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AMC 401 Jeep CJ7 Build with Tech Write-ups and lots of Pics

21212 Views 59 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  jarcher401
This is a build up that my father and I started when I was 14. I am now 23! Everything has been done by us with mostly my money. It has been a great learning experience which has helped me in my career and through trade school. Most of these posts are taken from the blog my dad started in 2006.

So here we go.

March 2006

Here it is as we first layed eyes on it in May of 2004 at "The Jeep Shop" in Chester Springs, Pa. Originally from Florida, we checked the frame for rust and said ok. The owner would remove the 401 that was presently installed for a customer and we could have the rest for $500.00. The rest being a 400 turbo with quadra-trac. power steering, manual disc brakes and a dana 30 up front and amc 20 in the rear. Along with a tilt column and tac dash, a totally waisted body and a good set of sellable tires and wheels.

Here we are the weekend of 4th of July 2004. Now if that isn't a happy face nothing is. Powered by enthusiasm, I'd say. All we had to do to transport was to strap the torque converter in so it wouldn't fall out and load it up. That's Homer from "Moyers Car Care" of Friedensburg. Pa. doing the roll back thing, he's a real car guy that loves his job.

Here we are in Ghostbusters Headquarters, (got that sign from Burger King when the kids were younger, I think it's time to put it on Ebay.) Teardown began almost immediately, this is the easy part you really don't have to give a rat's a-- about damaging anything. After we got the front sheetmetal off, it was alot easier accessing the fire wall, wireing and brake stuff. Jeff is starting to get hooked on the smell of WD-40 though, it's like he can't get enough of it. We did tag any useable items and took lots of detailed photos for future reference. Believe me when I say it's easy to forget.

Well it just keeps going. Here we are two generations of Jeep building. Jeff senior on top in 1980 building his CJ5 and junior on bottom doing his thing at present. You just can't describe the feeling that comes from building a Jeep. The knowledge, respect, satisfaction, glory and bonding. All I can say is get your kids involved and they will gain all those traits. The memories that come out of something of this magnitude will last a life time. The parts hunting, bartering and trading. The new freinds that you will gain and places you will go that you normally wouldn't have if not for this mechanical wonder. And yes, even computer skills are learned when making up fake I.D.'s to get into those "no one under 18 allowed" u-pull junkyards. These are all life skills that will come in handy later on down the road.

After we rolled the chassis back into "headquarters" (damn I gotta get rid of that sign) out came the 400 turbo and quadra trac. These will be rebuilt and reused, we are firm believers in this set-up. Have it in my J10 with over 200,000 trouble free miles. Reliability is great, you can still get parts and the full time traction is outstanding. Did I mention a 401 is going in this? oh yeh, that's the title of this blog. It was originally a 304 jeep but a previous owner installed a 401 and the "Jeep Shop from Chester Springs" pulled the engine for a customer and sold us the rest for $500.00. I already had a rebuildable 401 core so wasn't worried. In the meantime we stumbled across a 7,000 mile rebuilt one. More on that later. We yanked the rears and leafsprings and was left with a bare frame. Found a couple of rust throughs, but all in the boxing sections, not in the major frame areas. This Jeep came out of Florida so it lead a better life than here in the northeast. We are also going to experiment with the 400 turbo by installing "switch pitch". This was used by G.M. from 1965 to 1967. What it is, is a variable stator torque converter which gives you hi stall, low stall in one unit. In other words hi performance and fuel economy at the flick of a switch. You can also split shift it as you manually run up through the gears. I have a couple of these transmissions laying around so I'll keep you updated. A shackle reversal up front along with YJ springs are also slated for this project. Want to go with wide track (56") axles. The front is no problem but the AMC 20 offset differential rear was never made in wide track version, because wide track wasn't available until they stopped using quadra trac after 1979. I am not crazy about using spacers with 2 piece axles, so we'll see.

April 2006

Now that we have everything disassembled we can clean it up. I had said that this Jeep came out of Florida, well I think some of it came along for the ride. Then they wonder why the shorelines are diminishing. We must have washed out a ton of sand. Took a long garden hose and fished it up through the frame rail, worked really great. Found two areas that needed replacement with fresh metal. It was luckily confined to the boxed areas where the metal is of thinner gauge and not in anything structural. Simply cut out the bad areas and bent and shaped new material and welded in place. Be careful in doing the welding as not to get one area hot at one time, it is possible to bend a frame rail, rather stitch short areas and let cool before welding again. Take lots of measurements before and after. Haven't decided yet on what primer and paint to use to protect this yet. Would like to rust proof the insides of the rails. I don't know if any shops have a long wand to stick up the rail and spray it from the inside while dragging it out. Maybe if somebody out there knows of anything they can let me know. I have time for this yet, as we will be doing fabrication next. I ordered the unwelded kit version because it was cheaper and I wanted my son to learn some valuable welding.
The kit number is 7686-20 for $165.00 plus $24.29 shipping. To line everything up I stuck a threaded rod through both assemblies and again took lots of measurements. At the time I hadn't yet ordered the Wrangler springs for up front and since the CJ springs are narrower I used the back springs which are the same width as Wrangler springs to mock everything up. Make sure everything is square to the frame rails because if not this will only shorten the life of the bushings. Had to do a lot of shimming and tweaking (sledge hammer) to obtain this. For more info on the pros and cons on shackle reversals check out JP Magazine they did a great article.

Well the springs finely got here. We wanted only a 2" lift for several reasons, safety, looks and the fact that a dropped pitman arm is not needed until after 2". We certainly didn't want to be bothered with bump steer, since this will be a daily driver and should be a pleasure to drive. We also wanted to go with 31" tires and with a shackle reversal kit it moves the front axle ahead by 1 1/2" which if you look at a side view of a stock CJ the front wheel is too far back in the wheel opening. So when you go to a larger tire you end up with clearance problems. The springs I got from my local Chysler dealer Outten in Hamburg, Pa. The service manager there is Brian Moyer who also runs Blue Mountain Jeep Alliance Club He is a real Jeep guy and he advised me on the springs. We used Wrangler front springs part # OK-BDS-00420 and CJ rear springs part # OK-BDS-00425. These cost a total of $317.89 and was cheaper than a lift kit in which we would not have used many of the parts and also this way I could mix and match Wrangler/CJ springs. The Wrangler springs ride softer than the CJ and are also wider than CJ so we are hoping the rear springs are not too stiff. The reason we didn't go with Wrangler rear is because they are longer and I didn't want to have to mess with relocating spring mounts. I guess we will find out after it is on the road if we made a mistake or not. The rear part of the shackle reversal kit comes with a bushing tube that must be drilled and welded into the frame. The instructions for locating them are based on an assembled vehicle with all the weight. We didn't have that luxury. The shackle must be a little past centerline with all the weight on, it will bump and actually lift the Jeep when it tries to move back as the suspension travels. We actually had them too far front and when I got the bright idea to compress the springs with a bar clamp, the shackle moved too far back and ran out of travel. So I had to redrill the frame and weld in filler pieces in the original holes. Oh well, lessons will be learned. The bushing kit is from J.C Whitney catalog part #38166 or mfg. part # 1-1005 or 1-100 and cost $29.95. They are of the urethane type and I am sure will squeak. Gonna try and install some grease fittings to compansate.

After hastily spending $250. On a wide track front dana 30 so we could obtain the 56" track we still were not sure what to do with the rear. As I stated before an offset differential amc 20 was never produced in wide track, only a centered differential version was made after quadra trac was discontinued in 1979. So after some very precise measuring it was determined dana 44's from a quadra trac equipped Wagoneer could be used by shortening only one side of each housing. This could only have worked out better if we would not have bought the dana 30 front. Needless to say we lost are ***** on that purchase. So here is how it all went together. Front axle from 1979 quadra trac Wagoneer, shorten driverside by 4" and move spring perch in to give 27 1/4" spring center to center, (which is stock CJ). This will give you a track of 56", equal to stock CJ wide track. The original long driverside axle shaft can also be cut down and resplined, no need to have a custom axle made. The passengerside spring perch is cast into the housing and cannot be moved, but just happens to be in the right spot, and since we switched to Wrangler front springs they are the same width as Wagoneer. Otherwise the spring perches on a dana 30 wide track are too narrow. This will also align the pinion angle up correctly. And remember that the shackle reversal kit moved the axle ahead 1 1/2", so if you stuck with a dana 30 you would have to lengthen the front driveshaft 1 1/2", BUT and this is the neat part, a dana 44 differential housing is 1 1/2" longer, OH YEH, a stock front driveshaft bolts right up, no lengthening. Use the Wagoneer spring u bolt plates and relocate the driverside shock mount to match the passengerside. Upper wide track bolt on shock mounts will have to replace the welded on narrow track shock mounts.
Okay, rear dana 44 from 1979 quadra trac Wagoneer. Shorten the driverside by 2 3/4" and relocate the spring perches to the bottom. Again the stock axle can be shortened and resplined. The differential center line will still be off center by 1 1/2" from the transfercase but if you use a double carden driveshaft it will eliminate any vibration. The alternative to this was to shorten the passengerside by 1 1/2" and the driverside by 1 1/4" but then you would have to get custom axle shafts made for both sides. It worked out cheaper to have a double carden driveshaft made. The rear spring u bolt plates are stock CJ with the shock mounts with the u bolt holes elongated with a milling machine tc accommodate the bigger diameter axle.
So there you go strong dana 44's front and rear to handle all the torque from that 401. We stayed with the 6 bolt lug pattern because we had factory chrome wagon wheels and is a stronger set-up. This also gives you G.M. type front disc brake calipers which I prefer over the CJ type, a little easier to change pads. Keen eyes will see no rear brakes, you can stick with the drums or go with rear disc brakes like we are.

May 2006

This post will get a bit technical so if part numbers and details bore you, you might want to move on. If you think you might like to duplicate a steering set-up like this then I can save you a lot of aggravation and money on Advil, read on because this turned out pretty sweet.
Do in part to switching to Dana 44's and keeping the Wagoneer spindles we ended up with only one tie rod end hole on the passenger side instead of two like the CJ. This proved to be troublesome in figuring out a tie rod set up. The Wagoneer tie rod has an intregrated tie rod end and would have to be shortened. We wanted to eliminate problems in the future when a tie rod end goes bad that another custom tie rod wouldn't have to be made plus the down time. Also with the shackle reversal moving the axle forward 1 1/2" brought the tie rod that much closer to the pitman arm. I see now why M.O.R.E. doesn't recommend a dropped pitman arm, it would obviously hit the tie rod. But we wanted to keep everything as parallel as possible to eliminate bump steer with the 2" lift and that meant a dropped arm. The dropped arm came from a 1987 Wrangler (square headlight) as did the beefier sway bar. The good old boys at B & S Auto Parts in Pine Grove loaned me an extra spicer parts book and after a few nights of reading and measuring I decided on a tie rod end incorporating a tapered hole for a drag link for a 1/2 ton Chevy. This gave me the same size ball end as a Wagoneer (bigger than a CJ) and the extra hole that was needed for the drag link that was eliminated off the spindle. (Spicer part number 401-1275. cost $18.29) The only problem is that this end is designed for the driver side of the Chevy thus the tapered hole, which was designed for a steering dampener was facing the wrong way, but happened to be smaller than the draglink tapered end. The hole had to be enlarged from the other end. So I did some searching for tapered reamers and found what I needed on Ebay. Damn isn't technology great? The reamer is an Xcut brand #5952, 1 1/2" taper per foot, bought from Ebay seller tltrades at his Ebay store XKUT for $47.99. I measured with a dial calipers what the large diameter of the hole should be and put a piece of tape on the reamer to get the depth, then mounted the tie rod end on a drill press and slowly reamed it out. The driverside tie rod end is a Spicer part number 401-1134, cost $34.89. The main tie rod is the only mildly custom part, but if you never damage it, will never need to be replaced. It is made from a 1979 Jeep J10. I have seen these in 2 versions totally straight or a bend to give extra clearance for the pitman arm, get the straight one. Cut off the end with the lefthand thread to a length of 32" and have the end rethreaded 7/8 - 18 left hand, this will be the only machine shop work performed, unless you have access to one. I am a machinist by trade so I was able to take it to work and wrote a program for a cnc lathe and thread it there. You will also have to put a bend in it, at a 13" centerline from the lefthand threaded end to clear the pitman arm. ( Of course do this after it's rethreaded or you wont be able to chuck it in a lathe.) The bend was perfomed with a hydraulic pipe bender from Harbor Freight item number 32888-svga cost $74.99 and a little bit of heat. The tie rod end and tie rod are connected with Spicer adjuster sleeves part number 425-1002 cost $7.33 each. The drag link is a Spicer part number 405-1009 cost $46.00. The threaded end was shortened by 1" and rethreaded with a 7/8 - 18 righthand die purchased from MSC part number 03938180 cost $32.62. A Spicer tie rod end, part number 401-1224 cost $49.88 and another adjuster sleeve rounds out the drag link. Connect this end to the Wrangler pitman arm. As you can see everything is pretty well parallel and as the suspension travels the pitman arm now clears the bend in the main tie rod. You can also install a shock dampener and brackets from a J10 with no clearance issues. The sway bar from the Wrangler can be mounted in the stock location on the frame, but the legs are straight unlike the curved down ones on a CJ requiring longer connecting links and is also wider. Well it just happens that unmodified links from a J10 are the correct length, but will have to be mounted on the inside of the swaybar instead of the outside. The tapered holes in the sway bar are facing the wrong way for this. You know that reamer that was purchased for the tie rod end? Yep, same size, just mount on a drill press and ream half way thru and the tapered bolt can then be used from the J10. This makes for one beefy set up with full adjustability, and readily available replacement parts that can be easily modified at home.

