We were cruising right along where we left off in the August issue. We got the Jeep to flex almost 24 inches in the driveway, and decided to notch the frame to clear the high-steer drag link. We cut not more than 1/3 of the way into the frame, per GenRight Off Road’s recommendation, and welded in a 3-inch-diameter, 0.250-wall DOM tube. That gave us the clearance for the over-the-knuckle mount and the super-high drag link. Then life happened. This build was supposed to be a month-by-month series, but many of you probably noticed there was no installation last month. That’s because Jp’s northern headquarters was threatened by the Powerhouse fire, leaving Trasborg dodging flames and ash while parts deliveries were suspended for a week.
Now that the flames have been tamed and the parts started showing up again, we were able to get back on the project. Of course, it gets a new coat of ash every day, and you’ll see that in some of the photos. But now that we’ve got most of the major components in the Jeep and the lion’s share of the welding and grinding done, we are able to run fluid lines. The worst thing you can do is run hoses right past where you need to weld a shock tower on—so we held off until now.
In this installation of Big Mini, we fix some things we didn’t like in the brake system and button it up. We mount coolers for the transmission, power steering, and engine oil, and string up those hoses. And, we’ll share the routing of our hydroboosted, cooled, and rammed power steering system. Then, we fill everything with fluid to get it one step closer to running and driving.
Step By Step
1. We started up at the top by tossing the factory proportioning valve in favor of a Wilwood Combination Proportioning Valve (PN 260-11179). You always want 100 percent of the braking force going to the front brakes, but not the rear. If you have too much force to the rear brakes, they will lock up on you and send you into a skid. With all the modifications we’ve made to this Jeep, it was anyone’s guess how much force would be needed, hence the knob to adjust force to the rear brakes.
2. Jeep used assorted sizes of ferrules to plug into the factory proportioning valve. The Wilwood unit has all of the ports set up to receive the same size: 3⁄8-inch with 24 threads per inch. Fortunately, despite the various ferrule sizes from the factory, the lines are the same size and Wilwood provides new ferrules. So, using Summit Racing’s Double Flare Tool (PN SUM-900310), we were able to cut the lines (always use a tubing cutter), remove the goofy sized ferrules, and put on the new ones supplied by Wilwood.
3. Moving on from there, we went down to the flexible lines. We had braided stainless lines on the Jeep that had been handed down from another project, but they were just too short. Most of the off-the-shelf lines we found online were too short for the amount of droop we have. So we went to Techna-Fit for longer lines for both front and rear, as well as a rear T-junction and flex lines to the rear calipers. One thing we really appreciate about these lines is that the end that goes to the frame turns, making installation that much easier.
4. This Jeep was a salvage Jeep when we got it, and we are slowly bringing it back to life. One of the little things that it no longer had was the frame-side bracket to retain the flexible line. So, we got a couple of tabs and retaining clips from Currie Enterprises and welded them on. They are intended to go along with the company’s axles for rear disc brakes, but they worked great for us here, too.
5. Another of those salvage Jeep things that bit us was that someone in the past had cut the rear hard brake line off past the ferrule. Fortunately, we had a frame that just happened to have that rear brake line on it. Unfortunately, it sat out in the elements for so long the ferrule was rusted to the line. So, we let it soak in PB Blaster, and after a couple of days we could turn it. After a week, it was clean and ready to be installed.
6. Once we were able to attach the flexible line to the frame side, we needed somewhere for it to go on the axle side. We used Techna-Fit’s T-block and cut the head off a bolt and welded it to the rear axle. We were then able to bolt the T-block to the axle and finish running the flex line. Techna-Fit also has extreme heavy-duty lines that feature an additional layer of Kevlar, but we weren’t able to use them because of the fittings we needed at the calipers.
7. At the ends of the axle, when it was built originally, Currie supplied us with flexible brake lines, weld-on tabs, and clips. However, due to our pinion angle and lower shock mounts, we had some issues getting the lines to bolt up. And, even after we did, we were still worried they might get clipped by the shock. Techna-Fit didn’t have a problem with that at all—they were able to get us lines with a round fitting (so it can be clocked on the caliper if needed) that fed into a 90-degree bend. That allowed us to route the line further away from the shock.
