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Deeznutz73 05-18-2013 08:01 PM

Idiots guide to a 1973 Junker CJ5
After a ton of research on all the junkyard upgrades available for CJ's, I thought I'd start doing some of the mods myself, only on my 73 CJ5 with a 258. The problem I found is that usually while googling crap, I always find that a majority of the mods are for later model CJ's. This became quite annoying because there are some differences in the pre 76' CJ's and those that came after and I never could quite find an answer for the questions I had , or I searched forever before I found an answer, usually having to piece bits of info together. So here goes a thread for those who have the (explicit term for child born out of wedlock) 72-75 CJ's. Also, I'm just trying to convey what I've learned. If I'm wrong, let me know so I can fix my crap! BUt seriously, I'm just trying to help out those that are trying to do what I'm doing.

The first mod I did was an HEI upgrade.
You will need:
-Chevy 250ci distributor (for what I did)
Note: Try and get the plugs that go into the cap
-5.9L AMC Distributor Drive gear (removed from Junkyard dizzy or purchase new) ( found mine in a junkyard pick-n-pull for $5
-8mm plug wires
-Gap plugs to .045 -.050 ( Mine were at .046)

I found a donor dizzy out of a junkyard for from a 78 Chevy pickup with a 250 for $35. I got the Big cap w/ coil in cap. I wanted the coil in cap so I could remove the coil mounted on the motor, kinda clean things up a bit. People will say that once you have a coil in cap, you are limited to the type of coil you can use and can't get the higher output coils. My 258 has like a 110 horse (don't quote me), I don't need a massive coil that throws out a crap ton of voltage. I used a DUI cap and coil kit (Manufacturer's Part Number:240003RD). I figure 50k is plenty.

As far as the drive gear goes it's pretty straight forward, punch out the pin, install drive gear, replace pin.

There are several different HEI options you can do and I would encourage you to check out BillUSN's articles over at binder planet. One issue I had with this setup is the massive cap. It had the L clamp style hold downs and I found that the cap rested so close to the head that you could not clamp one of the clamps down and had a rough time adjusting the timing with the cap on. Figure out what you want to do and decide from there. I eventually plan on doing the Junkyard GM TBI swap. If you plan on doing the same, you will have to mod the ignition module later.

When installing make sure you have the number one piston at TDC. I used my finger in the spark plug hole to make sure I was on the compression stroke, then a small piece of tube that I stuck in the spark plug hole to let me know when the piston stopped moving up when I turned the engine by hand. This is the tricky part. You have to remove the rotor (to make it easier to see). Once removed you have to make sure that the triggers are lined up ( I don't know how to install a pic yet....From here you you replace the rotor and line it up so it's facing a plug. That plug is now the number one plug. 153624 is the firing order. You may have to remove and re-seat the distributor to get it to line up the way you want to. If you have trouble getting the distributor to drop all the way down onto the block, try rotating the oil pump (you'll see it if you look directly down into the distributor hole) so that it lines up with the dizzy. Remember when you slide the dizzy in, it will rotate the rotor about a 1/4 of a turn. It'll take some time to wiggle it in to the right spot, but it'll work. After it's in and wired up, adjust your timing to where you want it! I noticed my throttle response improved and it seemed to run smoother.

And That's roughly it! Like I said, this is what I did and it worked. Read over at Binder planet to see if it's what you want. If you have questions or comments, I'd be glad to help.

I'm working on the 4.0 head swap right now.......wish me luck as it's not going so well......

Deeznutz73 05-21-2013 02:48 PM


-4.0 head, cast No. 7120 or 0630 ( difference being, from what I gather, the 7120 has a coolant sender port in the back of the head. Some 0630 heads have this also but mine did not. The 7120 also has a minor difference in flow, but you'd probably never know the difference. Also if you use a 4.2L intake, you'll have additional ports to run a sensor, plus the one in the thermostat housing, and the original in the block). You'll find the number dead center on the top of the head on the drivers side. KEEP THE HEAD BOLTS BECAUSE THEY WILL WORK (72-75 CJ's)

-Valve cover off donor vehicle( if you see a oil cap off one, grab that ***** since all of them in the yard were gone!)

-Try and grab the coolant sensor and plug for the thermostat housing too.

