Thread: Project Hugs Version 4.0

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  1. #1 Project Hugs Version 4.0 
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    Figured it's about time to introduce my rig to forum. The name comes from the license plate, and started with the car it was on before the ZJ, so version 4.0 for the engine in the Jeep. It's a 1994 ZJ Laredo, currently @ 173,000 miles, very basic 4.0L/42RE/NP231, 3.55 gears, no sunroof, blah blah. I picked it up as winter beater/future wheeler about 3 years ago as I drive a rwd e46 BMW wagon, and I missed wheeling the mildly built YJ I'd had for 10 years. I saved it from the scrap yard when it got traded in at my work and started rehabilitating it to solid, stock functionality before modding it.

    First was 4 new tires, new exhaust, and some other basics I'm forgetting, at this point. Next up was the trans, since it was starting to slip, so I bought a questionable trans for $50 and sourced the parts for a rebuild, but chickened out and after disassembly and had it assembled by a local shop. It's taken a few miles, but it seems to be working better every time I drive it and then let it sit for a few weeks. I also replaced the heater core, hoses, waterpump, and thermostat. Next I replaced the reciever/dryer and threw in a used compressor and got the AC going, though it seems to have a small leak somewhere. I'm afraid it's in the evaporator core which means I have to tear the dash out, again Recently it also got new brakes all around.

    I have gotten used to my heated seats in the BMW, and had an extra set lying around that were a little rough. So out came the welder and I fabbed up some brackets. I made a small overhead console out of wood to house the control unit. I'd already pulled the harness to swap them into another BMW that wasn't originally equipped with them, so that was ready to go. The headliner needed reupholstered, so it was the perfect opportunity to install the heated seat controls and wiring.

    Since I can't leave anything stock, and the front markers were in awful shape, I hit eBay and grabbed some smoked lights for the front. Once it was all sorted mechanically it was time to make it more fun. The wife was sweet enough to get me a budget boost Christmas last year, and I finally got around to installing it yesterday. I'd been trolling Craigslist for some rollers to go with the budget boost and hit gold last Friday. I picked up a set of five 2016 JK Rubicon wheels and tires for $300. Four of the tires are almost shot, the spare is perfect, as are the wheels. For $300 I don't care. I'll pick up some adapters and get them bolted on to see where and how much I need to trim. It doesn't look like it will take too much.

    It drives well, the cruise control works, the AC is currently charged up, and my 3 year old loves it. Next up is cutting out the rusty rockers and reinforcing the unibody rails. Its has a bit of rust, but nothing too extreme compared to the ones I've seen in the junkyard. I also need to pick up some kind of gas tank skid plate before doing much trailriding with it.



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  2. #2 Re: Project Hugs Version 4.0 
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    The adapters for the JK wheels should arrive this week and I have some 2x4" tubing for the rocker replacement lined up to pick up this coming weekend. A friend of my wife's has some left over from a project and only wants $20 for 14' of it, so how can I say no? Once the adapters arrive I can figure out how much I need to trim for the 32s to fit. Then comes rocker replacement, followed by unibody reinforcement. Then I can brace the rockers and start saving for long arms. I also need to pick up some type of gas tank skid plate.


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  3. #3 Re: Project Hugs Version 4.0 
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    Adapters came in Thursday. Today the rain has hit hard. I almost forgot about picking up the rocker tubing, though the weather doesn't motivate me to go out. I was busy assembling a playset for my daughter this morning.

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  4. #4 Re: Project Hugs Version 4.0 
    Senior Member Ken L's Avatar
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    Sounds like a nice project vehicle! You should be able to find a gas tank skid at a yard; my '96 came stock with one. Mine has the factory towing package which included the hitch, 3.73 gears and a trans cooler but I'm not sure if the skid plate was part of that package.

    Looking forward to following your build
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  5. #5 Re: Project Hugs Version 4.0 
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    Thanks, Ken. I still have a lot of research to do before I decide on my final setup. And this will not be a fast paced build, unless I win the lottery. Lol! So far CL has been good to me on finding the JK wheels and the 3.73 axles. Getting the axles prepped to go in has moved up the priorities list now that I have the bigger rubber.

