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Codename Bumblebee: Now With Oil Pressure!

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Codename Bumblebee: Continued

A currently quite short build thread by Minuit



I've been looking for a second project for some time. My silver '91 has been my daily driver for years and is at the point where it's getting hard to call it a project truck. If you've been keeping track of this truck's previous build thread, you'll know that this truck's previous owner, relyt120, never got a chance to do much with it and recently needed to sell it. Coincidentally he put it up for sale at the exact time I happened to have both the means to buy it and the time to work on it! Not only that, but I'd had my eyes on a manual vehicle of some sort. The previous owners (with the exception of relyt120) have been unkind and downright neglectful to this truck, and it needs a lot of love. However, the most important things are in place - to get it up to snuff I have a lot of small things to do, and some major surgery is needed. Here are the specs: 1989, short bed, Renix 4.0, AX-15 internal slave, open D35 rear end, ~150,000 miles.


Let me be clear: I'm very much aware I have a lot of work to do, but I know what I'm doing and I'll do things right  :thumbsup:


The Good:

- It has the AX-15, and it shifts very well  :banana::banana::banana:

- The engine, while noisy, runs fairly well.

- Besides the floor pan, it's almost completely rust free. The body on this truck except for the floor pan is in some ways better than the '91.

- It's a Comanche!

- I got it for a very good price.

- It has a number of upgrades already done, including bucket seats, switched electric fan controls, Volvo fuel injectors, and upgraded grounds.

- It theoretically has air conditioning.

- I got tons of parts with it, including two Comanche interiors.

- It has a surprisingly soft ride.

- It's a blank canvas for whatever I want to do to it. Unlike the '91 I don't feel any obligation to keep it original.


The Less Good:

- Electrical issues abound, including non-functional reverse lights, brake lights(!!!), and a completely nonresponsive instrument cluster.

- The engine sounds like hell and makes barely acceptable as of January 2019, zero as of May 2019, barely acceptable oil pressure.

- The driver side floor pan and some of the transmission tunnel is rusted through likely due to a long ignored clutch fluid leak. I have a patch panel for the driver side floor.

- The front end is in need of work. The truck has a significant front end shimmy - not quite death wobble, but definitely something is very loose.

- It has massive vacuum and exhaust leaks.

- Renix Cooling System. 'Nuff said. The pressure bottle of course leaks and a replacement has already been ordered.

- The windshield is toast.

- It's mind bendingly hideous.

- The parking brake is missing.


The Plan (more detail in Post 14):

- Fix brake lights before I drive it on the road again

- Fix all critical electrical circuits: brake lights, gauges, reverse lights.

- Replace the Renix pressure bottle.

- Re-install the interior.

- Refresh front suspension. as of August 2019, done... more or less.

- Repair the driver side floor.

- Convert cooling system to the open loop High Output version. as of September 2019, it's been thoroughly de-Renix'd.

- Turn the truck a single color, with chrome trim.

- Air conditioning!


Edit 12/2/16: Unlike my other build thread, the OP will be updated continuously and serve as a summary of my progress.

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Thanks a lot Buck! The first thing I'm tackling is some screwy wiring, which doesn't make for the most interesting updates. For sure it'll be a different style than I did on the '91. More detailed procedures and less "I did these things, now look at some pictures" type of updates.

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  • 4 weeks later...

A New Lease On Life - Part 1: May 2016


I was in a rush when I made the thread and didn't get a chance to make a proper introduction. This is that. Maybe. It's 2 AM as I'm writing this and I'm not what you'd call awake. This post may get better as you read as the coffee starts working.


This build thread won't progress in quite the same way as my previous build. At least in the beginning, you won't see quite the same ridiculous level of meticulousness I exercise with the '91. That doesn't mean I'm not going to do a good job, but the interior screws may not match when I'm done. This truck has some major issues that need to be dealt with before I can be OCD about stupid things. I'll be following 2 major rules in the process of fixing this:


1. Differentiate this truck from the '91 if at all possible, even where doing so makes the build more difficult. This truck is not a replacement for the '91, but a complement to it, so I want it to have a very different feel. I'll be using as many parts exclusive to the pre-HO era as possible, such as the elusive '84-'87 blue full gauge cluster (yes, I know the speedo cable is different). There will be lots of chrome on this truck, since it's almost completely gone on the '91.


