The Build History of Snot


Snot|The Build Part:I

Using my build thread on the Jeep Forum I wanted to do a post on here to catch everything up. It’s been a long time since I last posted, and The Jeep has completely changed.

First picture after I got it home:

As it stands today:

Needless to say the tint had to go. The back was bubbled so bad I could barely see, and the purple really wasn’t doing it for me.

Unfortunately the tint would have to wait. Second day of ownership, driving to the RC track with a buddy and suddenly the Jeep runs like crap. turns out I bent 3 valves somehow and had to give up the Jeep for a week while the head got polished, rebuilt, and the bent valves got replaced. When I got it back it was so smooth you could barely tell it was idling. After some convincing the dealer agreed to refund $400 of my purchase price since they sold me a busted Jeep.

This allowed me to get back on track with planned work. Next thing that needed to be addressed was the pretty bad rubbing I was getting with the 30’s. Pro Comp 1.25″ Spacers up front worked as a great temporary fix until I could get a real lift.

When I first did the install of the spacers I left the stock size shocks in. I knew I would have to change them eventually, but being unemployed I had to wait for financial reasons. A week later I got the slightly longer shocks and I’m glad I did. I had already destroyed one of the stock ones.

Shortly after, I hit the local tint shop and got new tint.

A few weeks later it was time to get dirty for the first time. A local club I’m part of was doing a weekend long run and I couldn’t wait to see how the Jeep did.

Some pictures:

The trip brought to light some transmission issues that I still have to work out, but even on fairly mild tires and a failing transmission the only issue I had was overheating one time.

Nothing happened on the Jeep for a long while. I went through some family issues and money was very tight on unemployment, so nothing much was done for a few months. During that time I picked up some parts for mounting the CB more permanently, and I got 2 PIAA lights from a friend, so it was time for everything to go on.

First I mounted the lights on the bumper. Hadn’t wired them, but they were on, and looked good.

Next was the auxiliary fuse block and CB install. The fuse block is always on for now. I’m worried about the LED on the PIAA switch draining the battery, but I can’t imagine it being enough of a drain to actually cause a problem. (Excuse the crappy phone shots)

And the CB installed inside.

Now the outside CB install.

Aside from the PIAA’s being wired , nothing had changed at this point. Tax season lead to my next round of upgrades. The lift, wheels and tires are next on the list. And thanks to Jeg’s wheel fitment application I have a rough idea what it will look like.

Although I planned on going in the direction of lift and modest tires from this point, I ended up going a completely different direction with my build. I ended up starting with a rear tire carrier from Adventure Vehicle Outfitters.

The next step was the lift. I ordered the Rough Country Stage II 3″ lift. From the install and up until today I am extremely happy with the lift.

Within 2 days of getting the lift on I got my tires and wheels. 33″ Duratracs on 15″ wagon wheels.

In initial flex tests with the 33’s on a 3″ lift there was a LOT of body contact, as expected. So…. We cut…. a lot….

At this point I painted the lower panels flat black, added a flat pack gas/water can rack to the swingout, received my Ultragauge, removed the factory muffler in favor of a Magnaflow glasspack, got everything packed up and tested it on a 3 day Mojave Road trip. I was VERY pleased with the results.

After Mojave I came back and did some maintenance for the most part. Along the way I picked up a roof rack, and made a mounting system for 2 more flat packs under the basket. I also got another 8″ KC for the front bumper. This picture was before the flat pack mounts on the rack:

That picture was also taken about an hour before I rolled out to Overland Expo with the guys from AVO.

After Overland Expo I didn’t have much of a budget for mods. It became more about what cheap/free stuff I could muster up to feed the mod bug. To feed the bug I went to the Junkyard and got LeBaron hood vents, I also got some free H4 housings and HID’s out of a friends car. The HID’s were purple, so I passed on them, but I installed some standard H4 halogens in the housings. The housings have a halo that is, as of right now, not connected. I’m not sold on the look.

This brings us up to today.


Snot|The Mod That Never Was

Snot did not end up getting new shoes after all. Despite my efforts, the bolt pattern was wrong, and unfortunately that’s not something I could change. At least not on short notice, and with short funds. I was bummed the night the idea went down in a glorious ball of flames, but the more I think about it the more i think it was for the better. This reserves the small amount of money I was going to put into the project for another project that is unquestionably more important. Rust. I noticed the day i bought Snot, before the purchase, that there was some rust under the roof rack. The floor boards were clear, and the bottom looked clean, so I figured the body was still in good enough condition to make it worth it. With wet weather looming in the next few months, holes in the roof are probably best fixed now. I don’t know the exact extent of the rust, and until i remove the roof rack I won’t. The reason I haven’t removed the roof rack yet is in case the rust is bad enough that parts disintegrate upon removal of the rack. Since the rust is largely hidden by the rails of the rack, I have no idea what to expect. There are a couple spots not covered, but they are just bubbles of paint now. This could go in 2 very different directions at this point. The best outcome is I take the rack off and sand a little to find it’s all surface rust, in which case a quick spray of primer after some minor sanding will be enough. The other, less desirable outcome is there is some penetration, in which case I will have to bondo some small spots and then get to the sanding and primer. The option I left out because I am trying to ignore it’s existence is the one where the rack is removed to find large gaping holes in the roof which require removing the interior and welding new plates in, then grinding, sanding, likely still small bondo spots, and then priming.

