1990 Cherokee Project: Stage
1990 Cherokee, from Don-A-Vee Jeep
Fuel Injected 4.0L
TRANSMISSION: Stock Automatic
Goodyear AT/S - 31x11.50x15
American Racing 7x15 (AR-36)
Front: Off Road General
Rear: National Spring
Rancho 9000 with remote kit
Stock with TrueTrac
Dana 44 by Tri-County Gear
REAR LOCKER: ARB Air Locker
Kenwood 741A, 2 meter/440, HR 2510
Premier Power Welder 190 amp
R&M Hot Water Shower
In 1993 I decided my CJ-7 was not a Street Jeep. The air conditioning had
no hope of cooling the passenger compartment. The heater and defroster were inadequate
during the winter months and there was never enough space. So I sold the CJ-7
and bought a Cherokee. I built the Cherokee into what I consider a Stage
Three" 4x4: a vehicle that will perform well off the highway but could still be
an everyday vehicle. By this I mean the Cherokee can consistently run the "Most
Difficult" trails when needed but takes you there in comfort and with reasonable fuel
economy. And believe me; I know how to push a vehicle to its limits.
Why a Cherokee? I like the body style, Fuel Injected motor (4.0L), and automatic
transmission. I don't like the unibody, but I'll live with it to get the other
features. Just as a side note: the 1997+ Cherokees have a much stiffer unibody
which should hold up better to off road abuse.
A Stage One" 4x4 would use an off-the-shelf suspension kit (for example, Rancho
makes a great 3" lift). A Stage Two" 4x4 would use one of the
extreme kits (4-6" lift) and the gear ratio would be changed to match larger tires.
Whereas, a Stage Three" 4x4 would combine the best suspension components
from each manufacturer and custom build components when necessary to gain an advantage.
Off Road General Store in Laguna Hills, California did all the suspension work and
Tri-County Gear in Pomona, California built the differential to handle tough terrain, yet
still street-able. Luckily I have the skills to do the minor work: installing the
roof rack, CB radio, bumpers, mechanical repairs, etc. Watch for the build-up article in 4WD
& Sport Utility Magazine during 1998.
Note: This Cherokee was stolen in May 1997. I hope the recipient of this fine
vehicle appreciates the effort that went into building such a vehicle. I have a few
other thoughts which I will keep to myself.
(562) 867-7256 - (714) 528-5337 - (800) 366-JEEP
out of business
||OFF ROAD GENERAL STORE
out of business
|WELDER: 190 amp
||Premier Power Welder
(800) 541-1817 - (970) 963-8875
tell them Sidekick referred you
and you'll receive free shipping.
|TIRES: 31x11.50x15 AT/S
||Goodyear (800) GOODYEAR
|WHEELS: AR-36, 7x15"
||American Racing (310) 635-7806 - (800) 959-1969
|REAR AXLES: Dana 44, 4:10, ARB
||Tri-County Gear--built it! (909) 623-3373
ARB Air Locker--locked it up! (888)
|FRONT AXLES: Stock Dana 30, 4:10, TrueTrac
||Tractech--builds TrueTrac! (800) 328-3850
Tractech also builds Detroit Lockers
|CUSTOM FUEL TANK: 33 Gallons
||Aero Tanks (909) 737-7878
||Warn Industries (800) 543-9276
||Tom Wood's Custom Drive shafts (877)
|HOT WATER SHOWER
||R&M Specialty Products (707) 838-3869
|MAX MULTI-PURPOSE TOOL
||Forrest Tool Company (707) 937-2141
|Hi-Lift Jack Company (812) 384-4441 - (800) 233-2051
OTHER ACCESSORIES BUILT OR ASSEMBLED By Rick Russell
Onboard air compressor with tank
The following pictures are thumbnail pictures. Click on
any picture and it will enlarge.
|I bought a high mileage 1990 Cherokee from Don-A-Vee Jeep in Placentia,
CA. If I was going to do it again, I would buy a 1991 or newer. These motors
have more horsepower.
||The Vision Research seats were the best seats I could find. The
suspension system on these seats was incredible. Unfortunately this company is out of
business. Refer to our AJ-8 for information about Beard
|The Kenwood 733A ham radio controls were installed in the ash tray slot.
