International Jeep Overland Discussion

andypap

New member
I’m starting to make big changes in my life. I just bought some land in the woods to build a small cabin and live off grid. This is all so I can save as much money as possible in the next four years in order to venture out into the world and travel and live full time to every continent, except Antarctica, in my Jeep.

Currently the Jeep is a 2005 LJ on 35’s with no lift and GenRight Hi-Fenders, six speed transmission and stock 3.73:1 gears. Everything else is also basically stock.

IMG_0579.JPG

The plan over these next four years will be to essentially do a frame off restore and get everything back to new and upgrading the necessary parts in the process. I want some interior living space in the back to get out of the weather and cook and some sort of pop up tent built in to sleep, being able to enter from the inside. This AEV Brute with 4 Wheel Camper is my inspiration.

fwc-brutephoto1.jpg

I want a do anything vehicle, I want to be able to tackle any terrain in my path, without being too big. It needs to be functional and comfortable for my wife and me while also being as light as possible. It also needs a good fuel range; the canning stock route is a bucket list item. I know this is a tall order. There are going to be a lot of compromises to be made, I just need help deciding on these compromises. I have a lot of time to make this happen so I’m weighing all my options right now.

So on with the discussion…

First thing I’m thinking about is the engine. I love the 4.0, but it is a dog when it’s loaded down. I don’t want a racecar, and I avoid highways as much as possible anyway, but I was thinking of a mildly built 4.5 or 4.6 stroker. Keep it as stock as possible and keep the compression low to keep using low octane fuels. I believe the small increase in power would help move the Jeep when loaded down, and because the engine isn’t working as hard, it may increase my fuel efficiency over the 4.0. What are your thoughts about this? Am I correct in my assumptions or an idiot? Do you think it’s reliable enough to drive around the remote areas of Africa?

Also, to handle the weight I plan on upgrading the axles. I’m thinking Ford 9’s front and rear with full float Dana 60 outers. These axles would be overall stronger and still retain most of my ground clearance and won’t weigh much more than stock. Also gives me the added benefit of bigger brakes and steering. One of the other reasons I want full float, is that it allows me to service and maintain the bearings instead of replacing when they fail. And if something does fail, I’m not screwed, like if a stock front unit bearing fails, my wheel falls off. I can still drive. I plan on running about a 33 inch tire, maybe I’ll stick with 35’s, so I know the strength is overkill. Do you think the stock axles are reliable enough? Is the ability to tear apart hubs and rebuild on the side of the road worth the extra cost? Does the over strength give you piece of mind to not worry about breaking anything, so then you won’t have to carry spare parts?

Sorry for the long winded post. Those are the two big areas that I believe will cost me a lot of money and work, and basically just need to know if I’m overthinking or if all that time and effort will be worth it in the end. I’d also love to discuss anything else regarding living full time in a Jeep and travelling the world.
 

Jnich77

Director of Adventure Management Operations
For the cost of building a stroker, you could probably do an LS swap and have a ton more power in a motor that's pretty hard to kill.

If it were me, I'd leave it as stock as I could. Trying to get OEM parts in some places of the world will be hard enough, trying to get aftermarket parts might prove impossiable.

Also, you might end up doing mods that are counter productive in the long run. I'd use it for a while and build it in stages.
 

nwoods

Expedition Leader
LOVE THE PLAN AND THE AMBITION.
Its a Jeep, there are million things you can do to it, but here are a few little things that may not be obvious
1. Currie makes tiny skid plates that weld to the bottom of your control arms and shock mounts. A small price for big time insurance when things get rocky
2. AEV bough out Nth Degree a while back, Nth made an awesome Tummy Tuck kit that gives you several more inches under your transfer case. Totally worth it, a thousand times over.
3. Similarly, Nth degree had an awesome little partial cone shaped skid plate that went under the front of the rear diff and protected the driveshaft where it entered the diff. Mine saved my butt a few times when a rock on the trail wanted to rip out my diff.
4. I am a fan of AEV suspension, including the Nth Degree spring relocation brackets, but with your proposed weight load, you might want to go another direction
5. Tires, I would suggest down sizing to 33". I think your rig will be happier in the long run
 

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W0lfpack91

New member
I’m starting to make big changes in my life. I just bought some land in the woods to build a small cabin and live off grid. This is all so I can save as much money as possible in the next four years in order to venture out into the world and travel and live full time to every continent, except Antarctica, in my Jeep.

