for things like axle work if you are looking for that. Also a great guy just to talk with and very knowledgeable. He also offers a Geometry Correction kit for short arm suspension that would be better explained by him. There is also @psrivats is in your area and has a bunch of work done by Dave so you can see first hand.
 
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Woodrow

Woodrow

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Next, a simple project. New Bilstein B8 5100 shocks for a 3” lift and a steering stabilizer to replace old Skyjacker 9000 shocks which were harsh. Interestingly, the Bilsteins seem a little soft (they feel great on my one ton diesel pickup on 35s...). Maybe an adjustable dampershock like fox makes? Pretty spendy though. Also, changing the rear pinion angle for a proper set up with the SYE kit and double cardan driveshaft rolls the axle tube back enough that it contacted the shock tube. So, some rearward extenders were welded onto the axle mounts. Finally, the front Bilsteins had greater length than the Skyjackers so between that and eliminating the T-case drop, the transfer case skid plate had to be notched to clear the front driveshaft. So much for a simple shock swap.

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Woodrow

Woodrow

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WOW you've been a busy little beaver (Duck) either since you're from OR🙂😉. We joke around here sometimes which is why it's so crazy.


But really nice work to your Jeep so far and you seem to be hitting a lot of the key issues. It all looks like some great work.


A lot of people use Jeep West @David Kishpaugh is the owner for things like axle work if you are looking for that. Also a great guy just to talk with and very knowledgeable. He also offers a Geometry Correction kit for short arm suspension that would be better explained by him. There is also @psrivats is in your area and has a bunch of work done by Dave so you can see first hand.
Thx. It’s been fun. I’m originally from Michigan and did time in East Lansing and Ann Arbor so I’m more a Spartan or Wolverine. But I’ve been in Oregon for 20 years (probably for life) and of my kids, there’s one Duck and one Beaver :)
 
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Woodrow

Woodrow

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Wildman mentioned axles which will pretty much bring me up to current. Thus far, everything has mostly been making the starting point a little more polished And as a daily driver, it’s fun as it is up to here. It needed a full top for winter. I put on a Best Top NX Trektop so now the Mustang doesn’t have suffer low traction (rain) days. Also the 31” tires might not be enough for really deep puddles at the mall. After toying with 32x11.50, just went with 33x12.50 because, why not? These Dick Cepeks are US made by Cooper (tires which I’ve had good luck with on trucks in the past). They are pretty much a true 33 and luckily, no rubs at full flex. But now I really need new gears...

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Nickgsjeep

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Thx. It’s been fun. I’m originally from Michigan and did time in East Lansing and Ann Arbor so I’m more a Spartan or Wolverine. But I’ve been in Oregon for 20 years (probably for life) and of my kids, there’s one Duck and one Beaver :)
Dude I’m from Michigan too. Warren, but Ive been in California since 2002 and probably going to stay in California at least a while longer. I love the colors of your TJ too. Looking great man.
 
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Woodrow

Woodrow

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If you look closely at the top pic in the last post, there’s shiny stuff at the hubs. This I didn’t do myself. Virgil Osborne at Twin Peaks Off Road set the TJ up with Yukon 4.10 gears, Yukon 4340 Chromoly shafts and Eaton TrueTracs front and rear plus all new bearings and seals. A selectable locker in the rear is possible in the future but prob not without a 44 instead of the current 35.

There. Up to date but more to come soon.
 
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Woodrow

Woodrow

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Dude I’m from Michigan too. Warren, but Ive been in California since 2002 and probably going to stay in California at least a while longer. I love the colors of your TJ too. Looking great man.
Hey man, thx and good to meet you. I grew up in Detroit and Sterling Heights. My 1st job was on 8 mile so I know Warren well.
 

Wildman

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If you look closely at the top pic in the last post, there’s shiny stuff at the hubs. This I didn’t do myself. Virgil Osborne at Twin Peaks Off Road set the TJ up with Yukon 4.10 gears, Yukon 4340 Chromoly shafts and Eaton TrueTracs front and rear plus all new bearings and seals. A selectable locker in the rear is possible in the future but prob not without a 44 instead of the current 35.

