Thread: Not much of a build "thread"

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  1. #1 Not much of a build "thread" 
    Member Gearjammer's Avatar
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    It's been a couple years since I had my last ZJ, but last winter the bug bit me again. This time I ended up with a 1996 ZJ with a 4.0 that somebody had already lifted and put some work into, and, it has a 5-speed!

    The day I bought it.



    In it's natural element.



    When I bought the Jeep it had a Rough Country radius arm front suspension on it that some one had cut and welded the radius arms (very poorly) for unknown reasons, and they also poorly welded the "bolt on" crossmember to the unibody. My first order of business was getting rid of the death trap front suspension. To do that I bought a IRO front 3-link long arm kit.



    After installing that, the next issue to address was the stock steering linkage. I used a RuffStuff one ton kit for the steering, I had some issues with it initially but got it all worked out in the end. If you use this kit I suggest buying the reamer to ream out your steering knuckles and pitman arm, I used the weld in inserts that they sell and had issues with them allowing the ball joints to seat too deeply in the knuckles and pitman arm. The knuckles still worked, but the pitman arm wouldn't allow the ball joint to be tightened properly and caused a death wobble. After getting a new dropped pitman arm and reaming it out to the propper size I haven't had any more issues.

    Bending the tie rod for clearance.





    Installed and painted.

    Last edited by Gearjammer; 04-01-2020 at 10:11 PM.
    96 ZJ 4.0, AX15, V8 axles, welded rear diff, some lift
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  2. #2 Re: Not much of a build "thread" 
    Member Gearjammer's Avatar
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    Took the ZJ out for it's first wheeling trip with the family on fathers day last year. After getting through the filter on the first trail I stopped for a picture, while I was taking the picture I heard air leaking from one of my tires and found someone's sway bar disconnect keeper stuck in my passenger rear tire. With no spare, and no plug kit, our day was cut short, fortunately the trail was close enough to home that I was able to make it before the tire went flat. I now have a plug kit in the Jeep, and may get a full size spare, one of these days.



    Last edited by Gearjammer; 04-01-2020 at 08:32 PM. Reason: Add pic
    96 ZJ 4.0, AX15, V8 axles, welded rear diff, some lift
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  3. #3 Re: Not much of a build "thread" 
    Member Gearjammer's Avatar
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    Made it on one more wheeling trip last summer to the local OHV trails, didn't get many pictures though. The ZJ worked pretty good, but I need to fab up a hand throttle and think about some lower gears, a front locker, and if it's worth putting any money into my current axles, especially the front.



    A little tire smoke.



    Getting to use my recently fixed winch to pull myself off the rocks.





    Last edited by Gearjammer; 04-01-2020 at 08:51 PM.
    96 ZJ 4.0, AX15, V8 axles, welded rear diff, some lift
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  4. #4 Re: Not much of a build "thread" 
    Member Gearjammer's Avatar
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    When I bought the ZJ the rear already had a custom long arm kit on it, that fortunately wasn't built by whoever did the front suspension. They used the factory mounting points on the rear axle and a factory style rear track bar. I had been planning on triangulating the rear suspension from the start, but after listening to the rear end make some funky noises on the last wheeling trip I decided that it was time. I bought a truss from Clayton Offroad, and some way over sized, (oops) heim joints for the rear upper links from Ruffstuff. I was able to re-use the upper arms that were already on the rear and just cut the old ends off and weld new tube inserts in.



    Got the truss welded on, and I was able to bend the factory rear brake line around so that I could reuse it with an extended brake line that I had laying around from one of the many Jeep's I've owned.





    Back under the ZJ.





