tell me what you would do. '76 jeep cj-5 build -

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post #1 of 9 Old 06-17-2008, 09:25 PM Thread Starter
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tell me what you would do. '76 jeep cj-5 build

i could possibly be coming into a '76 CJ-5 for free or close to it and i want to know what you would do for a beach and little mud rig. its got a 304 V-8 and totally stock. this IS A BUDGET build, around 2500, possibly more. all labor is free so all the money is for parts. give me ur ideas, i was thinkin 4'' suspension, 1'' shackle, 3'' body. try to fit 37'' tires because i can get them for 50-75 bucks a piece. new gears front and back of course and rings, gaskets, ect for the engine. but i have been hearing some bad things about that enegine, if it is just a piece of crap then no reason to even try the build because an engine swap would be too costly, right? if you wnat to know anything else about it please ask, and post your thoughts of what i should do. this will be my first jeep and im really excited about it. all the help would be greatly appreicated. pics coming soon.

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post #2 of 9 Old 06-18-2008, 05:52 AM
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Too much lift, IMO, for a narrow track, 84" wheelbase vehicle.

Run a 2.5" lift, no more than the 1" shackle lift, and a 1" body lift. Body lifts larger than 1", IMO, create more problems than benefits. You'd be better off using a Sawsall on the wheelwells. With this setup: You can run a nice set of 33" tires because you shouldn't be articulating the suspension running on the beaches and in the mud. However, the tires will hit the front springs unless you add wheel spacers and/or adjust the steering stops.

Running a 37" tire in sand/mud on the stock Dana 30/AMC 20 axles is asking for a big bang. And even if you go that way, the lowest gears you can get that will 'match' are 4.88's. And 4.88 gears will have a very small pinion in the Dana 30. More weakness. Sand/Mud is about either flotation or wheel speed. If you are going to 'spin' the tires up to get through that mud hole, when they find some traction: Stuff is gonna break. That's a lot of mass rotating on a weak axle, IMO. And I won't get into the braking aspect, as the 76 CJ's came stock with 4-11" drum brakes. Drums + Mud/Sand = lot's of maintenance. Big tires call for bigger parts. Stay 35" or less, don't beat the crap outta the CJ, and you can run the stock axles with some low cost upgrades.

Here's three pics of my 76 CJ5 with a 2.5" lift, 3/4" shackles, and no body lift:

The last two pics are before I installed the 'guts' (motor/trans/tcase/etc). There was very little decrease in the height. The CJ has 32x11.50x15 TSL/SX tires mounted on 15x8 rims with 3.75" backspacing. I 'believe' that a 34x9.50x15 tire will fit, as long as I don't articulate the suspension to the limits.

Nothing wrong with the 304. It either has the narrow ratio T18 (4:1 1st) 4spd, or the T150 3spd. And the Dana 20 transfer case. All good.

As far as costly: Everything can be costly. You'll run through that $2500 quickly.

"In the end...It's all Hack."

Last edited by HackFabrication; 06-18-2008 at 06:28 AM.
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post #3 of 9 Old 06-18-2008, 04:45 PM Thread Starter
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thanks for the input, would changing the inner-axles to stronger ones help that issue. tires are so dang expensive now days these 50 buck 37" is the only thing within the budget
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post #4 of 9 Old 06-19-2008, 05:50 AM
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Originally Posted by locogringo View Post
thanks for the input, would changing the inner-axles to stronger ones help that issue. tires are so dang expensive now days these 50 buck 37" is the only thing within the budget
Buy the 37", sell them for $200 each, use $ gained to buy 33"!

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post #5 of 9 Old 06-19-2008, 06:53 AM
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I have a 76 CJ7 with a 304 and the 304 is just fine, if you want 300 HP than get an AMC 360 or a GM 350, but for your needs the 304 should be fine. The ignition on the 304 needs to be changed out if stock, the Prestolite is a piece of junk and will cause lots of problems. Get a later year Duraspark. Depending on how many miles and condition of the 304 should determine what you should do. If you can find a 360 with low miles and your 304 is old and tired than maybe that is the best route. There are no correct answers, you need to do some searching to see what you can find and than make the best decision you can.