The decision to prime for now and leave it for the wet months is strictly financial. Money is tight right now and the primer will seal well enough to keep new rust from forming. Once the wet months have passed and I have good weather for painting, I plan on sanding again, re-priming, and finally throwing on some paint and clear coat. The primer and paint I use will be white. This is for three very specific and well thought out reasons. First: Money. It will be quite a bit cheaper to buy a can of white paint than to buy a new can of the OEM paint, then get it color matched to 14 years of fade. If my understanding of the paint is correct the match MAY be impossible. I believe the original was a multi-stage pearl, where almost all new paints, even pearls are single stage. This will make matching almost impossible, or at least EXTREMELY pricey. Second: Although the difference will likely be negligible, a white roof, in theory, will keep the interior cooler. Finally: It’s a small tribute to my Toyota brethren. My foray into the offroad world was brought about at the hands of a group of Toyota owners, and they remain my trail buddies. Once again I will make the tentative promise that this may be the beginning of a string of posts that ACTUALLY have some merit, that actually deal with  a real mod, or real work being done to Snot. So keep checking back.

Snot|Finally a plan of attack

Snot has been quiet for a while now. The closest thing to a mod it’s seen is a few tanks of gas and a new battery. After a month out of the country I came home to a dead battery, which was promptly replaced and all has been well since. Regardless of the fairly uneventful last few months it appears we may finally have some REAL Snot news in the very near future. For instance:

Yes, Snot is about to get new shoes. Sure they are about 3 sizes too big, but thanks to a new lift and a grinder I’m sure Snot will grow into them rather quickly. The tires are 33 x 12.5’s Which normally requires a 6″+ lift to fit, however I have a grinder. I am going to fit these on a 3″ lift. I don’t want to be way up in the sky, and I am willing to chop, so 3″ will be plenty to clear. The lift I am looking at for now is the Rough Country 3″ with the add-a-leaf. I know it’s not the ideal option, but it’s only temporary. I am getting this lift for now for the price, it is under $300 shipped to my door. Once money isn’t quite so tight, I will be upgrading to the Rubicon Express 3.5″ I have wanted since the beginning. At over $800 shipped the RE kit will have to wait for obvious reasons. None of this was budgeted for, nor was it planned. The only reason it is happening on such short notice is the availability of the tire/wheel setup. A friend is getting rid of the truck they are on now, and offered them as a direct swap for what’s currently on Snot. That’s not something you can pass up! As you can imagine I will have no problem saying goodbye to my knockoff American Racing wheels and Falken street tires (although especially in that size the Falkens are not cheap.) I have spent the past week debating with myself. Do I do it? Can the transmission handle it with the known issues it has? Can the ailing power steering handle it? Can my wallet handle the newfound gas guzzling? And the answer I kept coming up with, with the help of my friends was “No.” In no way does it make any sense, and if I were spending money on it I would NEVER buy these tires. At least not yet. I know the transmission will be an issue even sooner with the added weight of the tires. I know the already noisy but functional power steering will fail sooner with the added resistance of 4″ taller and 2.5″ wider tires. The only thing I was really able to come up with a valid argument for was the gas. And even then my argument was shaky. Sure I drive so little now a tank lasts me almost a month, but once I start commuting (which has to be in the next few weeks,) my consumption will increase. These all sound like great reasons NOT to get the tires and lift, and they are. But there are some less logical, however equally important reasons to go ahead and do it. Before I continue I will repeat what i said. “Less logical.” I’m not saying these reasons for necessarily make sense, in fact most of them are opinion, and not even very good opinion at that. First reason: It looks bad ass. Simple enough. Second reason: It’s an incredible deal. To be able to upgrade from a 29″ street tire on American Racing knockoffs to a 33″ offroad tire on Mickey Thompson Classics including lift for under $300 doesn’t happen. These reasons along with friends giving me possibly some of the worst advice I have ever gotten lead to my decision to jump in and do it. After all, It’s only money, and it’s really not much. On top of that if I act soon, the transmission is probably only a flush away from near perfect operation. Same with the power steering. If they were big issues I would have more issues than I do. So another reason for the swap is it forces me to do my maintenance.

