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Josh's 1985 CJ7 Restoration

45600 Views 345 Replies 41 Participants Last post by  John Strenk
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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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...
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Discussion Starter · #81 ·
I jumped on the bandwagon this weekend and decided to restore the lower part of the heater box and some other various trim parts. I followed the sticky thread, I'm just showing my results. Just like most of the stuff I have restored/ cleaned up, I did it differently than what most have done with the same results. I only have about $30 into the heater box restoration, which is nice.

I'm considering using the same trim spray paint on the original fender flairs that came off the Jeep. They are in great shape, just a little faded. Does anyone have any input on what they did to their fender flares? I heard of the black shoe polish method but I'm not sure of the longevity.

Now that its March, hopefully warm weather is on its way. I'll have a lot of primer to spray on the hood, fenders, doors and grill

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Discussion Starter · #84 ·
No updates right now but I thought I would share something I find pretty cool.

This past weekend, I was out at my grandfathers property looking though one of the barns. Up on a top shelf I found some old AMC parts...
Three unused filters with one never being opened... I've been running in and out of those barns for 20 years and Just now saw these. I asked about them and he said he put those up there in the 80's before leaving AMC. I'm sure they were from Whitewater AMC Jeep in Indiana. Definitely keeping my eyes open now that I've found this, Jeep manuals and other weird stuff. Is it worth anything? Who knows, I find it cool and is going in my collection of AMC stuff that I've found over years of going though those barns. Just thought this was cool. Some of you may have seen it on facebook already

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Discussion Starter · #86 ·
It's day whatever of quarantine in Ohio... My work has sent me home with my computer so I can work from home. Hmmm "work" lol

Just kidding, I'm actually working when I'm supposed too. I've started to work in the garage during lunch and after working hours since the weather is much nicer now. Worked on the CJ more in one week than I have all winter! I sent the hood, doors, dash, and tailgate off to be cleaned of paint and rust. $460 for all of that, a little high but I'm not going to complain because the guy does a great job.

Meanwhile I finished the other fenders cover panel (Picture 1). Wasn't too hard, just tedious work. It wasn't nearly as bad as the drivers side but I'm glad I replaced it. I started body work on the fenders and grill (Picture 2). There wasn't much metal work to be done on the fender but the metal was wavy from stamping. A purest would probably say, "leave the waviness in the panels, that's how old jeeps are supposed to be". So let the sanding begin!

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In between working on the CJ, some of you might have seen some pictures of the M715. Yes, I know its not a CJ but I like to incorporate some other stuff I do on this thread as well. This up coming weekend the motor should be going in it! It was supposed to happen last weekend until we broke the bearing retainer to the adapter kit... Here's where we are on it!

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Discussion Starter · #87 ·
Transmission/ T-case questions!

I would like your guy's advice on the transmission and T-case... I have a T-5 five speed and Dana 300. I know its not a tough trans but I don't plan to off road hard core. Just to go on occasional trail rides and typical farm use up and down valleys

When I had the engine out of the frame, I cleaned up the grease covered trans and T-case but never opened them up.. Now that they are looking nice and clean, attached to the motor and inside the frame, the transmission has a leak... I think it could be due to the cleaning or it could have been leaking to begin with (why it was covered in grime). It is leaking between the actual gear box area and the output drive below the shift lever (see picture).

So my plan is to take it apart and just seal up that area... BUT, I have a complete rebuild kit for it. Is it worth it to rebuild the entire transmission or just inspect, put back together and seal it up? When I drained the fluid, there was gold flakes in the oil, synchro dust was what I was told and nothing to worry about. No steel flakes or chunks.

My second question... I have yet to look into the transfer case to see its known condition. Just a fluid change. While the trans is out, is it the transfer case worthy of any work? Everything feels fine but I don't know what problems the dana 300 could have in terms of issues. Is there any advice or upgrades I should do to the T-case while it is out?

Thanks in advance!
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Discussion Starter · #88 ·
This weekend I decided its time to clean the leaking oil off the garage floor and figure out the leaking areas of the transmission and transfer case. It was a good move on my part. Found some needle bearings that were in need of service on the input shaft of the T5. The transfer case is getting new bearings and seals since putting new seals is basically the same process as rebuilding. Do it all at one time rather than be sorry later. I'm not going to detail this rebuild just because I think there is enough documentation already out there, especially for the Dana 300. If someone specifically asks me to do it, I don't mind. I need to travel out to my farm to get the parts washer to clean everything so I wont mess with this much this week.

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At a first glance it looks really good. Synchros seem to look okay but will be replaced since I have new ones. I don't know what the end play is supped to be on the T5 yet but I thought there was too much end play. Ill refer to the manuals to make sure I correct it.

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Everything laid out as the parts come off the shafts to ensure correct assembly.

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I only found this one chip in what I assume is the reverse gear The idler/ engagement gear doesn't appear to be chipped so maybe some one opened this up and hit it with a hammer by accident or just really forced it into gear.

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Discussion Starter · #89 ·
Upon futher inspection of the transmission.. The main shaft has seen better days where the needle bearings let it ride on the input shaft from the clutch.

