TCG 1993 Jeep Wrangler YJ – The Epicenter

1993 Jeep Wrangler YJ – The Epicenter

How A Transfer Case Transformed A YJ
From the May, 2010 issue of 4 Wheel Drive / By Kevin Blumer / Photography by Kevin Blumer

A stock rig is like a blank canvas, full of potential yet daunting at the same time. Where’s the best place to start? Dave Ospina of Covina, California, presented this “dilemma” to Tri-County Gear’s Jason Bunch. Drawing on decades of experience building and driving Jeeps, Jason had a definite answer: “Let’s start in the middle.”

In the middle of almost every YJ you’ll find an NP 231 transfer case, which is a decent ‘case that benefits from prevalent aftermarket support. What could be better than a well-built NP 231? An Atlas 4sp. Most transfer cases offer a high-range ratio and a single low-range ratio. The Atlas 4sp gives its owner the option of 4-hi and the choice of not one, but three low-range ratios. This array of low-range ratios means you can shift into an ideal ratio for mud, mild trail work, and creepy-crawly hardcore obstacles. This versatility adds up to a rig that’s adaptable to almost any trail situation.

Dave’s ’93 YJ emerged from its first trip to Tri-County Gear as a sleeper; it had the mighty Atlas between the framerails, but was otherwise stock. It was time for a trail test, Cougar Buttes style. Tri-County doesn’t stop at turning wrenches; customers get to ‘wheel with the shop staff. At Cougar Buttes, Jason pointed Dave and his YJ at the first of many steep climbs. Dave’s wife, Rayna, was sitting shotgun and she decided she didn’t want to be along for a rollover ride; she made a quick exit and put some distance between herself and the Jeep. Jason was reassuring. “As long as you listen to me, you’ll get through this,” he offered. He then proceeded to successfully spot Dave and the YJ up over the climb and through the rest of the trail run. If Dave’s driving and Jason’s spotting were supporting actors, the Atlas 4sp was the show-stealer; its ultra-deep gearing brought a new level of capability on board.

Like a pebble tossed into a calm lake, the Atlas had a ripple effect that radiated into every corner of Dave’s Jeep. After the Cougar Buttes trip, Dave decided to unlock the rest of the YJ’s potential, Tri- County style. Instead of doing a little here and a little there, Dave was able to swing the on hand for the freshly-built YJ’s first trip back in the dirt.

With the rest of the YJ now on par with the transfer case, Dave had a whole new level of trail prowess to explore. True to form, Jason Bunch was there for guidance and spotting.

There are several ways to build a Jeep, and Tri-County can work with just about any budget and taste. Dave Ospina’s YJ is an example of what can happen if you start your build at the epicenter.

SPECIFICATIONS

Vehicle: 1993 Jeep YJ Wrangler Owner: Dave Ospina
Hometown: Covina, California Engine: Jeep 4.0L inline-six
Induction: Stock EFI with Airaid intake Transmission: Stock three-speed automatic
Transfer Case: Atlas 4sp
Low Range Ratios: 2.72:1, 3.8:1, and 10.3:1
Front End: Tri-County Gear Dana 44 with ARB Air Locker, 4.10 gears, TEN Factory axle shafts, Warn locking hubs
Rear End: Tri-County Gear Dana 60 with Currie RockJock centersection, ARB Air Locker, 4.10 gears, and TEN Factory axleshafts
Suspension: Black Diamond coilover conversion, Walker Evans 12-inch stroke coilover shocks, stock-style front bump stops, Light Racing Jounce Shock rear bump stops
Tires: 37×12.50R17 BFGoodrich Krawlers
Wheels: 17×9.5 Walker Evans Beadlocks
Backspacing: 4 inches

Tri-County Gear built the front Dana 44 with a 64-inch width, which adds sidehill stability on the trail and spaces the tires away from the body to prevent rubbing. A PSC steering box and ram-assist make it easy to guide the 37-inch BFG Krawlers through trail obstacles. To keep operating temperatures in the sweet spot, the power steering fluid runs through a Tri-County Gear power steering cooler. Behind the diff cover there’s an ARB Air Locker and a set of 4.10 gears. The chromoly axle shafts were sourced from TEN Factory, which is a new company formed and run by axle industry veterans.

Each Atlas 4sp is custom-made per application, with choices of transmission input, yoke output style, front output side, and low-range ratios. This 4sp offers low-range ratios of 2.72:1, 3.8:1, and 10.3:1.

The 4.0L inline six produces plenty of low-end torque and is a long-lived powerplant. No wonder it’s a favorite of many Jeepers. This 4.0L’s guts are stock, but the motor inhales through an Airaid intake and exhales through a Banks header. Both these bolt-ons improve airflow, which equals more power.

Tri-County Gear built the front Dana 44 with a 64-inch width, which adds sidehill stability on the trail and spaces the tires away from the body to prevent rubbing. A PSC steering box and ram-assist make it easy to guide the 37-inch BFG Krawlers through trail obstacles. To keep operating temperatures in the sweet spot, the power steering fluid runs through a Tri-County Gear power steering cooler. Behind the diff cover there’s an ARB Air Locker and a set of 4.10 gears. The chromoly axle shafts were sourced from TEN Factory, which is a new company formed and run by axle industry veterans.

Twelve-inch-stroke Walker Evans coilovers are found at each corner of Dave’s YJ. Rear suspension control is further enhanced by a set of Light Racing Jounce Shocks.

GenRight body armor stretches from stem to stern. The rock sliders double as entrance steps. This Jeep was fresh from the paint shop when we took these photos. By now it’s got a good-sized collection of pinstripes and scratches.

What better place to do field inspection than a V- notch? Jason Bunch is playing it up for the camera here, as Jeeps don’t leave Tri-County Gear before undergoing a thorough visual and mechanical inspection.

Clean enough to eat off of! Most of us would rather not expose our rigs to a worm’s eye view. For the record, scratches and a few dents are OK by us. Leaking oil and weeping tranny fluid are not.

Mastercraft Rubicon seats are comfy, lightweight, and bolt to the stock seat mounts via Mastercraft brackets. The low side bolsters offer lateral support, yet allow easy ingress and egress. Matching Mastercraft lap belts keep occupants secure.

A GenRight shorty bumper with a matching hood hoop keeps the clearance to a maximum while protecting the sheet metal. A Warn 9.0 RC winch is on board and ready for extraction action.

You can go an impressive number of places with the stock-sized tires, but there’s no question that the small donuts hold the Jeep back when the trails get nasty. The new rolling stock is a set of Walker Evans beadlock wheels wrapped with 37-inch BFGoodrich Krawler tires. Much better.

Tri-County Gear has extensive experience with the Black Diamond YJ coilover conversion suspension, so it was a natural choice for a primo buildup such as this.

There’s a Tri-County Gear roll cage overhead, providing protection as well as a mounting location for a Uniden CB radio. If you live out of the area, Tri-County can build and ship a rollcage kit for your YJ or TJ.

Jason spotted Dave into this wheelstand, and then told him how to drive out of it. It worked.