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Project "sipsey": '88 Pioneer Long-Bed


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HOWDY ALL!

So I've been lurking around here for a while researching MJ's and making the decision to buy my first one. I've got an XJ already, but really wanted a long-bed to use for camping on forest roads and as a ski chalet in the winter. Ultimately, I'd like to do a full 4wd (maybe auto) HO swap with 97+ facelift (lmk your opinions on that one), 3" lift and all the comforts of home inside a nice topper.

I'm going to try to make this a fun to read thread with lots of updates. I'm making my posts in blue so it's easy to follow.
Thanks for reading!

Being married, our budget is small; so I had to be frugal and wait until an exactly right MJ came around.
Requirements were:
It had to be 4.0L, long-bed with bench seat. I determined that they are all difficult swaps to manage if you don't already have a MJ with it from the factory.
Thanks Craigslist:
1988 Pioneer longbox, 4.0L, 2WD, 5speed, with bench seat.
$700 and a 255 mile mad dash to be the first one to it.





There's no shortage of things wrong with it, but it drove home at 60+mph ignoring ominous u-joint vibration while managing a stunning 255 MILES ON LESS THAN 15 GALLONS.

Thinking of U-joint noise. I'm sure it has something to do with this mess of a XJ SOA swap with serious pinion angle issues:



Floors aren't too bad though-- should clean right up:







The bed and panels have some big dents but the cab and rockers are clean and the panel gaps look straight, so I'm willing to overlook them and wait for replacement:



The driver door was almost ripped off in some sort of reverse over-opening snafu. I'm super familiar with this damage because both myself and my brother have done it. Go figure.
I really enjoy the PO's charming bathroom door sliding bolt lock:



My first thought was that I can easily re-position the door and get it to close. Then I saw this:
"Dude, where's my striker?"




Further investigation reveals someone was learning to weld while attempting to repair the oh-so-common MJ/XJ hinge issue.





More to come!

Loaner topper to keep parts dry:

 

 

JAN 2015 STATUS:

Replaced/New parts (excluding basic maintenance stuff)-

D44 with Tracloc

3" Lift

Open cooing system

Fuse box and 100% of the interior wiring.

Steering column

Dashboard and all interior panels swapped to black

Vinyl floor w jute padding and POR-15

Headliner

Full gauges

Refurbished damper box

Foam firewall pad

Front brush guard

Brake prop. valve

Brake front calipers, rear cylinders and some lines

Pedal assembly

U-joints

Wheel bearings

Wheels & tires

Bed (w topper)

Exhaust

Doors (w broken hinge repair on d. side and missing striker pin replacement)

Windshield

Rear Glass

Wiper motor & mechanism

91+ Lighting harness

Probably a million little things that I forgot!

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UPDATE:

While I wait to assemble some parts money, there's plenty of busy work to be done.

The entire column is totally buggered and needs to be replaced so I figured the best way to start would be to remove the column and assess the rats nest of wires that was under the dash. The PO, rather than diagnosing and repairing small problems would simply splice in a switch for things like beams, ac, blower and signals.

I spent the evening pulling it all out and identifying/sorting/labeling/testing as much as I could:

 

Everything is intact (once re-spliced) and carries voltage when applied, so it should be all good once I clean it up and reconnect all the missing accessories.

Also the cluster is fully functional again, but I've still got to determine if I can trust those gauges readings. I should have taken a pic of the column laid in there wired up to test-start. It looked like a scene out of "Brazil"

While I was taking out the column, I saw that the steering linkage was frozen and doesnt telescope anymore. I need to figure out what to do about that.

 

Had to make some space on the dry erase board for Sipsey:

 

 

 

"Sipsey" was chosen as a name because it is a classic southern name that makes a great sister to "Mavis" (rhymes with davis), our XJ.

 

Thanks for reading and stay tuned!!

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  • 2 weeks later...

More!

So I found a great JY parts donor-- clean '88 pioneer LWB. Sadly I cannot buy it, but I can buy the parts off it very cheap.

 

This week I harvested the clutch/brake pedal pivot and bushings to refresh my wallowed out existing assembly. The PO told me the clutch needed to be bled because it was low and not operating too well. Turns out it was just wiggling around on the pivot because the bushings were long gone. Clutch engages properly again.

 

Thinking of wallowed out, these were u-joint bearings once:

\

 

 

 

 The rear vibration had been getting worse, so I decided to scope out the rear end. Turns out both u-joints were totally shot and most of the nuts holding the axle and leaves together had rattled loose. How I managed to drive 250 miles home without shooting the shaft out of the truck is something of a miracle.

 

I was having a bit of a quandary about which fluid to put in my BA-10/5, but after a ton of research I figured OEM is best and went with factory-recommended 75w-90 GL5. Ignore the warning labels on the bottle telling you not to put it in synchronized manual transmissions. From what I can figure, that warning applies to transmissions with brass synchros and the BA-10/5 uses aluminum. 

UPDATE 9/1/2015- I have switched to using Castrol high-mileage synthetic blend 10w-40 in the ba10 and it shifts smoother, but has a slightly louder whine to it.

