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elliottferrell 01-24-2010 07:50 PM

1985 "Special Edition" CJ7 Restoration Build Thread
When i was a little kid. nothing beat riding in the jeep with the doors and top off. you were out in the open. surely as a child i was buckled in, but i felt free. in 85 my aunt bought a "special edition" cj7. garnet red, 258, t-176, dana 300, SE seats and even a leather rapped steering wheel.

My aunt drove the jeep back and forth to the local community college for about 3 or 4 years. Back then i guess 45 miles wasn't that far in a jeep. i now drive to the same community college and i get the same feeling she does. The jeep is the first thing i can truly remember riding in. It was one of the reason i spent so much time at my aunts as a child.
As time progress and i got a little older i still found myself begging my aunt to drive the jeep. it had sat in the barn since 95 and in 2003 she finally got it back out. nearly ten years in a dirt floor barn did nothing for the jeep. the frame had surface rust, the usual body spots had began to come through and it needed a good hard wash. I was involved in so many sports in high school i didn't have time to help my aunt put the jeep back on the road. i saw it occasionally at family events but it never got to what i thought.
About a week before my graduation party my senior year i had seen that my aunt had been down to the house. She was looking for a photo of me that she had seen before. Here is that photo of me in my aunts jeep in 92.

yes i'm the little blond haired kid.

At my graduation party surely enough. my aunt came rolling down our 1/4 mile lane in none other than my favorite jeep. i was shocked. i couldn't believe it was on the road again. i spent most of that night sitting in it next to the camp fire and enjoying the great outdoors. i had bugged my aunt for years to sell me the jeep. She was to attached to it. no matter what it wasn't leaving her. That following fall i got the bright idea to ask my aunt if i could borrow the jeep to go out on a date. It was a friday night and i thought for sure she would tell me no. but to my surprise she was more than ok with it. i picked it up and gased it up and was on a date before dark. it was a weekend to remember.

the following day i thought that i would get the jeep cleaned up and take it back to its home. I started it up and checked all the fluids, vacuumed what little carpet was left and thought i would head north. i got back to my aunts and parked the jeep outside. got in my old chevy truck and headed home. As soon as i got home i had 3 messages on the phone from my aunt. she was in distress.

i headed back to her house only to find the jeep and the local fire department sitting in her driveway. One way or another the jeep had an engine fire. i don't know to say if it was from me moving things around or what. :brickwall the fire department claims that a few wires got hot and grounded out and it just took a flame. needless to say, it melted the valve cover, carb, the entire wiring harness, most of the dash, all the heater stuff, and it melted all the paint off the hood, fenders, inner and out firewall and blew out the front windshield.

I couldn't believe it. the only vehicle i thought would never die and suddenly come to a complete stop. i felt horrible for what had happened. everybody was happy that it hadn't happened while i was driving but i'm sure that that is where the problem had started.

I then got the opportunity to finally buy the jeep. for scarp price of course. I load on the trailer and away i went. although it had become a nightmare i knew that i could make the jeep what it was, add a little. and eventually have something i've wanted forever.

Now that i've told the big story here's my jeep

this was day one. brought it home and thought that i would see if any of the fire department water had gotten down in the motor.
what was i thinking. of course there was 3 gallons of water everywhere. i spent the whole weekend tearing down the jeep. pulled the entire drivetran and thought that i would just do a quick fix em up.

I had been crawling around on here for a while and as i've read by many others. you dont start a jeep project and not do the whole thing. i waited a while to start my build thread because i wanted to have something to show. not just a few small pictures and no story. i'm going to build this jeep the right way. no short cuts, no b/s and surely not without time and a pallet of beer.

stay tuned, ask a few, and comment or question anything that i've done, will do or shouldn't do.

you guys have given me more ideas and more thoughts then i could write. thanks to all. and i hope this one turns out cherry.

wrongway92407 01-24-2010 08:02 PM

Great story! I hope that you fixed up the way you want. Just remember your aunt gets to drive it first. Good Luck!


only in a jeep cj 01-24-2010 08:08 PM

Wow! What a story. Thats what Jeep feelings are all about. Now to business... How long ago did the fire happen. IF it wasn't too long ago, you need to get the water out of the engine ASAP. The aluminum piston expand when the corrode and the rings rust and lock to the cylinder walls. You can take it all apart and clean/ remove water as you go OR drain it, turn it over and try to fire it up vis new carb and valve cover.
Next, the heat of a fire warps sheet metal. Most likely the hood is gone. Don't try to repair it, just find a good OEM hood and call it done. The same for the dash. Did your Spring Special seat survive?. Post more pics as you get them...

DIX03TJ 01-24-2010 08:16 PM

awesome story. That CJ will be a blast to restore with so many memories with it, can't wait to see how it turns out

elliottferrell 01-24-2010 08:32 PM

dave, thanks for the support. it will someday be what my goal is. I'm sure this will be something that i keep forever.

