When it comes to building a project vehicle, we are always looking for ways to challenge our minds, but not our bank accounts. It’s sort of like those choose your own adventure books that you read as a child. If you put X part here, then you’ll have to make room for Y part there. Building our latest ’95 Jeep Wrangler project vehicle has been a refresher of that in many ways. Last month we introduced you to our YJ project, appropriately named the Rescued Wrangler.
For the past few years many of our personal and magazine projects have been vehicles such as fullsize trucks and SUVs that have limited aftermarket support. These types of builds force creativity, simply because there are not many options. The Rescued Wrangler project is just the opposite, as finding aftermarket parts for a Jeep is as easy as walking into your local 7-Eleven and buying a Coke.
The challenge now is to find the right parts that will still retain the budget-beater trail rig idea, without limiting the potential of the rig. With 2½-ton Rockwell axles and the stock powertrain, our Wrangler teeters on the edge of complete impracticality, but that’s OK.
Admittedly, the axles are what drew us to the project, so they are the first things that we wanted to dig into on the Jeep. In our experience, it’s hard to hurt a Rockwell axle- especially when fitted with a mild 4.0L inline-six powerplant like ours.
Using the expert help and shop space at Low Range 4x4 in Wilmington, North Carolina, we made tremendous progress for our first month of the build. In this installment we are tearing down the YJ to the basics and fitting the massive axles with a few upgrades to make them better on the trail. Next month, we’ll continue our work on the axles and make way on the other critical parts needed for this once abandoned rig to survive what we have in store.
The 2.5-ton Rockwell differential is a double-reduction gear differential which means it has two separate gearsets. The upper gearset consists of a 9-tooth pinion, which feeds a 22-tooth ring gear. This creates a 2.44:1 upper-gear ratio. This upper ratio powers the lower gearset which is comprised of a 12-tooth spur gear (also known as an intermediate gear) and massive 33-tooth bull gear. This upper ratio of 2.44:1 is multiplied by the lower ratio of 2.75:1 to provide the final 6.72:1 ratio.This gear ratio is ideal for running 44-inch and larger tires. Pictured here is a training model of the 2.5-ton Rockwell that we ran across on a recent visit to Memphis Equipment in Tennessee.