BlackSheep II


baaaaaaaaaad to the bone
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Another thing i noticed yesterday as I was looking at the images I took of the control arms:
The control arms, left to right:
2 rear upper, 2 front upper, 2 rear lower, 2 front lower.
If you look at the measurements written on the front upper and rear lowers:
IMG_3065 cropped.png
The front upper control arm is marked as 401mm while the lower rear is marked as 406mm. Clearly that is not the case. There was something wrong with my labeling and / or measurement so I double checked my measurements. Rear lower is correct, front upper was actually set to the correct measurement of 381mm, however, when I was reading the tape I actually had my 'zero' point at 20mm, so my reading was 401mm in order to achieve the 381 target. Although the length was set correctly, I had mis-labeled the control arm. It is now labeled correctly at 381mm.

The measurements are the recommended starting points according to the MetalCloak lift kit installation instructions.


baaaaaaaaaad to the bone
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RUST!!!!! WOW! That stuff goes deep! Since the last post I had to get back to work so work on BlackSheep II mostly gets relegated to the weekends now. As you have seen, I've been dealing with this crossmember which had a lot of rust:
I was struggling to get access to it so I could remove as much of it as possible. To that end, I had re-positioned the body so that it was tilted relative to the frame. This gave me about 5 inches between the crossmember and the body:
I tried to get in there and deal with that rust but the only thing that would fit was my air dremel and a wire brush. while this is much better than nothing, I really needed to get my grinder in there. That rust is pretty deep. Due to the nature of that crossmember, I felt it was fully salvageable so I wasn't planning on cutting it out to replace.

With such poor access I began to re-evaluate whether I should cut it out or not. I pinged a local guy that has a business centered around TJ recycling. Not long ago, he had a frame section that I could have bought, cut out this piece, then weld it back into BlackSheep. Unfortunately, he sold that piece and didn't have any frames around. I had already been thinking that I could probably re-position the body to give me more access, and especially since he didn't have a frame to cut apart, I decided to do that today.

I figured if I could add another inch to the front body mount, it would allow several more inches of access at the cross member. To do that I took a small chunk of 4x4 and drilled an 11/16 hole through it - so the 1/2" bolt would go through (I bought a couple of 1/2 x 6" bolts at Home Depot on my way home from work yesterday). I removed the wedge that I already had (removed the jack stands that were holding up the body) then jacked up one side at a time to remove the body mounts and replace the front-most with the 4x4 that I had drilled and at the rear-most (of the three body mounts between the wheels) I placed another small section of 4x4. Once both sides of the body were resting on the 4x4s - the front-most having the bolts up through them, I jacked up the back of the Jeep, slowly! Of course I don't want to muck something up by pushing the body too far away from the frame!

I was able to lift the back of the body enough that I could put a 2x4 on top of the 4x4 at the location of the rear-most body mount:
As you can see, if you look at the back of the body relative to the back of the frame on this next shot, compared to that previous shot - I was able to get quite a bit more space between the frame and the body:
Maybe double the space. Enough to get my grinder in there with more than an inch to spare!!
Now I could do some work!!! I started with the sanding tool that you see on the grinder. Replaced it after hitting the driver side so I could attack the passenger side. Then I switched over to a sanding disk and ground away at the rust even more.

Before I actually got started with the grinder / sanding disk, I took a photo - this is basically what I was starting with AFTER a pretty fair amount of wire brushing (the work I did before re-positioning the body). You can see why I needed to get the grinder in there!
After both of the sanding disks, this is where I have landed:
If you look, you can see that there is actually still quite a bit of rust in there. I'll hit it more tomorrow but very likely I'll hit it with the phosphorus acid to try to get rid of as much as possible. I think my best course of action after that may be to use something like POR 15 or there is an Eastwood product... Any recommendations are appreciated, I don't want to have to do this again - at least for about 10 years!!!

