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May 2012 Your Jeep Tech Questions

Posted in How To on May 1, 2012
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No, Thank You!
I want to say thank you guys for the assistance you gave me when I was deployed in Iraq in 2008-2009. My YJ is coming along nicely and is almost done. I went with the axles out of a four-banger YJ to get the 4.10 gears. My family picked them up while I was overseas. The axles are out of an ’89 and not a ’95 as we talked about via email. I am setting money aside for JK Dana 44 axles. I purchased a set of 33-inch General Grabbers AT2 tires and have a 5-inch suspension on the Jeep. I have to finish the brakes, attach the Smittybilt 10,000lb winch, and put the slip yoke eliminator in it.

Do you have any articles on doing the slip yoke eliminator because I’ve been told that it can be a pain. Can I put a TJ nose and fenders onto a YJ? My whole family is into Jeeping, so naturally my wife went with us and now she wants one. I’m thinking of getting a XJ for her. Thanks again and keep up with the great magazine.
LCPL Keith Norton
Via email

Keith, thank you for your selfless service to our country! We at Jp are glad to help (when we can)! Yea, purple is an unfortunate color, but luckily paint is pretty easy to change.

An XJ for the wife is a great idea. I’d look for a ’97-up with a 4.0L, 4x4, and a Chrysler 8.25 rear axle. Avoid any signs of major rust. Although the Unitbody design is light in weight, it can be a structural nightmare if rust has taken hold.

As for the SYE, in my opinion they are one of the simplest upgrades you can do to a modern Jeep. It helps to have a good pair of snap-ring pliers, but seriously it’s pretty close to Lego construction. It’s made slightly more difficult if you do it while the T-case is still in the Jeep. Doing that may cause a kink in your neck! It’s pretty easy to pull a NP 231J for an SYE install.

TJ nose on a YJ? Well I have never done this personally, but my understanding is that it’s doable. According to my research you can make it work with just a TJ grille. The YJ hood has a slightly different curve along the front edge that you will have to live with or get funky with. You will have to drill new mounting holes in the YJ fenders for the TJ grille and fabricate some new connectors for the grille supports that run from the firewall to the back of the grille.

Does My Butt Make This Jeep Look Heavy?
I loved the Oct. ’11 issue about shedding weight from our Jeeps. On that same thought, I have a ’91 YJ with the 2.5L as well as a ’97 XJ with the 4.0L. I love them both, and I love both engines.

I want to build a nice YJ and keep the 2.5L since is so much fun. I also live in Florida, so there are not many hills or rocks around here (different from Brazil, where I’m originally from). Of course, I want to keep my cost as low as possible, but I also want to have a great rig that can get the job done. In the future I want to add 35s, but for that I would need to have low gears in the diffs, and 4.88 won’t do it. What I’m looking for are 5.38s. 

My question is, are there any front and rear axles that you could recommend that already have low gears and would be a good swap for the YJ? I’m trying to avoid the high cost and time consumption of rebuilding a complete axle. Yeah, I’m also trying to avoid the price of the aftermarket axles. Find me a magic bullet!

I would love to have a ’78-’79 Dana 44/Ford 9-inch combo for my YJ, but I’m not sure if that would be something really cost effective.

I really have a huge timeframe to search and look for those perfect axles. But if they don’t exist, I’ll just swap a welded Ford 8.8 in the rear, regear them to 4.88, and have some 33s instead of those 35s. I remember Hazel telling me that he was waiting for the Dana 30/35 combo on his Why-J project to die before swapping in some JK Dana 44s. I can’t wait to see that too, since I’m planning to purchase a JK Unlimited in the next few years. One of the pipe-dream plans for the new JK is putting front and rear Dynatrac Dana 60s under it. So maybe I could use those Dana 44s on the YJ. Hmmm! It could work!
Philip Leake
Via email

Philip, didn’t I just talk to you? I too fought this battle with the No Lift TJ project. It was a four-banger and was pretty light because of the fiberglass 4 Wheelers Supply hood and bare-bones interior. It needed lower gears badly to cope with the 35-inch tires. I eventually built a low-geared (numerically high) Wagoneer Dana 44 front and an Isuzu Dana 44 for the rear. Both axles were great, and darn near bulletproof in my TJ, but they were no bantam weights. A 9-inch Ford would be great for the rear and can be built pretty light with aluminum parts. Up front, a high-pinion Ford Dana 44 might be a good compromise of strength and weight, but it’s still gonna be pretty heavy as compared to the factory Dana 30. Short of full custom axles, used JK axles may be the lightest and strongest axles available, but they have a reputation for bending relatively easily, so make sure you work on strengthening the housings and inner knuckles. And don’t forget, only the Rubicon models get the front Dana 44. The pedestrian JK comes with a Dana 30, which puts you right where you are now regarding gear selection. Another option would be to look for a set of TJ Rubicon axles that can be geared with 5.38s and with some RCV shafts. If you gusset the tubes, it would be much stronger than the stock Dana 30/35 combo. But keep your eyes glued to Jp in the coming months for some other axle swap ideas we’re working on.

