Project WhYJ? - Swapping a WJ drivetrain into an 89 YJ. Let the fun begin! - JeepForum.com
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Go Back JeepForum.com > General Jeep Forums > Jeep Builds > Project WhYJ? - Swapping a WJ drivetrain into an 89 YJ. Let the fun begin!

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Unread 10-30-2014, 07:20 PM   #1
YJTim89
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1989 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Wayne, NJ
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Project WhYJ? - Swapping a WJ drivetrain into an 89 YJ. Let the fun begin!

Project WhYJ?

What the hell are you thinking? Why a WJ? Shut up imaginary voices I'll get there!

Introduction

I've always wanted a Jeep. But silly things like not having "money" and needing a "reliable car" prevented that dream from coming true. Meanwhile my step brother unbothered by such concepts as "reliable" or "practical" was looking for his own Jeep but after discovering those were also out of his price range found a cheap 1999 WJ Grand Cherokee instead. It ran well but the axles weren't great and having spent most of its' life in Upstate New York was even more of a rust bucket than the typical North Jersey crap. He drove it for a few years before he ended up with a KJ Liberty. After that the WJ sat in our driveway. Then an idea... What if I find a Jeep that needs an engine and then take that 4.0 from the WJ? Armed with my dads automotive knowledge, and a budget of less than $2000 I scoured Craigslist for the right Jeep. I didn’t have access to a welder at the time so rust needed to be kept to a minimum but it didn’t need to run.


Immediately there were a few things working against me, mostly that I lived in the North East where Jeeps are extremely popular and expensive and everything is rusted to ****. TJs were at least $2000 but those were 2.5Ls that needed the frame welded back together or looked like they’d been driven over a cliff. So TJs were out. Then I started looking at YJs. YJs were still in that nice spot where they weren’t old enough to be collectable but still not new enough to be in demand as daily drivers. But being older meant they had also spent too many winters on the road for there to be much of anything left. The ones that survived were going for several grand. Then after weeks of searching I finally found it.




It was a 1989 from down in South Jersey. It had no engine, no trans, and no transfer case but it also had no frame rot, a solid tub (hole in driver floor patched), and only 90,000 miles. Perfect. Only problem was there was another buyer who would probably get there before I got the chance to. I decided it was worth the gamble to put the money down. My dad drove down there and paid for it for me. They wanted $1200 but he talked them down to $800. After towing it up to our house it was about $1200.

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Unread 10-30-2014, 07:23 PM   #2
YJTim89
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1989 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Wayne, NJ
Posts: 64
How did that work out for me? Not bad overall.

The day I got it home


The worst of the body rust seemed to be on the passenger side but it was mostly surface stuff. The drivers side had been repainted but the previous owner said he had no idea why and bought it that way. Yea ok


The interior is in decent shape. Few cracks in the dash pad and a horrible steering wheel cover. Factory AC too.


Seats look pretty good too.


Hey! Factory cruise! That'd be great if I had an engine!


Whoops. Guess I'll throw that on the todo list.


Wheel wells look in good shape.


Something's missing here...


Have a feeling that's not supposed to happen


Have a feeling I'm going to need new engine mounts...


Wiring harness looks hacked to pieces.




Seriously? You cut the accelerator cable?


Basically every wire has been cut here.


Frame looks solid. Poorly painted and some surface rust but solid.






Hey a pen! How long has that been down here?


Patchwork on the driver side floor looks questionable.


Axles look ok



Overall I think I did pretty well.
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Unread 10-30-2014, 07:39 PM   #3
YJTim89
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1989 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Wayne, NJ
Posts: 64
Let's meet our vict- ummm donor.



To keep this simple(er) I want to try to use as much of the WJ as possible.



...not like that. What I mean is that I want to take the entire drivetrain and both sides of the wiring harness to plant them into the YJ.

What We Gain (The Good)
4.0L I6:
A perfectly good 4.0L I6 with more horsepower and torque than the old 4.2L or even the YJ 4.0 of later years

The NP-242 transfer case:
Sure it doesn't have quite the strength or aftermarket support of the NP-231 but for my purposes it'll do. I'm not building an extreme rock crawler here. Plus it has a full time 4WD option for those icy winter roads... though after finding one with so little rust I doubt I'll want to take it in the salt and snow.

