LJameson's 1976 CJ7 Restoration - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 19 Old 05-22-2020, 09:53 AM Thread Starter
LJameson
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LJameson's 1976 CJ7 Restoration

A little back story of my CJ7. My grandfather purchased this Jeep in 1984 for our cabin in the Sierras. According to him, it was a weird car buying experience. Him and my dad went to the sellers house to look at it, and everything looked to be in good order. The seller had the smog certificate, the Jeep looked to be in good condition, and drove fairly well. When my dad and grandfather went inside the apartment to complete the deal, the sellers family was in the other room talking on the phone frantically in Hebrew, and the guy selling it seem to be in a rush.


A few months later, registration and smog was due. My grandfather took it to a smog station, and the guy took one look under the hood and said "I'm not touching that with a ten foot pole!" Turns out, the previous owner installed a Holly 4 barrel, headers, dual exhaust and removed all of the emissions equipment. My grandfather gave the smog tech the certificate that the previous owner gave him, and the guy then informed him that it was a fake. Upset about all this, my grandfather returned to their apartment to confront them about it. He knocks on the door, no answer. He peeked inside the window and saw the apartment was vacant. He contacts the property manager, asking if they had a forwarding address or if he knows how to get a hold of them. The manager said "Oh yeah, as soon as they sold that Jeep, they got on the next flight to Jerusalem and left the country."



My grandfather then took it to a Jeep dealer in Fresno and had everything returned to stock, costing him a good bit of money. But now he had a decent, stock CJ7 to drive around the Sierras. When I was three years old, I fell in love with it. My grandpa says that is when I decided it was "my jeep!" and he would eventually hand it down to me.



Me in front of the CJ7 circa 1991.



Here is how the Jeep sits now, prior to teardown. About 15 years ago, my dad and I put a cheap 2.5'' lift, 31's, bestop seats, and a tuffy center console. 3 years ago I replaced the cheap lift with some OME YJ springs and bilstein shocks.






My plan: restoring it to 100% stock. I want this Jeep to look exactly how it did leaving the factory in 1976. I'm going to do most of the work, except the body work. Luckily, it has always been a California Jeep, so there is no rust on it.


1976 CJ7 Restoration:
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post #2 of 19 Old 05-22-2020, 10:21 AM Thread Starter
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Began the teardown by taking the grill and fenders off. Then, pull the engine/trans/tcase out as one unit.



One of the issues caused by the previous owner is the toe boards. He torched the corners out of them to run headers and exhaust. Now, years later, the toe boards have cracked and the body mounts are going through them. I ordered a new set from classic enterprises, and will have my body guy replace them for me.


Next, I moved onto the interior. I am lucky with this jeep that the dash harness is un-molested and still in excellent shape. Even the dash is still in great shape. The radio opening is still factory and uncut, I even have the original AM radio sitting in my house. The only issue with the dash is a hole drilled into from the previous owner for the choke. I plan to have all of the non-factory holes drilled into the body by either me, my dad or the previous owner filled.







Few other issues with the body. First, is both the doors are cracked in the usual spots. Even my YJ full doors have started to crack there. Second, the hardtop cracked where the liftgate struts bolt to the top. I have no idea how to fix it, but my body guy says he can.




The only body damage on the outside was caused by my dad. He used to tow the CJ7 behind our motorhome. One day when he unhooked it from the RV, he forgot to put it into gear or set the parking brake. The jeep rolled down our driveway and hit the fence, denting the corner.



The spare tire rack mount also doesn't look to be factory. Probably going to find factory brackets and fill the two screw holes behind the plate.

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post #3 of 19 Old 05-22-2020, 10:47 AM Thread Starter
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Got the engine on the stand and began teardown. About 15 years ago my dad paid a shop to rebuild the engine, and I suspected that they didn't actually rebuild it, but just pulled the engine out, replaced all the gaskets and gave it a fresh paint job. It seems that is true, since the bearings I took out are the original AMC bearings. Pretty impressive for 320,000 miles, however, the cam bearings are shot. That would explain the low oil pressure at idle.






Dropped the block and heads off at the machine shop for cleaning and inspection. The cylinders did have a pretty deep ridge on them, so I'm sure I'll have to have it bored out.

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post #4 of 19 Old 05-22-2020, 12:14 PM
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Very cool; look forward to following along!



