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    Thread: Ben's Cherokee

    1. Member
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      08-01-2011 11:13 AM #1


      I guess this is a "build thread" of sorts, if you look through it, you may be disappointed to find it more of a "maintenance & BS thread" though. It's been 5 years, but after 4 straight days of wrenching, I want to get all the crap I've posted over the years into 1 spot. I'm already getting ahead of myself, lets start at the beginning.

      In 2006 I decided I needed a winter vehicle, mainly to be used for winter daily driving, and going snowboarding. I drove a bunch of vehicles, Mitsubishi Montero, Isuzu Trooper, Toyota 4Runner SR5, and also a Jeep Cherokee. Before you ask about the Jimmy and Explorer, a good friend owned the GMC, and I'd had the Ford, so they were ruled out because I wanted something different. I narrowed it down to 2 SUV's, and set out to find a cheap 10 year old Toyota. I looked for months. I was no where near the 8-10 thousand they were getting, and did not want to settle on condition. I then set out to find a Jeep Cherokee, a month later, a woman I worked with posted a for sale bulletin, listing a 1996 4.0L HO with just under 100k, with 3 pedals and crank windows for $3000. I bought it 3 days after Christmas, on 12/28/2006.

      1996 Jeep Cherokee SE
      4.0L, 5 speed, np231, 3.07 gears, manual locks & windows.



      One of the earliest pictures I have of it.
      Mine came without a roof rack, so one of the first things I did was build gutter mounted roof rack brackets.





      In it's early days, it had this shifter. After a couple years, and with the porcelain starting to crack I got tired of babying it though, and carved a cedar knob.



      And on my honeymoon at Stowe VT.



      Last edited by deucestudios; 08-01-2011 at 11:21 AM.
      5.3L Wrangler work in progress
      Quote Originally Posted by Juniper Monkeys View Post
      "Less Forethought, More Welding"

    2. Member
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      08-01-2011 11:25 AM #2
      That brings us to 4 years ago. Shortly after I got mine, my brother picked up a Cherokee too, we picked a bunch of stuff from the Quadratec catalog for his, because he had more disposable income than I did at the time. I put the lift kit on for him, and within 2 weeks this happened:



      R.I.P Lil Mule you were loved, by the guy that owned you before my brother...

      I was more than happy to relieve him of the brand new tires, and a few other usable pieces of the lift. He swore they had bad juju, I was happy to pay the discounted juju price. We tore a bunch of other parts off, and sent it to the scrap yard. I bought a shock, a tire, and a new leaf pack, and had "stage 1" of my Cherokee build under way.





      At this point it had 2" of lift, and 31" all terrains.
      It worked great for this:



      Problem was, I started to graduate from illegal power line trails, to regular trips to actual legal trails. The more trail riding I did, the less my budget boost worked, and the more cut up my tires and fenders got.





      Realized my inadiquacies quickly at '07 or '08 NAC fest.

      5.3L Wrangler work in progress
      Quote Originally Posted by Juniper Monkeys View Post
      "Less Forethought, More Welding"

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      08-01-2011 11:37 AM #3
      So to give my Mall Terrains a little room to breathe, I took care of some issues. I changed out the stock springs & spacers for 3" rough country coils. I added a leaf to my replacement spring pack and shackle combo. I did the longer front brake lines, I got JKS quick disconnects for the sway bar. I probably did some other things I'm forgetting right now, but I made the advance to 3" of lift.

      Here's the add a leaf, before switching out the coils:



      Here's what replaced the Guiness tap:



      Moral high, the beatings continue.









      Doin work on Trail 23 at Rausch:





      built these D rings:



      replaced this thingy:



      welded this cause it made loud noises:



      painted this pink because my wife said I wouldn't:
      (added a slip yoke eliminator to the transfer case)



      It worked, and it worked well.

