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Project Utility Comanche. The Saga Continues

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so, I'm taking my ol' wheeler and doing a new thing with it.


old thread



so here's what it is going to be.


1987 bed and uniframe/cab


comanche open dana 44 with 3.55's in the rear...it will get a locker at some point. (already installed)


metric tonne rear mj springs (already installed)


3.5" front lift, using my RE track bar and RC control arms plus whatever coils I find, and a set of shocks picked up from Tim (TNT) here on the forums


3.55 front dana 30 from a '96 4.0 xj


my current front bumper (made by TNT)


new custom rear bumper made by me


factory front skid and gas tank skid


31x10.50R15 dayton timberlines on my nice set of cragar soft 8's (15x8/3.75"bs)


'97 front end

'97 wiring conversion (doing this solely to gain OBDII)

'97 dash

'97 doors with full power


it will remain automatic with the aw4, I sold the SYE 231 but swapped to a sealed output np231. I may get a sealed output np242 for it, though.


4.0 HO that has 10k miles, mild bore, mild cam, 2001 intake, borla header, mustang 5.0 injectors, 62mm throttle body


dual optima batteries...one in stock location, one in the bed, with a custom dual setup for it to jumpstart itself if need be.


winch at some point to go on the front bumper


keeping my older style seats and the tuffy lock box center console. going with a tan interior still, removing all camo, new headliner and new carpet.


I'm removing the roll bar, going with a full on york compressor system for on board air, relocating the peterbuilt air tank for it (or making a custom air tank to go where the factory spare would go)


building a cross between a contractor's ladder rack/safari roof rack/topper, which will have a pneumatic extending boom permanently mounted in the center hanging from the rack, with a geared down hand crank winch on the end of it for lifting engines and axles, thens liding them into the bed.


that rack will have four 6" hella fogs on the front, mounted on a pivoting cross bar with brush guards built into it, with a smaller pneumatic ram on it to control angles (doing this just for sh*ts and giggles, plus more switches). I have sliding side windows from a topper that will be mounted to aluminum side panels, so I can easily remove the sides of the "topper" to expose it. the roof will be permanent, the roof rack mounted above that.


final thing will be a new paint job once I finish the body work and fixing the rear flare mounts. it will be in black primer before winter...I need the black base to make the dark cherry/burgundy color I've chosen as dark as possible.


I'll post the new pics as it progresses. currently the rear axle is in, the front is gone since I sold it today.


The point of the project isn't a wheeler. it is to have an armored and capable comanche built for utilitarian/light offroad use.

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for starters, tomorrow I am...


buying the dana 30, complete end to end, new brakes, calipers, and hoses on it, and buying 3" coils from the local junkyard. I'll eventually go with a set of 3.5" coils, but for now I'll run two isolators per side, so I don't have to drop $180 on coils.



I will be gutting the engine wiring tomorrow, removing the radiator, and welding a stock driver's inner fender back into it, too.


then a couple other projects to finish up tomorrow night, and tuesday I'll get the '97 engine wiring installed, then start gutting the interior to redo the headliner, install the '97 dash, the dual diaphragm brake booster, the zj proportioning valve (for the rear disc conversion that I WILL be doing), and to start swapping doors.



My goal is to have this thing running and driving with the conversion done by friday so I have a daily driver since I sold my xj, and my other mj, leaving me down to just the 3800 and this truck. I'm borrowing my brother's truck until I finish his dash wiring swap, heaterbox replacement, dash replacement, headliner install, and floors.


another reason I gotta have this done by friday is that a customer needs me to install a new 4 cylinder in his xj, and a 4wd trans and tcase in it in preperation for the 4wd conversion once we find an axle.

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All you beed now is to add a snorkle and hunt lions with it in africa :clapping:




after the full belly skid.


a snorkel IS something I want to do. I may buy one of the "cheap" safari knockoffs from ebay and put it on til I can afford a nice one.

