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1979 CJ7 "Spartan" Build Report

14105 Views 24 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  John Strenk
Hello,
So let it begin. I'm Jason from Austin TX. Just bought a 79 CJ7 to rebuild. I owned a CJ7 way back in high school and always wanted another to rebuild. I also owned a Cherokee that I loved and modified for a long time. I'm a tinkerer kind of guy that has other strange hobbies like building combat robots for shows like "Battlebots" so I have a welder / metal lathe / ect.

I have read many other build reports on here and though they are a great source of know-how. So thought I would document this so I could get help along the way. I build thread is a good way to make sure I keep momentum. Like telling everyone you know your going to quit smoking.

What I'm Starting with:
  • 79 CJ7 bought for $400
  • Dana 30 front Axle
  • AMC 20 rear axle
  • Does not have any drivetrain
  • Frame is in good shape...as far as I can tell
  • Tub has some wounds but overall am happy with it's condition
  • wiring is toast
  • Used to have a 350 in it according to P.O.
  • Missing seats / one fendor / from clip
Build Objectives
  • Get it done in 2.5 years
  • Frame off restoration (I'm a little OCD so will take my time and do it right)
  • No budget but am looking to but the best parts (within reason) even if it slows progress to save for them
  • Track every penny I spend and keep a running tab in the thread with prices
  • Not buy any parts before I need them (no body parts until the frame is done ect)
  • Engine should have 350HP (Have not decided on 360 / 350 /351W depends what falls in my lap)
  • Possibly a MSU "Spartan" Theme.. hence the thread title
  • 80% fun second car / 20% Offroad
  • Ability to run 35" Tires (but will run 33")
  • Try to do as much myself as possible but have others do what I know I can't do well (like final tub prep / paint / engine rebuild) ect.
Here are some pics of what I'm starting with.

http://www.maas.smugmug.com/gallery/6612141_PRD9H#421424561_Z4pUw

http://www.maas.smugmug.com/gallery/6702955_dpdhW#427896759_dUW6v


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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
First purchases (Books):
  • Book: Jeep Cj Rebuilder's Manual, 1972-1986: Mechanical Restoration, Unit Repair and $49.69
  • Book: Jeep CJ 1949 thru 1986: All s (Haynes Repair Manual) $13.98
  • Book: Jeep $7.47
  • Book: Jeep Owner's Bible: A Hands-On Guide to Getting the Most from Your Jeep by... $6.55

Total Investment: $527.69
 

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Good luck with your build. With OCD your kids will be in college before you are done.
 

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I'm somewhat local, let me know if you need any help or tools. I have lifts, stands, etc, and some CJ parts you may or may not be able to use.

If you want to do some welding I also have a welding project for you! :thumbsup:


My kid is also good with jeeps.
 

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Good luck Spartie... Really. Hopefully you won't run out of money before you run out of bandwidth. I've also kept accurate records of all the cash I've flushed down my CJ toilet. It's not a pretty sight when I look at it.
 

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SUbscribed! looks awsome - can't wait for updates - your house looks strangley familiar, anywhere near Samual Bishop dr.??? - I have a sister who lives in Austin - Good luck with the build Jason

just want to add, sometimes parts come along you shouldn't refuse - if a fender comes along - get it

oh and we love pics mmmmmmmmm pics

I love build threads:cheers:
Fran
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
So I have a lead on some widetrack Dana 44 axles and a T18/Dana 300 out of a '77 cherokee. Here is his description.

"'77 jeep cherokee, ft. Axle pass. side drop, backing plate to backing plate (54"), t18/Dana 300"

Remembering that I currently have no engine/trans/diff/driveshafts and am looking to put a 350 in this...

1- How difficult would it be to put these widetrack Dana 44 axles in while I have everything off the frame, and is it worth it?
2- This trans/diff setup seems to be pretty much what I want from what I have read. Reading around it looks like I can adapt this tranny to a 350 failry easily. Correct?
3- How much would you pay for the axles (f/b) , tranny and diff?


Not ready for them yet.... but need them and trying to find something local.
 

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So I have a lead on some widetrack Dana 44 axles and a T18/Dana 300 out of a '77 cherokee. Here is his description.

"'77 jeep cherokee, ft. Axle pass. side drop, backing plate to backing plate (54"), t18/Dana 300"

Remembering that I currently have no engine/trans/diff/driveshafts and am looking to put a 350 in this...

