Scepter Toad

Oof...ball joints....

Got them swapped over the weekend and I do NOT want to do that again. But, I will when the time comes, and it'll get deleted.

Tore everything down Saturday and was expecting that my new ball joints would arrive that day. They were delayed (not sure why), so I ended up doing a few extra items. There are a few lessons that I learned along the way: 1. ABS sensors and ball joint presses don't get along. 2. ABS sensors do NOT fit through the dust plate with the hub installed completely. Well, they do, but you can't install them into the hole without seriously torquing the line itself and I didn't want to break it.

So, I worked both sides at once, rather than do one at a time. Seemed to be a bit more efficient for me to do it that way. So, jack up, jack stands, pull wheels and brakes, pull unit bearing, pull axle shafts, pull knuckle, remove ball joints. I had the Harbor Freight standard issue ball joint press with accessories, but for the Jeep, I needed the extra set. 25% July 4th coupon here I come! Cleaned everything up and painted most things. I didn't paint the knuckles just because I didn't want to take the time to tape all the surfaces. About everything else got some paint. Pulled the axle cover and inspected the gears, all good, no chunks but did have some fuzz on the drain plug. Nothing to worry about. My guess is this is the first time that the lube has been changed. It was awful dark. Went back with a gasket and I always use the black RTV as well. I probably could have gotten away with copper spray or no gasket at all, but I like the combo. I haven't had one leak that way. Since the ball joint shipment was delayed, I went ahead and started the axle shaft u-joints. I had ordered the Spicer 5-760X and they turned out to be the wrong size. Too small. I had found those digging through forum posts. I looked at the ones I had and found the casting number and that turned out to be a Spicer 5-7166X (Casting Number SPR 1411). Oreilly up the road from me had one, and they help one at another store that was a 15 minute drive. No big deal, I'll just go pick it up. Wrong, the guy at the counter transferred it to another store another 20 minutes away instead of holding it. Ugh. Lots of driving later, I had both. Ball joint press makes quick work of u-joints, but since the head of the joint is larger than the press, you have to be careful when they are stuck. I ended up driving right through one that was seized and it blew up. crap went everywhere, including a small shard of metal right into my finger. Not to be deterred, I pulled it out and went on. Unfortunately, the "ring" was still in the yolk. I tried a regular punch to work it out and that didn't work. I also have an arbor shaft out of an alternator that I use as a punch. It works really well and is a solid piece of metal. I tried a dremel and a hacksaw blade, but they didn't want to touch the hardened steel interior ring of the old cap. Took a bit, but I got it out without having to heat it. New ones went in without much of a hitch. I painted the ends of the shafts after a little work with some emery cloth where they had rusted. After that, I decided to go ahead and change the transfer case fluid. I pulled the skid plate and noticed a bit of rust on that, so I hit it with a wire wheel and painted the top side. Pulled the transfer case plug and drained that as well. I wish new process had put a magnet on the drain plug on these instead of putting a magnet inside the case. By the time I had all that done, it was beer 30 and time for dinner.

Next day, the delivery still showed delayed, and I had to get the tow bar from the coach so I could swap the ends out to fit Demco base plate. Ran down to the coach and grabbed that and by the time I got back, the ball joints had arrived. Got all the tools back out and ready to go. The ball joints were pretty easy to get out because the orientation of the press was good enough to use a long breaker bar and cheater pipe to get them going. Unfortunately, going back in, I had to flip the press over to get the right attachments in in such a way that the press throat was long enough to get in place. That meant that the bottom ball joints had to be pressed in using a wrench only. That made for a hard and slow process. Tops were pretty easy. Once those were in, I put the first axle shaft in, got it all the way in, and realized that I needed to put the knuckle on first. Back out with the shaft, knuckle on, shaft back in. From there, I installed the unit bearing, nut, and bolts holding it in. At this point, I realized that the ABS sensor would fit through the hole, but wouldn't install in the hole. Loosened the 3 bolts holding the unit bearing in enough to get it in there and retightened it all back up. Brake install went easy, wheel back on. The only other problem I had to deal with was the ABS line I mucked up with the ball joint press. The connection is behind the shock tower and is a bit of a pain to get to. In the end, I had to swap both of the ABS sensors. I think that I damaged the passenger side one when installing it.

All fluids back in, skid plate reinstalled over transfer case and painted the underside, off to the alignment shop. The called 10 minutes after and said the toe bar was seized. They managed to get it loose with heat but he said I should consider getting a new one next time. When that happens, I'll probably pull it, mark and measure the location, pull it apart and clean it up and use anti-seize on it. I love that stuff! I used it on various bolts and on the unit bearings when putting everything back together.