2. Make all repairs as correctly as possible. This is a rule I always follow, but especially in the context of this truck I feel like it needs to be said.



This is what I have to work with. Someone in this truck's life fancied himself an artist and decided to inflict his talents upon this poor truck with extreme prejudice. The red parts are nice, though.



Whoever decided the truck needed to be yellow and black was clearly a specialist in the "melting paint" effect.



The interior is a mix of cordovan and grey parts. I'll be completing it with cordovan parts to differentiate it from the '91.



The furious heart of the beast, powered by only the finest of French fuel injection systems. No doubt owing to some grounding system improvements made by the previous owner it runs like a top. It sounds very unhappy and has a nasty exhaust leak. In what will be a common theme, it makes the silver truck's 163k mile, sitting-for-8-years engine sound like a finely crafted Swiss watch. I don't want to know how many oil changes were skipped, but judging by the way it sounds I'd guess the answer is "many".



When I first went to look at the truck and test drive it, the cooling bottle split open right in front of our eyes as the engine came up to temperature, so before I took a test drive relyt120 and I went to the parts store to fix it gud 'nuff to get the truck driveable again. This "fix", consisting of some epoxy and gorilla tape, survived the 60 mile drive home with no leaks!



There was no fan shroud on when I got it, but an OEM fan shroud came with the truck. Unsurprisingly I noted the truck ran far cooler with it in place. I didn't have any more speed nuts to attach it (those things have a very short life at the Minuit ranch) so I used alternative but Renix approved methods to attach the shroud.



Here's the 20 foot alligator in the room and the source of 75% of this truck's problems. It might not look too bad in the pictures, but this fuse box is toast. About 5 of the circuits are powered reliably, and some of those don't have a good connection unless a spade terminal is jammed into the fuse slot. The blower motor, for instance, works about half of the time. The gauge cluster lights work on a "wiggle the fuse, then pray" basis. The fusebox in this state is very dangerous and replacing it is a very high priority.




The laterally split case (and April 1989 build date) reveal that the transmission is an AX-15. No complaints with the way it shifts, but reverse is temperamental at times and noisy. Some research suggests that this is normal. Note the crispy connector for the reverse lights.


~to be continued~




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As always Minuit like your work and attention to detail.  Ironically mine is an April '89 build date.  I bought a timpani (kettle drum) from ebay which had the same melted paint technique, my then 5 year old daughter could have done a better job with a rattle can.  Glad it is in your hands and can't imagine what shape it was in before relyt120 got ahold of it.  



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As always Minuit like your work and attention to detail.  Ironically mine is an April '89 build date.  I bought a timpani (kettle drum) from ebay which had the same melted paint technique, my then 5 year old daughter could have done a better job with a rattle can.  Glad it is in your hands and can't imagine what shape it was in before relyt120 got ahold of it.  





Well, it was 95 feels like 105 yesterday and it ain't any cooler today so might as well sit inside and eat Cheetos and tell the internets what all I done with regards to truck fixin'.


A New Lease On Life - Part 2: May 2016


The engine ran well enough, but as I drove it more it developed a tendency to stall as I disengaged the clutch coming to a stop. Giving it gas as it began to stall would sometimes help, but it would usually die anyway. Thinking it had something to do with snapping the throttle closed suddenly, I looked at the IAC valve:


Not pretty and it was dirty, but cleaning it didn't do anything so I started checking for vacuum leaks.


Didn't need to look very hard:




oh. The source of 75% of driveability issues on 4.0 engines strikes again. Turns out that in one of the many boxes of stuff that came with the truck, there was a spare MAP sensor vacuum line! Swapping it out with the much nicer spare solved the problem and also cleaned up the idle.


And then it was this stupid thing's time to go:


Disassembly was easy, since the tank had leaked itself empty. Say what you will about it, but at least it's easy to get to.