Currently the Jeep is a 2005 LJ on 35’s with no lift and GenRight Hi-Fenders, six speed transmission and stock 3.73:1 gears. Everything else is also basically stock.

View attachment 600143

The plan over these next four years will be to essentially do a frame off restore and get everything back to new and upgrading the necessary parts in the process. I want some interior living space in the back to get out of the weather and cook and some sort of pop up tent built in to sleep, being able to enter from the inside. This AEV Brute with 4 Wheel Camper is my inspiration.

View attachment 600141

I want a do anything vehicle, I want to be able to tackle any terrain in my path, without being too big. It needs to be functional and comfortable for my wife and me while also being as light as possible. It also needs a good fuel range; the canning stock route is a bucket list item. I know this is a tall order. There are going to be a lot of compromises to be made, I just need help deciding on these compromises. I have a lot of time to make this happen so I’m weighing all my options right now.

So on with the discussion…

First thing I’m thinking about is the engine. I love the 4.0, but it is a dog when it’s loaded down. I don’t want a racecar, and I avoid highways as much as possible anyway, but I was thinking of a mildly built 4.5 or 4.6 stroker. Keep it as stock as possible and keep the compression low to keep using low octane fuels. I believe the small increase in power would help move the Jeep when loaded down, and because the engine isn’t working as hard, it may increase my fuel efficiency over the 4.0. What are your thoughts about this? Am I correct in my assumptions or an idiot? Do you think it’s reliable enough to drive around the remote areas of Africa?

Also, to handle the weight I plan on upgrading the axles. I’m thinking Ford 9’s front and rear with full float Dana 60 outers. These axles would be overall stronger and still retain most of my ground clearance and won’t weigh much more than stock. Also gives me the added benefit of bigger brakes and steering. One of the other reasons I want full float, is that it allows me to service and maintain the bearings instead of replacing when they fail. And if something does fail, I’m not screwed, like if a stock front unit bearing fails, my wheel falls off. I can still drive. I plan on running about a 33 inch tire, maybe I’ll stick with 35’s, so I know the strength is overkill. Do you think the stock axles are reliable enough? Is the ability to tear apart hubs and rebuild on the side of the road worth the extra cost? Does the over strength give you piece of mind to not worry about breaking anything, so then you won’t have to carry spare parts?

Sorry for the long winded post. Those are the two big areas that I believe will cost me a lot of money and work, and basically just need to know if I’m overthinking or if all that time and effort will be worth it in the end. I’d also love to discuss anything else regarding living full time in a Jeep and travelling the world.
I cant really speak to much here however one area I am decently knowledgeable in is the Axles. As for what you have if I'm not mistaken the non rubicon LJ still has the Dana 35 rear and Dana 30 front. Those are junk and I would get rid of them as soon as possible. I've had that axle combination on my XJ for 3 years and even on 31's I was breaking axles quite frequently. For your usage I would try to keep it simple while a 9in/D60 hybrid axle would be overkill the parts could be hard to find should something go wrong, I'd suggest finding a set of Stock Rubicon Dana 44's and upgrading the shafts. Those axles are very common and can use OEM parts and the jeeps were sold quite successfully internationally so parts should also be readily available. Also with some TLC, Chromolly shafts, and trussing the Stock Dana 44 will run some of the hardest terrain out there reliably with tires as large as 37".

So in closing, running either 33s or 35s with a built overland LJ going to remote areas internationally, the Rubicon Dana 44s with upgraded Chromolly shafts and some trussing, and a diff cover bash plate should suit your needs very well and still be common if repairs are needed. The only other thing I'd recommend is up the ring and pinion from 4.10 to 4.56 and if budget allows swap the Lockers for ARB Air lockers and it would be a near bulletproof setup.

Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk
 
Last edited:

ratled

Adventurer
Study everything Dan has put out - The Road Chose Me He has a good idea what you are for doing Africa and S America. He has a You Tube channel too as well as being a poster here.
 

bluejeep

just a guy
I'd even go to 4.88 in the axles, I have a 2006 LJ Unlimited Rubicon with the 6 speed manual and 4.88 gears made up for any 'low power' feeling.
 

andypap

New member
For the cost of building a stroker, you could probably do an LS swap and have a ton more power in a motor that's pretty hard to kill.

If it were me, I'd leave it as stock as I could. Trying to get OEM parts in some places of the world will be hard enough, trying to get aftermarket parts might prove impossiable.

