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The Rescued Jeep Wrangler - Part 9

Posted in Project Vehicles on June 9, 2014
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A little over a year ago, we introduced you to our ’95 Jeep Wrangler YJ project, which we dubbed the Rescued Jeep Wrangler. When we first found the YJ, it already had the 2½-ton Rockwell axles, but was far from a finished wheeler. As is the case in the world of off-road rig building, the original owner got a tad over ambitious, and as the years rolled on, he became less and less interested in finishing the build. We were fortunate to get the Wrangler for a great deal, but we knew that it would take a fair amount of time and resources to get the rig finished correctly.

To aid in the resurrection process, we dragged the YJ to the Jeep gurus at Low Range 4x4 in Wilmington, North Carolina. Working alongside Low Range owner Kelly Carter and his talented crew, we transformed the once-abandoned Wrangler into the wheeler you see here today. From the beginning, our goal for the YJ was simple -- spend where we needed, save where we could. In areas like our suspension, we saved big by using basic Jeep Wrangler TJ coil springs and Zone Offroad shocks. This led us to splurge on more performance-oriented parts like our Ouverson pinion brakes and PSC Motorsports fully hydraulic steering.

The entire build has been an exercise in balancing dollar-smart upgrades and worthwhile high-end components. Since we last reported on the YJ, we’ve had a little time to test and tune the Jeep. One area we really enjoyed wheeling the Jeep Wrangler was The Flats in Marion, North Carolina. Many of you have probably sped past The Flats off-road park on Interstate 40 and never knew the 4x4 playground was hidden on the mountainside. With roughly 70 acres of wheeling land, it made for a great setting to test the YJ off-road.

Overall, we are incredibly pleased with how well the Jeep works. It’s easy to drive on the trail, very predictable, and despite being a touch underpowered at times, still has enough to be versatile. The rig could definitely benefit from a beefier bellypan as the stock one has taken a beating, and since it had sat for so many years, we found some of the seals were pretty shot. Sans a few leaking components, we can’t point to any other items we would want to swap out or replace at this time. At the end of the day, we’re stoked to give this once forgotten Jeep a new lease on life.

Now fit with a 110-inch wheelbase and 95½-inch track width, the YJ felt extremely stable on hill climbs and off-camber obstacles. Maneuvering through the woods takes a bit more planning, but we never found the size of the Jeep to be a major hindrance.

Effortless is the best way we can described the YJ’s steering. The PSC Motorsports fully hydraulic setup isn’t something that we would suggest for street-driven Jeeps, but off-road, it makes a day on the trail easy on the arms. The speed at which you can work the wheel takes a little getting used to, but once you have it dialed, it’s great.

We wouldn’t classify our Wrangler’s suspension as ultra trick or long travel, but it flat works great. The 3½-inch–lift BDS Suspension TJ coil springs never felt overly soft, and the Zone shocks were adequate for the type of trail riding we are doing. The two unsung heroes of the suspension were the Daystar bumpstops and Trail-Gear limit straps. Both suspension stops were constantly in play and performed exactly as they were intended.

The stock 4.0L isn’t an extreme powerhouse, especially when paired behind the three-speed automatic transmission. While we had enough power in low range to get the tires spinning, we would often run out of steam on longer hillclimbs. This led us to using our Warn 10,000-pound VR-series winch a few times during the day.

Our weekend at The Flats was a wet one. We aired down the YJ’s 44-inch Pit Bull Rockers to 3 psi to help grab more traction over the slick trails. Despite grinding our Off-Road Connection–sourced beadlock wheels more than once against the boulder-lined trails, we never lost a bead. Overall, we were impressed with the Rockers in the mud and rocks. Once the sidewalls break in a little more, we expect they will perform even better.

1995 Jeep Wrangler
Build time: 1-year
Engine: 4.0L Jeep I-6
Transmission: TorqueFlite 999
Transfer case(s): NP231 w/Tom Woods SYE
Low range ratio(s): 2.72:1
Front axle/differential: 2½-ton Rockwell/Grizzly Locker, 6.72:1 gears
Rear axle/differential: 2½-ton Rockwell/Grizzly Locker, 6.72:1 gears
Front suspension: Four-link w/track bar, Currie Johnny Joints, Ballistic Fab coil, shock, & radius arm mounts, EVO Mfg. frame-side control arm mounts, BDS Suspension 3½-in-lift TJ coils, Zone Offroad shocks, Daystar bumpstops
Rear suspension: Four-link w/triangulated uppers, Currie Johnny Joints, Ballistic Fab axle mounts, EVO Mfg. frame-side suspension brackets, BDS Suspension 3½-in-lift TJ coils Zone Offroad shocks, Daystar bumpstops
Steering: PSC Motorsports full-hydraulic double-ended ram
Tires: 44x19.50-15LT Pitbull Rocker
Wheels: 15x12 Off-Road Connection
Armor: Poison Spyder Customs front bumper, fenders, and rocker guards
Misc: Ouverson pinion brakes, Warn 10,000lb VR-series winch, Rugged Ridge high-back vinyl seats, GenRight 23-gal gas tank, Tom Wood's driveshafts


Currie Enterprises
Corona, CA 92880
Phoenix, AZ 85043
GenRight Off-Road
Simi Valley, CA 93063
Fresno, CA 93727
Pit Bull Tires
St. Louis, MO 63103
PSC Motorsports
Azle, TX 76020
Warn Industries
Clackamas, OR 97015
Poison Spyder Customs
Banning, CA 92220
Low Range 4x4
Wilimington, NC 28412
Zone Offroad Products
Ballistic Fabrication
Tucson, AZ
Off-Road Connection
BDS Suspension
Tom Wood's Custom Drive Shafts
Ouverson Engineering and Machine
EVO Manufacturing

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