Question: I was at a car show and noticed that one of the vehicles in it had a small screen that looked to be for a DVD player. Later, I found out that it was fed by a camera mounted at the rear of the vehicle, like a miniature version of those used on the back of huge motorhomes. I think something like that would be cool for trail use. But just where can I get one?
Answer: I agree that they are pretty darn cool, especially in a vehicle with limited rearward vision, either due to vehicle design or added-on accessories like a high-mounted spare tire. There are a couple of sources that I am aware of: Hitch Cam Reverse Safety Systems (323/924-4482, www.hitchcam.com) offers a very small camera that actually mounts within the socket of a receiver hitch and uses a special rearview mirror as a screen. The other is a full screen, most likely similar if not the same one as you saw, made by the same people that bring us those great lights, Hella (770/631-7500, www.hellausa.com).
Question: How difficult would it be to swap the 2.5L in my '95 YJ to a 4.0L? What would I have to change? Coming up with the money and parts is no problem, but finding a place that can give me a straight answer is. I realize that mounts need to be changed and the 4.0L I'm getting is coming with all the wiring harnesses and the "brain" as well. It's coming out of a YJ of the same year that had been involved in a bad accident. Everything from the rear axles on up is in very good condition.
Answer: It sounds like you came up with a great donor vehicle. The five-speed transmission from your four-cylinder engine will not work with the 4.0L motor, and the five-speed Peugeot transmission has a bad reputation and is expensive to rebuild. Hopefully, the new engine was in front of the Chrysler-built 999 automatic, which would be my choice.
I think that the best bet would be to buy the complete crashed Jeep and then sell off the parts that you don't need. This way, you can have the radiator and its mounting system, the motor mounts, the motor, transmission and transfer case, as well as driveshafts for the swap. And yes, you will need the complete wiring harness and the computer.
Question: I was recently given an '87 Jeep XJ by a customer at work. My original plan was to sell it, but after wheeling in it a couple of nights, I'm keeping it. I was wondering what sort of cheap upgrades I can put on it to enhance its trail capabilities. We have already fashioned a snorkel out of Wrangler, Cherokee, and PVC parts. I also picked up a set of 33x12.50 BFG A/Ts and am looking at about 5 inches of lift. We added lights, a "custom" push bumper, a lot of chain, shackles, and two "come-alongs." The vehicle will never see blacktop again, so road legality is not a concern. I am looking for some tips and advice on how to get the fullest potential out of the Jeep without putting excessive money into it
Cape May, NJ
Answer: The question of "excessive dollars" is a tough one. What may be excessive to one person is nothing to another. Well, hopefully yours came with the towing package and, along with it, the Dana 44 rearend. Otherwise, with the Dana 35 rear, you'd better plan on carrying a couple of extra axleshafts along with you if you plan to run 33-inch tires. It's not a matter of if it will break, but when it will break!
Superior Axle & Gear makes an upgrade set of axles but they must be used with an Ox Locker or an ARB, both of which are not "cheap" upgrades. Some of the early 9- and 8-inch Ford axles are the proper width with the proper bolt pattern, and the Ford 8.8 Ranger pickup axle is also a good choice.
Rusty's Off Road (www.rustysoffroad.com) offers several low-cost lifts that consist of coil spacers or new coils for the front, and add-a-leaves for the rear. This way, you can use your stock rear springs. You're also going to have to get busy with the saw and open up the fenderwells with only a 3-inch lift. In reality, 5 inches of lift will require a long-arm suspension kit to work properly. These run in the $2,000 range-most likely more than the Cherokee is worth. When you try to get 5 inches out of a short-arm kit, the front arm's downward angles get pretty weird, and the front axle actually has to move forward as it makes an uptravel sweep. This plays heck with not only the ride quality but puts some pretty tremendous loads on the suspension pick-up points. Bushwacker makes some really nice cutout-style fender flares, but for a low-cost rig that will not see the pavement, maybe you can forgo them and just hack away at the fenders.