Also, you might end up doing mods that are counter productive in the long run. I'd use it for a while and build it in stages.
I did think about an LS swap, but wrote it off as an "engine swap" and would therefore be more complicated than a stroker, unless I'm missing something. But I do like that it is a lighter, more efficient engine. I agree with keeping it stock, and for the most part it is as it sits. I've had it this way for about 7 years, and it has worked great. Taken me wherever I've wanted to go all over the South East US, fully loaded with gear and dogs. But everytime I've hit the trail there's always this nagging feeling that something will go wrong. Maybe that's a good thing because it makes me make better decisions, as I'm always single vehicle wherever I go.

LOVE THE PLAN AND THE AMBITION.
Its a Jeep, there are million things you can do to it, but here are a few little things that may not be obvious
1. Currie makes tiny skid plates that weld to the bottom of your control arms and shock mounts. A small price for big time insurance when things get rocky
2. AEV bough out Nth Degree a while back, Nth made an awesome Tummy Tuck kit that gives you several more inches under your transfer case. Totally worth it, a thousand times over.
3. Similarly, Nth degree had an awesome little partial cone shaped skid plate that went under the front of the rear diff and protected the driveshaft where it entered the diff. Mine saved my butt a few times when a rock on the trail wanted to rip out my diff.
4. I am a fan of AEV suspension, including the Nth Degree spring relocation brackets, but with your proposed weight load, you might want to go another direction
5. Tires, I would suggest down sizing to 33". I think your rig will be happier in the long run
I'm definitely being ambitious alright! Control arm skidplates are a great idea, and I've been eyeing that tummy tuck for a long time now. The stock skidplate is a damn shovel and is always in my way. I'm leaning towards 33's because I know it's going to be better for about 90% of where I'm going. It's the other 10% that I worry about. Actually I just overthink about it.

I cant really speak to much here however one area I am decently knowledgeable in is the Axles. As for what you have if I'm not mistaken the non rubicon LJ still has the Dana 35 rear and Dana 30 front. Those are junk and I would get rid of them as soon as possible. I've had that axle combination on my XJ for 3 years and even on 31's I was breaking axles quite frequently. For your usage I would try to keep it simple while a 9in/D60 hybrid axle would be overkill the parts could be hard to find should something go wrong, I'd suggest finding a set of Stock Rubicon Dana 44's and upgrading the shafts. Those axles are very common and can use OEM parts and the jeeps were sold quite successfully internationally so parts should also be readily available. Also with some TLC, Chromolly shafts, and trussing the Stock Dana 44 will run some of the hardest terrain out there reliably with tires as large as 37".

So in closing, running either 33s or 35s with a built overland LJ going to remote areas internationally, the Rubicon Dana 44s with upgraded Chromolly shafts and some trussing, and a diff cover bash plate should suit your needs very well and still be common if repairs are needed. The only other thing I'd recommend is up the ring and pinion from 4.10 to 4.56 and if budget allows swap the Lockers for ARB Air lockers and it would be a near bulletproof setup.

Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk
The LJ actually comes stock with Dana 44 rear, just a higher gear ratio than the Rubicon, and LSD instead of E-locker. Thanks for the insight on the Rubi 44's, maybe I can find a front one for cheap around here, I could go with a Dynatrac, but they're so damn expensive, and only the housing. ARB's are my choice for sure.

I'd even go to 4.88 in the axles, I have a 2006 LJ Unlimited Rubicon with the 6 speed manual and 4.88 gears made up for any 'low power' feeling.
The 3.73's definitely leave a lot to be desired. I've had 4.56's sitting in the garage for a few years, just had no time to swap them in. If I decide to stick with 35's, which I don't think I will, I'll go with 4.88's, and use 4.56's with the 33's.

Happy journey.
Thank you. And I do plan to post more how this build goes when I actually get going on it. Like I said, I have a lot of time to get it done, and it's not my first priority right now. Just trying to collect as much information as possible right now, and then start collecting parts.
 

andypap

New member
Study everything Dan has put out - The Road Chose Me He has a good idea what you are for doing Africa and S America. He has a You Tube channel too as well as being a poster here.
I've followed him extensively since I saw he was taking his Jeep to Africa, and when he was working on his diesel swap. I was even considering a diesel swap until he posted his video about it. I plan on reading his books too.
 
