98 Jeep ZJ "SHTFV"

Recce01

Adventurer
Unfortunetly I was not around when the transmission rebuild went down (I was out of town on business), so I dont have any real tech photos to show you of this portion of the build. I will tell you that it was built by Tony from RDE, and his brother Walter from Walter's Transmissions. They are both located in Temecula, Ca. Tony does most the transmissions for the high end Trophy Trucks and Short Course racing trucks. He has built the transmissions for all of my vehicles since I was a youngster. It is my understanding that they changed all of the bushings to needle bearings, increased the fluid flow/pressure in the valve body, and rebuilt the transfer case. I decided to do this as a preemptive measure as the Jeep had about 200K miles on the clock when we got it. I didn't want to be stuck in Death Valley with a blown tranny!!

Here is Tony pictured with some of his 20K full race turbo 400 trannys. I wish I could run one of those!!

 

jeep-N-montero

Expedition Leader
So with all the stock parts on the floor, I couldn't help but take pictures of all the standard components versus the new Rubicon parts. Take a look at what gets replaced with this kit...

Here are the front springs, which appear to be a bit more heavy duty than stock. I would have liked to have them measured as well, but no time this time around!



The rear springs look to be heavier duty as well...



The control arms appear to have the most significant effect of the function of the suspension. As I understand it, the standard control arms are meant to flex torsionally. This can actually be done by hand, making my eye balls about pop out of my head. I can't believe these are this weak from the factory!! The new front Rubicon arms are stout, and offer twist in the ends where it should be!



The Johnny joint in the end of these control arms should allow tons of flex and allow the arm to retain its integrity!



The bushing end that bolts to the chassis should help to keep road noise to a minimum!!



It is the same story with the rear arms, accept all of them are adjustrable



The zerk fittings are a nice touch, it will help to keep all the joints well lubricated and free of squeaks! I hope :) You also notice the adjustable tension that can be placed on the bushings. If it starts to wear, simply tighten them up by turning the spanner and its back to tight as new, awesome feature!



The front panhard bar is night and day. It gets rid of that cheasy ball joint in favor of a proper heim joint.



It looks like it was about time to replace it anyways!!



The rear panhard bar is mounted higher via a new panhard bracket



Here is the bump stop spacer installed



Here is the rear suspension installed



I just zip tied all the accessories that used to attach to the upper control arm, I wish this kit had provisions for this..



And here is the front suspension installed.... Holy droop batman!!!



The front sway bar link kit is awesome. It includes secondary posts to mount on the chassis so you simply slip the pins out and swing up the links to the chassis when off-roading



I love it, you are like a kid on Christmas morning! But you should have that rear track bar bracket welded on and the factory bracket reinforced with a gusset added, or order the rear adjustable track bar from Iron Rock Offroad. As for the axles, you will be fine with running 32's for a long time to come.
 

Recce01

Adventurer
Just out of curiosity, what did they charge you for the the tranny rebuild? I might have to drop them a line.
I worked out a trade deal. I am not sure of the value, he just said he needed some suspension work done, and some RC stuff, so I did that for him, and he did my Transmission for me. I did invest in a few hundred dollars worth of Amsoil Trans fluid, and it works perfect!

I love it, you are like a kid on Christmas morning! But you should have that rear track bar bracket welded on and the factory bracket reinforced with a gusset added, or order the rear adjustable track bar from Iron Rock Offroad. As for the axles, you will be fine with running 32's for a long time to come.
Hell Ya I am like a kid on Christmas :) I have spent the majority of my adult life fabricating off-road trucks, Rally cars and so much more, all with one thing in common. They all belonged to someone else! It has been so many years since I had the opportunity to build up a vehicle (full size) for ourselves to enjoy. I will look into the trackbar for the rear, and break out the welder for the mount on the rear end. Thank you very much for the advice! That is the brilliant thing about a good forum community, you can save the next guy from going down the same potentially hazardous path. Not to take advantage of your knowledge, but do you happen to know why a ZJ would have a very loud and high pitched howling noise? Imagine mudder tires on the freeway at 70mph, with 5 times the howl..... I removed the front driveshaft, and did a "no no" to try to isolate and diagnose it. I drove the 249 transfer case with only a rear driveshaft, and the noise ceased. Then I replaced the driveshaft(as it came out), and it stayed noise free for a few days, then the noise came back. The only thing I did was add grease to one of the u-joint bearing caps, at it had slid off during disassembly, so I decided to grease it for good measure. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge!
 

Recce01

Adventurer
Storage solution

This was a big decision for me. In my eyes, this is one of the most iconic and differentiating aspects of an Overland/Expedition type vehicle as compared to a general 4x4 vehicle. I guess it doesn't have to be considered that; but for me it is and I am talking about the storage system. In my case I scoured the internet and this site looking for the exact solution that seemed to fit our needs. If I am completely honest, I was hesitant, as I knew this was going to add some weight, and pretty much remove hardcore rock crawling from the equation. At the same time I was relieved, because I figured if I took my Jeep on hardcore trails, that it would end up broken, bent and take longer to build due to necessary repairs and their associated expenses. Sure there are lots of lightwieght solutions available that are solid enough to bash a little, but I found myself drawn to one solution in particular found here.....
http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/9034-Post-up-your-drawer-storage-system?p=914248#post914248

Thank you jfarsang very much for the inspiration!