Anyway, I'm pretty pleased that I'm actually making progress now. My axles should be done next week and I won't begin to install them until I have the body fully re-attached to the frame. Obviously, this little rust situation needs to be wrapped up before then.


baaaaaaaaaad to the bone
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Progress is slow but it's moving forward. Since my last post, @CONJOB spotted a V-8 Grand Cherokee in the local pick and pull and I met him over there to pull the drag link and tie rod from that rig. A simple upgrade and super cheap! I got the whole thing with tie rod ends for $12! I ordered some replacement tie rod boots and today I started the clean-up on those parts. Not positive they need to be painted but the certainly need to be cleaned up before the boots are replaced and they get some fresh grease.

The axles are in progress. I got pinged the other day about the front axle shafts. Once Jason pulled the shafts, he noticed some rust:

One could certainly argue that it is mostly surface rust, but since I had on the list to replace the u-joints (parts + labor), I asked him to see what complete new axle shafts would cost. He suggested the Revolution Gear and Axle D44 Rubicon kit. He didn't quote me quite that price, so I think he's taking into account the amount I'm already spending and is giving me a very fair price.

For dealing with the rust, after some research, I decided on the Eastwood products:
Eastwood PRE Painting prep
Eastwood Rust Encapsulator Platinum

While I don't like the idea of 'encapsulating' the rust, I wanted to do my best to keep it at bay. I really did a lot of cleanup of the rust with the sanding disks and followed that with some phosphoric acid. I applied the phosphoric acid one night last week and finally had a chance to go out and get to work on the clean and paint today. That phosphoric works really well - I was honestly surprised to see how clean the metal was after cleaning up with a wire brush and a wet rag. I'm not sure why I didn't get a photo.

Anyway, that PRE painting prep is some strong stuff. I probably should have been using a respirator but I wasn't making a huge mess and I was wetting a rag and wiping the surface and I did wear my face masks. After that dried I started applying the rust encapsulator with a brush.
I suppose now I have to decide whether I should put a second coat. I decided to hit the interior of the frame since it also had some pitted rust areas near the crossmember. Anyway, depending on whether I add a second coat, it's just about ready for paint on the frame. Then I can attack the underside of the body. If you look closely in some of the photos I've posted, you can see some rust that I need to deal with. With the access I have, now is the time to do it.

Other things I have done - ordered and prepared for install this winch plate.
I was struggling with paying the big money for the Warn (~$200+) or this one. The design is the same, the thickness of the metal is slightly different. Anyway, I'm not out a whole lot and it actually is pretty beefy. If it fails I'll learn my lesson. The prep I needed to do was to grind off these tabs so it would fit with the factory sway bar:
Easy stuff to do with the cutt-off wheel and grinder. Followed up with a few coats of paint and it's ready to install. I'll wait until I'm ready to bolt the front bumper back on but for now it's sitting in place with the bolts finger tight - with the new tow hooks which I also cleaned up and painted.

By the way, I don't think I posted the photo of the bumper - I actually had it installed before I started this little project.

Yes, it's the same design as the original BlackSheep. I can't help it - I like it. It's light weight and has sufficient protection as far as I'm concerned. A main difference between this one and the Toys By Troy model on the original is the mounts. First of all, these mounts suck because they're crooked. You can see it in that image (drivers side is slightly higher than passenger side). The other part is that the tube is only welded at the top and bottom of the mount which creates a very square profile at the bottom of the mount. You can be quite guaranteed that will cause some issue when you hit a rock. My plan is to cut those mounts off, re-position to straighten them out and re-work them similar to the Toys By Troy bumper. Troy made the mounts to have more of a ramp from the front of the tube to the bottom of the mount. I'll plan on doing that myself and I'll buy a welder to do that. Lots of you guys are doing killer fab work so this is pretty minor, but it will be a big deal for me and my first project of that type.

Early on in this work I had to pull the factory radiator so I could install the new motor mounts. The radiator is still out of the Jeep and I'm trying to convince myself I don't need to order an aluminum 4-core radiator. Like this one...

