I've "refreshed" a couple of Jeeps over the past few years, and thought that this time I'd record my progress-or lack thereof-and others on the forum can laugh at me or cry with me as I blunder through this rig. This will not be a frame off resto, but merely my attempt at bringing this Jeep back up to being a joy to drive and look somewhat appealing from 10 feet away. I'm a total amateur, but have a complete mental illness for tinkering on these things.
This particular vehicle is a 1981 CJ-5. My nextdoor neighbor purchased it in 2004. He owned a CJ when he attended the Citadel, and always wanted another. Upon purchase, the tub was rusted out so it was swapped. The frame was blasted and repainted. Unfortunately, his interest in the vehicle wained (he wanted this to be his son's Jeep-but the son didn't want it). So it has been sitting in his driveway for 8 years, with only a bikini top, slowly deteriorating in the elements.
My neighbor decided to put it up for sale last year. It sat on Craigslist with a bite here and there, and one day to my surprise I find that he had hacked the fenders up and put TJ flares on it. He'd crank it up occassionally (I could tell the fuel bowl was going dry as it'd take him forever to get it started), and I could hear a mean exhaust leak. I walked over one day to just "check it out" and saw the 304 sitting in there, and that's when the lovefest started (not with my neighbor, but the Jeep).
Neighbor is not a salesman. The pics he posted on Craigslist were awful, and the Jeep was muddy. Not really the "look" you want when you are trying to sell it to someone. He had it listed for $3,250, and people would come check it out, but then walk away. Finally, I'd had enough one morning after hearing him start it, and I told him I wanted to inspect the vehicle and take it for a spin. It was time for INTERVENTION!! The Jeep is solid. It's not original by any stretch, as someone down the line had swapped in the 304/T150/D20 to replace the 4 banger. I had to have it. I stroked him a check for $2,900.00 and drove it 100 feet over to my house. Here she is the day I brought her home and cleaned her up. The pic does it justice; it's a little rougher looking than this really shows.
Sorry for the "War and Peace" intro to this car, but figured one or two of you may have been interested in the background. My original plan was to keep the total costs of the rebuild to under 1k, but I'm already there. My new goal is to try to keep it under 1,500. We'll see!!
So here is what has happened so far- when I drove it to the house, my wife said "it smells like gasoline-it's stinky". Well, the gas tank was leaking as it had a million pinholes in it. So the first thing needed was a new gas tank (I went ahead and ordered new fuel hoses and sending unit just to be done with it.
New tank vs old...
When I dropped the tank, the skidplate had some nice rust. Rather than spend 70 bucks on a new plate, I patched up the old one, cleaned it and POR 15'd the whole mess (by the way, the skidplate bolts on the rear of the frame have always annoyed me, I welded new bolts in from the topside so I don't have to deal with "spinning" nuts that aren't captive). At this point I was using fluxcore wire on the MIG, so it's a little ugly and I kept finding that I was blowing through the skidplate. "Ironworker" on this board was a huge help on educating me that I need to go with 75/25 gas on the MIG, so that's what I'm using from here on out for the rest of my repairs. I wasn't overly concerned with the appearance on this since the patch welds face toward the front of the vehicle.
The new tank is in (what a pain getting it back in there by myself-the floor jack was helpful). Next up are the new debacles I'm facing.
My next step was to remove the flares and see how much "cutting" my neighbor had done on the fenders and tub. As suspected, the fenders were hacked up and would need replacing. The rear was cut as well, but I can hide the cut with flares. Here's a shot of what the Jeep looks like after removing the TJ flares:
I ordered new fenders. One was bent in shipping, but I pulled the dent out and I believe it will be hidden by the flares. Quadratec has agreed to help me on a future order to compensate for the damage. I also ordered new flares. I will be repainting the entire Jeep, but wanted to get the flares now to see how they would fit with the cuts to the wheelwell in the tub. My plan is to weld in new small sheet metal pieces for attachment points for the flares. The new pieces will be hidden by the flares. I can't think of a better way to do it at this point.
