Trail Run Pics
YJ Tub Graft
Seems I can't quite stay away from YJ parts ;-) The body on the Scrambler was pretty rough and I was struggling with a solution. Fiberglass was fairly expensive and I couldn't see myself subjecting it to heavy trail duty, and steel & aluminum were even more expensive and there's no way I could justify $3k for a body for a trail rig. I had started to gather up some of the obscure panels that I needed to repair the tub when I stumbled across Matt Trout aka JeepinMatt on the CJ-8 mailing list and his project which he gladly gave me info and pictures on. What he did was take the rear half of his original tub and graft it to the front half of a YJ tub, then he built a custom diamond plate bed and wheelhouses. Armed with Matt's info & pictures, a few tools and a '94 YJ tub that I got in exchange for Jeepskate's frame, I set about arguably one of my biggest undertakings. I started with the two tubs side-by-side and examined them to figure out how best to cut & fit them together. I marked the first cut with a sharpie, then committed to it with the jig saw. Next I taped a piece of lightweight cardboard in place and created a template for the next three cuts and got to work. I ended up cutting just behind the door posts leaving the factory weld in place and cut the rear of the YJ tub so that the rear floor went along with the front half of the tub. On the Scrambler tub I basically just kept the outer panels and enough of the rear floor to make up for the length difference between the two tubs. I had picked up the rear half from another Scrambler tub earlier for it's wheelhouses and I removed them and trimmed a couple of inches off the width of each of them to create a little more space in the back to run a pair of bucket seats in the back instead of the standard bench seat. I used an Eastwood panel flanging tool (basically just a pair of Vise-Grips with flanging dies welded to the jaws) to create a flange on the edges of the YJ tub (I factored in the overlap when I cut the Scrambler tub), then drilled and dimpled (another set of modified Vise-Grips from Eastwood) and pop-riveted the two tub sections together to give a little extra hold and keep them in place for welding. I borrowed a trailer from Graham McNeil aka MadBrit from Two Rivers Jeep Club and hauled my creation down to my buddy Allen's place in Joliet. Allen had started a small bumper & rock rail fab shop out of his garage a couple of years earlier, so he was setup with 3-phase power and a serious welder (he's a welder for CAT by trade). We spent a couple of afternoons on it (he was on furlough from CAT for a couple of weeks and I took a couple of days off from work) and I think it came out quite well, especially considering that we didn't use a jig or anything to keep it square...it's off maybe 1/16". Afterwards, I hauled it home (it still needed a little finish work, but the main stuff was done), stuffed it in the garage, and barely touched the Jeep again for almost a year and a half. Finally in January 2003 I said enough is enough (it kinda helped that my wife was recovering from surgery so she couldn't pester me about going out to the garage) and I got back to work on the Jeep. A few months later, Dug from Great Lakes JeepThing came down and he welded in a pair of Classic Enterprises floor 'wing' panels (the floor panels under the roll bar feet) which essentially finished off the job. It's mounted with a Daystar 1" 'combo' body lift. The cool thing about this is that they're 1" taller poly body mounts instead of a body mount with a separate 1" puck. Fast forward to 2005-2006 and the Jeep was up in Wisconsin at my buddy Anders' shop. After having sat for a while, the wheelhouses had succumbed a bit to the rust monster, plus the lip around the wheel opening on each side was in pretty sad shape. After straightening out the suspension and fitting front tube fenders, it became apparent that I could fit 38's and that simply trimming off the lips would give me a little more clearance to essentially match the front. So, I used Anders' plasma cutter (I gotta get me one of those) and removed the lips and wheelhouses and replaced them with some modified Jeep-style trailer fenders which Anders welded in for me.
