Woodrow's 97 Green TJ Moderate Build

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Woodrow

Woodrow

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I‘ve had this TJ for 3 years now and have done a few mechanical things but other than cleaning, really nothing purely cosmetic. In part, this is because I don’t think much looks nicer than a stock-ish TJ. So anything I add for looks would probably just screw it up😃. One little thing has been bugging me though. A previous owner sprayed bed liner on what I assume were stock sport flares. This was hard to clean and the flares were small with 12.5” tires and 3.75” backspace wheels. That led to mud not only on the body but also coming in through open windows. I looked for Sahara or Rubicon flares a little, but they are generally priced too high and still don’t give much more coverage. There are a few 6 and 7” options out there but they don’t look right to me. Then @TheBoogieman put Rough Country 5.5” flares on his Rubi and I thought those flares hit the perfect compromise between stock looks and better coverage (thanks for sharing, dude). I bought a set and put them on. Simple right? Pretty much, but it still took me a week plus 🙄. The Rough Country flares don’t come with hardware. That’s fine. I ordered Crown’s hardware kit and some new side marker lenses as mine were cracked and dirty.

I saw a guy on you tube cut the old flares and pull the wheels. I can tell you both made removal easier:
8D15E7FC-E083-4328-830F-BDFB32ACC22C.jpeg

1CC8C3F1-CFA5-4716-A621-A859548467D2.jpeg


A few issues:
1) The Crown kit (4918K) isn’t complete. It came with 6 nutserts and there are 16 in total for a set of TJ flares. Fortunately, exactly 6 of my 16 spun and had to be pulled and replaced (how did they know?!). It did have enough of the wood screw type bolts and plastic nuts. Finally, the rear wheel well liners are held in with 14 plastic push pins. The kit had only 6 new ones. I bought another 8 from a local auto parts store (Dorman 963-018D).

2) The paint on my TJ is sub-optimal but I have always kind of liked the patina and haven’t waxed it since I’ve owned it. But, with the flares off, it seemed like a good opportunity. So I pulled the rear lights, plate, spare and snubbers and got ‘er done:
33E74517-D4AD-4C8F-92D2-F0999D639AB3.jpeg

2F5C74E0-941B-43A6-8BE1-5F77788B4775.jpeg

3) ’97 TJs have all kinds of idiosyncrasies, and here’s another: The aftermarket front/side marker lenses are all 97-06. But my early ‘97 (mfg May 96) has different sockets. So I had to buy and splice in new sockets for the later model lenses. In the pic, you can see the old and new lenses and sockets (new=Standard S789). Bulbs are the same (Sylvania 194).
7DD58465-2DEE-4CD0-8EF6-64B2B2E128A0.jpeg

So, after more effort than I planned, here is the finished product:
2C0EBE25-5988-4AAD-8AC3-98BF7B4F7D99.jpeg

ED0AF711-A31C-44EA-97E4-B663AD3ED4BE.jpeg
1C748C34-3817-4271-9A4F-1E656C2D40CE.jpeg

FCF43DD6-C66D-44F2-AD43-DFF97412D19B.jpeg

I like the stock looks with increased coverage (still a little tire sticking out, which looks good, I think). My only complaint is the “RC” logo on the front but, whatever.
 

TheBoogieman

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C-Ville VA
I‘ve had this TJ for 3 years now and have done a few mechanical things but other than cleaning, really nothing purely cosmetic. In part, this is because I don’t think much looks nicer than a stock-ish TJ. So anything I add for looks would probably just screw it up😃. One little thing has been bugging me though. A previous owner sprayed bed liner on what I assume were stock sport flares. This was hard to clean and the flares were small with 12.5” tires and 3.75” backspace wheels. That led to mud not only on the body but also coming in through open windows. I looked for Sahara or Rubicon flares a little, but they are generally priced too high and still don’t give much more coverage. There are a few 6 and 7” options out there but they don’t look right to me. Then @TheBoogieman put Rough Country 5.5” flares on his Rubi and I thought those flares hit the perfect compromise between stock looks and better coverage (thanks for sharing, dude). I bought a set and put them on. Simple right? Pretty much, but it still took me a week plus 🙄. The Rough Country flares don’t come with hardware. That’s fine. I ordered Crown’s hardware kit and some new side marker lenses as mine were cracked and dirty.