-Newer 258 intake. There are several options, but the cheapest is to find the 2 barrel aluminum off of an 80's CJ or possibly other amc vehicles. EXAMINE THE INTAKE VERY WELL! MINE HAD A SMALL CRACK THAT I DIN'T SEE WHICH KILLED ME LATER! Also check the egr valve to see if it is good. Mine wasn't and it created a vacuum leak.

-96 or newer 4.0L exhaust. The older ones crack from what I hear. These ones have the ribbed tubes on the number 1 and 6 cylinder tubes.

-Retaining washer cups and bolts from intake/exhaust manifold

-Thick, grade 8 washers larger than the retaining cup washers (width not thick)

-Gasket kit from donor vehicle (new)

-Spark plugs from 4.0L (new)

- Copper gasket rtv spray

-About 2' of the exhaust tubing off the donor vehicle. Try and include the o2 port if possible.

-High temp JB weld (get the big box)

-Packing peanuts that dissolve in water

-Alcohol (rubbing type, although booze type will also be required)

-RTV, RTV,and RTV :2thumbsup:

Alright......So this was a pain in the a$$, I'm not going to lie. Mostly it was a bunch of little stuff that I'll explain as we go along. First you need the donor parts. I pulled mine off a 96 cherokee (0630) that looked brand new. If you're parts hunting, look at the condition of the jeep engine bay to see how well it was maintained. My head looked brand new. It was a glossy black, had 0 oil saturation on the valve cover gasket, and the intake/exhaust gasket still looked new. The thermostat housing also showed some rtv around the edges. Most jeep heads will look rusty or corroded or covered in an oily grime. It's a good idea just to give her a good once over before you decide to pull it, just so you know what you're getting. I didn't take mine in to the shop for a valve job. There ended up being almost no carbon on the valves and in the chamber and it appeared to be in standards using a straight edge and a feeler gauge, but we'll see. I highly recommend taking it to a shop. Head cost me $40, exhaust was pre pulled and cost me $25 for the exhaust manifold and tube.


Once you have the head home, you'll need to put the packing peanuts in the water coolant ports to make a base for the JB weld. There are several ways of doing this and the choice is yours. The 4.0L head gasket does not have holes for the water jackets. I used JB weld for piece of mind. Some weld them, some drill them out and put a plug in. Your a big boy, you do what you think is right. I don't think there is a wrong way but everyone knows someone who did something and all hell broke loose. These are the websites I used for the water jackets:

I used the alcohol to clean any excess JB weld off the head surface.

Wait until the day before or day of to clean the head (if you are doing it yourself) to help prevent any rust. I used a brass wire wheel on a drill and made sure to plug the ports when using it to prevent anything from getting in.

Mock bolt the intake and exhaust manifolds up to see how much you'll need to grind the intake down. On the lower corners of the intake, the manifolds will hit and prevent the intake ports from sitting level with the head ports. The dowel pins in the block will also not line up with the holes in the intake. I ground down the corners (about 1/8"-1/4") and cut the loop where the original dowel pins would've gone. I cut just enough so that after grinding the corners, the bottom of the ports lined up and the old dowel pin holes sat on top of the new dowels in the head.

You'll also most likely have to grind about 1/4" of an inch off the exhaust manifold where the nut goes onto the stud by the number one cylinder/port. I didn't read anything about this and I couldn't get my head to align correctly due to the exhaust manifold hitting the water pump. Also under the intake is an egr to exhaust manifold tube. You'll need to cap this off along with the one under the carburetor ( I'll planned on dealing with it and all the other vacuum stuff when I do the TBI install).

After everything looks good, go ahead and paint whatever you want. You'll need the one piece intake/exhaust gasket that came with the kit. Hose it down wit the copper gasket maker then install. Place the exhaust manifold on, then the intake. Use the bigger washers you got to place under the retaining cups that were on the original manifold bolts. You may need to flatten one side of the washers in some places to help them seat against the intake. Use the "offroad-review" link above for torque sequence and specs.

Remove all the old, heavy a$$ cast iron crap off your 258 and sell on craigslist or ebay. Make sure buyer pays shipping. If you get all excited when working on your jeep when you get new parts and can't wait to get them on, resulting in some dumba$$ mistake, pay attention to this: DRAIN YOUR COOLING SYSTEM!!!! or else you'll fill your cylinders with coolant.......don't ask. On the bright side, I know my rings hold a pretty good seal! :brickwall

Clean and prep your block. I used a razor and a brass wire wheel. If you use a wire wheel, make sure you seal off the cylinders and lifter valley so you don't get any brass wires/crap in the there. It'll score the cylinder walls and plug up your oil pump and then you'll have to explain to your wife why you have to rebuild and engine now.....