My buddies on the CJ-8 list came through once again on this mod. I was interested in a 'family style' rear cage since my son would be riding in the back on family outings. Mark Belguin stepped forward with photos and info on his setup (I've seen a couple of others setup the same way too). What he did was take another stock Scrambler roll bar and cut the 'kickers' off of it. He then mounted the main hoop in the back (he used an '81 bar so the feet fit perfectly in between the rear feet) and cut & re-used the kickers as stringers. I essentially duplicated this setup, but with a newer roll bar (it came with the extra rear half tub that was leftover after I used the wheelhouses from it above...I *had* an '81 roll bar that I had gotten as part of a parts trade, but I never brought it home from Michigan), so I ended up trimming about 1/2" off the outer edges of the main hoop feet so they'd butt up next to the feet on the kickers. While Dug was down finishing up the floor, we knocked this out as well. We temporarily installed the factory roll bar, then set the main hoop from the extra roll bar in place, measured, and tacked it in place at the feet. I then set about cutting & notching the kickers to re-use as spreaders. Remember the old adage "measure twice, cut once"? Well, I goofed and didn't factor in the extra material needed for fish mouthing and cut the kickers too short. After puzzling over it for a while, we took a ride down to Connelly Steel in the industrial park where ChicagoLand 4WD used to be. Turns out that the owners are brothers and are heavy into Jeeps and ATV's and were more than happy to help me out. They gave me a great deal on some heavy wall 2.5" tubing and one brother who lives nearby gave me his card & cell phone number in case I ever need any steel when they're closed. With the new tubing in hand, we headed back home and I measured properly this time, marked the tubing, and notched it with an angle grinder and Dug tacked it into place. We double-checked our measurements, then he finalized the welds.
I also wanted to have full coverage up front but still be able to use a half hard top, so I started looking at various in-cab cage setups and had settled on either getting a kit from Essentially Off-Road, or using the main hoop from a CJ-7 roll bar and adding a front cage kit to it (I had actually started down this path already after getting a roll bar as part of a parts trade). One day while perusing the JeepsUnlimited For Sale Forum, I came across Scott Anderson aka SCOTTA in Kentucky who had wrecked his YJ and was rebuilding it, but wanted to take it in a different direction. Turns out he was running an Essentially Off-Road style cage with a Scrambler half soft-top and that was one of the items he was selling. After a few PM exchanges, I found out that he was coming up to Illinois to pick up an engine from another Jeeper who was changing direction on his project, so I drove over there one night after work with my hitch hauler on the back of my Grand Cherokee and strapped that puppy on the back. I'll be modifying it a bit. It's a little bit cock-eyed, and the door bars are kinda awkward, some I'm going to replace those with normal bars and square up the cage at the same time. I'll also add some gussets and some additional tubing for mounting the seats and harnesses.
Fast forward to Winter 2005 and I had the Scrambler up at Anders' shop. With the cages in and my Mastercraft seats positioned, we found that the half cage & half cab just weren't going to work with my 6' tall 210# frame. So, first we ditched the front cage (I sold it to another Jeeper with a YJ), then we ditched the rear cage (I separated the 'family add-on and gave away the factory bar, then decided it didn't make sense to keep the extra stock main hoop as the anchor for a new cage) and collaborated on a design for a completely custom new cage. My buddy Dave (aka Grub) started looking for a cage around the same time after his wife got after him about wheeling with his kids and the stock cage and liked our design for the most part, so he brought his Scrambler up to Anders' shop for one. Since my overall job is much bigger, Dave is getting his cage first. He made a few tweaks to it and added in some elements that we picked up from Joescj8 that was posted on the CJ-8.com forums (namely the b-pillar reinforcement that still allows pass-through access to the back seat). We used 1 3/4" .120 wall DOM tubing for the bulk of it and a few 1" pieces for handles and such along with some saddle-type gussets instead of the more traditional flat stock gussets. The front Mastercraft seats are mounted to the cage. I was unable to properly fit the set of Mastercrafts that I had purchased for the rear, so I sold them to Dave and picked up a TJ rear seat off Ebay. We cut down the TJ seat's mounting brackets and welded them to the cage, so full fold-n-tumble capability was maintained. We also mounted it a little further back than stock for more legroom. The front is setup with Scrothe ASM DOT legal 4-point harnesses and the rear is setup with RJS 4-point harnesses...all mounting tabs are double-shear. The cage is tied into the frame using plates with mounting ears welded to the frame and chunks of tubing with YJ poly spring bushings bolted in between. For the c-pillar, we decided to remove the Scrambler's large body channel containing two of the body mounts and let the tie-ins function as the body mounts. This also left the rear floor a little weak, so we added a 'cargo bar' to the back of the cage just off the floor to hold heavy items. The rearmost section of the cage is removable with collar clamps from MAD4WD so that larger cargo can be carried in the bed if need be.
