Skateboards and a Bath



Most of the parts that have been sand blasted so far.

As I suggested in my last post, I’ve been spending a lot of time at the sand blasting cabinet for the last few months.  I was using a high quality, but inexpensive silica sand (with a respirator) at first, but decided that aluminum oxide would be better and safer to use in this application.  It has proved to be much more efficient as removing paint and rust from these heavy welded and cast parts.  The only problem is that just when you think you’re almost done, you find more parts to clean.  I think I may be working on this task for another several months alone.  I recently acquired a 5 lb tumbler from Eastwood, so while I’m doing this I’ve got the tumbler running in the background cleaning hardware too.  It’s like I’m doing two jobs at once!


New paint rack with some parts hanging on it.

Soon, I’ll need to start applying paint to these parts and I needed to figure out how to hang them so I could do that.  I found a deal on a rolling paint rack on Amazon that I just couldn’t pass up.  It comes with six hangars for parts, and I figure I can make more out of wire for smaller or additional parts to hang at another level.  This will serve as my practice for applying paint with a spray gun – yet another thing I’ve never done before, but always wanted to learn how to do.  Most of these parts will be painted with POR-15 Rust Preventative followed by a black POR-15 Top Coat.  According the the instructions, the company says that the top coat should be applied when the rust preventative is still tacky, so I surmise that I will need to limit the number of items I paint so I can clean the gun and load it with the top coat before I’ve passed the right drying point on the painted parts.  This should be interesting…

About Those Skateboards

So, you ask “What do skateboards have to do with a Jeep restoration project?”  Well, nothing really, but since my right hand man has been sent overseas for several months, I have been forced to move heavy things around the shop by myself.  This has required me to become a bit creative at times.  One of these heaving items is the ’85 frame.  It will need to get out of the shop for sand blasting and I can’t get our tractor all the way into the shop to lift it because the Roll-Over Protection System (ROPS, a fancy name for the roll bar) is too tall for the shop door.  It occurred to me that if I could put wheels under the legs of the horses the frame is sitting on, I could roll it to the door and then lift it from there.


The completed “skateboards”.

The result is shown in the picture at right and looks something like a skateboard – a deadly one at that.  They’re made out of scrap 2 x 6, some 1″ boards I ripped down to 1 1/4″ wide and 2″ heavy duty swivel casters at each end.  They’re sized to just fit the spread of the legs on the horses and I found that I had to pin them through the sides into the base of the legs of the horses.  Before I did this, they wanted to twist out from under the horse when weight was applied to them.


One of the horses with the “skateboards” installed.

Here they are installed on a Harbor Freight “heavy duty” horse that has had its top plate replaced with a piece of 2 x 6.  One might ask how I spirited the horse out from under the frame to get these little guys installed.  Well, it occurred to me that I could use the engine hoist with the load leveler acting as a kind of spreader bar to lift and hold the frame while I worked on a horse.  As I mentioned above I tried the front one without pins first and quickly discovered my design had a flaw so I corrected that and set the front back down.


Front of the ’85 frame sitting on the completed horse. Engine lift is in the background freeing the rear horse for installation.

As shown in the picture at right, the back one was a little more tricky because access to the back of the frame was more cramped.  I had to approach the frame from the side and at an angle with the boom fully extended to reach where I needed to lift the back.  At the same time I had to keep the legs of the hoist from getting in the way of the horse with its new shoes. It all turned out well in the end; I made a test “drive” to the shop door and back – it worked better than I expected.  I found that I just need to be careful with the rather flimsy horses as they sometimes twist under the weight if the wheels get caught on something on the floor.

The Bath

The weather has been so good in the waning months of this year that I decided it was time to take the ’84 chassis out of the shop and hose the remaining mud off that was left from the roll-over.  It was a low priority task that I just never got around to doing before.