I saw a guy on you tube cut the old flares and pull the wheels. I can tell you both made removal easier:
View attachment 325033
View attachment 325032

A few issues:
1) The Crown kit (4918K) isn’t complete. It came with 6 nutserts and there are 16 in total for a set of TJ flares. Fortunately, exactly 6 of my 16 spun and had to be pulled and replaced (how did they know?!). It did have enough of the wood screw type bolts and plastic nuts. Finally, the rear wheel well liners are held in with 14 plastic push pins. The kit had only 6 new ones. I bought another 8 from a local auto parts store (Dorman 963-018D).

2) The paint on my TJ is sub-optimal but I have always kind of liked the patina and haven’t waxed it since I’ve owned it. But, with the flares off, it seemed like a good opportunity. So I pulled the rear lights, plate, spare and snubbers and got ‘er done:
View attachment 325022
View attachment 325019
3) ’97 TJs have all kinds of idiosyncrasies, and here’s another: The aftermarket front/side marker lenses are all 97-06. But my early ‘97 (mfg May 96) has different sockets. So I had to buy and splice in new sockets for the later model lenses. In the pic, you can see the old and new lenses and sockets (new=Standard S789). Bulbs are the same (Sylvania 194).
View attachment 325024
So, after more effort than I planned, here is the finished product:
View attachment 325031
View attachment 325027View attachment 325028
View attachment 325030
I like the stock looks with increased coverage (still a little tire sticking out, which looks good, I think). My only complaint is the “RC” logo on the front but, whatever.
Looking good! 👍
 
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Woodrow

Woodrow

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458
Location
Oregon
No fun Jeep work lately. Just actual work and chores. I’ve been working my way through 1000’ of fence:
8A353CAD-12A4-4FBF-8E9A-143E6EE5CD42.jpeg

It rained all night and most of today so I got a little garage time in this afternoon.

For months, I’ve had a UCF skid that will lift my transfer case almost 2”. Before I install it, I need to do several things. First, a T-case cable shifter. I’ve been lucky with my stock linkage. It works well now with the stock skid and it also did with the 1.5” transfer case drop my TJ had when I bought it. But, for the tuck, I picked up the Savvy cable shifter for my NP231.
204D3617-0AEE-4F82-98DE-AD7A4D8755BA.jpeg

It is well reviewed here and elsewhere but of course, no instructions. However, thanks to folks on the forum and you tube, it’s not too hard.

Step 1, remove the four 10mm bolts from the stock tub bracket by peeling back the carpet on the tunnel:
C9A1130E-4A7C-42EA-A5E1-C92259B4188F.jpeg

Step 2, put the Jeep on a lift and support the transmission and T-case skid (for those under 50, support transmission and then skip to step 3):
C335697B-0A38-46D6-850D-58C6A4DF8A5B.jpeg

Here is the view with the tub bracket loose and T-case skid and front driveshaft out of the way:
39442681-0F16-44FE-AE23-C02F3DC6ED1A.jpeg

Step 3, remove the linkage.
9/16” nut + washer on the case:
EB8EBF22-2388-40A1-9F13-C3737879DD23.jpeg

Then pry the linkage shaft out of the bushing in the T-case bracket and remove the two 9/16” nuts from the T-case bracket:
084C7036-C3C8-48D8-957B-21BE58D13F90.jpeg
All the old stuff is now out:
8C378ACC-D4E1-47A4-9E80-99D3E467557B.jpeg

1677B517-6005-4036-AF87-42E2048AD3FD.jpeg

Step 4: Install new shifter:
The Savvy system has 2 new brackets that mount where the stock brackets were and the linkage is replaced by the cable which heads forward from the shift lever and turns 180 degrees down and toward the rear to go to the transfer case. There are two 15/16” nuts and a lock washer on each bracket to adjust cable length on either end. Hardware to attach the cable on both ends is in the kit including a new lever arm on the T-case end. New nuts, bolts and washers for the tub bracket are included. The three 9/16” nuts for the T-case lever and bracket are re-used.
20B0EFEB-8B71-4DAC-A278-B0C8B392C615.jpeg