Not a whole lot has changed here from the original Jeepskate project. I'm utilizing the same '95 windshield frame and dash and lining the tub with Durabak. I traded the Honda Prelude seats for the front clip from a CJ-10a aircraft tug (you'll see that pop up on one of my rigs sooner or later), then I scored a completely refurbished set of Mastercraft suspension seats off Ebay, so I sold the '95 seats to help offset the cost. I scored another set of Mastercrafts off Ebay that need new covers and will likely be mounting them where the rear bench would normally go, and an optional TJ rear seat all the way back for when I have extra passengers. I'll be utilizing an aftermarket TJ center console and a stock TJ parking brake lever. The stereo system will be fairly mild, probably starting with an older Pioneer CD head unit that someone gave me a few years ago (they broke the face plate & bought a new head unit which I installed for them) once I find a face plate for it (just grabbed one on Ebay), either 4x6's in the dash or Select Increments Mod Pods with 5 1/4's in the kick panels, a 10" JL Audio sub in the back, powered by an older Alphasonik amp. CB will either be the Uniden that used to be in '1 Last 7' or a Cobra 75 WX ST that I've got sitting in a box in the garage (notice how I have a lot of crap in boxes in the garage). I also located a tilt-column with delay wipers from a manual trans YJ, so I'll be switching it out with my auto column. Fast forward to 2005 and I picked up a custom cockpit style dash off Ebay (I sold the YJ dash along with the 4.0). I'll be building a cockpit style center console that attaches to it to complete the look and putting in an array of custom gauges, switches and shifters. The Mastercrafts for the rear didn't work out, so I sold them to Grub and will just use a TJ rear seat which I'll probably eventually replace with a Mastercraft, Corbeau, or PRP bench seat.
I decided to go with some serious armor that would also reinforce the tub graft and selected Avalanche/Poison Spyder (I bought them just as the company was splitting) Crusher Corners. These things are serious!! If you smash one of these things, then you've probably just totaled your rig. I special-ordered them without cut-outs and will either be ordering a set of their Helldorado Sliders (I didn't like the small tubes on their Rocker Knockers with nerf steps once I saw them on Grub's rig) to match or a set of Shrockworks rockers like I have on '1Last7'. Installation is a simple clamp on, drill, and bolt-on affair. Once they were in place, I pulled out my old military tail-light template, worked out light placement with a bucket (the Scrambler has two 'pockets' that the lights fit into rather than the large wheel well area that a CJ or YJ has), and traced & cut with a jig saw. During the down-time I had also picked up a set of Hummer recessed side marker lights from the local Jeep/Hummer dealer, so I made templates for those as well and cut them out. I haven't quite figured out where the gas filler is going yet. I've got a TJ and an early CJ-5 surround to work with...it'll be on the side somewhere. I ended up going with the Shrockworks rockers after I recovered from the sticker shock of the Helldorado's. They fit very well with the Crusher Corners. Anders and I also built some custom tube flares and welded them to the corners.
I'm utilizing the same hybrid CJ/YJ front clip from Jeepskate as well. I'm entertaining eventually going with either a 'rockcrawler' hood or clear Lexan hood and some tube fenders. I've got several different sets of flares as well, so we'll see what pans out in the end. For bumpers, I have one of Allen's rear bumper/tire carrier combos. Very heavy duty stuff. He modified one of his existing YJ units to match up to the Scrambler. Up front, Matt Trout built a custom unit for me in exchange for a 4.0 head setup that I had purchased for '1 Last 7' then decided not to use. He took one of his base bumpers and added on D-ring mounts, a custom 8274 winch mount, All-Pro 'stinger', and MIG Off-Road grill/rollover hoop. The hoop will eventually get tied into tube fenders. Fast forward to Winter 2005 and I took the plunge and bought the builders' kit version of Metal Fusion Fab's tube fenders. Anders and I added custom tube flares to them and I picked up a Lexan hood off Ebay for half price.