The first job was to make sure the pressure washer that I inherited from my father-in-law still ran.  I hadn’t started it in more than 5 years and had left gas in the tank that now smelled more like paint thinner than gas.  I drained it and let it air out a bit and then ran a little fresh gas through it to rinse it out.  I reinstalled the supply hose, gave it some choke and about three pulls and off it went – you’ve really got to hand it to the guys at Honda, they really seem to make a good product.

Next, I went around the chassis sealing all the important openings to keep the water out – brake lines, fuel lines, air intake, PCV valve hose, etc.  After that was done, I kicked the blocks out and pushed it out the roll-up door.  It rolled down the slight slope from the door and just sat there.  I was going to have to move it about 300 feet to get to water and the prospect of pushing it that far didn’t appeal to me, so I hooked up the Wrangler with a chain, put it in 4-low for the gearing and towed it to it’s destination…with several stops since the steering had a mind of its own.


The ’84 chassis after it’s pressure washer bath.

The pressure washer proved an invaluable tool in getting all that crusty mud and a fair amount of grease and grit off the running gear.  There was mud in places I wouldn’t have imagined you could get it.  An interesting thing is that one of the wheels has grass rolled under the bead of the tire such that it won’t come out, but none of the tires went flat during the accident.  We’re going to have to have this one broken down, cleaned and reseated when we put everything back together.  After it was washed, I let it sit out for a while to air dry.


the ’84 chassis returns to the shop after its bath. This is the first time I’ve used the winch on the Wrangler.

The next job was to get it back into the shop.  I towed it back with the Wrangler – towing it backward was even more challenging than towing it forward as the steering really didn’t want to cooperate.  Once I got it to the shop, I blocked the tires, unhooked the Wrangler and positioned it on the south side of the shop door so I could use the winch to pull the chassis (up the slight slope) into the shop .  As you can see from the photos, there are some posts in the back third of the shop that I was able to rig a snatch block from.  Having 90 feet of cable on the winch paid off in this situation as the total distance to the post and back to the chassis was about 80 feet.  Having a wireless controller was a blessing too as I could move around and observe the progress while the chassis was coming in.


Another view of the ’84 chassis entering the shop. It was a tight squeeze next to the Wrangler.

It was a slow pull with many adjustments to the front wheels of the chassis so I could squeeze through the door next to the Wrangler and up over the lip of the shop floor.  Once I got the front wheels on the floor, I was able to disconnect the winch.  I moved the Wrangler out of the way and pushed the chassis back into its resting place.  From here it will provide an assembly reference and a couple of parts for the ’85 build.  By the way, in this last picture, you can see the fruit of my labor in the fact that the frame for the ’84 has been moved out of the way for this job on those handy dandy “skateboards”.  After all was done I effortlessly put it back where it belonged.

In the coming weeks I hope to get the ’84 frame out for sand blasting, I’ll talk about new gearing for the axles and we’ll see how the POR-15 works out.  As always, write if the mood strikes…


It’s been too long since I last posted to my blog on the Jeep.  Since the last post we’ve had a pretty wild winter where we didn’t get a lot done in the shop.  Then in March I retired from more than 32 years of work for DoD.  So, now I have a little more time on my hands…you’d think.

Where Do I Start…

When I last left off, we were tearing down the ’85 and had left it at the chassis.  All that was left to do was to remove the brake lines, wheels, axles and a few miscellaneous parts before we’d be ready to strip and repaint the frame.  Well, as you can see from the following photos, we’ve started to dig into that work.  The brake lines came off first.  Most of the fittings were corroded so bad that we couldn’t break them loose, so we cut them at the ends of the hoses where we can easily replace the damaged components.  The hoses are going to be replaced with braided, extended lines anyway because of the lift.  We took the proportioning valve and the attached lines off as a unit to fiddle with later.

