I wanted to write-up this "budget" build while it was happening so I wouldn't forget everything... but I didn't. I'll try to recount it as much as possible based on the pictures I have. Hope you enjoy it.
Last year I realized my son was turning 16, and would get his driver's license in June (2014). He asked if I could help him get something that was cool but needed to be fixed up, so I figured an older Jeep would fit the bill. We eventually found one last summer, and he chipped in all his money while I made up the difference. I've been working on it since.
We found an '83 Renegade that had a Clifford/Redline Fuel Injection kit and 4.0 head swap. It also came with 33's in great condition, oh and lots of rust. The good news was it once lived in Hawaii for a while, and the frame was is perfect shape. Here are some before pics after yanking the carpet out of it and throwing away those terrible fiberglass fenders:
My initial goal was to remove all the rust and get it to a solid platform, so I began cutting out the bad metal and replacing it. I either welded in new pieces, or I used 3M panel adhesive and rivets depending on the task. I believe they put most new cars together using this type of adhesive, so it should work well. I had to buy a special 'gun' to apply it. The windshield frame was toast, so I had to get a new one and paint it along with the body. Here are some more pics of the sections I cut out:
Fixed the doors that were separating from too many hard pulls. and did some very amateur body work and shade tree prep, prior to shooting paint on a car for the first time. I could definitely do much, much better on my second attempt, but this will have to do. It looks great from far away anyways.
The vent windows were rusted out, and they cost way too much to replace so I found some info on the web about how to rebuild them using normal parts. It seemed to work well, but I still told my son to avoid using them if possible just to be sure. The pictures below show a normal bolt modified to match the OE piece:
Cleaned up the center console, rebuilt the inside and hinges, added a new lock, and custom made some cup holders. Added locking storage behind the rear seat (can be removed using levers inside the box). Changed out the absolutely atrocious Rough Country 4" lift kit for a much nicer riding Skyjacker. Also bought a new speakers and shallow depth radio so it wouldn't destroy the new defrost venting added behind the dash. Added new dash lights, fixed some of the knobs/cabling, along with what seems like a million other small updates.
Rebuilt a TF999 I found on Craig's List for $100, and swapped out the failing T5. First time rebuilding a tranny... but after reading a ton, I felt more comfortable and it seemed to go pretty well. Lots of minor issues (e.g. had to convert the PO's dual exhaust to single for fitment), but eventually got it in. Added a Lokar shifter and kickdown cable. Also moved the venting up top and through a hose that follows up the Dana 300's vent. Oh yeah, also added a new radiator and Hayden Rapid-Cool secondary oil cooler.
Still have a few things left to do (e.g. install new fuel and temp gauges), but it's mostly "done". Unfortunately, I've left out a whole bunch of updates and fixes (horn, turn signals, brakes, spare tire rack, exhaust, etc...), along with some tips/tricks that I learned along the way. I wish I did the posting while it was in progress, but I figured I'd at least show the pics in case anyone is interested. I think I have about $2500 in parts and 250+hrs invested so far.
BTW, if you are contemplating doing the T-5 to TF999 (auto) swap, I highly suggest doing it. It's like a different truck now and much more usable IMHO. Thanks for reading.
Changed the pinion seal and nut on the AMC 20 rear axle. It was leaking a bit and now seems to be fixed up. That process is a little more complicated that I original thought (having to determine the rotational torque before and after), but it went okay. I also tweaked the kickdown cable adjustment a bit, and the TF999 is shifting in just the jright spots now. I think that one can be marked "done". Also touched up a few chips in the paint that accumulated over the last year.
I attempted to swap out the fuel and temp gauges, but the Crown Automotive ones I received were bad... well at least the fuel gauge was. As soon as I opened the packaged I had my suspicions... The temp gauge looked perfect, but the fuel gauge seemed like the front cover had been previously removed and replaced. I figured it was either remanufactured, or was returned bad and then resold. It didn't 'ohm' out correctly according to the info found on the web. I sent them back and news ones will be here on Wednesday. Unfortunately, it is pretty much a roll of the dice with these cheap gauges.
I'd like to put wider fenders on it that still look nice. The original style and flat ones from Xenon look good, but expensive. Does anyone know if these style fenders stop mud/water from kicking up on the sides of the jeep? If not, I'm not sure it is worth the investment right now. I think I'll have to do something at some point though, since the rear tires sometimes rub the oem style fenders currently installed.
I think I've finally fixed all of the rain leaks. Since last year, I've had to replace most of the seals in the windows, doors and hardtop. The liftgate and passenger door needed to also be re-adjusted to get water to stop coming in. The last leak was a slow drip under the passenger side dash, and I couldn't figure out it. Finally, I realized it was coming in through a blank hole cover under the heater assembly (see photo). I removed it, cleaned it up and used some black RTV. Water that was coming into the cowl in front of the windshield and pouring through the drain into the engine compartment was splashing onto a ledge where this cover was located. I think I got it fixed now, so it's one more thing scratched off the to-do list.