JFab's 1983 Jeep CJ7 Limited Rebuild Thread - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 48 Old 04-26-2014, 10:39 PM Thread Starter
Jfab
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JFab's 1983 Jeep CJ7 Limited Rebuild Thread

Let me start off by saying that I have gotten a lot of inspiration from Ken's 1985 CJ7 refurbishment thread. I really like how he rebuilds things whenever possible rather than just purchasing new. I have tried to do that whenever possible, not only from a budgetary standpoint, but also because it seems that the OEM stuff rebuilt is very often better than you can purchase new.

I am further along in the progress than the initial posts will show. I picked this Jeep up and began working on it last July. I took lots of photos along the way, mostly so I would remember how things went back together. So here we go!

--

It all started last July when I picked up a 1983 CJ7 "Limited" in need of a tremendous amount of TLC. It has the 4.2L, Auto, Air Conditioning, hard top with factory headliner, color-matched wheels and fender flares, extra sound insulation throughout, and even real leather seats. The Limited was a relatively low-production sub-model of the CJ7, and they only made them for two years. When I came across this one, I hadn't ever even heard of a Limited, and I thought that I knew Jeeps. I thought that the Laredo was the top option package ever offered, and the Limited truly was limited!

This one had been a Colorado Jeep, and had rust repair over the years, but it was clearly losing the battle. It had been sitting outside for ten years on a farm unused, and I thought it could be a quick-and-dirty, in and out mechanical refresh and just drive the '7, warts and all.




As it sat for ten long years when my buddy went to get it

I used to own a 1983 CJ7, with manual everything and a T-4 4 speed. It was the second vehicle I ever owned at age 18, and I loved that Jeep! Though I've owned a few other jeeps, that's one that I really loved, and I was getting a chance to own one again. I couldn't pass it up.

I had heard about this Jeep from a friend who purchased it from a mutual friend's parents. Although this mutual friend knew I was a Jeep guy, I guess she never thought I would be interested in the old CJ7 rotting away up at her parents' farm. So, I never even knew about it until he told me he purchased it. When I heard, I told him that if he ever wanted to sell it, to please let me know.

Turned out that he didn't have the time nor the inclination (thanks Uncle Terry for the phraseology) to do a rebuild on it since it needed quite a bit of work. I saw it in his garage one day and just shook my head at it. It was a platform that had great potential, but I could see it would need a ton of work.

Well, the fellow ended up having to move, and he decided to move one less thing, so I got the call. Here were the pictures he sent.


With the windshield he picked up from Craigslist











Blurry pics showing it as it sat a couple months later

As you can see, there's a whole heap of potential and the risk of a little tetanus too. At least I could supplement my license plate collection with some nice crusty vintage maroon Missouri plates!

I borrowed a trailer and brought it home with me. The intention was a low-dollar mechanical once-over, and drive it while ignoring the rust, but that didn't end up being what happened.


At home in my garage

I discovered that one of the reasons he hadn't been able to get it to start was because it wasn't getting any fuel. Turns out that the fuel lines coming from the tank had rusted in half. I picked up a new battery, and checked out the electrics. When they checked out okay, I took a water bottle full of gasoline and attached some new fuel line to the mechanical fuel pump, which I then discovered was leaking. A quick trip to NAPA got a new fuel pump. I just wanted to see if it was going to run before I put another dollar into it. I was already committed to the CJ5 project, and didn't want to get into a second Jeep if it was beyond saving. He'd had it for several months and wasn't even able to get it to start, so I didn't know what I was getting into by purchasing it.

I wanted to at least take it for a short drive if possible, and make sure that the transmission shifted well and that the engine ran.


Showing redneck-engineered fuel system


Not optional with "redneck fuel tank" system. It's a must.

When doing the "redneck fuel cell trick" make sure that you feed the return line back into the bottle, else you won't get far, and you'll surely leave a huge puddle of fresh expensive gasoline behind you in the garage. Don't ask me how I found that out.

Next up: getting it out of park and taking a test drive...

