So this build has been a long project (from past to the present about 3yrs) and i've only recently gotten to revive my C-club account. Thus my need to share this build. Its really been a slow progress for a while, something i've wanted to make look decent in the end and treat a bit nicer than the other jeeps that I own.
So the beginning of this build stems from me giving up on a previous DD that i had the same kinda intention for:
Was a 99 xj 2dr auto... Went through many issues with this jeep and ended up giving up on it and letting it go after replacing a bad trans, replacing a bad motor, installing lift kit, some custom bits here and there and the final straw was the replaced engine developed some bad running issues. This found me in the need of a "new" DD and after spending the winter driving my other 87 MJ (http://comancheclub.com/topic/49365-1987-comanche-the-long-hard-road/) Yes, this was my winter DD for a short while. I really wanted to have a DD MJ at this point and after looking at 9+ MJ's and a few stories that followed a couple of them I had found what i was looking for.
This 1986 Comanche was sitting at the back line of an old mans property just outside of town. Hadn't run in over 4 years, there was moss, brush, critter remnants and some mold hidden throughout the body/bed/interior as i looked it over. I couldn't resist, it just seemed like it was destiny! The p.o had locked up the motor and replaced it with a "good" used motor. Come to find out the motor wasn't so good after all and gave up on it. Moved it out back and that's where it sat until i dragged it home.
It had the 2.5 4cyl motor and a 4spd manual trans. Motor didnt even turn over, the gas tank ended up being completely junk, the passenger rear tire was actually locked up so we had to remove the tire to get it rolling.
So my long term plans were to kinda restore the jeep but also update the drivetrain with obd1 system, small lift, some bumpers and lights. Make this MJ a fun summer driver that i can use for just about anything - camping, parts fetching, cruising, groceries runs w/e.
My first step was to bring the jeep home and wash it down as it was pretty nasty with all the different things that collected inside and outside of the truck throughout its time sitting in a field. Pulled it into the garage and stripped the truck down to a rolling shell for floor rust/rear fender repair and also to paint/seal the frame and floors.
Picked up a donor 95 jeep cherokee for $600. Rusty beater with a 4.0 and auto trans w/ well over 200k miles. The jeep ran good and everything but after tearing down the donor i felt the need to do some work to the motor before i just threw it into the MJ. Pulled the head off to find a good lip on most of the cylinders from wear. Quickly decided to rebuild the motor as I have never done an engine rebuild before and now having done it, i would do it again if i had to rebuild one in a heart beat! Had about $1200 into it in the end with the machine work and buying new engine components like the distributor, water pump and power steering pump.
Installing the new motor had me learning the side effects of owning an 86 and older MJ as compared to the 87+ pickups when swapping to a I6 motor. Given the firewall/trans tunnel and radiator support setup differences had me irritated at times but with some aggressive hammer work and some thinking it all went together pretty well.
When i took the donor shell and pieces/parts in for scrap i had discovered a you wrench yard nearby and decided to take a look. Found another 95 cherokee there which had some good parts that needed to come home with me. I had actually brushed by the jeep and noticed a factory front skid plate "Mines!" I sat inside it for a moment looking at that newer wood grain style interior trim and it wasn't really popping my cherry... My buddy peers in the door and says " Hey, i don't think i've ever seen an MJ with the wood interior. " Took a few mins but it really grew onto me as i was planning on re-doing the headliner with some type of hunting camo and I starting thinking it may actually look pretty good with the wood grain.
Some pics of the mid progress point
The rims were thrown in the back of the donor XJ as a bonus :D. The roll bar out back ended up getting 86'd (ba bum -Chhh). The red header panel came off another you-wrench 95 jeep xj because i prefer the simpler header panel setup over the multiple piece headlight trims from the earlier models and also as kinda a sneek peak of the final body color.... Cuz oh 'yea - i decided to re-paint the truck...
Bucket seats and carpet came from another MJ owner on craigslist for a whopping $70. I had/have added a few minor touch's to the interior like the ammo can center console and not pictured De-activated grenade t-case shifter and a to be installed 50 Cal. shell for Something... Don't mind the blown airbag, This project had hit a wall or two at times.
I originally planned on running a Chrysler 8.25 rear axle and actually had it installed in the back of the truck ready to go but through the confusion of some freebie parts for a friend of a friend - Long story short - The 8.25 was Junk :doh: ! In no time i had found a replacement 8.25 axle and when i went to pick it up at this guys storage unit i had actually noticed a pair of factory Dana 44 axles in the back. One was for an XJ and one was for an MJ, the owner didn't event think about mentioning it to me sooner as he hadn't had any luck selling them in the passed. "Well our luck has changed then hasn't it" Gave me a decent price and made my evening.
When using the XJ donor harness instead of a genuine 91+ MJ harness one of the things that really needed to be done patiently was trimming and modifying the harness to incorporate the MJ rear harness and tail lights.
Mossy Oak woodland print and a rear speaker bar out of the 98 and older XJ's.
I had picked up some 4" LED lights to string along the roof but after getting a good deal on a 50" light bar i was needing a different mounting option for the back side of the cab. So i built a simple bed rail mounted light bar.
I don't have any real good pictures at the moment but I had a Nates4x4 rear bumper on my 87 MJ and after removing the bed and going to a truggy rear setup it had found its way onto the back of the this one. I picked up a matching front bumper this summer for it and mounted it up.
Made up a pair of hood vents to help keep this new motor plenty cool this summer. You may notice the larger holes in the front of the hood... Not wanting to deal with the sticky hood latches i went with some simple hood pins.
So this is where i'm at currently... The truck does run and drive and i actually used it to help move in August as my wife and I bought our first home. Its been parked in the garage since then and slightly neglected throughout this winter as i have no plans to drive it in the snow. This spring i will be re-painting it and hopefully finally driving it!