I used blue loctite on all bolts and a dab of lithium grease on the pins at each end. When doing initial cable adjustment, I just made sure the shift lever and T-case lever were both in the same position. I used 4L as my reference (which is T-case lever all the way to rear on the NP231). A quick test drive seemed all good but fine tuning wii be straight forward, if necessary.
4350A23A-50BC-4E4F-AB3C-0FC092DDE064.jpeg
 
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Woodrow

Woodrow

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I have been wanting to do a mild tummy tuck for a while. A UCF no body lift skid has occupied a corner in my garage for over 6 months. The Savvy T-case cable shifter I recently installed was progress. Next, the Motor Mount Lift. The Savvy 1” blocks I ordered never showed so I picked up some JKS 1” aluminum blocks instead. I wanted to maintain the stock mounts for reduced NVH. The install wasn’t as easy as I‘d hoped. It would clearly have been better to do when I swapped in the stroker but, oh well. I made a wood adapter to allow me to lift the motor with a pole jack while the TJ was on my lift and without pushing on the bottom of the oil pan:

28CF7CBC-EFB3-4C19-B5A7-0334408A88ED.jpeg

The driver’s side was straight forward. Lots of room:
9BE2F01B-D6C8-448E-BF92-D3BB848B0E4B.jpeg

On the passenger’s side, not so much. The engine block bracket and one of it’s bolts contacted both the frame side bracket and the lift block requiring some metal trimming to allow reasonable clearance:
DA016FD3-65E7-4527-9C9E-D719C309D0C3.jpeg


9D672740-C9FB-4908-99F0-84B8875A738D.jpeg


BA9128B9-F128-40D9-BE3F-D0437CAD9287.jpeg


C8697AE7-15F3-44DD-9B1A-4E85B90CAAE8.jpeg

Once I was satisfied with the MML, it was time to test fit the new UCF skid 😀:
86F59755-7FC4-4E7C-8EAB-A6D73F2FAC0A.jpeg

The UCF aluminum skid is not drilled for the stock conical bolts so I used new grade 8 bolts and flat washers torqued to 75 ft.lbs. As this is a structural frame crossmember, I wonder how much strength/rigidity I’m giving up without the conical bolts. If I could find the right stuff, I suppose conical drilled aluminum washers could be welded on to allow use of the conical bolts….
On the plus side, the new skid weighs about 20# less and only hangs down 2.5”, vs 4 1/8” for my stock skid:
AD00A0CE-5932-4BCE-A0C3-872C4FDB937D.jpeg

Using the stock style (anchor) transmission mount, my NP231 is raised 1 5/8”. With that and the 1" MML, no clearance problems were created in the tunnel for the T-case or my AX-15. The shifter lever is higher in the cab but doesn’t contact the console or tunnel hole. Even my fan shroud has good clearance in a stock position. The air intake tube does lightly touch the plastic bracket that secures the throttle cable to the valve cover, so I’ll need to put some washers under the stock air box to raise it slightly.

Ground clearance is now 17” the the bottom of the skid (3” spring lift on 33s):
C5EC66F5-F34E-4861-B8B3-DECF49CAB41E.jpeg


B5EC7A38-FC59-4FA6-A128-478416F42F3D.jpeg

Now on to driveline angles.

I have a full set of Savvy double adjustable arms that I have been waiting to install with the skid. So far, I’ve just installed the Savvy UCAs. The mounting bolts for the uppers are all 7/16” so the bracket holes need to be drilled (stock are 3/8”, I think). Using a digital angle finder zeroed on the skid, my drive line angles went from 7 to 8 degrees front and 16 to 20 degrees rear. Both shafts are DC. Before I changed my UCAs and reset my pinion angles, I took it for a quick drive because I was curious about vibrations with that much change. To my great surprise, vibes were minimal up to 70 mph.

Nevertheless, after installing the Savvy UCAs, I set the rear pinion to 19.5 degrees and front to 8. It was a trial and error process, setting my pinion angles by guess on the lift and then checking at ride height with one UCA connected. (edit: you can easily spin the Savvy double adjustable arm by hand and rotate the axle with Jeep on the ground). When I had the angle I wanted, at ride height, I attached the 2nd UCA adjusted with no tension and tightened everything up. On my next test drive, I got up to 75mph and all was very smooth. I can’t really figure a good way to measure caster and the steering is a little quicker feeling. I may need to have an alignment shop get me some caster numbers. I think the front drive shaft may tolerate another degree flatter pinion. We shall see…

I still need to do a little exhaust and rear track bar work for better clearance and install the new LCAs but the TJ is drivable and it feels like some good progress has been made. Thanks to all here whose sharing of knowledge and experience has helped me get this far.
 
