99 Jeep WJ Shitbox Crawler

duh09

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Well it’s definitely not a Mustang but I figured it was time to start a little build thread on the WJ since I seem to be wrenching on it far more than the Cobra and I’d rather talk about it with you guys than the brain dead WJ crowd.

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I bought this last year after selling my Vette and have been wrenching and beating on it ever since.

It’s a 1999 Grand Cherokee with the 4.7L and a good bit of work done to shove 43’s under it and do work offroad. The wheelbase has been stretched about 5” to clear the meaty claws with a Ironrock Offroad long arm kit and its running trussed axles out from under a 2007 F250. The front Dana 60 is running a spool and the Sterling rear is rocking a OE Ford E-locker. They’ve both been geared to 5.13. It’s running KMC beadlocks with 43” TSLs. The steering is an all heim joint affair with PSC hydro assist ran off a drilled and tapped stock gearbox.

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Drivetrain is relatively stock other than a THOR cowl air intake and a 231 Tcase from a Cherokee or Wrangler to get rid of the goofy Tcases offered in WJs. The 4.7L is tired and is burning some oil pretty aggressively but it keeps chugging. If it ever bites the bullet, a LS will likely find its way under the hood.

Body has been pretty aggressively cut up to fit everything it has going on. The rear floor pan of the Jeep and where the factory spare would have went was cut out to allow the gas tank to be raised up for better clearance and the rear inner fenders were shitcanned and reworked to gain clearance. Front fenders are purely decoration at this point and the inner fenders have been beat and cut as much as possible. A JK Poison Spyder hood vent helps keep it cool on trail and I put a Dtill Fabworks front bumper on to hold the Warn 12k winch and provide some protection. Rock sliders replaced the rocker panels, they’re either 2x4 or 2x6 square tube tied into the unibody frame rails.

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Suspension isn’t too complicated- Ironrock Offroad Longarm 4Link kits front to back, JK 4” lift springs on custom buckets, Falcon 6” JK adjustable shocks, hydraulic bump stops all around and some limiting straps. It’s a little bouncy at times but the things flat out works so it’s hard to argue with it.

I started working on getting lighting better for night wheeling at the end of last year- it’s now rocking Morimoto 2bangers on all 4 corners and a full set of Morimoto rock lights underneath. I’ve slapped a Baja Designs chase light on the rear roof rack crossbar and I’ve got all the lighting running through a RBL switch panel. I do plan to add a couple larger lights for ditch lights as the headlights are loosely screwed to the header panel and pointed a bit too far down to be very useful.

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Anyways, I’ve got a handful of projects coming up pretty quick for this thing. I’m in the middle of designing and implementing a rear view camera in the 3rd brake light housing to help with rear visibility once the rear windows get covered in dirt and dust and mud. I snapped the stub shaft wheeling this past weekend and my steering gearbox is not long for this world. I’d also really like to get a more modern radio with CarPlay to take advantage of some mapping apps and got a few more ideas on some creature comforts so figured it’d be cool to document and share. I’ll at least have more to post here than the Cobra for the next few weeks.
 

Call me Chief

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Well, mechanically it sounds well put together and I bet it is a lot of fun when the pavement ends but...

you really need to chuck that Chrysler body in the dumpster and drop a Mustang body on it.

Just sayin'
 
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duh09

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Been out of town the past few days, catching up with some old friends but got back today and was fully motivated to get some stuff done.

First up on the list was to pull the motherboard out of my RBL Pro8 switch panel that runs my lights and lockers. The back hatch glass has been busted for quite a few weeks and I realized too late that the lid for the board was not fully seated so the box it’s contained in had gotten a good bit of water in it and it had corroded a large section of the board. I yanked it out and attempted to resolder some of the pins, but no dice. Replacement boards are available so burned $100 on one. I will have to monitor it as I do have my box mounted upside down and it’s possible moisture may be coming in from the topside but we will watch that as we good. Hatch has been replaced so should stay dry.

Nakey board post clean-up:

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Also got around to ordering a new gearbox. I struggled to find rebuild parts for mine, so ordered a replacement from Bluetop Steering Gearboxes that is going to come pre-ported for the hydro assist. I’m going to keep the old one on the shelf and do some searching to maybe rebuild this one and have a spare on stand-by.