8. We then turned our attention back to the front of the Jeep and GenRight Off Road’s transmission cooler kit. If you want your automatic transmission to live off-road, you better keep it cool. The kit features a large heavy-duty Griffin transmission cooler, mounts that fit a YJ grille perfectly and bolt directly to the Griffin cooler and also comes with 25 feet of hose, two 90-degree -6AN to 3⁄8-inch barb fittings (Redhorse Performance PN 2090-06-2), and all the hardware you need to mount it. However, you still have to drill holes, and here we are marking where we will need to drill.
9. The 90-degree fittings swivel, and that means we can make sure it points in the correct direction without over- or under-tightening the fitting to the cooler. It also means that we have to hold the swivel in the direction we want it to go while we tighten it up. Transmission fittings aren’t included because there are so many variables. So we went with Summit Racing 1⁄4 NPS adapter (PN SUM-220027). If we tried to put an NPT fitting into our 4L60E, we’d likely crack the case. From there we used a Derale -6 AN to 3⁄8-inch barb fitting (PN DER-98200) that we also got from Summit.
10. We were worried about air going around the radiator rather than going through it. The gaps around our radiator were simply epic, and we needed a way to channel the air through it. GenRight sells an air deflector kit to fix the problem consisting of pieces of ABS cut to fit a YJ grille, rivets, hardware, 1x1-inch foam rubber, and a cool-looking aluminum plate to finish off the top. Here, we are marking one of the panels to trim it to fit around our transmission cooler.
11. Here you get an idea of how it works. The foam will compress when the radiator is back on the grille, and the ABS plastic gives the air no choice but to go through the radiator. This will help us a lot on the highway and in faster off-road sections where the electric fan alone might not pull enough air through the radiator. There is also a bottom piece of ABS that isn’t attached yet in this picture.
12. We have a cross-flow radiator in this Jeep rather than the down-flow that many YJs have, but GenRight had a top cover to fit our application. The top cover is a neat piece in that it has to dodge the hood latch, leave space for the prop rod, and get as close to the radiator as possible without actually touching it. We actually had to trim just a hair off that right corner at the tank where the weld of the tank hit the panel. We’ve tried to cobble together something like this kit in the past and have not come anywhere near having something as good looking or effective.
13. We tried early on to get some inner fenders to fit our old GenRight YJ tube fenders with no luck. As it turns out, a TJ Hi-Fender inner fender set worked very well with our early YJ Hi-Fenders, and we finally had somewhere to mount stuff to.
14. When we actually got around to test fitting the PSC reservoir, we realized the only way to mount it to the inner fender the way we wanted would have been to fabricate a 5-inch-tall mount. The return line out of the bottom of the reservoir needs to be higher than the PSC pump and have as straight a feed line as possible. So we ended up mounting the reservoir to the driver-side shock tower.
15. Once that was sorted, we pulled the PSC ram out to half of its 8-inch travel and figured out where to put it on the axle with the tires centered. We put it up above the chromoly tie rod for protection from rocks. We used a few good tack welds to hold it on, and tape to protect the ports and the rod from welding slag. We only tacked it for the time being because we want to cycle the steering and suspension to make sure it cleared everything before burning it home. You can also see the notch in the frame for the drag link. With the passenger tire 24 inches up in the air, the drag link clears the top of the notch by almost 1-inch.
16. Now that we had everything mounted it was time to untangle the power steering line mess. We have a power steering pump, hydroboost, power steering box, hydraulic ram, and a cooler to hook together. The red lines are pressure lines and the blue lines are return lines.
17. Royal Purple Max EZ fluid handles heat better than normal power steering fluid just in case that cooler isn’t big enough. In the meantime we’d put nothing short of the best in our transmission and fed it Royal Purple’s Max ATF out of the gate. While we were at it, we gave the engine a fresh oil filter and some Royal Purple HPS 10W-30 motor oil.
18. We used regular DOT 3 brake fluid in the brake system rather than the higher-temp DOT 5 just because it is easier to find in the back of beyond. As for the axles, Currie Enterprises provides proprietary 85W-140 hypoid gear oil when the axles go out the door. The company says that because of the added distance from the center of the pinion to the center of the axleshaft, oil with exceptionally high shear characteristics should be used for the longest life possible.