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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.