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My options are to take it to a machine shop and have it welded and machined down and polished or to make a sleeve out of a bearing rated steel and grind and polish down. The T4/5 main shaft is no longer produced for non world class JEEP applications. I've spent 3 days making phone calls and every one has said the only non world class main shaft produced is 14-3/4" long where the Jeep version is 14-1/8". Borg Warner and tremec teamed up at some point and now everything is made by tremec.

This is territory I have not been though yet. Let me know if someone has ever done anything like this!
 

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Discussion Starter · #90 ·
With the main shaft of the transmission being sent to Texas Drivetrain Performance for the bearing repair I went crazy on cleaning... My OCD kicked in and I went overkill.

Really, all I did was take everything to the parts washer and use series of brushes. Tooth brush all the way to a smaller hand scrub brush, a parts washer brush took care of the hard to reach areas. After cleaning I followed it up with air to clean out any settled debris. I decided for future cleaning and identifying any leaks I would spray the aluminum with aluminum colored paint. I know you wont see it but it had over spray on it and it just looked too normal.. after taping off some crucial areas, I LIGHTLY sand blasted it. Avoiding any sealing surfaces! I only blasted the outside case that you see. I got a ton of grief at work for sandblasting aluminum but what do I know? anyways, it looked great. after a etching primer, it got a nice finish.

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Next I decided to get some parts in the housing before I lost track of them or got knocked off the work bench. It is truly amazing how well parts go together when everything is clean. I triple checked all the new parts with the old parts to make sure tolerances was acceptable. Yes, I even cleaned the old parts to make sure oils and grease would not effect tolerances...

Everything checked out good if not even better than before. I got the counter shaft assembled as far as I can go until the main shaft arrives this weekend. I have no end play and everything spins as free as it can with assembly lube in the bearings.

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If anyone is rebuilding or considering rebuilding the T5 or T4 and having troubles, feel free to ask. I might have an answer!
 

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Discussion Starter · #91 ·
Yesterday I finally got the transmission buttoned up and ready to be put back in the frame! A few setbacks had it sitting for a week waiting to be put together. After taking it all apart I found that someone changed the bearings but not the bearing races... For example, the bearings were made by Koyo and the bearing race was made by Timken and the Timken races look like they were original. The end play tolerance was way out before at about .05" to .09" so I'm extremely happy I decided to rebuild it. Now on to the transfer case!

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The Koyo Bearings plant is right down road from me. Just so you know, Koyo bought Timken about a decade ago, so more than likely the races and the bearings were all replaced, just probably were made during the transition and had some parts stamped Koyo and some stamped Timken coming together as one final assembly.

...or, someone only changed the bearings, not the bearing races (but that would be a strange thing to do in my opinion)
 

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Discussion Starter · #93 ·
The Koyo Bearings plant is right down road from me. Just so you know, Koyo bought Timken about a decade ago, so more than likely the races and the bearings were all replaced, just probably were made during the transition and had some parts stamped Koyo and some stamped Timken coming together as one final assembly.
...or, someone only changed the bearings, not the bearing races (but that would be a strange thing to do in my opinion)
That's something I didn't know about Koyo and Timken. That could make sense why the the bearing and race were branded different. Even after cleaning up the old bearings I cannot tell if one looks older than the other but considering the other silly stuff I found around the trans, it makes me wonder
 

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Discussion Starter · #94 ·
Got a tub and a review of Rudy's CJs

Over the memorial day weekend, I took a 2.5 hour drive up to see Rudy's CJs and came back with a tub! I have been waiting for something this nice to come along for over two years. After digging into the tub that came off my Jeep, it was just more cost effective to replace the tub.

This tub came from Arizona and has some sun fade and a couple dents here and there. The best part about it is, there is not a spot of rot on the tub. Maybe a little surface rust here and there but no rotting or rust holes. The pressure washer did quick work getting the bottom and inside cleaned up.

Rudy was extremely nice and showed me what all he does and took me on a tour of his place. He has A LOT of OEM Jeep stuff that is in great shape. He may be a little expensive for some but the quality he has is superior to most aftermarket. He can even ship some parts for those who cant just take a quick trip like I can. There are certainly many people out there with great OEM Jeep parts but if anyone needs a review of Rudys CJ, I would recommend him and I will buy from him again.

I would also like some advice on what to do.. Sandblast or chemically dip to remove the paint. I honestly don't know what would be better
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Have you checked under the roll bar mounts for rust? I'm not sure what I'd do on the paint. If the place that does the stripping also could dip it to protect the bare metal you'd be way ahead over sandblasting, I think. Sandblasting is allot of work if you do it yourself. I'd tend to want to find a place to do that job for me. Nice tub! What color is the final product going to be?
 

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Discussion Starter · #96 · (Edited)
Have you checked under the roll bar mounts for rust? I'm not sure what I'd do on the paint. If the place that does the stripping also could dip it to protect the bare metal you'd be way ahead over sandblasting, I think. Sandblasting is allot of work if you do it yourself. I'd tend to want to find a place to do that job for me. Nice tub! What color is the final product going to be?
Under the roll bar mounts are all good! That was the first spot I checked when I got home from getting the tub.