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NashvilleTJ

I miss the snow...
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Nice work. You can get a reasonably close measurement of caster by putting your angle finder on top of the upper ball joint castle nut. What I do is sit an appropriately sized socket over the ball joint bolt so it sits flush on the nut (you may have to pull the cotter pin), and then sit the angle finder on the socket. Just remember to zero out the angle finder for the slope if the jeep is not sitting on a level surface.
 
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Woodrow

Woodrow

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Nice work. You can get a reasonably close measurement of caster by putting your angle finder on top of the upper ball joint castle nut. What I do is sit an appropriately sized socket over the ball joint bolt so it sits flush on the nut (you may have to pull the cotter pin), and then sit the angle finder on the socket. Just remember to zero out the angle finder for the slope if the jeep is not sitting on a level surface.
Thanks! Using a socket on a castle nut to place the angle finder is a good idea. I tried putting my angle finder on the ball joint next to the zerk and on a few different places on the yoke but I couldn't get repeatable numbers. I did remember to zero on the ground as opposed to the frame or skid which I used for the pinions and driveshafts.
 
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Woodrow

Woodrow

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Before I finish the tummy tuck project by installing the Savvy LCAs and doing the final axle rotation adjustment with the already installed Savvy UCAs, I wanted to eliminate some mild vibes I had which I have suspected to be wheel balance related. I’ve thought this because the vibe is inconsistent at around 60 mph, doesn’t change with accel/decel/cruise status and improved with a rebalance when I moved one particularly non-round wheel to the spare position. I found 2 different 15”x8” aluminum wheels which fit over the 16” BMB calipers (Ultra 5051 inspired by @SAWB and ProComp 1069 which I have had for 14 years in 18x9 on my Dodge diesel tow rig).
EA9EF425-FE1E-44A3-AD57-D04B3A5B7DAF.jpeg

Both weighed about 9# less each than the steel D-windows I put on right after buying the Jeep 3 years ago (17.9# vs 26.8#). The ProComp backspace was 3.75” like the steelies and the Ultras are 3.65”. I liked them both so I did my 1st poll on this site, and the results were 22 to 11 in favor of the Ultras which I was leaning towards as well because they are machined with a clear coating vs polished. So Ultras it is:
4B54676B-90CA-4828-A4C0-811A70D7C2FE.jpeg

A test drive shows the previous subtle vibe at 60 mph was no longer evident and acceleration is maybe more brisk (due to 36# less rolling weight?).
 
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Woodrow

Woodrow

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Today, I planned to finish the last 500’ of a fence project. But, it started clouding up as I was finishing yesterday evening (pic below) and rained hard all night.
CB64E98D-DB36-4949-881D-2E2222CA3429.jpeg

The fence needs to happen so I can get cattle on the pasture but it’s valley bottom and still oddly wet for this time of year. Oh well, Jeep time! I got the fixed lower control arms out and in the pile with the old Rubicon Express adjustable uppers (all free for whom ever would like them):
BFDAF40E-5517-4D29-9BBA-6CC3E457AF89.jpeg

I set the Savvy lowers to match the old stock lowers in the rear and 16 1/4” eye to eye in the front matching what came out. The old front lowers are an aftermarket fixed set put on by a PO. They are about 1/4” longer the stock rears (and stock fronts?). Previously, I had no interference when cycling with those lengths. Hopefully, that will remain true with final pinion angles after the tuck.
2FE70418-8571-49EB-8D73-AB317952E461.jpeg


C91F3323-C295-4B55-ACEC-82B45E0B8D98.jpeg


B5EF4317-A649-4EC8-9C7E-D0CC8B1B5FD9.jpeg

Next, I re-set the pinion angles with the TJ on the ground (ride height) by loosening the UCA jam nuts, disconnecting one of the uppers on the axle side and adjusting the other upper by hand until I had the pinion angle I wanted. Then I brought the other upper to length and reattached it. It’s remarkable how easily you can adjust the Savvy double adjustable UCA length by hand with the Jeep on the ground when you consider the tension necessary on a ratchet strap to rotate an axle.

