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Thread: Lola - 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee

  1. #1
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    Aug 2013
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    Default Lola - 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee

    This thread was formally titled "2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee - Offroad Minivan". However, due to a change in "terms of use" photobucket broke all of my image hosting links and basically made the thread useless. I don't have time or energy to fix the old thread so, I'm starting current and moving forward

    I have been into Jeeps and off-road since I turned 16. My days began in a 1999 TJ 4-Cylinder and then evolved into a 2005 LJ when I graduated college and started making some money. I have a love for TJ's and LJ's and I hope one day to find myself back in a soft top Jeep. As life moved on I found myself with one child and then a second, resulting in the need for a 4-door vehicle. I traded the LJ in on a very nice, low miles 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee. I found the WJ to be a perfect fit for me and it checked all of my major boxes for a vehicle, to include solid axles and a V8!

    My build goal with Lola is to create a vehicle which maintains good road manners and daily driver attributes while being a good family overlanding platform with enough ability to tackle the occasional difficult trail. I want her to be a sleeper vehicle, not appearing too overly modified. To date Lola has tackled trails in Colorado and Moab as well as local east coast destinations.

    2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee

    Engine: 4.7L
    Tranny: Automatic
    Transfer Case: 242 (Selec-trac)
    Axles: D30/44a

    Suspension:
    OME HD Coils w/ 3/4 rear spacer
    Bilstein 5100 Shocks
    Moog Steering Stabilizer
    JKS Quick Disconnects
    Front Suspension Limiting Straps

    Tire:
    245/75/R16 Goodyear Duratrac w/ stock wheels

    Armor:
    HK Off-road Overland Front Bumper
    Rock Hard 4x4 Rear Bumper w/ Tire Carrier
    IRO Transfer Case Skid Plate
    Custom High Clearance Rock Rails

    Accessories:
    Interior LED Light Conversion
    Smittybilt XRC 9500 Winch w/ Synthetic Line
    Factor 55 Winch Thimble
    Rock Lights
    Auxbeam Rear LED Light
    Hi-Lift Jack
    Maxa Escaper Buddy Traction Mats
    5LBS CO2 Air System
    Custom rear drawer system
    Indel B Fridge
    Front Runner Roof Rails
    ARB Awining

    Current:

    IMG_0146.jpg

    So why the name Lola? In 2015 we went to Colorado and Utah for two weeks and during the trip the decision to name Lola began. While sitting at a particularly difficult obstacle on the Golden Spike Trail the song "Lola" came on the radio, and my co-pilot and I instantly agreed to her name.
    Last edited by Jeepinaaron; 07-04-2017 at 02:09 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    United States
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    Reserved

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    My old ride. I miss her.

    IMG_20120603_092523.jpg

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    United States
    Posts
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    Default OME Lift, JKS Disconnects, Limiting Straps

    Keeping with my intended use of the WJ I settled on a suspension which offered a moderate lift, good ride, and load support. I landed on the OME HD lift paired with Bilstein 5100 shocks. This seemed to be the recommended combination, favored by many. The alternative route was a IRO 3" lift, but their spring rates seemed softer and I didn't think it would support the intended weight.

    Immediately after I installed the lift:

    NCM_0337.jpg

    After having the lift for several years now, I am overall please. I find the ride to be near stock, and the lift has held its height over the years. The only issue I have ran into was a sagging rear end, due to an extremely heavy rear bumper and tire carrier. With my Rockhard 4x4 tire carrier, tire, and water the suspension sagged about 1/2". I rectified this by installing 3/4" spacers. This put the Jeep at the correct height and set it up correctly for pulling my trailer.

