1997 Cherokee XJ "GROOT" Overland Build

With a 3,000 mile trip around the corner, my wife insisted on some good tunes since the last head-unit shorted out last week. I found this Pyle PLMRB29B unit on sale on Amazon for $44. It's a marine unit so it's water-resistant and lightweight. - No CD, but who uses CD's anymore? It has Bluetooth streaming, a built-in mic for hands-free calling, an SD-card reader, a charging USB port, AM/FM receiver, and output is rated at 300w. Along with the four Pioneer speakers I picked up for another $40, the sound is very clear.



There's been a slew of deliveries this week, so I have a busy weekend ahead of me. I'll arrange everything and post a picture of all the parts and gear later. - Nothing big, but mostly essential for the trip we're about to take.
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A bunch more maintenance, recovery, and prep gear showed up this week. This weekend will be nice and productive! - Not pictured are the parts for my rear disc brake conversion, Trasharoo, and Viair 88p.

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I've read that before too. So the Liberty's passenger side cable worked for you?
with two modifications:
1. the cable was routed and tied to the bottom of the vehicle instead of tracing along the top of the axle
2. the cable ends for the WJ driver side and KJ passenger side at the tensioner were not the same length, so I used a large crimping tool and cable sleeves

pic on a ford, to show how my bracket looked with different length cables, so only 1 e-brake would engage

some people just loop the cable on itself and use a tiny u-bolt

I used something like THIS and crimpable cable sleeves to remake one of the cable ends the correct length:
Today I was able to get the ignition system all sorted. Removing that factory coil was a PITA and took me a lot longer than it should have because I was unorganized when I started.

Regardless, I swapped out the Ignition Coil, the Distributor Cap, Rotor, and Wires. I didn't need to mess with the plugs, since I just installed them 500 miles ago.

MSD Coil next to OEM Coil

Accel Rotor next to OEM Rotor

Finished job, showing which wires I used. Taylor 8mm Spiro-Pro - Lime Green

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
[08-13-17] After another 4.5 hours, I managed to convert my Chrysler 8.25 rear axle to disc brakes using KJ Liberty studs, backing plate, and calipers. All that's left is to hookup the parking brake cables and tie in the brake hoses. Luckily, the factory XJ parking brake cables will work.


[08-16-17] Now, with 2 DAYS LEFT it's a mad-dash at the house each evening. - The Jeep is REAL close to being ready for our 3,000 mile trip through TX, NM, CO, and WY.

This last weekend, I was also able finish staining, carpeting, and installing the rear shelf system. To test out the fit and finish, I tossed in a couple of Pelican cases and my RTIC cooler to see how everything rides. The only rattle I could hear was the Coleman stove, but i'll stick a rag in between the rack and the lid to quiet that.

Thanks to work, yesterday evening was able to sneak up on me and I was only able to install the CB system.

Tonight I have to finish hooking up the rear parking brake and caliper hoses. I'll try to get some photos, but I have a few more items to tackle, so time is really limited.

  • CHECK Connect rear brake hoses including trimming and re-flanging the hard lines to shorten them. (Wed. Night)
  • CHECK Connect parking brake cables to KJ parking brake levers and adjust the parking brake. (Wed. Night)
  • CHECK Lift the front end and perform a basic alignment. (Wed. Night)
  • CHECK Install Front D-Ring Recovery Points (Wed. Night)
  • Re-align steering wheel (Wed. After)
  • Fix windshield washer sprayers - Fuse, Clog, Pump. (Thurs. Afternoon)
  • Remove and replace steering wheel (Thurs. Afternoon)
  • CHECK Stow Hi-Lift (Thurs. Afternoon)
  • CHECK Check fluids (Thurs. Afternoon)
  • CHECK Check tire pressures (Thurs. Afternoon)
  • If time allows - Mask, Sand, and Paint the lower 10" of the doors and sills and reinstall the door sill panel. (Thurs. Afternoon)
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I'm at a loss for words right now - Contemplating how in the world to recap the adventure this thing took us on...It was flawless. The Jeep performed over 2,000 highway miles and over 700 miles of offroad trails through Colorado from Four Corners, NM to Savery, WY. This route was the 2017 Colorado BDR, but we adjusted to include Imogene Pass, instead of Ophir and then detoured over Hancock Pass, instead of Hwy 50.








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Looks like a great trip -- can't wait to read about it

So after 3000 miles, I have to ask about your axle gearing -- do you need or want to change from 3.73?
Looks like a great trip -- can't wait to read about it

So after 3000 miles, I have to ask about your axle gearing -- do you need or want to change from 3.73?
We actually ran the entire trip with the factory 3.07's, as I ran out of time to get the axle swaps done beforehand. They did surprisingly well. - It's a manual though, so I can feather the clutch a little down low in 1st to help it get moving.

That said, I do plan to complete the axle swaps front and rear soon. The front is a Dana 30 LP from a ZJ (Grand Cherokee) and the rear is a Ford 8.8 w/ LSD from an Eddie Bauer Explorer. Both of which come with 3.73's. I'm doing a simple build with new seals, bearings, and differential covers for each.

After that, I can't imagine I'll be able to convince myself the cost/benefits of 4.11's over the 3.73's.
After that, I can't imagine I'll be able to convince myself the cost/benefits of 4.11's over the 3.73's.
That would be a hard sell -- Only way I think it would benefit is if you where heavy rock crawling - then maybe 4.56 would be the better option

At some point we have to keep in mind the rpm's and fuel economy, still need to do 80 on the freeway just to keep up

From 3.07 I might go 4.11 but from 3.73, I'd stay right there unless there was some huge issue that showed up
Last weekend on the 8th, I installed new 80w "Predator" LED headlamps from High Beam Offroad and a Smittybilt XRC 9,500 lb. winch. The 20 year old OEM battery terminals were beat, so I swapped them out for a pair of solid brass terminals as well.




Then on Wednesday the 11th, I swapped the winch's OEM hook out with a unit from Ranger.


Headed down to explore East Matagorda Barrier Island on the Texas Coast this past weekend. Unique among Texas' barrier islands, East Matagorda Island is a 24 mile long stretch of sand that's open to exploration on the coastal and bay sides. All electronics, the winch, and the Jeep performed flawlessly. Every time I take this thing out, I'm impressed by it's reliability and off-road performance. Living in Texas, nothing is close-by, so it's great that this 20-year old Jeep is so reliable that I can daily-drive it to work everyday and then take it on adventures each weekend without a worry. - We even rescued an F350 who had come to assist, but ended up getting stuck himself.







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Well after I bought the Montero, I knew this day would inevitably come. I just didn't think it'd come so soon. The Jeep is going to new home in Killeen, TX tomorrow morning. It was a blast to buy, build, and travel with and I think my wife and I will both miss it equally. Thanks for following everyone!

The Montero is getting a similar build, which has already begun. If you're interested in following that, check out the link in my signature.