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1998 Jeep Wrangler TJ - Multi-Tasking TJ

Posted in Features on February 1, 2001
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Before the computer age, the term multi-tasking meant nothing to most people, and saying it would have elicited blank stares. Nowadays, however, the term is an accepted part of day-to-day language, and nowhere does it apply more than to Jerry Therrien's '98 Jeep TJ. After all, this Tarpon Springs, Florida, resident carefully designed his TJ to handle a variety of off-highway challenges.

Jerry purchased the Jeep brand-new and instantly began building it up and using it on the trail. As with any Jeep, it's constantly evolving according to what breaks and how bad the breakage is.

Opening the hood reveals the factory 4.0L engine. The engine's overall performance has been enhanced with some simple bolt-on performance goodies, including a Turbo City throttle body and air intake, a K&N air filter, a Borla header, and a Gibson after-cat exhaust system. The engine's torque flows through an automatic trans-mission to an Atlas II Twin-Stick 3.8:1 transfer case before being carried by custom driveshafts to the differentials. The front is a Dana 30 and the rear is a Dana 44 (the 44 has a Stainless Steel Brakes disc brake conversion) and both are stuffed with 4.56:1 gears and ARB Air Lockers. A Yellow Top Optima battery provides the current needed for the many electrical accessories.

Jerry was impressed with the flexible stock TJ suspension, but to handle the gnarly trails he planned on taming, he wanted an even flexier suspension that was tough enough for any trail. With this in mind, he installed Rubicon Express 4-1/2-inch lift springs, upper and lower control arms (he boxed the TJ's factory mounts for added strength), and a rear track bar. Doetsch Tech shocks handle the bumps while a Rubicon Express tie rod with Rusty's tie rod components beef up the steering. Of course, shielding vulnerable underbody components was a priority, so a full array of skidplating was bolted on beginning with a Tomken oil pan and fuel tank skidplates and a homemade tranny skidplate. When combined with a 1-inch body lift, the new suspension setup easily allows for full travel of the 35x12.50R15 BFG Mud-Terrain tires (on 15x10 bead lock rims) without body-to- tire contact.

At first glance, one of the things you notice about Jerry Therrien's TJ are the retro flat fenders. These were born of necessity after a rollover in Moab trashed the factory pair. They're constructed of 1/8-inch diamond-plate and retain the factory hood latches. Other mods to the nose of the TJ include the installation of a custom bumper. This trail-proven unit holds a Warn XD9000i winch and a pair of off-road driving lights. A custom bumper was also mounted on the rear of the TJ, and it features an internal 120-psi air tank. The bumper features a custom mount for a Hi Lift jack, which places the jack in position for quick and easy removal. The stock spare tire mount was replaced by a Canyon City unit, and in addition to carrying a fullsize spare tire, it features a large storage rack and a jerry can holder. Exterior mods are finished up with homemade 2x4-inch rocker skids to guard the rocker panels.

When it came time to design the interior, trail safety was paramount, so the first thing Therrien did was send the TJ to Innovative Chassis in Ocala, Florida, where the staff designed a custom heavy-duty six-point rollcage. In addition to being functional, the cage features a trick design that routes the A-pillar rollbar behind the dash. This design not only keeps the bar out of the driver and passenger's way, but also offers clean looks. Next, he designed a custom full trunk, which offers safe, secure storage for the plethora of trail supplies he carries at all times. Finally, he sprayed the rollbar and entire interior of the body tub with durable Gator Liner paint, which offers a low-maintenance, protective covering that stands up to hard trail use.

The computer age may have coined the term multi-tasking, but Therrien's TJ defines it with its ability to easily handle any type of challenge with ease.

SpecificationsVehicle: '98 Jeep Wrangler

Owner/Hometown: Jerry Therrien/ Tarpon Springs, Florida

Engine: 4.0L I-6

Induction: Turbo City throttle-body kit; K&N air filter

Transmission: Stock automatic

Transfer case/Low range: Atlas II/3.8:1

Frontend: Dana 30, ARB Air Locker

Rearend: Dana 44, ARB Air Locker

Ring-and-pinion: 4.56:1

Brakes: Front and rear disc

Suspension: Rubicon Express4-1/2-inch, Doetsch Tech shock absorbers

Tires/Wheels: 35x12.50R15 BFGMud-Terrains/10x15 bead lock rims

Added features: Warn 9,000-pound winch; Rockcrawler bumpers; Rubicon Express upper and lower control arms; reinforced factory control arm mounts; Rubicon Express tie rod; Rusty's tie rod components; full underbody skidplating; full rollcage; Turbo City throttle-body kit; K&N air filter; Borla header; Gibson exhaust

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