We then dug into components like the sway bar, sway bar brackets, shock towers – all the little things mounted to the frame that hold something else.  Two things we discovered: first, a lot of garbage collects in the pocket between the frame and the shock towers.  There’s no place for it to go and it traps dirt and moisture and then rust happens.  Fortunately, it wasn’t serious enough to rust through the frame or damage the shock tower, but it’s something to keep an eye on in the future.


The ’85 chassis with everything removed but the axles. The brake and fuel lines are off, the sway bar and shock towers are gone – all that’s left is the heavy work.

Second, there are rivnuts in the frame where the sway bar brackets mount.  One side came out without a problem…the other side did not.  Both rivnuts spun in the frame after the bolts loosened a bit.  It took us quite a bit of finagling to figure out how to hold the rivnuts while we got the bolts out.  Then we had to cut the heads off the nuts without damaging the frame and now I have to go in search of two new nuts to replace them.  At this point the wheels came off too.

The Axles Come Off

The next step was to remove the axles.  We were kind of scratching our heads on this one because we were pretty sure they were too heavy for the two of us to lift and we had the whole affair supported on them too.  We had to come up with a way to support the frame and use the floor jack to spirit the axles away.  All I had were two rickety wooden saw horses in addition to what you see in the photo above.  In the end, we decided we could remove the bolts from the shackles on all four corners and with a little luck lift the frame off the axles.  We did, and it worked.  With much effort Joel and I set the frame on the horses out of the way for the moment.

We then had to get the axles off the jack stands since these are the good ones I use for vehicle maintenance and the axles needed to move anyway.  So I scavenged a collection of wood blocks from the lumber pile and we used the floor jack and the springs to balance the axles, one at a time, as we moved them over in front of the body.


The almost bare ’85 frame. The sway bar mount can be seen on the near rail just behind the front cross member. The rivnuts spun in the frame so further attention was needed.


The axles freshly removed from the ’85 chassis.

We decided that we’d work on disassembling them later.  There were other fish to fry at this point.

By this time the weather had turned bad, my retirement was looming and a family emergency arose that took us away from the project for a while.  In late March I was able to get back out to the shop to consider another issue that had been swirling around in the back of my mind.

What to do About That Corner


Body damage on the left rear corner.

The left rear corner met with something hard at some point in its life and it needs to be fixed.  We’ve got a new left corner panel that we could replace it with, but that would involve a great deal of cutting and welding.  I’m concerned that I’d have problems with tailgate alignment and body squareness when I got done.  It occurred to me that I could use that replacement panel as a template to cut a block of wood to the right shape to use as a dolly and possibly hammer the panel back into shape.  There was a single weld between the wheel well and the corner that I was able to cut with a Dremel tool (of all things).  The block was cut on my new band saw and I acquired a long necked dinging hammer, so now I just have to work up the courage to go at it.

That Proportioning Valve

The other thing we worked on while the weather was bad was getting the brake lines separated from the proportioning valve.  Everything I tried wouldn’t budge them and we were starting the round off the corners of the fittings.  As Providence would have it, I happened to read an article from Eastwood about getting rusty hardware loose.  In it they recommended a product called CRC Freeze Off.  The stuff is expensive, but if you follow the directions it works!  We had all three lines loose in a matter of about 30 minutes.

Back to the Axles


Here I am in the process of removing the springs from the ’85 rear axle. Note the can of CRC Freeze Off – don’t leave home without it; this stuff is great.

Since the weather went from snowy to rainy, we went to work on the axles.  I went to work removing the springs from the rear axle first.  I had to move the blocks off the springs so I could get to the nuts and I also raised the axle some so I could get my air wrench under it.  The first few nuts came off without too much trouble, but there was one nut on each side that came part way off and stopped dead.  the photo at right shows the situation with the first spring.  Even the Freeze Off didn’t help in this case.  After some consideration of the fact I’d be installing new U-Bolts with the lift kit, I donned the cutoff wheel and cut the troublesome U-Bolt on each spring.


Here’s the ’85 rear axle after the battle was won. The springs are off!