 

To get the plug out I made a tool using of 5/16" key stock available at the local hardware store for $3.99 a foot:

 

Now it's shifting smooth and quiet.

 

Next week I'm going to attempt to grab the rear end out of my JY donor and get this thing sitting level again.

 

That's all for now. Thanks for reading!

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  • 3 weeks later...

UPDATE!

 

Great news! I found a parts '88 with the tow package!!!

I'm slowly buying everything.

First up, install the D44 and rear leaf springs.

BEFORE:

 

 

 

 

AFTER:

(brakes not hooked up, need to install air-adjust shocks)

 

 

 

 

 

She's sitting more level now (aside from mismatched tires), but the front is sagged out, so I'm just gonna go ahead and swap in the entire front axle/springs from the 4WD metric ton to wait for a suitable power plant.

Also, I really want to swap on donor doors with towing mirrors. This is going to be my camper rig after all!

 

Thanks for reading! More to come!

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  • 3 weeks later...

UPDATE TIME

 

My daily driver XJ "Mavis" got jealous of Sipsey and started acting up last week so I had to spend some time and resources diagnosing what ended up being the fuel pump.  :fs1: 

 

With that problem solved, I used my day off this week to grab a new steering column and intermediate shaft from my favorite local JY donor because mine is destroyed and starts without a key. A key I don't even have...

Also it has this:

 

 

I may end up swapping in my original brown wheel, but for now the black donor looks great and has a strong position adjust spring: 

 

 

I'd had the dash out a dozen times already, so the install was a snap:

 

 

 

Having the switches working (I think) means that I can start chasing around my various signal and wiper malfunctions.

The OEM buzzer is annoying as hell.

I had lots of time left after that so used the opportunity to replace the 8mm square transmission fill plug with a 17mm hex oil pan plug and to adjust the slop in the steering box the best I could. The lower drivers ball joint is out and probably more, but I've got a 4WD front axle coming in soon so I'm just gonna rebuild that one and swap it in to the 2WD asap.

 

From here the only things that separate me from a complete truck is the wheels/tires, front end/steering, and my driver's side door hinge problem.

I washed the spring pollen and cottonwood fluffs off then stood back to watch her gleam the best she could; thinking how far we've already come and how far we've yet to go.

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Picked up some Turbines w tires today from Lee21490.

Got a good deal on 1-year-old tires with a ton of tread left.

I was so stoked that I put them on in the parking lot of my work.

Thanks a million, buddy! Gimme a shout if you ever want to grab a beer!
:thumbsup: 

 

Result: 

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  • 2 weeks later...

UPDATE!

 

The uneven appearance of the truck had been driving me nuts, so I bought some 2" spring spacers to level out the rake that the extra leafs had given it. I'm pleased with the results and would like to add some 1" hub spacers to get the stance just right:

 

 

Unrelated, but cool: I went to do some work for a friend and found that she had this sitting next to her barn. My wife would kill me:

 

 

Back on topic:

 

I also went to the JY to pick up some wiper arms (they still don't work, but i'm getting there  :wall: ) and newer signal sockets to get things shining bright.

 

Then unexpectedly the radiator sprung a leak so I decided that since there was a HO with AW4 in Sipsey's future, I might as well update the closed cooling system to open and use a radiator with the OEM-style automatic transmission cooler built in. I flushed the system twice, bought a new thermostat and went to it. 

 

During disassembly, I discovered a couple of PO delights: First there was no thermostat. Also this was somehow holding a hose clamp and pressure:

 

I then noticed that the lower thermostat bolt is really close to the belt. There's no evidence that they are rubbing each other, but it is darn close (less than 1mm):

 

Another angle:

 

 

It seemed odd that it would be so close until I got it off and saw that the 'stat housing coolant passages and those on the block are different. It makes me wonder if I have the wrong 'stat housing (I know I'm missing an exhaust bolt    :roll: ):

 

 

 

 

It's worth mentioning here that my truck didn't have an aux. fan when I bought it and I have yet to locate the wiring for it under one hood (no surprise- the wiring is a mess). The truck did not come with A/C and uses instead a compressor-delete pulley. I figure that my truck must have come with an aux. fan, but it never gets hot when sitting so this begs the question- did it ever have one????  :???: 

 

The install was a snap with the exception of having to install new threads in the head for a stripped 'stat bolt that the PO had epoxied in :rotf: .

The results look great and really clean up the engine bay!

I've still got to get a 91+ overflow bottle so I can clean up the wonky hose routing. Right now I've just got the original pressure bottle with the cap loosened and a plug on the bottom opening.

 
Also- the auto parts store didn't have enough heater hose left for the job, so I rigged a loop for the test-drive. 
 
 
That's all for now.
Thanks for reading!
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UPDATE!

 

In a very unexpected turn of events, I bought a super nice body/interior donor today!

