Project Money Pit - Main Page
Project Money Pit - Main Page Short Cuts
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Moab Rim, EJS 1999 - Photo by Laurie Hollatz
Upper Buzzworm, 1999 Dakota Territory Challenge. - Photo by Laurie Hollatz
by: Ron Hollatz  Feb., 2000

Wouldn't it be cool to have a Jeep so we could put the top down?

That's how this whole thing started, while living in Seattle, WA during 1996 I decided I wanted to buy a Jeep. I had always wanted one, but you didn't see many of them in the Midwest. After we moved to Seattle, I saw them everywhere and on a whim I stopped at our local Jeep dealer. I starting out by looking at the couple of newly introduced TJ's but unfortunately, my long legs didn't fit under the dashboard very well. The salesman then showed me a recently traded 1994 Wrangler with 30,000 miles. The Jeep had been purchased new from the dealership and had been ordered with one option, the 4.0L motor. The under-body was so clean it had obviously never been off-road and it was just plain fun to drive. Being new to the Seattle area, I didn't realize the sun rarely shined except during August, but I had to have it.

Thus began the long and sometimes painful upgrade process. What started out as a dream to put some off-road tires on the Jeep turned into a lift kit to fit the tires, a gear swap to improve the highway performance, ... well you know the way it goes from there. My wife fondly calls it "the money pit" since there is always something else that needs to be done.

The current setup includes a reverse-cut Dana 44 front, reverse-cut Dana 60 rear, Advanced Adapters Atlas 4.3:1 transfer case, 35" Goodyear MTRs, and a slew of other upgrades. I'm going to try to use this page to track the progress of my projects, and hopefully you'll be able to avoid some of the traps I've fallen into.



kit.jpg Performance Distributors 4.0 Firepower Ignition
Performance Distributors has now expanded their product line to include the 4.0 Firepower Ignition System. The system offers increased power, fuel mileage and durability.
CTM Compared CTM Racing Dana 44 U-Joints
So you spent the money on a custom Dana 44 with all the bells and whistles for the front of your Jeep. Now that you have progressed to the extreme trails, you discovered you need to step up from the 33" tires you are running. Now you break front axle u-joints regularly. So what are your options? Recently Jack Graef from CTM Racing came out with another solution, unbreakable u-joints.
TeraFlex Z-Boxes
Recently I got the chance to try another new product developed by Curt Hildebrand and marketed by Tera Manufacturing. I?ve been running a set of Curt?s Revolver Shackles for the past couple of years on Project Money Pit with great success. The added suspension travel really helps me get through rocky terrain. The new products, Z-Boxes, were designed to complement Revolver Shackles by reducing the stress on leaf springs by allowing them to pivot away from the frame.
CTM Compared CTM Racing Dana 44 U-Joints
So you spent the money on a custom Dana 44 with all the bells and whistles for the front of your Jeep. Now that you have progressed to the extreme trails, you discovered you need to step up from the 33" tires you are running. Now you break front axle u-joints regularly. So what are your options? Recently Jack Graef from CTM Racing came out with another solution, unbreakable u-joints.
Project Moneypit Gets Rock Lights
While preparing for a run at Paragon Adventure Park earlier this summer, I found out that one of the trail rides was going to be a night run. Project Money Pit was already equipped with H-4 halogen headlights and a pair of PIAA 520 fog lights. These would help me see farther down the trail, but not help much in rock-crawling situations. It was time for some rock lights.
Wrangler YJ Cooling
With summer coming, it is time to make sure Project Money Pit will stay cool. An aftermarket universal aluminum radiator and a high flow electric fan work to keep the temperatures down.
/4x4/jeep/tech/axle/yjrcdana60/tn_pounding01.jpg Jeep Wrangler YJ Rear Axle Swap: Reverse Cut Dana 60
I already installed a reverse-cut Dana 44 from into the front of my YJ, so it was time to upgrade the rear. A reverse cut Dana 44 in the rear is not much of a strength upgrade, so I decided to use a reverse cut Dana 60. After finding out how easy it was to build the rear reverse cut Dana 60, I'm surprised more people don't do it.
tom.jpg YJ SOA High Clearance Steering
Project Money Pit finishes off a reverse cut Dana 44 swap with some high clearance steering. A mix of low buck parts goes into a system that works great and keeps steering components out of harms way.
/4x4/jeep/reviews/rockgear01/tn_rockgear.jpg Rock Gear's WindBreaker System
After being exposed to the elements for 5 years, the soft-top on Project Money Pit needed to be replaced. Instead of replacing it with the typical frame/soft-top combination, I decided I wanted to go with something unique.
finished.jpg Jeep Wrangler YJ Front Axle Swap: Reverse Cut Dana 44
My YJ Dana 30 had been upgraded to the point there wasn't anything left to do. It had become a stout little unit which was perfect for a part time trail vehicle. Since I was planning to put on tires larger than the 33" tires I was currently running, I thought it was time to upgrade the front axle to a Dana 44.
4x4 Unlimited Low Profile Winch Bumper
4x4 Unlimited recently introduced their low profile bumper and winch mount. This new bumper and winch mount lowers the winch so that it sits between the frame rails to improve air flow to the radiator.
Jeep Wrangler 700R4 Transmission Installation
Ron gets down to the details on installing a 700R4 4 speed automatic in his Wrangler YJ. It is always the details that make swaps tough and Ron works through them.
Jeep Wrangler AX-15 to 700R4 transmission swap
It has to be one of the biggest debates of the Jeeping world, stick or auto? Every time I see the subject come up in one of our forums or mailing lists I know everyone will have an opinion. For various reasons, I decided to swap out my AX-15 5 speed manual for a 700R4 4 speed automatic.
Moab Rim South Bay Driveline Extreme Slip Drive Shafts
Extreme articulation demands extreme drive shafts, an Extreme Slip Driveline from South Bay Driveline to be exact. Project Money Pit gets some Revolver Shackles and the long spline drive shaft it needs for the big tire droop.
Skid Plate Advanced Frame Works Custom Skid Plate
For most off-roading the YJ factory skid plate works pretty well. When you start playing in the big rocks though, the rocks usually win. After running the trails during last years Dakota Territory Challenge in South Dakota I was in need of a replacement skid plate.
YJ Master Cylinder Upgrade
I was never happy with the braking capability of my Wrangler, even after upgrading to disk brakes all around. The problem with the brakes did not seem to be with the calipers, pads, or rotors, but with the master cylinder.
Ultimate Jeep Dana 30: Warn Hub Conversion
Ron Hollatz, in his quest for the ultimate Dana 30, upgrades the front axle using the Warn Hub conversion kit. The hub conversion kit allows newer YJs and TJs to have manual locking hubs.
Ultimate Jeep Dana 30: Warn Axle Shafts
Ron Hollatz, in his quest for the ultimate Dana 30, upgrades the front axle using the Warn axle shaft conversion kit. Get rid of those little 260x u-joints in favor of some 297x u-joints.
Ultimate Jeep Dana 30: Detroit Soft Locker Install
Ron Hollatz, in his quest for the ultimate Dana 30, installs a Detroit Soft Locker. The Detroit Soft Locker is an old school favorite know for its great reliability.
JandL Roll Cage for Wranglers (YJ)
This kit provides Wrangler owners an easy upgrade for the OEM roll-cage.
Keeping the Jeep 4.0L I6 Cool
Keeping your Jeep 4.0L I6 engine cool when you are wheeling hard in the hot sun can be a challenge. Ron Hollatz tries out some cooling tricks on Project Money Pit.


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