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Dirtydog HalfDork
6/30/18 5:10 p.m.

Put it together, take it apart, put it together, take it apart..............................

ultraclyde PowerDork
6/30/18 8:35 p.m.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

As long as every time it goes back together it's a little better.

Dirtydog HalfDork
6/30/18 9:17 p.m.

Indeed, indeed.   Practice makes perfect.

ultraclyde PowerDork
7/1/18 3:20 p.m.

Heater box is rebuilt and reinstalled with new parts. Took the time to tweak the blend doors a little and replace all the foam seals I could. The actuator motor that selects the vent output location is NLA that I could find. Mine works about 90% so I carefully dissassembeld the gearbox and lubed the gears. Fingers crossed I didnt berkeley it up. Got the dash in and the main bolts in and bolted up the steering column. Tomorrow I'll get all the wiring hooked back up and test it before I put all the other crap back on the dash.  Only down side is i tore a chunk out of the front edge of the center console by snagging a stud on it.  Sigh. Guess that's why they recommend taking it out.

ultraclyde PowerDork
7/2/18 12:26 p.m.

Reconnected all the wiring including the ECM and the battery, and I'm happy to say that all the vents work like the should! Well, at least as well as they did before I took it apart. Got all the interior reassembled. I ended up pulling the center console which gave me the opportunity to do some archeology of the crap that collects behind the hand brake. The rubber seal fell out years ago so the area became a time capsule. I learned that in 2006 the ZJ was in Boulder CO with someone who bought Keystone light. There were also pens from nearly every mid level hotel chain, plus one from the McDonnel Douglass Raytheon group. Combined with the remains of the high end late nineties car phone install makes me think sales person, but at only 160k miles that seems unlikely. There were also a couple eyeliner pencils of more recent vintage.


Anyway, my supervisor made sure I got it all back in but I still had some leftover screws...

Interior back in, I started pulling the rest of the AC system. Pulled the dryer and compressor (no oil drained out!) And bolted in the new compressor.  It has a sticker saying it has 8 oz. Oil in it, so fingers crossed. 

Next came condenser removal, which meant pulling the grill and header panel. The old header panel was broken from a previous owner collision.  It actually came out in 3 pieces.

...and getting that crap out of the way let's me yank out the leaking factory trans cooler and upgrade it.  I think I found part of the reason the ac wasnt cooling well at idle and that the truck would heat up in a drivethrough:

Not much air getting through that....

Now I need to go buy some trans line to hook up the new cooler but I left my wallet in the wife's car. Which she drove to work. Guess I'll take a nap instead...

ultraclyde PowerDork
7/2/18 4:18 p.m.

Here's a better shot of the old condenser 

Seems like I should see a massive improvement in airflow, lol.  After installing the new condenser I spent some time straightening out the bumper structure. Lots of prying and hammering made it better but it will never be straight. 



I was about to call it a day when I found an Amazon box on the porch. I ordered a marine type panel mount dual USB charger to replace the cigarette lighter socket. It was supposed to come in yesterday while I had the dash torn apart, but so goes USPS. I took some panels off and put it in, I'll get some pics when the battery is hooked back up. Looks snazzy so far and cleans up my permanent mount cable to the phone hardmount.

Tomorrow I make a parts run and begin reassembly! 

Dirtydog HalfDork
7/2/18 5:49 p.m.

Great progress.  Hopefully all goes well from here on in.   Don't know if the misplaced wallet was an omen or not.   But a nap kinda fits the bill too.

ultraclyde PowerDork
7/2/18 6:56 p.m.

Thanks. The projects moving well so far. Looking forward to upgrading a few systems for a change instead of just fixing broken crap.

ultraclyde PowerDork
7/3/18 3:39 p.m.

Started out the day picking up assorted bits and bobs- heater hose, trans cooler line, etc. Then came home and mounted the trans cooler and started reassembling the front end with the new header panel. 

Mounting the new header panel meant sifting through the pieces of the old one and carefully swapping all the headlight adjusters and clip nuts.