You can also see the leaking pinion seal in the first picture.  That’s another thing that needs to be fixed.

The next job was to pull the cover off the rear differential and see what the gears looked like.  Fortunately, all the bolts came out easily.  As the oil was draining I noticed a lot of sludge and small bits of hard particles in it, which was concerning to me.


Rear diff gears – what a nice set of teeth.

I cleaned everything up – the case, gears and carrier as best I could and inspected them for damage.  I also screened the oil to get at the particles.  It turns out the particles are all soft bits of dirt and grime; maybe even parts of the failing pinion seal or the cover gasket.  The gears all look good except for some pitting from moisture that got into the axle through the open vent hole (the vent hose connection is missing) that was covered by a piece of duct tape.

This axle will be getting a G2 one-piece axle conversion, a new pinion seal and a new vent hose fitting.  Unfortunately, the budget won’t allow a set of lockers right now.  I’ve got to come up with a tool to hold the yoke while I remove the pinion nut.  I’m not sure if that’s something I can buy or If I’m going to have to make something to span the holes and provide clearance for the socket to fit on the nut.  More research is needed.

On to the Front Axle


Here’s the ’85 front axle with the springs and steering components removed. Note the dollies and jack stands under the rear axle. The front axle has a matching set now too.

Most recently, we tackled the front axle.  I pulled the steering components off first, followed by the calipers and the carriers for the calipers.  Next we pulled the hubs and front bearings apart – lots of grease and new bearings so we won’t need to replace these.  We also removed the dust shields.  After finding strange things in the differential case on the back we decided to pull the cover off the front.  Again all the bolts came off without a problem and this time only sludge was in the case with the oil.  The gears look good.  At this point Joel left for training in preparation for deployment so I’m on my own for a while.

Next up was to pull the springs off.  I expected similar problems to those I had with the rear axle.  In this case I lifted the front axle with  the engine hoist and the load leveler so I could get to the nuts.  A little penetrating oil and the air wrench and they all came off with ease – to my pleasant surprise.


In other news, I’ve acquired a 40 lb. sandblasting cabinet from Harbor Freight and started cleaning parts.  As you can see from the photo it’s doing an excellent job with relatively little effort on my part.  I just need to come up with a better light to put in the cabinet.


The first parts out of my new sandblasting cabinet – all ready for cleaning, prime and paint.

That’s all for now.  I’ll try to keep you up to date more frequently in the future.  From here it’s going to be a lot of cleaning, painting and body work before I start reassembly.

Back From the Lost…

Catching Up…

Well, summer is past, vacations and Annual Guard Training are over and I finally have time to sit down and catch up on the blog.  We’ve made a lot of ground on the Jeeps and I’ll hit the high spots here.

Completing the ’84…

In the last post, I’d mentioned that all that was left was to remove the body tub.  Well, that was mostly true – we also had to remove the bolts securing the body to the frame.  After our roll bar experience, I was expecting no end of trouble getting these out.  We pulled out the impact wrench and went at them and not one gave us trouble except the one under the driver’s side seat.

The “nut” is held captive in a sheet metal box welded to a box section under the floor pan.  It had seized up and spun in the box.  Since the body is scrap, we estimated where

The '84 is sitting at the door of the shop, waiting for us to muster the courage to lift the body off.

The ’84 is sitting at the door of the shop, waiting for us to muster the courage to lift the body off.

the nut was located and cut a hole in the floor…and then cut a bigger hole in the floor…so we could a torch on it.  A lot of heat and a cut-off wheel finally separated the nut from the bolt.

So, Joel an I are standing there wondering if two guys can lift a body tub off the frame by themselves.  With a lot of grunts and

The '84 with the body off on its side.

The ’84 with the body off on its side.

groans we were able to slide it off the side of the frame and on to its side.  We rolled the chassis away and carried the tub out to the “bone yard”.

