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Unread 05-06-2014, 09:07 PM   #1
absintheisfun
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Wife's Dream YJ build

So, a little backstory-

My wife tells me that she has always wanted a jeep, and for a while I entertained the idea until she stopped talking about it. Then she started talking about it again, and didn't stop. It quickly became clear that she wanted one and wouldn't take no for an answer. She would point to older CJ’s and say “like that” and then look at newer JK’s and say “not like that”

As a mechanic and all around car nut that loves building as much as repairing, I knew that her driving style would flip a CJ in about 2 seconds flat and a newer JK wasn't something I wanted to work on.

I’ve always loved YJ’s because I grew up with them and learned to drive stick in on. I also think that the square headlights were the SH1#! And that it was, in my opinion, the last great creation of AMC.

Whenever I saw a YJ on the road, I would say, "Like that?" and she would say yes--if it was lifted. So we started looking hard and found one with everything she wanted (BIG, A/C) and the two things I demanded (Manual Trans, the amazing 4.0 I6)

(Forgive the demon eyes!)


165K on the odometer, and as far as I can tell, original drivetrain

The plan:
Teach her to drive stick and at the end of the summer (or when she destroys the clutch) tear it down and build it up the right way, as fast as humanly possible.

The reality:
After replacing the brakes, brake lines and tires I couldn't get it in reverse. I checked the motor mounts and sure enough, the passenger side mount bolts had sheared off inside the block.


So the teardown moved up in the schedule.
I’m about halfway through the build now, and will be doing daily (or the best daily) updates I can until we are current and up to date. Then the updates will come as they happen.

Been working on it for 4 weeks and have a new drivetrain and body panels installed. Next week I’ll tear all the exterior down and paint.

The goal is to completely frame off restore this in 90 days while working full time and only committing 3 evenings a week and 3 Saturdays a month to the project.

So far I’ve got (thinking in 8 hour days) about 7 full days of work on it and am keeping ahead of schedule actually!

Of course my wife is helping when she can



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Unread 05-07-2014, 08:32 AM   #2
warthog312
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This is amazing. I'm not the 'marriage type' per se, but I wish I could find a woman that would wrench with me and didn't look like an ogre. Any powertrain swap in mind, or just sticking with the 4.0/Ax15/231J?

What is the current suspension setup? Obviously it is lifted, but any idea on brand of springs, spring over axle, body lift, etc.? How about axles, stock, modified, swapped?

Edit: Your shop looks amazing. Coming from a man that did a frame off v8 swap over the winter in an unheated garage with limited tools and in the coldest Chicago winter in a decade, I am so very jealous!
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Unread 05-07-2014, 07:14 PM   #3
absintheisfun
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Quote:
Originally Posted by warthog312 View Post
This is amazing. I'm not the 'marriage type' per se, but I wish I could find a woman that would wrench with me and didn't look like an ogre. Any powertrain swap in mind, or just sticking with the 4.0/Ax15/231J?

What is the current suspension setup? Obviously it is lifted, but any idea on brand of springs, spring over axle, body lift, etc.? How about axles, stock, modified, swapped?

Edit: Your shop looks amazing. Coming from a man that did a frame off v8 swap over the winter in an unheated garage with limited tools and in the coldest Chicago winter in a decade, I am so very jealous!
All coming in the next post--I'm preparing it now...
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Unread 05-07-2014, 07:44 PM   #4
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The previous owner did some very bad things to this jeep…

3” Warrior Lift
3” Body Lift
Some weird aftermarket gas tank
Horrible hot air cold air intake
Sub par bolts holding motor mount to block
Vacuum lines all kinds of crazy.
Wire harnesses chewed up and left cut all over the place
Half a$$ rhino liner in some places but not others
Wheels with about 1/2” of backspace
Re-treaded 35’s all the way around


The build plan-
Rubicon Express 2.5” Lift, replace body lift with new OEM bushings
Replace motor with another 4.0
Replace transmission with another AX-15
Replace seats
Rhino line (raptor) the bottom of the tub and inside of the tub and wheel wells
Put in a Dana 44 with 4.10 gears in the back with Auburn ECTED (LCD with electric locker)
Build up the front Dana 30 with 4.10 gears and cable lock
Metal Cloak on all 4 corners
Paint a nice steel / gray / steel blue (think fighter jet)
33” Duratracs
New Gas tank
New brakes
New brake lines

We’ll see where it goes from there, but that’s the rough start

So, after the motor mount issue it was decided that since I have to pull the motor to extract the bolts, I might as well move up the schedule and just dive into the build early

The end of day 1-front fenders/grill pulled. Motor/trans/transfer case pulled and set on the ground


After getting the new (rebuilt) motor and trans from Collins Bros, I decided that I couldn’t just through all the old brackets on looking the way they did, so I got a cheap blast cabinet from Harbor Freight:


I was pretty impressed with the results actually. It leaks media everywhere, but that can be fixed later…

Before:

After:



And a nice coat of high temp flat black to finish it off:



Engine work:
Out with the old..