I told you earlier I would fill you in on a 401 that I stumbled on, so here it is. I called Jasper Motors about a 4.2 engine for my Eagle and just for the heck of it asked if they had any 401's. The guy laughed, said "the last core that came thru here was $1000.00." I told him about the CJ project, and he said "you should talk to my brother Ross Peterson, he's an AMC guru." Called him up and told him what we were into and he asked if we had the 401 built yet? No we aren't that far yet. Wanna buy one already built with 7000 miles on it? Turns out he built it himself for a Wagoneer he had, then ended up selling it minus the engine to a friend of his. It is built basically stock .030 over with premium parts and then balanced, has a rare R4B Edelbrock intake that was made for AMC to use in the SC/Ramblers. The torque curve is a little too high for the CJ, so we will be selling the intake. In the Wagoneer with a 400 Turbo and quadra trac, on a wet road moving at speed and dumped it into 2nd gear it would brake all 4 tires loose. By this time I'm figuring this thing is out of our price range, but had to ask how much? $3000.00!! Crap, I can't have one built for that. The bad part was he already sent adds out to AMC publications to sell it, but they didn't hit the news stands yet. So I had very little time to think it over. So needless to say I sent a down payment and picked it up 2 months later. He had a really nice run stand, so we could hear it run. You could actually put your hand on the valve cover and hardly feel it running that's how well balanced it is. Can't wait to get this thing installed.

Moving to the rear we added a sway bar from Addco Manufacturing They make sway bars for all sorts of vehicles. (Got one for my J10 years ago and they even made a special one for my CJ5). Part number OOK1-260-OU. 3/4" diameter and cost $134.00 for the CJ7. I was a little leary that the bend in the center of it was going to clear the offset differential. Turned out the way they wanted it installed, this was going to interfere with our exhaust plans. It was to be installed with the center bend going over the driveshaft, fastened to the bottom of the frame rails, with the legs pointing towards the back and the ends fastened to the top of the leaf springs. Our plans for a dual in/dual out transverse muffler hung from the crossmember above the axle wasn't going to cut it. So I turned it around with the legs facing forward and the centered bend going over the top of the axle the way I originally thought it was to be installed. Luckily there was enough clearance for the offset differential. Had to fabricate mounts welded to the top of the axle tubes, and then another set of wedge shaped mounts welded under the frame rails. I used their u-brackets, but ran into a problem with their links not long enough. Did some measuring and determined that a set I had for the front of my 1967 Olds 442 were the perfect length. These are made by TRW,,,FF.html part number 18053. The rear shocks were gotten thru B & S Auto Parts. They were kind enough to copy spec pages out of their Monroe gatalog, took that and determined which ones we needed, they are part number 34802, cost $77.95.

How about a little driveshaft technology? Since we put a 2" suspension lift on this thing and with the longer pinion nose of the Dana 44 the already short drive shaft exceeded the 10 deg. max angle per a single u-joint. Plus looking down at the driveshaft it did not line up with the differential by 1 1/2". So now we have a compound angle to deal with. Everything I have read states that if the pinion angle is parallel with the output shaft and it doesn't exceeds 10 deg. a single u-joint can be used at each end. What a lot of people do if the angle does exceed 10 degs. is they tilt the pinion up so that it is parallel with the driveshaft. That's ok if you run a double carden joint on one end and a single on the pinion end. You see it takes 2 u-joints at the same angle to cancel out any vibration, as they turn they do not run at a steady speed, they run fast & slow. Therefore a second joint on the same end is needed to cancel out any vibration. When the driveshaft is parallel to the axle it will not set up a vibration. In our case we could have gotten away with tilting the pinion up if the pinion would have been in a straight line to the driveshaft looking down on it, but it was 1 1/2" off center. (compound angle) So we needed a double carden on each end to cancel out 2 different alignment issues. Several shops told me it would only vibrate slightly at different times and that a double carden was not needed. Well this thing is going to be street driven, and if it can be built with no vibration, then it will be built with no vibration. I knew of Tom Woods but figured a local shop would be cheaper. The same shop that shortened the axles also did driveshafts. So I told Hartman Driveshaft and Axle, of Reading Pa. what I wanted. At first he claimed that we didn't need a double carden on each end that the vibration would be minimal. I persisted, even gave him some carden yokes to reuse and gave me a verbal quote of $500 to $600. Till it was all said and done the total was $944.73. OUCH!!! Now don't get me wrong, this shop does super quality work, did a great job on the axles, and takes pride in their workmanship. The killer driveshaft will never brake and the quality is impeccable, I'm just saying, shop around. I could have had the same shaft built by Woods and delivered to my door with a warranty for $650.00. Oh well, at least the front drive shaft is stock and only will require a rebuild.

A little safety goes a long way in the shop, and we always try to practice that. Here is Jeff drilling out some reinforcement plates for the front shock mounts. The originals were shorter and welded to the frame, but since we switched to a wide trac axle we needed the longer shock towers as on the later Jeeps. I think the frame I took these off of had crush sleeves inside the frame rails, so we added these plates to eliminate any collapsing of the rails. Front shocks, again the good boys at B & S Auto Parts came thru with technical data so I could measure and come up with a standard shock. Also Monroe, part number 34821, cost $73.46. I took measurements off the donor frame but then moved them front to coincide with the shackle reversal moving the axle ahead. I also took a hole saw and drilled a drain hole at the bottom outside of the shock tower to eliminate any dirt and water being trapped between the shock mount and frame.

We picked up this 20 gal. poly. gas tank at the Blue Mountain Jeep Alliance yearly flea market in Orwigsburg for $20.00 and a skid plate from I guess a Wrangler at EZ Pull & Save in New Ringgold. (Phone 570-386-2171). All we had to do was lower the skid plate and change it from two hold down straps to one. A length of steel was added to the second crossmember to achieve this. Also sliced a little off the right side to clear the leaf springs. A new rear crossmember was fabricated from 2 x 4 box tubing. Just cut holes in for the frame rails and slid it on. Take notice we had to reverse the shackle mounts to clear the new crossmember because it is bigger than the frame. The centerline of the shackle pivot point was kept the same so as not to disturb the geometry. The old tub was set on to scribe a radius on the ends of the crossmember to match the body. This will give a bit more protection for the corner of the body and I never liked how the factory crossmember looked anyhow. We are also thinking about notching out the crossmember for the exhaust, this should look pretty trick. We'll just take a piece of pipe and slice it in half and notch out the crossmember and weld it in place, sort of muscle car era look.

July 2006

Finally, "the body". Bought the tub, fenders and hood from Shell Valley out of Nebraska I was a little leary buying sight unseen but they had a good reputation and the guy I dealt with "Dana" seemed pretty knowledgeable and up front. Little did I know but these guys are really into what they do. Shipping would have been $500.00 but I found out that they come into Carlisle for the kit car show with their cobra bodies so I asked if they had room to bring my body along and they obliged and only charged me $300.00 for shipping. Body cost was $2,174.00. Well I must say I was very happy when I saw the quality of the body. Double wall construction. All the other bodies I have seen had one downfall, the upper back corner of the door opening, where the door latch is, flexed and made shutting the door a chore. I can tell you right now, this one don't give at all. The tailgate opening was my other concern, would the stock steel tailgate fit. I positioned ours and had a nice even gap all the way around. I can only hope the steel doors will fit the same. They did bring a fiberglass windshield along at my request to look at. They explained that if you run with a soft top or no top that they have a tendency to flex, but is alright with a hardtop. The quality again was first rate but with the chances of this hardtop coming off I passed in favor of a steel one. I just know it will rust, you just can't seal them totally. Maybe I'll just have to try a little harder to convince Jeffrey to leave the hardtop on. To transport the body I cut some 2 x 6's to fit across the bedliner and ran straps to the hold downs at the front and back near the floor, this way the box for the hood slipped right underneath and the fender boxes I put in the tub. Next post I'll have some installation tips.

ust thought I would show you the one man lifting device I made. I took a length of rectangular tubing and sliced it (channel would also work I just didn't have any) then welded on some slotted pieces to hook a length of chain into. A piece of 3/4" thick wood goes between the body and the tubing (now channel) to protect the body. A length of pipe longer than the body is wide was cut with a piece of metal with a hole in to fit my chain hoist was welded in the middle along with 2 bolts (heads down) to keep the length of chain from sliding on each end spaced just a little wider than the body. The center link of each chain was painted red for easy identification of the center link. Just hook the ends onto the bracket and run up over the pipe onto the bolts. The channels can be slid front or back to find the balance point of the body.

Lost no time in placing the body on the frame, (just had to see how it looked). Even the rollbar fits well. I had gotten an installation video from 4 wheel drive hardware to get a little educated, and picked up a few things from it. The way they start out, they place four 2" spacers at the middle mounts and measure the remaining mounts, then mount the hood, then the fenders and grille and whatever length mount the grille takes that's what is is. My problem with this method is that it wont always cosmetically look ok. I wound up with way too much of a gap at the rear crossmember and next to none at the grille. Trying to correct this we kept adjusting the mount lengths in the middle which kept rocking the gaps back and forth. I finally got tired of doing this so instead I started with the rear crossmember, Got a nice 1/2" gap then put two 1" mounts up front as a starting point. I checked for clearance in the middle which was ok. Then the hood was mounted, the fenders and the grille. The grille mount was adjusted until it was cosmetically correct by lifting the front of the tub which in turn allowed the front body mounts to fall into place. Now that the front and back where correct we made sure everything cleared in the middle, measured the rest of the body mounts and cut them. Now keep in mind we put no body lift on this, if you do, it can still be done using this method with a lot less hassle. Reinforcing strips are used at the mounting points of the body and fenders. This made for a very ridgid setup, you could actually lift at the grille and lift the front of the body if needed. I can remember going to shows and seeing Jeeps with no body lift with a very unsightly gap at the rear crossmember or at the grille. If you start in the back this can be elliminated. Again I can't say enough about this Shell Valley body. Give them a call or check them out on the web.

In this view you can see the difference that the shackle reversal made in moving the front axle ahead, centers the wheel a little better in the opening. Can't wait to get those 31's mounted on those factory chrome wagon wheels. Had to cut out for the taller wide track shock mounts, a saber saw made quick work of this. Start out by cutting only a little at a time. It's easier to remove than to add. We will probably add a rubber shield to cover the outside of the shock and mount to help cut down dirt from entering into the engine bay.