Work Starts on the ’85…

While working up the courage to pull the body off the ’84…and while Joel was away…I started stripping parts off the ’85.  We were just going to do some body work on it and leave the frame intact, but upon closer inspection, I found there is enough rust that we’re going to tear it down completely, sandblast the frame and paint it before reassembling everything fresh.

The right hand hole for the wiper showing deformation and cracks.

The right hand hole for the wiper showing deformation and cracks.

I started by pulling the wiper parts off the wind shield and found that something must have hit them in a previous life.  Add to that the fact that the left one is rusted out and the bottom of the frame is badly rusted, so a new frame is going on our list of new parts to buy.

The '85 with the hood and front clip removed.

The ’85 with the hood and front clip removed.

First, the front clip came off, starting with the hood, then the grill followed by the fenders.  Joel was back by now so he got in on actually removing the wind shield.  Finally, we stripped off all the small parts – tail gate,

Joel working on the wind shield on the '85.

Joel working on the wind shield on the ’85. The Torx fasteners prove to be a continuous source of frustration.

hinges and anything else that was bolted on.  It was partially stripped already so this job was fairly easy – except for the bolt in the tailgate hinge and the right door hinge that seized up and had to be drilled out.

The Body Comes Off

Since this tub is the keeper we wanted to handle this one with more care than the other one.  We planned a visit from my oldest son, Billy and his wife, Tasha, so that the three of us could lift it off, set it on horses and move the chassis beside it.

So, the day arrived and Joel and Billy lifted the tub like it was so much hot air.  Meanwhile, I rolled the chassis out from under it and positioned the horses under the four corners of the of the tub.  They then set the tub down on the horses and we repositioned the chassis in the center of the shop for disassembly.

Here you can see the '85 chassis in the foreground, the '84 chassis at the extreme left and the '85 body tub on horses in the background.

Here you can see the ’85 chassis in the foreground, the ’84 chassis at the extreme left and the ’85 body tub on horses in the background.

Disassembling the Chassis…

Now that the tub is off, we can get to the business of removing power train components.  First came the T-Case.  I simply lowered it onto the floor jack and slipped it out from under the frame.  The transmission was next.  It weighs 175 lbs and doesn’t have any handy lift points so I pulled a couple of bolts out of the top cover and replaced them with eye bolts.  The engine hoist was then pressed into service to lift it off the back of the bell housing.  Finally, we pulled the V-6 out of the chassis and put it on the engine stand.

This is the '85 chassis with the engine, transmission and T-case removed.

This is the ’85 chassis with the engine, transmission and T-case removed.

Now it’s waiting for removal of the brake lines, the axles and the other small parts…

New Goals and More Disassembly

It’s been too long since I updated the blog; I left the last post suggesting that the project target was changing…

The Goals Change

Once we got the ’85 Jeep in the shop and gave it a good once over, and a good cleaning, I did some research on the combination of engine, transmission and T-Case that the builder had put together.  I found that what is in this Jeep is a much more sturdy combination that the I-6/B-W T-5/D-300 T-Case in the ’84 that we are working from.  So we decided that the best bet is to reassemble on the chassis with the V-6 in it.

We’ll need to put some longer and beefier shackles on it to clear the 32″ tires from the ’84 and it appears it was designed for the smaller gas tank, so there will need to be some alteration done there as well.  I also will need to come up with a transmission belly pan for it as that was missing from the ’85 and I suspect that we’ll need a custom rear mount for the tranny, but I think Novak will come through on that one.

Disassembly Continues

In the meantime, we’ve been working hard to get the ’84 torn down.  After getting the front clip off, we focused on the cabin, removing seats, tailgate, console and then to the dash.  I pulled the steering wheel and the other parts from the front of the dash. I pretty quickly realized the steering column was going to have to go if I was going to get anywhere, so I went to the firewall and started pulling bolts out.  Fortunately, I’ve got a factory service manual for the ’76 Jeep that helps – they really didn’t change that much in 8 years.

