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JeepHammer 11-01-2013 10:05 AM

Basics of jeep ownership...
Owning a vehicle that hasn't been made in at least 27 years is a challenge...
Especially if you are YOUNG and expect these old vehicles to perform like new vehicles do with little or no maintenance.

If you expect your CJ Jeep to perform like a new vehicle, then go buy a new vehicle. This is NOT the vehicle for you!

The very first thing a CJ Jeep owner should buy, even before buying a CJ Jeep, IS A REPAIR MANUAL...
Several manuals wouldn't hurt a thing.


The second stop for a new CJ owner should be the parts store.
I mean a GOOD parts store, with counter people that know what they are talking about. If they go straight for the computer on the counter, you are in the wrong place.

You should buy a few things right away...

Trust Me, Everything you are going to work on will need penetrating oil.
Don't be bashful, ask what is 'The Best', and if they try to sell you the store brand right off, then find another store...

EVERYTHING you take off will need 'Penetrating Oil' to get it loose. It's been there for 27+ years and it's going to be rusted, corroded, stubborn and/or demonically possessed.
Penetrating oil is to CJ owners as Holy Water is to Catholics, it cures a lot of ills...

2. A bottle or two of 'Lock-Tite'.
Once you get 'What Ever' off and replace it, you want it to stay where you put it. Lock-Tite does that... Keeps things from rattling loose...
It's a fact of CJ life, get used to it.

'Lock-Tite' comes in different styles, The most common is 'Blue'.
'Blue' lets you keep your fasteners in place, while allowing you to remove those fasteners when you need to later for maintenance.

'Red' is mostly for larger fasteners, and it sets up really well. You will twist off smaller fasteners before the Lock-Tite gives up, so be wary of where you use it.

There are two common types of 'Green'...
The one I use is 'Creeping Green', it will find it's way into already assembled fasteners and cracks.

I would say TWO cans, One 'Silver' (Zinc Based) and one 'GOLD' (Copper Based).

Once you get whatever heavily rusted/corroded parts DISASSEMBLED, and you put new fasteners in... You don't want the same issues later when you need to do maintenance/replacement.
'Never-Seize' will allow you to take those fasteners apart again without having to do battle again. The stuff WORKS, so use it!

The only draw back with 'Never-Seize' is you will have to use a 'Lock Washer' or 'Lock Nut' with this since you can't use 'Never-Seize' and 'Lock-Tite' on the same fastener.

There are a few 'Name Brands' you should always ask for when purchasing tools, parts, 'Consumables' (Lock-Tite, Never-Seize, Penetrating Oil, ect.)

TIMKEN BEARINGS. When you buy roller bearings, always find TIMKEN.
There simply isn't any substitute for Timken bearings. I've tried them all, all the store brands, all the 'Made in Japan or China' brands, and nothing holds up or is sized correctly as Timken.

MOOG suspension components. You can count on MOOG ball joints, tie rod ends, ect. each and every time. They don't break, strip out, not fit like a bunch of the 'Discount' brands do.

FEL-PRO GASKETS. I've NEVER seen a gasket company be 100% each and every time, but Fel-Pro comes the closest. When you buy a gasket set from Fel-Pro, it WILL HAVE THE GASKETS YOU NEED.
The gaskets are top quality, and in many cases far exceed factory gaskets.

CHANNEL LOCK & VICE GRIP PLIERS. There are hundreds of copies of these designs, but the originals are the best performing. They cost a little more, but since you often keep tools for life, so it's worth every penny you pay...

HELI-COIL... When you have to replace threads in something (Stripped, corroded, have to drill out a broken bolt and ruin threads, ect.) Go with actual HELI-COIL brand thread inserts. They have always worked the best and are still the top of the heap...
We will ALWAYS need to replace threads at one time or another, and this makes things work so much easier in what is already a bad situation...

MSD Ignition Parts...
Now, this is with some reservations... MSD used to be bar-none, but since it was purchased by a conglomerate, you have to pay attention to what you buy...
The 'Street Fire' product line I have Issues with.
The distributor caps, rotors, and regular plug wires are top quality and can't be beat on quality or price...



When you assemble ANY parts that will touch any other parts, MAKE SURE THEY ARE LUBED!
I've seen people put in brand new seals (Wheel bearing seals, front crank seals, ect.) and NOT LUBE THEM!
You can EASILY burn up that seal in the first minute of operation before it gets lube internally! All that work for nothing...