Tires - I'm leaning towards 285/75R16 BFG All Terrain T/A KO2. These will fit on the factory wheels and are about 33" tall. This will suit my purposes initially. I'm also considering a spare set of wheels with a set of BFG Mud Terrain KM3. I haven't ordered the tires yet so I may change my mind.

That kind of brings the build up to date.


Rusty Girdle
Supporting Member
Can you do me a favor and measure the length of those inner axle shafts while you have them out? I've been researching TJ Rubicon shafts and can't find the lengths so far.

That Revolution Kit will add a ton of strength to your axle. You can also replace your unit hubs with JK hubs to gain even more strength, though you will have to run different bolt pattern or drill the hubs for your pattern. The picture below is the difference in the stub shafts size. Also, the JK hubs are a captive bearing. You can drive on them without a stub shaft bolted through them. Can't do that with the TJ hubs.


baaaaaaaaaad to the bone
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Can you do me a favor and measure the length of those inner axle shafts while you have them out? I've been researching TJ Rubicon shafts and can't find the lengths so far.
Best I can do Jeremy is to ask the shop that is building the axles to make the measurement. you want the length of the shaft from the threaded end to the base of the splines?


Rusty Girdle
Supporting Member
The inner side of the shaft. Measure from end of the splines to the center of Ujoint yoke.


English is important. Engineering is importanter.


baaaaaaaaaad to the bone
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Amazing how slow the progress is since I went off vacation... Thankfully, I have made some progress and may be re-attaching the body to the frame with all of the body mounts this weekend. The big issue has been the rust on the rear cross-member. Last post I had completed a single coat of Eastwood Rust Encapsulator Platinum. While this thing says it adheres to rust, it also indicates that it adheres to bare metal. I got as much of that rust as I could get with various grinding, sanding and wire-brushing before I laid that coat. After it dried I had to decide whether I should put another coat or not. In the end, since the coating was pretty even, I sanded it, primed it and painted it with rust-oleum automotive enamel.

After leaving work a little early, I was able to complete that task today. IMG_3114.JPG
I hope I have enough coverage. I got almost a full 2 coats of primer before I ran out of primer. I followed that with a solid two coats of enamel. As you can tell, from the far frame rail, behind the cross-member, a huge run in the paint. I'm a horrible painter. But, coverage and protecting against rust is my primary goal. Maybe I'll learn from this experience...

I have also completed painting of the front passenger side shock mount / spring perch area. I still have work to do on the drivers side front shock/spring area. I coated it with Phospho today, hoping that tomorrow I'll be able to run to the store and get more primer. I should be able to get that done which means I'll have completed everything on the frame except the area where the belly-pan connects and parts of the frame rail near that area. I don't want to pull that belly-pan until I have the body re-attached.

I still have to decide how to deal with the rust on the under-side of the body. knocking it down by sanding / grinding, then coating with the Eastwood rust encapsulator (followed by primer and enamal) may be my best bet. Doesn't make sense for me to have this access and not try my best to clean it up and protect it. I do find that grinding all that rust puts a coat of fine dusting of rust over everything in the garage.

Which means I may not get the body re-attached this weekend. Not really a huge issue, my axles aren't done yet and I'm not pressing them for speed.


baaaaaaaaaad to the bone
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Last weekend I was able to finish up dealing with the rust on the front driver side spring perch and shock mount. Coated it with the Eastwood rust encapsulator and put several coats of primer followed by a couple coats of enamel.

Lots of overspray but I have a feeling I'm going to end up painting the inside of the fenders - or possibly replacing them due to some rust on the passenger side. No decision on that, just glad to have the frame wrapped up.

I took today off of work - originally I had planned to participate in my favorite off-road triathlon (7 mile trail run, 6 mile flat water paddle and 10 mile mountain bike) on Saturday, but I've got a nagging injury that wouldn't benefit from all of that. So, I took advantage of the time to work on BlackSheep.

Last weekend I also began to install the Bestop HighRock oversize tire carrier. I had to stop when I got to a point where I needed to drill a 7/16 hole. It seems that I didn't have a 7/16 drill bit. I read forward in the instructions and saw that I'd also need an 11/32nds bit as well. Got both of those so part of today was to move forward on getting that installed.