August 2006

Jeffrey wanted some kind of hood scoop for the CJ and we had looked at some "Bulge Hoods" which all had a raised center section but it just took away from the classic design that he wanted to retain. So the search was on. We needed something that would be close to the shape of the center raised section of a stock hood and the 401 emblems had to fit on the sides (that was a must) . These emblems were puchased off Ebay from member "berg102" These are really top quality metal (not plastic) hand painted U.S. made. The hood scoop came from CJ Pony out of Harrisburg, Pa. This is strickly a Ford Mustang store so we felt a little out of place, but the people could not have been nicer. They even went out to the dumpster for a piece of cardboard so we could scribe a footprint of the scoop so we could see before we bought it, if it would fit the hood. The hood scoop had to clear the Laredo stripes we planned for the Jeep. If we would use it with the opening towards the front it would interfear with the stripes. So Jeffrey decides "how about cowl induction"? So we turned it around with the opening in the back and everything should clear. We might order a stripe kit first to make sure. As you can see this thing comes with studs glassed in so installation should be a snap. Stay tuned for the installation.

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September 2006

Installation of the hood scoop went better than we thought. As mentioned earlier we weren't sure if it would clear the factory Laredo stripes. I was pondering this at work one day (yes sometimes I do have time to daydream in between pushing the cycle start button on that cnc machine) and remembered the all original 1981 Laredo setting along this guys house we spotted several years earlier. So we cut out a cardboard template and went on a road trip. The guy had no problem with us checking out the fit, after he removed the machete from the hood. (I guess it was there to scare off nosy Jeep enthusiasts). As luck would have it, the scoop would clear with no modifications. We just marked the centerline of the hood on the hood and template, lined up the template front to back on the line and after making sure the back mounting studs would clear the underhood bracing, drilled out the six holes. Some fender washers and nuts and it was in place. The studs will later be cut off and capped with acorn nuts for a more sanitary look. Since it was mounted cowl induction style, we trimmed the bottom of the opening to angle front for a more scoopy (is that a word?) affect. We were after a different look without being too bazaar. The bulge hoods just stuck out too much, too obvious. This is a more subtle look without taking away from the classic Jeep look and adds a little hint of muscle car flavor, plus gives us a mounting surface for those all important 401 emblems.

We decided to tuck the exhaust up a bit higher so that means notching out the rear crossmember, again for that muscle car era look. It really didn't take that much time other than measuring several times before cutting. Something anybody with a drill press and welder could do. We decided to go with 2 1/2" exhaust diameter so we got some 3" diameter pipe, cut it to the length that the crossmember is thick then sliced it a little less than half. Used a hole saw the same diameter as the outside of the pipe. Since the pilot drill on the hole saw would not be engaged in the crossmember during cutting you must securely (and I do mean securely, otherwise it will kick back) clamp the crossmember to the drill press table. Use a slow rpm, a light feed and plenty of cutting oil. Once that was cut thru simply lay the section of pipe in and weld. Finish it off with some grinding and you end up with a personal custom touch, not really noticeable to the casual observer but somebody looking over the details of your rig will appreciate. I guess sort of a wow factor. Not that this thing with a 2" lift really needed the extra ground clearance with tucked up exhaust, it was just something we wanted to do and it was easy.

Frame ties, If you got a fiberglass body don't leave home without them. I have seen these thing in alot of variations, some good and not so good. Now I don't proclaim to be an expert, or posses any mechanical engineering knowledge, but some how I don't think a section of 1 1/2" pipe welded to the side of the frame is going to do much to save your *** in the event of a roll over. This is my kids life on the line. After much thought on this subject we decided to go with 2 x 3 x 1/4 wall rectangular tubing. Maybe a little overkill but I don't think so. I took an adjustable bevel gauge to get the angles and transferred them to cardboard, made some adjustments then transferred these to a piece of 2 x 3 wood. Kept tweaking the angles on my radial arm saw then finally put it to metal. All I did was cut a v shaped section at the bend, not cutting thru the one wall, that way I wouldn't have to rely totally on my weld. Just heat up the area of the wall and bend close and weld the 3 remaining sides. The decision was made to notch the end to fit to the top outer corner of the frame, that way any force would have to be transferred down and in on the frame rails, thus literally having to collapse the frame rails rather than a shear force if they were fastened to the outside of the frame. I would rather have the frame take the force and work for me versus a weld to the side of the frame rail. The passenger side tie also had to be clearanced for the fuel filler hoses, so I simply cut a section of 1 1/2 pipe and layed it in the corner of the tie and weld. 1/4" plates are then welded to the top of the ties and bolt directly into the rear roll bar mounts. Hopefully these will never have to be tested, but at least give us piece of mind knowing we went above and beyond.

Trying to make a decision on hardtops, we picked up a CJ top for $75 without a liftgate but then found out the liftgates rust out and finding a good one was out of the question. They do make fiberglass ones but am told they are flimsy and fit poorly. So we contemplated on a Wrangler but couldn't find a nice one in our price range (read that as cheap) but got a second chance offer on this one on Ebay for $275. The only problem with a Wrangler top with a CJ tailgate is that the gate opens up from the inside and the liftgate can't be opened up with the gate shut. Sort of backed myself into a corner. (I like corners, makes me think of ways to get out.) We will definitely go with the Wrangler because of bigger windows, and all glass lift gate with wiper. Unfortunately we didn't score one with a rear defroster. The fit to the body is great, a testament to Shell Valley The tailgate shouldn't be that big of a problem fitting an outside activated latching system. I'll keep looking for some kind of flush mounted latch during my trips thru the junkyard.

Disc Brake Fab

Well we were all ready to tear down for final welding to the frame when I stumbled upon an article in JP Magazine on Dana 44's in Isuzu Rodeos and Honda Passports with rear disc brakes. "Hold the horses, this needs some attention". Turns out these things come with 12" rotors with internal e-brakes, 6 lug bolt pattern the same as our Dana 44 Wagoneer axles and a finned aluminum diff. cover. Had to check this one out, considering I was going to buy a conversion kit off Ebay for $499.00 that used Cadillac calipers but was holding off on doing so. This was a really nice set-up but hey, I'm cheap. So with tape measure in hand, or in this case if anybody knows me, on my belt, off to E-Z Pull we went. We only found one but that was all we needed, a 1994 Isuzu Rodeo with complete rear end (except for the finned aluminum diff. cover, somebody already scarfed that one up). $35.00 if we took it off or $45.00 if they burned it off for us. Needless to say we left them burn it off. Rotor to rotor complete. Took some rough measurements and the axle tubes are the same dia. as a Wagoneer, so for $45.00 I figured I would gamble. Now this will be the 3rd axle housing that Jeffrey and I have CARRIED out of this place and was hoping it was the last. These thing just keep getting heavier or I just am getting older. Got it home and tore into it and found some amazing things. These axles use the same wheel bearings and seals as Jeep, have a very simple caliper set-up and an internal e-brake that would put some small compacts to shame. (Minor note of interest, I have tried to buy these bearings at my local Auto Zone for a Wagoneer and am told they are not available anymore, so I asked for bearings for a 1994 Isuzu and low and behold they put them on the counter in front of me. Hmmm!!) Now the article in JP was an installation of the whole axle housing into a Jeep by changing mounting brackets, but since we already had our housing narrowed with the offset differential for the Quadra Trac we had different ideas. Next post I'll show you how we modified what we had and got rear disc brakes for $45.00

OK, here we go. I pulled the Jeep axle and slid it into the Isuzu housing and it fit except of course for the length and I thought all would be fine, but found when I put the rotor on the axle flange it stuck out 3/8" further and would not line up with the caliper. I would have to turn the bearing shoulder and seal area back the 3/8" to allow the axle to move in further thus locating properly with the caliper. Now before I did this I had to mark my axle tube where it would be cut off so as not to disturb my 56" track. I cobbled up this simple fixture to hold a felt tip pen to mark the housing, that way holding the relationship of the axle flange (track) to the housing. Both sides are marked in this manner by clamping the fixture onto the axle flange and rotating the marker around the housing tube. Then I modified the axle shafts on a lathe where I work. At the same time I cut the diameter of the axle flange down so that the Isuzu rotors would seat properly. In fact, Jeffrey met me there by getting off school early and made an educational field trip out of it. Hey, he has to learn some how, right? After that was done the axles were slid into the Isuzu housing, clamped on the fixture and marked the Isuzu housing in the same manner.
I made a holding fixture from 3/4" plywood to support the housings while I sawed them on my band saw, the other end was supported with a steady rest. Now that I had the end pieces from the Isuzu, they just had to be spliced on to the Jeep housing in the same manner that my axle shop spliced the one side when they narrowed it.

I turned up some tubes to fit into the housing to bridge the weld joint again on a lathe. Now it turns out that the Isuzu housing tube is thicker than the Jeep (same outside diameter but smaller inside diameter) so I had to step the diameter on these tubes that I made. They were made to a slight press fit.

I should mention at this time, that before the ends were cut off the Isuzu housing, I took a degree gauge and mounted it to a place on the ends and recorded the degrees. This was accomplished first by removing the diff. cover (oh that's right somebody already took that) and placing the gasket surface onto a level flat horizontal surface and took the reading, then did the same to the Jeep housing to locate the new Isuzu ends so that the calipers would be in the same orientation.

After the ends were pressed on, the housing was positioned on my workbench which I know is level and flat, with the gasket surface on parallels and the ends were squared off the table, then flipped the housing 90 degrees and squared again. This was done several times to assure accuracy. I then tack welded the joints, checked it again then mounted the backing plates, axles, rotors and calipers to make sure everything lined up. Then final welded, jumping back and forth from each side to eliminate warping, then left it air cool.

The final very important thing that was done was to drill out the stud hole to 35/64" to press fit the 12mm. x 1.5 studs which is crucial to center the rotors, because Jeep uses a smaller 7/16" x 20 stud. I then found lug nuts on a trip to Carlisle from a vendor calling himself The Lugnut King with the same 3/4" hex size with 12mm. and 7/16" threads. Very knowledgeable guy and great prices and nobody will be the wiser. Just don't mix up the front and rear lug nuts. This way you only have to carry one lug wrench. So there you have it, $45.00 killer disc brakes with easily obtainable parts that you can get at your local parts store. And here is the best part, I just sold the Isuzu gear set on Ebay for $50.00 Hell I just got paid $5.00 for putting them on. Now maybe if we don't find any new good ideas to put on this thing we can get it tore down, finish the welding and get it sand blasted and painted. Damn you JP, stop writing those informative articles.

