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ultraclyde
ultraclyde PowerDork
12/21/17 2:21 p.m.
Enyar said:

I don't know about Yakima but Thule has been really good about getting me keys for racks I find on Craigslist.

To get Yakima keys you have to have the code on the lock cylinder....which you can't remove unless it's unlocked of course.  But the local locksmith made me keys for $25. 

DrBoost
DrBoost MegaDork
12/22/17 6:32 a.m.
ultraclyde said:

In reply to JBasham :

The steering's not great, but like Mr. Lee said, 20 year old car. It's no worse than the F250 was when I bought it, or the Explorer was after many years. Still, I have no trouble driving it. I've put over 1000 miles on it since I bought it last month.

 I'm doing ball joints, bearings, all tie rods, and steering damper in this round. I suspect I'll follow all this with control arms and a track bar before long. After all that, the only thing left is the steering box. It should drive just fine when I'm done, and all the front end parts together so far are under $500 for Moog stuff. 

There's an adjustment on the steering box that removes slop. There's an involved procedure in the FSM, but I just do it by feel. 

ultraclyde
ultraclyde PowerDork
12/25/17 7:56 a.m.

After a few evenings and one Saturday morning bashing in the ZJ, I've got the balljoints done on both sides. I also decided to do the springs and shocks while I still had the knuckles off just to make it easier. I goit the psg side on before I quit to go to a Christmas party. I'll be back on it after the holiday. I took the other 3 days after xmas off to complete the install

 

Dirtydog
Dirtydog Reader
12/25/17 1:27 p.m.

Looking good, nice progress.  Enjoy your "vacation".

ultraclyde
ultraclyde PowerDork
1/2/18 7:46 a.m.

Now, after much wrenching, cursing, and sore muscles, a massive update.

When last we left our troubled hero, he had installed the ball joints on both sides and managed to cram one spring and shock on the front passenger side. 

I took the entire week of Christmas off but my dear wife had to work wed-thur-fri. that gave me 3 solid days to get the majority of the suspension work done.

I started off bright and early Wednesday morning by tucking the driver's side spring and shock in. Man, that spring was a PITA even with a cheap chinese compressor and the sway bar disconnected. I had to wedge a 2x4 in between the control arm and the frame, then lay on the end of it while cramming a compressed spring into place while it was compressed with a HF compressor set to the point it was bending the bolts. Terrifying. Once that was in I threw in the axles and hubs, then removed the hubs to put in the disk splash shields I had forgotten. I also tokk the time to cut into the psg wheel well and run attach an extension hose to the AC drain routed out into the wheelwell. The factory drain runs inside the frame rail (WTH Dodge?) and as the foam seals degrade it allows water into the psg floorboard. Since I've got a wet floorboard that doesn't smell like coolant I figured I'd do the mod while I had the wheel out. After that, throw on the front tires and set the truck down to torque the axle nuts to the required 175 ft-lbs, jack it back up and reinstall all the brake bits. The calipers look absolutely awful and the pads have some cracks in them, but the slides work well and there's plenty of meat on the pads, so that's a fight for another day. I finished out Day 1 by dropping the steering linkage out as a unit and assembling the parts of the new one.

Thursday morning I bolted in the new steering linkage and had a minor fight with the steering damper.

 

After greasing all the joints and getting the front back on the ground I threw the springs and shocks on the back. SO MUCH EASIER. I think the hardest part was prying the olf spring isolators off.  In fact, it was so easy I didn't even take pictures. 

Wheels down meant it was time for a test drive! The dog and I took the truck about 10 miles down to the Oaky Woods WMA and found some forest roads to bounce around on. The thing needs an alignment BADLY but man, it rides like a magic carpet. The combination of the OME springs and the Bilstein 5100s is plush.

I did notice I still had a clunk in the front end but I have since tracked that down to bad swaybar-to-frame bushings. 

Since the heavy lifting was done, Thursday afternoon I moved on to the projects that directly affect the driving experience and weren't quite so physically demanding. I threw in the trans mount and then began tearing apart the dash to remove the headlight switch and the "Vehicle Information Center." Both of these were giving me issues that the internet told me could be solved by reflowing the solder on the boards.  Dodge uses a metric crap ton of screws to hold the dash together BTW, and you have to take the entire lower dash.

Sorry for the crappy pic. While tearing into the dash and pulling back the carpet in the psg side I found a few surprises. One was a mass of anonymous wiring under the carpet (in the water) tied directly into the fuse box (eep.)

