I ran this conversion earlier in the year BUT I didn't understand the forum rules. I wanted to put the build in the YJ tech forum AND the Jeep builds forum. When I did, I guess they were pulled. Well, here it goes again...
My first jeep was a 1942 Willy's MB which I loved to go out in the field with. When my little brother was selling his YJ, my awesome wife really encouraged me to buy it. Why? Because she knew I really liked it. He had the Low Gloss Sage finish on it with a Spice interior. It reminded me of my old Willy's...
We were broke and this purchase would cut into any extra cash we had... my wife knew that and loved me enough to push for the purchase anyhow. (I truly wasn't going to get it, because we were that broke.) Anyway, my rich little brother took ownership of his brand new TJ and sold me his YJ, really cheap. The jeep had no rust on the frame and very little on the body. The front driver's seat was eaten away with rust (the internal seat frame and mount) and he propped up the seat into an upright position by placing his spare tire behind the front seat and the rear bench seat. The engine was a 2.5 and it had the AX5 transmission with the NP231 transfer case. The four cylinder was leaking oil everywhere and so was the transmission and transfer case. Danny wasn't mechanically inclined so I kind of knew what I was getting into. The electrical system was a "problem about to be" with wires that would "arc" at night...
Eventually, I replaced the engine, transmission and put in a SYE on the transfer case. The jeep worked great for what I used it for... but was lacking in the horsepower area. For around town, it was great! Hell, it was great on a nice trail we went on... but highway driving sucked terribly.
Here are some photos of the jeep after I had some parts sandblasted and galvanized. The parts galvanized were the front bumper, the battery tray, the fender braces, the fuel pump shield/cover, and the transmission crossmember. This money was well worth it because the hot dip galvanization has stopped all rusting whatsoever, especially on the tranny crossmember.
I began to have problems with the computer and fuel injection and got rid of it. I opted for the carburetor and a simpler vehicle. I also had an interesting problem with my voltmeter. It wasn't registering so I called up Chrysler and they wanted $150 PLUS tax for a new one. That was insane, so I opened it up and I found three transistors in the back, soldered in. I removed them and drove to Radio Shack. I bought 15 transistors for $5.00 and soldered them back into the unit. The unit worked fine, until the internal shaft which holds the indicator needle/pointer broke inside... try to guess how that happened... I then said, "To hell with it." I have never liked the YJ dash. So I bought a custom fabbed one made out of stainless. It worked well, and I never really finished it until I dropped in the 4.3. Anyway, here's the photos...
What I mainly use my jeep for is cruising the highway or backroads. You see, I have six children who I dearly love. Four of them are teenage girls, and for you dads out there, YOU DAMN WELL KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS!!! Teenage girls have a way of neutering their fathers... so I take a break and get away in my jeep. I remove the sides, light up a HUGE, GREAT TASTING CIGAR and drive. It reminds me that I am still a man...
Anyway, the four cylinder now had 100,000 miles on it and it had no passing power, whatsoever. Old VW beetles were passing me up on the highway! I started to consider increasing the horsepower in this four cylinder with real, dependable, useable horsepower. I did a lot of research over a period of months. I contacted many people and got opinions and prices. I was looking for 250-300 REAL horsepower. I found a company that could do it, but with a lot of custom parts. The price was $5,000 PLUS a new transmission because the AX5 wasn't going to hold up. And the design of the Jeep four cylinder really isn't strong enough for that kind of horsepower, not for the long run. I looked into turbo chargers, but it was the same issue. I looked into putting a stronger, more dependable four cylinder in it, the FORD 2300cc and the parts were more prevalent and cheaper than the Jeep BUT you still needed to replace the transmission. I began looking at putting in a Jeep 4.0. I looked into going the V8 option and then I remembered my 4.3 sitting in my garage. The Chevy 4.3 V6 in my garage was out of my old Astro van. It only had 10,000+ miles on it and ran great!
Going with any option was going to literally costs about the same. If you go with used parts, then there is a big difference in price... but if you went with new parts, it was very close. So close, it came down to personal preference. Since I had the V6, I was going to go with that. This particular V6 had 180 horsepower from the factory. I built the engine a little better, so I should be around 250-300 horsepower...