In with the new…


Engine Bay cleanup!


Massive oil leaks from just about everywhere on the trans…motor was bleeding quite a bit as well..


I think that covers a few days of work…
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Unread 05-08-2014, 08:50 AM   #5
warthog312
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Nice jump on the project!

Question: If you are going through all the trouble of swapping an engine, why not either hop up the 4.0 (stoker, cam, etc.); or take this opportunity do get a V8 in there? You are doing most of the work anyway, and small blocks can be had cheap, and can be mated to the AX15 relatively worry-free (used behind the 5.2 IIRC). Just food for thought, but I like the direction this is going so far, seems like you have a good plan on paper which is something many seem to neglect doing, and pay for in the long run.
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Unread 05-08-2014, 05:03 PM   #6
absintheisfun
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Quote:
Originally Posted by warthog312 View Post
Nice jump on the project!

Question: If you are going through all the trouble of swapping an engine, why not either hop up the 4.0 (stoker, cam, etc.); or take this opportunity do get a V8 in there? You are doing most of the work anyway, and small blocks can be had cheap, and can be mated to the AX15 relatively worry-free (used behind the 5.2 IIRC). Just food for thought, but I like the direction this is going so far, seems like you have a good plan on paper which is something many seem to neglect doing, and pay for in the long run.

The engine choice is two fold.

1. As a dealership tech, my philosophy on fixing things has changed from "upgrade time, more power!!!!!" To "if it works, don't fix it."
I used to be all about upgrading and modifying things, and to a marge degree I still am. My 67 Camaro has a modern modified ls6 in it, and my 63 c10 is going to have a rat 572 with 720hp.

But that also leads to my second point.

2. This is going to be my wife's daily driver. I want the ultimate in reliability for her. She won't enjoy it if I have to tinker with it on a regular basis so she can drive it.

If something does go wrong, I'm a factory manual away from repairing it.

We did talk about possible upgrades later...maybe a 4.3 gm, but putting a V8 ls motor in a jeep + my wife's lead foot isn't a great combo.

And of course there is that ultimate tough, reliable, near bulletproof 4.0 that is really hard to do better than.
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Unread 05-09-2014, 09:33 AM   #7
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Sounds like you're the kind of person I wish I could be, of the "don't f*ck with it mindset"


Good for you man, you've got a solid plan in palace with tried and true parts in factory spec, and you've already got a great jump on the project. Good luck with the build, be sure to keep us updated!
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Unread 05-09-2014, 08:56 PM   #8
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I'm sorry that you live in the frigid north...Our winter in Texas was rough this year, but I can only imagine what yours was like!

If it makes you feel any better, My wife and I built that shop up last summer here when it was 105 on a cool day. And because we like to make things especially difficult, it was built AROUND the Camaro and tool boxes and everything else that we threw in there when we moved a few months earlier.

Here is what it looks like when its not packed with 2 project cars:



And here is what it looked like when we moved in and packed it full of all my toys:


And insulating & sheet rocking around the mess


Its still not quite 100% complete, but as always something comes up and gets in the way
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Unread 05-09-2014, 09:08 PM   #9
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So, back to the jeep!

I'm not sure how we got the motor out, with my cherry picker's short reach, but putting it back in was a definite challenge. I rigged up straps and pulleys underneath the rear axle to the trans output and would lower a little, tug a little, lower a little, tug a little and finally...it rested into place:

*The valve cover is merely a placeholder for now. Not sure if I want to paint it or get an aftermarket one..

After getting all the hoses and fluids right, it was time to tackle the fuel sending unit. (I'm guessing here) that the previous owner had a fuel sending issue so they nestled an aftermarket pump between the frame and the body (thanks to a huge 3" body lift gap).

Since I was getting rid of the body lift, I had to do something about the pump so I got a new module


And as luck would have it I filled up the tank on my way home (when the motor mount bolts broke) So I had to find a way to safely lower the tank to empty it

welded a bit of scrap to my floor jack and called it good.

OOPS, wrong tank???