      Last edited by deucestudios; 08-01-2011 at 11:44 AM.
      5.3L Wrangler work in progress
      Quote Originally Posted by Juniper Monkeys View Post
      "Less Forethought, More Welding"

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      08-01-2011 11:43 AM #4
      Ok, almost up to speed here.
      I had 40k on the all terrains, and a couple of those miles weren't asphalt, so it was time for new rubber. I somehow ended up with 3 cheap mud terrains, off of a new wrangler rubicon. So I set out looking for steel that would fit them on my hubs, and come to find out, Dodge Magnum was the answer.

      Wait.

      That didn't happen yet. This did. Super cheap 33" mud terrains on Ford Explorer wheels.





      Also, my dad owned this for 2 years.
      "lil blackie":



      Well, it was time for that to go, so he got this:
      "lil whitey":



      ...and within 2 months, ordered the 3" full rough country kit, and commissioned me as "lead bitch" on the install.



      Why other Cherokee's in my thread? Well, I built them. I'm not gonna include every XJ in south east PA that I've touched, which through the Jeep Fiend Club is quite a few. Just feel that Cherokee's in the family are worth posting here, especially when they die and get parted to upgrade old blue. Again, I digress.

      Onto the magnums...
      Last edited by deucestudios; 08-01-2011 at 11:59 AM.
      5.3L Wrangler work in progress
      Quote Originally Posted by Juniper Monkeys View Post
      "Less Forethought, More Welding"

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      08-01-2011 11:53 AM #5
      Ok damn the 33" mud terrains were bald as hell, so I traded the wheel/tire combo for a Remington 03-A3, but again I digress... Magnums. Big rubbers for big wheels. I was real hesitant to go 17", when I had been 15" for so long, I wanted to keep sidewall, because most of the fun driving I do is between 10-15psi. I did the math though, and going up in tire size at the same time as wheel size, I kept basically the same amount of sidewall.



      ^ I f'n love that picture...

      The tires work, and work well for where I live. Having the thinner profile cuts real well through soupy stuff, and wheeling this spring was fun, but the horrible sound of rubbing tire was back.





      Works fine here though:



      Also, I added these to keep what's left of my rocker panels.

      Last edited by deucestudios; 08-01-2011 at 12:00 PM.
      5.3L Wrangler work in progress
      Quote Originally Posted by Juniper Monkeys View Post
      "Less Forethought, More Welding"

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      08-01-2011 12:20 PM #6
      Ok, so now I can post in real time, in the closest thing that I have to a build thread...
      Thursday was my birthday, so I took a long weekend. I switched 2 axles out in just under 4 days. Now if you think maybe that's taking too long, I have a lovely wife, 2 year old, and a newborn, and my 2 year old's birthday is the day after mine. So we had other fun to contend with. I had a few favors owed to me, and tried pulling them, but somehow I still ended up flying solo this weekend. Forever Alone. Seriously, my friends are all nerds with silly putty for hands. Which is rough when you're trying to line up control arms and schlep axles around. I did have quite a bit of help from D.G. Yuengling himself though.

      I had spent the better part of a year locating cheap axles, I have the amazingly high 3.07 gear ratio, and was not about to spend the money on a gear change. I wanted 4.10 rears. I looked into doing the install myself, but decided against it, and just went for complete axles. I got the rear in York PA, I got the front in Virginia, coincidentally both from different 96's, for my 96, even though a nearly 2 decade range would have worked.

      I cut an inch of the bottom of the Chrysler 8.25, I'm picking up another carrier & axle shafts so I can upgrade to the stronger 29 spline axles. That's still to come though.



      I did some bracing on the front link mounts.





      New ball joints, axle U joints, and hubs.



      Which finally brings us to 9AM friday. I spent Thursday setting up the jackstands, disconnecting crap, and boozing. Dropped the 3.07 30 out first thing Friday morning.



      I switched my Riddler cover over, new royal purple, new Iron Rock Offroad lower control arms...



      old stock uppers still, new bushings though.



