1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo (ZJ)
Trimming wheel openings.

September 2006

Some time ago I decided to get my fenders trimmed to fit larger tires. After visiting a few body shops I was discouraged both in price and a willingness to tackle the job. As luck would have it I wound up buying a body shop last year. And this year decided to finally get the work done. You would think this would be a quick job right? Wrong. Although the work itself was straight forward enough. My problem was that my jeep was last priority in the shop. There was no way I'd let my bodyman work on it when there were paying customers. You know the old saying. The only kid without shoes was the cobblers kid. That's so true. The bodywork alone took months to get done. This really ticked off my wife. There is nothing like taking a "perfectly good jeep" and hacking it, primering it, removing bumpers, claddings, etc. So as you can imagine it was an ugly daily driver for several months as I gradually worked it into the bodyshop and then into the paint booth. Personally it's not really any uglier than other wheelers I've driven. I guess the only difference is this was intentional. All the other ugly trucks have been because I smashed a rock or had a tree branch take out a door. No this was a little different. This picture is representative of how it looked to my neighbors.. ha ha.

Click on any image for a larger view.


Taking the fender off Deciding where to make the cut Marking the fender to cut Cutting the fender
The easiest way to cut and weld the fenders is to remove em. I swear my body guy had the front bumper and fenders off before I could grab the camera. Must be easy. My goal was get as much of the fender cut as was practical and still keep it looking stock. We decided on an inch and a quarter (1-1/4") because that's as much as we could do on the rear. Below you'll see we went as close to the rear door as possible and still leave a little sheet metal.

Now it's a matter of deciding which mounting areas can be reused. In the case of the front fender he was able to use all the inner fender mounting points. A little trimming is necessary on the inner fender as well. Be careful what you cut, if a pinch weld is cut be sure to competely reweld what was cut to maintain structural integrity.

Using air tools makes short work of all this sheet metal cutting. He used a 3" cutoff wheel and cut through the fenders like they were butter. Taking your time to do as clean a cut as possible here will help you later. You'll want to keep the existing wheel opening lip to reweld and reuse.


Weld the new w/o lip Most of the fender lip welded Fender after being ground Layer the bondo to cover the scratches
Here's the contents of the kit. I was a surprised at how small the locker actually was. Then I had to remember it's only for Dana 35 (not the stoutest of rears to begin with). The kit consisted of the following parts: Side Gears (2), Drivers (2), Stop Pins (4), Bias Springs (8), Washers (2), Spacers (2), and a Pinion Shaft. In addition to these parts you'll need to save the Thrust Washers and C-Clips from your existing open diff. I'll refer to these parts by the above names, hopefully making in clear which is which. If you look at the exploded view it shows all the parts in the order they will be installed in. I scanned this image from the install manual and modified it to reflect this particular installation.

Cutting Rear Wheel Opening Quarter panel with first cut Using hacksaw to cut second inner fender Cutting through the rocker Welding the new lip on rear
Here's the contents of the kit. I was a surprised at how small the locker actually was. Then I had to remember it's only for Dana 35 (not the stoutest of rears to begin with). The kit consisted of the following parts: Side Gears (2), Drivers (2), Stop Pins (4), Bias Springs (8), Washers (2), Spacers (2), and a Pinion Shaft. In addition to these parts you'll need to save the Thrust Washers and C-Clips from your existing open diff. I'll refer to these parts by the above names, hopefully making in clear which is which. If you look at the exploded view it shows all the parts in the order they will be installed in. I scanned this image from the install manual and modified it to reflect this particular installation.

Fit front bumper to measure Fit rear bumper to measure Cutting the plastic parts Gluing the lip in place Bonder the plastic rough edges
Here's the contents of the kit. I was a surprised at how small the locker actually was. Then I had to remember it's only for Dana 35 (not the stoutest of rears to begin with). The kit consisted of the following parts: Side Gears (2), Drivers (2), Stop Pins (4), Bias Springs (8), Washers (2), Spacers (2), and a Pinion Shaft. In addition to these parts you'll need to save the Thrust Washers and C-Clips from your existing open diff. I'll refer to these parts by the above names, hopefully making in clear which is which. If you look at the exploded view it shows all the parts in the order they will be installed in. I scanned this image from the install manual and modified it to reflect this particular installation.

Pull and fix dings and dents Primer any bodywork Bodywork done, ready for paint
Here's the contents of the kit. I was a surprised at how small the locker actually was. Then I had to remember it's only for Dana 35 (not the stoutest of rears to begin with). The kit consisted of the following parts: Side Gears (2), Drivers (2), Stop Pins (4), Bias Springs (8), Washers (2), Spacers (2), and a Pinion Shaft. In addition to these parts you'll need to save the Thrust Washers and C-Clips from your existing open diff. I'll refer to these parts by the above names, hopefully making in clear which is which. If you look at the exploded view it shows all the parts in the order they will be installed in. I scanned this image from the install manual and modified it to reflect this particular installation.

My impression of the whole project was good. I enjoyed getting my hands dirty and documenting it for you all. I didn't have any help, it's easily a one-man job. Very few tools are needed. If you're somewhat mechanically inclined and the idea of changing your own diff fluid doesn't bother you, you can handle this project. Since my Dana 35 is the c-clip version all of this can be done without removing the carrier. If you don't know, this is a good thing. You don't have to worry about upsetting the gear backlash measurements. That's a time saver in itself. Richmond did a great job designing an easy-to-install locker. The price wasn't the cheapest, but Lock-Right is getting a good reputation, I'll let you know if I explode it on the trails of Moab!

Test Drive
I slowly backed out of the garage in anticipation of those loud pops and bangs. It didn't happen. I rolled my windows down as I backed on to the street and finally I hear a faint ratchet sound. Good they're working. No noise when I started moving forward. Slight noises going around sharp corners slow (without power). I found a little dirt and did a donut or two, yep both rear tires definitely were spinning together. Wondering how it would respond to throttle on pavement I tromped on the pedal while taking a corner. I never heard my ZJ make such a noise! I felt like I was in my old 70 Chevelle SS with a big block. Those tires were squeeling and I saw a little smoke. That inside tire was definitely locked up and spinning as fast as my outer tire. To be honest it sounded pretty cool. With full time four wheel drive it used to take a pretty heavy foot to get even the smallest tire chirps. I drove around for about 10-15 miles and took it to the local quick-lube stop place for an oil change. I had them check the diff fluid in case it needed to be topped off. It was good. I've driven a few times since, it drives just as before. Unless you knew it was there it would be hard telling. So far I give it an A+

Tomorrow I'll install my eBay bought CB Radio ($20 bucks, can't beat that for cheap!).