The other part of getting that installed is the fact it bolts to the body and the back-side of the lower body mount hinge had some rust that needed to be addressed. Lots of wire brushing and grinding and multiple coats of primer got me to a point that I could finish it up.

It wasn't a bad install. The only part that didn't work out quite the way the instructions indicated was the positioning of that lower body mounted hinge. The spec called for 6 3/16" from the tailgate seam but it didn't really fit that way. I used a plumb bob from the top hinge to check the alignment and what I ended up with was 6" from the tailgate seam. Once I got it all tightened down it seems to work fine, no binding that I can tell.
It called for me to use two of the original three tire bumpers to help stabilize the carrier. You can see the lower one in that image immediately above and you can see the upper one just next to the hinge in the previous photo.

You can see that the lower one wasn't quite big enough to span the gap, so I took one of my old body mounts and cut part of it off to create a spacer. It doesn't look great but it is functional. I'll have to think about how I can make it look better but honestly, I don't much care. The part of the body mount that I cut off is now a spacer behind the upper bumper.

One thing I didn't like about the set-up is the mount for the 3rd brake light. I did install the mount but when I went to bolt the light in place, the factory bolt diameter is too big for the slot! I'll have to grind it open a bit more to fit the bolts through there.

Anyway, it seems pretty solid and I'm pleased that it takes some of the weight of the tire off of the tailgate hinges. The tailgate closes now with the tire in place about the way it closed when the tire was removed.

I didn't get any photos but I also did rust clean-up and painting on the inside of the passenger side rear wheel well. As I noted, I had to do parts of that to complete the tire carrier install, but of course it was a good idea to just do as much as I could get at from the outside of the jeep.

Tomorrow is going to be climbing under the Jeep and knocking as much of that rust down as I can possibly get to. Coat it with the rust encapsulator and hopefully have the body re-attached to the frame this weekend!! For real this time!!


baaaaaaaaaad to the bone
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BIG day today. The body is now reconnected to the frame. It's a turning point in my refresh / build. Now I'm in re-assembly mode. What that means is the rust has been dealt with to a certain point - I'll use the 3M cavity spray on the inside of the frame rails but I won't do that until I have it driving and can do a bit more to insure the interior of the frame rails are cleaned out.

The 'rust has been dealt with to a certain point' - I'm actually pretty good with the way I've treated the frame. The worst places have been ground / sanded / buffed / wire brushed down to the point that I feel like I've done a good job in removing the existing rust (on the exterior parts of course). Those 'worst' places have been treated with phosphoric acid, cleaned and I've used Eastwood Rust Encapsulator on them before the primer and enamel. Other places I've use Rust Oleum primer (which claims to have a rust-treating ingredient) and an automotive enamel, skipping the rust encapsulator because I felt the rust was completely dealt with.

The body is a little different story. I've done a good job of wire brushing / grinding / mechanically removing as much of the rust that I could. However, whenever I went to apply the rust encapsulator or paint it seemed like I always found some areas I missed or didn't do such a great job on. We'll see how it goes - It's a southern vehicle now, primarily intended as a toy and therefore won't be driven in the worst weather. We don't use a lot of salt down here anyway, but once the rust starts, it is almost never completely gone. Mostly what I'm talking about regarding the body is the underside - there's no visible rust on the exterior of the body.

I finished up this driver side rear treatment of the body today.

Because I'm in this point with dealing with the rust on the frame and the body, finishing up that driver side wheel well, has allowed me to re-connect the body to the frame with the install of the DAYSTAR body mount kit. Sorry for the horrible photo, but all of the body mounts are installed and torqued to spec!

Thursday I heard from Krawl Off-Road that my axles were done. They're not open on the weekends and because I have a flexible schedule at work, I decided to take Friday morning to pick them up.