My wife (inadvertently) helped out the situation by getting run off the road, by some crazy woman driver. She went into a 360˚ spin on the highway, flew over the ditch and hit a tree. It was because of my wife's great defensive driving that a bigger wreck didn't happen. My wife was fine, no injury at all... Thank God! The jeep was now totaled, as far as the insurance company was concerned. The woman who caused the wreck even got out to see if she was OK. Then she took off. We were able to track down the woman and when the police went to interview her, she lied and denied everything. Amazing. In Tennessee, the law is unless there is "body to body" contact, NO MATTER WHAT, the person who caused the accident isn't responsible. (That is pretty much how the law is interpreted in the court system today. You have to prove "criminal intent" and that wasn't going to happen.)
I was able to drive the jeep home, but it was a mess. The frame was really bent and the tail gate and spare tire were pushed in. (My wife actually hit a tree with the rear of the vehicle at over 60mph!)
At home, my wife and I talked. We decided (after a careful inspection) to fix the jeep and not scrap it. We really liked the jeep and even had some great dates in it. We had our tax return money so I began with the basics. The frame was straightened but I could not afford the body work. The leaf springs were snapped, split and gone... they needed to be replaced. At that time, factory leaf springs were $700+. I went aftermarket and could not find "zero lift" leaf springs. I didn't want to lift my jeep. The closest I could find was 2" lift springs, so that is what I used. I also replaced all bushings with polyurethane ones with greaseable bolts. I had replaced all (or most) of the rubber bushings with poly by now. Now that the basic suspension was useable, it was time to organize THE REBUILD...
I removed the front grill and fenders first. This makes it so much more easier to pull the drivetrain... I removed the transfer case and then removed the entire drivetrain from the front of the YJ. Then I removed the tub. All I needed was a nice size crowbar to help "nudge" the tub a little. If I had it to do over again, I would have removed all seats... they did affect the balance of the tub during the lift.
After I had everything apart and the drivetrain in the garage, I began to inspect the jeep unlike ever before. I don't know about you guys, but the welds on these jeeps suck!! But I guess that is typical for today's standards. I realized I wanted to sandblast the frame and paint it, BUT the guy wanted $500. I also had things to "cut off" the frame, such as the four cylinder motor mounts. I had my father's old circular saw and put a cutting wheel/disc on it. (I used this for cutting steel tubing and such.) I was trying to make a cut with it in a place where I couldn't really control the saw and I almost cut my hand off! (All because I didn't want to spend the money on a new tool, if I didn't have to.) Screw that! I immediately went to Lowe's and bought a DeWalt angle grinder, some cutting wheels and a bunch of sanding "flapper" discs. It was all about $150. It sure beats losing your hand. Anyway, I cut the engine mounts off and looked at the frame. I saw welds that needed to be ground smooth, especially the weld splatter. I wanted the frame to look sharp, so I began with the flappers.
I have never used them before and I was so impressed with the ease and control of the grinder that I actually enjoyed what I was doing. In three hours, I had the frame smooth and sanded. I used some etching primer that I picked up from WalMart and there it is. A lot cheaper than $500 AND no sand inside my frame.
I then used Eastwood's Chassis black and their Internal Frame antirust coating. I just brushed on the paint... I wanted a few good coats that were thick. I used the Internal Frame paint and I was impressed. It pretty much sprayed as advertised, and it went into places that you weren't going to get to any other way UNLESS you dipped the entire frame.
The YJ frame was starting to take shape. I also put the Advanced Adapters motor mounts on the frame. I had used large "C" clamps to hold them in place while I piddled with the engine hoist and floor jack to get the correct placement of the drivetrain. Once the drivetrain was where I thought it should be, I clamped it and removed the drivetrain. I then drilled through the two holes in the mounts and threaded the frame for the bolts I was using. (I only did this to keep them in place temporarily until they were welded up.)
This is the the frame pretty much done. I haven't installed the new brake lines or anything... but it is coming along. I found out my wife's Grand Cherokee had the same rear axle as my YJ so I found the parts and put on rear disc brakes. I went with those because the parts are plentiful at the local auto parts dealer.