1- How difficult would it be to put these widetrack Dana 44 axles in while I have everything off the frame, and is it worth it?
2- This trans/diff setup seems to be pretty much what I want from what I have read. Reading around it looks like I can adapt this tranny to a 350 failry easily. Correct?
3- How much would you pay for the axles (f/b) , tranny and diff?

Not ready for them yet.... but need them and trying to find something local.
Looks like Novak has an adapter for $305. http://www.novak-adapt.com/catalog/kit_1415.htm

You should cruise Novak website and advance adapters for conversion options. Novak has a plate. You may find that Advance adapters has an entire custom bell housing to mate SBC to Jeep Tranny. I used to have their bellhousing connecting SBC to T150. Both Novak and Advance Adapter have technical people on their customer service 1800 numbers that have experience with most jeep conversions you could imagine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Ok.... so the jeep is in the garage and in the right location to begin to tear it down. Since I have no drive train and want D44 axles I have been shopping around for some axles and happened upon this deal. I found a guy that will sell me the complete drive train from a 77 Cherokee he bought and never touched.

Here is what the VIN number comes up with for engine/tranny

1972 - '79: Toledo, 4-speed, Left Hand Drive (Does this mean it was made in Toledo? And left hand drive is just the drivers side?)
1975 - '77: V8, 360 CID, 195 HP

I went tonight and checked it out.

Here is what I get for $400-$500
- Axles (Wide track D44, front is SUA and passanger drop and rear is SOA and also passenger offset)
- Transfer Case (Dana 20)
- Tranny (T18-1B) (Don't know gearing)
- Engine 360 (He says there is something wrong due to low compression so he never messed with it after some initial tinkering)
- All steering components including steering box if I want (I don't have one now)

So this looks a pretty good setup for me for the money..... so here are my questions....
  1. I would have to completely rebuild the engine, which I planned to have to do anyway. I was planning on building a 350 or 302 but with a stout drivetrain already attached this might be hard to pass up. If it has low compression is that a block problem or a piston issue? What type of HP could I expect from a rebuild 360? What can I expect the cost to rebuild this to produce 300+ HP?
  2. These are full width axles. What are peoples opinions on using these for daily driver use? I really don't want to mess with cutting these down.
  3. Since the back axles are SOA and the front is SUA should I convert the back to SUA with just new perches? Then I could use one of the widetrack CJ conversion kits with a standard 4" liftkit. All I would have to do is weld a new spring perch on the bottom right?
  4. Any issues with the offset rear diff? Will the wheel base be too short to handle the offset?
  5. Can anyone tell if these are flattop knuckles?
  6. The Quadra-trac was only on automatics right? Besides that I don't know how to tell if it has that or not...
  7. What other parts should I take from this thing?
  8. Looks like it has power stearing. I should be able to use this right? Any opinions on using this?
Lots of questions I know..... so any help is greatly appreciated since this package buy is a pretty important decision for my build.

Here is the all the pics I took... http://maas.smugmug.com/gallery/6799143_2cdy5#434503599_CdZX8






 

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Jmaas,

Sounds like you have some great parts to start with. I have a '79 that I would like to rebuild in the future so I'll be watching to gain some knowledge. Please keep posting. Also, I'm in south Austin and would be happy to help.

-Keith
 

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You'll need to get a different input shaft for that T18 as it utilizes the 'spacer'.

Going back to your original post you listed a couple objectives:

[*]80% fun second car / 20% Offroad

[*]Ability to run 35" Tires

The T18 isn't exactly the trans I would select for a mostly street driven Jeep, as it's basically a 3spd on the street. And shifts like, well... A truck. A Dump truck. You've got a CJ7, so you've got wheelbase. Why not an automatic? Since you want to run a SBC, a TH350 or TH700R4 adapted to your existing Dana 20 would work fine. And with 700R4 you get the Overdrive 4th.

An option for a manual trans would be the NV3500 5spd with O/D, GM used them in various trucks. They shift smoother than the T18, SM465, NP435, et al.

The stock axles will handle those 35" tires with a swap to 1pc axles. Again, you're 80% street and 20% offroad. I sense that you won't be beating on this vehicle after you've built it, so IMO, I'd save the $$$ to put somewhere else. If anything, swap in a set of WT's with matched gearing, that you can probably pick up for cheap. They are a direct bolt in and will provide a bit more stability on a lifted vehicle (remember 80% street). Use the money saved, to get some 4.11 gears to match the tires and the O/D transmission.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
You'll need to get a different input shaft for that T18 as it utilizes the 'spacer'.