Hello stopgap replacement!


After refilling and burping the system, it now runs at a steady... 175? I think the thermostat may be stuck open. Whatever, at least it isn't exploding anymore. The heat also seems to work a little better for some reason, not that I need it now. The coolant in this badly needs to be flushed.


Next, I decided to put the floor mat back in and properly mount the console, which was mounted with only one bracket and very wobbly. I wanted to put the mat back in to cut down on noise, but mostly so I didn't have to look at this anymore:



Just like on the '91, there's 2 sets of divots in the floor to drill holes to mount the brackets. A 1/8" hole and #8 sheet metal screw had the brackets attached very shortly:






One of the studs for the driver side seat mount pulled out whole instead of the nut coming off, and one of the front mount tabs for the driver seat is rusted off. I was in a hurry to get done so I put a bolt in and looked the other way. I'll need to find a set of Cordovan seats and another MJ floor bracket eventually. The seats in there now are comfortable but worn out. I also replaced the B-pillar trims and seatbelts with the correct Cordovan versions. The seatbelts in the '91 are old and shaggy looking and the B-pillar trims are cracked... again.



Here's the console installed with all of its mounts. I also added a cupholder. Seriously, all of this stuff came with the truck. I don't have a massive secret part stash. It's like an MJ kit build!



Why do people like drilling pointless holes in things so much?


The next thing I tackled was switching out the oil pressure sender. I wasn't really surprised with what the gauge read:


This is one tired engine indeed. Once warm it struggles to maintain 10psi of oil pressure at idle. To drive that fact home, here's what it sounds like from a cold start. It sounds much worse when warm idling:


The above picture was taken at a stop, not 20mph. The speedometer in the cluster that came with the truck was worthless. At first, I thought the speedometer cable was the issue, so I decided to service the cable:


Just undo the nut going into the speedometer housing and the cable will come out of the drive adapter. To access the speedometer gear, just undo the bolt holding that little fork on. Of note, the drive looks essentially identical to the 91-93 2-wire VSS. I wanted to know what size speedometer gear it had, so I took the whole housing off. Some oil will drain out when you do this...





The drain plug on the AX-15 is on the passenger side of the transmission. 15/16". It's probably very stuck since it probably hasn't moved in either 27 years or since the last moron who didn't do their research and put gear oil in last touched it. The kind of person to put standard gear oil in an AX-15 is the kind of person to crank down on a drain plug anyway. The oil looked like it had seen some miles, so I absolve relyt120 of all guilt. I put in 10W30 motor oil for now. The transmission is probably the only drivetrain component on this truck worth saving, so once finances allow I'll put in some Redline MT-90.


The fill plug is also a 15/16" plug. It's on the driver side of the transmission. Probably a good idea to open it first just in case it turns out you can't loosen it, or it's rounded off. You won't be able to fill the transmission from the bottles. I put a gear oil nozzle on the bottles of motor oil and filled through the speedometer gear port (it has the correct 31 tooth gear, by the way) until it dripped out and then used a turkey baster through the fill port for the rest. The AX-15 takes about 3.5 quarts for a complete fill.


Anyway, on with the speedometer cable:


The cable attaches on the driver side upper control arm bolt with this bracket and a very annoying retainer nut. Make sure you don't destroy it, because the cable might rub on the exhaust if you leave it off.



The cable goes inside through this grommet. Once the cable is taken out of the speedometer, the cable can slide back through the firewall. Make sure you don't break the plastic retainer for the end of the cable as you're pulling it out.



Here's the cable completely removed. I'll be lubricating it and putting it back in.



Here is the inside cable (the part that spins) taken out of its sheath. It was almost entirely dry, so I lubed it along its entire length with white lithium grease and put it back in the sheath.


It didn't fix anything, but it was free so I figured I would try. The speedometer never went back to zero so I figured the speedometer itself was shot, but there were no cable speedo equipped XJs in any junkyards in the Nashville area, until this very generous 1990 XJ showed up in the Pick-A-Part, my least favorite self service junkyard:


It was pretty much unmolested, and it was even an automatic!