Hoss
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post #5 of 19 Old 05-22-2020, 07:01 PM
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Interesting back story on that jeep. Looks good so far.
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post #6 of 19 Old 05-22-2020, 08:03 PM
DV915
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Great history with this CJ!
Iím curious, my 76 is also Firecracker Red and originally a V8 with an automatic tranny, so our Jeeps are almost identical. White interior and top on mine. The build date on my VIN sticker is August 1975 and the build number is 4762.
Is your build date and number anywhere close?
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post #7 of 19 Old 05-22-2020, 08:30 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DV915 View Post
Great history with this CJ!
Iím curious, my 76 is also Firecracker Red and originally a V8 with an automatic tranny, so our Jeeps are almost identical. White interior and top on mine. The build date on my VIN sticker is August 1975 and the build number is 4762.
Is your build date and number anywhere close?

My build date is much later than yours I think. The vin tag on the dash is mostly legible, except for the date. If I look at it on an angle with certain light, I can kind of make out April 1976.



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post #8 of 19 Old 05-22-2020, 08:53 PM Thread Starter
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Stripped down the doors today to bare shells. For the longest time I remember the fixed vent window seals not being available, all that has been available is the seal for movable vent windows. Trying to take the fixed windows out without destroying the 45 year old seals was proving to be difficult. Getting frustrated with it, I decided to take a break and search the forum to see if anyone has found replacements yet. All I found were older threads complaining that they weren't available. So I did some searching, low and behold Fairchild makes the seals now, and they are available on Rock Auto. The Fairchild part numbers are D4163 and D4162.






I ordered them immediately, and began tearing out the old, brittle seal to get the fixed windows out. Probably should have waited until I actually had them in my hand, but oh well. Now I can get the cracks in the doors fixed.







With the Jeep pretty much all torn down to nothing, I'm going to spend the weekend organizing and cleaning the garage. The engine dissasembly left a mess on my garage floor, and I can't stand working in a cluttered mess. Things will go a lot more smoothly for me if I have an organized work area for reassembly.
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post #9 of 19 Old 05-28-2020, 11:47 AM Thread Starter
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Spent the last few days cleaning and organizing parts. I have been soaking the rockers and pushrods in carb cleaner, it's impressive how well that stuff works with taking off sludge:






Unfortunantly, one of the rocker bridges snapped into two pieces while taking it off. I was planning on making the drive up to JW Jeep to pick up some other used parts, so I might as well throw one of these on the list.






I attached a plugged vacuum hose to the TH400 breather, lifted it and the tcase with the engine hoist and went to town on cleaning using 3D Grand Blast. This stuff is by far the best degreaser that I have used, blows Purple Power and Simple Green out of the water.



Now I'm at a debate with myself. The t-case has some discoloration on the back end of the housing, so I'm debating if I should disassemble it, clean the case really well and repaint, or, just run it how it is. I really don't need to rebuild the t-case, since I did that about 15,000 miles ago with the US made chain. You can see in the photos the paint I used is already worn off on the low-range case. The front half of the case is unpainted, and it cleaned up surprisingly well. The transmission is also fairly fresh, I rebuilt it about 40,000 miles ago, and that case cleaned up so well that it looks just like new without any paint or coating. There are just two minor leaks that will be easy to take care of: The t-case is leaking from the drainplug, while the transmission has a small leak at the kickdown solenoid connector.









Then I got around to taking apart the heater housing.






For the longest time I thought the lack of airflow from the heater was just a CJ thing. Even with putting duct tape on the defrost outlet that AMC decided not to plug (why?!), it still would only defrost the bottom 3 inches of my windshield. Well, I figured out that I have a restriction:





Once I got the heater box stripped, I gave it a good scrub using the grand blast. I have debated about painting the composite section of the box, but then that would get rid of the fibers that were visible. Since the box cleaned up well, I'll leave it how it is and only paint the metal sections. I also sent the heater core to a radiator shop to have it cleaned and checked. I could just replace it, but all I find are cheap Chinese reproductions that probably won’t last 2 years, so I decided to fix the original. My whole philosophy behind this build is "refurbished OEM is better than new aftermarket", so I plan to use as many original parts as possible.




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post #10 of 19 Old 05-28-2020, 03:28 PM
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post #11 of 19 Old 05-28-2020, 04:41 PM
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Great work so far!
Those TH 400 are bulletproof only 40K is nothing for that tranny.
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post #12 of 19 Old 06-01-2020, 02:52 PM Thread Starter
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Decided to try out some electroplating on some of the interior bits that are normally bare steel, and refinish all of the factory bolts that are left unpainted. I figured this will save me some money refurbishing the factory bolts instead of replacing, and it will satisfy my nitpicking on using a factory bolt instead of a hardware store replacement that doesn't look correct.


