Spanky's YJ


Member 2023
Now that it is so much easier to post pictures, I'm going to take some time over the next few weeks and start a build thread going back to when I bought it in July 2019. Pretty sure building this thing won't stop any time soon. It's going to go through phases. As of now, I have a very long term goal of converting it to long arm and coil overs with a little stretch, but for me, goals are very fluid, so who knows. I have a desire to actually build a 4 link one day. For now, my goal is to have this little YJ go out on the trail, get on some rocks, and make some of these guys with newer rigs look at this 30 year old vehicle and go WTF was he just able to do? :) All while still keeping it streetable. Since I bought it, I have been daily driving it more than my truck.

Short history lesson. 10th grade, working at Hechingers (that's right), I was 6" shorter and 50lbs heavier. Dude at work said I looked like Spanky from The Little Rascals. It stuck. All of my vehicles have had some iteration of SPNKZ on their license plate. Hence SPNKZYJ. I raced for 15 years in SCCA as Spanky. Divorce, kids, life got in the way of that, and the YJ is turning into a racing replacement. With racing I enjoyed the building and setup probably more than the act of racing. With off roading, I still love the build and setup, but I enjoy the wheeling and nature just as much.

One of my best friends, mechanic buddy of mine I've had for 30 years, his kid had this YJ. I told him, when his kid was done with this vehicle, I want it. A day in July 2019, I get a phone call say that his kid is done with it. Synchro's are gone in the trans, he's tired of dealing with it and doesn't want to fix it. I said, let me know when I can pick it up.

The day I brought it home. 7/17/2019 '94 YJ, Rough Country xtreme 4.5" lift on 33" Pro Comp A/T. 4.0L I6, AX15 5 Speed. Dana 30/35 all open with 3.07 gears. Tuff Stuff front and rear bumpers with tire carrier. Tuff Stuff 12.5k winch with steel cable

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Member 2023
First modification was a Solid Grab bar for my kids and gf to get in.

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2nd was, my license plate showed up.

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Member 2023
Few weeks later, it was time for all the maintenance items that go along with buying a used vehicle. Fluid changes, front and rear brakes complete with calipers and wheel cylinders. I had just had shoulder surgery, so my brother was nice enough to come over and help with the front.

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Member 2023
I'm having some water come in and I can't see out of the softtop windows. PO didn't take care of them at all. Didnt' like the black top as much since I have Spice interior, I went with a Best Top Sailcloth replacement top. I'm 15 months with this thing and canl tell you that it was worth EVERY penny. Don't skimp. I also added a Rugged Ridge Hood Scoop to try and keep the water and debris out of the cowl as much as I could.

I noticed water was pooling in the top on a good rain, so devised a system out of PVC pipe with a 2.5" to 1/2" adapter and 1/2" PVC.

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Member 2023
I was on 606 behind Dulles Airport and had a cement truck come across 2 lanes on me. I STOOD on the brakes and barely missed him. It was so bad that the Semi behind him, pulled out, got next to the cement truck and started yelling at the dude.

After some hunting, I found a '95 YJ Dual diaphragm booster and master cylinder. I try to keep things as close to factory as I can when I modify. Why reinvent the wheel. I know companies make propitiatory matchign setups, but I wanted to buy a master cylinder at the local store if I ever needed one. It's the same master cylinder on TJs, so I should be able to find one of those easily. Took some plumbing and reworking, but it made a HUGE difference once I was done. I could lock all 4 up, which I could not do before.

FYI, if you are looking for that parts to do this, you will need a M12x1 bubble flare to 3/8" double flare for the front bore and M10x1 bubble flare to 3/8" double flare for the rear bore.

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Reactions: R3


Member 2023
Still trying to find out how water is getting into the Jeep, pooling in my driver footwell and destroying radios, I change out the windshield base gasket. I also installed a Rampage (#5089927) sealed Beam to Halogen Headlight Conversion kit for H4 bulbs. That has been amazing the difference. Especially one you change the bulbs out for some (free to you) LED H4 bulbs. You can actually see whats in front of you while driving highway speeds. lol

Radio #1 and Radio #2 ended up looking like this due to I assume the water coming in.

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Member 2023
7 months after getting the, "undrivable" due to trans synchro issues, I decided it was time for it's first major surgery. Mind you, I probably put 5000 miles on it in that state. Kind of bummed I'm fixing it. I enjoyed "figuring it out". Driving this taught me better heal and toe then my racecars did. lol

I called in a bunch of friends (many hands, 1 day of work) and basically replaced everything from the back of the engine the yoke on the rear diff.
  • AX15 trans from RockAuto. So cheap compared to just rebuilding the trans I had. I could have done it, but it was like $750 with a 2 year warranty. Done.
  • Clutch Kit
  • Flywheel
  • Master and Slave
  • CLutch Fork
  • Trans mount
  • Black Magic Trans Skid Plate nutzerts. I was so pleasantly surprised. Someone already did these. We expected hours or removing the stock nuts that tend to break off.
  • Undercover Fab Works 3/16" Transfer Case Skid Plate for no body lift
  • East Coast Gear Supplies
    • Slip Yoke Eliminator
    • Transfer Case Chain
    • Transfer Case Rebuild Kit
    • Spicer CV Driveshaft
  • Removed rear track bar and track bar mount. Required sawzaw. lol
  • Removed 1" Transfer Case Drop
It was weird being able to shift again. Had a few problems early on (lets call this foreshadowing) getting it into first gear and 5th. Finally got into 1st and was able to drive it away. Felt like gears just needed to be nudged and aligned the first time.