There. Up to date but more to come soon.

If you decide you want a selectable locker you can also look into the Super 35 kits which makes your Dana 35 axle just as strong as a Dana 44 axle. Cheaper than trying to find a Dana 44 since they seem to be like hens teeth and around the PNW when you do find one they are more expensive than they are worth IMO.

You've really done some nice work to the rig. What are you plans as far as wheeling with it? Just forest service roads or something more? If you're going to get into wheeling the trails do you have a group of friends to wheel with?

Be careful reading around this site as it seem to make many of us spend loads of money we'd never planned on because of all the great ideas on here. So you've been duly warned.
 
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Kil

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Well I hope you keep up with the mod descriptions. Hadn't stepped inside a jeep until 4 days ago. (64 yrs w/o) Said "what the hey". Bought one. 97. Found this site trying to decide what upgrades are possible/likely/necessary and came across your build so please keep on pouring out the info. Luckily a good mechanic in the friend column so most things I'll be able to handle. Don't know the protocols of forums but may try to add build info also since I find yours helpful already. Of course this comes from this the "I don't know (#(@" side, but that can be helpful to the uneducated. ( Me/WA types ) I'm not sure if I'm supposed to ask questions in here or separately but may have a direct question or two as time goes on. Will add my photo but newbie status to forums will probably dictate a pic from summer 1975 coming out instead. If I do post my build I'll do a separate thread(?) to keep yours clean. Anyhow, just saying thanks for posting.
1997.jpg
 

Wildman

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Well I hope you keep up with the mod descriptions. Hadn't stepped inside a jeep until 4 days ago. (64 yrs w/o) Said "what the hey". Bought one. 97. Found this site trying to decide what upgrades are possible/likely/necessary and came across your build so please keep on pouring out the info. Luckily a good mechanic in the friend column so most things I'll be able to handle. Don't know the protocols of forums but may try to add build info also since I find yours helpful already. Of course this comes from this the "I don't know (#(@" side, but that can be helpful to the uneducated. ( Me/WA types ) I'm not sure if I'm supposed to ask questions in here or separately but may have a direct question or two as time goes on. Will add my photo but newbie status to forums will probably dictate a pic from summer 1975 coming out instead. If I do post my build I'll do a separate thread(?) to keep yours clean. Anyhow, just saying thanks for posting.View attachment 257152

Kil,
First off Welcome to the forum. Posting in someone else's build thread is okay to comment or ask quick questions.
But if you are asking specific question about doing something to you TJ then it would be better if you go over to the General Discussion area to ask those questions.

If you have questions about proper etiquette on a forum you can look send a private message to a staff member or go to the Off Topic area and ask.
https://wranglertjforum.com/forums/off-topic.45/

Also you can use the search to look for threads where someone has done what you're thinking about doing.

Also take a look in the How To area:


And also the TJ Recourses area:
https://wranglertjforum.com/forums/tj-resources.121/

These two areas might be able to also answer a lot of your questions.
 

Kil

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Kil,
First off Welcome to the forum. Posting in someone else's build thread is okay to comment or ask quick questions.
But if you are asking specific question about doing something to you TJ then it would be better if you go over to the General Discussion area to ask those questions.

If you have questions about proper etiquette on a forum you can look send a private message to a staff member or go to the Off Topic area and ask.
https://wranglertjforum.com/forums/off-topic.45/

Also you can use the search to look for threads where someone has done what you're thinking about doing.

Also take a look in the How To area:


And also the TJ Recourses area:
https://wranglertjforum.com/forums/tj-resources.121/

These two areas might be able to also answer a lot of your questions.
Perfect. Thanks for the leads. And I only posted due to the irony of finding his green TJ build-out after stepping into the Jeep world so recently. Well that and since he doesn't have the advantage of living in WA, having to grind it out in OR, I thought a message from the more fortunate up north would be nice. ..... just saying.