'88 LWB 2.5L 2WD 4sp, bench, vinyl floor, 3 of 4 AMC mud flaps and a matching topper. Runs and drives. $400

 

Only interior issue is the bench seat tear, but I happen to know the whereabouts of a perfect match in perfect condition for $50:

 

 

 

 

 

Farmer guy was selling it because he was trying to get good gas mileage out of his farm truck and this wasn't cutting it. He bought a Toyota instead.

Said he'd only sell to a Jeeper.  :thumbsup: 

First meeting:

 

Things just got really interesting!

I'm picking it up tomorrow. Stay tuned for more!

:yes:

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Are you sure the red one isn't an '86? It seems like it ticks all the boxes for being an '86, like the black interior, AMC mud flaps and uppercase COMANCHE badges. In the end, it really doesn't matter much for what you're looking to do.

 

With that said, it is a very nice find. Looking forward to see what happens next :)

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Yes, Minuit good call. It turns out to be an '86 just like me! Old man had it listed as '88. He also had misspelled 'Comanche' so nobody got to it in the 2 hours it took for me to see the Craigslist ad.

It was meant to be too- because I was supposed to drive out to help a friend with an ailing Isuzu today, but that got called off so I was browsing for parts at lunch when I saw the bare-bones listing.

I should have noticed the clues to the year the first time, but I was too busy jumping up and down then rushing to get money.

 

After a transaction and a handshake, I returned the next day to pick it up.

Her name is "Alva": a classic southern name just like her sisters "Mavis" and "Sipsey".

Some elbow grease and the paint looks great except for the usual oxy damaged hood that you'd expect to find on a near-30 year old vehicle:

 

 

 

Livin' the dream:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ok so here's where I'm stumped for the moment until I can do some more research:

I am the lucky owner of a clean, no-frills '86.

I know (I think :hmm: ) that some of the stuff on the early '86 is kind of hard to find and someone else on CC might need something.

So what are those "tough to find" parts for the 1986 year and is there anything that I can't easily swap in to my 4.0L 2WD LWB '88 (like driveshaft?)?

I'm going to search then maybe post a thread asking that question in MJ Tech.

 

Thanks for reading and responding!

. :MJ 1: . 

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UPDATE

 

So if you recall my first post, my driver's side door has been inoperable and secured with ratchet straps.

Today I decided to finally do something about it.

Thanks to WrenchMonkey's great writeup (http://comancheclub.com/topic/14466-broken-door-hinge-welds-cheap-n-easy-fix/) I was confident that I could get it done.

 

After reading so many Canadian threads about 'passing safety inspection' is makes me chuckle to think about how here in the USA, I was able to register and insure a vehicle with such glaring issues as this:

 

It came right off with a tug and 2 sec. of grinder:

 

 

I used 1/4" plate steel for the backplate and tapped the holes to 8mm x 1.25 so I could use some extra 13mm Jeep steering column bolts that I had laying around.

The bolt with the big washer is where I used an existing hole in the body:

 

I also had to make a new striker pin mounting plate. The molding in the body made getting this one in the exact spot i wanted it difficult, but it still works great. I even tapped the striker hole so it threads in like it should for easy adjustment:

 

 

I had to mess around with hinge shims and striker placement for about an hour but finally found the sweet spot. It swings smooth and latches easy.

Success!

:banana: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THANKS FOR READING!

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Glad to see you got that door fixed, I remember cringing hard when i saw the state it was in from the PO when you picked up those wheels.

 

 

Any chance you'd be willing to part with the passenger side outside plastic vent thinger off your parts 'manche? If so lmk a price. Busted mine up last week

 

Also the 86 looks like its in way better shape, Wouldnt it just be easier to build that one?

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Any chance you'd be willing to part with the passenger side outside plastic vent thinger off your parts 'manche? If so lmk a price. Busted mine up last week

 

Also the 86 looks like its in way better shape, Wouldnt it just be easier to build that one?

 

Yeah dude, which side?

 

The '86 is far more rusty than the '88 and I don't have the location and resources to undertake an engine swap. This way I can chip away at the build while still driving the truck daily. 

 

Jeez I wish I could find donors like that. People here in Florida know they are gold, your lucky to get a mj/xj NOT RUNNING and totaled for under $1000 lol.

 

Yeah I'm from FL and I was stunned by the cost and availability of nice cars out west.

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Any chance you'd be willing to part with the passenger side outside plastic vent thinger off your parts 'manche? If so lmk a price. Busted mine up last week

 

Also the 86 looks like its in way better shape, Wouldnt it just be easier to build that one?

 

Yeah dude, which side?

 

The '86 is far more rusty than the '88 and I don't have the location and resources to undertake an engine swap. This way I can chip away at the build while still driving the truck daily. 

 

Jeez I wish I could find donors like that. People here in Florida know they are gold, your lucky to get a mj/xj NOT RUNNING and totaled for under $1000 lol.

 

Yeah I'm from FL and I was stunned by the cost and availability of nice cars out west.

 

Passenger side. Ahh the pics don't show the rust & yea an engine swap can be a b*@$£.

 

 

For some reason around washington comanche's are decently common & pretty cheap really.

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