This is where you call your buddy to help lift he head on, unless you have retard strength like me :barbell: . put the head gasket down and place line up the head and bolt down using 4.0L head specs. The same pattern is used as whats in your Chilton or Haynes repair manual. If you don't have one by now, you really should've. The specs are also on the "offroad-review" link above.

Use the 258 pushrods. The valve train is self adjusting so you just need to install the pushrods and torque the rockers down to 19 ft/lbs. (

If you are like me and trying to keep this on the cheap side, use the 2' of tubing to cut, turn, and re-splice the exhaust together. Once I get everything else done, I'll take my Jeep in and get it professionally done, but that's after I do the suspension.

here's where I went out on a limb. If you did a HEI upgrade, they say to gap your plugs to .045-.055. When you install a 4.0L, the factory plugs are at .035. When you increase compression, from what I understand, you need a smaller gap. Davis Unified ( where I got the cap,rotor, coil kit from) recommends .055-.065 upon installing their kit. I called them to see what they recommended and they said around .050-.055 at least. I went with .050 and it seemed to work.

And that's pretty much it! Most say it'll take 5-10 hours to install. It took me a week because of the exhaust hitting the water pump, then the vacuum leak from the intake not seating (fixed using copper coat), then the hair line crack that ended up breaking off a corner of the intake manifold, then trouble shooting vacuum leaks to the faulty EGR valve. Oh and also trying to find find brass fittings and the damn coolant sender that goes in the block! I don't know if you guys have had this problem but trying to go back to the factory gauge from an after market gauge they gave me a smaller sender unit that doesn't match the block thread. I used a 1/8" to 3/8" NPT adapter to get it back in. That and the po had the wrong gauges.

She runs and maintains temp so all is well so far. I haven't had a chance to run her around yet, probably start doing that today.

Hopefully I didn't forget anything but if I did, or there is some confusion, I'd be happy to help.

A few other notes:

Thermostat and Thermostat housing: I left the 195 degree thermostat in there and installed a new gasket (which didn't come with my head gasket kit) To get it to seal, I used RTV, gasket, RTV. The radiator hose is a pain to get past the new valve cover and if you don't get it all the way down along with the hose clamp, it'll leak.

The later model 258 aluminum manifold is a "wet" manifold meaning it flows the coolant through the manifold. for now, I am not running the the coolant through there. I will when I do the Contour fan upgrade.

I plan on using the coolant sensors in the manifold and the thermostat housing for the contour fan and TBI upgrades. That's why I returned to the factory gauges. It also looks cleaner.

They are having a half off deal at the pick and pulls this weekend. My next install is going to be the power steering install, followed by upgrading the alternator to a CS144, then the contour fan upgrade. Probably going to nab those parts there if I can.

For the power steering, I already grabbed all the brackets and pulley off a 70 something AMC Hornet with a 258. The bracket does fit the 4.0 head so I can install the pump on the passenger side with no problems. Looks like this will be a plug and play type thing (mostly). I'll start including pic's, as I noticed there is an "upload Image" button I hadn't seen before and I figure it'll be more helpful. I know when I found them, they were for me.

Deeznutz73 06-01-2013 01:16 PM

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I nabbed a power steering box, pump, cs144 alternator, and cadi air cleaner or "plenum" for the later tbi upgrade, all for the low low, 50% off sale price of $75

So I figured now since I'm caught up to this thread, I'd post as I go, that way if someone may have answers to a question I have or someone else may have, they can answer it.
Parts you'll need:
Power steering box
Power steering pump
Brackets (Donor AMC)
Pulleys (Donor AMC)
Power steering line (one pressure, one return from NAPA. Size 6 and size 7 50"-55", your call, $50)
Pitman arm $29 (
Lower steering shaft and/or coupler (If doing the same setup as me I used (1) 13/16"-36 spline U-Joint, 3/4" smooth and (1) 36" 3/4"-36 spline (2" splined on one end)
(SHAFT) ($48.51 to my door)
(U-JOINT) ($55.41 to my door)

So I nabbed the brackets and pulleys off a 75 AMC Matador. If fabbing is your thing, don't worry about this. If cheap and easy is your way, find any AMC car or Jeep with a 258 and a passenger side power steering pump. Get the pulleys and brackets off it. If the pump is good, nab that too. Also, you can move everything over to the drivers side if you want. I read a few posts about people having to screw with the bracket due to the newer style manifold so I didn't mess with it. These brackets WILL bolt to the 4.0 head.

