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Hello Comanche Club!

I must admit that I've been lurking on here for quite some time (a couple years actually!), but the time has finally come for me to register and post something, because I've recently bought this beautiful thing:


So first, let me introduce myself: I actually got hooked on Comanche's by none other than one of Comanche Club's finest, Mr. 500 MJ. We both went to school in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and I had the pleasure of riding in the back of his MJ when our trail rig died shortly after starting the trail, and then had to be pulled out (you might have read about this: http://comancheclub.com/topic/1926-88-mj-4wd-trail-truck/page__st__100?do=findComment&comment=108488). I was actually looking for an MJ as a second/winter vehicle several years ago when my previous winter/wheeler ride threw it's timing chain, but unfortunately could not find one that wasn't completely rusted out, so I bought a Cherokee instead. The Cherokee was very rusty, but it had a 4.0L HO, AX-15, 4wd, and most importantly, it was cheap and the seller actually called me back. I knew it only needed to last a few years, and then I thought if I got a Comanche in the future I could use it as a parts vehicle. As rusty as it was, that thing has (almost) never missed a beat. Mechanically it's in decent shape, the major things it needs are new front unit bearings and a full brake job, but the unibody needs some serious fixing. Sounds like a perfect drivetrain donor to me! The Cherokee just keeps on trucking, and has taken me on some awesome adventures. I left the stock sagging suspension on it and mounted up some 30x9.5 MT's and hit the trails!


Ok, back to the MJ! It's a 1989 Comanche Pioneer SWB, with a 4.0L, 5spd, and 2wd. It does have a rebuilt title, but I've checked the frame and it's straight as an arrow. It appears that it got into a small fender bender, and the resulting damage was enough to total it. I checked Indiana law and it looks like if the damage costs 70% of the vehicles value or more it gets totaled, so for a 20+ yr old truck I don't think it would take much for it to technically be totaled The good news is as a result of this damage the truck has a fresh paintjob, and supposedly all the rust has been fixed! The fenders and bedsides are all solid, and looking underneath there is the slightest bit of rust underneath the floorboards, but they all pass the hammer test. I'm optimistic that they're all good, but I'll know for sure when I take Pete's advice and rip up my carpets.

It looks great on the outside, but things change a bit inside. It looks like the interior was never quite put back together properly. All the door locks are sticky, the steering column is from a different truck and the ign cylinder doesn't work, it has unknown buckets mounted to the bench frame, the HVAC lights don't work (but the heat works great!) and it came with a skull shift knob that promptly fell off.

The XJ will be donating many of it's parts. Current plan is to use the Trans/T-case, front driveshaft, 4wd shifter linkage, bucket seats, center console, steering column, steering wheel, door locks, ignition cylinder, spare tire (never seen the road!), cruise control, and anything else I decide I want to swap over, or is in better condition than what the MJ currently has. The remainder will be parted out (let me know what you need!) or brought to the metal recyclers. I won't actually be using the axles as I'm planning on picking up a HP d30 from a 4-cyl for the front, and also a Ford 8.8 with 4.10's and an LSD for the rear. If those prove difficult to find I might convert to 4wd and run my current d30 with the stock gears for bit until I can find the axles I want.

The eventual plan is to use the MJ as a second vehicle, as my DD is a higher mileage WRX that does need some downtime for repairs occasionally (i work slow). It will also be an occasional wheeler with something in the 31 - 33" tire range. And I'll be using it to haul whatever needs hauling whenever it needs hauling. It will also carry my bike back up to the UP sometime, hopefully this summer, for a quality weekend of camping, wheeling, and enjoying the beauty of the Keweenaw on two wheels.

And to finish my first post off, here's my blue XJ, silver MJ, and also a good friends red XJ all parked in my driveway right after we finally got the MJ home after a long road trip to Indiana (I live in the metro Detroit area).


More soon!

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Thanks all! Yeah the XJ has some serious rust issues, that's why it's my parts car! I've certainly gotten my money's worth out of it in the last couple years.

Started to do a few things here and there on the truck, started with adding some ballast for driving the truck in Michigan snow and also a frame to keep it from sliding around.


Sits a little lower in the back now. There's 280 lbs in the bed right now. Looks are a little deceiving though, as it's currently sitting on a staggered tire setup. 215/70 R15's in the front and 255/70 R15's in the rear. 27" and 29" tall, respectively.


Also dove into the dash tonight to try and fix the speedo. Seller said the cable was just not hooked up, except when I got in there it definitely was. I stuck a screwdriver in the speedo and turned it and the needle moved around to the gauge cluster is good, so I took a quick spin around the block to see if the cable was spinning.... nope. My guess is the cable is broke. Looks like that'll be the first part I gank from my parts car!!