Frame and related parts are sandblasted and painted, now comes final assembly of the chassis. Hill Top Sandblasting 479 Hetzels Church Rd, Pine Grove, PA. 17963 (570)- 345- 6695 did the blasting and paint work. Super nice guys, a dying breed of sorts. These brothers have a mobile blaster that they use to contract out really big jobs, but will do smaller stuff at their shop. They also do glass etching and decorative stenciling on rocks with whatever you want etched on. These guys take pride in what they do along with very reasonable prices. Give them a call first so they can tie "the dog" otherwise it WILL jump up on the side of your vehicle. Ask for Ed and tell him the guy with the "67olds" license plate sent ya. Turns out he has a 455 big block olds engine in his 19 foot boat. (really hauls ***) The paint I got for them to use was Limco brand acrylic oem black quick mix "LMPQ900LY" with "LMSLR12GL" Limco 1-2-3-4 reducer and "KCPWL8" wet look hardener. This was sprayed on top of SEM green self etching primer. This stuff really dried hard after a week. Can't even pick at it with your fingernail. All these supplies were gotten from Klines Auto Inc 648 Mauch Chunk St Pottsville, PA 17901 (570) 622-4010 (570) 628-2943 and ran me a total of $113.06. Assembly will commence as soon as we clean all the grit from the rears and set up the ring and pinions which I'll be doing a piece on next time. We plan on going with red calipers and brackets just to stay with the perfomance image in which you'll be able to see a hint of them thru the factory chrome rims. If you look over the photos you can see how we molded in the front shackle reversal hangers. I didn't like how the 2 bolt heads stuck out the side of the frame so I cut some 5/8" round stock and slid them thru the hangers and frame keeping them just under flush with the frame and button welded them and all around the perimeter of the mounts, then ground everything smooth. Gives it a more molded in look, again not really noticeable to the casual eye but there, never the less and without sacrificing any strength. Stay tuned, it's starting to look like something now

The rebuild went rather well on the rear Dana 44 rear housing. A rebuild kit was purchased from part number 8744 at $89.95. This comes with all the good stuff, like Timken bearings, seals, shims, pinion nut, ring gear bolts and sealer and marking compound, no overseas crap. For the price you can't beat it, although a set of instructions of anything would have been great. Since this was our first time at setting up a rear, I wasn't about to wing it, which I've been known to do. I found a good set of detailed instructions on the internet at and and and
We first started by carefully washing out all the sand left over from the blasting process and even took a wire chimney brush on a drill and ran it through the tubes. All threads were chased with a tap so as to get proper torque readings later on. First thing I did was to make up a set of "setup" bearings, these I honed with a drill mounted cylinder hone so they would slip over the both ends of the carrier housing and sanded the O.D. on the pinion races on a belt sander. This allows for repetive install and removal until you get the proper shim thickness. (One thing that was quite tedious was mastering the stroke on the drill mounted cylinder hone, I overstroked a few times, and we all know what happens when you overstroke. It wasn't pretty. Imagine a long flexable drill mounted 3 stone cylinder hone winging at 1000 rpm's and coming out of the hole on the vise mounted bearing!!!) It got the job done, but I think I need a new cylinder hone. I do see now that Precision Gear offers "setup bearings" that are made just for this purpose. Might be worth looking into. Just follow their detailed installation hints from the links I listed above. These are very informative pages and have lots of pictures. Since this rear already had a 3:54 gearset in it from the junkyard things were pretty well in spec. but we went through the whole procedure as a learning tool for the front housing which will require a gear change, so hopefully we gained enough knowledge to do that one right also.

Assembly commenced on the rear rotors at the bench to make sure all our fabrication was honky dori, it seemed to be, so we took it back apart to lighten the load when it came time to hang it on the springs. I made up my own greasable shackle bolts by taking a stainless steel bolt and drilled a hole halfway down the length on a lathe with a #3 (.213) dia. drill which is the tap drill size for a 1/4-28 thread to accept a grease fitting. Then I milled 2 slots opposite each other along the length in the area covered by the urethane bushings with a carbide ball end mill. A crossed drilled hole was put in connecting the 2 slots with a #38 (.101) dia. drill at the position where the 2 bushings met, then tapped the end for the grease fitting with a 1/4-28 tap. The urethane bushings were cross notched where the 2 inside ends met, this will allow grease to flow through the bolt and to the inside and outside of the bushings. Everything I hear is that these bushings
are prone to squeaking, so hopefully this will take care of that. The axle was then set on top of the springs, and as I was gathering the u-bolts, Jeffrey says something doesn't look straight. I figure, how can that be, but sure enough it was not straight. That's when you start to get this bad feeling in your stomache. Here it turns out that there is more than one hole on the bottom of the spring pads and one of them wasn't centered on the leaf spring bolt. I won't tell whose side it was, but I'm glad he spotted it before the u-bolts were torqued down. We then installed the u-bolts and sway bar and torqued them to spec. Slid in the axles and rotors, painted the caliper brackets red to stay with the performance image and thing were looking good. The calipers will also be painted red but didn't get them yet due to the fact I couldn't find them for under $75.00 apiece, and we didn't need them right away. Priority is to get this thing down on all fours. At this point I was curious to see how good a job I did welding the Isuzu ends on so I mounted a magnetic base to the frame with a dial indicator on the rotors and only had .005 runout, within the limits, so I was happy. Next we'll tackle the front housing.

After washing out the grit and grime like we did for the rear housing we disassembled the carrier and found a cracked spherical thrust washer for the one spider gear. Turns out it's only available in a $90.00 spider gear rebuild kit. The spider gear shaft also had excessive wear. We took apart the 3:07 gear set that came with this housing and found good parts like the shaft, washers and spider gears so those were
substituted. We didn't have the luxury of having the pinion shims with this set so it was hit and miss without having a pinion depth set up tool, and couldn't find one to borrow. After spending a good part of a Sat. afternoon putting this carrier in and out and trying to get a good contact mark on the ring gear we walked away from it. Although I must admit Jeffrey was getting pretty quick at it. Sunday came and a new outlook, I stood
there alone while he was up at 4:30 at his job milking cows analyzing the situation and tried to come up with a method of finding the centerline of the axle tube, which is what is needed to set up the nose of the pinion. It dawned on me that if I measured with my dial calipers from the gasket surface down to the top of the carrier bearing race, then removing the carrier and measured the diameter of the race, divide in half then add that to my first measurement I would know where that centerline was in relation to the gasket surface. From that point I added the 2.625 (the standard measurement for a Dana 44 from the axle centerline to the pinion nose) I would have a number from the gasket surface to the pinion nose. Now the markings on our pinion was "0" so I didn't have to add or subtract any amount from that 2.625. I found that the pinion was .015 too low which means I had to add a .015 shim. Did that and got a good measurement and put the carrier back in, adjusted my side to side of the ring gear to get my required .008 to .010 backlash, painted up the ring gear for a marking and was rewarded with a good contact mark. Hey that wasn't that bad, wish I would have thought of that on Sat. Makes ya
realize that walking away can be a good thing. Now all that was left to do was disassemble one more time, put the proper pinion bearing preload shims in to get the required 15 inch pounds of torque, yeah that's right inch pounds not foot pounds. If you don't have an inch pound torque wrench 15 inch pounds equates to 1.25 foot pounds, 1 inch pound = .0833333 foot pounds. Just multiply 15 by .0833333. Installed the oil slinger, seal, yoke and a fresh washer and nut. Then added a .003 shim to each side of the carrier
bearings for preload, spread the housing with my home made spreader and drop in the carrier, torque down the carrier bearing caps and take some final indicator readings. This can be a very time consuming endevor, we got by with minimal tools but can see why a professional charges what they do. They earn every penny. And who knows I might be talking out my butt and find out 1000 miles down the road that it would have payed to have it professionally done. Time will tell. Next post maybe we'll have this thing on all fours.

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Well as usual we found something else to hold us up for a little bit. It just seems this thing doesn't want to get on all 4'S. These here are the, I guess for better lack of words dust shields for the front backing plates behind the rotors. Just couldn't bring myself to install these in this condition. Had to drill out the spot welds then was stuck with how to replace them.
The ol brain was churning and I figured they resembled a small dish, so I started raiding the kitchen cupboards with no luck. Even kept my eye's open when we went shopping. Of course my wife couldn't figure out what I wanted in the kitchen isle all the time. Then good old Tractor Supply came through, found some small pet dishes, and in stainless steel no less. Cost around $6.00 for two of them. It even has the spanish on there so those little Chihuahua dogs know where to get a square meal.

The sides had a bit of a taper to them but it was do-able. Traced the pattern from the old ones then cut it out with a hole saw then drilled and tapped the backing plate for some 8-32 stainless button head cap screws. Just make sure the screws don't extend through because this surface locates on the spindle nose. Except for the tapered sides they are the correct diameter and hieght.

Reassembled the front rotors after paint then torqued down the hub to the rotor to have them turned, you must do this to simulate a mounted wheel to eliminate any runout. Whenever you have rotors like these always make sure you give them the inner bearing races, because they will need them to do the turning. These were all but new rotors to begin with so they took very little to clean up.

Modified the stabalizer shock bracket from what we originally mocked up for more clearance and eye appeal. We actually took two brackets and cut and welded them to form a 90 deg. This way there will be more clearance at the diff. cover.

Your looking at some graduation presents here. From your friendly AutoZone front caliper #C528 and #C529 at #14.99 each and these things are complete with new bolts, bushings and o-rings. Brake pads #MKD52S at $22.99 comes with clips. Just added the manditory red paint. I will probably end up using J10 front hoses but will have to fab. a bracket, this way it keeps things simple when it comes time to replace. Alot easier to get a stock item than a custom made one.

And as promised (just one post too late) on all fours. I'd say he looks pretty happy. Although he did promise his school buddies (and some chics from what I here) a ride in it at graduation, of course they are all busting his *** because it's been 4 years so far. Yeh well, good things take time and we feel confidant that so far things are done right with safety first along with some modern technology thrown in. So now he's off to higher education with the outlook looking good. There is alot of little things I can do now like steering box, brakelines (with some trick brackets I have in mind floating around in my head)e-brakes and such. So don't think I'll let you hanging, as long as Blogger stays online I'll be posting.

Let's save some money on the rear brakes, now that doesn't mean cutting quality. I don't know if anybody has priced new or rebuilt Isuzu Rodeo rear calipers or not but they ain't cheap. $80.00 per side for rebuilds. So I did some checking and got a rebuild kit from Auto Zone part number 071-7983 caliper kit made by Beck/Arnley and covers both calipers for $36.99. Comes with piston seal & boot, wire snap ring, bolt boots, bleeder covers and grease. I'll walk you through the rebuild which is not all that difficult if you know the proper sequence.

Started by disassembling the old caliper by forcing (LOW PRESSURE) air through the hose hole and slowly ease out the piston till it's almost out then remove by hand. (Be careful here as it can go flying if you build up too much pressure, and keep your fingers from between the piston & outer brake pad flange). Remove the bleeder & inspect the bore and piston for any pitting. Mine were really nice. I plugged up the piston bore and bead blasted them, courtesy of my cousin who has and some of the big tools I don't have (hey whats family for), then soaked in kerosene & blew them out. Hit it with degreaser, plugged up the bore and threaded holes then etching primer and the mandatory red. Here's what comes in the rebuild kit.

Start by lubing the piston seal and bore and install seal in groove making sure it is seated

Lube the piston groove & boot and install boot, then strip down over piston as shown.

Insert piston into bore until it reaches the bore seal then work the bottom flange of the piston boot into the groove using a blunt probe seating then install the wire snap ring. You can rotate the piston and boot to simplify this procedure.

On to the steering. Sent the original box out to Chip at Power Steering Services. They do a complete rebuild and convert your box from a constant 17.5:1 ratio to a variable 16/13:1 ratio, that's a difference of around 4 1/4 turns down to about 3 1/2 turns. I had the box on my J10 converted to 12:1 ratio (around 3 turns) but Chip didn't recommend that for a short wheel base CJ. Check out their websight for a full rundown on services. These boxes have a lifetime warranty, which uses your stock inch fittings on the hoses and cost $278.00 out and back. Yeah you could get an F body box from the junkyard but it will have metric fittings and you would be hard pressed to find one with 4 mounting holes. With the warranty and quality of work Chip does it ain't worth the aggravation. I can't say enough about him. Give him a call, he knows his stuff and you wont be disappointed. Installation went well with just enough clearance for the larger sway bar mount. The dropped pitman arm as stated in an earlier post is from a Wrangler, but what I did was file out the 4 wider indexing keys on the inside spline so it could be clocked at every tooth as compared to only 4 different positions as in the stock application. This gives me total control to index it to clear the radiused tie rod. To give a little bling I used button head socket head stainless steel bolts on the top of the cross member and even added the same bolts on the passenger side holes and just nutted them on the bottom for a more symmetric appearance. These I got from MSC

Finally found a finned aluminum differential cover at our local u-pull. If you remember ours was missing from the Isuzu housing that we got. This one had some slight damage to the lower fins, (probably from a jack) but using a die grinder I was able to round them off and blend it in, one can hardly notice. I then had it bead blasted by the local boys at Hill Top Sand blasting from our area, then gave it a good coat of etching primer (this works great on aluminum) then a couple coats of silver Hammerite. Still has that aluminum look but don't have to worry about oxidation. We installed this on the front housing only because the rear housing is out of view due to the larger 21 gallon poly fuel tank that we adapted. Tie rod clears nicely which was a concern but these covers actually have a flat face. Next post I'll show the tank and new sending unit.