I see people put in timing chain sets, distributor gear sets, fuel pump eccentrics, ect... ALL DRY!
It's up to one minute before those parts get any internal lube, and you can damage or destroy those new parts!
Make sure you lube ANY friction surfaces when you assemble!

I see a HUGE number of twisted off bolts in things... Some from the faster being rusted/corroded/bottomed out, but just as many from over torquing.
Most fasteners you will work on have INCH POUND torque specifications, NOT FOOT POUND!
It doesn't take much torque to keep most fasteners in, and when you OVER TORQUE, you stretch the bolt to the point of failure. The bolt can no longer expand/contract with hot/cold cycles, ect.
So take it easy on bolts, if you think it my back out, CLEAN THE THREADS ON BOTH SIDES, then use lock-tite or a locking device (Lock washer or lock nut).

I also see people complain about 'Leaks' and 'Lousy Gaskets'... When it's an over torque issue...
The fastener leaks, the guy give it some more torque, and it leaks worse... So they blame the gasket...

Gaskets need to be COMPRESSED, NOT CRUSHED! When you over torque, you crush the gasket, and it can't keep the seal once crushed...
The seal has to fill in small gaps, expand/contract, ect. so when you over torque, the gasket is crushed and can't do it's job.
You don't need a 1/2" drive breaker bar or air impact wrench to install gaskets! INCH POUNDS!

Working with corroded aluminum parts, like front timing covers or intakes...
When steel bolts and aluminum threads come into contact WITHOUT 'Never-Seize', you just made a battery that will corrode both parts.
Run a little electrical current through those parts, like distributor, alternator, ect. 'Grounds' and the problem gets much worse.

Add in a little moving liquid, like water pump bolted to aluminum front cover, and you have a constant battery. Moving coolant creates electrical current, and the actual coolant doesn't do the bolts/aluminum any good either...

DO NOT PANIC when you twist off a bolt in the aluminum!
The cover isn't ruined, and you may not even have to take it off, but taking it off makes repair of the hole much easier...

This moves us into some skills you need to practice if you own a CJ...

It's a metal 'Pencil' with a very sharp, hard tip. Not super expensive, and absolutely necessary...

Clean up the area so you can see not only the bolt outline, but the threads in the aluminum...
CONSIDER you are seeing the threads on one side, and gauge their depth...
Move your punch to the CENTER OF THE BOLT, allowing for more threads showing on one side. It won't 'Look' centered, but it will be if you allow for the threads you are seeing...

USE A SMALL DRILL, IT's called a 'Pilot' hole,
Mind your depth, you don't want to drill through something you shouldn't...
A piece of tape on the drill to limit depth works pretty well.

Use progressively larger drill sizes until you start to see aluminum, then fish out the steel from the threads. Some heat/penetrating oil will help get the steel out of the threads.

If you do this correctly, you WILL NOT damage the aluminum threads. Run a 'Chase' tap through the threads to clean them up, and you are back in business.

Most of you will screw this up on the first few tries, DON'T PANIC! We all had to learn somewhere...
If you drilled off center and wiped out the threads,
OR, The threads were corroded beyond use (And this happens) you will need to restore the threads...
Easier than it sounds!

An 'Heli-Coil' kit comes with a drill of the proper size, drill the hole out removing all the corrosion,
Use the included TAP to make new, oversized threads,
Insert the thread repair coil to bring the threads back to specifications.
DO NOT forget to use 'Never-Seize' on the new bolt when you reinstall.

Last ditch repair...
When the aluminum cracks or the corrosion is too much to repair with Heli-Coil, Take your front cover to an Heli-Arc welding shop, get the aluminum built back up on the cover, drill and tap for the new bolt.
You are looking at around $50 to repair the cover verses $350 for a new cover...
CAREFULLY work down the welded spot with a file until it's mostly 'Flat' on the gasket surface, then tape down FINE SAND PAPER to a sheet of glass, and work down the gasket surface on the glass/sand paper until it's flat again.

It's a pain in the butt, but it works, I've done it several times...

When you break off a bolt in cast iron (Power steering boxes, engine blocks, heads, ect.),
Start by cleaning off the area really well, again, you will have to find exact center of the bolt...
Use your punch, start with SMALL pilot hole...

Now, with heat/penetrating oil, you *MIGHT* be able to get the bolt loose, but it won't back out unless you use a LEFT HAND DRILL SET...
Again, not real cheap if you get a good set, but like the machinists punch, it gives you the option of doing it yourself.

You move up in drill size a fraction of an inch at a time until you see threads.
At this point, most of the time you can use heat, penetrating oil and an 'Easy Out' to back what's left of the bolt out...

