Jester's "Texas Yeti" 1985 CJ7 Redo
This forum is completely awesome. There are a lot of good people here that are willing to help and there's a ton of information/pics. Not trying to single anyone out, but I appreciate people like Ken4444 and the pics he posted with his 1985 CJ7 refurbishment. That thread alone made me want to join this forum :thumbsup:. Definitely not a newbie mechanic, but a newbie "CJ7 mechanic," I appreciate the time and effort each of you spend posting information and pictures to help the rest of us out.
I'll try not to duplicate information here if I can help it, but I will post pics from time to time of all the stuff I've done (and will do) to my CJ7. I feel like I need to give back a little to the Jeep community. After all, this forum has already given me a ton of help.
Unfortunately, I started working on my CJ7 months before I joined the forum. I don't have a ton of before and after shots up to this point, but I will try and provide more of those as I progress.
Like I said earlier, I don't want to completely rebuild this CJ from the ground up (although I probably will eventually end up doing that before it's all over :)), but I want to initially redo the suspension and drive train asI feel they are more important. When I drove this thing home from Sanger, it was all over the road. Each time a 18-wheeler passed me on the highway at 60mph, I had to fight to keep it on the road. The PO called it "road waggle." LOL, I would say it was a little more than a waggle.
So when I got it home I started inspecting it more closely. I'm REAL happy with the tub. You couldn't ask for a 27 year old tub to be in better shape rust-wise. However, the suspension was completely shot. The leaf springs had coat hangers wrapped around them to kind of keep them together. I wish I would have taken a pic of the front leaf springs before I replaced them, but I don't. However, here's a pic of one of the rear spring. The front was 100% worse. I didn't realize it but it was falling apart.
So one of the first things I did was to purchase a new lift kit. I bought the Rubicon Express CJ Extreme Duty 4.5" lift kit. I bought it from Morris 4x4 Center for $1100 and I couldn't find it cheaper at the time. I read a ton of reviews on the internet concerning lift kits for CJ-7's and it seemed that this was the best lift kit "money could buy" for a CJ-7. Being that this was my first lift, I decided to go with the kit instead of piece parts. I just finished up doing the front end this past weekend. I think if I had it to do over again, I probably wouldn't buy a kit and would just piece meal a lift kit together. I'm not displeased (so far) with the Rubicon Express lift. The quality is definitely there. Additionally, as this jeep is probably going to be my daily driver, I decided to go with the Rubicon Express Twin-Tube Shock Kit.
While inspecting the suspension, I noticed that someone had welded a couple of angle brackets to the front of the frame right behind the bumper. Here's a pic.
There's one on the other side too. :mad: Obviously, those have to go.
Jester's "Texas Yeti" 1985 CJ7 Redo (Steering column)
So, I drove the beast for about a month, unknowing how unsafe it really was due to the suspension. After a week or two, the key would not turn the jeep off. I could turn the key to the off position and and completely remove it from the ignition cylinder and the jeep would still run. After about a day of "popping the clutch" to kill the engine, I realized that this wasn't good and something needed to be done. It was a good thing I came to that conclusion because by the end of that day, turning the key to start the jeep wouldn't work either. Good thing it was in the garage. Not knowing what the actual problem was, I got out the schematic and studied the components of the steering column. What an adventure I was about to go on! :laugh:
Not knowing what the actual problem was, and the fact that the PO had lost a set of keys, I decided to buy a new Coded Ignition Cylinder with Keys, just to be on the safe side. I bought a new Grant steering wheel and horn button just to make it look good. I popped the old horn button off which exposed three screws and the nut that holds the steering wheel on. After I removed the steering wheel nut and the three screws, I pulled the steering wheel off with a steering wheel puller (you can get these at any auto parts store).
Once the steering wheel was off (fairly easy to remove), I could see the black lock plate cover. Removing this revealed the Lock Plate. The horn did not work on this jeep and the PO had Jerry-Rigged a make-shift horn button and mounted it below the dash panel. You can see it inside the green circle in the below picture. I ripped that out just as soon as I saw it, more from embarrassment. :D
After removing the black lock plate cover, the next step is to use a lock plate compression tool and remove the Steering Shaft Snap Ring.
Once you have the lock plate compressed enough, use a pick or a screwdriver and gently pry up the Steering Shaft Snap Ring as indicated by the green arrow below.