Next up is a transmission fluid/filter change and the rear diff lube. Hopefully I can fully test the flat tow soon behind the motorhome and make sure all that works as intended. Alignment was a success and the Jeep drives much better than it did. I had some wheel shimmy around 40-45mph that's not there any more, which is nice. On to the pics!










Well, I figured out what the weird, intermittent noise was while out west on vacation. Flat towed the Jeep from Cincinnati to Teton and then Glacier and back over the last two weeks. We were driving up Going to the Sun Road in Glacier and the noise came back full force. Sounded like a cross between a crunchy bearing and a rock in a metal hubcap bouncing around. And didn't happen all the time. It also didn't change tempo with speed or stop under braking conditions. Didn't seem to be affected by engine speed or vehicle speed. It was making me crazy!

On the trip back from East to West Glacier, it occurred to me that I should check the front driveshaft. I had already wiggled it and it seemed pretty tight. No play that I could tell, certainly not in the u-joint. I decided to remove it completely to rule it out. Once I pulled it out, I realized that the CV joint a the transfer case is torched. Boot must have come off at some point prior to my ownership and the joint was toast. Inside all mangled and parts missing. So, I'll need to replace it. I've done a bit of research and there's all sorts of options out there. I think I've settled on the Terraflex Rzeppa high angle factory replacement kit. Seems like a pretty straightforward install as well. Anyone else have opinions on this? My application is really a daily with some minor offroading and not likely to do any real rock crawling. Not any crazy mud either. As always, thanks in advance for the advice!
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Finally got the front driveshaft back in and my first oil change since owning the Jeep. Oil change went really easy. No major issues. I did go with Mobil 1 oil and filter. For whatever reason, I prefer Mobil 1 oil and use it in the gas cars. Mobil Delvac 1500 Super in the diesels. I did confirm on the packaging that it conforms to the manufacturer recommended MS-6395. 6 quarts out, 6 back in. Easy.

On to the driveshaft. Firstly, I should have chased the holes in the flange on the transfer case with a tap. I didn't, and I paid for it. Second, I didn't think to break out the ball end 3/8" drive allen stocks I have sitting right in the toolbox. Bonehead moves for sure.

I basically set the driveshaft in place, rested the front portion on a jack stand at a height that I could easily get to the bolts (flat), and eased each one in. The Rzeppa joint is a good one for sure. The problem is, the bolts are pretty tight in there and there's not a lot of room to get even a regular length (short) allen socket in there. They rub on the flange. Dumb.

Once I got one bolt started, I basically just went around and tightened each one a little at a time until the joint was fully seated in the flange. From there, I grabbed my torque wrench. Unfortunately, I couldn't get it to break over and felt that I was overtightening the bolts. So I stopped and left it as is. I'll go back after a few days of driving and make sure all is still tight. For now, no noise or vibration, so I'm calling it good. That same torque wrench worked just fine for the oil filter cap, so who knows.

Only thing left to do before winter is a transmission fluid and filter change and then throw the hard top back on. I doubt I'll get more than a few more days left in the season to have the top down. Certainly won't get the doors off I don't think. Though, I will probably pull them, lube the pins, install and put the bottom bolts back in. Not that I really need them, but I don't want salt and crap getting in there.

That reminds mem still have to power wash the undercarriage and treat with woolwax. I ordered 6 can's off of amazon a few weeks ago. Have to keep the salt out! I suppose the projects never end!
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In prep for winter around my house. Got most of the remaining yard work done and the Jeep washed and waxed for winter. Hard top on as well.

Top went on easier than I expected. I store it in the shed out back and with all the yard tools out, easy access. I used a ramp from the mower to run from the shed up to the rear bumper. From there, I got under the top and lifted it up on my back. Walked up the ramp and sat it down right in place. Bolted it down and went in about my day.

But, before all that, I took it to the local car wash and washed real good including underneath. Got it home and used some of the chemical guys ceramic wax. It’s a little chunky but otherwise went on pretty easy. Wiped it off and the paint looks pretty darn good. It’ll need a clay bar next year and I have some additional work to do. Namely, the area where the rock sliders were installed. I didn’t realize when we were out in the badlands, and the mud was getting everywhere, including on top of the rock sliders/steps. Tiny rocks were wedged in there. With running around town, the tiny rocks created deep scratches in the paint. Also, whoever installed them put them a little too close as there’s some rust staining and paint rubbed off. I removed them and they won’t be going back on. I’ll find a set that mount more flush to the body and don’t have anything sticking out to catch mud and rocks. Also, I’ll have to come up with a way to cover up the scratches or otherwise repair them. Right now I’m thinking I’ll sand them down and use bed liner across the bottom right up to the door bottoms. I’ll have to think on that a bit more. I’m also up for suggestions.