I usually start trying to back the bolt out between drill sizes before I see threads. If you bugger things up with the 'Easy Out', no big deal since you are just going to drill the hole larger if the bolt doesn't back out.

Again, good quality 'Easy Outs' are not real cheap, but they will bite better and don't break like the cheap ones do...

If you have to drill the bolt completely out, which is rare, use a Heli-Coil drill to do it so your hole is the correct size, then thread the hole with the Heli-Coil tap, and insert the coil to bring the threads back to factory size.


When you are making threads with a TAP, small movements! Take a little material, back the tap out and clean it, lubricate the hole/tap, and take a little more material out... You don't want to break a hardened tap in that hole!

Some tips...
When making your own threaded holes in things with a tap,
Carbon Steel (Instead of HSS or High Speed Steel) taps will snap off, but you can shatter them with a sharp chisel if they are small enough.
High Speed Steel (HSS) taps won't shatter when you make a mistake, and they will be a real pain in the butt to get out...

As soon as you start to cut metal, the tap cutting surface is DRY, so add lubricant often! Saves the tap cutting surface, keeps the tap from binding in the threads, and flushes away chips.
Quality of tapping fluid/lubricant varies like anything else, so shop around or ask a machinist what they use, usually good recommendations there...

Drill and tap a few 'Test/Learning' holes in some scrap to build your confidence and make mistakes in... And you WILL make mistakes, it's a fact of life and mandatory in CJ ownership! :drool:

Once you learn to drill/tap/repair threads, this stuff won't scare the crap out of you... You will just cuss a lot and fix the 'Issue'.

*IF*... You break off a tap or find something you can not drill...
Then find a machine shop with an 'EDM' machine (Electronic Discharge Machining) and have them remove the bolt/tap or whatever.

It's not super expensive, and they do a GREAT job, will remove anything that conducts electricity and doesn't damage the workpiece.
Most larger machine shops will have an EDM machine, they break drills/taps twist off bolts also, and that's how they remove a stubborn 'Stuck'...



DO NOT try to do several things at once! YOu are working on INTEGRATED SYSTEMS, and those systems have to come together to make things work correctly...

I see it over and over again,
Someone gets wound up, changes the fuel system and the ignition at the same time,
Then has problems...
And can't track to the problem to directly to fuel or ignition.

Same thing happens with drive trains and every other system on the vehicle.

If you change 'Fuel', then you know the issue is with what you just did. Makes it MUCH easier to track down problems...

There are 'Professionals' that have done noting for 40 years but build engines. They don't do fuel systems, they don't do ignition systems, they don't do electrical work, just engines...
And they will tell you even after 40 years doing it every day, there is still lots to learn...

So don't assume since you have a manual and a Jeep, you can do EVERYTHING at once!

I see at least one 'Project' that got out of hand every week. The Jeep is scattered all over the garage, the owner hasn't touched it in years and is completely overwhelmed. He had the best intentions, but when he found out how much he DIDN'T KNOW, it got the best of him...

You can spend an entire career just learning about wiring, types of wire, connectors, insulation, routing, pinning, wrapping, ect.
SO! Do the research, learn the basics, practice a little before you undertake anything big...

The basic manuals expect you to have the basics down, and if you have never done any of this stuff before, or very little of it, then ASK QUESTIONS AND READ/RESEARCH!
There is a TON of information out there, and even if the guy posting it was a crack pot, there might be a nugget of gold in his otherwise worthless rantings! (Sound like anyone you know? :2thumbsup: )



You CAN NOT work on say, brakes, without brake tools! They are simply MANDATORY. So be prepared for that if you decide to tackle a 'Brake Job' on a Jeep...
27+ year old brake lines have a tendency to rust out, crack when touched, and you will need some very specific tools to work on this stuff...

LINE WRENCHES are MANDATORY for brake line work, you simply can't get along without them,
And 'Cheap' brake line wrenches are worse than no brake line wrenches at all.

If you decide to replace 'Brake Shoes' in the back, then you need some specific tools and knowledge...
(This is why people spend YEARS in school learning how to do this stuff)

If you don't know you need to lubricate the friction and pivot points on the brake components, you WILL screw it up...
I see guys all the time over-stretch springs trying to use screwdrivers instead of a spring install tool,
I see brakes torn all to pieces because the guys didn't know how to get the brake drum off and beat it off with a hammer...

The 'Books' can't show you this stuff, so do some research on your particular task so you know the basics before you tackle the job and specifics...

