1998 Jeep Wrangler - In The Green

A Wrangler Done Right The First Time

It all started in 1996. One of Troy McClintock's friends invited him to go on a four-wheeling trip just north of Lake Berryessa, California. They took a Nissan 4x4 truck and 'wheeled through some old abandoned strip mine areas. After that, Troy was hooked. Using a Jeep Scrambler borrowed from a friend, he spent the next two years 'wheeling local trails whenever he had the chance. In 1998, he finally bought a brand-new Jeep Wrangler TJ.

With 2 inches of lift and 31-inch tires, the first thing Troy did was attend an off-road safety clinic put on by the Vacaville Cliff Hangers. From then on, he and friend Mark Hamilton spent all the time they could 'wheeling new trails. Eventually, Troy made it to his first Rubicon trail ride, running 31s and a Lock Right. Shortly thereafter, Troy launched into the project that would turn his TJ into a serious trail machine at home on the rocks.

Building this rig wasn't an overnight success story. In fact, Troy spent five years bringing his Wrangler to its current state. As a crew chief mechanic for C-5 aircraft in the Air Force, Troy was limited on funds and wanted his trail rig to turn out right the first time. Patience and commitment were the hallmarks of this project.

The Wrangler now runs a modified Rubicon Express long-arm suspension kit, and a modified Rubicon Express triangulated four-link system with 5-1/2-inch-lift RE coil springs and 2-inch spacer pucks. For stronger axles, Troy went with a Tera CRD60 center section in back that includes billet ends, Ford Explorer disc brakes, and tubes with a super structure designed and fabbed by Welder Billt to triangulate the four-link arms. The Tera 60 has 5.38 gears, an ARB Air Locker, and 35-spline Moser axles. Up front, Sean at River City Differentials pulled a Dana 44 out of a '77 Ford F-150 and equipped it with an ARB Air Locker, 5.38 gears, Warn shafts, and CTM U-joints. Steel knuckles were then installed, along with six-bolt Chevy spindles and brake calipers. It was then time for the Ford hub and rotors with a 5-on-5-1/2 bolt pattern. After the frontend was built, Bill from Welder Billt installed the Rubicon Express bracket kit. He then fabricated the track bar brackets for proper alignment and zero bumpsteer. For the steering, Welder Billt used a 1.25-inch solid steel shaft, machine-threaded to fit 7/8-inch, 18-thread, 1-ton tie-rod ends. The factory antisway bars are still in place, allowing the best street manners when cruising to the trail head. Once the suspension and axles were complete, Troy bolted on a set of the Allied 17x9-inch bead-lock Rockathon rims with BFG 37x12.50-inch Krawlers.

Under the hood, Troy added a three-row, all-steel radiator from the Radiator Barn, as well as a K&N filter, a Power Aid throttle-body spacer, a Jacobs Omni Magnum ignition, and 8.8mm Accel 300-plus race wires. For improved exhaust, a Pace Setter header with ceramic coating and a free-flow cat were added. Once the engine was humming along, Troy decided to tinker with the transfer case. This TJ now runs a Tera NP231 T-case geared to 4:1. Both driveshafts are 32 spline, with HD slip-yoke eliminators and CV 1310 joints.

To round out his rig, Troy bolted a Ramsey Platinum 9,000-pound winch to a Tomken winch mount, which is bolted to a Warn rock bumper. For rocker guards, he looked to Warn as well. He then installed a Kilby gas tank skidplate and bolted on a Garvin Wilderness rack bumper and tire swing combo. A York compressor that was picked up at a Volvo junkyard now supplies all the air on the rig, and was installed using a Kilby pulley and custom-made brackets.

After finally finishing his dream rig, Troy's been 'wheeling on the trail every chance he has. When he's not on the trail, he can be found either in someone's shop looking for new ideas about what to do next, or just doing some good old armchair 'wheeling. If you ask his wife Suzanne, though, she'll be the first to tell you that he can never seem to get enough 'wheeling time in. He's definitely hooked on the rocks.

SPECIFICATIONS
Owner/hometown: Troy McClintock/
  Sacramento, California
Year/make/model: '98 {{{Wrangler}}} TJ
Engine: 4.0L HO I-6
Transmission: AX-15
Transfer case: Tera Low 231
Frontend: Dana 44
Rearend: Tera CRD60
Suspension: Modified Rubicon
  {{{Express}}} long-arm
Wheels/tires: Allied 17x9-inch
  Rockathon bead locks/
  BFG 37x12.50-
  inch Krawlers
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