1989 Cherokee


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Bought this a year or two ago for $2,500. It had a nice 4.5 inch lift from Rough Country on it, 33s, and smittybuilt built bumpers and winch.

Upgraded to a SYE with a flange and a lock rite. Took it to Rubicon as my first trip three months after buying it. Had a blast and made it to Soup Bowl before heading out and going home.

Bought two Ford 9inch reads with plans to make a 609 axle. A 609 axle is CRAZY expensive. Also landed a pair of 1 tons out of a 1989 F350. High pinion Dana 60 with king pinions, and a Sterling 10.25 rear. At some point I watched too much YouTube...

I replaced the blown lock rite for free thanks to Summit Racing, went to Fordyce, ALMOST made it to Winch Hill 1 on Memorial Day Weekend 2020 (mud pit at the bottom of the hill before WH0.5) and blew the locker up in a stupid spot. Got out and started working on the 60 for real.


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Sterling all smoothed out

I love the grinder


Not much different than a Dana 35

Dana 60 flipped over and upside down. Low pinion passenger drop look a like.

Sterling 10.25 primed with weld through primer

‘I’ve seen this on YouTube. It doesn’t look THAT hard


Maybe I should have stayed away from tons.

At least the Kingpin looks good. Bearings also looked good. Plan is to replace the plastic bushing with bronze.


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Lock rite #2 after Fordyce. Decided to use the skinny pedal instead of the winch. Dumb life choice. Also stripped the splines off the driver side axle. Still had lots of fun. The other 3 rigs were on 40s or 42s and BUILT. I think they had a blast watching me make it through stuff on 33s and a lunchbox. They also weren’t shy about saying the 35 isn’t worth the money. They never made me feel like I was slowing them down.



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My Fordyce trip. Left Reno around 8am. Got home and unloaded at 10:30 pm. SO GLAD I brought a trailer.

Sunrise/Hamburger hill

Winch hill 1 (it’s before Sunrise hill. This was taken on the way out)

Lunch spot


The downhill before this I was told I wouldn’t have to go up. Turns out that was a lie and I was broken. The water crossing here was up to the bumper and over at points. You know shit gets real when built rigs pull over, give you plenty of space, and pull out their phones then give you thumbs up all day.

Me being a goof ball. Background rig is broken for a moment. Tan FJ from the previous photo had a little trouble here. I KIND OF walked up...at least it wasn’t as hard as the built rigs made it seem.

Almost to Winch Hill 1. We walked because we had to deliver a funnel for some ATF addition.


Good thing Fordyce has cell service along the trail. Dude rebuilt this on the trail apparently.

Going up I had to get some help. I couldn’t keep the driver front on that flat spot on the left. The rock to the right of it was 3 ft from the hole in front of it to the top. I’m on 33s. The fun hasn’t even begun yet because I knew where we were going.

Hooked on to a buddy. He would go ahead, if winch up, and then let out the winch. Smitty built winches are NOT fast enough out to keep up with 4.10s and a 4:1 TCase going as slow as possible apparently. At least I had the winch and 30’ tow strap in the jeep.
Those are 42sahead of me.


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Mandatory poser shot. Thought I was holding up traffics but they were stopped ahead of here just a bit anyways.


Light bars over lockers at this point of the trail.

Random waterfall looking out the driver window on the way out

The spot where the FJ was parked earlier.

Looking down Driveline Hill. The rig at the bottom is the same one that was broken in the photo earlier.

Got home, removed the locker, got a refund from summit and got to work on the tons. Fordyce was the trip I needed to realize why people go to tons. Less chance of breaking. More time pent wheeling. Easier to bring the whole family of two or three kids and not wonder imIF you’ll make it out. I probably had the smallest tires out there.

Fordyce makes Rubicon look like bunny slopes.

Inner hub bearing removed.

I ain’t no two pump chump. I wanted ALL the old grease out. FAWK doing THIS again.


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Decided I HATED the color red, and with the Jeep being silver I should do a ‘silver and blue’ theme and mix it with a ‘silver and black’ theme.



Dana 35 driver axle after Fordyce. I guess this explains why the locker ‘worked sometimes but not ALL the time.’


New shafts and a new carrier are a couple hundred bucks.
A whole Dana 35, or any axle out of Pick n Pull, is around $300. Even though I can’t weld I know link brackets and shock mounts are around the same price. Simple decision after going through TWO lockers and having a set of tons sitting in the garage taking up space.

