Originally Posted by tblt44
we want to make sure it will start before dumping hundreds in it?
Is that a question or a statement?
Either way, I generally agree with your idea, but you have to realize that there is not necessarily a quick fix here. Most likely you will need to spend time fixing some small things like bad wires, testing the electrical system, cleaning things, and replacing small parts. This is not expensive, but can be time consuming.
To get the engine running, you need fuel delivery and spark, so concentrate on those areas. Don't worry about the transmission if the engine can't be made to run.
Originally Posted by tblt44
what is a good way to test the coil ?
You can get a basic cheap spark tester at an auto parts store. That's one method. I would wear thick gloves and hold the high voltage wire from the coil next to a clean spot on the engine block while someone cranks the engine over. Keep your fingers away from the bare metal end of the wire. See if a spark jumps from the bare end of the wire to the block. Of course, a dozen other things need to be in place for that spark to happen, but this is a quick first test.
I would pop the distributor cap off and make sure the metal contacts are clean. You might consider installing new spark plug wires and a new rotor. Obviously new spark plugs will be important early on. You might also replace the coil just to be sure. Make sure your grounds are right, as that is a big source of problems on a Jeep.
As for fuel delivery, crank the engine and see if fuel comes out before the fuel filter. That's a quick test. You should install a new fuel filter. Personally I would drop the gas tank, clean it out, and run with totally fresh gas. 8 year old gas, if it's even still liquid, is going to be totally worthless with no octane left. An alternative here is to have the fuel pump pull gas directly from a lawnmower gas can. That's a good enough test to get the engine running on good gas.
As already has been posted, the carburetor is a big source of potential problems. If it's been sitting for 8 years it may be gummed up or just frozen in areas like the fuel inlet valve, the float, ball valves, and more. Thin diaphrams will probably be shot. Narrow passages may be clogged.
You best bet may be just ot pour some gas straight into the intake, through the carb, and see if the engine fires up.
Before doing any of that, however, I would put in new oil and possibly put a small amount of oil into each cylinder via the spark plug holes.
Obviously check the coolant level, belts, hoses.
Another problematic area could be the starter solenoid.
A word of warning about old wires: sometimes a wire will be totally shot, but the outside insulation will look fine. This is often the problem with battery cables.