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Josh's 1985 CJ7 Restoration

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Hey guys! I am sure you have seen me around here on a few threads but I normally just do a lot of reading on here. I love seeing all of the stuff people are doing with their Jeeps. If I can't figure it out by myself, from the FSM or my Grandfather, I come here. With that said, since I am doing a complete restoration, I figured I can document what I have done now and continue to document. I would like to look back on it some day and I would really like to contribute some help to us CJ folks.

I bought this CJ7 in 2018 that I found on Facebook market place. It was local and the best looking one on Facebook. $2,600 and it was mine! It had issues but I knew it from the start and was willing to fix it. Hard top and pre 1981 hard doors were included along with a box of parts and little trim stuff. It also didn't run when I bought it but I knew what it needed.

About the Jeep:
258 with a T5 transmission and a dana 300, AMC 20 rear axle and a Dana 30 in the front. Pretty much a base Jeep but I am not sure if it had a package on it due to it being repainted a few times. LOTS of rust! Had the nutter bypass done and the cooling system was re-routed... not sure why someone would do that but I guess it got them by. Here are some pictures before the carnage started!

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Tear down

Once I found a new corroborator, it only took a few turn overs to get it running. Once it was running, I started the tear down. The brake lines were rusted out and the rear frame was looking to be unstable to drive, so I bought this jeep and didn't drive it before I tore it apart.

While taking it apart, my dad and I broke majority of the boy mount bolts and we were finding a lot of issues with the body just being rusty. I think we filled a 5 gallon bucket just with rust and broken bolts. A full day in the garage and the body was out and so was the motor.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Frame Repair

Basically I am playing catch up right now with the documenting.. I just graduated from college in May so for about 8 months I paused everything Jeep related. Now that I have a Job and a way to fund this project I am preparing the small stuff for when a better tub comes along. The tub I have is trashed. Lots of rust and hack job fixings. I forgot to mention... If you all have any comments or opinions, feel free to share! I take criticism constructively! I'm not a "snowflake" Lol

In March of 2018 I had the frame sandblasted for $100. The guy did a great job and got the inside of the frame as best he could. The worst spot was the common rear frame by the leaf spring mounts. I found the Safe T Cap kits and did a lot of measuring before the fitment. I took my time welding so I wouldn't over heat the area. Basically I would weld one side and inch or two then hop over to the other side. I did this pattern until it was done. Then I would grind the welds smooth and touch up some spots and grind smooth. At the end of this I took some quick setting JB Weld for metal and used it as a "filler" where the transition of the Safe T Cap met the original frame. Purely for appearance reasons. I'm very picky to close details that no one will see and I'm hell bent on doing it right.

I used Eastwood's Rust Encapsulator and the Extreme Chassis Black for the outside of the frame and Eastwood's Internal Frame Coating for the inside. I used two cans of the internal coating if anyone needs that info. Overall I like Eastwood products. They spray well when you follow the instructions. Prep is the key to painting along with mixing the proper amounts and proper spray settings.

I also repaired the body mount holes and drilled new holes (not shown). Sorry for the pictures being sideways... not sure how to fix that
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Have you purchased a new rear cross member yet? Classic Enterprises makes and exact duplicate of the OEM in both fitment and gauge steel.
They can be found here: https://www.classicent.com/products/jeep-crossmember-rear-frame-1976-1995
I did purchase a new cross member, but not this brand.. I looked for awhile for a new cross member but all I found was the Omix one so I settled with it. I measured everything and it seemed to be pretty damn close to the original. I think one or two holes were off by less than a 1/16" but turns out I don't need them anyways. It is a little thicker than what I took off but I like that so far. We will see though when I get a tub. If it doesnt work out, I know where I'll be going!