I'll spare you the details (it was really hot and I didn't take many pics anyway), but I took the fuse box, speedometer, gear shift knob (for the 91), and the cigarrette lighter:


Oh, and by the way, those Craftsman wire cutters/crimpers/strippers are garbage. The strippers are completely worthless, the crimpers don't crimp properly, and the cutters are marginal at best. Garbage!


Now, let's play spot the difference! Old speedo:



New speedo:


I wonder why the old one didn't work. It was only bent, that's all!


The end result:


After putting the speedometer in, it works smoothly and accurately. Yeah it doesn't match, but that was the only cable driven speedometer in the middle Tennessee area at the time. Nothing else on this truck matches anyway.


I mounted the toolbox in the bed using this kit.



I have a sneaking suspicion I might be better at hole drilling than several owners of this toolbox:



That's all I've done to the truck since I've had it. Next week some fun stuff will be showing up, so look for another update in the next couple of weeks.



. :MJ 1: .

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Great progress...luckily it wasn't nothing big...

Harbor freight have some really good wire cutter/crimper and only for $5...

Compared to the one you have which I have had the worst of luck in the past with...


Thanks man! I have some much better Klein ones, not sure why that cheap one happened to be in my junkyard bag at the time. The crimps the Craftsman does are just awful, I could pull a blue butt connector off of 16AWG wire with hardly any force at all. The lowest spec acceptable to me for crimp pull strength for 16AWG is 30lb. Milspec crimp strength is 50lb.

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I mounted the toolbox in the bed using this kit.







That kit is awesome!

Wish I had known about that, would have definitely got a couple sets.


You are really working out a lot of the bugs in that truck, glad you took it off my hands!

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I mounted the toolbox in the bed using this kit.







That kit is awesome!

Wish I had known about that, would have definitely got a couple sets.


You are really working out a lot of the bugs in that truck, glad you took it off my hands!



Stumbled on it while I was at TSC for unrelated things. Sometimes I'm lucky like that...



A new toy has joined the Minuit ranch. I'll be needing this for many projects on both trucks, and one very big one on this truck that I'm sure you all can guess. I like to do things right, that way I can buy more tools! I don't have anything to share, just wanted to show off.

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  • 5 months later...

That crimper has some interesting jaw options.  I've got a Blue Point one like it (probably comes out of the same Chinese factory), and it only has 4 jaw options.  Hmmm.

I thought I replied to this after you posted it, but I guess I didn't. :( For posterity, here are the die options on this crimper (SG Tool Aid 18980):


18921 - Insulated terminals 22-10AWG

18922 - Open barrel terminals 22-10AWG including Weatherpack terminals

18923 - Insulated quick disconnect terminals 22-10AWG with short barrels

18924 - Non-insulated terminals 22-8AWG

18925 - Miniature insulated terminals 26-16AWG

18928 - RG-6 and RG-59 coaxial cable

18929 - 8 and 8.5mm spark plug wire terminals

18937 - Open barrel terminals 30-18AWG including Weatherpack terminals

18938 - Insulated flag terminals 22-14AWG


I've used this tool quite a bit for wiring repairs now and I've been very happy with its performance. I do have it adjusted to release at higher pressure than it came with to make more reliable crimps on open barrel contacts. To do this, I crimped open barrel AMP quick connect terminals onto 18AWG wire and adjusted the crimp tension until the terminal supported a ~20lb backpack being jerked up and down at least 5 times while being held only by the terminal. This exceeds UL specifications for crimp strength and at least approaches military specifications also. The nice thing about standards is that there's so many to choose from!


Anyway, as all 3 of you reading this can probably tell I'm getting a little bit too excited about smashing wires together.


Wiggle The Fuse, Then Pray - November 2016


Right away after buying the truck, I started collecting parts for it. One of the main ones was the fairly rare blue gauge cluster, which has been a part I've been wanting ever since I first saw one years and years ago. This one fell into my lap:


The oil pressure and temp gauges did not read accurately (they both read about 20 degrees of gauge travel too low), but I'll get to that later.


