Exploration XJ Build Thread - Clean New Jeep!

Marques0346

Novice Adventurer
#1
Greetings! This is my first time writing on a forum (or making a build thread in general, but wish me luck and here goes nothing) and I'm super excited! So, hello to all of you here. :) Thank you in advance for any feedback or suggestions that will help to make my Jeep a fine travel vehicle.

Here's the story behind my newfound XJ; it's a 1997 Jeep Cherokee Country, stock baby.

My boyfriend and I were on the hunt for another Jeep after my 97' Sport blew up in the woods. It was a trail-rig to the fullest extent with a 6.5" RC lift, 35s and a hock-pock Monstaliner paint job but she was a beast. The transmission went and the motor was on its way out after my last wheeling trip where she caught fire, so I knew it was the end of Logan, as I had so proudly called it. Nonetheless, that Jeep lives on in my new (and much cleaner) XJ, as they share that same original gunmetal pearl-coat shine. Despite being my first real XJ and a real clunker, that Jeep was strong, hardy and surprisingly easy to maintain and it was these repairs and the faith I had in the brand that brought my 3 best friends and I to Maine/New Hampshire for some mountain climbing and highway hopping, all while camping in the vehicle. Despite the limited space, we had an absolute blast. :p

So we were scouring Craigslist and little car lots here and there and found nothing that caught our eye. I was not looking for just another trail rig, which was all that seemed to be for sale in our area. I was patiently looking for a clean 97-01 Cherokee with power options and a tan/beige interior with as minimal rust and rot as possible, because the Jeep was going to become something much more epic and patriotic than my dearest Logan. My goals included adventuring state to state in something reliable, something with a great aftermarket and community around it. My every hope and dream came true when I finally saw a CL post featuring a blue 97' with these nostalgic looking factory running boards and I pleaded with my boyfriend to check it out with me. Soon after, I became the owner of a beautiful garage find that I've yet to name.

It was sitting about 50 minutes away from my home city. The Jeep's paint was flawless; it was the first thing that I noticed about the vehicle because of how well taken care of it was. It had a cloth grey interior that needed some deep cleaning and a motor with 90K put into it by it's 65 year old owner after he hit 180K but oh boy, you could never tell. Tow hitch, roof rails, NO RUST AND ROT (save for a little quarter sized surface fuzz on the front wheel-well) and it drove smoothly on our test drive. I took it home that day. There was no way I could walk away. The only thing it lacked was an an aftermarket radio and a freakin' rear view mirror; we didn't notice that until we got halfway home. :ROFLMAO:

Now it sits in my driveway, untouched until a warmer New England day comes around so I can begin detailing it. I can't wait. I'm expecting some surprises as it's a little too good to be true, but I'll remain optimistic for now. Got a new front bumper the same color for free in case this one gives me a hard time - looks like it's a tad dented. Here are some of my ideas (but not the whole 3 page list);

3.5 inch suspension lift
31 all-terrains
Keyless entry
Rooftop lights - the old school round variety
HIDs and a small lightbar for the front
CB Radio/Nav. setup
Possible WJ seat swap
Mountaineer rack
9500lb winch
And so much more.

Follow along, I will need advice and input on the way.

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#2
Why not find an already modified XJ, instead of violating a nice stock example, that happen to be worth more than cut up ones.

Sent from my Moto G (4) using Tapatalk
 
#4
Welcome,
Excellent first post with pics !!!
It will be nice starting with an unmolested stock XJ...That way you will know exactly what you have and where you want to go with the build.
 

motoboss

Bad Influence
#5
Wow, looks like a great start. My goal is similar to yours, lightly modified, explor the country back road runner. Unfortunately my start was with a broken, rusted and neglected 2000. I've spent a lot of time and expense to get it where it's at today but it's well on the way to recovery.

Keep on track and make it yours. Good luck
Subscribed.
 