I have posted up on my blog at JFab.com documenting some of my partially-complete 1956 CJ5 build. I decided to post this here because of the great community here on the Jeep Forum, and as a small attempt to give back a bit to those whom I have gotten so much information from over the last few months as a lurker out here. Besides, I think that more people who "get it" will be reading this than my blog.

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post #2 of 48 Old 04-27-2014, 11:56 AM
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Cant wait to see the rebuild. Subscribed.
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post #3 of 48 Old 04-27-2014, 02:32 PM
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Subscribed. Are you planning in repairing the tub (what a job), finding a donor or buying one of the new tubs from the Philippines? It's also got factory cruise which is super rare. Good luck!

1986 CJ-7 Laredo, 258, AX15, AC Dana 30/44, Ox Lockers, Howell TBI, DUI, 4.5" RE YJ Springs, 1.25" BL, clocked & twin-sticked Dana 300 with Lomax 4-1, 4.10s, 33s, PB, 8000# winch, YJ Roll Bar, Factory 20 gallon tank.

1984 CJ-7 Renegade, 258, T4, AC, Howell TBI, DUI, 2.5" OME YJ Springs, 3.53, 31s, PB, Warn bumpers & 8000# winch, Factory 20 gallon tank

1984 CJ-7 Renegade, 258, Auto, AC, 3.31s, PB, Factory 20 gallon tank, Bone stock except for 31s
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post #4 of 48 Old 04-27-2014, 04:25 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Subscribed. Are you planning in repairing the tub (what a job), finding a donor or buying one of the new tubs from the Philippines? It's also got factory cruise which is super rare. Good luck!
Well, since I am doing all of the documentation while I am way ahead in "real life", I could tell you the answers to the tub question. But, wouldn't it ruin the suspense? Ha! Let's just say that I was in favor of repairing the tub until I saw that literally EVERY SEPARATE AREA of the tub which are typically patched (floorboards, side panels, rear cargo area) were all shot. I did the numbers on the cost of repair panels, and the cost in time of both buying repair panels or fabricating my own, and it was a no-brainer on what what I had to do.

I had no idea that the factory cruise was so rare! I guess that's why it's hard to find much documentation on it. It is an interesting system with the vacuum canister and the valve which is activated by the brake pedal. But I am getting ahead of myself here...
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post #5 of 48 Old 04-27-2014, 04:40 PM Thread Starter
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One of the problems that my friend had with the Jeep was getting it to shift out of Park. It was bound up somehow, and I had to get to the bottom of it, because clearly it's not a good day if you can't get your Jeep out of Park.

Turns out that the transmission mounts were rotten. This had allowed the transmission to shift toward the driver's side and bind up the linkage. I was able to pry the linkage until I got the lever into the "Reverse" position, and was then able to move it freely between gears, as long as I didn't go back into Park. Clearly, the transmission mounts would have to be replaced, but remember, I didn't want to spend much money before I knew if the Jeep was going to be a runner. I didn't have a problem putting money and time into the Jeep's wretched body, but it would have to be sound mechanically to make it worth it for me. If the body was perfect, I could cope with mechanicals that needed help. I didn't want to have to do both. This was supposed to be a quick 'n easy project. I know, famous last words.

Okay, time to take inventory: Fuel getting to the engine... check. Shifting issue fixed (temporarily)... check. New battery... check. I thought that it was time to see if it was going to run for me. I cranked it over, and it roared to life. Well, I wouldn't say roared exactly. It had sat for a while, after all. I shot a little carb cleaner into it, slapped the air cleaner cover back on, and hopped in.

I gingerly shifted it from Neutral into Drive (remember, I can't put it into Park without crawling back under the Jeep and wrestling with that linkage) and I rolled it forward a few inches to make sure I had brakes before leaving the garage. Lo and behold, I did have brakes. If I was going to go into much traffic, or on a trip of more than a half-mile, I would have rebuilt at least the front brakes and bled the system before even taking it out. But again, quick and easy... gotta make sure it runs!

Wait, wait, wait. If I am going to take it on a cruise, possibly it's last in a very long time (or ever), I've gotta do it in style. Take off the top!


Universally beautiful, rust and all.

Finally, the moment of truth... Is this a rebuild candidate, or destined to be parted out?

