The madness begins – 1987 Jeep Cherokee

A little history first, well before I was married and had “grown up” responsibilities during the pre-digital camera days, I had a little Bronco II that I used play around with off-road:
Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

After selling that, I had a ’85 Toyota Xtra cab that I did a small build on as well, but never really had a chance to wheel it due to going to college. (Sorry, no photos). I can safely point to those to vehicles as being the start of my foray into the off-road world.

After going to college, getting married, and buying a house, I was finally getting settled in and looking for another automotive project as our then daily drivers (2003 Neon and 2004 Stratus) were new enough to not need anything other than routine maintenance.

During this period, I had a good friend move out to Utah, and he would send me photos of the awesome scenery out there as he wheeled his whale of an F350 around the mountains:
Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

Since Jeeps ran in the family (kind of), I figured I start looking around in that route:
Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

After poking around on Craigslist for a bit, I came across a 1987 Jeep Cherokee that I wound up picking up for $800. Which turned out to be about $500 too much, which seems to be the way Jeeps work with me:
Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

The ’87 Cherokee (XJ) was my first “Real” wheeler. It got me out in the woods more than my prior two wheelers combined. So to set the pace right away the first thing I did was immediately climb some piles of rock at my fathers business:
Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

And then I tore into it to find out how bad things were. The answer was, quite bad:
Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

Yikes, that was a hell of a lot of rust under this thing. So plowing on, I started cutting it out and making patch panels:
Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

And started putting it back together:
Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

And even did a decent job on the interior for some reason:
Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

And just for fun, I made the doors removable as well, you get a few looks doing this:
Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

Once things were rolling along, I joined SIJA, my local Jeep club to find some friends to go play with:
Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

After driving it for a bit, it was becoming obvious that the motor on this thing was in a bad way. At the time, I was working for a automotive/aerospace machine shop, so I went down the road of making a 4.7 stroker motor by taking the guts of a 4.2 and putting them in a 4.0. With the renix head on the thing, it was one torquey dude.

Motor Out:
Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

Fresh Stroker:
Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

Motor In:
Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

The motor would continuously get 17-19 mpg with the 32” swampers, 3.5” lift, and 3.55/aw4 combo. Here is some information on the motor itself from my post on SIJA:

Original Goal:

Well to build a Stoker of course! Mostly I wanted to see how hard (and expensive) it was going to be to do this. I set out with the intention of reusing as many parts as I could, make it as reliable as possible, and to see how much ‘oomph’ I could get out of all the ‘low output’ Renix (1987-90) junk.

Driving Impressions:

I am 18mi away form my 500mi Break in period. So while I haven’t done any real hard pulls yet (Haven’t let it shift above 3500rpm), there is a very noticeable difference in power with this thing as opposed to my ’92 XJ HO. I hope to get a few hard runs in soon to give some Butt dyno reports ^_^ As for now, it pulls hard even with me just babying it around for the most part. I don’t hesitate to pass people anymore to be sure ^_^ It does have a slight ‘lope’ at idle, but I am uncertain if that’s more being caused by the 20 year old Renix system, or if the cam is just enough to make it to that. Zero Overheating Problems as of now

Renix Woes:

I’ve nearly finished working out all my little quirks (mostly due to the old sensors) and I’ve finally got it to the point where I’m 98% happy with its current Running Condition. The other 2% of its quirks don’t really bother me enough to fix them at this time.– Edit – other than an apparent over cooling problem, I’m competely happy with how its running.

My working Stroker Combo (4.7L):

  • 4.0 Block (1987-90) Casting #8933002665
  • 4.0 Head (1987-90) Casting #2686
  • 4.2 Crank (1987-90) Casting #3727
  • 4.2 Rods (1971-81) Casting #707
  • Fuel Injectors (1987-90) PN# 53003956 (18.6 lb/hr @ 39psi) Yup they’re dirty and well used at 195k mi on them 😉 Edit: I’m now running Ford Motorsport 24.0lb/hr @ 39psi (Part no. FMS-M9593-A302) The motor is much happier whith these injectors, though it runs a tad rich. I believe this is due to a bad CTS that I need to swap out (I’ll update when I know for sure 4/2/09)
  • Erson Cam PN# E72011
  • Sealed Power Pistons PN# H825CP (.060″ Machined out to reduce the Compression ratio to the stock 8.8:1)
  • Cleveite Bearings and Felpro Gaskets
  • CFI 3row Radiator, Mechanical Fan (no electric) Runs at 180* at idle it sits at 210* (94* day)
  • Stock plugs but with .045″ gap (stock gap is .035″)

Estimated Numbers:

approx 230hp and 310ft/lb (these are best educated guesses, IDK if it’ll ever hit a dyno)

Things I would have done Different:

Fixed all the dang problems it had! I’ve spent many hours tracking down bad grounds, bad sensors, and just plain bad junk! The problems the old motor had electronically were magnified when a good running motor was put in! So the moral of the story, if you have a bad O2/MAP/MAT/TPS/IAC/CPS/XYZ sensor when you pulled the old motor, they’re still going to be bad when the new one goes in 😉

The thing sounded pretty good as well with just a cherry bomb on the exhaust:

After the stroker was in the XJ for a bit, I grabbed a Rubicon Express 6030 kit which netted me about 3.5” of lift. I then stuck some used 32” Super Swampers under it.
Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

Along the way, I made various pieces of armor for it to help keep it alive:
Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

Even made a rear air tank bumper since the A/C didn’t work , I used the A/C compressor to fill up my tires:
Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

At some point I put a mini spool in the Rear Dana 44:
Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

And a Aussie in the front High Pinion Dana 30. I wheeled the heck out of it until this happened:
Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

In all fairness, that window took way more abuse than it should have. Many a time I’d look back at it and be amazed at how far it would bow in and not break. Well one time it finally let loose!

So out came the sawzall:
Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

And I started bending up my first ever exo cage:
Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

Which didn’t really turn out too bad for a first shot, I know I beat on it HARD and it held up fine:
Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

I cut up a YJ soft top so I could somewhat enclose the front as this thing sat on the street:
Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

Anybody that has wheeled a unibody knows that they have a very finite life span. So after many, many, years of beating on the poor thing, it was eventually taco’d enough that it really didn’t run down the road very well. Combined with the firewall cracks, random electrical problems, and my desire for the “big boy” stuff. It was time to retire my first Jeep to the scrapper:
Sara L.: 1987 XJ &emdash;

The parts of it live on in several other folks projects at this point, and the sale of those parts allowed me to bankroll The Lone Ranger. I’ll be listing the trips that this thing took under the Trips section as time allows.

Sara L.: Flat Nasty 6-26-10 &emdash;

 

 

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