Cookie Cutter Maintenance!

When I purchased the Cookie Cutter TJ, I thought for sure I would be replacing the motor as it was purchased with “oil pressure issues”. Even though the thing lost oil pressure while running down the highway, it seemed to have oil pressure at low rpms. Puttering around the neighborhood showed no signs of distress in the motor department. So before condemning the motor, I went ahead and dug into it to see what was going on.

After dropping the oil pan, I noticed that there was some ‘plastic’ like build up on the bottom:
Sara L.: Build and Misc. &emdash;

Which was blocking about 80% of the oil pickup (photo doesn’t show just how clogged that screen is):
Sara L.: Build and Misc. &emdash;

I thought “ah ha!, a timing guild must have let lose sending all this debris into the pan!” So I pulled the front of the motor off to look at the timing set. To my surprise, all was well there:
Sara L.: Build and Misc. &emdash;

“Ah ha!” I thought, “There is some plastic things under the valve cover (PCV stuff), one of those must have failed and gotten munched up!” So I pulled the valve cover only to find all was well under there:
Sara L.: Build and Misc. &emdash;

Feeling rather confused, I took a closer look at the oil pan:
Sara L.: Build and Misc. &emdash;

And cleaned it out to find a mark on the bottom of the pan:
Sara L.: Build and Misc. &emdash;

That mark is the same diameter as the oil pickup! What seems to have happened is that the oil pain met a rock at some point in its life, pushing the bottom of the pan very close to the oil pickup. Time passes and as the motor started to sludge up a little bit (there really wasn’t much), the “pre sludge” clogged up the oil pickup to the point that running down the highway starved it for oil. Thankfully, the crank and bearings were still good, so I just started cleaning things up:
Sara L.: Build and Misc. &emdash;

Sara L.: Build and Misc. &emdash;

I also took the time to swap out the cracked exhaust manifold for a non cracked one:
Sara L.: Build and Misc. &emdash;

After buttoning things up, I was rewarded with good oil pressure again!
Sara L.: Build and Misc. &emdash;

So I kept on marching through fixing all the things that had been neglected over the years, such as both front unit bearing and u joints were shot:
Sara L.: Build and Misc. &emdash;

Sara L.: Build and Misc. &emdash;

Swapped out the steering box and all the loose steering components:
Sara L.: Build and Misc. &emdash;

Sara L.: Build and Misc. &emdash;

Swapped out more dead u joints (turned out ot be a bum shaft):
Sara L.: Build and Misc. &emdash;

Lots of sensors:
Sara L.: Build and Misc. &emdash;

Yanked the interior out to clean out the mud that had been in there:
Sara L.: Build and Misc. &emdash;

Smells much better now:
Sara L.: Build and Misc. &emdash;

Then I started the nasty process of getting rid of all the shotty wiring. Of which some was from the PO, and a lot of it was poor design from Chrysler. Melted junk everywhere, how did this not burn to the ground!:
Sara L.: Build and Misc. &emdash;

Sara L.: Build and Misc. &emdash;

Sara L.: Build and Misc. &emdash;

Awesome wiring throughout the thing:
Sara L.: Build and Misc. &emdash;

Just a small pile of the wiring removed:
Sara L.: Build and Misc. &emdash;

After driving it for a bit, I found the exhaust to be annoyingly loud. So off came the flow master:
Sara L.: Build and Misc. &emdash;

And on goes the parts store muffler.. Much quieter!
Sara L.: Build and Misc. &emdash;

And a radiator swap happened since the old one sprung a pretty good leak:
Sara L.: Build and Misc. &emdash;

The Motor Mount Lift mounts that were on the TJ when I bought it made things way too buzzy for me. I’m sure they’re fine in the 4.0 application, but the 2.5 was a bit much. So I made my own lift with stock mounts. Much smoother:
Sara L.: Build and Misc. &emdash;

In an effort to coniue improving the driving experience, I wound up swapping out every bushing on the thing as most of them were quite shot:
Sara L.: Build and Misc. &emdash;

And the front UCA’s were a bit taco’d
Sara L.: Build and Misc. &emdash;

At this point, the little TJ was starting to look and drive pretty good:
Sara L.: Build and Misc. &emdash;

I’ve been daily driving the thing for awhile now working on getting rid of all it’s remaining quirks. It’s a pretty solid package at this point, and I’m hoping that we’re nearing the end of the maintenance portion of the project and getting close to the improvement portion of the project.

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