Along the way I did the WJ/Grand Cherokee brake booster swap. NIGHT AND DAY difference. 100% recommend it to ANYONE with an XJ. Only downside is my cruise control doesn’t turn itself off unless I slow down under 25 mph, or I turn it off manually.

Oh and I broke the mirror on V Rock at moon rocks. So I’ve taken it on three trips since buying it April 2019. Rubicon, Moonrocks, and Fordyce. I never made it through the entire trail and it’s easy to think I would have in rubicon because it was me, with not enough spare parts or food, and lots of luck (also experienced wheelers) to guide me through.


I love content like this! I mean, it's at your expense but it makes for a good read. Good luck on the build 🍻


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I love content like this! I mean, it's at your expense but it makes for a good read. Good luck on the build

Thanks. I’ve seen a lot of threads over the years and more pictures usually means ‘more better’. Hopefully I keep up with the mass amounts of photos. I keep ‘forgetting’ to take the ‘before’ photos of how much rust I’m removing. Just imagine a 30 year old axle that has been outside meeting a Milwaukee wire brush during COVID 19 quarantine and add ‘a lot of free time’ to imagine how much rust removal there has been.

And on to a new photo.
I primed AND painted the passenger side inner C and picked up new gaskets for the kingpin spring cap and lower bearing retainer that has to be removed to degrease the bearings. Again, I had some free time.


This kind of shows what color the inner C was before I killed some time with the grinder. I can’t believe people get paid to operate a grinder all day. I think I found my retirement job.



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I hate grinders with a passion. I'd rather burn my self with carbon air arc rods than deal with one. Nice Fordyce pics

Thanks. I always thought photography was cool and always wanted to see MORE photos. Hard to take them when you’re busy wheeling. I have a few more from the group. I also know why there are never any photos of the hard stuff. Too busy wheeling to snap a picture.


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Grizzly locker showed up from Amazon (IN A DAY!) and was about $100 LESS that it was at Summit Racing even with the Yukon sale. I kind of wonder WHY it was less, but don’t care as it doesn’t look installed or used to me. I didn’t get any stickers though.

This will sit around until I can buy an install kit. I’ve never done gears, and I don’t think anything is wrong with the ones in there, so it might be a while before the front is locked. Oh yeah, I didn’t say anything about that. This is a 35 spline series 3 Dana 60 carried. Yukon makes thick 4.88 and 5.13 gears (as of this posting. Memory might be incorrect) so I am not stuck at 4.10 gears. Right now I’m thinking 4.10s would be good for daily driving. I also think a very expensive four speed transfer case will cost around the same as buying new lockers and different gears.


Some slight brown marks at the 11:00 position had me a little worried about this. The whole ‘it’s $100 less and Yukon doesn’t let you have the sale’ thing. I’ll most likely buy the $65 Yukon Extended Service plan because it might be a year before I get to test this.

Dana 35 carrier and ring gear (that blew up the Lock Rite) on the right. I still don’t see the big improvement over stock. LOL!


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Installed the Ballistic Fab bronze bushing and high steer arm on the passenger side. Yes I know it needs to be drilled still.

Springless high steer and studs came from www.fourwheelsupply.net (4WHEELSUPPLY on Pirate4x4). Tightened the studs finger tight with red locktite covering almost all the threads in the knuckle. Tightened the nuts without locktite to 75 ft oh and the springless stud to what MIGHT be ‘snug ‘nuff’ back it off 1/8 of a turn and tightened the nut to 75 ft pounds. Arms are 3/4” thick A35 steel. Studs are 3” 1/2-20 thread and came with the proper nuts. I painted them with BBQ Aluminum spray paint I had sitting around.

I need to buy new rotors and MAYBE calipers. The rotor was too thin to turn, and rebuilding the caliper costs about as much as buying a new one. After that it’s Stage 8 nuts for the hub and the passenger side will be done.



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Finished up the passenger side. Stage 8 locking hub nut not visible, but it’s there.
Cardone remanufactured caliper and brand new Bendix rotors because the rotors were crazy thin (1.2x-1.35” vs 1.65-1.7”) and couldn’t be turned. Calipers were the same as rebuilding them. Oddly they are two different colors. $20 core charge for the calipers through summit and it came with all the necessary hardware except pads. I knew I forgot to buy something.


Moved on to the driver side. Slightly more rust.


A few moments later I had the whole thing stripped down. Maybe 2 hours going at my own pace with no deadline. Hopefully I put the other side together correctly in case I need to reference anything.

Knuckle before. Photo from a go pro hero seven.

After some boredom with a grinder and 3” wire brush.