Change out the rear two piece axles to one piece axles, new bearings ect. The AMC20 is strong, just need new one piece axles and some work on the tubes to make sure they do not spin in the diff. For your budget try and stay with the Dana 30 front and AMC 20 rear if you can. Of course if you can find a pair of Dana 44's at a good price that would work also. Just look around and go from there.

Front disk brakes will really help. Try and find a later year 77-79 with the big front disk brakes and move everything from the knuckles out to convert to disk brakes. There are some write ups on this so do some searches on this site.

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post #6 of 9 Old 06-19-2008, 07:13 AM
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Loco.......I have an 81 Cj-5, 304, 4"lift w/ 33's

I agree with some of the posters above about the lift height.....4" with 33's is the highest I would go for a street/ part time off-road Jeep.

So far I have not had any real issues with my 304. Just routine maintenance, and a few basic parts....The motor has plenty of power, but without the proper gearing it may feel a little sluggish even with 33's

If you have the AMC 20 rear end, you will not be able to run even a 33" tire for very long...the axles just cant handle piece axles will be a necessity.

Also on the lift....The CJ-5 drive shafts are pretty short anything over 4", i think, is going to cause a few other issues for you to deal with. You definitely need a rear brake line, transfer case drop....and with a body lift going higher, you'll probably have some clutch linkage to deal with....there's probably some things I'm missing , but I'm sorta new to this stuff.

Also, from my experience, getting a lifted, large tire CJ to go down the road straight is one thing, but getting it to safely stop in a slight turn on a windy day, at highway speeds is another issue.

If your a tall guy the CJ-5 is going to be a bear to comfortably get into and sit behind the wheel...I'm 6'6" tall and couldn't even fit in the Jeep to load it on the trailer when I got mine. I wound up cutting out some of the drivers side rear fender well, and moving the seat back about 4".....with a little creative sheet metal work, it turned out pretty nice.

I was on a pretty tight budget building my Jeep, without having access to a full machine shop would have forced me to spend a lot of extra $$ so.......
I'm not sure where you are in Texas, but if your in the Austin area, and need some help fabricating some things, welding, sand blasting, access to drill presses and other equipment to help keep you in your budget, shoot me an e-mail, I'd be glad to help you out.

My e-mail is

Good luck with you project.
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post #7 of 9 Old 06-19-2008, 12:57 PM
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Hee is mmy 76 cj5, 33X12's Narrow track wheel, 2-1/2" lift, fiberglass tub:

Lot's of clearance with no cutting yet. I must of picked the correct offset on the rims because they don't rub either.
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post #8 of 9 Old 06-19-2008, 07:56 PM Thread Starter
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you say the shafts are pretty short, will they work with 4 inch suspension and 1 inch(at the most) shackle. and then later adding a body lift if nessesary would effect the shaft angles, correct?

and as far as the axles go in the rear, something like this is what your talking about? http://

and i was mistaken, i looked at 2 sets of tires, the ones im going to try and fit are not 37's they are 36's but they are used, so they are not a full 36.

and going staight down a road at anything over 35mph wont be a prob, live in a small town (top speed limit is 40) and it will be trailered to the beach becasue the tires cant run high speeds( they are off the hummers in Iraq, offroad, or low speeds only) BUT THEY ARE BULLET PROOF!!

thanks for all the help, yall are keepin my dream

Last edited by locogringo; 06-20-2008 at 08:40 PM.
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post #9 of 9 Old 06-21-2008, 12:01 PM
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Heres my 76 CJ 7 It has a 4" SUA lift, Small shackle lift, and 2" BL the biggest thing for clearance is the tub and front fenders were opened up. The PO installed larger I fender flares off I think a TJ It comfortably fits 35's Im sure it will fit up to 38's but the rear axles is still the stock dana 20 once I get the new 1 peice or upgraded axles I will move up in the size

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