Going back to your original post you listed a couple objectives:

[*]80% fun second car / 20% Offroad

[*]Ability to run 35" Tires

The T18 isn't exactly the trans I would select for a mostly street driven Jeep, as it's basically a 3spd on the street. And shifts like, well... A truck. A Dump truck. You've got a CJ7, so you've got wheelbase. Why not an automatic? Since you want to run a SBC, a TH350 or TH700R4 adapted to your existing Dana 20 would work fine. And with 700R4 you get the Overdrive 4th.

An option for a manual trans would be the NV3500 5spd with O/D, GM used them in various trucks. They shift smoother than the T18, SM465, NP435, et al.

The stock axles will handle those 35" tires with a swap to 1pc axles. Again, you're 80% street and 20% offroad. I sense that you won't be beating on this vehicle after you've built it, so IMO, I'd save the $$$ to put somewhere else. If anything, swap in a set of WT's with matched gearing, that you can probably pick up for cheap. They are a direct bolt in and will provide a bit more stability on a lifted vehicle (remember 80% street). Use the money saved, to get some 4.11 gears to match the tires and the O/D transmission.
Really appreciate your input... I want to clarify some of your suggestions.
- If I use the same 360 engine (after I rebuild it) then why would I need an adapter to the T18? In my initail post I was heavily favoring a 350 since I had nothing to start with but am considering going with this drivetrain as it sits.
- I havn't heard many things about the T18 being sub-optimal for street. That's something I'll have to consider (I'll have to find someone with one and drive it). If I keep the 360 and dana 300 I should be able to use a jeep auto that should be a direct bolt in right?
- The only direct bolt in WT axles that I know of are the 86 CJ axles which are difficult to find. That's why I was looking for some other dana 44 WT's that I could get a kit for outboard spring mounts that wouldn't be that difficult. What tripped me up here was the back axle is SOA, which I didn't expect. If I did use these axles the ratios would match.
- for what I am going to do with this jeep I could probably get away with my stock axles (so I agree with you on saving money), but If I can get the 44's, dana 300, T18, and 360 for $500 then seems to me I should do the swap now while I am tearing it apart.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Jmaas,

Sounds like you have some great parts to start with. I have a '79 that I would like to rebuild in the future so I'll be watching to gain some knowledge. Please keep posting. Also, I'm in south Austin and would be happy to help.

-Keith
I'm going to screw a lot of things up... so there should be lots to learn from..lol
 

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- If I use the same 360 engine (after I rebuild it) then why would I need an adapter to the T18? In my initail post I was heavily favoring a 350 since I had nothing to start with but am considering going with this drivetrain as it sits.
You won't if you stick with the Dana 20 transfer case that's attached to the 360/T18/D20. However: With the 'spacer', it's going to push it way back inside your CJ7 tub. Therefore, you will need to get a shorter input shaft and ditch the spacer. Or do something 'creative'.
- I havn't heard many things about the T18 being sub-optimal for street. That's something I'll have to consider (I'll have to find someone with one and drive it).
I didn't say it was sub-optimal. I did say that it wouldn't be what I'd pick for a mostly street driven CJ. Ya gotta trust me on this. I've owned pickups with SM420's, NP435's, and SM465's. You don't exactly 'rip through the gears' on them. I'm really wishing (because of the way my build has 'morphed'), that I'd went with either a T176, or figured a way to use a SROD, or rebuilt a JeepT5 with some world class 'guts' to go into my Ford 5.0L powered CJ5:


Instead, I bought into all the magazine/internet hype and went with a Ford T18 adapted to my Dana 20:


Yeah, I've got a heavy duty trans with a low crawl ratio, but I'm thinking now that the CJ will be 95% on the street, and 5% on the trails/dunes (instead of the other way around), I'd like to have the O/D. If I had a CJ7, there would've been an AOD in it. Ya gotta trust me again: It get's real expensive when you start changing directions.
- If I keep the 360 and dana 300 I should be able to use a jeep auto that should be a direct bolt in right?
You should be able to locate a TF999 with Dana 300 (stock in CJ's), if you want to go auto and AMC power.
- The only direct bolt in WT axles that I know of are the 86 CJ axles which are difficult to find.
Not true. Jeeps switched to widetrack axles in 1982 (other than the CJ5 that remained NT until the end of the 1983 production). There were some Dana 44 rear axles installed in the last production runs on the 1986 CJ7's.
- for what I am going to do with this jeep I could probably get away with my stock axles (so I agree with you on saving money), but If I can get the 44's, dana 300, T18, and 360 for $500 then seems to me I should do the swap now while I am tearing it apart.
It's all about the time/money/effort you are willing to devote to this.
The transfer case in your picture is of a Dana20, not a Dana300. The adapter for a T18 to Dana300 is completely different. Unless it's a rare IH Scout Dana300.

