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Trying to get it mostly right the first time: A 5.9 Magnum and 46RE swapped, Tummy Tucked Daily Driven Jeep TJ

After enduring FB Marketplace for enough weeks it was time for the Dodge to go to the scrap yard. I loaded it onto my new to me trailer and headed to the scrap yard after work. And yes, it's really convenient having access to reach lifts at work!



Right before Christmas my wife's car ended up in the shop for almost 2 weeks due to a failed ECU, which put the TJ into true daily driver status… ready or not. It didn't develop any new issues and was a joy to drive, although heat sure would have been nice when it hit low teens in Alabama that week.


I took the week off between Christmas and New Years and got in a good weather day to work on the Jeep. The to-do list included installing the rear JKS track bar, angled relocation bracket and new lower control arms, all in an effort to correct the rear pinion angle. This project ended up taking most of a day and rendered a few lessons learned.

The first issue came with the shocks hitting the coil buckets due to the pinion being rotated so far up. Nothing a grinder and cutoff wheel can't fix. (picture taken mid process).


The second issue came with the control arms. Core4x4 offers these in 0-6" and 6"+ lift increments and without much thought I ordered the 0-6" Tier 3 arms. Seemed logical. Except for the fact that the arms didn't have enough adjustment to pull the lower mounts forward enough to roll the pinion like I needed. This doesn't have anything to do with the arms – in fact I am very impressed with the fit, finish and quality of them. This has everything to do with me not measuring correctly before and after. To get the pinion somewhat close to correct, the track bar was trying (unsuccessfully, might I add) to coexist with the gas tank again. All of my issues revolved around the tummy tuck and relative lift height of the drivetrain, which will all be resolved when I swap in the 8.8 and can clock the bracketry as needed.



But I had the rest of the day to fix this issue and an 8.8 swap isn't an afternoon ordeal. Since I couldn't rotate the pinon to meet the transfer case, maybe I could drop the transfer case to meet the pinion. If you recall from earlier, the front output shaft of the transfer case was hitting the crossmember and I'd installed a few washers as a quick fix to gain the needed clearance with the intent to remove them and fix this issue properly later. Well, later was now (and fingers crossed this was enough!). I unbolted the transfer case and lowered it until the angle finder read zero. This is how much I needed... about 3 washers worth.



I removed the crossmember, notched and plated the cut and reinstalled. I re-checked my angles and everything was good to go. The test run was to a local favorite restaurant:


It was 70 in December, so if course we took the top off. It still as a slight vibration at 45mph, but overall much better than it was. We also took the TJ through a drive through Christmas light display in town, which was brilliant considering it was pouring rain and the oil pressure at idle is sub-par.


Total miles so far: 725.
Glad you are getting some good use out of it. You mentioned not having heat in the Jeep. Is that something you plan to correct later on or something you planned to not have going forward?
Glad you are getting some good use out of it. You mentioned not having heat in the Jeep. Is that something you plan to correct later on or something you planned to not have going forward?
I'm planning to get both A/C and heat back working. The heat does work but the blend door has the air on defrost and doesn't really do much. I don't lack much to having the A/C done either.
I used MMORV as an opportunity to get my new trailer dialed in with a relocated jack, toolbox, storage rack, tie downs and a winch mount. I'm a bit of a trailer geek and probably enjoy working on or building trailers as much as I do anything else. Out came the grinder and trusty $100 Harbor Freight Vulcan welder.

First was to move the jack forward to allow room for the toolbox and still have room for the tailgate of my truck to lay down.


Next was to weld on 8 d rings to fill in the gaps where the stake pockets don't quite work for tying down a vehicle.


I use my trailers for a lot more than just hauling vehicles and have found a winch and storage to be absolutely invaluable accessories for keeping all the gear I need to drag home new projects. This trailer is no different and got a receiver welded to the front rail for my multi mount winch and a toolbox and storage rack added to the tongue. The rack is designed to carry a gas can and have room for a spare tire but I still haven't committed to the final design.


Speaking of water toys… remember when I said my trailers get used for a little bit of everything? Yep, I launched a Seadoo on a trailer…off the equipment trailer to retrieve my latest purchase.



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