This seemed like the perfect storage solution to offer some amenities to our vehicle as well as keep me and my desire to hardcore crawl "in check". At the same time we decided to make this vehicle a permanent 3 seater. I intend to add a 12v fridge freezer and some other items to the 4th seat space. I drew up something that seamed to fit the bill and headed to consult long time friend Dave at Artistic Wood in Murrieta, Ca.



Here is my drawing with some notes from Dave...



Pretty high tech drawing eh? LOL. It wasnt pretty, but it had all the dimensions. I then consulted another old Rally buddy, Gabe from SoCal Teardrops. He told me he had access to the best drawer slides you could buy. I promptly ordered a set of the 500lb capacity models that lock in both the extended position and the compressed position. These would be perfect for the Drawer kit!



Dave not only owns Artistic Wood, but runs another company called "Cut 2 Size", which operates CNC wood cutting equipment out of the same building. After some debate we decided to enter the data into his computer program and have the machine do most of the cutting.



Here we are entering the Data...



Here is what it looks like on the computer screen in 3d



The cutout is for the 3rd seat behind the passenger seat.

Dave completed the drawing and ordered 2 sheets of 1/2" and 2 sheets of 3/4" Baltic Burch material for the box. This wood is relatively light weight and should add just under 100lbs to the vehicle, maybe more with slides, they are heavy duty!! Stay tuned for the cutting and assembly. Also, the Wife has been selling off a lot of stuff on ebay to help secure this stuff for us, out with the old, and in with the new. Between ebay and Amazon, we are pretty much covered!
 
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jeep-N-montero

Expedition Leader
Hell Ya I am like a kid on Christmas :) I have spent the majority of my adult life fabricating off-road trucks, Rally cars and so much more, all with one thing in common. They all belonged to someone else! It has been so many years since I had the opportunity to build up a vehicle (full size) for ourselves to enjoy. I will look into the trackbar for the rear, and break out the welder for the mount on the rear end. Thank you very much for the advice! That is the brilliant thing about a good forum community, you can save the next guy from going down the same potentially hazardous path. Not to take advantage of your knowledge, but do you happen to know why a ZJ would have a very loud and high pitched howling noise? Imagine mudder tires on the freeway at 70mph, with 5 times the howl..... I removed the front driveshaft, and did a "no no" to try to isolate and diagnose it. I drove the 249 transfer case with only a rear driveshaft, and the noise ceased. Then I replaced the driveshaft(as it came out), and it stayed noise free for a few days, then the noise came back. The only thing I did was add grease to one of the u-joint bearing caps, at it had slid off during disassembly, so I decided to grease it for good measure. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge!
Are you still running the original front drive shaft with that ugly CV setup on the axle end? If so it is most likely your issue, they hate any lift over 2 inches and will soon leave you stranded. Upgrade to the standard double cardan drive shaft and it will solve your front vibration issues. Let me know if you need any help sourcing the parts, I usually have a spare setup laying around and will cost about half what a shop would charge you even with shipping. And it would be a good idea to replace all of your u-joints on the Jeep before more vibrations arise, tends to happen right after installing a lift because the joints are being put into a new wear pattern and will break at an inopportune time.
 

Recce01

Adventurer
Are you still running the original front drive shaft with that ugly CV setup on the axle end? If so it is most likely your issue, they hate any lift over 2 inches and will soon leave you stranded. Upgrade to the standard double cardan drive shaft and it will solve your front vibration issues. Let me know if you need any help sourcing the parts, I usually have a spare setup laying around and will cost about half what a shop would charge you even with shipping. And it would be a good idea to replace all of your u-joints on the Jeep before more vibrations arise, tends to happen right after installing a lift because the joints are being put into a new wear pattern and will break at an inopportune time.
I have the standard double cardan drive shaft in the front. I hadn't considered changing the U-Joints. I think I will try that next, it probably needs to happen anyways! I am also preparing to change the axles at the moment, so I dont want to invest too much into these. Thanks for the offer, I think I'll change the joints, and see if that fixes the noise, then report back.
 

Recce01

Adventurer
Storage Solution Cont.

Technology is an amazing thing. Back when I had my last jeep, you either had to select something that was on the market, or take the long way to make something custom yourself or pay someone to make it for you. Granted, all of these high tech tools are not cheap, and you don't necessarily save money by employing them, but it does offer you an opportunity to design and get exactly what you want, and make sure it is built correctly. This is one of those areas that I openly admit I have no clue about. Wood is not my friend. I am experienced and know my way around all things metal (usually), but when it comes to wood, I can't cut a straight line to save my life. I had a basic idea of what I wanted to accomnplish, and took the ideas to people who were experts in the field.

