Ownership Verified: BCS repeatedly breaks, fixes, and re-breaks his Jeep

BerserkerCatSplat

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So, having finished up a few other projects, it was time to finally bite the bullet, get the Jeep up on stands, and start pulling parts off. And then putting on new ones.

Step One: Goodbye Dana 35. Also, goodbye factory control arms, track bar, springs, shocks, etc.

The factory axle had lived a lot of miles (~435,000km) but it was starting to howl (turned out to be pitted axle shafts) and the only thing keeping it alive back there was throttle restraint and being an open carrier. Time to go!


Step Two: Hello Dana 44HD!


The freshened-up limited-slip axle is in, along with RC adjustable control arms (upgraded with Currie joints), JKS trackbar, Iron Rock springs, and Bilstein shocks. Only missing sway bar links that haven't arrived yet.

Step Three: Install More Parts.

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With the rear essentially buttoned up (minus the sway links and a shorter drive shaft), I moved on to the front. The factory crossmember is out and has been replaced with the Iron Rock crossmember that the IRO long arms will attach to. Next steps are to drop the front axle and remove all the running gear there - control arms, springs, shocks, track bar, swaybar, knuckles, brake calipers, and steering linkages are all being upgraded. The brake caliper upgrade requires a minor bit of fab to mount the ABS sensors, so I've certainly got a at least a few more weekends of work left. Hopefully I'll have it done before I hit the 10-year anniversary of owning the Jeep!
 

Der Stig

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That 44 is a nice upgrade and the limited slip will make for some fun dorifto. Come down to Moab in 2020!
 

Der Stig

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Hoping my rig will be Moab-worthy (if only on the lamer trails) by then. Plus I’ll have enough time off.
 

NotLaw

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Definitely count me in for a potential Moab trip.

Build is looking good man. It's going to be a nice rig.
 

Der Stig

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Yup! I don’t think it’ll take much to convince him and Kiki to join up.
 

CraigB

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Can a stock Frontier join in on the Moab fun? :D
 

Blind_Io

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You might want to consider some frame sliders next, they make a world of difference in terms of what trails you can take on without damage. With that setup, you should be able to take on all Easy to Moderate Moab trails and some of the Hard difficulty like Fins'n'Things.
 

CraigB

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Yeah, frame sliders have been on the list for awhile. Easy enough to make myself, I suppose.
 

Blind_Io

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Just make sure you have big enough mounting plates that you don't damage the unibody if they take a hit; I've seen some home-brew sliders that end up tweaking the chassis because they are connected in too few places or over too small an area. Some people will weld them on, but I prefer bolts so I can take them off for refinishing, I'm not sure what is better for the ZJ.
 

BerserkerCatSplat

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You might want to consider some frame sliders next, they make a world of difference in terms of what trails you can take on without damage. With that setup, you should be able to take on all Easy to Moderate Moab trails and some of the Hard difficulty like Fins'n'Things.
100% right, sliders and skids are up next. Have a gas tank skid but haven't installed it yet. My rockers are pretty shot at the front corners anyway, so I plan to cut them out and replace with box tube - it's a fairly common way of adding sliders on unibody Jeeps without losing ground clearance. You can also get weld-in kits but they're pretty pricey compared to rolling your own.
 

BerserkerCatSplat

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Another day, another axle out! After many ugga-duggas, all the bolts and various hangers-on were removed and out she came. It'll get a bit of a freshening-up while it's easy to work on - new inner axle seals and pinion seal will be installed along with new balljoints. Time for my garage to reek of gear oil again!
 

BerserkerCatSplat

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Got a bit more work in today - started by test-fitting the calipers and rotors to figure out how far I needed to offset the caliper bracket to center on the Explorer rotors. 1/8" is the magic number! The spacer place also doubles as a mounting plate for the ABS wheelspeed sensor. This was a strange situation where if the rotor had lined up correctly without need of a spacer, I'd have needed to delete the ABS system from the vehicle - it's the only way to install a ZJ ABS sensor on a WJ knuckle. Most folks just shitcan the ABS.



The leaky pinion seal is out and has been replaced with a new one.



