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Thread: Looking for advice/recommendations

  1. #1

    Default Looking for advice/recommendations

    Hi,
    I just picked up a new to me '97 TJ that is in good shape and I have a few questions on what you guys might recommend. First is the existing RC lift kit, it appears to be the least expensive way to get 3.5" with new springs, shocks, and spacers to drop the belly pan. It drops the pan/transmission a lot, like 1.5". Is this to avoid having to do a SYE kit with a drive shaft? I'd rather pull the spacers and install the SYE kit and driveshaft than give up 1.5" of clearance where I need it most. Would I have similar issues in the front end?
    Previous owner also replaced the gears, went with 4.88's and it feels pretty good, good combination of 33's and 4.88's with the 4-cylinder. I wanted 35's but after driving this for a bit, 35's would need taller gears and make this engine give up on me I think. It feels super light and can't wait to see how it does in the woods.
    My last question and potential upgrade is lockers for the differentials. The rear axle is a Dana 35 and a 30 up front. I was thinking locking the rear is almost mandatory and wondering how much benefit locking the front really provides. Upgrading axles I'm hoping isn't really necessary with only a 4-cyl doing the twisting and the rig seeming light, but I would appreciate any input here as well.
    Thanks in advance and I'll post a pic of the rig shortly
    Jesse
    Hers... '05 Jeep TJ 4.0 auto, 2.5" RC lift, 31" Duratrac's, SYE and driveshaft, 45k miles, relegated to getting groceries
    Mine... '97 TJ 4.0 cylinders, 5-spd, 3.5" RC lift, 33x12.5x15's, 4.88 gears, sliders, bumpers, RR winch, enough LED's to land a plane

  2. #2

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    Pics...
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    Hers... '05 Jeep TJ 4.0 auto, 2.5" RC lift, 31" Duratrac's, SYE and driveshaft, 45k miles, relegated to getting groceries
    Mine... '97 TJ 4.0 cylinders, 5-spd, 3.5" RC lift, 33x12.5x15's, 4.88 gears, sliders, bumpers, RR winch, enough LED's to land a plane

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by 96 Tahoe View Post
    Hi,
    I just picked up a new to me '97 TJ that is in good shape and I have a few questions on what you guys might recommend.
    Congrats! Another Jesse with a TJ, yay.

    First is the existing RC lift kit, it appears to be the least expensive way to get 3.5" with new springs, shocks, and spacers to drop the belly pan. It drops the pan/transmission a lot, like 1.5". Is this to avoid having to do a SYE kit with a drive shaft? I'd rather pull the spacers and install the SYE kit and driveshaft than give up 1.5" of clearance where I need it most. Would I have similar issues in the front end?
    You are correct, no need for t'case spacers with a SYE. The spacers just attempt to correct driveshaft angle with a lift. I just installed a SYE and eliminated the t'case drop. The front should be fine, even though mine is a leaf spring YJ I had no problem.


    Previous owner also replaced the gears, went with 4.88's and it feels pretty good, good combination of 33's and 4.88's with the 4-cylinder.
    That's a good combination of gears and tire size, you didn't say if it's automatic or manual.


    I wanted 35's but after driving this for a bit, 35's would need taller gears and make this engine give up on me I think. It feels super light and can't wait to see how it does in the woods.
    My last question and potential upgrade is lockers for the differentials. The rear axle is a Dana 35 and a 30 up front. I was thinking locking the rear is almost mandatory and wondering how much benefit locking the front really provides. Upgrading axles I'm hoping isn't really necessary with only a 4-cyl doing the twisting and the rig seeming light, but I would appreciate any input here as well.
    I'm running 33's with a D35 that has a LSD. I wheel pretty easy... well, most of the time. Watch the application of skinny pedal and you should be okay. One caveat; your D35 is different than mine in the way the axle shafts are retained, yours is the c-clip style. In the case of a broken axle shaft the retention is gone. The older D35 in mine uses a bearing retainer plate similar to a D44. If you decide to go to 35's the engine and gearing combo will work, but a D35 will likely be a serious weak point.

