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'Ratmanche' the '88 Comanche

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So figured I may as well toss a thread up on the MJ. Picked her up from a old guy that was no longer able to drive.

2wd 1988 MJ 4.0 Ba10/5 d35.

She's far from perfect but she does what is required at this time.

E-brake doesn't work anymore ... but the entire brake system was redone before parking. Ebrake held until I released it so maybe just sticking.


Anyway ...

The day she came home.

First issue ...

Replaced with ...

Leftovers from a cooling revamp on my 2000 XJ.

It wasn't as easy as expected ... every screw was rusty to the point of ...

Had to rebuild with some creative use of JB weld to recreate the bosses after drilling to removenthe rusty stubs.

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Gave her a tune up and deleted the NFG EGR system. Cleaned up the vacuum lines and replaced some with 3/16" brake line. Moved the vacuum reservoir the the firewall and cleaned up the heater hoses from the heater valve delete.

Then came the first oil change ...

holy crap did this sucker fight ...

Had to rip the filter apart, get to the base and use two allen keys in the oil ports, a crescent wrench to those and a big arse bar through the hole in the handle. Even then it was all I could do to spin that beast.

Did the Valve cover gasket and the crud confirm my suspicions that shes led a hard life with few oil changes. Replaced the M20 nipple with a 3/4-16 oil filter nipple ... so now I can used a standard filter common to the MJ and the XJ.

Swapped some SAE guages in place of the Canadian Metric guages for oil pressure and Temp.

Of course after that I lost the clock and radio ... so ...

Marrets have no place in my dash.

Returned the wiring back to stock and rewired the stereo. Still don't get any am/fm (had three antenna wires under the dash all leading to stubs) but the stereo works.

Then I lost the wipers during a rainstorm ... turned out the breaker was toast ... it fell apart when I pulled it. Had to mickey duck a fix witha modern breaker as thats all the parts stores that were open at 9pm had.


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Replaced the non working b-pillar lights with Euramtecs

More recently replaced the fast orange bottle coolant tank with one from a 92. Relocated things a bit using the 92s pdc bracket and the chopped up Renix one. Will eventually move the coil module tonthe firewall but here's where it is now.


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And to finish the update ... picked up some wheels off a 1998 TJ and the motor started knocking/ticking after the oil change ... it's slowly getting better though so I'll just keep changing the oil. Sounds like a mix of valve tick and exhaust leak so maybe a cracked manifold. And a gummed up lifter or twelve.


Replaced the stock vinyl buckets which were torn and ripped with cloth 92 XJ 2dr buckets. Tossed the turdy Hurst T-handle shift knob for one I made. I'll snap some pics later can't for a couple days yet.


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Currently have parts ready for the spring revamp ...

1995 ZJ D30/D35 combo disk brake rear. D35 is cheap and suits my needs for now (235/75/15 max tire size for now)

1989 XJ np242

4wd Ba 10/5 tail housing

1992 HO head

1992 XJ tilt column with padded wheel.

2000 4.0 valve cover

1999 intake (just because I have one)

1994 exhaust manifold

19lb mustang injectors

1994 fuel rail

GM lowering shackles

Stock XJ 4wd springs

1.75" coil spacers

And am currently making a TPS adapter similar to the hesco unit just crap loads cheaper.


And a paint job in bright metallic blue when the rains stop and the weather warms up.

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So I grabbed some updated pictures on the drive to work this morning.



Picked up a free truck box a few weeks back. PO had lost the keys, a little ingenuity and it works great but just no locks (Delta no longer supplies replacements). Meh, if someone wants my gum boots and tow ropes that badly they can have them.



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  • 1 month later...

Well just swung a deal for two 2000 xj fenders and a front grill assembly with harness.

Have to do some lightbrepairs on the header ... but for $100 for the front clip it's a good deal.

And its white so will match up close enough until I paint it all this summer.

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  • 2 months later...

Blew the rear brake feed on the MJ the other day, and the front wheel bearing are shot so ... parked it and started pulling it apart. Think I found the source of the trucks persistent ticking ... rear manifold stud gone ... and #2 intake and #3 exhaust rockers loose and the bridges are bent at an angle and the pivots on those two rockers are excessively worn.


In any event heads coming off, being replaced with a 92 head, exhaust manifold and 99+ intake and TB.

Then 2000 XJ front clip and a paint job some wiring and a custom cowl hood ... and finally a few months down the road ... back on the road.






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So now I have an excellent condition 88 Renix 4.0 exhaust manifold with EGR tube intact up for grabs ... just PM me if you need it ... fits 87-90 4.0L

PM sent. I'm interested if it's not cracked, mine is cracked in two places, pretty badly. Same, 88 4.0L.