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  6. #6 Re: Project Hugs Version 4.0 
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    Got around to the first fit of the 2016 Rubi wheels and tires. I'm super happy with the look, very beefy, and they clear everything for street driving, but I definitely need to do some trimming to get any kind of up travel without serious interference, especially with the wheels turned in the front. I think I'll start with trimming out the edge of the doors in the rear, that should give me enough room. The front I need to remove pinch welds, headlight bucket area, etc. Its going to be a more major surgery with some disassembly required.

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  7. #7 Re: Project Hugs Version 4.0 
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    Started stripping down the 3.73 axles today. Got the front one stripped of the brakes and steering and got some of the other stuff sprayed down with some penetrant. I'll need to swap over the u-joint shafts from my axle in place of the CV shafts in this one. I'll probably swap them with the hub assemblies, as mine are a known quantity.

    I still haven't driven it with the 3.55 gears and the 32s. I'm sure it's going to be pretty dismal, as even the 29s were a bit doggy.

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  8. #8 Re: Project Hugs Version 4.0 
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    Drove it with Rubi setup for the first time today. Not as bad as I was expecting. I had an expectation from my 2.5L Wrangler when I went from 29" rubber to 31" rubber, and the 4.0L is nothing like that. It almost doesn't care. It really doesn't feel any different, performance wise. You can feel the tires below 10 mph, and you can surely hear them above that from the way their worn. Lol!

    On the other hand, the battery said no more today. It fired up this morning, but wouldn't crank after work. I grabbed a jump box from the shop and fired it up, and let run while I tinkered for about 30 min. I trimmed the front bumper just a tiny bit, I checked the tire pressures, I cleaned the windshield inside and out, and I tested the charging system. It was fluctuating a bit, but reading 13.3V to 14V at an idle with the headlights, HVAC blower, radio, and rear defrost on. Shut it off to check starting and nothing. Pulled out the battery tester and got 12.59V, 7 CCA. Yikes! Yup, that battery is toast! Well, it a reconditioned Interstate that I paid $40 for about 2 years ago. Called my guy at Advance right down the street and pulled one for me (what he runs in his ZJ), 800 CCA, 60 month warranty, and only $65 through my work. I'm back in action and still made it to daycare to pick my daughter up on time.

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  9. #9 Re: Project Hugs Version 4.0 
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    Been driving this daily for the last 2 weeks because the wife's GTI ate the timing chain. Too bad we're way out of the mileage for the class action suit. But, I digress.

    All this seat time alerted me to the reality of just how worn out the BFG MTs were. Even with 3.55 gears it would break traction regularly while pulling out in the wet, so new rubber definitely was in order before winter. I scrapped the JK size of 255/75r17 because the offerings were limited and prices were not attractive. I went up to a 265/70r17 and had just about everything under the sun available at a reasonable cost. I went with an AT, as this is a primarily street driven vehicle, though I still have the brand new MT spare in the back. It's unfortunate there aren't more 6 ply offerings, but I wasn't going to put P-metric wimpy tires on something that will see trail use, so 10 ply it is. I ended with a Westlake SL369 AT and came in under $500 for 4 of them @ my cost through my work. They have a nice square shoulder and modern tread design, and so far are very quiet and smooth on the road. I haven't had time to grab any pics, but will soon. Right now I'm running them around 30 psi and haven't really noticed a difference in ride vs the 6 ply BFGs. I'll keep an eye on tread wear, but it seems nice and stable in the corners.

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  10. #10 Re: Project Hugs Version 4.0 
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    Here's a couple of pics of the new rubber.

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  11. #11 Re: Project Hugs Version 4.0 
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    Looks good. Nothing like the feel of new tires.
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  12. #12 Re: Project Hugs Version 4.0 
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    Thanks. It still surprises me how small the 32s look on it. Definitely better wheel well room than an XJ. I guess I've just spent too much around here looking at all your rigs.

