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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have acquired a 1974 CJ5. My head is spinning as to which direction to go first to improve this jeep as it has many needs. The engine is great 305 chevy, the trany SM420 hops out of 3rd gear going down hill. the steering box has a catch but its not horrible just annoying. The front axle is a dana 35, 44 rear with Detroit locker. 488 gearing is awful low only need 3rd and 4th on the road screaming at 55MPH. have 12.5 x 35" tires but the spring are really low and flat leaving little fender clearance. stock drum breaks all around. emergency break peddle cables and hardware at the drums were removed assuming when they put in the roll cage.
Any thoughts on where to start would be great. I'm thinking emergency break is a must but should I consider a disc conversion first?
 

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What do you want to do with it? That will drive most of the recommendations. Steering and brakes always need to be at the top of the list of things that must work all the time. I have converted my rear drums to disk (front has always been disk), not sure that it was worth it or that I gained anything. So if the drums are working, converting to disks would not be anything I would be considering. Fixing the emergency/parking brake is something that should be addressed. I would also try to understand where the catch in the steering is to be sure that isn’t a symptom of an impending catastrophic failure.
 

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Are you sure you aren't in 4 low/ low gear in the t-case?

4.88 and 35s isn't terrible... (now if you had 235s, I could see it...)

Hoss
 

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Getting the E-Brake fixed would be high on my list. Don't understand why the roll bar has anything to do with the e-brake cables etc, they could have froze up and they just cut them off. Getting cables from the pedal back to both wheels is easy and available. When you say "screaming" at 55mph what RPM if known. My 72 has the T15 and 5.23 gears and at 60 mph I am turning 3200 rpm. 4-low at 55 you should be able to take some crows out of the air with pistons😁

Your leaf springs can either be replaced or re-arched if they are sag/flat. New U-bolts either way!

I have always wanted front disc brakes and will someday when I decide on what conversion kit, I don't think I would worry about disc on rear but those would be nice also.

The steering "catch" needs to be looked at ASAP, check the steering shaft for binding or loose/broken bolts. Check your front suspension by having someone in the jeep with the wheels on the ground turn the wheel until it hits the "catch/bind" and examine if it is hitting other parts. I would also get front wheels off the ground and do the same thing. If it is in fact the steering gear, they can be rebuilt or replaced. You didn't say if you had manual or power steering but no matter, you need to find the bind.
 

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1978 Jeep Cj5 OEM AMC 304
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Steering catch. Life safety. E brake is next.
This will make it easy for ya.
safety first.
then while you do safety stuff you can take your time to decide on the elective stuff.
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
What do you want to do with it? That will drive most of the recommendations. Steering and brakes always need to be at the top of the list of things that must work all the time. I have converted my rear drums to disk (front has always been disk), not sure that it was worth it or that I gained anything. So if the drums are working, converting to disks would not be anything I would be considering. Fixing the emergency/parking brake is something that should be addressed. I would also try to understand where the catch in the steering is to be sure that isn’t a symptom of an impending catastrophic failure.
I just want to make it a good wheelin Jeep. I grew up jeeping with my dad in the foothills of the sierra Nevada mountains and have gone through the Rubicon many times. not aiming for a major rock crawler but just a good off road jeep. I agree the E-brake is a good starting point. Drums work fine but that changes drastically when soaking wet. the catch seems to be in the aftermarket power steering box.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Are you sure you aren't in 4 low/ low gear in the t-case?

4.88 and 35s isn't terrible... (now if you had 235s, I could see it...)

Hoss
Yes I'm sure its 4.88 and yes I'm sure I'm not in 4w low. I with there was an overdrive add on for the dana 20 transfer case like I have on my 18. but yes 55MPH in 4th is revving pretty high but I can live with it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Getting the E-Brake fixed would be high on my list. Don't understand why the roll bar has anything to do with the e-brake cables etc, they could have froze up and they just cut them off. Getting cables from the pedal back to both wheels is easy and available. When you say "screaming" at 55mph what RPM if known. My 72 has the T15 and 5.23 gears and at 60 mph I am turning 3200 rpm. 4-low at 55 you should be able to take some crows out of the air with pistons😁

Your leaf springs can either be replaced or re-arched if they are sag/flat. New U-bolts either way!

I have always wanted front disc brakes and will someday when I decide on what conversion kit, I don't think I would worry about disc on rear but those would be nice also.

The steering "catch" needs to be looked at ASAP, check the steering shaft for binding or loose/broken bolts. Check your front suspension by having someone in the jeep with the wheels on the ground turn the wheel until it hits the "catch/bind" and examine if it is hitting other parts. I would also get front wheels off the ground and do the same thing. If it is in fact the steering gear, they can be rebuilt or replaced. You didn't say if you had manual or power steering but no matter, you need to find the bind.
Agreed on all. the roll cage wher it comes down at the floor end rite in front of where the peddle was so I assume that's why they removed it completely.
Steering catch. Life safety. E brake is next.
This will make it easy for ya.
safety first.
then while you do safety stuff you can take your time to decide on the elective stuff.
Agreed, I will focus on safety issues first.
 

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Like this from '72 Chevy?

Hood Motor vehicle Vehicle door Automotive exterior Car
 
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1978 Jeep Cj5 OEM AMC 304
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I’ve been wanting to do a handbrake in mine- makes it easier to operate the clutch from a stop on a mean incline.
the original “hill start assist”
 
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