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Project: How I feel MJs *should* have come from the factory

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Or: why you should just go buy a 2wd...


I present to you a run-of-the-mill 1990 MJ. A Pioneer, with buckets, full cluster, 4wd, AX-15, skid plates and even a rollbar. 210,000+ miles of faithful service to an unknown number of owners (at least 4).




The previous owner was tired of patching rust and sinking money into her and so put her up for sale for the cost of the last repair, a new clutch master cylinder (didn't solve the problem, which turned out to be a leaky slave). So I drove down to Toledo and forked over my cash in exchange for an attempt at driving it back home. First order was to get the friggin thing out of 4wd. Due to severe floor rust at the hinge bracket, it took me underneath with a wrench directly on the T-case lever and Mike inside the truck pulling on the lever to get it to move. Next issue was corrosion at the battery terminals, then the issue with the brake lights not working, and all the while I was shifting as much as possible without using the clutch pedal. But she arrived in my driveway none the worse for wear. Well, except for the clutch line, which finally blew out, rendering it completely useless.

And what are my plans for this Comanche? I need a daily driver. But not just any daily driver. I couldn't deal with that. :brows: So, on to the build...


First off, I needed to dump that ghastly rollbar and the tiny rolling rubber. Out came the sawzall and on went a set of 31s.





Then she sat for a good long time while I gathered the necessary parts...


Last week I was finally ready to push her into the garage and begin. First I gutted the interior to see how bad the rust was.



Yeah. :( Well, I do have awesome access to the crossmember bolts. :D


I started with some easy projects. First I got the windshield wipers to work properly by swapping in a spare delay controller. Previously, the delay didn't work, the wipers flew past their stops, and wouldn't return to their resting place.




While working on that, I replaced some fuses.




Then I moved on to more complicated projects and swapped in a dual diaphram booster from a 95 XJ.



And gutted the rear suspension and exhaust.



I found a new use for my U-joint puller. Those leaf spring bolts were reeeeeally stuck in there. Even with this method I still had to cut the heads off and wiggle the leafs out.




And that's where we stand. It's too hot to work in the garage, so I'll be picking up where I left off on Weds when it's supposed to cool down.

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Sheetmetal of some kind. Don't know if I'll use aluminum, galvanized or stainless, but I'm putting down something that won't ever rust again. :D




Slight update: I have the front axle yanked out, but I leave for camp today, so no more progress until this weekend. :( I was able to pick up a set of Explorer leafs on Monday. :D

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  • 1 month later...

Finally!! Some progress worthy of a picture. :D


The original 210k mile AX-15 with the 95 external-slave bellhousing and 93 NP-242. Can't afford a newer tranny, so this one will do for now.


The assembly is now bolted in the truck. Still working on the axles. Classes are sucking up most of my life right now.:smart:


This is my MJ Dana 44 left over from the 88 MJ:



And my 99 XJ Dana 30:

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  • 2 weeks later...



Front axle is finally in. I got a bit lucky and between the old axle and new axle, I seem to have a complete set of arms, brakes and such. The new axle gave me the drag link, tie rod, calipers and brake pads. The old axle donated the track bar, control arms (so far), brake lines and rotors. I say "so far" because I'm working on getting some WJ arms. I had purchased some used rotors from the junkyard, but they gave me the wrong ones. I think they go to 2wd Jeeps but I'm not sure yet. Oh how I hate that 'yard.


Anywho, here's the front axle in. It's non-CAD, 3.55 geared, and has the bigger U-joints.

Still have to connect the stabilizer and sway bar, but I'll do that when the truck is on the ground and the axle isn't so far from the body.






One of the old pads:




How I got the coils in:




Unlike my 88, the 90 will have a functional speedometer. I swapped the shafts from the speedo gears because the old gear was closer than the new gear. Later on I'll swap for the correct one. But the main point is that the newer t-case with the wired speedo can stil be made to work with the older cable driven ones.






And for anyone that doesn't know yet, the tops of gear oil bottles fit very nicely on the engine or trans oil bottles.




Coming up next is to get the clutch working and wrap up the front axle.

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Got the arms in! biggrin.png They are exactly as long (bolt hole to bolt hole) as the original arms, but the sleeves are slightly wider. I simply trimmed the sleeves on my chop saw to the right width. If you do it that way, have a bucket of water nearby and cool the assembly down a couple times during each cut do that you don't risk damaging the rubber with heat.

Unfortunately, at full droop the arms make contact at the body and at the front.

So I trimmed a bit off the arms:

And at the axle:

Plus it was a real bear to get that last hole lined up. Don't know why.

But they are in. biggrin.png I also installed the rear Dana 44 using the Explorer leaf packs. Before I put on tires and lower it to the floor, I want to do the brake lines. So everyone will have to wait just a bit longer before we find out what happens. :brows:

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Here you can see that the Explorer leafs almost fit perfectly to the Dana 44 in the SUA configuration.



I rounded the head off a bit...



and now it sits flush:



So here is the rear end in place, but not quite finished.


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Pete, you shold REALLY notice a smoother ride with less road noise.



Seeing as my only ride in this truck so far was the trip home from Ohio in the rain and with no brake lights, no clutch, no radio, no interior fan, and wipers that smacked hard into the cowl and A-piller... I'm not sure I notiuced a whole lot of road noise being trasmitted through the arms. :D But I figure it can only get better, right? I got the set for $30 shipped so I felt it was worth the experiment. I don't know what tires this truck had previous to the 235 BFGs, but there are tire rubbin' marks on the old arms. :hmm:

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My 30" BFGS never rubbed on the 88. Ever. :hmm: Stock aluminum rims on a 2wd. Of course I was like the 5th owner by that time and the front axle is looooong gone so I can't even check if the stops were altered. :dunno:

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My 30" BFGS never rubbed on the 88. Ever. :hmm: Stock aluminum rims on a 2wd. Of course I was like the 5th owner by that time and the front axle is looooong gone so I can't even check if the stops were altered. :dunno:


don't turbines have a different backspacing and/or rim width? cause I'm running a 235 pirelli scorpion a/t and they rub like mad at full lock.

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