Obviously my new module didn't fit, so I had to get a new tank--good god are they expensive! And as luck would have it, don't fit very well. I'm stuck with either modifying my body pan to fit it or to find a junkyard original and hope it isn't damaged in any way. Not quite sure what I'm going to do yet...
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Unread 05-10-2014, 08:22 AM   #10
warthog312
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Quote:
Originally Posted by absintheisfun View Post
I'm sorry that you live in the frigid north...Our winter in Texas was rough this year, but I can only imagine what yours was like!
Yeah, there we weeks where 0* was the high... just thinking about it gives me horrible vietnam-like flashbacks
Worst part was it is an un-heated garage! Every wrench you grab is so cold it burns your skin.



Quote:
Originally Posted by absintheisfun View Post
So, back to the jeep!

I'm not sure how we got the motor out, with my cherry picker's short reach, but putting it back in was a definite challenge. I rigged up straps and pulleys underneath the rear axle to the trans output and would lower a little, tug a little, lower a little, tug a little and finally...it rested into place:

Happens on lifted Jeeps. Most either let air out of the tires or drop the axle onto jackstands and take the tires off.


Keep up the good work!



Also: I'm insanely jealous of your shop!
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Unread 05-11-2014, 06:54 PM   #11
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I didn't get a chance to work on the Jeep this weekend because we had to build a new fence for our alpacas. But Tuesday night I should get back on it. Here is the last update before we get to real
time updates...

The dreadful body lift was removed with the clever use of a jack and 2x4's between the frame and body. Then the hoses were installed to fill the tank with a bit of gas.
For now, I'm leaving the tank in as-is. The shield is loose and the filler hose barely holds, but I'll modify the pan and scoot the tank a bit and make it work. I'm not sure that I want to risk a 25 year old tank.

After getting everything hooked up, motor primed and filled with fluids, I decided to test my luck and turn the key. . .

After a few turns and anxious moments...she sputtered and died. Before I let myself get pissed, I turned the key again and damn if she didn't fire right over and hum like a champ! Idled perfect at 800 RPM , had great oil pressure and rail pressure, and I felt a HUGE sense of relief. I began to feel bad that my wife wasn't around to witness the first fire, so I turned it off and waited for her to come home.

And the good news got better, the Jeep moved forward and backward with the clutch, got to 205 degrees and just sat there. I ran a gallon of gas at idle (it takes a while!) and every reading was good so I drove it around the property--moved through 1st and 2nd like butter! No more grinding

After a victory dance, we decided we needed to dry-fit the metal cloak.

Here is the driver's side dry fit:


this is a 3" lift (with some sag) and 33x12.5

This past Friday I decided to get a little work in since this weekend was scheduled. I removed the godawful rhino liner from the driver's side rocker and welded up all the unnecessary holes in the body:




I spend an hour grinding off that crap with a wire cup only to have my wife come home and say, "does aircraft stripper not do it?" I looked at her and shrugged my shoulders...I never even thought about using it.

But in case your wondering, it removes it in about 10 minutes! lol So the passenger side got stripped off as well.
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Unread 05-11-2014, 07:53 PM   #12
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Great job so far man. What brand stripper did you use?
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Unread 05-12-2014, 09:50 AM   #13
warthog312
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Can't speak for OP, but my tub was herculined all the way up to the bottom door hinge, all the way around the car. I used this stripper and had it all off and down to bare metal in no time at all. Lesson learned after using all different kinds of wire wheels and sanders, they all just gum up with the herc and are rendered useless, or in the case of some of the larger wire wheels, leave a crazy dust and rubber particulate mess everywhere.



Mine was all the way up to the lower door hinge, only tricky part was the JEEP stamp in the tub since it is contoured.
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Unread 05-13-2014, 08:04 PM   #14
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Warthog and Postal, we used "Aircraft Remover" made by KleanStrip that I had laying around from other projects...took it off in minutes. I just didn't even think about using it. This is why I love my wife so much...she thinks of all the things that I don't!

So tonight I got the rest of the MetalCloak set up and dryfit. I really have to take a minute and compliment the guys at Metal Cloak for 1. the outstanding product they make, and 2. the great customer service!

Not much to say, so I'll just post a few pics!







The only thing that needs to be "adjusted" is the hood. I've read that some jeep's hoods are a little to wide and rub on the bars...Mine is one of those, but no biggie. I will manipulate it tomorrow when I clean the passenger side and plug weld all of the unnecessary holes.



That's it for tonight!
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Unread 05-13-2014, 08:12 PM   #15
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Excellent, thanks! I have some of that lying around too. I just thought it was best for latex paint but apparently works well with automotive paints. I was planning on paying a guy to sandblast the DJs body and frame but if the stripper works well enough...
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