BlackSheep II


baaaaaaaaaad to the bone
Super Moderator
Premium Member
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
Super Moderator
Premium Member
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
Super Moderator
Premium Member
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
Premium 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
Super Moderator
Premium 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.
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?