      Added a cut coil spacer in for an extra inch. Hopefully this keeps the new(to me) rubber out of the fenders.



      new clutch master & slave while it was in the air.



      Bilstien 5125s, 8" travel, I have to limit the drop, I can almost get 9" of travel, but I'll stop it at 7.5" droppped, to be nice to the steering rod ends, their binding is what limits travel. I think I have old seatbelts somewhere



      Custom leaf pack for the rear to gain the same inch back there. Hopefully it sits level at 4"



      New plates to raise the bumpstop point from the axle tube up to the U bolt plate, again, to keep the rubber off the body.



      Spent way too long making spring clamps.



      ...and that's where it sits. On jackstands! Worst ending ever!

      I'm not finished a few loose ends from the weekend. I need another emergency brake cable, I had one to reuse, but the $20 is worth it for a new line before I button it all back up. Also, still need to mount the front shocks. I put it back together without them so I could cycle the axle and see what the lengths are, before mounting them. Also, I had spares on the front, because they don't have center caps, so I could lock in the axle nuts. Last thing, I'll throw the driveshafts back in.

      I am really close to finished this version. It will probably be +4" and 4.10 for a while now, because it seemed to handle blue trails very well at 3", yet still maintain streetability. I just can't wait to drive it with the new ratio. I'll have more pictures once I'm done, and I guess I'll update this if/when version 5 comes along...
      Last edited by deucestudios; 08-01-2011 at 10:25 PM.
      5.3L Wrangler work in progress
      Quote Originally Posted by Juniper Monkeys View Post
      "Less Forethought, More Welding"

    7. Member USN_JeepWK's Avatar
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      08-01-2011 01:06 PM #7
      I've always loved your XJ! Nice build, keep up the good work.
      2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee S-Limited Lifted on 34's
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    8. Member Heffernan's Avatar
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      08-01-2011 01:59 PM #8
      Keep up the good work
      Let's Go O's!
      Ravens&
      Bohs&
      Crabs&
      O's.

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      08-01-2011 06:26 PM #9


      Coincidentally, I too just did the 3.07 to 4.10 swap. Needless to say, it is MUCH more pleasurable to drive both on the street and on the trails. You will definitley enjoy them. Oh, and my name is Ben too
      Last edited by Quinn1.8t; 08-01-2011 at 06:43 PM.

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      08-04-2011 08:58 AM #10
      heh, sup Ben...
      yeah, I can't wait to drive it with the 4.10s.
      It's back on pavement sitting on 4 wheels.
      I'm right at 4½" in the rear, and an even 4" in the front. I think the rear could settle that ½" though.
      Before I put the driveshafts back, I have 1 more project to finish up...



      It was too wet yesterday to do the cable work underneath though.

      5.3L Wrangler work in progress
      Quote Originally Posted by Juniper Monkeys View Post
      "Less Forethought, More Welding"

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      08-04-2011 10:37 AM #11
      Quote Originally Posted by deucestudios View Post
      I have 1 more project to finish up...

      That Looks like some farm tractor engineering right there. E-brake steer? Interesting...

      Great thread... Keep up the good work.

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      08-08-2011 09:52 AM #12
      So my old shocks couldn't hang. Apparently they gave up the ghost a while ago.
      I had them sitting off to the side during the axle swap, and noticed a large puddle of fluid formed around them. What seals...
      So I drove around shockless yesterday, and ran over some rocks & took some measurements.
      17" compressed, 25" dropped, 20½" at ride height.
      A buddy of mine had these 5125's: BE5-6253-H5 8.60 255/70 N/A 22.50 14.06 14mm eye/eye.
      Using a stud top conversion (1") and pin bottom conversion (½") kit puts me in the right range for them. I should strap though, because I could barely bottom them out as my steering binds, so it'd be better to have a seatbelt catch that load than steering joints or bilsteins...

      edit. Looking at this, it pisses me off that I didn't shoot off a black rattle can in the wheel well when I had all that stuff out. oh well.