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stage 1:


bought a '96 xj 3.55 geared high pinion d30 from the junkyard today. jeep had a reciept in the glove box for new wheel bearings, brakes, ujoints, and ball joints in it 3,000 miles previously. cost me $250, complete end to end.



went to the next junk yard down the row that had an xj in it with a lift kit...someone bought the axle, and left the shocks and coils. I just grabbed the coils since there's no way in hell I am running Rancho shocks. coils cost $20/each


got home, compared coils, they're 2.5" shorter than my 6.5" coils, and bigger diameter. painted them black, adjusted my control arms to 4" lift specs, tossed them in with the "new" axle.


just need to install my steering, and adjust the uppers to 1/4" longer to correct the pinion angle and set the castor (or camber...whichever) properly, then raise the brake line mounts to stock location so the YJ hoses aren't too long, connect them to the '96 calipers, and put the other shocks, stabilizer, and breather hose in it. then the front axle is done, and I can move on to the wiring/interior/door swap.





and I also picked up a parts xj today


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tore the tan dash out of the donor xj. I was going to run my '98 dash and harness with the '99 dash covers, but I discovered that this harness is in very very nice shape, so I'll be using this complete setup.


tan dash pieces

dash and dash wiring (main harness)

bad pics, but you can see the frame contacting the oil filter here

again, bad pic, but you can somewhat see how the motor mount twisted on the body side...


it is EXTREMELY bent...

driver's side firewall

complete dashless firewall. need to pull the heater box in order to get the rest of the wiring out (it's pinched pretty bad inside, I don't want to tear the wiring if I can avoid it)0

this is how bent the door is


over all decent progress.

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....in case anyone watching this thread didn't get that last comment....


3.55 gear sets are the most common xj/mj gear sets. thus, if something breaks, it's easier and cheaper to replace.



and I can buy a full set of four 31x10.50R15's any day of the week for under $200....

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Worried about breaking a gear set with 31s? Its not hard to find axles with 4:10s. So by adding a bunch more weight to the truck and increasing the tire size you think the power to weight ratio is going to be ok with stock gearing? Sounds like to me the power to weight ratio is going way down from stock. Why is that acceptable?

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old dash and dash supports are gone, the column/pedal support is installed. I put the dash together and popped it in place so I could see what it's gonna look like/how it's gonna fit.



the old heater box and firewall padding is also out. have to install all of that tomorrow, after I figure out how to mount this damn thing...

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Watch the heater box holes where the lines come through. They are different. You will have to re-drill one hole for the heater box to mount.


I think the easiest way around the brake booster, steering column, heater box, and wiring location problems is to cut the whole firewall out of a donor and weld it into the project truck.


You can cut your stock firewall out and leave a one inch frame around the perimeter and weld the donor wall to it.


As you get deeper into it you will see what I am talking about. If you need ideas just give me a holler.

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Thanks :D ...yeah, I was pickin through it already. I don't have a good firewall...just a few good sections around what's different.


i'll be cutting out squares of those sections and welding them in.



brake booster is in the right location...I actually bolted in the pedal assembly to it in order to locate the steering column bracket


I'll be gettin up extra early...I want the swap done tomorrow. I want it running and driving by friday or saturday.

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Thanks Ben.



My thoughts on this are that it's more road-geared than off-road geared. mechanically, this thing is really reliable (at least engine and trans-wise), so I want to build off of that and make it into a truck I could drive all the way to northern wisconsin, or MOAB, or wherever, and not even have to worry about it.

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Thanks Ben.



My thoughts on this are that it's more road-geared than off-road geared. mechanically, this thing is really reliable (at least engine and trans-wise), so I want to build off of that and make it into a truck I could drive all the way to northern wisconsin, or MOAB, or wherever, and not even have to worry about it.


I know what you mean Pat. It is nice having a turn key driver/wheeler without the worries of break downs. It is almost like having a new truck.

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