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Coiz 12-09-2008 08:24 PM

Coiz 1979 CJ7 Frame Off Restoration - picture crazy
I started working on my Jeep in 2/08 and wanted to document my progress in a thread so I could share with all of you and have an easy reference for my friends and family. So first I will give a brief history. Sorry for the book as the first post.

I've owned this Jeep since my 3rd year of college in 1995 in Colorado. We had a lot of four wheeling around the college and used to take a lot of trips to Medano Pass as well as a couple Easter Jeep Safari Moab trips. The 258 had a bunch of Clifford performance parts and ran like a champ but I could never get the carburetor working correctly on the trails. You could walk up to my Jeep grab the roll bar and shake to get it to stall. So when I got out of college and moved to Detroit for work I opted to install a fuel injected 5.0L out of a 1992 Mustang GT, last year for the forged pistons. :thumbsup: I put some GT40 heads on it with some Cobra roller rockers, SVO block hugger headers and a K&N air filter. During the engine conversion I swapped to a NP435 and kept the D300 transfer case. I also full floated the rear Dana 44 and installed a Detroit locker at the same time with 3.73's. The D30 front currently has a Detroit EZ-Locker. I removed a 4” ProComp kidney buster to install a 4" Skyjacker Softride suspension and a 20 gallon gas tank around the same time. I also had a friend who had a Corvette that switched from brown to black interior so I picked up the seats from him for the Jeep.

The PO installed the 6 point roll cage, custom front bumper and welded in the Scrambler bulkhead behind the seats. It appears that he also did some bodywork.

I drove the Jeep for about a year with all the upgrades before I moved to Memphis with a job that supplied a new company car every 4-6 months. Needless to say the Jeep stayed parked most of the time. I got out of four wheeling and into motorcycle road racing so it ended up sitting for 6 years in a friend's climate controlled warehouse. I moved to northern IL where it sat in the corner of my garage for 3 more years. I finally came to the crossroads where I needed to either sell it or fix it up.

Realizing that I couldn't get half of what I had in it and the fact that I just love the Jeep, I decided I would just replace the rusted fenders, some quick bodywork and fresh paint to make it road worthy. Yeah right.... It wasn't long after I realized I was at the beginning of a frame off restoration.

I am fairly well along in the project but still have a lot left, a lot. So I am going to post up some pictures and comments of the progress I have made along the way and continue to post as I go. With any luck it will be on the road by next fall but don’t quote me on that. Questions and comments welcome.

Here are some pictures before the tear down:
Look at how clean the garage is. Hasn’t looked like that in almost a year. :crying:

Worst of the rust:



5.0L HO with about 29,000 actual miles:

Minor dents:

Rust on the cowl/windshield area:

The only bad spot on the frame, driver’s side inner rail:
The passenger’s side ended up about the same. Anyone who owns a CJ knows what looks like hairline cracks are not. More details on that later.

Next up will be pictures of the tear down.

Coiz 12-09-2008 08:25 PM

Tear down
Tear Down:
Seat and stereo stuff out:

Seats and windshield off, starting on the dash:

Dash and column out:

Harness, heater box, pedals and roll bar out:

Front fenders and hood off:

Entire front end removed:

Tub finally off with no broken body mount bolts:
29 years worth of dirt and rust on that frame.

Next up will be the frame repairs.

hold24 12-09-2008 09:08 PM

I'm doing the exact same thing.....frame off on a 1978 cj7. sometimes I start to feel a little overwelmed but then I tell my sell it does not have to be done overnight....I guess I'm a little impatient......looks like your doing a good job....are you going to hunt for a new frame?

Coiz 12-09-2008 10:18 PM

Frame repairs
These are the pictures of how I repaired the rust at the rear frame rails. I bought a welder just for this project. I know, the welds are not pretty as I had just learned how but the neighbor, who is a professional, said they are fine. The welds got better as I went along.

Just a hairline crack?

Here is what a hairline crack looks like after a wire wheel and prying away the soft metal:

Rusted area cut out:

Replacement section made from 1/8” steel with 1/8” inner fishplates for the side and bottom:

Here is the new section and how it fits into the frame rail:

The holes on the side were perfect for welding the inner fishplates to the rail. I drilled two holes in the bottom frame rail to make some welding points. I actually drilled and tapped a hole in the bottom fishplate at the rear hole, installed a bolt to suck it down tight, welded the front hole then removed the bolt and filled the rear hole with weld.

Tacked into place:

All welded in, trimmed and cleaned up:

Ready for the outer fishplate:

Passenger’s side got the same treatment.


I am not finished with welding on the frame just yet.