    Yes my rear shocks are on upside down. I did it for clearance with the lower spring buckets, but found out that the valving doesn't exactly work when inverted.
    They have since been installed correctly.
    Last edited by Gearjammer; 04-01-2020 at 09:09 PM.
    96 ZJ 4.0, AX15, V8 axles, welded rear diff, some lift
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  5. #5 Re: Not much of a build "thread" 
    Member Gearjammer's Avatar
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    Once the rear suspension was finished, and the shocks were mounted correctly, I found that the street manners of the Jeep greatly improved with the triangulated 4-link vs the stock-ish parallel 4-link. The whole time I've owned this jeep I've been fighting the steering, it wandered when I bought it, it had brief run-in with death wobble after I upgraded it, and the wander just wouldn't go away. I should have just taken it in to see if I could get the front end aligned, or at least checked early on but I didn't. I had been setting the toe and caster myself on this Jeep, as I have on others without issue, but on this one I had been making a mistake in my measurements the whole time. I thought I was running around 6* of caster, but it turns out I was closer to 0*. Once I realized that and got the caster set accurately to 6* my wander has completely disappeared. One other issue I had been dealing with was tires that weren't balanced due to the DIY beadlocks, I hated to do it, but I sold the beadlocks and replaced them with non-beadlock wheels. The ZJ is now comfortable to drive on the freeway, at freeway speeds. If I did any harder wheeling I might have kept the beadlocks, but this ZJ see's a lot of road miles.
    96 ZJ 4.0, AX15, V8 axles, welded rear diff, some lift
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  6. #6 Re: Not much of a build "thread" 
    Member Gearjammer's Avatar
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    About six months ago I designed a new front bumper for the ZJ on Google Sketchup. This week I finally had the time and motivation to start building it.

    I really like the front bumper that KD Fabworks sells, so I decided to loosely model mine after theirs.



    My fab shop. I used 3/16 steel for the bumper, the center with the winch mount is 1/4. Yes that is a plastic protractor, and a yard stick. I had my wife bring them home from her second grade classroom.



    Last edited by Gearjammer; 04-01-2020 at 09:47 PM.
    96 ZJ 4.0, AX15, V8 axles, welded rear diff, some lift
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  7. #7 Re: Not much of a build "thread" 
    Member Gearjammer's Avatar
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    First side welded on.



    Second side welded on.





    The finished (for now) product.





    Last edited by Gearjammer; 04-01-2020 at 10:09 PM.
    96 ZJ 4.0, AX15, V8 axles, welded rear diff, some lift
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  8. #8 Re: Not much of a build "thread" 
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    Looking good! You've gotten more done in the time you've had this than I have on mine.

    Sent from my SM-G970U using Tapatalk
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  9. #9 Re: Not much of a build "thread" 
    Member Gearjammer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yjsaabman717 View Post
    Looking good! You've gotten more done in the time you've had this than I have on mine.

    Sent from my SM-G970U using Tapatalk
    Thanks. I'm lucky, I have an understanding wife and something else to drive everyday, both of those help.
    96 ZJ 4.0, AX15, V8 axles, welded rear diff, some lift
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  10. #10 Re: Not much of a build "thread" 
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    I have both of those, just not a good indoor work space. Ok, just not an available indoor work space as it's otherwise occupied. And sometimes I just need a break from the ZJ due to frustration. Lol!

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  11. #11 Re: Not much of a build "thread" 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yjsaabman717 View Post
    sometimes I just need a break from the ZJ due to frustration. Lol!
    I know all about that.

    Having a third bay on the garage that can be my "shop" helps a lot too.
    96 ZJ 4.0, AX15, V8 axles, welded rear diff, some lift
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  12. #12 Re: Not much of a build "thread" 
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    Good to see another build going on here!

    The best things I ever bought for my ZJ was a DD, tow rig, and shop so I can just walk away when I want to burn it to the ground.
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  13. #13 Re: Not much of a build "thread" 
    Member Gearjammer's Avatar
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    I've been staring at these frame stiffeners for about two months now, with the local Jeep trails set to open up in the next couple weeks I figured I should probably get to work getting them installed. Hopefully it all goes well.




    This is sort of a delayed update, but on my one wheeling trip I broke one of the factory motor mounts. The replacements came from Iron Man Fab, the install was more difficult than I thought it should have been, but I won't have to worry about them braking again.

    96 ZJ 4.0, AX15, V8 axles, welded rear diff, some lift
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  14. #14 Re: Not much of a build "thread" 
    Member Gearjammer's Avatar
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    The frame stiffeners have been a much bigger pain in the butt than I anticipated. I ended up having to take a lot more of the front suspension apart than I had planned on. Then when I mocked up the first one I found that only five of the six mounting holes for my front long arms lined up. The stiffeners and the long arm kit came from Iron Rock Offroad so I wasn't expecting to have issues.