This brings a questions up that I've had for awhile now... What's with the debate with Crown and Omix? I hear good reviews and then I hear awful things. Personally, from the things I have bought from both manufactures, they are okay. Some parts seem better than others but I don't understand some of the hate. Can anyone can elaborate? (I will probably regret asking this)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I took a look at some old purchases and it was from Omix. Surprisingly my crossmember/bumper is 1/8" thick. It looked heavy duty next to the one I took off the Jeep forever ago. Maybe the PO replaced it already? It was welded on to the frame on the top side. I'm thinking it wasn't though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Axles

Moving forward on the build, I dug into the AMC 20 and the Dana 30. The rear axle needed some help. The bearings were going out at the carrier and the pinion. I'll be honest, I have a lot of tools but not ones for setting pinion washers and presses to get bearings off. So for this job I had it sent out. Working at Napa helped with a trustworthy shop and the rear end was rebuilt. I have a 3.31 ratio in the rear and plan to run stock wheels on it. After cleaning the axel up, it got a rust treatment and a coat of black. The rear got new everything, you name it, it got it.

Onto the front, a greasy sloppy mess.. Again, Replaced all bearings except for the carrier and pinion bearings. The front axle look to be hardly used. I ran into the issue of the ball joint sleeve for the upper ball joint. Couldn't get it out without damaging threads so that had to be carefully tapped/ chased. Good as new after that! This front axel also got new everything. Coats of paint and we were looking good!

Next after the axles were complete, I had new leaf springs made by a local spring shop. I went stock ride height and the set of springs used for a Jeep with a hard top. There was a rolling chassis by mid April 2018.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
That part that you might think is not worth saving may be selling on ebay for allot of money.
I have already figured this out! I have the 20 gallon gas tank in mine and the original skid plate rotted out. So much that I couldn't even make a template out of it. So I found one on eBay in great shape, swallowed my pride and paid $225 for it. But I wanted it to look right so I guess I wasn't afraid to pay it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Engine

I took a little vacation this last week and some time to dig up more pictures of the work I've done the last year.

I had the engine sent out late august to be bored out. Nothing really special here, other than a dirty greasy mess. Just some before and progress pictures.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Engine Continued

So according to my Grandfather, who was an AMC Regional Service Manager, the 258 had a cylinder 1 problem. Because the water inlet was at cyl. 1 it was always the coolest so it wore out the quickest. Cooler cylinder equals tighter tolerances. EXACTLY the case with mine. I had roughly 144k on my engine and it was pretty much done. Took it to a machine shop and had to bore it .060". This guy liked to be perfect and balanced the rotating assembly +/- .30 of a gram. Also did a valve job as well.

After I got the engine back, It was winter time. Too cold to paint so I covered it up and waited some more. We had a heat wave in January where it got up into the high 60s so I took advantage of it with the help of a kerosene heater.

I wanted to go with the AMC blue instead of the original black. They went away from blue because this was the transition of AMC to Chrysler/ Mopar. Someone can fact check me on that though. I bought some 2k ceramic engine paint from Eastwood and it looks pretty darn close to AMC blue. I followed all prep instructions and sprayed away. Waited a few weeks to assemble just to make sure all paint was hardened with the cooler temperatures.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Painting it black to hide the oil leaks? Genius! I get it though, pigmented paints were expensive. Especially blue pigments. I guess that art class in college did pay off after all :2thumbsup:

Following up with the engine, I cleaned the fan, brackets, and pulleys with mineral spirits and painted black as you can see above. The exhaust manifold was sand blasted and cleaned, lots of carbon build up was inside of the manifold. KBS Coatings makes a header/ manifold primer and paint, that's what I used and I baked it in the over per the instructions. Putting the manifold back on was tricky, I had to heat it up to get it on due to it shrinking while off of the head.

The intake manifold was cleaned with mineral spirits, then media blasted with plastic pellets. The plastic pellets are a great non destructive blasting method for parts like this. In my opinion, It made it look brand new without pitting or scuffing like sand would. I just need to get some plugs to keep the coolant in the manifold.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Managed to get the engine married to the trans and sitting in the frame. Heres a picture before all the pulleys and stuff were on it. Forgive me with some of these blurry pictures... Im not sure why they are that way.

To the forum lurkers and subscribers, at this point in time you are caught up with my build! I've had some roadblocks lately (paying school loans) and trying to get on the right path. I'd rather be paying off school while I'm freshly graduated. I sure you Jeepers would understand.

I need a new tub and I am watching Rudy's closely. He's three hours north of me so hopefully I can get something good and workable. Right now it has been a steady 90+ degrees with lots of humidity so working in the garage is awful.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Hard Top repairs

Large post ahead!

