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Project Darkside, an XJ

edited May 2013 in Projects
Well, I'm lazy and am just going to cut/paste from another forum, so if the text is weird, too bad lol.

it's called "project darkside" as a joke because I moved from toyota over to jeep.

Well, several months after talking about getting a jeep, and a few months after actually getting some jeeps, I am finally starting to work on a jeep project.
Plans for the near future are:
4.5-5" Lift Welded rearend
31x10.5's
Mini-Boatsides
Raised Gas tank
Custom Bumpers front and rear
Berliner interior/ partial exterior.

The first order of business was tearing my parts jeep apart. I bought it primarily for the lift parts, but am keeping all the drivetrain stuff, and a few other body parts. Here's what I started with, 5 minutes after I got it off the trailer my co-worker was already trying to steal stuff from it haha image
I tore into the motor/tranny/tcase first and get it out of the way, image
Next came the axles/suspension (and no, I was NEVER under the jeep when I had it up on the bobcat, safety first haha) image
I was actaully pretty amazed how fast it came apart, I've only really put about 4-5 hours into it, and that includes a little time playing with my other new toy. image image

The 4dr is licensed and insured so I took it down to the shop and took care of the fender flares, trimmed the fenders, did the rear hack and fold on the quarters, put a new serpentine belt on, and started ripping out the carpet. A fairly productive afternoon.

Nastyness under the rear fenders

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Trimmed

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And the rear hack and fold (which I would hate to do on sOmething that the paint mattered)

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Well after 3-4 days driving it I noticed that the jeep was getting worse MPGs than my silverado, and I quickly discovered that the tank was rusting out and gas was seeping through it...

So, it looks like I'll be starting with the gas tank relocation before the rockers :) I've got everything measured and marked, and I'll start cutting tomorrow.

I also decided that I'd only gain another 1.5" at the rocker if I cut into the doors as high as I could, which made me quickly decide that I was going to cut as high as I could with out door mods.

Proof of progress!

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Comments

  • I picked up a ZJ tank from A member of my local club.

    After much measuring and thinking, I pretty much cut out all of the rear floor frOm seem weld to seem weld, and the 22" forward of where the hatch latches. I cut into the seem welds on either side and pounded them flat agaist the frame:

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    In the front corner I had to cut into the shock mount ( the ZJ tank is about 3-4" longer than the stock one)

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    So I made a patch out of some 1/8" flat bar and marked it out and nibbled it out on our 55ton iron worker :twisted.gif: test fit

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    Welded it In, and then I welded the seam welds I had hammered down against the frame:

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    After all that to do this:

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    So far it's been fairly easy, easier than I thought considering I pretty much have never welded anything thinner than 1/8". So far I've
    Got about 3hrs into the project.
  • I wanted to put the tank about half way through the floor, which meant that the tank would have to sit about 2" below the frame rails. I went and picked up a section of 2.5" x 1/8 square tube to use. The 2.5" matches the width of the frame rails almost exactly. So tonight I got most of the frame work in and tomorrow I will size the 1/8" plate I'm using for the bottom.

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    More progress.

    Welded the front and rear strap mounts, 1.5" angle with 1/2 nuts welded
    To them.

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    The trickiest part was welding around the hatch latch, the sheetmetal seemed extra thin there.

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    The rear mount didn't seem sturdy enough to me, so I tied it I to another piece of angle that I had already welded to the bottom of the body

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    Finally, I cut out and welded the bottom piece of the skid. Just after getting it part way on is when I ran out of Gas. Hopefully more progress tomorrow!

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    Well after a hecktick week, I got some time this evening to work on it. I got the rear plate and front sheet metal in, and the gas tank perches (a term I just made up) welded up. I'll be putting padding on them so the tank doesn't rub against the metal. As I type this I'm waiting for the cleaning agent to dry so I can primer and seam seal where I need to.

    View from the back
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    View from rear seat.
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    While I waited for the primer to dry, I got bored and started cutting the rear quarters

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    Once the primer was dry, I put on some seam sealer. I decided I didn't want to wait for that to dry, so I put the first coat of paint on the areas that I could.

