We don't really cover Jeeps too often at OFF-ROAD Magazine. Instead we leave those to our other dirthead magazines, and we hit hard on fullsize trucks and prerunners in our pages. That being said, we cannot deny the absolute beauty of an all-purpose off-road vehicle-no matter what type it is. But if we're building a Jeep, it's going to have to be either a fullsize Jeep (FSJ) or a unibody. Classic Cherokees (XJs) with unibodies (or unit bodies) can be found going fast in the dirt, climbing over rocks, and charging through the gnarliest off-road terrains. That's why it was an easy choice to start on my all-purpose XJ build that I picked up for $400. Last month we concentrated on the Hesco head and other engine modifications and updates that Jeeps R Us made to my non-running Cherokee. Not only did Jeeps R Us get it running again, the crew there also added more power and fuel efficiency to boot. With my XJ purring wonderfully (save for that crack in the exhaust manifold), I headed over to T and J Performance Center in Orange, California, to get started on some chassis stiffeners and a Rock Krawler front-and-rear long-arm suspension system. Cherokees are notorious for bending if given some over-exuberant love in the dirt, so chassis stiffeners were a must to keep mine healthy as long as possible. Cherokees are also notorious for wrapping the rear passenger side leaf spring up and warping it, so I was excited to be linking the rear of this one with a Rock Krawler kit. I'd also ordered a set of 33-inch Cepek F-C II tires and some DC-1 wheels to shoe this XJ. The 33s are not going to stuff completely without some fender trimming, but for now I want to concentrate on getting the suspension installed and mounting my new rolling stock. 1. The absolute first thing to do before the suspension was to install some T and J chassis stiffeners and under-rail skids to help prevent the body from bending. I've been in an XJ with chassis stiffeners before, and the difference in handling (even on the street) was definitely noticeable. The skids help further stiffen the body up, and offer protection from rocks. Once you compromise the lower "frame-like" rails, or unirails, the Cherokee's body will bend much more easily.1. The absolute first thing to do before the suspension was to install some T and J chassi 2. It's debatable whether to weld everything up in the air or on the ground. When you weld something like a brace (or in this case, stiffener) the metal will bend towards the weld. You can use this to your advantage. If a Cherokee is already a little bent and the doors are hard to open, then get the weight off the axles and lift it more in the center before welding the stiffeners. You can often pull the body back into better shape and the doors will open more easily again.2. It's debatable whether to weld everything up in the air or on the ground. When you weld 3. The chassis stiffeners bolt into the stock lower control arm bolt and the front eye bolt of the rear leaf spring. Once they're tightened on with the suspension bolts, you can tack weld them in place. It is a good idea to unbolt the suspension and drop it out before completing the welding so you don't melt the suspension bushings.3. The chassis stiffeners bolt into the stock lower control arm bolt and the front eye bol T and J has a long-arm stiffener option that does not tie into the front lower control arm (since the factory brackets get cut off with long-arm suspension kits).T and J has a long-arm stiffener option that does not tie into the front lower control arm 4. Our suspension of choice on this Cherokee is going to be the Rock Krawler Triple Threat front long-arm kit and rear four-link conversion. You can get either a 4.5- or 6.5-inch kit. We opted for the 4.5 inches of lift. The arms are made of solid stock and use Krawler joints on one end and rubber bushings on the other end.4. Our suspension of choice on this Cherokee is going to be the Rock Krawler Triple Threat 5. Since the chassis stiffeners and skids basically made a framerail underneath our XJ, we opted to cut off one side of the long-arm brackets and weld them directly to the stiffeners and skids. This made for a stronger mounting point and will keep the brackets from fatiguing the unirail.5. Since the chassis stiffeners and skids basically made a framerail underneath our XJ, we 1 | 2 | » | View Full Article By Dirk Saters Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!