I have been following and getting advice for several months now and I decided I would start a build thread so I have some reminder of the things I've been doing to my CJ7. I'll start at the beginning.
Bought the 83 CJ7 in 2011 after looking at and driving a lot of jeeps in the Huntsville area. It was originally a 4 cyl model, but the PO swapped out a mid 70's 350 Chevy/SM465/NP205 driveline and installed around a 3" lift. Sitting on 35/12.50's, with a soft top. I bought a set of hard doors and a beatup YJ top and had it that way until December of last year. Then the bug hit... Below is a pic before I started tinkering.
Then before christmas I started taking things apart. One thing led to another, and now I have no interior, wiring, windshield, etc. I sold the top and doors to put some funds back into fixing her right, the way I wanted. They needed a lot of work and had the telltale cracking in the metal on the doors and the top had been repaired also. I'll post a couple of pics as she sits now next.
Some demo in progress pics. From when I first started taking it apart. The dash had been cut up by the PO, and none of the gauges worked, except the volt meter. These pics were taked just before xmas in 2012.
I got the rest of the parts clear down to the firewall and used Picklex metal prep in all the rusty steel after I used a wire brush. I used this stuff building street sweepers and it works great as a metal prep before paint. Even can stop rust thats already there from progressing. Shots below are of firewall and pedals after I sand blasted and repainted them. Last pic is how she started the new year out, topless and with no guts.
One word...Steering. I have noticed he whole time i have had the jeep that the steering had some play in it. I always guessed steering box and steering shaft were the major culprits. I ordered a HD steering shaft to repalce the work out factory one and when I was getting things ready to install it, I noticed the tierod on the pitman arm was loose. Upon more inspections, the tierod was put through the pitman arm and had a nut welded to the top to keep it from coming out. Hence loose steering. The PO had installed a 76 saginaw box when he did the driveline upgrade, and he just decided to leave the chevy pitman arm on the box and redneck engineer it. Thank goodness I didn't get killed! Pics are of the new steering shaft and CORRECT pitman arm/tierod reinstalled. I had wondered why I didn't have the steering lock to lock that I expected for a jeep. THe Chevy pitman arm was ove an inch shorter!
After much consideration, and a lot of back and forth, I decided to go the custom route for my dash. Lets be honest, with the driveline that's installed, I could never claim to be a "stock" CJ7, so I opted to go for full custom, with updated technology. I worked with Daniel at Double D fab and designed a full custom dash. He is a TOP notch guy and I highly recommend him if you are considering going that route. I went with a kicker for the 2" gauges with a plate at the bottom for an aux power outlet or anything I may want to add in the future. I researched and decided to go with VDO Cockpit Royale gauges, full 6 gauge setup. The cool thing about their gauges is you get all new sending units with the kit, and the speedo is electronic and programmable to your transmission/tire size. I got the whole setup for less that $400 for the gauges. My big dilema was dealing with aftermarket crown/omix gauges that just didn't look right. This way, I got to put things like I wanted them, and after several iterations, I got it how I wanted it. Below is the final draft of the dash and the gauges i chose. Using Carling style switches for my aux lights (thet are located where the clock and tach would go) and using e-lites indicators for the turn/high beam/brake. I kept the stock cables and knob locations and ordered replacements for those. Speaker grills are CJ7 grill style, with the right speaker moved to outside.
I haven't done much in the last week on my project, although I have gotten all of my parts in except the dash. Spent the week in NC on a business trip, but did manage to do some trading for a new set of wheels. Now I need some true on wheel size measurements. The wheels are 17x9 eagle alloys. 187 series. I'm thinking I want to run a 315/70/17, but does anybody have a set they can measure for actual height? My 35's actually measure just under 34 on the rims. Pic of the wheels is below. Next week I should get the hood, fenders, and grill off and to the body shop.
Hood and dash look great. I like the way the gauges look as well. The only constructive criticism I would give you is the oil pressure gauge is not to precise on the low end and we all know how these AMC motors like to run on the low side.