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Joezilla

Lifting the Jeep

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It has been sitting there as a reminder of  all the things I need to finish. Too many projects...story of my life. Story of too many lives on the forums here.  After the TJ was totaled, I promised myself I would do this smart. With the money I was able to obtain a gas sipping civic, capable of going up north to visit family in Ohio and Penn, down south to Florida, and  able to go to more northern and western gatherings without making me whine all the time about gas. The other vehicle, the bug out vehicle... Ideally I wanted another TJ, a 2006 model unlimited with a hard top, preferably in the rubicon package, but that cost way to much and I'm a penny pusher. I settled on a Cherokee, something I always loved however never really thought about  until then. It was almost like my old wrangler, same familiar engine, axle in the front was something I've dealt with. I would have to get over the longer wheelbase, but I could have cell phone conversations with Keith without the flapping of my soft top. Plus it came with an alarm, and I leave my jeep days on end in parking lots when backpacking.

So, enter the Cherokee. I wanted to build it smart. I don't know if I even came close to achieving that here in the long run. I started accumulating gear. The first thing was of course a K&N. I put one in the civic too. I was able to get my old optima red top from the totaled wrangler and put that in.

 

Went on NC4x4 and picked up an ARB bumper for dirt cheap. Its large and ominous looking, may not have good clearance for rocks, but it WILL clear trees out of the way when I do odd camping activities and it clears deer from the road with minimal damage.

 

I then went to four-wheel parts and got 100w for the front bumper. Originally I had thought I would put all four lights on the front bumper but the lights that I had left over from the wrangler wouldn't fit. I had to put them up on top, drilling through my thule rack.

Oh yeah, I found a Thule rack in the dumpster that worked well for holding the canoe.

I spread apart the lights far enough so I could still fit my canoe on there, but I don't like the lights up on top and may move them to the cowl thingee near the front where my old wrangler ones used to be.

 

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I need optimum light setup for snake hunting. I installed these lights on the back too for turning on after we pass snakes on the road.  Normally we spot them with the big lights, after we pass em we run out in the back, dangling spot lights behind us. These new lights on the back help. They also do well for wheeling (duh) at night, lighting up camp pretty easily, and really pissing off tailgaiters. I may move them to the sides of the bumper. I find myself having to get access to camping gear in the back most of the time so it messes up the light use. I did short one out once when I slammed the gate to hard. But we were dealing with a 12 foot python in the everglades, so I'll just blame it on adrenaline.  If I do move the lights to the bumper, I'll wait until I get a better bumper. I'm really hoping on one with a 5th tire carrier and will rig it to that methinks. Who knows, options for your options when one works now right.

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After surfing jeep forums and asking around price wise, I decided that a 4.5" lift would best suit my needs. This thing isn't going to be my daily driver so I didn't need to worry about comfort as much, but I didn't want to make Jeepzilla with 35" tires, drool inspiring as they are. So after some thought, I went with rough country, and I've never been happier.  The guys on jeepforums told me contact Jason from rough country. I talked to him on the phone, a jovial good ol boy with a Cherokee himself. He helped me pick the parts and components I needed, and then some.  I wanted a 4.5 spring pack to prevent sagging, and I wanted sway bar disconnects too. He was also able to convince me to get some rock sliders, a diff cover, and a dampener. It wasn't hard with the prices he gave me too, I was able to budget all that out at way less what it would cost for just a lift kit alone from other companies. I didn't see anyone complaining about rough country parts too, so it seemed like a sure deal. In the end, I still had money left for a SYE. I decided not to get one and just hold onto the money, trying the transmission drop and seeing how that goes for a while and then getting the slip yolk eliminator later if the vibrations got bad. I intended on putting super swampers on anyway (remember, not daily driver) so there were going to be vibrations no matter what I did.

 

So I got the packages in the mail, holy crap. The UPS driver almost threw out his back, complaining this was nothing like the normal knife packages I received. I grinned as I signed the release. One of the leaf spring packs came broken, due to UPS handling. I called rough country up and they had a new spring within 2 DAYS. I couldn't believe the customer service from those guys.  UPS came by later and picked up the damage spring pack.

 

All this came in the beginning of December, right when I was getting ready for a snake hunting trip. Since we had five guys going on this trip down to Fla, we opted to take the okee, and for gas mileage purposes, I abstained from putting on the lift.  I put the bumper on and installed all the lighting at that point, and put the diff cover on for chits and giggles.  Cherokee did FANTASTIC for a ride on the trip, everything basically worked great, some lighting issues but nothing we couldn't fix. Didn't wheel too hard down there but did get to play.  Got back, went on trips just about every weekend or so, seeing family and helping the Dad build the house. All in the mean time, the lift sat there taunting me with promise of wheeling fun. OK, I couldn't wait anymore, the days were getting longer and the weather, better to work on and hotter. I set a whole weekend aside and got to it.

 

 

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Diff cover

 

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Came with tough bolts.