After the column was out I decided the best approach was to pull the dash off and start pulling wires one at a time, tagging them as I went.  Thankfully, Jeeps have very simple dash assemblies.  I also disconnected the heater controls from the heater.

Once the harness and heater connections were detached, I was able to pull the dash out with all the components attached (I’ll strip it later for cleaning and repainting).

'84 Jeep with all the interior stuff removed.

’84 Jeep with all the interior stuff removed.

So, now we’ve got this huge harness sitting between the cowl and the bracket the carries the clutch and brake pedals.  With much effort, I was able to work the harness through the narrow opening and out of the vehicle.

I then removed the master cylinder, which also frees the bracket on the inside.  I should have done this first as it would have made removing the harness easy.

Getting the heater out was pretty easy at this point since there was no dash or wiring in the way.  We just had to remove the 4 or 5 nuts holding it to the firewall, disconnect the defroster hose and out it came.  Right behind it was the plenum up to the cowl vent.

That Stinking Roll Bar

The final major item to remove was the roll bar.  Ten bolts easy to get to – it ought to be a cinch to get out, right?  Wrong!  This was the single most difficult piece to remove so far.  The bolts are Torx head to start with so they don’t seem to stand up to a lot of torque like a hex bolt will (seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?).  To make things worse, they’re all in places where rust will take the most toll.

Roll bar bolts after some heat.

Roll bar bolts after some heat.

We were able to get a couple out without a problem, but the rest were locked up tight, so we broke out the penetrating oil…and sprayed…and tried…and sprayed…and tried…no dice.  Next, I tried my new oxyacetylene torch figuring some heat

Joel working on a bolt with the cut-off tool.

Joel working on a bolt with the cut-off tool.

would do the trick.  we were able to get a couple more out, but we quickly ran out of luck finding that the Torx heads would strip when heated and cooled.  We finally resorted to the air cut-off tool, cutting the heads down to something that would fit through the holes in the roll bar.  After much frustration it was finally off.  Since the body is junk, the remaining bolts don’t matter.

The '84 with everything off and ready for the body to come off.

The ’84 with everything off and ready for the body to come off.

Next time, we start disassembling the ’85 and look toward removing the body tubs…

'85 Jeep waiting to be disassembled.

’85 Jeep waiting to be disassembled.

In Search of a Donor…

In Search of an “Organ” Donor

20140731-JeepAfterWreck-RightSideIt’s the beginning of August and Joel’s headed off to Advanced training (artillery school, he likes to blow things up).  I’ve got this twisted mess in the shop that I’ve got to sort out. As I said before, it came with two side panels, left and right floor pans, rear corners, one front fender and some other pieces. We could probably reconstruct the body from the parts we have, but the cowl was damaged at the hood hinges, and we still needed the other fender, the grill and a hood.

I decided that we might be ahead if I could find a donor vehicle that had a good body I could steal. Craig’s List and I became good friends…or mortal enemies…in the coming weeks. I poured over the ads looking for the right candidate and found a few, but one was in nearly the same shape as what I already had and on another I couldn’t seem to get the seller to respond until he’d already sold it to someone else.

I found one in Laramie that had just been posted the day before – it was a body and frame freshly painted; it just needed a drive train. I called the next morning and he already had someone coming down from Montana to pick it up. I just couldn’t seem to catch a break.

But then God smiled on us as I came upon an ad for a project Jeep in Ft. Collins. It was a 1985 with a clean body and a lot of spare parts. I took a trip up with our oldest son, Billy, to look at it. We had the pleasure of meeting a wonderful gentleman that acquired the Jeep with the property and decided that the Jeep was more than he wanted to get into. All the important parts were there, so we agreed on a price and we left to arrange a way to bring it home.