I looked hard at Advanced Adapters and Novak and what they both offered. I talked to both many times before I started to buy parts. My original drivetrain from my Astro van was a 4.3 V6 and a 700R4 automatic transmission. I didn't want to have the automatic because I like to drive the stick. So I purchased a new AX15 transmission from Advanced (Novak didn't offer it at that time.) I bought the Advanced Adapters V6 conversion kit and planned on using that. That is until I got it in. The engine mounts were awesome and I truly liked them better than Novak's. Advanced used a modified bellhousing to mount the AX15 to the Chevy 4.3. My bell housing wasn't machined correctly. I was stupid and impatient and tried to fix it myself (I really didn't want the downtime of shipping it off and waiting for it to come back.) WORD TO THE WISE...DON'T DO THIS!! Be patient and send it back and let them do it for you. In essence, I couldn't send it back in because I worked on it. I had to eat the cost of that. Lesson learned.
I also didn't like Advanced Adapters' hydraulic clutch kit which used a Toyota slave cylinder. They went with the Toyota because parts are readily available, however, when I bolted that thing on, the actuating rod was hitting the throwout arm at a 45˚ angle. I tried three different length release bearing arms to see if it would work. That was the best. To hell with that...
I then checked out Novak and I truly liked their hydraulic clutch. It was built in-house (so I bought some replacement parts, since the local auto parts dealer wouldn't be selling these...) but it is a well thought out system and the actuator rod is truly straight and meets the throwout arm square.
I even looked at Powertrain Technologies and their Street Max hydraulic throwout release bearing. This unit is an internal hydraulic release bearing, much like the original Jeep one for the AX5 transmission. This unit was super engineered and really looked great. The only problem was they are actually too long for the AX15 transmission. They are almost twice the length of the normal throwout bearing, so in a neutral state (when the clutch pedal is released) the bearing would still be pressing into the clutch fingers by well over an inch, almost two inches. It would be robbing horsepower from the engine all the time.
I also looked at Novak's conversion system and went with that. I kept the Advanced Adapters engine mounts because they look so much better than Novak's BUT I liked everything else Novak had. For there kit, Novak uses a normal Chevy bellhousing which bolts right up to the engine. Then an adapter plate is put behind the bellhousing to mount the AX15. In all fairness to Advanced Adapters, my Novak adapter plate wasn't machined correctly and I had to send it back to get fixed. And Novak did this promptly with great customer service. I did have one problem with the Chevy bellhousing... it came from Novak with the bolts but the bolt wouldn't fit the casting. (Novak uses four bolts to mount the bellhousing to the adapter plate which mounts to the transmission.) The hex head bolts were too wide for this bellhousing. Anyway, I replaced the hex head bolts with allen head bolts and these worked well.
I decided not to reuse my NP231 transfer case. I had put the SYE in it when I first put in the new four cylinder and AX5. It was leaking oil ( more correctly, transmission fluid) all over my exhaust pipe. That had to stop. I went with JB Conversions SYE which worked great! Now for the V6 conversion, the input shaft on the transfer case had to be replaced with one that will match up to the new AX15 transmission. I started pricing the parts and the heavy duty upgrades. After all was added up, I paid the extra $300 to get the updated, heavy duty NP231 from JB Conversions. I told them what input shaft I needed and they cranked it out, all new and all heavy duty.
My rear driveshaft was a few inches shorter than what I needed, so I contacted Tom Woods (who made my other driveshaft after the original SYE conversion) and he said they run a special for past customers who need their driveshaft shaft changed. He was very reasonable. When the driveshaft came in, I mounted it up and cursed those stupid six sided hex head bolts that are the industry standard for CV joints. The hex heads were so close to the castings, that it took forever to get them bolted up. Then it occurred to me, "ARP has 12 sided flange bolts that would probably work here." They use a flange that is round and as wide as the hex head BUT their bolt head is narrower and you can get a wrench on it so much more easier. So I called ARP and they didn't offer any special kits for this but I was able to buy the bolts from them that I needed. They worked perfectly!! And all I can tell you is if your time is valuable to you, pay the price and get them. They make it so much easier to install!!