After some wire tracing I found it was the connection for this:

An old school car phone transmitter! It does have one of the through-glass antennas on the back window, so this makes sense. I ripped out all the wiring (along with the turn-on and signal wiring for a non-existant rear amplifier) and the box. I also found a pleasant surprise tucked under the carpet near the firewall:

No wonder the 20 year old factory system sounded so good! Because it was replaced with MB Quart Reference components! I shined a flashlight through the speaker grills, and the front doors are definitely MBQ. The rear doors are nice looking 2 way speakers but I don't recognize the logo. It's a stylized blue S with and arc.  I get the impression from the professional level of install that someone really spent some money having this thing outfitted. I suspect from the component age it was probably the second owner, but certainly not anyone who's abused this poor thing recently.

Friday I disassembled the headlight switch and soldered the connections for the dimmer slider. This solved the issue of the dash lights and headlights randomly flashing on and off. Doing the same thing to the VIC solved the annoying chime and error for "Bad coolant sensor" even though the sensor was new. I also swapped the power connections between the cigar lighter and the "power outlet" so that the cigar lighter stays live with the ignition off and the power outlet is switched power. This allows me to leave my bluetooth phone transmitter plugged in but it turns off with the car. The adapter stuck out to far to clear the T-case selector when plugged into the cigar lighter, although I'd prefer to have it there.

New Year's day I took the wife and the dog for a couple hour tour adventure through the WMA and had a great time. I'm dropping it off at the alignment shop this morning. Once I make sure it's aligned decently it's getting some new AT tires. 

 

I still have to do the front fascia rebuild and headlight upgrade, but that's not keeping me from driving it so it got pt off for a bit. I also need to change the fluid in all the diffs and t-case, change the valve cover gaskets, find the coolant drip near the front bumper, and find out if the water leak is solved on the psg side. Then there's the leaking rear main seal and the ABS light to deal with. Plus it needs a push bar and some lights...

ultraclyde
ultraclyde PowerDork
1/2/18 7:53 a.m.

I found the speaker logo for the rear doors with about 0.25 seconds of googling - Alpine type S! Sweet!

 

Anyone have an opinion on Rubber vs Urethane for the sway bar bushings on something like this?

ultraclyde
ultraclyde PowerDork
1/4/18 6:49 a.m.

A trip to the alignment shop (two trips, actually, to get it right sad) now has the white wonder going straight down the road, but it has also revelaed the ludicrous amount of play in the steering. I've got the full adjustment procedure saved and will tackle that ASAP, and if that doesn't help I'll resort to the cheap "Cure" add on to the drag link. If that doesn't make me happy I'll spring for a precision rebuilt box.

 

In celebration of the truck driving straight I ordered (5) Cooper Discoverer AT3 tires in 255/70r16. This should give me a 30" AT tire that's got a great rep on the road and still reasonably capable off road. On the advice of the guys here I went ahead and ordered one for the spare too since the viscous Tcase in it will turn into a thermonuclear device if you run a smaller one. 

I've also decided to keep it on the factory gold snowflake wheels too. Because GOLD SNOWFLAKE.

$900 on tires, including all the free replacement certs (hey, it's a family vacation vehicle.) I just doubled the value of the Jeep. frown

 

EDIT: Speaking of the venerable snowflake wheels from the Limited, they're bringing them back. Behold, the new 2018 25th Anniversary Edition Grand Cherokee:

Now they just need to make 'em gold.

artur1808
artur1808 New Reader
1/4/18 8:13 a.m.

Great call on keeping the gold snowflakes!

I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the Cooper tires. Those were one of the candidates when I was shopping for new tires for my Grand Cherokee but I ultimately went with the Hankook Dynapro ATM. Both seem to be rated pretty well but the Hankooks were on a big rebate at the time. 

ultraclyde
ultraclyde PowerDork
1/8/18 6:56 a.m.

I replaced the sway bar bushings this weekend, and man, what a difference. The clunking is gone and it drives and rides a LOT better. I never noticed how much it wanted to tuck the body under and pull off to the side until I fixed it.

Having said that, I put in rubber replacements because I couldn't find urethane bushings for the 26mm bar. The clearance between bar and metal bracket is really small because the bushings just don't sit very well in the brackets. I suspect the clunking will return with just a little mileage wear.  Along those lines I've been looking at the universal front sway bar bracket/bushing combos from Energy. I can get them to fit 25mm bars or 27mm. What's the hive opinion of going slightly over/under on bushing size?

pinchvalve
pinchvalve MegaDork
1/8/18 7:12 a.m.
ultraclyde said:

In reply to DrBoost :

It's an unopened (thank god) tampon. The purple leopard print wrapper marks it as a brand that was/is marketed toward teens and young adults.

