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Unread 02-05-2010, 10:55 AM   #1
Agar426
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1974 CJ6 
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Los Alamos, NM
Posts: 287
CJ-6 Build Plan - Any advice?

1974 CJ-6, to be used as a hunting/fishing/trail rig. Don't need to run extreme trails, but want it to be more capable than I need it for....basically want to overbuild a little to provide some peace of mind. My theme is to have the classic looks, with more modern perfomance (well, we are talking about a CJ here, but you get the drift). Here is the basic plan, but want to solicit some opinions to see if anybody catches me going off the deep end!

Tires/Wheels:
BFG MT 33x12.50 on American Racing 15x10 Outlaw II's. Would like to run 35's at some point, but don't know if I will have the clearance (see suspension section)

Engine:
Currently has an AMC 304 which is only running on 7 cylinders and showing low compression on the cylinders that are working. Will swap in 360 in the next few weeks. What I want is something reliable and torquey. A little more oomph than stock would be great, but not at the expense of driveability/reliability. And yes, I have considered the SBC swap, but honestly, I don't believe it's cheaper. The engine itself may be cheaper, but the swap costs money. I know a guy who got an engine for free and still spent almost 5 grand on the swap after it was all said and done. Also, it already has a V8 in there, so the AMC 360 is a simple remove and replace. Another thing, while I have no love affair with AMC per se, I do think it's kinda cool to pop the hood and see an AMC v8 still there. Another thing....I'm not asking a lot of the engine....basically, I just want it to start and run reliably. The engine should have sufficient power to move a pretty simple Jeep down the road. My Plan:
- Purchase Reman long block - Any thoughts as to who's a good source?
- Request a bump in cam....nothing major, just a bit more than stock - Any thoughts on a good cam for this app?
- Aftermarket Fuel Injection - Howell? AFI? Powerjection III? (Edelbrock MPFI would be awesome, but too pricey)
- Ignition - DUI? MSD? Also, if I go DUI (won't go to another brand of HEI) should I go the extra mile to have the FI setup provide spark control? Howell and Powerjection III don't have spark control, but AFI does.
- Intake - Have four barrel setup off a full size Jeep, but was wanting to go with and Edelbrock Performer for both performance, and some weight savings. Any thoughts?
- Exhaust - Factory manifolds or Edelbrock Shorty's. Want dual exhaust in frame exiting behind rear wheels...will this mess with the fuel injection setup? What mufflers do you recommend? Flowmasters? Hushpower? Can I fit a crossover in there with the added length of the CJ-6?

Suspension:
Have already had it setup with Rubicon Express 4.5" springs, with M.O.R.E. shackle reversal. Unfortunately, the front lift provided isn't quite 4.5", so I may be stuck with 33x12.50, but would like to go to 35's some day. The front portion of the frame has been reinforced and fish plated where it had cracked (steeing box). Before the repairs, you could turn the stgeering wheel, and the frame would move as much as the tires. After the repairs and the shackle reversal, turning the steering wheel only resulted in the wheels turning! Rear half of frame is untouched but in good shape.

Driveshafts:
- Front - Tom Woods slip unit to accommodate the shackle reversal up front. Still have original as a spare, but it is not a long slip unit.
- Rear - Stock, Will upgrade when this one dies.

Axles:
- Current - Dana 30/Dana 44
- Would like - Dana 44 or Currie 9" Front; Currie 9" Rear, and would like them to be CJ Widetrack width for stability, tire/spring clearance, and I also like the look of a slightly wider axle. Would also move to 4 wheel discs at this time. Would run 4.56 gears and am still undecided on the differential setup...leaning toward ARB's for flexibility.
- OVerkill? - Yes, I fully realize this is overkill, however, I feel that with the 360 and oversize tires, the front Dana 30 is on borrowed time. I'm not hard on my vehicles, so it likely would be fine 95% of the time, but I know that the 5% will happen when I'm in the middle of BFE, and am going to have to walk out, potentially with my son in tow, or a deer carcass that could end up going bad loaded on it. Also, the added width and the disc brakes are working into my theme of classic looks with modern performance.
- Currie vs. Others - Not dead set on Currie, but they've got some time in the market and their stuff is proven. Also, at last year's Easter Jeep Safari, their rep told me that he could set me up with pretty basic F&R 9 inchers for 6g's total (still a ton of money, I know....will have to get a loan or something!), while some of the other brands are pushing 5 grand just for the front end alone, pushing 8 grand if it's a pro-rock 60, etc.