Back in the May 25 2006 post I showed the fabrication we did to mount the 20 gal. poly fuel tank. This post shows a bit more detail and also the new sending unit from They had everything needed to replace all the rusted and wore out parts for this tank which is from a 1982 to 1986 CJ with the 20 gal poly tank. Sending unit part number is CRO5362090 at $30.99 which I believe is made by Crown and is a dead ringer for the original, fuel sending o-ring part number OAI17730.01 at $.99, a fuel inlet filter part number OAI17728.01 at $5.99 and the fuel sending unit lock nut part number OAI17727.02 at $3.99 by Omix-Ada. We thoroughly washed out the tank with a degreaser then finally water and tested for any leaks and found none, so I was happy with our $20.00 flea market purchase. Blasted the skid plate. hit it with etching primer then semi gloss black. The way we mounted the filler neck to the body we will be able to use straight fuel hose directly into the tank eliminating any need for special pre-bent hoses. All in all the 20 gal. tank is a comfortable snug fit that will give us rust free worries and more capacity which I'm sure we will need for that 401.

Worked on the fuel sending unit that we got from Omnix-Ada for the oversize poly tank along with all the installation parts. The unit was temporarily put in place and dicovered it hit the bottom of the tank way too soon. To accurize the sending unit we measured from the flange surface down to the bottom of the tank and got 11 1/2". Then with a builders square marked with that dimension, squared off the mounting flange. The pick up tube was then bent (using a tubing bender to prevent kinking) to that mark. Again it was test fitted, then the same thing was done to the float rod which is necessary for proper gauge function. In full drop position the float must be at the bottom of the tank, otherwise if it was below the pick up tube then it would rest on the bottom of the tank before it read empty. In other words you would be standing along the hi-way with your thumb out, the fuel gauge would never read empty. And on the opposite hand if the float bottomed out before it hit the bottom of the tank it would read empty too early and also would never read full. So you can see why this step is important for proper gauge function. A new o-ring was installed after coating with silicone spray, then the sending unit topped off with a new nut. New fuel lines were ordered from Z-M Jeeps at a cost of $55 each for the 5/16" feed and 1/4" return line in steel. The feed line is also available in 3/8" if more fuel is needed. They are also available in stainless steel. Fortunately these lines won't have to be custom bent, not unlike the brake lines.

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Quadratrac Rebuild

finally got time to focus on the quadra-trac transfercase. Nobody said it was going to be easy. With dwindling availability and lack of demand for this case it literally took 3 transfer cases to make 1 good one. Borg-Warner 1339 is the model number. They came with and without the low range reduction unit. Ours has the reduction unit as all CJ's came with them. It was an option on the full size Jeeps. The problem area is the differential unit, which includes spider gears and

cone clutches. The damage to these units occurs when automatic transmission fluid is used instead of the required quadra-trac fluid, which is a must if these are going to survive. The cone clutches will get destroyed along with the shaft that holds the spider gears. These cone clutches were never available separately from Jeep. The complete differential was, and had to be replaced as a unit. A torque bias test can be performed to determine if the clutches are ok. If the transfercase is out of the vehicle, and by making sure the emergency drive is not engaged, then hold the input yoke with a breaker bar and socket and a torque wrench with socket on the

output yoke and apply torque in a clockwise direction, the clutches should break loose between 80 and 170 foot-pounds. If it releases below 80 then the unit will likely need replacing, on the other hand if it requires more than 170 then improper lubrication might be the culprit. The other problem area is the chain. It will eventually stretch to the point that it will jump teeth on the differential and drive sprockets. Not good. Tension on these chains can be checked through a chain inspection plug. There is a chain tension tool (J-25162) for this purpose, but I have not been able to locate one, even by asking dealers. Guess they were thrown out long ago. So I fabricated my own using a male air hose quick disconnect fitting with a male pipe thread on the opposite end a 20 penny nail and a wing nut welded to the point end of the nail. These chains were originally made by Morse but have recently been manufactured by China for Crown. If you read the jeep forums, reviews on these chains are not favorable with failure occurring sooner than later, ending up breaking and then
damaging the case in the process. I was able to find 2 new Morse chains from 2 different suppliers, Northfield 4x4 in Lehhighton, Pa. 610-377-3992 of which I bought his last NOS one and the other from Walcks 4 Wheel Drive in Bowmanstown, Pa. 610-852-3110 of which they had several and said they could get more no problem that Morse might be remaking these chains. They also have the gasket kits and bearings or Quadratec part number 52208.01 or from 4 Wheel Drive Hardware part number J8125030. We started by disassembling the cases and finding all the good usable parts and luckily found a good usable differential with good clutches. Did a good cleaning and inspection of all the bearings and associated parts. The bearings for some reason rarely go bad, which is a good thing because they are not cheap. The differential unit we used checked out good with the clutches releasing at 145 foot pounds. I won't go into assembly procedures here, there are alot of good manuals and online info for that. JP Magazine also did a couple of articles on rebuilding one. We did spring for a new rear output bearing for the transmission, part number 6308nr from Bearings, Belts & Chains, Inc. for $37.47 This bearing has the snap ring groove. One thing you have to watch is different speedometer drive gears if you are building from different cases. Other cases use an offset housing that compensates for the different gear diameters, on these cases you have to match up the proper drive gear with the corresponding driven gear. We chose to mount the transmission and transfercase first then mount the engine. This way we could man handle each component and support the front of the tranny off the frame and hook up the driveshafts.

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401 Buildup

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Well we couldn't let well enough alone. The 401 has been sitting, tightly covered for a bunch of years now and we couldn't help but wonder what the inside looked like. We had acquired a full gasket set from another profitable venture and decided to freshen it up. And besides Jeffrey was set on a metallic AMC blue color rather than the solid blue. But that also changed when he had the good fortune of getting his hands on a black and silver speckled powder coated Edelbrock Performer intake with Edelbrock carb. So he decided, black block with silver heads and black timing cover. We wanted to check the oil pump clearances and when that came apart and found some light grit and rough gear teeth the rest should be checked out also. Well apart it came. Now if you have been following, this engine had 7000 miles on the rebuild, which we believe to be accurate considering the cross hatching was still evident on the cylinder walls. The decision was made to pull the bearing caps and plastigage the clearances. We were venturing into unknown territory but better safe than sorry. Main bearings were excellent with nice finish on crank and in the middle clearances. Ah, so far so good. The connecting rod bearings were not as good. Crank finish again was excellent but the bearings had wear spots and one had some gouging, but nothing on the crank. Maybe some of that grit we found in the oil pump made it through.
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So we pulled the pistons and ordered up a set of Clevite bearings from Z & M Jeeps While we were waiting for the bearings to arrive the block was steam cleaned, primered and painted Rust-oleum 2000 deg. high heat primer and top coated with the same in black. Ah good the bearings arrived, cleaned everything up, did the plastigage thing and came up with middle of the road tolerances that were nice and straight. The timing cover was cleaned and a new Melling K-85 oil pump rebuild kit was bought at Advanced Auto
for around $17.00 (can't beat the quality) Lightly scothbrited the inside cavity, deburred the gears with a honing stone and came up with some very tight tolerance, should have some good oil pressure. Right now we are looking into different cam options and for now the fuel injection will be a later option to look at since we got the performer set up. Funds are running a little low again with another semester of college, but with a very good paying summer job at a power plant in the works he might be able to sneak some into the Jeep fund. We'll keep pluggin away.
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Well, we are starting to make some HEADway on the 401. While the heads were off and the cam removed we decided to check valve specs considering what else we found with a reported 7000 mile engine and also we wanted to install new valve seals. Glad we did. Everything was disassembled and kept in precise order so all parts could be put back together the way it came apart. Both were degreased, decarboned and pressure washed after removal of the freeze plugs. Intake valves looked pretty good, but was not happy with the exhaust valves. Tried just lapping them in but still did not get rid of the small cratering on the valves. The seats in the head looked pretty good. But it was clear the valves needed to be cut. I made a call to a guy that had a valve grinding machine only to find he got rid of it, and of course us being on a college budget didn't want to pay for the job. It just so happens the valve stem diameter is 3/8" and I had a 3/8 collet for my Van Norman milling machine and a carbide lathe tool. Checking the book revealed 30 degs. on the intake and 44 1/2 degs. on the exhaust. Tilting the head to the specified angle and chucking the lathe tool in a vise I was able to cut the valves. Only had to remove about .005. Run out was checked before and after and they were within .001. They were then lapped in using an old obsolete Zim Manufacturing valve lapper and Permatex #80036 (34A) valve grinding compound.
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Side clearance was then checked on the valve stems using a dial indicator and magnetic base which showed to be approaching top of the tolerance. Since it was still in tolerance we left them go. The heads seemed to be the weak aspect of this engine. I don't think too much time was spent on the original build, definitively more than 7000 miles worth of wear. Probably in the future we will keep an eye out for a good set of rebuildable heads. we'll see after we shake this one down. New steel freeze plugs were installed using Permatex item #80016(2B) form-gasket sealant, then primed with Rust-oleum high heat primer 2000 deg. (249340) and then painted with Rust-oleum flat aluminum 2000 deg. (248904). The gasket set that we had picked up on the cheap turned out to be for a 304 which has different head gaskets, so new ones were obtained for the 401 and the metal side sprayed with Permatex Copper Spray-a-gasket item #80697 and torqued down to 80 ft/lbs then again at 110 ft/lbs.
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We then milled the one fin on the valve cover to accommodate the 401 emblems which fit perfectly and is highlighted by the black wrinkle paint of the valve covers. Here are some sneak picks of the mocked up engine with the powdercoated Edelbrock intake and aluminum pulleys. Next will be a cam choice. Jeffrey is looking into Lunati for now, so we'll see.
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Approaching the final assembly of the engine we had to address "lifter preload" only to find no real accurate way to measure it. Some builders use an indicator off the rockers while others scribe lines on the push rods then measure with a dial calipers. We ended up making up a simple tool to clip directly unto the push rod and then position a dial indicator off the tool. I made this from a spring style paper clip available at any office supply store and bent some brass shim stock then crimped it onto the paper clip. First the new Lunati 64501 cam was lubed up and installed. This cam was picked over the stock 401 and Edelbrock cam for it's slightly higher rpm range of 1200-5500,
Advertised Duration (Int/Exh): 256/262, Duration @ .050 (Int/Exh): 213/220, Gross Valve Lift (Int/Exh): .484/.507, LSA/ICL: 112/108, Valve Lash (Int/Exh): Hyd/Hyd. A new Comp Cams 3118 timing set was then slid on. Finally new Lunati hydraulic lifters 71977PR were dropped in along with the push rods and then the rockers.
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ince we had cut the valve seats earlier and not the valve stem length, this through our preload measurement out. The preload ended up being too light. Now we could have went with longer push rods, and then a shim kit for under the rocker bridges, but being on a tight (cheap) budget we decided if a shim could be added to lighten up the preload why can't material be milled off the rocker bridges to make it heavier? Preload was measured then a formula was trigged out to determine how much to mill off the bottom of the bridge. A fixture was made up to hold the bridge in a milling vise and each side was cut separately from each other determined by the formula. The one drawback to this, is that the bridges must be kept at their position and not mixed up. In the future if any valve work is done the correct way then new bridges will be needed. Next time we will address the timing cover.
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This might be a good time to talk AMC timing cover. This particular part not only covers the timing set, but also houses the distributor, fuel pump and oil pump and has to work in unison with each other. The cam gear drives the distributor and actuates the fuel pump and then the distributor drives the oil pump which in turn delivers oil throughout the engine. Cam and distributor gears should be replaced as a matching set to eliminate wear. Never, say install a new distributor gear onto a used cam gear, your only asking for trouble. Also timing cover alignment (make sure the dowel pins are present), gasket thickness and the use of excessive sealer can cause alignment issues with the two gears. Oil pump gear cavity is another area of concern. AMC decided to put steel gears into an aluminum housing and expect longevity. All well and good as long as no contaminants like from self destructing cam and distributor gears get in there and chew up the oil pump housing, therefore reducing oil pressure and eventually catastrophic failure. Our timing cover was in really nice shape, but was not too happy with the oil pump gears which showed signs of nicks and burrs. They were replaced as mentioned in an earlier post with a Mellings set and completely deburred. It was then packed with vaseline to help during initial priming of the oil system. Vaseline will dissolve with the oil, so no need to worry about clogging the system. Oil filter housing was then installed, then cam gear, fuel pump eccentric and all related parts were lubed up and timing cover installed. Hopefully we will be rewarded with good oil pressure when we fill the crankcase with Brad-Penn break-in oil and prime the system. Looks like he is enjoying that vaseline.

