Project Built to Cruise

Page 6


Previous Update

I have been enjoying seeing some of the old trails I used to frequent in my Suzuki days in the new Jeep.  My most recent outing was to the Coves by Saguaro Lake.  The steep, rutted hills were just as intimidating as I remembered and exposed one of the nagging issues on the Jeep I needed to address: the transfer case shifter randomly pops out of low range.  This particular time it happened on one of the steeper hills out there about halfway up, nothing like a loud bang then freewheeling backwards to wake you up.

The stock transfer case shifter consists of 20 parts (not counting hardware)!

The top shift lever is connected to a pivot point on the body which has two braces that attach to the transfer case along with another rod which attaches to the shift linkage on the transfer case.  Body lifts don't get along well with this setup since the body tends to move around a little more in relation to the chassis.  My Jeep has a body lift but since it is required for the TeraFlex belly up kit I could not remove it.

The fix was a universal shifter assembly from Novak.  It replaces the convoluted stock shift mechanism with 3 plates and a linkage.

Once I figured out the correct way to mount the plate that attaches to the transfer case the installation went pretty smoothly although a second pair of hands is nearly mandatory if you can't take your belly skid plate off.  The only missing component was a shift knob.  I had a spare left over from one of my previous projects so after making a 1/2-13 to 3/8-24 adapter from a 1/2" bolt I was in business. 

Update 1-22-09 - After a test drive the only other missing component was some sort of shift boot to seal off the transmission tunnel from the cab.  I ended up using a piece of rubber with a slit cut in it which was slid over the shift lever and bolted to the floor with some self tapping screws.

One other change I made was the installation of some slotted rotors and upgraded brake pads up front.  The Jeep was nearly due for pads so I asked Santa for some parts.  Not sure if it's just the fact that the old pads and rotors were about gone but the Jeep does stop much better now with less pedal effort than before.  Santa got a pretty good deal on the rotors so if I can find the same price when the time comes I plan on putting some on the back axle as well.

After cracking the lenses of my previous set of rock lights I decided to replace them with some LED's.   I found these Vision X LED light pods while browsing the PolyPerformance website.  I ordered two and did some comparison testing with the various LED's I have on my buggy.  These turned out to be brighter than anything else I had on hand and are nearly as bright as the incandescent lights they replaced, best of all they were only $21 each.  To get the angle I wanted I just had to fab up some mounting brackets from some .050 thick aluminum.

I stuck the LJ on the scales this week and came up with 4470lbs, nearly 1100lbs over the stock curb weight.  I don't know if the curb weight is for a hard or soft top but I do know the bumpers, nerf bars and other off-roading gear adds up fast.  Weight distribution was 49% front and 51% rear. 

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