They're close to being back where they belong!! I have a bit of reassembly for the brakes but I'll install them as-is and do the reassembly once they are hung from the frame. I looked through the instructions for the MetalCloak lift kit and went and bought some new drill bits and a new tap for making the threads for the bump stops.

I've just ordered the following items:
BARNES 2" skid plate
Poison Spyder rear bumper brace kit
SAVVY off road transfer case cable shift kit
DAYSTAR steering stabilizer

I don't think all of that will be here by next Friday, but I'm taking Friday off and the goal for the weekend would be to have the axles completely reattached with all brake components installed. The thing that might slow me down is cleaning and painting of the little parts that are associated with getting the axles back in.

That's the update - I'm getting stoked. My Jeep club is having a charity show on April 13 - My goal is to be able to register for and drive to that show. I'm not thinking about the 'show' as much as I'm thinking about the opportunity to actually meet some of the people from this club. Plus, all the money raised goes to charity so I'm all for that.


baaaaaaaaaad to the bone
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All of the things I ordered came in since my last post. The skid plate came in as just a big piece of steel! No packaging whatsoever! I cracked up! Unlikely that thing is going to get damaged in shipping - it's going to be doing the damaging!!

The SAVVY transfer case cable shifter also came in - this is a burly piece! Looks very sturdy!

Today and yesterday have been about the details - cleaning up and painting all those little brackets, bolts, nuts, attachments. also in this shot are the Poison Spyder rear bumper reinforcement brackets:
The gas tank straps and some misc hardware including the emergency brake adjuster:

Part of the install for the MetalCloak lift kit is to drill and tap the lower spring perches on the front axle and just drill for the rear axle lower spring perches. I forgot how patient one must be when tapping a 1/2-13 bolt hole. It took longer than I thought it would but I now have some nice clean threads in there for the new bump stops.

Another part of the install which is easier to do while the axle is out of the jeep is to mount the rear axle shock mounts. While the pieces are well built, it wasn't quite a perfect fit so I had to do quite a bit of auguring to make the existing holes line up (original shock mount bolt and the lower of the two mount bolts), then drill the upper hole for the second bolt:

I'm actually considering stacking some flat washers on that original shock mount bolt - try to take up that space. I didn't see a 1/2 inch bushing when I was picking up hardware this afternoon.


Mid-week last week I came across a deal I couldn't pass up for a set of BFG KM2 tires. These are overstock items that I can't say what I paid for them, just know I'm very pleased with this purchase. Well, the FEDEX man delivered them today:

They are 33x12.50R15. I think that's going to be the correct sizing for this lift. The only question left is what wheels I'm going to mount them up on? Well, I went through a bunch of wheels before narrowing it down to four - after reflection, that four was reduced to two:
Top: MHT Fuel Offroad Anza D557 Matte Black w/ Anthracite Ring
Bottom: Mickey Thompson Sidebiter Lock Wheels

I sent that image to my brother and he said the Mickey Thompson "looks kind of delicate"! Funny. Something about that wheel spoke to me enough that it made the top two. However, in the end, I went with the Fuel OffRoad Anza - matte black with anthracite ring. I have always liked the look of that one since I saw a nice CJ equipped with a set of those wheels a few months ago. I pulled the trigger on the order this morning. I anticipate they'll be here sometime during the coming week.

This afternoon I made a run to the hardware store and picked up some grade 8 bolts for my lower control arms. Many of the factory bolts were showing some wear due to rust, thus better to replace them now when it's easy. The MetalCloak kit comes with new Grade 5 hardware for the upper mounts.

I hung the rear upper control arms from the frame today and was about to hang the front uppers when I realized that I had a bit of frame cleanup and re-painting to do for those front upper mounts. It never seems to end! Anyway, I'll try to knock that out in the morning so I can continue work towards getting the front axle hung.

While that paint dries I think I'm ready to bolt the rear axle in place! I'll be stoked to get that done! PROGRESS!!!!!!


baaaaaaaaaad to the bone
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things never go as fast as you'd like. Progress was made today but not quite as much as I'd hoped. It's the details that slow me down.

