Here we have Jason’s 1994 Jeep Wrangler YJ. The Jeep came to us about 4-6″ higher and was previously used as a mud truck. It has ’79 Bronco axles in it, Dana 44 in the front, and the venerable Ford 9″ in the back. Though it was tedious getting most of the 50+lbs of mud out of the Jeep (I’m not exaggerating either!), the results are more than worth it. The bottom and interior tub were Raptor Lined for durability and rust prevention, and the jeep was treated to a fresh frame off restoration, along with refurbishment of nearly every system. The frame rails and interior components were painted and freshened, all bushings and bearings replaced, and the body pulled, welded, sanded, and refreshed. Basically the goal was to make a new (within reason) 94 Jeep on 37″ tires. We’re almost there.
Right now the Jeep wears weldable primer for good reason. The old girl isn’t going into paint before all of her bad habits are cured. The first issue we ran into was death wobble- a pretty scary steering oscillation that is violent and rather disconcerting. This Jeep did it at 37mph (indicated) and wouldn’t stop until around 5mph. Check this youtube video to see how bad it was. While the common comment was “Put a steering damper on it,” we wanted to fix the problem before installing part that could potentially mask the issue. The wobble can be caused by a bad tie rod end, ball joint, or wheel bearing. Being that we’d gone this far freshening up the Jeep, and that the domestic parts were inexpensive, we decided to replace all of them. Jason and I were both worried the fresh parts wouldn’t do anything. We were absolutely wrong. The truck still exhibited a slight shimmy at around 37mph, but now didn’t death wobble at all. On top of that, we noticed the track bar was flexing horribly in the previous video, and on the suggestion of a friend at Trail Worthy Fab, we decided it would be a good idea to install a beefier track bar (it centers the axle in the vehicle). We ordered the track bar kit from Ruff Stuff Specialties. We’ve used their brackets on nearly every place on the Jeep, they make some of the strongest metal fabrication parts in the industry, as well as great heim joints. These guys make some beefy stuff! Take a look for yourself!
I’m a trained welder as well as a journalist, so I had a lot of fun welding the bungs, brackets, and reinforcement plates in as usual. In a short days time, the Jeep went back together and awaited it’s test drive. Shocked doesn’t even begin to describe it. Now the wobble was almost completely gone, even before a proper alignment.
We still have a ways to go with this truck. After dropping the transmission after some clutch issues, the input shafted seemed to have a bit too much play, so we took apart the transmission very carefully and took these shots. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did taking them and working on this amazing truck. Big things are ahead for this amazing off roader. (And for those of you wondering, yes, it’s been off road since being somewhat completed- almost every time we drive it.)