    Thanks in advance and I'll post a pic of the rig shortly
    Jesse
    Mary Anne: 1988 YJ, 258, Weber 32/36 DGEV, AX15/231/SYE, 4.11 HP-D30 & non c-clip D35 w/Truetrac, 33" KO2's, BDS 2" lift, a bunch of skid plates, Warn 9.5ti

    Boomer: 1997 Ram 2500 4X4, Cummins 12V, 47RE, work in progress...

    The Ancient and Honorable Society of the Leaf Spring
    Tread Lightly!
    KC1EIJ WQZJ411

  4. #4
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    That looks sweet! I'm a fan of the blackout paint job.
    Mary Anne: 1988 YJ, 258, Weber 32/36 DGEV, AX15/231/SYE, 4.11 HP-D30 & non c-clip D35 w/Truetrac, 33" KO2's, BDS 2" lift, a bunch of skid plates, Warn 9.5ti

    Boomer: 1997 Ram 2500 4X4, Cummins 12V, 47RE, work in progress...

    The Ancient and Honorable Society of the Leaf Spring
    Tread Lightly!
    KC1EIJ WQZJ411

  5. #5
    Rubicon's Avatar
    Rubicon is offline Ex-Coordinator & Ex-Mod Certified Trail Leader
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    Your sig line states 4.0, but you then post 4-cyl., which is it?

    The I6 would be fine for those gears with 33's and a manual(35's with no real real serious rock crawling), but with barely enough for the 2.5L. I mean the smaller engine has good torque and better weight distribution, but from my experience(I ran 4.88 & 30"), it prefers <= 31" tires, especially on the tarred roads, and even more so at higher speeds, not to mention any uphills ;) However, all that being wrote, the Dana 35 will not like anything hardcore with either size. And with locking it, you would have to be even more careful, plus you should probably pick up some spare shafts at that point.
    Traction, articulation, and gearing make a good off-road rig. Just a big lift, wide mud tires, and a winch simply do not.
    ~Shawn(the correct spelling ;)

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rubicon View Post
    Your sig line states 4.0, but you then post 4-cyl., which is it?

    The I6 would be fine for those gears with 33's and a manual(35's with no real real serious rock crawling), but with barely enough for the 2.5L. I mean the smaller engine has good torque and better weight distribution, but from my experience(I ran 4.88 & 30"), it prefers <= 31" tires, especially on the tarred roads, and even more so at higher speeds, not to mention any uphills ;) However, all that being wrote, the Dana 35 will not like anything hardcore with either size. And with locking it, you would have to be even more careful, plus you should probably pick up some spare shafts at that point.
    Spare spiders is not a bad thing to if left open not that I would ever lock one. Everyone with a D35 should carry spare shafts ,tools and know how to change them. Even easy wheeling can sneak up on you. I broke my first shaft on 1 ft ledge on 31 open in my 88 YJ. I was lucky I could still drive it because back then I had only a strap with me.
    97 Jeep XJ Trussed/gusseted D30,Ford 8.8,locked F/R with Moly shafts and 4.56s,Stock 4.0 with a NVG241OR Rock-trac,5.5" long arm, full under armor, OBA, 35x12.5-15.

    NEA

  7. #7
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    Other Jesse with a TJ here!


    If you do the SYE, you're also going to need one set of adjustable control arms with that much lift. You need to roll the axle to point the pinion AT the back of the t-case instead of parallel, (like you have with single cardan u-joints).

    As far as traction aids, general wisdom seems to be that you don't lock a D35 unless you want to change lots of parts. I swapped out the rear axle on my rig before I started wheeling, so I don't have any first-hand experience with that.

    The d30 front on the other hand is a decent axle. I ran mine with 35s and an ARB for a couple years before I put a high-pinion 30 in, and then later swapped to the 44 I've got now. I put some chromoly axles in the 30 and ran it.

    If you can find a rear TJ 44, it's a nice direct bolt in and probably a better idea if you want to run lockers. But they're not always easy to come by.
    '99 TJ, 5.9L Magnum V8 swap, Atlas-4, Waggy 44s, Custom link susp F/R, 37" Pitbulls, etc etc etc, OMG what happened to all of my money?
    She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid. I've made a lot of special modifications myself.