I also got two sets of NOS key blanks, which really motivated me to start working on this truck, like the little details often do. I saved a set of blanks in case I ever want to rekey the truck:



I had a week away from university, so I decided it was time to make this poor unloved truck suck less. The biggest boundary to this truck sucking less was the fusebox, so I tackled that first. When I got this truck, the electrical system was in bad shape. How bad? I'll let you decide:


The few connectors that actually had a contact surface left were so corroded that it didn't matter. A few of the connectors would simply pull out of the fusebox with only a little bit of force, not to mention the casing was visibly cracked and deformed in several places. I had trouble with fuses just falling out, and the few circuits that worked at all only worked with quick connect terminals jammed into the fuse slots. This is normally only seen in manual transmission trucks, because the clutch master cylinder is directly above the fusebox. If it leaks, the highly corrosive brake fluid eats the fusebox to pieces. If not caught quickly, the fusebox will suffer severe damage.


Enter its replacement, from a 1990, automatic XJ:




There are two options for replacing the fusebox if you have to do it - you can either re-pin your new fusebox with new GM Pack-Con terminals (a much cleaner solution) or simply splice it in whole (an easier solution) The Pack-Con terminals can be kind of hard to find. Waytek Wire sells some but not all of the ones you'll need here. Mouser and a few other vendors also sell them, so you'll have to piece together what you need from a number of different vendors. Or you can take the easy way out and do what I did, splicing the complete fusebox into the truck wire-by-wire. The electrons won't care.



Upon pulling the fusebox down, it's pretty clear that something bad happened down here. Of note, the brake fluid exposure hardened and stiffened the wires, and some also had corrosion on the conductors themselves - on some wires I had to cut back a couple of inches to get clean wire. I don't see any signs of new clutch fluid leaking from the master cylinder (and the reservoir is still just as full as it was when I purchased the truck), but I'll likely replace the master cylinder in the future as it looks quite old and this leak was likely gradual to begin with.


I won't bore anyone with the details, but after about 6 hours of (wire) stripping, staring at wiring diagrams, swearing, and contorting the fusebox was replaced:


Some very tense poking around with a test light showed that all circuits were powered when they were supposed to be and all accessories now work. One thing I am very thankful for is that the '89 and '90 fuseboxes are identical down to individual wire colors, although there are some wires that aren't used on the MJ.


And then it was Black Friday, which means it was time for my annual Black Friday Junkyard Run! Unlike last year, where I came home pretty much empty handed, LKQ delivered majorly:


Clockwise from the left, I got a pair of 4x6 B-pillar speaker brackets, a partial set of Pioneer body mouldings, a headlight harness with fog lights (for the '91), a spare tire hoist, a set of gauges and gauge surround from a 1988 3/4 cluster, some S10 Blazer rear dome lights, and another grey B-pillar piece. Not pictured are a dash clock and new shift knob for the '89. I also met another victim with two Comanches, so it was a pretty good day in all. If you're on here Caleb, it was really nice meeting you!


The vast majority of the parts I got came from this '88 Comanche, which to be brutally honest was in better shape than the subject of this build thread:



Anyway, I got pretty lucky in that it had a "3/4" cluster with all gauges except the tach, since as I mentioned previously my full cluster's gauges were wonky - the gauges are the same as the ones in the far more common 3/4 cluster.


It also had the sweet black gauge surround, so I took that too. 


In true Minuit fashion, it was time to cobble together some parts:


To cut a longish story short, you can swap gauges very easily in these gauge clusters. Each gauge is held in with 3 screws (2 for the voltmeter), so if you have a blue gauge cluster like me, as long as the tach and fuel gauges work, the rest can be rebuilt from more common 3/4 cluster parts.


The end product was totally indistinguishable from the genuine article:



A quick fire-up showed that the new gauges were working correctly. The volt gauge is working about as well as unfixed Renix volt gauges work, anyway. The 45-50psi cold start oil pressure only lasts for a few minutes before dropping to worrying levels, sadly.



With the fusebox fixed, the radio circuit now worked, and I'm the kind of person who absolutely requires tunes to drive, so the radio wiring got fixed up and this AM/FM deck got put in very quickly:


Nothing like '80s easy listening music for an '80s truck.


