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YJeXtreme’s 1998 Cherokee


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Picked up a very solid & mostly stock 98 XJ yesterday. Was originally an auto, but swapped for AX15, 5spd.

 

It will be my daily ride & camping/fishing rig. Eventually getting an 8.8 rear, 4.10s, & 33s max.

 

Want to keep it streetable but capable of going where needed for camping, fishing & work on our 14acre property.

 

Here are my build plans:

- Explorer 8.8

- 4.10 gears

- Rubicon Express 3.5” Super-Ride lift

- Adjustable Track Bar

- Fender Cut & Napier Pocket Flares

- Steering Box Brace & HD Spacer

- 33x12.50s

- Roof Rack/Basket

 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

I've slowly been working on making the XJ my own. I've removed all the "Thin Blue Line" references, by repainting the grill, removing stickers off the hatch. I also removed the side mouldings & bedlined the flares. I've completed a tune-up, oil change, bought new valve cover gasket (still to be installed), new motor mounts (still to be installed), closed up the hole from the Auto shifter in the floor which was causing excessive road noise, and a lot of heat entering the cabin from the console. I've also purchased DIY front/rear bumpers which are currently in process of being welded up and made ready for bed-lining then install. I've also repaired the broken shift handle stud/threads and replaced the shifter handle w/ a Hurst T-handle. I hope to pickup a 97-98 Manual XJ ECM, shift boot and other misc parts soon. I've also removed the 52" light bar, as it made an awful whistling sound while on the high-way.

 

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Great progress.

Thanks! Quarantine has it’s advantages.

I also picked up some 2” coil spacers, new rear U-Bolts & already have some Rubicon Express Add-a-Leafs for the rear. Will be cheap & temporary suspension boost until I collect rest of the parts for the build.


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Apparently forgot to mention the 8.8 I picked up 2wks ago. Factory 4.10, disc brakes, open carrier.
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Here are my build plans:
- Explorer 8.8
- 4.10 gears
- Rubicon Express 3.5” Super-Ride lift
- Adjustable Track Bar
- Fender Cut & Napier Pocket Flares
- Steering Box Brace & HD Spacer
- 33x12.50s
- Roof Rack/Basket


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After a 3hr round trip up the parkway to Mabry Mill & back, I got tired of the rear bottoming out. So I decided to install my AAL & spacers. Since I got a late start & all stores are closing early I couldn’t finish the rear. (My bolt bins are empty on smaller bolts for center pins) since I was dead on the water with the rear suspension tore apart, I tackled the leaking valve cover gasket. I was pleasantly surprised at how clean the valve train was!

 

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The exhaust finally crapped out on me Mon night. It was barely held together by some horrid welds. Tail pipe broke free from the glasspack. Luckily I planned for this & had ordered new exhaust piping & oxygen sensors. I picked up a universal flow-through cat & 2 chamber muffler locally.  Started install tonight, but was missing the manifold to down pipe gasket(forgot to order it).

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

I was having some problems with my radio intermittently cutting off and on while driving, the trip odometer clearing itself, and my volt meter spiking/fluctuating, so I decided it was well past time to replace the battery cables. I decided to use the Big 7 Complete kit from http://www.jeepcables.com due to their reviews on NAXJA and the fact they're a veteran owned/operated business. I decided to upgrade to 2ga. cables since I will be adding a winch, additional lighting, and possibly more later on. Very happy with the cables and end result. Now to upgrade from the econo battery that doesn't fit in the battery tray anyways...

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well, I ran into some interesting issues over the last few weeks. 2wks ago I pulled the air intake tube off, so I could change the busted Driver's motor Mount. and found a real gem and head-scratcher... There was blue painter's tape over the Idle Air Control Valve port in the throttle body... Now I had planned to pull the IAC while I was doing the Motor Mount job, as the jeep had a tendency to idle-pulse from 750 up to 1000 while sitting at stops. After pulling the IAC and TB to be cleaned, I found the IAC was fairly new, and clean, as was the TB. After reinstalling I started getting IAC fault codes. So I bought a new IAC, installed, and all was good w/ the codes, but the Idle was awful. I started the old-school method of vacuum leak testing, w/ carb cleaner, and found #5 and #6 injectors to be leaking at the intake. I bought new O-rings, installed them, and immediately started getting IAC Fault codes, that couldn't immediately be traced. I ran continuity/ohm test from the IAC connector to the PCM connector, and it came back perfect, I swapped a diff TB on, and eventually another new IAC. None resolved my issues.  So out of sheer curiosity, I started shaking around the harness going by the valve cover and firewall. the jeep shut off, but when I restarted it there was no IAC code. Thinking I was in luck, and it was a ground issue, I drove home, where the IAC fault popped back up. The next day I hosed down the motor to degrease it, and clean up the grounds to the PCM on the block. This did not resolve the issue, so I started stripping apart the harness from the PCM to the IAC/Injectors, etc... That's when I found a small short in one of the IAC wires right by the valve cover and firewall, hidden inside the split-loom. It must have been touching just right when I first ran the continuity test since there was no resistance, when checking before I cut and soldered the short I was getting around 5-6ohms resistance. Since I cut and soldered the short, then sealed with heat-shrink I've had no issues with the IAC faults.

Also during this time I finally pulled the front bumper and cut off the 2" receivers that someone had welded to the unibody rails. I've got a steel steering box spacer on order, and will be mocking up the front bumper soon, so I can finish weld it. I still need to run a double-check for vacuum leaks, but it runs much better than before, though I'm still within the 50 start cycles for the PCM to relearn it's parameters. I bought a smoke-machine to aid in the subsequent vacuum leak detection and for future needs.

