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Thread: 1996 Jeep Cherokee XJ - Mild build

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2021
    Member
    #2900
    Last Online
    2 Weeks Ago
    Location
    Denver, CO
    Age
    38
    4x4
    96 Jeep XJ
    Posts
    51
    User Name
    Gearwhine
    Real Name
    Nick
    Thanks Given
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    Thanked 27 Times in 18 Posts

    Default 1996 Jeep Cherokee XJ - Mild build



    No one should really care about this, but figured I'd start a thread to document some of the work on my Jeep.

    My first ever car was a 1996 Jeep XJ (5sp, 2dr, 4.0) that I built up and wheeled in NJ/PA. I have most of my old (~2002 through 2006) photos (tech, my fabrication, and off-roading) from that time here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1S59PLatVXQY4BywybMH1JAdqr3dfccm2?usp=sharing

    I was in High School & College during that time with a job taking me to Texas afterward; leaving the Jeep in NJ....eventually being sold there. I got the bug for a project vehicle a few years ago to get all my old skills working again. I was looking in order of desire for a 1) Jeep Comanche MJ 2)1996 Jeep XJ (only a 96), 3) Suzuki Samurai, and 4) Older Toyota pickup.

    To make the search saga short...in late 2019, I found a pristine 1996 XJ (Auto, 4dr, 4.0) in Ft. Collins with <130k miles that has lived it's whole life as a grocery getter in San Jose, CA, and Ft. Collins, CO. Absolutely zero rust....the only issue was some cracking paint, missing clear coat, and a few dents here and there.

    There were a lot of things I was happy with on my old XJ, but lots of things I would've done differently as well.

    My focus for this jeep (that I did in reverse 20 years ago) has been:

    1) Reliability
    2) Recovery
    3) Protection
    4) Traction
    5) Lift & Tires

    I've done a lot of work on this Jeep since 2019. I was very patient prior to taking it on any trails until after I had, what I thought, a minimum to wheel safely and reliably. I am extremely happy with where it is right now. This will be the thread to document what has been done and what has yet to be done.

    This is how it currently sits (no original photos at this point):
         
    ___________
    96 Jeep XJ; 31s, locked, & fully skidded
    93 Toyota pickup; 31s, generally stock, and quite beat.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2021
    Member
    #2900
    Last Online
    2 Weeks Ago
    Location
    Denver, CO
    Age
    38
    4x4
    96 Jeep XJ
    Posts
    51
    User Name
    Gearwhine
    Real Name
    Nick
    Thanks Given
    18
    Thanked 27 Times in 18 Posts

    Default Re: 1996 Jeep Cherokee XJ - Mild build



    Bumpers were NOT on my list for an immediate upgrade. I planned on them much later. However, I was visiting a friend in Albuquerque, NM in late 2019 and a gentleman on NAXJA happened to be selling an ARES expedition tire carrier bumper still in the box for a fantastic price. I reluctantly went for it thinking it was going to be overkill. In the end, I think it is an astonishing piece of equipment, and I am so happy with it 2 years later. So much effort was put into designing this bumper, and I never could've made something even remotely as nice myself no matter how much time I put into it (and I rarely think that).

    I actually posted an install thread on Cherokeeforum when I did this. Of course...no one cared as you can tell by all the replies (zero), but it's still a solid thread of the work it required.

    https://www.cherokeeforum.com/f67/ar...nitial-256436/
         
    ___________
    96 Jeep XJ; 31s, locked, & fully skidded
    93 Toyota pickup; 31s, generally stock, and quite beat.

  3. The Following Member Says Thanks to Gearwhine For This Post:

    FINOCJ (May 3rd, 2022)

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2021
    Member
    #2900
    Last Online
    2 Weeks Ago
    Location
    Denver, CO
    Age
    38
    4x4
    96 Jeep XJ
    Posts
    51
    User Name
    Gearwhine
    Real Name
    Nick
    Thanks Given
    18
    Thanked 27 Times in 18 Posts

    Default Re: 1996 Jeep Cherokee XJ - Mild build



    Next on the list was to build my own rock sliders. I wasn't happy with the look of anything on the market (nor the price). This was my first go at fabrication in about 20 years.

    There is no solid frame on XJs to mount anything to directly (it's generally a slightly sturdier car unibody). There is a body pinch seam between the wheel wells that is the best way to get support for rock sliders. I used qty: 9 x 1/4" bolts to sandwich a 1/8" x 1/2" wide flat rod down the entire pinch seam. I welded that seam support to 3 legs (2"x1" x 1/8" rectangle tubing) that bolt to the "frame". I used thread forming screws directly into the sheet metal frame...not thread cutting. I then welded 2"x2" x 3/16" square tubing to those legs. I cut some angles into the front and rear of each slider and notched the ends to match the fender flares (I do not plan on getting rid of the stock fender flares). I make it sound simple...but these took me a long time to get everything the way I wanted them...twice. Finishing one side only having to do it again is pretty miserable.
         
    ___________
    96 Jeep XJ; 31s, locked, & fully skidded
    93 Toyota pickup; 31s, generally stock, and quite beat.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2021
    Member
    #2900
    Last Online
    2 Weeks Ago
    Location
    Denver, CO
    Age
    38
    4x4
    96 Jeep XJ
    Posts
    51
    User Name
    Gearwhine
    Real Name
    Nick
    Thanks Given
    18
    Thanked 27 Times in 18 Posts

    Default Re: 1996 Jeep Cherokee XJ - Mild build



    crappy shot showing legs and pinch seam mount.
         
    ___________
    96 Jeep XJ; 31s, locked, & fully skidded
    93 Toyota pickup; 31s, generally stock, and quite beat.

  6. The Following Member Says Thanks to Gearwhine For This Post:

    FINOCJ (May 3rd, 2022)

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