      5.3L Wrangler work in progress
      Quote Originally Posted by Juniper Monkeys View Post
      "Less Forethought, More Welding"

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      11-21-2011 12:58 PM #13
      Got into the biggest stuck I've been in.
      I knew I was taking a bad line for the winch pull, but thought I could steer against the winch a bit more than I could.
      I'm real happy with my front tow hooks though, they held like champs.



      You can see the line I took, but the winch rig was too far up the hill and not straight on. We should have repositioned, we saw it coming, but we were running out of daylight.





      This pic shows a little better the rocks I was caught up in. I couldn't get up the line I took down, so I tried a line to the left, ended up sliding right into the middle of it, and damn near pulled the TJ down the hill trying to get up and over.



      Overall an awesome day though:

      5.3L Wrangler work in progress
      Quote Originally Posted by Juniper Monkeys View Post
      "Less Forethought, More Welding"

    14. Member Heffernan's Avatar
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      11-21-2011 01:47 PM #14
      Lookin' good.

      What are the specs on the wheels? I've been looking around for some 17" steelies for my Subie.
      Let's Go O's!
      Ravens&
      Bohs&
      Crabs&
      O's.

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      11-22-2011 09:55 AM #15
      Quote Originally Posted by Heffernan View Post
      Lookin' good.

      What are the specs on the wheels? I've been looking around for some 17" steelies for my Subie.
      17x7, bolt pattern = 5x4.5, centerbore = 71.5mm, backspacing = 4ish.
      Check this link, I bet it gives you options you didn't know you had...
      http://www.roadkillcustoms.com/hot-r...e-Database.asp

      couple more pics from the weekend, D rings doin work.
      There's a jacket just out of this shot draped over that line btw.


      Last edited by deucestudios; 11-22-2011 at 10:39 AM.
      5.3L Wrangler work in progress
      Quote Originally Posted by Juniper Monkeys View Post
      "Less Forethought, More Welding"

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      11-22-2011 10:22 AM #16

    17. 11-23-2011 03:02 PM #17
      XJ looks great man, Nice seeing it cruising down the road couple days ago. When you going to let me ride shotgun to rausch

    18. Member
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      12-09-2011 08:39 AM #18
      Next project in the works...

      5.3L Wrangler work in progress
      Quote Originally Posted by Juniper Monkeys View Post
      "Less Forethought, More Welding"

    19. Member tip's Avatar
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      12-09-2011 03:47 PM #19
      ^ tease!

    20. Member dubjager's Avatar
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      01-28-2012 04:06 PM #20
      So I know this is way down...

      but I LOVE your cherokee. The color and the work you have done are amazing!

      I really hope to see more updates, although I realize it is winter...

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      01-30-2012 11:09 AM #21
      Thanks man.

      Well, this thread is taking a turn now.
      I've been wanting a dedicated trail jeep for a while now, something that I can not worry about keeping so pretty.
      A 1998 TJ Wrangler found it's way home with me, which has been lovingly named "Pond Scum" (swamp thing sounds too badass for a 4 banger).
      So, the '96 XJ will be staying, and maintain it's awesome road manners & light duty camping/trail riding. It's great for what I use it for, and will hopefully continue for a while.
      In the mean time, rim stiffners, and other seriously offroad only type things won't be going on the XJ. I'll be saving that coin for the TJ.
      The plan is 39s on H2 17s, 3-4" lift, ~100" wheelbase, 60s, range box.
      Hopefully this will be about 2 years in the making, and hopefully my XJ serves me well in the meanwhile.

      This will be a thread for both of them. Should be pretty simple to keep straight. One is blue. The other is green.

      So the passing of the guard, changing of the torch if you will.





      For all intents & purposes, it's been abandon for 2 years. Might be a theft recovery, might be a flood, could be a cousin on meth... who knows/cares. Technically, I'm the 2nd owner.
      The 2.5L 4 squirrels of fury "didn't run" when I got it.
      Pulled some aftermarket alarm system.





