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Betty Build - Jeep XJ Prop Car Build

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I really enjoy reading threw all of your build threads so I decided to start one of my own.  This is the forth XJ I have had.  This one started life as a 2-Wheel Drive prop car for a movie called Zombie Outbreak (It was so small I have not been able to find a copy).  The real draw to it was it had sold at Barrett-Jackson the same year that my daughter and I first went.  The link is still up as of this posting:



There was alot of cutting before I thought to take a picture, if you check out the link from barrett, they attached alot of metal in less then secure ways, and was just for looks.  The pic below is after I felt it was structurally pretty sound.


It did not look as nice when I got it but it was for the most part mechanically sound.   Its not so modest bakini top let way to much water into the doors and the electronics where gone and one door smelt bad. 



Stinky doors have to go, and they where never meant to be exposed to the elements anyway.  It did look sick with no doors, but we need something to rest our arms on.




I went with EAG Steel doors, Im a nerd and weighed the old doors and new doors, in total saved 125 pounds.




Now that it did not stink I fixed some mechanical things, normal XJ stuff, radiator and coolant flush, new brakes and then removed the cruise control, rear sway bar, and hood insulation.  Noise is a lost battle, and she needs to get that heat out.  Hoping to cut some hood vents in the future.


I did get it with a block style lift and the springs frowning in the way springs never shood..


I got a set of 17 inch Rubicon rims, a 3 inch rough country lift kit (no judgement), and some bushing off some other XJ owners on Craigslist. 





Right now I am in the middle of replacing all the suspension and then will swap the steering out with the stuff from a YJ.  Still so much more to do but going to start with sliders, spacers, electrical.


Diffs are both open best I can tell, might be lucky and have some LSD with bad clutch?  I do got one of them fancy e-brake lockers.


If you care about the deets:

 Engine: 4.0 Strait 6

 Tran: 4 Speed Auto

 Transfer: 2.72 (New Process 231)

 Gear: 3.53 (I think, and im going to re-gear when I put in limited slip or Detroit lockers)

 Front Axle: Dana 30 (I think)

 Rear Axle: Chevy 8.25


Hoping to take it out on its first event soon :)



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A few late nights but Ms White is coming along.  New brake lines and front Coils/Shocks are in.  Had to bust out the double flaring tool to make a new hard line for the rear.






Looks way better with the Jeep tires, went to 32", they Rub..




Time to cut



Now with more wheel spaceimage.png.7fe1c32c143c3605136b182e571eac09.png!


Shes looking mean



I am have been thinking a lot how to handle my open diffs.  My mind is everywhere from Limited Slip, E-locker, or building out a new 8.8 axle, still have no idea 🤔.  She lost so much weight that she is not begging to be re-geared like I thought it would be from the increased tire size. 


1 Ton steering swap is next on the list.

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ZJ Steering Swap Complete.  Old Tie rod was hallow and sad, easy to bend. New tie rod is solid and comes from a heavier rig. 


Here is the old stuff:



Here is everything going in, and my super high tech alignment tool :)



I also got new Tie Rod Sleeves, alot of parts list for the ZJ swap on XJ out on the internet.  Moog says they fix the problems that cause manufacture parts to fail, and that makes me feel good, not sure if its true.  I started with the track bar:





With old track bar out and new one in/tightined and went ahead and pulled the Y link steering.




It was a good thing I ordered another shock because I could not get that thing out for the life of me.  After about 10 minutes of trying I relised I did not need to and just pulled the entire drag link.



With everything out and cleaned, I gave the new parts a coat of black paint and started reassembling. 




After a tape measure alignment, I was off to the races.  Steering wheel is way tighter and no surprise it still feels a little out of alignment.  Il take it to the pros with there lazers Friday for a front end alignment.   All in all, really happy with the solid tie rod, and always fun to use a grease gun!



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Posted (edited)

I have that exact same "super high tech" alignment tool! 🤣 Need to get my lazy ass out there in the garage and try to adjust my toe a little bit, it's been slightly toed out for quite a while now. 😬


Great work on your rig, can't wait to see it out on the trails again! 😎

Edited by Trail Toy

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Posted (edited)

I read on the google that Toe-out increases over steer and that's the fun one :)


This week I have been dealing with some rust issues.  Alot of grinding/steel wool.  Try to get most the nasty stuff off.


I ended up removing rear bench and carpet to get to all the bad spots, this is under the bench



Same spot, ready for this rust converting primer I have.  Used it on Sand Spyder before and it seems to do a good job:



Bed of Jeep was same thing, rust converter, then the primer/filler spray (since I hit most spots with a grinder or at least a wire brush).




