Jeep XJ Westfalia Poptop Camper Build - The "Jeepagon" V2

jeepdreamer

Expedition Leader
Just crawled under the jeep and actually seriously considering this now.

How hard was it beyond taking the time to bend the new floorpan and fit it all in place?
Any issues with driveshaft clearance when the rear suspension is fully compressed?
My bed platform will sit over this regardless, but that’s a good bit of storage for this size camper
It was actually a lot easier than you'd think. Relocating the charcoal cannisters was a small pain but driveshaft never came near anything.
 

jakegrovephoto

Active member
The other good floorpan mod is reworking the front area to allow grand Cherokee seats (on the GC base) to fit. Much more comfortable seats than the Xj.
Interested with the seat mod. I’m actually looking into 2011-2015 patriot mk seats that had the fold flat passenger side, so that my sleeping platform can extend on top of the folded seat. Sounds like the limited trim had it but not all. A buddy with a ‘15 limited says his has it. Searching the junkyards
 
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jakegrovephoto

Active member
Well, went to do the AC after work today and sure enough it wouldn't hold vaccuum for more than a few minutes...
Worked fine before I disconnected and discharged to remove the heater core box. Replaced the dented up condenser as well with the radiator, so hoping its just an old/misalligned O-ring that can be replaced. If not ill try the UV dye route to find the source.

Anyway, taking a few days off to take care of school then back to the build.
Going to adjust the steering/suspension and start prepping it for desert season out at Ocotillo end of the week as well.
 

jakegrovephoto

Active member


Well, found out the Evap core is the source of the vacuum leak in the Cherokee’s ac system. Looks like I’ll be pulling the interior out again to get the new one into the hvac box. Should’ve just replaced it when I did the heater core 🤦‍♂️

Part should come from summit tomorrow, and got called up for a last minute photo gig so it’ll wait until late next week.
 

jakegrovephoto

Active member
Front frame plating and a steering box brace are good medicine for an XJ, especially as you increase tire size.

I like Boostwerks' design that incorporates a winch mount as well: BWE Comp Mount
That’s a clean approach! Been looking around for winch placement and am dead set on a setup that sits below the grille to maintain airflow to the rad. This might work out
 

jakegrovephoto

Active member
Well, jeep has been running rougher and started having a bad piston slap at cold start (goes away right after warm to a mild thumping)

No engine code, but been sucking down coolant frequently as well. Ran a compression test today as a first step.
Would initially hit 60psi on 1,4,5,6 and then remain there with each next stroke of the ignition. No building of pressure, possibly a valve seal issue? 2 & 3 are at 30psi, could indicate a slight head gasket issue perhaps?

Planning to pull it apart, run a new head and valve cover gasket and inspect the head while in there.

If the cylinder issue worsens considering just replacing the engine with the “new” re engineered ATK 4litre that has the better head casting. At 235k miles and a PO that let it overheat I’d rather start fresh then a full rebuild of this.






Also the AC Evap core came for the Cherokee so that’ll be taken care of soon. Then recharged.
 
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jakegrovephoto

Active member
Engine has been getting worse and pretty noisy of a piston slap as well. Don’t want to deal with a upper end rebuild but to have to machine the cylinders as well and then have a 20 year old bottom end to go out.

Just bought an ATK 4.0 that is meant for the ‘99 cherokee so it has the 0630 head instead of the 0331. Will have to make a mount for the coil pack as the head won’t have the threaded holes. Also will have two weeks off to get it back to a DD so couldn’t afford the time of a rebuild being apart if there was worse wear than thought.
 

jeepdreamer

Expedition Leader
If it has the 0331 head and you’re losing coolant, I’d bet on the cracked head. When mine cracked I had no choice but drive it until I couldn’t. Ended up washing the main bearings and seized the engine. I found a low mile, same year 4.0, swapped on a fresh 6 series head and it drove great. Stupid 0331 head is one of the few things that can kill a 4.0


Mine cracked and driving it made it so bad it even cracked the block in 3 spots!

 

jakegrovephoto

Active member
If it has the 0331 head and you’re losing coolant, I’d bet on the cracked head. When mine cracked I had no choice but drive it until I couldn’t. Ended up washing the main bearings and seized the engine. I found a low mile, same year 4.0, swapped on a fresh 6 series head and it drove great. Stupid 0331 head is one of the few things that can kill a 4.0


Mine cracked and driving it made it so bad it even cracked the block in 3 spots!

Damn!
Debated just driving it till it seized, but really didn’t want to take the chance of it dying out in the desert or on a longer trip and having to deal with that.
 

jeepdreamer

Expedition Leader
Damn!
Debated just driving it till it seized, but really didn’t want to take the chance of it dying out in the desert or on a longer trip and having to deal with that.
It's a crap shoot for sure. I needed my Jeep to get to work. It was only a 20 min drive each way and I filled the radiator before leaving each time. By the time I got home it was bone dry. Got caught in traffic a couple times and had to stop, let it cool, and refill just to make it. Not something I would have risked if I had other options. Seems like if you catch it early and don't drive it more than necessary, just a new head and gasket fixes it. But it's always a risk when the motor gets high miles as to how much the regular wear will effect the longevity. I love the 4.0 and it got it's tough reputation for good reasons but at the end of the day, it's still a slave to basic physics. Coolant washes bearings so they don't lubricant as they should. That exponentially wears the bearings and speeds up an early death. One could try and fit new bearings, flush all the milkshake, replace the head, etc. But it's been my experience that it's a lot of work, not exactly free, and rarely does the motor live as long as one would hope. Plus there is the uncertainty. Everytime you start it and every new noise plays on your mind if this is "it"... Unreliability is scary.
 

jakegrovephoto

Active member
Got the replacement engine in this morning and starting on the teardown to do the swap.

Borrowed a beefy engine lift from a buddy’s shop and got everything else prepped. Pretty confident in this.

All the cooling system was upgraded/replaced a month ago and full exhaust done last year. New MORE off-road motor mounts are in there as well.

The engine is an ATK 4.0litre in-line 6. Part# DA-37 for a 1999 cherokee. Comes with the 0630 head casting. Putting it in my 2000 will require spark pack mounts, and the exhaust manifold I run is for a 97-99 so no fitment issues there.

 
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