Perhaps evidence of a teen owner, perhaps evidence of a snatching.  Did you check the PO's basement?

pinchvalve
pinchvalve MegaDork
1/8/18 7:17 a.m.

Looks like a job for a crows-foot wrench.  

 

ultraclyde
ultraclyde PowerDork
1/8/18 8:27 a.m.

After meeting him there was no way I was getting close to the POs basement. 

 

Believe it or not, I thought about a crows foot but there wasn't enough room. It was like making a ship in a bottle.

ultraclyde
ultraclyde PowerDork
1/9/18 6:39 a.m.

I took a detour though a different WMA on the way home and did some exploring. I avoided the worst of the mud holes, but I'm amazed how capable the truck seems on aired-up street tires. It also occurs to me that I should get some recovery points on it and get a strap or two.

 

No recovery equipment, street tires, by myself and no one knew I was going...yeah, not driving though this one. Besides...it's too cold to wash the jeep.

ultraclyde
ultraclyde PowerDork
1/15/18 7:36 a.m.

Several updates over the last week for the ZJ, which may or may not be called Snowball now.  I got a suction cup RAM Mount for my cell phone, man I love these things. Rock solid. I use one on my boat for the same phone running navigation and you can't shake the phone loose no matter how airborne you get. This one feels like you could rip the window out using it as a handle. I also ran a long USB inside the dash from the center stack to the A-pillar for power.

I moved the roof rack back. The Yakima crossbars and trays are mounted to the factory crossbars. The airfoil on the front would interfere with the sunroof, generated a fair amount of noise, and created an annoying air torrent with the sunroof open. Since the factory roof bars will adjust fore/aft I was able to work the entire rack to the very back of the tracks. No more contact with the sunroof, significantly less noise, and it looks a little better due to the roof curve. Win!

Friday we got a crap ton of rain. At the end of the day my psg floorboard was no more damp than it was to start the day. This means the mods I made to the AC drain have solved the wet floor issue and it's not an exterior water leak. Double Win!

TIRES!!  Also Friday I got the new Cooper Discoverer AT3s installed. Damn, they make the Jeep look the part. Suddenly I feel good about all the work I've done and how the thing is coming along.  They don't look as tough in pictures somehow, but IRL the thing suddenly looks like an off road vehicle. And they still ride nice and aren't loud. Triple Win!

Keeping the gold snowflake wheels were absolutely the right choice here. I also sprung for the matching spare and got it bolted into the factory location:

 

It's not begging for it, but some 1" spacers are still under vague consideration just for looks. I did have to trim the outer corners of the fenders about 1/2" and I'm still getting a rub when reversing but it's so rare I haven't been able to trace it yet. At full lock the tread hits the lower control arms, but I can turn the steering stops out just a little and fix that.

Speaking of steering, I had a buddy wiggle the steering wheel while I checked everything for play, trying to find the source of the massive amount of on-center play. I found that the PITMAN ARM NUT WAS LOOSE and the pitman arm was wobbling. Eeep. I've seen plenty of arms that refused to come off, but I've never seen one that was thinking about coming off on its own.  Well, after torquing down that nut and giving the steering box adjuster 1/2 turn, almost all the play in the center is gone. More Win! 

I did pretty much run down the fact my radiator is leaking at one of the plastic side tanks, so I ordered a fully welded aluminum radiator for $175 delivered. I'll be doing radiator and hoses next weekend, as well as adding an aftermarket radiator support bar that incorporates anchors for 3/4" D-shackles for recovery points. I also ran down the correct size universal fit poly sway bar bushings and new endlinks, and ordered a 30' recovery strap and a receiver mount D-shackle as well.

This thing is starting to feel like a real vehicle instead of an odd collection of parts!

docwyte
docwyte SuperDork
1/15/18 8:38 a.m.

Always thought the Jeep spare tire location was stupid.  "Let's mount a full sized spare right on the side of the cargo area!  People won't be throwing stuff back there!"

ultraclyde
ultraclyde PowerDork
1/15/18 8:48 a.m.

Yeah, It's not the greatest. I'd thought about trying to fab a bumper with a swing away mount for it, but that would make backing up my boat a PITA, plus I'm not a huge fan of exterior storage in general. It's not that bad inside. It gives me some nooks and crannies to store stuff. There's a first aid box mounted to the panel behind it (that can be pulled out with spare in place), my air compressor and jumper cables store in the nook between the tire and seat back, and once I get my recovery equipment bag together it will store in the center of the spare. 