I also replaced the shift knob. No idea what it came from, but it fits and the numbers are in the right place so I'll take it. It feels really, really nice in the hand too.



All said, I think the dash turned out really well.



After all of the fixes I took it for a rip down some country roads and found the driving experience much improved now that it has most of an interior, electricals that work, and something to listen to. The exhaust is really loud in the cab though, even though it isn't very loud outside. Probably something to do with the huge hole in the floors, yeah?


So, now that we're on time with where I'm at with the truck, time to talk about some plans for the future:



This truck is repulsively ugly enough that I'm willing to think about painting it long before I normally would. I intend to paint this truck myself in a paint booth with professional or at least close to professional equipment. My original plan was to spraybomb it some form of red to match the bed and front clip, and I even rattlecanned the passenger door red, and I wasn't really a fan of how it looked. The more I think about it, the more meticulous I want to be. Regardless, it's going to likely be a color that Jeep offered at some point or a close match of it. Here's a few I'm thinking of.


Patriot Blue, one of the best colors Jeep ever painted a vehicle:



Midnight Blue, which is similar but a little darker. It would have the added bonus of being roughly period correct.



The truck's original color, Black Cherry Metallic



And would it be sacrilege to paint an '89 Hunter Green Metallic?



As you can tell, I'm a fan of deep, dark metallic colors, especially blue, and even though it might undo some of relyt120's work, I'm really not a red kind of guy. Regardless, this truck's name won't be sticking. I suppose it's time to mention that I do have painting experience here, so I am not a complete amateur - and auto painting has always been a skill I've wanted to pick up.




I've settled on a cordovan interior, and I already have the coveted blue gauge cluster. The few interior plastics that I don't have good examples of (mainly the B-pillars that have cut speaker openings) can be painted. The only real variable that leaves is the seats. The obvious choice would be Luggage Fabric wingback buckets:



...but the '91 already has those seats, and that would violate Rule 1 of this build. Another choice would be the rarer Hunter's Plaid which I can't find a pic of but here's the pattern:



I don't have to stick to XJ seats either, although that would mean I would need to source more parts. I recently sat in a set of these ZJ leather seats, which were fantastically comfortable:



I suppose leather is easy enough to dye, but I don't know much about that. Either way, the seats would need to be some form of maroon. Another benefit to that is that ZJ seats are very plentiful in my area right now.



I also like these early ZJ seats.


Suspension & Round Things


It gets death wobble, the track bar has a half to 3/4s of an inch of play at the frame bracket, and the steering is insanely loose. Those things need to go away. After that, I might consider a small lift of no more than 3 inches or so. The wheels and tires on it now are the Coopers and 5-spokes from the '91, since I've been too lazy to put the Coopers on the '91's Ravines. The tires that were on it were 225/70/15s, which suited the horrible 3.07 gears but were pretty sketchy - so I'll need to buy a set of tires for it at some point. I'm thinking 31s to accompany the small lift? I have a set of nice Eliminator wheels that I may clean up and use, if I decide they fit the truck's aesthetic later on. Obviously the boring parts like bushings and all need to be replaced, as they are in about the shape you'd expect from original suspension parts from 1989.


Drivetrain & Cooling


The engine makes awful oil pressure, leaks like holy hell (seriously, I parked it in my garage for 2 and a half days and there was a dinner plate sized oil spot on the floor), makes scary CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK noises, and seems pretty down on power according to the butt dyno. Needless to say it's not staying. The most likely plan will be to find a low-ish mileage HO era engine and swap it into the Renix system, assuming I decide to keep it - although I will say I have not had a Renix related reliability issue, so my opinion of the Renix system is currently higher than many of the others who have HO era trucks. I HATE HATE HATE HATE the closed cooling system and how much of a pain it is to get it to cooperate, so it's going away in the near future. Not to mention that it gets hot currently if you even think about driving it hard. Like upper radiator hose measuring 230* hot. No es bueno. It is definitely staying manual, though - in fact the AX-15 was literally the single reason I bought this truck. A 4wd conversion is likely in the cards, as unlike the '91 I might end up doing light wheeling in this.