Tranny:
- Current - T18 granny low, will keep for now since it has already been converted. Also am running a hydraulic clutch.

Transfer Case:
- Current - Dana 20 in stock config, but could stand to be refreshed.
- Future - Good question!! Dana 20 with rebuild? Dana 20 with Tera Low? Dana 300 swap? Atlas?

Steering:
- Currently has factory power steering. When the stock system is tired or fails, I will replace with PSC box/pump. Would also like a tilt column - Flaming River? Idit?

Body:
- No Cutting! I always want it to look like a CJ-6. That being said, a little nip or tuck here or there would be acceptable only if absolutely necessary. Also, am not a fan of body lifts, so this makes cutting a possibility if I go to 35's. Am struggling with this one. Any thoughts?
- Paint/body work - Fenders look decent at first glance, but are rusted away where they meet the firewall due to them being cut for header clearance, and harsh rocky mountain winters. This firewall attachment issue has resulted in the only real thing holding the whole front clip on is the body mount under the grill and the two rods going from the grill to the firewall. Aftermarket fenders have a shady reputation....any advice? Also, the driver's side floor board is cracked from body twisting, and the passenger side rear wheel well is separated from the floor board and chewed up a little bit (daily shows through!) from the tire slamming into it.
- Body off or Body on? - I would like to remove the body to be for the body work as I believe it will result in a superior job being performed, especially considering a couple of the hat channels need replacement. How daunting of a task is this? My skills are minimal, so some of the work will be farmed out. Also, if I remove the body, I will also rewire "while I'm in there" with an aftermarket harness. - Thoughts?
- Line-X - If the body comes off, I would like to line the underside, am still debating the inside. I will also rig up some sort of removeable carpet setup.
- Roll Cage - Nothing fancy, absolutely no spider web designs with tube running every which way. Just a simple 6 point cage with the appropriate gusseting, a couple of grab handles, and would really like the front hoop to terminate at the dashboard for strength and footwell clearance, provided the windshield angle isn't too steep to enable the bar to run tightly against the windshield frame (pre-76 frames are more upright I believe). As a point of reference (I know this probably doesn't help,but....) the roll cage that Rick Russell (Sidekick Off Road Maps & Videos Your Best Source of Off Road Information) put on his AJ-8 rig in his "Aftermarket Jeep" video is exactly what I want.
- Seats - Suspension seats, either Mastercraft Rubicons or their Baja RS. Would also consider one of the cheaper knockoffs.
- Top - Currently have Meyers Hard Top. Would like to switch to a soft top, but the hard top is so fugly that I dig it and am tempted to still hold on to it. Will likely store it.
- Color - Currently still has factory paint and is red. My 8 year old really wants it to be yellow, as his fav Transformers character is Bumblebee. My thoughts are to paint it red if the body stays on, paint it yellow if the body comes off.


My apologies for the long windedness, but I REALLY like to beat a dead horse before money changes hands. For now, I need the engine, so my priority is to decide on an engine manufacturer and which fuel injection setup to go with. This will exhaust my funds for this year. I realize a lot of my plans are very expensive in nature (FI, Currie axles, Mastercraft, etc.), but I don't plan on selling, and I am fully aware of this project taking years to accomplish. I am also not dead set on the expensive stuff, but I don't want to simply rig something together from the junk yard. I know this approach works, but it works best in the hands of a competent mechanic. I am not that, so that's why I am leaning towards a fuel injection kit, as opposed to the Junk Yard TBI approach that so many have had great success with. Also, where I live, there are no junk yards! Nearest one worth "shopping" at is 100 miles away.

After the engine, what should I tackle next? Paint/Body? Front Axle? I will not replace something just to replace it. I will wait until it breaks first.....although if I were to come into some money , I would consider tackling that front axle just for peace of mind. Peace of mind is a major driver for me!!


Thank you so much for indulging a long winded read!!


Last edited by Agar426; 02-05-2010 at 05:13 PM.. Reason: Clarification, more specs
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Unread 02-05-2010, 11:06 AM   #2
CSP
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I would add that boxing the frame should be considered.

My '63 CJ6 now has the frame of a '72 Commando under it. This allowed me to use the longer '72 and up front clip, made room and had the correct mounting locations for the 401, and was already setup for Saginaw steering. Yours has these things, but the Commando frame is fully boxed other than the section between the last two crossmembers. The body and suspension mounting points are different, but I removed these from a CJ5 frame I had and the Commando frame already had the mounting holes in it for the CJ parts. The frame rails are essentially the same between CJ6 and Jeepster/Commando.