Instead of purchasing the kit from Eastwood for plating, I decided to make a homebrew kit. For the mixture, I just used white vinegar with a tablespoon of salt mixed it. I then ran two strips of nickel as both the anode and the cathode until the solution turned a aqua marine color. The nickel strips I purchased on Amazon for $9. For a power supply, I sacrificed an old phone charger I had laying around. The biggest factor is you don't want more than 1 amp of current running, and this one charges at only 750mA. Once that was done, I left one nickel strip as the anode, and attached what I was plating on to the negative side. All said, I only have about 15 bucks invested in this setup






I check on the parts every few minutes while I'm off doing something else in the garage (usually sand blasting the next parts to be plated), and after 45 minutes they come out done.





The rods are for the heater box, the top one just sand blasted, the other plated. Same with the striker plates, which the one I did seems to have some shadowing going on. Being that its the striker plates for the doors and they'll be scraped and often covered with grease, I'm not too concerned about appearance, I'm more concerned that they don't rust. Then finally the screws and brackets for the heater box cables. The one on the right its straight off the box, not blasted, while the one on the left is blasted and plated.


But all this got put on pause as my compressor isn't quite big enough for the sandblaster. Plus I need to install an air dryer, the tip got clogged from moisture while using it. My dad has a much larger compressor than I do, so I'll probably borrow his and pick up a air dryer from home depot.
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post #13 of 19 Old 06-11-2020, 11:05 AM Thread Starter
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Got the tub off of the frame. Now the body guy can do his work on the tub fixing the holes drilled into it, the corner dent and replace the toe boards that the previous owner cut out.





I plan on picking up the frame from his shop today to take home and start cleaning, disassembly and blasting everything. The reason I took the Jeep over to his shop with the tub on the frame was for convenience. Since it still had the tow bar set up on it from when my dad would tow it behind our motorhome, it made it easy to transport the tub that way. Plus, I don't have access to a flatbed trailer to put the tub on. I want to be able to have the frame done with the axles, engine and trans already installed before the tub gets put back on so I don't risk scratching it while trying to put the engine in.



My dad dropped off his compressor for me. His isn't much bigger (50 gal vs 40 gal), but it is MUCH quieter than mine. That alone just makes it easier to get the job done...



I got a most of the accessory drive cleaned up, minus the air pump. I sprayed the pulleys with Eastwood underhood black. Looking at the parts now, I wish I went with something with a little bit more gloss, but oh well.







I went to disassemble the exhaust manifolds for sand blasting, and even after a week of soaking the air tube banjo bolts in rust penatrant, the worst happened:



3 out of 4 broke on the passenger manifold. Not wanting to deal with that on the drivers side, I left it all together and blasted/painted it with a high temp paint meant for manifolds. Now I just have to drill out the other 3.


I also ordered a bunch of parts from Amark AMC. They specialize in Javelin/AMX parts, but have a lot of factory correct stuff that works for other AMCs including the correct style hose clamps.



The 304 sticker inspired me to get the air cleaner done. After blasting and painting, I stuck the sticker on.



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post #14 of 19 Old 06-14-2020, 06:11 PM Thread Starter
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Got the frame back to my house to clean and disassemble.






I pressure washed the frame before pushing it into my garage and tearing it apart. After cleaning, I was amazed at just how good of shape the frame is. The paint is peeling off in some spots, and there is a little bit of surface rust but otherwise it is in amazing shape. Looking at other build threads on here, I feel like I'm cheating starting out with a frame in this good of condition.






While I was starting to remove the steering box, UPS came with my order from McMaster Carr with my order for the heater box. I got distracted by that and decided to put it all back together. Using the 1/4 foam for the heater core, defrost and blend door, butyl rope for the seal from the back panel, and a high density foam for the blower motor, I got it all back together and looking new.









Now that the heater box is done (a bit out of order), I'll spend the next week tearing down the frame to get ready for blasting.

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post #15 of 19 Old 06-15-2020, 05:57 PM
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The 304 sticker inspired me to get the air cleaner done. After blasting and painting, I stuck the sticker on.


I've got one of those new 304 stickers and am restoring my air cleaner too! But what I'm looking for now is the "Heavy Duty Air Cleaner" Decal (see attached picture) indicating the filter part number to be used - to complete the restoration.

I haven't been able to find this Air Cleaner sticker, is this something that was on your air cleaner too?
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1972 CJ5 304 V8, 3 speed manual trans
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