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Thread: 2005 LJ Adventuring Build

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    Default 2005 LJ Adventuring Build



    I have a long list of upgrades planned for my Jeep prior to several big trips this year, starting with the May trip to Canyonlands Maze District. I thought I would try to document the upgrades here as I make progress.

    The build starts with my moderately built 2005 LJ. At the start of this upgrade cycle the LJ has a 2.5" OME suspension lift, 33x10.5x15 KO2s, a Warn winch, steel bumpers front and rear, rock sliders, a factory sunrider soft top, and upgraded front upper control arms courtesy of some carnage in Moab in 2019. The 6-speed manual Jeep shipped from the factory with a limited slip rear differential and open front differential on 3.73 gears.



    I have found this configuration extremely capable for wheeling the types of trails I enjoy. However, I've struggled to effectively use the vehicle for multi-day adventures (camping, overlanding, etc) with my family of four plus our dog. Despite the LJ having *some* cargo room (compared to the TJ), we've never felt like we could fit a decent camping kit for four into the Jeep the way it is configured now. Thus we've always resorted to camping with multiple vehicles and considered whether to replace the Jeep or upgrade it to better suit our uses. Ultimately, we decided that we'd rather spend some money upgrading this Jeep.

    TLDR : I want the Jeep to be better for camping and long trips with 4 people. I need to carry more gear and have a better system to use the limited space in the Jeep.

    Planned upgrades
    --------------------
    Chromoly front axles (done)
    Gr8tops LJ safari top (done)
    slide out fridge tray and slide out table in the rear (and new 12V fridge)
    cargo deck with folding / collapsible sleeping platform which works even if the rear seat is installed
    Roof-top cargo solution and roof-mount awning
    Figure out how to run CB cable after new hard top is installed
    Install interior system to latch/unlatch and lock/unlock tailgate from inside the Jeep (very useful if sleeping in the Jeep)
    Easy access to water while camping (remote pump / fixed reservoir)

    Wish list and contingencies
    ------------------------------
    Air bags for rear suspension to level the ride -- may be necessary
    Replace rear bumper with one rated for towing
    Route (plumb) compressed air port from engine bay to more convenient location. Not sure where I want to put this yet, so it hasn't happened.
    Run 12V power to rear of jeep
    Front locker - I keep deferring this until I convince myself I will never re-gear.

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    IceBox Ty (January 4th, 2021),RockyMtRebel (December 31st, 2020),speedkills (December 30th, 2020),Steve-O (December 31st, 2020)

  3. #2
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    Default Re: 2005 LJ Adventuring Build - Chromoly Axles



    I've seen a few axles and U-joints fail on the trail in the short time I've been wheeling. Fortunately none of these failures have been on my Jeep, but I expect someday to have a failure. I believe the front axles on my Jeep to be original with over 90,000 miles on the U-joints and axle shafts. I'm not sure that replacing these is strictly necessary, but I feel better on long trips off road having at least spare U-joints on hand. I have been considering chromoly axles for some time since they seem capable of handling 35" tires and lockers in many TJ builds (if driven sensibly), even with a D30 front axle.

    I found a great deal on a front axle set recently, so I moved this upgrade to the top of the list with the long trips coming up this year. By installing these axles, I am able to keep the original axles on hand as fully-assembled spares for trail repairs while also having some increased confidence in the strength and integrity of the axles and U-joints I have installed since all components are now new. The new axles also came with some axle tube covers to help keep debris out. Furthermore, installing the U-joint and replacing the axles in my garage has now given me some practical experience with the task. Should I have to field-replace an axle or U-joint, I know exactly what needs to be done and which tools I'll need to have in my bag to complete the task.

    The new axles arrived without U-joints installed. To install them I purchased a ball joint service kit from Harbor Freight. Previously I've rented these from a FLAPS, but none were readily available nearby when I wanted to do this work this time. Installing the new U-joints was relatively easy with the service kit. I expected to need to use my impact hammer to help seat the caps, but I was able to complete the job with just a breaker bar and the service kit. I had to buy a 36mm socket for the hub nut, but it was simple to remove the nut with my impact wrench once I had the correct socket in hand. Installation of the nut at the end of the job required use of a long piece of scrap steel to keep the hub from rotating.

    Removing the unit bearing from the axle was a little bit of a chore. The screws that hold the unit bearing on have 12-point heads instead of 6-point heads. I only had one set of metric sockets with a 13mm 12-point end, but I could not fit a socket and wrench (or breaker) onto 2 of the three bolts due to clearance issues. I was able to break the bolts loose with a box wrench and hammer. The unit bearing assembly was stuck pretty solidly to the mating face on the steering knuckle (?). I had freed this by partially reinserting one of the three bolts and tapping on a 13mm socket on the head of the bolt with a sledge to loosen the bearing.

    Note to self: take a 13mm 12-point socket and 36 mm socket to do this job in the field. Must have long breaker bar and sledge as well.




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    Default Re: 2005 LJ Adventuring Build



    Nice work!

