WJ TrailRunner (Building a Capable 2WD Overlander)

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2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo, 4.0l Straight 6.
Well i've been meaning to do this for a while and am finally at a time when I can. I've slowly started building my 2wd WJ into a more capable trail rig for Overlanding, Camping, and getting down some hunting and fishing trails.
The idea was to make it a little more capable offroad so I lifted it 4.5 inches and locked the rear. Then when I did get stuck have as much capability to get out as possible, so recovery points and a winch were added .... hope to keep it progressing.

CURRENTLY: 4.5" short arm hybrid (IRO & RC mostly). Lokka, Auto Locked rear Dif. 9000lb Badlands Winch.

UP COMING PLANS: Roof rack, Skid armor. Lighting for night driving. Dual battery setup and in vehicle power converter.

FUTURE PLANS: Front Bull Bar/ Brush guard, Dash/ Action Cam, rear cargo storage (designing something i've had in my head for a while)... and who knows what other do-dads and gizmos.

If anyone has suggestions and tips feel free to throw them at me.
-Also i have a little auto body experience, light construction, and currently work in a techish job field so i'm gonna be doing most if not all the work myself.
 
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0131151259 (1).jpg So ill start it off with a few of the things i've already done/started.

Since my jeep is 2wd it doesn't come with in recovery points. So i picked up so tow hooks rated at 10,000lbs and had a local guy cut me out some 3/16 (I believe) gauge steel squares to reinforce the holes.
 

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As you can see it's a unibody and has the square box on each side where a recovery point or bull bar etc can go. But I didn't trust the thin unibody alone so I drilled out the metal plates I got and slipped them between the grade 8 bolts and unibody for and strength and to keep the hole from pulling through (hopefully lol)0219151402.jpg
 
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Also painted the unibody front black with some engine enamel for in the future if i have bumper off etc. ( mostly just looks better)0219151403e.jpg 0220151136a (1).jpg
 

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So I know I will probably end up with Mud terrains or a aggressive All terrain as I need the extra grip being as i have a lack of pull power from front end and no low range. I'm really leaning towards a 33" tire. 35s will be a tight fit and with a locked stock axle I don't want to increase risk of axle shaft breaks. Also ill need to tackle obstacles/hills etc at a higher speed to use momentum.

Next phase comes getting to those tires, ie lifting and creating the uptravel room needed.
 

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Got some adjustable Quick disconnect sway links, this will accommodate the new lift height and the quick disco pull pins will be handy when transitioning from highway to trailway :wink:0424150858 (1).jpg
 

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Greased up the threads and got them on, tried to do as much as i could ahead of the lift install, to make it easier and quicker.0424150953.jpg
 

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I was a bit confused with this install as they installed in new location vs stock links. (They are from Rough Country and adj from 3" up to 6" of lift). I double checked online this is the correct way to install this particular brand.IMG_20150424_135011.jpg
 

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Then came some fender trimming.... (Note: it was about to rain so I didn't finish yet)

Taped off some basic line to follow with the cutting wheel. Don't worry gonna clean them u later when i get the new tires...i may need to cut more.20160504_120744.jpg
 

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The rear end was difficult do to the wheel wells design. there is a pinch weld in the rear that holds it together. So i cut away back side and folded a small section of front over. I continued this about half down until the pinch weld ended.
As i said it was about to rain and i may need to trim a little more so I put a thin line of Bed liner on it until i get new tires fitted in a few weeks.
Yeah it looks horrible but it will be better when finished trust me. 20160505_140547.jpg
 

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Locker finally arrived today. Took about 3 weeks. Came from Australia and had to go through customs for 3 days in NY (idk why or if this is normal).

Did a lot of research and I do have big plans so need to stretch $$$ so I decided on an Aussie Locker at first... but they were on back stock. Then found this locker made by LOKKA. Apparently at one time Aussie and Lokka were the same company or partners or something. Anyhow it has fairly good reviews and was affordable. Its an automatic (lunchbox style) locker.and i opted for the HD cross shaft replacement. 20160517_125128.jpg
 

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It will be going in this coming Monday or tuesday probably. Gotta pick up some seal replacements as my axle is a non-c clip and i'll have to slide the axle shafts out a little bit.
...been studying up on directions and youtube videos should be a smooth install. Fingers crossed.
 

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The new jackstands I bought at NAPPA. Didn't need the 6 ton rating lol, these are the tallest I could find and will be used when installing new lift and any future work thereafter. Got some 2 tons but doubt they will raise high enough after lift.

0529151000a.jpg 0529151004.jpg
 
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Sprayed all control arms down with pb blaster ahead of time. This stuff works miracles. 20160519_114640 (1).jpg
Then took the impact wrench to them. If you don't have an impact I highly recommend it, makes jobs much easier. 20160519_095601.jpg 20160519_103634.jpg
 
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