Another concern people have with the passenger side mount is that the lines are run under the motor from the box to the pump. I will most likely run them a different way, unless it turns out to be pretty far out of the way. To me it seems that if you're scraping logs and rocks or something that high, you may have bigger problems to worry about. I haven't looked at it really yet so we'll see what happens.

Deeznutz73 06-01-2013 01:36 PM

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Next is the power steering box. There are several models and styles to choose from but I wanted to go after the Saginaw 800 since it has 4 mounting holes instead of the 3 and I found one.....I hope...... I grabbed this one off of a 72 Pontiac Grandville=boat. I'm assuming most GM cars that size have them, since all of them were already pulled. I ran into a site that said the number 5687962 is an 800 series box( This one did not have the "76" stamped on the side, but it was clean and had a stamp of re-manufactured on the side so I hope that was a score.You want either the 4 1/4 turn lock to lock or the 3 1/2 which is the variable ratio.

From what I can tell, I only counted 31 splines on the input shaft and 32 on the output. There is a 30 spline and a 36 spline from what I've been reading, but right now I'm trying to figure out how I can adapt it to the CJ's current manual steering setup. I'll either have to replace the lower steering shaft or get a coupler that goes from my existing steering shaft to the input shaft. I also am not sure on what pitman arm I am going to need. I have a 4" lift (I think) and will gain an estimated 2" when I do the YJ spring conversion.

Deeznutz73 06-01-2013 01:45 PM

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Any power steering pump should work, so long as you use the "canned ham" version. Like JP magazine said in their Junkyard Steering Swap Tips & Tricks article, "You can't swing a dead cat in the junkyard without hitting one". Later during the install, I may do the power steering pump mod, but I haven't decided yet. I don't know how the power steering is going to feel on the CJ when I'm done and I don't know if modding the pump will make it a death trap on the freeway or not. I'll cross that bridge when I get there I guess.

Deeznutz73 06-03-2013 04:43 PM

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So figured a few things out today and started the build. Just to give you an idewa of what my setup looks like I took some pics of what I have. Notice the Frankensteined lower steering shaft. Yeah so the previous owner pretty much gang banged the jeep with a stick welder. EVERYTHING is welded to the jeep and it all looks like that.

I called Borgeson today to inquire about a coupler and the odd spline count. Apparently I did not count it right. You take a card or something to split the shaft in half and only count the one side, then multiply it by 2. Don't start and stop at the flat part on top of the shaft. That makes this shaft a 13/16"x36 spline input shaft. The jeep has a 3/4"x36 spline steering shaft. My Idea is to get a lower u-joint that goes from 13/16"x36 spline to 3/4 DD or smooth end. I'll weld that to a new 3/4 smooth or DD shaft with a 36 spline end.

I also cleaned the 50 years of who knows what off the pulleys and brackets. Whilst wire wheeling the top power steering bracket, I came upon a part number. Maybe it'll help someone out there.

I've heard people say that you need a "double pulley". While I'm sure you can get one, the one I pulled off the matador was a single bolted to another single. It will bolt directly to the current setup, as the curent alternator pulley has three bolt holes all ready in place. You may not be able to see it due to them being filled with ?

Another pic is the mammoth of a power steering box mock mounted. I'm wondering if I can re-use the manual mount? It's like 3/8" thick and bolts straight up to the saginaw. I would however have to add another mounting hole to it since the manual box was only three bolts (all of which fit the saginaw thread pattern). I'm concerned that if I move the box any closer to the frame, the lower steering shaft may rub up against it. Currently there's only about an inch or so of space.

I also went ahead and ordered a power steering pressure hose for a 73 CJ5 with power steering. I'll update when I get it to make sure it's the right fit.

