SonicCJ7 1983 CJ7 Build - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 19 Old 07-26-2018, 09:52 AM Thread Starter
SoniCJ7
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SonicCJ7 1983 CJ7 Build

A brief back story of how I started with CJ7s.

I bought my first CJ7 in 1992 at the age of 19. It was a 1982 Cj7 Renegade I6 5 speed(T5), which cost $2,500.00 if my memory is correct. The owner kept it in a barn where it could be parked without a top. I don't remember much about the test ride, but my dad and I ended up taking it home. The owner drove the Jeep to our house, while I sat in the passenger seat, one of the only times I would be a passenger in a CJ7. Halfway home the hardtop, which was strapped to my dads Nissan pickup truck started to slide off. We pulled over to strap it down and continued on. The top was broken and could not be bolted to the Jeep. During the ride home I asked the owner how the heat worked, meaning was it warm in the winter, he should me how to operate it instead. It wasn't until later I found out how the heater "worked" in the colder months. Once the Jeep was home I went out later to figure out how to put on the soft top. It took a while, but I figured it out, and would have it mastered by the end of the summer.

The day my dad came home with the plates was the start of what would become a life long obsession. Two days after driving all around I got stuck for over 10 hours in a wooded area off Rt9 in Natick Ma, now the site of Jordan's furniture. My dad came to the rescue with a come along and pulled me out. Before calling my dad we got two other trucks stuck trying to get to my Jeep. The only vehicle not to get stuck was a 1988 1/2 Suzuki Samurai owned by my good friend, which was the vehicle that made me want Jeep in the first place.





Most of us know owning a CJ7 in New England can be problematic with the amount of salt thrown on our streets. I have personally owned three CJ7s which have all rotted out. I patched the body on number two, but it rotted out again..

I bought this CJ around 2004 and I have to say after I swapped in my AMC 360, T-18, stainless hinges and added some new wheels and tires it was one of the nicest Jeeps I owned. It had already had a 1994 YJ tub before I bought it so I thought I had a good chance of keeping it for a while.







After 10+ years of being my daily driver it started to suffer the same fate as all the others. I tried to keep up with the rot, but it spread fast and once the frame was on its final leg I decided to park it.





For as long as I can remember I have talking about building a CJ7 from the ground up and how great it would be. Well last year my wife said she is tired of listening to me and told me to start ordering the parts I needed.
My third Jeep is going to be my donor for miscellaneous parts required to complete the build.







The First part I ordered was a new frame from Throttle Down Kustoms TDK.





Once the frame was ordered a full suspension system was next. Old Man Emu YJ springs with Crabtree Tool & DIe shackle hangers and shackles.











After a coat of Eastwood black chassis I started to assemble my new 1983 CJ7.





Now it was time to start ordering the drive line. I got quotes from a couple different shops to rebuild my existing axles and it was only a couple hundred more to buy a new rear Dana 44 from East Coast Gear Not to mention it comes with disc brakes





I went back and forth about rebuilding my Dana 30 or buying another full bolt in axle and decided to buy a Dana 44 front end from East Coast Gear. My decision was based on the amount of money for the parts and the cost it would be to have the gearing installed. I understand that I could have went cheaper and only replaced the worn parts on the Dana 30, but this way I have a 5 year warranty on both front and rear ends and should not have any big problems for a while.







For a transmission I went with a 700R4 automatic transmission with a Dana 300 transfer case. I went with the turnkey package from Novak-Adapters which included most everything I needed for the conversion.




After bolting everything to the frame it is starting to look like a Jeep.



More progress picture to come.




ED

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Last edited by SoniCJ7; 07-26-2018 at 10:12 AM.
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post #2 of 19 Old 07-26-2018, 11:55 AM Thread Starter
SoniCJ7
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My next body had to be one that would not rot out from under me again. I decided on an aluminum CJ7 tub from Aqualu Industries.







Aqualu is a great company to work with. They not only had my tub delivered in a little over a week, but they also cut out the holes in the firewall per my request.


I have since contacted them for advice on painting the tub and a request for a custom length transmission tunnel cover. Each time I called them they were more than happy to speak with me and answer my questions.





The bottom of the tub was coated in MP170 primer then Raptor Liner with the firewall getting some paint from touchupdirect.







Spraying the raptor liner was very easy and the finished products makes it look like I knew what I was doing.


Once the paint was dry it was time to attach it to the frame.





The interior got the same treatment as the bottom and the firewall.



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post #3 of 19 Old 07-26-2018, 12:29 PM Thread Starter
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To stay within the legal lift limit in Massachusetts I went with a 2-2 1/2" lift from Old Man EMU. When I ordered the front end I wanted to run a crossover style steering and not a Y-link. The East Coast Gear website saying that the steering box would need to be moved one inch forward to clear the Y-link steering. With the YJ spring conversion my front end was already moved 1" forward, so I thought the crossover steering would be the way to go.



Once I bolted in the front end I noticed my drag link was inches from my frame, and that was before the engine and body were lowered on the frame.










I contacted East Coast Gear who were very helpful in resolving the problem. They modified my existing tie rods and drag link to a Y-link which cleared my frame.



Now I was running into a problem with my pitman arm and drag link hitting the tie rod, which I was afraid with the YJ springs already moving the front end 1" forward. I already have the M.O.R.E steering brace to move the box forward 1".