Jp’s Bender
Was looking to see if anyone had any suggestions for a manual tubing bender? I am looking to do bumpers, sliders, and so forth. Let me know, fellas!
1badXJ forum

I bought a well-used JD Squared ( Model 3 bender a couple years back. I know John Cappa, Jp’s former editor, has been using his Model 3 for something like 15 years. He has used it on many of the Jp rigs built over the past few years. Editor Hazel has also been using a Model 3 bender he got from M-Tech Supply ( for over 10 years. He’s built more than five full roll cages, countless bumper, crossmember, and other projects with it and it’s still going strong. Model 3s work well, are relatively affordable, and you can get all kinds of dies for them. JD Squared has recently developed an upgraded version of the old workhorse with a few additional features and heavier construction for $100 more, called the Model 32.

Laredo Pricing
Do you know someone who could give me some kind of ballpark pricing on this Jeep? A friend asked me to help him price his ’85 CJ-7. Any help would be greatly appreciated as I am a YJ owner.

Stats are: ‘85 CJ7 Laredo with 57,000 miles. It was garage-kept for 21 years and has no rust anywhere on the frame or body. The exterior, interior, and drivetrain are in stock condition. It has a 258-cube, inline-six, a T-4 four-speed manual, and a Dana 300 T-case. A Dana 20 rear, and a Dana 35 front with (I believe) 3.73 or 3.54 gears round out the drivetrain. The paint in great condition and it has manual locking hubs, full doors, and a soft top. The engine runs a little rough and stalls out, but it’s nothing I believe a tune-up could not fix.
Jimmy Hill
Via email

Wow that CJ-7 looks pretty darn clean and all original. Stuff like the hardtop and full hard doors adds value, as does A/C if it has it. Gearing is probably anywhere from 2.73 to 3.54. I doubt it has 3.73s unless it’s been regeared.

It’s hard to peg an exact price. Before seeing the photos I’d have said $4,000-$6,000. After seeing ’em, I’d say put it on eBay with a reserve of $9,000 and see where it goes. There’s a good possibility it could go much higher, but the market for vintage Jeeps has kinda softened up in the past couple years.

Also you can check out the inventory at to give you an idea of the extreme high end of the spectrum. Most of those Jeeps have undergone a full frame-off restoration at those prices, but there appears to be a market willing to pay for a stock, unmolested version. Since his has low miles and was garage-kept, so much the better.

Just so you know the front axle is gonna be a Dana 30 and the rear is an AMC Model 20. The frames on CJ-7s were boxed from the factory, but they get a bad rap because they tend to rust back east, and are prone to stress cracks when wheeled lots or with big tires. The 258 is a pretty stout engine, but they were plagued with a crappy Carter BBD carb that make stalling and rough running a rule. There are several options to remedy this from adding a new Weber or Motorcraft 2100 carb, or upgrading the whole fuel system to either a TBI injection system like one from Howell Engine Developments ( or a multiport fuel-injection system like those from Mopar Performance (mopar

Trust Us! We’re Junxperts!
I’m looking for a ’70s Wagoneer, Cherokee, Commando, and/or a CJ-3A or CJ-3B. The auto trading sites are little help, so I was hoping you might have some other resources that I could tap.
Joe Thomas
Friendswood, TX

I normally use one of the following:,,, or

I know people have success on eBay, but I don’t particularly care for that site. Sometimes if you are lucky you can find a deal, but there are many scammers and people with a falsely inflated opinion of their stuff. I prefer Craigslist and I usually try searching for things like “Kaiser,” “AMC,” “Jeep project,” “Jeep, needs work,” and so on. Don’t forget to search for misspelled Jeep related words like Willis, Willyz, (be careful with searches for willy), and others. You may just get to see ads that few others have seen. Be patient and have a list of options or features you must have. Also the for sale area of local off-road club forums can occasionally hold nice rigs that enthusiasts want to sell to other enthusiasts, but your seller will probably know what he or she has and may get many offers from other Jeep nuts.

