"Little Black Jeep" - 98 TJ

bigwalton

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Dexter
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MI
#1
I swear I made a post on this acquisition already, but when I went to add a couple photos to the thread, I appear to have dreamed that...

Anyway, I was having a couple issues with my LJ and Kate and I have been talking about the upcoming need to have a vehicle for Laura... long story short, we ended up finding this thing.

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I really wanted an XJ, but up here they are all complete disasters. I actually looked at this thing, made a low offer he rejected and drove away due to a couple things I found in looking it over. I checked in with him a couple days later and he changed his mind. 90% of the reason I wanted this was the wheels, after the TJ Moabs and FSJ/CJ 6-slots, these are my favorite factory Jeep wheels. AX-15 so Laura will have to learn stick (already started!)

It's an AZ Jeep that was only brought to Michigan a couple years ago when the guy inherited his family orchard and decided to come back east. He did drive it in winter but got into sailing, put a trailer hitch on this and quickly found this wasn't suited to towing his boat. He got a Tacoma, started DDing that and parked this in a barn. He rarely ever drove it but kept it running. It's a 20/20 Jeep with definite issues and 160k but because it was out west for so long it's really solid. Perfect for driving up here without feeling too bad about ruining a really great Jeep.

I've already gutted the interior and replaced the carpet in the front, added a number of Tuffy security products, swapped in a stereo with some nice speakers, swapped a dual USB outlet for the cigarette lighter socket, covered the seats, redid the brakes all around, front u-joints, and ball joints, new cat back, and a number of other things. Fluids were all fine but working through replacing them (realized it has the D44 and limited slip in the rear when I went to do the rear diff fluid!)

Wheels will need serious attention with stripping/sanding/polishing but I'll wait until next year. Idea is to peck away at things after this initial push to make it decent and usable and have a solid runner by the time Laura needs it. I'll use it as a DD in lieu of the LJ until then.

This will stay pretty much exactly like it looks now, no lift, no big tires. May or may not do bumpers but no winch. I want to keep this dead simple.

It's fun to drive a stock TJ, it's been FOREVER since I did that at all.

Rugged Ridge fabric seat covers fit great in the front and look pretty sweet IMO. Rear seat upper cover could be improved, but I gathered up the excess fabric and threw zip ties around it to tighten things up some. Will see how that works. Replaced the rollbar covers too and did new front seat belts.
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Tuffy under seat security drawer, this is almost the full length of the rear cargo area and you remount the seat on top of it. Pretty excited about this addition. I opted to do their adjustable tie-down rails on the outside edges of it along with their rubber diamond plate covering in lieu of carpet on top (and underneath the seat).
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This was jammed in the stock stereo, hence the replacement/upgrade. Had to disassemble the unit to get it out.
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Enjoyed the last of the topless weather. This has the Rampage frameless soft top which I was skeptical about until I drove it more. Actually some impressive design details and I love that it's so easy to run as a full-length bikini. Also very excited to have something to put the Camp Jeep 2007 tire cover on again!
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And Laura has been told she has to earn this thing, so she's gotten her hands dirty on the work
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bigwalton

Picture cravin' AK Postal nut
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MI
#4
Today’s score. I should have taken before pictures! These uppers were an afterthought that the seller mentioned he had as we were going to leave with the black Jeep. I told him I’d take whatever he had lying around. They were filthy something awful, having laid flat in his unsealed barn for years.

Turns out they’re Mopar originals and the plastic is in really great shape. They fit a TON better than the black Smittybilt uppers that he had been running (shocker!) We are going to run a tan hard top, so this was great to find.

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bigwalton

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MI
#6
Been digging scooting around in this thing. Did some Daystar hood tie downs to deal with the unreal hood flutter on the highway and just ran up to Silver Lake yesterday to grab a used hard top that @MrBeep snagged for me and was kind enough to bring up on his last trip.

One last soft top shot:
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and the new winter coat, still deciding and looking for door options with this, sad the tan uppers are so wildly different from the top...

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MrBeep’s lake place 👍
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And the obligatory dune background shot on the edge of Silver Lake.
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Did great on the 6 hour round trip, happily shoots down the highway at 80.

Oh, added Dan Grec’s (guy who drove around Africa in a JKU for three years) take-out Truck Lite LED heated headlights. Really pleased with them. They didn’t get along so well with the fancy JKU DRL setup so he let me have them. Kinda fun to think about what these headlights have seen. My ownership is going to seem really boring in comparison :rotfl:
 

82cj7

Legacy Registered User
City
indianapolis
State
in
#7
(Apologize for adding this to your TJ thread, but had to reply when saw Dan Grec's name mentioned)
Dan Grec's story is absolutely amazing and an example of true Jeep overlanding. He's a great guy and I had the opportunity to hear him tell his story this summer at the Ohio Jeep Jam. If anyone hasn't heard of his trips - go to "theroadchoseme".
 

bigwalton

Picture cravin' AK Postal nut
Staff member
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Dexter
State
MI
#8
(Apologize for adding this to your TJ thread, but had to reply when saw Dan Grec's name mentioned)
Dan Grec's story is absolutely amazing and an example of true Jeep overlanding. He's a great guy and I had the opportunity to hear him tell his story this summer at the Ohio Jeep Jam. If anyone hasn't heard of his trips - go to "theroadchoseme".
You can also read all of his feature stories in JPFreek Adventure Magazine ;)
 

82cj7

Legacy Registered User
City
indianapolis
State
in
#9
Great article - thanks for sharing your link. That is AWESOME that you got to spend ten days with him in Africa!
 

MikeV

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City
Monroe
State
NY
#11
Those articles in JPFreek magazine about his adventures are awesome. I greatly enjoyed reading them and looking vicariously at the stunning pics while unwinding from my daily grind.
 

bigwalton

Picture cravin' AK Postal nut
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MI
#15
I always did like that LJ. I must have misunderstood the post. I thought maybe you got rid of it. Glad you didn't.
It started throwing the damn cam-crank position sensor code again and I thought it had trashed another OPDA gear which was going to be the last straw on this engine. This was part back up DD and part possible kid’s first vehicle, it’s the right time to get it and start going through everything to have ready for her.

Turns out the OPDA and cam are ok, hopefully just an alignment issue as it wore in a bit. Working on that now. Nice to have this one coming into the snow. Much easier road driver too.
 
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