    I ran into a significant suspension problem while wheeling the Jeep in Colorado and Utah, the front springs kept falling out. I found the front suspension to flex to the point where both springs would fall out. This happened in two precarious spots; the Black Bear Trail and on Poison Spider. Luckily, when the spring shot out of the front suspension it didn't go crashing down the cliff on Black Bear! I played around with several solutions and ended up purchasing some limiting straps. I went with "Speed Straps" purchased from Amazon. I measured the distance between my mounting locations at the point just before the spring would fall out, and subtracted 1" for strap stretch. Here is my mounting location:

    DSC02383.jpg
    Last edited by Jeepinaaron; 07-04-2017 at 05:04 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    United States
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    181

    Default Armor: HK Offroad, Rock Hard 4x4, and Custom

    I wanted to put some thought into the armor I chose for the Jeep; bumpers, rockers, and skids. For the front I chose HK Offroad's Overland Bumper because it matched the Jeep's body lines, was lighter than other options, housed a winch, and didn't kill the approach angle. HK achieves this by removing the front crossmember of the Jeep and recessing the winch. The winch fitment is still tight, and requires some decisions on where to mount the solenoid box. I decided to disassemble my box, and flush mount the winch plug to the front of the bumper, with the winch solenoid mounted in a void behind the plug location.

    IMG_0148.jpg

    IMG_0149.jpg

    IMG_0147.jpg

    The main reason behind adding a rear bumper was for the included tire carrier, to move the tire out of the floor of the Jeep. While changing a tire is a pretty rare occurrence, it can be a real pain if the tire is buried under the floor with gear and a fridge on top. I also wanted my bumper to support water or fuel, a hi-lift, and be convenient to open. I found all of these features in the Rock Hard 4x4 Patriot rear bumper. The only down side to this bumper is, its heavy, resulting in 3/4" spacers to bring the rear of the Jeep back up to ride height. Ignore the blue tape in the photos, this is temporary wire routing for the rear mounted light.

    IMG_0151.jpg

    IMG_0155.jpg

    IMG_0157.jpg

    The latch mechanism is simple to use, and allows for one hand operation. And there is a hold open feature when the tire is swung open.

    IMG_0152.jpg

    When I decided on rocker protection in 2015 there wasn't anything commercially manufactured which fit the bill for what I wanted. Since I don't intend to lift this Jeep more than how it sits, and it will probably never see 33's, every inch of clearance counts. All of the commercially manufactured rocker protection for the WJ was some sort of bolted rail, which robbed ground clearance. 4xGuard makes a product but I just wasn't sold on it, so I turned to my local fabricator, HCORE4x4.

    IMG_0158.jpg

    IMG_0161.jpg

    Additionally the WJ is sporting an IRO Transfer Case Skid.

    Stock image from their website.
    IMG_9843.jpg

  6. #6
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    Aug 2013
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    United States
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    Default New Headlight Housings

    Got these from Rock Auto. The old housings were showing age and had a good haze. Definitely an increase in light output with the new housings!

    Out with the old and in with the new.

    IMG_0187.jpg

    IMG_0189.jpg

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Up North
    Posts
    95
    Nice build so far. Did you have any rubbing with the tires? Thats the same size I'm looking at getting with my 2" lift

  8. #8
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    No rubbing on the body however, under serious flex I stuffed the front driver's tire into the windshield washer reservoir, breaking it. I will post up where I remounted the reservoir soon, and that Napa part number.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Posts
    187
    Looks great! I'm jealous of the aftermarket support for the WJs versus newer models.

    Look forward to following along.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    8,779
    Looks great. Absolutely love that front bumper. My son just bought a 2001 GC with the 4.7L V8. It has 200,000 miles on the chassis, but the motor only had 100 miles on it after a fresh rebuild. That was Friday. A couple days later, the motor burped up its head gasket. Darn it! There goes the upgrade budget! Not a great introduction into the world of Grand Cherokee's but I think it still has some promise. Where else can you get solid front and rear axles, a comfortable interior, near ideal 105" wheelbase, and a V8, for under $5k? I think GC's are the hidden gem that Monteros want to be, but never quite reached. I giggle when I read about people experiencing too much flex! Definitely not a problem in Monteros. I am looking forward to having this thing on the trail...eventually.
    "Occupy National Parks!" - gabepari
    ------------------------------------------
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    Off Road Photography: www.nwoods.smugmug.com
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