    A taste of things to come haha

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    More progress

    I plated over the hole in the frame rail that the gas hose passes through
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    I chopped most the floor out on the drivers side, it was pretty rotted.

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    The underside

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    Passenger side done. Hopefully onto the tank straps and enclosure tomorrow.

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    Busy day, this Tank project is taking a lot longer than I would have guessed, I bet I'm near 50 hours atleast. But I'm on the final stretch

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    I still need to work out that little corner that's missing, the door wouldn't open with it in place...

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  • Finally! After primer, seam sealer, bedliner, and paint, it's finally just about done (well this project)! Can't wait till I paint the rest of the truck, it's gonna stand out a bit haha!

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    Also finally cut the top for the tank box, needs primer and bedliner and that's done too.

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    I'm going to upull tomorrow with to pick up a pump/ sender, and I'm tryin to order some IRO 5.5" rear springs, then I have pretty much everything to lift it!

    I got the front mostly lifted this afternoon. I still need to put shocks in it, brake lines, swap the steering, and get a rod end for my track bar. I though I did ok at 2.5 hours for the first jeep suspension install I've done. Hopefully I'll be ready for my rears when they show up.

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    Well, I managed to snap the front hanger bolt on the right rear spring. We got it out with some creative torching tho.

    BUT...upon removing the spring, I found out that that whole corner is rotted out, and there wasn't too much holding the spring mount on...

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    So...out came the cut off wheel and grinder, and a lot of cutting. I chopped all the floor our up to the frAme rail, and then I just kept cutting...

    I plan on plating te frame right by the mount (then the whole thing eventually) and gusseting the hanger to the frame. Then I started cutting the rocker, and I'm going to run 2x6 box steel for rockers, and am going to plate across the top of the frame, across the top of the frame and up to the 2x6. I didn't get too far before the last cut off wheel disintegrated, hopefully it rains all day tomorrow so I can get a lot done.

    I'm committed now...

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    Had a great productive day! Rebuilt the spring hanger section, VERY sturdy now, I'm going to redo the other side like this when I get a chance.

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    And Then:

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    I need to put the track bar on, run new brake lines for the rear, and build the sway bar endlink extensions/ quick releases and it should be ready to drive!

    Well, it left the safety of the shop today. It currently doesn't really have brakes, and I had to order a jamb nut for the track bar, but it can atleast move around a little. I've gotta bleed the brakes a bunch more, and I still need to make endlinks for the front sway, but it felt REALLY good to get to play with it just a tiny bit, and it got me really excited to get it on the trail.

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    Well I've had it out wheeling a few times now and am loving it!

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    New paint scheme



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    When I do ruin these tires, I'll probably step up to 285's or maybe 305's. So far, my tire size hasn't been a hinderance, I've followed a jeep on 37's all over the park, and this past weekend I schooled by buddies XJ on 35's and a TJ on 33's! Ended up pulling them both up a hill climb they couldn't make, at which point they proclaimed mine as "super jeep" haha!

    Only pics from this weekend:

    Taillight mod :)
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    Christmas card pose! Haha
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    The first things on the list for this winter are:
    -steering box (the current one is terrifying)
    -new/fixed steering column (mine seems to be broken at the tilt joint
    -Taillight boxes (smashed my 2nd stock set this weekend)
    -SYE (so I can delete my T-case drop and build a flatbelly
    -armor armor armor! (diff covers, belly pan, engine skid, bumpers)

    Today I started on my front bumper since Napa didn't get me the correct steering box.
    I made the mounts out of 1/4" and the partially sandwiched 3/8" on top of that for the shackle mounts in the front. I think it will hold up

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  • Tonight I plated the passenger side "frame" rail from spring hanger to UCA mount with a piece of 3x3" 3/16th angle. So far this is by far the least fun thing I have done to the Jeep haha. I'm gonna try to do the drivers side tomorrow but I'm almost out of welding gas so we'll see how far I get...