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The distributor got delivered today, and what a bute. We ordered a D.U.I. from Performance Distributors. Part number 40820 for the AMC V8 street strip version at a total cost of $319.00 to the door. This is a true H.E.I. (high energy ignition) that was selected for it's quality, simplicity of hook up and the fact that it is truly calibrated to your engine specs, not a happy medium for a cookie cutter build. It's a bit more pricey, but the quality and customer service is unsurpassed. You actually have to fill out a detailed form on not just your engine but vehicle use as well. Your distributor is then engraved with the calibration and recorded at Performance for future reference in the event that down the road you would change engine specs. The fact too, that it will take off the shelf G.M. replacement parts in a pinch is an added bonus. This comes with a new distributor gear already installed, so if you have a new cam gear, your ready to go. The intake was ready to go back on but we had to prime the oil system first, which we did using an old distributor with the teeth ground off the gear and the upper shaft turned down to accept an electric hand drill. An oil pressure gauge was plumbed and mounted to one of the heads. Fired up the drill and while slowly rotating the crankshaft, oil started flowing out of all the pushrods and had a solid 60 p.s.i. on the gauge. Intake was then put back on originally using the rubber end gaskets that came with the Felpro valley pan gasket but as soon as it was torqued down both pushed out. After several frustrating attempts we eliminated them and went with Permatex Right Stuff gasket maker. Should have just done that from the get go. Stock torque specs for a cast iron intake is around 45. The Edelbrock aluminum version is more like 22, so take that into consideration when doing an install.

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Getting down to crunch time with the dyno date fast approaching, final assembly had to get done. Valve covers were installed using 1/4" set screws loctited into the heads. This method allows the gasket to be set into place without fear of sliding out of position. Then the valve covers, all fastened down with stainless steel acorn nuts. Different length set screws were utilized to accommodate the wire looms milled from a solid block of aluminum. Left side will come off the valve cover screw while the right side uses the threaded hole in the intake which originally held the coil bracket which is no longer needed with the new distributor. Red universal 8mm. Taylor spiropro wires were chosen. This way custom lengths could be fabricated for a cleaner look. Part number 73253 along with a neat crimping tool number 43395, also from Taylor was used to install the distributor ends. Once we got the hang of crimping and what Jeffrey and I were good at we tagged teamed it, and got the job done quickly. I also found some cool wire clamps from McMaster-Carr part number 2993T14 and 2993T35 to use in conjunction with the looms. Spark plugs are Autolites 65 Platinum gapped at .052. A bit of dielectric grease was dabbed on both ends of the wires. Edelbrock 1406 carb was mounted, using short studs, but longer studs are in the waiting to use with a spacer during dyno pulls to see if it makes a difference. Speaking of dyno pulls, this will be done by Andy Jensen His shop will be sponsoring the November Keystone Garage Club meeting of which we are members. This is a great local club that has alot of cool activities. Normally Andy will dyno one of his own engines unless a club member has one to run. Soooo, November 1st. is dyno day, providing hurricane Sandy doesn't interfere, I'll be posting the results after.

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Dyno Day

Dyno Day. Arrived at Jensen's Engine Technology at 10:00 A.M. Thursday morning. Jeffrey arrived from State College at the same time. This is the day where the fruits of your labor all come together or fall apart. Jeffrey brought a 6 pack along to either celebrate victory or to drown his sorrows. Time would tell. Gotta say a few words about Andy Jensen first. Great guy. He spent from 10:00 a.m. till 8:00 P.M. with us fully focused on our engine and it's needs. Well worth the money. Can't say enough. Ok, unloaded the engine, got it hooked up to his dyno, poured some 93 octane in the tank, primed everything and hit the go button. Fired right up, but had trouble idling. Turned out when we rebuilt the carb we forgot to turn the idle mixture screws back out the appropriate turns after bottoming them out. Andy discovered that and it smoothed right out. Disconnected the vacuum advance and set the total timing to 36 deg. Broke in the cam and was rewarded with no leaks of any kind and it stayed together. 1st. pull was at 4000 rpm which resulted in 338 hp. and 420 torque. Not bad, but the graph showed it was still climbing. 2nd. pull at 4500 with 333 hp. and 426 torque. We then added a 1" phenolic spacer under the carb, and at the same 4500 rpm the 3rd. pull made 341 hp. and 441 torque. Not bad for a $20.00 spacer. 4th. pull at 5000 with 350 hp. and 445 torque. 5th. pull at 5500 but peaked at 5200 with 355 hp. and 439 torque. We then left it cool down. By that time the Garage
Club started to arrive. To make thing a little interesting we listed the specs on the engine, then everybody threw 2 quarters in the pot (one for hp. and one for torque) and they guessed what it would do. 6th. pull we added 2 deg. of timing, at 5200 got 360 hp. and 445 torque. It warmed up by that time and the final pull at 5200 resulted in 367 hp. and 449 torque. One member guessed 365 hp., but nobody came close on the torque, all guesses were in the 300 range. Engine made 60 psi oil pressure all day, 20 psi at idle. All in all it was a great day all around. Made Andy's acquaintance, spent the evening with a bunch of motorhead friends but best of all enjoyed a father/son experience, and hey, it didn't blow up. Time to break out that 6 pack son and celebrate.

Oops. Here is what happens when you are anxious. Anxious to see what that 401 looks like between the frame rails, plus we had to get it off my truck. Used the cherry picker to lower the engine in place with a bit of struggling. It didn't quite have enough reach, hitting the front cross member, but we got it. Next day we were cleaning up and suddenly it hit me. We forgot to put the sheet metal cover plate between the block and transmission. We were going to tow it back up to the house and use the chain hoist to ease the problem, then Jeffrey said, "why don't we support the back of the engine and lift the transmission and transfercase?" Duh! good idea son, your learning. So we disconnected the drive shafts and did just that. Piece of cake. Cleaned up the plate, painted it and slid it into place. If you remove the hollow alignment pins in the back of the block it can easily slide in front of the flex plate. So moral of the story, no matter how with it you think you are, there is no better thing than well planning and patients. Sit back and analyze things and talk things out. AND PUT THE DAMN PLATE WHERE YOU ARE GOING TO TRIP OVER IT INSTEAD OF ON THE STORAGE SHELF.

This topic, fuel lines. One feed and one return. Ordered these from Z and M Jeeps for a 1977 CJ7 auto quadra-trac. Got something that came up short, terminating at the firewall, unlike the originals that ended further front at the fuel pump. Long story short these came from Inline Tube and they have two sets of lines with the same part number. A phone call to them and everything was taken care of. and Z and M shipped me the correct lines. Fit was exceptional with only minor tweaking. Shown here are the differences in case you run into the same problem. Maybe a difference in transmissions or non power and power brakes or location of charcoal canister? Who knows. If you can shed some light on this I am sure Inline Tubes would be interested. Found some really neat clamps from McMaster Carr part number 2993T35. These are double line clamps for 5/16" tubing with a center mounting hole for a 1/4" bolt. I backed this up with a stainless steel spacer to keep the lines off the frame a bit further to prevent rubbing and fastened it all down with a stainless button head cap screw after drilling and tapping the frame for a 1/4 - 20. The 1/4" return line was too small to be clamped by the 5/16" hole in the clamp, so we fixed this By picking up some 1/4" I.D. x 5/16" O.D. plastic tubing from MSC Industrial Supply part number 48700066. Just cut a 1" long piece, slice it and slipped it over the fuel line before installing the clamp

Here is some braking news. Yeh, I know. Remember this pile of rear brake parts from an earlier post? Finally got to the point of this build to install them. First a hardware rebuild kit from Carlson, part number 17396. All though this kit was pretty well complete with adjusting wheels, washers and springs we were not totally satisfied. The spring that goes on the spreader bar was not wide enough and the shoe springs and star wheel spring were too small. We had to use the old ones. Luckily for us I believe a brake job was done on this vehicle before it got junked. Maybe too, this particular part number was for another year or brake size. Either way it all worked out. Used Isuzu brake hoses from Advanced Autos part number H380221. We previously welded the hose brackets at the same location as the Isuzu rear so it was just a matter of clipping it fast. Assembly of the emergency brakes were straight forward using the Isuzu shop manual. These rotors have an internal e-brake just like a drum brake. Used a brake shoe set up tool to measure the drums then adjust the shoes to match. Slipped on the rotors, caliper bracket, and loaded the calipers with Wagner part number ZD580 from B and S Auto Parts of Pine Grove, Pa. phone 570-345-8068. The original Isuzu e-brake cables were used with one exception. Since we are mounting the e-brake lever left of the drivers seat to conserve center console space the left cable was shortened by Air Brake and Power Equipment Co. of Pottsville, Pa. phone 570-622-6188 The right cable was a perfect length. These will enter the body directly behind the front seats where the floor kicks up. I should mention the Isuzu hoses have a metric thread of M10 x 1 and take a double flare. The center hose will be of 1979 Jeep J10 origin that has an inch thread of 3/8 - 24. Since we will be bending our own hard lines we purchased a 5' section of line with metric ends, will cut it and add inch fittings to the other end before flaring it. Problem solved. Front brake hoses will also be standard J10 issue with special frame brackets. Now we'll have to do are homework on master cylinder and proportioning valve choices.

Jeffrey finally got around to mounting those aluminum pulleys, but not without some modification. When they were installed for the dyno session we took notice the grooves did not line up from the water pump pulley to the crank. At that time we didn't know which one would have to be adjusted until the power steering pump was installed, since that was the only accessory that would be in the stock location. The alternator was modified so that was out. So he cleaned up the steering brackets and painted and mounted the n.o.s. pump that was acquired from a friend that was cleaning out his stash. It was then determined the water pump pulley would have to be spaced out .105. The crank pulley was bought from and was correct. The water pump pulley was an Ebay item. Money was a bit tight at the time and couldn't afford the Bullear water pump pulley, so in retrospect buy from the same company. Lexan was used as a spacer to eliminate corrosion from dissimilar metals. A steel spacer would have reacted with the aluminum and caused corrosion. Some stainless acorn nuts will be used to finish it off since we will be using electric fans. You know, gotta free up some horse power.

He then tackled the alternator. A switch from a 97 amp 12SI Delco to a 108 amp 17SI Delco alternator was performed. The rebuild was performed with guidance from Jeffreys' grandfather, an experienced G.M. technician who has performed many rebuilds. This also gave them some time together. A 108 amp stator was swapped for the 97 amp only because we had one. The rest of the rebuild was routine with a new diode trio, brush holder and bearings. The pivot hole in the case had to be opened up to accommodate a 7/16" bolt for the 401 head. I ran into this same situation when I swapped the 360 to a 401 in my J10. An alternate route would have been to install a threaded insert in the head, but it was easier to just drill out the housing. This alternator also has a larger diameter requiring modification to the slide adjusting bracket and rear support bracket. Eye to eye on the pivot hole and adjusting hole are further apart. We just used 2 slide brackets cut and rewelded to lengthen the adjusting slot and welded an offset leg to the rear bracket to clear the "bat" terminal. Belts were another thing that strayed from stock. Since we went with a D.U.I. distributor which has a larger cap the stock size steering pump pulley was too short, the pump hit the cap. A Gates 7535 was a good fit with enough room left for proper tension. Alternator pulleys came in with Gates 7435. We will have to see after the front fenders are on to determine if we have clearance at the inner fender for the alternator, if not just another modification we will have to deal with. Jeffrey also fabbed up a fuel line and filter bracket mounted off the water pump. We are still plugging away, next should be to finish up the brake lines with a new distribution block an proportioning valve.