As I was taking inventory of things I would need, I made the decision that the hood had too many dings/dents in it, and a huge "bow" in the center from the PO slamming the hood up against windshield when opening it. I could spend hours and hours filling/sanding/etc or just cough the 278 for an Omix hood (I couldn't find any used ones in decent shape). Well, here's how the hood arrived at my house. And yes, this "new" one was dented and dinged, so back to Amazon it went. New hood-with hopefully better packaging-is on the way.
While I'm waiting on another hood, I figured it was time to start body prep. As I mentioned before, this Jeep is in fairly decent shape, especially considering it spent the last 8 years in the rain and heat with no cover. Repairing rust was the first item on my punchlist. Both rockers have the typical rust bubbling toward the front of the door openings near the interior structural member. It's not horrible, but I don't want to simply "bondo" it, so this will be my first expedition in body panel welding.
My plan is to cut this section out and replace it with a new piece of 16guage. As mentioned, Ironworker gave me some great advice on how to approach this. I am finally ditching the fluxcore wire on the Hobart 140, and have changed over to .023 wire with a 75/25 (Argon CO2) mix for this part. Here's what really ticked me off. I buy the bottle, purchase the gas and wire, and it turns out the Smith Gas Regulator that came with my Hobart (never been used) is LEAKING. Apparently this isn't an isolated incident, so I won't be welding this weekend. My welder is almost 2 years old, but Hobart has been good about swapping the regulators out. Still a setback but I can find plenty of other things to mess with on the Jeep.
With bodywork on hold, I decided to move over to tackling the exhaust leak. The PO put new exhaust on it a few years back, and he said the leak was from around the bottom flange where the manifold mates up to the pipe. There is a leak there, but there is a massive leak on the manifold gasket. I PB Blaster'd the exhaust mani bolts and, yep, you can guess it....one "ain't" budging. I'm generally very impatient with this stuff, but thankfully a cooler head prevailed and I didn't break the bolt off. I hit it with more PB Blaster and felt it "yield" a bit...not the good kind. The kind where it's about to break. So I pulled out the Oxy-Acetylene torch and heated it up cherry hot. It's still not budging. At this point I'm just going to keep hitting it with PB Blaster and let time work on it. Another minor roadblock for now.
Today will be spent cleaning up the engine compartment and changing out all of the fluids. Hopefully nothing will go wrong with that!!!!!
I've made a little headway on the Jeep. I repaired the exhaust leak...that foul exhaust manifold bolt finally released its grip after persuasion from the Oxy-Acet torch and a couple of days of liberal PB Blaster love. Here is an exciting shot of the offending bolt and blown out piece of manifold gasket:
My replacement regulator for the MIG came in this week (thanks to Keith and the guys at Miller/Hobart-freakin' amazing customer service-regulator was out of warranty and Keith didn't even question it. Simply asked for the serial number and a new one was on my doorstep a couple of days later). It was time to take my first foray into repairing rusted body panels. Using a cutting disc, I took out the area holding the rust. I then took a wire wheel to the structural member to clean off the loose rust and scale, then treated it with Metal Ready and POR-15:
I then cut out a 16 gauge steel piece that was slightly smaller than the hole I cut, and stitch welded it:
Then I first used an angle grinder to knock down the highest spots of the welds, then moved down to my die grinder with a 36 grit disc. I guess it turned out ok for my first one, although there were a few pinholes left. I did have to chase a couple of holes when I accidentally blew through the sheet metal. Overall it seemed fairly easy, considering I'm a novice.
I put Evercoat waterproof body filler over the patch, and will be sanding it down tomorrow morning, and addressing the other rust spot in nearly the same spot on the drivers side.
Good work. I think there will always be pin holes when you weld in a patch panel, it's almost impossible to fill it completely with weld. Did you treat the back side of your patch panel? You can use a weld-through primer that won't burn when you weld, and it will offer some protection to pieces that you can't paint (regular paint would just burn off when you strike an arc).
