Meet Seamus - 87 XJ (Wagoneer LTD) build -
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post #1 of 7 Old 03-19-2011, 05:05 PM Thread Starter
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1987 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Salem
Posts: 28
Meet Seamus - 87 XJ (Wagoneer LTD) build

Hi, everybody. This is both my first Jeep, and my first attempt at doing anything serious on my own, so comments, suggestions, "please for the love of God don't do that, you have no idea how wrong that is" and observations are not only welcome, it's why I'm here.

Back in September, my wife & I got hold of an 87 XJ, Wagoneer Limited as it says in the title. I had no idea what it runs, got me from point a to b, and since I needed a DD, that's how I was using it. Besides, we got it for free, since the previous owners had only paid $600 for it and were planning on lowering it, putting slicks on it, and turning it into a drifting racer. Their 9-year-old son dubbed the thing Seamus (why, I've no idea), but it was amusing, so while I don't know if I'll keep the name, that's what it is for now.

It has had limited use - 190k miles, the lion's share of which were being towed behind a has what in 1987 would have been all of the bells and whistles, but it's had a lot of neglect lately. The headliner inside has been ripped out, the carpet is moldy and I'm sure the floor underneath has rust issues...I haven't dared to look. The engine has issues, and while it doesn't have a softball sized hole in the block like one thread on here I saw, the previous owner had overfilled the oil by about 3 quarts, under the theory that if he took the dipstick out while the engine was running and it didn't look like it was totally full, then it must need oil. I have no idea how long it had been run with no coolant, as the coolant reservoir was DUSTY inside, but at least the wiper fluid reservoir had plenty of antifreeze, so I guess that's a plus. The electrical system had several shorts, one of which I finally found when the wiring harness in the back door caught FIRE, and the previous owner had gotten irritated with the placement of the switches for the front bumper fog lights and spots, because he ripped the switches out and cut all the wiring. Also...anything that didn't come from the factory has solid red wiring. All of it. It looks like spaghetti in there.

I cleaned it up, replaced the back brake drums, pads, springs, cylinder, and brake lines, drained out the oil (that was interesting...he also apparently thought that the 9-10 OBVIOUS oil leaks must mean that he was running out of oil...I wouldn't have put it past him to fill the block with it, to be honest.) and replaced it and the filter, put some stop-leak in, and did a few other small things to make it safe to drive, and all was hunky-dory until December, when in pounding rain, I slid into the back of a BMW sedan...the back end of it was crushed, and as you can see, the Jeep appears to have at least noticed. I figured it was time to start actually improving here goes.

Just about to start.

My lights! Noooooooooooo

I got the grille off through a combination of swearing and brute force, and I'm having trouble getting the bumper off. This is on the passenger side, and I can't find it in the manual (at least not yet) - what is it? It's in my way.
The bumper brackets, by the way, are bent inside from the impact, and I'm having some trouble figuring out a good method of getting it off that doesn't involve an angle grinder (which I don't have anyway).

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post #2 of 7 Old 03-23-2011, 02:13 PM
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1990 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: West Chester
Posts: 108
Keep at it man, just bought a Wagoneer myself this past summer, its so ugly its beautiful. Rolled it this winter with only a fender dent and busted side marker lens for damage. These things are tanks.

Sorry I can't help with the question, only offer moral support...

'88 YJ- 31's: killed and sold
'90 XJ Wagoneer: Ugly but functional.
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post #3 of 7 Old 03-23-2011, 03:19 PM
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2000 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: alabama
Posts: 163
I believe that would be the vacuum canister, controls cruise control and HVAC from what I've read.

btw Love old wagoneers like that

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post #4 of 7 Old 04-04-2011, 11:23 PM Thread Starter
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1987 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Salem
Posts: 28
Yep. I believe you're right. I suppose I'm going to have to actually disconnect it - I saw a post from somebody that said they found a different spot for it, but I couldn't find it with search - any suggestions on this are welcome, since I think inside the bumper is a pretty dumb place for, well, anything that goes squish.

Good news and bad news thus far (Pictures are coming later this week, but it's cold out there and I'm in my PJ's already. Cold floor + bare feet = screw that):

I got the carpet ripped out of the back and took a wire wheel to the isolated, very small rust spots in the back, up to the wall under the back seat. Some sandpaper, and that part's ready for Chassis Saver. I got the back seat & driver's seat out without any problems, but I'm still fighting with the passenger seat...more on that in a moment.

Appears I have a leaking head gasket, which should be an easy fix. Grille is all the way out, and the bumper...well, I moved on from the bumper for the time being, and I'll be back to it eventually, probably with a pry bar. I got some help with that driver's side fender as well - my 2-year-old son got hold of a rubber mallet and managed to actually put a mark on the thing, believe it or not. He's a strong kid.

The sunroof was caulked shut - I got the silicone caulk removed, and after looking at the non-existent rubber seal around it, I can see why it leaks. This poor XJ....I may end up having somebody that knows more about what they're doing replace the rim around the opening, though, because there's a TON of rust, and it looks from the underside like there are a bunch of things that ought to be connected to something and aren't.

One thing I realized when I got a good look underneath.... D44 rear, and of course the drum brakes I already rebuilt.

So the problem with the last seat that's in there - the motor for the passenger side front seat is either burnt out or the wiring has an issue, which is a problem because the thing is so far back that the frame is right smack on top of the right-rear bolt holding the seat to the unibody. I managed to get one of the nuts off, but the other two turn for a while and then -=pop=- . I think they're loose from underneath, which may mean I have rusted out spots in the floor. It wouldn't surprise me - when I pulled the floor up on the driver's side to look at the underside of that nasty-*** carpet, the padding was SOPPING wet, and I can see quite a bit of rust under there.

More to come.
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post #5 of 7 Old 04-06-2011, 01:44 PM
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1972 CJ5 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Boston
Posts: 416
word of advice... pick cheaper targets, BMW's are expensive

when my buddy smached my front end up the bumper was flat against the frame. i took a come along and attached it to a tree and pulled it out. i was then able to get to the twisted up brackets and get the bolts out and use the plybar and assorted hammers

it would surprise me that an 87 wouldn't have much rust as my 96 has no floor lol. Congrats on the 44, nice deal be free and all.
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post #6 of 7 Old 04-06-2011, 07:21 PM Thread Starter
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1987 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Salem
Posts: 28
Hey, if you're gonna go, go big, that's what I always say.

Pictures to come shortly....
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post #7 of 7 Old 05-20-2011, 07:44 PM Thread Starter
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1987 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Salem
Posts: 28
Gah. Been so busy with other stuff, I haven't had a chance to work on my baby at all.

Any suggestions on getting this seat out? I can't get the bolts to hold still long enough to get the nuts off the top.
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