I also forgot about a small problem I had with motor mounts from Advanced. They offer three different length "arms". I believe they generally send you the medium which works in most YJs. One of my arms was not lining up properly with the bolt hole. I didn't want to drill it out and make an oval so I called Advanced, who were nice enough to send me a longer arm for a small price. It worked great! I have enclosed photos of the engine mounts and the details of them. Some of the photos don't show the engine mount bolts tightened all the way. They were just hand tightened because I didn't have the body on yet.
I should also say that for the most part, I truly got excellent customer service from both Advanced Adapters and Novak. They truly want to help you in anyway they can. It really comes down to personal preference and what you think is the better system for your conversion. Remember, this "thread" is about "what worked for me" or "what didn't work for me". I tried to give some insight into products I have used so you don't have to make the same mistakes that I did.
One of the things I noticed when working on the front axles... it really wasn't work (more like an inspection) was that Jeep had these white plastic rings/collars around the axles which were designed to keep dirt and grit out of the axle tubes. These collars were a joke. I removed them and found pebbles inside the axle tubes. I searched the internet and found Alloy axle tube seals. I bought them and put them on. Also at this time, I purchased solid axles for the front axle. I was really impressed with Alloy USA's seals. They seemed to have filled a niche that was needed in the Jeep community.
When I put my tub on, I found one problem with my measurements. My transfer case was too close to the bottom of the floor panel.
With the AX15, I used the Novak universal (Chevy) bushing. This was a polyurethane mount and was a good piece of kit. The holes didn't mount up with the transmission or the crossmember so you have to buy their kit or fabricate another. Novak's kit came with bushings to actually raise the mounting plate off the transmission for clearance. Two transmission bolts got in the way of the plate. therefore the need for the spacers. I was looking to lower the transmission into the crossmember, so these spacers had to go. I had the metal removed (from the plate) around the two offending bolts and now the plate mounted flush with the transmission. The polyurethane mount bolted to the studs on the mounting plate. Now it was time to hook up the crossmember to the frame. Once bolted up, the mount was resting on the crossmember... the transmission mount holes didn't line up with the crossmember holes, but that was fine. Then i started checking my clearance around the transmission and transfer case. Whoa, was that too close! My transfer case was actually smashing into the bottom of the floor panel. I figured an inch would do it. So I marked the crossmember, removed it and brought it to the fabrication shop. They "boxed in" an one inch drop for the mount, using 1/8" plate. It came out great! I then just had to drill two new holes in the crossmember.
Below are the photos of the transmission mount with adapter plate (it is gold anodized), the modification to done to fit over the two transmission bolts (which lay horizontally) and photos of the transmission crossmember modifications. When I am satisfied with it, I will either galvanize the crossmember again to cover the new modification or I will powder coat it.
I had purchased a Lincoln Flux-Core welder from Lowe's some time ago. It had the TIG adapter with it. I signed up to go to the Lincoln School specifically for my welder when I lost my sight.
One morning I woke up and I couldn't see out of my right eye. My left eye was weak. My vision used to be 20/10. I even had great night vision... but now, the eyes were going out. I went to the eye doctor who noticed so much blood around my retina. He said, "Without major intervention, you will be blind in four weeks." Well, that was a wake up call! His first objective was to stabilize the good eye, which he did through laser surgery and injections of a drug that would help stop the bleeding. (Yep, you read right. Injections in the eye ball... oh what joy!) Once that was done, my eye sight in my good eye went from 20/100 to 20/40. Now it was time to operate on the bad eye. Once he went into the eye and removed the excess blood, he found out the retina crumbled up like foil and there was much more damage under the blood then he could see before. He stitched the retina back up, but for all practical purposes, I was blind in that eye. It makes it so much more interesting to work on the jeep now. Depth perception has taken on a new light (or a new darkness...) It also ended my welding career...
Some ideas for jeep newbies...