Well, on to the next "problem" I guess. But first, a little update.

This past weekend, I needed to winterize the coach as we're getting closer to freezing/cold temperatures here in Ohio. I also wanted to get the Jeep "undercoated" in anticipation of the salt they like to spread around here. I had purchased 6 cans of woolwax a while back with the trigger gun and the tube to snake into the cavities. I ended up using all but a small amount of the last can and was able to cover the frame inside and out, all suspension parts, and the bottom of the body. Pretty happy with that coverage, even if it only lasts the winter. I'm pretty convinced that I managed to get all of the nooks and crannies and inside of all of the various parts. I then put it to an immediate torture test as it was raining when I finished and I needed to get back down to the coach to grab a few things. Overall, very happy with it so far. I'll keep an eye on it as winter really sets in. As much as I love snow, I really hate the salt that comes along with it. And I plan to keep this Jeep a good long time, so I want it to last.

Yesterday, it was cold out (in the 20's) when I went to work. When I got on the highway, I popped a check engine light. UGH. Fired up the JScan app and I had a P0128, which is related to the thermostat and according to the internets, possibly the sensor. I kept the temperature on the screen and it sat right around 185 all the way on the highway and then for the few mile run down the road to office if came up to 195. No big deal. Cleared the code when I got to the office. LEft last night, light back on, code back. Watched the temp all the way home and it stayed right around 195. Got off the highway, stop and go traffic and by the time I went a mile or so, it was up to 225. Sat at the light and it climbed to 228 and stayed there the 1/4 mile to the house. Also noted, the fan was not on when I pulled in the driveway and I didn't hear it shut down after I turn off the engine. Crap.

So, given that I have 55 degree weather this weekend, I'll be tearing into it. And, given that I'm at 110K on the clock, there's a few maintenance items that I'll take care of while I'm into it. The plan is to do the following:

1. Coolant flush and replace (maintenance from manual)
2. Thermostat
3. Serpentine belt
4. Tensioners/idlers
5. Transmission service (fluid and filter - left over from before that I didn't get to)
6. Spark plugs (maintenance from the manual).

I'm essentially covering the 100K and 120K service with this work, so should be good for a while. I'll also check the air and cabin filter and replace as necessary, along with anything else I see going into it.

Now the fun stuff. I blame the internets for this completely. I've been pretty happy with the performance as a daily, with the exception of the gears with the tires that are currently on it. My original thought was I'd have someone put gears in it early next year prior to our June trip out to Moab. However, I started watchin builds on youtube when searching for options and I fell in love with a 1 ton swap using the D60 and 14 bolt. This came around because I follow a guy on the RV forum that did an LS swap. I love that too, so that was on the table. So, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I don't have the time to do all that, especially going into winter and using it as a daily driver. I can drive the excursion, but I don't want to run it through another winter as it needs rockers, tires, door bottoms, and some other misc body work (because of the dang salt). I'm also not super happy with the suspension that way it's set up. Could be any number of things, but the bottom line is I didn't do the work and therefore don't know for sure what it has under it.

So, I think I've settled on a new plan. Based on my abilities and several videos I've seen, I think I can do the gears myself, which will save me a fair amount of money. The D30 in the front is not ideal for any high level wheeling, but then again I won't be doing anything crazy either. Still working this out in my head, so I'm open to opinions:

1. Keep the existing axles and regear to 4.56
2. Keep existing tire size (35x12.5 17), but will need new tires. Waffling between the Nitto ridge grappler, BFGs KO2, and the Toyo Open country. All seem to be good tires and seem to be similar in abilities and wear.
3. Truss the axles and move to a 3 link front and 4 link rear. This may require new springs, but I haven't worked that all the way out yet.

I think this plan will give me more than enough wheeling ability for what I plan on doing. Obviously, I'll need to look at driveshafts and other accessories depending on whether I go with a taller lift or move the axles at all with the 3/4 link. Really depends on what I end up with. Still in the research phase, but this should scratch my itch do do something with it to get it to where I want to be while not breaking the bank LS swapping and going to 1 ton.

This isn't to say I won't eventually go to an LS and 1 tons, but it'll be a good interim step and not a lot of money to do it (comparatively).

What say you JK gurus??
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