She's a 1987 YJ Sport that's lived in western Colorado all her life. No rust, new ATK 258, new wheels/33" tires, front recovery bumper and an 11.5k winch were the selling points. I did NOT know enough about Jeeps to buy one at the time, and the PO was less than honest about a lot of things. Live and learn, right? I didn't take many pictures early on, so the beginning is going to be more narrative than photos.
87 was an oddball year since they used the NP207 transfer case. This had already had a 231 swapped in, as well as a tilt column, FPR, and Weber 32/36. Tranny is a TF999, stock Dana 30/35 axles (for now) in their earlier, non c-clip form. Tie rods were completely shot, and that made the drive home on the interstate fairly terrifying. PO claimed it needed nothing to hit the trails, but I doubt he ever drove it over 30mph. Front leaf spring frame mounts were tweaked too, though it was tough to see at first.
Got it home and started gathering parts. Had a little buyer's remorse initially and wished I'd looked around more (really wanted a CJ), but the new engine and tires had won me over. The tie rods were way worse than I thought, and the rear track bar bracket was actually sheared off. Not that I needed it anyway. Lots of little things on it I'd missed initially that a real "Jeep guy" would have seen. However I think I've learned a lot along the way and I know my way around YJs a lot better now.
First off was new tie rod, drag link, and associated ends. Remanufactured power steering box went on around the same time. Wish I'd have looked into the Durango box at that time! PO also installed the CAD Posi-Lok backwards, so that got fixed. Then on to fluids. Engine got 15W40 (JF recommended), tranny, t-case, and power steering got Castrol Transmax ATF+4. Diffs got Royal Purple 80W90 marine grade oil and new gaskets. Tranny also got a new gasket and filter (as well as a band adjustment), and I stuck with Purolator for an oil filter. Radiator was drained/filled as well.
Next I wanted to confirm that the PO had performed the Nutter Bypass as he had claimed, and of course he hadn't. In fact, most everything for the Carter was still there, which kind of reinforced the notion that the PO didn't really know much about it. Ran the basic Nutter for a week or two and decided to go HEI.
I removed everything I could find that wasn't needed after the Nutter and HEI install, and wound up with a lot of extra wiring which is still coming in handy. ECM, ICM, dizzy, coil, etc. all went in a box. The CRT install went fairly well, though that led to more tuning. Charcoal filter came out and was rebuilt (charcoal, filter, etc.). Iridium spark plugs, new vacuum lines, new fuel filter, fuel pressure gauge, and revised vac lines came before learning about how to tune Weber carbs. New one-piece Warrior shackles (0" front, 1.25" rear) went on too. Around this time a local shop also put on new leaf spring mounts for me, as well as a rebuild rear bumper plate and a Crown body panel replacement. They do great work, but I wound up buying a welder after that and hope to do future work on my own.
I drilled out the tub for recessed, round LED tail lights, "eagle eye" reverse lights and some LED license plate bolts. I also relocated the fuel filler to the side (TJ style) and trimmed/contoured the license plate to hug the tub. Reverse lights were dead, but a new NSS fixed that. I ran a rear tube bumper for a while since I hate the "bumperettes", but eventually took that off too.
I replaced a u-joint in the rear driveshaft at this time as well since it was "clunking", but I REALLY need to go SYE. Full disclosure, this thing has the infamous Rough Country 4" lift. The springs (while stiff) do not appear to have sagged, but the shocks SUCKED. I know many of you hate Rough Country and have your reasons, but I got 4 of their Nitro 2.0 shocks on special and installed those. Huge difference, though I would love to go SOA down the road.
Funds were low and I needed to ask myself what I wanted from the Jeep. Winter/wet driving was not in the immediate future, so the hard top and doors got sold. I'll get a soft top later, maybe a frameless one if I can ever find a Family Style roll bar.
From there, I wanted to start making the Jeep look more like what I wanted. That meant lots of research on a CJ front end swap. I found a CJ grill locally, got a nice deal on a fiberglass hood online (free shipping too), and kept reading. In early April I drained the radiator and tore the front end apart. It looked like the PO used a can opener to cut and install the tube fenders, so those needed a lot of welding work. Windshield hinges were soaked in PB, but one snapped anyway. Looked like they had done the same and been re-welded before, so I bought a new set.
Fabbing the radiator supports was interesting, and in the end I decided to swap to an electric fan (Ford 3.8L) at this point too. Off came the clutch fan, and I found limited space so the radiator and fan are off-set to the passenger side to clear the accessories line. It's not ideal, but with the open design of the CJ grill and electric fan, I'm not worried.