      Cleaned the Pond Scum and other assorted growies out.
      Yes, the tape measure, football, keys to an infinity, ipod, and deodorant came with it.





      The aforementioned meth smoking infinity driving, ipod listening, dove deodorant user must have also tried changing the wiper motor with a crowbar and C4.
      So I replaced the cowl panel & motor assembly & linkage with junkyard parts.



      ...but I've yet to find a replacement tailgate for anything other than triple digits. So dented will be fine for now.

      5.3L Wrangler work in progress
      Quote Originally Posted by Juniper Monkeys View Post
      "Less Forethought, More Welding"

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      01-30-2012 11:20 AM #22
      With a few other things out of the way, I turned my attention to getting it running.
      It hadn't been run in 2 years, and the old battery wouldn't take a charge.
      I pulled the plugs, they looked great.
      Turned it over with no plugs, no horrible sounds, and a free spinning crank. A frozen tensioner pulley got heated and lubed and freed right up.
      New plugs, new battery, old oil, old gas... Fired right up. Without even a smoke show, she's a runner.

      Then I needed something to sit on that wouldn't give me aids, green algae, ghonoreah, and a penchant for meth. Scored these Sahara seats.



      Then addressed the fact that the tire hit bumper if you turned the wheel too far.







      and with it's new piece of 3/8" plate hanging from the front, it's motor running decent, and someplace nice to sit, I promply got it stuck on a log in my yard.



      Brought in the blue one to help.





      And here it sits now.
      Needs tires to pass inspection.
      So I only run it around the neighborhood for now.

      5.3L Wrangler work in progress
      Quote Originally Posted by Juniper Monkeys View Post
      "Less Forethought, More Welding"

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      01-30-2012 11:22 AM #23
      Found an awesome deal on a x8000i, so I cut up the bumper I just made.



      turned up the front frame point, seemed like the thing to do.



      and reworked the piece of steel I had just built.
      I must say I like version 2 better than the first.





      5.3L Wrangler work in progress
      Quote Originally Posted by Juniper Monkeys View Post
      "Less Forethought, More Welding"

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      01-30-2012 11:30 AM #24
      Which brings me to the rear sitting next to it.
      It's a D60-ISU from an early 90s E350 van.
      3.5" tubes, big bore spindles, smoothed pumpkin, been sitting in my yard for 2 years...





      Bracketry for a TJ 8.8 swap. Which was the plan for about a week. I can knock a little off to make the radius work on the 60 though.



      Built my axle bridge this weekend.
      If you drink guiness while Jigsawing a 3.5" radius into 3/8" plate, you will have half a load on before you're done.



      flux core, outside. 3/8" riser, 1/4" bridge. 1 pass across the outside, 3 across the inside corner. lincoln 3200HD.
      The top is 1/4" bar 4"x24" bent with guiness strength, a vice, 2 pieces of angle iron, and a 10lb hammer.



      Still playing with the link calculator, as numbers get locked in I keep having to tweak others.
      Shooting for 100% antisquat, with the frame side uppers having 3 positions with 1/2" of seperation each. 100% being the center hole, so I can dial 10% up or down.
      Need to knock these speed sensor ears off a little more so the bridge sits neutral at the correct pinion angle.



      Last edited by deucestudios; 01-30-2012 at 07:07 PM.
      5.3L Wrangler work in progress
      Quote Originally Posted by Juniper Monkeys View Post
      "Less Forethought, More Welding"

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      01-30-2012 12:47 PM #25
      Looking good so far, definitely will be following this build

    26. 01-30-2012 04:34 PM #26
      Good work going on in here.
      club Grim Water
      "When there's no more room in Hell"

    27. Member dubjager's Avatar
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      01-31-2012 07:34 PM #27
      I like the cherokee how it is

      Looking forward to seeing what you do with the wrangler... I really like how you mounted the winch!!


      to more work!