Cutting the notch in the front cross-member of my new frame was painful, but was necessary to clear the hose.







To remedy my latest issue I spent come time on the phone with Del over at PartsMike. In the end we decided on a 1"inch shorter pitman arm. I know it will change my steering range, hopefully it will not be that bad.



Del gave me the idea of making a test pitman arm out of wood to make sure the measurement would work.





The pitman arm is now installed.


You will notice in the above picture the drag link with most everything installed on the frame is close to the swaybar again. I plan to make a bracket to move the swaybar forward 1" so that is clears the draglink.

Last edited by SoniCJ7; 07-26-2018 at 12:53 PM.
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post #4 of 19 Old 07-26-2018, 01:31 PM
NashvilleTJ
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Nice start. Looking forward to following along.


Jeff

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post #5 of 19 Old 07-27-2018, 06:29 AM Thread Starter
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This shows the Y-Link setup with the PartsMike pitman arm installed.


The drag link is almost parallel with the tie-rod.



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post #6 of 19 Old 07-27-2018, 06:30 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NashvilleTJ View Post
Nice start. Looking forward to following along.


Jeff

Thanks. I hope to be driving it this fall.



ED
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post #7 of 19 Old 07-27-2018, 06:49 AM Thread Starter
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For fuel and spark I decided on the Holley Sniper EFI with a D.U.I distributor.








Plumbed the fuel line, but I am not happy with the current routing.






Might extend both lines so they go behind the tank then and come up on the drivers side.
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post #8 of 19 Old 08-02-2018, 11:17 AM
gutthans
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Looks great. We seem to have found similar things on builds I have the ECGS front as well and the tie rod taps the cover at roughly 90% of full turn. Did you get your TDK zinc coated after it was welded up?
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post #9 of 19 Old 08-03-2018, 08:09 AM Thread Starter
SoniCJ7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gutthans View Post
Looks great. We seem to have found similar things on builds I have the ECGS front as well and the tie rod taps the cover at roughly 90% of full turn. Did you get your TDK zinc coated after it was welded up?
I did not get my frame zinc coated instead I painted it with Eastwood chassis black.

What type of steering did you get on the ECGS front end?
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post #10 of 19 Old 08-03-2018, 09:02 AM
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I'm using a 'BulletProof' fabbed cross-over. Basically drilling out the knuckles/pitman arm for a 3/4" F11 steel bolt that secures Heim joints. I put the tie rod on top of the knuckle and the drag link over that. No track bar or sway bar. I have a fair pic of my first one where I mounted tie rod under and drag over. This build I placed both on top due to the size of the Dana 44 up front. These joints are rated for about 10 years of service life and DAMN! are they stiff.
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post #11 of 19 Old 08-31-2018, 07:33 AM Thread Starter
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The Body is fully assembled. Now I need to pull it apart to get it painted.






When I bought the suspension kit I didn't want the Jeep to exceed our local lift laws so I went with the ARBCS037R springs all around. After getting most of the parts bolted on I was not happy with the amount of lift in the front. So I ordered extra leafs(OME D24XL) for the front of the Jeep to level it out. Not sure when I will get time to install them as I still have other projects to finish before going to the paint shop.
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post #12 of 19 Old 08-31-2018, 06:16 PM
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Thatís going to be a sweet build! Being new to jeeps I had no idea you could buy aluminum tubs lol. Your suspension knowledge is way over my head! Good luck! Iím following!

CJ7


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post #13 of 19 Old 10-18-2018, 08:14 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ7 Joe View Post
Thatís going to be a sweet build! Being new to jeeps I had no idea you could buy aluminum tubs lol. Your suspension knowledge is way over my head! Good luck! Iím following!

I learned about suspensions by reading as many forum posts as I could and calling a couple shops. Very happy with the aluminum body. Instead of using nuts on all the parts I was able to drill and tap each hole, which made it much easier to assemble.



I am starting to see the finish line now after getting the Jeep back from paint.







Made another order(lost track of how many in total) for some additional hardtop parts and some DEI heat wrap for the fuel lines.



ED
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post #14 of 19 Old 10-22-2018, 07:15 AM Thread Starter
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Resolved my front drive shaft not clearing the transmission this weekend.



The transfer case was already attached to the 700R4 from Novak-Adapters, I figured it would be in the correct clocking location for a CJ7. Before ordering the front drive shaft I wanted to have the jeep mostly assembled so I would know how long the shaft would need to be. This included the body, hood and fenders.



Once I received the front drive shaft I could see it would not clear the transmission. I spoke with Novak and they recommended I grind the pan down to allow it to clear. I went under the Jeep with grinder in hand. I removed an ear off the pan, but still had a major clearance issue and now I could see I would need to grind past the pan bolts to create enough clearance.



Out came the transmission jack to help clock my transfer case down one notch. After getting everything back together the front drive shaft just clears the pan.


(pictures to come later)


When it was still in my garage I installed the extra OME leaf to level out the from of the Jeep.



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post #15 of 19 Old 10-25-2018, 07:02 AM Thread Starter
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My plan is to have this ready to get inspected by next weekend. Hard to believe that might happen, given how long this idea has been rolling around in my head.
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