So that's where the Bumblebee is now. I still have tons and tons of work to do but I'm sure you'll all agree that the truck is headed in a good direction. I welcome any feedback you may have regarding my plans and what I've done so far.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I did something really stupid yesterday.


I've talked before about how reverse is kind of finicky on this particular AX15. Sometimes it'll fool you into thinking it's in reverse when it's actually not. I was out of town for the past 2 weeks, and I got home yesterday. Right after I got home I started the truck to see if the battery kept a charge and if everything was still in good working order. It was, but when I shut the truck off I must not have gotten it all the way back into reverse, because about 30 minutes later this happened:



The truck popped the rest of the way out of reverse and backed itself into a tree in my yard, missing a brand new fence by about 6 inches on one side and a pile of steel by about 6 inches on the other side. The steering wheel was thankfully turned a little bit, because there would have been WAY more damage had it not gone exactly where it went.



The bumper brackets are completely destroyed, and the already rough bumper is completely beyond redemption. The tailgate also has a pretty big dent in it. I'm very lucky that that's the extent of the damage. Before yesterday, the bumper could probably have been repaired. It's not even rusty like the one on the '91 and it was surprisingly straight. The frame is also undamaged, so the bumper and brackets did their job and absorbed the hit.


I yanked the bumper straight a little bit so that the license plate wasn't pointing straight down:


I really need to fix the parking brake. At least it happened to this truck and not the '91.

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I can speak for myself and say I have done something similar. Years ago I got out of my car in a hurry and left it in neutral, a neighbor knocked on the door to tell me my car had gone down the street and luckily didn't hit anything but another neighbor's chain link fence.  That was a long time ago and I almost always still have a wheel chock on the mj.  Glad your mj bumper took the brunt of the impact.  



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Sucks about the tailgate and bumper.  I can't stand having a manual transmission without a good working parking brake anymore, too easy to have that sort of stuff happen.


Yep, that's the first thing I should have fixed when I brought the truck home. I have both XJ and MJ parking brake assemblies in stock but I think I might try to put the XJ one in. The MJ ones are too finicky to trust IMO. Even the one in the silver truck pops sometimes. Until I make up my mind I'm chocking this thing everywhere I park.


Here's something crazy: I swear the truck has more power now than it did before the hit  :???:

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A friend of mine had something similar happen, except it didn't pop out of gear, his piston rings were soo worn that his motor didn't have enough compression to hold itself. It slowly chug chug chugged down a hill and through his neighbors fence. He figured it probably took half the night to get there.


Sent from my SM-N900W8 using Tapatalk

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  • 5 months later...

I've owned this truck for a year and a week now. What has changed? Not as much as I'd like, mostly on account of my hectic schedule. This is one of those dreaded low picture updates.


The driver side door was becoming gradually more difficult to close, and rather than properly fixing the cracked door striker, I just adjusted it to where the door would close easily. :dunno:


I'm sure those AMC nerds among us will recognize these two connectors sticking out of the dash. Or maybe just me. Don't mind the weird wire colors, I had to piece together this harness from 3 different overhead console harnesses because I couldn't find the real thing.



That can only mean one thing - I found the elusive AMC tape deck with... electronic tuning... and Dolby!, because I always enjoy having no treble when I listen to my tape cassettes. In all seriousness, finding one of these radios was one of my other Renix era interior white whales (the blue gauge cluster was one, and maroon plaid seat covers are another), and this one is like new. I'm extraordinarily lucky to have it. Not only that, but these work incredibly well with a custom auxiliary input, which happens to be my area of specialty.




While we're on the subject of radios, a full set of 4 ohm speakers will cook pretty much all of these AMC radios! They came from the factory with 8 ohm speakers, but I think you'll be okay with just 2 4-ohm front speakers. If I fry my basically brand new radio, you'll know it's not safe.