    I eventually got the drivers side in place and welded it on. Unfortunately I was only able to get four of the six mounting bolts to fit once everything was welded, I knew one of them wasn't gonna work . I ended up just using the four bolts that still fit to locate the control arm mount, and then welded it to the frame stiffener.





    Since it took me so much longer than I was expecting I was only able to get one side finished today. I'm hopeful that the passenger wide will go better.
    Last edited by Gearjammer; 04-29-2020 at 09:58 PM.
    96 ZJ 4.0, AX15, V8 axles, welded rear diff, some lift
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  15. #15 Re: Not much of a build "thread" 
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    I was able to get the passenger side finished today and get the ZJ back together. I drilled five additional holes to plug weld around where the control arm mount attaches, knowing that I would be welding it back on as opposed to bolting it back on, although I still used some of the bolts for good measure. If I had been thinking I would have drilled a couple more plug weld holes in the front of the frame stiffener on the bottom since there isn't a good place to weld the inside of the stiffener to the unibody. I am also going to add some bracing to the rear control arm mounts since all they are mounted to currently is the unibody. Once the consumables I ordered for my borrowed plasma cutter show up I'll get the bracing cut and welded on.

    Now that I have somewhere solid to mount to, I need to decide what I'm gonna do for rock sliders.

    If you look close at the last picture you can see where the previous owner burned through the unibody welding on the old long arm set up that was on here, I may have also got a little to aggressive with the angle grinder cutting the old junk off also.





    96 ZJ 4.0, AX15, V8 axles, welded rear diff, some lift
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  16. #16 Re: Not much of a build "thread" 
    Member Gearjammer's Avatar
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    Now that I have the frame stiffeners on I wanted to add some bracing to the rear long arm mounts. This time I used good old card board for my design.





    I used some of the steel plate that I had left from the front bumper for the bracing. When I started I noticed that I was almost out of gas for my welder, so my welds were kind of rushed and I still ran out of gas before I finished welding the first one on. Looks like I get to go back to the welding supply store, I knew I should have checked my bottle before I headed to town today, oh well.







    After I get some more gas and finish welding the brace on I plan on adding a gusset from the rear upper link mount to the uni-body stiffener. I'm not sure if I'm going to just run it along the bottom of the upper mount, like the first pic, or if I will run it on a diagonal, like the second pic, so that it will be able to absorb any stress it sees more evenly. I think I'm leaning toward the second pic style.



    Last edited by Gearjammer; 05-12-2020 at 09:25 PM.
    96 ZJ 4.0, AX15, V8 axles, welded rear diff, some lift
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  17. #17 Re: Not much of a build "thread" 
    Caucasian Sensation Staff ELLLLLIOTTTTT's Avatar
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    Nice! Keep the updates coming.
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  18. #18 Re: Not much of a build "thread" 
    Member Gearjammer's Avatar
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    Thanks!

    I made it to town today and got a new bottle for my welder, so I was able to get the bracing finished. I have to say, welding overhead is NOT my favorite thing to do and it shows in some of my welds, that's ok cause I have a grinder.

    Cutting the pieces out on my make shift plasma table.



    What the passenger side looked like before I started



    The driver side finished, with the extra piece bracing the upper control arm mount to the frame stiffeners.



    The passenger side finished.





    I'm hopefully going to be doing some wheeling this weekend, I'm not sure if we are going on a spring snow run, or up to the local OHV park. Whatever we do I'll make sure to take some pictures and post them up here.
    Last edited by Gearjammer; 05-17-2020 at 09:44 PM.
    96 ZJ 4.0, AX15, V8 axles, welded rear diff, some lift
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  19. #19 Re: Not much of a build "thread" 
    Member Gearjammer's Avatar
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    Made it up into the hills today to find some slushy spring snow, once I aired down to 5 PSI the ZJ did pretty good. I didn't get much for pix but here's one of the group that went, and the lake we went to.



    Big Mosquito Lake in the Gifford Pichot National Forest.

    96 ZJ 4.0, AX15, V8 axles, welded rear diff, some lift
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