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    open_circuit (December 30th, 2020)

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    Default Re: 2005 LJ Adventuring Build - Hard Top Part 1



    The hard top shipped from the manufacturer just before Christmas, so I've been checking the tracking notices a couple times per day to catch when it arrived in Denver. The shipment was destined for a freight depot near the airport, and I would have to pick it up within a few days of arrival. The top was not scheduled to arrive until next week, but this afternoon the tracking information was unexpectedly updated to mark as "ready for customer pickup".

    With the depot closed the next two days for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day and then the following two days for the weekend, I was highly motivated to collect the freight ASAP. A good friend was able to provide a 5x10 trailer and tow vehicle on short notice, so we hustled over to the depot. I was worried about the trailer not being large enough to hold the pallet since I did not have dimensions of the pallet in advance. I knew the box could be no smaller than the passenger compartment of the LJ since there would be a one-piece roof in the box, meaning it would be about 7-ish feet long by 4.5 ft wide at a minimum.

    Fortunately, the pallet was a sliver under 5ft wide and about 8 ft long. The expert forklift operator was able to load the pallet into the high-walled trailer with less than 1/2" clearance total. I'm amazed he got it into the trailer after only a couple attempts and quite glad our trailer was (barely) large enough.

    The pallet only weighs a couple hundred pounds, so I called a few neighbors and we easily unloaded it to the garage. I've begun unboxing the top and preparing the Jeep for the install. I expect to complete the bulk of the installation tomorrow pending good weather and no hidden problems in the box of parts.






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    Default Re: 2005 LJ Adventuring Build -Hard Top Part 2



    Today was a day of several false starts and much frustration. The top is not fully installed due to a series of small setbacks that have caused the day to drag on. The hardware supplied with the top to mount the upper piece to the rear tailgate is not the correct size -- the bolts supplied were 3/8-18 and the rivnuts are 5/16-18. I spent a while locating some correctly sized rivnuts at local hardware stores this morning before I was able to begin installing the top. I also picked up a spare bolt, oversized nut, and some star washers to use as an installation tool to set the rivnuts into the tailgate.

    The hard top has a third brake light installed into the top piece, so I removed the rear tailgate to pull the old third brake light wiring out. To do this, I had to remove my aftermarket tailgate hinge which covers the wiring grommet. When I tried to re-attach the tailgate to the hinge, I cross threaded one of the bolts and mangled the threads. Since I don't own a tap and die set and was anxious to start actually installing the top I set the tailgate aside as a problem for future me.

    My wife was able to help me quickly set the two side panels onto the Jeep. Pleased with this, we called in a favor from a neighbor to lift the top into place. This also went quickly, though I should have known the easy progress during these steps indicated we missed something. After setting the top, I spent far too long trying to bolt the top to the sides due to limited access and clearance in several of the bolt locations. After installing about a quarter of the bolts I realized we had forgotten to install the weather stripping on the front of the hard top. I removed the roof bolts and called in additional help to remove the top, flip it, install the weather stripping, and then re-set the top onto the Jeep.

    At this point the day was already growing long from the various setbacks and problems. I installed all of the roof bolts and then tightened the side-to-body bolts to secure the top and sides to each other and the body tub. With these tasks completed and the hardware stores closed early for the holiday I was forced to stop work until tomorrow. In the morning I will pick up a tap and die set to try to chase the damaged threads on the tailgate so I can finish the installation.






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    Default Re: 2005 LJ Adventuring Build



    Color looks to nicely match.

    This should give you a couple more inches for sleeping space, yes?

    You'll get there!

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    Default Re: 2005 LJ Adventuring Build



    You got this! Man that Jeep is going to look like a new rig with that top! Excited to see this
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    Default Re: 2005 LJ Adventuring Build



    I wonder if chasing the threads will be enough or if you'll end up needing to Heli-Coil it? Either way, looking good so far.

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    Default Re: 2005 LJ Adventuring Build



    That's a nice looking top!

    I'm looking forward to seeing it in person.
    Thanks for sharing Trent.
    ___________
    All zoos are petting zoos if you are drunk enough.

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    Default Re: 2005 LJ Adventuring Build



    Wow! Trent this is nice! I'm, looking forward to seeing it in person.

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    Default Re: 2005 LJ Adventuring Build



    That going to be worth all the frustration, it's beautiful. Love the color match, and I respect you for not washing the Jeep first.

  16. #12
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    Default Re: 2005 LJ Adventuring Build



    Paul previously posted:
    "That going to be worth all the frustration, it's beautiful. Love the color match, and I respect you for not washing the Jeep first. "

    If it were warmer out yesterday I would have washed it! I just used a sponge to clean all of the areas the new top touches before setting the new pieces in place.

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    Default Re: 2005 LJ Adventuring Build



    speedkills previously posted:
    "I wonder if chasing the threads will be enough or if you'll end up needing to Heli-Coil it? Either way, looking good so far."

    I have been worried about this also. Fortunately a tap did the trick. Only took a minute once I had the tools in hand.