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    I got a good amount of work done today. I got the "new" steering column in, and finished up a good chunk of the bumper. I'll probably add a hoop up around the grill too. I really like it, it's nice and simple, and should be plenty strong. first impressions of the fixed steering are good, I haven't taken it out of the shop yet tho since it didn't have a bumper/plate.

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    Finally got vertical welds down i think
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    The driver side frame stiffener is fabbed and welded on where the lift armsnfor the hoist go, now I just have to do the bad part and burn it in all the way.

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    This morning I burned in the frame stiffeners the rest of the way. After that I wanted to do something more fun so I built a nice simple t-case skid. This is fairly temporary because hopefully i'll be doing a SYE this summer sometime. My stock cross member is pretty messed up, so there was some creative cutting, hammering, and welding involved. Conviently, we were repainting part of our 225 Hitachi today so I stole the gun for a bit.

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    New taillights, hopefully more smash proof haha

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    Took her out wheeling yesterday and really tested out the skid plate. It works! haha. The frame stiffeners made a very noticable difference in the amount of creaking and groaning noise from the Unibody structure too. No one ever seems to get good pictures of this rig wheeling, here's pretty much the only one I have from yesterday, you can see my jeep all the way at the front.

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    Apparently I can't run a passenger side mirror on this thing, I rip it off every time I go out.

    Slowly but surely I'm getting the trail body work done

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  • I've gotten a few more things done on the jeep, I bought/ assembled a bluetorch fab DIY diff cover, and I made the drivers door quick release. I love wheeling doorless!

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    Here's some pics from this past weekend

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    All these next pictures are from the Mesabi Mountain trail, the first Grant-in-Aid OHv trail in the state of MN, it's been in the works for 15 years and just opened last month. Pictures really don't do it justice, but I am told by a few of the club members who built it I'm one of the smallest jeeps to make it all the way through the trail (3 miles in 3 miles out), so I think that is pretty sweet

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    So that gets us to this past weekend. I've realized that wheeling pictures of this jeep really don't do it justice, because yes, there are a lot better built rigs out there, but the places this thing goes with it's baby 31'' tires, and no lockers always amazes me and everyone I'm with, and I've followed jeeps with 37's and lockers all day long and kept up. This thing is beginning to go through another transformation soon, and will be getting a new rear axle, custom 3-link front suspension, 35's and a cage. I am REALLY excited to see what kind of trouble I can get into with the new setup

    seems legit right? haha

    I bought the 3" bike mirror of amazon for $6 and it just happens to fit in the hinge!

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    This afternoon I got a good section of the rocker on one side knocked out, i have a little more trimming and I need to cap the 2x6 and then I can burn them in.

    The plasma made this dreaded project almosy fun

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    I cut the whole annoying part of the stock rocker out so the 2x6 could slide all the way up where I wanted it.

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    Mocked up

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    I finished most the rocker welding today, i just need to do a few more legs and then sheet it. I think I'm gonna cut about 3" out of the whole length of the floor and boatside that up. I tied the rear most leg into the spring hanger too so it's super solid now.

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    I ended up cutting about 2.5" off the doors.

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    So there we are, all caught up. I have rusty's Longarms and 6.5'' coils sitting in the shop, and enough tube to cage it too :)
  • At least your tranny works properly...
  • Awesome build!
  • This build has always been a dangerous thread for me to view, whether it was on DSCE or wherever. Always makes me want to build an XJ. I bet this thing is a blast at Gilbert!
  • This thing is still the best vehicle ive had as far as a fun-to-expense ratio. I love this thing offroad, and im pretty sure my driving style is quite entertaining for others
  • love this thread, cant wait till i can build a trail rig.
  • ^Agreed!
  • I swear they are more fun than fast cars, in the regard that you can go beat on it legally haha
  • well i finished the passenger side rocker, but I don't have any good pics of it... So here is a random artsy photoshop Kelsey made after the open house

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  • How was the open house?
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