Now, this could all die here. This could end up being nothing but a pipe-dream. I still have yet to do a test fit. Since the donor is not a Jeep, nor is it in any way similar aside from a bolt pattern, there is a chance the backspacing will be off by enough to make this whole thing a waste of time. I have eyeballed it about 100 times and all appears to be fine, but until I bolt them up and see actual clearances, there is no way of knowing. This is obviously the next step.

Snot|The First Run

Last week was definitely the strangest week of Snot’s life. I had been planning a trip for the long weekend for a few weeks and I wake up to pack the day before and Snot is gone.  Turns out the night before they had changed the construction zones for the site across the street and either didn’t post signs, or I missed the signs when I parked. So, $300 later I had Snot back and I was ready to start packing. Being Snot’s first long trip since I took ownership, I really had no idea what to expect. I was hoping to caravan out of town with someone, but that quickly fell apart. So Friday morning I started out on the journey alone. It took about 4 hours, and was extremely uncomfortable, but eventually I arrived in Lone Pine to gas up for the last time before finding camp. The 15 year old seats, Crappy transmission gearing, and worn out 15 year old suspension were miserable at highway speeds for 4 hours. It wasn’t until I began looking for our camp that I really came to appreciate what Snot could do.

The Alabama Hills camping area is a large area of rocks in the middle of the desert basically. The nature of the terrain makes the camping area a series of coves, with a few nice wide open spots, perfect for a large group camping area like what we needed. These rocks, while providing a great private cove for most campers really did make it hard to find a group. The “roads” are more like packed dirt trails and some parts are actually pretty fun. I missed camp completely my first time in. In the dirt, even though it was pretty hard packed, my street tires slid all over the place. the smallest turn had Snot’s rear end out in the bushes. So I put Snot in 4Hi and went on my way. In 4Hi I had plenty of control and soon I had grown the confidence to increase my speed significantly on the mostly flat, hard packed dirt. Through flat dirt, big hills, and even some small whoops Snot handled incredibly well. I had quite a bit of fun that first little bit just seeing how Snot would react to various levels of throttle and steering input depending on terrain. After about an hour from on top of a nice size hill I saw a few of the  FJ’s I was meeting up with in a cove and decided to try to find my way back to them. I found them soon after and found my own little spot to camp then went to talk to everyone. For the next few hours we jockeyed rigs around trying to secure enough space for the 50+ rigs we planned on having. We eventually had almost everyone there, started a fire, and that’s pretty much how the night ended for me.

Saturday was our first trail day. The driver’s meeting was at 9:30 and we split into our various trail groups. The trail I chose to do Saturday was fairly easy, as were most of the options for this trip. On the way to the trail, My air conditioning stopped working, as did the stereo, so I was in for a long, hot weekend. It was very scenic and fairly uneventful for the first 2 hours or so, then we came to a spot, after a slight navigational error, that actually made me concerned for the ability of Snot. The trail led up a fairly steep, VERY rocky hill. I knew I could make it up, but the street tires and lack of sidewall strength worried me. The rocks were all fairly jagged. Never being one to turn around, I dropped into 4Lo and idles all the way up. I guess now is a good time for me to get into the biggest complaint I have about Snot. It’s a fairly big one. Whether I decide to fix it or not, it is going to cost me a lot of money as well. It’s the transmission. The gearing just sucks, plain and simple. In 4Hi I can choose “drive,” “3,” or “1  2.” What this means is I’m in Drive, 3rd, or second. I have no way of locking into first when I’m in 4Hi, so I still have a very high top speed. I have no downhill speed control without riding my brakes in 4Hi. So My first solution was to drop into 4Lo, I figured maybe with the slower transfer case gearing I would be able to control my speed without so much brake input. Not so much. 4Lo introduced it’s own new set of problems. 4Lo and drive is a bad combination. The speeds are higher than the transfer case is supposed to go, aside from a LOT more noise from the transfer case gearing, the speed differences on a downhill are really non existent,  same with 4Lo and 3rd. The major difference comes from the 4Lo and “1   2” combination. The manual is crap on the subject, so this is what I believe happens based only on my experience with it, and how it drove. The one thing the manual does say is “Do not exceed 2 to 3 mph” and it really doesn’t give you an option. The only time it really seems to lock the transfer case in Lo is when you are in the “1   2” position. This is also the only time the transmission will lock into 1st gear. The incredible thing about the setup is that it does not slow down. Brakes be damned, In this setting you WILL creep forward. I did not need any throttle input to climb even the steepest hills in this setting. And once it leveled out i found that even if I had given throttle, it doesn’t do anything. The gearing makes this a crawling only setting. It did slow me down on the downhill, but too much. It’s hard to explain how 3mph feels unless you are the only one stuck going down a hill at 3mph when everyone around you is able to do a nice 7-10mph which was perfect for the hill. This complete lack of speed made me throw it into 4Lo and 3rd for the first big descent, which i found later to be a big mistake. The descent was a long trail, including some switchbacks, that dropped a few thousand feet in elevation over the couple miles it included. It wasn’t too incredibly steep, but it was a long downhill. I set to 4Lo and 3rd so I could keep up with the group and about half way down my brakes were on fire. So we stopped and let them cool for a bit. This is when the warning went out to the group that it was going to be a long downhill, because I was going to have to do it at 3 mph. Eventually I made it down and we headed back to camp on a fairly flat easy trail.

