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TheKSmith's 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ Limited 4.7 H.O. - The Do-It-All Rig

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So back early in 2008 I decided to sell my XJ and move up to a WJ for more room and towing power. I looked around for a while and finally found a clean one with all the trimmings, including the HO motor, for a good deal and it was a local vehicle that had spent all it's life in AZ... the only problem was it was black! I'd never had a black vehicle before and all I could imagine was it always looking dirty and being too hot in the summer.


I decided to go have a look anyway and I'm glad I did... it turned out to be a deep metallic pearl black that actually looked stunning. So I snapped it up! And yeah, it's hot in the summer, but everything here in Phoenix is. And yeah, it looks dirty, but that's because it's always been on a trail within the past few days, so it's more of a badge than something to be ashamed of!



Here's what she looked like a couple weeks after the purchase. I de-badged her and added a roof rack day 1 - other than that she was bone stock with 75k miles, bald street tires, and no skidplates... but of course I took her off road anyway!





Currently she's on a 4.5" Clayton Long Arm lift with 33's:





UPDATE 10/2009: make that with 6" now!





UPDATE 9/2010: make that 35's now!



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Check back soon as I'll be posting a full build thread detailing her evolution to a great do-it-all daily driver, expedition machine, and occasional rock crawler.

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This is an impressive vehicle as I have been out with you several times and can attest to it. I am envious of your rear plastic bumper as I have seen it knocked in and then popped back out with one hand!


Very nice, clean and trail worthy rig.

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was this picture taken at Anza Borrega last year? I didn't see that view from in front, it looks awesome. Isn't that right before we turned George loose in her? :eek:



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was this picture taken at Anza Borrega last year? I didn't see that view from in front, it looks awesome. Isn't that right before we turned George loose in her? :eek:





indeed that is Anza and was just before we swapped rides!


here's the view from the other side... yup, the rear flex is crap! i am still running a rear swaybar because for a long time i was more concerned about on-road handling than extreme flex. now that i wheel it more, i plan to remove the rear sway bar soon... however, first i have to put in a couple of slightly longer bump-stop extensions to keep the tires out of the wheel wells, currently the sway bar is the only thing limiting them for me. just another item on the long list of to-do's!


i have to say, 90% of the time, the excellent front flex has made up for the lack of rear ability.



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I guess i'll start out the mod details with something many people do before they even lift it... communications.


i did the same tail light area mount as several other people with WJs, but with a couple variations to clean it up a bit. for the mount i went with the firestik SS-134 which is a little narrower than i've seen others using... we'll see how it holds up: http://www.firestik.com/Catalog/SS-13.htm


then for the cable and stud, i used the firstik K4-8R18 firering style connector so that it wouldn't hang down into the light as much: http://www.firestik.com/Catalog/k4-8r18.htm


here's a pic of where i routed the wire into the cabin. from there, i then ran along the door jam, then under the carpet beneath the passenger seat (had to remove the seat to manage), then up into the center console and to the CB unit:



here is a shot from outside with the tail light removed. i used some industrial aluminum tape to secure the cable, and 3 screws along with JB Weld to secure the mount. the yellow thing in the picture is unrelated, just a load-equalizing resistor for my LED blinkers:



another difference, i used a dremel to notch out the tail light to have room for the mount and cable, so that it would sit in the exact same location as stock instead of with a slight down-angle:



here you can see the final result:



for an antenna, i'm using a 3' FireFly (FL3-B) that i already had, i'll probably switch to 4ft when i get around to buying one. the FireFly series is just a little lighter than the FireStik series and works fine unless you are running a linear amp with high wattage.

[i need to update this later with a pic of the antenna actually installed]


i also went ahead and ran a mount and cable for a HAM radio even though i don't yet have one (figured as long as everything was torn apart!). i did the exact same wire routing and mounting bar, but used a Diamond Antenna C213 cable. i'll probably go with the Diamond NR770HB antenna once i get a HAM rig and license:



one final shot from the back showing both mounts:




now for the headunit i went with my trusty Midland 75-822 that has been a handheld, been in my XJ, been dropped in a freezing river, and finally ended up here, still tickin!