    '06 Dodge 2500,
    5.7, LT315/70/17 Nittos

    '97 ZJ, 2" spacer lift on 30's, 'The Beater' - SOLD

    KC1KAX

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rubicon View Post
    The I6 would be fine for those gears with 33's and a manual(35's with no real real serious rock crawling), but with barely enough for the 2.5L.
    Um... Agnes? 2.5, AX5, 4.88, 33's for years. Paul just changed over to the SM465 to get more crawl ratio for 35's but there was a lot of serious wheeling with the previous setup.

    the Dana 35 will not like anything hardcore with either size. And with locking it, you would have to be even more careful, plus you should probably pick up some spare shafts at that point.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mach2NH View Post
    Spare spiders is not a bad thing to if left open not that I would ever lock one. Everyone with a D35 should carry spare shafts ,tools and know how to change them. Even easy wheeling can sneak up on you. I broke my first shaft on 1 ft ledge on 31 open in my 88 YJ. I was lucky I could still drive it because back then I had only a strap with me.
    I can't disagree with the weakness of a D35, but it works if you don't get crazy. Mary Anne has been wheeled pretty hard at times over the last 8 years with a d35 behind a 4.2 that kicks out the same torque as the early 4.0, and compound that with adding a TrueTrac about 5 years ago and 33's three years ago. I've broken a fair amount of stuff in 8 years, but the D35 has held up.

    Jesse, my advice is; run it and see how you like the way it wheels with the current set up. Then go from there. Who knows, you might be pretty happy with it.
    Mary Anne: 1988 YJ, 258, Weber 32/36 DGEV, AX15/231/SYE, 4.11 HP-D30 & non c-clip D35 w/Truetrac, 33" KO2's, BDS 2" lift, a bunch of skid plates, Warn 9.5ti

    Boomer: 1997 Ram 2500 4X4, Cummins 12V, 47RE, work in progress...

    The Ancient and Honorable Society of the Leaf Spring
    Tread Lightly!
    KC1EIJ WQZJ411

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueberryHill View Post
    Congrats! Another Jesse with a TJ, yay.
    You are correct, no need for t'case spacers with a SYE. The spacers just attempt to correct driveshaft angle with a lift. I just installed a SYE and eliminated the t'case drop. The front should be fine, even though mine is a leaf spring YJ I had no problem.
    That's a good combination of gears and tire size, you didn't say if it's automatic or manual.
    I'm running 33's with a D35 that has a LSD. I wheel pretty easy... well, most of the time. Watch the application of skinny pedal and you should be okay. One caveat; your D35 is different than mine in the way the axle shafts are retained, yours is the c-clip style. In the case of a broken axle shaft the retention is gone. The older D35 in mine uses a bearing retainer plate similar to a D44. If you decide to go to 35's the engine and gearing combo will work, but a D35 will likely be a serious weak point.
    That's good to hear you've done something similar in the past with good results.

    It's a 5-spd. With the 4 banger, 5th gear is nothing special to say the least. You don't want to be behind me going uphill on a highway.
    Thanks again for the reply, hearing different people chime in with combination of advice and past experience is priceless...
    Hers... '05 Jeep TJ 4.0 auto, 2.5" RC lift, 31" Duratrac's, SYE and driveshaft, 45k miles, relegated to getting groceries
    Mine... '97 TJ 4.0 cylinders, 5-spd, 3.5" RC lift, 33x12.5x15's, 4.88 gears, sliders, bumpers, RR winch, enough LED's to land a plane