#6
Welcome to expo, and welcome back to the XJ club! Sounds like a good plan to me. I know you've already had 1 but any questions just ask. Lots of good knowledgeable people here.
 
#8
I mentioned in the post I wouldn't "violate" the Jeep. I wanted a stock one so I bought a stock one. Don't worry, be happy.

Welcome -- I much prefer to start with an unmolested XJ in great shape -- I say violate this jeep and make it beg

Have any pictures of your old cherokee? -- I have a gallon of Monstaliner sitting here right now, Dirt Bag, and I like to see what others have done

I have the same plans for my unmolested 2000, I'm really thinking Iron man fab 4 link up front but just a 4" lift on 33's -- for the class 6 roads in NH and adventures up north -- Our version of overloading here on the east coast
 

Marques0346

Novice Adventurer
#9
Welcome -- I much prefer to start with an unmolested XJ in great shape -- I say violate this jeep and make it beg

Have any pictures of your old cherokee? -- I have a gallon of Monstaliner sitting here right now, Dirt Bag, and I like to see what others have done

I have the same plans for my unmolested 2000, I'm really thinking Iron man fab 4 link up front but just a 4" lift on 33's -- for the class 6 roads in NH and adventures up north -- Our version of overloading here on the east coast
Haha! That made me chuckle.

In any case, I do have pictures of my old Jeep - I'll try to send you some later. It's worth doing, if done right. I rolled mine on and it took about 4 hours or so. :cool:
 
#10
I've worked with monstaliner before -- Used it on some construction equipment -- rolled on -- They had a sale over Christmas/new years and I grabbed some stuff and bought the spray gun they recommend

I'm hoping to do my XJ headliner in monsta real soon -- I want to build a cowl hood and do that too -- Lots of plans, just hard to get things done
 
#11
Why not find an already modified XJ, instead of violating a nice stock example, that happen to be worth more than cut up ones.

Sent from my Moto G (4) using Tapatalk

Stock XJ's aren't exactly rare, they made a gazillion of them!:eek::D

The best way to have a really nice modified Jeep is to start with a really nice stock one! I say, go for it and build it the way you want. Here is a picture of mine.:victory:
 

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#12
I agree, start stock and build it right, to your exact specs. There is no telling what you can get into with PO work product, when buying an already built rig. Good luck with the build, she is a nice one.
 
#13
I've worked with monstaliner before -- Used it on some construction equipment -- rolled on -- They had a sale over Christmas/new years and I grabbed some stuff and bought the spray gun they recommend

I'm hoping to do my XJ headliner in monsta real soon -- I want to build a cowl hood and do that too -- Lots of plans, just hard to get things done
So you're using monstaliner on the enterior or do you mean the roof? It just seemed odd to only coat the ceiling of all places
 
#14
So you're using monstaliner on the enterior or do you mean the roof? It just seemed odd to only coat the ceiling of all places
No just a start -- I'm hoping to replace my sagging fabric headliner -- I really don't want to re-do the headliner in cloth and thought monstaliner would be perfect

Only problem is what is the headliner insert made of -- might have to seal it with something once I pull it and strip it but I won't know till I do it -- will be soon
 

Marques0346

Novice Adventurer
#15
Apologies to those of you that are following this thread - it's been a while since I've posted an update! The Jeep has been sitting untouched since the day I bought her, and it's kinda driving me bananas. :( Snowfall and the relentless winds from a Nor'easter combined with trees falling everywhere and consistent duties in and out of the house leave me without a spare second to tinker. Working a 7-5 doesn't help either, but I'm doing my best here not to get burned out. We got a snow sprinkle yesterday too, and I took this shot.

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On the bright side, I have a few maintenance repairs planned for the weekend (weather pending since ya' girl lacks a garage). In the meantime, enjoy these pictures of my boyfriend's Cherokee I took while we went out for a little trail ride. Should have a passable update on the weekend and from there, the real-deal build. :D As better weather approaches, I'll be able to work on the Jeep much more frequently. :)

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