I started the day cleaning up under the front of the frame to prep for some paint. I got that done but I decided to soak the area with the phosphoric acid, thus no painting of the area in the front. Maybe later this week or worst case next weekend.

I started working towards getting the rear axle installed and found that the grade 8 bolts I purchased last night are too big! Those will have to go back, no sense in paying for what I can't use. So, I looked again at the factory lower control arm bolts. Not ideal but I cleaned them up and decided to reuse them. I suppose if I get a chance I can swap them out in the future.

I went to reattach the rear sway bar to the axle and found I hadn't cleaned it up completely. So, buffing and sanding to clean up some rusty areas at the link connection. I started looking at the axle and found that the clean-up of the housing wasn't quite what I hoped, although it's probably about what I expected. I got my air dremel out and a wire brush and hit it up a bit. I should have probably just done the axles completely myself. That's the only way I'd be completely satisfied with the rust mitigation. But, I decided to stop after a bit, clean it up and paint it. Makes me wonder if I should have just bitten the bullet on a full set of brand new axles...

Seems silly but attaching the upper bump stops required dealing with several little details - re-drilling the cup's mount hole to fit the bolt provided with the spring perch relocation kit, spraying cavity wax into the cavity formed between the spring perch and the frame, cleaning up and mounting the upper spring isolators before finally being able to torque down the cups and install the new upper bump stops.

I noted yesterday that the space at the factory shock mount on the mount adapter needed a spacer. I spent a bit of time with my grinder to flatten out one edge of a stack of washers so I could make a spacer and improve the clamping of that factory bolt.
I can actually torque that bolt down now and it clamps the shock mount relocation bracket. Much more secure I think.

I didn't take photos along the way (only the 'end of day' photos below), but i finally moved the rear axle into place, positioned three jack stands - one each side and one on the pinion - and moved the axle off of the dolly that I had it sitting on.

Once on the jack stands, I used my floor jack to slowly raise it up enough for attaching the upper control arms. Although it probably took me longer working by myself than a team of two or more, I had fun thinking through the easiest way to get all four control arms attached to the axle, thus the axle re-attached to the frame. Lots of moving with the jack and repositioning of the jack stands. Once I got any single control arm end close, I used a punch to line up the bolt hole from one side, then pushed the bolt through from the other side with a bit of help with light blows from a dead-blow hammer. It was actually pretty easy.

Springs were next - I lowered the axle as low as it would go, basically dropped the jack all the way down and the springs just popped right in. Once those springs were installed I was able to lift the back end of the jeep by the axle and remove the rear-most jack stands! Those stands have been under that back corner of the frame since Thanksgiving! I did place a pair of the 12 ton stands just forward of the lower control arm mount so I'm still resting on the frame but keeping the axle supported by a couple of jack stands as well.

Now that I had all four control arms attached, the springs installed and the jack stands out of the way, I could attach the shocks. Bolted in the top of the shocks first, then I was ready to tackle the lower mount. Again, use of the floor jack and jack stands allowed me to move the axle around enough to make very easy work of sliding the bolts through the lower shock mount.

It was then I realized that I should have attached the track bar relocation bracket to the axle before I installed the axle. Thankfully the fuel tank is still out of the Jeep so I still have lots of room under there to get at the track bar bracket. I tried to get it all lined up correctly, but alas, I need to open up some of the mounting holes in order to get the relocation bracket to fit properly. I've left it for tonight as I have stuff to do to prep for the week of work.

This is what it looks like now:
Once I get the track bar relo bracket mounted properly, I'll probably be installing the Tom Woods Driveshaft. That pinion angle looks pretty tipped up - that's the MetalCloak recommended control arm lengths. I suppose once I get it sitting on the tires I can check that pinion angle again and adjust control arm length as necessary.
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baaaaaaaaaad to the bone
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More progress this weekend. At the back end I got the track bar bracket all bolted in, the sway bar is connected, the axle side of the track bar is bolted in, the gas tank is strapped down in the skid, bump stops are in place and I've ordered new flexible brake lines to replace the old lines. I've actually lifted the jeep by the axle and have had the rear axle supporting the weight of the Jeep. That's allowed me to reconfigure my jack stands a bit so I can work from the back of the vehicle and make space for whenever I'm ready to put the gas tank in place.