I painted Red letters for chits.

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LCAs

 

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I greased the crap out of everything. It helps after I break it later.

 

I won't spare you on the intricate details of the installation. I only have very humble mechanic skills, and have only fixed or worked on what I have either broken or installed, so that is about all I know. The directions though were distinct. I had to call in regards to a part that Saturday and was surprised when someone picked up. He replied "of course we are open now, who installs a lift kit during the week?" He was right, the time people would probably need the most tech assistance was on the weekend.Turns out the reason I called was a dull point too, as they included both the u bolts for a dana 44 and a 8.25 in the package. Score!

 

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Well, the usual trials and tribulations of installing a lift on a cherokee. Sway bar stud nut bolt had to be pushed out with a gear puller.

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Shock mount bolt broke, but that was a very quick fix with a bolt fished through the back on a magnet and pulled through with another. Both of these remedies I found on jeepforums.

 

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Brake line bracket. might invest in a new SS line later.

 

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Half way done, I could be a hit in Mexico.

 

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rear spring pack

 

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Stock coils next to new ones. Yeepppaww.

 

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The directions didn't talk about installing the coils with a spring compressor. My new coils were so large I couldn't imagine doing it without one. Also, about 2 hours into the install I went and got the air tools from a buddy and an air compressor from my wood shop. OOOOOOOOHHHHH the glory of air tools, the sound of the impact wrench.

 

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Coil and rough country  sway bar disconnects.

 

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with the 31s on there...

 

 

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I also owe a special thanks to those who told me to go through and thoroughly coat everything in penetrating oil a week before hand. That helped out immensely. I still had to break out the sledge hammer, but who doesn't.

 

The biggest woe of the whole install was the transmission stud nut. They wanted you to use a two nut method of extraction. That worked on one side but not the other. I went out and bought a mapp gas torch and heated it, and used vice grips, working from side to side, to loosen it. Worked like a charm. I also found that remedy on jeep forums, once again, thanks guys!!!!

 

 

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One thing I am pissed about. I got lazy and cut through the  stock sway bar connects  with the sawzall for fun, and left them there as I went about some other business. When I made the cut I left about a 45 degree cut. Wasn't paying attention and the point made its present known with a very deep puncture wound. Horay for butterfly bandanges!  I'm not worried about the cut, BUT THE SON OF A &*%^#@ TORE MY &%$#@*&( CARHARTTS.  ARGGG.

 

The almost finished product

 

 

FROM:

 

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To

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32" x 9.5 super swampers. Louder than any other mudders I've had.

 

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I painted the shocks and dampener black and OD. The used to be white but it clashed with the rest of the jeep.

 

This weekend the rough country rock sliders go on. I also have a transmission skid plate from skid row for the bottom. I'll post pics up as soon as they are done.

 

 

So far I'm happy with it. Less than 30 miles total on the lift. I've had to do a little tightening and of course take it to go get it aligned. I had 31s on there but couldn't wait, the 32s in the back yard seemed so crunchy, I had to get them on there and sell the 31s. Anyone need a set of tacoma rims?

 

More news after I take it for some quick initial wheeling this Sunday.

 

 

http://www.jeepforum.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=11

 

http://www.rcjeepliftkits.com/

 

 

 

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So finishing up the heep, I added rough country rock sliders, and a skid row transmission skid plate

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Like any good piece of gear, I had to test it before I put it on.

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It will give some good cover for some of the more major parts. And give me something to slide on for the funk.

 

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Applied a new coat of paint this weekend and we are ready to roll!

 

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This quick review is for the Rough Country XJ rock sliders.

 

They mount to the frame on both sides of the Cherokee using 3/8” self tapping screws. You basically put the sliders up there, mark, and drill the hole. Total install time is about an hour, took me about an 1 and 30 mins  working alone. 3 jack stands were utilized to position each one and the main shop jack to move it around to the best spot. The instructions give you basic measurements on the placement behind the LCA, but you fine tune it yourself to suit your vehicle

 

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You want to torque it just using hand tools since it’s a self tapper. It is still pretty strong though. You can jack at either connection point. I’ve used the highlift on each side about three times since I got it, to get me out of some rough spots. No cracking sounds or stressing on the bolts where tey were in the frame. I talked with one of the rough country guys and he said he righted his flipped rig , attaching a strap to one of these. If you are still wondering how tough they are, then I would go mount an eyebeam to the side of the rig. I don’t go crawling too often, so this suits the needs for basic side protection for me. The price was right, I paid less than the $269.95 MSRP.

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I’m very happy with the initial results so far. I’ve rocked it on a few rocks and bounced off a pipe with no damage.  If there are any problems that arise, I’ll be sure to post them in this thread, but for right now, I’m sold and happy!

 

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I am SO JEALOUS!  I want to lift my Ranger.  There is only two problems.....I don't have the $$ and I have no clue what I am doing. 

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Joe, WOW!  What a turn around.  That thing is awesome.  Machine is jealous. lol

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