Time to heat things up a bit. We decided to do the ever popular blower motor upgrade using a blower motor from a 1973 Chevy Blazer. The thing to watch out for is the fact that there are 2 options for the Blazer. The correct one for the upgrade is the short version, part # PM102 which has several manufacturers ours being Continental supplied by Auto Zone The other longer version is part # PM105. This will bottom out the fan cage in the heater box. The PM102 is a direct bolt in and will move alot more air through the heater core which by the way was also from Auto Zone part # 846071 or Premium #399210. Either way, don't waste your time searching for used parts for what new cost. Jeffrey disassembled the case by drilling out the rivets and removing all the rusted cables. The caulking between the case halves was all dried out. After some scrubbing everything was inspected then painted. New foam was made for all the doors, then reassembled using stainless screws and Right Stuff Gasket Maker in between the case halves This stuff will stay pliable and not dry out. New motor was straight forward, just install the old cage and bolt back on the case, again using sealer and stainless screws. As for cables, they can be gotten at several suppliers from $27 to $35, but we lucked out on this years trip to the Pa. York Jeep Show. 3 Like new dash cables were found from a vendor for $3 and then on the home trip we stopped at National 4 Wheel Drive Center also Vintage Jeep Specialties at York Pa. A mom and pop shop (literally) specializing in older Jeeps. They had a CJ7 tub laying there with a nice adjustable heater cable. These are hard to find and usually don't come in the kits. $5 and it was ours. We also snagged the throttle kickdown switch bracket since this is for an automatic only. In addition I picked up an M38A1 grille with the recessed headlights for the more modern frenched headlight modification we plan using stainless steel pie plates (yes pie plates), more on that later.

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There are various ways to mark and cut the necessary holes in the firewall, the most common seems to be using a cardboard template. We were a bit leery in getting the brake pedal and steering column that it would be centered with the seat. I can't tell you how many times I have run across a really nice executed build only to see the steering wheel out of alignment with the seat. Personally that would drive me crazy every time I drove it. Fortunately we had an old dash laying around and observed that two of the holes above the centerline of the steering column were the same two holes used to fasten the brake pedal and steering column support. So we clamped the dash to the body, (which by the way was exactly the same width as the steel body a testament to Shell Valley marked the two holes and drilled them and hung the bracket. I must mention at this time that the support is 1/2" too long and will not fit the fiberglass body due to the firewall being thicker than the stock steel one. That was taken care of by disassembling the support and cutting 1/2" off the larger piece where the smaller piece attaches, then welding a nut in the center and oblonging the two outer slots 1/2". The stiffening plate was then removed from the steel body by drilling out the tack welds. Finding the vertical centerline of the 2" hole for the master cylinder in relationship to the outside of the body (which again was the same as the steel body) scribe a line and lay the stiffening plate on the firewall to get the vertical location. At this point make sure the body is level by putting a builders level on top of the cowl at the base of the windshield. Then taking another level and lay it on the vertical centerline of the 2" hole and scribe a line horizontally. This will be used to position the stiffening plate to drill the four holes for the brake booster bracket, or if your using manual brakes the two holes for the master cylinder. If you don't do this you run the chance of having the master cylinder out of level along with the brake pedal not plumb. The booster bracket is from a YJ which is alot more common than the rare CJ version. Booster and master cylinder (which is the same as a 4 disc brake Corvette) was an Ebay item from seller "rodpartsdealer" which is also Gearhead Enterprises. They sell this as a combo package and the price is right and their customer service was great. The steering column hole will be cut later when we make a decision on what column we get. The newly rebuilt heater assembly will be next. I do know the double wall area at the right kick panel will need to be trimmed for heater box clearance.

On to cutting more fiberglass. Remember, measure twice cut once. Upper heater case requires a cowl vent. We marked the centerline of the body. That was the easy part. The cowl vent had to be centered no matter what, it was the front to back position that had issues. Simply making a template from the outside of the body had us uneasy. So we cut a hole about an inch smaller all the way around in the position taken from the steel body. Then a piece of cardboard was fastened to the upper case opening and a centerline was scribed which was easily determined by the existing screw holes.

the case was positioned underneath and against the inside of the
firewall but was very awkward to find an accurate front to back position. So we bailed on that idea. We knew the case had to clear the inside of the firewall by factory specs. A straight edge was held against the inside of the steel body firewall up to the front of the cowl opening edge. A measurement was taken at the end of the straight edge then that measurement was duplicated to the fiberglass body. We now had an accurate front to back measurement. A template was made of the opening from the steel body with a centerline on it. Lined it up with the body centerline and the front edge. Tape was put around it for a saw line.

As you can see the rough opening is clearly 1/2" too far front. If we would have cut it to size the heater box would have interfered with the inside firewall by the same. A jig saw was used to do the surgery following the tape line and the original grille fit perfectly. It sits back the 1/2" further than stock, but that's the way it must be. The placement of the thicker glass firewall is what makes that determination. It now has the same firewall clearance, clears the brake pedal bracket and we just might be able to clear the right side kick panel with the lower part of the heater case, we'll find that out later.

Lets talk a little about fiberglass repair. This will come in handy when you don't follow the ever important rule of measuring twice and cutting once. Unfortunately I did the opposite. In laying out the drain hole for the heater box I measured from the side of the hole on the original firewall to the centerline of the body we had established and failed to add half the hole to the centerline. Needless to say the heater box interfered with the brake pedal bracket. Ok, cut twice and used the piece I cut out to fiberglass back in. Pretty straight foward. I ground down both sides of the firewall then used some Gorilla tape to back up the plug, smeared a thin coat of resin on, a piece of fiberglass cloth and another coat of resin to cover it all up. Waited for that to set up, removed the tape then did the opposite side. Left it set overnight then ground it smooth. One thing I want to caution you on is grinding. WEAR A MASK. This stuff is nasty. Next I will show you how we layed out the cowl vent. Fiberglass and steel bodies do not have the same dimensions when it comes to thickness. Compensations have to be considered. You just can't trace a pattern and have everything fit. But then again maybe if I would have traced the drain hole I wouldn't be doing this post.

Ran into a problem with clearance on the lower heater case which was anticipated from looking at other builds with fiberglass bodies. Some have a double wall at the kick panel and some don't. Obvious the ones that don't have no problem. The steel body was single wall. Usually what we have seen is the inner panel cut away which is what we were going to do also, but after some brain storming we came up with a simple solution. I marked the area with a straight edge then cut it out with an oscillating multifunction power tool from Harbor Freight item number 68861 If you don't have one of these, get one, best $20.00 I ever spent. Then just reversed the panel giving us the needed clearance. This will just get glassed back in along with a filler piece for the bottom. This will still retain the insulting values of the double wall. A hole was then cut for the 2 pipes for the heater core. I made this hole a bit bigger for a starting point expecting to make a plate to cover the larger hole but lucked out with a pretty tight fit with only minor tweaking. The motor was then removed from the case for mock up then using a good reference point on the stiffening plate behind the brake booster we triangulated a mounting stud location closest to the brake booster and drilled it out. A dab of black sealer was put on the ends of the other studs then carefully positioned the heater case into location using the drilled hole, pressed the case against the firewall and left sealer marks where the other stud locations are to be drilled. We could then see where the drain pipe below the motor needed to be located and drilled that out. We then drilled a 3 1/2" hole for the oversize motor, re installed the motor to verify location then cut a large enough hole to remove the motor through the firewall. This way if the motor ever has to be replaced in the future you wont have to drain the antifreeze, remove the console and dash to get to it. I got that idea from my 95 Cherokee. We also clocked the motor that the larger flat part of the flange was towards the fender mounting area, that way the fender flange wont have to be modified. This also positions the feed terminal towards the top for easy access. The only thing that we will have to do is make a larger seal between the firewall and case around the motor.

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Steering and seating covered in this post, they go hand in hand, or butt in hand. Mounting the steering column was pretty straight forward since the column drop is located by the dash mounting holes and we already had the firewall reinforcing plate in position for the brake booster, it was just a matter of cutting the holes for the shaft and the 4 bolt holes for the bottom mount, both of which were traced off the reinforcing plate. The tilt column is from a 79 Cherokee Chief which mounts the same as a CJ column used for mock up only. It was a direct bolt in. We are still trying to locate a floor shift tilt
column. The Jeep steering wheel had a deeper offset than the 1970 Oldsmobile wheel we are using here, not sure if we are going to use it or not. Interestingly this same wheel was used on my high school 1967 Olds Cutlass and the CJ5 I had built in the 80's. The Recaro seats are from a Chevy Lumina police car we snagged from are local u-pull for $25.00 and are alot more comfortable than the factory jeep hi-backs, plus the backs are adjustable and come with ball bearing sliders that work oh so smooth. The sliders mount right to the bottom of the seats and then a riser mount with short standoffs mount to the sliders with 3 mounting holes front and back to fine tune the tilt. We cut off the standoffs and welded them directly to the factory Jeep scissor mounts. Here is where we played around with side to side positioning to make sure we were in perfect alignment with the steering column before final welding. A little modification will have to be made to the release handle and cross bar for the scissor function to make it fully operational and we also swapped the driver seat with the passenger seat to locate the back adjusting knob towards the center to clear the rollbar. A limiting pin will have to be installed on the sliders to reduce rearward travel for rollbar contact. These sliders have way more travel than is needed for this application. So here is Jeffrey after a weekend of grinding, fabricating and welding enjoying the fruits of his labor. This part of the build is getting exciting now. Getting closer to the final goal. Still got alot to go. He also invited his grand parents to sit a spell to get their input on the seating position. Pap commented the steering wheel was too close to his belly. Hmm must be an age thing. He suggested the telescopic column from his Cadillac. Might have to check that one out.

We'll show you how we overcame the height difference problem of non factory bucket seats utilizing sliders on both seats. The CJ's didn't come with passengerside sliders, therefore the scissors riser was higher than the driverside to accommodate the lack of the slider. An all too common problem when using after market seats with sliders is that the seat ends up higher than the driverside. The risers that came with the Recaro seats are a tube welded to the top of some flat stock. As luck would have it the width of the stock risers fit exactly between the tubing of the Recaro riser. So on the driverside we faced the tubing up and on the passengerside we faced it down. By doing that we gained about 1 1/2" difference. The sliders have 4 ears front and back that have 3 adjusting holes that thread into the tubing giving quite a bit of adjustment. Second pic shows the passengerside with the tubing facing down and a handle modification to release the scissor to tilt the seat foward for rear passenger access. Third pic is the driverside with the tubing facing up. No modification was needed for the release lever. One thing that was odd the passengerside release lever had to be pulled up to release but the driverside had to push down to release. Don't rightly know the engineering for that but if anybody knows feel free to let me know. I know this modification wont work for everybody but might get one thinking of other possibilities. These risers will then see the sandblaster and paint. Oh the first pic? Thats just Jeffrey showing off his welding ability. You know, credit where credit is due.

Now that we have the seats firmly located, it was time to shift gears and move on to the shifter location. We picked up a B/M ratchet shifter from our good buddy cleaning out his stash and Jeffrey preferred it over the previously acquired Hurst Pro-Matic 2. The B/M supplied T-handle just wasn't comfortable with the reverse lockout so a round 8 ball was substituted which made it alot more ergonomically friendly. Whether it

will stay or not remains to be seen, but definitely a round knob will be used. A mount needed to be fabricated to position the shifter at a comfortable height along with front to back and side position. Once height was established we then concentrated on front to back and side position. A 1/4" steel plate was cut out for the base, tapped for 1/4 - 20 bolts and the shifter bolted to it. Tapping the mounting holes allows us to eliminate using nuts which would be awkward to remove and install after the console was built around it. We needed L brackets welded to the base to establish height and to mount to the transmission tunnel and since I hardly throw anything away the feet that we cut off the Recaro seat base were just what we needed. They even had the holes already drilled into them. (See we recycle.) So side to side positioning ended up favoring the driverside therefore the console will have to be built around that. 3/8th. bolts were used to fasten the whole assembly to the transmission tunnel. Now on to the console.

