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Unread 12-04-2012, 12:20 PM   #1
timh141
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1994 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: springfield, oregon
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AX5 to AX15 swap

Hi, this is my first post to a Jeep Forum. I just wanted to relay some details about my 1994 YJ project. Last summer (2012) I found a 1994 YJ 2.5L 5spd for $2,500. Even though it had 230,000 miles, I couldn't pass it up! The transmission was noisy and wouldn't go into 5th, so I knew about this up front. I rattled around with it all summer, including a trip to the dunes in Florence, Oregon where we hammered it all day long and it never let me down! I think the engine is pretty solid, but had to do something about the transmission. (I'll try to post some pics later).

Enter the internet, I found an article in the forum about swapping to the AX15. I also found articles about what was wrong with my AX5 and how to fix it. Then I found an AX15 used on craigslist for $100, and ultimately bought it for $75. This kind of made my decision for me, and I was "off to the races"! The previous owner told me it was from a 1994 Wrangler, and that it worked fine although reverse had a "tick", and that the person he bought it from said he had driven it for 3 years that way!

To do this swap, according to the article I read, you needed a special pilot bushing, a clutch disk from a 1994 Camaro 2.5L 4spd, a 1994-1996 Dodge Dakota bellhousing from the 2.5L, 5spd 2wd truck and also, a 23 spline input shaft for the transfer case.

I gathered parts...the bellhousing came from a local wrecking yard for $125, the clutch disc from eBay for about $35, the pilot bushing is available online for about $20. I realized that I would need an alignment tool, so I bought a wooden dowel type alignment tool for a couple bucks. Be careful buying the input shaft, apparently there are several different lengths for this item, and I bought two used ones before getting the right one. I could have bought new, but this is a budget project, so some things were overlooked that could have been done. If I had lots of money, I would have rebuilt the transmission, put a new rear main seal in the engine, replaced the clutch pressure plate and throw out bearing, etc, etc. But this stuff all seemed useable anyway. The transfer case was immaculate inside, good bearings, seals, minimal chain stretch, so I didn't replace anything here either, except the input shaft and the planetary, because I bought them together. The guy would not separate, and I thought it might be better to run these two together, as they were broken in that way....but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Don't have a garage at the moment, so I did this in my backyard, under a canopy my brother in law loaned me. I estimated two weeks, but it turned into a couple of months of weekend work. My mechanical skills are not that good, but I find it interesting, and I have a lot of patience. My wife kept asking me if I was done yet. The stock answer was always "give me another 5 minutes..."

I don't have a transmission jack, so I took things apart before dropping them out. In other words, skid plate first, lowered things with my floor jack and my son helping, driveshafts, then took out the transfer case, then the bellhousing/transmission.

I was able to do this swap with the exhaust pipe in place, although I did loosen the bolts where it connected to the manifold. I used two long, threaded studs to draw the replacement Dakota bellhousing/AX15 up to the engine, as I wasn't able to just shove it into place.

Here are some things I found out while in the midst of it:
1.) The stock transfer case shifter will not fit, so I bought a used one for the AX15 from eBay. Yes, the transfer case shifter bolts to the transmission.
2.) Using my stock shifter, the center console was in the way for hitting 2nd, 4th and reverse, so for the moment, it has been taken out.
3.) The front driveshaft still bolts up, but there is NO TRAVEL, because, duh, it has to reach 2 inches farther back.
4.) The shortened rear driveshaft I bought online has a smaller U-Joint than my original. I will have to take both driveshafts, and have them modified/rebalanced at a local driveline service shop. This will cost about $86 each.
5.) I had to modify the skid plate to accomodate the new transmission and mounting bracket, by cutting about 6 inches out of the middle cross member. I don't have access to a welder, but plan to weld in some angle iron to compensate for the lost strength due to the cut. I had to drill 4 holes in the skid plate to bolt the mount on. I made a template for this. To figure out where to drill, and with the transmission in place, I put the front two skid plate bolts back in the frame, strung a line between them, and then measured from the middle of the string to one of the transmission mounting bolts.
6.) The transfer case, to install the input shaft, has to be COMPLETELY disassembled, as that component is about the last thing you come to after splitting the case. This looks like a daunting task, and I put it off as long as possible. You can find youtube videos about how to do this. I must say, it wasn't that bad. The hardest part was getting the front yoke off, as it is bolted on at about 110 ft. pounds. It took two of us with wrenches and cheater bars. An impact wrench would have been very handy here. All I needed for this was the RTV sealant to reassemble.
7.) I don't yet have a solution for the middle exhaust pipe support, but will maybe cut that off and install an exhaust hanger somehow.