Just remember to move around a lot and not get the panel too hot or it will warp. For filling holes or blow-through holes use a copper spoon. They sell regular ones for welding, but I have just used a piece of copper tubing before that worked fine. I hammered a piece of 3/4" copper tubing flat on one in and stuck a screwdriver in it for a handle. The weld won't stick to the copper, but it will let you strike an arc and it also serves as a heat sink to keep it from getting too hot and warping. Works miracles for filling in holes.
Pathkiller thanks for the advice on the copper!! That literally was going to be a question I had for the next part of this project, which is to fill in several small holes that had been drilled for the TJ flares. I've got to try that for sure.
I did take my time on the stitch welds. No warping to speak of, although the rockers are not the straightest to begin with. I'll eventually cover them with a nice rocker guard, but I want to take care of the rust first. And I did treat the backside of the new panel. Glad you mentioned it anyway!
Took "Lulu" out for a quick spin over to Lowes earlier today in order to pick up a little copper to make one of the "welding spoons" Pathkiller mentioned. I haven't really driven it at all, and figured a slow Easter Sunday would make a for a good shakedown cruise since I fixed the fuel problem. On the way back I noticed the engine start to give out....uh-oh. Luckily there was a neighborhood street to my right so I veered in there and rolled to a stop. I pulled the air cleaner and immediately recognized my problem....I forgot that the PO had disconnected the electric choke! I started digging around the Jeep to find something laying around in there to hold the choke open, and did managed to find a random piece of plastic. I was going to sacrifice a stereo wire if I hadn't found that. I continued on my way home: I smelled coolant, and uncomfortable driveline vibrations.
Popping the hood at the house, I noticed the front passenger freeze plug has a hole in it, and the U joints in the rear are shot. Time to add those to the fixit list. I've decided to rename the Jeep "Turd Ferguson" until I get everything squared away; then I'll redub it Lulu.
Other than the test drive, I spent a couple of hours this afternoon repairing the rust on the drivers side rocker on Turd Ferguson. I thought this would be the smaller rust spot of the two, but man was I wrong. As evidenced in the pics below, there was about 1 lb of bondo in that section. Nice!
Pathkiller, thanks for the tip on the "Copper Spoon". I used it several times on this panel, due to a couple of larger gaps on the left side of my patch.
Here is the obligatory shot of the homemade "spoon" for Pathkiller!
I'm using a Hobart 140 with .023 solid wire and 75/25 gas. I was using flux core before, and boy does the gas make a difference! Hard to tell with the stitch welds, but I played around on some thicker steel today running beads and they look way better (in spite of myself) than with the flux core.
Classic Enterprises at classicent.com sells replacement rear wheel well arches. They are pricey at $85.00 each,but are flanged for welding and are probably wide enough to fill where your PO hacked the tub for TJ flares. A cheaper solution might be to find another CJ tub and cut pieces from it to replace yours.
Looks like the kids and the cat are on board with this project, hope the wife is too !!
Looks like you have the right attitude and patience for this addiction !
Great to see you with a thread pman. Subbed! You're doing great!
Thanks Skerr! It's a wimpy thread compared to all of the amazing frame-off builds on the board here, but I needed a place to record my progress
Phritz- the wife unit is "currently" on board, since she has claimed this vehicle for herself (the Wagoneer and Wrangler are both mildly lifted, but she gripes that she has a hard time getting in and out of them), so as long as I can continue making visible progress, I may get a hall pass for a while!
And thanks for the link! I'll definitely check that out. I've got an idea though. It appears the PO only hacked out roughly a 1/2 inch around the wheelwells (even less toward the bottom), so I'm thinking of welding in "tabs" on the wheelwells to match up where the screwholes are on the new flares. I'll mock something up later so you can see what I'm talking about.
Thanks to both of you for your encouragement. I sure need it!
It's pretty common to find fenders on CL too, but it sounds like tabs will be the simplest road. I am silently laughing, rolling on the floor, flopping into office chairs and cabinets, while I consider this build budget which you have increased by $500! You da man...
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