(1) If you are going to do any serious kind of modification on your jeep, you have to be able to weld. It makes your modification so much more versatile and suited to your desires. Other than that, you need to find someone who welds or you just buy what you want off the shelf.
(2) I thought this is obvious but after reading so many threads and newbies questions, I wonder if it is... you also need some mechanical experience. I don't know if a jeep is where I want to start learning to work on vehicles. People ask questions like, "Where do I put in the gas? What oil filter should I use? How much oil does it take?" These questions are all answered in any Jeep mechanics book or owner's manual. Why are these books not bought? I thought that was common sense, but I guess it isn't. It is almost like these newbies would rely on personal opinions in this forum over a Jeep service manual. Now, please don't misunderstand... I generally believe nothing beats experience BUT even experienced mechanics need a manual with specific torque values, now and then. If I am new to a vehicle and know that I am going to be the one working on it, I BUY THE MANUAL!! I have over thirty years experience working on vehicles... BUY THE MANAUL FIRST! ASK QUESTIONS IN THE FORUM SECOND!
The manual doesn't answer everything... but I have read some really whacko opinions about mechanical repairs on this forum. Some very dangerous advice. Opinions are not facts... they are opinions. Buy the book, read the book, if you are still confused, then ask the forum... but compare what you get from the forum to what you read in the book. I have read a lot of great advice on this forum and it reads so much differently than the "opinions of the youth" on this forum. Read carefully and if in doubt, ask... get second opinions if you are not sure.
(3) As I sat and thought about this rebuild, the one thing that I kept coming up with is, "What would I have done differently?" (Believe me when your eyes are bandaged up and all you can do is sit on the sofa or lay in bed, and I hate doing both, you begin to think about many things. Your mind wanders all over, and one of those "wonderings" was the Jeep rebuild.) If I could do it all over again, I would have done it differently.
I would have found a 4WD S10 and kept the entire drivetrain Chevy. Why? No need for adapters plates or anything like that. I really don't think I would notice the difference between a T5 and a AX15. They would both work for my application. If I kept it all Chevy, everything would match up. All I would have to do is to modify the crossmember and the two driveshafts. And if I ever needed a drivetrain part, it would be easy to find at any auto parts place. All the drivetrain would have come from the same vehicle.
I think that would be the easiest way to go about it... of course, at the time, I really didn't have the money to buy a S10 with a great drivetrain. I know this thread looks like there is a lot of money involved, but this is "spread out" over five years. During those years, I just collected the parts and stored them in my garage until the day I could start THE REBUILD. (My garage is MY GARAGE, so my beautiful wife and children stay out of it... so my tools and parts stay "undisturbed" and in "peaceful slumber". Even though I keep a clean garage, my family knows it is still the place to get "dirty and greasy" so they stay out of it...
(4) I also thought about removing the tub... was that necessary? No, it wasn't, but it sure made it a pleasure to work on! For the first time in my life, I was able to work on a vehicle without having crud fall into my eyes or mouth. It was so much easier putting in everything, especially the drivetrain and brake lines. Fabrication was a lot easier. But there was one problem, how to lift it. I used an engine hoist to do it. I was able to do it with the help of my teenage daughters so I am guessing you guys with your buddies can do it a lot easier. It really made it so much easier to work on and it really was fun and simple to do. It really was nice to see the newly painted frame getting more parts put on it everyday. I know it sounds weird, but watching it come together really made this project something! You could see it "grow" from the ground up and it was exciting...
To those who may want to pursue this project... This installment is all about clearance in the engine compartment. I took a bunch of photos showing the clearance you have under the YJ's hood. (Please forgive the tape everywhere... we have "mud diggers" everywhere and if there is an open hole, they like building nests.) Also, these are the new valve covers and I haven't painted the center bolts black yet.
As you can see, there is more than enough clearance for this engine. It is the best of both worlds... you get the horsepower of a V8 in the space of a WIDE four cylinder. The Chevy 4.3 has ample power and is readily supported by all auto parts places nationwide. With this modification, you have tons of room under the hood. You have tons of horsepower and passing power, compared to the four banger.