Lately it has been stupid hot to work on anything so I have been gathering parts for the future. This last weekend has cooled off and I got to address some issues with my hard top. I popped the windows out and found out I have a fiberglass lift gate that was cracked. I found a forum on here by Axhammer where he was messing with a new lift gate. I bought one from KeyParts and it looked great. So here's what I did, pictures are in order.

1. Cleaned the top and inside with Dawn dish soap and Purple Power.

2. Disassembled all the hardware, sandblasted and painted

3. My top seems to be an earlier model. It looks to be all one piece (unless someone did excellent filling work to hide seams). The roof had injection molding ports that the factory tried to fill up to make smooth. Over the years UV rays and overall age made these fill spots fall out. I took my Dremel tool and cleaned these spots up to fill with epoxy resin.

4. 3M makes several options of resin but the most common seems to be the 04747 super fast repair adhesive. My local NAPA had this and the applicator. The working time of this epoxy is 20 seconds so I just slathers that stuff on and went to the next spot.

5. After letting it cure to the allowable working time, I took my orbital sander and sanded it down so I could finish with block sanding. Of course there could be some minor imperfections, so I used some 3M red putty filler to fill in the small spots. Sanded until smooth.

6. On to the lift gate. The metal one looks great! I did a test fit and it fit up nice even with the hardware attached. I did notice that the spot welds along the side of the gate was visible. I took the Dremel with a sanding wheel and ground them smooth. I followed that up with some Bondo and block sanding.

7. I used some Zincom primer from NAPA for its metal etching properties.

I am hoping to paint the whole top here in the next few weeks. Between this and helping my father with his M715 restoration, spraying space is limited.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
JMHO... are you leaving the top sanded/ smooth?
Hoss,

Nope. The top will be textured! I have searched pretty hard for a textured paint. Sherman Williams has a paint that you can mix but it is expensive... The hardener they require is over $200 a gallon... the paint itself is about $100. NOT doing that lol

Instead, I am going to use SEM 39854 Texture coating. I used to work at a NAPA auto parts that mixed paint and we sold this stuff. Did some research and bought a quart. The spots I repaired have been sanded down unfortunately but I wanted it textured.

My plan is to leave the rest of the texturing and to just paint over it. It wont be noticed in my opinion but I am going to test it first.

I'm with you though, I cannot stand the smooth tops.. even on the new Jeeps they just don't look right.
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
I've been looking for a good textured paint for my top, and unfamiliar with SEM. Please post up some images once you wrap up your project-
Will do! That was my original plan. I know there are a lot of different ways to fix these tops, texture them and what not. This is a totally new approach on here.

Just be patient with the updates... It has been stupid hot, humid and rainy. It's hard to spray in this weather for obvious reasons so If I do, its early morning when it's cool. I am going to try for this weekend if I have the time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 · (Edited)
Hard top TEXTURE repair

Alright everyone, this afternoon I was able to get the textured paint on the hard top and paint it black! I must say, at first I didn't think the texture was going to make it look original. I was wrong! I am very pleased with the result!! If I had not painted it myself, I could be fooled into thinking it was a top that never saw daylight. So here is what I did!

1) I cleaned the top off of any dust with a dry towel and then ran a tack rag over it. Mixed my textured paint up for spraying. The specific paint I used in my previous post did not have to be reduced but it can be if needed. I didn't use any reducer.

2) Test spray! It took me about 10 minutes to get the spray I wanted. I was just using the purple gun from Harbor Freight. I think we ended up using a pressure under 5 psi. Yeah, lower pressure gave me bigger drops like what was currently on my hard top. If someone does this method, play around with it before you spray it. Also, always have a rag handy to clean the spray tip. The paint seemed to build up a little after a few minutes.

3) Spraying the top. It does not have to be fully coated black, you will want to put a top coat over the textured paint. I found it best to be about 6-8 inches away with my given pressure. Again, this is something I had to play with. When spraying, I found it helpful to spray kinda random, shaking the gun and sometimes found myself going in circles but this is something that you can do if you wish. With this texture paint, I got a cotton candy like strands that came out the spray gun. This is normal. This is the gun air pressure game. Too much air pressure will make it stringy.