Here's what I started out with:


I boxed the last open section on mine.


If my '63 frame weren't trash to begin with and if I hadn't wanted the longer front clip I would have used it, but it wasn't practical. I recently found another '72-73 Commando frame that a guy just gave me to have for a future project.

Last edited by CSP; 02-05-2010 at 01:01 PM..
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Unread 02-05-2010, 11:12 AM   #3
JoonHoss
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CSP View Post
...I boxed the last open section on mine.
...
my apologies to the OP for going, but after reading his post- I think you've got your build under control...

and CSP - very Nice '68 (more 'garage' pic's? )

(and I'd be remiss if I didn't take the opportunity to say...)

CJ6's are COOL

Hoss
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Unread 02-05-2010, 12:20 PM   #4
Pathkiller
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If I had a good running 304 from 1974 without all the emissions strangeholds I would be very inclined to keep it. Especially if it's in good shape and not burning oil. etc. The early 70's 304's ran pretty good, Jeep had to reinforce the frame in 72 due to the torque of the 304. Especially given your needs, reliability and just enough power to get down the road. Update the 304 with an HEI distributor and rebuild the MC2100 carb and call it a day.
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Unread 02-05-2010, 12:58 PM   #5
Agar426
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pathkiller View Post
If I had a good running 304 from 1974 without all the emissions strangeholds I would be very inclined to keep it. Especially if it's in good shape and not burning oil. etc. The early 70's 304's ran pretty good, Jeep had to reinforce the frame in 72 due to the torque of the 304. Especially given your needs, reliability and just enough power to get down the road. Update the 304 with an HEI distributor and rebuild the MC2100 carb and call it a day.
Agreed! I would be inclined to do that same....If I had a good running 304. My current 304 has less than 40k original miles, but they were all earned! Currently, it is only running on 7 cylinders, with compression on the 7 that actually have compression only showing between 65 and 95 psi. I'm not sure what the specs are, but if I'm not mistaken, the factory 304 should be up around 120-130 per cylinder. The reason I am going with the 360 is simply performance value. The 304 would cost the same to build and still have less torque. The way I see it, a stock 360 is getting me a free ~56 lb ft of torque.

Excellent point though....I will clarify this point in my OP. Thanks!
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Unread 02-05-2010, 02:59 PM   #6
Pathkiller
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Agar426 View Post
Agreed! I would be inclined to do that same....If I had a good running 304. My current 304 has less than 40k original miles, but they were all earned! Currently, it is only running on 7 cylinders, with compression on the 7 that actually have compression only showing between 65 and 95 psi. I'm not sure what the specs are, but if I'm not mistaken, the factory 304 should be up around 120-130 per cylinder. The reason I am going with the 360 is simply performance value. The 304 would cost the same to build and still have less torque. The way I see it, a stock 360 is getting me a free ~56 lb ft of torque.

Excellent point though....I will clarify this point in my OP. Thanks!
In that case I agree 100%. I'd rather start afresh with a 360 than rebuild a 304.
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Unread 02-05-2010, 03:04 PM   #7
Military Jeeper
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Before I comment, what is your budget. Everything you're thinking about doing I'm in the process of doing and my build is over $10k and growing.
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Unread 02-05-2010, 03:12 PM   #8
Agar426
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Military Jeeper View Post
Before I comment, what is your budget. Everything you're thinking about doing I'm in the process of doing and my build is over $10k and growing.
Fair question! That depends on the year. This year I will have a few thousand (~4k, maybe up to 5) to spend due to income tax and the sale of my dirt bike.

Overall, I hesitate to put a number on it. I realize that 10 years down the road I will look back and realize that I could have bought a new Jeep for what I have in the ol' sixer, but, what fun would that be! Plus, anybody can go buy a Rubicon (I know...I have one), but older CJ's, especially a different model like a CJ-6 are of more interest to me.

So, to sum it up, this year I have a decent chunk of money to spend, but typically each year I put money aside for the Jeep in the neighborhood of around $1,500 or so. Sometimes 2 grand, but usually closer to $1,500. When it comes to something like an aftermarket front end, I am not against taking out a small loan, but for everything else, it will have to wait 'til I save up. This is definitely a long term, on going project!
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Unread 02-05-2010, 03:20 PM   #9
Military Jeeper
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Well here is a breakdown to give you some thought:

Axles:
D44's or 9" F/R = $500-$1500 roughly (this is junkyard axles, not Currie or Dynatrac)
Gears = $250
ARB's = $1200'ish

Driveshafts:
Tom Woods or High Angle = $300-$500

Steering Components:
Misc Steering Components = $300-$500 (depends on hi-steer or not)

So that comes out too roughly $3000 - $5000 just for your axles, DS's and Steering.