The HVAC system:
The YJ heating and AC isn't great. Let's see if we can fix that!


Our challenges (The Bad)
42RE Transmission:
The 42RE trans doesn't exactly have a stellar reputation for reliability. I want to replace it but that depends on the computer. Worst case I can find another one after this one explodes. WJs are a dime a dozen.

The many computer modules:
Getting them to play nice after the swap will be interesting. As long as we keep track and label everything it'll be ok.

The speed sensor:
The WJ speed sensor gets it's signal from the ABS tone rings on the wheels for some reason. There are a few ways I can think of to fix this but let's worry about that later.

I know what you're thinking. Why a WJ? Short answer because I got it for free and I know everything on it works right. I know an XJ swap would be much easier but around here XJs have the same problem as YJs. The good ones fetch a premium and the cheap ones don't run. Even if I wanted to I couldn't sell or trade this WJ for an XJ. WJs are a dime a dozen around here. I guess they just don't have the same appeal as the old rugged box on wheels XJ.
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Unread 10-30-2014, 08:02 PM   #4
YJTim89
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Location: Wayne, NJ
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So we did pretty well with our YJ. How's the WJ look?

Under the hood (which is held up by a baseball bat) pretty good. My step brother drove it without any problems so I'm not worried about it.


The fender is the first obvious sign of rust...


I chipped some of the molding off of the window. I didn't even know that could rust


Rusty door...


That doesn't look great


What is this? Insulation foam? *gets crowbar*


Yes... Insulation foam and duct tape...


I kicked this piece of plastic trim off and it took part of the frame with it... Uh oh..


And an even larger chunk fell off of the other side...


Wow...









I don't even think this thing was roadworthy when my step brother bought it.
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Unread 10-30-2014, 08:34 PM   #5
YJTim89
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So after checking both Jeeps for rust I decided to do a little research. A got a vehicle history report and two build sheets. Turns out the YJ was a Laredo model. The AC isn't mentioned on the build sheet so I guess it was dealer installed. It spent most of it's life in New Jersey and was registered with the DMV until 1998 at which point it had about 90000 miles. I guess it sat since 98 because it doesn't appear in the records again until 2005 with the same milage. The guy who sold it to us mentioned that he bought it as a project with a blown engine but after pulling the engine gave up on it. It sat in his yard under a garage tent until I bought it in June of this year.

The WJ spent most of it's life in upstate New York and was driven right up until my step brother gave up on it in January. Not quite as interesting.
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Unread 10-30-2014, 08:49 PM   #6
YJTim89
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So we started working in late June. We first decided to clean up the YJ a little to prevent more rust.

We removed the chrome grill and mirrors and threw some primer over the rust as a temporary measure.



I shined up the chrome grill. Not sure if I'm going to put it back on but I want the option



I scraped this sticker off of the back window with WD40 and a nickel carefully avoiding the heating element. Still a little left but I'll worry about that later.



Steering wheel is in great shape with that stupid cover off


I cleaned up the front axle



Probably inhaled something toxic while taking this thing off. I call it the Dirty Engine Muppet.


Look how much fun I'm having!


The garage behind the house lacks the power to run an air compressor. So we improvised blowing the dust away.


I decided to shine up this door handle while my dad did more important things


I tried to do this one but it's too far done. Needs to be recoated.


We painted the frame and axles with POR-15 once we were done grinding off the last crappy paint job.



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Unread 10-30-2014, 09:27 PM   #7
YJTim89
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Next we moved the WJ to it's final resting place for destruction. We spend several weekends tearing it apart.



We pulled the front facia off and took the headlights


We took the hood off to prevent head injury by unexpected baseball bat failure


I started throughly tagging all of the wire connections with masking tape. With the factory service manual this'll be useful when we put everything back together.







I carefully removed the airbag as it says in the manual. Don't have to worry about unfortunate explosive devices in my way now



Various wires under the dash


Always remember to buckle in your dashboard


We removed the center console to get to the shift linkage. We want to use this in the YJ. It's really gross and covered in stale coffee.


I'm going to try to find somewhere to mount the EVIC console. My dad wants the headliner for a different project.


Seats gone


Labeling more wires under the dash. A few are unused on the base model WJ.


This one was a pain to get out


Most of the interior is gone now


I put a crowbar through the floor disturbingly close to where the seat bolts in


More wires


No idea what to do with the roof rails but we took them anyway


Airbox is out. This is why servicing the WJ air conditioning system is so expensive.


