A Southern-Built YJ
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When your first wheeling trip involves you, some of your buddies, and your wifes stock dark-blue 95 YJ riding on a set of 31-inch All-Terrain tires, you will either have lots of fun or you will be so worried about how much trouble you will be in when you get home that you will never want to go wheeling again. Well, we dont know how much explaining, or worrying John Hamrick Jr. of Goldsboro, North Carolina, had to do upon returning from his first wheeling trip in his wifes Wrangler, but we do know that he was thereafter thoroughly infected with the Jeep bug. Two years later after a bunch of backyard building and a ton of wheeling trips, that stock Wrangler is now the blue 95 YJ you see before you. Gone are the days of the 31-inch All-Terrains, and although Johns wifes name still dons the title (she was apparently not that mad at him for the first outing) of what was once a stock 95 YJ, John now drives a 38.5-inch Swamper-turning Wrangler trail rig with more than a few modifications, and a couple hundred more trail miles.
Chassis & Driveline
Underneath the stock YJ frame, John has positioned a set of 79 Ford F-250 axles. The front axle is a high-pinion Dana 44 with ¾-ton Chevy discs and a Lincoln-locked 4.09-geared differential. The rear Ford axle is a Dana 60, which carries a 4.09 ring-and-pinion, and a set of ¾-ton Chevy discs on custom caliper brackets. Power from the stock 4.0L six-cylinder is first run through a Stage II Centerforce Clutch which is attached to an 85 SM465. Behind the Advance Adapter-adapted transmission lives a Down East Offroad flipped Dana 300 in place of the failed NP231. The stock-geared 2.61 transfer case sends power down custom driveshafts en route to the two Ford axles. A 2 ½-inch exhaust attached to a Flowmaster muffler helps send waste gases on their way while air enters the 4.0L six through a K&N air filter.
The YJs body posture is the result of a 2-inch body lift and a spring-over axle lift using 4-inch Explorer Pro Comp YJ springs. Rebound and flex are slowed by Explorer Pro Comp shocks while steering duties fall on the stock Jeep box.
Body & Interior
To keep the blue Wranglers interior safe and comfortable, John added a Smittybilt weld-in cage kit for a CJ-7, a Grant steering wheel, an Alpine CD player, and a CB radio to keep in touch. The outside of the YJ is protected by a set of homebuilt custom bumpers, and rock sliders for the Jeeps rockers. Up front, a Warn winch sits atop the bumper in case of Southern Mud stuckage.
Wheels & Tires
To carry the 95 YJ up and over the Souths slickest and biggest mud-covered rock trails, John opted for a set of four 16/38.5-15LT Interco Super Swamper TSLs on a set of recently painted black American Racing wagon wheels. This setup gives the Wrangler the necessary traction, height, and durability as well as a tough look.
Good, Bad & What It's For
Big tires, stout drivetrain, and skillful driving powered this YJ up some of the slickest Tellico trails we have seen. The whole Jeep seems to work well because of the combination of parts that work. We too share Johns interest in changing his Jeep to run 44-inch Boggers and a V-8. That should make the YJ a force to be reckoned with on almost any Southeastern trail.
What We Think
This Jeep shows that tried-and-true equipment, some do-it-yourself ingenuity, and a little help from your friends can result in a sweet Jeep that works without the need for a bank heist.