As far as the dipping process, I'm not 100% sure if they coat it. I've had the rest of the Jeep dipped and sitting in the garage in bare metal and it hasn't shown any rust yet but I know if water gets on it, it starts to get surface rust. The tub fits in the garage and I can still get my Ranger in as well, so it will always be covered. If I have to put epoxy primer on it, I can always do that until I pick out a body shop. I'm just unsure if dipping the tub is necessary given that there hardly any rust.

As for paint... That's a huge debate. The original paint is 4C, Ice Blue Poly. I really like the 2D, Deep Night Blue but seeing the tub in 5C, Red Metallic I don't know what I like best. I have original, unused, silver Laredo decals I want to put on it. I just know what would look best. I want 1985 colors but I also want the Laredo decals to look as if the color combo was from the factory. I still have time to figure it out
 

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Nice tub. It’s hard to believe it isn’t rusted under the roll bar mounts.

I haven’t heard of that method you refer to, “dipping it in a chemical” for stripping paint? If you do dip it to strip it, you better dip it to prime it, so you don’t leave any bare metal in any blind, or hard to access areas.

I sandblasted my 1969 Firebird back in the late eighties when I first bought it. That was a lot of work, messy work, but I definitely removed all the paint and rust when I sandblasted it myself. I used a chemical stripper to strip the paint first. Then I sand blasted the metal to get it clean, some refer to as “white” metal. I sandblasted a 1971 Chevy shortbed pickup about five or six years later. I blasted the frame, bed, cab, tailgate & doors. I had access to better equipment when I did that truck, so I didn’t have to chemical strip it first, but it was still a lot of work.

There are companies that specialize in this type of work now, and there are different media’s being used to strip paint as well. For example, walnut shells, soda, plastic, sand, are some of the media I am familiar with, so there are some choices out there, but I guess it depends on what you can find locally, depending on where you live.

I think the most important part of the stripping process is getting a good, high quality primer applied before the bare metal gets a chance to start rusting again. And then, If you pay someone to do it, you have to go over what was stripped and primed for missed rust...that’s the biggest problem with hiring someone else to strip it and prime it. You have to trust they will do it right. You can damage the sheet metal if your equipment has the power, it will warp or collapse it if you aren’t careful.

Having said all of that, I will hire someone to do it for me when I pull the tub off my 1985 CJ-7, in the not to distant future. It will get done much faster, saving time and effort on my part. I don’t have the energy to do this stuff like I used to.
 

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Discussion Starter · #98 ·
@Jim1611 and @Axhammer, here is under the roll bar mounts in the front. The rears look just like the front. They have little rust. I took a screw driver and dug around and no holes or flakes of rust came about so once I decide on what I want to do on stripping the paint, we will see how well the area holds up.
@Axhammer, to answer your question about the chemical stripping, it's basically like hot tanking a engine. The place I take it to doesn't have a post dip to prevent rust but they keep it inside until it's picked up. They suggest priming it as soon as possible to prevent flash rust but I've had parts in the garage for over 6 months with no primer and no rust has appeared.

If I go the sandblast route, a company is going to do it. I'd kill my air compressor doing that lol

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Discussion Starter · #99 ·
I didn't post anything about rebuilding the Dana 300. I think its well covered by many others and it would just be redundant here. Anyways, to eliminate any surprises like the transmission, I bought the Novak master rebuild kit. It was a very complete kit and I highly recommend. I also decided to get a little flashy and got the Novak billet pan (image 1) and front output bearing retainer (image 2). The bearing retainer has an o-ring that helps keep the cover from leaking which is great because that was a leaking point on mine. Novak's master rebuild kit includes a hardened intermediate shaft which has a double o-ring to prevent leaking. I'm very pleased with the kit and would highly recommend.

Now that the work bench is cleaned up, its time to take apart the clutch/ brake assembly and various other parts to be blasted and powder coated. I haven't done much with the tub yet. Still deciding what to do and saving money to do it... and the garage needs to be cleaned again!

Here is the finished products
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Discussion Starter · #100 ·
For the first time in 2.5 years, it's actually starting to turn into a Jeep again! I wanted some garage space back so I decided to set the body on the frame. I just need to get some dollies so I can move the whole jeep to do some light body work. Just a few more dents and I need to fill some holes from added screws. No big deal. For the most part, the Jeep is on the back burner... It's freakin hot most days and very humid and working in the garage is just unbearable, even with a shop fan on high.

I acquired another T5 transmission for basically free, I just had to pay shipping. I tore it apart to see the inside and it looks really good. My plan is to put new bearings in it and just clean it up. I may set it on the shelf for awhile to keep as a spare in case something goes wrong with my original. I'm confident in my work but I can also sell the trans as well, I just don't know its value.

I decided on a color, 4C Ice Blue Metallic. That was the original and I want to keep it as close to original as I can. I'm saving more money for a body shop to paint it. If the price is too high, I'm learning how to paint with metallic.
 

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