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TROLL 01-02-2014 01:24 PM

TROLL's Lifted '97 Jeep Wrangler - I'm 5 Years Old Playing with Monster Trucks
In college my friend got a brand new Wrangler and I remember thinking it was the most fun vehicle I have ever cruised around in, its all the fun of a truck and all the fun of a convertible in one.

I talked about getting one for a long time, not entirely seriously, but the situation presented itself where I could reasonably justify another vehicle, and I decided to get a Wrangler since I live in FL now and its top-down weather year round.

A little backstory: I was dailying my Subaru and all was well, but had an unexpected engine failure in Feb. 2013, and well, that rebuild has become a complete overhaul and has dragged on and on. Going to come back together with a built motor and a revamped header/turbo setup but what I'm trying to say is: Its been almost a year and although I'm getting there, its still not done.

Initially I just was dailying the Supra while trying to hurry up and get the Subaru back on the road but a variety of delays and setbacks it had become 2, 4, and then 6 months of having the Supra as my only transportation. Between racking up the miles, not being able to do work on it, and having to park it places like downtown West Palm Beach and overnight at the airport, I wasn't very happy.

So in August I bought a 1997 Jeep Wrangler 4.0L that wasn't perfect but was in good solid shape overall, just small projects that needed to be done. It was also the absolute cheapest TJ 4.0L on the market, and a very good value overall.
Totally stock aside from 32x11.5x15 BFG Mud Tires on 15x12 Eagle Alloy Wheels which I knew wasn't a good combo and I wanted to change as well as a 2" budget boost and a 2" body lift, things I also wanted to change.

It is such an incredible contrast to the Supra and Subaru that its really a ton of fun. Low clearance is a non-issue, in fact I drive over stuff sometimes just for the fun of it and I don't have to worry about manhole covers, steep driveways, or anything else like that. I'm one of the highest vehicles on the road which is also kinda cool. The thing drives like a truck though, the shifter is long and slow, and the Jeep is just pretty slow all around.
At the same time when I get in the Supra again I feel like my ass is an inch off the ground and the throttle response and handling are unbelievable. I don't think I've ever appreciated that car as much as I do now that I daily something so different than it.

First day home

4" of clearance at the garage door, enough to get it inside to do work

I immediately replaced the ancient soft top that was on it as well as the rusting upper door frames and got a handful of other fixer upper parts like an antenna, brake handle, etc. that were broken.

soft top swap

Some of the electronics were also failing, likely due to water exposure from the top off... I lucked out and there's a place called SouthEast Jeeps 15 mins from me who parts out TJ Wranglers full time and they have every part imaginable. I got new front speakers from them, a new wiper motor, wiper switch, cruise control switch, and airbag since the horn didn't work. I got bump stops from them since they were missing, and body plugs since those were missing as well.

ok, now I'm liking this :)

I try to remember to throw the cover on, but when it rains a lot its still a challenge to get 20 gallons of water out of it and keep myself and the Jeep dry

I leave the top off a lot, sometimes I regret that...

jjm4life 01-02-2014 01:36 PM

You moved to florida?

Jeeps are the best. Nice daily for sure

DTownHemiD 01-02-2014 01:45 PM

Jeep FTMFW!!

grimm 01-02-2014 01:56 PM

wish i never sold my jeep. but I know there will be another in my future at some point. Such great trucks and so much fun.

jjm4life 01-02-2014 02:09 PM


Originally Posted by grimm (Post 2225822)
wish i never sold my jeep. but I know there will be another in my future at some point. Such great trucks and so much fun.

I feel the same way. Miss all of mine, especially in winter. Wish i had two parking spaces

Vr-4-Life 01-02-2014 02:11 PM

I miss kayaking dude...

yellow2000S/R 01-02-2014 02:21 PM


Originally Posted by jjm4life (Post 2225819)
You moved to florida?

Jeeps are the best. Nice daily for sure


And still PA tags? Thought Florida was more relaxed then PA as far as emissions/inspection...?

TROLL 01-02-2014 02:39 PM

When I first got this thing I wanted it bone stock and wasn't even that happy it was lifted and had wheels and tires mostly because I have back issues and it was harder to get in and out of. Soon after I bought it though I met some local Jeep guys down here in the Jupiter Jeep Club and they go wheeling all the time, and I got totally sucked in to it. I went against my plan and started modding pretty quickly, but I am trying to buy used parts as often as possible and keep it on a tight budget.

The first time I met up with Jupiter Jeep Club was at a place called Poinciana Gardens which is a neighborhood 5 mins from my house. You just drive to the back and keep going. They said 'just drive through the water at the entrance'... when you've never done that before you expect a few inches but it was more like a few feet and to be honest I was a little skurred at first, it feels so unnatural.

Meeting up with the group / getting stuck for the first time

The next event I went to with them is the St. Lucie Mud Jam which is tens of thousands of crazy ass rednecks in all kinds of vehicles from 4 wheelers to Jeeps to lifted pickups to monster trucks and mud buggies. It was a crazy weekend of people doing all kinds of stupid and entertaining things.