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rubicon View Post
    Your sig line states 4.0, but you then post 4-cyl., which is it?
    The I6 would be fine for those gears with 33's and a manual(35's with no real real serious rock crawling), but with barely enough for the 2.5L. I mean the smaller engine has good torque and better weight distribution, but from my experience(I ran 4.88 & 30"), it prefers <= 31" tires, especially on the tarred roads, and even more so at higher speeds, not to mention any uphills ;) However, all that being wrote, the Dana 35 will not like anything hardcore with either size. And with locking it, you would have to be even more careful, plus you should probably pick up some spare shafts at that point.
    My signature line of 4.0 cylinders was a lame attempt at humor. She's the 2.5, and definitely not heading to the drag strip anytime soon. Thanks for the advice and looking at what others have wrote as well, it looks like my best/cheapest way might be to find a D44, maybe even out of a Rubicon if I'm lucky, and put that in. Maybe I'm remembering this too fondly, but when I went out with you and the rest of the crew on that ride a couple years back, I just remember 4 low being more than adequate and barely getting into the gas at all to get up most things. That was in the mildly lifted '05 TJ, 4.0L, auto, with 31's. This has 33's, but at least the gears are already 4,88's. It feels adequate (kind of) power wise around town, but you're right about the highway.

    There's almost a couple grand left in the budget, so comparing what I can find for a used axle vs new heavy duty differential and stronger axles is probably how I'll spend the next week online.

    I was actually looking for a 2.5, cheaper, and my daughter is almost 15 and will be driving soon and I want both my girls to learn manual transmissions. It will be her daily driver at times. So the golf cart like performance is something I'm trying to embrace, but it's a challenge...


    Edit to post, I just watched the news for a bit, I think I'll hold on to my budget for a couple months and get it out as is and have some fun outdoors at the appropriate social distance.
    Last edited by 96 Tahoe; 03-14-2020 at 04:02 PM.
    Hers... '05 Jeep TJ 4.0 auto, 2.5" RC lift, 31" Duratrac's, SYE and driveshaft, 45k miles, relegated to getting groceries
    Mine... '97 TJ 4.0 cylinders, 5-spd, 3.5" RC lift, 33x12.5x15's, 4.88 gears, sliders, bumpers, RR winch, enough LED's to land a plane

  11. #11
    Rubicon's Avatar
    Rubicon is offline Ex-Coordinator & Ex-Mod Certified Trail Leader
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    Red face

    Quote Originally Posted by BlueberryHill View Post
    Um... Agnes? 2.5, AX5, 4.88, 33's for years. Paul just changed over to the SM465 to get more crawl ratio for 35's but there was a lot of serious wheeling with the previous setup.
    Just trying to help with my "advise/recommendations" that the OP asked for, based from my personal experience. Just my opinions/$.02 ;)

    There is a reason lower is better, especially when doing the stuff we do off-road, which is why Paul [and I] wanted to go even lower ;)

    I use to wheel with 3.07's on 33's, then was of course much happier [so was my engine & clutch] when I went to 4.56 on my first TJ('99 4.0 w/AX-15). So not saying you can't have fun, but if you want to have even more fun and do better(stall less, less clutch slipping, crawl with more control, get 5th gear back on the highway with any Jeep 4 or 6 cylinder, probably get better gas mileage, etc.), than you can either run small stock size tires or gear for the tire size that you want(more realistically that you possibly might have in the future), as you only want to only pay once for that expensive mod ;) In his case decide the tire size for the good gears he already has :)



    Quote Originally Posted by BlueberryHill View Post
    I can't disagree with the weakness of a D35, but it works if you don't get crazy. Mary Anne has been wheeled pretty hard at times over the last 8 years with a d35 behind a 4.2 that kicks out the same torque as the early 4.0, and compound that with adding a TrueTrac about 5 years ago and 33's three years ago. I've broken a fair amount of stuff in 8 years, but the D35 has held up...
    Agreed that the some D35 can hold up for a while, if you wheel it gingerly. My first TJ that I wrote about above ^ I ended up locking(crappy Lock-Right PowerTrax) the rear, and managed to break that POS locker in under a year before breaking the axle. I never did break a Dana 35(you know how I wheel ;), even though I had several Jeeps over the years that had them, but seen/heard plenty break.
    Last edited by Rubicon; 03-15-2020 at 12:36 PM.
    Traction, articulation, and gearing make a good off-road rig. Just a big lift, wide mud tires, and a winch simply do not.
    ~Shawn(the correct spelling ;)

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