Wood working skills aren't usually associated with automobiles (unless your building a Woody station wagon) but they can come into play with interior applications. In our case the center console. I am going to break this project into 2 posts (rear and front console) for the sake of space and pictures used. We decided to tackle the rear arm rest section (lockable compartment and mandatory cup holder) first. Wood of choice is 3/4" cabinet grade birch plywood. Here you have a couple of choices. A U.S. made grade and an off shore brand. We got ours from Scott Millwork in Cressona Pa. I prefer dealing with private local companies if possible, the service tends to be better. In this case we were told up front that the off shore brand does have some flaws and in no way compares to the U.S. brand. I had used some of the off shore for a laundry room cabinet project with satisfaction, but working with smaller sections for this console the U.S. brand would have been a better choice. Since it will be covered with vinyl the voids and imperfections will be hidden. Price difference was about half. On to fabrication. Jeffrey used cardboard as a template and mocked up what he had envisioned. He made it a bit higher than needed, that way the floor contour could be cut a little at a time. This was done by using a set of dividers with the points held vertically to the floor with the side of the console in position then scribe the floor shape on to the cardboard. This was then transferred on to the plywood. After both sides were established and the height was correct end pieces were dadoed into the sides. Cutting a dadoe helps to align and square the pieces and makes a stronger joint. Carpenter wood glue, clamps and #3 finishing nails held it all together. This makes for a very structurally rigid assembly. Two metal L brackets are used to fasten the rear of the console. The front part will be pinned to the front console section for easy dis assembly. Tops for the arm rest and cup holder will be made later when he decides on one or two cup holders. Taking the time now to make sure driving conditions are comfortable is why we went with steering, seating, shifter then console fabrication in that order.

Alright, part 2 of the center console. Fabrication methods will be the same, but this round we will have a solid rear arm rest section to reference from. The rear section is 7" wide, this give ample storage and possibly 2 cup holders along with enough room to access the reclining knobs which are now in the center since we swapped drivers seat with the passenger seat for roll bar clearance. 7" isn't quite enough width to mount (3) 2 1/16" dia. gauges and a radio, so we widened it to 10" were it meets the dash. This also helps to eliminate the boxy look. (I tried to talk Jeffrey into using military ammo boxes, but that didn't fly. If we were building a rat rod it would have been a go.) Anyhow the same procedures were used to mock up the sides and contour them to the floor and then transfer to the plywood. Angles from the 7" width to 10" was verified on the workbench and cross pieces cut and dadoed in. Test fitted the unit before gluing to make sure everything was honky dory. dory 2 pins will be used at the junction of the front and rear pieces (now held by a vise grip) for location and the front will be bolted down like the rear. The forward section protrudes under the dash to make room for a radio, but caused a problem with the heater outlet for the CJ which is directed straight back. One for a 1987 to 1995 YJ has an outlet that will bolt up to the CJ heater box but is directed to both sides. J C Whitney also carries this item. along with other sources. The top of the console will be constructed out of plywood also along with sheet metal, painted to match the dash. The transition from the vinyl sides to sheet metal top will be hidden by a 3/4 x 3/8 steel or polished aluminum strip running the whole length on both top edges. We'll cover that fabrication later.

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thanks for the compliment! Heading back home this weekend to work on it some more. Hope to get some updates
The quadratrac has a vacuum switch that I am going to mount in the glove box. My qtrac has the low range unit on the back and that has a small lever that is bolted to the floor under the driver seat. I am going to mount that when i put the body on

I will have an update tomorrow. Got done fabbing the windshield up tonight, as well as fabbing the extended brake booster rod.

Made a killer buy on a Wrangler windshield frame from our local u-pull. Jeffrey had known about it weeks ago so we weren't sure if it would still be there, but it was. The reason it was still there was because nobody could remove it. Damn rusted torx head bolts. As we got to it 2 other guys came walking up to it with intention of trying to remove it. They had tried the previous day and after stripping the heads on all the torx bolts gave up but

came back with no additional tools. Don't know what they were thinking. Anyhow, eye contact was made and they decided to leave it. We had brought along a Snap-On impact driver knowing it was going to be a problem, but with the stripped heads we had no success. The windshield was surprisingly rust free with a very nice tinted glass, wiper motor and sunvisor brackets. On closer inspection we noticed that the hinges were almost broken off from a previous owner trying to fold it down with rusted fast hinge pins. So there was no

use in trying to save them. The only other problem was that the roll bar extension pipes fastened to the windshield frame were also attached with stripped torx. If we could get them off then we could finish braking off the hinges and be on our way. Just so happened I brought along a saw. Not a hack saw but a vintage Allway saw. This used to be my grandfather's but comes in handy but was small for the task in hand. Where there is a will there is a way. Well needless to say we took turns sawing our way

through the bars. It was cold that day but we were both sweating. Total cost was $55.00. Got it home and applied heat to the bolt heads and they turned right out. Removed the wiper motor and bench tested it, works nice and quiet. Suvisor brackets came off then the glass. The Wrangler glass is glued in unlike the CJ's that use a rubber seal. This is one reason the Wrangler frames are less prone to rust. Removal of the glass, recommended by a glass installer was to use a wire, or they would do it for

$45.00 Nah, we can do this. Started out with a utility knife but was taking too long so I broke out the trusty oscillating multi function tool from Harbor Freight. Held flat against the glass and cut into the adhesive made short work of it. We had one complete hinge from the CJ and a lower half along with the two upper half's from the Wrangler. A complete pair was needed for mock up so we

clamped the two broken half's on the welding table, using a pair of dividers made sure the holes spacing was correct then Jeffrey welded it together. Positioning the assembly in place on the fiberglass cowl revealed that the cowl width was about .330 narrower than the steel body. 2 shims were milled to .165 to fit behind the hinges to take up that space and tack welded to the hinges. A 1/4" thick strip of wood was layed between the cowl and bottom of the windshield frame to take up the space for the

rubber gasket then clamped into position for drilling. Before drilling we will hang the doors and set the top on to make sure everything lines up. A door was temporarily held in place and found fitment to body was dead on. An attaboy to Shell Valley. A steel windshield frame was chosen for the strength. Have heard some horror stories about glass popping out when using a soft top. In fact Shell Valley will caution you on this.

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Took a little "brake" from the windshield since Jeffrey headed back to New York, I needed something I could do without help, so I finished up connecting the brake booster to the pedal. The brake booster came with a 3/8" - 24 right hand thread and the brake pedal rod on the Wrangler booster was 1/2" with a taper and ball on the end. I assembled the new booster to the firewall and measured to the centerline of the pin on the brake pedal to the end of the 3/8 shaft on the booster. The Wrangler rod was then cut to that length. The brake pedal on the CJ was uncomfortably and unnecessarily high since it was originally manual and

was now power assisted. I thought it would be pretty cool to have an adjustable pedal height. Not like on some newer vehicles where you can adjust it from the dash but at least one time adjustable to the driver and then leave it set. So since the brake rod was 1/2" I decided to thread it 1/2" - 20 left hand, then make up a coupler similar to a turn buckle that after it was assembled the coupler could be turned to adjust the height of the pedal. 3/4" steel hex stock was used and tapped one end 3/8" - 24 right hand

and the other end 1/2" - 20 left hand. I had a tap from my bicycle days but needed a die to thread the brake rod. MSC Industrial Supply came through on that one. A new 3/8" lock nut was supplied with the new booster but I had to make up a left hand one for the brake rod end. Assembled everything and adjusted the pedal height to suit and cinched down the lock nuts. Jeffrey painted the

master cylinder and lid before he left but was not pleased with the black lid and the fact that it gets scratched when ever the clamps are slid into place, so a chrome one is on the to get list.

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Great build. Thanks for the details. I will have to rebuild my heater before next winter
thanks for the compliments!

Time to put the body on the chassis. Jeffrey was home from N.Y. so he decided to take advantage of the time to do a little body building. No, not that kind. We had a few obstacles to overcome. One; 8" of snow with frozen ice on top, Two; a garage that was located down a hill in the back yard where the Jeep was housed and couldn't drive to, three; limited man power, four; a garage that you couldn't lift from the ceiling. I had previously made a lifting apparatus to lift the body for use in my basement shop with an

overhead trolley and chain hoist so with a cherry picker lift already in the garage a plan was formulated. As long as the cherry picker had enough lifting height we would be in good shape. The mover dolly's that were under the body are rated at 1000 lbs from Harbor Freight Not really intended to put under the four tires of the chassis but was worth a try. They actually have wheel dolly's for this purpose which is what I would recommend, but it did work. The

body was lifted and the chassis slid underneath. No clearance issues were encountered. The rubber body pucks were placed between the body and frame, body aligned and bolted down. We had previously cut these mounts and numbered their location when we had the body on before, so everything went together well. This will not be the final mounting of the body, (it will be off for paint) but was necessary for further fabrication where alignment and squareness of the body was crucial. The mounting of the body will create alot more fabrication work and alignment of other components wont be a problem. Some sort of running boards are

definitely going to be needed. With only a 2" suspension lift and no body lift, it's sitting pretty tall. The dollies aren't adding that much. Hoping it settles down as more weight gets added.

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After the body was bolted down we turned our attention to the shifter cable. Precisely on how to seal it where it went through the floor. Several ideas were bounced around, and we know there are special boots on various cars made for this purpose, and considering all the junkyards were snowed in jeffrey spotted a solution at are local hardware store in the plumbing department.It's called an adjustable toilet flapper.

and even though this is really an off the wall idea, it works exceptionally well. A thick washer just the correct size that I had on hand from a scrap part we make at my job (thanks Rick) was put to use over the rubber piece, bent to conform to the transmission hump, drilled then bolted down. The shifter cable was slid through it and makes a good flexible seal. I got my own ideas what the final results look like, but I'll let you form your own opinion. The console will have to get notched out for cable clearance, along with final adjustment for proper shifting.

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The hood scoop is from a 67 mustang i think. I have an extra one for sale pm me

Tying in the master cylinder to the distribution block was next on the agenda of things to do after body mounting. Brake lines had to be bent, so once again out came the brake tools. This should be the last time they will be used. It was decided to eliminate the vibration coils in the two lines for a cleaner look. Now I know I will be crucified for this, but I don't think there will be substantial flexing between the body and frame to produce any line breakage. There is already enough movement in the lines so we will take that chance. It is something we will keep our eyes on. Enough said. Bending was straight forward using 5/16 and 1/4 tubing. 4 foot lengths were

purchased and one end cut off and re-flared after appropriate length was established. A double flaring tool was used to accomplish this. Mine is made by Oldforge, model 7203 These can be picked up from various sources but don't by a dime store quality. Alot of forums I have read, indicated trouble in producing an centered double flare. The trick is in evenly chamfering the O.D. and I.D. Then when you insert the button in the tubing for the first bending operation it is critical that it is centered and straight. Look from both sides to insure this. It is also imperative that the screw clamp is centered on the holding bar. If it is not you will end up with an off centered flare. I also hit it with some WD-40 on both sides of the button for a smooth bend. On the second operation again make sure the screw clamp is centered. Oh and don't forget to put the fitting on first. It is also recommended that you should tighten the fitting down, loosen it and retighten for a no leak seal. Silicone brake fluid will be used for it's undamaging to paint properties.

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Man I can not wait to get all of this mock up done so it can be torn down AGAIN, and paint and reupholster everything
So we did a little messing around with E brake ideas last weekend. Because of the way the Isuzu E brake cables are it lined up perfect for an E brake handle. Not sure if this will be our final design or not. I think the cables look funny, but with the flares on it might hide them.

Idk what do you guys think.

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So I worked on the throttle cable today. We tried a mr gasket throttle cable and it was complete junk so we decided we wanted to stay with oem. We decided with the fiberglass body we would cut the throttle cable section out of the firewall on the oem steel tub and fiberglass it on. I will have more pictures of that soon.

Not happy with the length of the cable. I ordered a cable that was just an inch shorter as this was one I had laying around.

I am also going to modify the cable bracket becasue my carb spacer.

Poor picture of the steel throttle cable hole. Its bolted on now but will be fiberglassed in when we do our body work
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