Shrinking The Caboose
Last time in "Shrink Ray TJ, Pt. 1" (Nov. '12), we introduced you to our slightly harebrained idea of making a TJ smaller and lighter rather than longer, taller, and larger. We covered how we trimmed down the front of the Jeep, making it shorter and lighter while retaining the stock wheelbase. Ultimately we were able to cut about 8-inches from the front of our ’97 SE TJ. Now our approach angle is close to zero with 33-inch tires. Well, the story doesn’t end there—we also had some different plans to modify, lighten, and beef up the caboose of our little TJ. With a little help from our friends at GenRight Off Road and a little home garage engineering we were able to trim 6 inches from the back of our TJ. The idea is similar to stretching the wheelbase of a TJ backwards, which GenRight has been doing for years. Instead we used the company’s parts to push the back of the Jeep forward, hack off some sheetmetal and increase the departure angle of the rig all while dropping a few pounds with help from PRP Seats. We also were able to add significant strength to the rear corners and rollcage of the Wrangler and cleaned up some dings and big ol’ dents our TJ had acquired after a year or so of wheeling all over the Southwest. How did we do it, how much weight did we save? Follow along and see!
As of this writing, our TJ weighs 3,520 lbs with a couple of spare axleshafts, a full top, and a 240lb driver. That’s only 140lbs more than the stock weight of our TJ when we bought it (with driver of similar weight). In all, our Shrink Ray project dropped 200 lbs from our TJ. And that’s with the addition of, bigger tires, a grille hoop, tube fenders, corner armor, heavy-duty steering, and a high-steer knuckle.