At ride height, L vs R front to rear axle measurements and LF to RR vs RF to LR measurements are each within 1/8” so pretty square (OK rectangular). I checked front and rear driveshaft and pinion angles with an angle finder before and after changing control arms. Caster is referenced to the ground and all others are referenced to the central frame:

Before Tummy Tuck (MML, T-case cable shifter, UCF skid, Savvy control arms):
FDS 7.5 degrees
F pinion 5.5
caster 8.5
RDS 16.2
R pinion 14.6

After Tuck:
FDS 8.5
F pinion 7
caster 7
RDS 20.1
R pinion 19.7

Surprisingly, prior to starting the tuck, I had no real driveline vibes with rear pinion/DS angle at 1.6 degrees and the front at 2 degrees. Regardless, I brought the rear within 1/2 degree. To preserve caster, I closed the gap less in front, to 1.5 degrees.

According to the local Jeep dealer‘s service department, for a 97 TJ, stock caster spec is 7 +/- 1 degree. When I originally put the uppers in a couple of weeks ago, I had about 1 degree less caster (6 degrees) and it felt a bit twitchy. So, I’m looking forward to trying this out.

Edit: 7 degrees caster feels good.
 
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Woodrow

Woodrow

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Back to cosmetics. I've been ignoring the bent bumper that came on the TJ for over 3 yrs. Time to deal with it:
7295CE41-A37F-4332-8158-7B6FD3C14A7B.jpeg
In keeping with the stock-ish and weight conscious build themes, a stubby stock bumper has been planned forever and today is finally that day.
Cut and test fit:
C3768E78-EC10-4454-9727-744D874067EF.jpeg

Weld up the holes:
7375D6D9-CDED-4835-9EBE-BF697E29D5DC.jpeg
Grind, polish and self etching prime:
25BBE126-606B-47E3-B7E4-3121C3B606E8.jpeg

Painted flat black with semi-flat tow hooks and re-installed with Mopar end caps held in place with Dorman 963-018D push retainers:
69C0B55B-9DBB-4AD6-8DFA-900916663FB2.jpeg


418AA806-2D19-409B-A653-59230D37B8CF.jpeg

Much better.
 
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OP
Woodrow

Woodrow

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Messages
458
Location
Oregon
Next up is some hind end work. Mainly the rear axle but also the tank and bumper. I’m not happy with the rear trutrac and I have 4340 Cr moly shafts in my Dana 35 (my bad. I did this with my re-gear last year before I knew better). I want to keep the Dana 35 because it’s light, has good ground clearance and I’m building around 33s. So now I’m doing what I think I should’ve done last time: Super 35 w/ an e-locker. I also have ZJ rear discs to swap in and a Rock Jock rear track bar with their elevated bracket to replace the drums, stock track bar and PO’s elevated bracket without the forward lean needed for the rotated pinion an SYE kit. The axle is out. You can see where the stock track bar had been contacting the front of the stock skid:
1B71E9C4-2AB1-474B-BEAB-A9E225FEB9BA.jpeg

Here is the axle after pressure washing. The elevated track bar bracket and brace are PO mods:
685CE091-3E50-4746-A4C8-94073D2CE234.jpeg
The old track bar bracket was bolted and welded, but it came off fairly quickly. On quick inspection with a laser, it seems pretty straight.
B9022F76-082E-48E6-8D1A-89E72F67CEE9.jpeg

Next sand blasting. Looks better:
DE462AAC-FE0C-4FD7-9692-B6CB582FA7B4.jpeg

Then self etching primer and paint. The old shafts and drum brakes are also out:
12F9D4F7-3751-45F0-9DF1-458AB7307D2F.jpeg

Other issues include a failing fuel pump (actually the pressure regulator) and poor departure angle with my current hitch as well as hi-lift on the stock bumper.
02383BB7-B673-4290-AF3E-DB4B3C7A431D.jpeg

Today the tank came out and bumper and hitch came off. Needs cleaning under there, eh?
81A21725-8A55-4355-A706-34BEEBEACDE3.jpeg

I want to keep a 2” receiver and stock-ish appearance but improve the departure angle. I have some ideas I’m going to fool around with…
But cleaning/painting is next (the part I’m least looking forward to 😥).
 
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