Tried to move it in the shop to get the axle swapped and battery was dead. Motivation gone. I’ll have a bunch to do this weekend and I suspect my WJ buddy will be over to help swap doors on his so we will crank some work out then.
 
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duh09

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Well got some work done on the WJ this weekend.


First up was quick swap of the Pro8 motherboard. Here’s the original vs the new board- where the black coating is missing on the back of the original board is how far into water the board was. All of that was corroded and I had hoped that cleaning it up would do the job but no dice, which is not surprising.

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Moved to the front axle and got everything swapped out from the last trips carnage. Stub shaft on the driver side axle went pop and took out the locking hub and the wheel bearing- I was not prepared for that so had to take a quick trip to town to do the ole warranty swaparoo. Here’s some good ole fashioned carnage and repair pics. I should have spent 20 minutes pressure washing the underside better before pulling it in the shop but broom takes care of the mess.

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The speciality fluid for the hydro assist didn’t show up in time to swap the gearbox this weekend, so looks like it’ll be next weekends project. Went ahead and ordered a new pitman arm too to make sure steering is fully back to being nice and tight before the next weekends wheeling trip to Hot Springs.

One project I do want to do sometime, and it’ll probably have to wait until after I get back, is building up the floor in the rear hatch to give a good base to mount my boxes and cooler. A cage is in my future, but I do worry a lot about stuff flying around in the event of flopping it. I’ve got a decent idea and layout in mind that will keep my big Yeti and my Rigid boxes accessible but still give me some room for throwing a trash bag while wheeling.

My WJ buddy did swing by so we could chop up the front of his Jeep so he could get a winch mounted on the front of his. I took the time while we were painting his stuff to touch up my front bumper and pull the hood heat extractor off to redo it. It got a ton of trash in the paint but it’s textured bed liner so YOLO. Looks better from 15ft at least.



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More to come
 
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duh09

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Well I did shit job updating this.

Gearbox swap went smooth, but the new pitman arm has some locating splines like an OE pitman arm and it put it a good 10* or so off from the one that was on it. I don’t have enough adjustment in the drag link to make that work so the old pitman arm got put back into action. It’s still a SMIDGE loose but overall a lot tighter than the previous setup.

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We had a little bit of buttoning up to do on Nick’s WJ and a little bit of cleanup on mine but we loaded up Friday and met up with another buddy Jacob and went to Hot Springs ORV for the weekend.

The WJ did great- only issue I ran into was my power steering cooler is ever so slightly rubbing the winch and rubbed a hole in it. I bypassed the color and topped the steering system up and we were good to go again. I got to put the WJ in a lot of new terrain to play around with it and it’s still pretty impressive.
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Overall, super solid weekend. On the way back, I picked up the next little project for the WJ- a set of late model Grand Cherokee headlights. I’ve been trying to come up with some different mods to get this thing looking a little different so everyone will stop asking “is that Cody’s old rig?”
It took a SIGNIFICANT amount of cutting to make it work but got the driver side pretty much rolling yesterday.

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Now to keep in mind, I have 0 adjustment on this thing and screwed it together with some self tappers to make it look about right with the body lines and was pleasantly surprised to see the light output is comparable to the lights that are currently in it. Not the best comparison, but you can see left side is new light, right is old. The upper cutoff is almost perfectly in line with the passenger side but I have a LOT more light filled in on the ground between me and the wall- which means better light for wheeling which is what I care about.

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I haven’t gotten it quite finished up but I did manage to get the passenger light cut up enough after work today to get it semi mounted. I still need to build a little bracket and snag some more self tappers and rebuild the wiring harness for it but I needed to see how it was going to look complete.

Unfortunately I’ve hit my 10 image limit so I’ll add some more pictures once I get the passenger side complete. Next project is to figure out closing up some of the gaps under and around the headlights to prevent so much mud and dirt from entering the engine bay and to protect the wiring from debris. Next big project is doing a raised platform in the rear hatch to mount my cooler and Rigid boxes for gear so they won’t be flying around when I’m launching it up hills.

Fun stuff. Mustangs are lame, go offroading.
 

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