And finally, check out the shift knob it came with, this is not gonna stay on there very long.


And I should be picking up something sweet tomorrow, truck might be riding pretty low with it in the back though. Don't worry, I'll post pics!

More soon!

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Well it's all registered and plated now so I celebrated by driving to work :)


And then picked up my new-to-me rear axle, a Ford 8.8 with 4.10's and a LSD


I bought the axle from a guy in nearby Trenton, MI. He's got racks and racks of these axles, so if you're looking for a F8.8 with 4.10's and a LSD in the Detroit area, let me know and I can get you his contact info.

Price is $275 for the axle as it's taken off the explorer, but he does go through and check to make sure everything is ok, no leaks, no galling on the gears, acceptable backlash, working clutches, etc... You also get rotors, although most will need to be resurfaced. You also get old rusty e-brake shoes, but they're just because I guess the new parts have a core charge. The e-brake is all disassembled and will need new components, and he recommends you bend up a new brake hard-line as well, although the old lines are still on the axle. And he throws in the swaybar as well if you want it.

For $375 you get all new seals and and a few other things freshened up as well.

More soon!

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Hey Steve, It's Mitch from school. I bought a Comanche this past summer as well similar to yours except for the rebuilt title and new paint job. Here is my thread, although I haven't updated it lately. The major difference between your build and mine is that I am building a crawler o 39.5's




If you ever need parts or whatnot let me know I have some laying around.


Also, not sure if you are on greatlakes4x4 but you should be for parts and such, its pretty handy

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Hey Mitch! We'll have to head back up to the Keweenaw for some Comanche wheeling! Although it sounds like you'll be wheeling circles around me.


Thanks for the heads up on Great Lakes, I haven't posted on there at all but will start checking it out for parts.


No progress on the MJ the last couple days, I've been moving my other long-term project out of the garage so I can pull the Cherokee in and start ripping it apart. Updates soon!

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Well finally got something done on the Comanche front, although not any work on the truck itself. I got the side of my garage cleaned out and organized (finally!) so that I could pull the Cherokee in to start disassembly. Parts will start flying off tomorrow! I'm going to keep a fair amount of the interior and 4wd system, but if anyone needs any other parts let me know!!




More soon!

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Got some of the interior ripped out on Sunday. Center console, lower dash, etc... At first glance, it looks like a lot of the connectors on the steering column are the same, so I'm hopeful that the steering column swap will not require any re-wiring for the ignition, lights, wipers, etc...


One thing I'm still not sure on is the cruise control. I haven't done too much investigating into swapping that over yet, but hopefully it's not too involved.


More soon!

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Done a bit more ripping out, I'll have some more pictures this weekend. The seats came out without too much issue, although I had to cut off three nuts on the driver seat. Everything unbolted on the passenger side.


I've actually decided to go with some Subaru seats. My DD is a WRX and I love the seats. I found some from a WRX TR edition that are gray with black inserts so should match the Comanche interior a lot better, so my plan is to pick those up and use them. I'm not completely sure what I'll do for rails yet. I'm hoping to use the MJ Bench brackets and modify the subaru rails to fit (narrow them to fit around the T-case hump). So, if anybody wants a set of 2-door Cherokee buckets let me know, If i end up able to get the Subaru seats in without the XJ seat rails they will be for sale as a unit.


More soon!

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Well I've been working on the Cherokee a fair bit, got a bit of the interior out just working for a little while in the evenings after work. Looks like this now:


But today's Comanche project was the interior. This is how it started:


Only one bolt held each of those craptacular bucket seats to the bench seat frame. So out they came!


They will be replaced with these seats from a 07 Subaru WRX TR. My DD is a 2002 WRX and I love the seats. Super comfy and supportive.



But, as I ripped up the carpet, I found something I really didn't want to see




The rust is far worse than I though it would be after looking at the underside of the truck, but it is still manageable. There was one small hole in the drivers side, but after some scraping and tapping with the hammer I put a few more holes in it where the metal was too thin. It will all have to get replaced.


Passenger side isn't so bad, one quarter sized hole and another pin hole, the rest is surface rust and will be pretty easy to repair. There is some moisture in the passenger side cab corner though, looks like the rear glass might be leaking. Any recommendations on how to seal it back up?

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Well in the last week, I've gotten a decent bit done.

Started with welding up the small holes in the passenger floor

Then I looked at the underside of the new Subaru drivers side seat. The rails are far too wide and clash with the t-case hump, and there's also height adjustment. I want to sit lower than the previous seats, and keeping the height adjustment will make the mounts taller, so I'm just going to disable it altogether and mount the seat at a good height for me.