    28. Member rpmk4's Avatar
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      02-10-2012 12:22 PM #28
      looking good. glad to see a build with normal home tools and not a "budget plasma" or some crap. how long did it take to make those cuts with the jigsaw?

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      02-11-2012 01:26 PM #29
      Just got very bummed when I got to the end of this! MORE UPDATES! good **** so far

    30. Member g60vwr's Avatar
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      02-12-2012 12:32 PM #30
      Great thread....

      I just got a YJ to make a trail/beach rig because all I ever do is bash my TJ up when I take it out.
      Cry once....

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      02-13-2012 12:38 PM #31
      Thanks guys. You will def see more grunt & ignorance than fancy tools. Hopefully the finished product doesn't show that though. This is my 2nd $40 jig saw. They quit when you really push them...

      Quote Originally Posted by silvermannn View Post
      Just got very bummed when I got to the end of this! MORE UPDATES! good **** so far
      The XJ ain't going anywhere. I put 800 miles on it this weekend. This wrangler is going to take a long time. Realistically, I won't be posting finished pics in this thread for 2 years. So, stay tuned...

      If anyone wants to move things along, I have an 8kW Dayton Generator I'm looking to sell, to help fund the (14) $40 link ends...

      Got a few more 32" tires and station wagon wheels. 32" tires don't really fit on stock suspension TJs, should be good enough to get inspection. Goes in next weekend. Figure I might as well start with fresh stickers on the off chance I do get it rolling by the time the next one comes around. .
      "stage 1" parts are coming in. 1" body & motor mount lift, low profile trans mount, ultra high clearance skid. That way I can have all that set in the right spot for mounting links, checking oil pan clearance, and all that fun stuff.



      5.3L Wrangler work in progress
      Quote Originally Posted by Juniper Monkeys View Post
      "Less Forethought, More Welding"

    32. Member wrigh003's Avatar
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      Mar 21st, 2003
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      Birmingham, AL
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      02-17-2012 10:28 AM #32
      I like it- what’s a 14-year-old non-runner clapped-out semi-wrecked methbuggy 4-banger Wrangler go for?

      Now that I have said that- did they pay YOU to take it? :p

      The XJ looks real nice, too. Good work on both, looking forward to seeing what else happens.

    33. Member
      Join Date
      May 27th, 2008
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      Malvern, PA
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      5.3L Wrangler
      03-07-2012 09:07 AM #33
      too many pics on 1 page.

      Quote Originally Posted by deucestudios View Post
      If anyone wants to move things along, I have an 8kW Dayton Generator I'm looking to sell, to help fund the (14) $40 link ends...
      Sold.

      buy all the parts!
      Last edited by deucestudios; 03-07-2012 at 09:21 AM.
      5.3L Wrangler work in progress
      Quote Originally Posted by Juniper Monkeys View Post
      "Less Forethought, More Welding"

    34. Member
      Join Date
      May 27th, 2008
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      Malvern, PA
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      5.3L Wrangler
      03-07-2012 09:08 AM #34
      Quote Originally Posted by wrigh003 View Post
      I like it- what’s a 14-year-old non-runner clapped-out semi-wrecked methbuggy 4-banger Wrangler go for?

      Now that I have said that- did they pay YOU to take it? :p

      The XJ looks real nice, too. Good work on both, looking forward to seeing what else happens.
      Cheap. Reeeal cheap. 3 digits cheap.
      5.3L Wrangler work in progress
      Quote Originally Posted by Juniper Monkeys View Post
      "Less Forethought, More Welding"

    35. Member
      Join Date
      May 27th, 2008
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      Malvern, PA
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      5.3L Wrangler
      03-07-2012 09:08 AM #35
      page 2 is next.
      5.3L Wrangler work in progress
      Quote Originally Posted by Juniper Monkeys View Post
      "Less Forethought, More Welding"

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