Deeznutz73 06-03-2013 11:40 PM

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Brackets bolted up. If you don't have any kind of accessory on the passenger side, make WD-40 your friend. Use it in the mounting bolt holes and hit it with a compressor if you can. Hit the bolts with a wire brush and WD-40 them as well. Otherwise those suckers aren't gonna go in!

I may have to run my heater core hoses differently. I planned on doing so when I do the TBI swap, but was hoping to wait till lhen. We'll see what happens when I get it all installed. I ordered the steering parts tonight as well. (1) 13/16"-36 spline U-Joint, 3/4" smooth and (1) 36" 3/4"-36 spline (2" splined on one end).

Roughly $200 into it at this point thanks to the steering shaft and U-Joint. I'm not upset though, I needed a new lower shaft or I would've least that's what I told the ol' lady :thumbsup:

Deeznutz73 06-13-2013 11:02 AM

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So I finally got all my parts in the other day and buttoned this project up. The first thing I did was notice that the input shaft had an extended part coming off of it. I'm not sure why, so I decided to grind it down to where it was flush with the inside diameter of the splined side of the U-Joint. I know it looks like it extends out of it but it's an angled shot

Also on the splined end I used a little bur thingy to put a small groove so the bolt an go past it in the lower splined end of the steering knuckle assembly

Deeznutz73 06-13-2013 11:06 AM

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Next I measured from the inside top of the lower steering knuckle assembly (big U-Joint at base of upper steering shaft) to the bottom of the smooth end of the lower haft U-Joint. 36" ended up being more than I needed, about 5"-6" more, but I'd rather be safe than sorry. After I measured it, took it over to the chop saw and cut it off, then burned it on. Threw some paint on it after it cooled and called it good.

Deeznutz73 06-13-2013 11:11 AM

In case I failed to mention, I ran across an early CJ post that said they were running the intermediate CJ manual steering boxes for their power steering box mounts. Even though mine is a 4 bolt, I decided to be the guinea pig and try using it. I know some cars that have the 4 bolt saginaw 800's don't use all 4 bolts holes. Anyway, I might change that when I do the spring swap.

Deeznutz73 06-13-2013 11:13 AM

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Next was the power steering pressure line. You don't need a special return line, as it is low pressure and you can just use fuel hose. Don't order the part from the parts store! It won't fit. It comes up to high off the box and hits the radiator, then goes out and runs into the pulley.

Deeznutz73 06-13-2013 11:21 AM

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Instead find a NAPA that makes hydraulic lines. DO THIS! Don't be like me and think you can hack and bend the factory one to fit, it'll be a waste of $35 bucks, trust me. Figure out how you're going to need your fittings and have the guy crimp them on. I went with 2 90 degree bends; one facing down to the box than one facing me for the back of the pump. I went with 55" of hose which turned out to be a little excessive, but I wanted to make sure I had enough because you only get one shot.

The fitting sizes you need are a 6 and 7. 7, apparently, is automotive specific so some hydraulic shops may not carry it.

Before you bolt the box on, tilt the box at an angle where you can put the lines in the space under/behind the radiator and inside the front cross member. Then mount the box. I couldn't bolt the box on then rotate it in place because the fitting hit the bottom of the radiator.

Deeznutz73 06-13-2013 11:25 AM

As far as pitman arms go you'll need this one:

The one I had on the box works for now, but I can't turn all the way to the right. After the YJ conversion, depending on my tie rod angle, I may go to a 99 Grand Cherokee because they hav a small drop, but are the same-ish length as the normal CJ5 pitman arm. You will have to use a hacksaw blade in the middle of the keyed spots, fllowed by a triangle file to make it able to be clocked in any position.

Deeznutz73 06-13-2013 11:27 AM

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And that's it. I needed a 46 1/2" belt and now I can steer it with one finger! (almost)

Deeznutz73 06-13-2013 11:40 AM

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Next I'm going to do the YJ spring conversion(after I finish fabbing up my tube fenders, a project I started a long a$$ time ago but got distracted....squirrel!!! . I already ordered a kit from Rocky Road outfitters. As a note, I didn't want the heavy duty u bolt skidplates so they discounted the kit ($499 shipped). Unfortunately if you do this, they do not include YJ spring plates so you're SOL! Apparently they are one piece. I'm not concerned because I planned on doing a u bolt flip kit or this, which I'd like some input if anyone has tried this or have any opinions on how they think this will work. Looks solid to me.

The time now is 05:03 PM.

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