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    speedkills (January 1st, 2021)

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    Default Re: 2005 LJ Adventuring Build - Hard Top Part 3



    I finished the hard top installation after dark yesterday, so I washed the Jeep today while it was warm and took some photos. Yesterday ran much longer than anticipated for various reasons. I had to purchase a drill bit large enough to install the rivnuts. Upon trying to use the drill bit, I realized I only own drills with 3/8" chucks but this 17/32 bit had a 1/2" shank, so I had to find a drill. After I thought I was finished seating the rivnuts and began to install the barn door, one of the rivnuts began to spin and I had to figure out how to extract it since I was not able to re-seat it.

    By now you probably guessed that I did not purchase a spare rivnut when I purchased the rivnuts a couple days ago. Back to the hardware store again for a rivnut. Installed the new rivnut and made sure to really scrunch it in tight. Drilled out the slot on the mounting bar a bit for better clearance to this rivnut to ensure clean threading. Placed the barn door on the rear hatch and spent a long time fiddling with it to get it lined up just right. The barn door was very finnicky. If seated a little bit too far right and the top of the door wanted to collide with the rear passenger quarter panel. When moved left, the entire left side interfered with the rear driver quarter panel. Eventually I decided the tailgate was slightly crooked from my removal and install when I messed with the third brake light.

    I fiddled with the tailgate hinge for a while until the tailgate appeared to hang nicely level, then attempted to seat the barn door again. With a few more attempts, I eventually seated the barn door adequately. I tightened down all of the interior bolts, spliced the third brake light wiring harness into the passenger tail light bundle, and cleaned up the wiring with some wire loom and p clips. Installation completed as the sun was setting.












  20. The Following 5 Members Say Thanks to open_circuit For This Post:

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    Default Re: 2005 LJ Adventuring Build - Hard Top Part 3



    Looks nice Trent.
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    Default Re: 2005 LJ Adventuring Build



    Nice job!

    What tire carrier is that?

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    open_circuit (January 2nd, 2021)

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    Default Re: 2005 LJ Adventuring Build



    Brian previously posted:
    "Nice job!

    What tire carrier is that?"

    Rugged ridge spartacus HD. I bought it when I put 33s on the jeep a couple years ago because I was worried about the stock tailgate hinges and the stock carrier mount didn't allow the tires to clear the bumper. The hinge is fantastic, but I do regret not buying a different bumper with a swing away tire carrier instead. My options at the time were a new bumper / carrier or the new hinge and tire carrier bracket. I am happy with this solution, but if I end up replacing the bumper it may be a little annoying to have gone this route.

    Fwiw, the hinge moves very smoothly and with little resistance. I have no rattling from the tailgate, it opens and closes nicely, and it doesn't blow or swing when I leave it open on a hill or in moderate wind. It works very well for what it is.

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    Brian (January 2nd, 2021)

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    Default Re: 2005 LJ Adventuring Build



    Looks great!

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    Default Re: 2005 LJ Adventuring Build



    Very slick.

    Your first post talks about rooftop cargo. How much weight is that top designed to support, and how much to you think you'll put up there?

    One of the nice things about your rear door is you can stand on the bumper to access the roof with the door open. Its much easier to do that when your knee can go forward into the vehicle, rather than scaling the thing like spiderman which is what 99% of people with rear hatches end up having to do.

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    open_circuit (January 2nd, 2021)

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    Default Re: 2005 LJ Adventuring Build



    Trevor? previously posted:
    "Very slick.

    Your first post talks about rooftop cargo. How much weight is that top designed to support, and how much to you think you'll put up there?

    One of the nice things about your rear door is you can stand on the bumper to access the roof with the door open. Its much easier to do that when your knee can go forward into the vehicle, rather than scaling the thing like spiderman which is what 99% of people with rear hatches end up having to do."

    The manufacturer is unwilling to put a weight rating on the roof. My gut is "not much". The roof rails and crossbars are marked as 180 lbs maximum. The side panels seem to be made entirely of fiberglass. I'm unsure if the roof has any internal skeleton or is just fiberglass as well. I hope to be able to put about 100 lbs of stuff on the roof, maximum. I have some thoughts on how to reinforce the sides to carry the load better if this does not seem to work well. My goal is to be able to put my load warrior basket up there and/or one of my composite roof boxes so I can store some bulky items. I'm thinking about things like sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and blankets. For my trip in May, I may decide to store my fuel canisters up there if I have to carry spare fuel on the Jeep (instead of in the bed of Matt's truck). I can get to 100 lbs pretty quickly with some fuel cans and a cargo basket.

    This seems to be the roof rack kit that the manufacturer used: https://www.perrycraft.com/product/r...ware-70-inch-2

    Regarding reaching the roof, I have not tried to use the rear bumper / tailgate area to reach the top yet. So far I've just stood on my rock sliders or the rear tires, and I can easily reach the roof. I'm about 6'1" so this is a pretty easy reach for me. I wonder how my wife will do if I ask her to get something from the roof. It is a long way up there to the crossbars.

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