After being inspired by all of the build threads here on JeepForum, I decided to do one myself. I grew up with Jeeps in High School ('42 GPW and '76 CJ5) but got out of it after college. The bug laid dormant for 20 years until I bought this bone stock 1984 CJ7 in 2001. When I started the initial build, a friend said, "that Jeep is too nice to wheel - you'll just tear it up!" Boy was he right. Here are a couple of photos when I got it:
The following chronicles what I did to it from 2001-2009 (when I started the latest build).
- When I bought the Jeep, the top was in a box. When the first rain was predicted, I went out to put up the top and found a good sized hole in the back, so I bought a Bestop SuperTop.
- Installed body and suspension lifts. First was a Performance Accessories 1" body lift, which went in easily since I had been spraying the bolts with WD-40 every night for a week. The only hassle was the clutch linkage: the relocation bracket that PA shipped with the kit did not work - it appeared to be for a 3" kit. After fabricating a new bracket, I found it worked (aligned) better with the stock setup, so I just put it back together without the new bracket. I had to replace the plastic bushings and retainer clips as this linkage apparently hadn't seen grease since leaving the factory. Next came the BDS 4" lift, Con-Ferr shackles, Doetsch Tech DT3000 shocks, extended bake lines, and new tie rods. No major problems, just a few stubborn parts that refused to come apart without use of a BFH, and a few modifications to spring perches and u-bolt brackets to accommodate larger centering pins on the springs.
Front is complete:
Working on rear:
Done (looks goofy on 30's):
Got the tires and wheels on a few days later. It looks much better, but is tougher to climb into. Lifting the spare on the carrier is fun - the 35" MT/R's are just a tad heavier than the stock spare. I can't wait until the springs settle a bit ...
- Hoping to get a little more oomph from the CJ-7's 258ci six-popper, I got a wild hair and installed the Ford TBI ignition upgrade. I bought a distributor cap, adapter body, rotor and plug wires from a 1982 F-150 with 300ci I-6, then a TFI coil from a 1995 Ranger with a 3.0L V-6. It went in clean: the only hassle was fabricating a mount for the coil. I also pulled out the distributor and replaced the centrifugal advance springs.
A week later I installed front and rear Detroit lockers, 4.56 gears and Superior alloy shafts, as well as Warn premium front hubs and a Baertrax Buttface front diff cover. I also had Baertrax build a full roll cage; I had to remove the factory side steps to accommodate the cage frame tie-in, which made it a little rough for my wife to climb in.
- After a shakedown cruise in Muenster, TX, I drained and refilled the diffs and found a surprise - chunks of thrust washer from the rear Detroit. Drivetrain Direct replaced it under warranty, but it was still a hassle. On the same trip, the back broke off the driver's seat, so I bought and installed a set of Corbeau Bajas seats.
While I was at it, I installed B&M short-throw shifter in the T5. I also installed a hand throttle (which I never use). I had no idea how tough it was to find a bike shop who carried plain old generic bike shifters, but finally found one. It took all of an hour to fabricate a mount and get it installed.
- What started out as a simple project (re-rattlecan the roll cage) turned into the typical Jeep project from hell. Once I lifted out the cage, I saw the tub was rusted out and falling apart under the original roll bar mounts (behind the front seats). After a weekend of wire-brushing, sanding, sealing, cutting, fitting and riveting patches, filling & priming, it was ready for a top coat. While I was at it, I realized the neat-o Astroturf carpet was holding water and so had to go. I decided to do a roll-in bedliner, and so started prepping the tub - scrubbing with Goo-Gone to remove the adhesive left by the @#$% carpet tape, scrubbing away years of grease & grime with TSP, sealing & priming the rust spots, etc., then rolled on two coats of Herculiner. I did not think to take progress photos, but here is the final product.
- Installed Howell fuel injection, running into a few snags, the biggest of which was that Howell sent me the California harness with a 49-state kit. The harness had a connection for a 4-wire heated oxygen sensor, but the sensor they supplied was only a two wire unit. I got a new oxygen sensor from Howell a few days later and finished the install. Finding a circuit to power the ECM was also a challenge (needs power with ignition switch in both on and start positions) ... I remembered reading on one of the forums that the oil pressure gauge had such a wire, which saved me a lot of hassles. It cranked right up and purred like a kitten.
Since I had the glove box out, I decided to replace the heater control cables and dash indicator lights. I had had the parts for months, but never took the time to install ... it was a lot less work than I had anticipated. I also took the opportunity to fix the cigarette lighter and the messy wad of cables from the stereo.
- Installed a Currie twin stick setup for the Dana 300. Install was easy, but the Currie shift boot was a joke - it didn't cover the hole in the floor. I ended up cutting the stock boot and slipping it over the Currie boot.
- Installed a Warn XD9000i winch (put it to good use the next weekend).
- Replaced the clutch, which chattered bad when cold and the throw-out bearing was squealing. A previous owner apparently had this done before, but must have hired Bubba to do the work - three bolts were missing off the bell housing, they didn't resurface the flywheel, and they didn't replace the pilot bushing (the pilot bushing was so worn it was reamed out 1/8 inch). I also had to replace the throw-out arm boot, which was a PITA to find at the last moment. Wow, no more bucking bronco or squealing pig!
While I had it apart, I clocked the transfer case up flat using a clocking ring I bought off eBay. It took a few shots to get it stabbed becasue we had to grind a little off a nub on the transfer case to get it to fit into the T5 transmission when rotated. I had to use a torch to bend the Currie Twin Sticks to get them vertical again; the rotation caused the whole shifter to be shifted up and over, necessitating modifications (trimming) of the tub. I took the opportunity to change the lube in both the transmission & transfer case and replace the transmission mounts with polyurethane mounts.
I also Installed a Dynatrac U-Bolt flip kit. I had to weld new shock mounts on the rear axle, but otherwise it went smooth and I gained lots of clearance ... well worth the money.
- After less than a year, the rear BDS springs have sagged severely ... I guess the cage and trail box were too much weight. Thanks to BDS's 'no fine print' warranty and Bob Supplee (of Supplee Four Wheel Drive in Moore, OK), I have new rear springs plus a set of helper springs.
- A bad choice in lines resulted in my first flop: casualties included driver's side fender, hood, windshield frame, top and motor mount:
- I put the CJ back together. I found new reproduction hood, fender & windshield frame on eBay, got urethane motor mounts and windshield gaskets from Quadratec, and bought used windshield glass locally. I had a local boat shop sew up the tear in the soft top.