4) It says the flash time is 5-10 minutes. I let it sit about 30 just so it was dry. I have some "Hot Rod" black paint made by SEM. It was a kit I bought at Napa. It has all you need and 1 quart did the whole top. I mixed that up and it was applied like regular automotive paint. (following their directions other than not using their primer) Before you spray the top coat, be sure to take a dry towel and wipe off the top, following with a tack rag. Those strands I mentioned in step 3 are basically dust. It is also good habit to tack rag before you paint, especially outdoors like what I did.

Some discoveries I found while spraying:
The top coat that I sprayed seemed to soak into the top. My top is believed to be from the early to mid 70's. It's plastic and not fiberglass. Mine also has no seams like the 80's tops have. Does anyone know the history of the hard top materials?
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
So, your top is plastic and absorbed the paint? How many top coats did you apply?

Thanks,
Hoov
I am not 100% sure its plastic... I found on a forum here awhile back that earlier tops were a one piece polycarbonate then switched to fiberglass at some point. I hope someone can clarify this because I could have a aftermarket top and not know it.

When I dug into the top with the dremel tool, it was more of a resin based polymer with no fiber material mixed in. That being said, if it is a polycarbonate top, the paint could potentially be absorbed by the polycarbonate to an extent. That kind of material is porous and can absorb petroleum based solvents and paint, especially if they used a polycarbonate with a glass filled option for strength. Hopefully my engineering talk didn't confuse the heck out of everyone...

To answer your question, I did 2 wet coats of the top coat. I did have to go back on some spots and touch them up because it looked like it absorbed a little and you could see some white. Then I dusted the roof with the remainder of the paint I had. You could see my paths on the roof so I decided to change direction and dust the roof.

I updated my procedure in my last post. I forgot to mention some stuff about the texture.
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
Finished up painting the hardtop last night. I didn't want to paint the inside but because I got some over spray in it, I decided to go for it. Ran up to Napa and had them mix up some 9B, Olimpic white paint that AMC put on their Jeeps. I dont know if this was the exact color but it was white and original to Jeep. It all turned out great with no issues! I haven't pulled the tape and plastic off yet. This weekend I am going to get the windows in. I hear this is pretty tough but its gonna happen. I think I need to cut and glue the rear window seal, its a little to big.
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
Thanks for the info Keith. Mine is polycarbonate then. I don't have the lines you showed in your pictures. It make sense to me now that the PO probably got the doors with his hard top and they are a pre 80s style door. My Jeep is an 85 but I honestly prefer the twist handle doors vs the paddle flap door
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
Can you get an SEM product in that color that would hold up well as a topcoat on a hard top?
I am not really sure to be honest. I was just a delivery driver for my local Napa for many years going through college. I just knew of the products that came through on a regular basis. I don't know if SEM makes a color in like you described but If you have a local Napa or auto parts store that mixes paint, they might be able to color match a single stage top coat that might not require a clear coat. If they have a person who mixes paints regularly and really knows his stuff, I'm sure they could point you in the right direction.

I used a single stage top coat on the inside of my hardtop (a few posts up). It turned out kinda glossy but I don't really mind it beings it's inside of the Jeep. For an outside semi-gloss matte finish you will probably need a flattener. That may require a clear coat with the flatter mixed in because the flattener could not be mixed into the color if I remember correctly.

Hopefully this helps!
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
Hey everyone, its been awhile since the last update. I haven't done a lot other than reassemble the hardtop which only took a few days. Installing the glass was the biggest pain but they are in and everything went together as it should!

Over the past few weeks I have been helping my dad with his M715, full size Jeep. We needed his truck bed to be stripped of the paint so we took it to a a metal cleaning place thats local. To help with the price, I sent my grill, and both fenders to be acid dipped as well. I kid you not, my jeep was painted 7 times (including original paint and all the primers and clears) My plan is to follow Adams fender repair that he did on his thread. Its the only way it will be rust free again. Those should be back sometime this week hopefully.

Anyways, here are some pictures of the finished top. Yes, I know I'm missing screws that hold the lift gate latches... I need more lol
 

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