Just before we started the drawing process, I was turned on to a deal (by GCRad1 on here, Thank you Rodney!) we could not pass up on Ebay for some used pelican cases. My wife had been selling off some stuff we had around, and we had just enough $$ in our paypal to secure [4] 1550 mustard colored pelican cases. I decided that I wanted this storage system to house the pelican cases and offer an extending table that would contain 3 folding chairs and a roll top table inside, as well as another further extending drawer that could hold a camp stove.

Here are the pilican cases we secured...



I could tell by this layout and my measuring that fitting all four of these was going to be a tall order, but I proceeded with my fingers crossed!

 

Recce01

Adventurer
Storage Solution Cont.

I turned up at Artistic Wood and C2S one weekend to see how my project was coming along.



Lucky for me, they were just loading the Baltic Burch on the table and getting ready to cut the parts.



This cnc wood cutting machine is awesome!! It vacuum sucks the material down to the table and then very precisely follows a programmed pattern...



I laughed pretty hard watching this hula dancer going nuts while this machine was flying around the table





After the parts come off of the machine, they are labeled with a part number relative to their location in the final project , then they are sanded on the edges and prepared for bulk drilling.



I am not sure if this is actually called bulk drilling, but that is essentially what it is. You simply line up the edge of the material with the guide, and shove it onto 20 or so high speed drill bits. There must be a standard hole distance to make this efficient.





The result is pretty cool, all the holes are ready to go!!



The next process involves sealing the ends of the cut material that will not be screwed to to another piece of material. They have a special machine for this too. The first step is to get the roll of material that best matches the wood you are using and feed it into this huge piece of equipment.



It heats up to 200 degrees and applys the thin material to the exposed edge of the wood, then trims the excess off. You simply have to set it for the proper thickness of wood.



It pulls the wood through and applies it



There is some slight trimming/cutting that can be required if it doesn't nail it perfect



The result is a really nice finish, as pictured here with an unfinished end to see the difference..

 
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Recce01

Adventurer
Storage Solution Cont.

Now that all the parts are cut, the guys at Artistic Wood began the assembly process



This process went fairly quickly. Having all the holes pre-drilled was very cool!!





Its really cool to see the inner workings of a wood shop. They have some really neat tools on their side. When metal fabbing, there is always something that comes up and that you hadn't thought of, these guys seemed to have thought of everything.



This thing seemed way easier to build than that crap we buy at Ikea :)



I was very suprised how heavy these slides were. I guess it is important to get the strength. They are damn cool though. I like the lock out, and lock in feature..



Those of you that are familiar with these slides probably noticed that we put them on the wrong side, or upside down. I didn't think anything of it, until we discovered that the lock out portion of the slide depends on gravity to do the locking. We later changed them so the unlock mechanism was on the right instead of the left, and allowed them to perform properly.

This was one of those defining moments, where I get to see if I can still read a tape measure... I brought out all the pelican cases for a test fit, not that there was anything that could have been done to fix it if I missed...



excellent, they actually fit!

 

Recce01

Adventurer
Storage Solution Cont.

The next step was to add the first drawer that is meant to work as a slide out table as well as storage for the 3 chairs, the roll top table and the stove drawer. Artistic Wood made quick work of this step...



The back corner of the drawer had to be trimmed for the profile of the rear seat



After the drawer was built, it had to have the slides installed



The final large portion of this build was the drawer to hold the stove





After the drawer was made, the slides had to be installed in the table



by this time, all I wanted to do was operate the system, and slacked on getting photos, here it is on the saw horses...

 
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Recce01

Adventurer
Storage Solution Cont.

There is still a lot more to do to this kit to make it the way we want it, but we are at a stopping point so we can focus on some more aspects of this build. I did take a few minutes to mock it up in its intended location with a few components installed.

Here are the three chairs and roll top table that need to fit in the drawer table



Here is the system loaded with everything but the stove



With the table pulled out





Here is the stove drawer also extended



It sticks out of the vehicle around 5.5' I think. I will have to meausre to be sure. The idea is that the smoke from the grill misses the open hatch of the Jeep, and the table is covered by the hatch. It worked out pretty well!



We bought a Coleman grill for it, but it is not what we are looking for. It came bent in the box, and doesn't sit flat. It is actually off by over 1/4 of an inch, so I will be sending it back and looking for a new grill. Any suggestions? We are looking for something that has fold out legs so we can elevate it from the bottom of the drawer so it doesn't start burning the wood. We are aso looking for something inexpensive, as all the money we saved to do this build is rapidly evaporating. Thanks for checking it out!
 
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JakeC

Member
Great build I've been watching, seems like you have quite a few friends in all the right places! Also, are you building/buying a new rear bumper?
 

PHRANQUY

New member
Very nice. I recently picked up a 98 ZJ myself and am starting the planning process for an expedition build.
 
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