Ed, the fire occurred in the fall of 2007. The same week that it happened i pulled the motor and stripped it down. there was water on top each piston and also quite a lot of water in the oil pan. i spent a day with my steam cleaner and other solvents and cleaned not only the motor. but also the trans and other components. I've been building motors and wrenching on cars since i was 5. i can honestly admit that i got my first truck at 5 and was driving on my knees with a 2x4 and still have that too.

the jeep sat in my barn the rest of the winter and didn't see the sun till spring. i had intentions of just rebuilding the motor. all of 76,000 miles, with virtually no ridge on the cylinder walls. and fixing a few things and driving it. going to school 5 days a week, a girlfriend on the weekends, and a group of friends that can close every bar in the county kept me busy.

i pulled the jeep in the garage one night, and after a case of fun with my closet friends, i came to conclude that i had to restore the jeep. after that its been fun ever since.

i turned the old hood into a sled. we pull it down the back rounds on winter weekends and well you can guess the rest.:cheers:

the seats and even the carpet were all in good shape after the fire. there was alot of carbon damage to the hard top. i've used the steam cleaner and i just can't cut it. im most likely going to strip it to paint it. i've been working on the jeep more and more in the last year. i've been working on not only the jeep but also my 69 amx. i've been going back and forth between projects and i can say that the jeep is much more relaxing. i have more photos that i will post. i'm sure that everybody would love to see the transformations....

drerict 01-24-2010 08:53 PM

Good luck with the build . . . i will be watching . . .

elliottferrell 01-26-2010 09:13 AM

I spent most of the last few years hunting for parts. as every jeep guy knows. you've gotta have a large inventory of parts. something breaks, the last thing you want to do is wait to fix it.:rtft: in my quest for all the parts i needed i began to find that alot of people have a lot of parts.

i was fortunate enough to meet a guy that just happen to have a entire barn full of parts. he was gracious enough to let me go through the pile and pick out some of the things i needed. i thought i had a small pile started when he came back from his garage and said " you know what, you can have the whole pile!". and im not talking just a truck load. 3 car trailers, 2 jeep frames, a tub, and some other stuff later i was at my house and was in shock. I had to find another shed to put all this stuff in. I've gone through the piles. sorted. collected. found what i've wanted and have cleaned up a hand full of parts to sell.

As time progressed this last fall i found myself wanting something to play with. i was anxious and couldn't wait to get the feel of a jeep again. I saved some money that i had from selling parts and bought a 81 cj7.

She was a mean old jeep. rust as could be. but man did that 258 crank over every time i wanted to go for a ride. i drove it around most of the winter and kept myself happy while i slowly tinkered away. when i bought the 81, i got a package deal. i scored a 82 rust free cj7 tub, but, there was passenger side damage that needed to be taking care of.

according to the owner. the tub was taken off the jeep in 85 and had been sitting in the attic of this guys shop since then. he pulled it down to restore the jeep, but lost interest. I also scored a brand new bestop soft top with soft doors. this thing was in the original packaging and also the receipts where stapled to the bags. i couldn't believe this guy was being so generous. i helped him clean his shop out and he said that he was anticipating the finish of my other jeep. haha. i guess i should have told him it was a slow project.

elliottferrell 02-08-2010 07:41 PM

i've been slowly working on the jeep over the last few years. with what free time i've had i've collected the parts and went through my jeep. i came to realize that i needed to do a frame off resto to really get the jeep to what i wanted. i used to gas-axe to blow out the body mounts, then proceeded with the tear down.

when i got the tub off, i realized how nasty the rear frame really was. I can fix it. just gonna need some patience.

Since then, i've been working inside cleaning up the small stuff. i tore 3 complete dashes down, picking through what i wanted. and what i'd like to sell. hopefully by the end of the week i'll have my subaru out of the garage and will pull the jeep frame back in to begin the rear section. will load pictures soon

bbc 02-08-2010 10:02 PM

Also, check the metal on the front of the frame where the front shock mounts bolted on with the 3 bolts. The metal gets pretty thin there as well and may need to be cut out and fixed.
Good luck.

Jeremy_C 02-09-2010 02:08 AM

Very Cool Story! I love seeing pictures of Jeeps back in the day when they were "new" and then seeing a resto or what they look like now.

ag4ever 02-09-2010 08:00 PM

Frame? What frame?

You have your work cut out for you, but anything is possible.

You going to cut a section out of a different rame or fab up the pieces needed?

pazur 02-10-2010 12:31 AM

Good luck finding such a frame. front areas are rarely rusted through. You will need a big welder to make it structurally sound

rixcj 02-10-2010 07:02 AM

Quite a story! You certainly have your work cut out for you. But it sounds like you have the passion to get it done.

Do you have any welding or fabricating experience? That's going to be a large part of your project.

This forum is going to be invalueable to you, as you progress.

Keep us posted, and take a lot of pictures. Good luck!


elliottferrell 02-10-2010 08:41 AM


Originally Posted by ag4ever (Post 8862321)
Frame? What frame?

You have your work cut out for you, but anything is possible.

You going to cut a section out of a different rame or fab up the pieces needed?

Im going to fab up just what i need in the rear. I have some tub steel and flat stock that i will conjure together to get the end result.

As for welding experience and welder. i'm a little ahead of the game. :laugh:
im co-owner in H&M Welding over northwest illinois. We weld up alot of flat boat and farm equipment. this frame doesn't scare me all that much. comtemplating whether or not to use the new miller syncrowave i just bought.

JoonHoss 02-10-2010 09:46 AM

so this is all on the '85, correct?

(if so, what a shame- it looked so much more pristine?)



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