Coiz 12-09-2008 10:41 PM

Frame Reinforcement
So the side rails are fishplated on the inside and out but the bottom of the rail is only fishplated on the inside up to this point. I decided to install the M.O.R.E. rear frame reinforcement kit. It uses 3/16” plates that are precut to fit the outer sides of the frame rails. A ¼” plate goes along the bottom and extends quite a bit further than my repair panels so it should reinforce it nicely. I cleaned up the frame rails and shot a couple coats of primer on the plates and the frame rail making sure to clean anywhere that was going to be welded.

Prepping for M.O.R.E. kit install:

Tacked into place:

Stitch welded in:

Trimmed and cleaned up:

All finished with new rear cross member:

Next comes the upgrading of the engine mounts.

Coiz 12-10-2008 10:11 PM

Engine Mounts
I knew the rubber on my engine mounts were toast just by the way the engine flexed when snapped to WOT.

The driver’s side mount was missing all of the rubber on the lower side:

The passengers side was collapsed and side loaded:

Once I got the fenders off it wasn’t hard to notice that the entire bracket that bolts to the engine was tweaked. The engine mount should be parallel with the lower edge of the front cover:

A good look at the driver’s side mount:

I called up Advanced Adapters and told them of my dilemma with their old mount kit which only had about 2000 miles of driving but was 10 years old. They hooked me up with a new engine mount kit at a discounted price. I would have to say I have a lot more faith in the new style mount:

Top comparison:

My original intention was to just replace the twisted engine brackets and the rubber pads while leaving the frame brackets alone. They did have some nice welds from a friend of mine at the time:

So my plan to just leave the engine brackets alone changed the second I opened the box. Get out a new cutting wheel:

So one side at a time I installed the new engine brackets and rested the engine on the new rubber mounts with no bolts. I got out the tape measure and measured six ways to Sunday to make sure the engine was centered. I used some ratchet tie downs to help me with fine adjustment and keep it under tension. Slightly lifted one side of the engine, took off the mount and cut off the frame bracket:

Then I put the engine bracket back on, assembled the mount to the frame bracket, made sure it was clamped at the right height and welded it on:

After all was said and done, I'm very happy with the installation and quality of the new mounts. It was just another one of those things I didn’t know I would have to do before I started this whole project. “While I’m here I might as well……………..” Any other CJ owners that have made that statement before?

Next up will be the glorious task of frame cleaning and painting.

HackFabrication 12-10-2008 10:37 PM

Nice work. But the big question: Is that a snowmobile engine on floor in the first pic? And what's that going in? The scooter or the snowblower? :thumbsup:

Coiz 12-10-2008 11:23 PM

:laugh: That is actually a Yamaha R6 engine with a thrown #1 connecting rod. I bought a street bike with a blown engine, installed a new one and sold it for a quick profit. That picture was before I tore it down to strip it for the good parts.

Just to the right of the two large totes in the first picture is a complete GSXR750 engine that is ready to run. I haven't really decided what to do with that yet. Maybe put it in a golf cart or build a go cart or buggy someday. :thumbsup:

That may be pretty far off. My garage and I can only handle one large project at a time. :D

Coiz 12-12-2008 05:03 PM

Frame Cleaning
So I knew I was going to have to strip the entire frame first but wanted to see what I was getting into and what kind of time frame I was looking at for cleaning the frame. I started in on the right side of the frame with a wire wheel just to see what it would look like and how fast the dirt and rust was going to come off.

This was after I got the frame stripped and gave the entire thing a good once over with an extra course wire wheel on a 4” angle grinder. Dust masks were a must:

Knowing that wasn’t going to be good enough, I slopped on the aircraft stripper and let it go to work for 20-30 minutes:

Aircraft stripper works wonders. Taking it off with a wire wheel is a little messy though. Here you can see the difference it made where I stopped with the wire wheel close to the right side of the cross member:

These next two photos really show a great before and after using the aircraft stripper. Stipper at work:

After it is wire wheeled off:

Then I gave the entire frame a good once over using Marine Clean diluted at 5:1 with a scrubby sponge:
I went over the entire frame with a new scrubby and more Marine Clean a second time the next morning. At this point you can’t be too careful about making sure all of the old grease is cleaned off. I was very impressed by the Marine Clean as it took off 95% of the dirt and grime the first time around.

