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tbunch 10-31-2018 12:46 PM

Tanners 79 CJ5 Build
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After much debate I've decided I would toss my hat in the ring so to speak with a build thread. Not because my build is anything exceptional or anything that hasn't been done before, but more because I want a record of what I have done and if it helps anyone else out then all the better. For a bit I'll be playing catch-up logging my progress so far.

The skinny on how the jeep came to my life: About 2016 my wife had this random idea that we should buy a jeep, but not a new one, an older one. Being in Utah, jeeps are a hot commodity, but with some searching we came upon a pretty clean 79 CJ5. I think we paid $2700, which was not bad considering it had minimal rust. it had a 4" RC lift, T150 trans, 258 inline 6, 32" tires, overall not bad

Biggest downside was it was terrifying to drive, death wobble set in at 20mph and would be immediately followed by inevidable death in the form of a firey roll over once you hit 25mph. we trailered it the hour home because of this

this was the first thing to fix, new steering column parts, bearings, HD steering shaft with u-joints, new spring bushings, had a spring re-arched that was bent, replaced the steering gear added caster shims, changed the valve cover, dropped the gas tank to replace all the leaky rubber lines, general tune up with plugs, wires, dizzy, fuel pump and get her up and running, aligned it at home in the garage with the string method and registered it. Then fount the radiator was leaking so we replaced the hoses, had it cored and soldered.

I also hated the way the manual brake pedal sat so high, I found myself catching my toe on the bottom of the pedal and having to put to put effort into lifting my foot to stop, it was unnatural to me. So I went ahead and found a guy with a wrecked YJ and pulled his booster, MC and brackets off and in an afternoon had power brakes with a proper height pedal. Easy swap with a serious benefit. now she locked up all 4's with little effort.

This first part is really wordy with few pics since I had no idea how far this whole thing would go.. if I could do it again I'd take more.

Here's the jeep the day we picked her up!

tbunch 10-31-2018 12:54 PM

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Once I finally got her what I deemed trail worthy we took her on a shakedown run on a trail near my house. While we had a good time and it was nice to get it on the dirt, the immense shortcomings of the T150 bore their ugly head as well as the shortcomings of the RC springs and old shocks. The thing would basically break your spine every time you drove over a pebble. The trans on the other hand, which has a 2.99 first gear and the D20 t-case with only 2:1 low, coupled with the stock 3.54 gearing gave us a speedy 21:1 crawl ratio...laughable.. it seriously died on anything steeper than flat and you had to run at any rocks you wanted to get over. It probably looked like the first time I had ever driven a stick with how many times it died.. it just ran out of umph with the gearing.

Also decided that topless was hot in the summer, easy fix with a bestop bikini top!

tbunch 10-31-2018 01:06 PM

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Eventually the idea sank in that a trans swap was inevitable. After lots of research and debating between the near endless options, I decided on the 4spd NP435 trans with a granny low gear. This is where I got more serious about this, beyond just driving it around the block. After just a little searching I found a guy that had a 435 from a 66 F100 for $100. I thought this would mean It would be a cheap swap.. little did I know then. After much scheduling conflict, we eventually met up and I picked up a seriously filthy hunk of iron. The first pic is after substantial cleaning..

While it was sitting there I also found a great deal on some BFG KM2's, 33's, whole set for $100.

tbunch 10-31-2018 01:12 PM

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With the tires on and some 1.5" wheel spacers to make her less tippy I tackled the tranny. I started with a total tear down and rebuild, I was happy to find the inside was clean as a whistle, even the straight cut first gear was not tapered from being shifted in motion (FYI thats why these pop out of first gear for some folks, the first gear is worn).

Building the tranny was comically easy, it felt like building with kids blocks, the parts were so big and simple, I think I could rebuilt it on a trail if I had to, it was actually quite enjoyable. I also found a local trans shop that used to hold a contract with UPS to rebuild their trucks that all used to have this trans, so they had every part you could dream of in their shop for it!

tbunch 10-31-2018 01:16 PM

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IN the midst of this, amoung other things, I also decided instead of rebuilding the D20 t-case I would toss in a D300 that has a lower gearing. I found one that was twin sticked for $300. I planned to rebuild that, but it was evident it was recently done so I just re-sealed it and left it.

This necessitated I buy an adapter thought so as part of the rebuild I replaced the mainshaft as part of the Advanced adapters adapter. That was a painful $500 for the adapter.. my $100 tranny was getting expensive.

tbunch 10-31-2018 01:25 PM

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The expenses continued as with the new tranny I also needed new driveshafts. I found a local guy that was able to build me a new front shaft and a new high angle, double joint shaft with spicer stuff for $500 out the door.. almost too cheap to be true.. but they have been great since.