Finding the transmission mount turned out to be the most difficult as I was ordering for a 1994. What ultimately fit though, was a 1997 transmission mount! The transmission/bellhousing assembly ends up being just under 2 inches longer than stock.

Coming down the home stretch, at the rear driveshaft, I took two of the caps off the old u joint and put them on the replacement u joint in order to get rolling. This is a TEMPORARY solution, and as I said, I plan to take both driveshafts and have them rebuilt soon.

Bleeding the slave cylinder was the last task. To be fair, when I took this apart, someone had put electrical tape around the rubber thingy that the plunger goes through. But it had been working, right? Although I had a slow leak, I freshened it up with new electrical tape. Bad idea! I tried driving it, and we got around, but didn't have much clutch pedal. So it was difficult to shift. As we drove it more, it seemed to be getting worse, so I tried bleeding the system. This was difficult to find out how to do, as there is no bleed screw. (youtubed it) I ended up reaching past the flywheel (rock shield removed) with a wrench, and then pushing on the lever that holds the throwout bearing. This in turn pushes on the slave cylilnder's plunger, causing the air bubbles (cap removed from the m.c.) to percolate up through the master cylinder. We had the system pretty well bled and ready to button up after about 5 minutes, when suddenly it puked out all the fluid. Guess my electrical tape fix didn't hold!

I ordered a new slave cylinder, then the next day, it dawns on me that I should have ordered this part for a Dakota, not a Jeep because of the bellhousing. Sure enough, they are different part numbers. So I ordered both from the auto parts store with the understanding that I will return one. I want to compare how much throw is in the plungers, and if the connections to the hydraulic line are the same...hopefully that stuff will be here in a couple of days. I'll post how that turns out.

Things not to worry about:
1.) The old crankshaft position sensor seems to be happy and works fine in the Dakota bellhousing. This thing runs like the proverbial swiss watch. I don't know how many miles are on the engine or its history, I assume it isn't the same as the vehicle mileage, but it doesn't seem to use much oil.
2.) Transmission electrical connections matched up. I believe this is for the upshift indicator light, but haven't researched it. The indicator still works, so...there you go.
3.) Hang in there and you'll get your project done! Talk to folks, do internet research. If I can do a project like this, you can too!

20121204175614.jpg  

Last edited by timh141; 12-04-2012 at 11:59 PM..
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Unread 12-04-2012, 12:30 PM   #2
Opihi59
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Congratulations on your upgrade, and thanks for your post. I am curious about the skid plate modification made/needed. Was this due to your T case sitting too low on the Driver's side? If so, it can be remedied by "reclocking" your output housing on the tranny by redrilling new mount holes about 10 degrees clockwise from the originals. What this would imply is that your AX15 came out of a Cherokee rather than a wrangler.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian4.2 View Post
We will be going Metric every inch of the way.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 40dog View Post
yes I'm a some guy and have always put gasket sealer on my surfaces before mating
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virjeep View Post
You should go to Pirate. I hear they are real smart over there. You'd fit right in.
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Unread 12-04-2012, 02:35 PM   #3
timh141
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Thanks Ian, the original transmission mounting bracket had two holes for mounting to the trans, and two bolts for mounting to the skid plate. The holes were not far enough apart to attach the old bracket to the new transmission. The AX15 that I have, has 4 holes for a bracket, and the bracket I ended up with has 4 studs that go through the skid plate. The transfer case seems to clear ok, and be in the same orientation as before, just 2 inches farther back. I suppose I could have fabricated something and avoided modifying the skid plate, but I got in an all-fired hurry that last day, you know how it is!
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Unread 12-10-2012, 10:48 AM   #4
timh141
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UPDATE - Had problems with the old clutch slave cylinder, so I replaced it with a Dakota version. I've read since in the forums that this wasn't necessary, the Jeep slave cylinder works fine on the Dakota bellhousing. Long story short I was having more than one problem, something was jammed, so that when I applied pressure to the clutch pedal, the hydraulic line popped off the back of the slave cylinder. I was told that fitting was good for 400psi, so this should not have happened. I could see past the flywheel, and the throwout bearing fork was touching the bellhousing. So last weekend I took it apart, and realized (after reading these forums) that I don't have the correct bearing retainer on the AX-15. This transmission apparently had the internal slave setup. I am sourcing a bearing retainer today, for use with my external slave setup. Here is a link to a swap thread that shows both styles of bearing retainer: http://www.jeepforum.com/forum/f12/1...ersion-852641/ (thanks Mean Max for that post!) It really tore up the throwout bearing, but it was a used part anyway. They say your experience varies proportionally with the amount of equpment ruined, and I'm definately getting more experience! All the info you need is in this forum, you just have to look for it.
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Unread 12-10-2012, 10:51 AM   #5
timh141
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Also, does anyone know how to read the code on the bottom of the AX15 transmission? I had been thinking it was a 1997, but the last year for the internal slave was supposed to be 1993. Thanks.
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Unread 12-10-2012, 11:27 AM   #6
hypernoodle
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That was bugging me, too. A 94 should have an external slave, but everything you were describing implied internal.