Road Test Video (short)

I guess we have our answer. What had I gotten myself into?
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post #6 of 48 Old 04-27-2014, 05:28 PM Thread Starter
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So, we have a running Jeep. What's it going to take to make it a dependable driver? I wasn't worried about the body, at least for the time being, but I had to fix that shift linkage, transmission mount, and fuel line issue. I dropped the fuel tank and was very excited to see that it was a plastic 20-gallon one. The skid plate wasn't in the greatest shape, but I figured I would be able to repair it pretty easily.

The mounting flanges were pretty much gone, so I took some old scrap angle I had around and fabbed up some replacements, blasted them black, and called it good.



I scrubbed out the inside of the fuel tank with hot water and Dawn using a trick I learned here on someone's thread. I dropped a length of chain into the tank to get a little "scrubbing action" going inside when I sloshed it around. While I was flushing it clean, I noticed a small leak about 3/4 of the way up the side of the tank that faces the rear. No worries. I used an old soldering iron I had around to "plastic weld" the small hole by drawing the edges of the hole toward each other. Looks like a good seal was made. Replaced the sender and O-Ring while I was at it.

Just after doing these repairs, I was starting to get excited. I was about to have a working CJ7 on the cheap! Sure, it wasn't pretty, but it would be something that I could drive to keep my Jeep appetite satisfied while I finished my CJ5. The rust was something I could live with for a little while. I have a Nissan Titan LE I could drive when the weather was bad.

I was casually looking at Craigslist one day when the whole plan changed.

Last edited by Jfab; 04-27-2014 at 05:49 PM.
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post #7 of 48 Old 04-28-2014, 08:34 AM Thread Starter
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I had started to look at what it would have taken to repair the body, just in case I decided to go that route. I priced out the repair panels, and thought of all the labor involved, and decided that someday, sometime, I would replace the tub entirely. I know, it wasn't an "original" Limited then, but let's face it: I personally just wanted to enjoy the Jeep. It's a labor of love, and you just can't look at one of these things as an investment. Sure, if it was a 12K mile survivor, it'd be one thing, but this thing had been around the block.

Anyway, I was looking into a CJ tub swap, but the ones that weren't ragged out were eight hours away and the price was in the thousands. Then I came across lots of threads on the YJ body swap. It didn't look too tricky... Fuel door relocate, defroster work, a couple of body mounts, and some other miscellaneous bits and pieces. If only I could find a body on the cheap. I searched on Craigslist for "Wrecked Wrangler" and came across this:

















Just what I needed! Front end damage only, so the tub should be good. And, it was only about two miles from my house! Can you believe the luck?

I called on it, and it turned out to be a local wrecking yard. They said that they had a call earlier on it, and that a guy from St. Louis was going to be looking at it in the morning. He was interested in the tub as well. I was at work that day, and asked my Captain if we could take the Ladder truck over there before that other guy came and got it out from under me. I brought my checkbook just in case...

When I got there, I was more than pleased with the tub. It is a 1993, and no rust. I only had to work out a price with them. I asked what they wanted for it, and they said $600 if I pulled the tub myself, and $700 if they pulled it. I tried to keep a poker face, and asked if they'd deliver it for that $700 quoted price. They said, "sure", and I couldn't write the check fast enough. They left the tailgate, family roll bar, seat belts, taillights, and some other bits on it which ended up being useful as well. Anyone who has pulled a tub can appreciate the labor rate of $100 with delivery included!

I called them back in the morning to see when it would be showing up, and they told me that the guy from St. Louis had come early -- he was there not five minutes after I left and was furious that he missed out on the tub. Whew!

They were really nice fellas at the wrecking yard. They ended up giving me the parts they couldn't get rid of a few months later. I now have an extra driver-side fender, the two front reclining grey seats, and the grill. When I finish my build, I will have to start selling all these extra parts!

But wait -- I wasn't going to do a rebuild on this thing! When I got the body, though, I realized I had no choice.















Turns out that there was a bit of damage on the firewall, but it was easily sorted out by my local body shop. They got everything pulled back into shape and ready to go. I didn't need them to paint it, so it was pretty inexpensive.