I damaged one of the evap hoses during the rust clean-up of the rear crossmember so I got a replacement part from the local TJ parts recycler guy - Carolina Jeep Parts. While I was down there he was still stripping the Jeep from which my Evap hose came from. It had a set of rock sliders of the basic style I'm interested in. We worked a deal for me to come pick them up the following day. It's not clear who is the manufacturer, but they look a lot like these from HOOKE.
overall they are in fine condition for the price. They are heavy and I think they will hold up well. Only time will tell. I'll get them cleaned up and if I need to shoot another coat of bed liner on them I will.

Of course I was also able to get the tires and wheels to the dealer and get them mounted up. They look great! I'm stoked!

Today was focused on getting the front axle installed. My neighbor John came over and was a great help in making that happen. The front axle is a bit heavier and not well balanced with the offset pumpkin. That's what made it great to have another set of hands in the shop. The most difficult part was getting the springs in position. We had to drop the lower control arms - one at a time - in order to get the springs in there. Getting them clocked correctly was a little fun as well. There is still plenty to go before I can say these are all bolted in, but the control arms are connected, the springs and shocks are in place and the sway bar disconnects are mostly installed.
Note that the position of the axle in that photo is pretty much at full droop. I've actually jacked it up so that I can re-arrange the 12Ton jack stands so the big ones behind the axle are supporting the frame and have removed the ones from the front of the frame. That will allow me to get the front bumper back on a bit easier.

I'm pleased with this progress this weekend. It's getting closer and closer! I'm taking the full week for vacation during the last week of March. I hope to have it driving before that week is done!


baaaaaaaaaad to the bone
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Lots of work on BlackSheep this week. Amazing what you can get accomplished when work isn't getting in the way :D. As of my last post I'd been getting the axles positioned under the Jeep. Of course that still left plenty to do and this week I've knocked out a bunch of it.

Before I could set the rear pinion angle, I had to install the Barnes 4wd 2" high clearance skid plate. A few posts up I showed how it was shipped - bare metal with a shipping label! Before I could mount it up I needed to get it painted. I cleaned it up to include sanding with my 4" grinder before wiping it down with Eastwood pre-prep.

I sprayed 2 coats of primer before I laid down two coats of the Rust oleum truck bed liner.
That's a textured finish, and looks good. I don't know how well it will hold up, but there it is. Those coats of paint took two days to give dry time between coats and some curing before I mounted it up.

As you can tell, there are no transmission mount holes in there, so I had to put it in position to mark the mount locations before I could drill it out. Before I removed the factory skid plate, I took my tape measure and made a measurement at the front and rear of the skid plate. Remember that the Jeep is on Jack stands, but it would stay on those same jack stands until after I had the new skid plate in place. These are the measurements:

Before I installed the new skid, I thought it a good idea to get the SAVVY t-case shifter cable installed. The cable didn't come with any instructions but there are a few good threads on installation out there so I checked them out to make sure I wasn't missing anything important. It actually went pretty smooth, a couple of challenges with torquing the upper bolt on the t-case bracket mount. That was very difficult. I lowered the t-case about as far as I could to get as much space in there to work. I hope it's tight enough! It seems to shift really nicely now, I guess we'll see how it goes once I get the beast back on the road.

Once that cable was installed, it was time to get the new skid positioned and marked for holes. That was really just about getting the transmission / t-case high enough to bolt the new skid in place, then lower it enough to make marks in my fresh paint. Before I put the skid on the jack, I had to put a jack stand under the transmission / t-case in a position that would allow me room to position the skid. That was easy - the hard part was after I had the skid bolted in place - finding a point to jack the transmission / t-case so I could pull the jack stand! it got pretty tight in there and my big 3 ton floor jack just fit in the position I needed it to be. Some creative use of 4x4 and 2x4 chunks allowed me to drop the tranny / tcase and make the marks. Once marked, the holes were easy to drill out and everything fit back together no problem.