I liked the DCC fan controller and didn't have a big enough scrap yard here to source the components myself, so Delta got my money. Nice product, but I don't care for butt splices. The included "self-tapping" screws were crap, and not self-tapping, but a couple bolts, some soldering, and I was done.
New body mounts? Sure.. why not? Half looked like they had been replaced before, others were definitely stock. Only broke one captive nut cage, and I was able to cut/wiggle it out, then cut the bolt in half and out it came. New grade 8 nut and bolt and off we went.
On to the next CJ style mod - the dash. This presented some interesting challenges. Double D fab makes a nice product, but I had money to save. I found a CJ5 dash locally that needed a lot of work and started chopping.
I decided to reuse the stock YJ speedometer and odometer gauges (older YJ style) and went with new water, oil, voltage, and fuel gauges. I reused the YJ HVAC panel too, and ordered a new face for it. YJ headlight switches were reused too. Vacuum gauge, speaker grills, repro glove box/door, 12v/5v plugs, and LED indicators were also added. I had to round out some holes to line up with the YJ tub, but most lined up fine.
I cheated and cut out the portion below the steering column since I didn't want to remove the whole thing. I have a brace for it that needs to be installed yet. I've yet to finish tucking the wiring, and I need to replace the fuel gauge (bought the wrong one) before it gets all bolted in.
I found some fiberglass (Bestop?) half doors locally for a good price (wound up being the same guy I got the grill from in the winter) and went to fitting those. The handles are not in the best condition, but I'll replace them later. They do not fit well like stock doors do, but I've adjusted hinges and the striker latch and they're as good as they'll get until I replace the latches and see if I can get some play there. I shot them with a fine bedlining texture on the interior, and made a set of mirror mounts from the old hinges while they dried. I'm using a set of mirrors off one of my bikes since I switched to a pair from Ness. Kind of nice having Harley parts on the Jeep!
Next, addressing the color. Initially I liked the orange/black contrast (the original color was silver) since they're Harley colors, but I really wanted a black Jeep. The paint job on this Jeep was atrocious - it looks like almost no prep work was done before it was shot. I set to sanding and priming many places along the tub as well as the underside of the hood.
I settled on Monstaliner for the tub. I'm much more used to thorough prep and base/clear in a paint booth, but I don't want a show Jeep. I'd never used MEK (methyl ethyl ketone, recommended by Monstaliner), but it's some good stuff. The Monstaliner went on fairly well, and a gallon was enough for the tub, fenders, grill, hood, and half doors. There's virtually no humidity out here, but it was really hot when I rolled it on. I'm sure others get better texture, but I'm happy with it.
Re-assembly! Slow-going stuff, really. The park lamps/turn signals needed rebuilt and re-wired, but the headlights went in okay. I don't know why I hoped the headlights included with the grill would work.. one did on high beam though. New replacements went in and the front end is about done. I'm leaving the footman loops off the hood for now since I don't see putting the windshield down very often.
It's almost ready to (finally) leave the garage, but I've got a Bestop swing tire carrier to mount, gas gauge to install, dash wiring to finish, and a couple other odds and ends left yet. The rear flares are staying off since there's apparently no law on it here. If it comes down to it I'll install a CJ set.
I hope to keep up with this thread a bit more as I go. Next on the list is the SYE, CV shaft, and new rear axle. Looking at an 8.8 and regearing to 4.56, but that'll mean a trip to Denver with my truck and trailer, neither of which actually exist.
Awesome journal! As a guy who just bought an 87 YJ after going 5 years jeep-less I thoroughly enjoyed the read. Unfortunately every picture you posted says "missing image" on both my phone and laptop, I was really hoping to see some pictures. Reading this... kinda gives me a glimpse into the future with my old 87, lots of work to be done. Thanks for sharing, I'm subscribing to this to follow your project
Hopefully they're showing up for others and atmu5fear is able to view them now too.
This is about how it stands right now. Swing tire carrier mount is on and working well, though the doors still don't fit quite well and I've just kept them off. Mirrors came from my Harley since I don't use the stock ones anymore.
All went well until I was out with my wife and visiting family on Bangs near GJ. Got to the playground in time to see my neighbor and some of his friends playing on the stairs, and then the trouble began. Long story short, vapor lock, bad wiring, and a very stubborn CAD made this an interesting afternoon. My neighbor and his friends definitely saved my *** though and I learned a lot about what else I should be carrying on the trails.
Fuel line was re-routed to avoid vapor lock in the future, bad wiring removed, and I've got more work ahead of me before I head back to Bangs again. I kind of want a couple other people who are familiar with these to give it a drive and tell me if the steering feels loose. There's play in the mini u-joints on my steering shaft, and a little in the bearing so those may be getting replaced soon. Probably need a new stabilizer bar and some other odds and ends while I'm at it.