357transam Rock Crawler Posts: 2,370 Joined: Apr 17, 2014 Gender: male Rig 1 model: 97 Kia Sportage Rig 2 model: 98 Wrangler Sport Logged Flapdisc Fanboy As the title says, this will be a bit of an unconventional build for most of you. To start off, let me give you a bit of history on how this all came to be. Throughout my formative years, my dad was always tinkering on stuff in the garage, whether that was boats, cars, trucks, dirtbikes, go-carts, whatever it may have been, there was always fuel involved somewhere in the deal. Thereby, it was passed on to me and my brother. Originally, I was more geared towards going fast, as any young boy tends to be. I bought my first car at 14 with a loan from BPL (Bank of Parental Loaning). It was a 1970 Pontiac Ventura with a blown transmission. We pulled it home, I spent a week cleaning it, and me and my dad swapped in a junkyard Turbo 350 to get it going. I then decided I wanted something a little cooler, so sold the car for a meager profit, and bought my first love, a 1986 Trans Am, with the awesome all powerful carbed 305 v8, a crunch in the right front fender, interior, and completely shot clear coat. Throughout the next several months while I was getting my driving permit, we fixed the fender, stripped the interior and had it recovered (by my parents neighbor Eddie Potestio; a fairly famous guy if you know about hot rod interiors), and repainted the car. I drove it for a couple years, and then we built a mild 350. I raced the car every chance I got for the Friday night drags, and generally raised as much hell as I could without actually getting in trouble. I realized after high school, and an unsuccessful year of community college that I wanted to try and get into the car industry, so I signed up to go to Wyotech. Growing up in Colorado, I knew that the T/A would not enjoy the snow and cold of Laramie, Wyoming. To top it off, the T/A only got about 14 mpg, which is painful on only slightly more than minimum wage. It was time to look for a secondary vehicle. I wanted a 4 cylinder, with 4 wheel drive. I looked at a lot of different vehicles (most that were well out of my price range,) and finally stumbled across the most unlikely of vehicles. It was perfect! Full frame, 99 inch wheelbase, 2 speed transfer case, 5 speed manual, 4.97 final drive, and to top it off, 28mpgs. This is proof that there is something really wrong with me. I purchased it, with another BPL loan, and brought it home. At the time, I had just discovered the great Mr. Cash, and in honor of him, I decided to name it Sue. In congratulations, my dad made up some sweet shift knobs for me. I immediately swapped in the stereo equipment from the T/A, as it was destined to become my drag car, and headed off to college. Please ignore the neon light. I have since moved on from such childish things. I now rock LED’s. While there, I decided that it was time to change the exterior a bit, and the wheels got painted. Graduation came and went, I got married, and moved to OK. After a while, I was finally back on my feet enough to start some mods. Step one, bigger, bald free 31” tires and a 3 inch lift, with a 1 inch body lift. The bumpers, and front fenders rubbed, so off the bumpers came, and the fenders got trimmed. And of course, Flex shots! Fast forward a bit, my brother bought his Cherokee, and we finally went wheeling. And then I learned the value of good tires. Or even half way good tires.A bit later, the Kia saw its first snow storm on bigger, balder tires. It was terrible. Fast forward again, and after a couple more wheeling trips, I learned the value of plugs in the body that can be removed. And again, bald tires suck. Also, I managed to partially soak the air filter on that trip, so it was time for the next cheap mod. I had been saving some cut up pieces of exhaust tubing, so it was time to build a snorkel. A few hours, welds and cuts later, and the snorkel was done. Next up…. Finally! Tires! After a lot of research, I decided on KM2’s in the 31 x 10.50 flavor, on a 15 inch wheel. Snazzy! I forgot to mention earlier, but at some point before this, the factory cat went out. Being a cheap skate, I opted to put in a permanent “test pipe”. Which just so happened to be 2.25 inches (vs the factory 1.5) and the length of the vehicle, as well as including a resonator and muffler. You can see it in its original location above. Around this time is when the CB got installed. And then, Wheeling again!!! And here’s what happened when my wife tried the same hill…..She did retry and make it though. Boosted by my success, I got a bit overconfident in the rigs abilities, and went up a hill that I probably had no business being on.I did make it to the very last ledge though. I continued to wheel it that way for quite a while. Took it to Colorado….Anyone that has wheeled there is probably familiar with this sight.While there, the front auto hubs grenaded, so I missed Tin Cup pass, where my favorite pic of my wife’s TJ was taken. Upon returning home, the auto hubs got replaced with Warn manual hubs. You can see them here if you look close enough.My brothers Cherokee was getting bigger as well…We continued to wheel for a while. And then I finally had enough. It was time for the purple to go. I bought a cheap Harbor Freight spray gun, a gallon of single stage paint from O’rielly’s, and went to work. A bit later, and this happened! I was pretty proud of it for never having used a paint gun before. After a couple weeks, I decided that the color needed a bit broken up.I wheeled it a bit more, then the front suspension had started to sag, and the upper ball joints and struts were shot. I replaced basically all the front suspension, and headed back out. For a couple of months, I had been hearing this light ticking noise from the rear diff. Eventually, I decided it wasn’t going to go away, and tore the diff out to see what it was. Bad news. Bad news is what it was. The center pin in the carrier had sheared in half, allowing it to move in and out, wearing the carrier. It also contacted the pinion bearing, and chewed up the leading edge a bit. Sue got put in the garage for nearly a year while I decided what to do. This was the second rear diff that had spontaneously decided to destroy itself. On top of that, the trans had a slight noise at highway speeds, and the transfer case had something loose inside that banged with every gear shift. Maybe it was time to let her go? I searched for several months for something to replace her with; Tj’s, Yj’s, Yota’s, Zukes. I finally came to the conclusion that I was not going to be able to find something that wasn’t majorly beat for the kind of price range I was looking for. I did some research instead, and found out that a company in South Korea makes gear sets for them. And a purchase was made. Four days later…. (Yeah! Four days after sending my money half way around the world, the parts showed up!! Eat your heart out any American company!) 5.38’s showed up at my doorstep.In they went. But not without some trouble. See, when the first diff blew up, I pulled one out of a junkyard, not realizing at the time that there were differences. The early Sportages like mine had a smaller 26 spline axle. The one I pulled it from, a 2000, had a larger 28 spline axle. Sweet! Upgrades! Well, I kept the non damaged parts from the original, one of which was the carrier. I figured I would just use it for the new gear set. The gears went on, the new carrier bearings went on, new axle bearings went on….. And then the problem.The 28 spline axles were a bit larger than the internal diameter of the 26 spline carrier. So, out came the dremel…And in went the axles. I also replaced the transfer case at this time. And then, back to wheeling!!!!So that pretty much brings us up to now… Whew. Sorry for the long wordy part, but it takes a bit to catch up on 5 years or so of modding.