The main body of the radio was installed on the rear side panel across from the
original tire mount. The CB is installed facing up, on the passenger's side of the center
||Used two Quick Air compressors to pump air into the rear bumper which was
sealed and used as a storage tank.
|Tri-County Gear in Pomona installed a complete Dana 44 rear end with an
ARB locker. They also changed the front gear ratio and installed a TrueTrac (limited
slip). This combination worked perfectly for trail and street.
||Did you ever wonder why 4-wheelers change the stock differentials to a
Dana 44 or a Ford 9 inch? Check out the difference in brakes: 9.5" to 11"
plus the Dana 44 brake shoes are wider.
|The stock model 35 axle is too weak for any real abuse (left picture).
So the complete differential was changed to a Dana 44 (right).
||Both the rear bearings and rear axles are bigger in a Dana 44 than the
original Model 35.
|Currie Enterprises makes a transfer case shortening kit which will extend
your driveshaft 4" and allow you to replace the slip yoke with a bolt-on style drive
line. This also allows you to run your vehicle without a rear drive line.
Otherwise the transfer case oil will run out after the slip yoke is taken out.
||The custom built bumper held the Warn 8000i winch and PIAA Pro 80 lights.
The bumper was built by Nairobi in Goleta, CA (Bulletproof Mfg. has taken over
some of this business: (805) 967-2005) www.bulletproofmfg.com
|Off Road General Store trimmed the front fenders after the new front
Nairobi bumper was installed.
||JKS disconnects were used to allow for a quick disconnect of the front
sway bar while off roading. You can also see the aluminum spacer that Off Road
General Store uses to add lift to the Rancho Lift Kit springs. In total the vehicle
sat 5" higher than stock.
|The Confer rack is basically a starter kit. I welded the two pieces together,
welded expanded metal for a bottom, welded angle iron along the front and back to
reinforce the expanded metal, welded the roof railing brackets together and then
welded tabs for the radio antennas. When it was completely assembled, the rack was
sand blasted and powder coated. Somebody should make a completed rack.
||Off Road General Store had figured out how to change the ends of the
Rancho 9000 shocks to a more common end. This allow them to access a wider range of
shock lengths for a custom vehicle.
|Did you ever notice the rear quarter panel on a stock Cherokee? If
it has been wheeling much, it is bent. I bent mine on an easy trail within the first
3 months I owned the vehicle. The fix is easy: trim it up (right picture).
||Exotic Body Works trimmed up the rear quarter panels and welded a plate
across the bottom to keep the water out. I never hit it again.
|National Spring in Cajon, CA built the custom rear springs to match the
front height and carry the weight. A Tuffy box full of stuff and a Canyon City Tire
Rack complete with two cans and Hi-Lift Jack overloaded the stock springs in a hurry.
||The R&M Hot Water Shower and a Premier Power Welder were installed
under the hood. I got plenty of use out of both of them.
|Canyon City welded their tire rack to my bumper. I noticed they are
now producing their own bumper with the mounting for the their tire rack already welded
on. This would be my choice for a rear bumper next time.
||The Tuffy rear storage box makes it easy to keep all the items neat that
you need to carry when you leave the pavement.
|This picture shows the Canyon City tire rack and the new 34 gallon Aero
Tank. The new tank has a skid plate welded on it and is made of much better
||Aero Tank has several tanks available for the Cherokee or they will build
what ever you want.
|Off Road General Store makes the best rocker panel protection I've seen.
A lower bar protects the undercarriage while the upper double-bent tube protects
||The lower control arms were changed in conjunction with the lift kit.
The picture shows a stock arm at the top. Off Road General Store provided the
new lower arm which keeps the geometry correct at the
new height. It was not necessary
to change the upper control on my vehicle.