I learned how to drive a bit better at this one and spent a lot of time behind the wheel... end result was a whole lot of mud covering the Jeep. Unfortunately since I was the only one taking photos I don't have any of me in action.
Oh, I got different wheels and tires, similar wheel but in a 15x8 and a 33x12.5x15 Falken Wild Peak A/T tire since I do spend most of my time on pavement. This is the best shot I have of them right now, haha.

Me and a friend, both stuck

Another guy from the club who bit off more than he could chew

THIS ISNT ME but its the kind of pits they had there. This is a friend of mine with a bit more serious setup so he was charging it harder than I was, but it gives you an idea of what we were playing in

Cleanup afterwards, this new Jeep club is pretty sweet!

Here's another outing at a private ranch called Plant Bamboo.



I pulled the carpet before I went out the first time, then after spraying the jeep down with a hose and letting it dry I put the carpet back in. Then I took it out for the next outing and I just haven't put it back in since... don't miss it at all. I have front floor mats now which are decent. I'll probably rhino line it eventually but its been fine as is so far.

TROLL 01-02-2014 02:43 PM

And the suspension starts getting pieced together. Found an excellent deal on a set of used set of Rubicon Express control arms and front track bar. New they're almost a grand and I wasn't going to get them at all but since I found them much cheaper used it gives me a bit more flexibility on what suspension setup I can go with.

Also found the following parts used: Rubicon Express quick disconnect front end links and rear end links, and Rubicon Express rear track bar bracket. Picked up a set of YJ front brake lines which are about 4" longer than the TJ ones for $20 delivered also, good deal.
I got a great deal from Busted JK on a set of Rancho 9000XL shocks which combined with a buy 3 get 1 free manufacturer rebate so I have those as well.

Still deciding on springs, but I'd like something thats about 3.5" of lift and I'm considering Currie, Rubicon Express, Metal Cloak, and one other that I can't think of right now. Thinking the Currie will be the best fit for me and my setup right now and thats really the last thing I need to complete the lift setup. Once its in I'll measure for a driveshaft and then order a SYE and driveshaft and then it'll be time to get an alignment and be good to go.

Oh, I also picked up a set of used Warn front and rear bumpers with tire carrier and I repaired, repainted, and installed those. That was a much bigger project than I expected but at least its done now and they look good. I also have a used Smittybilt XRC8 winch that I got for cheap from someone in the Jeep club that I'm working on fixing up and installing now. I don't have pictures of this stuff yet but I'll add them when I get them.

SikneSS 01-02-2014 02:52 PM

ok so i think the proper & more up to date term for how i feel about this would be..... "i'm mad jelly brah"

TROLL 01-02-2014 02:53 PM

I've also done some maintenance and have some more to do still...

I changed the motor oil when I got it, and changed the transmission fluid as well. When I drained the transmission fluid it had a lot of metal flake in it. Makes sense since its almost impossible to shift into 1st, 2nd, or 3rd when the vehicle is at a complete stop once it warms up. I know how to drive it to get around that so I'm just making due since I don't want to put down the cash to buy a replacement or have it rebuilt. This was in a red pain so the fluid was light in color but you can see all the gold flake in it which is what once was my synchros.

Also changed my plugs yesterday, should have done that sooner especially after seeing the old ones... almost no electrode left. The feeler in place is the .035" that the gap should be, these were more than double that! So hopefully the fresh plugs help.

I also replaced the ripped bow straps on the soft top frame which made an awesome difference in having the top fit tighter and straighter, and reduce flapping noise from the wind. I bought the raw strap material and cut them to size. Also got great use out of my soldering iron to singe the edges to prevent fraying and also to make the new holes for the rivets. Unfortunately I don't have installed pics but the straps go on the outside corners connecting the middle and rear soft top frame to keep things tight.

TROLL 01-02-2014 03:06 PM


Originally Posted by jjm4life (Post 2225819)
You moved to florida?

Jeeps are the best. Nice daily for sure

Yeah I moved to FL about 2 years ago actually for a job... rolled the dice on something different. Its been ok, not sure if I'll be here forever though.


Originally Posted by Vr-4-Life (Post 2225824)
I miss kayaking dude...

Its just a flight away, lol.


Originally Posted by yellow2000S/R (Post 2225825)
And still PA tags? Thought Florida was more relaxed then PA as far as emissions/inspection...?

Yeah well it costs about $400 for a new tag in FL and I'm not trying to do that x3 so I'm just keeping everything in PA as long as I can get away with it. I don't have to actually inspect the vehicles at all since only a PA cop would pull me over for PA inspection (there is no inspection in FL anyway), and its cheaper this way.

Foolinaround 01-02-2014 03:56 PM

FL tags are so expensive, I've paid for two already. I know exactly where most of the places you went to are/located near from living in south FL. Mudding is big down there

yellow2000S/R 01-02-2014 05:35 PM

Wow, yea, I wouldn't either at that price.

TROLL 01-18-2014 11:54 PM

In the past week or two I've been prepping for my new suspension install.

Decided on Currie 4" springs after reading lots of good reviews about ride quality, looking forward to getting them in.
Also serviced the used Rubicon Express control arms I bought - snugged up the balljoints on the one end of each control arm and replaced the polyurethane bushings on the other end of each arm. Also got a new bushing for the front track bar.