Next, unscrew the hazard button and remove the screw that holds the Turn Signal Lever on. Remove the three black screws that hold the Turn Signal Switch in place. Then pull out the Turn Signal Switch (white plastic). You'll see four hex head screws. The three in the red circles hold the housing on the steering column. The screw in the yellow circle holds the Ignition Lock Cylinder in place. On this 1985 model, there is a notch in the Ignition Lock Cylinder that this screw holds it in place.
With the screw in the yellow circle removed, you can remove the Ignition Lock Cylinder.
Now remove the three black hex head screws to remove the housing from the steering column. After inspecting the Lock Rack (below), the teeth are G2G (good to go).
Ah, I found the culprit. There were three teeth broken off the Lock Sector. Here's my first rookie mistake. I'm fortunate enough to live near Collin's Brothers Jeep. They have a lot of hard to find parts. I bought a new Lock Sector (little black gear inside the red circle) From Collin's Brothers for $32. If I had of taken just a little more time and researched it, I could have saved a ton of money. You can buy the entire Lock Rack and Lock Selector from just about any auto parts store for a lot cheaper. Here's one at AutoZone for $12.99. Lesson learned.
So, working in reverse, I cleaned everything up and put it all back together. I am very pleased with the new Grant "Challenger" Steering wheel I bought and the new horn button. It's a little smaller than the original OEM steering wheel. However, I will say this, the Grant Steering Wheel instructions are almost non-existent and borderline laughable. I searched online forever to find some instructions to clarify a couple of questions I had when re-assembling the wheel to no avail. For example, I put the conductive tape on the wrong part and had to go to Ace Hardware and buy another roll to make it right/work. I rewired the horn to the factory harness and got that working. Overall, I'm very pleased. In the end, I got a new Ignition Cylinder with coded keys that works flawlessly, a cleaner steering column, a new steering wheel, and fully functioning horn.
Jester's "Texas Yeti" 1985 CJ7 Redo (Lift Kit) - Part 1
Sorry folks, I'm off work today and it's cold up in this piece (the Big D) on this Veteran's Day. This is a perfect day to get caught up on my posts. Before I forget, Happy Veteran's Day to all those that serve/served!
To get ready to put the lift kit on, I made some preparations. I sent some suspension pieces (stabilizer bar and some other brackets) to the powder coaters the week before. I also pulled that old bumper off the front and chunked that in the trash. I took a grinder to the welds on those two angle iron pieces that somebody had welded on the front of the frame and removed them as they served no other purpose other than to annoy me.
I put an 80-grit flap disk sanding wheel on my grinder and polished out all the grind marks on the frame and gave it a fresh coat of paint just to tidy things up. Also, I just got a fresh shipment in from Morris 4x4 that contained my new tie rod assemblies.
So this past Saturday, and friend of mine came over and we worked on putting the new Rubicon Express CJ Extreme Duty 4.5" lift kit on the Yeti. I had taken the right front shackle bracket off the week before and took that to the powder coaters. While I was removing the left one, I broke the heads off the two bolts (from rust) that held it on. After further inspection, there was a third bolt that had broken off from the PO that had apparently been like that for a while. I tried to remove all three bolts with PB Blaster, but that didn't help. Tried to drill them out and use an easy out to back them out but that broke off up in the first bolt. I decided to completely drill out the old bolts and replace them with new Grade 8 ones. I didn't think the carbon drill bit would drill them out, but it did. Worked the drill slowly and with some hard work and patience they came out.
Come to find out, the left shackle bracket was snapped in half and somebody had welded it up and to the frame at the same time. Check out the quality welding job. You can also see those two bolts that were broken off from the head. That shackle bracket is not going to come off without some work.
Out with the old, in with the new, courtesy of Quadratec. I'll feel a little safer anyway. :D
Here's an underneath shot of the shackle bracket completely removed and there three broken bolts all drilled out.
I had to drill a 1 1/8" hole in the front crossmember to get access to the new bolts we put on for the shackle bracket. New Grade 8 bolts with nylox nuts, lock washers, and Loctite, the frame will break before those bolts move.
The shock mounts were looking kind of sad, so I removed the left one to see how bad it was. After removing it, I found a nice surprise pocket of rust. Nothing an 80-grit flap disk sander won't cure. Now to polish it all off the frame and paint. You can see the dry rot in the brake line. It was time for new brake lines anyway, good thing they came with the lift kit.