If you feel like throwing a few more bucks at it, get a conversion kit.
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Unread 12-10-2012, 12:46 PM   #7
Opihi59
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It seems your AX15 did not come from a 94. If it did, it would have had the long snout version of the input bearing retainer. The throwout bearing for this version slides back and forth on the long snout. The flat faced version of the input bearing retainer was used on the 93 and older AX15 for the internal clutch slave. I'd post up some photos but photobucket it firewalled at work. I can't see the photos, but it appears that you got the photos out of Mean Max's post already.
You can get the long snout version from Novak, I got mine used from Zumbrota Bearing and Gear. Make sure you install a new seal in it.

Try typing the numbers from your AX15 into Google, see what comes up.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian4.2 View Post
We will be going Metric every inch of the way.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 40dog View Post
yes I'm a some guy and have always put gasket sealer on my surfaces before mating
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virjeep View Post
You should go to Pirate. I hear they are real smart over there. You'd fit right in.
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Unread 12-11-2012, 05:30 PM   #8
timh141
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Location: springfield, oregon
Posts: 37
Thanks, with my present understanding I agree, its a pre-1994 transmission. I ordered an AX15 front bearing retainer from jeeptopdepot.com for $69. I quit looking when I found that price and just bought it. It says that it is for an AX15, they have a good return policy, and the bolt holes looked right in the picture. Here is the link: http://www.jeeptopdepot.com/jeep-par...&dir=desc&pg=5
bearingretainer.jpg  
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Unread 12-11-2012, 05:38 PM   #9
Opihi59
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Yup, that's it. Make sure you put a new seal in it. You don't need a gasket between the case and the base of the retainer, just use RTV.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian4.2 View Post
We will be going Metric every inch of the way.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 40dog View Post
yes I'm a some guy and have always put gasket sealer on my surfaces before mating
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virjeep View Post
You should go to Pirate. I hear they are real smart over there. You'd fit right in.
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Unread 12-17-2012, 05:19 PM   #10
timh141
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1994 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: springfield, oregon
Posts: 37
My bearing retainer got back ordered, twiddling thumbs until it arrives. When I install this, I'll have to drain the transmission. I don't want to lose $40 worth of Valvoline Syncromesh gear oil, so I'm going to use a funnel/coffee filter to recover it.
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Unread 12-17-2012, 05:24 PM   #11
Opihi59
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No real reason not to use it. Make sure your tranny is clean so you don't knock grit into it. I'd suggest draining it hot, like after you've been driving it around. Oh wait, you're not drivable at the moment, right? It will take for effing ever to go thru a coffee filter though. How about a wad of that fluffy stuff they fill blankets or stuffed animals with instead?

That's a good price you got on the retainer, so worth the wait unless it's til June. Keep looking around for one, even used. Try calling Zumbrota bearing and gear and see if they have any used ones. Maybe when their new ones are out of stock or on back order they advertise them for $59..
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian4.2 View Post
We will be going Metric every inch of the way.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 40dog View Post
yes I'm a some guy and have always put gasket sealer on my surfaces before mating
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virjeep View Post
You should go to Pirate. I hear they are real smart over there. You'd fit right in.
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Unread 01-12-2013, 12:00 PM   #12
Opihi59
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Any updates on this?
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I'm stuck on da Rock http://kamfamily.wordpress.com/2009/...waiian-limpet/

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian4.2 View Post
We will be going Metric every inch of the way.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 40dog View Post
yes I'm a some guy and have always put gasket sealer on my surfaces before mating
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virjeep View Post
You should go to Pirate. I hear they are real smart over there. You'd fit right in.
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Unread 02-07-2013, 02:07 PM   #13
americanjeeper
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your build is making me want to throw in the as-15 in my jeep so badly but it looks daunting!

Good luck
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Unread 02-08-2013, 09:03 AM   #14
rodgers3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by americanjeeper View Post
your build is making me want to throw in the as-15 in my jeep so badly but it looks daunting!

Good luck
Im in the same boat. lol
when the 2.5 dies itl get swaped for a 4.0 and ax15 from a wrecked wrangler or chereke.
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Unread 02-08-2013, 01:02 PM   #15
americanjeeper
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I have already started looking forums c list for a good one for a good price here in Texas they have been known to go for 100 bucks at a pick n pull
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