Didn't take many pictures of the process, but here they are:


The carpet and interior will be replaced before it gets bolted down for good. Also while doing this I've put in the female side of the seat belts in from my Cherokee, as when I bought the truck it had some random buckles from who-knows-what, and they didn't fit the belts. The cherokee ones fit and bolt right in though!

Then today I went to the Junkyard, and they actually had several MJ's. I ended up pulling some parts off an Eliminator. I pulled the cruise control module, underdash lights, and brake release handle from this truck. Also found a new non-torn (but dirty) set of long sun visors from another MJ in the yard.ykk1xSr.jpg


I'm gonna go back soon, maybe tomorrow, and pull the tilt steering column and the rest of the cruise control system. I looked at the system in that Eliminator and compared it to what's in my Cherokee, and they're different, so I'm thinking I'll use the Eliminator for the swap instead of the Cherokee.

More soon!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Been focusing my time on taking apart the cherokee. I took the carpets and exposed the full extent of the rust.





Those rust patterns continued through the rear, there was very little left connecting the sides of the cherokee to the frame rails. Not good.


Also picked up a Rough Country 3" lift for a cherokee, I'm thinking that I'll install it with the D35, at least temporarily, so that I can measure to get proper spring perch angles without driveline vibes or needing to drop the tail of the t-case. 


More soon!

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...

Well I finally got the passenger seat mounted. I also modified the passenger seat to flip forward. It was really easy, just find the part of the seat that limits the seats forward motion and trim it further back. It's not as far as the 2dr XJ seats, but a whole lot better than nothing. I haven't done the driver side yet, so you can see the difference there.



Also got some new parts, reflective Jeep stickers and some Bilsteins! Can't put the 4 wheel drive sticker on yet though, that will have to wait a bit longer


And some not so shiny parts: WJ knuckles, upper control arms, front sway bar, tie rod, drag link, master cylinder and booster from a dismantler, along with a ZJ proportioning valve from the Junkyard.

I've mostly been been collecting parts so far, but it's gonna be time to start building pretty soon!

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I know the build hasn't really started in anger on my Comanche, but having a pickup truck is just so useful. I've been using it quite a bit. Makes moving stuff around a lot easier :)


And my cherokee has now officially donated it's heart so that the Comanche may realize it's true destiny of 4wd

More soon!

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Well, the Cherokee is finally gone.


Found out after this that in this form (gutted interior, 4.0L, 2wd, 5spd) and a full tank of fuel my truck weighs 3240lbs.


Does this kinda seem like automotive cannibalism to anyone else?

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Well I had to do some traveling this week for work, so not a lot done in the work day evenings, but got a fair bit done today on the F 8.8 for the rear end




Welded the tubes




Installed the Ford Racing carbon clutch discs with revised stacking




And ended today by brewing up a stew of rusty parts and toilet bowl cleaner to get them down to bare metal.



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Well i got my lift installed on the truck with the D35 and 2wd front axle! It's a used Rough Country 3" Cherokee lift, so I just used the control arms, front springs, and rear AAL. The rear only lifted 1" and the front 3". It sits level now with an empty bed. I'd like a slight rake empty so it's level with 3-400 lbs in the truck, so I'm thinking about some longer shackles to get the last inch in the rear. My goal with this get an idea about overall height and also spring perch angles for the 8.8. Once I get the the rear bumped up just a little more I'll measure pinion angles and adjust the perches accordingly to correct them when I weld them on the 8.8, then it's time for the install!


On to the pics!




I had a clunk in my front end. I think I found it...



Lifted on 29's!




And 33's!!!



There's rubbing on the front and back of the fender wells on just the lip of the flare, and a fair bit on the fender liner. Ok for street use, but would rip the liner and flare off in about 5 secs off road. I'll be running flareless and trimmed before and wheeling happens.



Wheels are 15x8 with 4" backspacing


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  • 2 months later...

Well a couple months of traveling and broken subarus meant that the Comanche has been doing daily driver duty for a while, but now that the subaru is back on the road, I spent America weekend working on getting the 8.8 installed


Out with the old, In with the new:






Still got a fair bit of work to do on it before it will bolt in, like brake line mounts, confirming pinion angle and spring mounts, routing brake lines, adapting e-brake cables, etc... It does already have the rebuilt LSD, all new e-brake hardware, and a fancy pumpkin paint scheme. Oh, and these are going on as well to help raise the rear a bit more as it was sitting level with no load after the lift:




More soon!

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Added some grease fittings to the shackles



And gave the springs a thorough cleaning and some fresh paint



And I wasn't super happy with the shackle angles with the AAL and longer shackles, so I added another mounting location, and reinforced it for good measure




More soon!

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