Then I hit the whole thing with a Rubber Seal for painted or non-painted metal. That was after I hit it with one of those wire brush wheels on a drill just to rough it up to help it stick.  Hoping it stops any more rust inside the body.  Pretty sure it will be same thing up front, but thats a future me problem.




I also had some rust under the body that got the same treatment but I didnt take any pics. 


It needed new sway bar links and bushings so I just pulled the front sway bar for now.  I also deleted the vacuum reservoir and therefore the leaky vacuum line that was going to the bumper.


And for those Taco people, here a Pic of the Icons coil overs we put in my dads truck.  Easy job, except for getting the front end to flex enough to get the coil over in.  If you decide to do your self, id also order new sway bar links and bushings since we ended up taking them off anyway.




Felt good to get it out on the trail this weekend, cant wait to go again.  This pic with Trail Toy behind was after watching him take the harder path, gave me and the kid confidence to try.  Great time.





Edited by CharlesM4
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This weekend it was about the front wheel bearings.  Had a little noise coming from the passenger one, and it came off like a dream. Took it out and ran into @WILL E while testing it out in Bulldog.  I should have known it was all too easy.   With the passenger done I thought it would be nice to have new bearings on both sides, so I started the driver side.


The axle nut was tight, I mean like 3 broken 1/2 inch sockets tight.




PB Blaster like crazy, then I broke the first one, hit the nut with the old blue torch for 5 min, broke my ratcheting half inch, hit the nut for 5 min with MAP gas, broke my largest breaker bar last. 




Then I googled how to get off a stuck axle nut and was inspired but somebody who has said: "Some idiot prob put it on with a 1000 foot pound impact wrench."

I could be that Idiot!  I went to harbor freight, and found a 1050 impact that ran off outlet farriers for 89 bucks.  Crazy place harbor freight.

Harbor Freight Bauer 1050 Ft/Lbs Corded Impact Wrench Review/Teardown -  YouTube

It immediately removed the nut, I broke more then 90 dollars in ratchets, this thing is epic.


Old nasty ones, the driver side seems fine so il hang on to it for a trail spair.




With all the rust fixed in the cargo area, I moved to the carpet under the rear seats and found my next project.



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Posted (edited)

man i hate rust!


i had an XJ i bought from Ohio and still have PTSD from when all but one of the upper rear shock bolts snapped off while trying to replace the factory shocks 😬


just curious, how long did you let the PB Blaster sit? i've found that letting it soak overnight really can make a difference.

Edited by theksmith

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On 3/24/2022 at 10:33 AM, theksmith said:

man i hate rust!


i had an XJ i bought from Ohio and still have PTSD from when all but one of the upper rear shock bolts snapped off while trying to replace the factory shocks 😬


just curious, how long did you let the PB Blaster sit? i've found that letting it soak overnight really can make a difference.

Rust is the worst! Prob not long enough with the PB blaster, I hit them in the morning and a few time throughout the day, prob 10 hours total.  If the impact had not worked I prob would have just kept soaking them for a few days.

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Rough weekend for the jeep.  The rust in the dash/front was super bad, at first I attributed it to not being covered, but turns out the heater core was also leaking.   The blower did not work and the thing does not have doors so I went the delete route rather than fix it.  I decided to do the serpentine belt (and keep old as spare) and tension pully at the same time.  They make an AC compressor delete kit, that was ordered so with all the parts in hand I got started. 


I decided to go front to back, so first I pulled the condenser, the new radiator really looks nice without it blocking the view.



With that done, I got started on the compressor immediately broke two bolts in kind of the best way you can brake a bolt.  With little nubs to take them out with. :)





Its no surprise they broke though, check out these that came out. 



Been using this torch alot lately...



With the bolts out the rest of the engine bay went easy.  Best part is I can just reach down and touch my starter.




Then I went to the inside, and our old friend rust really hit hard.  As I was pulling the dash out it broke in half, I was kind of like in WTF mode.   




So it ended up in two parts on the floor of the garage, I used a saw to cut out just the part for the instrumental panel and moved along...Pulled the blower and filled the wholes with a an old sign and some rivets.



All in all, our Zombie jeep is a little uglier then before but from a performance perspective she's in a really good place.  Prior to removing the ac/heater/dash the Jeep was around 3200 pounds, so I am guessing its down to about 3000 now.  That's around 700 pounds from the original curb weight, and since the AC clutch was squealing abit, its was prop robbing some power via the accessory belt. 





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Nice work, your rig has a lot of character to it now! 😎

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