As (unfortunately) expected, the pinion yoke is grooved to hell, so a Redi-sleeve is on order.




That's all for now - next I need to replace a trans fluid connector, figure out how to mount the larger swaybar brackets, and probably shorten the lower rad hose so it clears the new sway bar location. Diff needs new inner axle seals as well, waiting for those to arrive. After that I can get back to installing suspension parts!
 

BerserkerCatSplat

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Axle freshening continues. Pulled out the carrier so I could change the inner axle seals, which turned into an hour-long exercise in figuring out how to get the two pounds of greasy mud out of the axle tubes - no wonder the seals were boned. Ended up using a floor jack handle as a scraper plus a can of degreaser. Messy business. The axle shaft sealing surfaces look a bit grooved, so I'll probably take the time to swap over to my spare set of shafts after I put new U-joints in them. These ones will get relegated to trail-spare duty.

Installing the inner axle seals was also a learning experience. Internet videos will tell you to tap them in with a hammer and seal driver, which seems reasonable until you realize just how little room there is to swing said hammer inside of a diff housing - the seal just goes in cockeyed every time. Some redneck engineering proves the correct method instead involves a 1-5/16" socket, three washers, a long bolt and nut, a piece of 1/4" plate steel, and a hockey puck you'd previously been using as a bumpstop extension. Forgot to take pictures of the setup, but I'll do that when the second axle seal arrives in the mail and I go to install it.
 

BerserkerCatSplat

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As promised, pictures of the cost-expedient Dana 30 inner axle seal installation tool. Worked shockingly well.





So with all the new seals installed, the axle was buttoned up and the big ol' pinion nut was snugged back down to the 250 or whatever lb-ft it requires. Stupid crush-sleeve axles. Pinion preload checked out at 16in-lb and both pinion bearings looked to be in fine shape, so she should be good for a while.

Tough to see in the shot, but the front long arms are installed and connected to the axle. All that remains are to finish the outers and add the remaining suspension and steering parts. Steering links shown are leftovers, not being reused.


ABS brackets/spacers are rough shaped and ready to be drilled once I verify the airspacing for the ABS sensor.
 

Blind_Io

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I wish I had the know-how and shop space to take on a project of this magnitude. Maybe if I ever get another car, I can try some more serious rebuilds with the Xterra.
 

BerserkerCatSplat

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Thanks, Blind! It's a reasonably major project, but I think most of the bolt-on stuff could be done in any ol' garage, and generally only needs basic-ish hand tools. Air tools speed things up but are by no means a necessity. Not to mention there's usually half-dozen YouTube how-to videos. Really all of the fabrication work was just done with an angle grinder and a drill press (Hand drill and a vise probably would have worked too) and CAD (Cardboard Aided Design ala Project Binky) so really I'm sure you'd have no problem doing it.

Apart from the redneck seal installer (which could be done just fine with a normal combination wrench), the only "specialty" tools I've used are 3/8" and 1/2" torque wrenches for the suspension parts. The pinion preload needed a 0-60 in-lb beam-type torque wrench (cheap, designed for bicycles), a pinion flange wrench, and a 3/4" drive breaker bar for the flange wrench. (Don't use the 1/2" drive hole, it tends to get wallowed) If you ever feel ambitious enough to set up your own set of gears, you're most of the way there - just add a dial gauge and some yellow goop.
 

BerserkerCatSplat

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Missed a couple evenings of work as I had to do a buddy's Xterra brakes. Having to disassemble the hubs to change the rotors is kinda annoying but I suppose it forces hub maintenance at the same time.

ABS spacer-brackets are all done, the low clearance on the backside of the bracket means that instead of a standard bolt head a countersunk one needs to be used along with a countersunk 1/4" hole.




And all installed! The sensor has a rated airgap with a fairly wide range so any slop in the bracket is well within spec. Finally I can paint all the knuckles and calipers and start bolting things on once I have swapped balljoints. The old ones are possibly the factory items but seem to be in decent shape, however the new knuckles have a slightly different taper in the lower knuckle holes so If I'm replacing two I may as well do four.

 
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