Budget Iceland Offroad ZJ build

AK-RWC

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#61
And back out. :censored::censored::cry::cry:
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The engine ran great for about a 45 minutes or an hour while we were trying to set the fuel sync and then doing a little initial driving around for break-in, and to shake out the bugs (two vacuum lines too short, dealing with some pulley issues, etc.). It sat for a day as I went wheeling in the Scrambler, and then I got back to it on Sunday night. After maybe 20 more minutes of running, it went to 0 psi. The next morning I got a new sensor, put 20 minutes later it was back to 0 psi. Warrantied that one, and 20 minutes later, had zero psi. The machine shop had me install a mechanical gauge to verify what I was seeing, and although it didn't actually drop to zero, it was close. We also started hearing a very light knock, but it was completely inconsistent, and wasn't coming from a rod (verified by pulling plug wires). They asked me to do an oil change and go from 5W-30 to 10W-40, and that essentially didn't make a difference; it still idled at 4 psi when hot, and I couldn't get it over maybe 25 psi even when at 4000 RPM. They took apart the old filter and found babbit material, and then asked me to bring in the "new" filter that I'd just put on. They also asked me to go home and grab the balancer to see if I could move the crank back and forth by hand (I could, maybe 1/32"). At that point, with roughly 3 or maybe 4 hours of run-time, they told me to bring the engine back in. It turns out the main bearings immediately failed and took out the thrust bearing--thus creating the erratic knock as the crank shifted laterally.
 
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AK-RWC

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south central
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#62
And back in!
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We caught it in time so as not to damage any hard parts, and the shop essentially believes that Clevite just put out a bad set of main bearings. Everything else still looked brand new (cam bearings, rod bearings). Since it didn't need any further machining, I dropped it off on a Monday afternoon and they had the thing turned around and back to me by that Friday, this time using Sealed Power bearings. I put roughly 8 hours of drive-time on it with the mechanical gauge, then went back to the sensor, detailed the interior, handed it back over to my wife.
 
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AK-RWC

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south central
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#66
Engine had issues again in January, that led to the heads coming off and going back to the machine shop for steel valve guides. Hughes, who insisted that bronze valve guides would be fine in Alaska, was wrong, and our temperature extremes killed them (or maybe they were just cruddy valve guides). Either way, it was down for WEEKS again. Engine seems to be running great, so for the last two weeks I’ve been itching to get started on the long-arm system. Today the stars aligned for the first stage: stiffeners.

I’ve planned on doing this in three parts: 1) stiffeners, 2) crossmember, 3) rear-axle truss and springs. The rear end has felt a little wobbly lately which I attributed to a worn track-bar, and the front has been squeaking which didn’t bother me since it’s all about to get changed anyway.

I got to my buddy’s shop (I wanted a better welder than my flux-core 110) at 9:30, and quickly discovered the upper right rear control arm liberated itself from the subframe (better picture coming):
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Welp, instead of just doing the stiffeners, I guess I’m doing the whole thing now.

Prep-pics:
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Stiffeners are all tacked in, but that was an all-day 12-hour affair to massage them and get everything lined up correctly. I’m hoping tomorrow to have the crossmember installed/painted. I’ll probably take Monday off to get the rear axle done and the springs installed.
 

AK-RWC

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#69
Today’s progress: all the pieces sand blasted, primed, painted. Rear axle removed and prepped for welding the truss. Also worked on the cracked area by removing the spot-welds for the upper mount and tracing the cracks. The hole will get the one piece of sheetmetal welded back in, and the entire area from the former spot-welds to up beyond the damage will get plated.

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AK-RWC

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#71
I had to put in a few hours at my real job on Tuesday, and then go back to work yesterday and today. Progress from Monday:

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Crossmember/skid painted, prepped for welding, and laid out. All control arm ends reassembled with liberal anti-seize.

10B7A285-D3A5-4564-B5CA-FA63FB841612.jpeg Stiffeners in process of being fully welded.

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Crack area patched and plated.

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3M underbody coating and more weldable primer.