The shock bracket was pretty nasty too. Time for a trip to the bench grinder/steel brush station.
HEY! I thought this thing was made in Toledo, Ohio? Oh well, nothing wrong with good old Canadian Steel. To our Canadian neighbors, pop a two four and have a good day eh! :cheers2:
And here's the finished product.
Part 2 soon to follow.
Nice job documenting your projects. Keep up the good work!
Jester's "Texas Yeti" 1985 CJ7 Redo (Lift Kit) - Part 2
You just can't slap a new lift kit on without doing the groundwork first.
So the right shock mount was worse than the left one. Plus the bottom bolt was completely missing.
Another trip to the grind station, some new paint, and new bolts and the shock mount is as good as new.
Finally got the left shock mount installed with the new bolts. Also, the bracket that holds the steering box to the frame is fresh from the powder coaters.
A side shot. Much safer! :thumbsup:
While inspecting the suspension, I noticed that the original bump stops were dry rotted bad and needed replacing with newer polyurethane stops. Again, out with the old, in with the new, courtesy of Quadratec.
Here's a shot of the new bump stops mounted, with their brackets sanded down and painted.
Now it's time to bolt all the new components on. New heavy duty leaf springs, steel braided brake lines, a fresh powder coated stabilizer bar, heavy duty U-bolts, and leaf spring plate. Warning: The "forged aluminum" shims that come with the Rubicon Express CJ Extreme Duty are junk. I bought some steel ones and replaced the one that's actually in this picture.
New heavy duty shackles and shocks. I still need to put the sway bar links on, but that's easy, this kit came with the ones that have quick disconnects. Also, I accidentally bought an extra set of sway bar links that I will never use. They're the ones for heavy duty leaf springs. If somebody wants them, drop me a personal message and pay for shipping and they're yours.
Okay, I've done some hard things in my life, but I can't remember if I did something as hard as removing the pitman arm from this CJ's steering box. Folks, I broke two Pitman Arm pullers trying to get this thing off. I also wasted a tank of map gas heating it up, thinking that would do the trick. It came down to me grinding this thing almost completely through. I was careful not to hit any of the threads on the Pitman shaft with the grinder. I didn't think we would ever get the old Pitman arm off! But on the third Pitman Arm puller and grinding it down, it finally popped off.
Here's a shot of the new Pitman Arm, the two new tie rod assemblies, and the new Black Diamond Steering stabilizer. The only thing left for the front end is to install the sway bar links (3 mins) and torque all the bolts to factory specs. That was a lot of work, glad it's over! HA! :2thumbsup:
Looks like your off to a great start. There's always something to fix huh? Just to offer a little bit of advice, those shackle hangers are going to be your weak link in the suspension. Sooner or later they will probably twist, depending on your off road use. Especially if you put longer than stock shackles on it. You may want to weld on side wedges to those or invest in some heavier duty ones. Crabtree Tool makes some billet steel ones that can't be beat (user "jim1611" on this forum).
edit: opps, you posted a minute before me. I guess your past that point now, for my suggestion. Just keep a close eye on them and note it on your "down the road" list. :)
Thanks Renegade82, I'll definitely keep that in mind and watch these in case they bend. As soon as I get a chance I'll order a new set from Crabtree Tool. That's good advice!
Great thread jester. Subscribed!
What an awesome build! This is turning out great!
Thanks folks. I can't wait to get this thing dirty! But.....it's going to be just a little longer than I want. Need to find a good place in the Dallas area to get a good front end alignment. But before I do that, I've decided that while it's not "officially drivable," I'm going to redo the brakes, swap out all the U-Joints, and replace the locking hubs. I just bought new rotors and calipers and I'm seriously eyeballin' a new rear drive shaft. I want to make sure the suspension/drive train is in great shape before I put new wheels and tires on it. Might as well do it right while I have the beast whipped into submission. :thumbsup:
Good front end alignment? Looks like you have all the tools and know-how to do it yourself!!
I used a length of 2x4, bubble level, a black marker, and a ruler. I can't remember the specs - something like toe-in of 5/16" or so.
Just a heads up, the way the aluminum caster shims are installed in your picture is backwards to the norm. I know you changed them to steel but did you install them in the same orientation? The way you have them will push the caster more towards the positive side and make the handling even worse.
Also, on the shock mounts, I've seen people drill a small hole near the bottom to let water out and help prevent that rust you just cleaned up...
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