Once it was torqued down, I made a couple more measurements:

That makes for about 2" in the front and a little over 2" in the rear. I'm pretty happy about that.

With the skid installed, I could get to work on finalizing the pinion angle for the rear axle. I spent most of two days getting everything installed for the rear of the Jeep. Brakes; install rear driveline; set pinion angle; torque control arms, sway bar links, shocks; Fuel system evap lines and canister; fuel tank, etc. Little details. Sitting here now I'm realizing that I couldn't get good torque on the driveline because the wheels weren't installed and I don't think I had the e-brake installed yet at that point. By the end of the day on friday, here's how she sat:
The gear oil sitting under there so I wouldn't forget to fill the diff! Of course, before I could fill the diff, I had to go purchase a 9/16ths allen just to get the port open!

Somewhere in there, I cut the exhaust pipe behind the muffler because it kept getting in my way. The entire exhaust system needs to be replaced anyway, so not a big deal really. The track bar is not adjusted, and in fact the frame is still resting on those jack stands, so the axle isn't really holding the weight of the Jeep.

Saturday I got to work on the front after running to the tool store for the allen wrench and filling both the front and rear diffs. Again, lots of little details in getting the front end squared away. I'm not sure why I didn't re-install the front driveshaft while I had the skid plate off, but I added time to the re-install because of it. A little more difficult to reach those t-case side u-joint bolts.

I had to purchase new dust covers for the front axle so it meant I had to pull the unit-bearings off the front. I noted before how I didn't get what I had hoped, but pretty much what I had expected for the cleanup of my axles. This was a little disappointing though:

I expected that the level of rust mitigation wouldn't be anywhere near the level I would have taken it to - part of the reason I paid someone else to work on the axles (among other reasons). Starting from the top left - they didn't wire brush the bolts to clean them up before reinstalling the brand new unit bearing. Then, once the unit bearing was out, I found that they didn't even take a wire brush to the space where the bearing meets the knuckle. These are little details that are the main reason I struggle to pay someone else to work on my stuff.

Before I could get in there to get at the rust, I needed to pull the axleshaft. I actually had started with the driver side (those images above are passenger side) and that axle was in there TIGHT! I knew it should pull right out, but I didn't have a slide hammer. So I fashioned one for myself :rofl:

It worked and I was able to pull the D-side axle shaft out. The P-side came out much easier and I didn't actually have to use it.

After spending time with my wire brush and various implements of destruction, I reassembled the bearings with the dust covers in place and got the brakes installed. Then I went into making sure everything was torqued correctly - with the front driveshaft I used a lever to hold the driveshaft from turning and was able to get it torqued. At that point, she was ready to sit on her own feet!

That's the way she sat when I finished up on saturday night.

Today required a few errands to pick up some parts - battery, some cotter pins for the steering system, and other domestic errands. Thus, It doesn't seem like a got a lot finished today. However, I did get the battery tray installed (replacement item from my local Pick and pull), the control arms adjusted and torqued down, the steering stabilizer installed and the alignment done.

Setting the toe:119260

I'm sure you love my painters tape holding the dumb end! ;)

That brings it up to date. Still remaining to do (not a complete list I'm sure):
Re-install the interior - driver seat, carpeting, other misc?
Bleed brakes (that means she'll go back up on jack stands again!)
install front bumper
decide on rear bumper - the one I ordered is on back order since last October.

I'm sure I'm forgetting stuff. I should have her driving next weekend. I'll try to get stuff done during the week, but that isn't always easy.


baaaaaaaaaad to the bone
Super Moderator
Supporting Member
Why does it need to be on jackstands to bleed the brakes? :thinking:
Just easier to get at stuff. Although I'm going to pick up some speed bleeders today which will make it quite a bit easier. So maybe it doesn't need to go back up on the jackstands.