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  • 3 months later...

Sept 7, 2014


Well, finally got some jeep time ... been fighting with the motorhome all summer.

Changed the rod bearings, no big deal, probably won't make much difference.

Started pulling crap off to change the timing gears, and pulled the ECT sensor on the block and plugged with a 3/8" plug. Going to run it on the thermostat housing. The stock wiring can be rerouted without issue.

Changed the water pump (used the spare from the XJ).

Then pulled the timing cover off ....


Further leading me to believe I may be the only person to have changed the oil since it's first service call. Scraped more crud in the lifter well, and now need to shop vac that junk out.

At least I've reached the point where it's going back together.

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Sept 8, 2014


So installed new timing gears, cleaned and painted the timing cover. Reinstalled, pulled it to put the oil sands need back on, the put it back so I could pull it again. Forgot the tension slider, so another reinstall ... Yeah it was one of those days.


Got the head back on, changed the rod bearings (since I had some), cleaned and painted the oil pan, and a bunch of other minor crap.


So, hopefully I should be tossing the intake and exhaust system on when I get back. Hopefully should be ready to start before the end of that shift. Missing the MJ right now.

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Sept 9, 2014


I had to vacuum out the lifter well, had two drains fully clogged with crud. Wasn't unexpected, the valve cover and rockers looked like the timing cover when I first got her. Oil pan wasn't much better. Should be OK for a bit once I get it back together, but I'll be on the look out for a new short block anyway.


As it goes back together, it'll have a 92 head (7120), 00 intake, 94 header gusseted against cracking, 00 valve cover and CCV layout, 97 ps pump and brackets, new timing set, stock HO throttle body (may try dropping to a 2.5L TB if I need to - about equal to stock renix 4.0 TB from the looks) and Renix efi.

Should work fine, just need to find a 1990 Renix 4.0 5spd PCM to complete the motor.

It's getting 97 up front clip, and a 92 8.25 (for the 3.55s and since I couldn't find a 96 up 29 spline, but with 31s and 2wd that should be fine).

Custom cowl hood (driver side only)

And a shiny blue metallic paint job in redneck rustoleum (can't go getting fancy now).

On the future list is a 94 ax15 and 231... Then a d30 in 3.55 when I get around to it, and a rear disk swap.

Getting it back on the road is priority right now, she's just a fun truck to drive

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Sept 18, 2014


Hammered on the truck again today ...

Rear main seal replaced (main bearing looked much better than the rod bearings - that made me feel beter), oil pan on, OFA back on block.

Got the intake and exhaust manifolds on and Torqued down.

Pulled passenger fender and got new 2000 XJ fender on and lined up.

She's starting to come back together.


I think the XJ might be getting jealous, front end has one heck of a creak going on in the turns, hope it's just something that loosened off a bit.

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Not much time today, got the valve cover bolted down, oil filter on and filled with oil.

Pulled the water pump and added the newer water neck.

Dropped the throttle body in place and hooked up the cable...



OK, so now a new issue I never knew about... . The cable spacing is different. SURPRISE! shoulda seen this coming and measured first.

Only get about 1/4 throttle openning.

Two way I see to fix it. ... bend the top of the throttle out to take up the slack, or hack the cable accordingly. I'm thinking bend the pedal so my cables will all be stock swaps.

Any other ideas, beside the obvious HO pedal swap (no donors near here).

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ended up bending the pedal to make it all work perfectly. Swapped in a 92 tilt column, primed the motor and started plumbing and bolting stuff back on. 97 power steering pump pulley was bent so swapped the 88 pulley onto it. New PS lines.


Got a major thing covered too ..... Made TPS adapter plate and mounted it all up. Hopefully she'll be good to go come start up.



Made a main plate to adapt the patterns, used an 11/32" socket for the throttle plate adapter (fit better than the stock bit did) drilled it and press fit a chunk of an Allen key so it rests at 0.8262V (reference was 4.86V) once installed.






Finally got to chopping and splicing the ECT sensor wiring.

Used a Dayco 5061000 belt for the accessory drives.

Ran new 3/8" brake line for the CCV, and 3/16" brake line for the MAP and FPR lines. Plumbed in the rest of the vacuum lines using rubber.




And a shot of the exhaust manifold gussets ....



Hopefully this will prevent future cracking, we'll see. Just need to plumb the exhaust and add an intake hose.


Then a bunch of quick stuff by comparison, hope to have her back on the road for next week, paint will have to wait till later. Wheel bearings, rear brake handline and re-attaching the front axle are the number ones.