Tearing down…

While on the search for a donor, it was time to start disassembly of the old girl. I started slowly, as I’ve never really done anything this big before. As I take a part off, I’m bagging and labelling hardware, taking photographs and tagging wires with as much info as I can so I’m not left scratching my head when it’s time to put things back together.

Working alone, it got a little interesting managing the fenders by myself. I decided to work a little at a time from front to back, pulling bolts out. I found that even though there is a lot of rust in the body, the fenders, though mangled, weren’t too rusty and the hardware all let go easily. When the last piece came out, the fender just sat there waiting for me to lift it off.

Getting the harness out of the grill was a bit of a 20140903-FrontClipRemovedchallenge. I had to find all the plastic restraints (does anybody know where you can buy new ones?) and pop them out of their holes. Then it was a matter of carefully working it back out of the access holes in the twisted grill assembly. After much work, I was able to get it out. The mounting bolt on the bottom of the grill proved to be the most troublesome I had dealt with, but it finally relented and the grill went to the pile of scrap.

The Donor Comes Home…

A couple of weeks after we made the deal on the 1985 Jeep, I was able to secure the use of my dear friend’s truck and I rented a trailer. I headed up alone this time to pick up the Jeep and all the spare parts it came with.

It’s probably worth mentioning that this Jeep is not quite stock. The original owner had started the build by replacing the engine with a freshly rebuilt Chevy 4.3L V6, a GM Muncie SM420 transmission and a Dana 300 (I think) transfer case. I’m pretty sure the transmission and T-case have been rebuilt as well, but I will have to verify that. The axles are the factory axles that presumably came on the vehicle. Among the spare parts is another complete 4.3L V6.


Chevy 4.3L V6 installed in the donor Jeep. Note the spread bore intake, HEI distributor and the headers.


Top view of Muncie SM420 transmission and adapter. Fresh paint leads me to believe it’s been rebuilt.


View of T-case from underneath. Looking at photos on Novak site I’m pretty sure this is a Dana 300.

I got up to Ft. Collins at about 10:00AM and the seller and I immediately set about loading the spare engine in the back of the truck, followed by the Jeep on the trailer. Then there was the roll bar that we had to secure in the back of the truck. We got it all loaded and I headed down the road for home without any problems.

20140913-85ComesHomeAt home, I was alone having to unload this beast without brakes or steering. But, I had a tractor and gravity. I backed it up to the barn and raised the tongue of the trailer enough that the Jeep would roll. I attached two chains and a tow strap to the front and to the bucket of the tractor and left a little slack. Then I aimed the front wheels and rocked it over the stop on the trailer. From there I used the tractor to ease it down off the trailer into our barn where it would sit until Joel returned home in late September.

20140913-85UpCloseNext time, the project target changes and disassembly continues…

In the Beginning…

The Back Story

My love affair with Jeeps dates back to 1983 when we bought our first – a 1983 CJ-5.  It was an awesome machine and took us to all sorts of exciting and wonderful places in the backwoods of California.  Billy, our oldest son would fall asleep in his car seat in the back seat of the Jeep while we rocked and rolled over dusty dirt roads in search of ghost towns and abandoned railroad rights of way.  We’d have to come home and give him a bath to wash the “trip” off of him.

Unfortunately, budget constraints and life got in the way of Jeep ownership and we had to sell the old girl, but we agreed that one day in the future, when we could afford to do it, we would once again own a Jeep.JeepRight

That day came in 2001 when some money came available for me to start looking for another Jeep.  I found a 1976 CJ-5 that needed some work, but seemed to run well.  I bought it and headed for home and it sounded like the rods were going to come out of the bottom of the engine, so I turned around and went back to the dealer I bought it from.  Fortunately, they were very reputable and made me a new deal I couldn’t refuse.  I put it on a trailer, brought it home and put a new engine in it.