Tuesday, I initially assembled the crossmember piece-by-piece in place on the ZJ, holding it up with the 5 factory bolt holes for the OEM crossmember and skidplate. That allowed me to locate where it needed to sit to drill the holes for the rivnuts. The way this is designed, I think most of those rivnut holes already had locations in the subframe, but with the stiffeners, we either welded most of those holes up or simply covered them with 10 gauge, so I had to drill a LOT of 17/32" holes. In retrospect, I wish I'd just drilled 1/2" holes and pounded the rivnuts up. Either way it ended up working out well enough. After the holes were drilled, the crossmember came back off to install the rivnuts. This time, I took it out all at once.
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3/8” rivnuts.

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I realized with it out, it's intentionally designed (I think?) with some 1/32" gaps for the pieces that drop out, so you shouldn't find yourself in a bind with the drop-out portions completely pinched into place. Here, I've got the four outer pieces (that get welded) tightly bolted together, and all the internal bolts/nuts just a hair loose.

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And up! I tightened all the outer subframe bolts first after confirming that the transmission mount was aligned happily, then went through and tightened all the internal bolts. Maintenance won't be fun, but it'll at least be possible. I tried to stick a front lower control arm on, but realized that the lower OEM bracket had to come off, so I called it and went home around midnight.
 
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AK-RWC

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south central
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#72
Wednesday was control arm day. I had to finish cutting out the front lower control arm mounts for clearance, as well as removing move of the header-pipe. I was hoping to just do a "light" modification to it for clearance, but I didn't see a realistic way to accomplish what Ironman4x4fab suggested was needed to retain it.
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The fronts are a HUGE PIA to get in/out. The lower has to go in first on the crossmember end, then you insert the upper into the locating bracket, and the locating bracket goes up into the crossmember.


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These last two above you can see all the nuts for the front upper locating bracket. I really wish these nuts were simply welded to the crossmember. In retrospect, I would have done this before painting had I known. Since the bolts are all counter-sunk, there's no reason for these nuts to have any level of movement anyway. Andy sent the nuts that have the little grippy edges, so they do bite down most of the time without needing to use a wrench on the back.

There isn't a what I would call a lot of room back inside here, but there's enough to easily reach each nut/bolt with your fingers. And once it's all together, it definitely makes sense. There was a lot of thought that went into this system, and even with the couple of things that I'd have done differently, it impressed me each step of the way.

The exhaust MUST end up being designed so that it's sectional. I don't think it will be possible to remove the crossmember drop-outs with the exhaust in place. The right side will end up being VERY tight when a pipe/cat/muffler/flanges/etc. is all done.


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Limiting straps and longer brake-lines will be a must-have item.
 

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AK-RWC

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#73
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As I lowered the lift down for the night (in case there's an earthquake or something) and cycled the rear suspension without springs, the upper control arms made contact with the body before the bump stops or the truss. So, these will need to come down at least one or maybe two slots.


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So, things to finish: install front springs/shocks, buy and install longer front brake lines (I'm looking at the early '90s GM lines), buy and install a longer rear brake line (Dorman makes one that's 4" over stock, and I don't think the shocks have that much more down travel with the 3.5" lift, so it should be OK), install rear springs/shocks, install f/r limiting straps, bleed brakes, install rear diff skidplate, paint welds, touch-up the undercoating where the lift hit it while it wasn't fully cured.
 
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AK-RWC

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#74
Futzed with the upper rear control arm slots today to figure out how high I could get them and still have clearance with the body. Installed the springs and shocks at all four corners, cut off (most) of the OEM rear upper control arm bracket from the axle, welded on a bolt to retain the brake line block, welded tabs on to retain the rear diff skid, put some weight on the axles to tighten all the control arms, reinstalled the rear driveshaft, bled the brakes, put on tires, touched up the new undercoating where the lift rubbed it off (before completely curing), and finally rolled it out.

As expected, it looks . . . exactly the same.
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I’ll drag it to an exhaust shop on Monday, and (hopefully) drive it out to the guy I trust to do a full alignment who is in Wasilla whenever the exhaust shop is done.