If it ever dies, I'll probably replace it with the Cobra 75 WXST just because it has an external speaker connector on it's base. Check out my other post here regarding these 2 small units.


for a mount/hanger i went with a PanaVise 75122-201 In-Dash Cell/iPod Mount. I then cut down the width of the mount to match that of a plastic button style universal cell phone hanger i found on ebay. I use one hanger for the CB and one for my GPS:


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As long as we're on the subject of electronics, here are some related details...


here you can see my Garmin GPS 60 CSX hangin out on the other mount:



i wired in an additional set of cigarette lighter receptacles and tucked them under the little tray. then i dremmeled out the 4 half-moon shapes you see below in order to easily run wires to the hidden cigarette lighter receptacles:




here's a shot of the mess, all tucked neatly out of site:





finally, the little switch you see just above the tray with the red indicator LED is wired in to control the extra cigarette lighter receptacles.....


normally those extra receptacles are powerd only when the Jeep is on. this is good as i don't usually want to leave everything on all the time slowly killing the battery.


however, when you are on a trail run, you often turn on and off the Jeep a bunch of times as you stop and have lunch, get out for pics, etc... for those times i didn't want to keep having to turn back on everything that has soft power buttons like the GPS and iPod... so if you flip the little switch then everything is now powered all of the time, even when the jeep is off.


small detail, but it's nice to have and only took an extra 15 minutes to dremel out the hole for the switch and wire it up while doing everything else.

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so back in 2/2008 i was all set to go with the following for my "phase 1":




Clayton front & rear long-arms (bare bones kit) (from kolak)


Teraflex front & rear springs 4.5" springs (sit more like ~ 4.75" I'm told)(from kolak)

Teraflex front & rear bump-stop extensions (from kolak)


4 Rubicon Express Monotube shocks (from kolak)


JKS front adjustable trackbar (from kolak)


JKS heavy duty tierod (from kolak)

(plus 2 new ends from dealer to replace worn ones and allow old ones to become spares)


JKS front swaybar quick disconnects (from kolak)


Rear extended length sway-bar links (from IRO)


Tenneco Heavy Duty Steering Stabilizer (from IRO)

JKS SuperNerfs (from kolak)


Gas tank skid (came with 1/8th inch factory skid, good FOR NOW)


Have someone local custom make a transfercase skid / belly pan (probably http://www.hunteroffroad.com) I've got conficting reports as to whether the IRO works with clayton's kit without mod, and I'd rather have a nice full-belly skid similiar to what I have on my XJ...


Mopar front tow hook kit, black #82207552 (from dealer)


Rear towpoint - jeep came with towing package and I have one of these...


Exhaust (mainly from kolak, have someone local weld up everything):

Section of 3" mid pipe, Magnaflow high flow 3" converter, Flowmaster 50 Delta Flow muffler (3" center inlet/offset outlet), 3" turn-down tip


Wheels/Tires - to be decided this week. Will probably go with 33x11ish on 16's, or maybe keep the stock 17's and get spacers to save some money for right now.


Mine being and 03 has a double-cardan style front shaft already, so shouldn't need to change that right now.




I posted that up on some forums and the only feedback i got really was that the Teraflex bumpstop extension were going to be to short and that i shouldn't get them. Well I had already ordered them so oh well, turns out they were right... so after getting everything else installed i had to order some custom length extensions from IRO.


While waiting on they Clayton Kit (backordered for months!), i had to make a decision on wheels tires.


Originally I was going with the Toyo MT, but becuase of the Clayton backorder, the new KM2's came out in time... so a friend that works for a tire distributor hooked me up and I got 5 of these at a great deal:




They were:


BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM2 Tires - LT285/70R17

and Eagle Alloy Series 140 Black Wheels- 17"x8", 5 on 5, +2 mm offset, 4.517" BS, 29 lbs


I couldn't stand looking at them sitting in the garage everyday for another month while still waiting on the Clayton backorder!

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After finally gettting the Clayon Kit in, I had Absolute Offroad in west phoenix do the majority of the install (since i didn't have any welding ability):


here was a before shot (bumper is off for trimming and to put on tow-hooks):



and now, from front:



from behind:



i did a quick run up a drainage ditch just to see how/where the rear will rub:



"the last pic is where i stopped when i heard rubbing... still no-where near the bump-stop. Just by eye-balling it, i think i will need 4" extensions if i don't want to trim alot... obvisously i have to run it up and take some real measurements."

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here's another old post from back in 6/2008:


original tires:

235/65/17 = 29.02755905511811"

(circumference 91.1927663")


new tires:

285/70/17 = 32.70866141732284"

(circumference 102.75729")


original gears: 3.73

suggested new gears: 4.2030164112301644


speedometer discrepancy:

40 is really 45

50 is really 56

60 is really 68

70 is really 79

75 is really 85


never had really thought about the math on the speedo before to realize that the amount you are off by gets worse as you go faster!


all calcs came from: http://www.4lo.com/4LoCalc.htm


UPDATE after lift install 6-29-08:


the computer says i am now averaging 12.5 mpg, which i calculate would really be 14.1 mpg if the computer was adjusted for the new tires. before tires and lift, i averaged 16mpg, so it looks like just the change in weight and aerodynamics has lost me 2mpg!!

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