Test fitting the doors

Next up: the teardown begins!
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post #8 of 48 Old 04-28-2014, 10:25 AM
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Ahhh, now I see where the 93 comes in!
Just curious, which grill are you going to use? I know it will take a bit more work to get the CJ grill on it but it has been done and it would be cool.
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post #9 of 48 Old 04-28-2014, 10:33 AM
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Nice
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post #10 of 48 Old 04-28-2014, 10:58 AM Thread Starter
Jfab
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cojab View Post
Ahhh, now I see where the 93 comes in!
Just curious, which grill are you going to use? I know it will take a bit more work to get the CJ grill on it but it has been done and it would be cool.
The YJ grill is right at home hanging on the wall of my garage, and that's where I'll keep it unless someone needs one. Since I am keeping the CJ hood and fenders, it is actually less work to keep the CJ grill as well.

I am just storing the other spare parts that they gave me until I have some spare time to put them up on craigslist. I also have some not Mague colored interior stuff that I am getting rid of as well. The sale pile keeps growing and growing.
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post #11 of 48 Old 04-28-2014, 10:59 AM Thread Starter
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Nobody commented on how well the hard top fits on a CJ5!
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post #12 of 48 Old 04-28-2014, 11:13 AM Thread Starter
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I kept a log of what I did and in what order, just to help in reassembly. I don't know how much good it will actually do for the reassembly, but it is good to know how long it took me to do the different tasks involved in bringing this Jeep back to a shadow of it's formal glory.

I am going to put up some the pictures I took of it in my garage before I started wrenching on it for future reference. This is going to be a pretty pic-heavy post.



















































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post #13 of 48 Old 04-28-2014, 11:17 AM Thread Starter
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And more...



























































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post #14 of 48 Old 04-28-2014, 11:22 AM Thread Starter
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I did have the fuel tank out when I took those photos, as well.

Day 1: I started out by removing the following: seats (front and rear), console. hood, battery, dashboard screws (I hate you, Mr. Torx, for your evil invention that I will grow to loathe over the course of this project), windshield hold-down knobs and plates, wiper motor bolts, steering column bezel, and emblems (Limited, CJ-7, AMC Jeep Flag). I also pulled the steering wheel, which is off in these pictures, but I ended up putting it back on later. I was afraid I would lose it.

Pictures after the first day of teardown:










PB Blaster dripping everywhere.




Crusty, but worthy of wall art. I saved this hunk.


The seat belts were over the top of the seats during the ten-year slumber. They left their mark.

I think that the only effective weapon against Mr. Torx is Mr. P.B. Blaster. I know I counted on him a lot during these early tear-down days.
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post #15 of 48 Old 04-28-2014, 11:36 AM Thread Starter
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A side note about the "Day 1, Day 2" thing. Thankfully, I dated all the entries in the logbook, and the way that Adobe Lightroom organizes pictures by default is in a format like this "DRIVE:\Picture Archive\YYYY\YYYY-MM-DD". I was pretty lucky to see that it would be easy to relate the pictures that I took during and after would pretty easily relate to what I wrote down.

Also, it might seem like not a lot got done some days. This is because I had to wait for the wife and child to go to bed then sneak out into the garage where I did my evil work by the darkness of night. Then, a shower in the travel trailer afterward if it was a bit too sultry in the garage.

Day 2: Mostly removed battery tray, what a colossal pain. Removed passenger-side fender to tub bolts, firewall-to-steering column plate, disconnected shift plate from shift rod, unbolted power brake booster from firewall.

Day 3: Removed tailgate, tail lights, spare tire and carrier, windshield extras (footman loop, wipers, mirror), disconnected most of dashboard wiring and labelled, removed brake pedal linkage on booster, removed visors, old alarm system, and the remnants of a disgusting, smelly mouse nest, which I didn't have the foresight to photograph. It was onboard the computer behind the dash, above the heater box. Thankfully, there must have been plenty of food on the farm, because despite the mouse nest, I didn't find any evidence of them consuming any wiring or anything of consequence.




























Showing my bag/tag system.

A lot of these photos were taken for reference for reassembly. Maybe they'll help someone else who didn't take the pics before they started tearing in.
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