There was a hole in the firewall here. I still can't decide if this was caused by the puddles on the driver side floor or the cause of the puddles


A good use for Jeep carpet
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Unread 10-30-2014, 09:44 PM   #8
YJTim89
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1989 YJ Wrangler 
 
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Location: Wayne, NJ
Posts: 64
We got a nice pile of goodies from the interior. My dad suggested at this point we should go with a custom interior made of WJ parts. Mostly to make wiring easier. I agreed with him on the condition that the interior looked rugged and Jeep like and not at all like a WJ.

This should not happen...




Spoils included:

A pile of weather stripping that I'm sure will be useful for a rainy day...


The WJ gauge cluster. We want to use this because it'll be much easier to wire up and the YJ cluster kind of sucks anyway.


Steering column. If we can mount this we can use the stock WJ steering wheel controls which would be nice. We should be able to fit a better wheel on there. Maybe even the stock YJ wheel?


This bracket which bolts to the firewall should help with mounting the column. Plus the fusebox mounts here to.


The PCM. The brains of the operation. I'm going to put this down now before I break it.


The airbox. Shouldn't be too hard to make some vents work with this.


Interior wiring harness


Shift linkage


About $8 in change, a tiny gun keychain, 7 bottle caps...


...and one New York State Driver's license.

Oh David. I hope you took better care of your next car.

A growing pile is slowly overtaking the garage.
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Unread 10-30-2014, 10:00 PM   #9
YJTim89
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1989 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Wayne, NJ
Posts: 64
September 6th:

Since we don't have an engine hoist yet I decided that I'd try taking apart the YJ dash today... Easy right?

Turns out the interior harness is just as bad as the engine harness. Good thing we're not using any of it.




An aftermarket alarm system. The best in late 80s technology!


I tried to remove the spreader bars to fold the windshield down... All it takes is one striped torx to turn a simple task into a nightmare... **** you guy who invented torx. And **** you guy who put them into Jeeps.


Without folding the windshield down this was the best I could do... maybe I shouldn't have touched anything...
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Unread 10-30-2014, 10:17 PM   #10
YJTim89
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1989 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Wayne, NJ
Posts: 64
September 26th:

We finally have my uncle's engine hoist. He got it from Paramus High School after they closed their auto shop program. This could very well be the same hoist my dad used on his Camaro while he was in high school. That's cool.


And now...

How to remove the engine from a WJ (The right way!):

To prepare the pull the engine we unbolted the transmission mount. We'll need this later.


Remove the driveshafts. There'll be a magic line where it stopped rusting...


Remove everything else from the engine bay to make room for the hoist.


Cut the subframe in front of the engine bay. People usually cut the subframe when pulling an engine right?


It may be necessary to cut the firewall too


Bracket bolts are stuck? Whatever just get the Sawzall.


Almost...


There! You may also need cut the brake line and the metal under the windshield. That's standard factory procedure right?


Just reverse the procedure to install the engine.

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Unread 10-30-2014, 10:25 PM   #11
YJTim89
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1989 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Wayne, NJ
Posts: 64
October 11th:

It's inexplicably cold today so we decided to stay in the garage and clean up the engine on my improvised garage seating.


15 Years of road grime







Beautiful!


The block probably doesn't even need to be painted. It's still in great shape. Probably could use a new valve cover.
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Unread 11-01-2014, 12:14 PM   #12
Bobs85Reny
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1985 CJ7 
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Wayne, NJ
Posts: 823
Nice documentation Tim. This is going to be a fun project for us. I know this is the boring part for most but it is an important part of what needs to get done so we can get the wj out of here and finally tear into the build of the yj. I'm sure we will have a lot of questions to ask and hopefully we will get some good advice. We have looked at a lot of builds and so far have not seen anyone else attempt this so I hope if anyone else has a similar idea, we have at least documented our adventure into this project.
__________________
Told my girl I just had to forget her, Rather buy me a new cartburettor,
So she made tracks sayin' ths is the end now, Cars don't talk back they're just four wheeled friends now
"Queen"
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Unread 12-02-2014, 08:03 PM   #13
07tjt07
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1990 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Delton, Mi, Mi
Posts: 43
Updates? Really interested in this project..
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