Just a thought... I really liked my four cylinder! It did a great job mechanically. What killed it for me was the computer. I like tinkering and that computer just wouldn't let me tinker for anything! The four cylinder had plenty of power for "off road" AS LONG AS YOU KEPT THE SUSPENSION STOCK!! If the vehicle was used as it was designed, the four cylinder is plenty.
How do I know? Because my first jeep was a WWII 1942 Willy's and I used it like it was designed to be used. It had a whopping 53 horsepower and I could go anywhere with it. And if I couldn't, I went around it or didn't go there. The four cylinder YJ is the same way. Stock, it is very balanced and has just the right torque for off road. However, if you change the suspension and put huge tires on it, then you need more horsepower, actually more torque. The inline six is great for this, but it was actually included in the YJ offerings to give it more "passing speed". The inline six works great for trail use with larger tires and lifts. Some really like the V8 and it fits like a charm in a YJ compartment.
I, however, went with the V6. Mainly because I had the engine and it is really dependable. In stock form, it puts out 180 horsepower and it doesn't take much to get it up to 250 horses-- dependable horses. For what I use it for, it is perfect.
I did some modifications to the engine so I wanted to make sure it "breathed" freely. Headers were definitely the way I was going to go. I tried a few sets from Advanced Adapters, Novak and others... and then the problem began...
Since I was sticking with Advanced Adapters motor mounts AND Novak's external slave cylinder, I had a problem. Headers from Advanced went too far to the rear of the engine compartment for my tastes. I still am not sure about where my exhaust is going to dump out. I am really leaning toward the "side pipe exhaust system." it is the only exhaust system that keeps out of the way, as far as maintenance goes. If I go that route, the Advanced headers would make that a complication. They would also be too close to my hydraulic slave cylinder.
Novak's headers were "block hugging" headers and really interfered with Advanced Adapters motor mounts. I couldn't use them at all.
Then I searched the internet and found a set of stainless headers for an S10 Blazer. I tried those. They worked pretty good BUT they dumped right on top of Novak's slave cylinder. Since I decided to keep that slave cylinder, I will just have to have the headers modified by the muffler shop. Besides I like having stainless headers...
I have enclosed photos. When I get the exhaust system done, I will submit those photos too.
Oh, the first photo shows my custom power steering hose way too close to the front of the header. I will finish bending the steel tubing once the exhaust system is put in and the steering shaft is put on. The other photos show how the driver's side header "dumps" directly onto the Novak hydraulic slave cylinder. The exhaust shop will take care of that...
Power steering...hmm, and interesting topic. With this particular application, the engine is SAE and the Jeep is mostly METRIC. Therefore, the jeep steering box needed to match with the engines power steering. To further complicate the situation (but not by much) I inadvertently threw out the engine's power steering unit assembly a long time ago. Looking back at it now, that was great but originally, I thought it a huge mistake. I didn't like how the power steering pump was mounted to the motor. It had this long two part mount which supported the rear of the power steering pump and attached by being "sandwhiched" between the engine block and the motor mount. It was long, bulky and it looked like crud. I was looking for something else.
Nostalgic Air came through. They make air conditioning parts for hot rodders who have to fab so much of their gear. They also branched off into making brackets for power steering pumps, alternators, etc. Their brackets were simple and designed to use the common Chevy truck power steering units. What is great about Nostalgic is there kits are based on where you want the power steering to be mounted. It is very flexible. If you wanted to mount all of your accessories on top of the motor (to keep it dry or you have a particularly narrow engine compartment) you can do it. If you wanted it mounted low, you can use that kit. If you wanted close to the factory placement, they have you covered also. They have a bunch of different applications, it is up to your preference. They also carry all of the pulleys you need.
Once the brackets came in, I mounted them up and measured for the new drive belts. The original Astro van had a quasi-serpentine belt system. It used a serpentine belt for everything but the Air Condition compressor. I don't have air conditioning AND the brackets for the serpentine system just cover so much of the engine. (I am of the "old school" and I like to see the engine when I open the hood. I don't want to see plastic covers, hoses and lines going everywhere. I want to see the motor. I want to see the valve covers. I want to see the intake manifold). Because of these preferences, I went with a two drive belt system. One for the power steering pump and the other, for the water pump and alternator. It is simple, effective and looks great! Is the serpentine belt better? Of course, but it isn't that much better and it doesn't even come close to the beauty of a simple drive belt system, mounted correctly.
