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August 23, 2019, 05:51:11 PM

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Author Topic: VAXJCOUNTRY XJ Build  (Read 4096 times)
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« on: February 05, 2010, 11:27:00 AM »

Figured I should start a thread for my rig here!  I have had one for awhile on my college car club's forum, Madison Motorsports of James Madison University.  I will re-post some of that content over here for NVJA members to check out!

Here it is as I got it with 151,000 miles.

Year - 1997
Model - XJ "Country"
Engine - 4.0L I6 HO
Trans - 4-speed Aisin Warner (AW4)
Transfer Case - NP231 "Command-Trac", 2.72:1 ratio
Front Axle - Dana 30
Rear Axle - Corporate 8.25 3.55:1 ratio (Non-ABS)

Modifications -
Engine/trans - 99+ Intake Manifold

Suspension - 3in Pro comp springs on the front end, pro comp trac-bar bracket, custom made discos, JK Rubicon shocks, rear sway bar deleted, S-10 Bastard packs in the rear, over 4in lift, Rusty's T-case drop, Rusty's HD Steering stabilizer, custom bump stops

Wheels/Tires - TJ Canyon rims (15X8) with 31X10.5X15in BFG A/Ts

Body - Full up-country skids, custom fitted ZJ tank skid, custom Mopar hitch w/ D-rings for recovery, Firestik FireFly antenna on custom mount.

Interior - Country package interior wit' dat' wood grain!  Cobra 75WX CB, custom lighting in the rear work area, integrated power inverter.

Electronic / Audio - Optima Yellow Top battery, Pioneer CD deck w/ aux input, Infinity Reference 6.5in speakers in front doors, Ref 5.25in speakers in sound bar.

As it sits now...

Here are a smattering of pics of the work done so far.  I will post project pics in here a little better once as I do them in the future.

Battery w/ upgraded connectors

Rear hitch

RV Trans cooler

Pics and write up from the interior light mod and power inverter install

At first I got some tractor trailer 6 in oval back up lamps to use.  Printed on the back of the light housing is "not for dome light use."  Apparently these lights will melt if left on for long periods of time...wtf.  So Truck-Lite Inc. referred me to their dome light selection of which I ordered two from my local Napa.

Such is my luck, only one came in.  But I decided to do the installation anyway and just leave a hole with wires hanging for when the other got here.

I got an idea for where I wanted to put them on the deck lid and then removed the deck lid panel to the work bench.  This is just plastic clips and about 10 screws.  I inspected the back and made a compromise between the best mounting location and where they looked best.  I then measured out so it was all even and cut out the holes with a router.  I HIGHLY recommend a router when working with plastic panels.

Drilled holes for the screws, mounted and done.  Hot glued the wiring to the back of the panel and put a 2pin plug on them to make them easy to remove if needed.

The next part of the project was powering these lights and other accessories in the back.  I ran a 4ga amp wire (enough for 1000w amp) to the passenger's quarter panel and terminated it in a 2 fuse block. 

From there I took power out to my power inverter, the dome lights, and the cig lighter.  I needed two switches, one to break ground to the interior lights so I could leave the hatch up without dome lights (the oem switch for this function failed and I wired it out of the system) the second switch for the power inverter and cig plug.  I had to prep the power inverter first.  I wanted a custom look.

Holes drilled, outlets mounted... the velcro holds my genuine blue bird school bus first aid kit I got from a friend at the school bus garage.

As you can see I added a neon light I had laying around as a dome light for the switches.  This light is on whenever the hatch is open, regardless of the kill switch position.  Just cut a hole in the top of the cubby and zip tied it in.


This is a copy of the post from MM for the lift build.

I didn't have my camera when we did the front, so here are a few pics.  Here also are my home grown sway bar end-links which are "quick" disconnect.

Trac-bar bolt was a bitch.

Comparo shot

Top detail



The rear was actually really easy. 

Dropped out the old pack down to just the top leaf

Test fit the top long new leaf

Cut off the extra

Comparo pic

New pack with huge overload leaf!  We put one of the leafs in backwards on the first side and had to take it apart and refit.

And finally we installed the baller brake line.

This is a full write-up and is on cherokee forum under their tech page as a how-to.  I may have posted it here before, but if not this is the install of a ZJ fuel tank skid on an XJ.

ZJ Fuel Tank Skid to 97+ XJ
Before you begin...

Tank skid should cost about $20-50 at your local yard.  Look for ZJ’s with tow hooks, these usually have the skid.  The bolts from the factory are 18mm.  Take a large breaker bar or a cordless impact with you.  Some sort of cutting tool might be useful if the bolts begin to turn on you.  Lucky for me there were many to choose from at my yard, I didn’t have a cutting tool and on the first one the captive nut failed and began to turn inside the frame.  Once you get it home the first step is to grind down most of the rust and hit it with rust preventative paint.

Once it is prepped you need to remove your trailer hitch if you have one.  This makes the job easy because you can use it as a template for the skid.  If not you need to get nut strips from the dealer or a junk yard XJ.  The nut strips go in the frame and receive the bolts for the hitch and skid.  Most 97+ XJs will have at least one on the right side to hold up the exhaust hanger.  This one will be rusted and you might need to chase the threads.  If you don't have a hitch (now is the time to get one) simply install the strips and make yourself some cardboard templates off your frame.  The nuts holding up the hitch will be 18mm.  Here is a shot of the exhaust hanger, make sure it goes back in facing correctly, you will need to take these out with a wrench.

Also notice this heat shield.  Unless you got the one off the ZJ you will need to re-use this.  DO NOT LEAVE THIS OUT.  Just leave it in place and put the skid in over top of it.  It will bend a little on the bottom where the skid hits it but it will be ok.  Doing it this way is easier then crawling way up under the ZJ to take out the 10mm bolts.

Ok, now you have the hitch down, compare them with the holes on the skid.

As you can see the holes are very different.  You need to drill or line up almost every hole on the hitch with the skid to make it fit correctly.  The only two you don’t have to cut are the two on the outer edge of the right side toward the front of the vehicle.  You will notice the same holes on the opposite side coincide with the bolts that hold the fuel filler neck shield on, they allow clearance for the bolt heads.  As you might imagine if you XJ is RHD then this will be reversed…hence the reason for the holes being predrilled on both sides of the hitch.

I used a step drill bit and a carbide cutting bit to enlarge the existing holes and create the new ones.

Simply place the hitch over the skid, mark the holes with a marker, then cut them out slightly larger than your marked points.  Always make them larger than needed if you have a hitch…it makes it easier to get the bolts started.  Now if you do not have a hitch your holes need to be smaller and more precise, but who the heck needs a skid if they don’t have a hitch?

Notice the two holes on the outside edge, these are the two for the fuel neck shield bolts.

Once you get all the holes cut out its time to test fit.  This is best done with two people or a jack.  Once you get it fitted correctly and all the hole line up, toss up the hitch and bolt it all in. 

Notice here the heat shield mentioned earlier.

I had a slight problem come up with the exhaust hitting the skid.  Just take the exhaust loose behind the muffler and turn it out a bit.  Once everything is in and adjusted this is what you will have…now GO HIT THE TRAIL!

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