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  13. #13 Re: Project Hugs Version 4.0 
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    I remember when 31's were big. 33's were monsters.
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  14. #14 Re: Project Hugs Version 4.0 
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    I've always felt that a small lift and 31s are where most older Jeeps start looking right.

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  15. #15 Re: Project Hugs Version 4.0 
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    Where do I find the control module in the bimmer? I plan on using those seats in a lowrider build I have going on. I didn't know there was a control box required to make the seats function.
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  16. #16 Re: Project Hugs Version 4.0 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kraqa View Post
    Where do I find the control module in the bimmer? I plan on using those seats in a lowrider build I have going on. I didn't know there was a control box required to make the seats function.
    The control box is only for the heat function. Straight power and ground will make them move, but the memory function will not work.

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  17. #17 Re: Project Hugs Version 4.0 
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    Hit up the junkyard today and scored some bits to spruce up the old ZJ. Found 2 or 3 gas tank skid plates, but every one was supported on the gas tank/skid plate, so I didn't get one. I did pick up a new shifter trim without any cigarette burns, some good hatch lift struts, and a passenger side mirror, which works the same as the one that's on it. It only moves side to side, not up or down. The driver's mirror moves in all directions, so I didn't think it was the switch. Now I'm wondering if it isn't a problem with the switch only in the R position. I'm going to do some testing on the recently acquired mirror. If it, too, has a bad motor, I think I can swap out the good motor from this one for the bad motor in the other one.

    I also picked up a pigtail for the BMW heated seat controls. I depinned the ground circuit and checked some wiring diagrams and installed it into the harness in the Jeep, but still not luck. I did notice that one of the wires is a K bus line, which makes me wonder if it needs a signal from the comm bus to power up. Time to do some more research.

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  18. #18 Re: Project Hugs Version 4.0 
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    Well, it looks like I'm out of luck on using the factory controller for the heated seats. It does need a CAN bus signal to wake it up. Back to the drawing board. There are some options in the aftermarket that I'm going to look into, as well as the factory option from the later ZJs. I guess I'll be heading back to the junkyard to grab a factory overhead console to cover up the hole I made for the wiring.

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  19. #19 Re: Project Hugs Version 4.0 
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    Tested the mirror from the junkyard today, works fine in all directions. Add a mirror switch to the list for the next trip.

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  20. #20 Re: Project Hugs Version 4.0 
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    Back to the heated seats...I've started looking for a BMW CAN bus emulator. I've found some for the airbag system, but I'm not sure they send the right message for this. The seat heater module gets its CAN signal from the instrument cluster. Now its determining exactly what that signal is...

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  21. #21 Re: Project Hugs Version 4.0 
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    Thursday we got a rather unexpected snow storm. Well, 1-3" turned into 4-7" pretty quickly. The Westlake ATs did a great job, I'm quite pleased with them.

    Friday evening the CEL popped on when I left work. I also noticed the voltage gauge was reading lower than normal (it always seems to read a bit low, especially with the lights on.) The lights also seemed a bit dim. Got to the kiddo's daycare and key checked the codes, 12 and 42. A quick search and found they are low voltage and batt temp codes, not surprising. Testes the output yesterday afternoon, sure enough, 11.5V with no load. Time for an alternator. So I'm going to go for the 120A unit from a later ZJ. They never check the cores...

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  22. #22 Re: Project Hugs Version 4.0 
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    Well, I ended up going even bigger on the alternator, today. The 120A seems hard to find and more costly. Fortunately my commercial parts specialist at Advance Auto is also a ZJ guy, and he hooked me up with a remanned 136A unit for a 5.2L ZJ. The increased size made it a little harder to wiggle in, but there was only one slight modification the needed to be made to clock the insulator around the charge stud. All I had to do was take the insulator off and grind off the indexing tab. No issues fitting it into the brackets on the ZJ 4.0L, unlike the XJs. There really does seem to be a good bit more room under the hood of the ZJ.

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  23. #23 Re: Project Hugs Version 4.0 
    Senior Member Ken L's Avatar
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    ^^nice!
    Ken L
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