The rear pumpkin offset will cause problems the shorter the wheelbase gets. Drivelines can tolerate a bit of difference, but the shorter they are the more exagerated the problems become.

But hey, $500 isn't too bad for the parts you may or may not use. However, in my area, you can get a complete running Ford 5.0L/5.8L engine for the same money and have a 'state of the 90's EFI' system.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Not true. Jeeps switched to widetrack axles in 1982 (other than the CJ5 that remained NT until the end of the 1983 production). There were some Dana 44 rear axles installed in the last production runs on the 1986 CJ7's.

It's all about the time/money/effort you are willing to devote to this.
The transfer case in your picture is of a Dana20, not a Dana300. The adapter for a T18 to Dana300 is completely different. Unless it's a rare IH Scout Dana300.

The rear pumpkin offset will cause problems the shorter the wheelbase gets. Drivelines can tolerate a bit of difference, but the shorter they are the more exagerated the problems become.
Your right that is a Dana 20. Still a capable transfer case. Good job now you have me thinking in circles! :confused: I understand what you mean now about the WT axles. I am only willing to go through the work of WT axles if I switch them out to Dana 44's. It's always that debate of stay with stock and get it done faster or build it up (more complicated, more money, possible benefit in the future).

Thanks for all your input... appreciate it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Ok here is the one month update. Made some key decisions on the direction this thing is going and still waffling on other decisions. I think my wife is starting to wonder how I am going to get this thing done when all I do is search on Craigslist and read forum after forum after forum. The next step is basically to fab anything on the frame I need before I send it to sandblast / powdercoat.

- Parts bought since last update ($600 total):
  1. AMC 360
  2. T18 (Granny low)
  3. D20
  4. Front D44 from 77 Cherokee - Full width (~67")
  5. Rear D44 from 77 Cherokee - Pumpkin offset to passanger side. probably won't use
  6. Rear D44 from 70ish Wagoneer (~58") - Might not use but picked it up in case

- Major accomplishments this month:
  1. Removed electrical, tub, and gas tank
  2. Decided to go AMC power and rebuild a 360
  3. Decided to go with full width axles (still going back and forth on this but 80% sure as soon as a find a back axle)
  4. Sold original tires on Jeep for $80 to make room in garage
  5. Got my garage orginized in order to work on the frame and still allowing my wife and 4 kids to have some garage to use

- Things I need to make decisions on:
  1. Use the full size D44 from the cherokee OR the wide track rear D44 from the wagoneer?
  2. What wide axle kit to use if I have to outboard the springs (BTF is most likely)?
  3. Get a new gastank or not (I can't tell if the one I have is original or not)?
  4. Powdercoat or POR15 the frame (I can get it sandblasted and powdercoated for $500)?
  5. What to upgrade on the axles while I have them out (rebuild, lockers, ect)?
  6. What Tranny skid plate to use. Find a used stock one or buy an aftermarket one?
  7. What side steps to use (If I get weld on ones, I need to do that now)
  8. Need to undue the mod to the back bumper and figure out what I am going to need to fab for the back bumper?
  9. Keep SUA or change to SOA and then what lift / springs to use?

All Pictures here (http://maas.smugmug.com/Cars/668997)

Here is the motor as it sits

Here is the T18/D20 combo (Gonna have to shorten the input shaft)

Some Random tub pictures (gonna be fun when it's time to restore this..not)



Here is the front end without tub. You can see the new front full width axle (and a wagoneer D44 back I probably won't use)



Yup thats going to be a little wider.



Rear AMC20



Rear Bumper. Looks like they welded on another bumper on top. I can't tell what was original and what is new.



Is this a OEM gas tank?

 

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Jmaas, Looks good so far. I've done the keep all bills for the Jeeps. All I can say is wow that's alot of money. I then look at the Jeeps and try to wonder how that much money has gone into them and they are no where near done. I have to revive my post on trying to finish my two CJ's for around 4 grand.
 
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