For some reason, at the same time I felt like I had extra money so I also pulled the rear axle off ang gave the AMC20 a nice workover. I threw in Chromolly 1piece shafts, had the tubes welded to the housing, grabbed a spartan locker, new brakes, bearings and a HD riddler diff cover. Got her all painted up and purdy.

As she sat I had a pinion angle of something like 17 degrees with a 14" driveshaft.. I tried first to shim it, then laughed at myself and took it all off immediately and cut the perches off and welded new ones on. (this was what prompted the diff cover since it was turned so much towards the ground)

tbunch 10-31-2018 01:29 PM

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I modified the existing skid plate heavily by chopping it up then using some trigonometry I was able to calculate where to drill the holes, I was pretty happy with myself, even though im sure there was an easier way.

I had a buddy bead blast it and got it all mounted up and mostly together.

tbunch 10-31-2018 01:31 PM

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it was about this time that my lil baby girl was born. that put a hard halt on things! haha

The obligatory baby in the jeep pic:

tbunch 10-31-2018 01:34 PM

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Things trolled forward nontheless and before the end of the summer I was able to take her out on a shakedown run and test the new gear. I was really happy with how she performed. While the only suspension mod was new shocks she could still handle 10 times as well as before because I could go slower and had the rear locked. It was a blast to get her moving again.

much more to update as I get more time, now back to work!

tbunch 10-31-2018 04:55 PM

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For most of the last winter the jeep sat with only little work being done here and there, the majority of this whole jeep fun is funded by sidework I took fixing cars, anything from brakes to full re-builds. At the beginning of the winter I took a pretty big side job doing some major work on 7 series V12 BMW. While the work was horrible it gave me the funds to really retrofit my garage into a shop for some actual building rather than just standard wrenching.

I was able to clear some floor space with making hanging shelves, build more workbench space, get a drill press, horizontal band saw, much better welder, plasma cutter, another grinder and a butt-load of supplies as well as an air compressor for the jeep and a few other goodies. I also was able to make a killer fab table/cart that could be its own build, while it wasn't part of the jeep build directly, it let me do everything I have done since.

NashvilleTJ 11-01-2018 07:19 AM

Great project. My first car was a 71 CJ5 - which was like 3 shorter in wheelbase than your 79. Im looking forward to your build.


tbunch 11-01-2018 08:26 AM

Thanks, I have a lot to catch up on to show where its at now, its quite a bit different, but the major changes are just in the works, I keep expanding my project scope, at this point I'm just about decided on cutting the frame and stretching it, still making decisions though, just trying to get it updated to that point so I can show all the progress.

garet.friedrich 11-01-2018 09:34 AM

Following! I'm in the middle of rebuilding my own 79 CJ5. Keep the updates and pictures coming. :PopCorn:

tbunch 11-01-2018 10:27 AM

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Once the "shop" (large garage really) was ready enough the first item on the bucket list was to ditch the mutilated skidplate/cross member combo. the idea was that I wanted to be able to remove the skid independently to work on the underside without having to constantly have a jack under there keeping the drivetrain up. I drew up some plans and did some measuring and got a pretty good looking piece together for the crossmember using 3/16, 2x4 rectangular tubing.

Unfortunately my stupid brain didnt account for the muffler so the lowered portion was too short... I hurried and build another one using more square tube but in my rush I did a terrible job and it ended up twisted and crappy. That one went to the scrap pile right away and I ended up cutting and splicing in another section of tube to lengthen the original good one. I added some flange pieces and welded bolts into the underside of the frame so I could mount it with larger 1/2" grade 8 hardware. I was pretty pleased with it.

Currently this is still on there, but it is going to be replaced, it really hangs down too far. Plus my welds were pretty bad since I was and am still learning (but much improved now)

tbunch 11-01-2018 10:41 AM

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Somewhere in there I also mode some modifications to my shifter cover to accommodate the new location of the trans and t-case. The top of the trans stood up higher so I added a top piece then made a side section to cover the larger hole I had cut our for the twin sticks. it fits well enough. I had also made a custom twin stick shift boot out of vinyl fabric as well to cover the hole, along with a bezel of sorts to make it look good, but in the end, once it was on the fabric was too stiff and blocked me from going all the way into gear so it was put on the back burner and ill address it later, its just an open hole for now.

The time now is 10:34 AM.

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