I've been a member of the forum for a little while and thought it was about time I started my build thread. I've gathered tons of great info from this forum and for that I'm extremely grateful. As of this posting, the jeep sits as it is in the last pic. I originally wanted to have it built in 6-8 months or so, but work or a lack of and a newborn have come since I began.
I bought this 1978 CJ7 from a local guy on CL for $1200 in ok running condition with a good fiberglass body and unmolested drivetrain. I knew the frame had some rust issues, but not nearly as much as I discovered.
My plans are to build it as a long travel leaf sprung dune jeep with a healthy v8 and retain 4x4. I'm hoping with a light weight and 400-500hp on nitrous, it should move pretty good and be pretty fun.
these first pics are as I bought it flexin in on a snow pile in my front yard.
I wanted to reweld the frame rails before I disassembled the chassis to keep it as rigid as possible. I ground out the entire factory welds top and bottom going the entire length of the frame. I am a welder by trade and weld instructor so I like to fix any bad welds I see. I had to do it twice as there was so much porosity in the welds from all the rust and crap that I had to do it again
With the long welds done, I could disassemble the chassis and have a bare frame to work with.
With the chassis apart and a bare frame to work with, I could really see the extent of the rust damage. It was everywhere in the rear of the frame. I don't know why, but cj's only rust in the back half of the frame and the front half is always just fine? I had to replace the rear frame horns from the middle crossmemeber back, the rear crossmember, and both of the rear spring front mounts as it was all garbage.
I cut out and replaced each flat section as I went to keep it somewhat square and level and took TONS of measurements to ensure everything was good. I used mostly 3/16" and 1/8" plate for all the repairs. I am not a fan of fish plates over welded seams, but I didn't want to explain to everyone who asked "why didn't you put a fish plate of that seam?", so I put them in. I believe the frame is now stronger than it was from the factory. I wanted a good base to build off of since I will be jumping it, tying the cage into the frame, and for the 500hp it will have to handle.
I also used some heavy c-channel for the rear crossmember, mostly cause I had it laying around and cause the factory member is very thin and weak.
Then I bought some DOM tubing and made rear shackle hangers as well as front shackle hangers for the shackle reversal. I left the rear hangers as is thinking they will be just fine, but i've since thought it over and have added welding in triangle gussets to the rear hangers to the list of DO's. I also made my own front spring mounts for the reversal and have also added gussets for them to the list.
I only broke 3 bolts in the threaded frame holes and instead of trying to drill and tap them, I made little filler patches. I welded nuts to little squares with the correct hole drilled in them and just cut out a square around the bad hole and welded in the new one, much faster. Then it was time for paint.
I did alot of research on what the best method of painting was and decided to go with Eastwoods chassis paints. I used their rusty metal prep and primer before spraying on their Extreme Chassis Black paint. It went on real nice and I'm completely happy with it.
Along the way, I picked up a HUGE score on CL. I saw jeep CJ axles for sale for months and months for $2000, then $1500, then $1000, and when they reached $600 I gave the guy a call. I went to buy them and took his word (not the best idea, I know) and bought them with what he said had 4.56's and detroits in them. I figured for the money, it was worth it since at least I would get wide tracs out of the deal to replace my narrow tracs. My plan is too keep the jeep as low as possible and as wide as possible and these will help. They were set up for a SOA, which I didn't want, because that would be too much lift and HORRIBLE axle wrap with the big HP. So, I cut off the spring perches and rewelded them on the bottom. I used MORE perches in the rear which are really long to help with axle wrap and they have 3 holes to give me the option to move the axle back 1" if I choose too. I also welded the axle tubes on the M20 and welded plate gussets along the top of both to help keep them from bending when I jump it over and over and over and over and over