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Dan Grec

Expedition Leader
I drove a bone-stock TJ from Alaska to Argentina, and then drove my "camperised" JK all the way around Africa.
That's a bit over 100k miles through 55 countries around the world.

My advice - and it isn't always received well - is to modify the least amount of stuff you can.
All that money you're pouring into a new engine or axles will only decrease reliability & serviceability, AND it means you'll spend years and years working more than you have to if you did without them.
(Trust me, I tried a diesel conversion, and it was a HUGE fail - money and time sink).

The 4.0 in your LJ is bomb proof, and you'll never be able to fit enough gear in there to make it super-heavy anyway, so the axles should be fine.
What makes you think you need to upgrade them?

Two things to keep in mind:

1. International overlanding is NOT wheeling. It is NOT off roading. It is simply backroading.
If you're trying to get somewhere (border crossing, river, lake, mountain, temple, whatever), then there is a road, and locals are driving that road in rusted out vehicles with bald tires and broken 4x4.
You will make it in any decent 4x4 with good tires.

2. You're going on the trip to VISIT monuments, the goal isn't to drive one.

-Dan
 

andypap

New member
I drove a bone-stock TJ from Alaska to Argentina, and then drove my "camperised" JK all the way around Africa.
That's a bit over 100k miles through 55 countries around the world.

My advice - and it isn't always received well - is to modify the least amount of stuff you can.
All that money you're pouring into a new engine or axles will only decrease reliability & serviceability, AND it means you'll spend years and years working more than you have to if you did without them.
(Trust me, I tried a diesel conversion, and it was a HUGE fail - money and time sink).

The 4.0 in your LJ is bomb proof, and you'll never be able to fit enough gear in there to make it super-heavy anyway, so the axles should be fine.
What makes you think you need to upgrade them?

Two things to keep in mind:

1. International overlanding is NOT wheeling. It is NOT off roading. It is simply backroading.
If you're trying to get somewhere (border crossing, river, lake, mountain, temple, whatever), then there is a road, and locals are driving that road in rusted out vehicles with bald tires and broken 4x4.
You will make it in any decent 4x4 with good tires.

2. You're going on the trip to VISIT monuments, the goal isn't to drive one.

-Dan
I definitely want it to be simple. I've watched a lot of your videos and read about your travels, and it's put my mind at ease of what I will encounter out there. To answer your question about why I think I need to upgrade the axles, comes from my time off roading in the states and knowing that they are weak points. I also have this idea in my head that a full float axle will allow me to "maintain" my axles, specifically wheel bearings vs "repair" them.
 

AggieOE

Trying to escape the city
I like this plan, especially as a whole, but I do agree with the least amount of modifications as possible/practical.... which is super hard to constantly stay convinced of. lol One day you're like, nah I don't need a lift. The next day, well a couple inches shouldn't hurt anything. lol
 

shays4me

Adventurer
I have a heavily modified Jeep CJ7 that I completely rebuilt over a period of years. It's a really trick, nice Jeep with a big 350 chevy, T19 borg warner truck transmission, lockers, winch, U-bolt yokes, modified brakes, full float locked axles, etc... you get the point. While I really like the Jeep I've realized how much less reliable it's become with everything I've done. It's really nice for short distance playing now but if I were to want to go on extensive travels with it I would want it back to as close to stock as I could get. I'm getting a little older now and I've been doing the Jeep thing since before I was an adult and I can tell you that more times than I can count I've found out the hard way that aftermarket parts are less reliable than OEM parts. If I were to drive an LJ on extended journeys, I would want that thing as close to stock as possible. I would definitely look into going through my drivetrain, engine, brakes etc if need be, but I'd keep it simple. As for me, I'm traveling these days in a stockish JKUR with a small lift and a winch. It gets me where I'm going and has that OEM reliability!
 

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andypap

New member
What does everyone think then about just an overhaul on the motor? Keep everything OEM and do nothing extra. I say this because right now it has about 115k miles on it, which is half as much as other 4.0s I had that still ran strong. But putting another 60k on it before I venture out, and then I estimate about 150k during my travels, that starts getting up in age.
 

Fly fisherman

New member
I also believe stock is best for reliability . My 2004 LJ has a 2” OME lift, JK wheels and tires from a rubicon, and a transmission cooler. Also added rubicon flares about 8 years ago. 108000 miles and 16 years. It the most endearing vehicleI have ever owned in my 62 years. I would not spend my money on rebuilding a motor unless it needed it right now.
 
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