Today was another nearly 12 hour day by the time I was cleaned up and the other project (that vacated the lift for a week so I could use it) was back in place. I’m ready to go back to my desk job for a while.
 

tower210

Scrambler Junkie
LIFETIME
CJ-8.com Member
City
Olathe
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KS
#75
Man, can't tell from the finished stance what a beefy machine that is now!!

Is it a 242 Transfer case?
 

AK-RWC

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south central
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AK
#77
Man, can't tell from the finished stance what a beefy machine that is now!!

Is it a 242 Transfer case?
231HD. I put a 6-pinion planetary, 1.25” chain, and 32-spline SYE in it. Look at posts 32 and 33 for pics.
 
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AK-RWC

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#78
Lots has happened since May.

We drug it to the exhaust shop near my condo, and after the exhaust tech looked at it he decided the only reasonable way to construct it was using v-band clamps and a single piece going from the collector to the rear edge of the crossmember, so it could be pulled out completely. The problem was that he didn't have any of the correct diameter v-band flanges, and since I wanted a small high-flow cat, he needed to order that too. With COVID-19, it took over a MONTH for Amazon to deliver those non-essential items. I asked for both a small muffler on the back as well as a small glass-pack because I knew as a daily-driver, my wife didn't want it much louder than stock, and the drone of a Flowmaster would be unacceptable. He came up with a small-ish generic Dynomax stainless muffler for the back, and was able to keep the OEM stainless exhaust tip (which was important since it was a special 5.9L ZJ part). When he pulled the OEM header pipe off, he saw the MASSIVE crush in the right-side down-tube, and decided to just remake that whole part, so instead of a 2" pipe that is crushed down to 1.25" to clear the firewall, he went with 1-7/8" to create a collector from both sides, into a 2.5" all the way out. The OEM 5.9L exhaust actually had a restriction down to 2" right behind the cat, then opened up to 3" for the exit. Given the tight clearance in the back over the rear-upper-right control arm, 2.5" was the most realistic option, but since it doesn't have the 2" restriction at the cat and is a true 2.5" the whole way, the hope was it would capture the same amount of flow as the factory. It's also now a "straight through" exhaust with effectively two glass packs rather than the OEM muffler which I suspect was more restrictive. Ultimately, I think he did a reasonably good job, and he said to bring it back if there were any problems with it touching anywhere and he'd make revisions.

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I brought it home and did a minor adjustment in the rear axle to center it more left-right because it was apparent that one spring was touching a bump-stop, and I needed to kick the pinion angle up to drive it. After doing so, driving it over speed-bumps immediately told me it had problems, but I wanted to get it out to my friend's workplace in Wasilla for a full alignment. It had no problems running 80 mph on the highway.



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I got out there and clarified that yes, after the minimal adjustment I did to the axle, moving to the left side and rotating the pinion up caused a HARD hit on the exhaust pipe. But, it needed the alignment, right?
 
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AK-RWC

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#79
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As it turns out, apparently I can do an alignment by eyesight alone. This was how it came in to the shop, with the rear axle nearly within spec and the front not out too far.


My friend took a few more pics of it on the rack for me, and flexed it to the extent he could to see if it was hitting anywhere else.
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My friend cut a little divot in the right side of the link mount for the truss to clear the fuel breather line, but it was apparent that the truss was still contacting the unibody even with the exhaust holding the pinion down, so I decided to cut the top off the link mount. Given the relatively low lift for the Jeep, I decided it was worth it to sacrifice the adjustability. I don't have any pics, but literally all I did was take a cutoff wheel and remove about 1-1/8" off the top, making it even with the upper part of the control arm. That required me to move the fuel tank breather tube several more inches to the right.