Next I applied a chemical called Metal Ready, which you spray onto the metal and let it sit wet for at least 15-20 minutes. This microscopically etches the metal to give it teeth and provides the paint something to grab onto. It also leaves some sort of Zinc coating on the metal, which is supposed to also help the POR-15 to adhere better You can see in the following pictures how it almost creates a small layer of surface rust and a zinc coat on the metal. This is what the POR-15 paint really wants:

Entire frame from the front:

Ready for paint:

This was a very dirty part of the process and aircraft stripper is nothing nice but works very well at what it does. I went through 6 wire wheels and at least 12 dust masks. I also threw out two pairs of safety glasses after this part of the process. I was racing time (weather) to get this thing painted before the really cold weather set in. I had to get all of this stuff painted before it got too cold so I could continue to work on the Jeep over the winter months rather than just getting stopped dead in my tracks. There was no way I was going to risk coming this far just to try and paint in 40-50 degree weather. I used what I though was going to be the last nice weekend to paint the frame. Luckily, 2 weeks later we had the last unexpected warm spell of the year. I used that time to get the rest of the chassis parts cleaned and painted. Frame paint and chassis parts are next.

xjandyj 12-12-2008 07:04 PM


Smtty58 12-13-2008 06:54 AM

I would throw some seam sealer over the welds where the MORE plates weld to the frame. From your last pic it looks like water and dirt can get between the frame and plate. I've always wanted to see how far forward the MORE plates go, thanks for all these great images, nice build!

HackFabrication 12-13-2008 07:12 AM


Originally Posted by Coiz (Post 6156128)
...Just to the right of the two large totes in the first picture is a complete GSXR750 engine that is ready to run. I haven't really decided what to do with that yet. Maybe put it in a golf cart or build a go cart or buggy someday...

Nice. I've always wanted one of those single seat, long suspension travel dune runners, from the first time I saw one at SLSD.

What the plan for the body repair?

Coiz 12-13-2008 11:40 AM


Originally Posted by Smtty58 (Post 6168559)
I would throw some seam sealer over the welds where the MORE plates weld to the frame. From your last pic it looks like water and dirt can get between the frame and plate.

I had thought about that so when I painted that area of the frame I changed the gun from fan to cone and went straight down all of those weld seams on the top and bottom to give them all a little extra paint. It actually sealed it up quite nicely. I figured I could always add the seam sealer after the paint if I needed to. I guess your right, all of those little valleys are just waiting to collect dirt and water. I probably will smooth that over with seam sealer.


Originally Posted by HackFabrication (Post 6168596)
What the plan for the body repair?

That's what has been keeping me up at nights. Part of me just wants to buy a new tub but I realize that even the new ones take some body prep and I would have to move the bulk head if I want to keep that as well as modify the transmission opening. I would really like to keep the steel "Jeep" stamp in the sides so I would likely be cutting those out of this body and cutting a hole into the new tub to install them. The likely candidate would be the Omix-Ada tub and they state those are based around the 75-78 bodies. I've got the 79 with the later style roll bar mount to the floor behind the front seats. I am not sure if the Omix tub will have a solid mount for that.

As far as fixing this tub, I can buy every piece of sheet metal for this thing at 1/3 the price of a new tub but then you have to factor in all the cutting, welding, grinding and Bondo. A few pieces I would just replace as a complete stamped panels while others I would just patch with a sheet I bought from HD or Lowe's. I already have new fenders and still need to buy a windshield frame. The grill, hood and tailgate are all definately reusable. My only nemesis is deciding what to do with the tub.

So $3000 and not sure what I'll be starting with or $1000 but a lot more labor involved.

What would you guys do?

Coiz 12-13-2008 01:03 PM

Frame painting

I sprayed on POR-15 thinned at 5% with their solvent through a HVLP gun at 32 psi and 75 degrees. This was the first time I had ever used POR-15 and it was a little thicker than I had expected. My initial impressions were that this stuff is bullet proof.

First coat:

I sprayed on 2 full coats and still had over a ¼ quart of paint left in my hopper. The directions recommend 2-3 coats so I used what was left to hit the high traffic areas a 3rd time, which ended up being almost ¾ of the frame before I ran out. POR-15 is not UV resistant so it will quickly fade when exposed to direct sunlight. I decided to put two solid coats of the POR-15 Blackcote over the top of it. In the pictures, the paint almost looks gray after the Blackcote was sprayed on but it dried to a solid black color.

Here is all finished up from the rear, with flash:

Without flash:

Painting was the last major hump where the chassis part of the project goes from getting filthy dirty every time to working with clean parts. One more weekend of cleaning and painting to be finished with the chassis parts other than assembly.

HackFabrication 12-13-2008 01:24 PM

Looks great! Obviously you did this a few months ago since it was 20 degrees in Michigan.....

The time now is 02:46 PM.

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