Normally, I’ll find what I’m looking for on one of these sites, but you could also try,, or just do a Google search and see where that takes you. Also since you are in Tejas, you could also check out Collin’s Brothers Jeep ( for parts or nicely restored unique Jeeps. Prices might be a bit higher on their restored rigs, but you can be confident that the quality is there.

Budget No-Lift YJ?
I just bought an ’88 YJ. It has the 4.2L engine with an automatic tranny and everything else stock. I have put a Weber carb and HEI on it. What’s my next step? I want to build it for moderate trails while still keeping it drivable and safe in town. I would like to lift it 4 inches and run 34s. There are so many differing opinions out there about whether the stock equipment will hold up and what other modifications are necessary to make a setup like this reliable. Eventually I can see axle swaps and gearing changes, but for now impatience to get it dirty (and no money to spend) puts these plans on the back burner.
Todd Young
Via email

Todd, It sounds like you are headed down the right road. If I were you, I’d look into some 31s or 32s until you can toss some bigger axles (at least for the rear) in your YJ. I like low-slung Wranglers; they look cool, work well, and drive great on-road. I know a properly cut-up YJ could easily run 33s or 34s. Maybe even more with lift shackles and/or a 1- or 2-inch body lift. Practically any 4-inch YJ spring will be either costly or stiff. Trimming the fenders and body tub for bigger tires should be pretty easy with a jigsaw running a metal blade or an air saw. Adding TJ flares will provide space for larger rubber in the rear. The front is a little more complex, but you should be able to research “poor man’s highline front fenders” on the Internet. This will give you an idea of how to cheaply cut the hood and raise those front fenders for larger tires. Also, there are several high-line style front fenders in steel, aluminum, and as kits. In my opinion, other must-haves for any Wrangler that’s gonna get wheeled are some good rocker guards and a rollcage tied to the frame. Trust me, you can easily ugly up a nice Wrangler’s rockers and catastrophically roll even a stock Jeep.

Lookin’ Fer a Locker
I am looking to get a locker for my Wrangler TJ. It is used for commuting and some off-road use. I have so far considered two lockers: the ARB Air Locker and the Eaton Detroit Truetrac. These are obviously totally different, but they’re both good. The ARB pros are: The performance, doesn’t affect gas mileage and it’s very strong. The ARB cons: it’s expensive (I would only be able to buy one), the air lines are vulnerable, and it requires some kind of onboard air compressor. The Truetrac pros are: pretty good street performance, decent off-road performance, and cheaper price (I would buy two of them). The Truetrac cons are: slightly lower gas mileage, it’s not a true locker, it has little pieces that can break.

Obviously you know the pros and cons, but those are the ones I am most considering. By the way, I do know the Truetrac is a limited slip. So which one do you think would be better for me
Wyandotte, MI

Well it depends on what you want to do with your rig off-road, the on-road conditions you will experience, and your tire size. I know several career off-roaders who shy away from ARBs because if they do fail, they fail to an open differential. However, personally I have had great experiences with them both in front and rear axles of a daily-driven XJ and in the front of my ’49 CJ-3A rockcrawler. I only ever had one problem with any of these three ARBs and it was my fault. I inadvertently knocked off one of the wires to the ARB’s compressor pressure switch. The compressor would not come on, so no locker. I also love being able to wheel with an open diff. Automatic lockers make the driver lazy and many otherwise-fun obstacles feel too easy. The ARB Air Locker cost is high, but if installed properly, they are quite reliable and it’s hard to smirk at the traction of a spool when locked. They’re also brutally strong. Also, having on-board air is something you should contemplate in any Jeep that gets used frequently off-road anyway!

Honestly I have less experience with limited slips like the Truetrac, but Editor Hazel is a big fan … and he’s pretty hard on stuff off-road. Most of my experience with limited slips is that they work great on-road, but too easily allow differential action if you lift a tire off-road. A tight limited slip is definitely better than an open differential, but never will provide the traction of a locker. If you have a Dana 35, I would hesitate to run any locker with tires much larger than a 31 or 32. You may break an axleshaft and that will leave you stranded unless you have a spare shaft. The Dana 30 front axle in your TJ is a bit stronger, but running an ARB and 33-inch tires is about the limit for the stock Dana 30 shafts and U-joints if you get abusive.

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