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I went back to the shop that did my exhaust for the revisions the next day, but he was out sick on Thursday and Friday. I called on Monday and found out he decided to quit. The owner asked for me to give them a couple days to find a new exhaust tech. On Friday, I called and the owner said they'd hired a new tech, but he wasn't going to be able to start for three weeks. I started to explain that we couldn't wait ANOTHER THREE WEEKS since they'd had the Jeep for a month and it was a daily-driver, and why couldn't they sub the work out? when the new tech came in the shop for some reason and offered to come do my exhaust on Monday! Fantastic![/I]

Monday rolled around and I got a phone call from the shop--the tech had a bad motorcycle accident on Saturday and was banged up in the hospital. Again, I asked about subbing the work, and he agreed to it so long as I'd get quotes first. One thing led to another and I found a shop to make the revision, which was easy: they cut the pipe where it went into the muffler, and just rotated the back section using the v-band clamp. Done. I also ended up having them adjust the pipe at the collector because it was touching the upper-right-front control arm at full droop.



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In doing the lift, and spending time pulling tires on/off/on/off checking clearances, it dawned on me just how much wear the old BFGs had, and they were cracking. Since we drive this Jeep so much, and for long highway trips to/from our other place where I grew up, with two small children, I decided from a safety standpoint we really did need new tires. A friend in my club clued us in to a deal that the GM dealerships are also dealers for several tire brands; I got the MTZs for my Scrambler through the local Chevy dealership. So, I got these BFGs through them as well. What was funny is that when they put the Jeep on the floor-lift (not a post lift) off the subframe, it couldn't go up high enough to get the tires off the ground! They had to readjust everything with additional blocking.




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Then, tuner-lyfe! Where's my square-brimmed hat? The tuner I'm using, Ryan Hogan of Flyin' Ryan Performance, tunes using data-logging and emailing files back and forth. Step 1 of that process is to install a wide-band O2 sensor, so at his recommendation I put this AEM in the ZJ with a port I asked the original exhaust shop to include. It's not in a good spot for long-term use and it's vulnerable to rocks and trail damage, so I'll pull this temporary system out when the tuning process is over.





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Random repair: the lumbar adjustment cable snapped on me, so I had to completely disassemble the back of the seat, take apart the motor, and solder a new stopper on the cable inside the motor. I took the opportunity of having the seat apart to also replace the pesky left-bolster lower seat heater element by putting a newer-style carbon-fiber pad in the whole seat (replacing only the one side element for the power source).
 
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AK-RWC

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south central
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#80
I also installed the 52 mm throttle-body, but it isn't exciting from a photo-standpoint since it's just an OEM throttle-body that's bored out and polished.


And then finally, the ZJ's revenge: the wheeling trip from Memorial Day weekend in 2019 that spawned the lift was up again, and the ZJ was ready! We'd already driven it to/from my home town several times and knew it was good on the highway, but this was the first run on the new lift, the new tires, and really with the new (working!) engine too.
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I'm not normally a guy who feels the need to flex on big rocks, but I really did want a static and safe place to see what clearance issues I was still dealing with. It was clunking going over bumps at speed and I suspected it was the front bump-stops, but there was still a rear clunk as well. This rock was the perfect opportunity to see what was going on. Sure enough, the bump-stop extensions were causing the stops to touch the springs at all four corners. Not a big deal, but it's annoying enough that I'll move the front spacer down the axle-side, and probably use some 1/4" plate to inboard the rear stops by 1/2". Also, the front truss was whispering at the oil pan. Not enough to cause a dent, but the paint was scraped off. AND the rear tires were kissing the leading edge of the rear fender, enough that it rubbed the paint off. I'm thinking that both axles need to be pushed out by about 1/4".




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After the run, I pulled the winch off to drop off with a friend of mine who is known locally as the Mad Winch Doctor for his expertise with winches, and WARN in particular. He works for one of the authorized WARN dealers/service-centers, and is on the Kenai Peninsula so it was more convenient to drop it off on the way home to Anchorage. Since we've had the winch on the Jeep since the first week we bought it, it looks naked to me without!





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And finally, my first data-logging appointment with Ryan. Although we didn't set a specific time, and I was having some communications problems with the laptop to the PCM, I did get him a good 8-ish minute set of data. He hasn't sent me back a file for the next round of tuning, but it was just yesterday.
 
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