SYE and rear track bar removal made amazing strides to a smoother ride.

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Member 2023
Bought some Rigid lights. 202113 3" LED Flood Beam and 202123 3" LED Flood Beam Amber. Also wanted to give the Nirider 6 Gang Switch Panel a try from Amazon.

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Member 2023
Still fighting water coming in, I order some Weather Tech floor mats. This way I can dump the water instead of havin git soak into the carpet. Let's just say there isn't currently much floor left under my feet driver side. lol

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Member 2023
Made a Co2 kit. Even played with my 3D printer for the little boot at the bottom. Keeps it from rolling too far.

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Member 2023
Went to Overland Experts and took an offroad class. I HIGHLY recommend and would do again. Great people.

Drove down to Culpeper, got stuck 10' in. 4WD stopped working. I had checked it post trans install. Stupid vacuum actuator problem. Installed Vacuum actuator lock out kit and fire extinguisher immediately after.

Since I paid for the course and broke so soon, they were kind enough to let me take the class in an FJ.

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Member 2023
My very first time out wheeling in my Jeep was at Peter's Mill. A bit tame for me, but a great first experience. Perfect Orange Hue for the end of October ride.

To catch up with the timeline a bit, this is October 2020.

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Member 2023
First wheelin' trip with NOVA Jeepers, was with R3 out at Rausch. Actually, was there Friday and wheeled with a buddy, then R3 on Saturday. We did some greens and blues on Friday, and then the very first trail with R3 was red F. Talk about baptism by fire. We didn't understand the etiquette, and were really stressed. Open open, no real skids to speak of, and stuck 10 feet in. Once we realized how cool the group was and were willing to teach and not get frustrated with the obvious inexperience, had a blast. Cost me an oil pan though. LOL.

Funnier story from that day. We made it half way through the day and the "new" trans got stuck in 2nd. We called it a day and pondered what could be going on. Long story shorter, we dropped the trans at home later and found our problem.

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That plastic piece was in the shifter hole at the top. It was left over from the shipping material from RockAuto. No one looked in the top hole before lifting the trans up to install. I didn't think anything of it as they were doing that I was rebuilding the transfer case. Hilarious. It must have sat above the shifter mechanism for 6 or so months. The bouncing of wheelin' caused it to slip just right and prevented me from shifting out of 2nd. Once we removed that, trans shifted great, and has since. 🤣


Member 2023
Replaced the steel cable in the winch for nylon. So much easier to handle and saved me 21.2 lbs. I weighed it. Which is good, cause my engine skid showed up too. 13 year old daughter got a kick out of "driving" the Jeep while I pulled it up the hill to wind the new cable.

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Member 2023
New engine skid showed up. Looks like there is going to be a slight exhaust issue. Solution will be a TJ front pipe as it wraps around the front of the engine rather than the back. Huge added benefit that I wasn't expecting as it will give a significant ground clearance upgrade. Transfer case matching UnderCoverFabWorks 3/16" Steel engine skid.

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Member 2023
Due to the water problem that I continue to have (which I think is narrowed down to the windshield itself) I blew out another stereo. This time I went cheap and bought a Pyle Hydra 4ch Bluetooth marine amp. I don't ever use the stereo part. I always use my phone, either with music on my phone or via XM Radio app. So far I'm pleased with it. I tucked it in teh dash hole. It'll work great as I can now cover the hole up with a sPOD setup.

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Member 2023
Started the next big project. Bought myself a used HP D30 to replace the current HP D30. Rational? going from 3.07 open to 4.56 Detroit TruTrac front and rear, but wanted to spend some time on the front and just swap the completed axle. Then I can regear the rear in the rig.

  • Chromoly axles
  • Motive 4.56 gears
  • Detroit TruTrac front and rear
  • New ball joints
  • All new bearings and seals
  • New Hubs
  • KBS Rust Prevention System
    • Think POR-15. This stuff is pretty nuts. Would love to do the whole frame in it. Their big deal is, you paint it on lets say an aluminum pipe. Hit the aluminum pipe with a hammer, it bends a good dent in it. The KBS coating doesn't crack. I painted right over the KBS stuff with Rustoleum Hammered, which is what my skids are painted in.

Now before you all give me crap about putting any money into a D35, my thoughts are multifold. I had a trip planned to Windrock and wanted better gearing and at least limited slips. I needed to get my hands on and learn some stuff mechanically. I didn't want to half butt build the front. I plan to buy an East Coast Supplies complete Ford 8.8 to bolt in. When I go to do that, assuming I haven't broken things yet, I should be able to get what I have into the rear back out from someone just looking to regear for the street. That and I think everything I read on it is slightly misleading and am willing to give it a shot. (Rob from the future: It was worth it so far almost a year later).

Put the kids to work too.

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