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1995 Jeep YJ Wrangler Does Boulders

Posted in Features on February 8, 2017 Comment (0)
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Old Jeeps never die—they just learn new tricks. We have all seen beat up old Willys’ rise up from the grave, and in the case of the comparatively much younger Jeep YJ owned by Stacy Franklin of Orangevale, California, her ’95 Wrangler is now living its second life. It wasn’t a complete pile when she found it for sale back in 2010, but if it had sat uncared for much longer it may have gone the way of the Dodo. Fortunately, it found a good home with Stacy, and with the help of her boyfriend Dave Matthews, and a buddy of theirs, Trent Hershey, “Trixsee” has learned some new tricks.

Power Combo

The current 4.0L inline-six cylinder engine was donated from a 2004 TJ that somehow ended up in much worse shape than Stacy’s ’95. The 242ci I-6 was in good shape, but got a rebuild anyway. It ran like new when they were done going through it, but the inline six remained almost completely stock. The AX-15 5-speed that came along with the 2004 engine was in great condition so all that was needed was to add a long-throw shift lever with a T-bar style grip on it. The T-case however was another case—no pun intended. Stacy wanted much better gearing possibilities, so an Advance Adapters Atlas 5.0 (5:1 low ratio) was planted on the tail end of the AX-15. ADCO custom driveshafts carry the power down to the axles.

The 4.0L I-6 engine in Trixsee was rebuilt after being plucked out of a ’04 TJ, and although it remained almost completely stock, it was treated to a Turbo City Rock-It cold-air intake, and a YellowTop Optima battery. Note the custom cross brace for the shock tower loops and the remote shock reservoirs strapped to them.

Undergarment Game

Below her frame, the YJ sports a pair of heavy-duty axles. A 3/4-ton Dana 44 filled with a 4.56 ARB air locker and running Yukon axleshafts with CTM Racing axle U-joints sits up front. Out back, she features a Dana 60 with another 4.56 ARB air locker and Superior axleshafts. The Dana 60 rearend has a custom traction bar to help control spring wrap, a custom track bar to keep it lined up properly, a spring-over conversion using Rubicon Express leaf packs, and uses Rancho 5000 shocks for damping purposes. A custom three-link front suspension system with a track bar was also designed and built by Trent and is sprung with 16-inch King coilovers. The frame-mounted steering box was braced with a rod that ties into the opposing frame rail, and a custom pitman arm helps guide the 17x9-inch, 4 1/2-inch backspaced, 8-lug Walker Evans beadlocks surrounded by 39.5-inch Super Swamper IROK rubber.

The Dana 44 underneath the front end of the ’95 Jeep YJ was set up with a custom steering system that includes a stock box reinforced by a rod that ties into the opposing frame, a custom pitman arm, steering link, and tie-rod. The 44 holds a 4.56 ARB air locker, Yukon ’shafts, and CTM axle U-joints.

Carved Body

The Wrangler’s sheetmetal has been curvaceously carved in order to make her a more rock-ready rig. The front fenders have been cut down, and the front and rear flares removed. Up front, a custom tube creation runs from the Rock Hard 4x4 bumper all the way back to the Rock Hard 4x4 sliders, and protects the what’s left of the front fenders from rocks and trees that might get in here way. The YJ’s tail is protected by a set of custom diamond-plate steel corner guards and a Rock Hard 4x4 rear bumper.

A custom rollcage spreads over the Jeep YJ Wrangler’s tub like a spider web to protect passengers and provide a platform on top upon which to strap down cargo.

A Trent Hershey designed and fabricated rollcage serves to envelop and protect passengers and provides a cargo area up top. The stock YJ rear seat is still there, but for those lucky people up front, Corbeau buckets with four-point harnesses are offered.

Good, Bad, and What It’s For

“Trixsee” isn’t flashy, but it’s not overbuilt and didn’t cost an arm and leg to create. While mostly stock, the 4.0L gets the job done every time. This ’95 TJ is tough, has more than enough flex to easily navigate the boulders, and is set up to wheel and camp.

Why I Wrote This Feature

Jeeping is about people as much as it is about Jeeps. Stacy’s first rig, and the one she drove for years before it got creamed when a giant boulder fell off a cliff and landed on it (we've seen the pictures), was an ’88 YJ. Now she and her ’95 YJ “Trixsee” are again regulars on the Jeepers and Jeep Jamboree Rubicon runs (some years Stacy is also part of the volunteer staff providing event participants with meals), and together they have mastered Moab, Fordyce, and Hollister.

Hard Facts

Vehicle: ’95 Jeep YJ Wrangler
Engine: 4.0L I-6
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Transfer Case: Atlas 5.0
Suspension: Custom 3-link, 14-inch King coilovers (front); Rubicon Express spring-over conversion, Rancho RS5000 shocks (rear)
Axles: Dana 44, 4.56 ARB air locker, Yukon ’shafts, CTM U-joints (front); Dana 60, 4.56 ARB air locker, Superior ’shafts (rear)
Wheels: 17-inch Walker Evans beadlocks
Tires: 39.5-inch Super Swamper IROK

The front suspension is damped using 14-inch travel King coilover shocks set in custom lower mounts, and custom upper hoop mounts that are tied into a crossbrace that spans the engine compartment. Limiting straps keep the shocks from over-extending.
A custom 3-link suspension set up swings the front Dana 44 axle, and an ADCO custom driveshaft sends power into the pumpkin. Skidplates protect the engine’s oil pan, trans, and transfer case.
A Dana 60 rearend fileld with an ARB air locker and Superior ’shafts hangs from a spring-over conversion created using Rubicon Express leaf packs, and custom traction bars help keep axlewrap under control. Rancho RS 5000 shocks do damping duty in the rear.
The ’95 YJ Wrangler’s cockpit features a switch panel mounted in the center of the dash to control the ARB air lockers, energize the ARB compressor, and turn on the siren (which Stacy uses to let slowpokes on the trail know she’s on their tail); a long-throw gear lever with a finger-grip T-handle; twin sticks to operate the Atlas 5.0; and Corbeau buckets.
The rear-bumper-mounted swing-out spare-tire carrier was modified to accept a cargo rack for a cooler and other camping gear, as well as provide a mount for the Hi-Lift jack.
As you can see, the fuel tank skidplate has been very useful as a shield to fend off trail hazards such as rocks. This ’95 YJ Wrangler displays evidence of extensive trail use.
A Warn winch is cradled inside the Rock Hard 4x4 front bumper. Note the extensive custom tube work coming off the front bumper and extending around the trimmed fenders and down to the Rock Hard 4x4 sliders.
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