Engine will run you another $1000-$2000 easily (DUI, Edelbrock Intake Manifold, Headers, Cam, Carb, Air Intake) - If you go FI, add another $2000 on top of the initial listing

Tilt Column = $400-$600

Seats = $800 - $1000

And so on and so on......everything you want to do is feasible if you have the money.

Here are my thoughts. Dump all your money into the engine. If your 304 runs good, keep it, rebuild it and upgrade it. If you already have a 360, rebuild and upgrade that instead. I chose to upgrade my 304 vice getting a 360 because I couldn't cope the $1000 it would cost to get a running 360 on top of the other parts I'd want to add to it. Whatever money you have left over I'd spend on regearing your current axles and throwing a Detroit Soft Locker up front and Full Locker rear. Look on craigslist for some of the other niceities you want and go from there.

Hit me up if you want more specifics or have questions.
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Unread 02-05-2010, 05:14 PM   #10
Agar426
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Added some info in original post that I had left out....driveshafts, transfer case, frame info.

Thanks for the great responses so far!
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Unread 02-05-2010, 06:20 PM   #11
Fourtrail
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If you are wanting reliability you should look at a late model fi motor. With the wheel base you have you will be able to run most any full size drivetrain and still have a decent rear drive shaft. Most late model drive trains went to a drivers drop t-case, but if you are going with a new front that isn't an issue. Congrats on building the '6 I love mine and the leg room makes everyone else jealous. The Cobeau's look good in them,
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Unread 02-06-2010, 10:48 AM   #12
Agar426
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Military Jeeper View Post
Here are my thoughts. Dump all your money into the engine. If your 304 runs good, keep it, rebuild it and upgrade it. If you already have a 360, rebuild and upgrade that instead. I chose to upgrade my 304 vice getting a 360 because I couldn't cope the $1000 it would cost to get a running 360 on top of the other parts I'd want to add to it. Whatever money you have left over I'd spend on regearing your current axles and throwing a Detroit Soft Locker up front and Full Locker rear. Look on craigslist for some of the other niceities you want and go from there.

Hit me up if you want more specifics or have questions.
Exactly what I was thinking.....do what it takes to get the engine running right. I've decided to go the long block route, but have yet to decide on the vendor. Now I'm researching EFI systems. A couple of thoughts on this:

- Howell - I'm leaning toward the Howell TBI system mainly due to its price and the fact that my local shop has installed many of them and understand them.
- Edelbrock Pro-Flo 2 MPFI - Probably the "best" system out there with the highest price at around 3k. However, while the Howell system is cheaper, once I get the new intake and DUI, I'm getting a lot closer to the cost of the MPFI setup. Now I understand the new intake and DUI are not necessary for the Howell system to work, but I think they may be worthwhile enhancements, particularly the DUI. If I was able to find the Edelbrock MPFI system for around $2,500, I would only be $500 dollars higher than what I was planning on spending for the Howell setup (assuming I got the new intake and DUI).
- Powerjection III or Powerjection Plus - These systems are supposed to be even easier to install than the Howell, and offer more flexibility. However, there is not much out there regarding their track record.
- Affordable Fuel Injection - On paper, this looks like the one to get. Spark control and a cheaper price than Howell. However, their track record for customer service is all over the place, and their products aren't around enough to get any opinions or real world experience. Xtreme 4x4 on Spike tv installed one in an old Scout, but they haven't run it yet. Plus, that's not a really good gauge of a product in my opinion, as I'm sure the vendor will do whatever it takes to ensure their product looks great. My local shop has installed one, and they got it running well, but it took quite a few phone calls and some overnighting of parts to get it right. They did say though that they were courteous, responsive, and helpful on the phone.

Decisions!!! I'm actually losing sleep over this cuz I want to do it right without breaking the bank. I'm not made of money, but am willing to spend some to get it running well enough to the point that I don't have to worry about it while out on the trail, especially with my family in tow, or when I go from 4,000 feet to 10,000 feet in an hours time.
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Unread 02-08-2010, 07:41 AM   #13
Agar426
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Spoke to the shop. They told me that they will have the front clip completely removed while swapping engines, and they said it's "only a few more bolts to get the body off if you want to fix the hat channels at the same time."

Tough decision! Don't have the money now, but it makes sense to do it while they're already taken stuff apart. Aargh!
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