Sunday was not only our last trail day, but I was leaving after the trail Sunday to try to avoid the traffic all coming home on Memorial Day. This trail again had a fairly large elevation change, and many types of terrain. From lava fields, to silt and mud, and even a few fairly good sized water crossings. Once again Snot handled everything with no problem at all. Until it came time for the long trek back down the mountain from our first stop. I found out on the way to the trail that my little brake issue the previous day had resulted in a warped rotor, so by this time I was ready to do everything I could to keep off the brakes. For this reason, 10 minutes before we broke from our lunch break at the top of the mountain, I started down the mountain alone. At 3 mph. It was slow going, but everything seemed to be working fine and I got down about 3 minutes before the rest of the group was down the surprisingly slow and steep descent. There was one point of this trail that everyone before us had warned us about. It was basically about an 8th mile of rock garden. Nothing sharp, but it was nothing but rocks, about volleyball size spread just enough to make it miserable on your shocks, and really anyone inside your rig as well. This was the only point of the entire trip that I cursed having a solid front axle. the way it absorbed everything didn’t make the Snot rock side to side. Every single rock made me hit my head on the roof. Being so rocky everyone was only going 3-5mph, so Snot was very comfortable in 4Lo and “1   2.” This caused me a bit of trouble though. After such a long downhill climb, then nowhere to really open up at all, and soon after into the rock garden Snot was running very hot. I started smelling coolant in my exhaust, which due to a leak at the collector in the manifold was pumping directly into the cabin at the slow speeds through the rock garden. I finished the rock garden, popped the hood, which was too hot to even unlatch without gloves, and let Snot run for a few minutes. Eventually I turned Snot off and let it sit for a while too. After a short break it started right back up and ran fine the rest of the trip with one minor exception. A check engine light. After the trail I headed back to camp and surprisingly it only took about 30 minutes to get all packed up and road worthy. I was slightly concerned about cooling issues so I waited around until I had someone to caravan the first part of the trip home with, but soon I was on my way. After a quick stop in Lone pine to gas up and air up the tires again I was headed home. The entire drive home I was going 65 and never had any problems with temperature.

This trip was a huge success in my mind. I had a great time, and aside from a few minor issues, that really did more to point me in a mod direction than anything else, Snot did amazingly well. The final tally is as follows:

Broken drivers door armrest (adjusting myself in my seat on the drive home I put too much weight on it)

Warped rotor(s)

Dead stereo (only had a casette deck anyway)

Dead A/C (I knew it was on it’s way out)

Dented undercarriage (the smaller tire sizes on the Jeep made the rock garden a little more challenging)

Cooling issues (well known issue, just need better fans)

Transmission (not enough gear selectability, this will be an expensive fix)

Snot|Dirt in the future?

It’s been a while since there were any updates on Snot. I got the lift, the new shocks, and the tint done, but thats about where funds ran out. However in the coming weeks Snot will be getting more work done. Memorial weekend Snot is scheduled to see it’s first dirt time. We are doing a huge offroad trip and it will be Snot’s first big test. I would lie if i said i wasn’t very concerned as the time gets closer. The brake squeak that turned up after the shock install is still there and has now been joined by a host of different, somewhat scarier sounds. It now has a squeak, very much like a brake squeak, but it only happens during acceleration. It’s not a belt, it sounds exactly like the warning tabs on the brakes, but it’s only under acceleration. I know it could be nothing, and before it sees dirt I want to do some 4wd system maintenance anyway, but it’s still rather scary. On the subject of maintenance: Before I show it any hard offroad time I need to change the t-case fluid, or at least check it, and I need to drop and lube the rear driveshaft. From what I have read these 2 actions should fix one of the other sounds I have come to love. Occasionally, from a stop, the transmission (or transfer case) will slip, then clunk and go. This clunk sounds a little different each time. The last time it sounded the worst, like a bad machine gun sound effect from a movie. a bunch of very rapid, very distinct clicks, then it engaged. I know Snot can make it, I just need to make sure I do all I can to get it in the best working order I can.


Today Snot went in for tint. The shop I have taken all my other cars to quoted me $200, which, for 11 windows including removal isn’t bad. So, Snot got tint.

Snot|Spacer Pics

As promised here are the pics from the spacer lift install. Nothing special, not very many, and not the best quality. Enjoy.