Once that was secure I started putting the radiator bracing back on. The I took it all back apart and remounted the trans cooler lower because it hit the hood latch on the radiator cap. Oops.

Next I finished installing all the AC pieces and pulled a vacuum on the system. It held near 30" the whole time I ate lunch and the hour it took to undo the bypass and connect the new heater core. Yay! I dumped a partial can I had in just to put some pressure in the system. Filling will have to wait till Thursday when the truck is ready t ok run.

Next came something I've been waiting to install since December. Better headlights!

Direct to battery relays, triggered by the factory lights:

And German market glass lenses with PIAA H4 bulbs:

Makes the other lights look bad!

The new header panel means all the lights now have solid mounts but it's missing some filler strips that the factory piece had. I'm not happy about the massive gaps it leaves,  but not much I can do about it right now. Function first, maybe I can address it later.

After that fun I reinstalled all the other crap except the bumper.

Thursday I'll fill and leak test the cooling system, the the AC. After I make sure the mechanicals are good I'll install the LED driving lights and the get the bumper on and sort all the details in the engine bay.

Any bets on how much I've missed in reassembly?

docwyte SuperDork
7/3/18 4:54 p.m.

Man, those new headlights are going to force you to replace all the other lights now!

ultraclyde PowerDork
7/3/18 5:45 p.m.

No kidding. The corners arent band but the parking light...oof. 

I think my first challenge may be how to aim the headlights. I kept the adjusters the same but given the busted ass mounting panel I'm pretty sure they're way off.

ultraclyde PowerDork
7/5/18 4:42 p.m.

Got everything refilled, topped off, and charged. No coolant leaks, the jeep once again has heat AND air. Actually on the test drive it wasnt cooling quite like I think it should so I threw the gauges on it when I got back. The FSM says the pressures should be checked at 1000rpm but idle is only about 650. I added a bit more freon and got it in pressure specs at 1000rpm. My vent thermometer is still only reading about 60 instead of 40 some odd, but it's a HF cooking thermometer.  Not betting on accuracy.  

Also fabbed the mounts for the LED fog lights. Mounted in factory location and wired to factory wiring. Not the prettiest fab work but its solid and keeps them tucked up out of harm's way. 

With the bumper cover on they're nearly invisible.

They're only for use off road or in EXTREME weather. 16,000 lumens might be obnoxious to other drivers. They're 168 Watts, so I may need to run a separate relay circuit, but the factory dogs were halogens, so the wirings fairly robust.

And the aftermath:

Going to wait till after dark and aim the headlights. 


ultraclyde PowerDork
7/6/18 5:10 a.m.

Here are some headlight beam pattern pics. I didnt get any 'before' pics, but it was your standard late 90s truck with frosted plastic lights.

Also, these are underexposed. Because cell phone. But they are the same exposure on all.

Low beams:

High beams:

Low beams with LED fog lights:

These just don't do justice to the LED lights. The entire shop was lit up. It was like turning on daylight. 

The new headlights don't seem astoundingly bright, but the pattern looks really good. I think it will be a huge step up in vision when actually driving.

akamcfly Dork
7/6/18 4:48 p.m.

I had H4s on the X-Trail and couldn't believe the difference compared to the 9006s on the car before it.

ultraclyde PowerDork
7/7/18 8:12 p.m.

Drove it about 30 mile to my mom's today and the AC seemed to do okay. It still doesn't seem to feel as cold coming out of the vents as it should but it will freeze you running down the highway. The automated climate control doesn't quite seem to keep up when it's really hot out, but that's ok.


jgrewe Reader
7/8/18 6:26 p.m.

I had an ASE  mechanic friend have the same issue with his personal V8 ZJ.  He ended up replacing the entire system piece by piece and eventually gave up and accepted it.  (in Florida for reference)

ultraclyde PowerDork
7/8/18 7:57 p.m.

As my wife has told me repeatedly about this vehicle "you have to adjust your definition of 'fixed'."


DrBoost MegaDork
7/9/18 11:58 a.m.

