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Project Double Duty - 2002 Jeep Wrangler

Front Drivers Side View
Kevin McNulty | Writer
Posted July 27, 2004

DPG Off-Road's Purpose-Built TJ

As Jeep enthusiasts and builders, we're sometimes questioned as to whether there is any rhyme or reason to why we do the things we do. Dirk Sanders, owner of DPG Off-Road, wanted to build a dual-purpose Jeep for two reasons. First, he wanted to show his customers what can be done to a TJ with a fair amount of custom fabrication and readily available aftermarket bolt-on parts from his company. Secondly, he wanted to build the vehicle as trail-capable as possible, while at the same time maintaining some type of highway-friendliness.

The Starting Point
To start the project, Dirk picked up an already well-built '02 Jeep TJ equipped with a long-arm suspension, air lockers, and 35-inch tires. The first thing on the agenda was to strip off all these components and start from scratch. Beginning with the frame, the rear section was cut and extended, stretching the Wrangler's wheelbase to 108 inches. The longer wheelbase provides more stability than a short-wheelbase vehicle and enhances the vehicle's ability to climb vertical obstacles. The front axle was swapped out in favor of a Dynatrac Pro-Rock 60 with 5.38 gears, an ARB Air Locker, 35-spline axleshafts, and Warn premium hubs. The Dana 44 rear axle was replaced with a Tera CRD60R also geared to 5.38, an ARB Air Locker, Moser 35-spline axleshafts, and Ford 8.8-inch disc brakes.

The Underside
The front suspension was built using a Rubicon Express long-arm kit, modified upper shock mounts fit with Bilstein 5150 shocks, a Currie Anti-Rock antisway bar, and Bullet-Proof Steering's adjustable track bar. The factory steering box was unbolted and replaced with a PSC power steering box and pump, and a custom high-steer setup was fabricated using Chevy 1-ton tie-rod ends. The rear suspension was crafted with Old Man Emu leaf springs, OME leaves from a Jeep Cherokee, and a M.O.R.E. traction bar, which were attached to a custom crossmember and custom shock hoops with Bilstein 5150 shocks.

Power and Torque
Dirk coupled an Atlas II 4.3 transfer case for Low-gear 'crawling to the factory 4.0L and NV3550 five-speed transmission. A K&N FIPK kit allows more air into the intake, while a Flowmaster exhaust was added to provide better aspiration. High Angle Driveline 1350 CV driveshafts were used front and rear to transfer power from the transmission to the axles.

Cool Mods
Quite a few modifications have been made to the body of the TJ, making it more trail-worthy. To begin the mods, the front fender was cut and flattened to accommodate the articulation and massive 40-inch tires. The rear fenders were competition-cut, and Poison Spyder Custom's Crusher Corners Rocker Knockers (rocker guards) protect the rig from nasty trail hazards. Looking for more ground clearance and a better departure angle, the gas tank was relocated up and into a custom enclosure. Dirk custom-built the spare-tire carrier; it's hinged with hydraulic lifts and flips up so the tire can easily be dismounted. Custom tailgate hinges were fabricated from TJ lower door hinges to work more efficiently with the competition-cut rear fenders. For the final touch, Arma-Coat bedliner spray was shot on the grille, hood vents, and Rocker Knockers.

Dirk certainly got his point across to us as to why he built the Project Double Duty while driving to the photo shoot. The TJ offered a comfortable highway ride and worked exceptionally well on Moab's famous trail hazards.

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View Photo Gallery
  • The frame of the TJ is stretched to 108 inches, and the rear of the Jeep rides on custom-tweaked Old Man Emu Cherokee springs.

  • A Warn 9.5ti thermometric winch sits on a Jeeperman front bumper. To brighten the darkness, IPF 960 driving lights with HIR bulbs were bolted to the top of the bumper hoop. Additionally, replacement IPF headlights were fit with new IPF Fat Body X51 bulbs, and a set of IPF 968 lights was mounted to the windshield frame.

  • The rear of Project Double Duty sits on a Tera CDR60R axle.

  • This view of the Jeep gives you an idea of how much clearance the competition-cut rear fenders offer the massive 40-inch M/TRs.

  • For safety, a Poison Spyder trail cage was installed.

  • The I-6 engine was left in its factory state for reliability, with the exception of a K&N FIPK kit and Optima battery.

  • The double-duty TJ rolls on 40-inch M/TRs and Walker Evans bead locks.

  • The rear shackles were mounted on the custom rear bumper. Ford 8.8-inch rear disc brakes help stop the rig.

SPECIFICATIONS
Vehicle: '02 {{{Jeep Wrangler}}}
Owner/hometown: Dirk Sanders/Rose Hill, Kansas
Engine: 4.0L I-6
Induction: Factory TBI
Transmission: NV3550
Transfer case: Atlas II
Frontend: Dynatrac Pro-Rock 60
Rearend: Tera CRD60R
Suspension: Front: Rubicon Express long-arm; rear: custom leaf spring
Ring-and-pinion: 5.38
Tires/wheels: 40x13.50R17LT Goodyear Wrangler M/TRs/17x8.5-inch Walker Evans bead locks

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