Anyway. off the soapbox and back to breaking my own stuff... Hope this helps someone out there one of these days...

Grumpy_one 11-01-2013 10:14 AM

Good stuff JH, I'll just add a brand name for penatrating oil, Aerokroil. Not found easily on store shelves, but can be had online. It's the bomb for old suspensions coming off.

JeepHammer 11-01-2013 10:27 AM

Kroil is the stuff, but it's EXPENSIVE. I keep it around for times when the regular WD-40 or whatever doesn't work...
I've seen Aerokroil creep into places I didn't think possible, and it's an absolute miracle if you can heat the parts first!

There are lots of cheaper brands out there that will work for 90% of what you do, but Aerokroil works on the other 10%. If Aerokroil won't knock it loose, then it's just a total loss and you will have to drill the broken parts...

I wish I worked someplace I could take it home from work, but I don't...

Tigerjeep79 11-01-2013 10:52 AM

Another great post, JH. Just to pick one little segment, the Never-Seize is indeed essential and often overlooked. I like it particularly for spark plugs and lug nuts. And blue Locktite goes everywhere else.

Many of us here have been missing you. Nice to hear back from you.

BHawkmeck 11-01-2013 10:58 AM

A few items that are a must have.
1. A multimeter and a test light
2. A timing light. Its a great trouble shooting tool. From just timing the dizzy to finding bad sparkplug wires. Its also good for checking for a worn timing chain.
3. HEAT!!!!!!! Even a cheap propane torch is better than nothing.

G-FOURce 11-01-2013 11:12 AM

Subscribed! This is good stuff.

Would this be a good place for "Things I Wish I'd Known Before..." responses? Example:

Things I wish I'd known before... Refinishing/removing my dash panel:
- label each wire with what it goes to
- take pictures of everything while its still connected before removing

I know I will be undertaking some projects this winter myself and stuff like that would be very valuable to a beginner like me.

roboto65 11-01-2013 11:42 AM

Awesome stuff JH as always Thanks

Grumpy_one 11-01-2013 11:45 AM

Make this a sticky!

Dngrs1 11-01-2013 11:48 AM

Nice to see your still alive and kickin', JH. One thing you forgot to mention is band-aids. Knuckle-busters and scratches and scrapes are bound to happen working on any vehicle. Load up on the band-aids.

Grumpy_one 11-01-2013 11:55 AM

And on the subject of doing drum brakes, something I learned in my youth, do one side at a time. Don't dissemble both at once, leave one in tact for blueprint purposes.

BHawkmeck 11-01-2013 12:04 PM


Originally Posted by Grumpy_one (Post 17348066)
And on the subject of doing drum brakes, something I learned in my youth, do one side at a time. Don't dissemble both at once, leave one in tact for blueprint purposes.

I always take a picture.

Grumpy_one 11-01-2013 12:22 PM


Originally Posted by BHawkmeck (Post 17348274)
I always take a picture.

Didn't have these kind of camera's when I was a yooot. Besides, I'd have to go in the house, get the camera (phone) and then refer to it when building it back up, just as easy to look at the other side if I get lost. My wife hates when I track jeep stuff into the house. Brake dust being one of the bad ones to track. ;)

astrawn 11-01-2013 12:39 PM

I do commercial A/C for a living and all I use is Aerokroil. Nothing comes close. Good post JH!

PlWanker 11-01-2013 12:53 PM

I have used PB Blaster with good results. Living in West Texas there is not a ton of moisture here to rust weld bolts. (So far I have only broken the mirror bushing bolt...knock on wood)
I have also found a good set of torx (star) sockets to be a great purchase...get a set with a lifetime warrenty from a store that is close by, not 4 towns and a boat ride away.
Ok so one more...
If you don't know, ask. Let someone who has been there help, it builds communities when we communicate.:tea:


BHawkmeck 11-01-2013 01:25 PM


Originally Posted by Grumpy_one (Post 17348066)
And on the subject of doing drum brakes, something I learned in my youth, do one side at a time. Don't dissemble both at once, leave one in tact for blueprint purposes.


Originally Posted by Grumpy_one (Post 17348762)
Didn't have these kind of camera's when I was a yooot. Besides, I'd have to go in the house, get the camera (phone) and then refer to it when building it back up, just as easy to look at the other side if I get lost. My wife hates when I track jeep stuff into the house. Brake dust being one of the bad ones to track. ;)

In the helicopter world we call that maintenance by comparison!:cheers2:

The time now is 01:34 AM.

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