Jeep XMJ build update: working on those buns of steel

Here’s how I spent my time last weekend. Things are moving along even nicer than what I was expecting when I started the project. Loving every minute of it!

First, I salvaged the tailgate from my donor car, and adapted it to my new needs. I’ve lost a couple of inches in the back, thanks to having trimmed it to only its sheet metal, since the tailgate will mostly be a visual placeholder, without any structural need.

Took a break from making noise on Sunday morning, and tried my hand at bending steel tube for the first time, starting to work on the 1″ tube fenders I’d envisioned. The trick that seems to work best to bend DOM tube without kinking it using that press, which is technically a pipe bender, is to use the die for half the tube’s size. 1″ pipe is inside diameter, 1″ tube is outside diameter. 1/2″ schedule 40 pipe is about 1″ to the outside walls, and cradles the 1″ 1/8″ tube snugly.

I resumed working on the back in the afternoon, by starting fabricating a bed cover out of 1/8″ steel plate. I want to protect the bed from the elements, and make it a giant parts and tools box, with drawers. The spare will be flat mounted on top (with additional framing), easy to slide in and out, and accommodating up to 40″ tires.

Still have a lot to do, but starting to see a light at the end of that tunnel. :D

Jeep XJ build update

Things are moving along pretty well with my Cherokee project, considering I can only work on it on the occasional weekend.

After the last installment, I started by marking and cutting the rusted-out driver-side rocker, along with part of the  door step. Next was test fitting a 2×3 x 3/16th” rectangular tubing and 1.5×2 x 3/16th” angle to replace part of what I’d just taken out.

Once done, I moved on to what is my first foray into metal fabrication, by cutting and welding together my first rock slider, then installing it. Once satisfied with the driver-side, I proceeded to bring symmetry against it to the passenger side, with the matching fenders/rocker trimming, and rock slider. Lots of fun was had, as I’m really enjoying working with metal.

Last thing I did was starting to tackle installing some armour for the gas tank. Easier said than done, since the existing Hidden Hitch was (very poorly) welded to the frame, coupled with some extra-rusty 1/2″ bolts and 3/4″ nuts. But I got it in the end, and will be finding a way to bolt on the armour next weekend.

Winter Project: 1997 Jeep Cherokee (XJ) build

It all started last December, when I decided not to scrap what was my parts car after the one I was driving everyday died (last July), and was replaced by a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited.

I’ve decided to turn said parts car into an off-road-only vehicle during my spare time instead, on a budget, all by hand/myself. Some of my goals will be to not break my daily-driver Jeep off-roading while still paying for it, recycle the most parts from the dead one possible, all while learning metal fabrication/welding, etc.

I started with the following, in January (car lived outside and hadn’t moved/started in ~3 years):

The car resides in my mom’s garage, a 35-45 minutes drive away from where I live.
It does limit my work on it to weekends, but so far, I have:

  • installed a new radiator and coolant hoses
  • purged/replaced all coolant and transmission fluids
  • changed the alternator
  • replaced a full steering knuckle
  • replaced a wheel hub
  • installed a new NSS
  • rebuilt the driver-side headlight
  • removed the old exhaust line, muffler, etc
  • installed a custom fitted exhaust line and smaller Magnaflow muffler
  • got the engine to start and purr (including remote starter)
  • removed the front and back bumpers
  • removed the doors for easier access (for now)
  • removed all the carpets
  • removed the [broken] driver seat and rail
  • started cutting/cleaning the floor, to be rebuilt
  • installed 33″ tires on 15×8 wheels with 3.75″ of back space
  • installed my heavy-duty stubby front winch bumper (to be recut/modified)
  • trimmed a large portion of both the front and back fender, as well as the rockers (driver side only, for now)

Here’s a snapshot of its current state:

Starting to rebuild the floor next, then on to building tube fenders and rock sliders (boat sides).

This trusty XJ will be my long-term “buggy”, for the next 3-5 years, and will keep getting upgraded over time, as my budget allows. Phase one (this) will involve this rebuild, major body /armor/exocage work, 33″ tires (now on), existing 4.5″ short-arm/leaf lift, and a welded-locked rear stock axle (Dana 35, with the benefit of all parts in double). Phase 2 will see a complete lift upgrade to long arm, quad-linked Ford 8.8 rear axle with springs and disc brakes, complete truggy-style chop, lockers front and back, 35-36″ tires, etc.