 

I was flipping through my photos and came across these.

Day I bought it:

Now:

I mostly wanted to post them back to back for my own enjoyment.

Dirtydog
Dirtydog Reader
1/15/18 9:03 a.m.

Nice progress on your ZJ.  Looking good.  Perhaps a tire cover for your spare.  Would clean things up back there.  Also consider a hitch mounted winch.

ultraclyde
ultraclyde PowerDork
1/15/18 9:30 a.m.

Thanks. A tire cover is a possibility. I'm thinking about making my own so I can incorporate storage pockets on the front. 

I have mixed emotions about a winch, but they are good options for recovery when running solo. I'd love to incorporate a hitch into the new radiator support bar and get a receiver plate for the winch. Ideally I could have dedicated power connectors front and rear so it could be used in either position.

But that's definitely a future project.

ultraclyde
ultraclyde PowerDork
1/17/18 8:51 a.m.

Snow in South Georgia is rare enough that pics were required

GTXVette
GTXVette Dork
1/20/18 7:06 a.m.

David that is a good looking truck, Nice score.

ultraclyde
ultraclyde PowerDork
1/22/18 8:25 a.m.

Down the rabbit hole....

I planned this weekend to replace the leaking radiator with a blingy new aluminum one:

and to add an aftermarket radiator brace that adds recovery shackle mounts. I started taking the old radiator out and that's when I fell down the rabbit hole.

Whilst crawling around underneath taking the radiator parts loose I was able to confirm something I had previously suspected...Yes, the water pump IS leaking. Crap. Well, might as well do it while I have the radiator out. Oh, yeah, should probably replace the fan clutch too... I spent the rest of Saturday afternoon pulling the radiator and taking the front of the engine apart to get the WP off (and the thermostat,WTH). Cleaned all the mating surfaces so I can slap the new pump on when it gets here today.

Sunday I proceded with beefing up the radiator brace by welding on 1/4" plates to the 1/4" shackle mounts and then redrilling them to take larger 3/4" shackles.

    

I also made up angle steel backing plates to go inside the unibody for reinfrcement.

  

 

Thant went well. You may notice the front bumper structure has been caved in the middle and both sides. The plastic mount panel for the grill and headlights is busted too. The "frame" is good and straight though because the brace fit on nicely and others have had major issues if the frame is tweaked at all.  I think it got stuffed into a ditch or dirt mount fairly hard.

Unfortunately... Whilst crawling around underneath taking the radiator parts loose I was able to confirm something I had previously suspected... The lower control arm bushings are HASHED. Like visibly torn. I checked them previously, and asked the alignment shop to check them, and I don't think they looked like this. Well, all new steer parts, new springs, bigger tires..... So I ordered all new control arms and a track bar. This should cure that persistent pull to the right that the alignment shop says is my imagination. (not going back to that shop) Once installed, EVERY MOVING PART of the front suspension will be new. So, I've got that going for me.

While I was under there I upgraded the front sway bar bushings to greasable urethane and cut the old rattly muffler off, and prepped for new muffler install.

By Sunday afternoon I was tired of working on hard metal parts so I started lacing on the leather steering wheel cover I got off Amazon. Man, for $11 this thing is ridiculously nice! My hands got tired half way through, so it's on hold for now.

 

ultraclyde
ultraclyde PowerDork
1/22/18 8:06 p.m.

New water pump installed, bypass tube reinstalled, power steering pump bolred back in, and steering wheel cover laced up. Still managed to cook dinner and watch a little tv. Not a bad evening.

grover
grover Reader
1/22/18 9:16 p.m.

In reply to ultraclyde :

that steering wheel cover looks great! man, this thing is looking a whole lot better than last time I saw it.  Btw, Do you want those backup lights back? I got a bumper with some already installed.  LMK. 

ultraclyde
ultraclyde PowerDork
1/23/18 6:34 a.m.

In reply to grover :

Thanks! It's coming along. If you don't want the lights, sure, I could use them. When did an off road vehicle ever have ENOUGH lights? you want me to email you my address?

grover
grover Reader
1/23/18 9:43 a.m.
ultraclyde said:

In reply to grover :

Thanks! It's coming along. If you don't want the lights, sure, I could use them. When did an off road vehicle ever have ENOUGH lights? you want me to email you my address?

haha, Never! I'd rather send them back to you.  Sure- shoot me your address I'm not sure where I last had it.  

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