I'm going from a 2" body lift with 2" springs spacers that came on the Jeep when I got it to a true 4" suspension lift with aftermarket springs. Today I removed the 2" body lift from the Jeep, and that 2" difference makes a big difference getting in and out and also visually. It will be raised back up after tomorrow when I get the new springs in, but I was surprised at how much of a difference the 2" makes.

On the list to install tomorrow are:
Currie 4" springs
Rancho 9000XL shocks
Rubicon Express SuperFlex adjustable upper and fixed lower control arms
Rubicon Express front adjustable track bar and rear track bar bracket
YJ front brake lines (4" longer than TJ lines)
Rubicon Express Quick Disconnect front end links and fixed rear end links

During the install I'll stuff the suspension and measure for proper bump stop length, and have to add those later (soon).
Also need to keep an eye on clearance between the rear shocks and rear lower spring perches, I hear there is a clearance issue there.
After the install I'll measure for correct driveshaft length and order a SYE and a CV driveshaft to avoid driveline vibrations from the lift, then get the whole thing aligned properly to finish it up.

Other projects if there is time (unlikely):
Replace leaking front pinion seal
Replace distrubitor cap and rotor which have unknown mileage on them, and seal them better to prevent any more issues with water

Big_Jim 01-19-2014 03:22 AM

why not keep the 2" body lift with the 4" springs?

TROLL 06-06-2014 11:01 AM

Been a while...

Jim, I only wanted 3-4" lift, more than that looks funny with 33" tires and it also creates some other complications when moving that far from stock height.

Back in Feb. I did install the Currie 4" springs along with the Rancho 9000XL shocks, Rubicon Express control arms and front and rear track bars, Rubicon Express endlinks, factory extended brake lines, and custom fitted bump stops. Strangely enough the rear of the Jeep went up 4" but the rear went up 5" so it looks all funky. I recently got in a set of MetalCloak 3.5" springs to replace those with and hopefully it will give me a more even lift.

Sizing and test fitting bump stops... this was a lot of back and forth work to make sure everything was right

You can see the uneven lift here... and I also Plastidipped my wheels black

I have also installed a Warn front bumper with Warn winch plate and bull bar, and a Smittybuilt XRC8 winch. I relocated the winch solenoid under the hood so it would look cleaner and also protect it from the elements, and I added a Harbor Freight wireless winch control to it as well so its quick and easy to use. I can still use the wired remote in the event that there's an issue with the wireless system.

sealing the solenoid up to keep water out

solenoid mounted with wireless receiver

bracket for mounting solenoid above battery

running wiring... between winch and solenoid, with kill switch in line. This was finished nicely with techflex, heat shrink, and crimped and soldered ring terminals.

This past week I upgraded the totally crappy stock headlights to Hella H4 E-Codes and that might be my favorite upgrade so far. Don't underestimate good lighting and being able to see the road properly. Just using the basic 55w Hella bulbs on the stock wiring harness and it is MUCH better than the stock setup. Not just the light on the garage, but the light on the driveway in front of it, and to the left and the right... big difference when driving.

And I also got a new bigger toolbox which is super sweet... went from something similar to whats on the left (mine was only 2 pieces) to the one on the right. I have room for pretty much all my tools in there now, sweet!

TROLL 06-06-2014 11:11 AM

Buddy got so stuck that we broke about 4 straps trying to get him out, including one of my 30k lb tree savers...

Oversized spare... Jeep is on beach duty pretty often these days

Front pinion seal had a slow leak so I decided to tackle this 'easy' job... except on night 1 my cheap impact gun couldn't get the pinion nut off so that ended progress. Night 2 my buddy brought his IR impact gun over and got the nut off, but the seal I got was incorrect for my model year so that ended progress again. Night 3 was last night and I got the right seal installed. I also went ahead and bought a proper impact gun so I don't get held up on jobs like that any more. After doing a good bit of reading and initially wanting an IR 2135TiMAX I ended up getting a cheaper competitor since I'll be using mine infrequently... ordered an Aircat Nitrocat 1200 and it should be able to take off pretty much anything I need.

changing diff fluid as well... ordered gaskets instead of having to use RTV but the front one is backordered so that one is going back together like this, this time at least

And I got some freebie driving lights... they looked pretty aged but I tested one and its bright enough to make it worth using I think... still have to wire them in but hey, if its for free its for me.

grimm 06-06-2014 11:25 AM

looking good bryan. make me miss mine.

TROLL 06-06-2014 11:49 AM

And this bad boy just showed up... my stock header cracked and its pretty bad, probably the reason the Jeep runs rough after extended time on the highway so I'm hoping this will fix it.
Quite a few people recommended the 'ebay' header with the flex bellows, so thats what I ordered, hesitantly. It was $80 shipped including the two gaskets and new nuts/bolts... I didn't expect much, but I'm actually super impressed. Its surprisingly nice, on the level of most aftermarket pieces I've seen really. Going to install this next week hopefully along with the new springs in preparation for the next Mud Jam event coming up on June 20th.

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