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Finally got around to ordering a steel steering box spacer, as not point in installing bumper with unibody tie-ins & reusing the weak factory aluminum spacer. Surprisingly the factory spacer was intact & all bolts came out without incident. I bought a steel spacer from EBay, from The Midgard Workshop, it is of good quality & power coated. Only cost me $30 shipped, plus cost of 3 new 7/16-14x4.5” bolts & washers. 

 

I installed the new steering spacer & the DIY bumper’s unibody tie-in plate, then mocked-up the bumper to start finish welding.

 

Even better is my almost 8yo wanted to help in removal of the factory steering box bolts!

 

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  • 1 month later...

Had an eventful last few weeks. The XJ developed an intermittent hesitation & while taking it to my shop for a once over, the clutch slave cylinder failed. Luckily I was within 600ft of pulling into my shop, so I was able to speed match the shifts to pull it in.

The previous own had done a 5spd swap using a pre 94 internal slave cylinder AX15... Since repairs required removal of the trans I opted to pickup an external slave cylinder AX15 from a 97 XJ.  Up front costs were more, but ease of future repairs to the clutch hydraulics was worth it. I opted for LuK clutch kit & hydraulics assembly. I had to replace the cracked input bearing retainer housing & resurface the flywheel. I also installed this missing block/trans dust shield/spacer plate, sourced from Ebay & new Spicer ujoints in the rear driveshaft.

In the course of reassembly I dropped the NP231 tcase on my finger & ended up with 3 stitches. Luckily I had on my mechanix gloves or things would have been worse!

 

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  • 6 months later...

Wow, looks like I haven't updated much in awhile. Since the last post I swapped the interior out from a wrecked 97 I picked up in the fall. Parts jeep was a 1 owner "little ol' lady" cream puff before it's demise in an unfortunate accident.  While pulling the old carpet, I found some surface rust in the floor boards in a few places. so this was promptly sanded down, then floors coated in Herculiner roll on bed liner. After curing, the donor carpet and seats were transferred into the XJ. Looks almost brand new.

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I also moved the CB from the side of the console to the head liner between the visors, and hid all the wiring in the headliner and A-pillar panels. When I did this, I also installed a Painless Wiring Accessory fuse block, this way I would not over load any existing circuits or have to tap into any factory wiring. I pulled the power off an open accessory slot in the factory fuse block with a 3a fuse that triggers the Relay in the accessory fuse block. The new block gives me 4 keyed circuits and 3 battery circuits. I kept all the ends cleanly sealed with heat-shrink and routed for easy future access. I plan to use the battery circuits to run future relays for auxiliary lighting.

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Lastly, as it was getting cooler I noticed my heat was sub-par, so I begin investigating only to learn the one system I never examined in detail was the cooling system. I found a ton of brown-sludge in the radiator, and rust colored coolant. I did a coolant flush and clean, which helped a ton, but will need to be repeated soon to finish cleaning out the system.

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I've been sitting around the last 4wks recovering from Ankle surgery, so started compiling list and pricing of parts needed to do the lift on the XJ. I've got the series 4 D30 carrier I found on FB Marketplace, and have Napier Flares on order. I need to measure my current wheels, but I believe them to be 15x7 and I want/need 15x8s. I may be trying to pickup another XJ that's lifted already with new tires, but a blown motor to cut down on costs. But waiting on weather to clear before I can go check it out.

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I may be meeting up with someone on a brand new set of Rubicon Express 4.5" coils and some Adjustable Upper Control arms w/ new bushings for the cost of just the control arms... I really don't need the springs, but can't pass up the price!

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Scored a used leather steering wheel that’s near mint to replace mine that’s seen better days... also my new spicer balljoints & timken inner axle seals. Need to order the R&P with install kit & axle ujoints, then I can start rebuilding the donor D30

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My new clock spring arrived today, so I made time to remove the old steering wheel and replace the clock spring. It's so nice to finally have a decent steering wheel that isn't ripped to shreds, and to have a functional horn button. I had removed the momentary switch that was wired directly to the horns when I bought it at the time I redid the dash/interior. This was in anticipation of repairing the correct horn function. Also tomorrow (3/10) marks the 1 yr mark since purchasing the Jeep. Today was the anniversary of looking it over in person and test driving. It's come quite a ways in the last year, and shortly it'll come even further! I also ordered my Ring and Pinion gears plus master install kit for the D30. 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Got some more parts in! Donor axle & tcase is out & will get stripped down soon.

New Rubicon Express 3.5” lift springs, Rubicon Express SYE Kit, Standard USA 4.10s & Master Install kit.not pictured is the Taboo Customs Shackle Relocators & the Spicer Axle Joints...

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  • 3 weeks later...

Been getting some more parts in, started teardown of the Donor D30 for rebuild and stripping the brackets off the Explorer 8.8. I've got more stuff on order to be delivered between today and next week.  Thus far, new Shocks have arrived (went with nitro-charged twin-tubes for now since Jeep is mostly a DD, and monotubes are all out of stock currently with most suppliers), New extended bumpstops, new coil spring isolators, Synergy Lower Control Arm Skids, Iron Rock Offroad Adjustable Trackbar, and also picked up a clamshell bearing puller. 

 

I did run into a mild surprise on the Donor D30 that the driver's lower caliper bolt was missing, and found the knuckle was stripped in the caliper bolt hole. Luckily I have another donor I can pull from. Also the stock axle side track bar bracket was redrilled after the donor XJ was lifted, and the nut to trackbar bolt is stripped, so I'll be cutting off the bolt, then cutting the factory trackbar bracket to replace with Barnes4WD upgraded bracket and replacement bolt w/ flagnut. 

 

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