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Exhaust almost hodge podged together (to get it to the exhaust shop).

Brake Line that blew was the mainline and popped right behind the tank. Dammit!

Pulled the line and flared it right after the cross member, then a Junction and standard store lengths from there to the rear soft line. Adding an XJ prop valve at the same time to end the mess. The stock prop valve worked fine, but just more hassle to keep it right now. Might put it back later. Or not.

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Made a new intake pipe, used an edelbrock filter (cheap enough to replace instead of cleanning).

Swapped in an HO tps... Idle is now at 1250 instead of 15-1700rpm now.

Started working on the brakes, swapped in an XJ prop valve for simplicity's sake.

Burp and burped the cooling system and added and electric fan since I happened to come across one. Probably wire it through a switch of some sort (either manual or temp activated).


And how she sits now, drivers fender is crap, but I'm having trouble finding another so it'll stay for the time being.

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Well, good thing I changed the rear system out ... Went to pull the hose garden aside for better access to the offending rotten one ... The whole works fell apart at the fittings. The whole rear circuit was rotted from the front edge of the gas tank back.

Replaced it in three sections, prop valve to just in front of crossmember. Junction. 60" line bent to just behind gas tank. Junction. 24" section bent to the soft line. Gravity bled it to the soft line with nice new fluid.

Made an air filter mount off the inner fender. Used an old generator "foot" and the old pressure tank strap.

Started slinging the front axle up and ran out of daylight.

Solved the high idle issue with another IAC and that made my day. She purrs better than my 2000.



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She's sitting on her own wheels again. Just need to bleed the brakes, and Torque the control arms. Leaving just the header panel install. Wired up the front swapping my corroded to crap 88 plug for a 2000 XJ plug and harness adding a relay system at the same time.

Decided to call her Ratmanche ... since bodywork, well, just isn't. Work called me back a week early so pretty can come later I guess.

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Hammered on her hard today, need to get to work at 3am tonight (this morning?) so...


Header on and all body work lined up, lighting tested ... And she passed the burn to the ground test.


Bled the brakes, added GM lowering shackles, slapped the old bumper on for now and Torqued the suspension.

Then started slapping the interior back together ...


So she's gone from this ...


To this so far ...


So far I'm happy, but lots more to do yet.

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First run went well, fair bit of vibration the first 100 or so km, but smoothed out after that. Rotors were pretty rusty from sitting so had a good pull here and there as they cleaned off. Steering stab is shot, and the shocks are toast but semi functional ... Probably hit that next days off. Power seems a little light on the top end, and there is a stumble on deceleration only. Temp is bang on 195-210 and cycles with the thermostat so one less worry. Oil pressure is just over 40 cold and just under hot with hot idle just above first mark ... About typical for 5w30 in this motor, plan to change it out for 5w40 rotella when I get home again. Given the piss poor life this motor saw before me, I'd say it's doing fairly good.

Idle is back up to 1000-1200 hot, have to wait for Wednesday to see what it is cold again.

Thinking I might try a 2.5L idle circuit, maybe even a throttle body as well, to bring up intake velocity. Thinking maybe the 4.0L circuit is too fat for my setup. I dunno, posted a thread on the subject to get some input. Plan to hammer the wiring one day.

Have no left Park lights but pretty sure it's just a ground, was no wire on the vehicle side and it "looked" like it was spliced to the right side after the plug ... Guess I was wrong there. Turn signals work fine, so easy fix. Just that annoying "bulb out" indicator driving me nuts for the last 250km.

Still need to get a 97+ antenna base to get the radio working again.

Any way that's it for this week, back to work again.

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Having a hard time deciding on a paint color, ran the gamut from lime green or solar yellow to an AMC racing red/white/blue scheme, then decided on just metallic blue .... now, I'm not so sure again. It will be a cheap job, no expensive paint for this poor fellow.

All I have decided outright so far it the trim will be black. I don't like red (my daughters choice), and have even considered a recoat in white.

Too much time to think out at work I suppose.

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So took the Ratmanche in to get the exhaust pipes connected permanently. She's much quieter now, so quiet I can hear an exhaust leak when I get on the throttle ... Yay, now I shop for a new manifold, joy.

Picked up a couple of ujoint I need to toss into the rear driveshaft.

Played with the headlight plug and swapped some pins around so now I have a ground for my left Park lights and all is good there.

Biggest new issue is the truck is 2wd, has 4wd spring and 1" spacers in the front, and my axle STILL is about 3/4" pushed to the passenger side. I do not want to lift the front to fix this. No room to redrill the bracket, and I may have to have it bent some to bring it back (that's not going to be easy). Or lift the front about 2".

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