Looks good. Are you planning a winch? Of so, I have a nice Rough Country winch plate I'm going to sell. You keep the bumper cover, but trim it a bit. 

What do you think the headlight upgrade cost you?

ultraclyde PowerDork
7/9/18 3:11 p.m.

A winch is kind of on the long term wish list. I've eyeballed that RC plate, seems like a good way to go. PM me a price on it. Can't say I need it right now, but I might.

I basically did the lights as a package deal from a guy that does a lot with ZJs out of Phoenix. Check back near the beginning of the thread, I think it was about $300 for all the parts. He makes the wiring harnesses himself and they are well done, just plug and play.

ultraclyde PowerDork
7/28/18 3:03 p.m.

Minor updates. Finally drove the ZJ at night and those headlights are freaking awesome. Drove up a friends driveway that is a tight sand track through a half mile of woods and the LEDS are awesome on trail. I need to reconfigure them to light with the highbeams too though.

So today the wife was feeling poorly so instead of boating I fixed the parking brakes on the Jeep. What a fiddly, awkward pain in the ass. It uses a mini brake shoe set inside each rear disk. Looking at the condition of the stuff I'd bet it hasn't had a working parking brake in 15 years and these were the factory shoes.

All rust and no friction material at all.  All new parts in now and it works well. I think I may want to tighten it up a little but I'll drive it some first to test it.

While I was there I put in the new sway bar end links I had on the shelf too.

I also started fabbing up a rear side window rack. I did this in the Explorer I had and it was really handy. Makes a great place to hang dog leashes, bike helmets, and bungees to keep them organized and available. The last one was a section cut out of a wire dog kennel but I found a cheap wire shelf this time.

I think the square pattern is cool because I can also use military type molle gear on it.

Cut the legs off, cut to fit window. 

It will be mounted with a cross bar at the top that I'm going to make out of the legs I cut off. Turns out my old arbor press has holes in it that are perfect for reshaping the wire legs

Next I'll pull the plastic trim off and mount the cross brace. But right now I'm closing up the shop for the day and taking a nap. More updates later.

ultraclyde PowerDork
7/29/18 1:48 p.m.

Reusing the cut off legs just didnt work out. After much shaping and reshaping they just looked like crap plus I decided they were too hard to mount. I found an old piece of copper tube in the corner of the shop and used it instead.

Mounted to the pillars:

The top of the wire rack will zip tie to this and then screw mount to the plastic sill below. Should take all the weight the wire rack could hold anyway. Next I cut the plastic panels to fit around the bar, then took the bar out and painted it. It was my intention to paint the wire rack black toon but the paint wont stay on the white vinyl coating. Of course the spray paint on the copper is taking forever to dry, so it may be a paint issue. Once it's all dry and installed I'll get another pic.

ultraclyde PowerDork
7/30/18 4:40 p.m.

The paint finally dried so here's the final install.

Bar installed and trim back on:

Rack installed, screws and washers at the bottom, zip ties at the top:

And now in use:

I was surprised how much I used the rack in the old truck. I kind of wish I'd been able to paint it black but the vinyl coat keeps it quiet and at least it matches the Jeep.

ultraclyde PowerDork
8/4/18 8:00 a.m.

I drove myself and 3 co workers to some company meetings in the ZJ yesterday. Did over 300 miles on I75 through Atlanta and back. Ran with traffic or faster, cruise control set on 75mph at times, without issue. Everyone was comfortable for the trip although it was a little noisier than a modern vehicle.

That feels like a real victory.

The average of 12.5 mpg doesn't feel so victorious.

Dirtydog Dork
8/4/18 9:25 a.m.

Inexpensive solution to floor clutter or a box.  Well done.   How did the AC perform?  I always remind myself that MPG is not high on the list when you own a SUV.

ultraclyde PowerDork
8/4/18 5:14 p.m.

Ac was acceptable. Temps were only upper 80s but I still had to keep it on recirc and moderately cold. I was able to back the fan speed down to about half. Again, not as frigid as I would hope since I just rebuilt the entire system but everyone was comfortable. 

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