Jeep XJ

My Jeep
Future Plans

Indefinitely Suspended Jeep Mods

Engine    |    Interior    |    Exterior

Obviously these "Future Plans" aren't going to happen on the white '96 Cherokee they were originally intended for. I'm going to leave them up here because I've got no other place to put them, and

Engine mods

  • Exhaust and Fuel Injectors
    Since these are finally complete, they were moved to the
    exhaust and manifold page.

  • Exhaust replacement
    With almost 180,000 miles on it, the original catalytic converter decided it was time to croak...right before a scheduled emissions test of course. I went with a NAPA cat, and Flowmaster Delta 50 muffler (p/n 942451)

  • Engine Refresh
    The 4.0L engine in my Cherokee has over 180,000 miles on it, and although it's still running okay I'd say it is certainly getting toward time to rebuild or upgrade the motor. I'm currently in favor of doing a stroker motor, using a plethora of parts including a 258ci (4.2L) crankshaft to get the engine out to about 4.6L or 4.7L displacement. According to many folks who have done this, if you can manage to keep from romping on the gas all the time it can actually get better mileage than the smaller motor, apparently because it is not working as hard to move the Jeep. This is similar to the reason the 4-cyl engine isn't more efficient than the 4.0L - the smaller engine has to work harder to move the vehicle.


  • Axle Upgrades
    This section is full of random ramblings until I figure out what it is that I'm trying to do with this information.

    I will stay with the stock hi-pinion D30 axle for now. At one time I thought about trying to find a D44 housing from the front axle of a TJ Rubicon, but realized it's a hybrid axle. While the centersection contains a Dana 44 ring + pinion, the outer sections are the same as the later (95+) D30, and the low-pinion D44 has about the same ring+pinion strength as a high-pinion D30 anyway. The lower pinion can increase driveline angles as well, so it really doesn't have much going for it.

    The D30 in 1995 1/2 and later Cherokees and Wranglers uses a stronger 297-x axleshaft u-joint vice the smaller 260-x found in earlier models, so it's not as though the D30 is a weak link until you get into the larger tire sizes around 33-35" or bigger.

  • Axle Upgrade options for the XJ

    The D44 pinion depth is about 5/8" to 3/4" longer than a D35, and it isn't significantly longer than a Chrysler 8.25 pinion either. The D44 and 8.25 use the same driveshaft. The D35 uses a driveshaft that's 5/8" longer than an 8.25.

    Dana44 concerns

    • Needs to be driver's drop
    • Need to be narrowed?
    • 8-lug
    • Radius arm or Leaf-sprung? Cast radius arms can't be welded
    These are just some of the comments I've collected in the past about the various axle upgrade options for the Cherokee.
    • If it had radius arms.....it's an F150 1/2 ton D44.
    • There were several Dana 44 front Ford axles commonly used, all are hi-pinion. Some are better for some setups than others.
      • 1/2 ton D44, 5 x 5.5" Bolt Pattern: Found in F150; Bronco's used 3 versions of the D44. All are 65" width (essentially) there are closed & open knuckle version. Closed knuckle D44s are not generally used because the u-joint is hidden inside a round cover that the knuckle rotates around on kingpins. The knuckle is weaker than a standard D44 and the felt seals are tough to keep sealed. However, if you run deep mud exclusively this axle will keep the junk out of the tubes better. The open knuckle (you can see the ujoint) D44 comes in 3 flavors, all with radius arm mounts, cast mounts, stamped steel mounts and either king pin (rare) or ball joint. Cast mounts are more difficult to remove because they're solid and take alot of cutting & grinding to get off. If you're using the stock 4 link then cast mounts will be more difficult to get out of the way of your new CA mounts. The 1/2 ton D44 uses standard length axles and makes getting aftermarket units easy. To do hi-steer on these axles you'll need to find a flat top passenger side steering knuckle. I believe (?????) a 10 bolt knuckle will work which is flat top.
      • 3/4 ton D44, 8 x 6.5" Bolt Pattern: F250 leaf sprung. These are 67" wide and are all open knuckle ball joint although they are heavier in the housing than an F150 D44. This is a good choice if you want it wide or are going to cut it down for a standard F150 long side axleshaft. The short side axleshaft is essentially the same length as an F150 model. The long side is almost 2" longer than an F150 and there are no aftermarket shafts specifically made for it, and they're difficult to find in the junkyards. Use ChroMo shafts if you go this route, just for the added strength they provide.

        Since it's leaf sprung it doesn't have the bulbous radius arm mounts which makes it easy to fab CA mounts. The 3/4 ton model also has the huge 1 ton ball-joints, disc brakes & usually twin piston calipers. Both knuckles are flat top so hi-steer is as easy as tapping the passenger side steering knuckle.

      • The differential and carrier are the same, as are axleshaft diameters & 297/760 ujoints. The tubes are much thicker on the 3/4 ton. The locking hubs are the same if internal, although the early 1/2 ton D44 used bolt on lock outs.
    • 3/4 ton D44s with the extra width match nicely to a rear Corporate 14-Bolt. If you're building a radius arm front then the 1/2 ton is your best bet.

    • The Ford F150 from 75 to 79 used welded on radius arm brackets, xjnation used a 76 cut it to Waggy size and used all the waggy steering and brakes.

    • Ideally you want to find a HP D44 from anything before 1978 Ford (5 on 5.5" 1/2 ton 4x4) pickup. The 1978 & '79s have the radius arm mounts cast as one piece on the pass side & you cannot modify it. The 1976 & 77 will have disc brakes, before then will be drum & you would have to swap them on.
    • FWIW, the R&P strength of the HP D30 is comparable to the LP D44. If you can't obtain a HPD44, you will have to weigh the costs/benefits of losing ground clearance w/ a LP D44, the cost of the swap including coil mounts, different pattern wheels & stuff against paying to upgrade HP D30 axles, hub conversion kit, strengthening the housing, etc.
    • 78 & 79 F150 supercab also have leaf mounts.

    • The later model SJ Wagoneer (front) 44s are approx the correct width and driver side drop, but are low-pinion and the steering is under-knuckle. Chevy outers supposedly fix this.
      The SJ Waggy rears are D44 and also a good fit under a XJ (move the spring pads) Both of these are 5x5.5" bolt pattern.


  • Paintjob / vinyl sheeting
    Giving Stinky a paintjob has been in the back of my mind for awhile. The white paint is still in pretty good shape but the new Marine Corps' new "MarPat" camoflage pattern has definitely attracted my attention.

    MarPat Photoshop...an early attempt

e-mail Jim
created: Oct 1, 2003
Modified Oct 16, 2010