It had a Carter YF carburetor in it that always gave me trouble though so in about 2010 I took the plunge and stripped all the stock intake and exhaust equipment out of it.  I did some research and talked to a friend who recommended the AFI throttle body fuel injection kit and I went with Clifford for a new intake and header for the exhaust.  While I was at it I installed a JB Fabrication twin-stick shifter on the Dana 20 transfer case.  After I got all the work done, I took it to Bud’s Muffler in Colorado Springs to have a Magnaflow muffler and stainless steel exhaust system installed.  The AFI system came with an HEI ignition system, so the beast runs like a top now.

Time Passes…

While all this is going on, we’d been into horses and the rodeo scene.  My youngest son, Joel roped calves for a bit and then got into saddle bronc riding, so for a long time we’d needed a truck to pull our horse trailer, gather hay and feed and generally tend to the needs around the farm.  When Joel graduated from high school he decided to give up his rodeo activities and the cost of hay and feed was sky-rocketing, so we decided to get out of the horse business.  In 2012, we traded our Dodge 3500 on a 2010 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon.  It was a beautiful thing, but it didn’t live long.

On 25 February 2014, it met it’s end while I was driving to work one morning,  A young man, his pregnant wife and their daughter were “rushing” to the hospital when he ran a red light and I T-boned them at 60 mph.  It was touch and go for all of us for a while, but God was faithful to bring us through the trial.  For my part, it was a wonderful opportunity to see Him work through His people and to change me in the process.20140424-2014JeepRubiX3

As a result, we replaced the totalled 2010 Rubi with a 2014 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon X (Tenth Anniversary Edition).  It’s like a Jeeper’s Cadillac.  I’ve never driven an off-road vehicle that was so nice inside and at the same time so rugged.  I’m just waiting for the weather to get good enough to get it out into the Colorado mountains.

Now, Why We’re Here

So, Joel needed a vehicle (his truck died) and he decided that he’d like a Jeep like Dad’s.  We talked about it and agreed that looking for a CJ-7 would be better than the shorter wheelbase CJ-5.  Also, looking for something a little newer would be better and I have had some problems with the heater/defroster in my ’76 that I haven’t been able to master.  After searching for a while we found a 1985 CJ-7 that was mechanically in good shape – the Dana 300 T-case had been freshly rebuilt, the engine looked clean with no leaks and no smoke or odd noises and the axles were both free of leaks.  It has the BW T-5 in it, 20140721-JeepAtPurchasewhich is to be expected, but it seemed to shift well.  The body was another story.  A fair amount of rust in the usual places, but the good news was that it came with a full complement of new body panels and floor pans to replace the rusty parts.  So, we bought it.

Soon after we bought it, the rains came…and came some more.  When they come the roads sometimes get boggy south of our house.  In the past, I’ve nearly set our truck sideways in the mud because it gets so bad.  As Joel was headed out on an errand after a morning rain, he got into the boggy mud a little too fast – it went right and rolled once landing on its wheels on the shoulder.  He was wearing his seatbelt and escaped with just a small cut on his hand, a bump on his head and a very bruised ego.  Thanks be to God that the only major damage was to sheet metal and not to him.

I got the call at work, came home and found him sitting on what was left of the top waiting for me.  Fortunately, the 20140731-JeepAfterWreckdrive train and the frame were undamaged in the accident, so we hooked up the Rubi and drug it off the shoulder (first time I got to use the lockers).  We then towed it the mile and a half back to the property where I hooked the shorter ’76 up to it to drag it into the shop.  Joel was getting ready to leave for Advance Training for the Army in a few days.

The question now was what to do next.  Between the cancer in the body tub and now the loss of the front fenders, hood, grill and wind shield, we had to decide whether it made sense to rebuild or write it off and start over.  After a lot of soul searching and agreeing that it would be a great learning opportunity for both Joel an myself, we decided to proceed with a rebuild.  I would start tearing it down while Joel was gone and also start looking for a donor vehicle to swipe a better body tub from.

It turned out a better solution would reveal itself…