Next up is this truck's minor death wobble. Tightening the $#!& out of the track bar (yep, it was loose because of course it was... the bracket was fine though) improved things drastically, as did replacing the tie rod end at the pitman arm. The steering feels pretty good now, but there's still a tiny hint of a shimmy left. It's now possible to drive this truck faster than 55mph without fear of death, but it's still not perfect. The control arm bushings were pretty crusty and I think I saw a torn grease boot or two, so there's still plenty of things to work on.

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  • 1 year later...

As one or two of you may know, I also own a 1989 Comanche. Sometimes I forget too.


After I graduated from school I figured I better either start working on this thing again or sell it, so here we are. The cooling system was always a little flaky, so I started off by changing the antifreeze and burping the closed system:


I keep forgetting how much I hate bleeding this stupid cooling system. The next time this thing needs cooling system works the whole thing is getting converted. I can think of things you can defend about the Renix fuel injection, but I can't think of a single redeeming feature of the closed cooling system.


The next order of business was to get the electric fan working automatically again. It was wired to a switch when I got it, but I wanted to put it back to original function. I was getting ready to print out schematics and everything for a big electrical diagnosis, but I checked for power and ground and it turns out that the wiring is intact - the cooling fan relay was broken in half though, which may have slightly hampered its functionality. Replacing the relay got the fan switching on and off as normal. The FSM says it switches on and off at 190 F, and it never stays on for more than a few minutes. Not having any Renix experience, I assume this is normal. I'm used to the HO system where the fan never comes on unless you're running hot, or turn the A/C on.


The temp gauge reads about 210 consistently, and poking around with an IR thermometer gives readings of "about 200 or so" on the upper hose, so I think I may actually have this thing keeping a normal temperature... for now. I plugged in my MT2500 and found out that the computer thinks the temperature is 160F with the fan running (and thus never goes into closed loop mode), so there's still some issues to sort out. It also takes forever to warm up, but once warmed up seems to stay pretty stable.


Yesterday was parking brake day. The truck hasn't had the parking brake mechanism installed since I've had it, and the original parking brake cable was present but rusty and broken. The parking brake pedal assembly came with the truck in a box, so I had everything but a new cable. I ordered a front parking brake cable, p/n 52003192 and fixed up the pedal mechanism with some new springs:


Installing the new parking brake cable isn't hard - the carpet does need to come up on the driver side as the cable runs under the seat and out through a hole in the cab in roughly the middle. Once the carpet is up and the cable is unclipped at the pedal and at the equalizer, it just pulls out. Fortunately, most of the interior pieces surrounding the carpet are not currently installed, so the seat and seat belt just had to come out. I didn't take any pics, but I'm sure you can all imagine what a parking brake cable looks like.



To my complete surprise, I had absolutely no problems with the aftermarket parking brake cable. It was the correct length and everything fit and looked just like the original should.


It seems that I even remembered to put the bulb for the brake light in this gauge cluster when I put it together!


At this point, I expected a fight with the rear brakes to get them to work again. However, after adjusting the front cable to a reasonable length (a little loose to not strain the mechanism too much) the parking brake holds like a hot damn! Suffice it to say I'm very surprised. I think the auto-adjusters in the rear brakes might also be working now, since the brake pedal started feeling a lot better after using the parking brake a few times. A release cable would be nice to have though...


I expected to spend all day working on getting the parking brake working, but this only took a couple of hours, so I went ahead and put the dash back together (it was taken apart for other reasons) and installed my '86 AMC DNR cassette deck with the super rare green display (and aux input, of course) that I finished restoring a while back... thanks @87MJTIM! The tape deck even works, if a tiny bit fast. It's quickly becoming my favorite radio in my collection.


Yes, that's the full brightness on the clock, and yes the bulb in it is good. I wonder if an LED bulb would make that thing readable...


The fully electronic (and very, very complicated) tape mechanism on the RX-135 makes some amazing mechanical clunking sounds:


That's it for now. I've decided I need to start paying this truck some attention, and this is just the beginning. Coming up soon is probably a front suspension rebuild, as it sorely needs it. I also want to swap some red doors and a red hood on it so that it won't lower nearby property values TOO much by parking it in the driveway.

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