I still had to fabricate a new power steering line. On this YJ (and just about any other vehicle), there is a high pressure line and a low pressure return line. The high pressure line obviously has steel fittings on both ends. The low pressure return line has fittings on only one end. I had to buy a set of lines from NAPA, cut the steel tubing and fittings off and bend them the way I needed them to go. (You can't use the flexible hose at all.) Then the guys at NAPA made me one, super tough power steering line which ended in compression fittings to fit my bent steel tubing. All in all, the custom line from NAPA was $35. It went great with the new power steering pump and the rebuilt power steering gear box. I don't have it finished all the way because I wasn't sure how it would fit with the new steering shaft. So I reserved final fitting after that installation. (I still have to finish bending the fitting on the power steering high pressure line because it is too close to the exhaust header.)
Oh, speaking of steering shaft... I ordered a Borgenson stainless steering shaft. It is a great unit BUT they don't tell you that you have to drill holes in your steering shaft (in the steering column) nor that you have to file a "flat spot" on your steering shaft that comes out of your gear box. (You can't use the factory "flat spot".) Had they told me that, I would never have ordered that shaft. It is nice, but I am not filing anything nor drilling anything that is going to void the warranties of my brand new, rebuilt gear box AND my rebuilt steering column. They both cost much more that the Borgenson shaft!
I also ordered alternator brackets from Nostalgic. The original alternator bracket for the Astro van mounted the alternator up on top and in front of the passenger side valve cover. It was a great place to mount it because it always kept your alternator dry (unless you were making a river crossing or something.) Anyway, the OEM brackets really covered up so much of the engine that I decided to mount the alternator a little lower, so as not to "obstruct my view"...
When I started THE REBUILD, I wanted to keep the jeep simple... truly simple. Along the lines of the WWII Willy's that I used to have. I wanted to have it simple to work on and simple to maintain. I wanted to be able to pop the hood and see a simple, functioning engine. Granted I did use a little polish, here and there, but for the most part, everything is simple and easy to work on. All "shine" is under the hood... just like the old street muscle cars of yesteryear.
I liked my original, replacement stainless dashboard... but I wanted it to look better... more me. I was toying with idea of putting in a CJ dashboard but I found something that I liked much better. The fabricator is Double D Fabrication. He does the best work I have seen! He custom made a dashboard out of steel that resembled a military Hummer's dash. He was extremely reasonable in price and he went out of his way to make sure it was designed correctly before it was fabbed. (His dash was half the price of the stainless unit.) As a matter of fact, the dash ran about $ 230 with shipping. The dash was packaged perfectly and it arrived in excellent condition. I had the dash powder coated in a textured "sage like" color. Then I put my gauges in. I haven't finished the wiring yet, because I am putting in a new Painless Electrical system in, but I have enclosed photos.
I truly can't tell you how much of a pleasure it was working with Dan at "Double D Fabricators". (His website is www.doubledfab.com.) We must have gone through ten emails, back and forth. He offered expert advise... but he never "pushed" you into anything. He was extremely professional. He was very patient and polite. One thing that is not clear in the photo is the entire thing is TIG welded and the gauges sit in tubes. The tubes are angled up to face the driver. (The only problem I had with flat dashes is that when the sun is behind you, sometimes you can't see the gauges.)
This dash came out better than I thought it would. Oh, there was one small "glitch" but it is easy to overcome. The Autometer gauges mount using their plastic mounts which sandwich the dash board (or mounting bracket) between the front rim of the gauge and the rear of the mounting surface. These mounts have to be modified to fit the rear of the tubes. But what I like about this is the look and the feel of it. I also like that if you have a problem with a little gauge, you unbolt four screws and the entire gauge cluster comes out... so simple to work on and to replace... Also in the photos, it looks like the gauge cluster is cramping the passenger side's leg room. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am over six foot tall, and my legs don't come near that housing at all! It works!