I honestly forget if I knocked the studs out of the passenger side knuckle but I probably did. I recall chasing threads twice and once was the studs. This will get a coat of primer and some more Rustoleum gloss black. It would be a really convenient time to upgrade to Reid Knuckles.


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This is why we wear face masks. Thanks to COVID 19 my boogers aren’t as dirty as possible and my ears aren’t crunchy. Safety glasses for the win too.



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I got the driver side torn down and painted part of it, cleaned up threads, and mounted the knuckle long enough to make a YouTube video about what I'm doing. Mostly because videos seem to be the new way of doing projects, I was bored, had the GoPro sitting there doing nothing with time to kill, and it was kind of fun. You can tell how amateur my skills are and I'm okay with it. Maybe in the future I'll have some cool videos from Fordyce or Bronco Canyon or some other places like that.



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Some stuff showed up from metalcloak today. Ordered during their July 4 sale. They called me a day or so later to tell me it would be 2-3 weeks.
Mailed out of Sacramento yesterday.





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Played around with a link calculator this afternoon. Kind of hybrid math between what the measurements ARE CURRENTLY with the Dana 30, what I expect them to be with a new crossmember (oh yeah I bought the Rusty’s Off-road Crossmember) and about where they measure on the Dana 60 front end. The Dana 60 looks like a 3” axle tube and the Dana 30 has a 2.5”. Not so much difference I can’t get SOME kind of idea. I plan to update these numbers when the new crossmember is in. The gap between the frame and axle upper link needs to be about 1.5 inches. Panhardbar should get interesting. I can see why it’s a lot of work stretching the front end at this point. If I was going to do THAT I’d get one of those Chevy van steering boxes where the pitman arm goes away from the driver seat.

On to the photos


First link setup


Second link setup. I realized I’d measured Inner C distance and said that was my link separation and panhard mount. It will probably be 2 inches closer just because brackets have to be welded which requires space. Frame mounts were a guess based off the factory crossmember and a photo of the new crossmember. Driver side upper and lower link are stacked on top of each other. With the 1 1/4” joints the link length should be enough that I can adjust them to the exact length. Panhard is based off the current location.



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Pulled the transmission out to replace the rear freeze plug. Turns out my internet research and continued belief was correct. Antifreeze dripping from the bottom of the bell housing without oil was the sign for me. Occasionally it would drop off the engine crank and look like it was coming out of the oil.

The cheap harbor freight jack sucks. Either that or I suck at using if it at some point. The $170 one works MUCH better. 800 pound jack has less problem lifting the transmission and transfer case than the 450 pound BUT it only has a chain and the cheap one has a strap.


I added Permatex Super 300 to the brass plug. How to never do this again. I should take a photo of the old one to show. It broke in one spot and was close to another.

Some of the signs I’d see thinking it was a head gasket. The valve cover leaked when I bought it so oil leaked. Owner said it was rear main seal. It wasn’t.


Before clean up. Yeah I know it’s out of order. I’d previously pulled the transfer case which is why it’s clean.

Purple Power and a pressure washer. Oh and a scraper to get the hard to reach spots. I leaked so much ATF putting it back in I didn’t have to worry about spraying into the dipstick.

Crank position sensor installed. Remove this before reinstalling the transfer case or you’ll break it. Good time to change it and keep this as a spare, but I’m broke.

Even the starter was cleaned up. No electrical connected yet.

Trans dip stick. I forgot to install that flex plate cover so I had to remove the transmission after I was 90% done. This is when I decided to get the bigger transmission jack.

PB Blaster made removing those two bolts easier. Soak them the day before you want to remove them.

Removing the exhaust helped with the transmission jack. Crazy how the entire exhaust is supported by almost nothing.

I took some video during disassembly and wanted to take video of reassembly. I didn’t because I wanted the transmission on.


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I was bored today so I put some tires on some beadlocks I bought. Not fun. Hope I never have to do this anywhere other than my garage. Dawn dish soap and some water definitely helped along with a big harbor freight pry bar.



I think I’ll torque the beadlocks to 20 ft pounds based of some random internet website. They’re grade 8 hardware and I’ll probably need to check them before important wheeling trips so I don’t find out 30 are loose at the wrong moment.

Seriously, I don’t know how people on YouTube do this so easy. Maybe their sidewalks and beads aren’t Kevlar so they flex more. I couldn’t kick the wheel in, stomp the tire on, or jump on either to make the wheel go in as easy as those guys online.

Plans to paint the rock rings for sure. The red doesn’t look good. Maybe powder coat if it lasts longer than spray paint.